Sunday, 24 August 2014

My Three Things. Week 4.

My Three Things is a link-up which fellow parent blogger Claire began. The idea is that it works as a positive motivator to evaluate your week. Each week I list #3things that have not gone so well, #3things I would like to improve upon in the forthcoming week, and #3things that I have done well this week. The order is important as it is good to end on a positive note. So without further ado...

3 Things That Were Not So Good This Week.

  • Preparing for back to school just did not happen! I have no excuse. There was just no motivation. I walked into Clarkes, immediately got angry that my buggy wouldn't even reach the children's shoe section because of the vast amount of fellow stressed out parents, and turned around and walked straight back out again! Yes, I know, it's likely to be even worse this week.
  • We didn't get to the Think Tank museum as planned, hopefully, when I write next week's #3things, we'll have finally been there!
  • I lost my rag at my Biggest L whilst in a queue at Drayton Manor and immediately felt guilty. She was noticeably huffing and puffing and queue jumpers...I have no idea where she got that from. So yes, I was to blame for the whole sorry incident. It was forgotten within 5 minutes though as the queue was short and the ride was fun! 

3 Things To Focus On Next Week.
  • I'll try again... getting organised for back to school and uni. There's nothing like the last minute to motivate me into action...
  • Still not sorted out everything that I need to sell on eBay. It's so much easier to chuck it into the cupboard under the stairs, Harry Potter style and forget about it. My purse, however, does not agree.
  • The big one! It's time for POTTY TRAINING my smallest L! The though of it fills me with dread. If you have any tips or blog posts, then please feel free to share them with me. And wish me luck!

3 Things I've Done Well This Week.
  • I've switched of the trash television shows (almost all of them!) and began my reading for university. Well I say began. I began in June but took rather a long break!
  • Healthy Eating. I have finally got back in the zone. My Slimming World head is firmly screwed on. Eyes on the prize an' all that!
  • Had a more or less lovely and successful day out at Drayton Manor with both of my Ls. The main thing is, we came away happy and exhausted, and my Little L cannot stop talking about Thomas Land. Here's a photo of my little monkey's riding Percy at Thomas Land...
Having a ride on Percy at Thomas Land.

Silent Sunday.

Monday, 18 August 2014

My Three Things. Week 3.

Ok, so I've got to week three of My Three Things. I love writing these posts, they're not too time consuming and they're such a good way of evaluating your week without beating yourself up! The original link up came from Claire over at Confessions of a Single Parent Pessimist, so be sure to pop over to her and to say Hi and have a look at how her week has been too.

3 Things That Were Not So Good This Week.

  • My diet: Healthy eating? Can't even remember what that is, even my body is craving a salad! Ate loads of junk, I deserve to feel like crap.
  • Lost a friendship. Say no more.
  • Not had enough money to get out of the house and visit places as much as I'd have liked to. Stuck in a bit of a rut for motivation and ideas of things to do that are suitable for us as a family. 
3 Things To Focus On  Next Week.
  • Preparing for back to school! My biggest L starts secondary school in September, so although we have most of the uniform, we still need to get shoes, bags, coats, and of course they have to be the 'right' ones. So if anyone has any tips on what are the 'right' ones for senior school, (I'm thinking bags and shoes here), do let me know.
  • Getting out and about more. I really want to get out of the house this week, so far we have a trip to Drayton Manor in the diary and also a visit to the Think Tank museum, which I am ashamed to say I have never been to, despite it being only a 15 minute drive away from home!
  • Homework! Both my daughter and myself have work to be getting on with. Must buckle down this week!
3 Things I've Done Well This Week. 
  • So I mentioned that I'd had my confirmation that I'd got into my first choice university last week. This week, I've had even more good news on that front. The university have awarded me and academic excellence scholarship, which I am both very proud and in great need of. I was so thankful when I received the phone call on Wednesday.
  • Cat rescuing. I went back to my roots and got involved in a bit of animal rescue this week. Some poorly feral kittens needed a place to crash whilst they awaited a cattery space, or they would have been put to sleep. So they came to stay in our outhouse for a while. It made me realise how much I miss working with animals.
  • I also managed to get a bit of gardening done this week. The 8 bin liners of garden waste are still waiting to be taken to the tip though. Oh well, it's a start!
Feel free to join in with #3things this week, and as always I love to read your comments and thoughts. Remember to give me any advice on secondary school must haves too! Thanks for reading. 

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Silent Sunday

What Laura Loves: HUGE 4th Birthday GIVEAWAY

Fab giveaway from fahion and beauty blogger Laura over here:

What Laura Loves: HUGE 4th Birthday GIVEAWAY: Today marks 4 years since my very first blog post and to celebrate, I am holding a giveaway as a thank you to all of those who read m...

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Confessions of a Single Parent Pessimist: Single Parent Spotlight: Rebecca Jones

Here is a post written by Claire over at Single Parent Pessimist, featuring yours truly! I enjoyed answering the questions, it made me focus on the positive things about single parenting.

Confessions of a Single Parent Pessimist: Single Parent Spotlight: Rebecca Jones: The aim of these interviews is to show how AMAZING us working single parents are.  I’m sick of seeing the bad press single parents get...

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Silent Sunday.

My Three Things. Week 2.

This is my second week of My Three Things. The original linky came from fellow blogger, Claire over at Confessions of a Single Parent Pessimist.
So here goes; The Good, The Bad and The Optimistic... But not necessarily in that order.

3 Things That Were Not So Good This Week.

  • My alcohol consumption! I drank far, far, too much on Friday night. I'm still suffering today!
  • I spent too much money on unnecessary things, this includes the alcohol from Friday night! Along with 'treats' that we as a family really didn't need, considering how little spare cash I have at the moment.
  • Gardening. Not so much that I didn't do it well, more I didn't do any. At all. I planned to. I failed!

3 Things To Focus On Next Week.
  • Spending some time with my Biggest L. It is her birthday today, she wants to go shopping to spend her birthday cash WITHOUT Little L! Looking forward to girlie time.
  • Gardening... Weather permitting of course. Got to get on top of it!
  • Clear out! I need to have a good sort out of clothes, toys and books and get stuff on eBay. I need the cash and I need the space!

3 Things I've Done Well This Week.
  • I have now officially been accepted into university. OK, so technically I didn't achieve this, this week, but I did receive my official confirmation from UCAS. So I'm proud of that!
  • Family time! Had a lovely week spending time with the kids and other family members. On Thursday we had a little get together with my Mum, aunts and family friends. I really enjoyed this. And today, is my Biggest L's 11th birthday. We all went out for a family meal, and just had a lovely day in general.
  • I read more! As planned last week. (See Week 1's post).
Let me know your your plans for the week ahead, and be sure to comment if you're linking up.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Charitable Conceptions.

This blog post was written by me in October 2012. It's rather long. Please excuse the language! Obviously, I trying to prove a point. I am re-posting this because I feel the need to make that point again for a variety of reasons. I am no longer employed by the RSPCA (not as a result of this post), but they still have my support concerning all of their policies. If I was to ever return to veterinary nursing, I would be proud to return to working for them. All opinions are my own and all that!

My eldest cat Maisy
I have decided to write this post as lately it is becoming more and more apparent, of the general public's hatred of the RSPCA. I've noticed comments on Facebook and Twitter ranging from mild irritation and other 'professionals' slating the RSPCA, to active hate campaigns against us. I say us, because I am an employee of the RSPCA. Yes I work for what seems to be the most hated and controversial charity in the UK. (Although, currently I'm on maternity leave, and after this blog I may be relieved of my duties, but hey ho.) I can't bite my tongue forever.
Before I go on any further, let's just make it clear, these are my personal views, and not those of my employer! I am using this, as a place to vent my frustration at the hatred for me and my colleagues/friends. I'm sure there may be repercussions from this, lets hope that's not my P45!
Ok, so I'm a veterinary nurse, I have been for 16 years, and up until 4 years ago I had always worked in private veterinary practice. I had no experience of working in charity practice, but I did have very strong opinions on veterinary/animal charities.
I'll be the first to admit that I, like a significant number of my colleagues in the veterinary profession, thought that the RSPCA were obstructive, weren't keen to help, and basically just raked in the money that kind little old ladies gave them and occasionally did a bit of work when the cameras were rolling. I also believed, like (I think I can safely say the majority of the general public) believed; that all stray animals and wildlife were the 'responsibility' of the RSPCA. In fact in my early years of nursing, I heard my head  nurse actually tell a member of the public, that an injured 'stray' cat could not be treated by our private practice, as we were a business not a charity and that cat was the RSPCA's responsibility. I had little experience to base my ignorant, obnoxious opinions on, other than that of my colleagues, so I guess I was just jumping on the bandwagon. Now I know how wrong I was!

A rather x-rated pic of Simba

About 4 years ago, I decided to have a change of direction from veterinary nursing and try something different. Then I found myself out of work, after suddenly walking out of a job that I hated. It appears there is a reason I chose to work with animals rather than people after all!
I soon had a scout through my veterinary journals to see who needed a nurse. The RSPCA were advertising so I applied, I didn't think I'd ever apply to work there but I was desperate for a job and it was close to home. I also applied for another 3 veterinary nursing jobs, hopeful I'd get one of those so I wouldn't have to work for that dreaded charity!
After all the interviews, I was offered all 4 of the jobs I had applied for, so I was in a great position, however I decided to take the job that offered the least pay, the worst hours and the one I that knew would offer the hardest most challenging work. Yep, I was going to work for the RSPCA. My other nursing friends thought I was mad, they like me, all hated the RSPCA! All I can say is just walking around the hospital at the time of my interview was enough to completely change my viewpoint of the work the RSPCA do. I was converted. And I can honestly say I will never, ever go back to work in private veterinary practice again. I think I can safely say that for a high percentage of the other professionals I work with at the hospital too.

Lola rehomed by me from the RSPCA
So why is it that the public hate us? Why is it other veterinary professionals slate us? Everyone seems to forget that the RSPCA is a charity. Here is the Oxford English Dictionary's definition of a charity:
'' organization set up to provide help and raise money for those in need''
So there you go, we provide help to animals in need and in order for us to do that we raise money. We try to help, we do our best to help every animal we possibly can, but no, unfortunately that will not be every single animal. That does not mean we can save every single animal and it does mean that we make tough decisions that others may disagree with. This does not mean, therefore we are responsible for and can help every single animal. When are owners, the general public, the government and other veterinary professionals going to take their share of the responsibility for these animals we share the planet with?
The RSPCA doesn't not secure government funding, despite people thinking otherwise and the reason for this is so that they can be independent and challenge animal welfare issues if they disagree with the government's stance on such issues.
So yes it is a charity. The RSPCA is the only UK charity that people openly slate/diss/slag off, call it what you will. Take Cancer Research for example, say if your relative falls ill with a particular type of cancer and there is not enough research into that type of cancer to know if they'll be cured. Does that mean Cancer Research is at fault for not 'researching' enough as they strive to do? No of course it does not, because they are doing their best with the funds they receive. As are the RSPCA, they are doing what they can with the resources they can. Ok, so that might not be the best comparison, but I really do think people are losing sight of a charity can and cannot do.
To put you in the picture of my inspiration for this rant, here are some direct quotes from former colleagues or their friends from Facebook. Please bear in mind they are saying this in their professional capacity as veterinary nurses:
'Don't bother with the RSPCA, they're all bunch of c*nts, will probably put the cat to sleep anyway. Better off treating it ourselves, but though we'll have to pay for it even though it's their responsibility.F*cking useless b*stards'
This quote was from a veterinary nurse to another veterinary nurse regarding the treatment of a stray cat. Great professionalism, don't you think?
Here is another from a veterinary nurse:
'F*cking RSPCA, wont take a stray cat from us, reckon they are full, more like no camera's there!!! We are a business, not a charity you know! Bet it takes them forever to pay our £60 too. If only they'd do their job properly'
This comment relates to a nurse wanting a stray cat transported from her private hospital to the local RSPCA hospital. It also mentions the £60 that the RSPCA pay private vets towards the treatment of stray animals. This nurse was actually a friend of mine and refers to the hospital that I work at. Needless to say she was soon deleted from my friends list. And yes, we were full. Full to the fucking brim. In fact 9 times out of 10 the hospital is full, especially where cats are concerned. We never turn away a stray animal in need of treatment without a very very good reason.
Ok, so now this is where this blog gets a bit boring, it relates to veterinary professionalism, or the lack of it, there are quite a few quotes, so I am sorry if it gets a bit boring, but it's relevant to my point! Trust me.
Something worth mentioning is that Registered Veterinary Nurses are governed by The RCVS (The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.) We have to abide by their Code to Professional Conduct. Here's a quote from that code:
Section E. Relationships with Colleagues Point 10:
'No Veterinary Surgeon/Nurse should speak or write disparagingly of a colleague to a third party, since the effect is to undermine public confidence in the profession.''
I rest my case. I decided not to report these incidents to The RCVS or their employers as I do not want to be responsible for any loss of employment, I'm sure their words will one day come back to bite them on the arse anyway!
Ok so I know I am quoting a lot and this may be getting boring, but its relevant. Bear with me. It's about the responsibility of ill and injured  animals. This includes all animals not just those that are known to be owned. And it applies to ALL veterinary surgeons:
Taken from the Code to Professional Conduct for Veterinary Surgeons, Section 1-Veterinary Surgeons and Animals.
''Veterinary surgeons must make animal health and welfare their first consideration when attending to animals.''
''If the owner cannot afford private treatment and may be eligible for charitable assistance, veterinary surgeons should re-direct the animal for further treatment to a charity, where possible, supplying full details of the case in the proper manner.''
''Once an animal has been accepted as an in-patient for treatment by a veterinary surgeon, responsibility for the animal remains with that veterinary surgeon until another veterinary surgeon or practice accepts the responsibility.''
''A veterinary surgeon on call should not unreasonably refuse to provide first aid and pain relief for any animal of a species treated by the practice during normal working hours. A veterinary surgeon on call should not unreasonably refuse to provide first aid and facilitate the provision of pain relief for all other species until such time as a more appropriate emergency veterinary service accepts responsibility for the animal.''
The final quote is an oath of declaration to be admitted into the profession:
" I PROMISE AND SOLEMNLY DECLARE that I will pursue the work of my profession with integrity and accept my responsibilities to the public, my clients, the profession and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, and that, ABOVE ALL, my constant endeavour will be to ensure the health and welfare of animals committed to my care''
Unfortunately, unlike some other veterinary professionals I am not going to comment on specific breaches of these codes of conduct that I have seen, but trust me I've seen them, and to a disgusting level.
So, to members of the public who are slating the RSPCA, remember, they are a charity. Doing their best with limited resources in this economic climate. Yes you may have called about your neighbours dog barking, and its being a few hours and no officer has called, but that officer might be working a huge radius on his own with 2-3 emergency calls with severely injured animals, it's all about priorities.
To veterinary professionals who think we are responsible for every animal both wild or stray or for some reason cannot pay your fees, please remember your oath. Remember  your professionalism. Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites are not the place to voice your issues with the RSPCA. I guarantee you if you were to work with us for a day your opinion on our work and our workload would change dramatically! This I can promise you.

Percy, came in to the RSPCA Hospital as a stray, following being hit by a car with horrific consequences. Resulted in him having his back leg amputated. Rehomed to me!

Yes, we are different to other charities as we are the only charity that investigates cruelty and prosecutes those who cause unnecessary suffering, so yes, we do have more responsibility than most, and trust me, we know! It impacts on our workload. But remember we're not the only ones who are responsible for animal welfare. We all are, members of the public, pet owners, farmers, breeders, veterinary practices and the government. Please remember that. The onus is not just on us!
I wish those of you that have such a low opinion of us could spend a day working with us, to see what we deal with, the horrific sights we see, the biting of the tongue we have to do, the red tape involved, the limited resources we have available and to see what you would do differently, if you were put in charge of making such emotive decisions. Yes mistakes are made as with everything in life, but people, everyone, needs to take responsibility for our planet's animals. Maybe if everyone did this, things would be a lot different. Do not be fooled into this bullshit that Britain is a nation of animal lovers. It's not at all, not by any stretch of the imagination. I am sure that a large amount of the hate comments come from lack of awareness and ignorance of what we do. I was one of those ignorant people myself once.
What I can tell you about the veterinary side of the RSPCA is that they have the best, most dedicated veterinary surgeons and nurses, you could ever meet. The standards of surgery, medicine, nursing and care are the highest I have seen in 16 years of nursing. Perhaps you think I'm being biased? Yep, but it's also the truth. Especially the nursing, the best in the country without a doubt! Based on the national average, we earn less than other veterinary professionals, we are truly doing it for the love of the job, and for the love of animals. We work hard too, extremely hard, the job is physically, mentally and emotionally draining. Some of the things I have seen, I wish I could un-see. They are horrific. We all cry at times, ever the old hard-hearted ones, such as me. (not very often mind)
This blog isn't written as a professional piece of writing (just in case any veterinary professionals are reading this) its out of exasperation of the continuous slagging off of the place I work, and just in the hope that maybe one person may stop and think about how things may be from a different perspective. The RSPCA aren't perfect, show me a large organisation that is, but they're certainly not the monster they're perceived to be. Animal welfare will always be an emotive subject. There will always be differences of opinion, but stop the charity slating, imagine what would happen if the RSPCA did not exist at all?
Any comments that this may generate such as 'where were the RSPCA when such and such happened...' Will not be answered, because firstly it's not my place to respond and secondly, I do not know. Oh wait, I do, we were sitting around eating biscuits doing fuck all, waiting for a camera crew and celebrity to show up of course...
Wait, one last thing, to pet owners... Neuter your goddamn pets!

Diamond, our poor hamster, living in a house with 4 predators!

My Three Things. Week 1.

I came across this brilliant linky from Claire at Confessions of a Single Parent Pessimist. The idea of My Three Things is, each week, list three things that have not gone so well, three things to focus on for the forthcoming week, and three things that you've done well. I think it's a great idea to gain some perspective and focus on day to day life. It's about recognising that whilst things may not always go to plan, there are always positive things to concentrate on. So here we go...

3 Things That Were Not So Good This Week.
  • Healthy eating. I am trying my best to stick to Slimming World, but completely lost sight of my goals this week. The main meals I eat aren't so bad. It's the snacking on naughty treats that has been problematic.
  • Finding things to do. Ok so this one isn't entirely my fault, I have been without a car and completely skint for the past few weeks, but I have been lacking motivation to get out and go places with the kids.The summer holidays are proving expensive, but there are always local parks, museums and galleries. I need to stop making excuses!
  • Reading. As you know I start university in September, and as I will be studying English, Literature and Creative Writing, I have a reading list as long as my arm. Trashy TV needs to take a back seat.

3 Things I Want To Focus On Next Week.
  • Healthy eating, I need to get back in the zone, concentrate on my goal and stick to it. I will keep away from custard creams!
  • Get out of the house more. I plan to keep busy this week and exhaust the kids!
  • Turn off the TV and read more. This is a no brainer, as I much prefer reading anyway.

3 Things I've Done Well This Week.
  • Caught up with an old friend and organised more time to spend together. It's something we've both been meaning to do for ages, and we've finally done it.
  • Walking. The bonus of not having my car last week was that I walked everywhere. I used an app on my iPhone to track the number of steps/miles/calories burnt and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I exceeded my goal and covered a fair few miles.
  • I have not overspent this week. This was not really through choice because I have had to pay out for my car. However it has proved to me just how much I do overspend in the supermarkets each week, and that a lot of it is probably unnecessary. I can see now that I can cut back a bit and that we won't all starve. 
So, over to you, make sure you keep me posted on your #3things, and be sure to visit the other blogs in this linky.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Product Review: Karri

Karri is a neat little pouch, with a security corner, designed to adhere to the back of your phone and store items such as credit/debit cards, cash, tickets etc. It's described as 'your phone's back pocket'.

Karri: The 'loud' range.

This 'micro wallet', measures 91mm x 57mm, it fits onto most mobile phones or indeed any flat surface securely. It's ideally suited to the iPhone or iPod. The Karri itself is made from stretchy spandex fabric so you can carry a number of cards, cash or tickets, or whatever you can fit in there! It is also available in a variety of colours from nude to loud!

Karri: Nude/Navy

I used my Karri on the back of my iPhone to carry my debit card and cash whilst out with my toddler on a walk to the park. My purse is quite bulky and I didn't want to take my bag, but I did want to take cash and my card, just in case. The Karri was ideal, I only had to take along my phone and I could leave the bag behind. We played in the park where I climbed, swung and slid, and everything was secure inside the Karri. However, for me personally, the best use for the Karri, is on nights out. I don't like taking my whole purse with all my cards, just in case they get lost, likewise with a bag. There's every chance that I'll get too tiddly and abandon my handbag, never to be seen again. The one thing I always have on me, like the majority of us, is my phone, so this was great to keep my debit card and notes in. I even took my front door key off the keyring and put that in too! It meant I could enjoy a night out, without worrying about keeping an eye on my bag, or getting annoyed with my bag when dancing, or just getting too drunk to look after it properly!
Another great use for the Karri would be for when you are jogging or exercising. Most people carry a phone or MP3 player when exercising, but with the Karri, you could also carry your necessities. 

Karri: Loud/Cool
This is such a simple innovative idea, yet it is so useful. I love it! They retail at just £6.95, and you can find out more by visiting the Karri website.

Disclaimer: I was provided this product free of charge by Karri, for review purposes. No payments were exchanged and all opinions are my own.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Book Review: Mayhem by Sarah Pinborough

Mayhem. Sarah Pinborough. (Pub. 2013) 352 pages.
I've followed Sarah Pinborough on Twitter for a while and her witty, sarcastic tweets are what made me interested in her writing. 

Happily, I discovered a copy of Mayhem in my local library and I immediately knew it was my sort of book from the beautifully illustrated cover.

The story begins in late nineteenth century London, at a time when the city is gripped in the fear and hysteria surrounding Jack the Ripper. However when the headless, dismembered corpses of unidentified women start turning up in the Thames, Dr Thomas Bond (physician and police surgeon) immediately knows he is dealing with a very different, far darker murderer than Jack. 

These murders actually occurred, and were dubbed the Thames Torso murders, but were over-shadowed by Jack the Ripper's work. Dr Bond was also the real surgeon who performed the autopsies and is often referred to as the first criminal profiler. 

Set in three parts, the story is written in both third and first person and is also sprinkled with newspaper articles from the time. The dominant point of view, is that of Doctor Bond, and his personal struggle to deal with the gruesome murders and get to the truth. However you also get the point of view of the detectives, a couple of the victims and of course, the killer. The killer is revealed probably just over half way through the book, but the story continues to be intriguing despite this, due to the supernatural element of the story. 

I particularly like the atmosphere created by Pinborough's writing. The polluted, dank and dark environment is brought to life by the language and dialogue of the characters.  I found the seedy opium dens of the time that Dr. Bond frequents really interesting. Especially as I have since discovered that the real Dr. Bond used narcotics to help with insomnia, which is thought to have contributed to his suicide. 
The author has also captured the sense of fear and the heightened state of alert that a Victorian, East London must have felt. 
Characters such as Dr. Bond are well-rounded characters and realistically flawed, and because of this, as a reader, you can empathise with them.

When I first began reading, I was a bit concerned that the story would be all about the shock of the horrific crime scenes without a decent storyline, but I was soon proved wrong. I think the first part is perhaps on the long side, as it takes a while to piece all the different components and view points together, but once they start coming together, the pace of the narrative picks up. 

For me, Mayhem is great. I believe it takes an extremely talented writer to take on actual historical crimes and weave them with their own fictional plot. All the murders in the book did actually take place, and I believe they remain unsolved. Pinborough has managed to maintain respect for the victims yet at the same time create a compelling novel. 

I can't wait to read more of her work, in fact, I've just ordered a hardback copy of  her 2014 book 'Murder', which again features Dr. Bond. I'll keep you posted on it!

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Beauty Review: Zerreau Towel Off Shampoo.

This exciting new product is described by Zerreau as a mix of dry and wet shampoo. The purpose of the product is to clean your hair on those in-between days or when you simply do not have the time to wash it properly. It is suitable for all hair types.

The first thing I liked about the towel off shampoo was the packaging. Its sleek black design and contrasting green logos were attractive and would look very trendy in any bathroom.

My bottle of Zerreau Towel-Off Shampoo

The product itself is a great smelling foam. I reviewed the apple scent, which smelt delicious! You lather the foam into your hair, either all of your hair or just the roots, whatever is needed. Once you've thoroughly applied the shampoo, you simply towel dry your hair.

So, did it work? Yes it did, but I didn't see results immediately. However, I think this was because my hair still appeared 'wet' from applying the product. Perhaps I used a bit too much and didn't towel dry it enough afterwards, also I do have very thick hair. I usually wash my hair daily or every other day, because it can look greasy at the roots. I used Towel-Off on an 'in-between' day, where it was just beginning to look a bit greasy at the roots. I applied a liberal amount of product, but I felt that I needed to dry my hair after use. (I didn't though). That being said, I was not displeased with the results. Once my hair had completely dried it looked freshly washed. I also received a compliment on how nice my hair smelt at 3pm later that day.

My daughter (aged 10) also loves this product. She washes her hair every other day and uses this every other day. She is at that age where hormones are kicking in and her hair can look ok in the morning and greasy by the time she's home from school. So it is great for a quick freshen up for the kids. Especially if you're running late and don't have time to chuck them in the shower.

Before using Towel-Off, I used another brand of dry shampoo regularly which I was satisfied with. However, I do prefer the Towel-Off because there is no powdery-type residue left over after use. You don't end up looking like you've just patted a load of talcum powder on top of your head. Personally, my hair actually felt 'clean' after using it, where as with the spray dry shampoos, it doesn't. The lasting smell of this product and the overall feeling of clean hair makes Towel-Off better than ordinary dry shampoos.

The only negative thing that I can think to say about it, is that it is slightly more time consuming than a dry shampoo. Other than that, I think it's great. I would recommend it, particularly for festivals, children and it would be ideal to pop in your bag to use if you're going out straight from work or university.

You can find out more about Towel-Off by clicking here.

Here is the fun promotional video explaining more about Towel-Off. No that is not me in the clip!!!

Also the kind folks at Zerreau are offering a 20% discount on all items purchased this summer. Just enter the discount code SUMMER20.

Strawberry scented.

Let me know if you've used the product and what you think. I shall be purchasing the strawberry scented one next time!

Disclaimer: This product was sent to me free of charge for review purposes. No payment was received by me to review this product. All opinions are my own and my honest opinions of the product.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Latest Wins!

'Comping' has become a rather addictive hobby of mine. It started about 18 months ago, when my son was a baby and I had ceased employment and had some spare time. I began entering competitions on Twitter and the prizes began to roll in with very little effort. Encouraged by my success, I started to search for more competitions online and found there was a huge 'Comping Community', which I am proud to now be part of.
So, at the around the end of each month, I have decided to document any wins that I have had; partly because I want to share how easy it is to win prizes, and partly to keep track of the lovely prizes I have received. It will also act as an acknowledgement to the lovely companies who have provided the prizes.
Many of the prizes that I win are books, mainly because I love reading so much, I tend to focus on entering a lot of book competitions. Which is great for me and my blog, and the books also get reviewed by me, so hopefully, that goes some way towards a thank you to the company who provided the prize.  

So here are my wins for June and July! Not a bad few weeks, I'm sure you'll agree.

Book: His Father's Son by Tony Black from Black & White Publishing.

Book Bundle: Cat and Mouse, Four Blind Mice, Pop Goes the Weasel and Roses are Red, all by James Patterson from Headline Publishing Group.

Book: The Queen of the Tearling, by Erika Johansen from Transworld Publishing.

Trutex School Skirts: Not exactly a prize, but I was selected by Mumsnet to test and review the products.

Top to Toe Makeover at a hair and beauty salon in Sutton Coldfield. (Not yet redeemed.)

2x tickets to Drayton Manor from Days Out. Can't wait to use these during the summer holidays.

A video and still image camcorder from No.1 Brands 4 You!

Kiddylicious goodies from fellow blogger U, Me and the Kids. (Not yet received).

Tickets: Family tickets to Festival on the Farm, from baby/toddler food company Organix. (Not yet received).

Book: Simple Flower Arranging by Mark Welford & Stephen Wicks from Wordery.

Very cute mini alarm clock from Jones Clocks which my daughter has nabbed for her bedroom.

And finally more books: Two beautiful classic children's books- The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain and Puck of Pook's Hill by Rudyard Kipling from Mojo Mums.

Let me know if you've had any big wins this month, I'd love to hear about them. I look forward to telling you about future wins!

Silent Sunday.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Slimming World, Instagram and my Buddy!

So, I've managed to get to day 3 and I haven't cheated once. I am determined to stay focused, and I'm keeping myself motivated by following other Slimming World member's successes.

Instagram, is a great place for Slimming World meal ideas and support from the #slimmingworldmafia (which is how they tag themselves). I try to post a photo of at least one meal a day. It gives me a visual reminder of how I'm getting on and it's great to see the 'likes' from slimmers. But it's the 'before and after' photos from other Slimming World members that I find so inspirational. I long to get to the stage where I can post my own 'before and after'. So every time I feel the need to get a treat from our 'goody cupboard', I grab my phone and nose at strangers photo's! I reminds me of why I'm doing what I'm doing. Here are some of my own photo's from Instagram this week:

Breakfast: Bacon, egg and chopped tomatoes

Lunch: Tuna, feta pasta and salad

Dinner: BBQ chicken, roasted peppers and onions, SW chips and salad

Snack Time: Green tea, Muller Light yoghurt.
To follow me on Instagram click here.

The other thing that is helping me greatly is a Slimming World buddy. My buddy happens to be a friend from college, although I know other people use a buddy that they've only 'met' and spoken to online.
I'm finding my buddy to be a great source of support. We're both mums, both mature students, we're the same age and the same weight. We also have a very similar backgrounds and gained weight due to the same reasons. We text each other several times throughout the day to discuss our meals, snacks and cravings. We motivate each other and talk about how well our day is going. If we feel like fall off the wagon, we drag the other back on! My other close friends are really supportive, but it is not the same as having someone to talk to who knows exactly what you're going through and how you're feeling. Not only that, but I think the friendship with my buddy and I is growing and growing and we'll remain close friends, even after reaching our targets.

Ok so it is only day 3, and I have a long way to go, but something feels different this time. Perhaps Instagram and my buddy are the difference? Either way, I'm going to stay on track and continue to share my journey with you, which sort of makes me feel like I have a responsibility to stick to it. As with all things in life, there will be ups and downs, but I'll document them honestly as honestly as I can.

You can find out more about Slimming World here.

As always I'd love to hear your opinions or advice. Feel free to post below.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Back to Slimming World

My relationship with Slimming World can be described as a roller coaster ride. We have ups and downs, highs and lows. Sometimes I love it, sometimes I hate it! But one thing's for certain, it works! When I have stuck to the plan 100%, I never fail to lose weight. It isn't really a diet, more of a lifestyle change so it isn't difficult to stick to either. There's plenty of food you can eat as much of as you like, so there's no need to be hungry.

However, over the past six months, I've used every excuse under the sun! Moving house, my birthday, my friend's birthdays, a celebratory night out, the I'm happy and don't care about my size so I'll eat what I like one... The list of excuses is endless!

However, I weighed myself this morning and I was disgusted!!! Not only have I gained more than half a stone in this past month, but I've also reached another 'weight milestone' of a different stone bracket!! I know the positives outweigh the benefits, so I am determined to get back into the healthy eating zone and stay there! I am miserable with how things are now and the only person who can change things is me. I am hoping by posting publicly on here, it will motivate me to stay focused and get good results! Wish me luck!!!

My Healthy, Slimming World friendly lunch, salad with ginger, chilli and lime infused salmon.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Book Review: The Fault in our Stars by John Green.

The Fault in our Stars. John Green. Pub. 2012. Audible Copy. Narrated by Kate Rudd.

Iconic cover of TFioS

When I signed up to Audible, Amazon's audio book service, I was offered a free trial with one free book. I chose The Fault in our Stars (TFioS) by John Green, mainly due to the hype surrounding the book and its upcoming movie release. It was free and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

Now, I have made the mistake before of reading a book because of the media hype... (Yes, I'm looking at you Fifty Shades), and have been immensely disappointed by the poor quality of writing and subsequent reading experience, that I wasn't expecting much from the much media-hyped TFioS.

However, I found myself listening to this audio book at every available opportunity. My 4 hour ironing stint passed in no time at all thanks to TFioS. Now, I cannot be certain whether it was the content and quality of the book that excited me, or the novelty of being able to 'read' a book whilst doing household chores. Whichever it was though, I found this book to be an easy, enjoyable read.

The Audible version of this audio book is narrated by Kate Rudd, whose voice I found to be a little irritating at times. However, that's probably just me and my dislike for listening to someone else speak for a long period of time without letting me get a word in! The dialogue of the different characters voiced by Rudd was exceptional, so much so that I knew which character was speaking without the need of being told who it was.

The book itself is set in Indianapolis and is written from the point of view of sixteen year old Hazel Grace Lancaster, who has terminal thyroid cancer, which has metastasised to her lungs, leaving her permanently dependent on oxygen. Despite this, against the odds, Hazel has responded to a drugs trial which means her tumours whilst ever present are not growing or metastasising further.

Too ill to attend school, and having very few friends, Hazel's parents insist on her attending a support group for children living with cancer. There she meets Augustus Waters, a 'hot boy' who has survived osteosarcoma and is living now, with 'NEC', no evidence of cancer and a prosthetic leg. He has only attended support group to support Issac, whom Hazel has become friends with via the group.

Hazel and Augustus swap their favourite novels and appear to bond over a love of literature, which is recognisable in their dialogue. I love the language used by the teenagers, it's wonderfully descriptive and full of metaphors. It is however, far too advanced for their years, it gives me flashbacks to that late 1990s series Dawson's Creek! (Who remembers that?) This is especially evident, juxtaposed with their typical teenage strops and love and video games.

Hazel's favourite novel, 'An Imperial Affliction' written by the reclusive Peter Van Houten, forms a base for the story. Her favourite book ends without closure. Determined to find out what happened to the characters of the book, Augustus plans to use his 'wish', granted to children with cancer (Hazel has already used hers) to take Hazel to meet her literary hero in Holland. Hazel however becomes very ill and ends up in hospital, as her 'crappy lungs' fill up with fluid. Following this episode, Hazel makes up her mind not to get romantically involved with Augustus, as she doesn't want to leave him broken hearted when she dies.

Once recovered, and after much persuasion, her parents and doctors agree that she can travel to Holland. Hazel, her mother and Augustus arrive in Holland, where inevitably, Hazel and Augustus fall in love and begin their relationship. The trip doesn't go exactly as planned because her hero Van Houten, is certainly not the literary genius they expected. Instead they find an alcoholic, bitter cynical man, who refuses to answer how his book ends. Nonetheless the trip isn't entirely wasted as the couple's true feelings are revealed as they admit their love for each other. Augustus also reveals an ironic twist in the tale that changes the whole perspective of the story.
More is revealed as the story ends, about Hazel, Augustus and Van Houten.

I've not really mentioned, that throughout the story, cancer is a major character of the novel. The struggles of daily life and the perspective of a cancer sufferer is very evident and real. Not only Hazel's struggles, but also those of her parents and the other kids at the support group. The protagonist Hazel, is philosophical and realistic, but her vulnerability is also evident. She has a wonderful sense of humour and her sarcasm about how cancer sufferers are treated by society is refreshing. Augustus is also a well developed character, but I find him a little less believable. He appears to be the most perfect gentleman, which at the age of sixteen, having been through an ordeal that would leave most young men quite angry and bitter I find a bit idealistic. He is wildly romantic and talks in vivid descriptive metaphors, which I found to be a little bit pretentious for a teenager hooked on war role playing video games.

There are other characters that I would have liked to learnt more about. Lidewij, (Van Houten's assistant), Issac and Van Houten in particular. They definitely have interior lives that would be well worth exploring further. It is touched on briefly, which I suppose is adequate, given the focus of the book is on Hazel and Augustus. All of the characters in the book have been affected by cancer, making cancer the antagonist character of the story.
There are some flat characters of the story, such as Hazel's only friend outside of support group. A shallow British girl Kaitlyn, who finds it difficult to connect with Hazel other than on a superficial level.

It is important to remember that this book is written for young adults, it is not an adult book. That said, it is no less enjoyable to read. The hype surrounding this book is no doubt follows the rising popularity in young adult fiction, whilst I found the novel compelling and touching, I've not found it to be life changing, like so many have suggested. In spite of this opinion, I can see how it could be for a teenager, its target audience. It's certainly an uplifting book, despite its subject matter. It has a positive message and it's characters are well-rounded with beautiful dialogue. It's certainly a book I will be urging my daughter to read when she is a few years older. Well worth a read.

Silent Sunday.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Introducing... Pet's Corner!

Whilst considering topics to write for my blog, I looked to the questions I get asked the most. Before I left employment, I was a Registered Veterinary Nurse. I  began my career in Veterinary Nursing in 1996 and qualified in 2000. I have worked for several private veterinary practices, and most recently for a large charity animal hospital. I have also worked as a lecturer of Animal Care and Management to adult students. Therefore, without doubt, the advice that my friends and family seek from me most frequently, is regarding their pets or their potential pets.
Registered Veterinary Nurse Badge

The number of unwanted/stray animals in the UK, (particularly cats and dogs) has reached crisis point, and the main cause of this I believe, is irresponsible pet ownership, along with lack of education regarding the ownership of domestic animals. That's why it is important to promote responsible pet ownership to children from a young age.

Whether they have their own pets or not, kids need to learn to respect animals, so that they continue to be respectful of them throughout their adult life. We need to teach them that animals are not just a disposable commodity, they are a living being, with continual needs that have to be met by their owners.

Owning a pet, be it a fairground goldfish or a Great Dane requires time, effort, responsibility and money. Being the owner of a pet does not come cheap, and as adults, we must ensure we can commit the required amount of time, effort and money to care for an animal for the rest of its life, before making it a part of the family. It is not only morally right to do this, it is the law. Failure to meet the needs of your pet is an offence under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

So how do we get it right? How do we resist our children, begging us for their latest furry friend with the huge sad eyes? Can you make pet ownership work for your family? Over the next few weeks, I'll be writing some posts about popular children's pets and answering common questions about owning them. I will include a guide to their requirements which may help you to decide if a particular pet is for you. As a parent, I'm not immune to the pressure that your children can put on you to own a pet. As an animal lover, I am definitely not immune to the charms of a four-legged furry, but hopefully I can help you to make a decision as to which pet is most suited to your family and lifestyle.
One of my four cats: Simba

I am also happy to answer any questions you have regarding general animal care, just drop me a line in the comments below. If you need medical advice for an animal, you must seek the opinion of your veterinary surgeon. For legal reasons, I am unable to give medical advice online.

Please make sure you are following me using the buttons on the right to keep up to date with the forthcoming posts, in the meantime, you may find these links useful. 

Find a Local Vet
Cats Protection
Dogs Trust
Rabbit Welfare Association
Animal Welfare Act: Protecting Pets

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

This week I'm loving...

So, I have decided to write a weekly account of products, experiences,technologies or just about anything that I have been enjoying over the past week. Just little things to remind me, that there is always something to smile about. Here goes... 


Audible (part of Amazon), I believe, is fabulous! For those who've not heard about Audible, it is a service that offers download-able audio books. There are over 100,000 books available for immediate download. (This is very dangerous for those suffering from bibliophilia, such as myself!) Once you've downloaded your book, you can then listen to it on your laptop, smart phone, tablet or mp3 player. I signed up and received one free book. You can then choose to become a member or download future books as a one off purchase. I've not looked fully into the different membership options, but I'll definitely become a member. I get through so many books, and this is a great way of 'reading' one relatively quickly. My 4 hour ironing session yesterday, passed in the blink of an eye thanks to my audio book. I think you can exchange any books you do not like, which is great. 
Of course, nothing is as good as the real tangible thing in my opinion. So yes, I love my Kindle and yes I love this service, but nothing will replace actual books for me, which is a shame because I am running out of space to put them all!
For more information take a look at Audible now.

Muller Light Yoghurt.

I am a 'currently off the wagon' Slimming World member. Yet whilst I've been avoiding group and the salad bar, I have been keeping an eye on the latest weight loss friendly treats. It seems everyone has been talking about the Skinny Cappuccino flavour Muller Light yoghurt. How nice can a coffee flavoured yoghurt be? I pondered. 

I ponder no longer. They are just as good as everyone has been raving, and then some! I can see an obsession coming on!


Put simply, Tinder is a dating app. Having been single for quite some time now, many friends have urged me to start my search for a new 'special friend'. Whilst to be quite honest, when it comes to meeting someone new, I am not too concerned because I am really happy with my life at the moment. I'm of the opinion, 'if it happens, it happens'. However, I thought there'd be no harm in seeing what all the fuss was about. After all, several of my single friends had used it, with varying degrees of success.
It matches couples based on physical attraction, taking photo's and information (which you can edit) from your Facebook account. So you only get to 'converse' with someone whom you have 'liked' and they've 'liked' you back. Extremely superficial, but easy to use and fun, and who knows what could happen. Try it out here.

And there you have it. Three little things that have brought a smile to my face this week. I'd love to hear about your loves or great finds of the week. Let me know in the comments below.

Also, just to note that these are my opinions only, that have not been influenced by any payment or products.