Hello!

My name is Lily-Sue, but my mummy calls me Munchkin! I am 5 years old, and this is where my mummy will help me write all about all the fun things we do together. I hope you enjoy reading about the adventures of my mummy and me, Munchkin!

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Life size rag dolls, eternal childhood and toy parades ... It has to be Hamleys!

Hamleys ... In a town near us!!

Last week, mummy and I were treated to something very very special. Our local shopping centre, i,ntu Lakeside, has been building the excitement for weeks with huge boards advertising a new Hamleys store opening. I remember going to the London store a couple of times, so I was really excited about one opening its doors so close to our home! Now mummy will have no excuse when I ask to go!

Well, to add to my excitement, we were invited to the private opening, a whole 2 hours before the famous toy store opened the doors to the public! As we walked closer to the store, I could hear loud  music and all sorts of shouting and singing, there certainly was no chance of missing it! As we arrived, it  was the first time I had seen the shop windows uncovered. Ladies dressed as rag dolls, a man in a shower cap, lots and lots of adrenaline fuelled staff members were there to greet us and to welcome us to their newest store. 


Windows full of toys, and aisles bursting with colour was all I could see from the red carpet that was laid out the front, and I couldn't wait to get inside!


Have you ever been to Hamleys? It's a toy shop like no other. Staff members will greet you with a smile as they demonstrate the latest toys right in front of you, boomerangs fly above you and battery operated, yapping puppies run around your feet. There was a man on roller skates and another firing hundreds of bubbles from a gun. I was in heaven!


I made a new best friend at Hamleys that night. Her name was Leah, and she looked like a pretty rag doll. She looked after me, she sang with me, she chased me around the aisles in a game of hide-and-seek, she showed me loads and loads of toys and made me feel very very special. We played with a bunny that we named Cookie ...



... We sang 'Let it Go' together amongst the Frozen toys ...



... And we paused for a rest, snuggled up with the biggest teddy bears I've ever seen!


Every child needs that rare opportunity in life where they are able to run wild in a toy store, play with the toys and mingle with the staff (who, by the way, have the best jobs in the world!!) without hearing the calls from mummy to stay close and not wander off ... Just saying!


Frozen toys, water toys, cuddly toys, baby toys, construction toys, art toys, traditional wooden toys, character toys .... Hamleys has it all! Dress-up, board games, garden toys, developmental/educational toys, they really have covered everything, and have it all laid out in a customer friendly manner, making it quick and easy to find what you're looking for. Well, kind of quick and easy ... I challenge anyone to walk through the store without playing with at least one toy that has unexpectedly caught your eye! The store looks inviting with the tidy, well planned layout and the giant signs inviting it's visitors to play and have fun! 


By 5.30pm, 30 minutes before the public opening, hundreds of families had gathered outside, eager to take a look inside the new store. However, the doors could not be opened until Hamley Bear had led his wonderful toy parade through the centre. 


Leah joined her fellow rag dolls, along with their friends the toy soldiers, Sylvanian Family characters, Barbie, and many other 'celebrities' and marched through the centre, whipping up a frenzy of excitement amongst shoppers who had been unaware of the grand opening. They ended their carnival of fun outside Hamleys, bringing with them more curious customers who were keen to see what all the fuss was about!


The store was then officially opened, with a speech from a bellowing man in a top hat and the clanging of a bell, and at that moment, families rushed in in their dozens, taking in the 'new shop' scent and the untouched displays. Well, mostly untouched - they had a little tidying to do behind me! 


Being situated within an already well populated shopping centre, Hamleys Lakeside does not have the flexibility with space as the famous London store, which is split along several floors. However, their space is used well, and in the next couple of months, visitors to the store will witness considerable expansion as there is a whole lot more waiting to be unveiled which is currently hidden as the building continues. Additional features promise to be just as exciting, including a party room which will be available to hire for private functions, as well as allowing the space for fun events to run during school holidays etc. 


Trust us when we say - exciting times are ahead for Hamleys, intu Lakeside!

Take a look at the fun packed video of the event!


Mummy and I had such a wonderful time, and I even got some lovely presents to take home!


So if you have never been to Hamleys, I can't recommend it enough. It's more than a toy shop ... It's a toy experience!


Sunday, 1 March 2015

Washing away the past!


So, I wrote quite a bit last year about moving home. About finding somewhere more suitable for our (not so) little family to live and how excited we all were at the whole idea. And we really were excited!

Well, I've written very little about it since. In fact, I've written very little about anything since, and I'm hoping that this post can explain one or two of the reasons behind our absence from our little blog space, as we've missed being here very much. But sometimes, for reasons way out of our control, life throws stuff your way and you have two choices ... 

Fight or Flight ...

In May, 2014, we got a call that a suitable property had become vacant and we had the opportunity to arrange a viewing. Not wanting to delay proceedings, we planned a viewing for later that day. The Man appealed to his boss for an early finish so that we could all go together. We bundled all 3 kids into the car and made our way to the house. The agent that was waiting there for us stated clearly as we arrived that, if we were wanting to accept the property, that we would be expected to pay a deposit and sign the official paperwork there and then in order to secure it. We looked around the house, and although it was far from perfect, it was better. That's all we wanted. We were never in search of perfect. The Man and I discussed it between us whilst the girls tap danced across the bare floorboards in the upstairs bedrooms, Munch getting excited as she planned where all her toys would go in her new bedroom. We stepped outside the front door just to take in the condition of the exterior once more, and that's when we met the neighbour for the first time. She came towards the fence and asked if we were planning on moving in to the house. When we told her we were, she warned us against it and told us we'd be making a big mistake if we accepted it. She went on to explain that the previous tenant, an elderly lady, had been forced to move out some 6 months previously (on Christmas Eve) because the house had flooded, leaving the lower floor of her home beneath several inches of rain water. She also added that no correction work had been carried out since she moved out and that the house had just been left to 'dry out'. Shocked, we challenged the agent about this and he claimed to have no knowledge of this situation and that he would have to investigate when he returned to the office.

Surely they wouldn't knowingly allow a family, with 3 very young children, to move into a house that is probably riddled with damp and one which flooded for some mysterious and unexplained reason ... Would they?

At the end of August 2014, 10 weeks later, we were finally doing it. We were informed that all issues had been dealt with and all necessary work had been carried out. We were moving into our new home. It wasn't perfect, and wasn't going to give us as much space as we had wanted, but it was a million times better than what we'd had, and we decided we could make it right for us. We were all very excited, and in just one very tense, extremely busy week, our lives had been moved from one town to the next, into our new home. The Man had taken a week off work and worked late into the night on a number of occasions, trying his hardest to prioritise and organise as he went along, the whole time watching as the hours ticked by bringing our tight deadline closer and closer. Without him, this move would never have happened, as moving home with 3 children in tow, along with their tantrums, demands, their ridiculously large toy collection, the bursting sacks full of clothes ... Oh, and the cuddly toys (Note to self: NEVER buy any more cuddly toys! Ever!) is no easy job. Munch was 4 and bubbling with excitement about starting school in September 2014, Beastie had not long turned 2 and I could already write a book on the Terrible Twos focused purely on her, and Plum was just 8 months old and fully dependent on my constant close attention. This was tough, but so worth it!

A couple of weeks down the line, and we had started to get the house into a more habitable state, just as we had promised to do before Munch went for her 1st day at big school. It was an exciting time for her. A new home. A new school. A new start. Slowly, we were working towards a better home and a better life. We became friendly with our new neighbours, feeling happy that we had friendly faces that would look out for us all as we were settling in. These neighbours had had our best interests at heart from the start, after all, making sure we were fully informed about the property's history. 

Shortly after our move, The Man changed his working hours. He went from working 7.30am-5pm each day to working 6am-3.30pm. This way, he would be home soon after we were back from the school run and he would be able to spend a bit more time with the children before they wind down for bed. And thank goodness he changed his hours when he did!

5.30am on Monday, 13th October, 2014, a very wet morning. It had been raining for quite a few hours through the night, and it was a dark, miserable start to the week. Little did we know at this point, that the week wasn't going to get much better! Plum was sleeping in the lounge following quite a rough night, so The Man left the house via the back door as we had open access from there to the front. As he left, he realised that the drain on the side of the house was overflowing and causing quite a deep puddle to form at the side of the house. "It might be worth ringing them about that later this morning", he pointed out, and I agreed I'd call them after the school run. Unfortunately, events weren't about to wait that long. 10 minutes after he had left for work, I was phoning The Man with a panicked tone. I'd gone into the Utility Room which was on the same side of the house as the overflowing drain and noticed a small trickle of water was creeping in through the wall. Less than 5 minutes later, the Utility Room was filled with around an inch of water, as was the secondary utility room and the back door area.


 I was in a mad frenzy, trying to get everything I could up off of the floor whilst Plum started to wake and demand my presence. Another 2 minutes and half of the kitchen was also under water. I was on the phone to Emergency Maintenance who told me someone would be round within 4 hours with some sandbags. I won't repeat what I told her she could do with her sandbags ...! I watched with pathetic, useless tears rolling down my face as the bottom of my large kitchen appliances started to disappear under the water. Another few minutes, and the entire lounge was also immersed. Plum sat in his travel cot, watching as me and The Man (who had rushed straight home again) fought this losing battle against the rush of water that just kept coming. Eventually, I decided we had run out of options, and realised we had no way of stopping the damage that was being caused right before our eyes. So I dialed 999 and asked for the Fire Brigade. 


By this point, the whole downstairs was under 4 inches of water, and within minutes, blue lights were flashing right outside the house. Four firemen came straight over to investigate the situation immediately, and another fire engine was called carrying another four firemen. We had firefighters outside, digging holes and pumping water away, some inside operating huge water vacs to reduce the water level indoors, and some with giant squeegee type mops, pushing the water back towards the entry points. It was chaos! All three kids were awake, the girls were forced to stay upstairs and were confused about what was going on and Plum was watching us pull soaking wet carpet up from the floor and frantically shifting belongings upstairs to keep it away from the water, some of which we suspected were already damaged beyond repair. At about 8.45am, around 3 hours after I made that panicked call to the Emergency Repairs Department, a man turns up, looking quite confused, asking where he should put the sandbags. He realised quite quickly, from the look on my face and the mayhem that was happening around him, that the horse had long bolted and we were way way beyond sandbags! "I'll just leave them here by the front door, just in case you need them ..." he muttered as he carefully backed away to return to the safety of his truck. 

This is the part where I praise the amazing work of the firemen that attended. Their quick reactions, their clear communication and their sheer hard work was above and beyond on that grim morning. Not only did they reduce the water inside our home and do everything they could to rectify whatever was causing it outside, they kept me calm and collected, they comforted Plum when he was looking scared and confused and they reassured The Pooch when he was going crazy with the fear of the unwelcome water and the crowds of strangers in and out of the house. They spoke to our neighbour so she knew what was happening, and she quickly came to our aid, taking the girls into her house to keep them warm and dry. She fed them, played with them, and even sent her son to the shop to buy them colouring books and crayons! With that and her Netflix subscription, they were able to relax and remain relatively ignorant to what was happening next door.

The Man and I spent the rest of the day regularly mopping the water entry points (of which there were 4 or 5) as the rain was light but relentless all day and the water just kept coming in. We made calls to the water company, to the council and to the local newspaper. We had visits from the council, 3 in total on that day, as they wanted to come and 'look' at the aftermath. Lots of these people spent a lot of time 'looking' at the mess. But no one was actually 'doing' or even planning to do anything! 

It would seem that the work that was meant to be carried out on the property to prevent this from happening again, indeed was not done. Or, at least, was not done correctly or sufficiently!

The coming weeks were filled with battles. Battles to get us moved, as the only offer we were made originally was to be moved temporarily whilst the dried the house out, and the move in again. Battles to get the offending drain inspected and dealt with, as despite the flooding, nobody had been to look at the drain once. Battles to get to the bottom of why this had happened and who was responsible, which is a battle that is very much still ongoing. Battles to determine whether or not it could have been avoided. As a result, during the 5 weeks that followed the original flooding, the 5 weeks that we were made to stay in the damp house with the children, we flooded another 2 times. The first time we caught it quickly and were able to act quickly enough between us to prevent the horror from before re happening, but the last time it happened, we weren't so lucky, and we were forced to call 999 again. 


Whilst we were battling the second incident ourselves, The Man, with a pair of my small sized Marigolds pulled onto his hands, reached down our drain himself. He hadn't had his arm down there for more than a few seconds when he pulled out a huge lump of concrete. The solid piece of rock had clearly been in liquid form when it was poured down our drain by the very contractors that had been employed to fix our problem, judging by the way it had shaped itself to the pipe and collected shingle stones that were also down there. To say we were shocked, angry and wanting answers was an understatement! We still haven't had any explanation for this.

In this time, the council sent a huge, noisy, smelly, expensive to run dehumidifier round for us to get the house dry ... 5 days after the flood! I sent it back the following Monday, telling them that they were welcome to dry the house, but they needed to shift us first. I have small children, and these machines were far from suitable devices for us to have in the living room!


Our story was published in the local paper, and we received some sporadic support from our local MP, although they didn't actually do anything that I hadn't done myself and seemed to have, at most, very little influence over a single proceeding regarding the council! I fought, daily. Emails, phone calls, letters, and to this day I continue to fight. 

I am happy to say, we did eventually move. Just before Christmas we moved to a new home that is more ideal in size and location and we are happy to be free of that place. I am happy, the children are happy, but I feel I should be happier. I've struggled a lot. I didn't like to admit it, as people around me urged me to keep fighting and never to give up. That was my plan. But I got tired. The fighting seemed fruitless and my cries appeared to be falling on deaf ears. The flooding took a lot away from us. Belongings, important documents ... But for a time, it took something away from me too. I'm still not sure what, but I just felt like giving up. I wanted to settle, but felt nervous doing so. I wanted to be happy, but felt guilty for what had happened and for the fact that we were, once again, being uprooted and moved, when just a few weeks earlier we had promised it would be our last move. I wanted to be excited about new beginnings but was just waiting for the next bad thing to happen. I wanted to share in the kids' joy but felt responsible for the weeks that had been wasted and the things that had been missed or delayed as a result. I just felt really sad and so very tired. And no, I didn't talk to anybody about it. Not even The Man really. He's probably reading this now and learning one or two things himself.

Am I feeling better about things now? I'm getting there. I have days where I think about what happened and it gets me down, but that doesn't mean I'm not grateful for the wonderful things I have. My family and friends are what have kept me strong these last few months. Without them, things would have been much darker. I'll pull myself out of this. I have to ... Apparently I have a Disney Frozen bedroom to decorate ...!!

Friday, 13 February 2015

Make sweet music with Ted Baker!


What is it they say about music being the food of love ...?

Whatever it is, we all know that music is a popular addition to Valentine's Day for the romantic couples among us. Whether you're dedicating that special song to that special someone on the radio or simply having that meaningful track playing softly in the background during a meal for two at home, the right music can set the perfect mood.

Ted Baker have decided to offer some beautifully stylish and wonderfully elegant products that will let you set the mood with an extra bit of 'wow' this Valentine's Day, and these beauties would make excellent alternative gifts to your loved one, or as a special 'just because you're worth it' gift to yourself!


Ted is proud to present Ted Baker Audio: a bespoke new collection of beautifully stylish audio products, crafted to appeal to all the senses and embracing all the fashionable advances that modern technology has to offer. Integrating the sharpest mix of design originality, uncompromising engineering and rich, superior sound that will transport you to another place, Ted Baker Audio sounds 

as good as it looks.

Introducing FINISTERRE from the Ted Baker Audio Collection

£199.99

In June this year Ted Baker unveiled a bespoke new collection of beautifully stylish audio products, crafted to embrace all the fashionable advances that modern technology has to offer.

Now, having provided the sartorial soundtrack to his legendary travels around the world, Ted’s tailored the humble wireless to create the newest addition to the range: FINISTERRE – a smart yet timeless DAB/ DAB+/FM Radio and Bluetooth Speaker.

Designed to ensure all senses are tuned to the same wavelength, FINISTERRE combines luxury materials, including brushed aluminium and genuine leather, with Ted’s unswerving attention to detail and a three-way speaker system that produces a warm acoustic sound, reminiscent of a good old-fashioned valve table radio.

Elegantly crafted, Ted Baker Audio’s £199.99 FINISTERRE is available in Brushed Silver and Black leather and Brushed Silver and Tan leather.

FINISTERRE’S understated design packs a surprising punch when it comes to delivering exceptional hi-fidelity sound quality. Equipped to receive DAB and DAB+ broadcasts as well as traditional FM with RDS, FINISTERRE allows you to effortlessly tune into radio stations from around the world, or to stream tunes from your digital device via wireless Bluetooth transmission. Other audio sources can be connected via a 3.5mm stereo line-in cable… and if that’s not enough, it also comes complete with a 3.5mm stereo headphone out, a USB for firmware updates, a clock/alarm with snooze, and a sleep function to boot.

Ted’s mixed the craft and artisanship of yesteryear with modern technology and dynamic hi-fi acoustics to deliver FINISTERRE: a radio that’s in tune with the times.

Introducing FASTNET from the new Ted Baker Audio Collection


£199.99

With electronics designed in unison with aesthetics, Ted Baker has created FASTNET: a beautiful folding Bluetooth speaker with integrated microphone. FASTNET is part of a fresh new collection of beautiful and sonically superior audio products from Ted Baker.

The £199.99 FASTNET design benefits from Ted’s eye for detail and unrivalled expertise in premium fabrics with its beautiful yet rugged brushed aluminium and tactile, genuine leather exterior. The model allows you to stream words and music from your digital device with no strings (or wires) attached. Designed from the outside in and engineered from the inside out, FASTNET features a 
unique folding portable design which protects the speaker whilst travelling and acts as a stable and convenient stand for instant tunes.

Its advanced design optimises sound reproduction and audio clarity, offers a simple Bluetooth pairing button to wirelessly connect your device and control the speaker and an integrated microphone for crystal clear, hands-free calls. The sealed enclosure audio design creates tighter and more accurate sound reproduction, while its high quality 5cm full-range driver delivers premium acoustics and a natural, detailed sound.

FASTNET pairs to your phone, laptop or any Bluetooth-enabled device, implementing version 3.0 with aptX lossless transfer for the finest audio performance. It keeps two pairings in memory for fast connection to commonly used devices. You can change tracks from your music source and adjust the  volume via FASTNET or your Bluetooth device. If you want to connect a device that does not have Bluetooth connectivity you can simply connect with a 3.5mm stereo line-in cable.

Offering true portability, FASTNET features a built-in rechargeable Li-ion battery (lasting around six hours between charges), an LED indicator for added convenience and can be connected via stereo line-in, if required. And, if that’s not enough, FASTNET also comes with a splendid travel case and power adaptor for wherever you lay your hat...

FASTNET is available in BRUSHED SILVER & BLACK leather, BRUSHED SILVER & TAN leather, BRUSHED CHAMPAGNE GOLD & WHITE leather, or BRUSHED CHAMPAGNE GOLD & NUDE PINK leather.

Beautiful to hold and behold, FASTNET is Ted’s bespoke speaker.

Introducing ROCKALL from the new Ted Baker Audio Collection

£149.99


Applying his eye for detail and ear for precision, Ted Baker has created ROCKALL: stylish, high performance over-ear headphones with a smart foldable construction to achieve the perfect harmony between rich, dynamic sound and distinctive design.


Elegantly crafted with Ted’s unrivalled expertise in high quality materials and attention to every element, Ted Baker Audio’s £179.99 ROCKALL is composed of brushed stainless steel, soft padding and supple, deluxe materials in the headband and ear cups to minimise external noise and ensure exceptional comfort.


As you’d expect from Ted, ROCKALL offers the perfect fit with a smooth slide mechanism allowing for flexible size adjustment and the perfect listening experience. It’s smart folding design minimises its size for when you’re on the move and a soft travel case is also included.

Minimising ambient background noise and maximising the warm yet crisp response delivered by the Ted Baker Audio collection, ROCKALL’S closed-back over-ear design delivers exceptional sound quality and a richly balanced bass response. ROCKALL comes with a textured tangle-resistant and fully detachable cable with handy smartphone remote and mic, allowing call and control functions for your Apple iOS device.

ROCKALL is available in Brushed Silver with Black or Tan headband/ear cup cushions, or Brushed Champagne Gold with White headband/ear cup cushion.

Introducing DOVER from the new Ted Baker Audio Collection

£49.99

Allowing you to immerse yourself in a dynamic sound experience wherever you are, Ted Baker has created DOVER: the connoisseur’s choice when looking to achieve perfect harmony between immersive and dynamic Hi-Fi sound quality and distinctive design. Elegantly crafted with Ted’s unrivalled expertise in high quality materials and attention to detail at its heart, DOVER’S closed-back-in-ear design delivers exceptional sound quality and comes with three sizes of silicone ear adapters to help you get lost in music and ensure an impeccable fit.


Applying his eye for detail and ear for precision, Ted Baker Audio’s £59.99 DOVER is precise, accomplished, and with an astonishing level of finesse (much like Ted, in fact). DOVER also comes with a soft travel case and textured tangle-resistant cable with handy smartphone remote and microphone, allowing call and control functions for your Apple iOS device.

DOVER delivers exceptional comfort and re-calibrates expectations of the audio performance you’d expect from a pair of in-ear headphones. DOVER is available in four eye-catching colourways; Silver and Black Cable & Ear Inserts; Antique Brass and Black Cable & Ear Inserts; Champagne Gold and White Cable and Ear Inserts; Rose Gold and Nude Pink Cable & Ear Inserts.

I think you'll agree, these are truly wonderful looking, stylish and timeless additions to any audio, home entertainment system. I think they would compliment any collection! And as these products are available to you through John Lewis, there's little excuse to miss out and every excuse to treat yourself that special person!

So, to recap,

If music be the food of love ...

... Let Ted Baker play on and on and on!

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Win with The Book of Life!


From producer Guillermo del Toro and director Jorge Gutierrez comes an animated comedy with a unique visual style. THE BOOK OF LIFE is the journey of Manolo, a young man who is torn between fulfilling the expectations of his family and following his heart. Before choosing which path to follow, he embarks on an incredible adventure that spans three fantastical worlds where he must face his greatest fears. Rich with a fresh take on pop music favorites, THE BOOK OF LIFE encourages us to celebrate the past while looking forward to the future.

Nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature Film, The Book of Life features the voices of Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana and Channing Tatum, The Book of Life promises to provide fun and entertainment for the whole family!


To celebrate the release of the DVD/Blu-Ray/HD Digital Download on Monday, 16th February, 2015, we are getting into the party spirit, ready to have our own Book of Life viewing party in The Patch! 

And what kind of party would it be without a bit of dressing up ...?!

If you're up for a bit of fun, you could join us, and win an amazing prize for your efforts!

Want to know more? Read on ...

You could be one of three lucky winners of a wonderful Book of Life prize bundle which includes a Blu-Ray Player, £100 worth of family films and a £100 voucher for Chiquitos Restaurants. Sounds like an awesome family prize! And to be in with a chance of winning, you can choose from a selection of three tasks:

Either


Download and complete the special colouring sheet and upload a photo of your child's masterpiece to the Book of Life Facebook page.

or


Download and print the costume templates and have a go at creating your own beautiful, ornate suit as worn by the film's hero, Manolo. Post your photo of your child modelling their designs onto the Facebook page.

or


Download your favourite quote sheet from the selection given and post your video of your child's character impression onto the Book of Life Facebook page.

Whichever you choose, you're sure to have a lot of fun as a family!

To download your chosen materials and to read all terms and conditions attached to the competition, visit https://winwithbookoflife.co.uk/ and start getting creative!


In the meantime, we will be busy preparing for our viewing party on Monday evening (16th February, 2015. 5pm-6.45pm) with our special Book of Life party box! Please do come and join in the fun on Twitter on Monday evening, using the hashtag #BookofLifeBluRay, and don't forget to post your photos and videos to the Book of Life Facebook page!

Good luck, and have fun!



Disclaimer
We were sent a copy of The Book of Life on Blu-Ray and a party box as seen above and we will be writing about our personal viewing party and our thoughts about the film in due course. No other payment has been received for the writing of these posts.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Picture Perfect with Panasonic

We like taking photographs here in The Patch ...


I love to capture moments during the day whenever I can. Therefore, the majority of my offerings are pictures of the children. Whether they're playing or eating, being cute or just plain cheeky, even when they are sleeping ... I just love to record every moment that I possibly can. After all, one day, they won't be babies any more. One day, they will grimace or shy away from the camera lens that is pointing in their direction. One day, instead of cheesy grins and enthusiastic cries of "Cheese!", I am more likely to hear "NO mum! My hair is a mess!" So, I am determined that, before that day comes, I will seize every precious second that I possibly can with a camera (well, usually my iPad, but it does the job!)

Ok, so they're not of a high, professional standard, but they're mine and they hold memories that will never be replaced.


When I need high quality and professional standard, there are two men in my life that I have always turned to. My dad, who has been a professional photographer for the whole of my life, and The Man who has, over the years, taken his own love for photography and developed it to create beautiful art. Both offer some of the most breathtaking images that I have ever seen!



I have been truly inspired over the years to pick up a camera more often. Between seeing these beautiful shots and having 3 amazingly photogenic subjects in our babies, I have found myself taking more photographs and taking a deeper interest in the features offered by better cameras on the market. My phone, my iPad, my point-and-click ... they all get used and they all have their uses. They're always to hand, they're basic and they capture the moment within seconds. However, these basic devices take basic photographs. I want to be able to control certain things when I am taking photos. I have been talking to The Man about it and he has said that he will teach me some of the things I need to know in order to improve the quality of my shots. I am really looking forward to learning!

Now begins the task of deciding which camera to get. There are so many available. And so many brands too. Brands that have been around for several years, others that have entered the market more recently with some spectacular features. One of the bigger electronic brands that I have grown up with and which remains a popular household name now as it was then, is Panasonic. I remember there were a few Panasonic appliances in our family home when I was a child, and I remember being told that it was a brand that was "built to last". I've grown up witnessing this for myself! 

It seems they have gone and got things just right, once again, with their new offering ...

The Panasonic Lumix CM1:
The premium compact camera with smartphone technology.

Just take a look for yourself. With its sleek, classic but contemporary design and list of modern features, it just goes to prove that Panasonic still has what it takes to create a fantastic product with a wide appeal! Definitely on my list now!



Published in conjunction with Panasonic. All words are my own.

Friday, 30 January 2015

Fancy a Snuggle, Valentine?

So, Valentine's Day ...
A special day for snuggling, or a day like any other?


As the years have passed, I have found that I celebrate this 'day for lovers' less and less each year. It seems to merge into insignificance as day-to-day life (ie. children!) takes over. However, as a mum to two girls, one of whom has started full time education, I am well aware that I need to prepare myself. I will need to share my daughters' love for Valentine's Day every year and share their woes when they fail to receive the cards and gifts they had expected. Oh yes, I know full well that I will be reliving my years of childhood romance, teenage dilemmas and heartache through the girls in years to come! 

As you can imagine, The Man can't wait!

Whether you are a lover or a hater of the famous 14th February, Fancy a Snuggle has some lovely little gifts that fit the theme perfectly!

5 Valentine’s Day Phone Cases Which Will Spark Romance This 
Year

Love is in the air again as Valentine’s Day approaches and at Fancy a Snuggle, there are an array of fantastic phone cases which are sure to set hearts aflutter. These cases not only look great and feel smooth in your hand, they also take care of your precious phone and suit an array of different phone models. 

Each case is precision-engineered from hard plastic to ensure a snug fit and can be customised to suit the needs and tastes of your recipient. So take a look at these Valentine’s themed designs and maybe you’ll find the perfect surprise for your loved one this year.

Red, yellow and orange heart-shaped sweets


This colourful collage of love-heart shaped sweets not only looks great but would definitely appeal to anyone with a sweet tooth. Not only is the colour scheme great but this case will suit any mobile phone brand or model. So why not share the love this Valentine’s Day with this beautifully designed case.

Heart Illustration


One of the more stylish Valentine’s cases on offer, this sketch of cupid’s arrow 
penetrating a heart is the classic image of desire. The artwork’s black and white 
minimalist approach looks fashionable and will suit anyone who prefers simple, 
expressive designs. The case can be tailored to fit any brand or model.

Single Red Rose


Valentine’s Day always seems to be a time for red roses but flowers eventually die and fade away. This single red rose won’t fade and will be a permanent reminder of your love. It’s a beautiful lasting image and one that the one your Valentine will always remember. It will protect their phone and affirm your feelings, and really encapsulates a traditionalists approach to Valentine’s gift giving. If any phone case epitomizes what Valentine’s Day means, then this surely must rate at the top.

The Neon Heart


Struggling to find the perfect gift for your loved one? Why not light up their day with this vivid neon heart phone case design. With its stylish mix of dark blue, bold red and luminous white, the case’s colour scheme is tasteful and elegant and brings together an alternative modern look to the traditional Valentine’s Day image and style. A sophisticated case for anyone who enjoys simple modern design.

Heart-shaped Lollipops


For a case which will suit your female love interest, look no further. This pink case, covered in heart-shaped lollipops, could be the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for the lady in your life and will certainly let her know how you feel. A must have case for anyone who loves pink.

So, whether you want to treat the special person in your life to a pretty, eye-catching Valentine's gift, or you feel like treating yourself and cutting out the middle man, Fancy a Snuggle has a fantastic, wide range of cases for you to choose from!

Take a look and see what you think.

Oh, and Happy Valentine's Day ...

... Or not!!

Monday, 8 September 2014

Dear Mrs O ...


Dear Mrs O, as the new term begins,
I felt I should write you a letter.
I'm not really sure what I want it to say,
But writing stuff makes me feel better!

September of the year 2014,
Has no real importance to some.
But here, there are emotions all over the place,
Some which are leaving me quite numb.

Monday the 8th is a very big day,
It's the day that I bring you my Munch!
She'll stay with you all by herself for some time,
And I'll leave her with you until lunch.


I'm feeling a little bit nervous now,
Between excitement and dread I feel torn.
I knew I would struggle, but never this much,
As i get ready to share my first born!

Munch and I have always been close,
A mummy's girl right from the start.
We have always done everything together you see,
She's our original 'Mini Me' Hart!

Whenever she's sick or full of a cold,
If she falls and grazes her knee ...
At times when she's sad and just needs a hug,
She always comes straight to me!


Days when she's tired and just wants to chill,
On those mornings following a bad night.
She knows we can curl up and watch some TV,
Or read a book until she's feeling alright.

Now what will happen if she's feeling sad?
Will you promise to notice her tears?
Will you be there to lift her when she falls down?
Will you hug her to soothe any fears?

I know she's excited, I know she is scared,
Anxious and quite worried too.
I smile and tell her she's going to be fine,
Because I know that is totally true.


But it's hard to keep smiling and urging her on,
Some tell me to stop being a fool.
We grew so comfortable in the safety net,
That we lived in with nursery school.

So uniform is bought and new shoes are clean,
She's told me how she wants her hair!
She's written her holiday diary,
Ready to take in and share.

Mrs O, please will you promise,
To take our Munch under your wing?
Will you care for her just like I do?
Do you have my number so you can ring?


Will you hug her if she feels frightened?
Will you laugh with her when she's a clown?
Will you stop her when she takes jokes a little too far,
And know how to calm her right down?

I know now's the time to loosen my grip,
To untangle the old apron strings.
The first step to letting her find her own way,
And helping her spread her wings.

I'm finding it hard to let go here, you see,
My feelings are all in a whirl!
I'm handing you something so precious to me,
As I hand you my big baby girl!


She grew fond of you on the very first day,
When she met you on her trial session.
When you showed all the apprehensive parents and kids,
How we could await our child's great progression.

I know that she will have fun with you,
I'm sure you will see she's alright.
Please send her home to me in one beautiful piece,
So I can hug her and kiss her goodnight?!

So I think what I am trying to say,
As I bring this note to the punch ...
Is please take care of our big baby girl,
And enjoy sharing our special Munch!