Sunday, 31 August 2014

Silent Sunday 31/8/14

Friday, 29 August 2014

Tall Daughter reviews Coca-Cola Life and Tanya Burr nails.

 

You may have seen the new green Coca-Cola Life cans in the supermarket recently. They're certainly eye-catching, and walking past the display in a supermarket yesterday I overheard a group of girls wondering what it tasted like.

We got the chance to find out when we were sent a sample to test, along with a can of Classic Coke, Diet and Coke Zero. Fizzy drinks are only ever a weekend treat in our house, so this was a bonus for the girls.

As it turned out, it was (14 year old) Tall Daughter and her friend who did the tasting, which - to make it a fair test - I thought they should do blind.

I put the four different Cokes in anonymous cups (they didn't see the cans, and the classic coke can mysteriously 'disappeared' from the fridge so I bought a bottle for the tasting) and asked both girls to taste them, put them in order of preference and to also guess which was which.


The results were interesting: both girls preferred cup A (Diet Coke) but thought it was Classic Coke. They also both put cup D (Coke Zero) in 4th place.

The Coke Life came out of it well, both girls said they would drink it, but knew it wasn't their normal 'Coke' choice. I suppose part of it is getting used to a new taste.

I'm pleased Coca-Cola have introduced a drink with less sugar. The new Life is sweetened by stevia, a leaf extract, and has a third less sugar and 89 calories a can. While it still couldn't be described as a healthy option, as a weekend treat for the girls it's a move in the right direction.



Tall Daughter is a massive Youtuber fan, so when I asked her if she'd like to review some of the Tanya Burr nail polishes she nearly burst my ear-drums by shrieking "YES!"

I'll be honest, I had no idea who she was so I'll hand over to TD to tell you more.

"Tanya Burr is HUGE on Youtube where she's a beauty and lifestyle guru, and I love her blog too. She makes videos about her favourite beauty brands, e.g. nail polishes and make-up.  She also makes fun videos with her fiance Jim Chapman and her friend Zoella (The mega-star blogger and Youtuber, Zoe Sugg).

Tanya also does meet and greets for fans, but I haven't met her. Yet!

I like wearing nail colours when I'm not in school and the Tanya Burr polishes are all great quality and the packaging is really pretty. They don't take long to dry, and cover well - I have used them with just one coat - and lots of my friends complimented me on my nails and asked about the colours.

There are ten colours in the range and I'd already bought one of the colours before we were sent another four to review, mine is the blue one called Little Duck. The lids were a bit fiddly to get off sometimes, but apart from that I really liked them."


So there you have it, two reviews carried out by Tall Daughter with a little help from her friend.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Tessie is ten! Plus 10 reasons to adopt a retired racing greyhound



We've reached a couple of big milestones with our lovely greyhound Tessie. On 1st of July she turned 10 and then 2nd August marked 5 years since we adopted her.

Tessie has been a complete joy since the day we brought her home from the kennels.  We haven't had a moments trouble with her (if you ignore the cake stealing) and I can't imagine life without her, so I thought this might be a good time to give 10 reasons why you should consider a greyhound as your next dog.

1.  They don't need a lot of exercise. 
This is one of the main misconceptions about greyhounds, that because most are ex-racers they need a lot of exercise, when in fact the opposite is true. A greyhound is happy with two 20 minutes walks a day. Of course, they will walk for longer but they really don't need it. 

2. They are low maintenance 
Greyhounds are easy to look after, don't need a lot of expensive grooming and are happy to spend most of their day sleeping.  They also have little or no body odour, which means none of that doggy smell in the house.

3. They are very quiet 
Greyhounds rarely bark, and are very quiet dogs. When we were considering adopting a dog I didn't want a loud, yappy dog, and discovered that greyhounds are one of the quietest breeds. They like to 'roo' when they make a low howling sound, but not very often. Tessie only barks when she needs/wants something - food, a walk, or needs to go in the garden.

4. They are very clean and easy to housetrain
Ex-racers in particular are trained to keep their kennels clean and do their business outside, which makes it easier to transfer to their new lives when they're adopted.  Tessie has been clean in the house since day one.

5. Greyhounds are good with children
They're just as good as any other breed and better than many because of their gentle nature. Plus ex-racers are used to being handled by their trainers at the racetrack and as a result are patient with children who can be a bit rough and tumble with pets. 

When I was thinking of adopting a greyhound, a friend said she was concerned it might be aggressive because they're trained to chase small animals. I promised her I wouldn't let my children dress up as rabbits or hares.

6. Black greyhounds are 'hypoallergenic'
Greyhounds don't have undercoats which means they are less likely to cause allergies in humans, particularly black greyhounds which shed less than the other types.

7. They are loyal, gentle animals
Greyhounds have a very gentle temperament and are very eager to please their owners. They are usually so grateful for a home and a warm comfortable bed that they prove themselves to be loving, gentle pets. 

8. Many greyhounds can live happily with cats 
Despite their high prey-drive and training to chase small furry animals, many retired greyhounds are trained to co-exist with other animals and are safely rehomed to families with cats. The Retired Greyhound Trust will match a greyhound to your family's requirements, and make sure they get the best fit for both you and the hound.

9. Watching them run is a thrill
Greyhounds are the fastest dogs on earth and can reach speeds of 40-45mph. The first time I stood close to Tessie running at top speed was  one of the most thrilling things I'd seen.  To watch her run around me in circles, purely for pleasure, at such close range was amazing, and even now that she's older and runs less and less it's still wonderful to see her run across a field.

10. There are literally hundreds of retired greyhounds looking for their forever homes. 
Racing greyhounds are retired from racing at the age of 5, and even earlier if they are not successful racers, so there are hundreds of them around the country just waiting for someone to adopt them.  If you want an elegant, eye-catching pedigree dog then a greyhound might be the dog for you. 

If you are interested in adopting one of these beautiful animals, please contact the Retired Greyhound Trust who will put you in touch with your local branch.


Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Fun and flavour with Chewits Xtreme at the Chill Factor-e!


We were recently invited to an exclusive event at the Chill Factor-e near the Trafford Centre, Manchester. It was to celebrate the launch of Xtreme Chewits new pineapple sour flavour, to add the already popular tutti frutti and apple flavours.

We jumped at the chance to attend as not only do we like Chewits, but it's also quite unusual to be invited to an event aimed at teenagers.  Tall Daughter invited two of her friends to enjoy an afternoon of airboarding and extreme sledging, and after being kitted up and following the safety talk they were having a great time on the slopes.

I'm going to let the photos do the talking, but needless to say they all had a great time and even after stuffing their faces with Chewits they used up enough energy to demolish a very nice buffet meal afterwards.





video

It was lovely to meet other bloggers at the event too: Ally from Messed Up Mum, @GymBunnymum and Jenny from The Brick Castle, as well as their lovely families.

Thanks to everyone at Chewits for organising an  afternoon of Xtreme fun!

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

The noblest thing you will ever do

Robin Williams in Dead Poets' Society

This morning I woke to the news that the wonderful Robin Williams had died after an apparent suicide.

A hugely talented actor and comedian, he leaves behind a legacy of brilliant performances in films and TV shows including one of my all-time favourites, Dead Poets' Society.

Whatever the reason for his death, one thing is certain - here was a man who despite his talents, accolades and worldly goods, was bedevilled by depression.



I posted a quote this quote by Stephen Fry on Facebook, but despite believing it to be true and wishing people would take every word to heart, my own experience of depression tells a different story.

I have only ever told three friends that I struggle with depression. As in, actually sat down with them and tried to explain the dark moods, the blackness, the despair. Since then, only one of those friends has maintained contact with me.

I get it. Depression is difficult to understand. Why would someone like Robin Williams be depressed? He has more money and fans than he could shake a stick at. And yet, he was.

And it's embarrassing to talk about. I mean, everyone feels a bit down sometimes don't they? Pull yourself together!

Then there's the disbelief that someone is depressed. "But you always seems to happy!" Well, a lot of people with depression are experts at covering it up with a smile. I know, sounds crazy but it's true. How can someone smile if they're depressed? Yet they do.

Something that I'm guilty of doing myself is trying to find a reason for depression, something that has triggered an episode, and I only recently realised that there doesn't have to be one.

Depression is just there, like a rain cloud that passes over a town without warning. A town where people where playing in the park, or had hung their washing out on the line to dry in the sun. A place where one minute it was bright and happy and the sun was shining and now, suddenly, it's pouring with rain.

If anything good comes from Robin Williams' death, let it be a better understanding of mental illness and depression, and that people think about their own friends and relatives who struggle with it and try to understand what they can do to help.

Please, try to help. A text, an email, a phone call. Just knowing someone is thinking about you, it helps.

God bless, Mr Williams. Rest in peace.

Mind
Depression Alliance

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Our review of the Kia Carens 1.7 CRDi


The Kia Carens is the fourth Kia car I've driven and in all honesty I've become a bit of a fan. 

We had the Carens on review for a week, which coincided with my first week off work and meant we could get out and about a bit more than usual.  We took advantage of it to head off to the beach; go to Yorkshire for the weekend; do our normal around town driving; and enjoy a couple of long drives in the countryside.

I'm not a driving expert, so there'll be no mention of torque or coupled torsion (sounds painful), just pretty simple terms about what we thought of it as a family car. 

First impressions


When it was delivered to the driveway, I was a surprised (and a bit excited it has to be said) to see it was a 7-seater.  As a family of 3, we don't need that many seats but visions of day-trips with a car full of teenagers suddenly became a possibility reality.  

The Carens has 7 permanent seats with two rear seats that are easily (with the pull of a strap) lowered to increase the boot size. With the two rear seats up, the boot size is pretty small, but big enough for a day out or general everyday driving.  We also used it as a 6-seater with just one of the rear seats down, which gave us plenty of boot room. 

Using all of the seats, it comfortably accommodated 7 people, plus a large picnic cool box, a beach chair, bags and the normal paraphenalia you need for a day at the beach. 


What we liked

We liked the spacious interior with generous leg room, plenty of head room and comfortable, adjustable seats. My girls were also impressed that the first two rows of seats could be reclined to an almost horizontal position - handy for long drives when the kids are tired no doubt.  

We liked the versatility of the seating and boot space. I was impressed with the rain-sensor front wipers, the reversing sensor (handy with a larger car) and the automatic setting available for the headlights. There were also underfloor storage boxes for essential items (first aid kit, maps, umbrellas) and a novel little 'conversation' mirror above the rear view mirror which gave a clear view of the back two rows of seats - ideal for keeping an eye on small children. 

The Teenager loved the USB ports and the multi-speaker system (ideal for playing Foo Fighters LOUD!) and Tall Daughter loved the amount of space - even with all seats occupied there was plenty of room for everyone, nobody felt 'squished'. 

I'm not the most confident driver, but I found the Kia Carens very easy and enjoyable to drive, and it really came into its own on the motorway - smooth with a very responsive engine.

This was also my first experience of driving a diesel car, and I was pleasantly surprised at how quiet it was. It was also very economical on fuel - at the end of a week of urban and motorway driving it had done an impressive 53mpg. 

What we didn't like

My own really small quibble is that the speedometer wasn't a digital display, which I have in my own car, but I suppose it's just what you get used to.  

Of course, the other thing we didn't like is that we only got to keep the Carens for a week.  Sad times.