Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Simple pleasures are the best

Image source
This morning while out walking I was standing in the middle of a field, like you do. Well it's a field where the hound likes to run.

Suddenly I realised there was a flock of about 10-12 swallows flying around the field. They were flying incredibly fast and swooping low then back up again. I noticed a couple of times some of the birds were meeting up during flight and that one bird was passing something to the other. I now realise one bird was feeding insects to the other. 

There's something very thrilling about seeing nature at close quarters and I stood there for a good 5 minutes watching them swoop and soar and chirp. It was all so peaceful and beautiful, and very uplifting. 

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Win £15 to spend on the Tesco Back to School range

It's that time of year again when the new school year beckons and parents around the country start panicking about school uniforms.  So imagine how pleased I was last week when a lovely ribbon-tied box of uniform arrived from Tesco! The box was full of shirts, two skirts, two pairs of trousers, stationery (which disappeared shortly after this photo was taken) and a bottle of Comfort.  All very much appreciated, so a big thank you to Clothing at Tesco.

We were lucky enough to receive a similar box last year and I have to say that the quality of the uniform was very good and it has worn very well throughout the year.

I also loved this extra little touch inside the box, look how clever this label is:

Also inside the box was a £15 online voucher for Tesco Back to School range to use as a giveaway, so if you'd like to win the voucher please leave a comment and I'll select someone at random tomorrow (Wednesday 31st August @ 6pm).  Good luck!

UPDATE: the winner of the online voucher (chosen at random) is Catherine Holmes @netcurtains - well done, please email me for the details!

Monday, 29 August 2011

How to spot a blogger

Image credit

I think there are some obvious signs that you are in the presence of a blogger:

They're always taking photos - in the supermarket, out for a walk, cooking a meal, eating a meal - they're always clicking away because they never know when it might come in handy.

They get twitchy if they have no internet access.

They say things like "I can feel a Silent Sunday coming on" and "I can relax now that I've done my Gallery post."

When taking photos of their children they will say things like "C'mon, you know you're not supposed to look at the camera!" I've witnessed this myself, haven't I Rosie Scribble?

There will be a pile of items, waiting to be reviewed, stacked up somewhere in their house.

They have an area of hard skin just above their knees where they balance their laptop.

They have perfected the art of blogging and watching TV at the same time, and everybody knows what they're watching because they tweet about it.

They're constantly checking their phones for emails, tweets, facebook updates.  God forbid they should leave their phone at home and have no way of checking how popular they are.

Every unusual, happy, interesting event is blog fodder, and if writing it in retrospect they may even stage re-enactments and take photos. Believe me, it happens.

Their children say things like "you're obsessed with your blog!" or "take a photo for your blog Mum".

When a group of bloggers meet they spend most of the time tapping away at their phones.

They're the tell-tale signs I can think of, can you think of any others?

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Blogging for the hell of it

Image credit

I've had a number of emails recently (okay, three) from newbie or would-be bloggers asking me how to get started, how to improve their blog stats and also, how to get PRs interested in their blogs.

When I started blogging in 2008 the idea it being read by another living soul didn't even occur to me, and I didn't have the foggiest idea about PRs and why they would want to contact me.

Similarly, I didn't know anything about stats, google readers, SEO or analytics etc. In fact I still know very little about SEO and my eyes always start to glaze over when I try to read anything on the subject.

So, to answer some of the questions I've been asked. I blog because I enjoy it, it's a hobby, it's free and I didn't need any qualifications to start it off.

Yes, I do enjoy the PR offers (and I should point out that it was a good year to 18 months before they showed any interest) and we've been on trips, tried out some great products and met some wonderful people all as a result of blogging BUT, and this is a big but (with one t) I think it's a bit cynical to start writing a blog with the main intention of attracting PRs.

If you write a blog for fun or to help improve your writing skills, or whatever reason you have for blogging then that's great because you'll enjoy doing it. If blogging becomes a chore then it will show in your writing, and if you have an ulterior motive then that will be obvious too.

My tips for blogging? Write about whatever it is that interests you. Read other blogs, and leave comments. Get yourself seen on Twitter and Facebook. Twitter is particularly good for making contacts with other bloggers and finding out about news and blog posts you may never otherwise be aware of. And above all, enjoy it.

Blog for the hell of it. And because it's an established fact that bloggers are lovely, lovely people *cough*

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

A subtle change

wrote a blog post recently about how I thought I was on the brink of a big change. It all seemed a bit vague, even to me, because I couldn't explain what that change was but things have progressed slightly. And I emphasise the word slightly.

Over the past few weeks I've noticed a subtle, but definite, change in my outlook. Instead of feeling that the future is not necessarily something to look forward to, I'm beginning to think that it's full of something I can only describe as potential. There's now a germ of an idea that I do actually have some choice in the future and that it's not necessarily destined to be one of loneliness and greyness.

And that change, that very subtle shift in outlook, is huge for me. Huge.

Friday, 19 August 2011

How to make your Teenager very, very angry

I'm a bit of an expert at making The Teenager angry (merely existing usually does it) but this time I surpassed myself. On the second day of our Gamescom trip she challenged me dance with her on Dance Central to the song 'Born this Way' by Lady Gaga.  I had a lot of fun but the crowning glory was that I got a higher score than her. Cue the Teenager storming off in a strop before returning to claim that she'd let me win. Yeah right. She just won't admit that I've got some good moves...

This lady was overdressed in
comparison to some of the others!
Our third and final day at Gamescom was fun, hectic and very tiring. But hey, someone has to do it!

We walked around all day looking at the new games being launched by all of the different developers although at one point we were stopped from wandering into one area because my girls were under 18. I was pleased that this particular company was careful to keep children away because of the game's violent content but it has to be said that some others were not as vigilant.  In one of the main halls we found ourselves in the company of several semi-naked women advertising various online games, and if I tell you that one woman was only wearing body paint and a smile then you catch my drift.

It was a relief to make our way back to the Xbox area, where I was confident that my girls wouldn't be exposed to any adult content and could play in safety. I suppose it's the same in life as it is online, children can accidentally find themselves in the wrong place. Keeping safe online can be an unknown area for some parents and that's where we can sometimes need a bit of help.

And that's something Xbox are very keen on and their Play Smart Play Safe website comes in very handy.  That's where you can find out more about the family settings and tips for teenagers on how to stay safe.

We had the most amazing time at Gamescom, and we'd like to say a huge thank you to Paul Fox from Xbox for making the trip possible, and the fabulous Kerry Jean Lister from Digital Outlook for being professional, friendly and well, just ace. Thanks guys.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Dancing, geeks and family fun at Gamescom

Welcome to geek central

Our second day at Gamescom and today was press and media day. We got to look around before it was open to the public so we had access to some great games.
My girls at Gamescom today

When we arrived we entered the big hall where the different software companies had stands exhibiting their new games. But we were surprised as we were expecting the whole thing to be a little bit bigger until we looked at a map and realised we were only in one hall and there were about 10 of them altogether! Duh!

On the Xbox stand we got to play on Dance Central (probably our favourite!), Disney Adventures which I mentioned yesterday, Once Upon a Monster, Kinect Sports and Kinectmals.

We absolutely loved Dance Central 2 which is even more fun than the original. We got to meet and interview the developer of Dance Central, John Drake and my girls got to play on it with Chanel, the actual choreographer of all the dances. As John explained to us, they have improved in several ways the most impressive of which is voice commands. Instead of using hand controls - which we thought was fantastic on the first one! - you can now say "Xbox pause/slow down/repeat' and so on and it does it. Amazing. There is also a better 'Break it down' section where you can just choose the steps that are proving tricky instead of doing the whole thing again. John also told us that Lady Gaga is a big fan of Dance Central and that she was keen to have Born This Way as one of the new featured songs.

John Drake, developer of Dance Central
Tall Daughter and her friend playing on Disney Adventures
Disney Adventures is going to be a huge hit with children of all ages. It allows you to walk around a digital version of their famous theme parks with a choice of several rides or games to take part in. I talked about it on yesterday's blog post so I won't repeat myself, just to say it'll be released in time for Christmas 2011.

Tall Daughter and The Teenager playing on Once Upon a Monster

Once Upon a Monster (release date October 14th) is a Sesame Street themed game aimed at children aged 4-8. It's a non-competitive game set out in 30 minutes segments and the idea is to encourage co-operation, social skills and sharing, along with learning how to take care of the environment and, of course, having fun.  My daughters played a game where they had to help Elmo and the Cookie monster to pick up litter and put it in the correct bin. Great fun.

Read more about how to Play Smart Play Safe on the official Xbox website.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Having fun, keeping safe

So, Gamescom.

We're at the one of the world's major interactive games' events in Cologne, courtesy of Microsoft.

The event is HUGE and I've never seen so many geeks intelligent looking men in one place. We've spent today at a special Play Day where we got to try out some of the new Microsoft games that will be launched in time for Christmas this year.

We've had a lot of fun today playing the new versions of Dance Central, Star Wars and Kinect Sports plus a fantastic new Kinect game Disney Adventures which is perfect for children but I also had a go at it and enjoyed flying with Peter Pan. Well, doesn't everyone want to fly? I predict that one will be a hugely popular game with families, as it's great for children of all ages. And their parents *cough*

We all loved the new version of Dance Central which we all found easier to follow and the Star Wars game looked great too.  We also really wanted to play on the new Forza game but just as we got to the front of the queue our coach arrived and we had to go!

One of the best things about the Microsoft games is the fact they are very keen on online safety. They have designed Family Settings which allows parents to have control over the content of their children's viewing, and there is also a Play Smart Play Safe website which gives parents information and help to make sure that they're staying safe as well as having fun.

More from Gamescom tomorrow.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Xbox Ambassadors: Next stop Cologne

We're getting very excited about our trip to Cologne tomorrow.

We've been invited to Gamescom 2011 as part of our role as Xbox Family Ambassadors and we'll be travelling with some other rather lovely blogging families and trying our hand at speaking German, eating bratwurstchen and maybe a little chocolate?

I used to live in Germany many moons ago - I lived in Hannover for 18 months, coming back in 1982, so that's...erm,  29 years right ago? Eek! But I should, in theory, be able to get by with the lingo. Fingers crossed.

We'll be there until Thursday and reporting back daily with all the news and gossip from Gamescom.

Watch this space!

Saturday, 13 August 2011

How to drive a car and still save money

A couple of weeks ago I was invited along to the Museum of Science and Industry to learn how to save money by driving more efficiently. Not the most exciting invitation you might think, but I was keen to learn how to save money. Every little helps, as they say and I resent having to pay the inflated fuel prices at the pumps.
Johanne Smith from Shell, and Quentin Willson doing jazz hands. 
We heard from Johanne Smith, a fuel scientist at Shell who talked about their new product, Fuelsave and from motoring expert and former Top Gear presenter, Quentin Willson. This is the official Shell blurb:

First of all, the innovation behind the fuels lies in the Shell Efficiency Improver. In the case of Shell FuelSave Regular Unleaded, it works to reduce energy losses by lubricating parts of the engine where oils are less effective. For Shell FuelSave Regular Diesel, it is designed to ignite and burn more effectively than regular diesel, helping to produce more efficient combustion in the engine. The fuels can help drivers save up to 1 Litre per tank at no extra cost. Johanne Smith, Shell Fuels Scientist, says:
“Shell FuelSave Regular Unleaded and Diesel are a genuine technological breakthrough that mean millions of drivers in Britain could become more fuel efficient and save money at the same time.”

Johanne told us that only 25% of fuel is used efficiently in a car engine and so Shell wanted to develop a fuel that helped to use some of the wasted 75% and Fuelsave is designed to leave fewer deposits on the engine which makes it run more efficiently in the long run. 

Quentin (yes, I'm on first names terms with him now *cough*) was full of fuel saving tips. Some of them might be obvious:
  • keep your tyres at the right pressure. Under inflated tyres can reduce fuel economy by 10%;
  • make sure your car is serviced regularly and the engine is tuned;
  • use higher gears and avoid over revving - change up a gear when you can without labouring the engine;
  • drive smoothly - aggressive driving can use as much as a third more fuel;
  • avoid accelerating and braking too hard;
  • using the air conditioning uses up to 10% of fuel energy. Opening the windows uses up to 5% because of drag. Avoid both if possible but if you can't stand it, open a window rather than using the AC.
Basically, the bottom line is that every time you use the brake pedal you are wasting fuel energy. The key is to read the road ahead - for example by slowing down before roundabouts and traffic lights instead of braking suddenly when you actually reach them. Seems so obvious doesn't it? But how many of us do it?

Other, less obvious, tips included:
  • if you have time in the mornings, allow your engine to idle for a minute before driving off, it allows the engine to warm up and work more economically;
  • don't fill the fuel tank to the top - only ever halfway - as the extra weight will reduce the car's efficiency; 
  • always reverse into a parking space - it uses less fuel if you manoeuvre into a space when the engine is warm than doing it when you've just started the engine and it's cold;
  • don't keep 'stuff' in your car, get rid of unnecessary car clutter - all that extra weight is making your car engine work harder.
Now, I'm not the most confident of drivers but when I was offered the chance to go out for a 'masterclass driving lesson' by Mr Willson (with two Ls by the way, if you don't mind) I jumped at the chance. After driving around Manchester for a few minutes so he could observe my driving he told me that my foot was permanently attached to the accelerator and that I had to learn to 'hover' over it, and use to only when necessary. He gave me lots of good tips and I've been trying to adopt them (although it's so difficult to get out of those bad habits!)

So, there you have it. Shell Fuelsave, can it save you money? Well I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt and I've started using it because a) it's the same price as standard non-leaded, and b) anything that promises to save me money is onto a winner with me. 

And Quentin's driving tips? My average MPG is up from 38.7 to 39.8 and rising. I'm a happy driver.

Disclosure: I was invited to the event and given lunch. And a driving lesson!

Friday, 12 August 2011

Refuge: 1 in 4 women

Today, domestic violence is the biggest issue affecting women and children in this country. I'm sure we all know of someone who has experienced it, or at least there will be someone in all of our lives who is living through it in silence.

For the last three years Refuge and Avon have worked together to raise awareness of this horrific crime and to support women suffering in silence. Many people know that one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, but few know that twice as many are affected by the scourge of domestic violence.

On Thursday 11 August 2011, a new Facebook App will be revealed which will show you what 1in4women could mean to your world. The 1in4women campaign calls on women to learn and recognise the signs of domestic violence so that they can support a friend who might be suffering now, or in the future.

With only 16 per cent of women reporting incidents to the police, the majority of domestic violence is suffered in silence. We hope to empower women with the skills to help make this stop. But to do this we need to create mass awareness of the issue and of our campaign.

1in4women campaign launches on Thursday 11 August. Please support Refuge and speak out against domestic violence by downloading their 1in4women app and tweeting about the campaign:

#1in4women experience domestic violence. I’m supporting @Avon_UK & @RefugeCharity to help break the silence

Refuge has come a long way since it opened the world’s first refuge in 1971. What started out as a single house in Chiswick, West London, has grown to become the country’s largest single provider of emergency accommodation and specialist support for women and children fleeing domestic violence.

On any given day, we support 1,600 women and children through our national network of refuges and community based support. It costs us £10million every year to provide our life-saving and life-changing services and from every £1 we fundraise 83p goes directly to our services.

Refuge is committed to a world where domestic violence is not tolerated and where women and children can live in safety. To find out more, please click here:

Thursday, 11 August 2011

McVitie's Jamaica Ginger Cake, Rustie Lee and me

When I was little we would usually have cake after our tea (we're northern, so tea was our evening meal).  Most of the time Mum would have made something like apple pie or scones, but occasionally if she hadn't had time she would break out the McVitie's Jamaica Ginger Cake. We loved it when that happened because, as delicious as Mum's cakes were, we didn't get the Ginger cake as often so it was more of a treat.

I used to love the slightly sticky texture and the deep, slightly spiced flavour of the cake. But you had to be quick in our house as there were six of us all wanting a piece!

Some facts for you about McVitie’s Jamaica Ginger Cake:
  •  it's been made to the same top-secret recipe handed down from generation to generation for over fifty years,
  •  less than five people know the exact recipe,
  • over 13.17m cakes are sold in the UK each year.
Well now, McVitie's have given their Jamaica Ginger Cake a bit of a makeover - check out its fancy new packaging! Just so you know, it can be eaten on its own or if you’re feeling more creative you could use it as an ingredient. There's a competition on the Jamaica Ginger Cake facebook page where you can win a dream holiday by sharing your favourite way to serve it. Definitely worth entering!

If you’re looking for some inspiration, TV favourite, Rustie Lee (that's right, the one with the crazy laugh) has teamed up with McVitie’s to create a series of delicious recipes using Jamaica Ginger Cake. Visit for more information or watch Rustie in action on this short video.

Jamaica Ginger Cake costs just £1.49 and is available from all major retailers.

*Disclosure: This is a sponsored post*

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Guest Post: Fun?

I'm on holiday so have invited a lovely guest blogger to take over the reins. Older Single Mum is new  to the blogging world, please give her a warm welcome.

The Lodger said to me in a quiet voice – which is still apt to throw me after the rampaging lunatic previously masquerading as a husband who, for such a very reason now no longer lives here – ‘What is the common thread?’

Interesting, I mused. ‘Not enough fun’ was my reply.

We had been discussing the shortcomings of my friends’ various husbands and their recent moans about basic requests being ignored. Could they mow the lawn while the wife was out with the children? Pick up milk? Just sweep up the childrens’ breakfast crumbs?

It seems not.

One lady has to deliberately NOT ask her husband for what she wants done, suggest it needs doing but make out it is something else she requires, if he wouldn’t mind awfully and the reverse psychology does the trick. Who has got the time for all that jazz? Who has the energy?

I’d much rather be a single parent and know the goddamn it’s all down to me, thank you very much.

Yes, our eyes might be closed as we sweep the floor when the little ones are in bed, or they are inclined to make the job ten times as long by ‘helping’ and we know how desperate we are for a cuppa when we get home, so aren’t likely to forget - or aren’t too lazy – to pick up some milk on the way back from our days out with them.

The lawn doesn’t get mown, or, truth be told, when it really has grown to be unbearable and the children can’t find their footballs in it, very occasionally, I throw £15 at a local gardener and hey presto - it does.

It’s really not that complicated, men. Just listen to us. And make us laugh.

The power of ‘crossing ones legs’ was discussed by older women than me in an office where I worked, before that could possibly mean anything to one so young, and in this fabulous company the other day, I passed on these well worn whispers of wisdom, suggesting they ‘withhold.’

Well it was a giggle, all right, but it wasn’t really that funny. These women aren’t happy when their men play computer games while they could be making themselves useful.

Women work super hard, married or single and they deserve appreciation and respect.

One has been ‘withholding’ for so many years, it has lost its effect! Another, younger one, refuses steadfastly to ‘put out.’ Such an old fashioned approach, yet such stupid old fashioned gits of husbands deserve no better.

It’s not so bad on the single side of the fence sometimes. At least you know where you are. And - please don’t tell anyone – we might be more knackered, but at least it’s only the children who make fun of us.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Creatures of habit: our annual holiday

We're on our annual holiday in Wales. We stay in the same farm cottage every year - this is our 7th year running - on the Llyn Peninsula. Over the years we've become friends with the two other families who stay in the other cottages on the farm, and we make sure we're all here at the same time each year. There are 7 children altogether, or should that be teenagers, ranging in ages from 11 to 18 and they all get on really well.

We go to the same beach everyday - Porth Oer, popularly known as Whistling Sands. It's our favourite of all the fabulous beaches in this area and as long as it's not raining we stay all day.  We meet up with the two families on the beach and the teenagers go bodyboarding, play beach cricket or play frisbee while the parents, including me, relax on the beach reading and snoozing, then later in the day we all get together for a game of rounders.

When we're not on the beach the girls like to go horse-riding; we look around all the local craft and gift shops; go to a local art gallery and museum which has a cafe with the most fantastic views over the coastline, or we go people watching in Abersoch which is populated by the Cheshire Set, all identikit Boden-wearing families in Range Rovers and Super-Dry hoodies.

We always eat our main meal at the cottage because the teenagers like to get together in the evening and play music or play pool in the farm's recreation room just off the farmyard. I don't see my two girls very much in the evening,  I read or watch films, they just know to come back to the cottage at 11pm so I can go to bed.

And I sleep like a log. All that fresh air and the fact that the bed is the most comfortable one I've ever slept in sees to that.

We are creatures of habit when it comes to our holiday, but the girls love it and we'll keep coming until they say otherwise.

Now, I think it's time for another cup of tea.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

RSPCA Frontline 24/7

I'm an animal lover, nothing unusual there I can hear you say. But what might surprise you is that up until 3 years ago we didn't have any pets. Not a one. It was only after years of my daughters pestering for a pet that I relented and said they could have guinea pigs, which we bought from a local animal rescue centre. I started spending a lot of time with our guinea pigs, just sitting and watching them scurry around. What?! It was relaxing and anyway, they were good listeners....

Anyway, once I realised how enjoyable it was having a pet I decided to go the whole hog (so to speak) and started thinking about getting a dog - also from a rescue centre.

Tessie, our adopted greyhound
That was 2 years ago and our gorgeous Tessie came from a greyhound rescue charity. The charity rehomes ex-racing dogs but they also regularly get greyhounds brought to them by the RSPCA who do amazing work rescuing and caring for animals. Only last week I was talking to one of the organisers who told me about a greyhound that was found wandering the streets in a terrible state. It was picked up by the RSPCA and taken to the greyhound charity who discovered she'd been used as the doggy equivalent of a brood mare (where she had been used for pups and then abandoned when she was no longer of use). She had been badly neglected and in need of some TLC and thankfully, because of the RSPCA, she is now being looked after.

Sadly, she is only one of many because last year 7,604 dogs were rescued by the RSPCA, and more dogs are rescued and treated by the RSPCA each year than any other kind of animal.

Shockingly, in 2010 the RSPCA 130,033 animals from neglect and cruelty, abandonment, disasters and accidents. That's an amazing number of animals. The RSPCA Frontline team do fantastic work every day and what's amazing - and quite humbling - is that the whole charity is funded entirely by voluntary donations. I had always assumed that it had some official Government funding, but no which, when you consider the amount of work they do, is extraordinary.

The RSPCA are hosting a 24 hour Tweetathon to raise awareness of the relentless work that the RSPCA Frontline team undertake to help animals around the clock, and I'm going to be taking part and trying to help in some small way. If you see tweets with #RSPCA247 then that's what it's about. Please join in and help raise awareness.

The RSPCA has been caring for sick, abandoned and injured animals since 1824. Today the RSPCA receives an emergency call every 30 seconds – which is more than 1.25 million phone calls a year. Every day the RSPCA responds to around 1,000 incidents a day, rescuing, caring for and re-homing animals that have been trapped, abandoned or hurt whether it’s 2pm or 2am. What’s more, the RSPCA is funded entirely by voluntary donations, so engaging the public in the work that is undertaken and gaining their support is key.

Disclosure: I have not received any payment for this post.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Supermarket sex

My brother took this photo in an Italian supermarket last week. Have a close look....

These goods were on sale next to the checkout. Can you see the dolphin shaped toothbrush on the left? Presumably aimed at children? Yeah, and right next to it on the right is a vibrating penis ring. What on earth....? 

You gotta love those Italians.

*apologies if you expected a blog post about saucy shenanigans in Tescos.*

Monday, 1 August 2011

Bloglovin' - fashion, home, men and bikesheds

I have lots of favourite blogs that I read on a regular basis, but I thought it'd be fun to share some of my favourite reads that are not your standard parent blog. 

One of my regular ports of call is Fashion for Nerds just to see what Audi is wearing. Audi is a scientist, so get that stereotypical image of the scientist in your head - a boffin with specs and a lab coat, right? - and then go and have a look around her blog. She has a very individual style, and I love to see she how she puts her outfits together. She lives in San Fransisco (the city also gets a starring role) and she's written some inspirational posts about style and breaking out of a fashion rut. And if that isn't enough she has a new puppy!

Karen set up the aspirational blog The White Approach quite recently but I'm already hooked. Karen's colour of choice is white and she uses it for her home decor - that's white floorboards, sofas, chairs, etc. And she has a family with 3 children! I know! Not only that but she does all the decor on a very tight budget, revamping second-hand furniture and scouring car-boot sales for overlooked gems. Her home is beautiful and stylish, and even though I could never achieve what Karen has I really enjoy having a peek inside her world.

I stumbled upon The Good Men Project a few weeks ago, and it's already one of my regular go-to blogs. There's a wide range of subjects covered from sexuality to sport, from politics to porn, from food to fatherhood.  The aim of the Good Men Project is to answer the question “what does it mean to be a good man in these modern times?” and the articles range from interesting to thought-provoking and, occasionally, provocative. There's so much to read on there, and I love it.

And finally, Views from the Bikeshed is such a wonderful read. Honestly, when I grow up I want to write like Mark but in the meantime I can read his evocative tales of cycling, family and life in Wales.

I hope you enjoy looking around these blogs, why not leave a comment with the names of your favourite non-parent blogs.