Saturday, 31 March 2012

HELP! Can you think of a new tagline?

I need a bit of help.

Yeah, not that sort of help but help with this blog. When I had this blog revamped last year I left off the old tagline which was 'Tales of an Unfit Mother'. I quite liked it, but because it had been inspired by my ex-husband calling me an unfit mother on more than one occasion I decided it had outstayed its welcome. He's also called me 'a dried-up old whore' (and various other insults) and I don't want to use those either.

So, I'm calling on all of my brilliantly witty blogging friends to help me find another one. Something witty, relevant and maybe mentioning single-parenting? But don't be restricted by that idea, I'm just looking for inspired genius! Simples.

Sadly, there isn't a prize for coming up with the winning tagline - just the satisfaction of knowing you've made my blogging world a better place.

Go on, have a go....

Saturday, 24 March 2012

The small stuff

I read a brilliant blog post recently by the lovely Sandy Calico where she listed her 'small stuff'.  As Sandy explains:

"Sometimes we spend far too much of our precious time preoccupied with the big stuff. Of course this is important, but what really matters is the small stuff."


She's right. So here's a list of my small stuff, the little things in life that make me happy.

Venison. A glass of rioja. Organic cider. Kettle chips. Fresh orange juice first thing in the morning. Toast. Room temperature water. Scones with jam and clotted cream. Ikea meatballs.

John Lewis. Lattes. Leather gloves. Bookshops. A soft new scarf. The sensation of falling asleep. My bed. Early nights. Sleeping with the window open. A tidy bedroom.  Lying on the bed and chatting with Tall Daughter before she goes to sleep.

Walnut cake. Walnut whips. Chocolate covered peanuts. Toffee ice-cream. Whole nut chocolate. Anything with pecan nuts.

Cavalleria Rusticana. David Bowie. Thin Lizzy. African drumming. John Mayer. Singing along to Alicia Keys. Thinking I can sing like Alicia Keys. The Hounds of Love. When the Teenager borrows my CDs.

Neck rubs. Holding hands. Cuddling. Shiatsu massage. Clinique. Walking the dog in the sunshine. Greyhounds running at close range. Wildflowers.

Emerald green. Duck egg blue. The scent of old English roses. Blue irises. Tulips, any colour. Vanilla scented candles. Ghost perfume. Painted toe nails. Converse.

The sound of waves lapping on a shoreline. Sitting on a British beach. Walking barefoot. Irish accents. Hearing a baby laugh. Children singing in assembly. Driving in Ireland. Kinsale.

Warm spring days. Having the back doors open. Sitting in the garden. Pottering. A new magazine and a cup of tea. The clunk of the letter box that says the postman has just been. Handwritten letters. Parcels.

Scott and Bailey. Musicals. Gene Kelly. Watching old episodes of Friends. Home restoration programmes. George Clarke. Tester pots. Laura Ashley home department.  Cutting out photos from magazines and keeping them for inspiration. Funny fridge magnets.

Wearing linen in the summer. Orla Kiely. A new bar of soap. Hot showers. Weekends away. Laughter. Cushions. Reading a blog post that makes me think.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

What's in your handbag?

photo credit
I read somewhere recently that the average woman will spend over 850 hours of her life looking for things in her handbag. That's the equivalent of around 114 days! Think of all the things you could do in that time that doesn't involve scratching around at the bottom of your bag.

Now, I like a nice handbag. And I do like them to be on the roomy side so I can carry all my junk essentials around with me, but if it means losing so much of my life because I can't find anything then I think I need to sort my bag out.

The essential things that I imagine all women carry around are things like our purses, mobile phones, hairbrushes, house keys.

But I also have other stuff such as three packets of tissues, school ID pass and whistle, cheque book, inhaler, pens, nail files, and reading glasses. All essential stuff I'm sure you'll agree and proof that I really do need a big handbag.

But delve deeper into the murkier depths of my bag and you'll find some, shall we say, less essential items lurking. Things like: my last 10 months payslips, a scarf with a spaghetti sauce stain, business cards from people I will never do business with, used tissues (ewww!), several receipts from various shops, a list of 'community' classes at the local school, somebody's phone number scribbled onto a piece of cardboard, an appointment card for the vets, post-it notes, a soup recipe torn from a magazine in the doctor's waiting room, a mangled cereal bar, 13p in loose change, a packet of sweeteners, a drawing from one of the children at school, and last but by no means least, a pink tutu. Yes, a pink tutu.

Tell me it's not just me. What do you have in your handbag?


*This blog post contains a featured link*

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

More dispatches from the chalkface: Joseph was a carpet-fitter


Looking at pictures of animals with reception class, the teacher holds up a picture of a walrus and asks: what's  this?  Harry puts hand up: "Miss, it's a vulva."

Just before Christmas, talking about the nativity I asked the Year 1 children if anyone knew what Joseph did for a living. "Yes Miss, he was a carpet fitter."

On Shrove Tuesday I asked the class if they knew why we ate pancakes. Tim: "Because they were Jesus' favourite breakfast?"

During a lesson about food I had a selection of fruit and veg and I wanted the Reception class children to tell me how they grew (on a bush, a tree, in the ground, etc.)  I held up a carrot - where does that grow? "Yes, in the ground, well done."
I held up an apple and told them that I'd picked this from my garden that morning "So what do I have in my garden?" David puts his hand up "An Adsa, Miss!"

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

My Purple Pledge - Young epilepsy


Young Epilepsy is urging people all over the country to back their flagship campaign ‘My Purple Pledge’ this March, and make a difference to the lives of the 112,000 young people in the UK living with epilepsy.

Pledges could range from wearing purple to work or school, baking and selling purple cakes, taking part in a Purple Zumba, or even being sponsored to lie in a bath of blackcurrant juice! Anything goes and the quirkier the better!   There are also Purple Zumba Parties up and down the country, check the website for your nearest.

Any pledge – big or small – will help raise vital funds for the charity which is the UK’s only national charity dedicated to children and young people with epilepsy and other associated neurological conditions. 

My Purple Pledge’ coincides with Purple Day (26 March 2012), the international day to mark epilepsy awareness and National Epilepsy Awareness Week (May 2012). So that is two whole months to get yourself purpled up.

Young Epilepsy Ambassador, European and World Champion 400 metre hurdler Dai Greene, said: “My Purple Pledge aims to put epilepsy on the map and make people aware of what it really means. I’m fully behind the campaign and will be pledging purple to help improve the lives of a lot of young people with epilepsy. I’m hoping that as many people as possible will be ‘in the purple’ for the 26 March and help raise desperately needed funds for such a deserving cause.

“Epilepsy effects over 112,000 children and young people under the age of 25 – including myself - and is the most common neurological condition in the UK.  Despite this, it’s still relatively unknown and has little awareness.”

Epilepsy is a serious debilitating disorder of the body’s nervous system causing symptoms such as paralysis, muscle weakness and seizures.  It affects around one child in every primary school and five in every secondary school.   Around 6,000 young people will experience communication, learning or behaviour problems. In some cases they will also have a significantly higher mortality rate.
Please visit www.mypurplepledge.com for more information and where you can donate and follow My Purple Pledge on Twitter at @purplepledge.

Facts and stats
  • Epilepsy is the most common serious childhood neurological condition. There are 60,000 children and young people under the age of 18, and 112,000 under the age of 25, living with epilepsy in the UK.
  • Around one in ten (6,000) experience severe communication, learning or behaviour problems due to their epilepsy.
  •  On average there is a child with epilepsy in every primary school and five in every secondary school.
  • There are around 600,000 people in the UK diagnosed with epilepsy. That’s about one in every 131 people. There are around 50 million people with epilepsy in the world. Around 75 people are diagnosed with epilepsy every day. 
About epilepsy:
·       Epilepsy is a neurological condition - which means it affects the brain.
·       Epilepsy is described as the tendency to have seizures. Epilepsy is only diagnosed after the person has had more than one seizure.
·       Seizures are sometimes called ‘fits’ or ‘attacks’. Seizures happen when there is a sudden interruption in the way the brain normally works.

Monday, 19 March 2012

99 Reasons Why by Caroline Smailes: the tenth ending


Kate isn’t like other 22 year olds. She’s got a job to do for her Uncle Phil. Each day, she spies on The Kevin Keegan Day Nursery across the road from her bedroom window, writing down all of the comings and goings in her notebooks. That’s how she spots her little girl in the pink coat. She likes her, and it isn’t long before Kate asks her mam to get her for her. Plans are made.
But then, quite unexpectedly, Kate flashes her breasts out her bedroom window at the little girl’s father. And that's the reason that nothing will ever be the same again…

I'm really excited to be able to bring something new and innovative and totally ace.  Today is the publication date of the new book by the brilliant writer Caroline Smailes, who I'm chuffed to be able to call a good friend.  Caroline already has a unique writing style, but this book had caused quite a flurry of interest in the publishing world. 

That's because 99 Reasons Why is a book with a difference. It is only being published as an ebook and comes with 9 different endings which readers can navigate using multiple choice questions on their Kindle or via a spinning story wheel on their iPad or iPhone. There are also two additional endings. One is the ending that is being hosted by several blogs today (including mine), while the other will be handwritten by Caroline and auctioned for charity. 

It's a new and somewhat controversial way of allowing the reader to decide their own ending, and I'm honoured to be able to offer you the tenth ending. Enjoy.

99: the reason why I was only worth ninety-nine quid
It’s been six days since the little girl in the pink coat went missing and me Uncle Phil’s in me bedroom.
We’ve been watching the little girl in the pink coat’s mam on the news. She was appealing to the public for witnesses.
‘Didn’t realise she had a mam,’ I says, looking at me telly.
‘Everyone’s got a mam, pet,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.
‘She sold her story to The Sun,’ I says, looking at me telly.
‘Got a few quid,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.
I nod.
‘She wanted nowt to do with that bairn before all this,’ me Uncle Phil says, looking at me telly.
‘Do you know where she is?’ I asks me Uncle Phil.
‘Belle?’ me Uncle Phil asks me.
I nod.
‘She’s safe,’ me Uncle Phil says to me. ‘Your mam’s keeping an eye on her.’
‘Can I be her mam?’ I asks me Uncle Phil.
‘No, pet, you’re a filthy whore,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.
I nod.
‘Can you make Andy Douglas come back, Uncle Phil?’ I asks me Uncle Phil.
Me Uncle Phil shakes his head.
‘I love him,’ I tell me Uncle Phil.
‘Andy Douglas is your brother, pet. You didn’t seriously think Princess Di was your mam, did you?’ me Uncle Phil asks me.
I nod.
‘You’re a cradle snatcher just like your mam,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.
I nod.
‘Your mam miscarried when she found out I’d been banging Betty Douglas. Betty was expecting you,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.
I don’t speak.
‘When you was born, your mam went mad and I ended up buying you from Betty Douglas for ninety-nine quid,’ me Uncle Phil says.
‘Ninety-nine quid?’ I asks me Uncle Phil.
‘I paid a hundred but got a quid change for some chips for your mam and dad’s tea,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.
‘You bought me?’ I asks me Uncle Phil.
I’m a little bit sick in me mouth.
‘It was the right thing to do,’ me Uncle Phil says to me. ‘I got Betty Douglas pregnant straight away with Andy.’
‘I’m pregnant,’ I says to me Uncle Phil. ‘I’m pregnant with me brother’s baby,’ I says, and then I throws up on me purple carpet.
‘You’re a filthy whore,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.
‘What am I going to do?’ I asks me Uncle Phil.
‘You’re going to have the baby,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.
‘Have me brother’s baby?’ I asks me Uncle Phil.
‘Then I’m giving it to Betty Douglas to bring up,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.
‘You what?’ I says to me Uncle Phil.
‘It’s the right thing to do,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.
‘I can’t—’ I says to me Uncle Phil.
‘It’s either that or I’ll make you disappear,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.
I don’t speak.
I’m thinking, they’re all a bunch of nutters.


99 Reasons Why is priced at £2.99 and is available via Amazon and iTunes.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

#ArtIHeart - a relationship, a painting, and the man from the past

If you've been reading this blog recently you'll know that I recently became reacquainted with the man from the past. We both share a love of art, although we have slightly different tastes - his is more traditional than mine - but there is one painting we both love.



When I first met him, the man from the past had this original painting on display in his home and I fell in love with it immediately. It's a scene of Venice with the Piazza San Marco in the background and the colours are vivid and beautiful. Every time I looked at it I saw something different. 

A few months later, and knowing how much I liked it, the man from the past gave the painting to me as a 'token of his love' (although he now claims he gave it to me on long-term loan - pah!) but sadly our relationship came to an end a few months later and we went our separate ways.

I kept the painting in a prominent position at home, on the chimney breast in the living room, which I painted a deep red to complement the painting. But as much as I loved it it caused me heartache every time I looked at it.  It was a constant reminder of him and how things might have been and I felt it was stopping me from moving on.

It's fair to say that our relationship history is tied up with the painting and so about 3 or 4 years ago I reluctantly sent it back to him. I was sad to see it go, but at the time it seemed like the right thing to do.

Of course when I recently went to visit him for the weekend there it was on the wall, just as beautiful as I remembered it. 

And before you ask, he's already told me I'm not getting it back again :-(


This blog post had been inspired by Midlife Singlemum and her fascinating #ArtIHeart series.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Remembering Mum: her recipe for iced coconut cake


Today I've been thinking about Mum and how much I still miss her. She passed away 5 years ago today on St. Patrick's Day and, just like this year, the following day was Mothers' Day. The timing couldn't have been more painful.

So, to remember her I've had a look in her old, battered cookery book for her favourite cake recipe. The book is Mrs Beeton's All About Cookery first published in 1961. I loved finding Mum's little notes in the book, and seeing the corners turned back on the pages she referred to most often. This coconut cake was one of our family favourites, and I hope you'll enjoy it too. And just so you know, my Mum always used pink icing and the icing was always quite runny and poured over the top so that it ran down the sides, so I have done exactly the same thing.

Iced Coconut Cake
4oz self-raising flour
pinch of salt
3oz butter or margarine
3oz castor sugar
2 eggs
1oz desiccated coconut (and some for decoration)
pink food colouring
4oz icing sugar
a 1lb loaf tin

Grease and/or line the loaf tin.
Sift the flour and salt.
Cream the butter until soft, add the sugar and beat until soft and light in texture.
Add the eggs one at a time, with 1tsp of the flour with each egg. Stir and beat well.
Fold in the coconut and the remaining flour carefully but thoroughly.
Put the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and level it out with a spatula.
Bake for 40 minutes on the middle shelf of a moderate oven (gas mark 4/elec 350°).
Leave to cool, then pour over the pink icing. Sprinkle with coconut and leave to set.
Slice and enjoy!

Friday, 16 March 2012

Calm down, it's only a blog!


Totally irrelevant photo of tulips
Every now and again the parent blogging world teeters on the edge of implosion, usually due to a 'discussion' that gets out of hand and threatens the future of the western hemisphere. Or something like that.

Yesterday, I heard the first rumblings of something going on and thought nothing more of it. I tend to miss these things usually, but if I'm around when it all kicks off I try to keep my head down just in case I say the wrong thing (because saying the wrong thing is one of my particular skills).

But today I happened upon one of these 'discussions' that had me gasping in disbelief. It was all based around a newly published Top 20 parent bloggers on twitter, along with another Top 20 parent blogs.

The inclusion of certain bloggers' names on the list, and the omission of others, seemed to spark a very heated discussion about how these lists are collated and how accurate they are.  And when I say heated discussion, I mean it.

When I looked at the lists I noticed many very well-known, longstanding bloggers on there and a few newer names I wasn't familiar with. I was also chuffed to see the names of bloggers I consider to be friends, and pleased that they were listed. Seeing those well established names was no surprise to me, because they work bloody hard for their stats and I take my virtual hat off to them. The thing is, most successful blogs fare well because they are well written, topical, humorous, thought-provoking, or just a bloomin' good read. If people like your blog they will read it. If they don't like it, or you, they won't, irrespective of any rankings or lists.

I'm more of a lazy blogger, to be honest, I blog when it suits me and take a break when it doesn't.  If I made a bit more of an effort I might break into a sweat and we can't be having that can we?

In the four years since I started my blog, I like to think I've been relatively successful in attracting readers, followers and links with other bloggers. I've made some real, genuine friendships and yes, a little bit of income. My name wasn't on either of those Cisions lists and I never get nominated for the numerous blogging awards that happen throughout the year.  But seriously, it's ok. I'm okay.

You see, nobody died.
And here's the thing: I try not to take my blog too seriously and, unless you write a blog about curing cancer or solving third world debt, then neither should you. It's that simple.

*Dons tin hat and waits for fall-out*

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Why I'll never make money from giving parenting advice

Image credit
In the run-up to Mothers' Day, I thought I might pass on the benefit of my marvellous parenting skills. (Stop sniggering at the back).

I decided to rifle through my drawers, so to speak, and dust off some blog posts that will have you puzzling as to why I've been overlooked by the recent mother of the year awards.

First of all, as a mother of teenagers let me share my tips on how not to embarrass your teens. Impressed huh?

Occasionally I make an effort to read about how to be a Good Mother, and a couple of years ago I read a book called How to Talk to Your Children so They Will Listen (or something ambitious like that). Surprisingly there were no mentions of megaphones or blunt instruments being used, just talking for goodness sake. I tried it, here are the results.

As a mother I see one of my roles as preparing my daughters for adult life, and I like to think I'm well ahead with that. I even started a step-by-step guide to help my girls with this difficult household task. It was such a great success.

And dealing with difficult parenting situations? I can do that too, such as what to do when you daughter says she's seen a boy's willy, which I like to think I dealt with in text book style.

Basically, if you want parenting tips this should be your first port of call, if only to laugh at my efforts.

Happy Mothers' Day!

Monday, 12 March 2012

Sponsored video: Why Mums are special

I came late to motherhood.

I was almost 36 when I had my first baby, and nearly 39 when the second was born. I'd always known I wanted children but for many years thought I'd missed out on my chance to be a mum.

When my girls were little I used to love them calling me Mummy, and they were always wanting to sit on my knee, hold my hand, or have a cuddle.

Now they're older they don't want to do anything 'cheesy' as they like to put it. They talk about hairstyles, clothes and boys and play loud music in their messy bedrooms. They 'borrow' my toiletries and use me as an unpaid taxi-driver to here, there and everywhere.  Nowadays they only ever call me 'Mummy' if they know they're in trouble.

I'm 'Mum' now, and boy do they know how to wear the word out! Any hopes of having a quiet cuppa and reading a book, doing a bit of gardening or listening to the radio are cut short by shouts of "Mum!" usually followed by some demand for food or money or both.

But honestly? I wouldn't have it any other way.



This post is sponsored by Debenhams

Friday, 9 March 2012

Spring has sprung...

I love this time of year. Love it.

And it's no coincidence that I've written about it before, it's such a positive time of year.

The days are getting longer, the weather is getting milder and there are signs of spring everywhere.

Crocuses flowering, daffodils in bloom, tulips pushing up through the ground.

New growth, new life, new possibilities.

Ain't life grand?

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

John Lewis voucher giveaway: Scandi chic interior design

*This post is sponsored by John Lewis*

Anyone who knows me will be aware of my love for John Lewis and, in fact, I refer to it as my spiritual home. Whenever I go into town (Liverpool) I park at the JL car park and seem to spend the whole time in their store.

So I was very happy to be offered the chance to giveaway a John Lewis voucher worth £50 to spend as you please. They have also taken note of my recent house move and suggested a feature post about interior design. Pay attention though, I might be asking questions...

Look north – Scandi chic interior design

From sleek and structured fashion through to gripping TV drama, Scandinavia’s cultural influence is hard to miss at the minute. Here, a John Lewis style scout offers advice on how to get the Scandi chic look for your home:



Block basics
The simple yet statement style we now associate with Scandinavian furniture was developed during the Mid-Century period, when form and function was the focus of many designers’ creative ideas. When investing in focal pieces to form the basis of your room, such as sofas or wall units, look for strong shapes, clean lines and sleek legs that lift items off floor level and create the illusion of space. While not a Scandinavian brand, Kartell is renowned for creating sleek, iconic designs great for family living and Danish cabinet maker Ebbe Gehl crafts practical pieces with a distinct Scandinavian look.   

Neutral palette
The Scandinavian look is all about creating light, airy and practical spaces in which to relax, so work with a neutral palette of whites, creams and charcoals to achieve this minimalist aesthetic. Choose blinds over curtains to keep the look of your room crisp and clean, and instead introduce tactile fabrics on your sofa with chunky Scandinavian-style knitted throws and cushions. Exposed floorboards are also common in Scandinavian interior design, and painting these white will make your room seem even lighter. Add depth and interest with textured rugs and colour pop accessories.   

Accessory accents
While neutrals form the base of the Scandi-chic look, interior accessories are used to inject a sense of playful fun into otherwise restful rooms. If you’ve been watching Danish political drama Borgen, you may well have noticed that interior interest focuses around stunning lightshade sculptures that act as feature pieces in simple office and domestic spaces. Mid-Century style is again a major inspiration here, with design details to look out for including concentric circles, geometric prints and a bright and optimistic colour palette. As well as lighting, add accessory accents with cushions on chairs and sofas, or even on the floor, and choose bold tableware such as that from Danish brand Bodum.

**To be in with a chance to win the £50 John Lewis voucher, all you have to do is leave a comment and tell me which room in your house is your favourite and why. Gawd, I'm sooo nosy :-) Please leave an email or twitter address to make it easier for me to get in touch. Good luck!**

Terms: A winner will be chosen after 8pm on Sunday 11th March. UK entry only. There is no cash alternative. If the winner does get send their name and address within 7 days I will choose another winner. 

All items shown available at www.johnlewis.com


Update 11/3/12:  the winner of the voucher is @Savesnine - I loved the description of her favourite room. Thanks to everyone for taking part.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Can a relationship work the second time around?


A couple of weeks ago I wrote about going on a date with a man from my past and since then things have moved on. 

We've just spent the weekend together in the Cotswolds and really enjoyed each others company. 

In fact, the way the weekend turned out was a real surprise. After 8 years apart I wondered if there would be any awkwardness between us, or that we'd just find the spark had gone, plus I kept thinking about the warnings from other people not to revisit the past.  

All those years ago we both had difficult personal issues to contend with and in the end the relationship faltered because of them and this weekend we had some long and frank discussions about the past, and where we are with our lives now. I found it quite difficult to say what I felt needed to be said, but to his credit (and quite unexpectedly) he wanted it all out in the open and for all the unanswered questions to be asked again. 

On paper it shouldn't work between us. We have different opinions on so many things - including opposing political views - but we somehow manage to discuss them all without arguing.   In fact we spent a lot of time over the weekend talking, and laughing, and never seemed to run out of things to say. We spent a lot of time remembering things that we'd done together, places we'd been and his belief that the reason we were meeting up was because of a strong connection between us.

We're planning to see each other again soon, but there was one question we spent time thinking about:  can a relationship can work the second time around?

Do these situations ever really work out? 

Friday, 2 March 2012

The Tesco Price Drop

Have you noticed that the price of everything seems to be going up at the moment? Me too. Well you'd have to have more money than sense not to notice!

And it's not just petrol, gas and electricity but food too. Every time I go to the shops there seems to have been a price hike on even the essential products, and more often than not not just a penny here and there, it's a big increase.

Tesco has decided to try out a new approach and they are dropping prices. Yep, that's right - they're dropping the prices of hundreds of items around the country.

The Tesco Price Drop seems to do just what it says on the tin - there are savings on everyday staples such as eggs, bread, fresh fruit and frozen veg and the not so essentials cakes and biscuits. Although in some households *cough* I reckon cake is very high on the essentials list.

Tesco is also encouraging everyone to take part by visiting their Facebook page to see the items on the price drop list and - get this - suggest some of your own.  I love this idea and I'll be suggesting a price drop on some of my own essentials.

In fact, talking of essentials, I've just been checking out the Wines and Spirits section of the website and noticed my favourite bottle of wine has been reduced!

Excuse me, I just need to nip to Tesco's....


Disclosure: this is a sponsored post

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Four of the best freestanding cookers

If your old cooker is looking a little rusty, there are plenty of alternatives on the market nowadays that provide ease of use and energy efficiency without costing the earth. The best freestanding cookers also offer a plethora of features, from electric fans to electronic timers. We’ve been browsing the range at dixons.co.uk to bring you are few of our picks of freestanding cookers…
Zanussi ZCV550MXC Electric Cooker: This stylish freestanding cooker not only looks attractive, it is also fantastically user-friendly. Featuring a fast-action ceramic hob with four rings and a double cavity oven with separate variable grill, it’s ideal for families, dinner parties and Christmas dinner. Thermaflow fan technology maintains an even temperature in the ovens, and the catalytic liners ensure easy maintenance. The ZCV550MXC could also help you get your energy bills – it’s been awarded an A rating for efficiency. Price: £466

Logik LFSTC50W Electric Cooker: If you’re looking for a budget oven which won’t force you to compromise on features, then this is a great choice. It boasts a main oven with a 48-litre capacity, a separate grill and a four-burner ceramic hob for added flexibility. Extra features include an enameled oven for easy cleaning, glass doors and an interior light. The compact size of the LFSTC50W means that it’s perfect for small spaces such as flats and annexes. Price: £250

New World ET50W Electric Cooker: The cheapest of the free-standing cookers here, the ET50W offers excellent value for money. At a mere 50cm it can fit into the smallest space, and yet offered a main oven with 48 litres of capacity. It boasts an A-rating efficiency – good news for both the environment and your wallet – and features wipe-clean enamel interiors for easy cleaning. Sturdy and reliable, this is a great option for those to whom an all-singing, all-dancing cooker doesn’t appeal. Price: £208

AEG 49002VMN Electric Cooker: This feature-full freestanding cooker oozes style, and lends itself to entertaining. The main oven has a capacity of 74-litres – enough to fit a Christmas turkey with all the trimmings – yet the 49002VMN’s efficiency A-rating means you can economically use it to cook smaller meals as well. The second oven doubles as a variable grill, and holds 40 litres, and there are four Hilight ceramic hobs for flexibility and convenience. Extra features include intuitive touch controls, an electronic timer and catalytic coating for ease of cleaning. The modern design includes intuitive touch controls and an electronic timer to track the progression of your food. £885
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What's cookin'? The AEG 49002VMN 

For more information on electric cookers, including an analysis of the relative merits of each, take a look at this cooker guide.