Reeva Steenkamp

How dare she go to the toilet at night.  Some might say she’s asked for it.

To nip out in the dead of night – surely one of the main risks would be being brutally shot four times through a locked door. Surely one of the obvious outcomes is death.

#hernameisreevasteenkamp has been trending on Twitter because, collectively, the above is not a truth we want to bear. Yet, amidst the media frenzy of a case driven by publicity and fame the undertone is, quietly, just this.

Pistorius has not been subjected to the full force of his actions – simply replacing guilt with a sense of entitlement and this is what has turned my stomach. For God’s sake, who in their right minds ploughs four bullets through a locked door without shouting out first? But she wasn’t where she was supposed to be.

And yet, this action seems to have been accepted, maybe not as reasonable, as he has been found guilty of culpable homicide, but as somehow understandable.  A distasteful sense of pity for this man, rich with power and money, and a manipulation of Reeva’s actions into something somehow ‘wrong’.

Simon Jenkins wrote in The Guardian this week that Pistorius’ life had been ruined and, in a wider context, to look at prison and reform. He referred to Reeva, not once, by name, simply ‘girlfriend’. Preferring to focus on the impact this will have on him and countless other men’s lives.

Each week two women die in the UK as a result of domestic violence.

I suspect after his short and expertly planned prison stay, Pistorius will write a book and become an after dinner speaker – maybe he’ll even return to the track. Let’s not pretend he’ll be treated the same as other prisoners.

Reform can only happen when the true extent of your actions are faced, head on in all their bloody brutal truth. Without reform we are left with punishment and why on earth should he escape that.

#hernameisreevasteenkamp

Win a magical BeWILDerwood book bundle

As the nights draw in there’s nothing quite like curling up with your little people and losing yourselves in a magical world of make believe.

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love Bewilderwood. How the place just makes me feel happy and every time we’ve been Arthur has had an amazing time. The place is filled with wonder and adventure and this is no coincidence. Born out of the books by Tom Blofeld, Bewilderwood is more than a place of fun and adventure. It’s a magical haven of Boggles and Twiggles and more adventure than you can shake a den-making stick at.

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You could spend winter afternoons and rainy Sunday’s reading all about Boggles and Twiggles with this fantastic book bundle. With beautiful illustrations and stories to capture your heart – I’m willing to bet they will become a family favourite.

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What’s happening at Bewilderwood this Halloween half term lantern-parade-slide1

The Glorious Glowing Lantern Parade
Thursday 23rd October – Sunday 2nd November
October half term is one of the most exciting times of the year at
BeWILDerwood, a truly visual and sensory celebration of the beauty and
mystery of the BeWILDerwood story. A full day experience the whole
family can enjoy, The Glorious Glowing Lantern Parade is even bigger
and even better this year.
Enjoy daily performances of the BeWILDerbats story, stay snug and warm
by the fires and spend quality time creating luminous lanterns in the
‘Big Hat’. As dusk settles over the wood prepare to experience the park in a
spectacular new light. Join together at the bonfire and begin the
Glorious Glowing Lantern Parade, weaving majestically through the
light and laser-lit woodland, dropping in to sneak a peek at familiar
BeWILDerwood characters in their storybook setting.
Don’t forget to visit the fantastic new Sky Maze set high in the
treetop canopy. Stretching nearly half a kilometre and reaching over 8
metres in height, the newest addition to the park takes adventure and
playtime to magnificent new heights. Visit us for October half term
and spend endless hours with family and friends, climbing and sliding,
exploring and building, in a world with more than a little sprinkling
of magic.
For further information, opening times and prices visit bewilderwood.co.uk

 

Apple and blackberry scone cake

I’ve just made the most delicious apple and blackberry scone cake. I’m very excited as not only was it easy but it is absolutely blooming delish!

I can’t take the credit for the recipe unfortunately – it comes courtesy of Prima’s recipe booklet from September. But clearly I sprinkled a little of my own magic in there too.

blackberries

300g self raising flour sieved
150g butter ( I used stork and it worked a treat)
50g light brown granulated sugar
2 beaten eggs
4fl oz milk
1 apple thinly sliced
Zest of an orange.
Blackberries – sorry can’t remember the amount but a good handful, think it was about 300g and some for the top.

Mix flour and fat until it resembles rough breadcrumbs. Add sugar, beaten eggs, zest and milk and gentle stir until just mixed. I used a metal spoon as I think it helps.

Put half in a greased cake tin then sprinkle most of the blackberries on top. Add the rest of the cake mixture on top. Then arrange the sliced apple annd the rest of the blackberries.

Bake at 180  for about 50 mins but I did keep an eye for the last ten minutes. Should be golden round the edges, well risen but may still have a bit of softness because of the fruit. Sprinkle with extra sugar if you want, I didn’t and didn’t really miss it.

Leave to cool then chow down! Rather gorgeous with a blob of creme fraich. Yum tiddly yum yum!

BelVita Breakfast Breakthroughs!

We are not good at mornings in our house. On a work and nursery morning the air is filled with great big buckets of panic as I run round like a wild banshee making sure teeth have been cleaned and that I don’t forget my lap top.It goes with out saying that breakfast is always quick and often spilled!

Usually it’s porridge or Shredded Wheat with fruit and yoghurt for Arthur and well, nothing but strong coffee for me. So when we were asked to review the new BelVita Breakfast biscuits and take part in the #Morningwin campaign,it seemed like a great chance to shave a few minutes of mornings and allow me to have breakfast too!

So here’s how BelVita saved breakfast time:

On Monday I didn’t get out of bed until 7.45 – we leave about ten past eight. So breakfast was the rather delicious apricot flavour with a banana for Arthur and a travel cup of molten strong coffee for me.

Tuesday Arthur had porridge and I bunged the chocolate chip flavour in my bag. At 10am my colleague made me a cuppa and I found the little packet of perfectly wrapped heaven in my bag!
They tasted indulgent and naughty but still have whole grains and slow release carbs to keep me going.

Fast forward to Friday and Arthur had a massive paddy before our play date at the park. No time for breakfast for either of us, but while running round like a mad child in the park he managed to polish off a packet of the hazelnut biscuits. To be fair I did as well and I was just sitting on the bench gossiping! PENDAISIES2

My favourite were definitely the apricot ones, they tasted real and had proper apricot bits in. I also love the fact they come in handy three biscuit packets so you don’t over do it and know exactly what you’re having. As, while they are a good slow release biscuit, they are still biscuits so I didn’t want to go crazy!

I also used the choc chip ones as ‘treats for Arthur, he loved them and they were a healthier alternative to a normal biscuit. All in all, great flavours and really helpful when you’re not exactly an early riser!

* This post is an entry for #MorningWin Linky Challenge sponsored by belVita Breakfast. Learn more at http://bit.ly/belVitaUK.

Win £100 wedding stationery

wedding-save-the-date-cardsI love a good wedding but to be fair the planning and organising can be a bit of a nightmare. If you’re planning a wedding or know someone who is then I have a lovely little competition for you.

Tell me about your best or funniest wedding moment and you could win £100 of beautifully printed wedding stationery. Printed.com have loads of options to choose from, including save the date cards, to menus, table names, menus and thank you cards – they’ve got it covered. simply upload your design and in a few easy steps some delicious stationery will be heading your way.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Behind the lunch box

I am not someone who makes pack lunches very well.

It’s a simple but true fact. I think a lot about them – what to buy and how to make them. Yet, despite this huge amount of cerebral effort I still buy a jacket potato and beans most days at work.

I’m not sure why I never actually follow through. I can’t lie, part of it is effort but the rest is just a strange aversion to lunchboxes. Picnics I can do – because they are far more inclusive, a much more open door policy. A lunch box is personal.

Luckily Arthur is still at nursery so doesn’t need one yet but I have a growing dread about him starting school and most of it revolves around a lunch box. Well, to be truthful that, and the fact I will have to cook tea each evening.

This is far from a Bento-bashing post – I am in awe of people who put the time and effort into it. They have no more time that me, I am no less able than them and yet I flounder in the face of a lunch box. They have made it a nice thing to do and are much further down the road of acceptance than me.

Sometimes I find myself writing lists in my head of what I would put in my Arthur’s lunchbox. I tie myself in knots around veg portions vs fruit portions. Can I give him ham twice a week? Would he manage pasta salad. Do you make it at night or in the morning? But I never make myself a packed lunch – ever.

I don’t want him to grow up. Maybe my lunchbox phobia is all part of this. What if he can’t open his sandwiches or gets in a muddle and I’m not there. The simple fact may not be that I can’t make lunchboxes – more that lunchboxes are about freedom, exploring, going it alone and finding the world.

I want him to do it with a big happy Bento smile, fuelled with shaped sarnies and fun stuff to eat. I don’t want him to suffer at the hands of my neurosis. I have never been a lunchboxer but I think it’s time to try. I suspect all the greats in life have been lunchbox people, not reliant on shops or someone else but with forethought and foresight and a huge homemade sausage roll on the side.

I am not someone who makes packed lunches but I’m going to give it a shot and when the time comes, send my boy into the world for adventures and the best cheese sandwich I can muster.

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Book review: ‘I want to be a Witch’, by Ian Cunliffe.

As the nights start to slowly draw in and the weather turns from mild to crisp my thoughts turn to Halloween. If I’m honest my thoughts turn to chocolate and Downton Abbey but I do leave a little room for magical musings.
I love Halloween and so does Arthur, a chance to dress up, to feel a little spooked and enjoy stories of witches, wizards and magical worlds. When I was asked by Little Tiger Press, to review ‘I want to be a Witch’ it was a great opportunity to start the countdown to October 31st.

witch

The book, by Ian Cunliffe, talls the tale of a little girl who wants to be a witch. But she’s not too keen on all things witchy, namely green hair and hideous cauldron concoctions, so she makes up her own witchy rules.She wants the lovely bits, the star-covered hat, the magic wand and, of course, a flying broomstick.  It’s a lovely book, gentle, funny and easy to read. Arthur loves it and so far we’ve had it four days in a row. It’s a joy to read too as the imagery is so good – I love the cats and the bats.

Often he’s so active it’s hard to pin him down for half an hour unless he’s really tired but his love of books means he’s happy to submit if it’s worth reading. The fact he sat through this book twice in a row is praise indeed. It’s brilliant illustrations means we can create our own magic too – deciding what might be in the cauldron and asking who he would turn into a frog – seems it’s me every time!

It has a lovely rythmn with innocence and great charm. At £6.99 it’s a lovely addition to our book shelves.

 

 

Family Fever

Birds Eye’s After School Chefs challenge

Tea time in our house can be a battle ground.

I plan my attack the week before, make sure I have enough ammunition and take to the battlefield fully arms and optimistic that this week there will be clean plates and I will be victorious!

To be fair Arthur is a great eater and eats most things but…and it’s a big but. If he’s tired, in a mood or just feeling mischievous he will refuse to eat, scream for something else or generally make tea time ‘hell hour’.

Lately we’ve been getting slack on tea times, when we eat, how much we eat and letting Arthur rule the roost. I blame warm weather and days out!

So, when I was asked to take part in Birds Eye’s After School Chefs challenge it seemed like a great idea. I could temp Arthur with new stuff and make sure my freezer was always ready for action.

 BEFINISHED1I was so chuffed with what I got for my money. The iconic and rather yummy potato waffles, some lovely salmon fillets with lemon butter, chicken with ham and cheese, and obviously some peas and fish fingers! Plus, more fish fillets, chicken dippers, two kinds of veggie rice and southern fried chicken as well.

I’ve been trying so hard to get tea time back on track with a definite time – rather than some time between lunch and bed! My Birds Eye haul made this so much easier because, on nights I had worked late or we’d been out, I could open the freezer and whip up something yummy in minutes. 

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We loved the chicken filled with creamy cheese and ham – served with potato waffles and peas of course!

Arthur quickly fell in love with potato waffles and after the old school tea of fish fingers, waffles and peas he was pleading for more. So I jumped on this and promised him waffles later in the week if he ate all his teas.

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Can’t beat fishfingers waffles and peas!

It worked a treat and he was rewarded with poached eggs on waffles – he loved it and I had tea time envy!

A few evenings a week we eat as a couple when Arthur is in bed, because it’s not always practical to eat at 4.30pm. I wasn’t sure Birds Eye would have anything to satisfy me and the big boy but I was wrong.

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Late night supper – Birdseye comes up trumps again!

The pollock fillets in chilli and lemongrass were delicious and I served them with the golden mixed veg rice. It cooks in the microwave in four minutes and it’s a really generous portion – what’s not to like! Last night we had salmon fillets, potatoes and frozen peas – I have to mention the peas because they were delicious. I’ve tried loads of brands but the Birds Eye ones were sweet, fresh tasting and definitely worth adding to my shopping list.

My Birds Eye challenge opened my eyes to the products they have to offer while reigniting my childhood love of potato waffles! It also meant I was prepared for all tea time eventualities and gave me a chance to get back on track with timings.

Arthur was powerless in the face of my waffles and I feel like I’ve walked away from this challenge triumphant…and just a little bit in awe of the power of a good fish finger.

* This post is an entry for #Afterschoolchefs Challenge sponsored by Birds Eye. Learn more on the Birds Eye Facebook page.

Shock Doctor’s hinged knee support.

When I was asked to review Shock Doctor’s knee support I knew exactly who would try it out for me. In fact, I had two people in mind.

Arthur’s dad has a dodgy knee after years of skateboarding and now mountain climbing. My lovely dad, on the other hand has just started getting problems and it’s more to do general wear and tear, although he has definite cartridge damage.
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When it arrived it was clear this support meant business. With two straps and dual hinged areas it was the superhero of supports we’ve used previously. It offers lateral and medial support which, in layman’s terms, means it supports all around, not just front or sides.

Jonathan who’s tall and slim found the large size a little big but said the support was in exactly the right place and with the straps didn’t slip like other supports.

The material let’s your skin breathe and, while it’s fairly bulky, it keeps your leg cool. It also has antibacterial properties which reduces nasty odours. After two days of wearing it got a definite thumbs up with ‘ the ache definitely easing and it feels safe’. The sharp pain he’d felt when exercising and climbing also reduced and he said it gave him stability.

On to dad, he wore it for longer and walked to work in it. Again he was really impressed with the hold and said it gave him immediate relief from the ache he suffers. The hinges means it moves well with your body. But at times it did feel a bit bulky for walking to work and wearing daily. To be fair, it is designed as a specific exercise support.

Overall, the Shock Doctor support got a very positive response. It offered great support, superior to others they’ve tried and, while it’s not cheap, roughly £50, both chaps said it gave instant relief and worked with them when they were moving and both will be using it again.

Pleasurewood Hills – great family fun.

If you fancy a fun family day out in East Anglia – you can’t go too wrong with Pleasurewood Hills.

It’s been part of the landscape since I was a little girl and I can still remember holding my breath while I swung high over the rides on the ski lifts. They are still there and so is the sense of fun – but there’s a lot more to enjoy nowadays.

We were lucky enough to head to ‘The Hills’ with some friends for a review last weekend and while the sun wasn’t exactly shining, it was dry and the little people were excited. We turned up on a Saturday morning after an easy drive – it sits between Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft and was easy to find by car.

I know some of my friends have not ventured there yet as they think their children might not be old enough. All I can say is that there is more than enough to keep a pack of active three-year-olds entertained. With boat rides and Moby Dick to start we were in for a great day. Arthur loved the kiddies area and the pirate ship was a huge hit, so much so that he went on three times in a row!  pleasurewood6

We also sampled the flying elephants and Arthur took to the wheel behind the racing car – he was pretty impressive for three and managed to almost steer round the track! I couldn’t resist a go on the horses so hopped on with Arthur at the reigns – to be fair the horses just make me laugh!

 

pleasurewood5I didn’t make the log flume this time but it’s one of my old school favourites and I know I can still recommend it. The log flume sits next door to the newly opened Marbles Madness. This was fantastic and I can confirm you do feel like a marble rolling round the rails! There are sharp lefts and rights and drops which leave you gripping the bar!

There were loads of grass and picnic areas and you really don’t feel pressured to buy lunch. We found a spot and set-up camp while the chidlren went off playing and exploring. The big yellow and red slides were very popular too.

 

For me, no trip is complete without a ride round the site on the train. So all aboard, we got to see all the things we didn’t have time to do and as I looked up I made a mental note to revisit those ski lifts next time.

For me the highlights were the sea lion show and the parrot show. The children all loved watching Claude and George back flip through the water, balance balls and give themselves a round of applause. I loved that they were playing music from Rocky 4 during the intro – can’t beat a crowd-rousing 80s power tune!

The parrot show was surprisingly good too. I’d never been to this before but it was a lovely way to finish our day. Come on – Who doesn’t like a cycling parrot?! Arthur loved it, especially when they flew through the hoops close to his seat.

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We had a lovely day, it caters so well for all ages and we could’ve done loads more if we’d had more time. Parking is plentiful and easy and there are loads of toilets – all important things to think about when you’re bringing small children. It’s been around a long time but Pleasurewood Hills keeps getting better. So if last time you went you too were hanging precariously over the lake in a ski life – get down there again. You’ll love it and the children will http://wp.me/s3Q799-1862 a blast too.