Getting hacked off with the cyber wolves

I’ve worked in the media team for a large financial company for many years.

At the beginning hacking, intranet trolling, online fraud and the like were rarely heard of. Now, they form part of our strategy. We have full teams dedicated to detecting cyber attacks, teams constantly finding those weakneses in our armour which let the wolves in. Only last year over 500 pieces of customer data was stolen from our secure (or so we thought), online portfolio.

Late last year I started getting strange emails from clients and ad agencies asking me why I was asking for certain information. Turns out my secure work email had been hacked and an email was being sent asking for certain bits of information that the email claimed I’d ‘lost’. Luckily we caught it early and no harm was done. I thought I was keeping everything safe, and I was, as far as I could.

We’re getting good at catching these criminals but these faceless gangs are always on the look out at ways to attack. Even our printers can be under attack. take a look at this video – the wolves are always at the door.

 

 

 

Our wonderful Easter trip to Pensthorpe.

 

IMG_2230This Easter holidays we were lucky enough to spend a day at the glorious Pensthorpe Nature Reserve, just outside Fakenham.

If you haven’t been yet, I suggest you hot foot it there as soon as possible – it’s definitely a jewel in Norfolk’s crown. A beautiful reserve with something for all ages. It’s really well set-up for families with shorter pram friendly walks, stamp trails, den building and, of course, one of then most amazing outdoor play areas I’ve ever seen – WildRootz.

There were four children on our  trip and from the moment they stepped out into the reserve they were running and exploring. From crazy looking birds, to nesting geese, to swirling a stick in the water – you quickly realise that being outside, exploring nature simply never gets boring.

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To quote my six-year-old son, when asked what what his favourite bit was: ” it is a great big place to look at and climb and explore and I want to live there.”

It’s a perfect chance to get outside as a family, enjoy an adventure and rediscover , or even discover for the first time, a love of the outdoors.

This Easter they had an Easter trail with clues hidden in balloons around the walks. A great way to share some knowledge and educate the children about the wildlife, with the added incentive of a chocolate egg at the end! The children really got into it and it took us through the beautiful Milenium Garden with its hidden sculptures and into the section where you can also do some den building.

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You can take a walk around many of the trails and catch a glimpse of some amazing bird life, including flashes of pink from the flamingoes! We saw the huge, elegant cranes, watches cute little red squirrels and spent at least two hours building a dam in the tiny stream which runs around WildRootz.

The socks and shoes came off, sticks were found and sand was squished and mixed until we were kindly asked to leave as they were locking up! Wildrootz is wonderful, carved wooden animals punctuate amazing slides, sandpits, musical play and zip wires. There’s also loads of seating for picnics and a little hut selling hot drinks, and ice creams. There are loos nearby too, a must for any family day out!

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We also spent some time in the indoor area, Hootz House, a lovely addition which is in keeping with the rest of the place. Wooden structures, great slides and a welcome chance to warm up for parents too!

There is something for everyone and the staff even hold talks in the viewing station just beyond the gift shop where you can hear about the valuable conservation work they do and learn more about the many species of bird they have.

It’s one of my favourite days out in Norfolk and if you’re looking for an outdoor adventure then look no further – Pensthorpe is definitively the place to go.

Our mid-week Dolmio challenge.

Everyone is always hungry in our house and speed is of the essence!

So when I as asked to take on the #Dolmiochallenge and produce some lovely family food using a jar of Dolmio, I though, why not?! I’ll admit I’ve always been a bit sceptical about a jar of sauce – surely it’s full of nasties and tons of sugar. But I was pleasantly surprised.

Dolmio Bolognese Original 500g sauce is 100% natural. In each jar, you’ll find at least 10 juicy diced tomatoes, a dollop of tomato puree, half an onion, a tablespoon of sunflower oil, a couple of cloves of garlic, a handful of herbs including basil, a teaspoon of cornflour, a teaspoon of salt, a pinch of pepper, two teaspoons of added beet sugar for taste, a squeeze of lemon juice, a splash of water and nothing more. In fact, a jar provides a family of four with one of their 5-a-day each and that’s before you add any further veg to the meal!
A good spaghetti bolognese is always a big hit in our house. But I thought I’d do things differently this time. My delivery of Dolmio came with lots of lovely veg. So I started off with a huge batch of ratatouille.
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I lightly fired onions and garlic, added a couple of bay leaves and the chucked in loads of mushrooms, a who.e aubergine, two carrots and a large courgette and of course finished with the jar of Dolmio. I added a good glug of balsamic and let it simmer for about half an hour. Once ready I portioned it off.
So night one was a delicious spag Bol, I simply fried off the mince, added beef stock and lots of the sauce. Finished with fresh basil and a good grating of parmesan, it was scrumptious and brimming with veggies.
The next night I smothered chicken breasts int he sauce, topped with cheese and serves with some more green veggies  - Arthur loved this one.
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Finally it was a Friday night chilli, just adding some chilli powder, cumin, paprika, a couple of tins of beans and a good dollop of natural yoghurt.
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We ate really well and with a little planning the children had lovely meals brimming with fresh vegetables and on the table in less than 30 mins.
It was the sauce that kept on giving and hopefully my three meals, plus some still left in the freezer, means I took on the Dolmio challenge and succeeded.
For more information visit www.dolmio.co.uk/thankgoodness or if you’re looking for mid-week meal inspiration check out the label on Dolmio jars.

 

Our Easter trip to BeWILDerwood

 

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No Easter holiday is complete in our house without a trip to our beloved BeWILDerwood.

We’ve been going for years and I can genuinely say it is my favourite family day out in Norfolk. A huge, outdoor magical playground, inspired by the books of Tom  Blofeld.

I’ve taken Arthur since he was a few months old and so this time, at the grand age of seven and a half months, it was time for Rose’ first trip.

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We love the boat ride across the scary lake, looking up into the trees and spying Twiggle houses. Arthur and his friend Henry were creating stories about how the Boggles and Twiggles meet once the sun goes down and dance along the boardwalks. This is what I love, BeWILDerwood sparks their imaginations, as well as wearing them out in preparation for a good night’s sleep!

This Easter Cedric the Easter bunny was there and when we arrived we were given our invites to fill in and meet him. there were also extra Easter trails and competitions.

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First up we headed to the slides – always a massive hit. Followed by hours of climbing and jumping and swinging from the broken bridge (just its name, its very safe!), to the Sky Maze which saw the boys frantically looking for Easter clues while Rose and I chilled on the benches and watched the fun While munching on our picnic. There are lots of places to eat a picnic, plus places to get drinks, snacks and some warm food like jacket potatoes and hot dogs – all good quality too.

We queued to see Cedric and after a lovely chat where the boys showed off their hopping skills, we wandered through the little Easter garden and hunted down some chocolate eggs – what a lovely touch!

Then it was off for some den-building, definitely one of Arthur’s favourite things to do.

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There was also a whole marquee for children to make Easter crafts. Plus the storytelling was all about some ‘pesky bunnies’. The staff are great, from the story-tellers to the patient chaps looking after the zipwires, especially when Arthur and Henry insisted on ‘one more go’, at least ten times!

We went on the first Tuesday of the holidays and despite the carpark being full, it never once felt busy or over crowded. I love that sense of freedom. There’s something for most ages, stories and craft, to zipwires and climbing. We love it and if you’re looking for a fun-packed family day out, I challenge you to find better.

 

Valentines’s Day – time spent with the one you love. So this year I spent it with my dad and brother. This might not be the obvious choice but Valentines’s Day is also a chance to acknowledge that loneliness can seep into our world. Slowly, undetected at first, until one day you realise there’s no one to take you out for tea and cake.

So off we went to the Assembly House in Norwich for a rather delicious afternoon tea and a chance to share are similarly ridiculous sense of humour. Laugh at the wonky nose we both inherited and  reage that’s sense of belonging that can so easily be lost.

Here we are laughing at something dad said – he’s hilarious and I never want to forget that. I was pregnant too – not just cake it that tummy!

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My dad is not lonely, he has loads going on but it was my opportunity to show my support for the  campaign to end loneliness.A hugely important campaign to raise awareness about the growing problem of loneliness. Particularly among our ageing population.

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The world is getting smaller – you can text a thank you, email a quick ‘how are you?’ and generally relieve ourselves of the burden of guilt through social media and the internet. Don’t get me wrong I love both but deep down I know a knock at the door and a quick hug would imprint itself for far longer and have so much more worth.

We had fabulous cakes, delicious scones and moments together that no email can ever replicate.