Splosh have a solution for our plastics problem, and it’s one that works for us. You still use plastics, but what if those bottles are refillable ones? So you only need the one bottle, and order in refills which can fill them up a few more times.
Splosh are a mail order UK based company who offer many different types of cleaning solutions. From laundry to general cleaning, toilets to dishwashing. Maybe not in that order.
Allow me to explain. You order in your initial bottles. We live in a two bedroomed house with two toilets; that’s two toilet cleaners, one washing up liquid, one kitchen cleaner, one bathroom cleaner, one glass cleaner. We already have our Smol subscription so we don’t need laundry cleaner, although I’m considering getting the stain remover spray.
I think that’s probably all we need. If I was to buy these from say, Waitrose, I’d be buying new plastic bottles with the liquid in every time. I get that, you can’t generally transport the liquid inside easily. However, Splosh have a solution! Quite literally.
It’s letterbox sized, a solution in a pouch. Save the pouches as when you have eight you can send them back to Splosh who recycle them. To use the solution, you generally have to fill your bottle with water to the line on the bottle then top it up from the pouch. Give it a good shake and you’re ready to go. Oh, and the refills work out cost-wise about the same as you’d buy in a supermarket – and with free delivery.
Oh, and by doing it this way you could be reducing your plastic use by up to 90%.
It really is that easy. All Splosh products aren’t tested on animals and are vegan-friendly. They proudly display the jumping bunny on their site.
There’s a handwash which is imminent. I’ve recently switched to soap bars at home, although we were big handwash users – all that plastic though. Urgh.
I haven’t been paid in any way to write about Splosh, I’m spending my hard earned cash. If you fancy trying it out, then my unique code is WDECMRLM96 which will give you £3 off a Starter Box (you need to spend over £15). I wish I had bought a Starter Box, as I’m still adding random bottles to my orders as I need them – so I’d definitely recommend looking into this option. While it seems like a lot of money up-front it works out more cost effective over time.
I have a selection of vegetarian cook books sent to me by The Book People. I’ve been vegetarian since 1983 and of late I’ve been stuck in a rut with my food choices. Anything which gives me a cookery-style kick up the backside is a good thing, so I happily took delivery of a selection of books.
There are a wide selection of Vegetarian Cook books from The Book People, with lots of choice. I chose books based on things which I’d like to try out in the hope it broadens my cooking repertoire, but I still need to be able to make it in less than half an hour.
With veganuary in full swing I was hoping to broaden my limited vegan recipes, or at least make my vegetarian options a bit more interesting. I found that all of these books are helpful, read my summary at the end for my final thoughts.
Our first stop was the Deliciously Ella cookbook. I have to admit, I haven’t really followed Ella’s blog though I was aware of it and knew her recipes were plant based and vegan.
We started with a pea, broad bean and basil dip. It also has avocado, one of H’s pet hates. However, having the three main ingredients meant she really enjoyed it, and she pretty much scoffed the lot. The dip worked really well with some lime crisps too. We might have gone through two packs in the one session…
The only downside of the Deliciously Ella cookbook was that most recipes substitute with a nut of some kind, and when you’re baking a vegan cake for outside of the house (for example, bake sales), they have to be nut-free. Some recipes or alternatives that don’t use nuts would be good – what we’ve made we’ve enjoyed, and have just had to eat it all ourselves rather than share!
The Accidental Vegetarian cookbook has a chocolate cake recipe called ‘More Chocolate Than is Good For You’ which immediately appeals to me. This is of course a fabulous idea, as we move away from vegan cooking and into vegetarian options. We haven’t made it yet – that’s to come, probably to celebrate the end of February. We have the baking tins ready… keep an eye on my Instagram.
The Accidental Vegetarian is by Simon Rimmer, and has recipes that have been developed over time. He’s a meat eater and owns a restaurant. These aren’t quick recipes but they’re ones I want to have a go at.
I’ve often wondered if I could be vegan, but I enjoy cheese too much plus the occasional egg. We’ve recently started using yeast flakes in cooking which is a great substitute for parmesan, but have never found a good vegan cheese. Shaun – who eats meat – has occasional issues with dairy, so we often have to opt for vegan options with food. I feel like these Vegetarian Cook Books from The Book People bring the best of both worlds.
Maria Elia’s The Modern Vegetarian has the kind of recipes that make me feel hungry just reading them. Everything inside sounds delicious, but don’t include my regular food cupboard supplies so I’d need to plan in advance to make sure I have the right food in. This is another one I intend to do so keep an eye on Instagram.
As a suggesion, Rosemary Popcorn is one that jumps out. We always have popcorn in our cupboard, but never rosemary. This will be put to rights and very soon. I’m also liking the Cardamom Flatbread. There are a good selection of recipes in here and some incredible sounding desserts too. Orange, Lavender and Almond Syrup Cake? Yes please! Although Shaun isn’t so keen on lavender in food.
When I first became vegetarian it was difficult. My only meat substitute was Sosmix, so I lived on that for several years. My biggest saviour in the world of not eating meat was when Linda McCartney started creating food in 1991. Oh my word, the world opened up when it came to not eating meat.
The Meat Free Monday campaign has a Cookbook to accompany it. The front of the book has an Independent quote saying ‘for meat eaters who can’t think how to cook without it, this will help and inspire’. I think they should probably add vegetarians who have forgotten how to branch out and cook different things; like me.
There are also vegan substitute suggestions – an excellent idea for someone like me.
The Meat Free Monday Cookbook breaks your year into seasons and plans your meals for every Monday. It’s great too – simple instructions though I haven’t followed any yet. It’s all basic cupboard ingredients too. The sort of book you can pick up and follow without buying anything you wouldn’t already have.
There are so many different types of cookbooks to choose from out there, these are just four. They cover so many different types of vegetarian food, and have recipes that inspire us. There is a great selection of Vegetarian Cook Books from The Book People – definitely check out their choice.
As for which book I’ll refer to the most, I think it will be a mixture of Deliciously Ella and the Meat Free Monday books – the other two are a bit more specialised and the kind of thing I would get out if we had friends over for dinner, for example. We’ve got lots of Deliciously Ella recipes bookmarked to make over the coming months.
I wish I had more photos of the dishes we’ve cooked, this means I need to make more!
We were sent these Vegetarian Cook Books from The Book People. The Vegetarian recipe books are here. All opinions are our own.
Choose Love – Help Refugees have a pop up store in London’s Carnaby Street this Christmas, and it’s the second year they’ve done this. I volunteered for a morning, and I thought it was worthy of a blog post because it’s such a brilliant Charity and cause.
Choose Love – Help Refugees grew from a group of people taking supplies to refugees to this; a worldwide organisation which provides essentials. With two pop up stores in London and New York, and a lot of celebrity endorsements, it’s difficult to miss the Choose Love logo on a t-shirt. But this is more than a logo, this is something really important and heartwarming.
Yesterday I volunteered at the Choose Love in Carnaby Street, turning up at 9.30am full of nerves. I’m not very good at going into places on my own unless I know there will be friendly faces there. Within seconds I was with the team for the morning, with my borrowed Choose Love sweatshirt, learning about each section of the shop. I immediately felt at ease and ready.
Downstairs is the area where you buy a specific gift for someone in need. It is broken into three sections: Arrival – Which has basics like food, clothes and things to keep warm. The second section is Shelter. People can often spend years in camps, so this offers tents, sleeping bags, supplies like toiletries and nappies – it provides humanity. The final section is Future. Helping groups who help refugees so they can start again. From medical needs to schooling, it is all covered. When you see everything laid out as it was makes it feel so much more real. You see the pictures in the press, but most of us haven’t lived what these poor refugees have gone through so can only imagine it.
Upstairs has the Choose Love – Help Refugees t-shirts, hoodies, sweatshirts, tote bags, posters and more. I can highly recommend the sweatshirt as being super warm too – so much that I bought one for myself.
The great thing about the Choose Love – Help Refugees store is that there’s something to suit every price range.
Prices range from £5 to £599 for the whole shop. You buy the whole shop, you’re buying essential supplies for everyone, you don’t walk out with everything. People were buying gifts for Secret Santa presents, people were coming in and spending Christmas present money and doubling it when they saw what was there.
I’ve never worked in a shop but know I can speak to strangers fairly easy once I know what I’m doing. It was quick and easy to get your head around. People wanted to know more, and everything on show explained it really well. By the door are gift cards so you’re able to mark up what you’ve bought for someone else.
It was heartwarming. A shop people come into and come away with nothing but a fuzzy sense of having helped someone else. It felt like the true spirit of Christmas, and one which so many people got behind.
Within the store is a Banksy sculpture, one from Dismaland. He has donated it to Choose Love – Help Refugees. If you wanted to try and win it you need to guess its weight. At £2 a time, you could end up with it before Christmas if you guess the weight correctly.
We had a busy day at the Choose Love – Help Refugees store in Carnaby Street. People coming to get their last minute Christmas shopping before it all gets too busy. We stood out in on Carnaby Street street calling out and holding up boards. I stayed on my feet the entire time – oh boy my back felt it by the time I got home! It was great, I had a lovely festive fuzzy feeling. I did something to help and helped make a difference. You can too – just pop over to their site.
Choose Love – Help Refugees Pop up Store is at 30-32 Fouberts Place, W1F 7PS, open until Christmas Eve. It is run entirely by volunteers and is open from 10am daily. Please check the website for exact opening hours.
A special mention for the most amazing falafels around the corner too (over the road from Liberty), at the Choose Love linked Imad’s Syrian Kitchen. The perfect place to stop after a busy morning – make sure you visit!
Sherlock and the Baker Street Curse by Sam Hearn is the second book in the Sherlock series. The books are written from the perspective of John Watson’s diary, following him and Sherlock Holmes through school and any mysteries or cases they need to solve.
In this book, they go to Baker Street Academy, where the caretaker says he spotted a ghost. They try to solve the mystery, which involves finding out what the curse is and working out what was happening. Was it a ghost or not? Sherlock Holmes and John Watson have to find out.
The book has plenty of pictures and is laid out in a comic strip style, which is fun to read. H really enjoyed it, she says it felt like it made the story fun to follow and got her thinking about the plot and things that were going on a bit more than if it was a straightforward story.
There are also journal entries, letters, newspaper clippings and a detective dossier. Essentially it is Dr Watson’s casebook in junior form – ideal for younger readers who need an introduction to the world of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson and of course Martha Hudson.
It gets yet another thumbs up in this house!
Sherlock and the Baker Street Curse by Sam Hearn is published by Scholastic. It is suitable for age 8+ and is available now from all good bookstores. You can also buy it online here – but please support your local bookstores if you can.
We were sent this book for the purpose of review, all opinions are our own. Thank you to Scholastic for sending us a copy!
It has been a while since we’ve done a book review and H has had her head firmly stuck into all of my Harry Potter books! We have a new book to read and review, so here’s H’s opinion about Cyberhawks Versus Stormtroopers by Mark Logie.
Cyberhawks Versus Stormtroopers by Mark Logie is a cyber thriller for children age 12+. Knowing how well H does with her reading, I knew it would be okay – and it was. She really enjoyed reading the book, but don’t take my word for it, this is what she had to say.
“It was a good book, my only problem is that it wasn’t long enough!” she tells me. So I’m wondering what makes it a good book.
“It’s an enjoyable read! The story was exciting and I couldn’t put the book down”. Sounds fair.
So what is the story about?
“Cyberhawks are a group of three friends, the Stormtroopers are an organisation for brain damaged children. The Cyberhawks are Ty, Kess and Corey. One day Ty receives an email written in code. Luckily he knows about computers and Ty cracks the code. He finds out that terrorists are going to attack the London Underground and it will be the worst attack the world has known.”
So what do the Cyberhawks do about it and do they tell anyone?
“Nobody listened to them, so they had to do it all themselves. I’m not going to say any more as I don’t want to give away the plot!”
H hopes there will be more books in the series as she really enjoyed reading it.
Cyberhawks Versus Stormtroopers by Mark Logie is available now from all good booksellers – order a copy here! (affiliate link). Mark Logie has a YouTube channel with songs that inspired the book here.
We were sent this book for the purpose of review, all opinions are our own.
This October we stayed in Cumbria, in the Yorkshire Dales. We booked a lovely AirBnb place which was situated close enough to the Lake District we could get to most places within an hour. While I knew she had lived in the Lake District, I had no idea how much Beatrix Potter and the Lake District were linked.
Beatrix Potter and the Lake District are so closely linked, with plenty of places to visit. Around the age of sixteen she visited the Lake District, staying at Wray Castle. As she started to make money from her Peter Rabbit books she bought land. She wanted to make sure the Lake District remained unspoilt and stayed the way she knew it. Often she would buy land with the National Trust, and on her death gave it all to them fully. This is the Lake District as we know it today.
Around Windermere are several National Trust car parks. We made our first stop at Fell Foot Park; situated at the bottom of the lake going towards Windermere itself. Windermere is so long you can’t see from end to end and Fell Foot Park is a good place to stop and wander around. There’s also an outdoor children’s play area which H enjoyed.
Mid-way up Windermere is Hill Top, the first house Beatrix Potter bought. She lived here before she married, afterwards as a writing retreat. She had bought farmland up the road and eventually lived with her husband there.
Hill Top is decorated in the style it would have been when Beatrix lived there. Changes have been made to the house, but in a good way. There is still a lot there from her time living there – it’s somewhere that comes alive in her books. Window ledges appear in some illustrations, and you can picture Beatrix sitting creating in that very room.
The dolls house on show within the house dates back to the 1800s though isn’t the one featured in The Tale of Two Bad Mice. Inside you can see wonderful decorations and furnishings if you have a peep through the windows. Now I’m curious, do those furnishings date back to the time of the book?
The National Trust describe Hill Top as a house for someone who ‘never grew up’ (Beatrix’s own words). Brought up in isolation with her brother Bertram, Beatrix sought solace in art and nature.
Around the grounds of Hill Top are Beatrix’s gardens – it feels like a house you would hide away from the world, yet still be very close to. You can see her vegetable garden as well as the rhubarb patch where Jemima Puddleduck tried to hide her eggs.
Outside Hill Top in Near Sawrey itself are houses which feature in the books, and indeed the area around the Stones Lane junction has several shops which feature in her books. Peter Rabbit by the red post box? It’s just around the corner from Hill Top.
Entry is free for National Trust members. On arrival you get a map of the grounds with a timed entry slot for the house, where you’re free to wander around.
Up the road is Hawkshead which is worth a wander in its own right. You need to park up (paid, think it was about £4ish for two hours) and walk to the centre of the town. You will arrive at an office where you get your tickets for a few doors down where there’s a Beatrix Potter exhibition and more interactive things to do.
The office in question used to house the solicitor’s office where William Heelis, her future husband, worked. Low wooden ceilings and a really interesting exhibition ‘The Right Sort Of Woman‘ were yet another fascinating insight. There was also an original Peter Rabbit letter that she had written on show.
The exhibition features contributions from workers – for example, Beatrix never paid the men for their work, always their wives.
Beatrix set up local health care, making sure there was a doctor in the area, fully paid for by her so that locals had access to medical care. She sounded like a great employer and one who seemed in touch with what her workers needed.
The exhibition is coming to an end, so don’t miss out.
Moving away slightly from Beatrix Potter, up the road is Wray Castle. It’s not a traditional castle, more a Victorian gothic mansion, but nonetheless it’s a great place to visit with lots of child-friendly things to do inside. There’s also a Beatrix Potter exhibition, ‘The Women of Wray Castle’ which also features Margaret Dawson.
Beatrix and her family came to stay at Wray Castle one summer when she was sixteen. Maybe this is what made her love for the Lake District grow?
While at Wray, Beatrix drew lots of images of mushrooms growing there, making a name for herself in the mycology field. As she was female, her views and opinions were rejected. These days her work has been revisited and has been acknowledged as having great value.
If you’re looking for somewhere for your child to burn off some energy, Wray Castle is that place. As well as the inside of the castle, there is a big natural play area outside.
Close to Hawkshead and Hill Top is Esthwaite Water, another inspiration for Beatrix Potter’s books. It’s an unspoilt area where yet more of the books featured.
Tarn Hows is also nearby, a large man-made Tarn which has wonderful views, though was somewhere we didn’t have the time to visit.
I think we need to go back – three days wasn’t long enough to do everything we wanted to!
Last week it was half term, and we did our traditional northern break, this time visiting the Lake District. Here are some things to do in the Lake District. I will do individual posts for the places we visited, mainly as if I did a huge post it would take forever to read….
Things to do in the Lake District – Southern Lakes
Around Coniston Visit Coniston
Go to their Coniston Honest Shop
Take in the views by the lake
Things to do in the Lake District – Northern Lakes
Around Derwentwater Go on a boat trip around the lake.
Visit the Cumberland Pencil Museum
Around Ullswater Enjoy a drive along most of the lake with spectacular views.
Visit Penrith for your regular supermarkets
Go around the lake on a Victorian Ullswater Steamer (to do)
This is by no means a definitive list, just some of the things we looked at, some which we ran out of time to do and some of which we will do in the future. We visited a lot of the lakes which was good – though maybe a bit less driving and more walking would be better.
However, whatever you want from the Lake District, you’ll probably find. National Trust membership is essential too. I had no idea that Beatrix Potter bought land in Cumbria so it would remain unspoilt – and donated it to the National Trust when she died.
There’s a lot to see and learn about, and over the next few weeks I’ll be adding top tips for things to do in the Lake District. I’ll add links as I do them.
Fake News is everywhere, but do you know how to spot it? We visited a Madame Tussauds Fake News Workshop to find out what it’s all about.
The Madame Tussauds Fake News Workshop is an educational trip for KS2 & KS3 children. As the title suggests, it’s a workshop which goes through stories showing how to spot ‘fake news’.
Suitable for classes of up to 30 children, it is held within a room at Madame Tussauds which can also be used as a lunch space before or after the workshop. There are two workshops a day at 11.00 and 2.30.
Across the Merlin attractions, places like SeaLife or places like Chessington Zoo have obvious educational elements. So what does the Madame Tussauds Fake News Workshop involve?
You read a (fake) news article which you analyse and break down. Does the news have an official source quoting it? Is there an expert who has offered advice? What is the source of the story? As an adult I often have trouble knowing which articles are real and which are spoofs beyond the obvious ones. As we said on the night, the real headlines are starting to sound like spoof pages – how is someone H’s age (9) going to work it all out?
This workshop helps give you the tools to work it out. There are so many aspects of news – it isn’t just our newspapers these days. Everyone has a part to play if they’re active and have an opinion in some way that they want to share.
The second part of the workshop had several members of staff holding words which are relevant to places which share news. From blogging, vlogging and more, there was a lot to talk about. It was an eye opener for H, she’s asked a lot of questions about this blog since. I’ve been able to reassure her that I don’t break the news on here!
After that we had to think of our own fake news story in groups, with four or five different stories that we read out and discussed.
See the photo for ours – a scurrilous rumour that Hugo Lloris had taken up flossing in goal recently, and that the craze was spreading amongst Premiership goalkeepers, particularly during penalties. That’ll be the Fortnite flossing, not the dental kind. Hashtag #goalkeepersflossing
We read our article and everyone had to spot how it was fake, and base it on what we learned. Reading it back, it was obviously fake and quite often it’s difficult to tell if the story is real or not – especially as the real world media seems to be turning into the Daily Mash every other day.
Information about Madame Tussauds Fake News Workshop can be found here.
Of course, you can’t visit Madame Tussauds without seeing some of the waxworks. As we were the only people there it was quite eerie at times; the waxworks looked so real!
Here’s a selection of the shots H went for. Being nine she didn’t know everyone, but said “ooooh! I want a selfie – who is this?” when spotting Kim and Kanye. Of course she got a Harry and Meghan shot too. The icing on the cake was when we found Henry VIII – her homework that weekend was to write a fact file. It was accompanied with a photo!
We attended the Madame Tussauds Fake News Workshop and got to wander around Madame Tussauds, all opinions are our own.
So it became, that yesterday was H’s last day at the school with classmates she has been with since nursery. Things are moving quickly, much quicker than I thought they would and we’re having to deal with changing schools.
Changing schools isn’t a quick process overall. We’re changing boroughs, so once we knew we were going to move, got the paperwork in place. Croydon borough have an in-year transfer which was straightforward to fill out. We got H’s old head teacher to approve our application, emailed it over and that was that.
Nothing could be done in the meantime as schools went on holiday – which meant lots of waiting and wondering what would happen. As it was, Croydon did some general waiting list tidying and we were told where our position on the list would be a few weeks later.
At that point she was third on the list for our preferred school. Once we sent over confirmation of our new address she moved to first in the list.
So we knew a place was imminent, but that would depend on someone leaving the school and that’s impossible to gauge.
I settled into a routine with a 25 minute a day drive home from her old school, hoping for change. Shaun lost two and a half hours of his day driving her into school on days when he worked from home. Not ideal.
On Wednesday the call came. There’s a space. I may have jumped around excitedly, asked a billion questions and made viewing appointments; we couldn’t go during the holidays for obvious reasons – there was nobody there!
That was that. We decided to switch quickly though this gives very little time for goodbyes. A new start, a new school. New school uniform too, though most of her old uniform is fine.
So now we have a weekend buying new school uniform. Our new school uses the Tesco embroidery service so I’ve ordered. We’ll get other bits so we can get through the next couple of weeks until our order arrives.
My trusty Stamptastic pad is ready for more labelling too – my review is five years old and we’re still going strong.
Emotionally, H was shocked. I had brought up changing schools several times in conversation to get her used to talking about it. This is the reality now – she has left her old friends behind, but thanks to mobile phones and emails they can stay in touch.
The new school looks amazing too – we finally have a school with a playing field, rather than an inner-London playground. We’ll all miss the old school a lot, while looking forward to new adventures as we move forwards.
I found these two images of our old house. I didn’t realise how similar they are. The oldest of a young (old) family moving into a space which would become their home.
A baby H not quite crawling, nowhere near walking, but getting the hang of it. Having this huge space to move around in and working it all out. When we moved from our old place, she could reach to grab things. When we moved to the old place she had to work out how to move further.
It started as a happy place. We had ups and downs, but it was our home.
In the old house our floor seemed to be a shelving unit.. with piles of things left everywhere.
The keys are back with the letting agents. We’re waiting for our deposit to be returned.
The reason we’ve rented for so long was the lack of affordable houses near us. Our only option was Shared Ownership although there was nothing locally. Local developments which had houses earmarked as affordable seemed to switch to the riskier Help to Buy option. With only 21 years before we (potentially) retire, it isn’t an option for us.
With Shared Ownership there is no holding deposit. This house is ours. Nobody is going to sell it and force us out. Nobody is going to insist we keep everything neutral and to the landlady’s taste. It’s ours.
There’s one major difference in the two photos. The radiator. We had central heating installed after our carbon monoxide leak.
It’s now our responsibility to get our gas boiler checked every year – not someone else’s to forget about. Gas Safety Week 2018 is in a couple of weeks.
That chapter is closed now we’re out of the old house. The old, painful memories aren’t there every day any more.
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