7 Steps To Dealing With IBS As A Couple

Friday, December 30, 2016

So having IBS (or being put under the IBS umbrella) is no joke. I was diagnosed with IBS as I have issues with my stomach/bowel which they can't diagnose, and Mike was diagnosed early last year. Now, because we both suffer we've come to some agreements to make living together go much smoother.

7 Steps to Dealing with IBS As A Couple

Things I'm Leaving Behind In 2016

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Things I'm leaving behind in 2016..

2016 has been really, really hard.

I'm not even exaggerating. Its been hard, and for completely different reasons to 2015 too. I've had to adapt from life in a busy city where the hustle and bustle takes you everywhere you want to go, to being in a small town where the hustle and bustle is literally a £6 bus ride away. Some things I haven't adjusted to well I admit - an hour away for Primark? What?

I'm moving forward with my life, and as I travel the road to 30 I want to shed some of the things I have accumulated over the years.

Sharing Our Christmas Eve Traditions

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Eve Traditions

How is Christmas here so fast?

I honestly can't quite get my head around how quickly things have come around. I swear I'm still in October! Due to working in a school, I submitted to the festive feel this year and I'm quite excited to sharing the day with my little family. We've been blessed with a lot of treats under the tree this year, and after a few years of hardship it feels good to have a few wonderful treats for other people this year. We finished wrapping earlier this week, sat back and smiled at one another - not something we often do when it comes to Christmas!

With Christmas Eve now here, I thought I'd share some of my favourite traditions with you!
Pajamas from Primark, Christmas Eve Traditions
The first being an obvious one. Who doesn't want fresh pyjamas on Christmas eve? I've picked out the Bambi Satin Pyjamas this year as Bambi is my favourite Disney treat and I can't resist. For those less Disney inclined, I picked Floral Satin Pyjamas as my alternative choice. Both are from Primark making them wonderfully (and seasonally) affordable, and I'd be happy to prance around in either come Christmas morning!

Christmas themed Yankee Candles, Christmas Eve Traditions

I always, always have a candle on Christmas eve. I was a little premature this year and the candle my Father brought on a visit got used this week (I was homesick, my parents always have scented candles on at the family home so they're comforting to me) and ended up burning it the week before Christmas. I did look at getting a Yankee candle - particularly the Christmas Eve (link removed, no longer available) version, but it was sold out. Although I could be tempted by the Christmas Garland (link removed, no longer available) candle by Yankee, Mike surprised me with the Christmas Eve one which was out of stock - so that will be scenting our home this year.

We plan on locking our doors, snuggling up with the tree lights on and watching a movie this year - we don't have the little ones until the night of the 25th so while we don't get to share the Christmas eve magic with them we do get to share the magic of the day which I'm looking forward to.

What are your Christmas eve traditions?

I wish all the readers and viewers of LavenderLemonade.net a wonderful Christmas! I'll be switching off this year for the 25th to enjoy time with family, but please feel free to check out our latest vlog which is now available to watch on our Youtube channel!

Cholesterol - A Lifestyle Change, Not A Diet

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

I'm actually writing this post, at 5pm after suffering a pretty awkward Doctors appointment.

My cholesterol is too high.

Now, as I don't smoke or have a history of diabetes - that comes down to one pretty damning factor. My diet is abysmal. I'm eating way too many saturated fats, and it just won't do according to my GP - she wasn't thrilled with me and I felt pretty embarrassed sitting there recounting my food choices over the past few months.. Unfortunately, my liver is also feeling the effects of this as my liver function isn't great either. Fantastic right?

So, what does 2017 hold for me?

More exercise.
No alcohol.
A balanced diet.

Not quite the boost I wanted to hear before Christmas.. On the plus side I have a neat diet sheet up in the kitchen naming all the foods I can have, and shaming all those foods that I can't have.

According to the NHS the foods I should be cutting out are:
  • meat pies
  • sausages and fatty cuts of meat
  • butter, ghee and lard
  • cream
  • hard cheeses
  • cakes and biscuits , foods containing coconut or palm oil
Amongst other things of course. I'm going to be quite open about this on the blog, as I didn't really keep an eye on my 'cholesterol levels' because I shrugged it off a little. I'm only 30, should I have to really watch what I eat? I'm pretty active at work, I walk everywhere - I can eat anything I like, right? Wrong! It really is something I should be keeping a better eye on, and this whole thing has been a huge eye opener.

I'm going to make this a positive journey however, and share it here - recipes, moans and groans, and updates on how I'm doing with it.

Here's to 2017 being the cholesterol beating year!

Image sourced from Pixabay.

Gluten Free / Dairy Free & Vegan Mincemeat Slices

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Hello! Its Christmas very soon, and I'm here to share something I discovered last year and just can't let go of now the festive season is here again. Some gluten free, dairy free festive treats! These are so incredibly easy and moreish, I can't help but share them. I found these are perfect for that post-season mincemeat overload in the cupboard too!

To make these, you'll need:
  • 150g (or 5oz) of dairy free margarine such as Vitalite or Pure dairy free margarine*
  • 74g (3oz) soft brown sugar*
  • 225g (8oz) wholewheat flour*
  • 110g (4oz) gluten free porridge oats*
  • 225g (8oz) of vegetarian mincemeat, a smalll jar covered us.
*we did end up doubling these for a thicker, crumbly texture.
Step by step:
  • Preheat your oven to 200°c
  • Melt the brown sugar and margarine gently in a pan, stirring as you go. Make sure this isn't too fast as you don't want the sugar or margarine burning!
  • Mix the flour and porridge oats in a bowl, and when the sugar/margarine mixture is liquefied remove it from the heat before stirring in your oat/flour mixture. Stir well and slowly!
  • When well blended, spoon half of the mixture into your cake tin. The firmer you press, the tighter packed the base will be.
  • Once the base is covered, spoon on the mincemeat.
  • Use the remaining oat mixture over the top of the mincemeat, again pressing down a little more firmly if you want a less crumbly texture.
  • Bake in the centre of an oven (preheated to 200°c) for 20 minutes.
  • Once golden brown, cut into the desired amount and then leave to cool fully before removing!

The Wrapping Challenge with Gilliblogs.co.uk

Monday, December 12, 2016

I think everyone knows that myself and Mrs Lysons were up to no good on Sunday, you can view our collaboration on her channel right here and see what happened when we took on the Christmas Wrapping Challenge!

The Blackpool Zoo Camera Roll

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

I know we already vlogged about our visit to see some fantastic beasts - but we also managed to take advantage of the quiet day and get a lot of amazing photographs too.

You have to enter (or rather we did) through the giftshop in order to purchase tickets - in the same area there is a coffee shop selling Starbucks coffee and some rooms displaying the charity work the zoo are currently involved in around the world. As I mentioned in the Vlog, we were there on a rather quiet day so there was one family in front of us in the queue - hardly a cause for complaint!

A day at Blackpool Zoo - A Vlog

Sunday, December 04, 2016

What we got up to at Blackpool Zoo this weekend - it really has been a while since I got to share a vlog with you but today is the day. We had so much fun filming this and putting it together so I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Please remember to like and subscribe if you enjoy our vlogs!

The Kilner Pop Up Event at REX, Liverpool

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Twas the night before Kilner, when all through the streets,
Not a person was stirring, not even a peep.
Kilner® Jars filled with sweets, mince pies and Christmas bows,
Glistened in the shop window, as they lay in the snow.
The bloggers were settled, asleep in their beds,
Whilst scenes of Freakshakes and goody bags, danced in their heads.
Then the sun lit up Bold Street signalling a new day,
and shoppers began gathering, outside the Kilner® display.
For REX had transformed into a winter woods,
Filled with Kilner® gifts, creations and homemade goods.
Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and frantic posting,
spread the word across the city, of the events Kilner were hosting.
Bloggers piled in to see what the fuss was all about,
To be greeted by gifts, a Chocolatier, festive drinks, but the rest?
You will find out...

On Thursday the 24th of November I was fortunate enough to have received a very exciting invitation indeed. An invitation to the REX store in Liverpool with Kilner. I received a very cryptic yet wonderful e-mail the night before containing the verse you read above - I had to share it as it's fantastic!
I teamed up with my fellow blogger Gill of Gilliblogs.co.uk for this one and we made our way through the November frost to the centre of Liverpool, wondering what was in store for us..

REX is a space for innovators and creatives, providing businesses with a platform on which to build. Situated on Bold Street, it houses a cafĂ© as well as 'lab' spaces and retail opportunities, so as you can imagine I was incredibly intrigued as to what Kilner would be doing with such a space. When we arrived, we were greeted with a fantastically festive display and a warm, welcoming atmosphere!
Kilner are known for their glassware. Notably, the blog-worthy jars you see all over instagram and beyond! I was excited when I got this opportunity as I've always loved the aesthetic of such items, and while we were there we discovered that Kilner was actually based in St Helens at one point. I had no idea! They started in 1862 with pickling jars, and have branched out over the years while being helped along by the glass jar trend. Some of the items in this post aren't available just yet, but will be filtering into shops over the next few months - you can truly appreciate how far they've come!
Glassware adorned every surface - from bottles to jars, to brewing bottles and beyond. It was a little intimidating as there were so many people in attendance and so much glass, but I don't think there was any catastrophes. I actually fell in love with a Spiralizer which I ended up indulging in for work related meals, but I'll be sure to share that in a blog post in the near future. They're exclusive to Pop-Up events and John Lewis, but at £15 I think its a steal.
As you can see, the Pop Up store showcased a huge variety of different products produced by Kilner. I was intrigued to see the butter making kits, as I've never even considered making my own! Another one that caught my eye was a cheeky Kilner Cocktail Making set - I had already set my heard on a Spiralizer but I was almost swayed. I think the huge variety of products available really was a shock - I hadn't realised that the brand had grown so much. All the pieces have the same Kilner look and guarantee, that chunky glassware feel and had been stamped proudly with the logo.

The products weren't the only things there though - various stalls had been set up to give you inspiration and guidance when it comes to your own Kilner stock. Gill was entranced with the Freak-shake workshop and you can read her entry on that here - I was more enthused with the infused water and gin stands!

Food was also something you could indulge in. The tabouleh was stunning - I actually finished it when I got home. A mix of parsley, tomato and mint (with a few other ingredients!) it was a refreshing change of pace from boring iceberg lettuce based salads. There was various hummus(es?) of which I picked up an avocado one, and a whole stand of yoghurt/overnight oat inspired delights.

A chocolatier was also busy at work, piping names onto delicious looking slabs of chocolate - unfortunately, mine melted on the way back home so I didn't get chance to indulge. I made up for it with the small bottle of red wine which had been included into the goodybag, however!

Infused water is a guilty pleasure of mine. My personal favourite is lime and mint, which gives you a mojito flavour but there were plenty of ideas for the uninspired here. I had a cucumber water as I felt I needed to justify tasting the infused gin at the next stand, but I did pick up a few recipes here I'll be sure to share in the coming weeks.

Yep, you can use your Kilner jars to infuse gin. Simply add the gin, the ingredients you'd like to infused said gin with and seal - shaking the jar thoroughly once a day for a week. Once seven days have gone by, you have your flavourful infusion! I fell in love with the candy-cane gin here with its pastel pink hue, it was quite sweet but definitely something I could easily have a nip of during the cold winter months.

We left Kilner and its Pop-Up to travel home, laden with a goody bag containing a recipe book and our very own Kilner mugs - as well as the small bottle of wine I mentioned earlier. It was a warm, friendly evening and I met so many welcoming faces - the staff were fantastic. I can't thank Kilner enough for hosting such a wonderful event and urge you to pop by this weekend (25th to the 27th of November) to the REX store in Liverpool to experience this for yourself!

Re: #LidlSurprises

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Image taken from the Lidl Suprises page, here.

Dear Lidl.

I really liked your #LidlSuprises adverts - the premise is a great one. Tackle the naysayers on social media, and prove them wrong - or enlighten them to your way of thinking.

Alas, I have to confess that Debbie's Journey just doesn't sit right with me..

I'm thrilled that the turkeys have a wonderful life there, on the 'RSPCA approved farmland' in Norfolk. I'm really happy that they can roam around freely, that they get fed apples as a treat. They get tucked back into bed in the barn, all cosy and safe for the night.. Then Debbie is invited to the poultry farmers Christmas dinner and there's one of those birds right there on the table.

While you are educating the masses on your 'free range' culture you've certainly taken the time to miss out the horrifying truth about just what happens to those turkeys. The fact that at a very young age, they are taken from that sunshine-rainbow-farm-of-happiness and thrust into the very building that will be the last place they ever know. The slaughterhouse. But lets look at some of the pieces you've missed out on, shall we? Your advert spurred me on to research this, so I feel its only fair to share it with you so perhaps you can make an advert somehow throwing glitter at it.

The turkeys are caught - usually by gangs of people, and some are injured in this process. Imagine being chased, hunted - and struggling to get away. This, is the truth Lidl.

Then, they're crammed onto lorries - literally crammed. This, after the ordeal of being caught and manhandled into the lorry in the first place. A loud, alien environment which probably involves hurtling along a motorway. At the other end of this journey, the true nightmare begins. I'd prefer not to delve into the details about the slaughterhouse I researched into - but you can have the visual I did. Now, your advert certainly didn't show that part of the journey, did it?

Perhaps if Debbie had followed her turkeys to the end of their journey.. Or perhaps, watched the beginning of a new journey with the artificial insemination of the over-fed female turkeys I wouldn't be writing this post. Your campaign to be transparent about your products, the whole #LidlSuprises ethos, yet you paper over the truth about what will happen to those Norfolk Bronze Turkeys. As I previously mentioned, I liked the whole feel of Lidl Surprises, but this one? No.

I think that the comments on your Facebook are proof enough that the advert is distasteful and incredibly misleading. As one user said: "A turkey doesn't magically go from a berry-browsing, apple-enjoying, free-ranging bird to clean, bald and cooked on a plate.." and I think you should recognise that.

Merry Christmas, Lidl.

The 2016 Secret Santa Survival Guide

Monday, November 14, 2016

* sponsored post

Those dreaded words.

"Shall we do a Secret Santa this year?"

Yikes. Immediately, you have that sinking feeling that you'll end up with that one person from your workforce who just doesn't 'get' your humour or really, you at all. That crushing paranoia that you'll be that person who gets the title of 'Worst Secret Santa' this year. You could always just bottle it, and settle on a box of chocolates and a some wine but honestly - where's the fun in that?

There is so much variety available now with the internet. Here are some of my favourites! I've been quite open with the pricing - although I did include a thrifty section for those who don't want to be spending too much.

Satsuma have compiled a whole host of Christmas articles from bloggers who have their own ideas to share - you can view that here!

For those who make you laugh:
We all have those people around us, who seem to spontaneously make the corners of your mouth turn upward. Whether its the joker of the office, or a loved one with a wicked sense of humour these gifts will really hit the spot.

Chocolate Brussels Sprouts, £9.95 from NotontheHighstreet.com.
Enid Blyton for Grown Ups, £7.99 (each sold separately) from Firebox.com.
Donut Mug, £9.99, from FindmeaGift.co.uk.
Retro Embossing Label Maker, £19.99 from NotontheHighstreet.com.

For those you treasure:
The people who really rock your world. I love a good sentimental gift exchange and I tried to make sure I listed a variety of gifts you can personalise to your hearts content. From quotes to photographs, make someone's Christmas that little bit more loving by letting them know how much they truly mean!

Personalised Wooden Star, £7.50 from NotontheHighstreet.com.
Friendship Knot Earrings, £9.99 from NotontheHighstreet.com.
Adjustable Constellation Ring, £9.99 from NotontheHighstreet.com.
Personalised Metal Polaroid Print, £12.75 from NotontheHighstreet.com.

For the serious ones:
Those office goers who you just don't quite get. They have an incredibly professional side and you haven't seen them let loose yet - there isn't anything wrong with that, but sometimes they can be a tricky one to pull out of the hat. Have some fun by getting them gifts they can appreciate all year round - aside from the Egg Nog Cologne which is a winner in my opinion.

Grey Bird Scarf in a Box with a Golden Initial, £15.50, from NotontheHighstreet.com.
Personalised Colouring Book for Adults, £8.99, from FindmeaGift.co.uk.
Name Necklace (silver pictured; others available) £24.90 from mynamenecklace.co.uk.
Egg Nog Cologne, £9.99, from LibraryofFragrance.com.

For those you don't really know that well:
The new starter. The people who work down the hall who you never really see. I've found a selection of quirky but nice secrets that anyone would be happy to find!

Sparkle LED Jam Jar Light, £9.95 from NotontheHighstreet.com.
Chuppon Self Watering Animal Planter, £9.99 (each sold separately) from Firebox.com.
Grow your own Cactus, £9.99 from Firebox.com.
Great British Bathe Off Bath Melts, £8.95 from Prezzybox.com.

When you need to be thrifty:
Christmas can be a nerve-wracking time for anyone on a budget. I browsed around my favourite online gift stores and settled on a mixture of fun items that would add a little something for a little money this year!

Animal Egg Moulds, £5.99 from Firebox.com.
Scented Macaron Coin Purse, £8.99 (each sold separately) from Firebox.com.
'Mug Cakes' Book, £7.95, from Prezzybox.com.
Toast & Jam Bodywash, £6.95, from Prezzybox.com.

This post was written by myself, in conjunction with SatsumaLoans. All words and choices are my own. Pictures are from the respective websites.

The Merseyside Maritime Museum

Sunday, November 06, 2016

This weekend we decided to explore the wonderful Liverpool. I love Liverpool. I really do - there's a huge sense of pride in the city, and wherever you look there is something there to catch your eye and pique your curiosity. In particular, we had a wander down to the Marina and explored the Maritime Museum - free entry, and absolutely jam packed with various events throughout the day. Truthfully, the boys and I got separated as they were persuaded into a showing of 'Car Wash', presented by AFRO SUPA HERO & Liverpool Small Cinema.

I dealt with this better than expected - for those readers with similar anxiety to my own, I've found an excellent way of 'tuning out' of my fears is to put a Podcast on and listen to that. I recommend downloading the Castbox app, and searching for Knifepoint Horror. It kept me focused on what was happening on the Podcast, and I was able to wander around the exhibits for a good hour or so absorbed in what I was doing.

I got completely lost in some of the exhibits - quite literally. Some parts of the museum have so many corridors and so much information for you to take in, it can be very overwhelming and you soon lose track. I was particularly caught up in the story of the Lusitania - I'd never heard of the Lusitania or her story, mostly because I come from the industrial middle of England and maritime history doesn't feature too heavily around where I come from.

The exhibit captured my heart however, especially the enchanting 'an Ode to Fido the Lion'. Fido the Lion is actually displayed in all his glory on the first floor, I do recommend visiting.

As I've previously mentioned, a lot of the exhibits are absolutely full of things you can look at and read - the images above highlighting just how much so. We visited on a busy day, and despite not having the boys with me and being able to wander freely there were points I couldn't move due to congestion in the corridors. I think people wanted to stop and read the information presented to them, without realising that in hindsight they were blocking the path through therefore causing a build up behind them. If you have smaller children with you, perhaps keep them close by!

Contrastingly, at other points I suddenly became very aware I was wandering, alone. Not another person in sight. Perhaps due to the winding nature of some of the layouts in the exhibits, but something to be aware of.

Another exhibit that captured me was the Titanic exhibition. It was too dark to take photographs in there and it was incredibly busy - but I fully recommend taking the time to fully explore it. Letters from some of the passengers are on display, as well as a thorough timeline of what happened that terrible night. Some of the items on display truly captured the extravagance that some passengers would have experienced - from golden tea sets, spoons and all, to the formal uniforms that staff would have worn. An incredible insight into the one maritime disaster everyone knows the story of.

I couldn't possibly finish my post without mentioning the International Slavery Museum which is housed in the same building. Some of the stories which emblazon the walls here are gruelling, but a must read to fully appreciate the journey Liverpool herself has taken when it comes to the diverse community that she houses. This is on the third floor, and also includes art and objects of interest which are displayed.

There is also a lot of information surrounding the subject of modern slavery - a current issue that is being tackled in Britain itself. It really does bring home the fact that this practice isn't something that was completely abolished, and its something that we should be working on as a nation - it isn't just something that happens 'elsewhere'. Here, now, in your neighbourhood. We should be aware of this, we should be stopping this.

How Zoella changed my life for the better.

Friday, October 28, 2016

I feel in a better position to write about things now, than I did do when I lived under the cloud of 'anxiety'. I know its become a bit of a buzzword in blogging circles, some people openly eye-rolling or disregarding the experiences of someone who suffers with such a thing. But I think unless you've suffered through something as complex and as cold as anxiety, you won't ever fully understand or empathise with those who suffer. I'm writing this post as a 'hurrah!' to myself - as well as a more journalistic entry on the blog, looking back on how far I've come really does spur me on.

Since Zoella opened up about her own experiences with anxiety, others who perhaps didn't think what they suffered with had a name - came forward. I'm one of those people. Through school, I preferred the company of online games where I didn't need to interact face to face with people. There were many times at family gatherings or parties, where everyone would be downstairs and I'd be upstairs simply turning to my coping mechanism. Of course, back in 2005/6, anxiety wasn't really a recognised thing - I was antisocial, rude, cold and a whole host of other boxes that people tried to fit me in. I was introverted, reclusive and very tied into my own little world - nobody understood how my mind worked so nobody really contested it. That meant my coping mechanisms were pretty much set in stone - my fight or flight was essentially, 'no fight just alienating myself'.

I can cope with me. I never disagreed with me, I never thought me was wrong and me never made me go out of my comfort zone so I was happier being in the comfort of me and in control.

This continued for a good few years. In that time I'd had and walked away from a relationship, I was literally - on my own. That was when a message had popped up online from a charming gentleman, and I knew if I wanted to move forward then I'd have to start making myself uncomfortable in order to get there. I'd have to put myself in situations and learn from them, watch other people and pick up their social signals and almost mimic them to get by - fake it till you make it, right?

Fast forward to having purchased tickets to meet this gentleman, and having taken the train from Leeds to Manchester - I was seconds away from meeting him. I did it, you know. He's currently sat on the other side of the room with his son. He's a medal of me going against my anxiety, and I'm very proud of that. But something I did make sure I did, was put all my cards on the table about how I felt around people, what made me tick, what I felt like when I spiralled out of control. I was genuine, transparent and completely honest - not just to Mike, but to everyone after that. It was April 2011.

In December 2011, Zoella published the Panic Attacks.. post and something changed. It had a name. I wasn't irrational. I wasn't rude. I wasn't a bad person. I was someone who was "Dealing with it". I was able to go to my GP and really get across how I felt - how I had done for years. I'd touched on it once or twice, but had never pursued it because it sounded ridiculous - how can someone simply not like other people? But now, I wanted to lose those negative tags people had stuck me with.

Being able to do that was a huge turning point for me. Zoella, even though she's four years my junior, helped me in ways I can't ever thank her for - and countless other people besides. Her speaking out about something like anxiety really was a turning point for me. It had a name. Thank you for that, Zoe.

Here in 2016, I have wobbles. But, I'm not on my own. I have friends who can talk me around the dreaded pit - a huge fall where panic attacks and loneliness are abound. Friends who know that seeing the 'received' tab on a text message with no message back doesn't mean I'm ignoring them - I'm waiting to formulate the response I want. I have family who tell me how proud they are that I got this far - that I'm no longer the one hunched over the PC until 5-6am. I have a job - when I'm at work, my anxiety doesn't bother me. It plays second fiddle to me wanting to work, and me enjoying my job so I'm incredibly lucky that my brain has compartmentalised that side of my life - not everyone is as lucky.

One of the best things I've learned to do however, is when I meet people. I'm strong enough now to say "Hello, I'm Tilly. I have social anxiety and I'm bad with people - I'm dealing with it though, please be patient."

Its okay to feel this way. I have more of a social circle, more friends than I ever have done and its because I have been incredibly honest about my anxiety. Its not something I'm ashamed of anymore.

The Wizard of Oz at St Helens Theatre Royal!

Monday, October 24, 2016

It's Pantomime season everyone!

Oh no it isn't!

Oh yes it is - and to get our festive fix we went along to see the wonderful Wizard and all his friends when it came to the Theatre Royal in St Helens.

It was time to go down that yellow brick road!
I've never been to a pantomime before. So at 29 years old it was time this was rectified, and as my MIL had wanted to indulge too we decided this would be the year we went along and ticked it off of our bucket lists. We took Megs along with us, as well as her cousin who is a little older and it's safe to say by the end we all came out having enjoyed the show - it was wonderfully glitzy and child friendly, with a sprinkle of innuendo and naughtiness in there for the adults too...

Personally I'm a huge fan of the cowardly lion!
I have to say, this take on the very well known tale of Oz and its Wizard wasn't what I expected. We were treated to renditions of 'Respect' from The Wicked Witch of the West (Cheryl Fergison, known for her time as Heather Trott in Eastenders) and I have to say, Cheryl was wonderful as the well known villain. She stalked across the stage, referring to the children in the audience as brats and the adults as 'plastic scousers' at one point - fitting, as we were crammed into the St Helens venue. Charlotte Gallagher entranced us all as Dorothy, belting out 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow' to everyone's delight - the pooch who played Toto also deserving a mention too as he was wonderful throughout the whole two hour performance.

Oh what a night!
We had a fantastic time - Megs was entranced by the whole thing, and while she didn't understand why 'We're Off to See the Wizard' was replaced rather fittingly by the song 'Ease on Down the Road' from the broadway musical The Wiz, she enjoyed the replacement immensely. The whole show was upbeat and bouncy, with slapstick humour and more current comedy coming into the show at points too - there are moments so well put together and modernised that you'll be left wondering how on Earth they managed to knit things together so well.

As the curtain came down to close, Scarecrow (Liam Mellor) closed proceedings with a wonderful little nod to the audience - golden tickets had been slotted into the shows programs which had been sold, the holders of which were brought up on stage to receive a prize and to take part in the finale.

The show is running from the 22nd of October until the 30th - so get yourselves to St Helens Theatre Royal. You won't be disappointed!

Get your tickets via sthelenstheatreroyal.com - £12 for an adult, £10 for children and £11 for concessions. You can also book in person at the Theatre Royal Box Office, Corporation Street, St. Helens, Merseyside WA10 1LQ (Mon – Sat 10am – 5pm). Alternatively, call 01744 756 000.

A visit from my parents & a trip to Pennington Flash.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

My parents came to visit this weekend! We originally had a visit to the huge Willowbrook Hospice warehouse planned but when we arrived after a lunch out at 3.40pm it was closed. I felt disappointed, because I know its a place both my Mother and Father would be lost in - but it gave us the opportunity to show them the splendour of Pennington Flash (I vlogged about Pennington Flash here!) which wasn't lost on them.

The boys played with a rugby ball at the waters edge and me, Megs and my Mother had a catch up over a coffee (Megs had an ice cream, she hasn't developed a coffee addiction just yet..) at a picnic bench which was perfect for her in her wheelchair with a beautiful view of the flash itself. I really enjoyed the opportunity to chat with my parents and get to see them - they make my life so much brighter and while they're over an hour away we talk a lot on the phone and online, being so close knit we love nothing better than spending time together!

It was sad when they had to make their way back to the M62 to Bradford, but I was happy they'd explored our home and spent some time with us. It was Mike's 33rd birthday that day too, so it was a fantastic way of celebrating! All I want next time, is for my Grandmother to venture over and things will be complete.

I did a weekend 'Digital Detox' and survived...

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Scremerston Beach, Northumberland
What happened when I took a weekend off of the internet?
The internet is such a huge part of my life - with the blog, the vlogs and managing my social media I really do have a strong connection with the WIFI world..

This has caused issues before - when I had a huge bout of anxiety not so long ago, I quit everything. I left the internet behind and cast it aside. It wasn't long before the same itches came back however, as much as sometimes social media can trigger anxiety it soothes it too. I like being in touch with other people in a less demanding space. Online, I can pick and choose when I pick my phone up - face to face I can't exactly do that. Online, when sometimes someone triggers my anxiety without realising I unfollow/mute them. Offline, I can't do that. It isn't the best way to deal with this online either as I genuinely miss some people, and refollow a few days later - probably earning me a reputation as a unfollow-follower. Not ideal.

I realised these unhealthy patterns were starting, and instead of reclusing myself away and hiding I figured when I took the time to visit family in Northumberland I'd have a digital detox. One of my favourite vloggers, xameliax did a video about her own digital detox, and I felt perhaps I could put my own two cents down my blog about it.

While I did have my phone alongside me for photographs, I didn't check my social media or e-mails until I was (almost) home. Scheduled tweets went out, but that was all. It was probably easier for me as my weekend was jam packed with visits and family time - the only time I really struggled was when we were on the train home and Mike was sleeping. I think I broke the detox an hour into the four hour journey home which wasn't so bad as I'd kept clear all weekend.

What did I gain from my digital detox?

I gained a lot of time to simply 'be'. No worries about having to check my phone notifications, not bothering if the little light on my Samsung S6 was flashing.. It felt incredibly liberating. I didn't feel tethered. I was also able to leave my phone guilt free when we went to dinner, I actually forgot it the second night completely and usually I have a 'why didn't I take a photograph of my gorgeous dinner?!' moment but.. I didn't. I shrugged, enjoyed my meal and cocktails, then carried on.

My tweets had only been scheduled for two days. That meant by the time Sunday morning rolled around, I didn't have any tweets lined up ready to go - you know what happened?


Nobody unfollowed me. Nobody sent out a search party. Nobody berated me for being late with content or not posting. I didn't have hate messages, I didn't log in to find my account empty with a tumbleweed.. Life just carried on and when I did get on to check my social media nothing had changed. My irrational worry about leaving it unattended for the weekend was unfounded. I smiled as I scrolled through my timeline while on the East Coast train journey home, Mike snoring away quietly on my shoulder. I actually felt happy with myself. I'd had some secret, none-instagrammed experiences. I'd been on a beach and not tweeted about it while there. I'd had a wonderful steak dinner and not posted about it to Facebook.

It felt good.

While it might not be for everyone, I certainly gained a lot of confidence in my blog and social prescience. My followers didn't mind me having some time out. They cared about me having a lovely time, not about me updating every few minutes. I think for a weekend a month in the future, I'll be doing the same thing - spending it offline, and off my phone.

A family day out at the amazing Anderton Boat Lift in Northwich, Cheshire - A Vlog!

Monday, October 03, 2016

Our latest vlog featuring the Anderton Boat Lift, Tris and Megs! Please remember to like and subscribe if you enjoy our vlogs!

Seahouses & Bamburgh Castle.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Its been a whole week since our whistle-stop tour of my childhood, and I still feel humbled by it. My family got back to Yorkshire on Friday, so the magic of Northumbria is well and truly at an end - but I still have a post to go so I'm lucky I can hold onto that magic for just a little bit longer. Our day wasn't quite ended when I finished my last post which you can view here. After Lindisfarne, we got back into the car and took the coastal road - to Seahouses.

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