Celebrating with Thorntons Chocolates – a review

It’s no secret that I have some chocoholics in this house.  I don’t go for chocolate bars personally but I do like a nice chocolate selection box.  As regular readers will know, I’ve recently swum my first ever length in the swimming pool and I’ve been celebrating with Thorntons Chocolates.

Celebrating with Thorntons Chocolates

I’ve always loved Thorntons chocolates but I must admit that I see the boxes of Continental chocolates and I’ve purchased them before I’ve even taken stock of anything else available.  So it was time for a change!  Thorntons have some great ideas for ‘gifts for him’ and ‘gifts for her’ and I picked the Indulgent Gift Bag Collection which sells for £24.99.  Not only am I celebrating with Thorntons chocolates but I also get to keep a bag afterwards!

It’s a hard life blogging at times; obviously I needed to take my time with a thorough test of this lovely selection of chocolates!

Along with the keepsake bag you receive:

Decadently Dark Collection (191g),  Marc De Champagne Truffles (210g), Dreamy Desserts (192g), Milk Chocolate Block (90g), Orange Chocolate Block, Chocolate Truffle Bar (33g) x2 and a Nut Crunch Chocolate Bar (33g)

Being a big fan of Dark Chocolates I decided to start my research with the Decadently Dark collection – oops, was I meant to share them with Daddy P?? From the Double Chocolate to Passionfruit Caramel these were just a delight.  A perfect treat for me.

The biggest delight has been the Marc De Champagne Truffles – to die for!  I have been trying to save them for a meet up with my NCT Mum’s this week.  We’re getting together on Friday to celebrate our children starting school.  I think the box will be empty by then – oops!  Not doing very well at this sharing business am I!

In fairness I’m not a citrus fan so I did give Daddy P the Orange Chocolate Block (It was very nice apparently) and a Chocolate Truffle bar – they were very good too.

The Dreamy Desserts are just wonderful – would be great for a dinner party too.  Tiny little puddings in a chocolate – what a delight!  Tiramisu is my favourite pudding and now I can eat it as a chocolate – yummy!  The Raspberry Cheesecake was devine as well.

All in all I’ve been having a great time indulging myself and celebrating with Thorntons chocolates.  You know you are getting a quality product, the taste is sublime and I’ll worry about the waistline when I get back in the swimming pool on Friday.

Now, watch this space – tomorrow I’m going to have a giveaway so you can win an Indulgent Gift Bag for someone special yourself :)

disclaimer:  we were sent this item in exchange for an honest review.


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Thomas and Friends – my Facebook giveaway now live

Just a quick mention for a Facebook only giveaway I’ve launched this evening over on Over 40 and a Mum to One to win a Thomas & Friends The Complete Series 15 DVD – it’s a great prize, Monkey has enjoyed watching his copy.

Thomas and Friends my Facebook giveaway now live

Not only that but I’ve joined up with 7 other Facebook pages so once you’ve entered my giveaway, pop over to the next page to join their giveaway and so on!

Good luck.   Ends at midnight Friday 5th September – enter only on my Facebook page

Thomas and Friends - my Facebook giveaway now live

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Swimming success #MagicMoments

I haven’t joined in with #MagicMoments over the summer, I just had to step back and enjoy my last summer with Monkey before he starts school on Wednesday.  But something happened on Friday night, something that for me is such a huge personal Magic Moment – swimming success.

Swimming successAs regular readers will know, I’ve been learning to swim over the last few months.  You need to understand my total terror of water.  It’s taking time, but I’ve come such a long way.  This is the woman who hadn’t put her face in the water, ever, 5 months ago.

I can now swim half a length of breast stroke in one go, I can put my face in the water, goggles are fab!, I can do back stroke for half a length – love it, I am still struggling with front crawl.  But the deep end – getting out of my depth – brings panic, I struggle to breathe, it has seemed to be totally beyond me.

I’d not been swimming for 3 weeks, Daddy P had taken a week off with us, I had an issue with my eye and then we had the dreaded lurgy. So I went back on Friday night, pretty much expecting to be useless.  3 weeks for me and my brain is a lifetime.  Yep, front crawl – just not happening.  So I decided, I could either continue with that and get more depressed as the evening went on or stick with breast stroke.  I decided on the later, I wanted to get my limited confidence back and just feel better in the water again.

So I spent half the lesson doing just that, and I could see progress, swimming breast stroke away from the ropes and edge of the pool.  I could see that I might be able to go a little over half way.  But I stopped at the point I knew I’d be on tiptoes.  The deep end of the pool might as well have been a million miles away.

I was thrilled for my friend E.  He had come on so well in the 3 weeks I’d missed.  He was swimming lengths.  I was so happy for him, he started lessons before me and we’ve really helped each other through our swimming lessons.  Wow!  Well done E.

Then half way through the lesson our instructor decided it was time to challenge me and C.  Time to go down the deep end – time to tread water.  We both have water issues, we both felt sick.  I could feel my heart rate increasing.  Ok, I want you to hold your arms by your sides, legs straight and go under the water and hold your breath.  You will bob.  Ok, that’s like telling me to bury myself alive.  I tried a number of times, for me I did quite well, even if only for a couple of seconds!  The whole idea of being completely under water terrifies me.  But treading water, I could do that.  Ok, I was scared beyond belief when I could see myself drifting from the safety of the edge.  Heart rate increases, feeling sick.  Right Mary, you can swim, you can lean over in the water and reach out for the side of the pool.  You can do this, my instructor said.  You really can. Ok, can I?  I( could do it easily in my depth, please brain stop working!  Let me do this.  I flipping well did it!  It was a start.  Ok, I wasn’t far away from the edge, but far enough not to be able to grab it.  I tried it again and again.  Yes, I’d made another huge step forward.

I thought that would be it for the session.  No, I was wrong.  Right Mary, I’m taking you to the end of the pool, you are going to swim all the way back.  You can do this.  What? No! Trust me, you can do this.  I am right here, I will help you if you struggle, but you won’t, you can swim.  Thank god they don’t have cameras in the pool.  There’s me right at the end of the pool.  Hanging on to the side with one hand, ok how do I get that arm out front to swim without drowning?  I can’t do this.  Yes, you can!! How about treading water and then going?  Yes, try that.  Could I do it?  Treading water right at the deep end?  Yes I did, and then I was swimming!  I was swimming in the deepest end of the pool.  Keep going Mary, don’t stop, get to the end, complete the length.

I was flipping knackered when I touched that wall, but I’d blooming well done it, I had swum a whole length, for the first time in my life.  I had swum from the deep end for the first time in my life.  My fellow learners were clapping, my teacher high-fived me and yes, me being me, I burst into tears.  This swimming success has been something I’ve dreamed of since Monkey was born.  Something I honestly, truly, never thought I’d be able to do.  For me, it’s my Mount Everest.  Daddy P doesn’t really get it, if he’d known me 20 years ago he really, really would.

It’s just the beginning, I have to do it again, but I’m hoping my brain will fully compute by next Friday’s lesson that I’ve done it once, I can do it again.  I need to work on the breathing, work on the technique, but swimming success is in my sights.  Real progress, and as a nice, total aside, I achieved my swimming success on my hero’s birthday – so, yes, in true James Hunt style, I celebrated when I got home!

If you can’t swim and have young children, I really, really hope that this post might give you the confidence to overcome your fears.  Find out if there are adult swimming lessons in your area and book them!  Honestly, you are not alone, people of all ages come together and the support you find is awesome.  If I can get to this point at the age of 46, having not even ever been able to blow bubbles in the water until very recently – then anyone can do it.  It’s never to late to learn and will open up a whole new world for me and my son in the years to come.  It’s a life skill that we all should have.

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Articulate and Articulate for Kids – a double giveaway worth £52.98!

Articulate and Articulate for Kids Time to kick off September in style with a double giveaway thanks to the lovely team at Drumond Park.  I can offer one lucky reader Articulate and Articulate for Kids! Articulate and Articulate for Kids Articulate and Articulate for Kids Articulate for Kids has been updated ahead of this Christmas, and is aimed at children aged 6-12 years and can be played with 4-12 players. Priced at £19.99 it is the junior version of the hugely popular Articulate! The adult version has been in the UK Adult Board Games Top 10 for more than 20 years.  It is aimed at those aged 12 years and over, for 4-20 players and retails at £32.99. Articulate and Articulate for Kids

Articulate for Kids can be played by a group of children by themselves (or with grown-ups), or alongside Articulate! for hours of multi-generational family fun.  Many educationalists also choose to incorporate the game into entertaining learning strategies in the classroom to promote speaking skills – adapting game play according to small or larger numbers of children in play.

Both games follow the same simple format…  How quickly can you define a word – from the categories Object, Nature, Person, Action, World and Random – without actually saying it?  In each round, the teams divide their members into ‘Describers’ and ‘Guessers’.  The timer is started, and the Describers take it in turns to describe their way through as many question card entries, from the different categories, as possible to their team members – the Guessers – within a 30-second time limit.

For more information about these games and others from Drumond Park, along with stockist information please visit the Drumond Park website.

So for your chance to win this games bundle worth £52.98 just complete the gleam form below – good luck!


Terms and conditions:

(Please note that all entries will be checked against comments for validation).

Only the first step of this form is mandatory, all other steps are optional. Only one entry per person is allowed.

This giveaway is for UK residents only.

Once a winner is randomly picked, I will check if the winner has done what was requested and I will contact them, if they do not reply within one week, the prize will be allocated to another person.

The giveaway will close on 6th October 2014 at midnight.

Articulate and Articulate for Kids games bundle worth over £50.00

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The B&W Photography Project Week 8 #bwphotoproject

My The B&W Photography Project Week 8 with PODCast comes from the Great Central Railway in Leicestershire.  We visited this week and I can thoroughly recommend.  Full post to follow soon, but some of my photos just lend themselves to the age of black and white.  I couldn’t pick my favourite so I’m indulging myself today!

The B&W Photography Project Week 8 The B&W Photography Project Week 8 The B&W Photography Project Week 8 The B&W Photography Project Week 8

Which one would you choose?  I think the last one is my favourite.

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Silent Sunday My Sunday Photo 310814

Silent Sunday My Sunday Photo 310814

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Project 365 Week 35

Joining in with TheBoyAndMe and her linky 365 Project  A Photo A Day, Every Day, For A Year!  Project 365 – Week 35 Days 236-2.

Sunday 24th August - Day 236

Project 365 Week 35

We visited a couple of National Trust properties today; Greys Court and Nuffield Place. Monkey got a certificate at Nuffield Place for finding all the items on the observation sheet and then thought he’d try to squeeze into this car – too big for it I fear!  We stopped in Henley for dinner and found our first Gold Post Box – exciting!

Monday 25th August – Day 237

Project 365 Week 35

Mummy is my hand as big as yours yet?  No, but you are catching me up fast Monkey!  It rained, typical for the last Bank Holiday before Christmas.  I had some Tesco vouchers I’d exchanged for Days Out vouchers so we headed to Pendon Museum to check out their model railways.  Monkey loved it.

Tuesday 26th August – Day 238

Project 365 Week 35

Time to get Monkey’s feet measured.  He needed new school shoes as his Nursery Class shoes were wrecked.  He’s gone up a whole size since July, no new school shoes were purchased.  Catching me up way too fast! It meant he needed new casual shoes too – I managed to obtain the only pair of brown shoes in Clarks that were size 11.5.  Please don’t tell me that, every other pair of shoes above that size were black – I can see I’m going to hate shoe shopping with Monkey!

Wednesday 27th August – Day 239

Project 365 Week 35

Monkey and I were spending a couple of days with my best friend.  After lunch we popped over to Calke Abbey for the afternoon to explore their outdoor activities.  Look at Monkey!  He didn’t make it the whole way along, but he tried.  I was so proud of him.  In their Garden of Imagination he actually let Auntie A chase him – he normally freaks if anyone chases him.  He overcame his fear to walk through a really dark tunnel too – he had a wonderful afternoon, and adores my friend.

Thursday 28th August – Day 240

Project 365 Week 35

We spent a wonderful day with Auntie A exploring the Great Central Railway on a steam train.  Monkey was in his element, and my friend went on her first ever steam train – she has not lived!

Friday 29th August – Day 241

Project 365 Week 35

We had a couple of appointments today, Monkey had his dental check too.  My thoughts were with my friend Jenny and her family as they said farewell to Elspeth.  We bought some sunflowers on our way back from town.  Monkey and I then sat down to watch Walking with Dinosaurs.  He was transfixed throughout – can you tell?  Something amazing happened in the swimming pool tonight – more on that on Monday.

Saturday 30th August – Day 242

Project 365 Week 35

We are having a lazy day at home.  Plans got cancelled and I had a few glasses of wine last night.  We’ve had so much on, I think we could both do with some down time. Monkey is never far away from his battered old Teddy.

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

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Bekonscot Model Village – a summer of fun #CountryKids

We’ve been so busy enjoying our last summer before Monkey starts school that I haven’t had much of a chance to share our adventures.  So time to make amends and start the first of a series of a summer of fun posts.  First up – Bekonscot Model Village.

Bekonscot Model Village

We first visited Bekonscot Model Village 2 years ago.  I remember Monkey being fascinated with the model railway that runs  around a large part of the model village.  I knew a return visit was well overdue.  A while back I exchanged some Tesco rewards for Days Out vouchers and when Daddy P took the week off earlier this month, off we went.

There is limited free parking available next to the church on the opposite side of the road from Bekonscot Model Village.  We’ve been lucky both times to park easily.  But we have arrived pretty much as the village opens at 10am both times.  If you arrived later in the day, it might not be so easy.  Worth noting.

As soon as we arrived Monkey was off, dragging Daddy P with him.  Where are the trains Daddy?  On our way to track them down we noticed someone working on repairing one of the models – fascinating stuff.

Bekonscot Model Village

No time to stop and play in the lovely play area, an a lovely sunny day, so we’d be picnicking in the sunshine.

Bekonscot Model Village Bekonscot Model Village

Bekonscot Model Village has a one way system which is really useful, especially at busy times.  There’s no issue with standing and really looking at each area of the display, but it’s so much easier when everyone is walking in the same direction.

Bekonscot Model Village Bekonscot Model Village

Monkey wanted to make a beeline for the train area.  The lovely thing about Bekonscot Model Village is that you can walk around it as many times as you like during your visit. So we headed for that section and knew once he’d had his train fix, we could revisit the rest of the village in more detail.

Bekonscot Model Village Bekonscot Model Village

It was a joy to watch his enthusiasm as he saw and followed the various trains.  You can even watch the trains being controlled in the main signal box as you walk around.

We watched the fireman put out a fire at the thatched cottage – always a highlight.

Bekonscot Model Village

Talked about coal mining as we watched he coal going along on the conveyor belt to be loaded on the coal wagons.

Bekonscot Model Village

It was lovely to be able to talk to Monkey about different areas of the village in detail. Everything is set in the 1930′s, from the cars at the garage to the aeroplanes at the airport.  The details are wonderful.

Bekonscot Model Village Bekonscot Model Village

After a while we decided it was time for our picnic, there are plenty of picnic tables to choose from, either with a parasol or under cover.  We took our own food, but the cafe supplies a number of reasonably priced options too.

Then it was time for a ride on the miniature railway.  This is extra, but it was only £1 each and Monkey loved it.

Bekonscot Model Village Bekonscot Model Village

We then headed back into the main village for some more train action!

I can thoroughly recommend Bekonscot Model Village for a family day out.  Monkey has loved it as a 2 and half year old, and again at nearly 5 years old.  I can see it being a family favourite for years to come.  We’ll certainly be back.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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Summer with Gold Stars #SummerwithGoldStars

You may remember that I went to BritMums Live back in June and one of the companies I was really interested in meeting up with was Parragon.  I’ve loved reading reviews of their books from other bloggers and was interested to see what they had to show us. Well they set us a challenge – the Summer with Gold Stars challenge!

Summer with Gold Stars

Parragon have a range of Gold Stars work books suitable for children aged 3-11 years, working with pre-school through to Key Stage 2 learning aids.  Monkey starts school next week (next week!!! – I will remain calm) so I was eager to get a better understanding of the Summer with Gold Stars challenge.

We were given a Gold Star book – Ready for School, aimed at children aged between 3-5 years and asked to complete a page a day for 30 days.  Monkey has been somewhat reluctant with regards to writing, so I was hoping that this challenge might help.

Summer with Gold Stars

Of course what I should have realised that the lure of getting a gold star sticker for every completed page would get my son sitting down and cracking on!

He has loved Summer with Gold Stars challenge.  I’ve found it quite emotional actually. Monkey has been trying to write letters, he’s written numbers.  He’s had a go, yes, he’s got frustrated at times but he’s come back for more.

The idea behind the challenge is to keep children engaged with learning during the summer holidays.  Monkey, as with everything works at his own pace.  He has friends who are writing all sorts of things, we haven’t managed his name in full yet.  But I know he will get there, and the fact that he has loved sitting down with this book, has thrilled me.  It’s a massive step forward for us.

There are 123 challenge pages in our book, varying from letter forming challenges, number recognition and shape sorting.  There are also more complex pages – being able to write words, so this is a book we can spend time with.  We can pick it up and complete other pages over the months to come.  We’ve gone through some of these pages, with me just explaining them.  He has already started working with phonics in his Nursery class, so is aware of quite a few of the letter sounds now.

I’ve noticed this series of books in our local Sainsburys and I can thoroughly recommend them.  I like the idea of short little exercises, great for someone like Monkey.  He can concentrate for a few minutes and then move on to something else.

Our Summer with Gold Stars 30 days challenge took us a little longer than planned as we were both ill last week.  But earlier this week he completed his 30 pages and will continue to gain more gold stars as he takes this book on his school journey.

Priced at £7.99 I’m really pleased we were asked to take part in the Summer with Gold Stars challenge.  I’m so pleased with my little star.

disclaimer:  we were provided with the book shown in order to complete this challenge

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The Alphabet Photography Project P is for Parents #alphabetphoto

Week 16 of PODcast‘s linky The Alphabet Photography Project. Monkey promptly passed on his germs last week, so I apologise for lack of commenting. We are off for a couple of days so I’ll try better this week when we get back. My The Alphabet Photography Project P is for Parents.

The Alphabet Photography Project P is for Parents

I don’t think you have any idea how hard it is to be a parent until you become one yourself.  I had a very difficult relationship with my parents when I was a teenager, especially with my Mum.  My parents were rather strict, we moved from Surrey to Oxfordshire when I was 14.  It wasn’t ideal for me and it caused a lot of issues and conflict resulting in me being asked told to leave home just after I turned 18.

It was probably another 10 years before we really talked through the issues from both sides.  It was upsetting for all of us, but we survived the experience.  We hadn’t been good as a family about talking, really talking.  We could do small talk for England, but anything more was strictly off-limits.  There was no discussion about anything, which really didn’t sit well with a headstrong, hormone fuelled daughter.

With my parents moving to Spain 10 years ago, we really did talk, about everything. Death, funeral arrangements, decluttering, family history, you name it, we have talked about it in detail.  They moved and then had to deal with the break up of my first marriage via phone calls.  They were brilliant.  I had no money.  Dad bought me a flight ticket and off I went for some much-needed ‘space’. I promptly arrived and developed Chicken Pox, so there were my parents nurse-maiding a very poorly 39-year-old daughter.  Yes, a parents job is never done.

As an adult I could understand my parents reasoning for a lot of what they did; even if I couldn’t agree.  But it wasn’t until I had Monkey that I truly understood what being a parent meant and how it felt.  I know I broke my parents hearts on a number of occasions with my actions in those teenage days.

You become a parent thinking you will do things differently; but then you realise that different doesn’t necessarily mean right; and almost certainly won’t be accepted as right by your children as they grow up.  I hope that Monkey and I will be better communicators but I’m sure we’ll have our fair share of disagreements in the years ahead.

But for my parents, they put up with a lot from me but have been there to pick up the pieces so many times.  I spent so much time dwelling on the parts of my childhood that weren’t so great, but now I really just concentrate on the good things, the times we spent laughing.  I love them both dearly, and would give anything to have them 15 minutes up the motorway right now.

The Alphabet Photography Project P is for Parents

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