Books

Best Libraries in the UK

There are few pleasures as great as losing yourself in a good book, especially during the winter months. The ebook revolution has meant it’s easier than ever to enjoy books on the go, but spare a thought for Britain’s historic libraries. With many of our country’s finest reading rooms under threat, it’s time to appreciate anew those beautiful buildings where you can while away the afternoon curled up with a good (borrowed) book.

Central Library, Edinburgh

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Edinburgh’s Central Library is an oasis of calm in the middle of a bustling city. It’s slightly more relaxed than the huge National Library across the road, and has an excellent selection of books, from new releases and graphic novels to a section dedicated to the history of Scotland’s capital city. There are plenty of nooks and crannies, perfect for grabbing a bit of peace, and the gothic architecture will leave you feeling like you’re starring in a 1940’s film. Cycle there in one of these gorgeous day dresses with a satchel on your shoulder for a truly picture-perfect afternoon!

The British Library, London

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London has more than its fair share of excellent libraries, but true book enthusiasts can’t look past the majestic British Library. Boasting over 150 million items, with 3 million new pieces added each year, you’re sure to find a book to inspire you. The library also has exhibition galleries, which show off legendary collectors’ items like the Lindisfarne Gospels, original Beatles manuscripts, and the world’s oldest printed book, the Diamond Sutra. This season’s major exhibition is entitled Georgians Revealed and looks to be as fascinating as we’ve come to expect – don’t miss it!

The Library of Birmingham, Birmingham

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The new library on the block opened in September 2013. While a visit to Birmingham usually involves several hours in the Bullring enjoying retail therapy and large quantities of fast food, it’s well worth making a detour to visit this unique building. The architecture is certainly striking, but it’s what’s on the inside that counts. The interior space is modern, bright and vibrant, with a café and plenty of places to sit and read. Their selection includes one of the best collections of works by Shakespeare, and an exhibition of children’s books and games dating back to the 16th century.

Post provided by guest author, Kira.

Christmas · Competitions · Holidays · Home

I Love My Tassimo! #loveyourappliance

My Tassimo machine was one of those gifts that I didn’t even realise I wanted until I got it, but now, I don’t think I could live without it. Husband bought it for me for Christmas 2008, and he was nervous about his choice – being a thoroughly enlightened chap, he was worried that buying a kitchen gadget made him seem like a chauvinist, but he couldn’t have been more wrong. That machine has given me more hours of pleasure than any other. I love the fact that all I need to do it stick a cup on the front, pop in a pod and press a button, and I have coffee-shop quality drinks for a fraction of the price. I love my Tassimo

The whole family benefits now too, we often treat Sausage to some of the delicious brands of hot chocolate that Tassimo have to offer and Husband will occasionally indulge in a decaf from time to time – I don’t mind sharing my machine though! I’ve had to revive her a few times – last year, she decided to refuse to squirt the full amount of hot water out that was needed to make a drink, but after removing a few parts, cleaning them and putting her back together again, she works like new. I’ve had her for 5 years now and I’m hoping we’ll get to celebrate many more Christmases together yet.

So enamoured am I with my Tassimo machine that whilst thinking about writing this post poetry spewed forth from my fingers and heart, and I thought I’d share my poetic musings with you:

An Ode to My Tassimo

Oh Tassimo machine,
You’re always there for me
When I’m in desperate need
Or just plain greed,
Be it coffee, hot chocolate or tea.

You sit there on my counter
Looking shiny and eager and ready
At the flick of a switch
You become my bitch
Flowing forth your hotness, so steady.

I’ve been neglecting you recently,
Pregnancy and caffeine don’t mix
But as soon as I pop
I’ll be revving you up
Asking you to perform your hot, sweet tricks.

Tassimo, don’t ever leave me,
I’ll clean you more often, I swear.
Keep making your coffee,
So gorgeous and frothy
Together, we’re an unstoppable pair.

This appliance gets my seal of approval!
Pregnancy · Uncategorized

Sit Down, Love. Have a Cup of Tea…

I’m a live and let live kind of person, you know? I don’t hate anyone because of what they are or what they do, if it’s legal/consensual/doesn’t hurt anybody else. But there have been a string of articles in the papers recently which are seriously making me resent the women they’re written about. Meet Crystal Green and Lea-Ann Ellison:

cuppa

 

Crystal is a martial arts champion who has continued her training right the way through her pregnancy and Lea-Ann has stirred up a whole shit-storm of controversy after posting pictures of herself doing weight-lifting whilst heavily up the duff.

Now, I’m from the Charlotte York school of pregnancy – her doctor tells her that running is fine for her to do because it’s something that she’s always done, so I’m sure that both of these women are fine to continue the levels of activity that they were doing before they fell pregnant (although, the weight-lifting one scares me a bit, I’m sure you’re supposed to be careful lifting heavy things whilst pregnant…?). But, as the title of this post suggests, I do feel like taking both of them to one side and saying “Come on, pet, why don’t you sit in a comfy chair and watch some telly?”.

Having a healthy pregnancy is vital and while part of me admires these women for their get-up-and-go during their gestation, I also can’t help but feel that they should be taking it easy, even if it’s just a little bit. I’m sure they’d look at my sedentary ass and hyperventilate at the thought of sitting on their butts for 9 months, but surely there’s some sort of middle ground.

There’s no way I could do either kick-boxing or weight lifting at the moment. Do you know why?

BECAUSE I’D WEE MYSELF.

That’s right, people. The combination of having had one c-section and being pregnant again means that the only safe place for me to sneeze or blow my nose at the moment is sitting on the loo, for fear of letting an involuntary stream of urine escape when my stomach muscles are engaged in such a way, so squatting down and attempting to heft a barbell around would undoubtedly end in some sort of dirty protest from my pelvic floor.

And, aside from the wee, do you know what happens when I so much as dare to separate my knees at the moment? A loud *CRACK* emanates from my pubic bone and I tend to spend a minute, holding the front of my fanny, trying to recover from the pain.

It’s not so much that I think these women are making me look bad, it’s more of a culmination of the “womens sanitary product advert effect” (catchy name, huh?). Anyone aware of TV in the 80’s and 90’s will know that women were besieged by images of other women, who through the use of subtext and blue water in a test-tube were hinted at being on the blob, yet they rollerskated with herds of Dalmatians, went running, partook of a spot of yachting and engaged in a whole load of other activities to demonstrate how UN-BOTHERED they were by their periods.

Which is great. If that’s what you want to do, then go for it. However, most women I know choose to wear jogging bottoms with a hot-water bottle in the waistband, eat chocolate and carb-based snacks and watch shit TV. WHICH IS ALSO FINE.

All I’m saying is, whilst being active is great, pregnancy is also a time to be gentle with yourself, be happy with the changes in your body and, if the mood takes you, have naps in the afternoon. Women are awesome and we can do awesome things, but sometimes, admitting that you need a rest is just as awesome as swinging a kettle-bell around. Don’t let the standards of others make you feel bad about your own choices.

There endeth the sermon…but mostly because it’s nap time.

Giveaway · Review

Moshi Monsters Trunki Review and Giveaway

Recently, we took Sausage on her first weekend away and suffice to say, she absolutely loved it. We stayed in a hotel for one night before going to watch a football match, and she was probably the most excited I’ve ever seen her about sleeping in a room that wasn’t her own, which had a TV on the wall and a bathroom attached to it.

What she loved most of all was being able to pack a bag of things that she’d need to take with her for the weekend; Sausage is MAD about bags and cases – there’s a running joke in our house that if something goes missing, the first place you should look is inside Sausage’s handbag collection. Ever since she was little, one of her favourite things to do was pack her toys inside a bag and pretend to be going on a trip, so when the people at Trunki got in touch, I knew we’d be on to a real winner with Sausage. Here’s the case we chose:

Poppet Moshi Monsters Trunki

Moshi Monsters are definitely the ‘in’ thing at the moment, Sausage has a huge collection of Moshi merchandise and toys, so we knew that the Poppet Trunki would appeal to her. Here’s the blurb:

Poppet is every bit as cute as her name suggests. With twinkling eyes and bright blue boots (wheels!) she’s the ultimate travelling companion for little monsters! Trunki was created to beat the boredom so often suffered by travelling tots. Designed to be used as hand luggage, kids can pack Trunki with all their favourite belongings whilst parents keep them in tow. It’s made from the same lightweight, durable plastic as adult cases, and has a generous 18 litre capacity for toys, games and spare clothes. Trunki comes with its own passport, which you can register online and fill with fun, travel friendly activities for the journey.

This would make a gorgeous gift for Christmas for any Moshi-mad kid, and even if they aren’t as Moshi crazy as Sausage, there’s a whole range of cases for kids to choose from.

Now, here’s the good news – we’re giving you the chance to win your very own Moshi Trunki! You can choose from the gorgeous Poppet case above or the equally awesome Katsuma Trunki.Katsuma Moshi Monsters Trunki

To be in with a chance of winning, simply complete the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Win competitions at ThePrizeFinder.com

Kids · Play

Bringing the Outdoors In: Indoor Picnic Ideas

Post provided by Fisher Price

Spending hours outdoors is an activity that most children will love to do; heading to the park, riding their bikes, playing in the garden – whatever it is, they love being outside. When the summer approaches, the opportunity for fabulous picnics on the green become an instant possibility, giving you and your family a perfect chance to enjoy eachother’s company. But what do we do in the meantime?

With the weather like it is during the winter and early spring in the UK, the possibility of spending plenty of time outdoors dwindles and the chance for a picnic disappears completely because of the risk of rain or a strong gust of wind blowing your sandwiches away. Instead, why not bring the picnic idea to the living room?

Creating a picnic in the comfort of your own home is great fun, not just for the children but for you as well. Why shouldn’t you fetch the hamper from the attic and pack it with loads of yummy goodies? Just because you’re not going anywhere doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the experience. Kids enjoy their own little tea parties and picnics all the time; laying out place settings for their teddies and using their say please tea set to pour pretend cups of tea for their favourite doll. Why not turn it into a full on indoor picnic? Here are some ideas that you can incorporate.

  • Lay a picnic blanket on the living room floor and pile high with various plates and bowls ready for the food
  • Alternatively, make a den! Having a picnic inside a homemade den adds to the experience.
  • Use the picnic hamper for an authentic picnic experience. Cover the floor with scatter cushions and cosy throws so that you can really relax and have fun.
  • Make some traditional picnic sandwiches and stock the hamper with savoury and sweet treats.
  • Ask your children to help to prepare for the picnic so that they can feel involved
  • Let their imaginations run wild! Encourage them to dress up and let their creativity flow.
  • If they do decide to dress up, theme the picnic food to coincide.
  • Introduce a couple of games to play as part of the afternoon. Perhaps an indoor treasure hunt that you have been able to plan in advance, or some board games that can be enjoyed by all.
  • Invite some of their friends for a tea party to remember.

Picnics don’t just have to be outdoors – make a rainy day special using what you have at home, instead.