Thursday, 1 January 2015

My Year In Comping: 2014 (4th Comperversary)

Time to tally up my fourth full year of comping (I began comping in December 2010)...

78 wins in the advents to end 2014, not my best ever, but pretty damn close!

I had a fantastic run of wins in June, tallying up a whopping 80 wins in 1 month.

December 2014 was also my 4th full year of 'comping' thus was my 4th 'comperversary' as well.

January 2014: 31 wins
February 2014: 33 wins
March 2014: 38 wins
April 2014: 30 wins
May 2014: 26 wins
June 2014: 80 wins
July 2014: 23 wins
August 2014: 32 wins
September 2014: 35 wins
October 2014: 30 wins
November 2014: 43 wins
December 2014: 78 wins

2011: 394 wins, approx. value £20,461
2012: 249 wins, approx. value £10,674
2013: 446 wins, approx. value £15,329
2014: 479 wins, approx. value £10,034

Well, 2014 sees an increase in the amount of wins, but a significant drop in value of wins - in terms of value, my worst year yet. Out of my 4 years comping so far, it's my highest amount of wins. With the surprise arrival of baby Marley in July, July until October saw me comping a huge amount less and I guess it reflects in the amount and value of wins for the year. But he's better than any amount of prizes anyway!! Had some fantastic wins in 2014 and ticked off some needs/wants too :)

Here are my best (in terms of value) and favourite wins of 2014...

iPad Air won from Leapfrog Technologies (FB)
iPad Air won from Leapfrog Technologies (FB)

4 night midweek break from @VisitSuffolk (TW)
4 night midweek break from @VisitSuffolk (TW)

Balloon Flights & 1st Class Train Tickets from @VirginTrains (TW)
YEar's Supply Of Shoes from BHS (FB)

Samsung Digital Camera from Preloved (WS)
Cake Pop Maker from @RobertDyas (TW)

Garden Lounge Set from @TaskersOnline (TW)
Garden Lounge Set from @TaskersOnline (TW)

Sony Xperia Z2 from @Phones4U (TW)
42" Panasonic Smart TV, £50 voucher & goodies from Hungryhouse (WS)

£50 Amazon Voucher from @Anomaly_42 (TW)
Red Pram Coat & Crown Bib from @britanniayacht (TW)

Veho Muvi HD Action Camera from Skiplex (FB)
Roberts DAB Radio from SuperSavvyMe (WS)

2 night hotel stay from (FB)
Meal for 2 from @RedHotWldBuffet (TW)

32" LED TV & Home Entertainment System from Pringles (TXT/PURC)
32" LED TV & Home Entertainment System from Pringles (TXT/PURC)

Avanti Swivel Chair from Newman & Bright (FB)
Jersey Boys DVD from @new_magazine (TW)

BassBuds earphones & £100 Pizza Hut gift card from @BassBuds (TW)
Family ticket to Ripley's from @londonwestend (TW)

2014 was a really good year for me - winning some amazing and much needed wins - a nice new big telly for the living room, a fab entertainment system for the living room which is like going to the cinema, a fab Xperia Z2 mobile phone, a fab 4 night break at Woodfarm Barns and so many other fantastic things, I find it hard not to talk about them all, but that would be a seriously huge blog post! I love my hobby - I love winning money-can't-buy experiences, holidays for my family, things for myself and my family that would otherwise fall outside our budget.

Here's a review of my 2014 wish list (the things I was hoping to win) and how well I did:

  • Big cash win X
  • Holiday to Egypt (my dream destination, specifically Cairo!) X
  • Good spec DSLR camera X
  • PS4 or XBox One X
  • Clothing and/or shopping vouchers ΓΌ
  • iPod Touch (ideally with docking station) or hi-fi system X
  • Family holiday abroad (never been on a family holiday abroad (Barcelona & Venice were just for 2 people, so me & Paul went) and most class children up to 12 years old as children and as David is 11, could really do with winning one this year!) X
  • Grand National (Aintree, horse racing) tickets X
  • Dental implants (might sound odd, but I can't think of anything that would make me happier than getting my teeth sorted out) X
  • Sky TV subscription paid for a year X
Not very good - a mere 10% (1/10) of my 2014 wish list! Here's what's on my 2015 wish list:
  • Big cash win
  • Restaurant/eating out vouchers
  • Good spec DSLR camera
  • PS4 or XBox One
  • Clothing and/or shopping vouchers
  • iPod Touch
  • Family holiday abroad (never been on a family holiday abroad and most class children up to 12 years old as children and as David is 12 already, could really do with winning one before it's too late entirely!)
  • Grand National (Aintree, horse racing) tickets
  • Dental implants (might sound odd, but I can't think of anything that would make me happier than getting my teeth sorted out)
  • Sky TV subscription paid for a year
And that's it for my summary of my fourth year in my #1 hobby, comping! I hope all of my comping friends the very best of luck for 2015 :) xxx

Oh and a quick plug of hubby's websites while I'm here ;) In case you haven't heard of it yet, you can use to quickly find and enter Twitter competitions quickly and easily and you can use to quickly find and enter Facebook like & share competitions!

Friday, 24 October 2014


I had the opportunity to try out the ASUS MeMO Pad HD 7.

Yvonne says I'm a bit of a geek, so I will keep this technical bit short and get on with something a little more interesting to read ;)

It is an Android tablet with a 7" screen, it has a 5MP camera (and a 1.2MP front camera). It's lightweight at 300g. It has Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean). It has a quad core 1.2 GHz processor, 1GB memory and comes with 8GB or 16 GB storage options. 

I regularly use a 7" Android tablet so it was interesting using the MeMO Pad. I found it to be lightweight and easy to hold, although not especially thin. If you normally use an iPad you would probably find the screen rather small, but you would soon find it is comfortable to use for extended periods.

It comes in a variety of colours to suit your personal style. The case has a slightly cheap feeling to it as it is just plastic, with plastic buttons, but it does mean it is nice and lightweight.

The MeMO Pad doesn't have a sim card slot, so you will only be able to access the internet via WiFi. This isn't much of a problem with so many places offering free WiFi (coffee shops, supermarkets, shopping centres, etc).

One thing that I noticed was a lack of light sensor. Normally a tablet's screen will brighten and dim depending on the brightness of where you are using it. This helps make it more visible in well lit areas and saves battery & prevents an overly bright screen in a less well lit area. Unfortunately this tablet doesn't have this feature and you must manually adjust the brightness.

The Memo Pad has no flash, which means indoor photo's can be a little disappointing. The main camera overall wasn't bad, at 5 MP it's fairly average for phones and tablets. The auto focus was a little slow as was the time from pressing to take a picture until it took it. This does mean that action shots will be below average.

I liked that the USB charging/data socket was at the top. Often they are at the bottom and it makes it awkward to use while charging - you can easily damage the cable by leaning it on yourself. But this tablet has it at the top which, although seems rather insignificant, does make a difference when you use it while charging.

I was pleased to see the tablet has a Micro SD socket, giving you up to 64GB of extra space. It surprises me how fast 16 GB can fill up so I wish mine had this. I did notice that it doesn't have a cover of any sort over the socket, so it would be a good idea to always have a micro SD card it - just to prevent dirt and damage.

I was surprised how much I like the keyboard. Asus have made it much nicer to use than the standard Android keyboard. The keys seem much easier to hit, the word prediction seems to do well and gives a whole row of suggestions as you type.

I used the 'launcher' (the main interface that you see when you turn it on and when you arent using an app). It seemed fairly average, it had 5 screens to swipe between, giving plenty of space for shortcuts to your favourite apps and games and space for widgets, too. It was nice and responsive with no delays. I wasn't too keen on the notification drawer. This is the thing you swipe down to see notifications, such as the ones telling you that you have an email. Asus's customisation of this was a rather large pull down drawer that just didn't feel right. It did have some useful shortcuts on it, to turn Bluetooth on and off etc, but seemed a little too big for when you just want to see what a notification says. There was an option to switch it off, which I did, and then it felt like "normal" Android.

If you don't like the way the launcher looks then there are many other choices in the Google Play Store so it's no problem to make it more to your own taste.

There were some power management options which help the battery last longer, but I found it lasted well anyway. I am used to charging my phone and tablet everyday and this tablet seemed to last well between charges.

I played a number of 2d and 3d games as well as using various apps. I found games ran smoothly; rarely, if ever, slowing down or going jumpy. All the top games on the Play Store worked well. All the apps I tried ran well, too.

Browsing the internet was fine, too. Sites loaded and displayed quickly. I used both Chrome and Firefox on it and they both worked marvellously. I tried YouTube and found videos played smoothly, even the HD ones at full screen.

The touchscreen worked well - I tapped, the tablet responded. The tablet remained responsive to my taps and I never found myself wondering if I was waiting for something to happen or if an app was waiting for me.

I was pleased to see it wasn't overloaded with initial apps. Sometimes tablets and phones have dozens of apps that come preinstalled, with no way to uninstall. The MeMo pad didn't have many, just a few to get you started. 

Being an Android tablet means that you get all the usual Google apps such as Gmail. You obviously get Google's Play Store giving you access to 1000's and 1000's of apps and games. You can opt for other sources of apps, too; such as Amazon's app market, App Brain, Slide Me or F Droid.

Overall I would definitely recommend this tablet. It is much cheaper than the iPad Mini and many other Android tablets, too. It isn't the fastest and doesn't have the most memory but I would say it is more than adequate for 90% of users.

The Asus MeMo Pad can be found in various online retailers including Amazon for about £109

Thursday, 23 October 2014

DXB REVIEW: Pocket Money Cookery

On the first 3 pages of the book it gives you an introduction to it and talks about CeCi who works with Oober Kids Republic, a childrens nutritional therapist and gives a full introduction to the book over all.

On the contents page it has the number of the page I talked about before and two others:
  • Be Safe When Cooking! 6
  •  Are You Cheating? 9
Now the recipes:
  • Pizza Beef 10
  • The Embarrassed Queen Frittata 14
  • Winter Mud Dessert 18
  • Explosive Volcano Eggs 20
  • Dawn Scrambled Eggs 24
  • Fresh Tomato Spaghetti 28 
  • Broken French Dinner 32
  • Mozzarella On A Scooter 36
  •   Snowstorm Veal 40
  • Mini Chocolate Hedgehog 44

    • Your Own Oober Recipes 
On the next page it tells you how to defrost chicken or beef, what to do if you cut yourself, to remove nail varnish, take of jewellery and to get an adult to help you clean the equipment you used to make your chosen recipe with.
Then the next page tells you how to stay safe when you are cooking and tells you the do's and don'ts when cooking.

I made the Broken French Dinner and I found the instructions very clear and easy to follow which is good considering that this was my first time making recipes without much help.

First I had to peel the potatoes then put them in a pan to boil.

Whilst they were boiling I did all the other preparing I needed to do and then once the potatoes were soft I mashed them along with all the other ingredients and then put the whole mixture in the oven dish I made a vegetarian version for my dad and a meat version for me and my mum.

Then came the time to see what it what it was like...
I served it onto my three plates and gave it to my mum and dad.
My mum said she liked it very much and so did my dad so I'm very pleased with myself.

Now for dessert I made the Winter Mud Dessert.

It didn't take much to make and I made it on my own because it seemed easy enough and I wanted to give myself a challenge.

I personally didn't like it and neither did my mum but my dad did especially seen as though he loves cinnamon and ginger nut biscuits which are two ingredients in this recipe.

Altogether I thought this book was fabulous.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014


We had the opportunity to Go Ape!

Go Ape is an adventure in the treetops for adults and kids. There are 28 locations across the country, so it's likely you are near one! It is great for kids or adults. Kids between 10 and 15 will need an adult to supervise up to 2 of them and 16-17 year olds only need one adult for up to 5 of them - great for a birthday activity! Kids must be over 1.4 metres. The course is all-weather and suitable even in rain!

After a harness fitting and important safety talk; everyone gets a practice go at attaching the harness to the safety points on the obstacles. Then it's off into the forest. There is one small set of obstacles to allow to to build up your confidence and check you know what you are doing before you get started on the main course.

The course is a series of obstacles between the treetops. Up a ladder and off you go! Connect the harness to each treetop crossing in turn and make your way to the next tree. There is a wide selection of things help you between trees - ropes, ladders, balancing bridges, tunnels, zip lines, Tarzan swings, rope ladders, cargo nets - all with their own challenges, but all lots of fun.

If you are supervising children you can be up the same tree and check they've attached everything as they should have, you can shout advise if they have any problems between trees and you can photo or video them wobbling away to another successful crossing.

For our experience we got the train to Delamere and walked to the Go Ape hut situated in the forest. There is a car park as it's a popular place to hike, cycle, walk the dog or take the kids. Having previously Gone Ape we knew what to expect but still made sure we listened to the safety instructions. We couldn't wait to get back into the trees! We both had a great time. It was nice to be able to check David was connecting himself correctly, but he had no problems and got it right anyway. A couple of places there was a choice of two different paths up in the trees, one way slightly more challenging than the other.

We enjoyed the short walk between the different parts of the course and spotted a couple of squirrels also doing a bit of climbing. The view up the trees is fantastic, you can even have less adventurous friends follow you around at ground level.

The best parts of the course was the zip lines. They take you at high speed from the top of a tree down to the bottom, the landings can be a little rough but it's worth it for the fun! The course took us about 3 hours, which is about what they estimate. But it was so much fun it didn't feel that long.

There is a scaled down course for 6 year olds upwards, so even your littlest monkey can have a go.

You might be interested in Go Ape for a birthday treat (for you or your kids) or even a corporate team building day. It would be great for a school outing or even a stag/hen do.

If the treetops don't appeal to you then many of the locations have an off-road forest segway experience! Whizz around the forest on a specially designed segway!

You can book online or by phone. The Go Ape website has all the details you will need. You can also buy a gift voucher for someone if you aren't up to the challenge.

Monday, 13 October 2014

REVIEW: Johnson's Baby First Touch Products

I received a range of the new Johnson's Baby First Touch products and here's how I got on with them...

As a user of Johnson's products already, I was keen to try the new range with my little man, Marley. I've always been a fan of Johnson's even when my eldest son was a baby.

The new First Touch range is specifically designed for a newborn baby's sensitive, fresh skin. It's mild and fragrance free to ensure your baby's skin is left feeling soft and nourished.

Newborn skin is around a third thinner than adult skin and loses moisture quicker, making them more susceptible to dryness and irritation and in need of extra care to protect their skin’s natural defences. In fact the study of 540 first time mums found that almost two thirds (62%) said their baby experienced dry or sensitive skin, over half (51%) experienced redness or a rash, and almost a quarter (24%) suffered from cradle cap or dandruff.  

Johnson's Baby First Touch All-in-one Wash

Having tried this in Marley's bath, I found it to be very gentle on his skin and it was easy to use and left his skin soft and smooth.

Johnson's Baby First Touch Shampoo

Again, having tried this when giving Marley a bath, I found this was easy to use  and very kind on my son's delicate skin. It was clearly mild on his eyes too, as there was no crying when it got near. It left his hair feeling silky smooth and extremely soft.

Johnson's Baby First Touch Moisturising Lotion

I've been using the moisturising lotion on Marley daily and it leaves his skin feeling quenched and soft.

Johnson's Baby First Touch Oil

When Marley is in a good mood after his bath, I like to use oil to massage him, it helps calm him down and make him comforted and relaxed. The oil is easy to use and my son seems to love the feel of it on his skin.

Johnson's Baby First Touch Barrier Cream

My son has suffered from nappy rash on several occasions and I have to treat it with cream, but I love the new barrier cream that helps form an instant barrier to protect against it happening in the first place. After using this a few times, I've found that it's very effective and it is something I will continue to use on a regular base, after all, prevention is better than cure! It's easy to use and seemed to last for a reasonable amount of time.

Johnson's Baby First Touch Wipes

Babies get through a lot of wipes. Be it cleaning up a nappy mess, or a bit of sick after a burp or maybe just a dribbly chin, wipes come in very handy. I love the gentle touch of these wipes and they are very effective in use, they do the job they are supposed to do. They are thick enough that they do not tear when using, they are nice and strong.

Overall, I am very pleased with the new range of Johnson's products and I will continue to use them in future.

REVIEW: Elastoplast Aqua Protect

I received 2 boxes of the new Elastoplast Aqua Protect plasters to review and here are my thoughts on them...

Well, in typical child fashion, within a couple of days of receiving them, my son had done himself an injury and hurt his elbow requiring a plaster - unfortunate for him, but also a good review opportunity (well, he will mess around!) :P

I've had the opportunity to use one myself. I like that they are thin and therefore breatheable. They are definitely waterproof and they stay stuck on well when you're washing your hands. They are 100% waterproof and they lived up to their claims.

The plasters come in a variety of sizes, so suitable for various places on the body and you can get a pack that is specifically designed for hands.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

REVIEW: Cadbury Chips Ahoy!

I was sent 2 big bars of the new Cadbury Chips Ahoy! Cookie for review and this is what I thought...

Well, I received good size 120g sharing bars and being a big fan of Cadbury chocolate, I couldn't wait to dig in and try their latest invention!

Basically, they are scrumptious chocolatey goodness in the middle with cookie pieces and coated in delicious Cadbury milk chocolate.

The chocolate inside was very silky and smooth and very, very tasty and I think there were just enough cookie pieces in it to make it tasty but not too biscuity.

It's really delicious, and having biscuit in, turns it into a tasty and filling snack and it's a great sharer at home watching television or a film.

REVIEW: Legoland Discovery Centre Manchester

I was offered the opportunity to visit and review Legoland Discover Centre in Manchester on 28th September...

Me & Paul (hubby) took our eldest son, David (12) and my sister, Latisha (also 12) - and our new little man, Marley (2 months) came along for the ride too.

Sadly, we quickly found that Legoland is aimed at younger children than David & Latisha, but too old for Marley. I'd say it was aimed at 2-8 year olds ideally. I think Marley will love it when he's older and we'll definitely be taking him back when he is old enough.

We were greeted by Professor Brick-A-Brack, who did a fantastically sterling job of continuing his welcoming, despite the fact that it was clearly aimed at children younger than David & Latisha. I think a bunch of little kids would absolutely love meeting Professor Brick-A-Brack on the Lego Factory Tour and learning about the Legoo (yes, really, the Legoo) process! We got a souvenir piece of Lego each :)

After that, we went on the Kingdom Quest Laser Ride. It was quite slow (again aimed at younger kids), but it was good fun shooting the spiders and things :) Marley was fascinated by the lights and colours!

Next we went to Miniland which was good - the mini buildings are fantastically made. One of my personal favourites was the working mini rollercoaster! David & Latisha had fun playing Lego table football against each other!

While it wasn't really designed for their age, David & Latisha made the most of their time (and their love of Lego!) while we were there. They had fun building and racing their Lego cars in the Lego Racers: Build & Test area. Paul even took the opportunity to get in on that one!

Next we went to the 4D cinema and saw Lego Legends Of Chima - it was a very good experience with very realistic coming at your effects and good smoke effects etc. Marley tried out the glasses too...

Me & Paul sat for a cup of coffee and to feed Marley while David & Latisha went off to do their own thing for a bit - they went on the Merlin's Apprentice Ride - they both enjoyed it!

They visited the Master Model Builder where they got to build a boat, which you can then purchase afterwards but they chose not to.

We finished off by going to Lego Ninjago Laser Training Camp which was actually good fun - I had a go as well as David and Latisha :P It was actually quite difficult but I did better than both of them!

As I said, while it wasn't really suited to their age, they made the most of it and enjoyed it anyway and we will definitely be returning, likely on Marley's 2nd or 3rd birthday!

It's great value at just £9.95-14.95 per ticket when booked in advance online at the Legoland Discovery Centre website, children 2 years old and under get to visit for FREE as well! And for just £12 midweek, a parent AND toddler can visit!

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

NEWS: Aldi SpecialBuys - Halloween Range

Well, today it's the 1st of October and we're just 30 days away from Halloween! By now, you're probably thinking what outfits you're going to get for yourself or your kids, right? Maybe trying to plan some suitable foods for an Halloween party? Or maybe just looking for some great accessories to complete your Halloween?

Well tomorrow, Thursday 2nd October, Aldi gets their new range of Halloween outfits, accessories and food in store on their Thursday SpecialBuys... They are only available while stocks last, so be sure to get your Halloween stuff in early! 

They have a range of children's costumes for a bargain £3.99 each:

Girls' designs
  • Catsuit, Bright Witch or Spider Ballgown
  • 3-8 years
Boys' designs
  • Skeleton or Dracula
  • 3-8 years
Unisex design
  • Spider Tabard
  • 3-5 years

Children's Dressing Up Set

They have a range of adults costumes for just £7.99 each:

Men's Dracula Design (M/L or L/XL)
Ladies' Skeleton Dress, Witch or Vampire (S/M or M/L)

They have a great range of other Halloween stuff too:

Coloured Hair Spray £2.99 for a 125ml can

Children's Halloween Tights £1.29 per pair

Glowsticks £2.99 for a pack of 6

Pumpkin Carving Kit £2.99

LED Tealight Holders £1.99 each

Halloween DVDs £3.99 each

Assorted Partyware 99p per pack

Halloween/Spooky Sprinkles 79p for 61/62g

Wychwood Beers of Character £14.99 for 12x 500ml bottles

Pumpking Ale 99p for a 500ml bottle

Something I just love the look of for the Halloween table this year is their Halloween sausages! They look great and are £1.39 for 380g!

Halloween Sausages