Sunday, 19 July 2015

YB WRITES: Marley's 1st Birthday

Well, I cannot believe it, but a whole year as passed since our little surprise baby was born!

9th July saw Marley's 1st birthday. I was awake at 4am and saying to Paul (hubby) that this time last year, we both had no idea I was pregnant, yet around 35 minutes later at that time last year, I was giving birth!

Obviously, by now, we are long adjust to having our little man around - he's such a personality now. Me, Paul & David all agree that now we can't even remember what it was like before Marley. We love our little family of four.

Let's take a little trip down memory lane... I'd like to share some photo's with you all of Marley's first 11 months before I share some birthday photo's with you...

Here he is meeting is big brother for the first time on the day he was born 09/07/2014

Already looking cheeky at just 1 month old

Already full of smiles at 2 months old
3 months old - a little devil in the making on his 1st Halloween
Full of personality at 4 months old
This cheeky little elf's 1st Christmas at 5 months old

1st driving lesson at 6 months :P
1st family holiday at 7 months
Looking all grown up eating finger foods out & about at 8 months
Little smarty pants gets the hang of putting balls in and taking them out at just 9 months
There's not stopping him at 10 months


Enjoying summer at 11 months

Quite an eventful 11 months leading up to his first birthday. He's doing exceptionally well. He was so strong, even as a newborn - wanting to lift that little head and he could as well, his neck muscles were so strong. He was smiling from 2 months old. Wanting to sit up at 3 months old (but needing lots of support). By 6 months old, he was sitting mostly unsupported. And his personality was really beginning to show already. Such a cheeky little devil. At 9 months, he was sitting up, beginning to crawl, cut his first 2 teeth at once (bottom front), playing hide & seek, able to put balls into his toy and take them out again. Really doing exceptionally well.

We started weaning him at 4 months as he seemed more than ready for food, and he took to it so naturally, started feeding from a spoon right away and doing really well. However, at about 7 months, he started to show signs of teething, always chewing down on stuff (even though his teeth did not appear until he was 9 months) and he gradually started to go off his milk. Refusing it more and more which was problematic, but we had to start giving it to him with baby porridge etc. to get him to have it. Once his teeth began to cut, he decisively did want want milk full stop, so we always had to try and give him his daily milk requirement in the form of baby porridge or similar. I made him rice pudding a lot which helped too. He still hates milk now, he has normal cows milk now, but he still won't just drink some. So he has it on his weetabix, eats plenty of yoghurt and cheese to get his calcium. When he stopped wanting his milk, we felt quite distraught, not knowing how to get him to have what he needed, but we just had to look at other ways of getting him to have some. I'm not sure we always managed to get him as much as he needed in a day, but all we could do was try. It helped once he could have yoghurts and cheese aplenty. He loves cheese triangles and cheese spread on bread. And loves fromage frais which is quite fortunate. Plus, rather bizarrely, he doesn't mind drinking milk leftover from his cereal, just not on its own from a cup!

He has quite the personality now. He's so cute. He's always dancing, loves his music. He loves playing hide & seek. And joining in the actions with nursery rhymes. He loves tickles. Laughs his little head off! He's also a bit of a monster too, he loves you to say ouch and achieves this by pulling or biting your nose, pulling your hair or pinching your skin. We're really trying to discourage the biting and pinching in particular! I don't want him to think it's OK to do and it bloody well hurts a lot! He's also a typical boy, often enjoying wobbling Mummy's boobies like they are jellies! Hmmmm :/

He's also a bit like the incredible hulk... He is so unbelievably strong for toddler and has been for quite some time. When he's angry, he is more than capable of knocking something from your hand in protest, no matter how tight a grip you have on it. He also throws balls and other toys (even less light ones) at least half way across the living room (and we have quite a big living room)! He also pulls off his dummy holders - he has two different types - one with a plastic round clip on bit which he pulls off (without opening) and the other with a very strong metal clasp which he also pulls off! Sometimes I expect him to turn green and burst out of his clothes!!

Now, onto his first birthday - 1 year old already! I'm pretty sure he had no idea what was going on, but didn't mind being lavished with attention from everyone and getting lots of presents. You'll never guess what the best bit was though... The wrapping paper! He was more interested in playing with that than the contents! Here are some birthday present photo's...

Push and go car from big brother David (as well as a singing nursery rhyme book and some weebles)

Some clothes from Auntie Latisha

Some clothes from Auntie Yasmin

Clothes from Carol (my Mum's best friend)

Walker & clothes from Grandma (my Mum)

Ball pit from Mummy & Daddy (as well as baby swimming pool, books and a rocking horse)

LFC kit from Granny & Grandad (Paul's Parents - as well as a toddler slide)

As you can see, he was lavished with gifts. And he loved every minute of it. He loves Baby TV on Sky and his favourite programme is Charlie & The Numbers, so I made him a birthday cake of the Number 1 and a little Charlie. Strawberry sponge cake, filled with fresh cream and fresh strawberry slices. I'm no cake artist, but I'm impressed with my effort (bare in mind, it's only the 4th time I've ever made an elaborate, designed cake):


Marley likes cake, he really likes cake! He seemed to enjoy trifle too! And cheesy sandwich bites went down a treat too. I can't believe I forgot to take a photo of him digging into his cake!! I did, however, take one of him with his cake (he didn't get the hang of blowing out the candle, so big brother gave him some help):

Marley enjoyed his 1st Birthday and his Charlie & The Numbers cake!

He enjoyed it, but I think he was a little overwhelmed as well. And totally knackered, he didn't have a nap all day (as everything was just far too interesting) and was so worked up by the end of the day as he was so worn out. Now we have more milestones to look forward too. He's just cut one of his top front teeth and the one next to it looks like it's about to as well, I feel so sorry for him, he seems to get teeth through in twos - twice the pain at once :( Also, he's getting good with his balance on his feet, so I shouldn't think it'll be too long before he's walking around (and falling on his bum a lot!). He also has the most amazing co-ordination - one of his little birthday ballons, David throws it to him and 9/10 times, he actually catches it!! He also manages to grab at (and hold on to) moving targets!! When you hold his hands and walk around with him, he finds anything he can to kick and he does that really well too - something tells me we have a mini footballer in the making!

Anyway, I hope you've all enjoyed reading about my little man and his first year of learning and adventure! I'll try and post a little more frequently if I can find the time ;)

Sunday, 1 March 2015

YB WRITES: Woodfarm Barns - Our First Holiday As A Family Of Four

Thanks to a lovely win from @Visit_Suffolk and @woodfarmbarns on Twitter, we spent 16th-19th February on a lovely family holiday in the delightful Deben Barn Cottage at Woodfarm Barns in Ipswich.

I won a 4 night midweek break for two and you could take a dog or a baby along. I won the holiday in February 2014, at which time I did not know I was pregnant (as most of you know, we had a very big surprise in the form of a baby we did not know was on the way until he was born on 9th July!), so we booked for 16th-19th February 2015 planning on just me & Paul spending the time there to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary (which was on Valentine's Day) and David would be staying with his Grandma (my Mum).

However, with the unexpected arrival of the baby, I didn't feel comfortable leaving our young baby, but also didn't want to take him but leave David behind, so I asked if it would be okay for us to bring David and the owner, Carl Scott, very kindly said we could. He didn't have to, so it was extremely generous of him and we are very grateful. This made Woodfarm Barns our first family holiday together as a family of four.

Getting there was a nightmare with the motorways being clogged up. We estimated we'd get there around 6pm or 7pm at the latest, but we actually didn't arrive until around 10pm, we felt really bad getting there so late, but it was unavoidable as sadly we couldn't just make the rest of the cars disappear! We literally were stuck on the motorway for around 2 hours and managed to go about 1 mile! In the end we got to a services and decided to have a coffee and give Marley some food and hope the motorway cleared up.


A much needed break from the dredging along the motorway at the services.
However, when we came out, things were no better and we spent a further hour or so crawling very slowly along the motorway again. It was such a relief when sat nav was telling us we were 10 minutes away! Carl was there to greet us when we finally arrived, he was very welcoming. He left us a delightful breakfast basket with eggs, bacon, bread, fruit etc. too which was a lovely touch.

Well, the cottage was absolutely delightful and I would recommend it to anyone. It is set in a lovely, scenic location. Deben Barn Cottage where we stayed was just lovely - everything you'd need - a spacious bedroom with a lovely spacious and comfortable bed. A lovely bathroom with shower. A cooker, microwave, toaster and kettle in the kitchen. A lovely fireplace, though we didn't need to use it as the cottage had underfloor heating which warmed the cottage perfectly. A lovely little garden. A TV with built-in DVD player and an iPod docking station. Not to mention that in the shared shed there are literally hundreds of DVDs you can borrow for free as well as bicycles, board games and a huge range of guides to help you find things to do roundabouts. These are things other places would charge a hefty fee for, but are included in the price. There is also an ironing board and iron in the shed too. We took our own travel cot, but there was one supplied had we needed it. I would say it was very homely, a great place to relax away from it all.


Paul, David and Marley standing outside Deben Barn Cottage the morning after we arrived.
The garden :)

The bedroom :)


It was so late getting there on the 16th, that we basically unpacked, got into our pyjamas and went to bed, we all felt so drained. We had an lovely nights sleep and felt much refreshed the next morning.

A selfie in our pyjamas on our first night, worn out from the trip, but happy to be there!
On the 17th, we enjoyed a delightful home cooked breakfast with the goodies left in our welcome basket for us before heading off to Colchester Zoo for the day. Considering the time of year, the weather was quite favourable for us! It was only a 40 minute or so drive away so it seemed like a good idea for a family day out. We saw lots of animals and there was so much to see, we ran out of day before we ran out of animals to see! Here are some photo's of our day out:







On the 18th, we went to Stonham Barns, which is literally a 10 minute walk around the corner (though we drove simply for the convenience of putting all the baby stuff in the boot). There are lots of shops there. We went to Suffolk Owl Sactuary (which also had a Meerkat area) then had dinner at Sweet & Savoury before going for a game of Crazy Golf. Then we got some goodies from the Sweet & Savoury Deli before heading back home. Here's some photo's from our day:





On our last full day there (19th), we had originally planned to go to Huntingdon races (horse racing), but due to bad timing on our part and our old sat nav getting us lost, we got near it too late and gave up and ended driving to Great Yarmouth seaside and spending the evening in the amusements arcade! The day definitely didn't go as planned, but we had a fun day anyway.

We packed our stuff up at the end of the day. The next day we had to check out by 10am, we were said to be going home, it was really lovely and we really enjoyed the break and the chance to (sometimes at least!) relax.

On the way home, we went to the Centre For Computing History in Cambridge, which kept David amused looking at the old stuff and Paul happy reliving his retro computing days! I did see and have a go with the Amstrad CPC 464 they had - I had one of those as a kid (still do have it in the loft!), it was my very first computer! It was fun, interesting and informative in there, but bloody freezing too! Was like being outdoors! A good value day out though, especially for a geek or a fan of retro.

Paul & David racing BigTrak's.
This projected games onto a piece of paper for you to play!




It's always depressing getting home, when you're on the motorway and start seeing the signs for Liverpool, you know you're close to home and you realise the holiday is over :(

To be honest, I'd have never really considered Ipswich an holiday destination, maybe from lack of knowing much about it, or because it's not one of the places you often hear about, but we were very impressed, Woodfarm Barns was a lovely place to stay and there is plenty to do, both walking distance and a short drive away for families and couples alike.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

YB WRITES: 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...

JANUARY
BEST
iPad Air won from Leapfrog Technologies (FB)
FAVOURITE
iPad Air won from Leapfrog Technologies (FB)

FEBRUARY
BEST
4 night midweek break from @VisitSuffolk (TW)
FAVOURITE
4 night midweek break from @VisitSuffolk (TW)

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

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

MAY
BEST
Garden Lounge Set from @TaskersOnline (TW)
FAVOURITE
Garden Lounge Set from @TaskersOnline (TW)

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

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

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

SEPTEMBER
BEST
2 night hotel stay from Accorhotels.com (FB)
FAVOURITE
Meal for 2 from @RedHotWldBuffet (TW)

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

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

DECEMBER
BEST
BassBuds earphones & £100 Pizza Hut gift card from @BassBuds (TW)
FAVOURITE
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 Twitaculous.com to quickly find and enter Twitter competitions quickly and easily and you can use CompersHaven.co.uk to quickly find and enter Facebook like & share competitions!

Friday, 24 October 2014

DXB REVIEW: Rant & Rave



Rant & Rave 

I like the rant & rave book because it lets me express what things I like about school and what things I really don't like which I find very good.

Rave Side:

There is a bit where you can fill out your name, what you like to be called, your school, your age, what year your in and who your teacher is. Then there is a space for a rave photo which I assume is either for you to stick a photo of you or what makes you happy though I'm not sure which?
Next you have a section where you can write about your average school day it lets you fill in what time you wake up, what I like for breakfast, what time you leave for school, what time I get home from school and what time I go to bed.

Now the next part of the book (still on the rave side) there is a section where you can write and doodle about your journey to and from school so you could draw a little diagram of the route you take and maybe write where you go and maybe whether you have found and any shortcuts to get there quicker.

Then the rest is mainly about friends where you can rave about who your  favourite friend is, about your teachers and subjects write about your uniform where you could also doodle a picture of it, about the people who are in you class, what you do when you leave school what your greatest achievements are, sports you enjoy, about your school lunches, what you think you will be doing in 20 years and that's only some of the things included in the rave side.

Rant Side:

In this side there is also a place where you can write information about yourself this includes a space to put your eye colour, your hair colour, your height, your shoe size, your home, your town and your country and like I said with the rave side there a space that says rant photo and I'm not sure whether you put a picture of yourself or what makes you angry.

In the next section you can rant about the worst bits of your school week, about school routines you don't really like, people who don't behave well, things you spend a lot of time on that you think are pointless.

The rest of the book is where you draw and rant about annoying people,
things that make you bored what you have to wear to school, your teachers and subjects, school rules, things at school that could improve, how you like to chill, things you'd like to try and your perfect classroom and again this are only some of the great thing you can do in this book.

Overall I would say this book is certainly worth buying especially if you like to draw and write. I think that this book was good for my age (12) and would also be suitable for 8 year olds upwards and you don't have to write it all out in one day you could just write a page at a time giving you something to do every day.

PB REVIEW: ASUS MeMO Pad HD 7

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