Thomas Tucker Popcorn Review

Popcorn – what’s not to love, tasty, filling and low in calories. So imagine how excited I was to open my review box of popcorn from Tommy Tucker and discover all these goodies.

001This is Tommy Tuckers new Thomas Tucker Flavoured range. Already well established for their popcorn and candy floss in cinemas throughout the UK. Tommy Tucker have recently launched this range of more grown up flavours which will be hitting supermarkets very soon.

As a family we have tended to veer towards the salty side of popcorn but we were intrigued by the new flavours and couldn’t wait to get started, first choice was the Caramel Summer Fruits. I think we went for this first because it sounded so different to anything we had tried before and looked it too…pink popcorn!

It was really tasty and you could actually taste the fruits, Mr B went so far as to be able to tell me without looking at the pack that it was strawberry and cherry that made up the flavours – he was right. This was quite sweet and a small portion was enough but great for sharing, though I did keep going back for more.

Smoked Cheddar Cheese – this I have to say was my least favourite, being too much like a cheesy crisp for me. My daughter though loved it and went off with it as her school snack to share with her friends who all seemed to love it too. So definitely worth considering as a playground alternative to crisps.

Luxury Toffee – Oh so tasty. I took a large 200g bag of this into a work meeting and within 20 minutes the bag was empty. Even those who started off by claiming they weren’t popcorn fans were soon converted. The toffee really does seem different to other toffee popcorns I’ve tried, lighter, less chewy and prone to stick in the teeth, and very, very moreish.

This is before and after!

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Chilli & Lemon – I served this up as a girls night in and it was the perfect savoury accompaniment to a glass of prosecco. Everyone commented on the subtle flavouring and the bowl was soon emptied. A nice (and less calorific) alternative to a bowl of nuts.

Coconut Toffee – We saved this one till last as we had a feeling it might be our favourite and we weren’t disappointed. Mr B is a huge fan of all things coconut anyway but this was a massive hit with both of us (sorry kids they didn’t get a look in). It’s hard to describe but the taste is not overpowering just a pleasantly sweet toffee and then you get the coconut, oh heck just try it yourself, you won’t be sorry.

The new Thomas Tucker Range is available in Cineworld, Vue, City Screen and Empire cinemas throughout the UK now if you can’t wait for it’s release in supermarkets and will also be available at http://www.tommytucker.co.uk very soon.

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There’s Been A Murder! – MurderMysteryGames.co.uk Review

This Saturday my home was transformed from it’s normal semi detached self into Felthorpe Manor for the Reading Of The Will of the late Duke of Felthrope. The Duke had been discovered dead in his bath, electrocuted by his own electric fire in a freak accident…or was it?

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The Butler

Murder Mystery Games is a website where you can buy the plots to 7 different whodunnit style party games and I was lucky enough to get the chance to review one for them. What better excuse to get the girls round for some food, drink and intrigue. The games cover various plots and are suited for different group sizes, ranging from 6 – 200. You can read all the introductions on the site and once you’ve selected the game you fancy, you make your payment (by credit or debit card) and a password will be issued to you to allow you to access the full game.

You will then be able to download character notes for everyone, a running order and various exhibits and clues which are required throughout the night. Be warned you will need a lot of paper and access to a printer (or preferably your works photocopier) as it does take a lot of printing.

I must confess I was slightly over whelmed with the amount of instructions and paperwork but as I discovered on the night, just follow the running order and it all comes together. Everything you need (except pens and paper for note taking) is in the pack.

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The Lawyer

Invites were sent out the week before advising my guests which character they would be playing and suggesting they dress appropriately.

This is not compulsory but does add to the fun and helps you get into the spirit of it.

It is also suggested the game be run over the course of a meal with certain sections being timed around courses. However I am a lazy host and we found it worked just as well over drinks and nibbles.

Once everyone arrives and are given their name badges and notes the fun begins. Secrets are drawn out, clues are revealed and the mystery really begins.

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Posh but dim!

Who was blackmailing who? Who knew each others dirty secrets? And who stood to gain from the Duke’s Death? Everyone has there own little story and you have to keep your wits about you to take it all in and work it all out.

Everyone agreed this was a great evening and something totally different. The plot managed to include everyone and had twists and turns a plenty.

They are also cleverly written to take into account a couple of last minute cancellations (there’s always someone!) Even the hostess doesn’t know till the end who committed the crime which means I was as confused as everyone else (nothing new there).

A great night was had by all and I even managed to guess the murderer (no I didn’t cheat). We did feel that some characters had quite a lot of reading to take on and one guest did suggest the possibility of  a DVD or online character to read certain bits out during the proceedings? (though this would obviously make it more expensive and may not be an option depending on location.) On the whole though it was a fab night, which left everyone in tears of laughter, well all except the maid who still isn’t speaking to the nurse, oops!

Visit www.murdermysterygames.co.uk to find out more.

Family Fever

The Time Capsule – Time For A Spruce Up?

Yesterday my daughter asked if we could go swimming today. Feeling revived from my lovely reflexology session earlier in the day I agreed.

We have a swimming pool in our home town, unfortunately as it does not contain; flumes, wave pools or rapid rivers the kids do not class this as a proper outing to the swimming so we have to travel further afield.

For a long time we went to and loved (and still do) Perth Leisure Pool, with an outdoor pool, 2 flumes, a toddler area and rapids it’s great fun. Recently we tried the Olympia Pool in Dundee which the kids loved for it’s wave machine and strobe lit flume. I felt it was a little smaller than Perth and had less room for actual swimming but the kids gave it a huge thumbs up.

So where to this time? For a while I have thought about a visit to The Time Capsule in Coatbridge. Mr B had put me off by saying it was too far away but after a quick google map check I discovered it was no further than Dundee so off we headed.

We arrived just before opening at 10am where a large queue was already forming. The Time Capsule has an ice rink as well as swimming, but the swimming was definitely the more popular queue. It moved fast though and I had soon paid my £17.90 for 2 kids and 1 adult (ouch) and we were off.

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                                   The reality was not as good.

Lockers are operated by funky electronic plastic bracelets which you hire for £1 each and stops fiddling about with £1 coins or pin on keys. Changed and ready to go we headed to the showers, aaah they were almost scalding (I kid you not we could hardly stand under them). Then out to the actual pool.

The water park at Time Capsule certainly looks impressive on first view. There are 2 large flumes which go outside the building, a wave machine, a rapid river, a large play area with water jets, 2 slides and a wide flume which you ride down on a ring for 2 or 4 people, impressive?

Well yes the amount of things was impressive but somehow it just failed to impress me overall. The tsunami wave pool was less a tsunami and more a gentle lapping against the shore. Riptide River had some nice slides but promised rapid finale was a little lack lustre.

Thunder and Lightning are the impressive sounding flumes, em but they’re not. I am a bit of a scaredy cat when it comes to flumes but the kids managed to persuade me onto Thunder eventually which turned out to be right up my street. More like a toddler chute in pace, Thunder was more of a slight drizzle in my book. I never went on Lightning but the kids assured me it was equally slow and lacking the thrill of other flumes they have been on.

Tornado Tantrum however was great fun, a ring ride for up to 4 people it has a heart stopping drop and nice lighting and pace, much more fun. Don’t however be deceived by the pile of rings pictured on the Time capsule website, only 3 rings were in use, and only 1 which fitted four people which meant a long wait between turns.

I hate to be so negative but the whole thing was a little underwhelming and more than that it seemed, grotty! I’m not quite sure how long The Time Capsule has been about but I do know Perth Leisure Pool has been open since 1988 and looks a whole lot newer. Rusty pipes, yellow stained and cracked tiles and a general feeling of neglect were my overwhelming impression of the Time Capsule. Added to this my sightings of a plaster, a wet wipe and even a bit poo floating in the water left me with a very bad taste in my mouth (literally).

Staff were plentiful but I never saw any of them show the care I have seen other pool attendants give to things such as making sure kids don’t have goggles on in the flumes or abide rules for 1 person at a time on chutes.

All in all not my best experience and I certainly won’t be hurrying back, though I have to say the kids enjoyed it but not as much as other pools. I would far rather pay £11.80 at Perth or £12.70 at Dundee for a much more pleasant and cleaner experience. Oh and another thing don’t waste your 20p on the hairdryers, getting an asthmatic hamster to blow on your hair would be more effective – rant over!

Reflections on Reflexology

Way back at Christmas time my daughter was lucky enough to win a prize in her Guide group Christmas raffle. She was most excited when she received a sealed envelope, thinking it may contain cinema, bowling or crazy golf tickets. No such luck for her it contained a voucher for a 45 minute reflexology session. Good for me though as she kindly donated it to her mum.

Fast forward 4 months and I have finally got round to using the voucher. Just after the new year I seemed to damage my toe in some unknown way and spent weeks hobbling about on what I self diagnosed as a broken toe so felt it wasn’t the best time to go for a foot treatment. Eventually all healed up I made my appointment with Gillian at Dalgety Bay Therapies.

014Based in Dalgety Bay Business Centre Gillian also offers Swedish and aromatherapy massage as well as hot stone therapy. I have had several massages before but never tried reflexology, all I knew was it involves your feet. I was interested to find out exactly what it involved and how I would find it.

Gillian immediately put me at ease with her pleasant and relaxed nature as she took time to explain how the session would work. She explained that reflexology works on the basis that certain areas of the feet relate to other areas of the body and that the treatment was designed to first locate and then work on any problem areas and restore balance to the body.

After the treatment had been explained I was asked to provide in confidence a brief medical history covering any previous illnesses or current aches and pains or feelings of fatigue or stress. Gillian then took time to discuss the blend of  oils she felt would be most beneficial for me, ultimately opting for peppermint and grapefruit when I indicated that I was looking to feel more uplifted rather than relaxed.

Once on the massage table the lights were dimmed and soothing music put on. Gillian had explained she didn’t talk during treatment which suited me fine. Quiet time away from the kids is to be grasped with both hands as I have learned. She did also advise she would take notes of any issues she uncovered throughout the session.

So onto the actual treatment. I have to admit I wasn’t sure what someone could spend 45 minutes doing with your feet but turns out time flies as I drifted into a pleasant near doze. The treatment was extremely relaxing and whether imaginary or real I am sure there were certain areas of my body I could feel react during the massage. In particular there was a feeling of relaxation in my shoulders and across my forehead and face.

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                                                       Happy Feet!

The most interesting part of the treatment for me was hearing her discoveries. She told me she had done a lot of work on the areas that related to my shoulders and they definitely felt looser. She also asked if I had sinus problems (I do they run in my family), and said she has worked on that and not to be surprised if I had a runny nose later as they should now be cleared.

The most fascinating part though was her “reading” of my feet. From what I can gather this is a little like reading a palm, don’t scoff it was pretty accurate. Apparently my feet give away the fact that I’m pretty sociable and outgoing (guilty), call a spade a spade (em yep), but that it looked like I was holding something back (ooh not sure what that is).

The whole experience was professional, relaxing and really interesting. I left feeling lighter but not entirely sure if I felt better as such, but then I hadn’t felt particularly unwell before hand. What is really interesting though is that as they day has gone on I have felt upbeat, positive and just lighter in myself, if that makes sense. Not that I am normally all doom and gloom but I just feel a bit less stressy than usual. Put it this way Mr B say he’s sending me for a session every week! Is it coincidence or psychosomatic? Who knows but I’m not knocking it, this was a lovely experience and definitely one I would try again or recommend if you are in need of a bit of a lift.

Feeling Puzzled – Ravensburger Wembley Dreams Jigsaw Puzzle Review

I have fond memories of doing jigsaw puzzles when I lived at my mum and dad’s home. My mum went through a big jigsaw phase and there was often a puzzle lying out on a table in the living room. Each member of the family would stop as they passed through and place a piece or two in the correct place, the ultimate goal being to place the final missing puzzle piece.

In recent years my puzzles have been more towards the 100 and 200 “Spiderman” or “Barbie” varieties. My daughter however has recently become a big fan of 3D puzzles like the Ravensburger Eiffel Tower 3D Puzzle which are great fun.

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We were given the Ravensburger Wembley Dreams Puzzle (1000-Piece) to review. This 1000 piece puzzles harks back to the glory days of 1966 and features a group of young boys playing football in the park and dreaming of being at Wembley. I had high hopes of recreating my harmonious family puzzling days with it. Ha ha no way, I had forgotten how addictive jigsaw puzzles are and how OCD I am about them.

First of all, I picked out all the edges and corners (Oh ok I got my daughter to pick them out, but she loved it). Then I placed them together on and old camping table (excuse the grubby surface, I don’t do camping so it has lived unloved in the garage for a long time)

003So I had announced to the family that this was a joint project. Until that is they tried to help, “stop” I cried “I’m not working on that bit yet.” Or “Nooo, those pieces are there for a reason.” It turns out I’m quite possessive of my jigsaws.

Seriously though I forgot how great fun and addictive they are. Last night when Mr B went to bed I claimed I was just about to join him, an hour and a half later I was still beavering away at the puzzle. This morning I stood poised to leave for work but unable to drag myself away from the jigsaw. I just made it to work on time after toying with the thought of phoning in sick with puzzling symptoms!

001This evening I returned to the above stage and my daughter and I did eventually sit down together to finish the puzzle off. Was I a good mother and let her place the last piece in? Of course not, it’s MY puzzle!

This was great fun, really addictive and also relaxing. You totally shut off to everything else when you are focused on finding that last piece of roof or the dog’s tail. The difference I noticed with this from other puzzles is that the pieces are cut really well, so you know for sure when you have something in the right place or not. It also had just the right mix of bright and obvious pieces along side those annoying sky or grass sections, so it was a challenge but not so much that it makes you want top tip the whole lot of the table.

Good quality, well printed, with a lovely theme and great fun, maybe next time I’ll even let the family join in, maybe.

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The end result

Here Comes The Sun And The Hayfever – NasalGuard AllergieBLOCK Review

Many years ago I didn’t really believe in hay fever, that is to say I thought people were making a bit of a fuss about nothing. What’s not to enjoy about the start of summer, the smell of freshly cut grass, crops growing in the fields?

That was before I had my son James and by the age of 5 it was clear he suffered from hay fever in a BIG way. The first thing we noticed was his eyes. From about late March they would get so red and swollen he looked awful (sorry son but you did) . I remember once picking him up from school and the teacher apologising for taking the class outside because James looked liked he’d done ten rounds with Mike Tyson after an afternoon in the sunshine. His hay fever also led to the typical runny nose and more worryingly a cough that refused to go away and ended up with him being prescribed along with antihistamines and eye drops two types of inhalers.

As the years have gone on we have managed to get a bit more on top of the symptoms. We have a constant supply of antihistamine which we start early in the season, but still there are times when the only thing we can do is stay inside.

So when we were given the opportunity to try out NasalGuard AllergieBLOCK designed to prevent the symptoms of allergies such as hay fever we couldn’t wait to give it a go. NasalGuard AllergieBLOCK is a preventative measure aimed at mild hay fever sufferer’s symptoms but can be used along with medication for those with more severe allergies.006

NasalGuard AllergieBLOCK isn’t a allergy treatment but more a preventative so it’s suggested that you start using it before the worst of the hay fever season. It can also be used for pet or dust allergy because what it does is stop the particles that cause the allergy symptoms from entering the body in the first place – sounds good.

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It comes in the form of a gel which is applied around the nostrils and upper lip and because it contains no drugs it’s safe for children and pregnant women to use and you can use it along with other allergy medication.

One little tube contains 150 applications and it is recommended that you apply it after washing, before bed and after meals incase it has wiped off. It should be used 4-6 times a day.

So enough of the technical stuff, the real test was how it worked for us. Well first of all it was lovely and easy to apply. I worried that James might complain of it feeling sticky or tasting funny, (I wasn’t the most accurate on my first application) but it didn’t seem to bother him at all. As he is nearly 9 he objected to his mother applying it after the first time, so here he is showing you how it’s done.

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Well this week has been the first sunny week in Scotland and according to pollen reports the first of the hay fever season. I’m glad to report so far we have only had to resort to antihistamines on one occasion when pollen was particularly high and we had been out for a lot of the day, this is a marked change to usual years.

Although this is aimed around the sneezing and runny nose side of allergies we do also appear to have seen far less redness around the eyes than usual presumably because the pollen is not getting into James’s system as much.

What I would say is, this may be better for adult sufferers because as I’m sure most mums and dads will relate to, trying to remind a child who is at school for most of the day to reapply the gel wasn’t easy. This may also be why we had to resort to the antihistamine (although it is suggested those with more sever symptoms of hay fever use this in conjunction with these products anyway). However if this does lessen the symptoms which it appears to have done, we will definitely be keeping some in stock. Anything which gets my son away from the computer and outside enjoying the sun can only be a good thing.

NasalGuard AllergieBLOCK is available in Boots, Superdrugs, Sainsburys and some chemists.

For any other hay fever sufferer’s out there, here’s my top tips.

  1. Wash hair at night, pollen sticks in the hair during the day and will get in the system if you go to bed with it there.
  2. Keep windows shut (might seem obvious but I was always one for having windows open in summer time).
  3. Invest in good sunglasses, if your eyes suffer badly with hay fever wearing good uv protective glasses makes a big difference.

Celebrating National Stop Snoring Week

Today (20th April) marks the start of National Stop Snoring week. Snoring and my desire for it to stop are something which readers of my earlier post “Learning to live with it, err him” will know all about.

Mr B is a snorer of epic proportion, his night time nasal noises are famed amongst friends he has stayed with (even in separate rooms he doesn’t go unheard).

This weekend Mr B had a well deserved night out, he crawled into bed in the wee small hours and my peace was shattered. On previous similar occasions I have resorted to taking a blanket downstairs or clambering into an unoccupied child’s cabin bed to spend an uncomfortable night squashed amongst the teddy bears.

This time I was determined I wasn’t shifting. So I nudged Mr B, then nudged him a bit harder and then harder still,  and nothing. I shook him, I declared loudly that I wanted him to go and sleep downstairs, I even told him we were over (yes really). I huffed and puffed, writhed around and all to no effect. Mr B was oblivious, in his alcohol induced state he was completely unaware both of my discomfort and his horrendous snoring. By 5am I was literally in tears through lack of sleep and frustration.

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According to the British Snoring & Sleep Apnoea Association the reason people snore more when they have been drinking alcohol is because it relaxes the muscles causing the oropharynx (the bit at the the back of your mouth) to collapse more readily causing snoring. This is fascinating information which has led me to one conclusion. Mr B will in future be left a blanket and pillow on the couch, and told in no uncertain terms that this will be his bed for the night when he next has a boys night out.

Luckily it is not all doom and gloom though, Friday night was awful but also a now unusual occurrence. After my previous post the lovely people at Snoreeze were kind enough to give us some products to try out.

To be honest, while I was willing to try anything I wasn’t convinced they would work. Mr B has previously been prescribed nasal drops to try and stop his snoring which were difficult to insert and made little or no difference. Still nothing ventured, nothing gained.

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Mr B opted to try the throat spray, the nozzle is angled so it’s easy to use and you simply shake the bottle and spray three times to the back of the throat. It provides  8 hours of action for each application. The first night Mr B tried the spray I lay listening intently, and the snoring began as usual and continued. Night 2 we gave it another shot and whether he had not used the spray correctly the first night or it required some kind of build up, this night was different. The snoring, what there was of it was far lighter and easier to live with.

Since then MrB has used the throat spray every night and we have gone on to buy a second bottle so impressed are we with it. The snoring has all but stopped, and any that does persist is actually quite cute and snuffly (aaaw) as opposed to like a freight train rattling through my bedroom every night. They do several different products including nose strips and throat strips. Different types of snoring may be better effected by different products and you can find out which is most suited to you here. Personally we will be sticking to the throat spray and celebrating National Stop Snoring Week with harmony restored in the bedroom (thank you Snoreeze)

Disclaimer – Amazing as this product has been for us it cannot compete with inebriated men who a) forget to use it, and b) have further relaxed their oropharynx I  with excess alcohol.

And now as promised to Mr B I will let the subject of his snoring lie, as long as he let’s me lie in peace (clever wasn’t that.)