Tuesday, 24 May 2016

When my son had cancer

In February, our lives were turned upside down when my eldest son began suffering some health problems. A huge lump appeared on the top of his right leg, which left doctor after doctor perplexed. The not-knowing was unbearable. We went from believing it was benign to thinking it was malignant several times over. Numerous hospital visits, MRI scans, CT scans, X-rays, blood tests and two biopsies followed.

He was finally diagnosed with fibromyxoid sarcoma, an extremely rare, drug and radiotherapy resistant cancer. Even though it had been suspected, having the diagnosis confirmed was brutal. At 27 years old, my son was fighting cancer.

Cancer had always been a word that I avoided saying or hearing. Cancer took my big sister from us back in 1995. It's cruel, indiscriminate and it tears families apart. Giving voice to the word 'cancer' almost felt like tempting fate. But here I was 21 years later with the word cancer becoming an everyday part of my vocabulary. It literally became my first conscious thought of the morning and the last thought I had at night. 'My son has cancer.' It was all consuming. The fear. The uncertainty. The false hopes. The disappointments.

At first, when cancer was mentioned, I had a crushing pain that felt as if my heart was actually physically breaking, but that eventually gave way to a constant gnawing in my chest that peaked and troughed in its intensity. The helplessness was soul destroying. When your children are little and they are poorly or hurt, a cuddle from mummy can make them all better. But this was something I couldn't fix with a hug and a teaspoon of Calpol. This was cancer.

I had to dig deep and be strong, not only for Joe but for my girls and for Freddy who were just as crushed as I was. Ian and I lent on each other for support as we worked on practical solutions and made plans to help our son in any way we could. At the same time, Ian's dad was (and still is) fighting his own battle with bowel cancer, compounding our worries and our concerns. Cancer takes no prisoners.

My son is so positive. He always finds the humour in even the bleakest moments. He makes it so much easier for everyone around him to cope. He has made me laugh when I've felt at my lowest. He is an inspiration.  He has taken on everything with dignity and courage, from the invasive tests to two major operations. So although we were immersed in a black cloud, we were also blessed with this huge emotional awakening filling us with love, pride and the strength of being a family. It has bonded us, making us even closer. It has reminded us to live everyday to its maximum potential, to focus on the good. We have seen the kindness of strangers and the warmth, compassion and love of friends. There is so much light in this world, even during your darkest hours. You just need to be open to it.

Thankfully, as I sit and write this, my son is recovering.

A successful surgery two weeks ago to remove the tumour, along with a margin of healthy flesh, has taken the cancer away. A huge scar is his battle wound running through his buttock and down the back of his leg to just above his knee. The muscle was stripped to the bone, but the cancer is gone. There have been complications, pain and a readmission to hospital, but the cancer is gone. The huge tumour that was a part of my son for the past four months is gone.

For years to come, every lump or pain or cough will be served up with a side of worry, but regular scans will become a part of his new normal. Offering peace of mind. Keeping him safe.

Joe has been lucky. His cancer diagnosis came relatively quickly and the surgery to remove it was done shortly afterwards. The operation was a great success thanks to the skill and care of his medical team. His recovery has been good, and although there has been a recent set back, he will get back on his feet again soon. The pathology of the tumour they removed showed that the cancer cells were low grade, minimising the possibility of it spreading or recurring. That is the best result we could have hoped for. No further treatment is required. At this moment, my son is cancer free and I can breathe again.

low grade fibromyxoid sarcoma, cancer

Summer Fashions for Kids from House of Fraser

With the promise of some consistent warmer weather now a strong reality, my mind has turned to revamping the kids' summer wardrobes. Freddy has grown so much since last year and many of his shorts and t-shirts have already been handed down to his nephew Ted, leaving him in need of some key pieces to see him through the summer months.

House of Fraser offered Freddy the chance to try something from their kids clothing range, so it was the ideal opportunity to get him ready for his summer holidays with some stylish new clothes.

House of Fraser is synonymous with quality and they sell a great range of top brand kids' clothing both in store and online. The website is user friendly and has filters so you can shop by size, colour or brand or simply browse the range. 

Freddy likes casual clothes that are easy to wear and that will withstand the demands of his active, fun loving and physical nature, so his chosen outfit reflects his personality perfectly. 

We were really impressed when we found the Howick Junior Boys Comic Baseball Jacket at the bargain price of £18.00 (down from £45.00). It is a great little jacket for cooler days or for the evenings that looks really smart on. The body is a wool blend and the sleeves and lining are a silky feel polyester fabric. It has popper fastenings down the front and has coloured elastic trim cuffs and matching collar. Freddy loved it as it is lightweight, casual and sporty. It was a great online find!

House of Fraser

Everyone needs a pair of good quality denim shorts - they are a summer staple and we love the Polarn O. Pyret soft, blue denim knee length shorts. They have five pocket styling with trim detailing on the waistband, one belt loop and on a back and front pocket. They are a relaxed fit with pre-bent knees for comfort and a popper and zip fastening. The waistband is adjustable with buttonhole elastic for a really good fit. At £23.00 these are a good quality pair of shorts that are super comfy and very stylish.

The Benetton Boys Striped Tee is a lovely, soft 100% cotton t-shirt featuring the Benetton logo. It is a great fit and is well made. At just £8.90 this is a good value top that looks really nice on. It comes in a variety of colours and designs, but we thought the striped, grey marl design was really stylish. The Benetton brand is designed for safety and comes with an eco safe certification meaning it contains no allergenic or carcinogenic dyesuffs, and no phthalates, formaldehyde or heavy metals.

summer, boys clothes

We all thought Freddy looked great in his summer outfit and we are now looking forward to what we hope is a long, lovely British summer!

Monday, 23 May 2016

Keeping the Spark Alive in our Marriage

This month, I celebrated nineteen years of marriage with my high school sweetheart, best friend and soul mate Ian. I consider myself so blessed to be with a man that I still love so much, that I am deeply attracted to and who has always been one of my very best mates.


With five children, family is a fundamental part of who we are and we are very proud parents who share the same values and ideals when it comes to our kids. However making time for ourselves has also been an important part of our relationship over the years, and we've never neglected that side of our marriage.

For us, togetherness doesn't have to come in any elaborate way. It's often the little things that bring us closer together. Such as holding hands when we walk around the supermarket, complimenting each other and meaning it, playing our old vinyl collection and slow dancing in the living room or snuggling up on the sofa to watch our favourite TV shows.

Conversation is important, so we always take time to talk to each other about what we are up to or what we plan to do. Being open, honest and truthful with each other has always been important to us. We've always ascertained that having no secrets and never judging each other is one of the cornerstones of our relationship. And laughter is paramount. Humour is one of life's best tools against the seriousness of being an adult with responsibilities. Finding the funny in everyday situations and laughing at ourselves (and each other) keeps things light.

In a lot of ways, I'm quite old fashioned when it comes to relationships. I am the stay at home mum and housewife, Ian is the breadwinner. I love cooking him his favourite meals and I enjoy keeping the house looking nice. He is always appreciative of the things I do and he will also pitch in with the childcare and housework when I need a hand, so there is never any resentment or feelings of being taken for granted. We see ourselves as a team and we work together for the good of our relationship and for our family.

Although finding the time to go out in the evening is difficult, we do enjoy daytime dating! Ian has occasional days off work and we always find the time to go out for a lovely lunchtime meal or catch a daytime showing of the latest must see film at the cinema. Knowing the little ones are safe at school in their normal routine means I can totally relax. Spending some quality time together really helps us connect and allows us to just be ourselves. It's lovely rekindling that feeling of dating, it makes us feel young again, bringing back memories of the early days of our relationship.

According to a survey by Vagisil ProHydrate, 70% of women say intimacy makes them feel closer to their partner, making them feel more connected, confident and loved. It's a way of expressing your love to your partner and to feel loved in return. The top three things associated with intimacy among women in a committed relationship according to the survey are; closeness (69%), togetherness (65%) and love (61%). It's never too late to reconnect with a partner and recapture those feelings of intimacy. Remembering the reasons that you fell in love with each other and re-exploring what those things were, reminds us why we chose one another all those years ago. The stresses of life sometimes get in the way of who we are or what we want to be, so simply enjoying being a couple again can really help to rekindle that spark and allows us to reconnect both physically and emotionally.


My husband is my rock and we've seen each other through everything that life has thrown at us over the years. Sometimes, maintaining the effort needed to keep the spark alive can be difficult, but even through the toughest of times, we always dig deep and remember that our relationship and our love is what is at the heart of our family. And when all the children are grown-up and have flown the nest, Ian and I, and our love for each other, will continue going strong.

This post has been written in conjunction with Vagisil’s new ProHydrate range, which relieves intimate dryness so that you can feel comfortable, confident and enjoy intimacy when you want to.
The Vagisil ProHydrate range is available at Boots and Superdrug. For more information, visit the Vagisil website.


Friday, 20 May 2016

Roald Dahl's Tremendous Adventures at Tatton Park

Marvellous things are set to happen in 2016 as Tatton Park embarks on a magical journey celebrating 100 years since the birth of Roald Dahl, the world’s number one storyteller. Working closely with the Roald Dahl Literary Estate and legendary illustrator Quentin Blake, the  programme of events at Tatton Park is just one of a host of activities taking place throughout 2016 as part of the Roald Dahl 100th birthday celebrations. 

Tatton park

Fans of Dahl's work will be delighted to discover favourite characters from his best loved stories, brought to life through fun family activities, exhibitions and performances. It is a great venue for some family fun this half term and with many other events coming throughout the year, Tatton Hall promises lots of Roald Dahl related fun to celebrate the world's favourite storyteller.

These are the activities and events at Tatton Park:

Cover to Cover: Roald Dahl around the World until Sun 30th October.

A fascinating mansion exhibition displaying illustrations of Roald Dahl book jackets from across the world and throughout time.
Phiz Whizzing Trails until Sun 2nd October.

Families can explore the surroundings of Tatton Park by following these fantastic trails: Danny the Champion of the World in the Gardens, Fantastic Mr Fox at the Farm, Matilda in the Mansion and 
The Enormous Crocodile in the Parkland.

 Fantastic Mr Fox Activities at the Farm  from Tuesday 26th July - Friday 26th August.

Mr Fox invites you to spend the most marvellous summer day joining him in a farmyard packed with fun. Go on a journey to find the den, get creative in the writing hut, listen to storytelling and enjoy one of your best days ever!

Danny the Champion of the World Outdoor Theatre at the Old Hall  on Saturday August 27th.

Enjoy a terrific performance of DANNY THE CHAMPION OF THE WORLD as he masterminds the most incredible and exciting plot ever to save his Dad from danger. (Additional charges and opening arrangements apply to this event.)

Roald Dahl Big Picnic Day Sunday September 11th.

Pack a picnic and come and celebrate the month Roald Dahl was born. Bags of activities to make for a splendiferous time.

Willy Wonka Outdoor Cinema Sunday September 11th.

A late summer screening of  WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY starring the legendary Gene Wilder as Wonka. Grab your golden ticket and bring a picnic. (Additional charges and opening arrangements apply to this event.)

A Frightsome Halloween Saturday 22th – Sunday 30th October.

“Witches are easily the most dangerous of all the living creatures on earth.” During half -term families can be spooktaculary entertained by Roald Dahl witchy mischief….with plenty of mice thrown in!

A Gloriumptious Christmas Mansion - late November – December

"Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it”. Step into the Christmas mansion and into Roald Dahl’s magical world as his extraordinary storytelling weaves itself through the grand staterooms and into the bustling servants’ quarters. (Additional charges and opening arrangements apply to this event.)

Normal opening times and prices apply to the events (unless otherwise stated.)
Visit for details.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Bug Hunting to celebrate the release of Miniscule in Vue cinemas

This half term, Vue cinemas are showing Minuscule - Valley of the Lost Ants, courtesy of Lionsgate Films. Using amazing CGI animation combined with real life backdrops, Minuscule transports families deep into the undergrowth to share an adventure where the tiniest minibeasts are the stars of the show.

Vue Cinemas

Fighting over a box of sugar cubes from a discarded picnic, two tribes of ants, red and black, go head to head in an action packed battle that threatens the very safety of the black ants' nest. A brave little heroic ladybird finds himself caught up in the fighting, and has to use his ingenuity to save the day. Take a look at the trailer, it looks like it's going to be a great family movie with brilliant visual effects and lots of humour!


To celebrate the release of the creepy crawly animated adventure Minuscule in cinemas on May 27th 2016, we have been given some bug related goodies to get us acquainted with the stars on the show in our own back garden. We received a Bug Safari kit, a My Living World educational toy from Interplay.


The Bug Safari allows children to learn about and explore nature on their own doorstep. There is such a variety of mini-beasts in the garden for children to discover. From the teeny tiny ants to the colourful spotted ladybirds, the bugs of Minuscule can be caught and studied and then safely released using the tongs, tweezers, brush, field lens and viewing pot. Children can get up close to the wonderful world of bugs, nurturing a love and appreciation of wildlife and nature.

My own little budding entomologist Freddy has really enjoyed learning about bugs and searching for them in the garden. Using the booklet that came with the Bug Safari set, he has found out where to find insects and has discovered some fascinating facts about the species. The majority of his finds so far have been slugs and ants, and he has avoided catching spiders because they scare him! Freddy is hoping to find a butterfly so he can look at its wings through his field lens.

Bug Safari, insects, mini beasts

The Bug Safari has been a great introduction to the world of bugs and has peaked Freddy's interest in minibeasts in time for the release of Minuscule.

Check out the timings at your local Vue Cinema from May 27th for some family half term fun.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Digital Kids Show in Manchester set to be hosted by Dick and Dom

Children’s TV comedy duo Dick and Dom have been confirmed to kick off proceedings at the exciting new Digital Kids Show at Event City, Manchester this October.  

The two-day event is the first of its kind bringing to life the exciting digital world in a fun and friendly format for children, parents, teachers and carers. The show features six zones each offering inspirational, fun and educational activities for families to enjoy together.

The Gaming and Retro Tech will celebrate the very best of gaming, past, present and future! With retro and next generation computer games, families can battle it out on their favourite games from Mario to Minecraft. Visitors will also get a glimpse of the future being the first to experience some of the latest tech innovation from the digital world including VR gaming.

Digital, STEM & Coding Skills Zone – this exciting and innovative zone will help to inspire children about the vast array of digital opportunities available to them with fun, practical challenges and experiences. The future is at their fingertips.

The Safe Tech Zone is all about helping to keep children safe online and will provide the very latest advice to stay one step ahead of the dangers and risks, from cyber bulling to predators, hackers to viruses .

Get physical in the Appletics and Kids Food Zone!  This zone celebrates the way tech can be used to aid healthy living: from fun physical challenges to learning to cook to keeping track of what your family is eating. You can exercise your body and mind with fitness trackers and health apps. Plus Children’s TV’s favourite Mr. Bloom will be stopping by to say hello and sing some veggie songs.

In the Children’s Media Zone, kids will be able to get hands on and learn all about blogging, vlogging and social plugging, with famous faces from Nickelodeon, CBeebies and YouTube dropping by. There’ll be lots to learn and loads of fun to be had from learning how to take amazing selfies to meeting online heroes.

Finally, the Digital Angels Zone is set up with tech experts to help you get the most out of the tech you have with plenty of helpful tips and jargon busting hints. For those looking to invest in new tech, there will be buying advice to help you get the best deal on the right products for you to match your needs.

The show has been created and curated by online child safety expert Aisha Tilstone and will take place on 29th and 30th October at Event City, Manchester, welcoming 10,000 people each day.

In addition to the digital fun, there’ll be lots of traditional fun on offer too with fairground rides, shows and performances on the main stage, an Admiral Young Driver driving zone for 11-17 year olds and plenty of other things to see and do including some Halloween fun on Sunday 30 October. Look out for more information coming soon and check out the website at
for more information and for early bird ticket sales.

digital kids show

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Personalised Star Wars Film Posters - May the 4th be with you

Today is that special time of the year when we can get our 'Star Wars' on and say to the world "May the 4th be with you!" With the hugely successful new movie "The Force Awakens" attracting a whole new generation of fans to the Star Wars franchise, it's great to see some cool merchandise on the market. Such as these awesome personalised Star Wars movie posters from Photobox.

You can choose between two designs and two sizes (24" x 16"  or 45" x 30").

The Star Wars The Force Awakens design puts you into the heart of the action with BB8, Rey, Finn, C3PO, R2D2 and Chewbacca.

Star Wars The Force Awakens Movie Poster

The original Star Wars: A New Hope move poster has a classic, retro feel and features Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, Obi Wan Kenobi, Darth Vader, Chewbacca, C3PO and R2D2.

Star Wars, Photobox

Both posters have room for a single photograph for personalisation, and are perfect for any Star Wars fans. So whether you fancy yourself as a rebel, a Stormtrooper or a Jedi, you can put yourself in the picture!

The posters are printed on to Fuji Film Crystal Archive digital photographic paper for a quality finish. The detail of the images is spot on and the overall effect looks really cool.

The 24" x 16" poster is £12.00 and the 45" x 30" poster is £18.00.

If you are not a Star Wars fan, you can add a photo to posters featuring Frozen, Spiderman or Disney Princesses instead, so you will find the perfect wall art to suit your taste and become a part of the magic.

You can find the movie posters on the Photobox website at


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