Win a fab vintage-look DAB radio from VQ worth £130

DAB radio

Isn’t this just the most gorgeous radio you’ve ever seen?
I can’t wait for spring to come around again so I can sit in the back garden with a cup of tea and my radio looking like someone from a vintage lifestyle magazine!

However Christmas is a pretty good time too for putting on some Sammy Davis Jnr and warming up the mulled cider *ahem*.
When I say putting on some Sammy Davis, you can pair up your phone or tablet to the devise and play the music on there. It’s as easy as that. Turn on your Bluetooth, hit pair on the radio, et voila; your music in seconds.
I’m sat here now listening to a touch of Jamie Cullum with my Ugg-style slippers on. What can I tell you, I’m middle aged :-)

Anyway, I’m working with the lovely people at VQ, a British audio brand who are predominantly female focused and who believe in the fusion of sound and style. And boy have they done just that. These radios look absolutely fabulous; the sound is excellent and really packs a punch given that it’s coming from such a small package and they’ve totally nailed the vintage retro look.

DAB radio 2

So what’s the low down?

All the products have a retro vibe – and retro names. From the Bardot and Blighty to the one I have the Hepburn Mark II.
The emphasis is on colour and design – it’s strikingly simple but looks so stylish. AND you get to choose from a range of gorgeous colours to compliment whichever room you want to use it in.

DAB radio detail CollageDAB radio Collage

Down into the detail

The Heburn II costs £129.
It has DAB and FM radio, Bluetooth connectivity for your phone or tablet and an aux input to connect any other audio device.
What’s even better is despite the vintage package, this radio is totally up to date: they have a VQ app (on Android or iOS) so you can control everything from your smart device.

If you like what you see and want to connect with VQ you can chat with them on the Twitter, Facebook channels or visit the VQ website.
‘ve also got a discount if you want to order one as a gift for some lucky person; when you get to the checkout just enter ‘SFVQ15’ to receive 15% off ALL products before December 31, 2015.


Tell me, tell me, how do I enter?

All you have to do for a chance of winning one of these radios is fill in the widget below and cross your fingers! Entry is via answering a simple question, but you can get bonus entries via Twitter.
The winner gets to choose a colour of their choice.
Best of luck.
If you want to find other competitions hosted on UK-based blogs, check out my Pinterest board for more places to win! Follow Tara Cain’s board The UK Giveaway/Competition Community Board on Pinterest.a Rafflecopter giveaway

The rules bit
The competition is open to residents of the UK, ROI, Channel Islands and Isle of Man only (sorry rest of the world) and those aged 18 and over. Proof of age may be required. 
The competition is not open to employees and relatives of Sticky Fingers and VQ.
The prize is for a Hepburn II DAB radio. The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered.
Entry is via Rafflecopter.
Make sure your contact details are easily available.
The competition closes at midday on December 11, 2015.
One winners will be chosen at random from all the entries after the closing date.
A winner will be informed within 7 days of the closing date and will need to respond within 14 days or a new winner will be chosen. 
The winner’s name will be announced on the widget.
The prize will be sent within 28 days of receiving the winner’s address.
This is a joint promotion between Sticky Fingers and VQ.

Posted in Competitions, Reviews, Tech Review | Tagged | 29 Comments

I don’t want a quiet house


We’re all in the car heading to Solihull for a family lunch; just the four of us.
It’s pouring with rain and we’re on the motorway so it’s difficult to hear each other speak as it is but in the back the kids are playing some game they’ve invented which seems to involve yelling and giggling as loud as humanly possibly.
It is literally impossible to have a conversation in the front.
So we stop trying.
By now the noise is so loud it’s starting to leak through my ears and is stopping me being able to even think.
I bite my bottom lip and tell myself at least they’re getting on even if getting on involves Dan pinning Mia’s head down to the centre armrest.

I’m at home on a Sunday afternoon and I’m in the kitchen pottering. All I can hear from the other room is loud football commentary, ‘YES’, “NOOOOOOOOO”, pillows being punched in frustration, the Xbox clicking and whirring and my son winning the World Cup. Or at least it feels like he must be given the amount of yelling.
We chose not to put Dan’s Xbox in his room because we want him to always be part of family life.
I’m wondering if we didn’t misjudge that.

It’s the bedtime hour and all is calm.
Except it’s not. The kids are wrestling on my bed and it seems like they’ve invented their own language because they’re yelling and giggling and doing impressions of – what I can only imagine are – WWF wrestlers grunts and victory chants.
I attempt to ask them to stop and brush their teeth but it’s like I haven’t even spoken and the noise that left my mouth has transformed into a whisper by the time it reaches their ears.
I bite my bottom lip and tell myself at least they’re getting on.

We’re in the car on the school run. Or on the way to anywhere to be perfectly honest.
We have to have the local radio station on which plays the same 12 current chart songs on a perpetual loop and the presenter’s voice and diction makes the hairs on the back of my neck prickle. It grates on me.
I feel and sound old.
Every other song elicits an ‘Oh I LOVE this one’ from the passenger seat and the volume button goes up another 5 notches.
I try to concentrate on driving.

I’m on the toilet. A voice yells from somewhere deep in the house, “MUM! MUM. MUM. Where are you mum? MUM?”
I explain that I’m on the toilet and can I just have a moment to myself.
No one hears that. They hear ‘what do you want, tell me right now’.
I flush, I go downstairs. “Can I have some toast?” “Couldn’t you have just waited for me to finish? Couldn’t you have waited for me to come downstairs? It wasn’t exactly urgent.”
“Well I didn’t know you were doing something. Can I have some toast anyway?”

This is my life.
My noisy, chaotic, brain-jangling life.
It’s never quiet. I never have peace. I haven’t had peace since my son first brought his smile to our home nearly 13 years ago. Then his sister followed and it got even louder.
Life; loud and annoying and intrusive and nerve-rattling.
They never seem to stop. I’m always rushing to get out the door or driving someone somewhere or eating on the hoof or a million other things that make my head pound.
I sit down to read my book only to remember I’ve forgotten to wash Dan’s rugby kit for tomorrow/filled in Mia’s school visit form/made the packed lunches/got anything to put in said packed lunches.

But what about when they go? What about when they leave home? Will I crave the quiet life? Will I cheer for all the time I have?
Or will I wish to god I’d not let the good times pass me by by wishing them away?
So I’m not going to. I’m going to enjoy my crazy-ass life with both arms open wide and let my kids be as goddam noisy as they like.


Posted in Family Life | 16 Comments

Autumn boots with bling

bernie mevEveryone I have shown my new boots to has coveted them.
My daughter is at pains to tell me that her feet are very nearly the same size as mine . . .  and so she could have these boots if she wears a couple of pairs of thick socks and doesn’t walk too far in them.
My mother, who has a quirky shoe fetish, is desperate for them not to fit me and for me to hand them right over.
My husband thinks they are a bit weird, but what does he know anyway?

Bernie mev shoes Bernie Mev shoes reviewI don’t take many shoes/boots that I’m offered through this blog because a. I’m not a fashion blogger and b. I’m a fussy so and so and I can’t see any point in taking something in to feature if it hasn’t got a bit of wow about it.
I think these have that wow factor! I bloody love them. I love that they look slightly Japanese Manga.

I confess I’ve never heard of Bernie Mev shoes before. Have you?
Originating from New York, they claim to be the ‘King of Woven Footwear’, which sounds rather bizarre but intriguing!
So what else is there to love? Well they’re really really lightweight and look unlike anything else I’ve seen AND have a memory foam insole for ultimate comfort and to ensure they’re perfect for you and NO ONE ELSE (do you hear that Mia, get your hands/feet off).
But what it does mean is that they are REALLY comfortable.

I opted for these funky Zig Zag Metallic Black shoes but there are ballet-style shoes, flat slip-ons,  sporty Mary Janes, heeled shoeboots; all sorts.

Bernie Mev Collage bernie mev zig zag shoe reviewMany thanks to Bernie Mev for the shoes. They are my autumn go to boot of choice and the envy of many :-)

Posted in Fashion Review, Reviews | 1 Comment

And the title of this post is ‘bloody proud’

County rugbyI’ve stood on a rugby pitch sideline for many many years now.
I’ve braved biting cold, hellish winds and sleet which takes the top layer of your face off to watch my boy play.
I’ve moaned and cheered and jigged on one spot to stop cramp creeping up my legs and drank more hot chocolate that any person should.
I’ve washed kit so muddy you can’t actually tell what the original colour is.
I’ve raced around to buy replacement gum shields, rescue forgotten boots, get him to a game on time.

And it’s all been worth it because look at how happy my boy is. Try to look past how muddy his damn boots are. And his knees for that matter!
Last night he represented his county for the first time in a county rugby match. And he played alongside two of his club team mates.
I thought he’d be nervous but he was elated, eager and full of life. And it was a joy to behold.

It feels like Dan is at another milestone. You forget as they get older and the ‘walking, talking, answering you back’ milestones have all come and gone that there will be others. Smaller maybe, but milestones nonetheless.
Never. Been. More. Proud of my boy.

The Rugby World Cup may be over but the game has never been more alive in this house!

Posted in Dan & Mia, Sport | Tagged | 13 Comments

Fall back

Jord wooden watch reviewSo the clocks have gone back and it’s really rather dark first thing in the morning when I get up to walk the dog and early evening when I get home from work and fall into the arms of my family (after I’ve made tea, sorted homework, washed kit, ferried to some match or other, gone slightly mad).
But that’s another sob story.
So, anyway, the point being the clocks have gone back and here’s what I’m telling the time on this autumn – a gloriously stylish wooden watch.
She’s a beauty isn’t she?

I confess I’m a bit of a watch snob. It’s not that I demand big-name, all-the-bling mega expensive timepieces.
But I do like them to be a bit chunky, I don’t like small and refined and I like them to look the part.
So when Jord Wooden Watches asked if I’d like to try one of their watches I snapped their hand off right up to the elbow. I mean, a wooden watch, how cool is that?

So what can you expect from your Jord wooden watch?
Well the packaging is pretty cool and stylish; your watch comes in a simple wooden box and when the lid slides off your watch is presented to you on a tweed-style cushion.

Jord wooden watches packaging Jord watchThe watch itself is much lighter than I thought it would be. It looks really robust and chunky, but weighs next to nothing.
I opted for the Zebra Wood and Maple which I absolutely love the look of and being a tree lover it’s right up my street!
I think it looks fabulous on; really striking, elegant and quite a talking point.

Jord wooden watch Jord wooden watches

Jord wooden watch

Also inside your box comes extra links so you can alter the size of the bracelet BUT what is great is that you can have your watched sized to fit your wrist so it arrives ready to wear straight away.

So what more do you need to know about Jord? Well they’re an American start up but despite being US based, delivery is free worldwide.
If you’re interested in sustainability, their sandalwood and bamboo watches are 100% sustainable. I did ask if complete sustainability was something they planned for their future and the answer was absolutely yes.
You can chat to a very friendly service agent via the website’s instant chat feature if you want to quiz them more!

I am currently battling with my daughter who is under the very very wrong illusion that she can borrow this watch. So there you go, that right there is the downside of this watch, everyone will want a piece of it!

Posted in Fashion Review, Reviews | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Autumn with the National Trust

Hanbury Hall

We woke up today and the weather was quite frankly rubbish.
Cold, wet, grey with no promise of the sun making any kind of appearance.
Another day in front of the TV loomed large.
But as it was the final day of our half term and our last day off together we decided to stick our noses in the air at the weather and go out and enjoy ourselves anyway.

So we spent a lovely day at Hanbury Hall, a National Trust property in Droitwich, Worcestershire and joined in with their pumpkin trail. On which we discovered that pumpkins can be used for rubbing out freckles on your face and the biggest one weighed about the same as a large cow! Educational stuff.

The Hanbury Hall Pumpkin trail

hanbury hall pumpkin trailIt’s easy to think of National Trust properties as summer attractions, but actually they are stunning at this time of year. Jewel-coloured leaves line the pathways and there are still pockets of blooms fighting to keep their petals facing what little sunshine we have!
And the large stately home sitting at the heart of it all is a stunning sight.

Hanbury Hall grounds

You get to see gardeners working hard to keep the land they love looking tidy (ish) and best off all, you can sometimes feel like you have the whole place to yourself because there are no crowds to contend with.

hanbury hall bookshop Hanbury Hall turret

So thank you to Hanbury Hall for the family ticket – it rounded our half term off perfectly.

Posted in Days Out, Family Life, Halloween, Reviews | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Teenager in waiting

snug rug review 2You wonder where the years go.
You blink and your toddler is suddenly starting school and doesn’t want to hold your hand or kiss you at the school gate any more. And it slightly breaks your heart but inside you feel a bloom of warmth spread through you as you realise you’re actually doing a great job because they have that independent spirit blossoming in them and you helped do that.
And then you blink again and it’s all changed once more and they’re this gangly and hormonal creature wearing things you’re really not that keen on, filling your bathroom with a thick fug of Lynx spray and spending an awful lot of time locked away in their room.

My boy is 13 in a few weeks time. This is how I find him most days, snuggled up with his phone within inches of his face.
I don’t mind so much as he’s so active and usually racing around a field with either a rugby ball, a hockey stick or a cricket bat in his hands no matter what the weather.
He does Too Much everyone tells us. But he’s having none of it. He’s in a happy place. Sport has given him so much, that I don’t mind him disappearing into his online world for  a while.
This is his downtime. He curls up quietly on the sofa and checks in on his friends or plays a game. He will giggle and invite me to share in something funny he’s seen or stumbled on.  We sit and pull faces and share the joke.

In a few minutes he’ll jump up and wrestle with his sister or ask me to throw a rugby ball to him across the sofa. The game will start off as fun and casual but end up having a full set of rules as it becomes more and more daring and more and more difficult. Everything has to have a competitive edge.
He’ll take it really seriously but if his sister is ‘out’ he’ll invent another rule which means she can stay in.
I give him a knowing smile. He is an excellent Big Brother.

snug rug review 3

When I told him I’d been contacted by Snugrugs to see if we’d like to review one of their blankets he literally slept out of his seat. He is a boy of creature comforts. He has had a blue and white blanket on the end of his bed for as long as I can remember which he takes everywhere from camping to wrapping himself up in front of the TV.
He’s wanted a more ‘grown up’ one for ages and I’ve just never got around to finding one. He wants something which doesn’t look like a child’s but is still warm and cosy and can be carted around.
So this is what he opted for – a lambswool blanket in ‘cool grey’.
And he now sits wrapped up in this; looking much more grown up, but still every inch my little boy.

snugrug review snugrug blanket snug rugMany thanks to SnugRug for the absolutely beautiful lambswool blanket. You’ve made a teenager in waiting very happy!

And because he wants to be in every single photo Dan is in . . .

snugrug reviews

Posted in Dan & Mia, Other Review, Reviews | 9 Comments

I am not Angelina Jolie


I know, shocking headline, right?
Because there was you thinking I was JUST like Angelina Jolie.

Well I’m not. And I’ve never been more delighted to announce that.

On June 1 my mum started a course of chemotherapy. Six rounds of basically having her body flooded with poison to ensure the cancerous mass they removed from her abdomen doesn’t spread it’s lethal tentacles elsewhere.
It has been a really really rough ride for her. She lost her hair, her sense of taste, the ability to walk at times.
She hit rock bottom. The absolute depths. My brave, amazing mum reduced to a bed-bound shaking mess.
She has endured when at times she didn’t want to. When despair was etched into her face.
And all that time her other half Drew has been by her side, making sure she found the strength from somewhere, any bloody where, to go on.

You hear about how rough chemotherapy treatment can be but you don’t have a clue until you go through it with someone; have to watch them suffer. Drew barely slept. He looked as exhausted as she did.
But what it did do was bring them even closer together. Life is too short etc etc. They are the cliche and they don’t care who knows it.

In the midst of all this mum was told she could be carrying the faulty BRCA1 gene – the gene which places you at high risk of developing breast cancer, and an elevated lifetime risk of ovarian cancer. Pretty scary words.
This is the same faulty gene Angelina Jolie wrote about so eloquently, so passionately and so beautifully two years ago.

My mum lost her mum to ovarian cancer. She also lost her most beloved aunt at a very young age. If tested positive it would mean I could have it; and my 10 year old daughter Mia could have inherited it too. That’s a pretty heavy load to carry around with you.

Anyway, the tests have revealed that mum doesn’t have the gene. I am not like Angelina Jolie. Her granddaughter is strikingly beautiful, but she’s also not like Angelina Jolie either.
And much as we love Angelina Jolie, we could not be more delighted.

Posted in Me | Tagged , | 22 Comments

Dirty pillows

slumberdown pillows

Whoever would have thought children’s pillows could get dirty, right? They’re on beds and in pillowslips and have clean little faces laid upon them.
Except when your children get older, pillows stop just being for lying on. They become weapons, they end up on the floor in the living room, or in the back garden. They get used for making dens and thrown on the floor. They get sweated on, make up’d on. They get muddy rugby faces too tired to wash, laid down on them.

They get dirty believe you me!

And so we’ve always just kept buying new pillows. Having to put up with the ‘this pillow’s nowhere near as good as the last one’ moans while I roll my eyes and pray that this time it manages to last more than a couple of months.

But no more. Now we have washable pillows.
As part of being a Slumberdown Ambassador I (along with fellow creatives Lucy and Katie) were charged with making an entertaining video about washable pillows.
Yawn, right? Personally I agonised for ages on how to make pillows just a little bit exciting.
So I roped in the kids and Mia’s best friend and even the dog. I hope you agree I sort of did it. And if you don’t, well keep it to yourself :-)

You can read all about the Slumberdown Truly Washable range here and see the videos my fellow sleepyheads came up with!

Posted in Reviews, Sponsored | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Do you promise yourself you will never be THAT mother?


We’ve all done it.
Looked down our metaphorical nose and thought ‘I’D never do that with my kids’.
The early years are the worst. You make all these promises to yourself about the type of parent you will be.
You certainly won’t be the harassed looking parents in a restaurant who try to ‘manage’ their screaming toddler as he’s yelling till his face turns violet that HE WANTS AN ICE CREAM and he wants it RIGHT NOW?

Did you tsk at them too? Of course you did.

It’s OK, I’ve been there. And now I feel a great need to apologize out loud to all the mothers I ever gave dirty looks to for having screaming, unmanageable kids.

Because you swear to yourself don’t you, that you will never ever let your child become a walking advert for Barney/Dora/Pokemon or spit on a hanky while in public to wipe the chocolate from around their mouth (them having eaten said chocolate just an hour before dinner time too).


And it sounds so great in your head. You’ll be this tolerant, calm, earth mother whose yogic breathing practices will help her through the difficult waters and make sure she rises above the scraggy looking women with baby puke on their shoulder and a fistful of food in the back of her hair who are screaming at their tots with spittle flying out of their mouths.

I will NEVER be that woman you promise yourself.

Then reality hits you right between the eyes in the form of a child and you’ve got more chance of meeting George Clooney in the supermarket than having any time for yogic breathing – or any breathing for that matter – and you will do anything ANYTHING for a moment’s peace or to stop the cheek-burning embarassment in the middle of a packed supermarket as your angelic babe yells at the top of their lungs that they want the biggest bar of chocolate on the shelf.

So yes, I bribed my kids with treats. Their little bodies are a temple right? Well not when I’m half way round Tesco with a full trolley and Mia decides that she kinda fancies throwing the shopping out as fast as I’m putting in followed by shouting “oi lady” to other shoppers when she can’t get her own way.

And I STILL do it. Even now they’re grown up. I am still THAT mother.

1. I talk about my children ALL THE TIME.
Have you noticed how parents do that? Every little event in their child’s life is replayed in graphic detail and if you sit next to a parent at work you know so much about their ‘milestones’ that you actually want to behave like a child yourself and throw a tantrum of your own.
And if ever you ever get two mums sitting together at work . . .
Now I’m a mum I have to gag myself. “It was so funny this morning . . .” I start, then think actually, unless you were there it’s actually not that funny at all.
Save it for the blog, I tell myself.


2. I use the TV/iPad as a babysitter.
Still. I still do this. Picture the scene. You’ve just got in from work after picking the children up from school/sport/Brownies. You need to make them something to eat, make yourself a medicinal cup of tea and juggle making their packed lunch for tomorrow while also thinking what to make yourself and hubby for tea.
While you’re trying to do all this you have one child practising his hockey skills around your feet while the other begging you to play Frustration with them (SUCH an apt name for a game) and it’s pouring with rain outside so if they do go out and play you have at least an hours clearing up to do after.
Who you gonna call? The Simpsons of course. Or Modern Family, Tracy Beaker, Great British Bake Off, hell anything just so that you have 25 minutes to race around the house like someone pressed the fast forward button and get all of those jobs done.

3. TV dinners.
Oh sure, I can hear you tutting. I always plan for us to sit down together as a family but it never happens.  Boy did I tut at people that didn’t do this. Seriously, how hard is it to put aside half an hour to sit down together? They’re just not trying.
Then I had kids and the chances of us all being in the same house, let alone the same room every night is minimal. To be honest, I’m just glad they get to eat something I’ve cooked so I’ll turn a blind eye to the fact that they’re sat watching Doctor Who as they spoon peas into their mouths.

4. I will be a tolerant parent
Do you even know how hard this is? You think the toddler years are a challenge with all the tantrums, biting and strops. But boy oh boy does the pre-teens bring a whole new set of rules to the table.
I am a fairly laid-back mother. It takes a lot to make me snap. I have little chats with myself, little pep talks to calm me down.
But when your daughter has cut the label out of the expensive new top you’ve bought her and left a gaping hole in the material DESPITE you telling her not to do it, your tolerance reaches its elastic limit.

What else do you promise yourself?
That you will not allow chocolate or sweets before a meal?
That you will not let your children dictate your lifestyle?
That you will be cool about the girl/boyfriends they bring around?
That you will never scream like a banshee and remain calm and impartial at all times . . .

Sure. So what are the promises you made yourself before becoming a parent?


Posted in Family Life | 24 Comments