Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Evening Dress Flop....

It's been quite a while now since I last bought an evening dress, but this one here sticks in my mind for all the wrong reasons. I bought it in Sydney a few months before this photo was taken, back in 2003. It's generally a mistake to buy things when you're abroad as it's easy to get swept away with holiday fever only to discover once you get home that what you bought was hideous. This is one of those. I was in a rush, couldn't find anything else to buy and it sort of fit. Except it didn't, it was way too tight.
Me looking rather rigid.
By the way, hello Jeremy and Ben who are also on the picture.  This picture was taken on a train station platform on our way to night out in Osaka, I think it was some sort of leaving party. It's difficult to describe exactly how hot we were on this picture, the humidity in Japan is something I never ever came to terms with and I was permanently sweating. So, a hot, tight, uncomfortable dress. You can see I got it badly wrong.

I guess part of it was also lack of money, these days however, things like evening dresses such as these seem a lot more affordable, something like this green one would have suited me (not in that heat though...)

Emerald Evening Dress
At £29.99 that's really affordable, especially for prom nights or student balls.

Some of the dresses on that site even stack up as potential wedding dresses, maybe if you were going abroad and didn't want to lose an expensive dress to baggage handlers, this one would be a good option.

Cream Ivory Dress

There are also some lovely formal dresses on the website. This burgundy formal dress is actually really similar to the dresses my bridesmaids wore at our wedding.
Burgundy formal dress

However at £29.99 I can tell you that this one is much much cheaper! This one would definitely be great for a formal works "do" particularly at Christmas time.

Do you have any favourites when it comes to formal dresses? Where are your "go to" shops?


Thursday, 19 September 2013

Cravendale Experience

I'm sure everyone is familiar with the hideousness of "what shall we do today" when you have absolutely run out of ideas completely. We are pretty lucky in that we live in a part of the world where there are lots of places to take the children, places to go and things to see, but sometimes it's nice to do something a bit different and perhaps go a bit further afield, just for a change. Anyway, last weekend we did just that, we took on the Cravendale Experience  and did something totally new! When I was looking at the various activities we could choose from, I was a bit stumped, simply because there was so much choice, but actually we happened upon somewhere we had never even heard of, Thorpe Perrow in Bedale. Thorpe Perrow is just over an hours drive from here and is an arboretum and falconry centre - basically there are lots and lots of trees and in my boys' words, "it's EPIC!". I must agree. In their words,

"Thorp Perrow Arboretum is one of the finest private collections of trees and shrubs in the country. This 85 acre arboretum is unique to Britain, if not Europe, in that it was the creation of one man, Colonel Sir Leonard Ropner (1895 - 1977) and is now owned and managed by Sir John Ropner."

 Briefly back to Lovecravendale, so basically the more Cravendale milk you buy, the more rewards you can earn, and obviously points mean prizes! So you can use your points to claim experiences you'll love. The scheme allows you to access rewards such as 2 for 1 entry on activities such as drumming, white water rafting, windsurfing, the list goes on! 

But back to our experience, this is Thorpe

Entrance to Thorpe Perrow, slant optional.
We were amazed at how much open space there was, a seemingly reluctant and cold duo suddenly started running around wildly which was great as it was really quiet on the day we went, so we disturbed nobody.
Very very large space, suitable for running and shouting.
We then stumbled across this awesome adventure playground, all made from natural materials, even the slide was made from wood, epic success...
Bestest adventure playground in the world.
After a lengthy and quite frankly satisfying play we headed up towards the falconry centre as there was a "show" on at 1.30pm. On our way we stumbled across more amazing sights, including the lady of the house who gave us some good tips on where to find acorn sculptures and the crocodile, chomp!
Crocodile, not real, we didn't tell the children that of course.
Anyway, onto the falconry, basically it was amazing, we watched huge erm, big birds (?) fly high in the sky and eat stuff of the bird lady's hand. What's not to like?

Very big bird

Very large owl
I don't know what else I can say about the falconry show apart from the boys loved it and we learnt a lot, although clearly not enough for me to actually remember the names of the birds. Oh the owl was called Colin. That is all.

All in all, we had an amazing day and I would definitely recommend Thorpe Perrow to anyone who lives in Yorkshire. It was a lovely day out and well worth the journey. Afterwards, while the children were asleep in our double buggy, we had a very short and pleasurable trip to the Black Sheep Brewery where we had these lovely drinks for £1 a go. A perfect end to the perfect day. 
I'm now going to pass the Love Cravendale baton to and you can see what Mandi and her family got up to on their Cravendale Experience.

Although we had an amazing day and all thoughts are my own, this was a Sponsored Post

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Boden bargain!

I've never been much of a Boden lover - any brand that has that many deals, bargain days and money off codes and the rest I am naturally suspicious of. However I somehow seem to have found myself on the Boden mailing lists and I do enjoy browsing through their catalogue whilst I have a cup of tea.

Anyway to cut a long story short, Boden oh ye of marketing genius - you persuaded me to buy something with your glorious schemes! Today I was sent a random £10 voucher plus 11% off and free delivery, I'd be a fool to refuse. Obviously I went for something cheap and cheerful which cost me in total £3 (see picture). Result!

Friday, 6 September 2013

My first car...

I really wish I had a photo of my first car, but I don't, though it looked something like this:

in fact, looking at it, I'm not convinced that isn't my actual first car!

After leaving Uni, I first lived within walking distance of Leeds town centre so I just used to walk to work, then I got a job outside the centre so it was a bus job. It was depressing, the buses in those days were so unreliable and I was constantly late through no fault of my own. I remember ringing the bus company from the bus stop, "how often is the XXX to Horsforth supposed to come?" "Every ten minutes" was the cheery reply, "Then how come I've been waiting FIFTY MINUTES!!!" So annoying. Life is too short for buses.

So in the end my kind parents gave me my mum's old car, and she got a new one. I was so happy, it was the first time in my life I had any sort of real responsibility, even then I seem to recall  my dad paid my insurance and they sorted out all the MOT and stuff, pathetic really, no reason at all I couldn't have done that myself.

Soon after that, I went to live in Japan and then Madrid for a while, obviously I sold my car (erk, in fact my dad sold it for me!) and he said they got £1500 for it, which I think was being kind as I'm pretty sure it got far less.

So yet again, poor old dad was on the lookout for another car for me, I was just about to start a PGCE at Leicester Uni and really needed a car to get to my placements. Since he had a GM card, and I would get a substantial discount, we decided to get me a BRAND NEW CAR! I put down £500 of my own money, I got the £1500 from the sale of the Fiesta and I seem to remember my dad paying a further £3000, or something. I got one of these...

The best thing was, because it was a new car I got a year's free insurance which was great. It was around the time that insurance for young drivers was really starting to go ballistic, so I basically got a brand new Vauxhall Corsa for £5000 (this was in 2004) and I got free insurance to boot. Bargain.

That car is now long gone, and I now drive around in a funky red fiesta, though it's quite different to my first fiesta, it's more like this:

I put down £3000 and I've got it on a leaseback deal, basically I pay monthly for it then I give it back after two years or pay the difference. I think I'll probably give it back and get a new one.

i was really lucky in that my parents helped me out loads with my first car - they basically bought it for me. But I do remember the cost of petrol being much more than I thought (and this was back in 2001!). It's really important to actually think, so I NEED a car, as they often work out much more than you think, what with car tax, insurance etc. This time around, yes I could have afforded a much nicer and bigger car, but this one has really cheap insurance, car tax and most of all, is mega fuel efficient which I think is really important these days.

If you are interested in buying your first car, take a look at this handy First Car Guide which has lots of useful information on what to look for, budgeting and that sort of thing.

What was your first car? Did it turn out like you thought?



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