Sunday, 19 February 2017

My Sunday Photo - 19th February 2017

I've not been out much this week, I've been home recovering from pneumonia. I'm happy to report that I'm feeling much better now though and today I should be out with my family visiting an aeroplane museum.

I had a lack of photos to show you, so, I've decided to go with something that has featured a lot this week of recovery, books! I managed to get myself a stack of lovely notebooks and I already have plans for them all. The kids also have new notebooks which they are filling with drawings and writing. They really do take after me.

We have also had some lovely books to review this week for the kids.

Last weekend there was a Terry Pratchett Documentary on television and of course, I had to watch it. I learned a few new things from the program and one comment really made me feel sad and I admit I was paid a visit by the onion fairy. What could be worse for someone with a great mind full of amazing stories than to lose everything to Alzheimer's?

Anyway, a couple of days later these arrived in the post.

They are the first two books of the Discworld series (irritatingly photographed the wrong way around, what can I say, I wasn't well!) With new hardback covers. My eldest daughter had bought them for me. It was a  lovely surprise. Thinking about it, when I first discovered Terry Pratchett I actually read The Light Fantastic before The Colour of Magic, so maybe the photograph was meant to be?

Next week I hope to bring you some fabulous aeroplane photos. Have a good week.


Sunday Snap

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Word of the Week - Recovery

This week has been a week of recovery.
The kids were well enough to go back to school, although half the country seems to be on half term holiday already. Mine don't break up until the end of today and I can't wait!

Boo was still not one hundred percent well, but her temperature had settled and I figured she'd recover quicker at school rather than lying around doing nothing at home. I was right, she came home perfectly fine after having a good day.

Star and the Little Man were already on the way to recovery, all they had left was the sore lips and noses that you end up with after a nasty bug.

I was still quite poorly at the beginning of the week but the pain in my chest started to subside which was a huge relief. I knew I had been diagnosed with pneumonia and that it was that which was likely to be causing the pain, but both me and my husband were worried that this was something else to do with my condition. Stiff Person Syndrome, in particular the type I have, can cause your lungs to crush and give you breathing problems. I was hoping it would be something far in the future but when I got sick last week I began to think that this was it, it was happening already. This horrible crushing pain was how it was going to be for the rest of my life. Well, I'm pleased to say I was over dramatic and now the pain has almost gone completely. It does come back occasionally just to give me a crushing hug, but it's nowhere near as bad as it was, and it's not going to be my new normal. So now I am in recovery. I have spent the week just chilling out, taking it easy and taking the time to get better, and it's working.

So, the kids are well and I'm recovering and half term starts after today. It's Graham's 40th birthday this weekend so it's going to be one of celebration. I'm making him a cake, we are having a take out meal and on Sunday, for his birthday treat, we are going to an airplane museum where he has wanted to go for ages now.

The Reading Residence

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Fiction Express from Boolino

I've been trying out the new family Fiction Express from Boolino with my very own Boo.
Previously available for schools, Fiction Express is now available for families to read at home and we can vouch that it really is a lovely, innovative way to get your kids to read more.

I chose Boo for the subscripton to Fiction Express because she's not the best of readers. She does love reading but she struggles a little more than the other two. Star has always got a book on the go and reads independently. The Little Man, at just 6 years old, is a superb reader, well above his age level, he reads everything with real expression. Boo, however, loves to read but seems less inclined to pick up a book by herself. Her teacher at school has asked us to try and encourage her to read more because the best way to learn is to just keep reading.

The Fiction Express is an excellent way to encourage children to read. It's an online, interactive book with features that keep the child wanting to come back to read more.

So how does it work?
It's really quite simple, you sign up, log in and read a chapter of your book every week. Then you get to choose what you would like to happen next in the story from a selection of examples. The following week you get to know what happens and if it works out the way you expected. You can also pop over to the blog and talk to the author by leaving messages. It's interactive and exciting and the child can't wait to get on with the next chapter.

Subscription to Fiction express gives you access to 6 books every year, so you get a new book every two months. It costs £6.99 every two months at the moment.

We've been reading The Warrior Princess by Savouir Pirotta which was the chosen book for Boo's age. The age ranges available are 6+ years, 8+ years and 10+ years.

screen shot of Fiction Express chapter

The book is exciting with quite a few cliff hangers. Boo found that the book was just the right level for her, it wasn't easy but it wasn't too difficult either. Some of the more difficult words are highlighted so you can click on them and find out what they mean.

The Warrior Princess is actually the young Queen Boudica who rose up against the Romans. This story looks at her fiery but regal life as a young girl as she tracks down her stolen brooch.

Boo, really enjoyed reading each chapter to me and then voting on what happened next. She was really excited when the author wrote her choice. Each week she'd be keen to log on and read, it was very inspiring. After reading and choosing what happens next we'd visit the authors blog to see what they had to say and ask questions.

screen shot of the author's blog

The website is really easy to use. You just log on and go to your book and the chapter you are reading. You can start with a reminder of what happened by starting at the end of the last chapter if you wish, or you can just skip this.

I'm a big lover of books and it has taken me a long time to get my head around reading anything on a screen rather that the regular paper pages of a book. However, it is the way forward and of course you have so much more space to keep so many digital books. My children love their books too but Boo has particularly enjoyed this experience of reading to me online each week and we will look foward to starting a new story like this.

What do you think? Is Fiction Express something you'd like to try?

My Random Musings

Disclosure: We were given a trial of Fiction Express for the purpose of this review, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Cadbury Chocolate History, Gifts and Giveaway

Did you know that Cadbury's Chocolate has been around for nearly 200 years? The Cadbury family started up business with a small shop in my home town of Birmingham. As Quakers they did not partake in alcohol which was what most people drank in 1824, so John Cadbury made tea, coffee and drinking chocolate as an alternative. You can still buy Cadbury Drinking Chocolate today, I'm guessing it's a lot easier to make than back then when they used to grind the cocoa beans with a pestle and mortar.

John Cadbury's business thrived and he opened factories in the city to make his drinks. By 1861 it was time for him to retire and he handed his business over to his sons Richard and George. In 1875 they started making their first Easter Eggs, they were made with dark chocolate and had silver dragees placed inside.

Today's Easter Eggs can be found in all shapes and sizes but one of my favourites remains the Cadbury Dairy Milk.

In 1878 the two brother's were looking for a new area for a new factory. They had a particular vision of an industrial area that wasn't grey and drab. George's plans were ambitious, he wanted a place that was green and healthy, somewhere his workers would like to live, away from city pollution. The new factory was built in Bournville and so was the surrounding village. It's still there today and still very green and beautiful. The factory still has the cricket field which was made to inspire the workers to keep fit and healthy, and it has it's own swimming pools still in use today.

But, let's get back to the chocolate. After only a small success in producing bars of chocolate they eventually succeeded by adding more milk to them and in 1905 Cadbury's Dairy Milk was born.

First, it was sold in unwrapped bars but it soon became popular and is still popular today.

From then on Cadbury's went on from strength to strength and the purple wrappers came in around 1920. You can't help but think of Cadbury's when you see the colour of the wrappers. If you visit Bournville you will see a lot of Cadbury Purple, even the entire Bournville Train Station is painted in it.

Do you remember George's dream of a healthy and happy workplace? His quote was "No man ought to be condemned to live in a place where a rose cannot grow." His ambition was big and he achieved it with the new factory deemed the factory in a garden. Of course it would only be a matter of time before roses appeared on the chocolates. Cadbury's Roses were first introduced in 1938 and they are still really popular today.

A big leap to the future now, after surviving chocolate rationing in the war years Cadbury's went from strength to strength bringing us many of the much-loved chocolates we see in the shops these days. In 1971 they launched the Creme Egg! Just in time to make my childhood happier. How do you eat yours?

IN 1990 Cadbury World opened, it's still hard to believe it's been 27 years. We've been to visit a few times now and we love it. For us, it's not very far to travel and we are familiar with the area and it's surroundings. If you do visit and you have time do take a look at the area around and see what a wonderful place The Cadbury Brother's built for their factory workers. It really is green and pretty and still a nice place to live today. If you are there on the weekend do listen out for the amazing carillon playing across the road from Cadbury World (you can hear it in the car park!) 

I hope you have liked my little history lesson, please let me introduce you to some more lovely Cadbury Chocolate gifts and read on for a chance to win a box of chocs straight to your letterbox.

I'd be more than happy to receive this Mother's Day gift box, wouldn't you? It's only £20.


1 x 360g Cadbury Milk Tray Box with 'With Love' sleeve - double layered Milk chocolate box, 1 x 187g Cadbury Roses Carton,1 x 93g Cadbury Medley Biscuit and Fudge Bar, 1 x 120g Cadbury Dairy Milk Oreo Bar, 1 x 250g Cadbury Drinking Chocolate Tub, 1 x Cadbury purple Organza bag with ribbon with 5 x Cadbury Bars

I could possibly be even happier with a bottle of Rose with my Cadbury's Roses. This delightful package costs £20


1 x 700g Roses & Heroes Handbag Gift Carton, 1 x 75cl Fetzer Valley Oaks White Zindfandel Rose Wine.

Then of course, it won't be long until Easter. My favourite time of chocolate the year!

You can get everything you need from Cadbury's but how about this super chocolatey Delux Easter Egg hamper costing £40.


1 x 300g NEW Large Roses Gesture Egg ( 1 Large egg, 1 bag of Roses), 1 x 331g Cadbury Dairy Milk Large Easter Egg (1 Large egg, 3 bars), 1 x 282g Large Twirl Egg, 1 x 291g Dairy Milk Marvellous Creations Egg, 1 x Eggshead in a Cadbury Purple Organza wrap, 1 x 100g Chocolate Dairy Milk Easter Hollow Bunny, 1 x Egg 'n' Spoon Double Choc - 4 Choc Mousse eggs, 1 x 231g Plastic Mini Eggs egg

Here are a few more Easter Treats;

Of course there really doesn't have to be any reason at all to gift someone chocolate and that's why I'm going to gift one of my readers a lovely box of Cadbury Bars which will fit through your letterbox.


1 x Dairy Milk Bar, 1 x Dairy Milk Fruit & Nut 47g, 1 x Flake, 1 x Crunchie , 1 x Wispa, 1 x Double Decker, 1 x Fudge 25.5g, 1 x Chomp 23.5g, 1 x Freddo, 1 x Curly Wurly.

So just fill in the widget and keep your fingers crossed.

A couple of Rules:
UK only entrants
1 winner will be chosen at random

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, i will receive a small compensation if you click through and buy from the Cadbury Gift Store. I have not been paid to write this post.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Lilian Rosena

Dear Nan,

I always loved your name, Lilian Rosena, it was so pretty, fit for a princess I'm sure. Of course most people called you Lil, which you were happy about.

Last week it would have been your birthday, 106, now that would have been a ripe old age don't you think? This week it's been twenty years since you left us, you had to get that one last birthday in didn't you. I can't believe it's been so long already, I know you were ready to go though, you even passed with a smile on your face.

You and my mum were very close you would see each other almost every day. I thought this was great, I loved you and it meant I also got to see my cousins a lot. Not having siblings my age it was brilliant having cousins to play with. And as a parent of eight children there were plenty of cousins for me to play with.

I remember your house so well, it was tiny and always full of people. It's hard to believe that you brought up eight children in that small semi. I still remember the painting on the landing, it was of a weeping boy in blue, you used to sing 'little Boy Blue, come blow your horn' whenever we passed it. I think you knew it made me feel sad.

Your back garden was huge, or did it just feel that way because it I was so small? I remember you always telling us not to touch your mangle, but how could we resist, it had wooden reels and a big metal handle to turn them, to squeeze all the water out of your hand washed clothes before hanging them on the line. I think we all got our fingers caught in that contraption at some point.

Your front garden was steep with many steps down. It had a small bar at the top of the garden and I remember standing looking down one day. I don't remember what happened next but apparently, I ended up half way down the garden flat on my face. Someone said my cousin pushed me, but the adults said I was more than likely to have tripped as I was always clumsy. Anyway, mum teased me by singing "Two Lovely Black Eyes, Oh What a surprise!" (I had to check, and yes it is an actual song by Charles Coborn.) I had broken my nose!

You would keep us all in check with stories of 'Old Green Eyes.' I'm not sure who this was, or if there was anyone, but we soon learned that we had to behave or 'Old Green Eyes' would get us for sure. We rarely did anything to cross you anyway.

Doing my maths it would make you in your late 50s early 60s at the time when I was small, but you were so fit and spritely, alway on the go and my little legs always seemed to be running to catch up with you. You didn't have your own teeth, most people didn't in those days, two wars and rationing had taken its toll and it wasn't true about coal being good for cleaning teeth. I loved it when you used to take out your teeth and pull faces at me. 'Do it again, nanny, do it again!' You never tired of making me laugh. Once we were waiting at a pedestrian crossing on a busy road and you turned to me with your 'gurning' face, right there in the street. I laughed so much.

In the summer you would say to me and my cousins, go over Quinnies field and fetch me some apples. Scrumping we called it, we didn't actually realise it was wrong, that we were stealing. We thought only of the prize. When we got back with our hoard we'd wash the apples while you boiled up the golden syrup and best butter. Then you would make the most amazing toffee apples and we could take the spare ones around the neighbours and sell them for halfpenny each.

Just before Christmas you would take over the kitchen with your pastry making, your mince pies were the best ever and you would teach us grandkids all your secrets. We'd have so many mince pies every year, but no-one seemed to mind, we couldn't get enough of them.

I did get into trouble with you once. I'd been sent to the shop with my cousin to fetch some beetroot. The money was always wrapped up in a piece of paper which we had to hand to the shopkeeper. On the way home we had decided to stop at the playground for a ride on the roundabout. I was holding the change, wrapped back up in the paper, and the jar of beetroot. The roundabout went a little too fast and I dropped the jar, and the paper. I was so upset that I didn't even pick up the change and came home to tell you what I'd done. You were so angry with me and I remember you marching me back to the playground to find your change. I noticed you also cleaned up the glass so no other child got hurt. I only have this one memory, so I hope it was the only time I made you angry with me.

As time went by and I grew up, got married and had kids of my own, it was still a pleasure to bring them to visit you. When things went wrong with my ex husband I would come and sit and talk to you about it. I know Grandad hadn't been around for a long time and you told me why. It is such a sad and personal story that I don't feel right sharing it, but I was always amazed at your feelings for him. I know you cried when you heard he had died, even though you had not seen him for so long. You did an amazing job bringing up eight children by yourself nan, it couldn't have been easy, especially back then.

If there is a place that you are re-united with loved ones after passing, then nan, I can't wait to see you again. I love you and miss you every day.

Sleep tight Lilian Rosena,

from your little Fanny Fanackapants xx

Debs Random Writings
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