Monday, 30 May 2016

What's in Your Box This Week

Welcome to What's in the Box? My weekly linky for all things box related. If you have any blog posts or vlogs on subscription boxes or any box opening then please come and join in.

Each week I like to choose a theme but your linked up posts don't need to follow this theme.
This weeks theme is Beauty! There are loads of beauty boxes out there to choose from, so I'll probably visit this theme again at some point.

Birchbox - Promise 5 beauty products every month from new and much loved brands. The products are tailored to your beauty profile and you are given tips on how to use them. Earn Birchbox points by buying full priced products. You also get extra free gifts at times. Subscriptions come monthly, six monthly and yearly and a monthly box will cost you £12.95 including P&P

Nailbox - Love nail polish? Then Nailbox will be for you as they promise 5 products every month, usually 3 or 4 nail polishes and 1 or 2 nail tools or treatments. Subscriptions available monthly, 3 monthly, 6 monthly and 12 monthly. The monthly box costs £15 per month with free P&P.

Love Lula - Love Lula is a natural beauty shop and their beauty box offers the chance to try their products. You can subscribe for 1 month, 3 month or a year and subscription is £12.50 with free P&P

For the men there is Cornerstone Shaving - They send razors and skin care products to help you with a better shave. There delivery is adapted to how regular you shave, for example, if you shave every 5-7 days they will send you a new box every six weeks. You can choose the products in your box from pre shave scrub, razors, shaving gel and after shave balm. Prices cost from £5 for one product to £30 for all of them.

I've decided to set up this linky so that subscription box lovers can link up and find out what everyone else is getting.

It might give you some ideas of the best ones to sign up too!

In the future I hope to feature some of the best posts that have linked up, so please do join in. I'll also tweet your posts and share them on my Facebook page. I'll also comment on all submissions.

Now for the Rules, don't worry they are easy.

  • link up your subscription box post or video, it can be any kind of box
  • take a look and comment on a couple of other posts in the linky, it's only fair and you may find something exciting to subscribe to.
  • include my badge so that others may find the linky and join in.
There you have it, simple!

I'll put the linky up every Tuesday and you can add to it until he following Monday. Do tell your friends, this is a new linky and we'd love everyone to join in.

I really can't wait to see what you've had in your boxes!

Here's my badge, the copy code is underneath.

blogbadge photo badge_zpsf0b88074.jpg

Saturday, 28 May 2016

My Sunday Photo 29th May 2016

This weeks photo was taken earlier this week, I've not edited it at all. I just love the way the sun shines through the window and both The Little Man and our cat Salem have found a sunny spot to sit in. I also love how my Little Man is totally engrossed in his book, while the cat does what he does best, sleep!

I'm hoping for lots more sunshine in the next week as we are off on our holiday tomorrow to Blackpool for a well earned break. I bet I have lots of photos to share next week, it will be to hard to choose one.


Thursday, 26 May 2016

Word of the Week - Kindness

This week I'm thinking about kindness. It's such a wonderful thing, if you are kind to someone they feel good and you feel good, it's a win win situation.

Someone was really kind to me today and it made me feel good, so I decided to do something kind for others and I put a post on a Facebook group offering my help to anyone who needed it. Pretty soon I had a reply by e-mail and now I'm working on helping this lady promote her jewellery. I feel really good to be able to do something for her. It's good feelings all around.

Earlier this year, when I first came out of hospital I was looking for a wheelchair so I could get out of my house. The hospital couldn't provide one because I wasn't on their list of conditions. I tried the Red Cross but their deposit was more than I could afford, and twice as much as a second hand wheelchair on Ebay. So, just out of interest, and maybe a little desperation, I put a status on my personal Facebook page asking if anyone had a spare wheelchair they could loan me. I was surprised when someone said they could help. They put me in touch with someone else and they not only loaned their wheelchair to me but brought it to me as well. They were absolutely delighted that they could help me. Their kindness was well received as now I had my freedom back and  I could leave the house. The joy I felt at being able to join my other half on the school run that afternoon was immense.

Kindness is always a good value to have in your life. Showing kindness is a real feel good thing. Receiving another persons kindness is wonderful. It creates ripples that spread afar, lots of paying it forward and feeling good. I vow to have much more kindness in my life, will you join me?

The Reading Residence

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

The Pro Heat 2X Revolution Carpet Cleaner - review

My carpet cleaner is ancient and I barely get it out of the cupboard now. I was really excited to be given the opportunity to try out the Pro Heat 2X Revolution. It turned out, not as excited as my Other Half.
He was really keen to unbox the cleaner. He said assembly was really quick and easy and proceeded to show me all the bits and pieces and what they did. He was like a kid with a new toy!

Now my living room carpet is quite new, it was laid just before Christmas. I was thinking that maybe we should try the cleaner out on the bedrooms first as those carpets have been down for a couple of years and they've never been cleaned. I hadn't really thought about it, they get vacuumed often so surely they are clean? Well, after seeing how dirty my relatively new living room carpet was I am not so sure.

So,why don't I clean my carpets regularly? Well, let's admit it, it's such a bother. If you don't have a carpet cleaner you can hire one, but you still have to move the furniture and then there is the drying time. It's a proper hassle and takes so much time.

The Bissell ProHeat 2X Revolution Carpet Cleaner is designed to take the hassle out of carpet cleaning and I can vouch that my Other Half cleaned our living room real quick and then he went to fetch the kids from school and it was dry before they got back, less than an hour in total! The Revolution professes to be half the weight and size of the leading rental cleaner without compromising results.

Included in the package were three cleaning products;  Professional, Wash and Refresh and Wash and Remove Antibacterial.

The Other Half decided to go with the Professional Cleaner. He followed the simple instructions on filling the cleaner and he was ready for the off. The top part removes easily for filling with water and you add the cleaning liquid through a special hole at the top of the tank and their are guides to show you how much to put in. The dirty water is collected in the bottom tank which is also easy to remove, doesn't spill and is easy to empty.

The very first thing I noticed was the lovely fresh smell and it lasted for a long time after the carpet was cleaned too. The next thing I noticed was the noise, it was pretty loud. I know I've had vacuum cleaners as loud but the one I have at the moment is fairly quite so maybe that's why the cleaner seemed loud to me. 

My Other Half whizzed through the cleaning , the cleaner was able to reach under a lot of the furniture. We didn't move the bookshelves be we cleaned behind the tv unit and sideboard. Overall, the cleaning was very quick and we noticed straight away how much better the carpet looked. Well, you may be thinking it wouldn't look that different seeing as it was relatively new, but it did and I was shocked by how much dirty water was collected in the tank. I think we will definitely clean our carpets more frequently now. 

After cleaning the carpet my Other Half decided to give the cleaner a clean and he found this really easy. The tanks were just swilled out and he ran some water through the front cover which comes off easily. He had to get his fingers in to clean some bits (mostly cat hairs) from the bristles but it wasn't a difficult job. 

When the rest of the family arrived home the first thing they commented on was the lovely fresh smell, then they noticed that the carpet looked like new. 

The Other Half can't wait to try out the hose and cleaning tools now and is going to clean the stairs tomorrow. Then we'll set to and do the bedrooms over the weekend. I'm looking forward to a lovely clean fresh house. 

I'd definitely recommend the Revolution carpet cleaner to my friends and family, it's lightweight, easy to use and does a really good job. The only drawback is the noise but I think it's a small price to pay. 

Here are some details from Bissell:

Enjoy the carpet cleaning power of the ProHeat 2X® Revolution™:

  • It out cleans the leading rental in deep clean mode with Professional formula provided
  • Express Clean mode for a dry time of about an hour for ultimate convenience 
  • HeatWave Technology™ to keep water at a consistently warm temperature for optimum cleaning results 
  • Trial size (8oz) bottle of Wash & Remove + Antibacterial formula which works exclusively with the ProHeat® 2X Revolution™ to kill odour causing bacteria and permanently remove spots and stains*
  • Trial size (8ox) bottle of Professional formula
  • Weighing just 8kg it is lightweight
  • Low profile foot makes it manoeuvrable under and around furniture and easy to use
  • The 3.7L tank capacity means fewer trips to the sink to empty and re-fill 
  • Dual DirtLifter PowerBrushes™ with 12 rows of bristles for a deep down thorough clean 
  • It can be used to spot clean upholstery and area rugs as well as carpets

Disclosure: I was sent the ProHeat 2X Revolution for the purpose of this review, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

What's in Your Box This Week?

Hello and welcome to my linky, What's in the Box? This is the place you can pop a link to your box opening blog posts or vlogs, old or new. Anything is welcome. I'm keeping this weeks linky open a little longer this week because I'll be on holiday next week.

This weeks theme is Pets (but your posts do not have to be pet boxes)

BarkBeats - a surprise box containing 5 or 6 treats tailored for your dog. Subscriptions are monthly, 6 monthly or 12 monthly and start from £13 per month to £19 per month. Postage is free and you can cancel at any time.

Cat Hampurr - From £8 per month you can treat your cat to 5-7 hand picked items. If your cat doesn't like the treats at least you know they'll love the box ;)

Happy Bunny Club - 6 or 7 treats a month for your bunny and some of the profits from each box goes to help bunnies in need. 1, 3 or 6 monthly subscriptions with prices starting from £14.49 a box with £2.99 for postage.

I've decided to set up this linky so that subscription box lovers can link up and find out what everyone else is getting.

It might give you some ideas of the best ones to sign up too!

In the future I hope to feature some of the best posts that have linked up, so please do join in. I'll also tweet your posts and share them on my Facebook page. I'll also comment on all submissions.

Now for the Rules, don't worry they are easy.

  • link up your subscription box post or video, it can be any kind of box
  • take a look and comment on a couple of other posts in the linky, it's only fair and you may find something exciting to subscribe to.
  • include my badge so that others may find the linky and join in.
There you have it, simple!

I'll put the linky up every Tuesday and you can add to it until he following Monday. Do tell your friends, this is a new linky and we'd love everyone to join in.

I really can't wait to see what you've had in your boxes!

Here's my badge, the copy code is underneath.

blogbadge photo badge_zpsf0b88074.jpg

Monday, 23 May 2016

Blog Camp Birmingham 2016

Last weekend I took a trip into town for this year's Blog Camp, the fabulous free event run by Tots100. 

What did I learn?  Well in summary: I have to set up a collaborative blog with some of the best craft and food bloggers, use the fabulous photo tips to enhance the brilliantly written posts, add in a fantastic you tube channel and perfect pinterest account and then take over the blogging world. Then all I have to do is add some affiliate links and I'll be super rich too.

Seriously though, if you want to learn how to get the best out of blogging, then blog camp is the place to go. 

Of course I didn't attend all sessions, the idea is to pick and choose. I wasn't originally going to go to the collaborative blog talk but I'm so glad I did. I gained some great inspiration from the talk by Molly, Jen, Alison and Pam.I would never have thought before that collaborative blogging was for me. In brief here are a few tips from the session.

  • Be careful when picking your collaboration team, don't just pick friends but it would be good to get on with contributors.
  • Smaller number of contributors work better together, but if you have a lot of contributors then it's good to have someone in charge.
  • Plan everything before you start and see who has what skills
  • Don't spend too long choosing a name for the blog
  • Always keep in touch with each other
  • Keep the momentum of the blog going, keep posting
  • Share all the promotion between the contributors
  • Bounce ideas off of each other

I'm always looking to improve my photography so I decided to choose the food photography session by Sandhya from Sandhya's Kitchen next.

I learnt that being the right shot needs lots of planning and attempts. I'm just too impatient. I want my shot to look good and I've picked up tips on lighting and backgrounds before but I can't say that I've ever planned how I'm going to photograph my food before I've even cooked it. It does make sense though, if you want that prefect shot. 
I really need to work on colour schemes as well as composition and using a colour wheel is good for this.

The next session was Stats and Metrics.

To be honest I've heard Sally talk about the metrics of Tots 100 a few times before. I only really went to this session because it was easy to get my wheelchair in the room and the last session had left me feeling a little claustrophobic. However, Sally's talk was really interesting and it was good to hear that statistically my blog is doing pretty well even though I'm not  the top of the Tots. It's so easy to get hung up about how well you are doing in comparison to other blogs, but I've always believed that if you love your blog it will show and your readers will love you too. 

Craft bloggers get the best site visitors, followed by food bloggers. Probably because these blogs have tons of resources for people who are looking for them. I use a lot of cookery blogs myself when looking for new recipes. 

After lunch I went to the talk on Writing Awesome reviews by Emma and Lindy
I already think my reviews are pretty awesome anyway ;) but there are always new things to learn.
If you want to write good reviews then remember to write them in your own voice and add a little interest to them. Stay honest but if you really hate the product too talk about it first. For example, if you are sent a faulty product, before writing a really rubbish review, see if they can't send you a working product for you to review. Then you can say that the first one didn't work but it was sorted out and a good product was sent out.

We had a really interesting debate on whether or not you should write a bad review.
Personally I think if I really hated the product I'd look at why I hated it. If it was personal preference i.e. I didn't like the taste then I'd say that but maybe my partner did like it? If no-one liked it then it would probably be something that the manufacturer needed to address.
I always follow something negative with a positive. You can be honest about something you didn't like without being nasty.

I was keen to attend the Pinterest talk and Sarah from Taming Twins was incredibly enthusiastic about the program.
I do use Pinterest a lot..but generally to find things I like and keep them where I can find them again. I mostly pin cakes. If I'm planning a party or event I'll start up a Pinterest board and fill it with all the ideas I might use for inspiration. I use Pinterest as personal tool rather than a blogging tool. 

However, I have noticed that  I do get quite a few views to my blog from things that I have pinned there, usually recipes or crafts that I've done. 

Here are Sarah's tips for a Perfect Pinterest Profile.

  1. Ask people to use pinterest, ask on your blog, 'pin this for later'
  2. Use the widgets that pinterest offers to get people to view your pinterest site
  3. Refresh your board covers so your profile looks good
  4. Use Keywords in your descriptions of your boards and pins so people can find them
  5. Pin regularly, consistantly
  6. Use analytics to see what pins are generating more visitors
  7. The tool Tailwind has many uses.
  8. Optimise your old posts to get new visitors
  9. Use Affiliate links on your boards
  10. Get featured on Pinterest.

The final talk from Emma from From Aldi to Harrods, was all about making money using affiliate programs. Sign up to one of the many affiliate sites like Amazon or Affiliate Window and use the links within your posts for a passive income. You should disclose that you are using affiliate links. 
I do this occasionally as you can see by this post which I tend to do regularly just before Christmas.

The one thing I regret is not taking photos. I only took a couple but to be honest, being stuck in a wheelchair is not a good place to get a decent photo....This is something I need to adapt to, at the moment I'm still thinking like a standing person, I need to think like a sitting down person instead, I'm sure the shots are still there from a different perspective.

I did get a photo of my lovely cake, fetched for me by the lovely Steph from Steph's Two Girls.

I'd like to thank Sally and the Tots100 team for putting on a great Blog Camp and to The Wood Window Alliance that  made it possible with sponsorship. I'd also like everyone who was helpful to me on the day in particular Hannah from Hannah Spannah who fetched my lunch for me. But also thanks to everyone who fetched me drinks, opened doors for me, moved chairs for me and generally helped me to fit in. Bloggers are awesome!

I've reached the final of the MAD blog awards and voting closes in just a few days. If you've not voted yet I'd really appreciate your support for Raisie Bay in the School days category. Thanks x

Is There Ever a Good Time to Lose the Ability to Walk?

What is the best age to lose the use of your legs? You may think that's a strange question to ask, it's never a good age surely? It is something that I have been thinking about a lot lately though.

I lost the use of my legs suddenly, I'd say overnight but it was more like throughout a day. One day I could walk, the next day I couldn't. I have a rare condition called Transverse Myelitis and it's a condition that has no preference of age, creed or gender. It doesn't always take away your legs, it depends where your spine is affected, it can also take your arms, or your ability to eat or drink. It can take away everything from the chest down, or just your feet or your hands.

On my support groups we have all ages from babies to the elderly. When someone comes along and says their young child has it the reaction from a lot of people is the same.

"It's so awful that it's happened to someone so young, at least I manage to live most of my life before I became disabled."

It's as if the older ones have just accepted that they are getting on and expect debilitating illnesses to happen, but it's so awful for a young child to get to it. Maybe they are right, it is awful, but it's an awful thing to happen to anyone.

I'm 50, so no spring chicken, but I  have a lot of life left in me yet. I have three children under ten to care for, I'm not ready to be an old lady. I miss being able to walk and run with my children. I miss being able to jump on the bus by myself and go wherever I want. I miss being able to drive my car and the freedom it provided. I've had all these things for many years and I was used to them. I didn't want it all to be taken away, I took it for granted that I could walk, I think everyone does. I'm not full of self-pity, I'm getting on with things and hoping and praying that I can recover. It's tough thinking about how I used to be though, and it's really hard getting used to being like this. Really hard.


So how hard would it be for a toddler? One day they could be learning to walk and then next they are back to being baby like. What if they had to spend the rest of their life like that and never recover? It can happen. Yes it would be hard, but what would they miss. They would never know the joys of running around the playground with their friends, but they wouldn't miss it because they would have never known it. They would face a tough life, but it would be a life that they are used to living from the start so would they cope better?

What about a teenager? Maybe late school years, just doing their exams, looking forward to leaving school and starting life as a grown up. How would they feel if they were suddenly wheelchair bound? They would miss out on a normal future, the one they were expecting. They would miss their past life of being mobile. The changes would be enormous. They would be expecting life to change after school, it's sometimes a difficult transition, but is it going to be more difficult now they are immobile. Or would they cope, would they become strong and deal with their new disability? Would they even embrace it and make their lives better?

Now, how about someone a bit older, with a job, maybe a young family? How would they feel? Suddenly the life they are used to, their routine, their incomes, their responsibilities, everything they do would change. They will have others trying to deal with the changes too. They would grieve for their past and feel low about their future. Would their family be the ones that pulled them through? Would it be their responsibilities that gave them the strength to carry on?

What do you think? How would you feel at your stage of life if you suddenly became disabled?

It's never a good thing to happen to anyone at ANY age, but we are human and we fight all we can and deal with what hands we have been given. it's amazing what strength you can find within yourself to carry on.


I've reached the final of the MAD blog awards and voting closes in just a few days. If you've not voted yet I'd really appreciate your support for Raisie Bay in the School days category. Thanks x

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Baking up a Storm

Last weekend I did a bit of baking. A little more than usual perhaps but I'd been sent some goodies from Tate and Lyle and wanted to put some of them to good use.

I was asked to look at the recipes on the Tate and Lyle website and I was surprised at just how many delicious things they had on there.

They have everything from breakfast to lunch and tea, cakes, biscuits and main courses.
I decided to make Melting Chocolate Cookies with the help of my little chef Boo. They were quick and easy to make and were gone within minutes, I was lucky to get a photograph.

I also made a delicious Lemon Honey Drizzle Cake which was so light and delicious. This is one of my own recipes, I've always been a big fan of lemon drizzle cake but by using golden caster sugar with it's slight honey smell and Tate and Lyles golden syrup with honey it gave it a little twist. You can't beat honey and lemon together.

Lemon Honey Drizzle Cake


  • 250g self raising flour
  • 250g butter
  • 250g Tate and Lyle Golden Caster Sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • drizzle
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • Tate and Lyle Golden Syrup with Honey
  • Tate and Lyle Icing sugar for dusting the top.


  • preheat oven to 180C gas mark 4
  • In a large bowl cream together the butter and golden caster sugar
  • Beat in 3 eggs one at a time until the mixture is very smooth and creamy
  • Mix in the lemon zest and juice
  • Fold in the flour
  • pour the batter into a greased and lined 8" cake tin
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes until cake is golden and a skewer comes out clean
(nb. my cake did sink a little in the middle and I thought it wasn't cooked properly, but it was)

  • When the Cake is almost cooked make the drizzle by heating gently the lemon juice and golden syrup with honey in a small pan. Do not overheat, it just needs to be very runny and warm
  • Prick the freshly baked cake all over with a skewer while still in tin. Pour the lemon drizzle all over the cake.
  • Turn out the cake and leave to cool before sprinkling with icing sugar.

There is also a fabulous recipe page for Golden Syrup, you'll be amazed at some of the delicious things you can make with Golden Syrup or Black Treacle.

I made one of my all time favourites, something that is easy for the kids to help with..

Blueberry flapjacks.


  • 295g butter
  • 250g Tate and Lyles Golden Syrup
  • 500g porridge oats
  • 200g blueberries

  • Grease and line an 8" square tin
  • In a non-stick pan gently heat the golden syrup and butter until melted
  • stir in the porridge oats
  • Stir through the blueberries
  • Pour into tin and press down firmly with the back of a spoon
  • bake for 25 minutes until golden brown
  • leave to cool in the tin
  • turn out and cut into slices
nb, the blueberries tend to make the flapjacks very soft and crumble, but it's worth it for the burst of juicy flavour.

My Other Half really wants to have a go at making Honey Comb and I think the kids will love making these special biscuits for Father's Day next month. Personally I'd like to work my way through the recipes one by one!

Thank you to Tate and Lyle for sending me some lovely goodies to make my recipes.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

What's in Your Box This Week?

Hello and welcome to What's in the Box? This is the weekly linky for any posts old or new on box opening, or subscription boxes. Please come along and join up if you have a post or vlog you'd like to share. 

Each week I like to tell you about a few Subscriptions that I've found on a theme and this week the theme is clothing. (Your link up post doesn't need to follow this theme.)

Just Fab offers you the chance to buy clothing, accessories and shoes from £35 per month all based on your style as decided by a quiz. Each month the items are added to your online wardrobe at a big discount and you can choose what you want to buy. You can opt out at any time, or miss a month.

Lacy Box is a ladies lingerie box which promises 'exquisite knickers every month.' A little on the expensive side, one box will set you back £39.44, or you can have three months worth for £102.53, or six months for £197.18....They must be really exquisite knickers! 

Henry J Socks are for the men, you can also get boxers on subscription. For the socks you can choose 1, 2 or 3 pairs a month for three, six or twelve months. The prices vary on the length of time and how many sock you ask for, i.e. 1 pair of socks for 3 months would cost £5.99 a month, and 1 pair for 12 months would cost you £4.99 a month. The boxers start from £12.50 each a month, or you could even have socks and boxers from £13 a month. 

I've decided to set up this linky so that subscription box lovers can link up and find out what everyone else is getting.

It might give you some ideas of the best ones to sign up too!

In the future I hope to feature some of the best posts that have linked up, so please do join in. I'll also tweet your posts and share them on my Facebook page. I'll also comment on all submissions.

Now for the Rules, don't worry they are easy.

  • link up your subscription box post or video, it can be any kind of box
  • take a look and comment on a couple of other posts in the linky, it's only fair and you may find something exciting to subscribe to.
  • include my badge so that others may find the linky and join in.
There you have it, simple!

I'll put the linky up every Tuesday and you can add to it until he following Monday. Do tell your friends, this is a new linky and we'd love everyone to join in.

I really can't wait to see what you've had in your boxes!

Here's my badge, the copy code is underneath.

blogbadge photo badge_zpsf0b88074.jpg

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Personal Independence Shambles!

I don't normally share stuff like this because I think it's personal. But people ought to know just how difficult life is for disabled people.

I have not been able to walk for five months now and I don't know if I will ever walk again. So  many things in my life have changed and mostly my personal independence. It made sense to make an application for a Personal Independence Payment, or PIP as it is known.

I filled in the massive form, putting as much detail as possible about my condition and backing it up with notes from the hospital and a list of the prescribed drugs I have to take every day. That was daunting enough, it took me days to complete it.

Then I waited for four weeks and I was asked to attend a medical assessment.

I've heard people complain about these assessments so I was very nervous, but I went along and figured, hey, one look at me and they will see how disabled I am.

I went in my wheelchair with my Other Half pushing me. When we arrived I was asked if it would be more comfortable for me to stay in my chair or transfer to the chair in the room. I opted to stay in my chair, why go through the physical pain to move chairs if it wasn't really required.

Probably a mistake, if she had seen me move then she would have seen how difficult it is for me.

She asked me a few questions which were on the form and I answered them.

Then came the physical examination, she asked if I could do the standing exercises and demonstrated them..
bend and touch toes...can't do
bend knees into a squat...can't do
jump...can't do
hop on one leg...cant' do

She didn't make me try, but I can't do any of them anyway.

Probably a mistake, I should have tried then she would have seen that I can't do them.

Then she gave me some upper body exercises to do while sitting.

lift arms above head...can do, but left arm is slow to move
put arms behind back....can't do
turn head left and right...can do ( I can't move my shoulders fully but she didn't ask me to do that)

That was it. Over. We were in there about 20 minutes.

She didn't ask me to walk, did not see me out of my chair, did not even ask me if I could walk or how far I could walk.

Then I had my results. I am offered a low rate payment for care and a low rate payment for mobility.
This is because I don't need a lot of help around the home (just everything doing for me) and I can walk more than 20 metres (on the form it said without pain, but every step to me is incredibly painful)

I was stunned!

It's not about the money. I was hoping that I'd get full rate on mobility. I cannot walk more than 10 metres with aids and it's as painful as walking on glass. But without asking me or seeing me walk they can decided that I CAN walk more than 20 metres. I do not walk outside because apart from the pain I have balance issues, in the house there is always a wall nearby to catch me. (yes, this is even with a frame.)

I wanted the full rate mobility for one main reason. It means I can get adaptations for a car so that I may be able to drive again. These adaptations are well out of my price range and the cost of fitting them even more. If you get high rate mobility you can exchange it for these adaptations. I dream of being able to drive again, to be able to get out of my house easily, take my kids to school again, do the shopping, go to work. Yes, I'd have to take my wheelchair, but the freedom a car would give me is invaluable. Unfortunately, my legs don't work so I can't drive at the moment.

I could use the money I have been offered to pay for driving lessons for my Other Half (yes, unfortunately I'm the only driver in the household) and then he could drive me around...but it doesn't give me the independence I personal independence!

The whole disability benefit system is a farce, it really is. I AM disabled, I CANNOT walk, my consultant, my doctor, my physio therapist will vouch for that...but no, because one face to face interview with a woman who could barely give me the time of day let alone see what I could or couldn't do, my fate has been decided. I'm not entitled to it.

I feel humiliated.
I feel let down.
I wasn't looking for a handout, I was looking for a way of regaining my personal independence.
Sadly, I know all too well that I'm not the only one in this situation.
I will join the ranks of those fighting for what they are entitled too.

My Sunday Photo 15th May 2016

 Yesterday we were a little fed up and didn't know where to go or what to it turned out to be a perfect library visit day. It also gave me the opportunity to try out my new wheels, more about that later.

I have two photos to share, both from my mobile so not the best quality  but I thought they were sweet.  In the fist we have Boo reading to the Little Man. These two are so close sometimes, they have similar personalities. Sadly when Star, the older sister is around, then The Little Man doesn't get a look in.

In my second photo I captured The Little Man sitting between two bookshelves engrossed in a book. It's wonderful that my children love books so much. They consider a visit to the library a real treat.

Sunday Snap

Friday, 13 May 2016

Bookawoo - The kids Book Subscription Box - A review

My children love books and are avid readers, even the Little Man at just five years old reads really well. We were thrilled to be invited to review a Bookawoo box of books. bookawoo review

Bookawoo is a subscription box of delightful books for children aged from 0 to 11 years. Each month has a new theme designed to encourage children's love of reading and inspire their imagination. The boxes are designed for the child's age and include fun and educational books.

Bookawoo is in Ireland and they ship to the UK. Each box is €26.95 which is approximately £21.22, with an offer of 10% off your first box. You can unsubscribe at any time or send just one box as a gift. Shipping is free.

The Bookawoo box is decorated with words from Dr Zeuss and has the recipients first name on it. My Little Man was so excited to see his name on the parcel. His name was also printed on an enclosed bookmark and on a sheet of stickers which can be given as a treat for reading the books.

My Little Man is five years old and his sister Boo is eight. They were both equally excited about this box of delightful books. The theme this month is Literacy and the books reflect this. Boo is an avid fan of the Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton and was utterly thrilled to find not one but three books in the box. Enid Blyton was a writer of literary classics and the Magic Faraway Tree books have been read to and by children since before even I was born! That's more than half a century. bookawoo review

The Little Man was attracted by the big colourful Dictionary and Thesaurus which teach children all about words and how they work and how you can use them more imaginatively. He also loved the story book The Neighbours with all it's onomatopoeia, he loves making all the sounds that he reads.

He was thrilled to find the stickers with his name on and wanted to use them all in one go! He loved reading his bookmark too.

Both of them got stuck in with reading the books and as I was trying to film them they were both reading at the same time making my job difficult.

I've made a little video of their reactions to the box of books. I know it was addressed to the Little Man but it's a delight that Boo loves the books too. Maybe when they've calmed down a little she will read the bigger books to her younger brother.

Here is a list of the books we had in the box along with a personalised sticker sheet, a pencil and a bookmark. (I have no idea why the Little Man asks his sister if the pencil smells in the video? )

  • The Enchanted Wood - Enid Blyton
  • The Magic Faraway Tree - Enid Blyton
  • The Folk of the Faraway Tree - Enid Blyton
  • Noisy Neighbours, an I Am Reading book by Nicola Moon
  • Illustrated Oxford First Dictionary
  • Illustrated Oxford First Thesaurus

With a retail value of £41.94 it makes the Bookawoo box excellent value for money. The books were aimed at my five year old and I don't think he would have the patience to read the Enid Blyton books himself, but it won't stop him from enjoying having them read to him. Boo, read them first when she was six and loved them (As you can see in the video, she was really excited to get them in the box.) If you've not read the Magic Faraway Tree books, they are magical stories of fantasy which will capture your child's imagination.

The Dictionary and Thesaurus are full of lovely illustrations and I'm sure they will be dipped into loads. My kids love to learn about new words.

The Little Man has already started reading The Noisy Neighbours which is perfect for his reading ability. It has lots of lovely pictures and a great story, it bridges the gap between picture books and chapter books and help to develop your child's reading confidence.

I'd certainly recommend this subscription box to my friends and family. The joy it brought my two was well worth it and it will continue as we read the books together. (I'm really keen to read the third Faraway tree book as I've not read it before.)

To get 10% off your first box of books please visit bookawoo review

Disclosure: we were sent a box of books to review from Bookawoo, all thoughts and opinions are our own. 

Word of the Week - Calm

This week has been pretty lazy. After overdoing things a little last week I've been taking some time to chill out.
Saying that I've also been getting a lot of appointments through the post so although this week has been relatively calm, it feels like it's the calm before the storm.

Over the next two weeks I have two physio appointments for myself, two hospital appointments for my daughter (1 CT scan and 1 with the Opthalmologist) 3 dentist appointments (me, No1 son and OH) and an appointment at the kids school.

I also have Blog Camp next weekend to go to, that will be the first time I go out on my own this year!

Then in just over two weeks we have our holiday to Blackpool. The first time we've been away for three years.

So this week is Calm week....and I'm making the most of it.

Also, did you realise, Calm stands for Campaign Against Living Miserably? (for men)
So, I'm not expecting a Storm, just a Whirlwind and I'll ride it with a smile on my face.

The Reading Residence

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

My Blog Manifesto!

I love....

....My family, they are everything to me and this blog was set up to follow our life journey and record things along the way, good or bad. It's my way of sharing experiences. I never really expected for people to be interested but if they are then that's great.

I love sharing,  this year my daughter starts Secondary school which is going to be a difficult transition for us all. At the moment, Star is feeling calm and positive, I just hope that continues. There are lots of things we have to take into consideration and the journey is bound to be bumpy, but sharing is my way of dealing with all of this and I love having this space to do it.

I love my partner, I must do we've been together 15 years. This year I've decided to make an honest man of him and next month we are off the registry office to set a date for our marriage. It's not going to be a massive wedding but I'll let you join me on my journey.

Then there are the little things I love, our holidays and days out, our fun experiences and my mission to get the kids having more fun away from computer screens. I am always complaining that the kids spend too much time on their computers but now I realise that it's up to me to get them interested in other things. I accept that times have changed a lot since I was a child, but so many of my childhood memories are based on playing and having fun, I would like my children to experience this too. They do play but it's far too easy to just let them sit at screen while I get on with things. This has to change and computer time needs to be limited.

I Believe....

.....In spreading awareness about certain conditions that we have experience of which are Autism, Elhers Danlos Syndrome and Transverse Myelitis. I don't want to turn this into a medical blog (I already have one of those) it's just that these conditions play a big part of our lives. I want to share our journey of how we cope and live with these conditions and help others understand what it's like.

My daughter was diagnosed with high functioning autism and hypermobility syndrome at 6 years old. At 7 years old she had a subluxation in her cervical spine (neck) and this led us to two years of recovery including five trips to the operating theatre. Finally she was diagnosed a year ago with Elhers Danlos Syndrome type three, but now the geneticist thinks that she may have another type of EDS or Marfan Syndrome. The journey is not over and we also have the additional worry of her transition to Secondary school. I will log our experiences here in the hope that we might help others or at the very least it will be something to look back on to see how we managed.

On January 1st this year I went into hospital with pins and needles and ended up paralysed in both my arms and legs. My spine was inflamed and the coating of my central nervous system attacked. The condition is extremely rare but I was lucky that I had a consultant who knew to diagnose me straight away with Transverse Myelitis. I have regained some strength in both my arms and legs but I'm still using a wheelchair to get around. I can carry on improving for up to two years, but no-one can tell me if a full recovery will ever be possible. I'm finding my blog a great place to log my journey and raise awareness of this rare condition.

I Am Committed To.....

......Writing my blog from my heart. I've been here since 2011 and my blogging journey has taught me many things and I've met some lovely people through it. I've changed my mind (it seems) about a million times about what I want to do with my blog, but in actual fact I've come full circle and want to blog about the things that mean the most to me. 

This doesn't mean that you won't find reviews on here, or posts that I've written for someone else. I really do enjoy reviewing stuff, big or small and I like to inject a little of my personality into each one. 

I love receiving comments on my blog and I will often reply, but not all the time because I know that not everyone comes back to see replies. If you ask a question then of cause I will answer, if you write something that inspires me to answer then I will. I just don't believe in writing small stuff like 'thank you for your comment' after every one. I don't have a problem with that, but it's just not something I do. If I don't reply it certainly doesn't mean that I haven't read it. In fact a lot of the time I will come back and post a comment on your blog too just to let you know I've appreciated your comment on mine.

I will always reply to any tweets or messages on Facebook that  I receive so do contact me if you want to say anything or have a question. I'm quite happy to re-tweet or share for you too, just let me know. 

I appreciate how important it is to be part of the blogger community but I also appreciate anyone else who visits my blog no matter how infrequently. Thank you all for making it all worthwhile for me.

This is my little space on the Internet and I'm so happy you visited today.

This year I have reached the finals of the MAD blog awards. I'm stunned that people have nominated me and that's what has inspired to writing this post about why I blog and what my aims are. If you've enjoyed your visit here at any time then I have one more thing to ask of you....


Tuesday, 10 May 2016

What's in Your Box This Week?

Welcome to What's in the Box, my weekly linky where I invite you to come and share your blog posts or vlogs on subscription boxes or surprise boxes that you have received. Do please come and share.

Each week I try to have a theme, you don't have to post your links in this theme, your posts can be about any type of boxes.

This weeks theme is Geek boxes. Ever since I used to watch Doctor Who with my Dad I have known that I have a geek inside of me. I love Doctor Who, Star Wars, Back to the Future, Buffy, Angel and many more. If I ever want to make my non -geeky partner feel uncomfortable I just take him to Forbidden Planet or a Card Shop. I've found loads of lovely Geek boxes to share, so many I will have to write another post on the theme later on.

Deck Maniacs - The subscription box for card collectors. You can choose between Pokemon or Magic, the Gathering and prices start from £9.89 per month. My younger kids would love the Pokemon cards, I just wish they did Weiss Schwarz too!

Kewel Box - This is a geek box containing 4-6 items every month for just £19.99. unique in the concept that it's not an automatic subscription, each month has a theme and if you don't want a box on that theme you can opt out for that month.

Pop in a Box - Pops are collectible vinyl figures available in characters from Disney to Marvel and loads more in-between. You can add a mystery Pop to your collection every month from £8.95 My favourite Pop would be Daryl from the Walking Dead, or maybe Hatsune Miku or perhaps Super Saiyan Goku...I guess I'll just have to subscribe!

My Geek Box - My Geek box offers 5-7 items of geeky goodness every month. Or you can choose to just have a t-shirt and a Pop in your box. Even the kids can get a look in with their own Geek Box for Heroes or Princesses. Prices start from £17.99

I've decided to set up this linky so that subscription box lovers can link up and find out what everyone else is getting.

It might give you some ideas of the best ones to sign up too!

In the future I hope to feature some of the best posts that have linked up, so please do join in. I'll also tweet your posts and share them on my Facebook page. I'll also comment on all submissions.

Now for the Rules, don't worry they are easy.

  • link up your subscription box post or video, it can be any kind of box
  • take a look and comment on a couple of other posts in the linky, it's only fair and you may find something exciting to subscribe to.
  • include my badge so that others may find the linky and join in.
There you have it, simple!

I'll put the linky up every Tuesday and you can add to it until he following Monday. Do tell your friends, this is a new linky and we'd love everyone to join in.

I really can't wait to see what you've had in your boxes!

Here's my badge, the copy code is underneath.

blogbadge photo badge_zpsf0b88074.jpg

Monday, 9 May 2016

Getting Physical

Do you remember that Olivia Newton John song, Physical? No, well I do sometimes forget how long I've been around. It was a hit in 1981 and there was much gyrating in leotards in the video! (If memory serves me well it was pretty steamy for the time.)

I'm a regular at the gym myself but you won't catch me in a leotard. Well, I don't even wear gym clothes because my exercising is slightly less energetic. Take my last visit, I got up and walked to the end of the bars and back. Then I rested for a while before getting up again and stepping up one step first with my right foot and then with my left. That's it, session over!

I have a new physio therapist and she's really nice. She understands that I can't do much and although she wants to push me she thinks it would be better to do it little and often rather than long sessions. So now I'll be going once a week instead of once a month.

My problem is that my Central Nervous System has been attacked and now my brain isn't communicating with the rest of my body quite as well as it should. There is evidence that my nerves are working though and that the signals will get interpreted eventually by my brain, I just may have to get used to doing things differently. If my nerves where not sending signals then I wouldn't be walking at all, so it's pretty good really.

Of course damaged nerves mean I get a lot of pain. I have been assured on more than one occasion that it is possible to regain strength, but no-one knows if the pain will ever go away. Consensus from other sufferers is that it won't, well not completely anyway.

I am beginning to understand my body better now, it's more obvious which parts are working, which are working differently and which are not working. All I can hope for is improvement and for that I will never give up trying.

They say you get used to pain and horrible sensations like pins and needles and I guess you do. If I said to you now that you'd wake up tomorrow with severe pins and needles and they were never going to go away how would you feel? You'd probably be horrified. I was at first but as I approach my fifth month of having them constantly I can honestly say that sometimes they don't bother me any more. Of course there are times when I want to chop of body parts just to make them stop, but mostly I can occupy my mind with something else.

I'm looking forward positively. I can do this, I can get my brain talking to my feet again and regain some independence. Even if the pain doesn't go away it's not going to stop me, I'll just find a better way of managing it. I hate being stuck in a wheelchair but I have to let that go, for now the chair will do, later I will get my legs back. I get down because I can't do what I used to do, well I'll just have to get used to doing things differently. We have to embrace change sometimes even if it's not what we want. I've been through huge life changing situations in the past and survived, I'm not going to let this condition beat me.

There is a tab at the top of this page named Transverse Myelitis if you want to know more about my condition, or I'm usually around on Twitter or Facebook if you want to ask any questions...or chat :)

Sunday, 8 May 2016

My Sunday Photo - 8th May 2016

This week I had an appointment with my physio therapist at the hospital. I've a new therapist and she's really lovely, much more understanding than the last one and I've a feeling I'm going to do well under her care. For starters she will be seeing me weekly instead of monthly from now on.

I'll post more about that later, my photo(s) this week are what happened after my appointment. We were given a leaflet on leaving the hospital about the International Dance Festival. While waiting for the bus I discovered that there was a performance outside the hospital just five minutes away. So I persuaded my Other Half to take me over. (It's not really his 'thing' so he took some persuading) It was such a lovely sunny day I couldn't think of anything nicer than watching an outdoor performance before going back to my prison  home.

The dance was called Phone Box and I think that's easy to see why. The performance was really good, not just dancing, it told a story from beginning to end. It was also pretty funny, so all in all very enjoyable. Now, I'm sorry the photos are not brilliant but I took them with my phone and we were outside so I couldn't see the screen properly. Not only that, but I was busy watching the performance so my phone was perched on my lap and I just pressed the camera button every so often. I think I caught some good action shots though.

If you are in Birmingham between now and 21st May you can read up on what is going on for the festival on the website or on Twitter @IDFB


Friday, 6 May 2016

Word of the Week - Fatigue

A few weeks ago my word of the week was Procrastination. There was a number of little jobs that I wanted to do but just didn't get around to doing.
Well this week I managed to do some.
And it's totally wiped me.
On Monday, the kids were off school as it was bank holiday. I chose this day to sort out the Little Man's bedroom. I went in there with good intentions and the kids were going to help. I turfed the kids out after ten minutes as they were only making things worse. I gave it my all, but was so frustrated at my limitation. I can't bend, I can't pick things up off the floor. I was emptying boxes on the bed and sorting them out while sitting down, and still it was totally exhausting. From 6pm I could do nothing but lie on the settee, by 9pm I was ready for bed. I was hit by fatigue like I've never known before, I was completely drained.

Tuesday they were back at school so I took things easy. I needed to, I was still exhausted.

On Wednesday I had to go into the city centre for a meeting. My other half took me and I was in my wheelchair the whole time. We were out for around three hours total. I was exhausted. My poor OH had been the one pushing me around, he'd done all the work but the whole experience of going out had totally wiped me, again.

Thursday the kids were off school again because their school is a polling station. I decided to tackle my kitchen drawers. I'd learnt my lesson and for every fifteen minutes of work I rested for  five minutes. It seemed to be working, so after doing the drawers I tackled the downstairs bathroom. Again I needed to rest afterwards, I didn't want to, I'd got the cleaning bug, but I forced myself by picking up my colouring book for a while. Then I made lunch for the kids and afterwards we went to the polling station to vote.

That was it, I was exhausted again.
I was helping my OH to cook dinner but couldn't do much more than give instructions from my perching stool.

I have to go out again today, Friday. I have to go for my physio at the hospital. I'm not sure I have the energy for it, I guess I'll be resting all afternoon. I've a meeting at the school at 3pm
and I'm already exhausted thinking about my day.

One of the hardest things about this condition is the fatigue. I'm not used to being wiped out so quickly. Yes, as a chronic pain sufferer for many years I am used to fatigue and how doing to much can wipe me out, but seriously, with this I hardly have to do anything at all and I'm done for.

So my word for this week just has to be fatigue.

The Reading Residence

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Elhers Danlos Syndrome Awareness Month.

At the top of my page you may notice a tab called My Little Zebra, if you click it you will be taken to a new blog all about my little girl who has Elhers Danlos Syndrome.

As it is EDS awareness month I'm going to share her story here, only a little more condensed.

Starting at the beginning she was born normally, a little early but everything was ok apart from a little panic just before the birth when they thought I might need a C-Section. She was fine, a great weight and looking healthy.
She was a cry baby though, and would scream and scream all the time. The only thing that settled her was lying her on her back and 'cycling' her knees. This is a relief for colic which we thought she was suffering from. As she got a little older she was always complaining of her knees hurting and although she met all her milestones and was walking by the time she was one year old, she didn't like walking much and complained it hurt.

When she was three years old we took her to the hospital because we were worried about the pain she was complaining about when walking. x-rays and tests showed nothing but it was noticed that she had hypermobile knees and ankles. I looked it up and it said that it just meant she was double jointed. So we all battled on.

At six the hypermobility seemed to be getting worse and she was seeing a physio therapist to help her.

At seven she had her first subluxation, in her neck! Of course we didn't know it was a subluxation back then, neither did the hospital. They tried first with muscle relaxants to treat her, then a collar. When that didn't work she was given a manipulation followed by a halo. Halo sounds nice doesn't it, kind of angelic. They are not. Details are here if you wish to know more. In the meantime, here is a photo of my angel in her halo.

A few months later the halo was removed and we were horrified to find that the subluxation returned, immediately. The next step was a fixation and she was taken back to surgery while they fixed her cervical spine with a bone graft and screws. Then they returned the halo!

This worked and her neck was fixed but with only 50 % of it's mobility. The consultant said her ligaments were particularly stretchy which is why they wouldn't hold the bones in the place. He never accepted that the subluxation had happened without a trauma, but we know for a fact that it did.

This got me thinking and after a bit of research I learnt that hypermobility + subluxation+ lax ligaments could be Elhers Danlos Syndrome. So I asked for a referral to a rheumatologist who confirmed my suspicions but wished us to see a geneticist too.

You can read what happened at the geneticist here, but in brief, she does believe that she has EDS but possibly not hypermobility type like we suspected. Now she is waiting on further tests to find out if she has another type of EDS and/or Marfan Syndrome.

In the meantime my girl is doing fine, her scars are healing and apart from a couple of subluxations in her ankles she is carrying on like a normal (ish) ten year old.

EDS is a rare condition and even doctors are not totally aware of it. This is why awareness is so important. It comes in many forms and some of them can be life threatening so diagnosis is especially vital. This month is EDS awareness month and the EDS support group are creating a thunderclap on social media set for 20th May. This means that thousands of people all over the internet will get a message about EDS and it will help to raise awareness. To join the thunderclap please click on the badge below. It takes just a moment and will post just one message to the social platform of your choice.

If you would like to learn more about Elhers Danlos Syndrome then please visit the Elhers Danlos Syndrome website. Or ask me, I'd be willing to help with any questions and point you in the right direction for help if you have concerns yourself.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Sassy Kids Box - Birds

The Little Man received a new Sassy Kids box and was instantly excited. He knows now that the red box through the letterbox means lots of fun activities to do.

This time the theme was birds and as well as the activity sheet he was provided with, a little bag of cereal and raisins, ribbon and a pipe cleaner, a pack of stickers, a colouring sheet and Fun Facts card with a good deed challenge.

The main activity was to make a bird feeder and the Little Man couldn't wait to get started. He threaded the cereal and the raisins onto the pipe cleaner, it's a good job there was plenty because quite few found their way into his little mouth! bird feeder

He was really happy with the finished result. bird feeder

We hung it in the garden for the birds to enjoy. bird feeder

The bonus activity was to make some tasty bird's nests.
For this we needed 200g milk chocolate, 85g shredded wheat, mini chocolate eggs and 12 cupcake cases.
We didn't have shredded wheat so I substituted cornflakes.

Here is the Little Man hard at work in the kitchen. birds nest cakes

And here are the end results birds nest cakes

They were a big hit with everyone and he has promised to make us some more.

Also on the sheet was a Extra Fun learn to draw activity where he was shown how to draw a blackbird and a Family Fun Scavenger Hunt sheet. We do love a good scavenger hunt so we are saving this for the weekend and are hoping to go to the park.

Being a member of the Sassy Kids Box club means the Little Man gets his own little parcel in the post each month. Each box contains a main activity with ideas for at least three other activities as well as a colouring sheet and a Fun Facts/Good Dead card. He also gets an extra little gift, this time it was a pack of fun stickers.

Each Sassy Kids Box costs £3.99 plus 99p delivery, your first box costs just £1.99 plus delivery.
Visit Sassy Kids Box Club for more details.

Disclosure: we receive our Sassy Kids Box for free in return for sharing our thoughts and opinions.

A little Note About Positive Reviews on Raisie Bay

Some people only write reviews when things go wrong with products, which is good because it lets people know that there could be potential problems. I've also seen negative feedback with say things like, I had to return this item because the colour did not suit this useful?

I write reviews on most items I buy because I like to give genuine feedback. If I have a genuine problem with a product I will write my review in the appropriate place.

I write reviews on my blog too, but they are mostly positive. Why? Because I only write reviews for the things I've loved. If I don't love them I let the person who sent me them know with details why and then let them decided if they would rather me write a negative review or not write one at all. It's always the latter.

This is my blog, my place and I'll let you know about the things I love. If you want to find out what other people have hated about the product then you will need to look elsewhere.

My reviews may all be positive, but they are still genuine.
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