New job – I have joined the commuting masses!

New job – I have joined the commuting masses!

This week I have started my new job, still in Insurance (I can hear you all yawning so I’ll such up about business interruption, marine cargo and throughput policies).

Anyway it’s a bit of a learning curve for me . Why?

1. The commute

Do I take coats, umbrellas, trainers?  Where do I start with this commuting lark when I am the self confessed lazy bitch who believes her car is a teleporting device.

Day 1, checked weather and looking warm and sunny all day so no coat or jacket. So off I trotted in ballet pumps with heels in my handbag dropping legs off at breakfast club on my way to the station. Arrived at station at 8.21! Not impressed as just missed the train I was planning on catching. Nevertheless, next train was 8.29 and a direct, non stop option and I didn’t really need to be in until 9.30 so stacks of time.

Caught train and decided to walk to office to check how long the walk took some people said ten minutes others said twenty five, who was right? Who to believe?

Walk took me twenty five minutes though I did have to guess my route through parks and archways I have never seen before. Note to self Bus takes 5 minutes!

Then at 4.30 ish the heavens opened, thunder and lightening and not even an umbrella or a poncho in my handbag! – FAIL.  Luckily lovely Carly loaned me her umbrella so I could catch the bus to the station.

Which train?

Up until last week I would rarely catch a train, let alone a bus so which train should I catch?  The stopper, will be quieter but will take longer or the non-stop to Reading?  I opted for the non stop – 13 minutes from Didcot to Reading, not bad really compared to driving.  Seems odd that in that time I have time to reflect on things that I am normally to busy to even give time to.  Should I read a magazine or book or just take the time to contemplate and relax (as much as you can on a train filled by people you don’t know).

Coffee?

How much coffee would I end up consuming if I grabbed a coffee everyday on the way to the train?  Far too much I am sure, if I didn’t keel over from the extra caffeine intake, I must consider the calories!

I have therefore decided on this as a treat option maybe Fridays when so far the trains seem to be quieter and my chances of having a seat are much higher.

Season tickets?

These seem to be the way forward but, there is always a but!  It is so annoying having to take my card out of its special plastic wallet to put through the barriers and then put it away again.  Surely, they could have a  swipe card (like Oystercard’s in London).

Stand or sit?

As my journey by train is only 13 – 15 minutes sometimes it is much less hassle just to stand, rather than pace up and down looking for that one seat.  I would rather not bother.  If I can’t see a seat and get to it instantly I will be standing in the corridor.   See you there!

Stations 

Well these are there own little mysteries, so many exits, platforms and masses of people.  I have to travel into Reading station which has undergone a massive regeneration project.  Now it is more like an airport it is massive!  Huge escalators, extra platforms I swear it takes me ten minutes to walk from one end of the station to the other.

Then there is the race up the escalators and down another set to the platform to catch the train that is currently at the station.  I have figured out that I can catch the 17.21  (15 mins) from platform 8 or the 17.27 (13 mins) from platform 9 and be home in my house by 18:00 hours

Should I just to drive?

Such a dilema!  I know that I can get to Reading in 20 minutes but getting through Reading is the bit that puts be off.  Especially as I have to get to Cemetery Junction.  I have decided that during the school holidays I will try the drive in but in the meantime I will stick with the train.  My only issues with the train is that if there are delays i could be stuck, an example of this was on my second day the trains in and out of Paddington were being cancelled.  The rumours were that it was a fatality or a jumper on the tracks.  I hope not do they not realise how selfish this is!

 

The EDF London Eye – My Review

Last weekend we took a trip into ‘the big smoke’. We traveled up by train in order to take my sister to the theatre. As we have Merlin passes I decided to take the boys past the Eye to see whether we could go on. For me this was not my ideal choice of trip being scared of heights! I thought that with the back up I my sister I would be able to cope.
At about 11am we arrived at the Eye. My mouth went dry seeing how many people seemed to be crammed into each of the pods and I just couldn’t even comprehend ‘boarding’.

We swiftly moved passed the snake like queue and carried on down to the magicians and street acts, grabbed an ice cream and watched the world go by for a little while.

We walked over the bridge to Drury Lane to see our show and after dinner we came back to see if we could get on The Eye as the boys were desperate to ‘have a go on the wheel’.  We came back at about 7.30 and there was a queue for normal boarding but no queue for the ‘Fast Pass’.

I had not realised that with the Merlin pass we have we automatically get the ‘fast pass route‘. The kids were really excited, my sister decided that she would sit and wait with my brother who we had met up with after the show.

I hesitantly approached the boarding  gates as heights are really not my thing!.  We boarded a ‘pod’ with 10 other people it was quite empty unlike earlier in the day.  I sat in the middle of the pod on the slatted seat with my fingers lock around the slats and we started our journey.

The boys thought it was amazing, getting higher and higher.  “Mum, we are higher than Big Ben” was enough to make me sweat even more.  I seemed be ok whilst looking straight out at the horizon but shuddered if I looked towards another pod or the actual metal of the wheel itself, let alone any workings.  I am such a geek but I needed to do this for my boys!

We rose higher and higher and my mouth was dry as we hit the top of the wheel.  I now had to re-position myself without standing up and letting go of the bench so that I was just looking in the direction of travel and out the the horizon again.  So, scooted myself round on the spot.  I was so glad that all the other people were stood around the edges so that I could do this.

I think the journey or flight as I think they refer to a trip took about half an hour.  To me a very long half an hour but the boys like to see if they could spot the landmarks.  The Shard, The bridges, Houses of Parliment, Big Ben, Battersea Power Station etc.

I am glad that we gained access with our Merlin passes I would not have been very impressed if I had paid the family rate of  anywhere between £115 and £54.33 depending on which tickets your purchase and these are the online prices.  I suppose its something that has to be done on a trip to London, a bot like popping into Harrods, though I could wander around Harrods for hours mostly because I usually get lost – no sense of direction!

If you wanted to go  my tip would be book online and go later in the day.

For more information about The London Eye Click Here

 

Kids and Pocket Money

Kids and Pocket Money

Today, I was in town and stood in the a queue waiting to pay for my shopping. In front of me were a group of boys all purchasing their FIFA World Cup Stickers. They must have been 9 or 10 years old.

One of the lads was asking to see the sticker books that the other boys had. He had told the other lads that he was only allowed on pack of stickers a week because he didn’t have any money. When the boys quizzed him about pocket money he said his mum didn’t believe in pocket money.

The conversation continued and one of the smallest boys stopped dead turned around, placed his hands on his hips. I couldn’t believe my ears when he sparked up with “Well, you had better have words with your mum. If you do her jobs like making your bed, tidying your room she might give you some pocket money. I get £2.00 a week. Your not going to have a very good life if you don’t earn money so you should get it sorted out now!”

Well, all I can say is young man you seem to have your head screwed on but don’t waste all your money on stickers!

20140509-232420.jpg

#MorrisonsMum Hits Shop for Bank Holiday Supplies *

#MorrisonsMum Hits Shop for Bank Holiday Supplies 

I am feeling rather privileged to be a #MorrisonsMum.  As a #MorrisonsMum I had been given £80 worth of voucher to see if I could save money on my shopping for a bank holiday weekend.

Morrisons have just launched their new cheaper Morrison promotion which means that Morrisons have cut the prices on over a thousand of our most fave products.  These will not be temporary reductions they will be every day low prices on the things we buy every week. So we should notice the difference every time we shop at Morrisons.

There are many Morrisons Locals near me  but I wanted to experience the whole range so wanted to go to a larger store.  So after a little scout on their website and a chat on facebook with friends I decided to go to the Reading store which is 31 miles from home.  Hopefully they will be opening a big Morrisons  store in Wallingford, Oxfordshire soon. Check for your local store here.

We decided on a little family trip out so myself, him indoors and the two boys hopped in the car to see what we could find. My mother-in-law loves Morrisons and usually pops in on her way home from her caravan each weekend.  She is always telling me about the bargains and quality products so my expectations were high.

We entered the shop to what I can only describe as a vast array of vegetables.  I am a vegetarian so I was like a kid in a sweet shop.  My boys were amazed at all of the new vegetables that they have never even seen before.  Samphire, Mooli radishes and  globe artichokes are just not the usual products you get in our local ‘other’ supermarkets. Also the boys were bewitched by the spray/hydration system that kept the ‘wilty’ vegetables fresh.

We then moved through the store via the Pizza ‘Creation Station’ as Joe referred to it.  The lady made our pizza’s in front of our eyes and the boys told her what they would like on them.  There were also a large selection of Pizza’s already made up to choose from but as the boys are a bit particular about what is on their pizza this was perfect for us.

20140509-232445.jpg

Then I hit ‘my favorite’ part of the store the BAKERY! oh my word how many different types of bread can you possibly buy?  For me that’s easy,  all of them.  tiger bread, bagels, baguettes, sliced bread, burger rolls and not forgetting some doughnuts with sprinkles on. (12 for £2.96) and now I have eaten then I can tell you they were good.

We decide that we were having a barbecue for dinner and therefore we needed some meat, coleslaw and  obviously some beer.

We scouted the booze aisle, and him indoors choose some Bud and some berry cider.  Not really my preference but I has some wine.

Once we had collected the meat and some cheese, coleslaw etc it was time to hit the checkout. Had a little bet with ‘him indoors’ as to how much our hugely stacked trolley was going to come to.  He thought it was going to be at least £180 and I was even further over the top thinking it was going to be over £200.  I know I am a nightmare in a shop I have never been to before buying things I wouldn’t normally buy but to our surprise it came in at a fabulous £129.31.  Another little bonus was a petrol voucher for discounted petrol.  I can’t confirm how much it was off a litre as it was taken from my hand to top up his car.

So for tea our bank holiday barbecue worked out at £1.30 per person and lasted us two days of barbecue food fun.

I have also purchased a Pork shoulder and have decided that I will do pulled pork for the next bank holiday weekend and if your lucky I will share my American pulled pork recipe with you at a later date.  Yes, I am still vegetarian but the boys and ‘him indoors’ love it.

I must say that I am impressed with the quality particularly of the fruit and vegetables as they have lasted much longer than the usual vegetables purchased at the ‘other’ supermarkets closer to home.

Hurry up Morrisons I need a shop closer to home!

*This post was written in collaboration with Britmums and Morrisons.  Please note that all opinions and comments are my own.

20140514-000203.jpg

#Shoeps – The marvelous revolution in Shoe Lacing – Moonwalker Approved*

#Shoeps – The Marvelous Revolution in Shoe Lacing – Moonwalker Approved*

Shoeps, Shoeps, what are Shoeps I hear you shouting.

Shoeps are a new revolution in lacing shoes and they are not just for the lazy or inept at tying laces.   I have been lucky enough to road test, yes quite literally I gave them a full on road and pavement test during a few training walks and a 13.1 mile (or 13.9 mile according to the official mileage) London Moonwalk on 10th May 2014.

So what exactly are they?

 Shoeps are little elastic laces that clip into your shoes or trainers that alleviate the need to do up your laces up and make your shoes into slip ons.

Shoep Elastics before applied to trainers.

Shoep Elastics before applied to trainers.

I must admit I was pessimistic believing that they would not work or would snap or undo and fall out.  Selfishly when I was asked to give them a whirl I chose the pink set with only one thought in mind which was ……. at least the boys won’t steal them from me.

So what were my thoughts:

1.  Would they be tight enough to keep my trainers in place?  YES, they definitely were in fact the first time I actually struggled a little bit to get my foot in my trainer.  Once on though there were snug not too tight or too loose.  They fitted very comfortably.

2. Would they snap?  NO, not yet and boy, have they been put through their paces,  a couple of five mile walks, not dawdles but training power walks for the Walk The Walk – Moonwalk London 2014, a 10 miler and the actual Half moon 13.1 mile powerwalk which was a full 5 hours of nonstop walking from 11.20pm until 4.22am and they are still as good as new.

 The Moonwalk is a powerwalk through the pavements of London during the night in aid of  Walk the Walk Uniting against Breast Cancer.  You could opt for the Full Moon which is 26 miles (yes a marathon) a half moon which is 13.1 miles or I have even heard rumours of the Over the Moon which is 52 miles (pure madness in my books).  I had opted for the half moon with a few friends for our first Moonwalk attempt.

My Moonwalk Fundraising Link = Click Here

Powerwalking trivia: Power Walk at approximately 4.5 miles an hour and mile for mile you will burn the same energy as a runner.

I thought that after a lot of use the Shoeps might start to sag but as yet no signs of degradation which I am impressed with.

I did feel so sorry for those walkers that I passed who were bent retying laces I really do think if I had to bend down to sort mine out there would have been no way I would have got back up so were very chuffed with my Shoeps .  I have to admit that I was not convinced  that they would last the night  and I did take some spare laces.  SHAME on me for being a doubting Thomas I was definitely wrong on that front the Shoeps saw me through the night without snapping, coming undone, digging in or stretching.

Now the boys want them for their shoes and they come in so many different colours or even a multicolour pack.

shoeps-mix

Each pack contains 14 pieces.    I wonder what a single Shoep is called? Is it a Shoep or an Elastic?

Cost:  £12.99.

They are available from

WWW.GUMBIES.CO.UK

and

WWW.SHOEPS.CO.UK

*Please note that all opinions and comments are my own.

I have received one set of Shoeps (value £12.99) from www.gumbies.co.uk to trial and keep.