Monday, 16 October 2017

Autumn/Winter Wardrobe Update with Simply Be

Well it's been quite the grim week for me - 11 days ago I came down with a nasty bug/illness/virus/food poisoning (still waiting for test results to ascertain what it was) but it rendered me pretty useless for the whole time, and I actually went over a week with barely eating a thing (a few pieces of dry toast - fun!) What a grotty time. Of course, it fell over my birthday - which meant cancelling all of my celebration plans, totally adding insult to injury eh? 

Thankfully, although not 100% recovered, I'm feeling much more human now, and so I'm cracking on with a week filled with lots of work and deadlines. 

Yesterday was my first time venturing out (apart from the school run) in a week, and as the sun was shining we decided to head to our local favourite park (Bedford Park) for a lovely autumnal walk, and visit the playground (naturally). It felt so good to blow out the cobwebs and escape the four walls that felt like they were closing in on me, I even managed to put some make up on and do my hair - its those little things that make you feel better isn't it?

It was such lovely weather that the kids even got an ice cream from the ice cream man!! 

I love autumn, and one of my favourite parts of the season is walking through the beautiful coloured trees and kicking the leaves - simple pleasures and all that...! The other best part of the new season is also embracing the fashion it brings - coats, warm knits, boots, scarves etc - I think autumn is my favourite season for fashion, I love the rich colours, layers and textures that the autumn pieces bring.

This year I decided that I wanted to add a few staple items to my wardrobe in time for the colder weather. 

On my 'To Get' list were:

  • a chunky knit mustard cardigan
  • a new winter coat (sensible mum coat)
  • black skinny jeans (to go with EVERYTHING)
  • a check shirt in an autumnal shade
  • a warmer dress for winter parties and wedding receptions 
Luckily, my birthday solved the new chunky cardigan - a gorgeous addition to my wardrobe from Holly Crow, and a visit to Primark a few weeks ago saw me find a lovely popper front red check shirt for just £9 - bargain! 

Then the people at Simply Be got in touch and asked if I'd like to feature any of their fashion items on the blog - I wondered if I'd be able to use this opportunity to finish finding those Autumn/Winter staples, and I did! Wahoo! Right place, right time - I love it when that happens. 

I used to buy regularly from Simply Be before my weight loss when I wore a size 18-20, at the time they were really one of the only fashion-focussed plus sized brands and I loved that I could be on-trend and feel confident despite not fitting into clothes on the High Street. 

Recently, I guess I've been so carried away with the novelty of being able to fit into clothes on the High Street that I'd forgotten that Simply Be stock clothes from a UK size 12 (my size) so I was excited to rediscover the brand and what they had to offer this autumn. 

THE DRESS

First and foremost I needed to find a dress to wear to an evening wedding reception in early October - I wanted something sexy and flattering to wear so that I felt confident, but I don't like being too exposed, especially in the colder weather. This Spring and Summer I've been totally addicted to Bardot style dresses and tops - I find this cut really flattering on me as it hides my problem area (top of my arms) but exposes my shoulders and chest/collarbones which I actually quite like about myself. So, when I found the dress in question I was a little bit excited - not only is it Bardot style with gorgeous ruffle detailing, it also has the perfect shape for an hourglass figure like mine, it was in one of my favourite colours to wear (Navy), and it is made of a super warm scuba-style fabric in a maxi length, perfect for a cold evening. 

What do you think? 

Simply Be By Night Ruffle Bardot Maxi Dress and Choker review Mrs Bishop
Simply Be By Night Ruffle Bardot Maxi Dress and Choker £29.00...
Ready to celebrate Michael & Katie's Wedding

The dress also came with a choker, which I loved - this was a very different style to me, but I felt good in it, and it was such an easy look to put together...I teamed it with my Kurt Geiger patent nude heels and a navy clutch bag on the night, and I had loads of comments about the dress, which made me feel happy and confident - always a good thing when you want to let your hair down and celebrate with friends. 

Best of all the dress/choker combo only cost £29 and is available up to a UK size 26. I think it is an absolute bargain, and a pretty timeless style - making it great for future dressy events - you could really jazz it up with some diamond/diamonte jewellery instead of the choker if you wanted to be extra dressy. 

One thing I will point out is that the dress is super fitted so you need brilliant underwear if you want as seamless a silhouette as possible - you need to feel confident in your body shape and want to show off your curves rather than hide them to wear something this fitted - which scared me - as I'm not hugely confident in my figure just now, thanks to an extra 1.5 stone of "baby weight" I'm still trying to shift (can I call it baby weight when she's 16 months old? Ha!) But I decided to go for it, and I'm really glad I did. I wore a UK size 12 and found it to be a good fit for my shape/size. 

Liam loved this dress and kept complimenting me all night on how I looked, which was lovely - to me, its important the people I love like what I wear as well as myself, so I was chuffed that he loved the dress as much as I did. (He loved it even more when he found out it was only £29! Ha!). 

You can find lots of beautiful dresses for autumn and winter in Simply Be's dresses and party wear range.


THE COAT

Next on the list to find was a 'sensible' winter coat. When I was bigger I absolutely abhorred coats - I was always hot, even in winter - and found most coats to be too stuffy and uncomfortable - so I rarely wore one. Fast forward a few years, and now at a UK size 12 I feel the cold so much more! And I currently only own a dressy coat for nights out, a padded jacket style coat with no hood, or a hip length rain jacket which although waterproof isn't very cosy. So, I was on the lookout for a warmer waterproof coat with a hood and plenty of pockets (us mums need plenty of pockets don't we?) so I can stay dry and cosy on the school run and when running errands (I don't drive so I walk everywhere - coats are essential these days!). 

I was thrilled when perusing the site to find an amazing Navy Trespass coat for just £39.50 (WHAT A BARGAIN!). The coat is Sherpa fleece-lined with waxed-effect finish and comes with a hood, zip-and-popper fastening, a drawcord to the waist and hem plus LOADS of secure pockets. The sleeves have knitted inner cuffs which are super cozy and the it's finished off with antique brass trimmings to cuffs and pockets.

Trespass Coat review Simply Be from Mrs Bishop

I love how the two front pockets are also sherpa fleece-lined making them uber cosy - no need for gloves with this bad boy! 

Trespass Coat review Simply Be from Mrs Bishop
Cosy! Hood up & ready for action...

Trespass Coat review Simply Be from Mrs Bishop
Falling leaves... thanks to Bert chucking handfuls at me - endless fun for a 4 year old!

Trespass Coat review Simply Be from Mrs Bishop
Sherpa fleece-lined for extra snuggle! And a peek at the check shirt from Primark for just £9. 

Since the coat arrived last month I've worn it every single day, and I don't have any complaints at all. Its warm without being sweaty, it fits perfectly (I sized up to a UK Size 14 so I can wear it with plenty of room for layers/knits etc), the pockets are amazingly handy, the hood in generous which means it actually covers my head and doesn't fall down every ten seconds, it looks smart despite being casual and it is an absolute bargain! 10/10 from me. 

Have a peek at the coats and jackets currently available for autumn/winter at Simply Be. 

THE SKINNY JEANS/JEGGINGS

The final item on the autumn fashion Wishlist was a decent pair of high waisted black skinny jeans - these are my go-to bottoms of choice as I find they go with 99% of my wardrobe and on the whole flatter my figure and are practical for my busy life as a mum. My old pair had had-it and were no longer a good fit, so I had a search on Simply Be and was intrigued by the Curve Control High Waist Shaper Jeggings which retail at £28. 

The leggings come in a super comfortable stretch denim fabric that is supposed to fit your shape perfectly. They contain stylish elastic inserts along the high waist band to add a chic and slightly sporty look. Simply Be describe them with the hashtag #YourNewFavouriteJeans - so I couldn't wait to give them a try! 

Curve Control High Waist Shaper Jeggings review Simply Be

Curve Control High Waist Shaper Jeggings review Simply Be

I opted for these jeans in a size 12 and I've found the super-high waist & stretch inserts a tiny bit loose, which means I find myself hoiking them up a little. Maybe it would be worth sizing down if you're thinking of trying them as they are super-stretchy! Minus the slightly generous waist they're a great fit on the leg and uber-comfy, I like the twisted seam at the bottom for a slightly edgier look, and they're perfect with all those autumn layers! All in all a good find. 

I was amazed at the vast array of fashion leggings and jeggings available on the Simply Be website, there's really something for every size and every budget.

These three staple pieces came in at under £100 combined - what a bargain! Perfect if you want to update your autumn/winter wardrobe without forking out too much money, plus there's no compromise on style and quality.  

Have you updated your wardrobe this season?

Mrs B

xxx

I was sent the three clothing items in return for this honest review. 

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Mrs Bishop's Bakes and Banter: Autumn/Winter Wardrobe Update with Simply Be

Monday, 2 October 2017

What's in our September Degustabox? Plus Chocolate Bread & Butter Pudding Recipe...

Degustabox food subscription box

How is it time to share my Degustabox contents again? I can't believe it's October - WHERE is this year going? It is honestly flying by! 

Degustabox contents September 2017

This months box was full to bursting with lots of lovely newbies to try - and I don't think we've wasted a single one - two weeks since delivery and we've pretty much used everything, or have it earmarked for a specific use over the next couple of weeks. 

So, here's an overview of this months contents:

Green & Black's Velvet Edition £1.99

New, sumptuously smooth dark chocolate Green & Black's Taste Specialists have expertly crafted this 70% dark chocolate using the delicate character and soft texture of the finest Ghanaian cocoa, balanced with sweet Madagascan Vanilla. Green & Black's Velvet Edition is a 70% dark chocolate that is rich in cocoa content, yet exceptionally smooth in flavour. 

Latin American Kitchen by Santa Maria 
Rice: £1.85 Sauce: £1.85

Santa Maria welcomes you into Latin American Kitchen, where you can enjoy a wealth of fantastic meal ideas from the length and breadth of this vibrant part of the world. Our rice has been designed to accompany our wide range of exciting Latin American sauces. 

Nestlรฉ Cheerios Oat Crisp
£2.49

Deliciously crunchy flakes made with whole grain oats and mixed with crispy Cheerios, developed to help lower cholesterol!* High in fibre, low in saturated fat and containing beta-glucan from oat fibre to help keep your heart healthy. 
* 3g of oat beta-glucan daily has been shown to lower blood cholesterol, a risk factor for heart disease.

Knorr Concentrated Stock 
£2.20

Our new Knorr Rich Beef Concentrated Liquid Stock is made with real beef extract and is gluten free, free from artificial colours, free from artificial preservatives and no added MSG. It is suitable for a wide range of applications and dishes: just add a few drops to your bolognese sauce for a rich meaty flavour or simply create a rich stock for casseroles and soups.  

Virtue Energy Water
2 x £1.35

Virtue Energy Water naturally contains zero sugar, zero calories with no sweeteners. Our naturally sugar-free energy drinks contain the same amount of natural caffeine as a cup of coffee (80mg). Ingredients include sparkling water, natural fruit flavours and natural energy. For every can sold, we donate 500L clean drinking water. 

San Miguel Gluten Free
£2.00 or £9 per 6 pack

Enjoy the great taste of San Miguel beer with none of the gluten! This premium gluten free world lager has a slightly fruity aroma with gentle hints of hops and yeast, and a moderate bitterness on the palate. 5.4% ABV
Now available to purchase in Tesco. 

Mentos Mint Mix Sharing Pouch
£1.19

Mentos Mint Mix are delicious chewy Mentos sweets in a refreshing mix of peppermint and spearmint flavours. Available in a re-sealable pouch style bag that is perfect for sharing with friends and family. Who Says No To Mentos? 

Dream Rice Quinoa 
£1.60

With added calcium this plant-based milk alternative tastes amazing and has absolutely no added sugar. Perfect on your cereal, in a smoothie or on its own. 

Wild Planet Albacore Wild Tuna Steaks
£3.49

Ranked #1 in the US by Greenpeace for sustainability, these Albacore Wild Tuna Steaks are 100% pole & line caught. Hand packed and cooked just once to retain the natural juices in the can. Please don't drain! Mix the omega 3 rich juices into the tuna for added flavour and nutrition. 

Seriously Spreadable Squares
£1.75

Seriously Spreadable Squares are the perfect addition to any picnic or lunchbox. These little squares are so irresistibly scrumptious because they are made with award-winning Extra Mature Scottish Cheddar that gives them such a rich and tangy taste. Spread them on crackers or crusty bread for a seriously delicious lunch! 

Green's Egg Custard Mix
£0.69

Create this quintessentially English classic to perfection with our silky, smooth, delectable egg custard mix. All you need is a pre-cooked pastry base, and a little dusting of nutmeg to recreate this true family favourite to perfection!

Degustabox contents September 2017

Degustabox contents September 2017

Green and Black's Velvet Edition: Degustabox contents September 2017

Virtue Drinks: Degustabox contents September 2017

Seriously Spreadable Creamy Squares: Degustabox contents September 2017

My three favourite items this month were:

1. The Oat Crisp Cheerios - which the whole family devoured - we love a "healthier" cereal - and find it makes for a speedy breakfast especially on school run mornings. 

2. Green's Egg Custard Mix - I've never ever heard or come across this product before, but I loved it for the pure ease of it - no messing about cracking eggs etc - just add milk, warm it through and stir & you have a delicious egg custard ready to bake. I used mine to make a luscious chocolate chip bread and butter pudding as an indulgent Sunday dessert - and it went down a storm! 

3. Green & Black's Velvet Edition - How could I not put a delicious dark chocolate in my top three! I love me a deep dark choc, so was chuffed to find this inside Septembers box. I even shared it with hubby, which surely earns me some good wife-points (I was tempted to hide it and keep it all for me!) As expected, it was perfect - and Liam and I polished off the whole bar on the evening of the Degusabox delivery. #SorryNotSorry 

Liam enjoyed the lager one evening and said it tasted good and he'd never have noticed it was gluten free had I not said. 

We used the Latin American sauce and rice for a dinner mid-week and it was a super tasty and speedy dinner - I'd definitely pick up this brand again if I saw it in the supermarket. 

Liam took the Mentos to work, as I really dislike mint flavoured anything (unless its actual fresh mint)...sweets etc always go down well in his office, so they were great to share with his colleagues. 

The kids have polished off the cheese squares no trouble - as little snacks, in sandwiches, on crackers, mixed into pasta - you name it they've devoured it. The empty box speaks for itself. 

I have the tuna earmarked for a simple tuna and sweetcorn pasta salad for my lunches next week, I'm looking forward to trying it. 

The rice quinoa milk fascinates me - I drink mainly Oat milk at home, so I'll be interested to see if I like this variety of dairy-free milk. I'm saving it for when a friend who is completely dairy-free comes to stay, so as to ensure it doesn't get wasted. 

The Knorr Concentrated Stock is in my pantry ready to be used in all sorts of dishes, I love having staples like this to hand in my kitchen - I'm yet to use a concentrated liquid stock, so I'm intrigued...! 

Finally, the Virtue Energy Water - these were very mild in flavour, but a good alternative to water if you want something a little more jazzy! I loved that they contain no sugar or calories, as that's usually my biggest bug-bear with these types of drinks - a healthy way to enjoy something a little different. 

CHOCOLATE CHIP BREAD & BUTTER PUDDING RECIPE
Using Green's Egg Custard Mix
Serves 4-6 

Ingredients

1 pack Green's Egg Custard Mix
6 slices of bread buttered both sides
25g soft brown sugar
50g milk chocolate chips
600ml milk (just over a pint)

1 oven proof dish, 5cm deep

Method

1. Preheat oven to 155ยบC (fan oven), Gas Mark 3.
2. Butter the bread, remove the crusts and cut each slice into four triangles. 
3. Grease the oven proof dish.
4. Layer bread, butter side up then sprinkle with some of the sugar and chocolate chips. 
5. Repeat until all bread, chocolate chips and sugar is used up and the dish is filled. 
6. Prepare the egg custard according to the packet guidelines.
7. Carefully pour into the dish, allowing it to soak into the bread. 
8. Bake in the oven for around 30-40 minutes until beautifully burnished with a slight wobble. 

Chocolate Bread and Butter Pudding Recipes
Hot from the oven = delicious 
Cold from the fridge the next day with hot custard = AMAZING! 

Would you like to give a Degustabox a try? 

If so, you can receive a whopping £7.00 off your first box by using code:

1VRVA

at the checkout! 

Enjoy you lovely lot...

Mrs B

xxx

For more info on Degustabox follow them on their social media channels:

Degustabox social media

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Halloween Giveaway

This Halloween I'm teaming up with the fabulous Party Pieces to throw Bert the mother of all Halloween parties and he is SO FREAKIN' EXCITED. 

He has been fascinated by "howl-a-ween" (this is what he's always called it!) and because his birthday falls in the summer holidays each year he never really gets the chance to have a party with his friends - as most of them are away on holiday, so this year we've decided to throw him a big halloween bash, and thanks to Party Pieces' amazing Halloween range, we've got loads of cool decorations, games, party bags and tableware to make sure it's a huge success! Thanks guys, you certainly know how to make a 4 year old very happy! 

Of course there will be a huge post on here all about our party come Halloween weekend, so do watch this space. But in the meantime, I wanted to give you all a chance to win a FAB bundle of Halloween decorations so you too can get into the spooky spirit come the 31st. 

Just enter via the Gleam app below for your chance to win:

Pumpkin Party Bunting £6.49 x3

Halloween Pumpkin Honeycomb Decorations (3 pack) £6.99 x3

Bat Cookie Cutter £1.00 x4 

Total prize bundle worth £45!
Halloween Giveaway with Mrs Bishop

**UK entrants only. This is a personal giveaway. Giveaway closes Tuesday 24th October 11:59pm to give me a chance to post out the prize in time for Halloween on 31st.**

Party Pieces Halloween Giveaway

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Thursday, 28 September 2017

Bert's First Swimming Lesson at Robinson Pools & Fitness, Bedford

It's Mr Bishop here again! Chief reviewer over at Mrs Bishop's Bakes and Banter, it would seem! 

Today, I'm bringing you a review of our local leisure centre - Robinson Pools and Fitness in Bedford. Mrs Bishop reviewed the gym here and their lovely new soft play centre at John Bunyan here

Bert's First Swimming lesson at Robinson Pools & Fitness Bedford

I think any parent would agree that swimming lessons are a vitally important part of growing up. Learning to swim at a young age not only gives children confidence in the water, but it’s a life long skill that will be used by them all throughout their lives, whether that’s swimming for exercise, or swimming for fun either at local pools or on holiday, right down to being safe in the water should you ever fall in a river or have to swim away from a shark in the sea. So getting kids in the water and getting them lessons from an early age should be a standard part of childhood! My brother and I had lessons as a youngster, and I have loads of fond memories to this day of going every week and what I learnt, and even though I don’t swim as much as I’d like as an adult, I still class myself as a strong swimmer and confident in the water thanks to these lessons (my brother and I were known as the Dangerous Brothers at our lessons – possibly ironically, but true nonetheless).

Albert has never been much of a water-baby. Almost every bath for the first 2 years of his life resulted in a teary-tantrum, and still to this day he isnt really keen on getting his hair wet in the bath and washing it! Connie on the other hand, is obsessed with it! She loves bathtimes and one of her first words was ‘SPLASH!’, so with Connie being more into the water, we have visited more swimming pools locally and on holiday, which has resulted in Albert becoming slightly more acceptable of the water the past 6 months! As we live in a river town, and knowing the importance of learning to swim at a young age, we decided it was time for four year old Albert to start his swimming journey into the blue (pun intended).

Our local pool is Robinson Pools and Fitness, which has recently had a major refurb, and my goodness has it improved!! I’ve swam here ever since I can remember, so I have many fond memories of this pool (and the vending machine) over the past 30 years! My mum used to work here when I was younger as well, so I spent many hours swimming, many more running about the place playing, and the longest 3 minutes of my young life standing on the highest diving platform waiting to jump. Bringing my own son here to swim is always a trip down memory lane. As a big pool, Robinson Pool naturally does a whole range of swimming lessons (see info below), so we decided to sign Albert up firstly for a 1:1 lesson with an instructor, to get him used to learning in that environment, and get him assessed for ability level, and of course, to see if he liked it and give us a taste of what swimming lessons would involve for him.

We booked our lesson with Dan a few weeks in advance, so we had told Albert what the plan was to get him ready and not spring it on him. By the day of the lesson he was very excited! We got him all dressed up in his Ninja Turtles swimsuit, and because he was so excited waiting to start the lesson, we quickly went over the first rule of swimming by the pool, NO RUNNING!! Which also includes bouncing up and down on the spot with glee.

Bert's First Swimming Lesson at Robinson Pool Bedford

Dan introuduced himself and Bert was very quick to say hello and listen to what he needed to do. The lesson was 30 minutes in total, and we started straight in the big pool. I went in with Bert as well, and we started doing some exercises in the pool and soon got Bert splashing away with his legs. After around 15 minutes we moved over to the warmer small pool where Bert could touch the floor and went through some other games and exercises.


Dan was great throughout, really engaging and encouraging with Bert and clear on what he needed to do. He was also explaining to myself the whole time what he was doing and why, and how that helped Bert develop the skills he would need. 

The lesson included lots of swim toys as well, from noodles (which Bert referred to as his ‘sea-snake’), to floats to sinking seals and water rockets. As with all learning, Dan was well aware that making a lesson fun is a quick fire way to engage children and get them to listen and learn. A lot of the games we played were not just for fun, but doubled up as confidence building exercises in the water. Dan explained throughout that the early lessons are a lot more aimed at water-confidence as well as learning basic swimming skills, so for an animal-mad child like Bert having to pick up a goggled-seal toy from the bottom of the shallow end was brilliant at getting his hair wet and getting him used to submerging his face! 

We finished the 1:1 session by building up to Bert jumping off the side of the pool all by himself into the water and bouncing about the small pool without anyone holding onto him, something I would never imagine he would do by himself half an hour before! The change in confidence in him in just that short time was amazing to see.

Bert's First Swimming Lesson at Robinson Pool Bedford

Overall, having 1:1 time with a trainer, coupled with Dan’s excellent enthusiasm, teaching methods and explanations, meant the lesson was a huge success with Bert. He was clearly sad to have finished and leave the pool, and he asked if he could come back to swim ‘every day after school’! I feel the 1-on-1 was a great way to start, and we’ll be looking to having some more of these with Bert to build his confidence further before he is ready for group lessons. I even learnt a lot myself about methods etc to put into practise, so that when we are in the pool together outside of lessons, Bert can still be learning. A favourite school mantra - Teaching begins at home!

Thanks to Dan and to Robinson’s for the lesson, when Bert wins the Olympic gold in 100m front crawl in 15 years time, I hope you remember this is where it started!

SPLASH!

Monthly prices for swimming lessons at Robinson Pool, Bedford

Stages Ducklings 1-6 - 30 minute lessons
Swim School Monday Non Member £18.55
Swim School Monday Leisure Card* £16.45
Swim School Tues-Sun Non Member £20.35
Swim School Tues-Sun Leisure Card* £18.04

Stage 7 - 45 minute lessons
Swim School 45min Non Member £22.65
Swim School 45min Leisure Card* £20.55

Stage 8/9/10 Advanced - 60 minute lessons
Swim School Non Member £24.60
Swim School Leisure Card* £23.48

Price per lesson for 1:1 Swimming lessons

1:1 Lesson - 30 minute lessons
Non Member £18.35 per lesson
Leisure Card* £16.81 per lesson

**Leisure cards can be purchased at £5.50 per child per year and discount swimming lessons as well as casual swimming.**


Robinson Pool and Fitness is managed by Fusion Lifestyle, head to the Fusion Swim School homepage for more info. 

Have you signed up your little ones for swimming lessons yet?

Mr Bishop


We were given a free 1:1 swimming lesson in return for this honest review. 

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Mr Bishop reviews GTech's Cordless Grass Trimmer

Mr Bishop reviews the Cordless Grass Trimmer from GTech

As soon as the calendar moved into September this year, the weather turned freezing. It’s like a switch was flipped. That’s meant we haven’t spent as much time in the garden as we were hoping and as much as we have done in warmer Septembers the past few years. Last weekend was a bit different though, come Sunday morning – the sun was out and it was a bit of a scorcher! Twinned with a free weekend and some rare spare time – that meant one thing, garden time!

I recently reviewed Gtech’s Cordless Hedge Trimmer HERE, and as part of their excellent garden range, Gtech also do a Cordless Grass Trimmer which retails currently at £99. They asked us if we’d like to give it a go, and so we’d been waiting for a few sunny days to give us the chance to try it out. It has been quite a few weeks since the last gardening we did, so the weeds have had a chance to sprout up and start messing the place up. It’s important to keep on top of the gardening over the colder months where you can, so come the Springtime it doesn’t look like a rainforest. So when the sun was out in force, I took the Gtech Grass Trimmer outside to give it a test-run.

The first thing I noticed about the Trimmer was… no wires! In signature Gtech fashion, there are no wires to trip you up, limit availability or cut through - so that made wielding the trimmer pretty easy. It’s very light as well for a power tool, the Gtech Website says it comes in at 1.75kg! So about half the weight of the average newborn baby, but way more effective at cutting grass than one, and there is no shoulder harness needed or hefty petrol motor to carry about either. The benfit of an electric motor as well is that it’s A LOT quieter than a petrol trimmer. All in all, it made for a very relaxing garden sesh.


GTech Cordless Grass Trimmer

I had it out the box and put together in no more than 5 minutes tops – there are only about 4 parts to it. You clip the protector shield in place on the cutting head, clip on a plastic blade, attach that to the main pole unit, and then clip in a battery pack. It is easy beyond belief to put together/take apart, it’s like a giant kinder-egg toy, it just clips together instantly. It also uses the same battery pack as the Cordless Hedge Trimmer we used before, so I got the pack for that out (which was fully charged already) and swapped it straight in so I didn’t even have to wait to charge the new battery! I had unpacked it and was using it in less time than it takes to mix up a jug of September Pimms.


GTech Cordless Grass Trimmer

I’ve already mentioned it’s easily manoueverable - you can move the handle into a different angle with one push of a button, and change the angle of the head with another – so you can hold it comfortably no matter how tall you are. The head spins round as well just by moving it with your hand so you can trim flower bed edges, and you can get in all sorts of crevices. You can really make some quick adjustments on the fly within seconds with minimal effort, so you never have to bend down or get into a funny position to get in all those corners and hard angles. No back-ache here the next day.


GTech Cordless Grass Trimmer

Usually trimmers have a little plastic wire that you need to pull out that usually get’s tangled/snaps off meaning you need an engineering degree to take it apart to unwind more wire out, but this trimmer uses little plastic cutting blades that just clip on. It’s not fiddly, and they aren’t sharp so you can’t hurt yourself doing it. They work great, once it was on I didn’t make any adjustments to it at all, and it did my whole garden easily without it once breaking. You get around 20 in the box, and it even comes with a lifetime supply for free, you can order more through the website whenever you need them for no extra cost, so you’ll never run out.


BEFORE/AFTER GTech Cordless Grass Trimmer

BEFORE/AFTER GTech Cordless Grass Trimmer

The actual cutting the machine does is excellent as well, I didn’t have any issues cutting edges and weeds down, with nothing causing any problems to it, and no jamming or stoppages at all. I finished the whole garden in a very short time without breaking a sweat (all on one battery charge no less). A trimmer is great for getting hard to reach places, and you can see from the photos I easily managed to get not just the edges, but round the tree and garden swing as well. There is even a back section of my garden that my corded lawnmower doesn’t properly reach, so braving that jungle, I just did the normal grass there as well as the edges. Take that grass!

BEFORE/AFTER GTech Cordless Grass Trimmer

To sum up, I had a great time gardening with the Gtech Grass Trimmer. It’s light and easy to use, and quiet for a trimmer. The build quality and style of the device is evident within seconds of unpacking and using it. I love the battery packs as well, it’s a great addition to the Gtech range of products! My only gripe is that when you pack it away, it doesn’t fit completely back into the box like the Hedge Trimmer does, I’ll need to store the head separately as once it’s clipped together you can’t unclip it and it no longer fits back in the box. I’m don’t think it’s been designed to keep in the box anyway so that’s not really much of a criticism!

I can definitely recommend it – it’s great to quickly get out there and tidy up some messy patches so you can enjoy your garden at short notice whenever the sun decides to show it’s shiny face!


Mr B
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Mr Bishop reviews the Cordless Grass Trimmer from GTech

Sunday, 24 September 2017

A nice cuppa char with Adagio Teas * Review & Giveaway *

Today I'm teaming up with the fabulous small, family-owned company Adagio Teas - who produce the finest teas and teaware in the UK.

Not only do Adagio sell a stunning collection of different styles, flavours and blends of tea - they also use their website to share their knowledge of all things tea to educate their customer.

Since working with them I've gained so much tea-related knowledge!

For example, did you know there are 5 basic styles of tea - but each style comes from the same plant (the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant), and its difference comes from the way it's processed or manufactured.

The five main styles are:

  • White Tea
  • Green Tea
  • Oolong Tea
  • Black Tea
  • Pu Erh Tea
I also learnt that tea processing happens in five basic steps; some teas don't utilise all of these steps, while other teas repeat them several times. Basic processing is Plucking, Withering (allowing the leaves to wilt and soften), Rolling (to shape the leaves and wring out the juices), Oxidizing (see below) and Firing (ie: Drying).

Amazing how much there is to know about the humble cup of tea, eh?

I've always been a huge tea drinker (apart from in pregnancy when I couldn't stand it!)...I'd say that I used to drink about 2-5 cups per day, most days - until last September when I took part in #SugarFreeSeptember which saw me remove all the processed sugar and sweeteners from my diet for a whole month.
Previous to this I had enjoyed two sweeteners in my tea and coffee, but during the sugar free challenge I removed all the sweetener from my hot drinks, and in turn found that I actually enjoyed unsweetened coffee much more than unsweetened tea. After the challenge I tried drinking sweetened hot drinks again but they tasted really disgusting to me! The sugar free month had clearly changed my palette (shame I still liked the taste of cakes & biscuits!) and so from that point on I cut out sugar and sweetener indefinitely from my hot drinks. 

Since then I've definitely drunk more coffee than tea (which is odd for me) but more recently I've started getting in to trying different styles and flavours of tea, instead of just my usual English breakfast teabags! Broadening my horizons and finding out what I love when it comes to the wonderful world of tea. 

The lovely people at Adagio Teas have helped me on the journey to discovering my favourite styles, flavours and blends of tea with their amazing ranges...they sent me over everything I'd need to explore a range of teas, including loads of styles and flavours of tea, as well as some stunning glassware to brew and drink from. 

I was so excited to get brewing and tasting!


selection of teas from Adagio Teas

The selection of teas they kindly sent over included:


Which to try first?? 

I couldn't resist the lure of Candy Apple black tea, just as autumn is upon us and I'm starting to feel all cozy and ready for the colder weather and the falling leaves, this seemed like the perfect blend for me...and (in the style of Janice from F.R.I.E.N.D.S) OH MY GOD - it is AMAZING!!

Eggs on Rye with Candy Apple Tea in Jumbo Glass teacup & saucer
Enjoying a cup of Candy Apple tea with my lunch! 

Containing a mixture of black tea, apple pieces, natural caramel apple flavour, and cinnamon bark this is a rich and heady tea experience. It is sweet without being sickly, and evokes memories of sticky toffee apple faces from halloweens of my past. Both Liam and I absolutely love this blend, in fact - I'm mentioning it first because it is definitely at the top of our list from our tastings so far. 

Next on the hit list for me was the Pina Colada herbal tea. A Pina Colada just happens to be my favourite cocktail of all time, so I was really excited at the sound of it. This blend is a herbal tea containing a mixture of rose hips, hibiscus, apple pieces, dried coconut, natural pineapple flavour, pineapple pieces and natural coconut flavour. Sounded scrummy, tasted scrummier! This came a close second for me to the Candy Apple. 

What has amazed me about these teas is that they actually taste of what they say they are going to - I've tried countless 'flavoured' teas in the past and found them all to taste of murky wishy-washy dishwater! These teas all deliver strong tastes and the most intoxicating aromas. 

Another thing I love about them is that not only can you see from the packaging clearly what type of tea it is (black tea, green tea, herbal tea, ice tea) but you can also see a clear list of ingredients and instructions/advice on how best to brew your cup. For example, the candy apple loose tea uses 1 teaspoon per cup, should be left to brew for 3 minutes and your water temperature should be 100ยบC. 

If you're into seasonal teas then I urge you to try their Pumpkin Spice black tea which contains black tea, natural pumpkin spice flavour, cinnamon bark, ginger root, cloves, marigold flowers and cardamom. It's deep, bitter and spicy - really warming and leaves a tingle on your tongue. 

For all of the loose teas we've been trying we've used the stunning glassware kindly sent to us by Adagio - this included their jumbo teacup and saucer, which is my absolute fave - a bloggers dream in terms of aesthetics, it is really so beautiful. They also sent the petit teapot (which brews two cups) - both the jumbo cup and petit teapot come with in-built tea strainers so you can use both the loose leaf teas, or teabags. FAB! 

Jumbo glass cup and saucer
The stunning Jumbo Teacup & Saucer

What has amazed me about all of the Adagio glassware is how amazingly light it is and that it is  made of tempered glass, which is very sturdy and able to withstand extreme temperatures, both hot and cold. All of the Adagio glassware is also microwave and dishwasher safe! Yay!

For something a little different Liam and I have been trying Adagio's iced tea pouches - they're basically a giant tea bag which you add to 1.2 litres of cold water and pop in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. Adagio kindly sent us their glass pitcher and four long iced tea glasses to use for the three iced tea flavours they sent us: mango (black tea), white peach (white tea) and rooibos vanilla (herbal tea). 

An Adagio Teas Iced Tea Pouch
An Adagio Teas Iced Tea Pouch, isn't it a thing of beauty?

Iced Tea Pitcher in the fridge
My glass pitcher of iced tea, in the fridge ready to steep overnight. 

Although slightly the wrong season for iced teas (I'm used to drinking the uber sweet Lipton bottled varieties on holiday in foreign countries) we are still getting the odd warm day here in the UK, and it's nice to have something cold and refreshing in the fridge. I've been really surprised at how much Liam has enjoyed them - opting for a cold fruity iced tea on his return to work rather than a coffee. We've tried all three flavours, our favourite being the Mango, closely followed by the White Peach, and then the Vanilla (which is very sweet). We've pretty much had a pitcher of iced tea in our fridge constantly since the Adagio goodies arrived - and I'm excited for next summer when we can enjoy more pitchers of iced tea in the garden! 

Adagio iced tea in the garden

Glass of Iced Tea

The final tea I've managed to try so far from the selection is the English Breakfast Teabags - how could I try this huge range of tea, without sampling their version of my all time favourite? I managed to grab ten minutes for myself last week, and brewed a jumbo cup of tea, set a tray with milk and sugar in the gorgeous Adagio cream & sugar bowls and crept upstairs to enjoy a cuppa on my comfy bed in peace, with just my cat Pickle for company! Blissful. I love that the English Breakfast teabags each come individually wrapped - which means not only do they stay super fresh, but also that they're portable. I love keeping a few wrapped teabags in my handbag so that I'm never caught short without access to one of my favourite drinks. These wrapped bags are especially good if you travel - I've lost count of the amount of places I've visited on holiday that have dreadful tea! 

five minutes peace, a cuppa in bed

I've been totally blown away by Adagio Teas - not only the quality and beauty of their glassware, but the amazing flavour profiles and aromas from their teas. I genuinely had no idea I could enjoy tea without milk so much - it really is a revelation to me. 

And the Candy Apple black tea is one that I'll always have to have stocked in my cupboard forever more!

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WIN!

If you're interested in giving some of Adagio's teas and tea blends a try then enter my brilliant giveaway below where you could win your very own super cute petit teapot and two sampler sets of your choice from the Adagio Teas website! 

Win with Mrs Bishop and Adagio Teas

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