Tuesday 31 March 2015

WIN Peter Rabbit - Tales of the Start of Spring DVD (released Monday 30th March) *REVIEW* & *GIVEAWAY*

If you're looking for something other than chocolate to buy a child this Easter, then why not consider something that might have a chance of lasting a little longer than the time it takes for them to munch on a chocolate egg? We've been sent the new Peter Rabbit DVD and it really would be the perfect Easter gift!

I've loved the Beatrix Potter stories ever since I was tiny: I had the books, the china figurines and money boxes, cuddly toys and my favourite VHS was 'The Tailor of Gloucester' which I used to watch over and over again when I was small. So I was excited to share some of her much-loved characters with Bert. 

Bert cuddling his gorgeous soft Peter Rabbit

Bert was bought a gorgeous cuddly Peter Rabbit when he was born from his auntie Susie (my best friend), and he loves to get his Peter out and cuddle him every time Peter Rabbit is on CBeebies...adorable!  

Peter Rabbit cuddles while he watches his new DVD!

Beatrix Potter's wonderful stories have charmed and entertained children for generations. Now fans can enjoy brand new adventures of her timeless children's classic Peter Rabbit in the first ever DVD collection of episodes from the new animated series. 

Bert got really excited when I showed him the DVD - he held the case for ages, studying every detail, before rooting around in his toy box to find his cuddly Peter - then he was ready to watch! 

Watching Peter Rabbit - Tales of the Start of Spring, with his cuddly buddy! 

Follow our hero Peter and his friends Benjamin Bunny and Lily Bobtail on their adventures as they encounter real dangers, overcome obstacles and outsmart predators, all the while finding fun and excitement in the most unexpected places. 

With a taste for radishes and a thirst for adventure Peter Rabbit is the lovable and extraordinary friend you longed to hang out with when you were a child. But when then chips are down and danger lurks, there's no better friend to have around than Peter and his boundless courage, which always sees him through. Peter has infectious enthusiasm for life and is also an irrepressible optimist. He is cool under pressure and his quick-witted mind is as nimble as his super-fast legs.

Kisses for Peter Rabbit from his mate Bert! x

This enchanting collection features a free Hop Outside insert with outdoor activities for little ones and over 100 minutes of adventure to treasure including the special 22 minute episode 'The Tale of the Start of Spring'. The DVD also features 'The Tale of the Raddish Robbers', 'The Tale of the Secret Treehouse', 'The Tale of the Dash in the Dark', The Tale of the Broken Bed', 'The Tale of Benjamin's New Map', 'The Tale of The Terrible Trap' and 'The Tale of the Peekaboo Rabbits'. 

For more information on the DVD visit the Peter Rabbit DVD Facebook Page

You can buy the DVD on Amazon for just £6.00 - that's about the same price as a decent sized Easter Egg, and will bring joy for a lot longer than a bit of chocolate! 


If you'd like to be in with a chance of winning your own copy of Peter Rabbit - Tales of the Start of Spring DVD then use the Gleam App below! 

(Competition open to UK residents only. Ends Easter Sunday (5.04.15) at 10pm. The winner will be notified on Easter Monday via email, and the DVD prize will be sent out by Abbey Home Media after that date.)

Good Luck! 

Mrs B 


Peter Rabbit DVD Giveaway (Tales of the Start of Spring)

Disclaimer: We were sent one copy of this DVD for the purpose of this review. All words and opinions are my own. All images are my own except the Peter Rabbit logo & DVD Cover. 

Sunday 29 March 2015

#AldiFavouriteThings: The perfect gifts for grown ups this Easter. PLUS I'm sharing a Salted Caramel Vodka Martini *RECIPE*

I am a complete Aldi convert - about 9 months ago we switched to almost exclusively shopping at Aldi for all of our food/toiletries etc and we are saving ourselves a fortune - we used to spend around £120 a week in Tesco, but now probably spend around £60-£70 a week for the same amount of stuff in Aldi!

So far, we haven't felt as if we are compromising at all on quality either - all the food we have tried from fresh to frozen, crisps to biscuits, tins to meats - have all been super quality and just as tasty as their Tesco contemporaries. 

In the lead up to Easter we've been lucky enough to be trying out a range of alcohol and chocolate pairings from the #AldiFavouriteThings campaign: they've put together a chocolate match that compliments some of their alcoholic beverages perfectly - and Aldi asked us if we'd like to try them out. 

As a big fan of their Moser Roth chocolate already, and always willing to partake in a glass or two of something alcoholic, we were more than happy to oblige!

If you're looking for something a little different to treat yourself or a loved one to this Easter, then these alcohol and chocolate pairings would be a lovely alternative to an Easter egg!

Here's what we've been trying...

The Exquisite Collection Australian Shiraz £5.99

paired with

Moser Roth 70% Cocoa Dark Chocolate £1.19

What Aldi Say...

"A good guide to food and wine pairing is that the food and wine should have similar levels of sweetness. Try pairing Moser Roth 70% Cocoa with the wonderfully velvety Exquisite Collection Australian Shiraz. The supple texture and relatively low levels of mouth drying tannins smooth out the cocoa solids in the chocolate and the red and black fruit flavours refresh the palate."

What We Thought...

I absolutely loved this wine, as did hubby. We are big red wine drinkers, and found this shiraz to be very pleasant indeed - especially once we'd left it to breathe for a while. The deep and very dark chocolate really was a perfect match for the wine - and was the perfect treat to end a hectic day! The Moser Roth chocolate comes in five individually wrapped 25g bars, which make them just the right size for an evening treat and help if you're trying to be moderate and sensible in your food choices, like me. 

Fletcher's Fine Ruby Port £6.49 

paired with Moser 

Roth 85% Cocoa Chocolate £1.19

What Aldi Say...

"When pairing wines with chocolate, match stronger chocolates with a more full bodied wine like port, a full-bodied, fortified wine with lots of natural sweetness from the grape sugars. Fletcher's Ruby Port has rich plum and damson characters and a chocolatey core which works a treat with the intense Moser Roth 85% Cocoa Chocolate. The power of the wine is equal to that of the chocolate; they bring out the best in each other resulting in a wonderful pairing experience."

What We Thought...

I was alone in drinking this one (happily! more for me!) as hubby doesn't like port very much at all. I on the other hand love it - and this one didn't disappoint. I still cannot believe that it is only £6.49 for the whole bottle! I wouldn't usually eat a chocolate as dark as 85% on its own, as I would usually find it too far too bitter for my palate but, twinned with the intense sweetness of the port I found it totally delicious and not too bitter at all. 

Salted Caramel Vodka Martini (created with Tamova Vodka £10.39) 

paired with 

Moser Roth Caramel Chocolate £1.15

What Aldi Say...

"Unlikely pairings sometimes bring about unexpectedly delicious results! Chilli and chocolate and salt with caramel are some of the trendiest pairings on the block, and this cocktail fuses them both together. The attack of the Tamova Vodka, the heat of the chilli, the softness of the cream, the sweetness of the sugar, the complexity of the vanilla: this will have your tastebuds in raptures! The sweet caramel and malt of the Moser Roth Caramel Chocolate are echoed by the butterscotch notes of the drink."

What We Thought...

Oooh now this is probably the most exciting pairing in my opinion - I love trying interesting flavour combinations, and I was more than a little dubious about this vodka-chilli-salt-caramel combo! I am however, eating my words! The syrup/sauce is ABSOLUTELY TO DIE FOR - and twinned with chilled vodka and ice it makes the most perfectly decadent almost Bailey's-like cocktail. Add in the smooth creaminess of the chocolate, with the crunchy caramel pieces and malty undertones and you'll find yourself in some sort of chilli vodka chocolate heaven! 

The tub of sauce in the fridge will not be going to waste as we'll be drizzling it all over fresh from the oven warm brownies tonight for pudding! Yes! 



1 bottle Tamova vodka (pour 30ml into a glass for the sauce and put the rest of the bottle in the freezer)
80g salted butter
250g light brown sugar 
250ml double cream
1 red chilli, deseeded, finely chopped
30ml Tamova vodka (sauce)
5ml vanilla extract
sea salt, lightly crushed


  • To make the butterscotch syrup heat the butter in a small saucepan and add the sugar. Stir until well combined.
  • Add the cream, chilli and vanilla extract and allow to cook gently until the sauce is smooth and thick. Add the vodka (30ml) and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.
  • I chose to strain the chilli pieces out of the sauce after cooking (using a sieve) so it became a smooth butterscotch rather than lumpy - the chilli has imparted its flavour by this point, so you don't lose the chilli kick - I'd recommend you do the same, unless you like a lumpy cocktail! :-)
  • To make the cocktail put 25ml of warm syrup into a cocktail shaker with 2 shots/50ml of vodka and ice cubes. Shake vigorously and pour into a martini glass with a salted rim (dip the rim of the glass into water and then into the lightly crushed sea salt).
  • Enjoy with Moser Roth Caramel Chocolate. 
The sauce should make around 19 servings of the cocktail - so it would be great to make up for a party. Alternatively, the leftover sauce is AMAZING over a warm brownie, cold ice cream, or straight out of the tub with a spoon! Ha! 


Be sure to pop into your local Aldi and pick up some of these tasty treats this Easter !

Mrs B


You can find out more about Aldi on their website or follow them over on:

Disclaimer: We were sent a hamper of Aldi alcohol and chocolate pairings for the purpose of this review - all words, opinions and pictures are my own, unless otherwise stated. 

Friday 27 March 2015

Eat Well For Less? Needs YOU!

The hit TV series Eat Well For Less? is currently looking for UK based families who are concerned about the cost of their weekly family food shop and would like help to try and cut the cost without losing out on taste, quality and nutrition.

Eat Well For Less? is made by RDF Television for BBC1, featuring Masterchef’s Gregg Wallace & award winning greengrocer Chris Bavin on a mission to prove that it is possible for families to save money on their food budget without scrimping on taste and nutrition.  They hope that by analysing the shopping habits of UK families, they can help to show where we can source the best and cheapest quality food.

Anyone who is interested in the possibility of taking part, or even just learning more, is very welcome to get in touch with the team on eatwell@rdftelevision.com or 0207 013 4148.
So, come on blog readers - I know you must feel as frustrated as I do with the current cost of food, and the confusing jargon when it comes to special buys and offers... If you're struggling to feed your family well for less, then this opportunity could be perfect for you! 
RDF Television are a wonderful bunch, and will look after you beautifully, I promise! 
Bye for now, 
Mrs B 

Wednesday 25 March 2015

"150 Fast & Simple Recipes" *REVIEW* from Parragon Books (March). Plus: Lucy's Modified Olive & Feta Scones *RECIPE*

Today I'm bringing you a scrumptious and super-easy savoury bake inspired by a recipe from '150 Fast & Simple Recipes' by Parragon Books. 

This gorgeous little hardback, full colour cookbook is full to bursting with super-easy recipes centred on speedy cooking - perfect for a busy family, or working couple who don't have much time to create in the kitchen. 

The book is divided into the following chapters:


-Light Bites 

-Meat and Poultry

-Fish and Seafood


-Baking and Desserts 

It really does cover every base, and includes yummy recipes such as:

Tuna Noodle Casserole - Creamy Turkey and Broccoli Gnocchi - Chipotle Pork Fajitas - Egg Tortilla with Feta and Sweetcorn - Potato & Chive Pancakes - Spaghetti with Bacon & Crispy Breadcrumbs - Hot Sesame Beef - Baked Mushrooms with Herbed Ricotta - Chocolate Baked Alaska - Apple Fritters - Blueberry & Lemon Friands - Banoffee Meringue Pie

...to name but a few! 

As per usual, I wanted to give the book a test drive and of course, a baking recipe caught my eye...

Olive & Feta Scones

I'm a HUGE fan of Greek food and flavours, especially during Spring and Summer - my favourite family meal to cook is a slow cooked Lamb Kleftiko (Lamb shoulder, new potatoes, olives, feta, lemons, rosemary, tomatoes, oregano, shallots - all cooked in a big parchment paper bag for 4-6 hours!). I usually serve it with a huge Greek Salad and homemade pitta breads - however, when I saw the recipe for these simple scones I instantly imagined baking them alongside my Kleftiko - yum! 

The recipe for the scone dough is bursting with fresh pitted olives and loads of crumbled feta cheese - they come together so quickly and bake in just 15 minutes! Perfect for an impressive but speedy bake! 

We ate ours warm from the oven for a weekend lunch - we smothered them in salty butter and they were simply divine!! We reheated the leftover scones on Sunday in the oven for 5 minutes, and enjoyed them the same way for our Sunday lunch - they tasted even better after a day so the flavours could develop even further. 

These will definitely become a regular bake in The Bishop household, even Bert devoured one! 

I have adapted the recipe from the book to accommodate my own tastes (I find it virtually impossible to stick exactly to a recipe: I have taken out 40g of sun-dried tomatoes  and replaced with extra olives) and I've altered the method from the one in the book to make it a speedier rolling out/cutting process...alternatively you can roll out and use a traditional round scone cutter, if you prefer. 

*Lucy's Modified Recipe* for Olive & Feta Scones

The dough makes 8 generous scones, and each one is 298 calories. 


400g self raising flour
¼ teaspoon salt
85g butter, cold, cubed (plus extra for greasing)
80g pitted green & black olives, chopped
85g feta cheese, crumbled
200ml milk (plus extra for glazing)
pepper, to taste


1. Pre heat oven to 220℃. Grease a baking sheet. 

2. Sift flour and salt/pepper into a bowl and rub in the butter evenly with your fingertips until it looks like breadcrumbs.

3. Stir in the olives and feta, then stir in the milk to make a smooth, soft dough. 

4. Roll out on a floured surface into a large circle until it is about 3cm thick. 

5. Divide the large circle into quarters, then into eights like you would a pizza (see below).

6. Place each triangle scone onto the pre-greased baking tray and brush the tops (not the sides) lightly with milk. 

7. Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown and firm. 

8. Leave to cool for a few minutes and then smother them in butter & stuff them in your gob! Ha! 

These scones were completely delicious - they melted in your mouth and were soft, buttery and so satisfying. This sort of simple and speedy bake really is a perfect place to start if you're a newbie in the kitchen and a little afraid of getting your bake on. 

Olive and Feta Scones, fresh from the oven! 

A marvellous weekend lunch, or dinner-time addition - these scones would also make any picnic perfect: a truly versatile make which will have your tastebuds doing a little dance!

Don't miss out trying these super simple and ultra fast savoury scones! 

What have you been baking this week? 

Mrs B


Disclaimer: I received this product from the publisher for free. However, they have not paid me for this review, and they do not exercise any editorial control over my review or anything else on this site.

Monday 23 March 2015

Protecting my iPhone with a Personalised Case App Phone Case *REVIEW*

Annoyingly, last month I accidentally dropped my iPhone 5S on the hard kitchen floor, and completely shattered its screen! Sob!

I had to pay my home insurance company £100 to fix it, and had to manage for two weeks without my mobile (it was hard but strangely liberating!)

A month down the line, with a shiny fixed screen, I dropped my phone once again (d'oh!), this time having it knocked out of my hand in the dining room where it hit the wooden floor, and I now have a new small crack in my screen, luckily, at the very bottom by the home button, and not in the way of the main screen. I can't afford to have it fixed again, so it is going to have to remain cracked for the foreseeable - I've popped a protective screen protector over the front of the screen to try and prevent the crack from worsening, and to stop any pieces of the screen breaking out. :-(

The next step for me was to find a more protective case to house my fragile phone in, as mine clearly wasn't cutting it! I wanted something robust - but not something that made my phone bulky, boxy and blokey like most of the protective phone cases I've seen. 

Case App are an online custom gadget case shop, who provide personalised phone cases for most phone types, as well as iPods, iPads, MacBooks and more. Luckily for me they have the option of making your case an extra protection tough case - to help protect your expensive gadgets. So I opted for one of these to try out. 

The Extra Protection Case: come with a silicone lining to cover and protect all sides of the phone and screen. 

You can upload your own photographs to use on your case, as well as being able to use a whole gallery of their stored images, pictures, logos and slogans. You can select lots of different layout options and can finish your case with either a matte or gloss effect. 

I chose to do a multi-image collage case of, you guessed it, Bert. 

I selected all of my favourite recent images of him - from the two of us taking tongue-out selfies, to him enjoying his dinner, brum-brumming his car out on a walk in his gorgeous Boden coat & flat cap, all dressed up in his 'posh' outfit with a bow tie, and some gorgeous portrait shots I took of him with my good camera. 

What a gorgeous selection of happy-making photos. 

I love my CaseApp phone case. Hello Bertster!

I absolutely love my new phone case, and am impressed with its quality - I love how personal it is, and that I will now always have recent photos of my beautiful boy with me to brighten my day.

The silicone inner case is really tough and easy to put on to the phone, it acts as a shock absorber, and I feel so much better now that my phone is a bit more protected. 

*Note to self: I must stop being clumsy!*

The B Man in phone form!

The images even wrap around to the side of the phone case, so every bit of your phone is covered in the pictures of your choosing! Great! 

I found the ordering process really easy and straightforward - the easy image uploader meant I could upload multiple images from my desktop in minutes, and the drag 'n' drop system for arranging your images in the template was a doddle. 

The phone case came to £24 in total (including postage) and most orders arrive within 5-7 days. Unfortunately, the first case CaseApp printed for me got lost in the maze that is the Royal Mail system, but the lovely people at Case App soon re-printed my case, and shipped it for a second time, this time arriving safe and sound on my doorstep - hooray! 

If you're looking for a fun, personal, and protective case for your gadget then look no further! 

Mrs B


For more info you can visit 

CaseApp on Facebook
CaseApp on Instagram

Disclaimer: I was sent this phone case for the purpose of this review. All words and opinions are my own. 

Friday 20 March 2015

Weight Loss and Ferrero Rocher Brownies *RECIPE*

For those of you who follow me on social media, or regularly check in on my My Weight Loss Journey tab at the top of my homepage will know that I've been really struggling to shift this final stone of weight...for the past five weeks I have maintained at 10 stone 10 pounds, with no sign of anything shifting despite being moderate and sensible. It was beginning to get really disheartening - and then BAM - this week despite Mother's Day treats over the weekend I've managed to shift 3 whole pounds. WOOP WOOP!! 

I now weigh 10 stone 7 lbs and only have 7 pounds to lose to get to my final weight target of 10 stone. I genuinely can't believe that....as I type I'm slowly taking it all in, only 7 lbs to lose is a pretty incredible position to be in when just 19 months ago I had 7 stone to lose! When I reach my 10 stone target I will have lost 7 stone 2 lbs in total. Wow. It feels good to be nearing the end point, and soon to be welcoming a new phase - maintenance! 

Finally making a loss this week has really spurred me on, and I'll be hoping for another loss, however small, next week on the scales. If I manage to lose even just 1lb a week, I'll be at my target by May! 

Despite achieving a 3 lb loss this week I've still had lots of lovely treats including ....

  • a full on roast beef dinner with pecan pie & clotted cream for dessert on Mother's Day
  • an Aldi version of a Cadbury's Creme Egg (delicious!)
  • pizza at my auntie's 50th birthday party 
  • a piece of cake with my mum last Saturday at a sweet little tea room in Richmond
  • Half of a homemade Ferrero Rocher brownie
  • a glass of red wine at Richmond theatre on Saturday night (we saw 'Dead Simple' by Peter James)
  • Three pancakes: one with Nutella & banana, one with golden syrup & one with strawberry jam (for dinner! ha!)
  • a homemade butterfly cake made by my Mother in Law. 
  • and 20g of Lindt milk chocolate Easter Egg

That is a week full of a lot of treats! But what I will say is that to counteract all that deliciousness I have walked around 20 miles this week, drunk loads of water, and had the bigger treats such as the pancakes in replacement of a meal, rather than on top of. When I've had cake I've been quite sensible with my portion sizes (half of a brownie etc) and I made sure that I weighed out/portioned out the chocolate easter egg, rather than just jumping in and devouring the lot! When I had wine I had just one glass and really enjoyed it, and when I had a treat meal out on Mother's Day I chose not to have a starter, and I didn't drink wine - I also didn't have an evening meal that day, just a butterfly cake made by my Mother in Law in the evening. So as horrendous as my week of food might sound there's been plenty of moderation and lots of healthy breakfasts, lunches and dinners thrown in. 

It's been a brilliant week full of lovely things including a morning of filming a TV pilot for Channel 4 on Saturday (more to come on that at a later date...!), an afternoon of shopping and lunch with my mum, Liam and my brother in Richmond, followed by a night at the theatre, then on to my Auntie's 50th birthday party to catch up with my lovely family. 

Sunday was of course Mother's Day and I was spoilt rotten, I got a gorgeous card, a picture from Bert (Daddy "helped") and some beautiful gifts. We headed out for a slap up lunch with my side of the family and then headed back to Bedford to spend the evening with Liam's lovely mum. What a perfect weekend. 

The weekdays this week have been a busy mixture of housework, washing, playing with my gorgeous boy, food shopping, cooking and catching up with friends. I had a night out at the pub with friends last night and ploughed on with my crochet, and have a relatively quiet weekend planned, and week ahead. This is a good thing - the quiet after the storm and all that. It also means there's no reason to go over on my calories, and no big treats to be had, which will help me to see another loss next week. 

Okay, so on to the very important stuff....FERRERO ROCHER BROWNIES!

Brownie Heaven! 

I saw this recipe for Ferrero Rocher brownies on Jo's Blue Aga blog (Jo Wheatley from GBBO) ages ago, and as soon as I saw it I knew I'd have to give them a try. I love Ferrero Rocher chocolates, and I've never made brownies before - I'm not really a tray baker, and so I thought this recipe would be the perfect one to steal my brownie virginity! 

I was sooooo right! 

Each Brownie is made up of a mixture of good quality dark chocolate, butter, caster sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, plain flour, self raising flour, and of course Ferrero Rochhers! Each brownie has a whole Ferrero Rocher chocolate baked into the top of it. Brownie perfection I hear you cry!

I added this recipe to my 12 Month Baking Challenge post back in January, and decided I'd tick it off my list in time for Mother's Day. I truly love baking for other people, and so this seemed like the perfect excuse to whip up a treat for my mum, and also for my lovely auntie who was turning 50 last weekend as well. The recipe made 16 brownies - I boxed up 7 for my auntie & her family, 6 for my mum, 2 for my lovely cousin who always loves to try my home baking, and that left 1 brownie for Liam and I to cut in half and try! (Purely for a quality check!)

I found the recipe really easy to follow, and the brownies cooked perfectly in 35 minutes - they had a gorgeous crust but a perfectly fudge/gooey centre - hooray! Before you start baking it is a good idea to stash your Ferrero Rochers in the freezer for a few hours this means that when you pop them into your brownie mix and bake they will hold their shape better, plus it stops you eating them all before your begin baking!

Thanks Jo Wheatley for a brilliant recipe! This will become my go-to brownie recipe from now on, and I can report back that my mum, dad, auntie, uncle and cousins all absolutely loved them - Liam even managed to score an extra whole brownie from my mum's box at the weekend, personally, I thought it was very good of my mum to share! Ha! 

So, this bake sees me complete two of my twelve baking challenges for the year. I plan to make the Simnel cake and possibly a couple of other treats off my list for Easter, so watch this space! 

What have you been baking recently? And how do you manage to watch your weight and bake goodies in the kitchen? 

I'd love to hear from you. 

Mrs B


Wednesday 18 March 2015

I ReallyReally Love Tea! Quirky Word Banner *REVIEW*

Tea - it really does solve everything! 

Anyone who knows me well will know that I am absolutely obsessed with tea. I drink at least 4-5 cups a day (sometimes a lot more!) and I love everything about the ritual of 'taking tea': the china, the tea pot, tea and biscuits, tea and cake...I love it all. My mantra over the years really has become "tea solves everything", because for me, any situation can be improved when tea is added into the equation! I love tea so much that my dining room has become a homage to all things tea - with my gorgeous shabby chic dresser full of vintage china, to my biscuit bunting and art work, it really is a tea lovers haven! 

My tea/biscuit/cake obsessed dining room...

When Hayley from ReallyReally Design asked if I'd like to add one of her beautiful paper banners to my home, I knew straight away what it would say and where I would hang it...

the newest permanent fixture in my dining room...

Hayley builds these DIY cardboard letter banners to order, and you can have any combination of letters and symbols - she charges per character (52p per letter/symbol) and so my banner reading "Tea Solves Everything" with symbols in between would work out at 23 characters and so come to £12.01 in total. A bargain for such a fun and quirky addition to my home. 

I love how personal you can make these word banners, and I think they would be really fun for a party, or like me, to dress your home permanently. I think lots of fun could be had by creating ultra-personal quotes/words/sayings for loved ones as a gift. 

The possibilities are endless. 

I think the banner looks really great in it's new home - it now makes an empty boring wall in my dining room look fun, quirky and in-keeping with the theme of the rest of the room (tea/biscuits/cake/afternoon tea)

Tea Solves Everything

ReallyReally is a graphic design, interior design and marketing business based in the beautifully picturesque town of Olney in Buckinghamshire, which is just a short drive from my home in Bedfordshire. As much as possible I love to support local and independent businesses, especially when they do things as beautifully as Hayley does over at ReallyReally. So I jumped at the chance to collaborate with this gorgeous local business, and couldn't wait to show you the beautiful items she has for sale. From quirky affirmation style typography prints, to very naughty greetings cards and of course, the build-your-own word banners, ReallyReally Design really really has something for everybody...

A little glimpse of some of my other favourite items from ReallyReally's Etsy store. 

**By the way, if you're interested I like my tea strong (preferably Yorkshire Tea) with two sweetener tablets please!** ☕️

Disclaimer: I was sent the word banner for the purpose of this review, all words and opinions are my own. 

Monday 16 March 2015

All Aboard the Hogwarts Express!

We have had some blooming exciting days in the Bishop household of late, more to come on some of our antics later, but first of all I wanted to share with you our amazing night at the Warner Bros Studio Tour: The Making of Harry Potter, last Thursday night.

We were lucky enough to be given a family press pass to the preview of the newest expansion of the Studio Tour, in Leavesden, Watford: the unveiling of The Hogwarts Express.

The studios in Leavesden is where all of the Harry Potter movies were filmed, and since they called "that's a wrap" on the last movie, Warner Bros have transformed the film studios into a giant homage to all things Harry Potter. From whole in-tact sets, to costumes, green screen experiences, props, and now Platform 9 ¾ in all its splendid glory; the studio tour will have even the mildest Harry Potter fan enthralled.

It was our first ever visit to the Harry Potter Experience, and Bert, Hubby and I were very excited! I have a strong link to the Harry Potter franchise, and I feel as if I truly grew up with Mr Potter: my auntie, Amanda Knight, was the Head of Make Up for all of the Harry Potter movies, and over the years our family have all had turns at being extras and working behind the scenes on the movies, and we've all been lucky enough to meet the cast on numerous occasions. I was an extra on the first Harry Potter film (Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone) and so I was really excited to go back in time, and immerse myself back into my childhood by stepping out onto Platform 9 ¾ once again.

Thursday nights press event saw us explore the whole of the studio tour - and wow there was just so much to see...

There's so much to see at the Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour. 

From seeing the real Golden Snitch, the Goblet of Fire, huge set pieces, full scale models of Hogwarts, and real prints of The Daily Prophet newspaper, I genuinely didn't know where to look first! 

We even got to try a Butterbeer, which I can report is the most delicious tasting soft drink you'll ever have the pleasure of drinking: it is sweet, buttery, and cream-soda like with a big thick creamy frothy top! Heaven in a glass no less. 


After exploring the majority of the studio tour, we flashed our golden wrist bands and were showed into the 'sneak preview' of the breathtaking Platform 9¾.

I felt so emotional stepping out on to Platform 9¾

As we turned the corner to enter the newest expansion in the studio tour we collectively gasped - seeing that beautiful train in all her glory was a truly magical moment...

The hustle and bustle of Platform 9¾

The expansion is set up to look exactly like the platform at Kings Cross station, with the beautiful arched ceiling, and even a high definition image of London displayed and lit across the opening of the tunnel - it was just so realistic. 

A truly magical experience. 

The Hogwarts Express in all her glory! 

The train herself is absolutely stunning. I've always had a bit of a thing for a steam engine, which I think must stem back from visiting a local steam railway as a child (Bluebell Railway)...seeing such an iconic train steaming and chugging was pretty cool - especially when thinking back to those first scenes of Harry heading to Hogwarts for the first time! 

We were lucky enough to climb aboard the train, and explore the carriages, each was set up to replicate exactly how it was dressed for each of the films - it bought back so many memories, and has made me want to re-read all of the books, and re-watch all of the films.

It felt amazing to see her steam and hear her chug! What a beautiful train. 

They have a very fun photo opportunity in the form of luggage trollies disappearing into the walls on the station floor! Any Potter fan will know that any witch or wizard heading to Hogwarts will find the top-secret Platform 9¾ by running at a certain spot of wall in Kings Cross station and zooming right through the brick wall to the other side, where the Hogwart's Express awaits them. Here I am posing, secretly hoping I'll whizz though the wall, and actually be able to go to Hogwarts (that's a totally normal fantasy, right?). 

On my way to Hogwarts...

As I moved around the tour I felt so immensely proud of my auntie's work and I was quite overwhelmed by emotion when I saw Amanda's make up table and stand - just as I remembered it...

I just loved seeing the photograph of my two cousins, Billy and Bonny (Amanda's children) sat on the back of her make up table. I'm really close to my lovely cousins, and they seem so grown up now compared to this photo - how the time flies! 

My favourite character from the world of Harry Potter has to be Ron Weasley - I've always loved him from the very first time I read The Philosopher's Stone aged about 13. So it was really cool for me to see his dormitory room, with his luggage trunk, dressing gown, slippers and a very 'homemade' patchwork knitted blanket. Sweet. 

Ron's dormitory

Saying hello at my reflection in the Mirror of Erised (I won't tell you what I could actually see!)

The Burrow: How I'd love to live in The Weasley cottage! 

The rather astounding Diagon Alley! 

I absolutely loved being able to walk down the real Diagon Alley - it felt so realistic, and the detail into this set absolutely astounded me - it was truly remarkable to see how much work went into making such an amazing piece of set - I truly felt as if Harry, Ron and Hermione would turn the corner any minute and say 'hi!". 

A rather precarious looking pile of cauldrons on Diagon Alley. 

After all that excitement and emotion I didn't think things could get much better until I turned the final corner, and was confronted with the most stunning scale model of Hogwarts...it truly blew my mind. 

Hogwarts, I love you. 

After a rather emotional goodbye to Hogwarts we headed into the INCREDIBLE shop, where I genuinely could have spent a thousand pounds in twenty minutes! If you have a child who is a Harry Potter fan then this shop would be like heaven to them, especially if they have a pocketful of birthday/christmas spending money. I'm saving up to treat myself to some goodies next time we visit. 

They even have a real life Honeydukes sweet shop as part of the main WB Tour shop: Chocolate Frog anyone? 

How I resisted buying this for Bert I'll never know! 

For anyone who is thinking about going, if you are even remotely interested in the world of Harry Potter, or just in film making in general, you will really enjoy a day out here - I was agog at just how much you could learn about film making, and how much there was to see and do: we have a family ticket which was gifted to us at Christmas from a family member that we haven't gotten round to using yet, and we can't wait to head back this summer for the day!

We couldn't resist a family shot in the green screens: Daddy, Bert and Mummy in the iconic Ford Anglia! 

The Hogwarts Express expansion opens THIS THURSDAY 19th March at The Making of Harry Potter: Warner Bros Studio Tour, Watford. 

You can purchase tickets for the Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour online here

For more information and regular updates of expansions head over to the Warner Bros Studio Tour Website.

Or follow them on their social media platforms:

On Twitter @wbtourlondon
On Facebook wbtourlondon
On Instagram @wbtourlondon

Disclaimer: We were given a family press pass to the opening night of the Hogwarts Express expansion free of charge. All images, words and opinions are my own.