Review: TomTom Spark Cardio +music


I did it!

I did it!

One thing is for sure, this year I’ll have covered more miles on foot than in any other year in my life, thanks to all this running. I must admit, now the Race for Life has happened, I didn’t do nearly as much training as I would have liked to have done in the past few months. Partly this is because I’ve got a new job to keep me busy!

There is nothing like a new bit of kit though to encourage you to get out there and this past couple of weeks I’ve been trying out the new TomTom Spark Cardio + music.

The watch itself was easy to set up and the app seems easy enough to use. I  like using sports apps purely because they really incentivise me. However, it isn’t immediately clear how to connect it with Runkeeper which is my favourite way of monitoring what I’m doing and I have to admit I did have to ask tech support (my husband) for help

In terms of the look and feel of the watch, does sit on the wrist a bit better than my Fitbit Blaze. However, again, like the Blaze I don’t think it looks quite as nice as a conventional watch. I think as I have a black strap it just doesn’t look all that great with workwear, which for me is quite a big thing as I find tracking my activity through the day quite useful now I’m in a desk based job.

Unlike the Fitbit Blaze, the Tomtom Spark Cardio +music is a full on GPS watch. That means it doesn’t just act like an activity tracker but it can also be used for sports tracking because the GPS accurately logs your run and all the split times. Yes, something like Runkeeper on your phone can do this but it does mean you have to carry your phone on you when you are running. This is where the Tomtom Spark Cardio +music plays its trump card- it can do the full run tracking but also has a built in music player and storage, which means as long as you have a pair of compatible bluetooth headphones (I used a pair of Creative Hitz WP-380s) , you can listen to music and track your run without having to carry your phone with you!

It’s been a few years (6 in fact) since I had a GPS running watch; my husband bought me a Garmin Forerunner just before I got pregnant with Ned. I never really got to use it as I had really bad SPD but the one thing I do remember from using it was how long the darn thing took to lock on to a satellite signal. The first time you use the Tomtom Spark Cardio +music, it takes a while to get a lock but every other time you use it, satellites were found much more quickly. This is because the Spark has a smart find function that remembers where you start off from so the app can download three days worth of satellite locations in advance. That’s clever.

The Spark is a compact unit that slips out of its strap to to enable charging. It’s no more bulky than a lot of the fitness trackers that don’t have GPS but if you do use the GPS, it will obviously need charging a lot more frequently.

Rather than relying on a number of different buttons, the Tomtom Spark Cardio +music has a four way rocker button at the bottom that lets you navigate the various menus. It’s not the easiest thing to use initially as there isn’t a way to click the middle, just up, down, left and right but after a while it becomes easier to use.

The app tracks all the sort of things that you would expect:


And you can drill down in to the actual activities too:


Overall I was impressed with the Tomtom Spark Cardio +music. It deals with the issue that if you’re taking your phone with you to listen to music, you might as well just use your phone to track your run by being a pretty cool music player into the bargain. It’s also good to be able to monitor your heart rate while running, since this gives a more objective measure of how you’re pushing yourself.

The Tomtom Spark Cardio +music retails for an RRP of £189.99.


Messy Spins with B-Girl Terra for Persil

photo 1-1A couple of weeks ago the kids were thrilled to receive a pack from persil containing everything they needed to have a go at break-dancing. To celebrate the fact that Persil Mono Capsules have 2 extra capsules in every pouch they have charged B Girl Terra with teaching our nations children how to do the knee spin!

We had loads of fun accepting our challenge to learn how to do messy spins. I have to say, the 4 year old was by far the best at break dancing!

If you’d like to have a go have a look at the handy tips:

photo 2-1


I have to say, i’ve been really impressed with this Persil, not only have I washed the kids muddied dance kit but I used the capsules for washing the clothing and bedding after a recent muddy wild camping trip.

Everything came out really clean, it did an excellent job with stains. I have to admit, I don’t usually use biological washing solutions as  Fifi has very sensitive skin, however she hasn’t reacted to this (thank goodness), so I think I will keep using it in future- which is high praise from me!


You can get hold of Persil Bio Capsules in all the major supermarkets and you’ll find loads of stuff on B Girl Terra online, she is a little dance inspiration.


The kids enjoyed showing off their messy spins to their friends on a recent camping adventure. The Persil worked like magic to get them clean!

Getting a Good Nights Sleep!

The Wool Room

The Wool Room bed and bedding

I can pinpoint the last time I had a really good nights sleep pretty much exactly, it was probably at some point in September 2006. This was before I was pregnant, before I had children and shortly after we had finished decorating our house. Basically when things were very calm and ordered in our lives and house.

I know I need my sleep, its just I don’t have very much of it. I’m interrupted a lot a night; if it isn’t the children, its the cat or the husband. If, by some miracle it isn’t them, then its general stress, worry or hormonally caused temperature issues. I don’t think i’ve had a solid 5 hours sleep since 2006. So, as you can imagine when I was asked along for breakfast by The Wool Room (who are a British bedding company) to find out some tips about getting a good nights sleep, I was first in the queue!

I’m so glad I went along to the event as I learnt loads of information which was so interesting and useful. Did you know for example that on average people sleep for a third of each day? That means that by the age of 90 you’ll have spent 30 years asleep.

Apparently nowadays we average about 6.5 hours sleep and if you sleep for less than 5 hours a night then you’ll have a 50% greater chance of being obese. This is all down to hormones; tiredness promotes the hormone ghrelin which in turn makes you crave carbohydrates. I think this might be my issue!

There are loads of things you can do about this though. It did cross my mind to send the kids off for sleepovers all the time but that is a little impractical. But if I can use these tips and tricks to help the children sleep and help myself sleep then we will be halfway there. These are the things The Wool Room suggested (I’d love to know if they help- i’ll report back with my findings in a month or so):

Avoiding caffeine and alcohol: Caffeine can suppress melatonin which the body produces to signal sleep. That means stop drinking tea and coffee at least 4 hours before bed and don’t have that late night glass of wine!

Eat a small snack: Something like a banana, some cherries or wholegrain cereals is apparently helpful.

Make sure its dark and that the bedroom is a place to sleep: Cut out all the light and leave all technology downstairs, that means getting rid of the TV.

Temperature: The optimum bedroom temperature is apparently 18 degrees C.

Sort out your bed: A comfortable bed which is made from natural materials is a must. Make sure you change your bed/mattress every few years and try to buy one that doesn’t contain flame retardants.

The University of Leeds recently did some research that showed that wool bedding boosts the chances of a good nights sleep by 67%. I thought this was amazing. In all honesty it shouldn’t come as a shock really as throughout history wool is the thing that people have used for their bedding.

The Wool Room

Brilliant Wool filled pillows, adjustable for a perfect nights sleep

This is where The Wool Room comes in; they sell British Wool bedding, everything from pillows through to duvets and beds. This proved a revelation to me. The products are well worth looking at and I’m certainly going to be saving up to invest in some, not least because they seem to be so versatile. For example you can adjust the amount of filling in the pillows to make them perfect for you. Amazing!

Wool bedding is also fabulous for people with allergies, because of the way it deals with moisture and humidity you wont find any dust mites lingering within it. Whats more, because of this natural property, you wont overheat as it can regulate your temperature.

Alongside being really impressed by the fact that its 100% traceable British Wool, for me, the really brilliant thing is that its easily washable! The super kingsize duvet can be split in half and each half will fit comfortably into a domestic washing machine. I’m totally sold on this because i’m forever buying new duvets in our house as they don’t fit in the washing machine and they seem very grubby after a while.

I can’t tell you how much i’m sold on these products, I would have bought some of them on the spot if the option had been there. I love the idea of anything that will improve my sleep but i’m also very aware of trying to make my house ‘healthy’ in terms of the things we put in it. These products tick all the boxes and I think, given their quality, represent very good value for money. Flicking through the brochure they even have a 30 day ‘sleep better or your money back’ guarantee, you couldn’t ask for more.

The Wool Room

Baby Sleeping Bags

So, with 3 kids and us, budget is limited and we will need to save up to get things. I’m sure you’re probably in a similar position, so what do I think you should start with? Well, I’m going to aim for pillows and duvets initially. I’m very conscious about pillows and I love the idea of adjusting them and making the ‘right’ for the children. I’d also like to feel confident that they are sleeping and breathing on something that is healthy. After that I’m going for duvets and then the mattress toppers.

If you’d like to find out more and have a look at the range you can find them at selected retail stockists such as Heals, they also have 3 showrooms in Edinburgh, Peak District and Stamford. Or alternatively you can find them online here.

I’m genuinely excited about something that might actually be a help in getting me out of what has become a bit of a hormonal/ life stage induced poor sleep routine and frankly- there is nothing nicer than new bedding. Alongside this, if I can sort out the children’s sleep habits then this bedding will be worth more than its weight in gold!

Review: Herbal Tea from Indigo Herbs

indigo herbsI’m sure readers must be aware by now, but in July i’m running 10K for Cancer Research. This is quite a feat given how ill I was in January, I spent most of the month in bed and i’ve only recently  recovered. Still, its about time now that I started looking after myself. I think I was struggling with burn out which lead to me catching flu, glandular fever and struggling with chest and ear infections. I’d been working very hard trying to keep all juggling lots of different balls and it was all work and no rest!

As a result i’m trying really hard to eat well, get plenty of rest and relaxation. The kind people at Indigo Herbs offered to give me a bit of a helping hand and sent over some of their lovely tea.

I was sent some Marigold Flower tea which is a lovely soothing calming tea.  I’ve been using this when I’ve come back from long runs and also before bed. It has a lovely scent and it really is one of the best teas I’ve had in a long time.

The other tea i’ve been drinking is the Echinacea Leaf Tea. I thought that this was quite strong and to be honest I didn’t like it as much, my husband though does and has been drinking it like there is no tomorrow. Echinacea has brilliant immune boosting properties and I have to admit that since I’ve been drinking this and running more regularly I have been a bit more healthy. It could be a coincidence, or perhaps it really does make a difference!

I’ve been really impressed with these teas, I wanted to give them a good try over a month or so before I wrote about them because I think its useful to properly try them. I’ve offered them to friends and family and they’ve all been impressed. They are great quality and feel like good products, i’ve been enjoying them and taking my time over cups of tea rather than grabbing them in a rush.

Having looked through the Indigo Herbs website I’ve noticed loads of other interesting products. If you’re on a health drive like me then I think its definitely worth a good look.



Review: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at Theatre Royal Drury Lane

Charlie Chocolate FactoryYou cant beat a West End musical for a fabulous family day out and we were lucky enough to be invited along to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane at the weekend. This was a major excitement for us as myself and the older children love Roald Dahl books and we all love west end musicals but this time was special as it was little Ned’s first ever experience.

Charlie Chocolate FactoryAnd what a fantastic introduction to the sheer magic of musical theatre Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is. Little Ned is still talking about his experience and the magic lift- he really couldn’t fathom how it lifted itself off the ground and floated.

This is a show packed full of the most amazing sets which are truly mind-blowing, especially when you’re little. The songs are catchy and varied and are performed brilliantly. On Saturday we thought that Ross Dawes who played Willy Wonka was superb. We couldnt fault  the rest of the cast either, they were all great although I should make a particular mention to the actor who played Charlie. The children found the fact that one of their peers could appear in a West End show quite inspirational and i’ve been asked about opportunities ever since!

In terms of the show, we all thought it was fabulous. If I was being highly critical I suggest  that the second half, when they go around the factory, is far stronger than the first, in terms of the music and general entertainment. However, I don’t think you’d be disappointed at all.

We had an amazing day out, probably the best for a very long time. The children were delighted, inspired and amazed by the show and it was really nice to do something special like this as a family. This is the sort of thing that you wont forget as part of your children’s childhoods and I’m sure that when little Ned is much older we will still be talking about how amazed he was by the great glass elevator.

Have a little look for yourself:

For those that don’t know the story here is the synopsis:

When Charlie wins a golden ticket to the weird and wonderful Wonka Chocolate Factory, it’s the chance of a lifetime to feast on the sweets he’s always dreamed of. But beyond the gates astonishment awaits, as down the sugary corridors, and amongst the incredible edible delights, the five lucky winners discover not everything is as sweet as it seems.

You can find out more here: