I really like Bourne town centre but as I usually stay close to home for shopping I was unaware of its charm until this week. I was invited to come along to the opening of the Burghley Shopping Centres latest addition – an M&S foodhall.

A great start

Store Manager, Isabel Meyer, marked the opening with her 50 M&S colleagues – many recruited from the local area – by cutting the ribbon at 10am and welcoming the first customers into store.

By the time we arrived the store was full of happy customers making the most of their new store.

Lisa Stevenson was the first customer through the doors and lives in Bourne. Commenting on the opening she said: “I found out about the opening and had to come down – I’m here with my daughter and the store is lovely. It’s so busy and it’s great to have an M&S Foodhall on our doorstep.”

Spend it well

I love that when you shop at M&S you are assured a great quality product. As part of our tour around the store Rory told us that wherever possible M&S always do their best to source in season produce locally.

M&S offers something for everyone from their Gastro to their Taste products to their ‘Made Without’ gluten/dairy free range. Incidentally, all M&S sausages are gluten free and most of their fresh meat is traceable.

 

Click and Collect

With three quarters of online M&S customers collecting in store, customers at Bourne can use M&S’s popular Click & Collect service. Really helpful to have this service now available locally. This provides the option of having M&S.com Clothing and Home orders delivered to the store the next day, free of charge

Find the store

The Bourne M&S Foodhall is located at Burghley Shopping Centre, Bourne, PE10 9EG, and opening hours are from 8am – 8pm Monday to Saturday and 10am – 4pm on Sundays.

Outside the store there is a car park offering 2 hours free parking and a bus station just a short walk away.

 

I am very much in favour of any excuse for my children to adorn me with gifts. This year Mother’s day falls in the same week as International Women’s Day – if that’s not enough of a reason to show the most important woman* in your life how much she rocks then I don’t know what is. 

Here are some fabulous ideas for gifts for you to surprise the Mum in your life (if you live with a Mum who is not YOUR Mum then you still have to shop for her. I don’t make the rules) 

Mother’s Day Gift Guide

The Echo Dot is an excellent choice. Amazon Echo Dot is a hands-free, voice-controlled device that uses Alexa to play music, control smart home devices, provide information, read the news, set alarms and more. Available from Amazon (and that means next day delivery if you are a prime member) and currently priced at £39.99 **

The Makery Craft Kit – Embroidery Hoop is a cool kit that provides you with all the bits and pieces you need to create a scrummy new decoration for your favourite space. Just choose a letter and stitch away! If your Mum is even a teeny bit creative, this is the gift for her! **

Most Mums like a tipple now and again.

Let’s face it, you are probably part of the reason why. I have inherited my Mum’s love of a particular brand of irish cream beginning with B and ending with Aileys and I don’t often stray to other creamy drinks because well, it’s a massive brand for a reason right? 

Wrong. The Carthy & Black Yorkshire Cream from 31Dover is superior in every single way. I would try to make this one of those balanced reviews where I give you the negatives of the thing I am throwing an opinion out about but I can’t. It’s heaven in a glass. Buy it here. **

If the Mum in your life is a blogger you cannot go wrong with stationary and this one is something special. The Art Deco range from Castelli sympathetically infuses the gold foil embossed design and luxury features for a sumptuous stationery accessory. The dotted ruled paper format is printed on ivory coloured pages finished with black page edges and rounded corners for a stylish finish.**

Stick with me on this. This apron from Handmade At Amazon really would be a great gift for the Mum who is often to be found in kitchen rustling up family meals. It’s neutral colour makes it a great fit for any decor. Also, you don’t have to worry about sizing.. 

Last but not least. Just be there. Go and pick up some flowers if you like (carnations happen to be my favourite) but to be honest 99% of Mums will love that you made the effort to give her a hug. Obviously pressies are nice though! Happy Mother’s Day!

 

*If you did not emerge into this world out of a woman then of course I will concede that perhaps someone else is more important. Anyone? No? Best go get a card then!

**Item received in exchange for inclusion and my honest opinion

It’s great when your little one starts to love the characters from a TV show. In terms of development it helps them to learn about empathy and of course it is great for imaginative play long after the show has ended.

It’s not great when they develop said obsession 11 days AFTER Christmas. Moose had absolutely no interest whatsoever in PJ Masks before this but when it hit. Boy, did it hit!

For anyone who’s not in the know

PJ Masks is a series about a group of 3 six year old children. By day Amaya, Greg and Connor are normal kids but by night they don their PJ’s, activate their animal amulets and they become their superhero alter egos: Owlette, Gecko and Catboy!

This is one of the few shows which Moose loves that I quite like too. The animation is cute, the characters are pretty cool and well, it’s not Peppa or Bing.

Moose was given the special superhero assignment of taking a look at the new PJ Masks Let’s Go DVD in exchange for our honest opinion of it and we were happy to oblige!

 

pj masks dvd

The DVD comes in a nice presentation sleeve and includes some stickers which Moose loved! The whole thing runs at 72 mins which is enough time to write a blog post about the PJ Masks DVD or cook dinner and tidy a kitchen or just browse Pinterest (I have checked and double checked and this is accurate)

There are 6 episodes included on the DVD. I won’t say too much because, spoilers! Suffice to say, Moose was thoroughly entertained.

The episodes are called

  • Gekko & the Snore-A-Saurus
  • Catboy and the Shrinker
  • Blame it on the train, Owlette
  • Looking After Gekko
  • Catboy’s Tricky Ticket
  • Clumsy Catboy

pj masks

Moose tells me that his favourite is Gekko & the Snore-A-Saurus. This is no great shock as we see a lot of Gecko impressions at home at the moment.

There were a couple of episodes on the DVD which I am sure we have seen on Tv but to have them all grouped together (thus avoiding adverts) is really handy. Plus, at this age children will not tire of rewatching those episodes anytime soon.

I have no doubt that Moose will enjoy PJ Masks ‘Let’s Go’ over and over and over and over and over and over again…

PJ Masks Let’s Go is available to buy now!

 

January is a bit of a busy month for us. In amongst the ever growing list of birthdays is my nephew Kieran’s. This year he turned 9 and as he is one of our favourite Humans we all wanted to make it memorable for him.

When I was asked to test out a Pirate Party Kit from Baking Mad I knew exactly who we should throw a party for!

Baking Mad sell a kit which provides you with almost everything you need to make an awesome Pirate Cake with a surprise chocolate bean centre.

Included in your kit you will find

  • Allinson Self Raising Flour (1kg)
  • Silver Spoon Icing Sugar (500g)
  • Billington’s Unrefined Golden Caster Sugar (500g)
  • Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Extract (60ml)
  • Black Icing Writing Pen
  • Pirate Cupcake Kit with Cupcake Cases + Toppers
  • Cake Decorating Sugar Paste Brilliant White 250g
  • Cake Decorating Sugar Paste Black 250g
  • Chocolate Beans 250g
  • Cake Board – 10”
  • Recipe and Instruction Booklet

The kit doesn’t come with butter and eggs. I would say that these are things you would probably have already but since you need 9 eggs in total, you will probably need to make that trip to the shops!

The recipe says you need 500g icing sugar but I didn’t have enough and ended up adding another box to my shopping list along with those 9 eggs and 3 packs of butter – I will concede that I did make my buttercream layers quite thick!

I am not a cake maker so this was a great experience but I did also need to buy equipment. Cake tins and a palette knife for smoothing – I accept that these are things which most people own though.

The kit arrived in a lovely lidded box tied with baking mad ribbon. I really felt that the ingredients and the decorations were of a great quality and really well presented.

Kieran happened to pay me a visit a couple of days before his birthday so I showed him the kit and he was really excited. He wanted to help me make the cake so I spent a lovely evening with him baking his birthday cake!

The instructions were easy to follow but I would have liked to have had a page of tips to help out clueless non bakers like me! Luckily I was able to call my Mum and she helped me out.

Tips from my Mum

  • To get the buttercream to lay with a nice flat finish use a hot palette knife. I use a jug of boiling water (drying the knife first of course)
  • Add milk if the icing is too thick
  • Cool the cake thoroughly before icing
  • Use a sharp knife to level the sides of the cake to give an even finish.

I was pretty happy with the finished result!

 

Kierans birthday was a great success! He and his friends all enjoyed the cake (especially when it was cut open to reveal the surprise chocolate inside!) and had lots of fun playing with the Baking Mad Pirate Hats (available to purchase on the Baking Mad website)

I found the process of using a party cake kit a really interesting one. Although I think the cost of the kit might limit how much I would use the service I think it is a great way to introduce yourself to creating a really special birthday cake.

Disclaimer: This was a collaborative post. I received the Party cake kit in return for an honest review

Persuading me to go to the Queensgate Shopping Centre in Peterborough and spend money in the January sales was never going to be a hard sell. 

westgate arcade

As someone who has been self employed for some time, the January sales are usually something I avoid. My work making wedding cake toppers is seasonal and by January we are really feeling the pinch.

It doesn’t mean I am not in the mood to shop though! My challenge on this occasion seemed quite simple.. 

I met up with Jaymee from The Mum Diaries and we of course started our day right by going for breakfast and thinking about how we could complete our individual tasks. Nobody procrastinates like us! 

I did consider buying clothes but a) I have clothes and b) it’s not really outside my comfort zone and c) I’m hoping any day now to wake up a size 10 thus making any clothing bought now surplus to requirements. 

We thought the best approach would be to go and take a look around Queensgate to see what is on offer for those shopping the January sales. Spoiler; there is quite a lot!

During our browsing we actually found shops I didn’t even know existed especially in  Westgate arcade. I will definitely be venturing down there to visit Back To Life – the vintage clothing shop – as well as Style which sells all sorts of gift items.

I headed back to Pulse later the same day to get Bess’s ears pierced and you can read about that soon

Outside of my comfort zone

After some deliberation (call it overthinking if you like) I decided that my challenge could be a great aid to my plan for 2018. New year, new – healthier – me.

I want to learn how to cook! Currently our meals are made using pans which have been handed down to us from various Grandparents or Aunts. Definitely not something I would usually buy.

I headed to Lakeland to see whether they could help. I was in luck!

lakeland sales

The Lakeland sales are officially my favourite! So many lovely (not to mention useful) things at massive reductions. It was quite tough to select from what was on offer because I would have used most of it but here is what I chose

1) 2.1 Litre Casserole Dish

Casserole dishes usually favour function over form, but this stainless steel stunner straddles the gap between oven and table effortlessly. With an elegant, streamlined design based on a Korean rice-making bowl, it has a large rim all the way round instead of paired handles, so it’s really easy to remove from your oven. And the construction ensures it’s not a triumph of form over function, either: with an aluminium core fused between two layers of stainless steel, it provides incredibly even heat distribution with no hot spots and great durability. Also, less washing up!

2) 3 Piece Frying Pan Set

I thought that these pans looked and felt really high in quality and they were reduced to under half price! The raised honeycomb pattern on their base elevates your food to keep it from sticking as you cook, and means it won’t absorb as much oil so it’s a bit healthier too.

3) Knife and Scissors

Swap your chopping knife and board for these one-of-a-kind kitchen scissors and change the way you prepare raw fruit, veg – or even meat – forever.

Incredibly sturdy and easy to hold, their spring-loaded soft-grip handles mean they look more like secateurs than scissors and make it possible to cut through even tougher veg like carrots and leeks with just a simple squeeze.

Featuring only one extra-sharp straight-edged, stainless steel cutting blade and a second flat-edged ‘board’ which acts as a stop for the blade to close against, their clever design allows you to chop, slice or dice with a lot less effort, away from the worktop and straight into your cooking pot or salad bowl.

4) Chef’n® Corn Stripper

Every single time I cook sweetcorn on the cob at least one person complains that they prefer it off the cob. Easy solution for them = less headaches for me! I haven’t see this gadget before but I think it’s fab!

 

I am really pleased with my little haul and the savings were awesome! The total cost of the things I chose should have been £104.96 but altogether they came to a grand total of £45.46 

Now I feel ready to face 2018 and get cracking with my plan to learn how to widen my culinary repertoire!