Monday, 15 December 2014

Tyre Pressure

One of the most daunting things about having teenagers is when they and their friends start to drive. At least it is for me.

I'm firmly of the opinion that passing the driving test is just the start of learning to drive. There's so much more to learn than could possibly be absorbed during driving lessons or covered in an hour long theory test and a 40 minute practical. All the real learning about staying safe on the road stuff comes with experience.

Teenagers, by dint of youth, don't have much experience in very many things and not at all in driving by the time they reach the age when they are able to. And then, having passed their driving test, they want to drive. On the roads. In cars. All. The. Time.

And while teenagers may laugh in the face of driving danger with all the joie de vivre of youth, me? Well, I sit at home and worry, like a million mother's before me, about just how safe they are on roads that can be treacherous, particularly in winter.

And recent research from Michelin and Mumsnet hasn't improved matters either.

In October, a 1,000 Mumsnetters completed a survey for Michelin about tyres and tyre safety. Tyres are, as one Mumsnetter said: "The most important part of the car as they're the only thing connecting you to the road."

The survey discovered that safety was a paramount concern in choosing a set of tyres, but 38 per cent of mothers polled didn't know the legal tread depth of their tyres and the same amount only checked the tyre pressure once or twice a year. A disappointingly whopping 73 per cent said they just left their partner to take care of car maintenance.  And only 19 per cent understood the importance of tyre labelling as well, which Michelin says also includes a rating for wet-braking stopping distances. Who knew... not very many people apparently.

"I feel," said one mum, "that some drivers do not appreciate or understand the importance of making sure your tyres are in good working condition."

And I thought if safety conscious mums ferrying their children around don't fully understand tyre safety and tyre maintenance, what hope is there that inexperienced teenage drivers do too?

Not much, I suspect.

As a start at improving tyre safety awareness for mums and teenagers alike, Michelin, whose Total Performance tyres have a mix of grip, longevity and fuel saving designed to meet everyday driving challenges whatever the conditions, have fitted 3,000 cars across Europe with special monitoring equipment to understand how drivers drive everyday so that tyre safety doesn't end up always being left to chance.

And here's a myth buster from Michelin that I hope will make all drivers out there a bit more careful on the roads this winter too...

Meanwhile, I'll be organising my very own Driving Test for anyone who'll be wanting to be driving me and mine around in future. It may involve a tape measure *nods*

This post is written in collaboration with Mumsnet and Michelin to promote tyre safety. That TeenTwin1's boyfriend passed his driving test last week has absolutely no relevance whatsoever *cough*

Monday, 8 December 2014

Quirky and Kooky Christmas Gift Ideas

It's nearly Christmas. Hurrah... or you would if you could just find the perfect present for that difficult to buy for person in your life. But do not despair because we have a few suggestions for the perfect gift for the perfectly quirky and kooky people in your life....

For the sci-fi film geek, how about an Alien Facehugger Plush, 40cms of fluffy horror straight from the Alien movies. You can also channel your inner John Hurt with a Alien Chestburster Plush, bound to go down a storm if you whip it out of your shirt during Christmas dinner. Not recommended when dining with people of a nervous disposition.

Do you have a budding Kim Kardashian in the family? I know. I'm sorry, but it is Christmas. grit those teeth and give them what they really want. The Selfie Stick attaches to most phones, is adjustable and has a bluetooth remote wireless shutter, which is useful. I'm betting these are a best seller this year for social media mavens and teenagers alike.  And, as a bonus: in the time they take to assemble the damn thing,  you can make sure you're well out of shot.

Got a Minecraft addict? Me too. Did you know you can get a 3D doll of their Minecraft avatar which is gratifyingly much cheaper than most other associated Minecraft merchandise, as well as being really cool. I got Daughter3 one for her birthday and she loves it.

For drinkers, and there's always one (in my family, it's me), how about an Orderaround poster map of the local drinking holes done in the style of the iconic London Underground map.
Wakefield has 307 pubs, apparently.
*Writes a To Do list*
Other towns are available.

The 8yo is an enormous Star Wars fan and while I'm not able to provide him with his very own lifesize Darth Vader, he can make do with these Star Wars Potato Heads. But be careful, one Potato Head may lead to two Potato Heads, three Potato Heads, four because there is an entire range of Potato Heads and not only Star Wars themed. You could be buying the buggers for years..

For The Man in your life how about these Gecko Grip Cling On Sticky Pads. They're ideal for sticking a phone to the dashboard but I'm going to buy about 300 for my particular man so he can stick everything he owns where he can see it thereby saving myself a good three hours every day looking for whatever he's lost this time.

Everybody knows a Dr Who fan (and if you don't, I suggest you have a hefty think about your circle of friends). So how about a Tardis Phone Case for your favourite iPhone toting Whovian or an adorable Tardis babygrow/ bodysuit for a Whovian in the making. It comes in a range of colours but Tardis blue is obviously the best for both boys and girls.

And of course having provided the best gifts all Christmas, you're going to need your lips in tip top condition for all the Christmas kisses you've earned and maybe a stiff drink in the kitchen while you wrestle with the turkey. Treat yourself to this lovely Gin and Tonic flavoured Lip Balm to give yourself luscious lips and a fighting chance at convincing the mother-in-law that the distinct aroma of gin is purely cosmetic.

Disclaimer: I have not been requested to or paid for compiling this gift list. All thoughts and words are my own, satisfaction is not guaranteed but it's better than yet another pair of socks.
Good luck out there and have a quirky and kooky Christmas x

Thursday, 4 December 2014

The Secret To Being (Almost) Wrinkle-Free at 50 ... Probably

Friends often ask me how I remain relatively wrinkle free as I embark on my fifth decade.

Oh, alright then. One friend once asked me. And yes, there was subdued lighting and she was quite possibly delusionally drunk, but still, it counts.

As do the many times that other people have said: "Oooh, you don't look it" upon discovering I am virtually a dinosaur. And yes, they might just be saying that because of the murderous look in my eye and the large stick I happen to be casually twirling at the time. But still, It counts.

Obviously I have wisdom to impart which will be a boon to women everywhere. so here are my top tips to maintaining a youthful complexion as you enter your 50s,...

1: Drink. A lot.
    Some so-called health professionals recommend drinking eight glasses of water a day, but I say does it really have to be water? And why stop at just eight glasses? Wine is as wet as water and tastes much, much nicer. As do gin and vodka, both of which can be happily mixed with tonic water thereby doubling the health benefits. Probably. It's called tonic for a reason, right?

2: Eat Healthily.
    And by healthily I mean: what you want, when you want.

3: Learn to Smoke.
    Have you ever seen a wrinkled kipper? No, you haven't. There are benefits to smoking that the health professionals will never tell  you. Stress is a major cause of furrowed brows, but the ability to step outside at times of emotional extremis and take a good, deep lungful of smoke can not only save your sanity but also your skin. And probably the skin of whoever wound you up in the first place too. Which is good.

4: Home Exfoliation.
    Why waste money on expensive beauty treatments when you can get the benefits in your own home? A man's beard stubble can achieve much the same results without the expense and with more thrills (hopefully) than you'd ever get on a beautician's couch.

5: Do Not Give A F ..
    Forget your age. It doesn't matter. Your experience does.  If you've been doing it right, you should have a big smile on your face by now and if you are going to have wrinkles, laughter lines are definitely the best ones to have.

Oh, and most importantly....

6: Use Photoshop.
    Or PicMonkey.. or Instagram... or any photo-editing software that you can find each and every time you post a photo on social media. Because you're 50 right. You're never leaving the house again and all people will ever see of you for evermore will be carefully edited photos on your Facebook feed.


Not that I ever do that. Obviously *cough*

Me. Probably.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

At 50 .... 50 Things I Don't Understand

I thought with age would come wisdom, but with a whole half century staring me square in the face I admit there are still some things I'll never understand, however many years I live ...

50 Things I Don't Understand

.....At 50 

1: Shower gel.

2: How the wine is always gone.

3: Trigonometry.

Please sir,
 can I have some hair straighteners
4: Why curly haired girls want straight hair and straight haired girls want curls.

5: The purpose of thongs.

6: How to do the Hokey Cokey without falling over one's own feet.

7: The correct spacing when writing down mobile phone numbers.

8: The popularity of Kim Kardashian's bottom.

9: How slugs mate. And why they would want to.

10: Why fast food is never quick enough.

11: Why most people who wear sportswear do it for leisure.

12: How eggs work.

13: The Daily Mail.

14: Where dust goes when you've dusted it.

15: People who don't appreciate Tom Jones.

16: Chewing gum.

17: Why Ian Gillan doesn't have a knighthood....

18: ...or David Beckham.

19: How to make the perfect meringue.

20: Why anyone would EVER need a wine stopper.

21: Mrs Brown's Boys.

22: Local government planning regulations.

23: Litter louts

24: Bad losers

25: Religious Fanatics.

26: Fanatics.

27: Religion.

28: Miley Cyrus.

29: Where Ben Elton went.

30: How to cast on knitting.

31: What the spleen does.

32: How to drive.

33: What you're supposed to do with all the teeth when you're the Tooth Fairy .

34: Why people would trust a politician.

35: Why my life isn't like a musical.

36: The correct oven temperature for Yorkshire Pudding.

37: Non alcoholic alcohol.

38: Men.

39: Fake tan.

40: Where all the single socks go.

41: Why sliced bread is previously the best thing, always.

42: The inner workings of the flushable toilet.

43: How Paul McCartney's hair colourist gets away with it.

44: Jazz.

45: Couscous.

46: The Pentatonic scale.

48:  Eyelash curlers.

49: Why anyone would voluntarily wear a paisley patterned anything.


50: Life. Mostly.


Friday, 21 November 2014

The F Word ...

In less than a week's time I will be 50 years old..... 50 ..... years..... old! 

That's a total of 18, 262 days or 438,291 hours or 26,298,000 minutes that I've spent on the planet..... only a third of which made some kind of sense at the time.

I am not, to be perfectly frank, entirely prepared to be an actual, whole, 50 years old. Even though I've known it's been coming since ... well... since I was 49. 

I did write, in a futile attempt at some level of acceptance, a bucket list of things to do before the big day as well as a list of things not to do. And I absolutely achieved everything I set out to do on one of those lists.....though I did have to reinstall iTunes. Obvs.

But otherwise, I'm in denial: the mulishly stubborn, kicking and screaming and quite a lot of sulking kind of denial that involves regularly drowning myself in a vat of gin and sticking one's fingers in one's ears and going LA LA LA when anyone says the F word. Any F word at all, just to be on the safe side.

Still, unless I discover the secret of eternal youth or a time machine within the next few days, which is unlikely admittedly, I will be fifty years old, like it or not.


I suspect I'm not going to be very good at it.....

Monday, 17 November 2014

How Not to Date Women and How

Last week I wrote about the inane Dapper Laughs and his sordid approach to dating advice. This week, a petition to ban the Swiss-born American and self-acclaimed pick up artist, Julien Blanc from hosting his dating advice seminars in the UK has topped over 150,000 signatures. So far.

Like Dapper Laughs but without the excuse of being a created character, Julien Blanc calls himself "an international leader in dating advice"and can charge up to £2,000 for a "seduction class" where he "advises" grabbing women by the throat, isolating them from their friends, killing their pets, making threats, harassment and abuse as part of a winning seduction technique.

Julien Blanc recently posted this infographic, designed to help women recognise they are being abused, on his Twitter feed, relabelling it #Howtomakeherstay.

He is, if you'll forgive me, a misogynist, sexist fuckwit of a git. And he's pedalling his dubious, tainted and distasteful advice not just at the club-going 'lads' culture that Dapper Laughs enthralled, but at grown men who can afford to pay up to £2,000 to attend one of his sessions but should know a hell of a lot better....

But perhaps they don't.

Perhaps there are some actual men who are cast so adrift from both common sense and social interaction with the opposite sex, they truly believe dropping a couple of grand on a class that promises to give them the ability to effortlessly pick up women via emotional manipulation, threats, harassment, and abuse is a good life choice.

And if there are any men like that out there, can I just tell you: It's not.

Here's a little advice from the other side of the fence. You know, the one you are so desperately trying to get your leg-over.

Women, whatever their age, hair colour, cup, waist and shoe size, much prefer not to be threatened, abused or emotionally manipulated at any time, for any reason at all, and certainly not to make you look like the Big Man with all your mates.

Women are infinitely more likely to have a sexual relationship with someone who treats them with kindness and respect and at a time when they feel safe and unthreatened. Though some may insist on love as well.

Women are not a different species: you do not have to tame them, ensnare them or keep them in a cage.

Women are allowed to say no.

And that'll be two thousand pounds. Thank you.

*rolls all the eyes at all the men*

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