Monthly Archives: April 2015

Maui Jim Open Day at Leightons Opticians, Wokingham


IMG_6121 copyOpen your eyes to a world ruled by the sun, sand and sea.  It’s a view you get used to.  It’s also a view worth protecting.  Here, your eyes need shielding from damage, fatigue and sensitivity  So you can take it all in.  And see things for the first time again.  Aloha, world.

Last week I got an invitation to the ‘Special Maui Jim Open Day’ at our local opticians Leightons.  Sadly I can’t go but if you are interested in hearing more then why not pop along to Leightons Opticians in Wokingham on Saturday 25 April between 1030 and 3pm.  There will be a signature glass of Hawaiian cocktail, ambient music, a photo opportunity with their 2015 Maui Jim sunglasses collection and a special Maui Jim goodie bag.  Not only that but if you pop in and try on a pair of Maui Jim sunglasses you will be entered into a prize draw to win a pair of Maui Jim sunglasses.

We were only in the opticians on Wednesday when Laree was told she didn’t need glasses, but following on from a chat with Mike of Myddfai (who used to be an optician, now lives in Wales and knows the Wokingham staff – small world!) I said I would pop in and say hello! In we went and Jackie the receptionist asked if I was coming to the event on Saturday to which I replied that I was unable to but I will tell everyone – hence this blog.

I’ve got 3 pairs of Maui Jim sunglasses, 1 I always wear, 1 in the drawer when I can’t find the other pair and 1 in the drawer that has a broken arm.  I wear them all the time as I can’t bear squinting and also I am big into eye care after I burnt myself badly when skiing years ago (before I found Maui Jim) and Big Welsh’s late sister had eye cancer.  I’m not bothered about the crows feet or facial wrinkles, wearing sunglasses is a necessity.  Mike told me “I swear by Maui Jim and wear them all the time due to their 100% UV A, B and C protection and fantastic polarisation, they’re great for skiing and as a keen fly fisherman I would’t wear anything else“.

I wear mine whenever the sun shines – in the garden, driving, skiing, walking – whenever and there’s 5 good reasons to wear sunglasses – because you’re exposed to more sunlight than you think (taken from the Maui Jim promotional material)


1.  UV Protection

The sun’s harmful UV rays can lead to serious and in some cases long-term health issues, including photokeratitis (sunburn on the eye’s surface, pterygium (growths on the eye), cataracts and macular degeneration.  Sunglasses that do not provide UV protection can cause more damage by shading the eye – causing the pupil to dilate and allow in more harmful UV rays.

2.  Skin Cancer

5% to 10% of skin cancer occurs around the eyes.  Always wear quality, protective sunglasses when outdoors – whether working, driving, running, playing or watching sports.

3.  General Eye Comfort

The sun’s brightness and glare interfere with comfortable vision and the ability to see clearly, causing squinting, eyes to water and possible headaches.

4.  Dark Adaptation

Spending even a relatively short time in intense sunlight can hamper the eye’s ability to adapt quickly to night time or indoor light levels and make driving at night difficult and even hazardous.

5.  Blue-light protection (HEV: high energy visible radiation)

Use outdoor lenses that absorb the HEV as accumulated exposure has been associated with AMD (age-related macular degeneration.

Wow, I certainly didn’t know all of that!

What I do know is I am very happy with my Maui Jim sunglasses.  They are warranted for two years from the date of purchase against any defect in the materials and workmanship.  Nose pads and temples are free for the life of the frame.  They’ll repair or replace (at their option) any pair of Maui Jims found to be defective – exclusive of damage caused by damage or improper or unreasonable use!  And now I know that they offer an unequaled repair service with fast, three day turnaround for most repairs I am even happier!

So I’m smiling and my eyes are protected.


Disclosure:  I have not been given anything to review for this blog post.  Regular visitors to my blog will know that Cancer has affected my family and friends.  As a result I am concerned about eye health and therefore appreciate the benefits of wearing sunglasses.


Sometimes, you can’t win!


Back into the new term with new shoes, summer dresses, white (how long for?) socks, no headlice (for how long?) and nothing in the bottom of the book bag.  The first week of term is always when the diary is quieter – clubs and activities haven’t started and no friends were coming over after school (I refuse to use the word playdate) so we caught up on admin and errands.

First appointment was the dentist.  I’m not fond of the dentist, well I am fond of the dentist himself but I am not fond of the actual visit because in my youth I had fillings every time I went, I once bit the drill (for ‘bit’ read ‘clamped’), I bit the dentist (voluntary perhaps), I had 5 fillings and 11 injections one day and the smell of the dentist turns my stomach.  It’s OK though because my girls know and they laugh about it.  They’re the ones who should be holding my hand and saying well done!  I popped to the dentist last term and said my tooth had cracked, so Dr D told me I was a very good girl, it would need a little filling and then it will all be good.  I was very brave and I got a sticker!

It’s a log standing joke that I won’t remember a dentist appointment so I get a text to remind and it’s in the diary (all very well until someone writes the time of the dentist in the wrong column and then I ring to cancel Big Welsh’s appointment.  I see the dentists sometimes on school run as their daughter is friends with Laree and you can guarantee that I won’t mention anything dentally!  Anyway, on Tuesday Laree had a dentist appointment and she said she would’t be speaking (yurrah) so when Dr D asked her how she was she just nodded and hummed positively.  She opened her mouth and he said in hushed dental speak lower left 5, lower left 96 missing, upper 74 cavity, upper 12, upper 37 wobbly, upper 41 wobbly, could you get some swishyblahblah for the wobbly lower 72, beautiful teeth, such beautiful teeth.  If anyone knows Dr D then you will all have been told you have beautiful teeth, even I have beautiful teeth!

So, Laree emerges from the dentist with a wobbly tooth filled a little bit and the suggestion that when her baby teeth have all fallen out she will need a brace.  I take that as a good visit, but no she was’t convinced.  She glared at me and said she wanted a brace.  As a child back in the day no-one wanted a brace.  You can’t win!

On Wednesday it was the Opticians.  We’ve been going to the same Opticians for years, so many years I can’t remember!  I’m short sighted and wear daily contact lenses and sometimes glasses, Big Welsh is long sighted and has weeklies (well I think they’re weeklies, if not then they’re monthlies <snort> and he’s also got glasses, Loops is long sighted and has glasses, Mook doesn’t and Laree is border line glasses.  So now you know that all sight options are covered in this house!

IMG_6092Laree sits in the chair and reads out letters, suggests brightest coloured circle, goes through the better with this lens or this lens scenario and is then told she doesn’t need glasses.  She glared at me and said she wanted glasses.  As a child back in the day no-one wanted glasses.  You can’t win!

And that’s the beauty of the dentist and optician, when they say something the children listen and don’t ask incessantly why can’t I have glasses or a brace?

As I said, some you win!

Myddfai Luxury Welsh Toiletries : Review


During a recent visit to Wales I tried out the products in the bathroom as you do (well I do as I always tend to forget something!) and made a mental note to remember the name of the bubble bath and shampoo so that I could take a look at the website.  Iona told me that the products were from a social enterprise called Myddfai (pronounced muthvi) based in Wales which kind of sealed my resolve to learn more about them.

After having a good look around the website I rang Mike at Myddfai to say I had been introduced to the products and was very impressed.  During the conversation I said I was always on the look out for different gifts and mentioned it was my birthday so so was delighted that a parcel arrived around that time which I saved until the actual day.  I was in for a treat!  The box contained a Sea Breeze Travel Set, a Warm Ginger Travel Set, Foot Scrub, Foaming Sugar Scrub,  Whipped Shea Butter and various oils.  We were in for a treat!!

The Warm Ginger range is as the label suggests warm ginger, the scent is not too heavy and there were no complaints when the shampoo got in Laree’s eyes.


I think the Sea Breeze range wins as my favourite though, oh hold on I like the Warm Ginger too!  OK I can’t choose!!


The Foot Scrub is superb!  With warmer months and summer toes emerging it’s never too early to treat your feet and this scrub was like a mini massage.  My feet were left soft and refreshed and ready for Slinks!


I particularly loved the Foaming Sugar Scrub and as a keen exfoliator I have tried plenty of scrubs.  It wasn’t gritty or overly rough and my skin felt soft and refreshed afterwards.  The smell is divine and I am trying to think where I have experienced the scent before.  I can’t think so I will just have to carry on using it!


The Whipped Shea Butter is just like whipped butter (and so it should do having been whipped over three hundred times) with a subtle scent, it goes on easily and is absorbed into the skin leaving no sticky residue.  (I always rub my hands to warm them up before using any creams or oils following a handy tip from my late friend Tracey Malone).

Where to start with the oils?  Love them all!  With 3 face and body oils I could choose which one suited best and with names for face oil as Balance, Hydrate and Nurture I felt my skin was balanced, hydrated and nurtured.  The body oils Refresh, Relax and Restore did as they said on the bottle.  As I have been gardening a fair bit recently I have been using the Restore which has certainly helped and having been exposed to the sun I have used the Refresh to moisturise sun kissed skin.  The Relax is ideal after a bath, made all the more perfect when curled up in clean sheets and a good book!

The packaging is very distinctive and all the bathroom ranges are paraben SLS/SLES and cruelty free.  The labels are in Welsh and English (so I am teaching myself Welsh, OK the pronunciation is a bit hit and miss, actually it’s more miss than hit but Big Welsh corrects me!).

As well as bathroom products they also make Welsh Herbal Tea which is next on my list to try!

From top to toe we were left feeling clean, relaxed, restored and refreshed!  What more do you need?

Disclosure:  I was sent some products to try, we tried them and loved them which I am sure you will see from this blog!

Thanks Mike, great to chat and hear more about the lovely range and a very large thank you for sharing your products with us!

Fire destruction


As a regular visitor to Wales I’ve been saddened by the updates from South Wales Fire and Rescue Service on their Twitter feed and Wales Online regarding the fires that are devastating land and habitation, as well as putting people at risk and danger.  Closer to home at a birthday celebration on Saturday a friend was talking about the fires in Surrey.  Yesterday I was walking around one of the local woods admiring the age old trees, the new shoots, the fox holes, the badger setts, the bird nests, the greenery, the shade and the beauty of the great outdoors.  I was marvelling at what is around us and was grateful for the open countryside that is home to many plants and animals.

As someone who enjoys being outside I have I hope instilled the basic rules of the countryside in my children.  They know that they should look after the countryside.  They know not to throw litter, not to pick wildflowers, not to poke their heads down animal homes, not to disturb nests, not to break branches and I’d like to think this has sunk in.  I’ve also had the chat about fires.  Fires are dangerous they know that, I know that.  We have an open fire which I am in charge of – it’s my responsibility.  I enjoy having bonfires, again I am in charge of it and I keep it under control never letting it get too high, never leaving it unattended, never starting a bonfire on a windy day.  It’s what I have been taught.

Fire can be warm, cosy, romantic.  The flames dance around, the room heats up, the house feels cosy whilst in garden the bonfire burns the garden waste.  However, fires can be dangerous and in the wrong hands devastating.  You might see a fire engine hurtling down the road and have no idea what it is going to, whilst the fire crews are aware of what they’re going and their response time is critical and fire has a mind of its own.  These people in fire engines have lives, husbands, wives, children, parents and friends.  They are doing a job that isn’t romantic or glamourous.  In fire situations they are working in unbelievable heat, sometimes outside in a wide expanse of land sometimes in cramped conditions, solely focussed on a safe outcome regardless of the circumstances.

Which is why the news about the fires in South Wales have angered me so much.  Who is responsible for starting fires and putting people’s lives at risk.  Who is going home reeking of smoke and carrying on with their lives.  Who is killing the countryside.  Who is leaving it to others to clear up their mess?  What kind of person knowingly starts a fire and then leaves it to spread causing untold and irretrievable damage?  What kind of person put others in danger protecting others?  What kind of person watches when a fire takes hold and does nothing?  What kind of person carries on with their life knowing that they are responsible?

Each fire appliance and team dealing with an arson attack means appliances and team are not available to deploy to other situations, just imagine being that someone who had started a fire intentionally needed a fire engine and crew for themselves or someone in their family and there wasn’t one because of their idiotic behaviour?  Then what.  Who would they blame?  Not themselves.  The fire service is stretched enough as it is, it’s unfair that they are having to deal with deliberate fires started by mindless idiots when there are genuine incidents requiring a quick response. I spoke to one South Wales Fire Officer yesterday who told me he had driven 200 miles and was working a 48 hour weekend.

Oh it’s all very well for me in Wokingham to jump up and down but having worked closely with the local fire crews I appreciate them.  Before I met him Big Welsh wanted to be a fireman.  When I go back to Wales the lush green countryside will look vastly different and the fact that these fires are being started deliberately angers me so much.

As I used to say in my assemblies if you know someone is being bullied and you say nothing then you are as bad as a bully for letting it happen.  The same goes with deliberate fire starters.  So please, if you know anything about these deliberate fires please say something before it gets worse and innocent people die.  Someone might need help now.

You can phone the Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, please.

Please help to put a stop to these deliberate fires and let the countryside be there for all to enjoy, for years to come.

Compton Marbling Spring Fair


I looked at my phone yesterday morning and saw that Harriet Hunter Gatherer was going to be at Compton Marbling Spring Fair in Tisbury, Wiltshire today so I duly wished her a nice day and took the dog for a walk.  Whilst walking I worked out the logistics.   Tisbury is in Wiltshire which is next door to be Berkshire if I go M4, or just past Hampshire (which is next to Berkshire) if I go M3.  Not that far really!  The girls are still on hols so I suggested a drive to Wiltshire and an ice cream. They bought it!!!


Getting to Compton Marbling is so easy from Wokingham and as I’m familiar with the route we set off without a backwards glance at the housework and holiday laundry. At one stage we hit a rubbish piece of road outside Hartley Wintney and I did wonder if the car would get there in one piece!  Once on the M3 I considered my sanity driving west on a Friday afternoon but the traffic wasn’t that bad and thankfully I took a little detour to avoid going past Stonehenge and saved myself 20 minutes apparently!

We arrived at Compton Marbling and I told the girls we must look for Harriet straightaway and she would be very surprised to see us!  She was very taken aback and surprised to see us, it wasn’t like an Eammon Andrews moment but she was very surprised to see me!  It was so nice to meet Forage Somerset at last having chatted on social media for ages and Gil Fox.


Clementine’s Shop has a lovely selection of gifts and inspiration, I picked up a few bits and pieces knowing that I would have to return another time!

I like the look of the bamboo socks and at 3 pairs for £12 they’re a bargain!

IMG_5977The stallholders were varied and oh so friendly, I could have spent hours admiring Metal Menagerie‘s wonderful designs!

 I did think I would pick up a Pom Pom basket from Forage Somerset


but got sidetracked by the mermaid fins and had to pick up a pair for Laree and one for our friend’s daughter!

It was also nice to meet Black Mountains Smokery who I pass regularly when I am in Wales.  I do love pickles and condiments so picked up some crab apple jelly which I will enjoy with my cheese at lunch today.


The girls enjoyed brownies from the cafe, sadly we had to dash back to pick up Mook but we are looking forward to visiting Pythouse another time.

I also tried some chilli oil from Gastro Nicks – wow it had a good punch.  Delicious!

It was so lovely to see Harriet again and see the new designs of the Bowlovers as well as the PERSONALISED BOWLOVERS some other stock that I had not seen in the flesh before.  The summer herb barbecue lighters are brilliant by the way!

If you are looking for something to do today then why not pop along to Compton Marbling, it’s open until 5pm and I assure you that you will enjoy mooching, browsing, shopping and eating.  If you do go then do say I said hello!

It’s well signposted and satnav will take you straight to Lower Lawn Barns, West Tisbury, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP3 6SG.

Have a jolly day!




I love lists.  As a child my life was ruled by adults with lists. Mum would send us off to Dad’s with a list, which would then be ticked off on the homeward journey. She had a little red notebook in which she would write her shopping list, old envelopes would be used for writing directions when we first passed our driving tests (in list format). She would also send us off to our grandparents with a list where we would be treated to a list of things we would do. In Bath Granny & Grandpa always managed to coincide our visits with this arduous task of delivering church magazines, of course masterminded by a list, but it meant we had lots of cakes. Going to Warwickshire Granny would have a list of National Trust properties or gardens we would visit, again more cake!

Towards the end of the holidays we would have the mad stationery frenzy list, the school uniform doldrums list of doom and the dreaded school shoes debacle then when we got to school we would have to lay our clothes out on the bed (a ritual called laying out) so that a sixth former or house mistress would check it off. I learnt my school uniform laying out parrot fashion and it went like this:-

Left hand column – cloak, blazer, 2 skirts, 2 ties, 4 shirts (1 of which must be blue), 2 jumpers, 7 pairs of socks etc etc ad nauseum a list of brown regulation clothing
Right hand column – 1 continental quilt (it was an old list, now they’re called duvets), 2 quilt covers, 2 pillowcases, 2 mattress sheets, then a whole load of personal effects we were allowed to bring which included 1 poster to go on the wall but not with blutack and 1 pair of outdoor shoes, 2 skirts, 2 tops, 1 jumper and 1 pair of trousers

Each task at work had a list as long, my wedding list was one that would rival military precision and dinner parties had an ingredients list.

When I first announced I was pregnant a friend suggested I would really struggle with not randomly running out of the door when the mood took me – ha to her! I simply wrote a list, had a kit bag in the car and a bag in the house – I mean leaving the safety of home isn’t like it was back in the day when the shops shut on a Saturday afternoon and didn’t open until Monday or when the shops were shut between Christmas and New Year (were they really or was it a ruse?) and you can pretty much buy anything from anywhere at any time of the day or night!

Nowadays I still have lists in notebooks, on my blackboard wall, on my phone and also copious (and tedious) instructions/demands/lists in the shape of texts from the children.

I write things down because I like lists OK, not because I’m forgetful!

Three good things


High high up in the mountains with just the blue sky above me and the white snow underfoot I stopped and admired my surroundings.  I was on holiday and was feeling relaxed.  There I was skiing along behind Big Welsh when I thought how lucky I am that he knows where he is going because I haven’t got a clue, which in turn made me think of Karin’s #3goodthings and maybe I could apply that to him, there’s surely #3goodthings that he does very well and to be honest if he didn’t do them we’d be hungry, lost and life would be really boring!

So I thought ……

1.  Last year he had a heart operation and afterwards was rushed to hospital with a suspected stroke, a few weeks later I ballsed up the rice and wrote this – so one of his good things is his ability to cook rice perfectly.

2.  I have no sense of direction, none at all. Big Welsh has a good sense of direction, can read a map and better than that he can read a piste map. I have no clue about piste maps. Each time I ski down a run and get to the bottom I remark on how nice that run has been, despite maybe skiing it a few hours before. He looks at me with that incredulous look and tells me we have just done that run, we do that run every day and that I am clueless. As I said without him we would be lost!

3.  Another good thing he does is make me laugh, not all the time as that would be exhausting – but every so often he is allowed airspace and he says something that is just so stupidly funny that you can’t help but laugh.  He sends ridiculous texts as well that are humorous.  I sent him a text asking once asking if he was coming home for lunch as I would make something, we had a text chat about what there was and what he would like, when I suggested something he replied, no Demis Roussos has died.  Just that.  As if he couldn’t eat what I had suggested as a mark of respect.  He could actually do with some punctuation lessons methinks.

So, yes there are #3goodthings that he does very well and to be honest if he didn’t do them we’d be hungry, lost and life would be really boring!

Thanks Big Welsh x