UPDATED: This bag’s too good for kids

June 22, 2011 Joanne Mallon 5

UPDATE: Check out the bottom of this post for a discount voucher code to save money off a Leather Satchel Company satchel

 

Daughter of Mine is off to Hogwarts soon and she needs a schoolbag. Specifically, she wants a vintage satchel-style bag, just like everyone from Hermione Granger to the cool kids of Brighton seems to have.

When I was at school, it was only the geeky bookworms who had leather satchels. That's still the case, but the crucial difference is – it's a good thing. Geeks have inherited the earth, and it's cool to be a bookworm now.

And so satchels have been featured everywhere from Elle to Vogue to The Guardian. They're very much the 'in bag' of the moment, and definitely not just for schoolkids.

And then The Leather Satchel Company, a Cheshire-based company that's been making satchels since the 1960's, got in touch and sent us a beautifully packaged parcel.

Leather-satchel-parcel-wrapped 

Look at what was inside:

Bloggers, what are your rules for reviews?

June 20, 2011 Joanne Mallon 13

Cat-blogger

Recently an ITV children's programme was censured by media regulator Ofcom for giving too positive a review to a product.

Let's hope Ofcom never start looking too closely at blog reviews, because when did you ever read one of those that was less than glowing?

I understand why that's the case – bloggers spend our own time writing reviews without pay. So why would you want to waste your efforts writing about something that you're not enthusiastic about?

Ever since I started doing more reviews on this blog, I have been thinking about what my review policy is.  This is what I've come up with so far. I would love to hear what guidelines you stick to when you do reviews.

The amazing six layered cake

June 13, 2011 Joanne Mallon 0

You'd be astonished at how many people land on this blog after Googling "coach cakes". I guess they're looking for a recipe to honour their favourite sports professional. And they probably then go away disappointed, because the only real post on the subject is this one relating the theory (so far only proposed by me) that cake can be a useful tool in personal development.

But actually I do have a sideline in cakery. And today, in between two coaching sessions, one and a half blog posts, writing a feature, 1000 words of a book, two loads of washing, a flurry of emails and a ton of phone calls, I made a cake. 

It is Son of Mine's 8th birthday, and he designed this amazing six layered beast:

Six-layer-cake-candles 

Zumba Fitness for Nintendo Wii game review

June 9, 2011 Joanne Mallon 6

Longterm readers will know that I do a yearly gym challenge, where I aim to go to the gym 150 times a year, and it always turns out to be a lot, lot harder than I expected. Since this is the fourth year of the gym challenge, I've racked up over 500 gym visits and unsurprisingly I'm ready for a change.

One class I've wanted to try for a while is Zumba, a dance-based aerobic workout set to Latin rhythms. I was even thinking about changing gyms to try it out. Turns out I don't even have to leave the house.

A new Zumba Fitness video game has just been released, and I was sent a copy of the Wii version to try out. It comes with a special belt to tuck your Wii controller into, so the game can track your movements – the idea is to move in rhythm with the onscreen instructor.

This ad gives you a taste of the moves and shows you how it works with the belt. Ignore the cheesy voiceover:

 

A warning about Playmobil Fun Park Malta

June 1, 2011 Joanne Mallon 5

Playmobil-fun-park-pirate

My review of the Playmobil Fun Park in Malta for Have a Lovely Time accidentally caused a bit of a kerfuffle. A Facebook commenter living on Malta disagreed with my recommendation of the fun park as a place to visit. In fact she said she'd put it "below eating sand" on a list of things to do on the island.

Well, each to their own. Personally, I loved it. Look, I met a real pirate.

The Easyjet website has now made my review one of their travel picks of the month, proving once and for all that I am RIGHT and you, sand-eating person are wrong. Or at least, we have different opinions, both of which we are fully entitled to. And somebody else on the internet probably disagrees with both of us.

 

Random Reviews: LEGO City Police Boat video review

May 29, 2011 Joanne Mallon 3

The kind people at LEGO sent us a treat – the newest police boat from the City Police range. Here is Son of Mine, ably interviewed by Daughter of Mine, to tell you what he thought of it:

This was a much simpler model to put together than the last Lego set we reviewed, the T-6 Jedi Shuttle. The main body of the boat is already in one piece, so most of the modelling is to be done on the top half.

Jedward = the new Lady Gaga?

May 25, 2011 Joanne Mallon 10

Jedward-meet-Joanne-the-Coach

My mum got very excited when I told her I was interviewing Jedward. Turns out they're one of her favourites ("So charming!"). The last time she got this enthusiastic for a pop act was when she wanted a Lady Gaga CD for her 66th birthday.

Having recently met Take That and The Log Lady from Twin Peaks, I thought I could handle a strange celebrity encounter.

But could I handle Jedward? As it turns out, almost not.

When I arrived at the interview venue, the pavement was lined with girls waiting for them to arrive. One mum told me she'd come on the 5.30am coach from Birmingham that morning purely so her teenage daughter could follow Jedward around London.

And then – a tuft of hair and there he was:

The First Rule of #Blogcamp…

May 13, 2011 Joanne Mallon 13

BlogCamp-cake

…is that you have to blog about BlogCamp.

My day didn't start well when I realised too late that I was wearing the same blue top/black cardie/typewriter necklace combination I've got on in that picture on the right.

Holy crap, I've come as my blog I thought I am a 24 carat loser for sure. But then somebody came over and did the Be Seeing You peepy eye/hand gesture (as also modelled to the right) and said Is that you? So I did it back at them and said Yes it is.

Brilliant. My day brightened considerably from there.

And here are some of the things I learned at BlogCamp for starters:

 

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