Competition: Win a traditional leather satchel worth over £100 COMPETITION CLOSED

June 23, 2011 Joanne Mallon 284




Yesterday I promised to tell you how you can get hold of your very own beautiful leather satchel, so here goes.

It's a super-simple competition, and one lucky winner is going to be very happy, not to say stylish, as this is the fashionista's bag of choice right now.


One winner will get a satchel of their choice from The Leather Satchel Company. You can choose any size or colour, from the more traditional browns and greens, to the zingy fashion shades of hot pink or pillarbox red. I would choose the purple, but then I can't enter *boo hoo*.

You can see the whole range here to pick out which one you'd like to win.

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.


Look at what was inside:

Bloggers, what are your rules for reviews?

June 20, 2011 Joanne Mallon 13


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:


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


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.