Saturday, 15 February 2020

February #TBCSmiles ... 66 Months

The weather is a bit grim, outside it's cold, windy and it's wet. People have had their homes and gardens flooded already, we're having another storm and everyone is exhausted because really we should be hibernating. It's definitely time for some smiles!

This month has been stressful and hard work for a lot of people. I'm sorry if you are one of them. If you live in an area where there is chance of flooding, we did a paid post a few years ago which tells you exactly what you should do when you have a flood warning and how to prepare - and what to teach the kids so that they can help too. Fingers crossed none of you need it.

If you are worried about what's happening in China and how it's affecting the rest of the world, I've also done a post about COVID-19 Coronavirus. I've been following it for the last 6 weeks and there really is no need to panic. We will all get it, or we won't, and the vast majority of us will be able to cope with it just fine. Worrying will have absolutely no effect on that outcome. Make sure you have paracetamol and a thermometer in the medicine cupboard if you want to be proactive. I'm updating the post regularly as new information emerges.

Double Cake Day. the cake is full of sugar stars

We also had our double cake day this month, which would have been Elspeth's 22nd birthday. This year a very sweet star-filled sponge, and a banana and walnut loaf to tone down the sweetness. I think she'd approve...

Despite the weather and everything else, you made some awesome smiles this month! Thank you so much to everyone who has shared theirs by using the hashtag #TBCSmiles on Instagram. Anyone can join in, just tag your smiles!

This month we have a lot of smiles that really show how much fun it is to relax and just be yourself...

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Charlie Palmer Says by Beverly Bowry (Young Fiction 9+) Sent for review.

Today's book review is Charlie Palmer Says, which has been sent to me by Matador Self-Publishing for review. Suitable for young readers aged around 9+, this is a book about 10 year old Nathan and his ghost... And it's a great little story that I really enjoyed!

There's a little peril, and one of the characters is a ghost who was murdered, but it's all sensitively done and not what you'd refer to as 'sad' particularly.

Charlie Palmer Says by Beverly Bowry Young Fiction Review

When young Nathan takes his metal detector out into the garden, he discovers it causes a ghost to become visible. The ghost is called Charlie and claims he was murdered by a neighbour a few years ago, and that Nathan is now in danger too.

Nathan's parents go away for a weekend and leave grown up big sister Thea in charge, along with her boyfriend Rob. They not only have to look after Nathan, but his step-sister Hattie too. I like all of these characters a lot. They aren't stereotyped, they're pretty normal, pretty cool, and all get along really well. It creates an atmosphere you kind of wish you could join in with.

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Foods To Help Your Body Fight Flu....

We all know that what you put into your mouth has a massive effect on your health. That can include your immune system, and your strength to fight any bugs that come your way. December to March is flu season in the UK, and obviously we are currently unaware whether COVID-19 (Coronavirus) will become a widespread issue in our area of the world.

Flu is nasty, it can make you really ill and it can take a long time to recover, as we found out when we all caught real flu last Winter. It was 4 months before we were all back to full health.

Foods to fight colds and flu boost immunity

While no food is actually magic and even eating a perfect diet won't guarantee you'll stay healthy, having a boost never goes amiss.

Don't 'feed a cold, starve a fever'. You need some fuel in your body to fight, and heating up is a way your body fights intruders. Eat small amounts of easily digestible foods, such as runny soup or broth. Fever is actually helpful to a point, but any patient with fever of 93.4C (103F) needs to be referred to a doctor.

1. Water. It's not a food, but clear, clean water is necessary to prevent dehydration and you will not get better without it. If your patient is struggling to drink or keep anything down, try to sip 2oz an hour, every hour, until the situation improves. Ice cubes or ice lollies can be a great way to keep someone hydrated when they are hot and struggling to drink.

2. Garlic. People have known garlic has benefits since before your Gran's Grandmother was born. It gives a great immune system boost, although it will NOT prevent you becoming ill or cure any illness by itself, including the 2019 Coronavirus.

3. Mushrooms are an amazing anti-viral immune-system booster. They contain B vitamins as well as the antioxidant Selenium and Beta-Glucan (see Oats). They actively help your body fight flu. Try light mushroom soup if you are struggling to eat.

Monday, 10 February 2020

Abominable Family Movie Review and 2 x Blu-ray Giveaway (Sent by Universal)

DreamWorks Animation and Pearl Studio’s co-production Abominable is an action-packed heartwarming adventure for the whole family, with a really impressive 95% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. Released in time for the half term on Digital 3rd February and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD 10th February from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

Abominable blu-ray movie case pack shot

Abominable is brought to us by the team who created How To Train Your Dragon, and has a great voice cast, including Chloe Benne, Sarah Paulson, Eddie Izzard, Tenzing Norgay Trainor, Albert Tsai, Tsai Chin and Joe Izzo as Everest.

Abominable Activity Sheet Colouring

Disgruntled teenager Yi is struggling with life a little after losing her Father. She lives with her Mother and Grandmother, and takes on lots of different odd-jobs to save up to try and take a trip that her Dad had planned to take with her. One day while hiding in her den on the roof, she discovers a Yeti, who has escaped from a science lab.

The Yeti is friendly and cute, and just wants to go home. He's also a bit magic and has some tricks up his sleeve involving plants. Along with her friends Jin and Peng, Yi embarks on an epic journey to return her Yeti, Everest, to his mountain home and his family - with the scientists and money men in hot pursuit...

Friday, 7 February 2020

Children's Mental Health Week 2020 - Find Your Brave.

Children's Mental Health Week runs from 3-9 February, and this year's theme is 'Find Your Brave'. It's a really positive theme and one that really like. I know just how brave my kids have had to be over the last 7 years, and it's made me far more aware of all of the children who have to be brave. Everyday.

Children's Mental Health Week 2020 - Find Your Brave.

Since 2013 we've been through what realistically can be called some sort of hell. I've had 2 major surgeries, my partner had Meningitis and he's also been rushed to hospital 3 times for other serious conditions. We lost a child to suicide and another sibling then spent 2 years in hospital seriously ill. All the while, our children have had to keep going.

How on Earth they all manage to be so brave is completely beyond me, and I'm incredibly proud of them all.

You can’t be brave if you’ve only had wonderful things happen to you Mary Tyler Moore

Thursday, 6 February 2020

What's It Really Like In China Right Now...

I've been following the 2019 nCoV Coronavirus outbreak since the beginning of January, and from the outset it was obvious it had potential to become really big, and for lies, misinformation and panic to spread around the world.


Is what we see on social media or in the news the truth? I have already written a post which explains the basics about the 2019 nCoV Coronavirus and puts straight a few of the crazy myths going around on social media about the disease, but what is it actually like to live in China at the moment?

I've been speaking to someone who returned to the UK from eastern mainland China a few days ago, to find out what their experience has been...

( This was a surprise interview with about 5 minutes notice and I made up most of my questions on the fly, so there are a couple that could definitely have been worded better... )

Me: Hiya, and welcome back to the UK.
T: Thanks

Me: Was it scary, did you feel like you were in the middle of a disaster, or did you feel it was controlled and everything would be fine?
T: Umm, it was hard. Where I live was super, super quiet and most things were closed. We weren't massively concerned about getting unwell, there were really too few people, however we were concerned about freedom of movement being limited (which has now happened).

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Maki Stack Family Game Review (Age 7+) Sent by Asmodee Blogger Board Game Club

Our first Spring game review for Asmodee's Blogger Board Game Club is Maki Stack, and we were sent this to take a look at last week. A mildly physical team game for 4-6 (or more) players aged 7+, which requires dexterity and co-ordination, but you remain sitting in your chair.

All players have to do is recreate the stack of delicious sushi shown on the card. Think it sounds too easy? Did I mention the blindfold, and the 2 person chopsticks?

Maki Stack Family Game Review for Asmodee Blue Orange pack shot

Inside the box are beautiful wooden playing pieces representing different sushi meal items, plus blindfolds and instruction leaflet. The Earth-friendliness is spoilt a little bit by a big plastic insert, but it isn't single use. It could easily be updated to cardboard instead though.

Maki Stack game review box contents wooden playing pieces sushi soy sauce bowl etc

The rules are simple. Shuffle and stack the game cards on the table. Each has an image showing whether it is an individual challenge Blindfold Round or a two-player co-operative Chopsticks Round.

Monday, 3 February 2020

Gemini Man Movie Review (Cert 12) and 2 x DVD Giveaway (sent by Paramount)

Gemini Man is available to Download & Keep from today, 3rd February, and will be out on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and DVD from 17th February. Paramount Home Entertainment's newest release is an action thriller starring Will Smith, which will keep you on your toes from beginning to end.

Suitable for viewers aged around 12+ because of the peril and danger which the main character faces, Ang Lee's latest movie is packed with epic fight scenes and some groundbreaking visual effects - Will Smith with Will Smith features quite heavily and it's very well done.

Gemini Man DVD cover showing Will Smith and young Will Smith

The story follows retired hitman Henry Brogan, forced to go on the run because he is being hunted by a keen, highly skilled young assassin determined to catch his target.

I don't want to give away too much of the storyline, as there are twists and turns throughout, but Henry Brogan is an assassin who almost botches his last job and decides it's time to retire. He rents a house boat and settles back, but very quickly realises he's being watched, and his life is in danger.

Saturday, 1 February 2020

Swizzels Valentines Gift Ideas For Vegetarians and Vegans (Sent For Review)

The Love Heart is synonymous with Valentines, and Swizzels Love Hearts sweets are the perfect way to pass on your messages of adoration on Valentine's Day, or any day. We've been sent some to review, along with some other goodies from the Swizzels range...and EVERYTHING they've sent me is vegan!!!

Swizzels Valentines Gift Ideas for vegans and veggies

I'm vegetarian and so are several of our children. Swizzels have spent the last couple of years adapting their recipes and this year you have a whole host of sweet treats to choose from. No longer need anyone face disappointment.

I've been sent a Vegan/Vegetarian Hamper, Personalised Love Hearts Tube and some Limited Edition pink Love Hearts - all suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

Thursday, 30 January 2020

COVID-19 Coronavirus - Are We All Going To Die? (Updated 13/02/20)

I've been following the 2019-nCoV Coronavirus outbreak since the beginning of January. I've always been interested in epidemics and more so since my partner had Meningitis and I began looking at the negative effect the anti-vax movement was having.

The 2019 novel Coronavirus emerged with ideal location and timing, just before the world's biggest annual migration of people for the Chinese New Year, meaning that it always had the opportunity to spread rapidly and get really big.

I've added updates on 03/02/20 and 14/02/20 (latest figures below) because this is a changing situation and estimates for transmission, death rate, incubation etc, are still changing. You can also read my interview with a UK national who returned from a severely affected area of China in early February.

BREAKING: 13/02/20 China appears to have re-added all new cases from the last 3 days and previously removed cases where the patient has a CT result showing pneumonia symptoms but no nucleic-acid testing to confirm. THIS is why there is an apparent surge in figures. 

Image showing ways to reduce the chances of contracting coronavirus - as given below

I've read absolutely tons of scientific papers, government information, different viral models and personal stories, there is masses of information out there from genuine scientists and people who know far more than me, but what follows is my break down of all that I've read - in a language we can all understand.

All we all going to die from 2019nCov Coronavirus? Absolutely not. The mortality rate appears at this point to be around 2% or 1 in every 50 (at 03/02/20). This is not a particularly powerful illness, it's just very good at spreading and because it's new, no-one already has immunity. (The mortality rate from seasonal flu is 0.1% or 1 in every 1000).

Should I panic? No. What use would that do? It's not helpful if a handful of people stockpile enough face masks for 15 lifetimes, and then don't even get ill. Empty shops and fuel stations won't save any lives.

Should I worry? No. Worrying does not give immunity and it is not an effective cure. It won't alter your chances of catching Coronavirus. Worrying eats your life up and then you will definitely die of something in the end anyway. You need to live first.

Should I take precautions? Yes. You should take the same precautions you usually take with your health and the health of those around you.
  • Wash your hands regularly, and always before and after handling food or other people.
  • Wash hands before you touch your face - rubbing your eyes, touching your lips or picking your nose can introduce virus and germs from your hands. 
  • Sneeze into a tissue and throw it away, or if you really don't have one handy, sneeze into the crook of your arm. Then wash your hands - and your arm. 
  • If you are ill, don't mix with other people unnecessarily. Likewise don't mix with people who are ill unless it's unavoidable, in which case follow home advice for carers of people who have flu
  • If you are ill with a cough and cold, have a temperature and are struggling for breath, ring your Doctor and they will advise you what to do next.
  • Wipe down surfaces regularly and use anti-bacterial cleaners on tables, food preparation areas and bathrooms, and high traffic areas such as doorknobs and light switches. 

How bad will the Coronavirus outbreak get? No-one knows. This is your classic 'how long is a piece of string?' question.