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Expedition Tech Jacket by Scruffs Hard Wear – A Review

As I said in my previous blog post, all of us were in desperate need of appropriate clothing this autumn. Of us all, hubby probably the most.

He works as a housing surveyor; during a normal working day he would be climbing into lofts, measure wall and insulation thickness, check boilers and windows so it is a very hands on, physical job.

He had been complaining not only about being cold while working but also about the danger he exposed himself to when wearing inappropriate gear. Working in such conditions means he needs to always carry a torch with him, to wear high visibility gear and for this gear to be highly breathable yet quite warm, so he can move freely.

We had been trying- unsuccessfully- on several occasions to find him appropriate work gear. The items we looked at in B&Q were impractical, the wrong size(he wears a small) and the rapport price-quality extremely poor.

So when I heard that Scruffs were looking for bloggers to review their autumn-winter collection, I had to give them a shout!

The Expedition Tech Jacket arrived promptly, shortly after I put my request through with their PR team, and from the moment I set my eyes on it, I knew it would be perfect for Alex!

Scruffs Jacket

The jacket is made out of lovely, soft yet hard-wearing material. It has tons of pockets for everything a working man needs to keep safe, even one at the back! It is rain proof and has a hood that would prove really useful on blowy or cold days. I love the orange and brown spot lining, both in the hood and inside the coat, as it brightens the black. In one of the outside breast pockets, it comes with a small yet powerful LED torch, totally practical both in size and pocket storage. Despite it being light, the coat keeps the warmth in, Alex put it to the test last Sunday in the park and was, for a change, nice and toasty!

Hubby almost never features on my blog but here he is, proudly modelling his coat last Sunday:


In retrospect, I think I should have had the patience and waited to order it in small size but they had run out on the website and he is wearing a medium (the small size is back in stock now, I did check before writing this blog post).

He is still very pleased with his review jacket, nevertheless, and he has added Scruffs to his favourites’ list. Next item on the work gear list is a pair of safety boots, I think Santa may have some plans concerning the matter and will be shopping for those in the same place :-).

The jacket retails on the website at £84.95, including VAT. Delivery is free on orders over £50.

Disclaimer: we were sent this jacket for the purpose of this review. The opinions expressed are true and entirely our own.

Tiny Trolls of Norway – A Review

We have all been in need of good waterproofs this year so when the opportunity arose for Emma to review a winter overall for Tiny Trolls of Norway we were absolutely delighted!

The UK section of their online shop has only been launched recently and the company was very kind to invite a number of bloggers’ children to review the winter overall range.

As the blurb on the website says, “Tiny Trolls winter coveralls are extremely suitable for outdoor play in autumn and winter. Our garments are padded to ensure your child’s warmth and comfort. Enjoy their functionality with a high water column, good breathability and excellent durability.”

The suits come in two sizes 1-3 years and 4-8 years, two separate designs, the Trollungen and the Lillebjorn and four colours pink, blue, purple and dark blue/black.

Trollungen, the one Emma was gifted, is lightly padded and allows for good freedom of movement while playing. The hood and neck are lined with a fun design, soft fleece material. This suit has high durability silicon foot straps and 3M reflective details.

Last weekend the weather turned very cold very suddenly and we found ourselves away from home on Saturday and dreaming of our warm gear. We decided to cut our trip away short since we were not appropriately dressed for the cold and returned home.

On Sunday, we decided to brave the weather and dressed much more appropriately, we headed for a walk by the sea.

Emma, of course, wore her winter coverall and although we were initially concerned that she may be too warm in them, that proved not to be the case. The suit is such designed that it keeps the body comfortably warm, regulating the temperature and never overheating the child, not even when they run about or sit in a warm car.



She was perfectly comfortable in them, running around, braving the cold wind and collecting conkers and leaves with daddy. At some point, she actually asked me to take her hat off as she could feel the wind going through it and put her hood up, buttoning herself in for warmth and comfort. (The company sells hats as well and I do think we will get Emma one for Christmas, to go with her suit.)



What did Emma think of her new winter overalls?

“It was very cozy and it felt as if I was indoors! I would love to go somewhere where it is proper winter as I think it will keep me really warm!”

Alex is hoping that this winter we will be able to go skiing and than Emma will make the most of her suit on the Swiss Alps slopes.

I simply know that this is an excellent quality clothing item that she will wear for years to come and for which I am very grateful to Tiny Trolls!

The overalls sell on the website for £119.92.

The company has an introductory offer at the moment and for every all season coverall bought you receive a gift packed micro fleece set of your choice (RRP £31.92). For any rain wear set or suit, you receive a free pair of mittens of your choice (RRP £13.99).

Disclaimer: we were sent the overall for the purpose of this review. All opinions expressed are entirely our own.

One step forward….1000 back

Grief is unpredictable, heavy and messy, the books say.

To know all these facts is one thing. To live them, is another…

I thought I was doing better.

I thought we were maybe out of the darkest woods.

But then, I got to the point where I couldn’t work outside our home.

It’s okay, I said the myself, I can still do things from here.

But I can’t.

I have found everything such a struggle.

I can manage a maximum of three days of work out of the five.

I get so anxious about balancing work and caring for Emma and the house that juggling all the balls is a job in itself.

I am back to waking up at night. And being so, so scared.

Of the present. Of the future.

Emma has kicked off again on Sunday.

She told her daddy that her “mummy loves one child and it isn’t me!”, in floods or tears and rage.

I went to see my GP yesterday.

This time, this one was kind and understanding.

She recommended rest. And pills. And ESA.

I am a failure. In a world that rewards performance and positivism and success, I am not the best example.

But I am doing my best.

What else can I do?

What else can I (and anyone else) expect from me at this point in time?

I know it has been 16 months and I should be better.

But the truth is that, I am not.

I live with the hope that one day, I will be.

But until then, I need to extend grace and forgiveness to myself.

I need to say to myself, in a gentle and loving voice:

“It’s okay.

It’s okay to just make it through the day.

It’s okay to still be sad.

It’s okay to not be able to do it all.

Like everybody else seems to be.

It’s okay to sit and rest for a while.

Until the fog of pain lifts, once again.”


Children’s Grief Awareness Week UK


Last week I wrote a blog post about Emma’s struggles as a bereaved sister and Vicky, a bereaved mummy and friend, commented with information about Children’s Grief Awareness Week in the UK.

Information about Children’s Grief Awareness Week can be found here, and I will let you skim it in peace, in your own time. All I will mention here is that it is organised by Grief Encounter in collaboration with the Childhood Bereavement Network and a wealth of information and resources are only a click away from the link I included above.

What I feel I need to contribute to this initiative is a personal account of how difficult bereavement has been for us as a family and especially for Emma, as a sibling.

I will also include what has worked for us, when it comes to grief support for Emma, and what other alternatives have been suggested to us by people who are either specialists, educators or have suffered the death of a sibling when they were young. Some of these suggestions  you may find suitable for your bereaved child/children, others will not suit their personalities nor their current needs.

When Georgie died Emma was very young, coming up to 5 and she did accept it as a fact of life. Children so very young are unable to react to such traumatic events by dissociating what is normal from what is exceptionally surreal (like losing a sibling to leukaemia at only 5 months!) and they do integrate them into their psyche as norm. That is why, in my personal opinion, some children who go through abuse at an early age do end up either as abusers or in an abusive relationship later in life, their understanding of normal having been forever impaired in such a dramatic way.

We did see signs of that very early with Emma. Having spent the last two weeks of Georgie’s life in the Northern Ireland’s children’s hospice, Emma started playing nurses and wheelchairs an awful lot after Georgie passed away. I remember clearly her first play date here in the house, and her insistence on playing hospitals, to the other little girl’s dismay!

I did accept these things as Emma making sense of her upturned universe through play and I didn’t discourage her although my heart broke every time I saw her getting her dollies lined up for a check up or for having blood drawn!

Things started to get a lot more vocal this year. Emma has turned six recently and at half-term I noticed a lot of angry responses from her. I did pin it down  a week later, after a lot of tears and tantrums, to the fact that one of her wee friends in school had just had a little brother. That must have brought back a lot of memories for Emma! When asked, she had the maturity to recognise it and say that she did, indeed, miss being a big sister.

How did we manage the new heartbreak?

I ordered from Snapfish a teddy wearing a t-shirt on which they imprinted one of Georgie’s pictures. I presented it to Emma as soon as it arrived and I told her she can hug it every time she feels sad and misses her brother. It is safe to say that Georgie Teddy, as she named him, has been everywhere with her ever since. It is like she has been given a tool to include her brother in her current life and we have seen a massive difference in her behaviour since.

So, what strategies could you use to assist and support a bereaved child?

  1. Therapy through play

Young children do this naturally, as I said, and in Emma’s case, it did prove essential that we facilitated and encouraged it, having understood that play can be a powerful means of releasing emotions and making sense of her new world.


We did consider taking her to see a play therapist when things kicked off last month but at the moment, things seem to have settled down.

2. Communication

My heart breaks every time a reader leave a comment, recounting their sibling loss experience and telling me that their parents bottled it all up and the departed sibling was never mentioned after his or her passing.

I find it very sad and although I understand that back in the day, silence was much more common a “solution” to painful issues like child or baby loss, I can see, from the now grown up siblings’ accounts, that silence is never the real answer.

These dear ladies suffer even now from the lack of communication and although my answer is always “your parents were only trying to protect you from the pain”, I do recognise in their accounts that their parents’ good intentions never achieved what was intended.

We need to acknowledge the fact that a sibling is flesh and blood and is loved unconditionally from the very beginning.

Not allowing a sibling to impart into the pain of loss and into the grieving process is simply depriving them of expressing feelings of love as well as sadness over the loss.

3. Mementos

We have countless mementos of Georgie’s existence in the house. Some are visible, like the picture frame we keep on the low window sill in our kitchen/dining area, where Emma can see and reach it if she feels the need.

We also have more subtle reminders like little dragonfly candle lights in the living room, where she plays and, for special occasions, like Christmas, decorations that go up and recognise Georgie’s existence and his belonging into our family.


Mementos can be powerful tools in dealing with loss and grief as the child perceives them not only as symbols of our love for the departed child but as a sign of love for them as well, as they know everyone is important in our family unit!

4. The larger circle of life

We have always encouraged the people in Emma’s life to continue to speak about Georgie. Her school is also aware of what has happened and very supportive of Emma’s need to mention her brother on a daily basis.

We are very grateful that the majority of our families have understood this need and when we visit, there are pictures, little gifts, tears and love for our little boy. In equal measure, we are saddened that two of her grandparents choose not to mention Georgie at all. Again, they do belong to a much older generation where things like this were simply buried and never spoken of, so this sort of explains it to us. Unfortunately, not to Emma, she is too young to understand the whys. If you are reading this as a larger circle family member of a bereaved child, please do make time to chat to them about their loved ones, it will mean the world to them!

5. Religion, church and faith

Religion was very much part of our lives when Georgie passed away but we did find ourselves drifting away from it as the months ticked by.

We still tell Emma that Georgie is in Heaven, as we both believe he is, but we did find ourselves extremely angry at the idiosyncrasies and discrepancies that church presented: professed love for a God who died a horrible death but the utter fear of discussing death and the untimely departure of a precious family member.

If you choose to present the facts to a bereaved child through the faith perspective, please do this in a responsible and coherent way!

Make sure the story stacks up and what you preach, you live, not only in fragments but as a whole.

Children are infinitely more aware of interpretations and nuances than we give them credit for and the last thing you want to do it creating a Santa-like image for God which will leave them feeling cheated and vulnerable later in life.

Do answer their questions honestly. Do present the whole story as it is, pain and tears included. Do make God real to a bereaved child through your openness, honesty and transparency.

Which leads me to my last point in the list…

6. Honesty

Do be honest about your pain.

I cry in front of Emma, sometimes on a daily basis.

I get angry in front of Emma and I discuss with her what causes my anger. I have told her many times: “I am not angry with you, I am angry with life and the fact that your brother is no longer here.”

Emma sees her parents as they are. Broken, sad, emotionally exhausted. Yesterday, I had to have a nap after I picked her up from school, as my sleep is broken again at night, and Alex fell asleep while trying to spend some time with her, at 7.40, on top of our bed!

And you know what?

She gets us and she gets our pain.

She has developed an understanding and compassion which is beyond her young years.

This understanding and maturity wouldn’t have been there had we chosen to live our pain behind closed doors.

And I do believe that this understanding will allow her to communicate with people in pain at an authentic level when she grows up.

Hope this blog post will provide many bereaved families with precious assistance and tools. Please leave a comment with other suggestions you have and could be included into the list. More importantly, do think of the host of children who have lost a parent or sibling(1 in 29 children at present in the UK!) and do offer your support and help when presented with the opportunity.

#Glorious Adventures: Dreaming of Mumbai

If I could squeeze my human self into a bouncy molecule transcending time and space

I would embark onto a trip to the ends of the earth.

We dreamt so many times with Alex of travelling to India

so Mumbai would be a good place to start.

Mumbai is huge and its population vast, over 18 million souls, but I would fit perfectly in travelling as a speck of dust.

I would not want to do sightseeing, in the touristy sense of the word, although I am sure the views would be spectacular…


A speck of dust has other dreams…

I would love, instead of hastily overloading my senses with almost palpable but somewhat artificial beauty, to just be…

I would love to be the dirt that rests for a while on, old, well-travelled shoes. Listen to their stories;  bask in the richness of experience they carry of places visited…


I would love to be the tear that stains imperceptibly the cheek of the old, sweet lady who guards the even older temple. The emotional tear which in its falling brings her relief. The tear which collects and flows; down to its infinitesimal components, revealing decades of untold pain and longing – and now, wisdom and peace.


I would gladly choose to be the drop of murky water which is used by the young girl to imperfectly recreate her faultless beauty. I do not know her but I can feel, from touching her soul for a fraction of a second that she is inherently beautiful, the way only children and animals can be. She makes a completely imperfect world and universe, perfect, by simply being in it.


I would return home, after such a wonderful trip of senses, refreshed and wealthy in the knowledge that the world is immense in its rich flavours and vast experiences.

Enriched beyond belief by the simple acknowledgement that I had been allowed a special and unique glimpse of it, that I had been able to see it from yet another angle and that those glimpses changed me deep down, to a molecular level.

I have my friend, Mark Allen, an incredibly talented photographer from Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland, to thank for the inspiration that went into creating this post and more importantly, for the beautiful pictures he allowed me to use for the purpose of this post. Thank you so much for sharing your Indian trip with us this year, those vibrant pictures made my imagination run wild and my fingers ache with the desire to integrate them into a piece of writing of my own!

This blog post is an entry into the Foodies100/GLORIOUS! soup #GloriousAdventures blogger challenge and having as inspiration their Mumbai Lentil and Chickpea Soup. If this post wins the challenge, our little family of three (plus Georgie, which we carry in our hearts forever and everywhere) will head out to Mumbai to experience all these amazing sights and emotions first hand.

On Death

Every so often, I imagine myself visiting with Georgie in heaven.

It usually happens when I have my reflexology sessions as it is the only time I can relax deeply and give Georgie and our love a whole hour, uninterrupted.

This week, I didn’t want to leave him in my imagination.

I just wanted to stay there or somehow, drag him back into this world.

I imagined myself sitting down with him, in a field of high-definition coloured flowers and under a magnificently wide-branched, silver tree and told him again and again how much  I missed him.

And I told him that I do hope it will not be long before I get to go there too.

These thoughts, before you reach for the phone and call me in panic, are not suicidal thoughts, my friend.

For most people, Death is such a scary word and notion.

I get it too well, I used to be the same before Georgie died.

But now, Death seems more like a friend.

After all, it got to take my baby places I cannot go and Death and I, we are no longer enemies.

Life seems so heavy at times, like a cloak I wish I could just shake out of.

And Death keeps visiting places and taking souls away, souls who weren’t ready for the journey.

Hey, Death, how about me?

I am so weary of this and hang on by a thread called Emma.

I do hope one day, not too far in the future, when she is all grown up and happy and safe,

I hope that you and I will meet up again.

And like old pals, you will show me the way.

The way that takes me right to where my other love is.

The place where expectations and strife and frustrations do not exist.

The place where it is okay to just sit and rest, holding your baby in your arms.

The two of us, Death, will sit down for a while.

And will look at the two worlds we would be sat between.

And will not rush from one into the other.

As Time would be a notion of the past.

And I will thank you, Death.

For being the only Hope that kept me going.

When the cloak of Life got too heavy,

I knew.

I knew that you were never really too far away…

sea waves

Great Children’s Books and Family Games for Christmas

As I had promised, when it comes to Christmas gift recommendations this year, there will be no toy in sight on this blog!

But there are plenty of other wonderful children’s Christmas presents worth mentioning here, books coming first to mind for me, a declared bookworm and avid reader!

We have been reviewing a number of books and games this month and here are some titles that caught our attention or gave us the giggles:

Norman, the Slug Who Saved Christmas, by Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet

norman-the-slug-who-saved-christmas-9781471120992_hrWe hadn’t heard of Sue Hendra before receiving her latest book, even if she is the illustrator of other hilarious titles like Barry, The Fish With Fingers, Supertato and N0-Bot, The Robot With No Bottom!

Norman, the Slug Who Saved Christmas is this year feel-good children’s Christmas book which will amuse young children and parents alike and bring the festive cheer into our homes.

Even if the book is designed for younger children, Emma found it truly fun to read and it sits on her nightstand now, along with other favourites.

The paperback version of the book retails on Amazon at £3.49 and delivery is free if you are a Prime member.

A truly amazing book, appropriate for children aged 5 and over, is the personalised The Incredible Intergalactic Journey Home, from the same company that brought to press the LostMyName series.


The book is a delight to personalise, thanks to the apt website and allows the parent or carer to introduce the name and gender of the child, choose the skin tone and hair colour that suits the respective child best and input details of the child’s home address. It then presents the grown up with a bird’s eye view Google map of the street on which the child lives, giving the book amazing accuracy, known best as magic in a child’s eyes :-).

The book comes with a personalised dedication, which of course, can be altered according to preference:


The universe is big, and wonderful, and waiting for you to explore.

We hope you enjoy this adventure, and many more to follow.”

I attach the video which presents the book and makes the Incredible Intergalactic Journey Home truly magical to possess:

We found this a much more appropriate read for Emma’s age. She was transfixed with the journey’s details and could not get her head around the fact that our door number and the picture of our street can be in a book, alongside her name! Emma also found the glow in the dark cover letters extremely cool.

A really good way to surprise school-aged children at Christmas, especially when they are still young enough to appreciate this sort of things!

The personalised book takes less than 10 minutes to put together and sells for £19.99 on the website. Shipping is free.

The one book that Emma truly identified with is the latest of the Tara Binns’ series, the Double Choc Doc.

Tara BinnsWe have known of the Tara Binns books since April this year, when we reviewed the Eagle-Eyed Pilot. We had found the books well-written and appealing to little girls who dream of great things so when we saw a competition offering the latest book plus a play doctor’s outfit popping up on their Facebook page, we had to enter it!

Tara Binns comp. prizeLuckily for us, we got to win the bundle and Emma has been happily offering consultations to her dollies and telling to everybody who is willing to listen that a sore throat gets better when you eat ice-cream, as doctor Tara advises in the book :-).

The book was taken into school last week, as they have had a hospital play theme and I do hope it encouraged loads of other little girls to dream big and imagine themselves as responsible doctors!

 The book sells for £6.87 on Amazon and again, for Prime members, delivery is free. If you have a little girl in the house, do add this book to her pile of pink presents. It may well change her destiny!

Another book that had us in stitches and we would recommend entirely not only for its funny story line but also for the wealth of its vocabulary is The Nonsense Show by Eric Carle.

The Nonsense Show-Cover

The book is suitable for young and older children and presents a host of conversation openers, as I observed in Emma’s case.

Our favourite page has to be the last one, Emma has asked me to read it several times, every time we had it as a bedtime story and I am sure her wee brain has registered loads of impressive new words:


The book sells on Amazon for £8.10 plus delivery.

The last item on tonight list is Parragon’s Metal Puzzles from Professor Murphy’s Emporium of Entertainment.

81n9OTO9u9LThis is the first time we get this sort of family game and because Emma is still young, we did find it quite challenging. It must be maybe a girl’s thing as well, Emma and I took forever to understand what was required of us while Alex got straight to untangling the puzzles and seemed to enjoy the activity quite a lot!

I do think that this sort of game is definitely for more technical minds and would probably attract a boy’s attention sooner than a girl’s but it did make for a fun half an hour on the living room floor that evening!

The game was offered to us through the Parragon Book Buddy Blogger scheme we are part of and sells on Amazong for £5.99.

What is your favourite pass time on Christmas day, would you rather grab a good book or play a family game?