Monday, 28 October 2013

The little blue pot that brings back memories and softer skin too

Vintage Astral ad from 1950s
courtesy of
I have a terrible memory. I don't remember very much about my early childhood at all really, other than how guilty I felt after stealing a white plastic horse from nursery school. (I had to take it back the next day and cried my eyes out.)  Even the things I think I do remember could easily have been 'planted' through conversations with my parents and sisters. The one thing that transports me right back to toddlerhood though is my nose.

My childhood was the smell of... Old Spice boot polish...bread baking in the oven...shaved wood in my Father's workshop...pancakes with lemon and sugar on pancake day and absolutely NO other...boiled egg and toasted soldiers for tea...freshly applied god-awful tangerine paint in the bathroom...wet washing in the dancing spin dryer...Playdoh...Elnet chocolate made in a saucepan with cocoa powder...

...and my Mother's face creams. Nivea is the one that immediately springs to mind but last week a package popped through the door that transported me back in time and reminded me that there was another cream my Mother used - her sky-blue pot of Astral.

Luckily she was staying with us last week for a few days so I was able to show her the frankly huge pot of Astral I'd been sent to see what it stirred up of her memories too. At first glance of the little blue pot she gasped and laughed. 'Astral!' she said. 'Wow that brings back memories.' You see? I'm not the only one. Back in the late 1960s the face creams she used were Nivea, Pond's and Astral.

What amazes me is that in all the time since then Astral hasn't felt the need to change. It doesn't make any exotic claims or contain 'miracle' ingredients - just lanolin and glycerine which lock moisture into your skin and make it smoother-looking. Simple but effective. It's not tested on animals either.

Astral has a light, fresh floral scent and it's very versatile as it can be used as an all over body moisturiser, night cream and make-up remover. Yeah, I wasn't convinced about that last one either - but after trying it out I can confirm that it removes make-up quite nicely, leaving my skin soft and silky and not at all dry.

So what's it actually like to use it? Well I've been using Astral every day since it arrived and I must say I really like it. My skin is quite dry so I slather it on at night and it feels soft and comforting. Fresh out of the shower it's been making short work of my nasty scaly legs and heels and it's great as a hand cream too, softening my cuticles so I'm less tempted to nibble them *blush*. Basically it's an all rounder that just works. My only concern would be that while the rich creaminess is perfect for Autumn and Winter it might be a bit too much for Summer skin - thankfully they've thought of that and brought out a lighter version.

Interestingly, Astral is apparently used by celebrities too...
Image coutesy of
Joanna Lumley says: “I'm thrilled to try all sorts of face firmers and wrinkle-reduction creams, but the one I always come back to is plain, simple Astral cream. I've used it for over 35 years and it just works for me. I also use lashings of Astral moisturiser to take off make-up. I travel everywhere with a little pot of Astral in my bag." 
Amanda Holden says: “I get sent all sorts of high-end lotions like Creme de la Mer but the best tip I’ve had is Astral cream. I still love the smell of Astral.” 
Kate Beckinsale says: she “makes sure her skin stays smooth and lovely by slapping on lots of Astral Moisturiser.” 
Patsy Kensit says: “I use Astral moisturiser because my mum did." 

Who knew Patsy Kensit and I had something in common?

You can buy Astral all over the place and it's very reasonable compared to most other cult face creams. At Superdrug for example you can pick up the 50ml handbag pot for £1.52, the 200ml every day size for £4.28 or the enormous 500ml pot (which I think will last me forever and a day) for £8.16. (For my US readers Astral is available through although you'll pay a lot more for it unfortunately.)

Perhaps Astral is one of the best kept secrets in the beauty industry?

Disclaimer: I was sent a pot of Astral cream to review. I received no other compensation and all opinions are my own.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

MUMMY'S - make a wish and you could WIN it!

Image courtesy of Microsoft office
Lots of brands use competitions to promote their products. Usually I'm a bit 'yeah so what' about them. But Sudocrem Care and Protect have just launched a magical competition that's definitely worth entering. Basically Sudocrem will be granting the wishes of lucky Mum’s everywhere. Yep, if you’re wishing for a relaxing massage, a lovely bunch of flowers delivered straight to your door, or simply hoping to put your feet up with a cup of tea while a professional cleaner tidies your house there's a chance your wish could come true.

Every entrant will receive a money off voucher for Sudocrem Care and Protect nappy rash cream which we reviewed  and loved. For your chance to win your wish, all you have to do is the following before the closing date on 29th November:

1. Like the Sudocrem Facebook page
2. Enter your wish into the ‘Make a wish and WIN it’ Facebook application
3. Sit back and wait to see if your wish comes true

What are you waiting for?!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Giveaway - Limited edition Matey bathtime book

Bathtime is a special time for Curly Girl and Little Man. It's the perfect time to wind-down from a busy day at school or, as it's half term for us at the moment, a day full of playing and now that Little Man is old enough to sit up in his bath seat they seem to enjoy nothing better than splashing about and squealing at the top of their voices. I LOVE it.

And it seems that I'm not alone. According to some new research commissioned by Matey bubble bath over a third of parents agree that bathtime is the best part of the day.

Interestingly the research also revealed that for nearly a quarter of parents bathtime can also be one of the most stressful moments of their day. I can sympathise - it's often a battle to get the two of them into the bath on time, but it's such fun once they're playing together I can hardly say it's the most stressful time of my day. These are some of the moments that I cherish actually, the shared fun of being in the water that crosses our age barriers. I'm so glad that they both love the water as much as I do.

Since Curly Girl started school bath time has also become a time for some gentle learning - we've got some alphabet letters that stick to the side of the bath for some simple spelling games and I often use the time to read to them both - it's one of the only times that they're both in the same place sitting still!

(Couldn't resist the overlays...)
Coincidently Matey bubble bath has produced a limited edition waterproof bathtime book that kids can read to themselves in the bath. The book was written by mum of two; Emma Greaves who won a competition by creating an adventure for the Matey characters – Max Matey, Molly Matey and Peg Leg as a poem. Emma said,
“It’s a dream come true to say I am a published author thanks to Matey. Bathtime was such an important bonding time for me and my children. When the kids were toddlers I always made up games to make bathtime fun – they both loved to make Mohican hairstyles and foamy beards out of the bubbles which they thought was hilarious. I’m very proud to have written the Matey bathtime book – it helps to create an adventure around bathtime and hopefully giving parents a story to tell will be a great way to get children around the country to look forward to and enjoy their bathtime.”
While the book is too advanced for Curly Girl to read to herself - we're on three letter words at the moment - she loved playing in the bath with it and Little Man loved it even more! It's a fun addition to their bathtime toys.

The Matey Bathtime Book is not available in the shops but I have TEN copies to give away - hurrah! Enter using the Rafflecopter widgety thing below as usual - good luck!

Disclaimer: We were sent one copy of the limited edition Matey Bathtime Book to review and offered ten copies to give away. I received no other compensation and all opinions expressed are my own. This giveaway is open to UK residents aged 18 or over, one entry per household. There is no cash alternative. The winner will be chosen at random via Rafflecopter. The winner will have 48 hours to claim the prize or another winner will be chosen, again at random using Rafflecopter. 

Win competitions at

Friday, 18 October 2013

GIVEAWAY: David Walliams' *NEW* picture book

Hello *waves* I'm sitting over here in the book corner today. Pull up a bean bag, shuffle your bum around a bit until it moulds perfectly to you, then sit back while I tell you all about today's book.

Generally I find that people don't turn up at my house uninvited. Not that I'd mind too much if they did - after all good friends aren't going to mind if I'm still in my PJs randomly stained with baby sick and worse - and I'm lucky to have a lovely bunch of girlfriends who like nothing better than a coffee and a natter. Unfortunately a little boy called Sam is not so lucky and finds himself playing host to a big, blue and rather bossy elephant in David Walliams' first ever and hilariously funny picture book - .

Now, uninvited guests are one thing, one can always knock up a Victoria sponge or some freezer biscuits, but when an elephant turns up on your doorstep professing to having been adopted by you, matters can become more alarming by the minute. From eating all his food, to watching his television and sleeping in his bed, Sam's nightmare house guest runs riot and his antics are captured in all their glory by the uber talented Tony Ross. The illustrations are stunning and made all the more so by the large format of the book.
The uber-talented Mr Walliams

I have no doubt that is set to repeat the success of David Walliams' previous books including Gangsta Granny and Mr Stink. It's certainly a winner in our house! It's aimed at children 3+ but I think it would definitely make a great Christmas present for a 4-7 year old. The book will be available to buy on on 7 November.... but WAIT!!


*more drumroll*


I have not one but two copies available to giveaway! You can enter using the Rafflecopter widgety thing below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure and all important small print: I was sent a copy of The Slightly Annoying Elephant by David Walliams to review and offered two copies to giveaway. I received no other compensation and all opinions expressed are my own. This giveaway is open to UK residents aged 18 or over, one entry per household. There is no cash alternative. The winner will be chosen at random via Rafflecopter. The winner will have 48 hours to claim the prize or another winner will be chosen, again at random using Rafflecopter. 

Win competitions at

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

How well do you know your Human Rights?

Courtesy of:
Today is Blog Action Day. Bloggers around the world will use their piece of real estate in the virtual world to highlight a cause - this year the focus is Human Rights.

So here's a question for you - how well do you know the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? How many of these rights, that most of us hold as self-evident truths, can you name?

Go on, give it a go. I'll wait. 

*drums fingers on desk*

Got all thirty? Nope, me either. I could name a good few of them but not all by any means. As I read through each right I thought about the peoples around the world for whom these rights are NOT self-evident truths but pure fiction. The girls forced to marry, the women forced to surrender their children, the workers who toil without rest, the accused without legal help or public trial, the uneducated, the persecuted.

So for Blog Action Day I'm publishing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1948 as a result of the experience of the Second World War, right here. The full version on the United Nations website is a tad wordsmithy but helpfully there's also a plain language version which was translated from the original for schools, or those of us who prefer things laid out, well, plainly.

I'd recommend that you read them and realise how lucky you are if they all apply to you.


Universal Declaration of Human Rights

1 When children are born, they are free and each should be treated in the same way. They have reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a friendly manner.

2 Everyone can claim the following rights, despite
- a different sex
- a different skin colour
- speaking a different language
- thinking different things
- believing in another religion
- owning more or less
- being born in another social group
- coming from another country

It also makes no difference whether the country you live in is independent or not.

3 You have the right to live, and to live in freedom and safety.

4 Nobody has the right to treat you as his or her slave and you should not make anyone your slave.

5 Nobody has the right to torture you.

6 You should be legally protected in the same way everywhere, and like everyone else.

7 The law is the same for everyone; it should be applied in the same way to all.

8 You should be able to ask for legal help when the rights your country grants you are not respected.

9 Nobody has the right to put you in prison, to keep you there, or to send you away from your country unjustly, or without good reason.

10 If you go on trial this should be done in public. The people who try you should not let themselves be influenced by others.

11 You should be considered innocent until it can be proved that you are guilty. If you are accused of a crime, you should always have the right to defend yourself. Nobody has the right to condemn you and punish you for something you have not done.

12 You have the right to ask to be protected if someone tries to harm your good name, enter your house, open your letters, or bother you or your family without a good reason.

13 You have the right to come and go as you wish within your country. You have the right to leave your country to go to another one; and you should be able to return to your country if you want.

14 If someone hurts you, you have the right to go to another country and ask it to protect you. You lose this right if you have killed someone and if you, yourself, do not respect what is written here.

15 You have the right to belong to a country and nobody can prevent you, without a good reason, from belonging to a country if you wish.

16 As soon as a person is legally entitled, he or she has the right to marry and have a family. In doing this, neither the colour of your skin, the country you come from nor your religion should be impediments. Men and women have the same rights when they are married and also when they are separated.
Nobody should force a person to marry.
The government of your country should protect you and the members of your family.

17 You have the right to own things and nobody has the right to take these from you without a good reason.

18 You have the right to profess your religion freely, to change it, and to practise it either on your own or with other people.

19 You have the right to think what you want, to say what you like, and nobody should forbid you from doing so. You should be able to share your ideas also—with people from any other country.

20 You have the right to organize peaceful meetings or to take part in meetings in a peaceful way. It is wrong to force someone to belong to a group.

21 You have the right to take part in your country's political affairs either by belonging to the government yourself or by choosing politicians who have the same ideas as you. Governments should be voted for regularly and voting should be secret. You should get a vote and all votes should be equal. You also have the same right to join the public service as anyone else.

22 The society in which you live should help you to develop and to make the most of all the advantages (culture, work, social welfare) which are offered to you and to all the men and women in your country.

23 You have the right to work, to be free to choose your work, to get a salary which allows you to support your family. If a man and a woman do the same work, they should get the same pay. All people who work have the right to join together to defend their interests.

24 Each work day should not be too long, since everyone has the right to rest and should be able to take regular paid holidays.

25 You have the right to have whatever you need so that you and your family: do not fall ill or go hungry; have clothes and a house; and are helped if you are out of work, if you are ill, if you are old, if your wife or husband is dead, or if you do not earn a living for any other reason you cannot help. Mothers and their children are entitled to special care. All children have the same rights to be protected, whether or not their mother was married when they were born.

26 You have the right to go to school and everyone should go to school. Primary schooling should be free. You should be able to learn a profession or continue your studies as far as wish. At school, you should be able to develop all your talents and you should be taught to get on with others, whatever their race, religion or the country they come from. Your parents have the right to choose how and what you will be taught at school.

27 You have the right to share in your community's arts and sciences, and any good they do. Your works as an artist, writer, or a scientist should be protected, and you should be able to benefit from them.

28 So that your rights will be respected, there must be an 'order' which can protect them. This ‘order’ should be local and worldwide.

29 You have duties towards the community within which your personality can only fully develop. The law should guarantee human rights. It should allow everyone to respect others and to be respected.

30 In all parts of the world, no society, no human being, should take it upon her or himself to act in such a way as to destroy the rights which you have just been reading about.

Monday, 14 October 2013

On falling off the positivity 'wagon'

For the last week or so I've been working hard on being a  and less using a set of promises (yep that's my shiny new thing, based on and adapted from the AA card that some members carry) that I make myself every morning. But last Friday I fell off the wagon rather spectacularly. It felt like all my efforts so far had come to nothing because I snapped, fair and square.

The morning started well enough, Little Man woke up just before 6am and I was showered and giving him is milk in plenty of time to get Curly Girl up at 6.45. She dressed quickly (with my help) and we were downstairs starting breakfast by 7.20 - believe me that's good for us (read this fab post by the lovely Franglaise Mummy for more on long routines).

Then we stalled.

Little Man and I were ready to go by 7.45 (we need to be out the door at 8am). But in the 25 minutes since we'd trooped downstairs Curly Girl had managed to eat just two small squares of toast. To put this into perspective, I'd cut one slice of bread into six squares. She still had to eat the rest of her breakfast and we needed to do shoes, cardigan, coat, brush teeth and get the two of them into the car with all the right school gear. It just wasn't going to happen.

I don't know if it's the panic at being late, my annoyance at her being so slow or Little Man's absolute refusal to stay still while I changed his nappy and put his coat on that set me off but over the next fifteen minutes my temper rose to boiling point. I snapped. I shouted. At both of them. Little Man's eyes filled up with tears and and my heart filled with dread. Shouty Mummy was back.

When we arrived at school I sat with Curly Girl and apologised for shouting and explained why I'd gotten so cross. She apologised for being slow and we forgave each other with bear hugs. Little Man didn't smile at me when I put him back in the car. I'd chipped away at his trust.

I still feel sick to my stomach about losing my cool and while I always knew it would take more than one week's work to put me back on track it's a strong reminder that I'm still very much a work in progress. My set of promises is helping but I find it hard to remember in the heat of the moment.

I'm still definitely taking one day at a time.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

I need your help! #NaNoWriMo2013

Just the thought of it makes my mouth go dry and my fingers ache. It's just three weeks away and while I've started some minor planning I'm most definitely NOT prepared. I must be mad. With two children under five and half term looming it clearly has to be an act of lunacy to attempt it.

50,000 words.
In 30 days.


On 1st November National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) will begin and around the world thousands of people will put pen to paper, finger to keyboard to pen a mini novel. At the stroke of midnight 30 days later they will emerge, lighter, brighter and most definitely satisfied. If they've won, that is. If they've missed the 50k deadline they will, in all likelihood, be beyond consoling and promising themselves they'll never attempt it again.

Why am I submitting myself to this torture?!

Who knows. All I know is that along with the terror there is a frisson of excitement. I LOVE NaNoWriMo. I love the challenge, the cammaradorie, the motivation it gives me to write and the way the deadline forces me to switch off my inner editior and get out of my own damn way.

I have won once. I have lost twice. I have no idea what will happen this year. But I'm going to give it a go. And in a break from tradition I'm going to publish my work right here at Bod for tea. It will be crap, make no mistake, but it will hopefully be another impetus to chip away at my workcount mountain.

I have a basic plot - Alexandria Baxby's world is turned upside down when her husband disappears on a routine business trip and her family is caught up in a dangerous plot to change the course of history - and a few characters in mind. That's all.

But this is going to be a story with some twists. And here's where I need your help. I need your ideas for plot twists. I will try to include as many of the plot twists you give me in my story. It will be mad but hopefully it will be fun. Ok, GO!

(Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? Add me to your buddy list here.)

Thursday, 3 October 2013

There's so much more than shouting here

Last week I realised I was a . But at the weekend I came to understand that there's so much more behind it that I need to address...

"You used to be 'yes, can do', but now you're 'yes, but...'."

The truth might set you free but it stings like a mofo and I still have to cut through the chains with an ear bud.

What the hell happened to that me? Did she get torn out of me when my baby girl was born? No, it was a slower process than that. She trickled away, one drop at a time. One missed night's sleep at a time. One screaming cry at a time. One frayed nerve at a time. One argument at a time.

He mourns the loss of that me. The fun me. The positive me. The can-do attitude me. The let's go out and conquer the world together me.

So do I. I don't even really remember ever being her. She seems like a dream to me now.

Why didn't I realise I'd become serially negative? Why didn't I stop it sooner? How do I stop it now?

I wish I was more 'oh the baby's woken up earlier than normal, great more time to play!' rather than 'Dammit the baby's woken up earlier than normal (dammit, dammit dammit).' Less 'of course we can't do that because he'll be late for his lunch (are you crazy!)' and more 'sure, no problem, I'm sure we can work it out.'

Shiny new idea
What the heck do I have to be negative about?!?! I am BLESSED. I have an amazing husband, two miraculous children, a home, my health. It's ridiculous. I'm ashamed. There is no rhyme or reason to this.

But still.

I try to catch myself before I open my mouth but another negative comment leaks out - they find their way through the cracks in my smile. I need something tangible to remind me so I put on my old jade Chinese birth year bracelet as a token reminder. Look at the rat before you act like one. Perhaps it will work for a while. I am the Queen of the shiny, new idea.

But it's intrinsic now, it feels like it's part of my DNA, super glued into the helix.

"Just make a conscious decision to be positive."

I wish it was that easy.

Just buck up your ideas missy and get over yourself.

Perhaps if I pretend to be the old me, she'll find her way back to me again.

I turn to Google and something catches my eye. This might work for me, it feels right. I'm not going to share it yet in case it loses it's magic. It might just be another 'shiny new idea'. 

I need to face up to this, OWN it and work it out for myself one day at a time.

Image Thumbs Down Icon Computer Key courtesy of Stuart Miles /
Newer Posts Older Posts Home