BMW i3 bowling party

HELP!!!! They’re taking the BMW i3 back tomorrow.

I have fallen in love with my BMW i3 without a doubt. The more I drive it the more driving becomes a pleasure and this became crystal clear the day I had to take out our diesel car as I hadn’t changed over the child seats after the weekend.

Why did I revert back to our car for the weekend? Because we had to tow our caravan for a quick weekend trip ;)

Anyway I jumped into our diesel run Picasso and it felt sluggish and had no power to the accelerator. I pushed my foot down but it was slow working through the gears and slow to get going. 

In our first #GoUltraLow review we spoke about what are ULEV’s and gave lots of basic information that will be very helpful to read if you are considering investing in an electric car. This time I want to talk about charging and costs.

BMW i3 at Bluewater

Charging an electric car

When the car was dropped off I sat in the car for an hour whilst Geoff, the BMW man, went through all of the details with me and we also spoke of charging the car. The car came with two cables to cover the different types of charge:

Standard charge

This cable allows you to connect your car to any household 3 pin socket. We tried this overnight and got an 80% charge the following morning. It’s an AC type 2 charge giving up to 2.4 kW/10Amps an estimated 7 hour charge giving 0 – 80% charge.

BMW i3 keys

AC Fast Charge

For regular fast charging this method is extremely convenient, to use it you will need a Wallbox fitted on the exterior of your house in a convenient place to plug your car in. Please note that British Gas will install a charging point at your home free of charge until 31 March 2015. The AC Fast Charge is extremely easy to use and it locks into place so no passer by can pull the plug out whilst you’re charging. The Wallbox can also be padlocked to prevent any cheeky chargers whilst you’re away or switched off at the mains.

This AC type 2 charge uses 7.4kW/32 Amps and will give a 0 – 80% charge in 3 hours.

Take a look at my video here at just how simple it is.

How much does a full charge cost?

I have checked our meter and on average a full charge will use about 20kW. We’re on a Standard plan and pay 13.37p per kW. That’s a cost of £2.67.

NB. Thanks so much to @shovelbarn_mike who spotted I had completely misread my meter reading and have since updated this post to show a full charge costs me

£2.67

@shovelbarn_mike

How long will one charge last?

It will obviously depend on how fast you go, if you have the AirCon switched on (I have!) and music blaring out (yep). A charge would normally last me more than 10 days for short after school activities, a trip or two to the supermarket and a trip to Bluewater our local shopping mall. Longer journeys use more juice.

I have also noticed the car loses some charge when sitting unused as various electrics are still functioning I imagine.

I tried out a longer journey to Essex to visit Talliston House and Gardens a 50.8 mile journey one way which takes 1 hour 7 minutes. I didn’t have a full charge so knew I would need to charge at some point to get home as the petrol was running low as well. I stopped at a supermarket garage and filled her up which took about £10 and gave me circa 70 miles. I got home with no problem.

DC Rapid charge

I have yet to try this method but will be doing so on our trip to Butlins Bognor Regis. The DC Rapid charge is the best and quickest solution and can be found at a public DC rapid charge stations across the UK. The charge uses 50kW/125Amps. It gives a 0 – 80% charge  in 30 minutes. It is also currently FREE. There are various networks but I have an Electric Highway credit card which I swipe and charge at no cost to me. This is current at the time of writing as the aim is to encourage more and more people to convert to electric.

On a long journey half an hour goes really quickly for us, by the time we’ve all visited the toilets, had a peek at the shop and filled our water bottles half an hour is for the best part done. I will discover more on our trip to Bognor

BMW i3 charging times

So as I write with only one more day to go with this dream of a car I would love to know any questions you may have which I can address in my next #GoUltraLow blog post. I’ll be back with news on how our long journey went (85+ miles one way)

The most common question so far has been – do you like it? And the answer to that is YES, I love it. It’s a dream to drive.

Pssst. Have you seen the new BMW i8 *swoons* 

BMW i8

Disclosure: This BMW i3  is on loan to us for 6 weeks so that we can test how it fits into our lives and I can report back with my honest opinions as part of the #GoUltraLow campaign.

LeapReader Human Body

We have been sent the LeapFrog LeapReader Interactive Human Body to discover with our LeapReader and it’s been very interesting to watch the girls learn about how we’re made and what makes us work the way we do. The product is aimed at children 4 – 8 and being bang in the middle of that age range I can see why.

As the twins are getting older they ask more questions about the body and this is a really handy game to use to widen their knowledge and open them up to the new world of the human body. They can learn facts about the human body, body systems, and nutrition, and reinforce the learning through over 40 activities.

It also a little reminder to brush teeth and eat vegetables and fruit in order to grow healthy and strong ;)

Now they have learnt to read and enjoy reading, it’s important to jump on this and open up their minds to all sorts of different topics like science, geography and the solar system.

What’s in the box?

1 x Two-sided chart
1 x Game board
1 x Interactive growth chart
2 x Interactive sticker sheets
 

Interactive Stickers

The first item the twins zoomed in on was the stickers and when I wasn’t looking they plastered them all over our picture of the Magic Faraway Tree. Luckily I was able to peel them off and then stick them on the game boards and charts in the correct places with their help.
 
They have both explored with the LeapReader separately and together and have found the Interactive Human Body very interesting. I was surprised that some of the words used are the biological ones which seem a bit long-winded for children but I guess once learnt that word they won’t forget it. By playing with this game they have both at different times asked questions related to the game they were playing which is great as they are thinking it over and coming back for more information.

Interactive Human Body Game Board

LeapReader Human Game board

The double sided game board is sturdy and has a lot of information on there, we’ve had it for a few weeks now and we still haven’t covered it all PLUS there are two levels of play so once you have covered level 1 successfully you can go back and repeat using level 2 and discover even more. This is fantastic as it allows the Leap Reader to be used for a long time and the game to be revisited time and time again without getting bored.
 

Interactive growth chart

This is great to hang on the wall at the right height to use as a growth chart throughout the year but also invites the child to pick up their LeapReader and interact with the pictures on it. Children can be seen washing, brushing their teeth and moving about.
 
MOVE
For example by touching the image of the boy with a ball you hear a child talk about muscles and once finished he invites you to touch the star button to hear a song. The song starts and it’s a bouncy get moving song. All the images on the growth chart do this.
 
LeapReader Human Body Growth chart
 
To recap:
  • Explore how the human body works with a two-sided interactive chart and game board.
  • Learn facts about the human body, body systems and nutrition and reinforce the learning through 40+ activities!
  • The Tag System helps children develop and strengthen critical reading skills
  • The Learn through Reading series is designed to help them apply those skills to explore topics like science, geography, writing and more.
  • Parents can connect to the online LeapFrog® Learning Path for customised learning insights and ideas to expand the learning.

Verdict

I think the twins have only scratched the surface of this game so far and they enjoyed the stickers and growth chart too. I think it will become invaluable over the next two years when they start to read and learn more as they will be able to refer to it over and over and rediscover new and old information. This is a game to put away and get out at regular intervals so they are constantly discovering something new.

The Learn to Read System library features over 80 interactive books, puzzles, maps, and more. Parents can connect to the online LeapFrog Learning Path to see what their child is playing and learning. Appropriate for children aged 4 to 8 years. Works with LeapReader and Tag Reading Systems.

LeapFrog Blogger Panel

 
Disclosure: As part of the LeapFrog Blogger panel we are sent products to review and give our honest opinion on them.

 

I was recently invited along to the Waitrose Christmas event and I saw hundreds of products I want to remember come this autumn I’m hoping you’ll agree with me that they are really lovely, take a look.

Waitrose jam jar flowers

First up a few decorations and flowers for the house. I loved the jam jar centre pieces that would make a wonderful Christmas table. Waitrose have their own British Christmas trees in three different sizes this year and some fabulous bouquets perfect for all occasions.

Waitrose hamper christmas 2014

I also loved this DIY crate to make up the perfect hamper for a gift. the crate will only cost £5 and it’s gorgeous so will make a fabulous and useful gift to use when empty.

And then the colour scheme for the tree and decorations was simply stunning this year

Waitrose Christmas 2014

On to the food halls which Waitrose are known so well for.

Christmas dinner ideas

Nibbles made easy? Heston’s thought of some for us and these pate’s in pretty Kilner jars will do just the trick, chicken liver, duck and mushroom too and they were delicious.

Waitrose pate Heston

There were plenty of starter ideas but we’re heading straight to the main course and Waitrose this year will be offering rolled turkey breast in muslin for easy cooking and serving, it was delicious. Also keep an eye out for the stuffing balls shaped and decorated to look like mini Christmas puddings.

Waitrose turkey and stuffing

Then on to more Heston and this bit you’re going to LOVE – make sure you get one, an Ultimate Chocolate Bar, packaged in a box to look like a bar of gold this dessert will blow your mind.

Waitrose Chocolate bar Heston

 

Want to see more cakes? Here is a selection of what you can expect to find this winter on the shelves in Waitrose.

Waitrose christmas 2014

 

And just because I know you like cakes here are some close ups of my favourites on the day. The cheesecake is very reasonable and the layer cake is a masterpiece!

Waitrose Christmas desserts

So there you have it, A few ideas of what to expect this winter on your local Waitrose shelves.

Don’t forget to check out the Tesco Christmas 2014 post too.

bbq

This is the time of year my husband is his happiest, with the sun shining, trips to the beach, sleepovers in the caravan and a barbecue.

Give him a barbecue and he is the happiest man alive. In fact I’ve been checking out Barbeques Galore which have a ton of ideas for barbecue season.

This year I’ve been aiming to get a collection of recipes together ready for the summer I’ve focused a lot on side salads recently as although the men would eat meat and only meat I like to have something else on my plate to make me feel healthier.

Salads and sides

 

Coleslaw is an old favourite, available in all supermarkets as regular or low fat but it’s so simple to make, especially if you have a food processor. Remember you can change the ingredients and make a fennel slaw or a red cabbage slaw, you can also add to the dressing and make a Thai coleslaw, a Mexican or just alter the flavour with mustard, pesto or ? You tell me!

Tomato salad

 

Tomato salad – I recently bought lots of different sized and coloured tomatoes using the orange ones too. I chopped them all up and added a little spring onion, olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing

Insalata Caprese A classic Italian summer lunch but can also be offered as a side.

Jersey potato, asparagus and three leaf salad Makes a one stop side that appeals to everyone and is so easy to do

Ratatouille or peperonata are two delicious sides that add lots of flavour to any meal. Don’t forget any leftovers can be warmed to serve with meat, cheese or salamis for another meal.

Ratatouille slow cooker recipe

Spicy potato wedges Tell me who doesn’t like a potato wedge? Can be used to dip in Hummus or as a side to your meal

Caramelised onion tarte tatin as this one made here by Helen of The Crazy Kitchen fame

Quiche ideas

I love a bit of quiche and if it’s on the table will always pick up a slice. Great for vegetarians too, here are some of my favourite tried and tested recipes

Cheeseboard quiche

English breakfast quiche

Mediterranean Quiche

Quattro formaggi and chorizo quiche

Dips and nibbles

Usually some dipping crisps and dips will do but a couple of extras that might catch your eye are

Bacon, cheese and courgette frittatas

Cheese straws

Hummus dip

More than a burger

Ranch pulled pork this is one of my favourite recipes and for an evening barbecue can be put in the slow cooker at 9am and served on the table at 5pm. The delicious rub makes it and make sure it’s pulled with two forks so it’s easy to pick up and place in a bun

pulled pork slow cooker recipe

Tex Mex grill steaks – WeightWatchers recipe. A super recipe if anyone is watching their weight as the perfect portion and very tasty with the added spices.

Meatloaf Never forget the humble meatloaf which can be served cold with salads. This was most likely one of my first ever recipes from school days and the Home Economic classes.

meatloaf recipe

Desserts

I know everyone is usually stuffed by this pint but guests will always find room for a bit of pudding. Here are some of my personal favourites all tried and tested on my family and extended family too.

Banoffee Cheesecake

Cranachan trifle with forest fruits

Key Lime Pie

Strawberry and blueberry Pavlova

Peach melba

Tiramisu plus Tiramisu video how to

 peach melba dessert

Disclosure: This has been written in collaboration with Barbecues Galore