It’s that odd time of year where the weather hasn’t yet settled, sometimes it’s as cold as the Arctic and you can’t bear to be out of doors for longer than a few minutes and then on other days, the sun shines and there’s a definite ‘Spring is in the air’ feel.

They are the days I like most and I am always tempted to start packing away thick winter coats, jumpers, hats and scarves but, I know better. Having been around the block a few times now, I’m only too aware of how quickly the temperature can change.

However, it does seem a bit silly to be venturing outside in April still tucked up in a padded winter coat, complete with fur trim. Fortunately, Reima – the stylish Finnish experts on kids outdoor clothing are ahead of the game. And, understanding our dilemma, their design team came up with the perfect solution. Multifunctional jackets…

Reima kindly invited the twins to choose a jacket each and put it to the test. The choice was between the 3 in 1 Reimatec waterproof jacket Sydvest which is a classic coat, perfect for all weathers, with a detachable vest jacket (It comes in the most gorgeous yellow). The Fleet 2 in 1 down jacket – lightweight, windproof and warm or the Float design, a 2 in 1 jacket, for warmer yet unpredictable weather, with removable arms making a very nice warm gilet (perfect for evening netball training).

There was a lot of umming and erring as all three models are very stylish, come in lovely bright colours and all cope with varied weather patterns. However, the Float model was decided upon, Alice went for a coral pink and Bessie choose the light blue.

Now we had to road test them and what could be better than a trip down to Thanet over the Easter break when the weather hit a maximum 6°C? The British weather was true to form; we had freezing cold days (and nights), seas whipped up into a frenzy by bitterly cold winds and rain – lots of rain.

Never mind, the girls stayed as warm as toast in their new jackets and I must admit, it was lovely to see them so colourful on such dreary cold days. They were immediately identified and added a pop of colour to the grey landscape.

I know they are going to come in very handy this term at school when one minute it’s sunny and the next it’s raining hard. They will also enjoy them at netball training, they’ve been practising in the garden over Easter with the netball hoop we bought them.

I think they’ll also be fantastic for our trip to Spain in June as they pack away tightly in a case – they roll up really small. We’ve been to Murcia in the past and had really cold weather this time of year. IN fact, I’m sure we’ll be seeing a hell of a lot of these jackets, keep an eye on our Instagram feed.

Disclosure: We were sent the jackets for the purpose of this post. All opinions are our own.

Who can resist the charm of Johnny English aka Rowan Atkinson? I can’t that’s for sure. He has me in stitches every single time. In fact, all of Rowan Atkinson’s characters do as he plays them so well. He is an expert in combining meticulous attention to detail with slapstick comedy. How can you not laugh?

The latest film – Johnny English Strikes Again – does not in any way fail to deliver the wholesome family entertainment we are used to and the twins will back this up for me as we recently sat down to watch the film on DVD for the purpose of this review.

It’s hilarious and it has a brilliant story line too. It is action packed and your belly will ache from laughing so it really does have the ‘fell-good film’ vibe.

Johnny is reluctantly asked once again to go undercover when a cyber attack leaves all of the current spies in the field exposed. His mission is to find the mastermind hacker and, considering his lack of skills and knowledge in technology, this could be his most difficult (and more likely last) challenge to date.

Bough, his loveable sidekick (played by Ben Miller) also gives a powerful performance and the array of gadgets used by the undercover agent are fabulous.

Rowan Atkinson is a known car enthusiast and had a hand in choosing the cars that were to feature in the film – you won’t be disappointed, James Bond, eat your heart out.

The twins have fallen in love with the adorable spy and would happily watch the DVD over and over again…oh look, it’s raining, the perfect excuse for a half term chill out film, wouldn’t you say?

The DVD is out today (18th February 2019) and has 30 minutes of exclusive bonus features including a detailed look at the film locations and the sets as well as Johnny’s collection of gadgets and cars. There is a section that explores the cast and a deep dive into the legacy of  everyone’s favorite hapless spy!

Johnny English Strikes Again is available now on Digital, Blu-ray, DVD and On Demand from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

Disclosure: We received a copy of the DVD for the purpose of this post.

Roast dinner

I’d be lying to you if I said husband had put his barbecue away – of course he hasn’t; we’ll be barbecuing in the middle of winter, just you wait and see. However, I can declare Sunday Roast time of year is now in full swing in our house and it’s the one meal I look forward to every week.

Sunday is always that day in our house where we spend time together aware that as of the following morning, it’s going to be a long, mad rush to get through the week until Friday when we can all be together again. I start thinking about our Sunday roast midweek as that’s when I tend to do my online shop for the week. I like to alternate between beef, chicken, pork and gammon but my favourite roast of all is lamb, especially Welsh lamb.

Luckily for me, I have an enormous rosemary bush in the garden which works perfectly with lamb and there’s something very ‘Good Life’ about nipping into the garden to snip some fresh sprigs from the bush.

Of course, no roast can be called a roast in my book unless it is accompanied by all the trimmings and that includes roast potatoes and parsnips and then a couple of veg like carrots, beans, cauliflower of cabbage depending on what’s in the fridge.

Yorkshire puddings are a must and oodles of gravy poured over the meal too; I have to make a lot of gravy for my lot!

It’s really pointless me writing recipes to use for leftovers as there is very rarely anything left to use. The family devour the whole lot and if there are leftovers they normally want another roast dinner during the week to use them up. That’s when I might need to boost the meal with some sausages.

If we are in the town we will go into the local butcher and stock up on some of his finest products but one of husband’s favourite shopping experiences is looking at online meat suppliers. I kid you not. He can spend hours looking and deciding which hamper to go for. Graig Farm has been a recent find of his and he can spend hours trawling through the site, jotting down notes and making comparisons.

Of course, the excitement doesn’t end there. The minute that email lands in his inbox and he has a delivery date, he’s on the lookout. Sticking post-its up with instructions in case we are at work when they call by. Even going to ask our next-door neighbours if they will let the delivery man leave the box inside the front door for him.

Husband has been known to take photos of his purchase and post them on Facebook, proud of his choice and encouraging his friends to follow suit. We then have a lengthy discussion about what is to be eaten and what is to be frozen. I know, all the fun in our house but when it comes to sitting down for our Sunday roast, I can honestly say it was worth it.

Seeing as our barbecue won’t come back into regular use again until April at the earliest, I am looking forward to months of Sunday roasts again.

How about you? Do you enjoy a particular family meal together or is it just me?

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This is a question that pops up every now and then, ‘Mum, can we have a horse?’

Of course, the answer is no. Where would we keep the horse? Who would muck it out? Who would groom it and feed it? I continue with a long list of all of the elements that go into looking after a horse and win the argument hands down. Every time, like a Boss.

However, then my romantic side kicks in and I let my mind wander back to the place when I was 10 years old and asked that very same question to my mum.

What is it about horses that pull on our heartstrings so much?

I have friends who go horseriding and some who have their own horses too; I don’t envy their early morning starts in all weathers and Every. Single. Day. They have to get out of bed before their day starts and visit the stables to give the basic care for their horse weekdays, weekends and high days and holidays too.

How to care for a horse

If we were to get a horse (which we are not) there would be a lot of things to consider beforehand and in order to explain my decision to the twins properly, I took a quick glimpse into what we would need to have in place.

The basics to consider before taking another step are feed like Spillers Feed Balancer for Horses water and shelter. Already at this point, you are clocking up a bill that will make a substantial dent in your monthly outgoings. The Horse and Hound give a great rundown of costs to consider should you be tempted along this path.

Then you will need to think about the space your horse will have to live in and run around in as the animal will need regular exercise in order to stay fit and healthy. Another element that goes into the horse’s wellbeing is company; a horse is an animal that lives in a herd, it thrives in the company of others and it would be cruel to expect it to live on its own.

Talking of health and wellbeing plans will need to be put in place for feet, teeth, worming and a host of other regular checkups that will need to take place and then of course, insurance. Even Baxter our rescue dog is insured.

Mum, can we have a horse?

Now, when the twins ask me that question, I am more prepared. Rather than a flat no, I can go through these areas of care that need to be considered with them and turn the question into a debate which gets them thinking – and arguing – about how to care for a horse. Initially, it all looks very easy but as you dig deeper, you quickly discover that it’s not.

Of course, if you do go ahead, you’ll then have to kit out yourselves with saddles, blankets, riding gear, grooming gear and lessons to ride a horse. I think it might be a good idea to start with a trip to the local stables and a day mucking out before we go any further with the conversation.

What about you? Have you had a debate on owning a horse in your family?

cool gifts for kids

If you’re searching for the perfect gift for a kid’s birthday, you’ll find lots of awesome toys and gadgets on the market. However, with so much choice available it can be difficult knowing which gifts are worth investing in.

If you’re struggling to find the perfect gift, here you’ll discover some of the coolest birthday gifts for kids you’ll absolutely want to consider.

VTech Touch and Learn Activity Table

If you’re buying for a younger child, the Vtech Touch ad Learn Activity Table is a fantastic choice. It’s designed to teach kids about all kinds of things from anatomy to letters and geometry to drawing. There’s a number dial touchpad, an LED screen and even a mini radio which plays tunes to complement the lessons being taught.

As an additional bonus, the desk can be folded up into an easel, allowing your kids to draw with chalk. It combines technology with traditional learning and is an awesome gift they’ll love to play with.

Hoverboards

If you’re buying for slightly older kids, a hoverboard is a brilliant option. Hoverboards are extremely popular right now and they’re great at boosting motor skills.

There’s a huge range of hoverboards available to suit both boys and girls and they cruise along at slow speeds, so you don’t need to worry too much about them hitting something at speed. They’re one of the priciest gifts on the list, but they’re sure to keep your kids entertained for years.

Mini Hatchimals

Hatchimals have been popular for some time now, but the larger versions can be pretty expensive. If you’re looking for something that won’t break the bank, the mini Hatchimals are definitely worth considering.

Like the larger variations, these mini Hatchimals are designed to hatch when placed in water. There are over 70 different ones to collect and kids love watching them transform before their very eyes.

Kano Computer Kit

If you’re looking for something a little different, you might want to consider the Kano Computer Kit. This very modern gift is said to be as fun to put together as LEGO and it comes with a range of stickers to help your child personalise the computer.

It combines Raspberry PI with attractive, chunky peripherals and once it’s been built, your child will be able to access hours’ worth of entertainment with games and lessons that are designed to help teach them how to code and make apps. It’s a sophisticated and very cool gift that’s perfect for today’s kids.

These are just some of the coolest gifts you’ll want to consider buying for a kid’s birthday. No matter what their age or interests, there’s sure to be something above to match their needs.

Disclosure: Collaborative post