Thursday, 24 July 2014

My This Morning appearance: Behind The Scenes!

Photo credit: OhSoAmelia

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you would probably have noticed my timeline's flooded yesterday with lots of  over-excited chatter and photos from my morning at ITV Studios.

The opportunity presented itself a couple of days ago to go on This Morning to discuss the topic of Sex After Childbirth.

I had done a tiny interview in Take A Break magazine at the start of the year on the subject, and had blogged about it previously....and so the research team from This Morning got in touch and invited me on to the show.

I was supposed to catch the 6.30 am train on the day of the show so that I would arrive at 9am, and a car would collect me from the station....getting me to the studio at around 9.30 am. This gave me an hour and a half for hair, make up and going through the prep before the live interview.

Unfortunately, when myself Jon & Tyne arrived at the train station....the word CANCELLED was flashing under my train listing.

Perfect!!!!

A panicked phone call to the research team later, and it was decided I would catch the next train an hour later....this would mean I'd be arriving at the studio with only an hour to spare which was tight but do-able....but it did mean I had to get into my On Air clothes in the train toilet cubicle! Glam!

We arrived at Paddington at 10:05 and found our car.....unfortunately we had the worlds slowest driver.

At 10.35 I started getting tweets and texts from my friends, saying that This Morning had announced me as "Up next" on the show....at this time I was still in the car on my way to the studio with no make up on!! You can imagine the panic!

I arrived at the studio at 10.40...due on air at 11...everything that happened next is a whirl in my mind!

The security guard ran us upstairs, I was rushed straight into the make up room where I had a make up artist and 2 hair stylists with straighteners each working on me all at once, there was a producer at the door yelling "We need her in 5!" and Dr Dawn Harper who was on the segment with me was sitting next to me, reading out tweets and Facebook comments to me about the segment.

All very chaotic.

Then it was time.

Before I knew it I was having my mic fitted and sitting next to Dr Dawn on the sofa.



Eamonn & Ruth came in and sat opposite us....they both said hello, Eamonn shook my hand....both were so friendly and pleasant, not at all intimidating.

The interview went by in a flash.

I have yet to watch it back and I`m not sure if I will....I don't like seeing myself in photos so I can't imagine seeing myself on TV will be any better!...and I have no recollection at all of anything I said!

I do think it was an important subject to cover....one thing that struck me from viewers comments was the general opinion that women are the ones doing something wrong if they're not keen to jump straight back into the sack after a baby. 
One viewer commented "How can these women deprive their men for a year and expect them not to cheat?"

I am astounded by some women's lack of self respect and the lack of value some people put on to both their partners and their relationship.

If you think so little of your partner that you assume he will cheat if you don't "Give him what he wants"....why are you with them?! Do you really want to be with someone like that?!
And is your relationship of such little substance that it would fall apart without the physical side in such a short period of time?

I think there are much deeper issues there to be explored....and that's a story for another time.

Once the interview was over, I was taken out into the Green room where Jon and Tyne were sitting along with the rest of the people on the show that day.

Tyne was busy playing with the shows nutritionist and Jenni Falconer!

He loved the runners too, and they were so lovely with him....particularly Phoebe who took a particular shine to him!

Our car was booked for the shows end at 12.30, and after much deliberation in my mind I decided to be brave and ask Phoebe if there'd be any chance of getting a photo with Ruth & Eamonn.

I expected to be told no, but she said of course and took me back to the set.

I stood watching as they filmed their Piece To Camera's for the next days show....they were hilarious to watch as they bantered with each other between shots, and bickered in jest.

Once they were done, they invited me over for photos.

They were both so lovely and welcoming.

Eamonn asked where I had traveled from and when I mentioned Newton Abbot they chatted away to me about how well they knew it and how they love Devon.

I mentioned that I had seen some harsh comments about the subject matter we had discussed on Facebook, and chatted with them about social media trolls....Eamonn in particular was very passionate about the subject and described some problems he'd had with nastiness online in the past.

Then Eamonn asked how This Morning had found me, and I told him about the magazine feature and my blog....straight away he said "Oh you have a blog! Have you got lots of photos from today?"

I said I had some, and he said some was not enough!....he said we had to take lots! First he suggested a selfie of the two of us.....



And then he took me around the studio, suggesting places for me to pose as he snapped away taking lots of photos of me!!!

I can't tell you how odd it feels to be in presence of  a TV personality and have them be the one taking photos of you!

All of the photos below were taken on my Iphone by Eamonn Holmes! (There's a sentence I never thought I'd say!)







I must have spent a good 15 minutes with him taking photos, he then walked out with me to the lift where we ran into Jon and Tyne....both he & Ruth made a real fuss of Tyne (And I did find Eamonn's greeting to Jon of "There he is! The horny beast!" pretty hilarious as Jon blushed and looked awkward!) and they happily posed for photos.





And that was that....a hug from Eamonn and we were on our way home after a whirlwind, crazy but oh-so enjoyable morning on set and behind the scenes of one of Britain's most loved shows.



Amazing.

I had such an enjoyable morning, and I have to say that it was made all the better by the outpouring of support and kindness from my friends...particularly all the people who sent me tweets, facebook messages and tagged me in Instagram and Facebook pics.

I've included a selection of those messages below, and I would like to thank all of these people and anybody who got in touch with me that day for your kindess. It really meant a lot.

As most of my readers will know, I do suffer with panic attacks and anxiety and don't consider myself to be a very confident person - I will be back next week to discuss how I overcame my anxiety to appear on the show, and sharing the tips I found helpful to do this.





The show is available on Itv player for anybody who wishes to see it for the next 5 days.

The tiny amount of footage I took (And it is TINY!) will be on my vlog next week....so if you'd like to see it please subscribe to my YouTube channel here.


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Blog 101: How To Grow Your Blog



First of all, apologies that it has been a LOT longer than my promised 2 weeks since I posted the first Blog 101 installment...Life gets in the way sometimes!

Today I'm going to be sharing some tips I found helpful on growing your blog.

As I said last time, everybody has their own way of doing things and things don't always work out the same way for everybody...just because these things worked for me, they may not necessarily be right for you and it is always worth finding your way and trying new things.

Be Consistent

So you've started your blog, you've got it looking the way you want....now it's time to work on the most important aspect of any blog...content.

Your blog could be the most beautiful webspace out there, but if there is nothing on it to interest people...why would they bother visiting?

You can't really predict from the beginning what sorts of posts will be popular with readers, it just doesn't work that way....You need to write and post about things that you enjoy.

Put yourself in the readers shoes - what kind of things would YOU want to read about? What would make a post grasp YOUR attention?

Go from there and you should find your feet.

Play to your strong points - if writing is not really your thing but you are a fantastic photographer, concentrate more on that - show off your photos and use minimal text. A picture speaks a thousand words, after all.

If you are a gifted writer but worried about the quality of your photos - don't be. Your writing will be what people are visiting for...some of my favourite blogs don't use photographs at all, they don't need it...their writing is all they need to keep me coming back.

Whatever you do, be as consistent as you can be.

You don't need to blog everyday, you don't even need to blog every week if you don't want to - but try to have some kind of pattern to when you post so that readers can know roughly when to check back for something new.

Use spell check....Read back over your posts to check they sound right and to check for errors....

I do both of these things and plenty of mistakes still slip through the net, but it's definitely worth doing.

Publicise

Now that your content is written and ready for an audience....you need to get busy promoting it!

The main ways that I find work best for publicising my posts are:

*Facebook - I have a Facebook fanpage set up for my blog where I post a link to every new post I write. I also post my link into a variety of Facebook Blogger Groups.

Here are a couple of my favourite groups:

Mummy, Beauty & Lifestyle Bloggers

*Twitter - This is where the majority of my views come from. I tweet the Title of my post with a link to it around 4 times through the course of a day, and I use the hashtags #pbloggers (parent bloggers), #bbloggers (beauty bloggers) or #lbloggers (lifestyle bloggers) depending on the topic of the post.

I also tweet a link to an old "From The Archives" post in the evenings, as you still want those to be viewed too!

I use Buffer to schedule my tweets and Facebook posts so that I don't have to remember to keep tweeting my link, I have Tweets scheduled out months in advance - it makes it so much easier!

It's now part of my routine that when I finish writing a post, I head straight to Buffer and schedule in 4 Tweets for throughout that day, and a further tweet for about 3 months time so the post doesn't sit forgotten about in my archives!

*On The Web - I submit any blog posts of interest to sites like Reddit, Digg and StumbleUpon to expose myself to a wider audience, outside of the my usual readers. I choose to only do this with posts on topics that I feel would appeal to an audience and that I have put a lot of effort into, but some bloggers do submit each & every posts to these sites....whichever way you prefer to do it is fine!

There are many other ways to promote posts that I personally do not use, such as Google Plus & Pinterest....these are sites that I personally haven't been able to get on with, but a lot of people swear by them so they are certainly worth checking out.

Make It Easy

Every blogger loves to get comments on their posts! But if you want a reader to take the time to comment, you need to make it as easy as possible for them.

It's so tempting as a reader to just click out of a page once you've read the post, so you as the writer need to try to entice them into commenting....ask them a question within the post. Make them want to get a conversation started with you or leave you some feedback.

And above all...make it easy for them to comment.

My biggest bug bear with blog commenting is CAPTCHA - the security verification that comes up after you comment, asking you to enter a a series of numbers or letters.

The problem is that the letters and numbers are usually almost impossible to read, and it usually takes a few attempts to get it right....I have lost count of the number of times I've abandoned a blog comment because I just cannot be bothered repeatedly trying to pass the verification!

You can easily switch off CAPTCHA in Blogger, just go to Settings, Posts & Comments and select "No" under Word Verification.

Interact

As somebody who reads a lot of blogs, I personally find that I am most likely to keep returning to a blog frequently if I feel a connection with the blogger....

There are a couple of blogs that I love but I don't know much if anything about the person who writes them, so although I check them from time to time...they don't hold my interest enough to make me keep going back regularly...I need to feel that connection to spark my interest in the blog.

Tell your readers about who you are....have a side bar image of you (Preferably a nice friendly one!) with a little blurb introducing yourself and what you blog about. 

Have an About Me page to give a more detailed introduction.

I like to interact with readers as much as possible....I love it when I can get to know them by tweeting with them, chatting on my Facebook page, and I love to receive emails from them.

Often I have had readers email or tweet me for blog advice if they are budding bloggers, and I have struck up friendships with them this way.

Make it easy for them to reach out to you - be sure that all of your social media accounts are clearly visible and encourage readers to follow you across all of them. 

When they do follow you - take the time to interact with them, be friendly and be approachable.

And try to reply to your blog comments whenever you can...I do find this hard as blogging takes up so much time already, but I try to do it once a week wherever I can....it's worth it.

I'll be back soon with my final installment in this series -  How To Work With PRs and Monetise Your Blog...., so if there is anything in particular you want to ask about leave me a comment and if I know the answer, I'll let you know!

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How to choose those lucky lotto numbers


*Contains a sponsored link

There probably isn’t anyone who wouldn’t like to win the lottery. Who in their right minds would really turn down the opportunity of having their life taken care of (at least financially) through a simple game of luck?

Of course, we can all play the lottery as often as we want, but that doesn’t mean we are any more likely to hit that jackpot and take home the millions. 
Today, though, with being able to play different lotteries online, at least we can enter a number of different lotteries and therefore spread our chances of winning. We can even play international lotteries without residing in the countries in which they’re played.

For example, anyone in the UK can now play Powerball and MegaMillions in the States, Euromillions, the UK National Lottery and the Irish and Scottish lotteries. 

Take a look at the best American Lottery comparison page to see the differences in odds between Powerball and MegaMillions in order to decide where your lottery stake is best spent.

Although the chances of winning any lottery are slim, there is one way that you can increase your share of a jackpot should you happen to win. 

The answer is simple; to pick the winning numbers and to pick numbers that no-one else will choose. 
No-one knows which numbers will be the winning ones, so you can’t do much about that. However, you can make an effort to choose random numbers that other people won’t. 

Here are a couple of tips on picking random numbers:

* Don’t put down your family members’ birth dates. Picking any numbers between 1 and 31 will mean that you’d have to share with other people who’d gone for those birthday numbers too. Go for numbers of 31 and over.

* Don’t be afraid to choose a couple of consecutive numbers. People tend to avoid doing this; but as the winning numbers are drawn at random, there’s nothing to stop some of them being consecutive ones.

* Avoid so-called lucky numbers. For some reason everyone loves the numbers two and seven for their good luck value, but choosing them for your lottery ticket might not bring you a big share of the jackpot as many other people will choose them too.

* Avoid numbers that form a pattern on the ticket, or that includes multiples of the same number. Other people will look for numbers that create patterns, whether they’re visual or down to multiples.

The main thing to remember when playing any lottery is that you shouldn’t expect to win – the odds are stacked against that happening. However, if you choose your numbers well, and you do happen to win, at least you’ll have a bigger prize to yourself!

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Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Taking your Baby Abroad This Summer



A first holiday abroad with a baby can be rather daunting. Where should you go and what on earth should you pack? In all honesty though travelling with a young baby, despite all the 'kit' they come with, can be relatively easy, simply because they still sleep an awful lot, leaving you time to relax and enjoy your holiday while they're catching forty winks. A few tips that might come in useful are:


Where to Holiday?


Most people with young children choose to holiday within a few hours of the UK, purely because the amount of time spent on a plane with the possibility of bored and whiny kids is a bit off-putting. Young babies will often sleep throughout the flight, especially if you'll be giving them a bottle at take off to help keep their ears pain free, so you could perhaps opt to go that little bit further, it just depends on what you're comfortable with.


Equally, transfer time to your accommodation often plays a part in where you decide to holiday with children. Stepping off a plane and knowing you have a four hour long transfer is never a particularly appealing thought, so perhaps choose somewhere around an hour or less away from the airport.


In terms of accommodation type, if you fancy getting away from it all and leaving the cooking and cleaning to someone else, a hotel is the option for you. If you prefer your own space away from the crowds, a villa might be more your style. Always ensure you choose somewhere that comes with everything you need for your baby. You'll need a cot, a highchair in the restaurant or your villa, bottle warming facilities in your room (although the sink and some hot water does the job perfectly well) and ideally somewhere that can arrange for a pack of nappies and your chosen milk to be ready and waiting for your on your arrival, saving you the job of lugging them around with you.


What to Wear?


Babies get hot very quickly and you want to ensure your little one is cool and comfortable while you're away. A hot and fussy baby is a miserable baby and that certainly doesn't make for a relaxing break. If it's really hot where you're going a vest and nappy, or even just a nappy, is perfect during the day. In the evening romper suits or little summer dresses, t shirts and shorts are ideal. Just don’t forget the sunscreen.
Don't forget to pack your little one some swimwear if you're planning on taking them in the pool with you and you'll also need to take their baby shoes with you too if they have started trying to walk or pull themselves up. ASDA George baby shoes are perfect for holidays, keeping their little feet cool and protected while they learn to toddle around on their own.


Holidaying with a little one need not be the stressful situation we imagine, so why not treat yourself, and baby, and book that longed for holiday today.

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Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Our Trip To...Peppa Pig World!



This weekend, we took a much anticipated trip to Southampton to visit Peppa Pig World at Paulton's Park.

It was somewhere we've wanted to go for a while as Tyne just loves Peppa Pig and I thought it would be a really lovely family trip.

Luckily my parents very kindly paid for us to go to Southampton for the night, stay in a nearby hotel and have 2 days entry to the theme park as part of their gift to Tyne for his 1st birthday.

We knew we wanted to go while the weather was nice and before the schools broke up for Summer, so July seemed a good time.

We set off from Devon at about 10 am on Friday to miss the morning rush, and the journey was a very pleasant one....I have been to Southampton before as its where the cruise terminal is so I knew that the route wasn't all motorways but rather nice country roads which I much prefer, the scenery was lovely!

It took us around 2 and a half hours, and we arrived just in time for lunch.

We headed in to the park straight away, no queues, and settled at the first cafe we found to give Tyne his lunch - we'd brought a picnic along as we weren't sure what sort of food would be on offer.

After lunch, we set off to find Peppa Pig World!

Incase you're not familiar with it, Peppa Pig World is one section of Paulton's Park which is a lovely theme park and a great mix of rides for older & younger children, as well as having lots of lovely gardens and lots of birds and animals on display.

As soon as we approached Peppa Pig World, Tyne spotted a giant Peppa standing on top of the Hot Air Balloon ride and started pointed and squealing excitedly!

We were all blown away by how lovely it was....everything was so bright and colourful, it was really like stepping into the TV and into Peppa's world.



There were figures everywhere of the various characters (Tyne seemed to like Grandpa Pig best!), and the houses were dotted around too.

There were traditional fairground games with chances to win Giant stuffed Peppa Pig toys, a large indoor play area, a lovely outdoor park, a "Muddy Puddles" water play park, and Daddy Pig's Big Tummy Cafe as well as various ice cream & snack kiosks.





Then of course there were the rides!

The only one that Tyne was too little for was George's Dinosaur Adventure Ride....but every other ride he was able to enjoy.

And we went on all of them! Numerous times!



There was:

Peppa's Hot Air Balloon Ride

Daddy Pig's Car Ride

Grandpa Pig's Train Ride

Grandpa Pig's Boat Trip

Mrs Rabbit's Helicopter Ride

& The Windy Castle

We were so lucky that on both days we enjoyed perfect hot weather, but hardly any queues!

On our second day we had been forecast rain and storms, but these didn't materialise....but the forecast did keep the Saturday crowds away and it was even quieter than the Friday had been! Ideal!

Because of the lack of queues, we went on all of the rides at least twice....some we went on 3 or 4 times.

Tyne's favourites were the Car Ride and the Train....he loved steering the cars, and was delighted that Grandpa Pig was driving the train!



I loved the Hot Air balloon ride and the Boat trip personally, and Jon being the thrill seeker was all about The Windy Castle....I wasn't convinced about going on that as it looked rather high and the carriages seemed to be swaying a lot....but I braved it, and hated every second!!! I'm such a whimp!



The food outlets in the park were really good....on the second day we had lunch at Daddy Pig's Big Tummy cafe which had great options of pizza and hot dogs etc for adults, and sold items such as small cheese sandwhiches and sausage rolls for children....perfect sizes for toddlers.

I found the prices to be very reasonable for most things, but I did think the ice cream was a bit of a rip off at almost £3 per ice cream!

However, the rest of the prices left me pleasantly surprised as I go to these sorts of places fully expecting to be ripped off.



There were lots of photo opportunities around the park, with some rides taking your photo and also a Magic Photo Studio which allowed you to be projected in to the world of Peppa Pig!

The photos were available as framed prints, keyrings or magnets with each item costing £8...but you could purchase a set of any 4 for £20.

We chose this option and were given 4 vouchers for 4 photo items, which could be redeemed on any visit....very handy and a good saving!

As well as the rides, there was also Peppa's house which you could go inside - Tyne loved this!!!

And of course there was the chance 4 times a day to meet Peppa & George themselves!



It was quite surreal seeing a bunch of toddlers rush a "stage" to try and get at their idols in gigantic pig costumes....Tyne threw himself right into it and lunged himself at George Pig as though he was the lead singer of his favourite rock band.....

But it was very fun and I actually felt quite emotional at seeing so many children so genuinely happy and excited!





Peppa & George certainly didn't rush their visits and made sure they stayed out until every child had got a cuddle or a high 5.

On the second day, we also explored Paulton's Park itself which is really beautiful with such great choice of rides.




There is plenty for thrill seeking older children and adults, but lots of lovely gentle rides for younger ones too.

Tyne really enjoyed walking through the Dinosaur World section too



I absolutely loved the Victorian Carousel...so beautiful!


All in all, we absolutely adored our 2 days at Peppa Pig World and we are already excited about when to go back.

We're sailing out of Southampton for our cruise holiday in September and we think it would be great to get there early and have the day at Peppa Pig World first!



And in closing.....in case you're wondering....this is how a childs face looks after a day at Peppa Pig World!



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