My Relaxation Mantra

“Problems are just pathways to a wider road”

Whenever I want to stop stressing about an issue that’s bothering me, I repeat this relaxation mantra to myself.

Instead of viewing a problem as a niggling thing to worry about, I remember that every time I’ve overcome a problem in the past, it’s led me forward in my life, and opened up new opportunities and a bigger picture that I may not have seen before.

What’s your personal relaxaton mantra? Check out the competition at Spa Seekers, and share it, and you could win a relaxing spa break for two people.

Festival Stylings by Superdry

The festival season brings a style of its own. You want an outfit that looks cute and cool, but also something you can layer against the elements, and combat the messiest mudpits!

The Style Rawr are currently running a competition with Superdry to create a Festival look using a Superdry t-shirt and other Superdry products from their online store. I call this the ‘Meadow Girl Look’… complete with shades in case the sun shines, and a back-pack for carrying around your festival essentials.

Follow Sarah Eaglesfield’s board Festival stylings by Superdry on Pinterest.

All products available at the online Superdry store.

School Days – A Uniform Revisited

I expected a monosyllabic answer when I asked hatchling what she thought of my old school uniform.

1) Didn’t believe it was me.
2) Didn’t believe I ever went to school.
3) Didn’t like the hair.
4) Didn’t like the “poopy” colour.


She had a point. The girls at our school were known as the “Brown Cows” around town, purely on the basis of the uniform. Our blouses couldn’t just be ‘blue’ – they had to be ‘Trutex Blue’.  I think I could read every blog, every fashion article and every ladies’ quarterly since the 15th century and not find one that declared: “brown & blue is the hottest trend of the season”. It was truly horrendous. Oh, and our shoes had to be brown as well.

Debenhams are currently running a competition to reimagine your old school photo using their current schoolwear range.  Thankfully, as Debenhams have taste, I wasn’t able find anything quite as “poopy” as my old uniform – so let’s imagine that all the teachers went slightly colour-blind one day (hey, Hermione Granger, can you lend me a hand here?), and we were allowed to wear blacks instead of browns!

Follow Sarah Eaglesfield’s board Back to School on Pinterest.


Outerwear is always the most important choice. Unless England lucks out on the sunshine, it’s the item you’ll wear during your long journeys to and from school, during break time, during lunchtime, and on the way home.  With that in mind, as well as being practical, the girl’s black textured faux fur hooded parka coat by Ted Baker is absolutely gorgeous.

For the uniform itself, the girl’s blue generous fit long sleeved school shirts are almost Trutex Blue enough to pass the Great School Uniform Inspection of ’88. The girl’s black slim fit school trousers are stylish and smart, whilst the black v-neck cardigan makes a fashionable substitute for the brown v-neck pullover.

I love the style of the Clarks Griffin Monty shoes, there’s enough of a heel on it to give me that extra height I so desperately need. Finally, the Tan ‘Beachy’ Leopard Print Backpack adds that slight bit of rebellion and non-conformity – breaking school rules a little never got anyone thrown into jail (although it did get me thrown into detention a couple of times… and it was totally worth it).

My old school did change the uniform in the mid-90s.  The girls now wear navy and cream colours, and the shoe choice has been expanded to allow both navy and black.  Indeed, there are many items in the Debenhams schoolwear range that would meet the new requirements. That doesn’t save me from the 4 years of brownness I had to endure in my formative years though. Consider me fashion-scarred for life!

NB: Looking at the photos, even now, I feel bad for Kirsty, who most likely got into trouble for wearing a beige blouse that day…

A Call for Votes! – The Great Cuban Cocktail Competition

I’ve been making cocktails every week for the Be At One Bar – Win A Trip to Cuba cocktail competition. I was lucky enough to come 3rd in their Rum Week with my Chai Latino, which means I’ll be in the prize draw for a trip to Cuba!

Judging from the photographs of other winners, a large percentage of them were chosen from Be At One customers who took cocktail classes there (you can identify those cocktails by the ‘Be At One’ menu behind the cocktail), so I was very lucky to even get this far: and we really enjoyed using our voucher. Now it’s almost time for me to call on you, my adoring public (cough), to spare me a vote.

As encouragement, I’m sharing a few of the entries I made into the competition over the last 8 weeks… hopefully it will get you tipsy enough to hit the vote button!

My ‘Award Winning’ Chai Latino:

Chai Cocktail On OwnChai Latino

Ingredients: 50ml Havana Club Especial

25ml Amaretto
50ml Pomegranate Juice
50ml Guava Juice
Pour all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker over ice and shake thoroughly for 30 seconds. Strain into a cocktail glass

Garnish with a Physalis



Vegas Baby, Gin Swindler and Mighty Wurltizer.


SamsTown ginswindler wurl



The Trophy Maker


2 parts Chivas Regal scotch, 1 part cointreau, 1 part pomegranate juice, pomegranate seeds, ice.

Put a scoop of pomegranate seeds at the bottom of the cocktail glass.

Shake all other ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice, and strain into glass.




room7609cocktail Room 7609


2 parts Chivas Regal scotch, 1 part orange brandy, 2 parts cranberry juice, 1/2 lemon (juiced), 1 tsp strawberry jam. Strawberry & lemon for decoration.

Shake all ingredients in a shaker with ice, and then strain into an ice-filled glass. Garnish with a slice of lemon and strawberry.







Ingredients: 2 parts tequila, 1 part gin, 1 part hierbas – lime to decorate.

Pour tequila & gin into a tall glass filled with ice and top up with hierbas. Garnish with a slice of lemon.






mexicanmonkeyMexican Monkey

Ingredients: 2 parts tequila, 1 part butterscotch schnapps, 1 part cocunut run, 1 part coconut water – lime to decorate.

Shake ingredients in cocktail shaker with ice and strain into cocktail glass. Decorate with lime.







honeybegoodHoney Be Good

2 parts Jack Daniels
1 part Grand Marnier
1 part Honey Syrup (make honey syrup by mixing equal amount of honey with boiling water & leaving to cool)
1 part lemonade
juice from 1/2 fresh lemon

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add ingredients and shake well. Strain into glass & garnish with a lemon.





Tangled Jack

2 parts Jack Daniels
1 part Strawberry Liqueur
2 parts club soda
2 large strawberries, stems removed and cut in quarters
6 mint leaves

Add all ingredients into a glass and stir well.






borgataThe Borgata (my favourite cocktail!)

1 part Almond Liqueur (Amaretto)
1 part Caramel Liqueur (Level Caramel)
1 part Coffee Liqueur (Kahlua)
1 part Fresh Cream

Fill cocktail shaker 3/4 full with ice. Shake & strain into chilled cocktail glass.



Win tickets to Festival No.6 in Portmeirion with Thou Shalt Not Covet

Festival No.6

Fancy winning tickets to Festival No.6 in Portmeirion? Then get your entries in for the Rafflecopter competition on Thou Shalt Not Covet.

There are 2 Adult Weekend camping tickets up for grabs, worth £195 each, and a pre pitched tent worth £130. With Grace Jones and Belle & Sebastian as headliners, it’s shaping up to be one of the greatest festivals of 2015 – try your luck and you could be there!

Meet Radiodeactive: my Retweet to Win Twitter bot

It’s no secret that @radiodeactive is my ‘Retweet to Win’ Twitter bot.  She’s programmed to search Twitter, find ‘retweet to win’ competitions in the UK for me, and retweet them. Then I choose whether to follow the company who are doing the giveaway or not, and whether to ‘unretweet the tweet’ or leave it in place.  Radiodeactive is a fine tuned winning machine, who I’m very proud of.

It was all going kinda well, until a guy called Hunter Scott decided to fess up to his own ‘Retweet to Win’ bot, and how he’d won 1,000 prizes. Within a matter of days, there were a host  of unsophisticated bots trawling Twitter retweeting the most random tweets that looked like they may be competitions.  They were parsing competition entries incorrectly, and generally being an embarrassment to well-behaved bots everywhere.

Ironically, I only found out about Hunter Scott because Radiodeactive started retweeting the tweets relating to his story.

Eager to see how many other bots were roaming the Twittersphere, I decided to throw a tweet out there:

Initially there was only one RT from someone who wasn’t a friend: that was the retweet bot known as @MannysAlterEgo. Not particularly fine tuned, MannysAlterEgo seems to be retweeting an awful lot of ‘teen prizes’ – such as retweeting to win a solo DM with a boyband member, or voting in MTV’s Hottest.  It has no deduplication in place, so it’s retweeting the same tweets from different users for the same competitions multiple times, and will probably end up in Twitter Jail before too long.

Other bots soon got in on the action though. There was @themostunlucky who was a lot better designed than most, but retweeting a bunch of international comps. When asked, they claimed they were passing prizes on to pals in the USA: sounds good in theory, not so likely in practise, given the tax returns needed.

Very basic bots like KalGuntuku, John Buch and NiallFlorence used a ‘manual text RT’ to retweet other compers competition entries. They stripped out hashtags, and generally looked really suspect.

@jennym1979 seems like the best of the bunch so far, however, all the retweets are being posted as embedded tweets instead of actual retweets.

Do I believe a RT to Win bot is cheating? Not at all- I spent as many hours building and fine-tuning @radiodeactive as I would have finding and retweeting competitions (probably more). It was just a more enjoyable project for me than spending hours on Twitter.  Also, Radiodeactive does still have a lot of human intervention: I still enter twenty or more competitions a day manually. From me untweeting the competitions I’m not interested in, to adding more human communication with brands that are running a great competition, it’s not just pure automation.

To all newcomers in the word of RT to win bots, I wish you well – just please, stop retweeting Radiodeactive!

Bathroom SOS!

Who needs a time machine?

We moved into this house when I was 5 years old. My father, rest his soul, having no mind or time for DIY, simply didn’t change a thing. I’ve made a few inexpensive upgrades since I took over the place: put up blinds where once there were curtains, and given the walls a fresh coat of paint. Still, what lies within these four walls is a living testament to 1001 Decorating Ideas, February 1980 (and no, I didn’t just make that up!)

1001 Decorating Ideas - February 1980


A bathroom in crisis

The most neglected room of all is our upstairs bathroom.  Apart from putting in an electric shower at the turn of the century, nothing has been done.

I became convinced the bathroom was haunted when I was a child, and I’ve never once used the toilet in there. The bathroom is so hideous to me, I literally can’t stand to be in it for more than 5 minutes: if I fancy a bath, I wait until I’m staying in a hotel that has a bath.  But, before you accuse me of being a bathroom-drama-queen (or smelly), let’s take a closer look at it.


[youtube video=83JQDFCY5kI autoplay=1 loop=1]


My bathroom gripes

First – it’s green. My least favourite colour. It’s green, with other shades of green, in a vomit-inducing pattern.

Second –  it’s falling apart.  The toilet cistern is broken and doesn’t work anymore. The taps are stiff, the tiles are crumbling and the panels are cracking. It’s really showing its age.

Third – I’m still not entirely sure that it isn’t haunted. And, if it isn’t haunted, I’m convinced the 1970s electric heater on the wall was designed with the sole purpose to kill me, so I’ll be the one haunting it.

Inspiration from Luxury

Big Bathroom Shop and Tile Mountain‘s Dream Bathroom Competition got me dreaming.  With over 5,000 high quality bathroom products available to buy at the Big Bathroom Shop, and an extensive range of wall and floor tiles at Tile Mountain, there was plenty to dream about.

I had an idea of what I wanted. Call me dull and boring if you will, but after 36 years of living with these tiles, my soul was crying out for neutrals. I wanted to design a bathroom that reminded me of being in my favourite hotels, so I set about finding the combinations to achieve that vision.

1. The Water Club, Atlantic City

Bathroom at The Water Club, Atlantic City

The downside to the bathroom at the Water Club is that there isn’t a tub.  However, the design of the walk-in double-headed shower more than makes up for that!  Recreating this bathroom with a single suite would be difficult, but Big Bathroom Shop have a range of options you can mix and match outside the packages they have on offer.

[all units available at Big Bathroom Shop]

[fts pinterest pinterest_name=msfriendly board_id=water-club-bathroom-furniture type=single_board_pins]

[all tiles available at Tile Mountain]

[fts pinterest pinterest_name=msfriendly board_id=water-club-tiles type=single_board_pins]

The walnut units by Bauhaus reflect the refined ambience of the Water Club, whilst the stunning Milano walk-in shower enclosure is an ideal replication. Add on the Premier Thermostatic Bar Shower Valve & Kit with Telescopic Riser, and you could almost be back in Atlantic City.

I’m extremely particular when it comes to a toilets – it has to have a flush handle and a wide bowl. The Old London Richmond Toilet Pan & Cistern meets my requirements in that area: I’d choose a seat and cover to match the rest of the decor. The Ultra Glide mirror and Milano Pendle Chrome Heated Towel Rail with Heated Shelf add that extra bit of luxury to the design.

The tiles from Tile Mountain are neutral, but a flash of mosaic would give the bathroom more character.


2. Soho Metropolitan Hotel, Toronto

buf Bathroom at the Soho Metropolitan Hotel, Toronto

The bathroom at the Soho Metropolitan Hotel, Toronto, has everything – except, I’m not a huge fan of how they use the same colour tiles for absolutely everything (nor am I a huge fan of the colour of the tiles).  There isn’t enough room in our bathroom for both a bath and a shower, but emulating this particular design is quite simple.

[fts pinterest pinterest_name=msfriendly board_id=soho-metropolitan type=single_board_pins]

To reproduce the Soho bathroom I’d pick the Phoenix Emma Furniture Bathroom Suite, with a Euro 750mm Basin unit. I’m a big fan of open shelving – if it’s in a cupboard, I forget that it’s there – so I’d add on a couple of Phoenix Cara 20cm Open Shelf Storage Units.

A mix of Polished Cappuccino Marble Wall and Floor Tiles with Cappuccino Mosaic, along with a Pebble Border to break the monotony would complete the look, whilst the LED mirror would make the bathroom look more spacious.

3. Malmaison Hotel, Edinburgh

Bathroom at the Malmaison, Edinburgh. Photo courtesy of TripAdvisor.

The Malmaison Edinburgh is pretty much my ideal bathroom. The fact that it’s smaller than the other two bathrooms brings it much more in line with what would be achievable in the space we have. The huge mirrored wall makes the bathroom seem big and bright, and the colour scheme is timeless.

[all units available at Big Bathroom Shop]

[fts pinterest pinterest_name=msfriendly board_id=malmaison-bathroom type=single_board_pins]

The Hudson Reed midnight bath, basin and cabinet with a thermostatic shower panel seem like ideal choices to start on recreating the look of this bathroom.  The Twyford Clarice Toilet, Cistern and Black Ash Seat meets my aforementioned personal requirements for a toilet, and the Bauhaus Celeste Tower Storage Unit in Black Ash along with the Premier Relax Black Wood Bathroom Mirror would give the bathroom a contemporary feel.

[all tiles available at Tile Mountain]

[fts pinterest pinterest_name=msfriendly board_id=malmaison-tiles type=single_board_pins]

Chess black and white tiles could be combined creatively with Hammered Slate Effect Black Floor tiles and Sheera Multicolour Slate tiles to create the perfect monochrome bathroom.

A final pick

The Big Bathroom Shop and Tile Mountain competition required that I choose three suites and three tiles to create my ideal bathroom.  Taking inspiration from above, I’d choose the Hudson Reed Bainbridge Bathroom Suite as my favourite, because it’s the closest match to the Malmaison bathroom. The Ultra Design Showerbath Suite would be my second pick: it’s stylish, compact and bright, closely followed by the Ultra Lux Bathroom Suite.

If I were limited to three choices of tile, I’d choose the Chess Black and White, with Sheera Multicolour Slate tiles. Check out my Pinterest board below for an idea of how these would combine to create my ideal bathroom, and save me from my current bathroom blues (and greens)!

[raw_html_snippet id=”pinterest”]

Find your ideal bathroom at Big Bathroom Shop and the tiles to match at Tile Mountain.

Priceless Surprises: Mastercard & Kaiser Chiefs

It’s been a strange few weeks for running into famous people.

First, I got my Access All Areas tour pass for Foo Fighters’ European dates. Had the time of my life at the Manchester gig, stood on the side of the stage a few yards from Taylor, watching the 60,000 people on the ground having as great a time as I was. However, I couldn’t go to see them in Wembley or Edinburgh, because I’d already booked to see The Killers in Atlantic City the same weekend. Then, conveniently, Dave broke his leg – and the injoke became that I set up his fall so I wouldn’t miss any gigs…


I arrived in Atlantic City three days before The Killers gig, and – shockingly – so did Brandon.  I ran into him four days in a row: which was nice, because I got to give him his birthday present in person, but not so nice, because I always get really nervous around Brandon, and – after accidentally bumping into him three times in 24 hours – I spent most of my vacation hiding behind slot machines, trying my hardest not to bump into him again.

Then there was my X-Factor audition which involved Olly Murs, Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole, Rita Ora, Nick Grimshaw, Rochelle Humes and Melvin Odoom.  None of whom I’m even slightly interested in or care about. However, it also involved Caroline Flack, who I’d filmed with before, and who I adored, so that made the whole experience great. Simon Cowell’s mother died on the weekend before filming, meaning my audition got postponed by 24 hours.  The injoke became – not only did I break Dave Grohl’s leg, I also killed Simon Cowell’s mother to give myself more time to rehearse. Pretty sick, but I have to admit, I got a chuckle out of it.


I figured my brushes with the ABC-listers of the world were over. Then Mastercard contacted me to let me know I’d won a meet and greet with Kaiser Chiefs as part of their Priceless Surprises campaign.  I’d loved these guys around the time of their first album, I played it constantly and went to see them a number of times, but I’d lost track of what they were up to… in fact, I didn’t even know that Ricky was a judge on The Voice until I was frantically searching to make sure I was up to speed prior to our meeting.  My online pal Sondre being a judge on The Voice in Norway, my X-Factor experience under my belt, and my recent encounters with their old buddy Brandon: I had plenty to talk about.  Turned out it was a photo opp, and not really a meet & greet, so there wasn’t much time for idle chatter, but it was still great to say hello to the guys. Unfortunately, the pic came out really, really badly because I was mid-“saying-hello-to-the-guys”…


The gig was awesome: Mastercard laid on food and drink & made it an event to remember.  I was an idiot for not listening to the new Kaiser Chiefs’ stuff sooner: it has the early 2000s synth vibe I love. The highlight had to be when, from out of nowhere, they suddenly bust out Pinball Wizard . Ricky’s even more agile than the last time I saw them, which was probably 7 years ago. Peanut still likes to clap. I still like to clap. It was all good.

Thinking about it: I probably should have gone for The Voice instead of X-Factor. I could have bribed one of the judges beforehand, and maybe I’d have stood a chance!

A Great British Cheese and Mac Salad

The British Cheese Board are running a campaign to promote the use of cheese in your salad this summertime – and as cheese is one of my truest loves, I decided to heed their advice! I’ve never been much of a cook, although I’ve always loved experimenting in the kitchen. Over the course of the last few weeks I think I’ve perfected my ideal summer cheese salad using the remains of my Mac & Cheese from the night before!

First, I made Mac & Cheese using the following ingredients & method:

250g Macaroni Pasta
300g Mature Barber’s Cruncher Cheddar Cheese
60g Shaved Berkswell Cheese
750ml milk
60g butter
2 tablespoons plain flour
1 teaspoon mustard

1. Preheat oven to 180C.
2. Boil macaroni according to directions on the packet and drain into casserole dish.
3. Melt butter in a saucepan and stir in flour until thickened, then add milk and mustard, stirring constantly.
4. Stir in the Barber’s Cruncher Cheese until melted.
5. Pour mixture over the macaroni in casserole dish & stir well.
6. Bake in oven for 30 minutes and sprinkle the shaved Berkswell Cheese on top.

This is a meal in itself! But I put the leftovers in the fridge and made my salad the next day.

I added lettuce leaves, chunks of apple and celery, nuts, raisins, and a splash of lemon juice – then put in a few chunks more of the Barber’s Cruncher and shaved some more Berkswell on top to make the most delicious salad I’ve eaten in a long time, including restaurants!

YUM. Dig in!