Kids shoes with Brantano

If I am honest when thinking of where to shop for children’s shoes Brantano is not the first place that springs to mind. However, after our recent visit to the Gloucester branch of the shoe superstore I will definitely be adding it to the top of my list!


Brantano offer a huge range of adults and kids shoes in a variety of styles and carry many of the big brands for children such as Clarks, Skechers and Start-Rite to name a few. We were on the hunt for a good quality pair of boots or shoes for the winter as G’s feet have grown loads recently. Brantano offer measuring by fully trained staff who were very thorough and made the whole experience really fun. (Often feet measuring in our house becomes a really traumatic experience!)

Brantano’s main aim is to provide  customers with a stress free shopping experience, as most of their stores are situated on out of town retail parks making a visit easy and convenient. Also all the shoes are out in pairs and ready to try on, taking the hassle out of footwear shopping. Not only do Brantano do a great range of trainers and shoes for everyday but they also have an incredibly comprehensive selection of school shoes so their is a choice for every taste and budget. The location of the Gloucester branch was so convenient and was situated on a park with Matalan so I was able to combine our visit with stocking up on some much needed school shirts.

G chose his own shoes and I have to say I was very happy with his choices.


Brantano also give you a handy leaflet with your child’s shoe size written down and a suggestion as to when to come back and be remeasured. A great reminder for parents like me who sometimes can’t remember when feet were last measured! The leaflet is also packed with information and some useful checklists for what you need to remember for kitting children out for school each term.

During half term Brantano branches across the country have a great range of special offers and  discounts on kids shoes (and adults too!) so definitely worth a visit.





Be an Energy Shopper with Ofgem



The last few months have seen major changes for us as we moved house which was both exciting and stressful. Tying up all the loose ends from one house and sorting out all the new bills for the new one seemed a never ending task.
One of the most important things to us was making sure we got the best energy deal we could as we don’t have gas, just oil and electricity. We knew from our bills at our last house our electricity consumption could be quite high, especially during the winter.
There are lots of ways you can make sure you are getting the best energy deal. You can use a search engine or an energy comparison site. However before doing any of this you should head over to the Ofgem site Be an Energy Shopper first.  Ofgem are the independent regulator of the energy market and the site provides independent and unbiased information on how to get a better deal.


The Be an Energy Shopper site is a wealth of information on energy and they offer a list of the Ofgem approved comparison sites so you know you are using a trusted and approved dealer when searching for your best deal. The Be an Energy Shopper site is not there to generate cash and sales as Ofgem are funded from the license fees that the energy companies have to pay to operate in the market, so you know the advice they are offering is impartial and honest. Through the Be an Energy Shopper site Ofgem are working for us, the consumers, making sure we get the best deal and the important information we need to make an informed decision about our energy purchases.
We soon saw the importance and value of comparing prices and being well informed when the tariff recommendations we got ranged from £49 a month to £110.
Ofgem’s ‘Be an Energy Shopper’ has three main areas to help consumers understand how to get the best deal for their energy bills, by explaining the ins and outs of this confusing market.
For us, the section on Switching Suppliers and Moving House was the most useful. The site goes through a handy checklist of what you need to do before leaving your old house and moving into the new one, alongside lots of useful advice on energy tariffs and what to look for when choosing a new energy supplier. The site is really easy to navigate and I liked the way the information given was really relevant and useful.
Even if you are not moving house anytime soon there are also sections on how to understand your bill and how to go about changing your tariff deal and getting the best deal you can.
I would love to know if you do head over to the Ofgem site and found it as useful as we did!

FRONTLINE® Plus – Another weapon in the fight again fleas and ticks!

grace-and-garthWe all know that protecting our dogs and cats from fleas and ticks is an essential part of their care routine. If you do ever have the misfortune of finding these unwelcome guests on your pet, you have the added hassle of taking measures to deep clean the house to make sure their pesky eggs and larvae don’t turn into adult fleas.

Thanks to the clever people at FRONTLINE®, you can now help protect your home from getting infested in the first place!

FRONTLINE have recently launched a new ‘double action’ product: FRONTLINE Plus. This not only kills fleas and ticks on your pet, but also contains an additional active ingredient that stops flea eggs from hatching and larvae developing in your home. Apply every 4 weeks to help protect your pets from fleas and ticks.*

Why does this matter you may ask? 95% of a flea problem that can be found in the home are related to eggs, larvae and pupae. To really show us where these pesky parasites hide in our homes, FRONTLINE have created the FRONTLINE Plus House which is touring the UK to raise awareness of the risks fleas, and also ticks, pose to our pets and homes.


They are also having fully qualified veterinary professionals on hand to offer expert advice on flea and tick protection so you can ask for advice or have any questions answered after your close shave with these (fake!) pesky critters.

The FRONTLINE ® House was unveiled at Victoria Station with Steph & Dom Parker  from Gogglebox and their miniature Dachshund Gigi. I was so disappointed to not be able to make the event as I would have loved to meet them and see the FRONTLINE® House. Luckily the house is going on tour so you can get to see it in its full glory at the following events

Also if you share any photos from your visit via social media you can receive instant rewards through a ‘lucky dip’ competition. Also don’t forget to sign up to the FRONTLINE monthly treatment reminder service to be in with a chance to WIN a £1500 Forest Holiday for your family and pet.

For more information you can visit

The Autumn Malvern Show

Autumn Show

If you are looking for a great day out, the Autumn Malvern Show on Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th September is definitely a good bet.

We visited the Spring Show in May and had a fab time, so are really looking forward to visiting what is billed as ‘the ultimate Harvest Festival’ at the Three Counties Showground in Worcestershire. With a feast of activities around food and farming it has something for all ages! Newly introduced for 2016, the dedicated Family Fun Area that will be overflowing with a activities for kids including garden games, circus skills and ‘make-and-take’ craft activities. With kids fully occupied, grown ups can unwind in this area too with a chill out bean bag space. (We will definitely be heading to this part of the show!)



There is also going to be a Forgotten Skills marquee where children can find out more about the trades of yesteryear with a time travelling glimpse into how things were done in the past. There is a strong vintage theme running through the show this autumn too with Anton Du Beke making an appearance in the Vintage Village alongside lots of traditional style fairground rides and amusements.

vintage tea

One of the highlights of the Autumn Show is the UK National Giant Vegetable Championship, which brings bountiful displays of monster marrows, colossal carrots, supersize squashes and much much more. This area of the show is renowned for smashing many world records with three broken last year alone and over 300 entries competing for the highly coveted top accolades.


The Malvern Autumn Show will take place on Saturday 24 September and Sunday 25 September. Tickets are now on sale. Family tickets (2 adults, 3 children aged between 5 – 15 years) are priced at £37 when purchased in advance and £45 on the gate. Individual advanced tickets are priced at £16 for adults and £5 for children and on the gate at £19 for adults and £7 for children. Group and concession tickets are available. 

For information, please visit or call 01684 584924.


Giffords Circus – Fun for a Great Cause



Steven Kaack2Image Courtesy of  Steven Kaak

At the start of the summer we were lucky enough to be invited to attend Giffords Circus Painted Wagon show when they were situated in the beautiful setting of Sudeley Castle.

2016-05-20 18.49.53

Giffords Circus has announced that all proceeds from their closing show this year will be donated Maggie’s Cheltenham. Sales from tickets to the 5pm performance on Sunday 25 September at the circus’ HQ, Fennells Farm, will support the charity close to the circus’ heart. Giffords Circus co-founder, Nell Gifford has been undergoing treatment for breast cancer and has benefited from the support of Maggie’s Cheltenham Cancer Care Centre.



                                                                                               Image courtesy of El Gifford

El GiffordNell Gifford said: “Maggie’s have been hugely beneficial to my journey and the support they offered me at a tough time was invaluable. Cancer is something that touches each and every one of us in some way – almost all of us have a friend or family member or someone we hold dear who’s been treated for the disease. I hope Giffords Circus fans and newcomers alike will be out in force to dig deep and raise a fantastic figure for the charity, ending The Painted Wagon tour on an almighty high.”

Maggie’s Cancer Care offers free practical, emotional and social support to people with cancer and their family and friends. Maggie’s Cheltenham Care Centre is found on College Baths Road and is a place with professional staff on hand to offer the support people need. Centres are places to find practical advice about benefits and eating well; places where qualified experts provide emotional support; places to meet other people and places where you can simply sit quietly with a cup of tea.

Giffords Circus wish to champion the work of Maggie’s Cheltenham as a thank you for the support the charity offered Nell Gifford during her treatment for breast cancer. Returning from a sell out stint in London, Giffords Circus’ The Painted Wagon has a few dates left in Gloucestershire and Wiltshire, entertaining audiences with this original whip-crackin’ horse-wranglin’ hell-raisin’ Wild West extravaganza.

Andrew Rees

Image courtesy of Andrew Rees

Directed by the critically acclaimed Cal McCrystal, The Painted Wagon invites audiences to a spectacle of eye-catching acrobatics and aerialists from far and distant lands, dancing horses, bounty hunting and gold panning, all to the beat of the “Dodge City” Giffords Circus saloon band.

The Painted Wagon comes to a close in September. Giffords Circus’ charity performance will take place on Sunday 25 September at 5pm at Fennells Farm, Lypiatt, Stroud. Tickets are priced at £22 for adults and £14 for children age 3 – 14; under 3’s go free if sitting on a lap. This includes a hog roast for which donations can be made. All proceeds from this performance go to Maggie’s Cheltenham Cancer Care Centre.

 To book tickets for the remaining dates and the final charity performance, visit or the Box Office on 0845 459 7469.

Summer Safety for Your Dog with FRONTLINE Spot On

The Dog House Wales


Being a dog owner is one of my favourite things. I just could never imagine living without a four legged friend ever again. Whenever I am at home and there are no dogs about (this happens very rarely) I feel as though something is missing. A huge hole in the fabric of our home.

Even when we had Doodle after losing Twiglet last year it took a long period of adjustment to not having Twigs around. That is a big part of why Grace has been such a breath of fresh air for us all.


Being a responsible dog owner also means arming yourself with facts about why it is important to do certain things in your dog’s care routine and regular treatment with products such as FRONTLINE® are vital for maintaining your dog’s health and well-being.

FRONTLINE® doesn’t just protect against the common flea but also ticks which are far more common in the summer months than in the winter. I didn’t realise that ticks can be found anywhere your pet goes, not just the obvious high risk places such as forests, heathland, and grassy areas but also in urban playgrounds, parks and even your back garden. So it’s really important to take action to protect your pet and yourself. I had always thought of ticks as being a ‘countryside’ issue but it would appear not to be the case at all.

Ticks and their diseases

I had never heard of canine babesiosis before, but it is a fatal tick-borne disease that has been recently reported in the UK1. In the past the cases had been linked to travel outside of the UK but the most recent ones are different. These new cases are significant because none of the dogs had travelled outside the UK, which shows that an infected population of ticks has become established in this region.

Another important tick-borne disease to be aware of is Lyme disease, which can lead to serious complications to pets and humans if left untreated. And with a recent report showing that cases in dogs have increased by more than 500% since 2009*, the risk to our pets can’t be ignored.

1 in 3 ticks in the UK have been found to carry an infectious disease that may affect dogs2 so it’s important to take action to protect your pet.

Ticks are actually second only to mosquitoes in transmitting infectious diseases to both humans and animals3, something that has really surprised me!

To help protect your pet from ticks and fleas, apply FRONTLINE® Spot On monthly. It kills ticks within 48 hours of contact with your treated pet, minimising the risk of tick-borne disease transmission.


• Ticks•


*PDSA Pet Hospitals data 2009-2015

2.Personal communication, Faith Smith, University of Bristol, 2010

3.Beugnet, F. (2013) Guide to Vector Borne Diseases of Pets.

FRONTLINE® Spot On contains fipronil. Legal category: AVM-GSL (UK). ®Registered Trademark. For further prescribing information, refer to the data sheet on or contact Merial Animal Health Ltd, CM19 5TG, UK. Use medicines responsibly

Country Living and Carpet Cleaners

One of the  things about living in the country is you get a real sense of the changing seasons and with Spring in the air, better light and longer days, you really start to notice the grubbiness that Winter brings into the house.

Our carpets take a real battering with mud as

a) our back door leads out of our sitting room

b) our son’s school car park is a mud bath

c) pets

These are our two main culprits……..

Tibetan terrier

Grace our Tibetan Terrier rescue dog has had a few ‘accidents’ as she adjusts to life in a family home, so when I was asked by the team at Bissell to have a go with the CleanView® Proheat® Carpet Cleaner 34T2E

I jumped at the chance. The carpets in our house have seen better days but each Spring I have paid to have them professionally cleaned after the hammering of Winter so I was excited to see if the Proheat Carpet Cleaner would save me a £100+ in carpet cleaning. best carpet cleaner

The instructions are very user friendly and although this was the first time I have used a carpet washer, we were quickly able to understand how the carpet cleaner worked.

The tank is ridiculously easy to fill and empty and even includes an integral measurement cap so you know exactly how much carpet cleaner fluid to add to the tank. What makes this carpet cleaner similar to the expensive sort you hire is that it continually heats the water in the tank which really helps to lift the dirt out of the carpet.

Check out the video of us using it (if we can – anyone can!)

Bissell Cleanview Proheat in action from Dominique Simpson on Vimeo.

For us though, the really great bit of this carpet cleaner was that the Bissell Cleanview comes with a hose and attachment nozzle that really helps lift stains from awkward or hard to reach areas and upholstery. What we have found a real life saver is that we are able to use the carpet cleaner if one of the dogs has an accident or if a drink gets spilled straight away on a small patch without having to clean the entire carpet.

carpet cleaner

The only drawback we could see with having this machine is storage, as it is about the same size as a standard upright vacuum cleaner but luckily we have enough space in our downstairs cupboard to accommodate it. However I have to say though, that even if we didn’t have the space after living with the cleaner for the past month, I would find the space to store it if we didn’t!

The only thing I should say is that I have one warning – cleaning your carpets can become strangely addictive and we are now well and truly hooked!

BISSELL are celebrating the Queen’s 90th Birthday by giving customers 25% off any of their rechargeable sweepers!

Queen Victoria was a big fan of the BISSELL original sweeper, and often asked her staff to BISSELL the palace (this isn’t a joke by the way). So to celebrate our current Queen’s birthday Bissell wanted to share the royal families favourite, in the form of the new modern chargeable sweeper, to customers at a lower price.

 The code is: ROYALSWEEP

 and it applies to the following products;

4105E – BISSELL Supreme Sweep™ Turbo Rechargeable Sweeper

7364E – PEThair Eraser™ Cordless Rechargeable Sweeper

9974E – BISSELL Easy Sweep™ Cordless Rechargeable Sweeper

15D1E – BISSELL Supreme Sweep™ Compact Rechargeable Sweeper

Happy Cleaning Everybody!!

April Already

The past few months have been a total whirlwind and sadly Playing Parent has had to take a back seat as I have just not had the time to devote to my blog.

There have been a few reasons but the biggest being I got a new job and my business as a Social Media Manager has really taken off. The strange thing is that I was able to change my career direction and find a job I love all because of the skills I have developed through my blog and yet my blog is the one thing that has suffered.

The other piece of exciting news was that we have a new addition to our little household. We have a Tibetan terrier called Grace who is 4 years old who came from a rescue charity. She is absolutely gorgeous and such a lovely nature that we can hardly remember how life was without her.

Rescue dog

We strongly believed that we wanted to adopt not shop for our next dog as there are so many lovely dogs in need of caring, loving homes. We have had our Shih Tzu Doodle since she was a puppy and now at 9 years old we didn’t think she would cope with having a puppy around either. Grace has really perked Doodle up too who now seems about 5 years younger!

Tibetan terrier

I am going to try and get on here far more regularly now and even though I have been quiet on here I have been busy testing things and visiting places to share.

Thanks for dropping by

Dominique x

Happy New Year!!!

2016 New Year

Total Bliss at Cowley Manor C-Side Spa

December has been a buy old month, a family trip to London , a new job and saying goodbye to my 30’s has left me feeling pretty dazed and exhausted. A Spa Day at Cowley Manor’s C-Side Spa was precisely what the doctor ordered. A few hours on my own, being pampered in luxurious surroundings is something that I don’t get to experience too often so my plan was to savour every minute.

From the moment you pull up the drive at Cowley Manor it starts to feel festive, with an amazing light display around the hedges and the house. You feel a bit like Alice whisked away to an enchanted Christmas Wonderland.

The Spa is set away from the main house and is incredibly modern in design compared to the rest of the surroundings, but like everything else at Cowley Manor, this eclectic approach makes it seem even more of a unique place. Think 1960’s Bond villain lair meets noughties design elements and you get the mix.

Cowley manor

The spa has both an indoor and outdoor pool (but this being December I chickened out of taking a dip outdoors, but others were) with the temperature inside so warm and cosy that I nearly fell asleep before my treatment I was so relaxed.

Cowley Manor swimming

All the treatments at the  C-Side Spa use products from Green & Spring which I am slightly obsessed with since our first stay at Cowley Manor a while back. My treatment was the signature Green and Spring Facial which takes about an hour.

Designed to repair and rejuvenate, the facial begins with a process of intense cleansing to stimulate and increase blood supply to the skin. This is followed by an energising scrub and secondary exfoliation with the unique Green & Spring Gentle Face Refiner which scavenges dead skin cells and brightens. Soothing local honey and skin-clarifying milk are massaged into the skin with a hot, herbal compress filled with lavender, calendula and wheatgerm to heal and remove toxins. A deep, toning and nourishing face massage is given followed by application of an antioxidant face mask to help heal, nourish and repair leaving the skin glowing and youthful.

Cowley manor Spa

Before your treatment starts you are offered a menu of the music you would like to listen to. It is these little touches that make the whole experience of visiting the C-Side Spa a really magical experience.

I have recently been reading Finding Your Way in a Wild New World by Dr Martha Beck  (Martha is Oprah’s Life Coach) Martha Beck

Finding Your Way in a Wild New World reveals a remarkable path to the most important discovery you can make: the knowledge of what you should be doing with your one wild and precious life. It’s the thing that so fulfills you that, if you knew what it was, you’d run straight toward it through brambles and fire. Martha guides you to find out how you got to where you are now and what you should do next, with clear instructions on tapping into the deep, wordless knowledge you carry in your body and soul.

This book is a fascinating read and I have been trying hard to ‘quiet my mind’ and be less verbal, which is much harder than it sounds! My day at Cowley Manor’s C-Side Spa certainly helped me to relax and achieve a sense of peace and calm I haven’t experienced for such a long time. By the end of my day at C-Side Spa the only thought I was having was trying to work out when I could come back next……