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.

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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……


Family Weekend in London – part2

Last week I wrote about our family weekend in London, staying at The Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington and enjoying great things to do with 2 for 1 offers using The Entertainer app.

 Read Part 1 here

On the Sunday we borrowed Micro Scooters from the hotel and spent some time scooting around Kensington gardens. I haven’t been on a scooter since I was about 8 years old so this provided much hilarity for Ed and G. We also visited the Diana Memorial Playground which was just as amazing as ever, a truly magical place for children in the heart of the capital.

IMG_1369 After building up an appetite in Kensington Gardens we  met up with some friends for an early supper. Our friends live near The City so using The Entertainer app we looked for restaurants with offers near to them. We chose to go to Belgo in Holborn (about to undergo a major refurb) as I can remember reading once that they had a great menu for children.


G absolutely loves mussels since our holiday to the Ile D’Oleron  so anywhere with them on the menu is always going to be popular. The food at Belgo was superb and a big hit with the 5 and 3 year old of our party. They also have a great range of beers for the grown ups too (but be warned an awful lot of them are very boozy!) The 2 for 1 offer with the app meant we received one main course free when we used the code and paid for one.

Using the app was really easy, you simply look up the offer you would like to use, input your unique code (that you create when you purchase the app) then hand it over to the vendor who has their own key. These two codes then generate the code for the vendor needs to apply the deals to your bill. A meal for 6 of us (4 adults, 2 children) with two courses and drinks came in at £80 which we all agreed was superb value for such an excellent meal. The next time we are in town we will definitely be going back to Belgo.

We were able to spend some quality time together during our family weekend in London, catching up with friends and family and creating some amazing memories. We were able to pack so much in and save money too, which is always a bonus. So are next issue is when can we fit in our next weekend away?

Family Weekend in London – part 1

We spent this weekend in London enjoying my prize from the blog post I wrote back in April on A Day Enjoying London Life. Our prize was a 2 night stay in an Executive Room at The Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington.

The hotel was fabulous and we were treated like royalty! We were upgraded to a suite with the most fantastic views over Kensington Garden (which my iPhone could not do justice through the glass). We had so much space that we each had our own little living area. The view was mesmerising and we all just sat for ages watching the coming and goings of life in Kensington Gardens.

Royal Garden Hotel suite

Kensington, London

Kensington, London


One of the really special touches from The Royal Garden Hotel is their children’s rucksack that is packed with goodies. G was thrilled with his and we had to take it all over town with us!

Whilst we were in London we took the opportunity to try out the new ENTERTAINER London app which is being launched in 2016 but has a selection of the buy one get one free offers that the app will be packed with in 2016.

We chose an Open Top vintage bus Christmas Lights tour with Premium Tours who were offering a 2 for 1 ticket price with the ENTERTAINER London. Although we know London pretty well (I lived there in the late 90’s) we had never done one of these tours and thought it would be a fun way to take in the Christmas Lights. the tour was extremely informative and we found out loads of really interesting facts about London, the famous sights and some of the less famous but equally fascinating sites.

IMG_1315 - Copy IMG_1318 - Copy

A few of the pictures from the tour…….

London eye Premium tours

London at night, Thames

Oxford Circus Xmas LightsLondon lights

untitled (25 of 25) London lights


App logo JPGThe ENTERTAINER London 2016 – – is a new app featuring over 900 Buy One Get One Free offers for restaurants, bars, nightclubs, attractions and spas across the capital. Whilst my nightclub days in the big smoke are well and truly behind me the rest of the offers certainly piqued my interest.

Although the app may seem to be for those living and working in the city, The ENTERTAINER London can bring a ton of savings to those visiting the capital too, especially families. (Check out my post on money saving ideas for enjoying London life here)

TOP 20 Merchants

With a one off payment of £40, the ENTERTAINER London 2016 is valid for one calendar year with no weekend exclusions.

Over 50 of the available buy-one-get-one-free offers on the new app have an estimated savings value that is higher than the cost of the app itself, so it is pretty easy to make your money back by redeeming just one or two offers.

London App Face

We trialled some of the features of the app this weekend and have to say that from the two offers we selected we already saved the price of the app itself. (My next post is going to be about the fab time we had whilst in London this weekend.)


The app offers customers a location-based search to find the best deals close to them and a savings calculator that shows how much cash has been saved throughout the year.

the ENTERTAINER London 2016 product is available to download from the App Store, Google Play and Samsung Apps.

Another great part to purchasing the ENTERTAINER London 2016 is that you will receive a free copy of the ENTERTAINER Travel, which features over 300 ‘Buy One Room Night, Get One Free’ offers in hotels including Fairmont, InterContinental, Shangri-La, Hyatt, Radisson, Sofitel and Sheraton throughout the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Asia & Indian Ocean and North America. These are all redeemable through the same app.

With each offer being Buy One Get One Free, the app is a real money saver so you can enjoy spending time with friends and family making your cash go a lot further during your time in the city.

The ENTERTAINER London 2016 is available to download for free from the App Store, Google Play and Samsung Apps websites now. For further information please visit

(DISCLAIMER; We have been gifted a subscription to the app)