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January 2016 | Mother Distracted

A Lifestyle & Parenting Blog

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Win Krispy Kreme Doughnuts - Honey Bee & Love Bug Have Arrived For Valentine's Day

Unless you've been living in the Artic tundra knitting your own igloo, I'm sure you have come across the delectable sweet treat - the Krispy Kreme Doughnut.

Actually, the first time I heard about them was when they were mentioned by Miranda in Sex & The City.  But I digress.  As usual.

Now there are Krispy Kreme stores popping up all over the UK, including my hometown of Cardiff and doughnuts are made fresh and delivered each day using the special yeast-raised doughnut recipe which came from a New Orleans French chef back in 1937.

There are 15 varieties of doughnut to choose from (as well as coffee and milkshakes served in their stores) and two of these have arrived just in time for Valentine's Day.

Krispy Kreme Honey Bee Doughnut - Doughnut Review & Giveaway - motherdistracted.co.uk
Krispy Kreme Honey Bee

Honey Bee  - filled with a smooth chocolate and hand-dipped in vanilla icing.

Krispy Kreme Love Bug Doughnut - Doughnut Review & Giveaway - motherdistracted.co.uk
Krispy Kreme Love Bug

Love Bug - filled with with Strawberry mousse and hand-dipped in raspberry icing.

You can buy these separately or a part of your favourite Krispy Kreme Dozen - and either in store or online.  Honey Bee and Love Bug are ideal treats for Valentine's Day and can be ordered now online for collection in store on the 13th or 14th February.

Box containing Love Bug & Honey Bee Krispy Kreme Doughnuts - doughnut review & giveaway - motherdistracted.co.uk
Bugs & Bees
We loved the smooth chocolate filling in Honey Bee and the soft strawberry mousse in the Love Bug. and found them to be a real indulgent treat.  The Husband prefers crisps and nuts so there is one Love Bug just waiting to spend some time with me tomorrow. (Hurrah).

They offer a completely different taste from the more traditional doughnut - much lighter - although I suspect that sadly doesn't apply to the calorie content. But who can quibble over something like that when faced with doughnuts named Reese's Peanut Butter (my weakness!), Lotus Caramelised Biscoff or Triple Chocolate Cake? 

Ieuan testing the Honey Bee Krispy Kreme Doughnut - doughnut review & giveaway - motherdistracted.co.uk
Ieuan testing the Honey Bee

Caitlin testing the Love Bug Krispy Kreme doughnut - doughnut review & giveaway - motherdistracted.co.uk
Caitlin testing the Love Bug
I have TWO Krispy Kreme giftcards to give away to ONE winner - each card entitles the owner to either one doughnut per month for a year or one dozen doughnuts to take away on the spot.  

Entry is via the Rafflecopter widget and the giveaway ends at 11:59 pm on Friday 19th February. UK entrants only.  Terms and conditions apply.  Please note that this giveaway ends after Valentine's Day.


Like this giveaway?  Please share with your friends by clicking on the social media icons below this post. Thank you!

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Friday, 29 January 2016

What is the Zika Virus?

You may have heard about a virus which is threatening to cause a major health epidemic, possibly even jeopardising the Olympics, due to take place in Rio, Brazil this summer.

But what is the Zika Virus?

The Zika virus is transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito.  It is related to dengue, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis, and West Nile viruses.


During the first week of infection, the virus can be found in the blood and passed from an infected person to another mosquito through mosquito bites.

Zika virus often produces flu-like symptoms like fever, headaches and joint pain as well as skin rashes and conjunctivitis among others.

The Zika virus can migrate between humans through sexual contact and it can also cross the placenta, affecting an unborn fetus during pregnancy or around the time of birth.

The virus can cause a birth defect called microcephaly.

Microcephaly is a medical condition in which the circumference of the head is smaller than normal because the brain has not developed properly or has stopped growing.

The head size is therefore much smaller than is normal for the child's age and gender.

In general, life expectancy for individuals with microcephaly is reduced and the prognosis for normal brain function is poor.

There is no treatment, but people who are sick with Zika virus can receive supportive care, such as pain relievers or fluids.

Anyone who is living in or traveling to an area where Zika virus is found who has not already been infected with Zika virus is at risk for infection, including pregnant women.

US health officials currently recommend that pregnant women should consider postponing trips to 22 destinations.

These are:-

Barbados
Bolivia
Brazil
Cape Verde
Colombia
Ecuador
El Salvador
French Guiana
Guadeloupe
Guatemala
Guyana
Haiti
Honduras
Martinique
Mexico
Panama
Paraguay
Puerto Rico
Samoa
St Martin
Suriname
Venezuela.

The travel alert applies to women in any stage of pregnancy.

Public Health England also advises that if a woman is at risk of getting pregnant, or is already pregnant, "condom use is advised for a male traveller for 28 days after his return from an active Zika transmission area if he had no symptoms of unexplained fever and rash and for 6 months following recovery if a clinical illness compatible with Zika virus infection or laboratory confirmed Zika virus infection was reported".
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What's On Your TV Box Set Wishlist?

I have to confess that the Husband and I are hopelessly behind when it comes to watching box sets. But now that I am practically word perfect on all the Midsomer Murders reruns I think it's time for us to get up to speed.

And there's no doubt that we have been missing out since we have not yet subscribed to Netflix and, should we want to watch 'TV for grown-ups", we usually have to arm-wrestle the remote off Ieuan whose obsession with watching Star Wars and Harry Potter is still in full force. Given the fact that the TV bears the brunt of many years of yoghurt and pasta sauce abuse, it may also be time to upgrade to a more state-of-the-art TV like the Panasonic Viera 4K TV .

In fact, the choice is enormous and I don't really know where to start.  But these are my top 3 choices to start off our collection.

1.  Game of Thrones

An American fantasy drama television series which is an adaptation of "A Song of Ice and Fire", George R. R. Martin's series of fantasy novels, the first of which is titled A Game of Thrones.



Set on the fictional continents of Westeros and Essos, there are several plot lines, including a civil war among several noble houses for the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms, the attempts to reclaim the throne by the exiled last scion of the realm's deposed ruling dynasty and the rising threat of the impending winter and the legendary creatures and fierce peoples of the North.

The series has won 26 Primetime Emmy Awards, including the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series in 2015—when it set a record for most wins for a series in a single year.

The sixth season will premiere on April 24th this year.

2. Orange Is The New Black

This is Netflix's most watched series and is an American comedy-drama series based on Piper Kerman's memoir, Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison (2010), about her experiences at FCI Danbury, a minimum-security federal prison.



The fourth season of the series will be released on June 17 this year.

3. House of Cards

This is an American political drama television series which is an adaptation of the BBC's mini-series of the same name.  It is based on the novel by Michael Dobbs.

The series is set in present-day Washington, D.C., and is the story of Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey), a Democrat from South Carolina's 5th congressional district and House Majority Whip. After  being passed over for appointment as Secretary of State, Underwood initiates an elaborate plan to get himself into a position of greater power and enlists his wife, Claire (Robin Wright) to help him.


House of Cards - Season 1-3 [DVD]

House of Cards was renewed for a fourth season, which will premiere on March 4, 2016.

There are so many others - Breaking Bad, Mad Men, House, Dexter, Entourage.......  arguably there's no need to ever go out again.

And given, the volume cinemas insist on playing their films out (i.e. unnecessarily loud), us Tinnitus sufferers are happy to enjoy movies in the comfort of our own home.

The popcorn is a heck of a lot cheaper too!

Which box sets do you think I should have on my 'must-watch' list?

*collaborative post
** contains affiliate links
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Thursday, 28 January 2016

Will You Do Some Good On 29th February? Join The #yourfreeday Campaign For A Good Cause.

2016 is a leap year so what are your plans for this year's extra 'free day' on Monday 29th February?

Service communications experts at soh are using 29th of Feb to support the Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity and are calling on organisations to support staff who would like to use the leap year extra day for a good cause.



soh, based in London and the North West, works with some of the world's leading companies including Aviva, Virgin Media and British Airways to help them to improve their audio, written and conversational communications.

They are donating the leap day in February to the Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity which provides support to families with a life threatening or terminal illness.




The charity provides expert social palliative care, as well as emotional and practical support for families 24 hours a day.

Rainbow Trust relies almost entirely on voluntary donations and through the outstanding generosity of its supporters is able to help over 1,900 families a year throughout England. However, this is only a third of the families that could benefit from its help. The charity’s vision is that one day all terminally ill children and their families will have access to a Rainbow Trust Family Support Worker.

The idea of #yourfreeday was born when the team at soh realised that every leap year most employees work an extra day. They decided they would use that extra day ‘to do some good’ and are calling on other organisations to do the same with the ‘Your Free Day’ campaign.

Says Emma Haines, Director of Marketing and Fundraising at Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity: "The two challenges charities often face are resource and money so to be offered a day of support from experienced professionals will make a big difference.”

soh staff will be providing spoken and written communications workshops for the people who do the great work supporting families 24/7.  They will also be helping to raise funds at Rainbow Trust shops in a ‘The Apprentice’ style competition at the Leatherhead and Cheam shops as well as a pop up stall in Mold, North Wales.

To get involved in Your Free Day, or find out more, visit yourfreeday.com. To find out how others are spending their free days, and share your own story, use #yourfreeday.


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Safari and Beach Holiday Combo: The Perfect African Safari Experience

The Husband and I still haven't got round to having a honeymoon (4+ years and counting) but the romance of going on safari is very appealing. And what better way to relax afterwards than on a sandy beach whilst drinking cocktails at sunset?

In this guest post from Jenny Bowen of tailor-made safari company Sense Africa, Jenny suggests an idyllic itinerary for the perfect safari and beach holiday.

Jenny says:

I personally think the best way to experience Africa is to do a combination of safari and beach. Immerse yourself in the serenity of the African bush and experience incredible wildlife sightings with the relaxation and laid-back set up of staying at a luxury beach lodge.


Swaziland and Mozambique Combo 

My ideal choice would be to safari in Swaziland and to beach in Mozambique. The reason for this is that firstly this is really affordable as Swaziland’s currency is tied to the Rand and the Rand to Pound rate is exceptionally good at the moment, and secondly because driving distances are small so that you get more value for your time. You can experience everything up close; whether it be elephants in Hlane, rhino in Mkhaya or whales in Mozambique.

Swaziland
Swaziland

The Kingdom of Swaziland is a small country situated in the south east of southern Africa, bordering with South Africa and Mozambique. The reason I choose Swaziland is because it is a really friendly place which is not on the main tourist route and not only offers incredible safaris but also has a lot of adventure opportunities. You don’t have to spend all your time sitting in safari vehicles to see wildlife, you can do it on foot, by mountain bike and on horseback. Imagine walking through a ‘dazzle’ of zebra.

Getting to Swaziland 

Getting to Swaziland is really easy, fly to Johannesburg and then you have a choice of either taking a short international flight to Swaziland, which takes about 50 minutes, or taking a road transfer which is about 4 1/2 hours. Either way, you arrive in Swaziland roughly at the same time, as there is normally a few hours wait in Johannesburg for your connecting flight. If there are four of you travelling together then the transfer option works out more cost-effective.

Self Drive in Swaziland 

I would suggest a self drive on the Swaziland section because you can do things at your own discretion and feel like you are having your own mini adventure. It gives you the opportunity to move around the kingdom at your own pace and not be dictated by group timings.

Driving in Swaziland is really easy, the roads are well signposted, they drive on the same side as we do in the UK and the speed restrictions are very strict, so not too many crazy drivers! But be warned, you may get caught speeding by a camera trap, but do not worry, the police are really friendly and they will pull you over and probably have a very long chat with about what you are doing in Swaziland before kindly taking your money for your fine! It is a whole new experience.

Mlilwane
Mlilwane for 3 nights 

First stop is Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary for 3 nights. As you drive through the reserve passing grazing zebra and warthogs rooting through the ground you will realise you are staying in a really special place. As you cross the dam towards main camp make sure you look at the small island on the right-hand side, hippo and crocodiles often bask in the sun here.

Mlilwane is an outdoor lovers’ paradise and here you can explore the reserve on foot, by mountain bike and on horseback. There are no Big 5 in the reserve which means you can walk in the Bush without even needing a guide. There are not many places in Africa that you can do this and I thoroughly recommend it.

The accommodation in Main Camp is varied but I would recommend the beehive huts. These are authentic styled rooms created in the traditional way with the added benefit of ensuite bathrooms. Make sure you mind your head when you enter as the doorways are quite low.

The whole camp has this rustic, friendly and tranquil air about it and as the camp has no fence wildlife happily wander through. I've woken up in the morning to find for the warthog hoglets lying in a row, a bit like pigs in a blanket, just outside my bedroom.

Mbuluzi
Mbuluzi for 2 nights

Next stop is Mbuluzi Game Reserve which is about an hour and a half drive from Mlilwane, and I recommend two nights here. I have to say that Mbuluzi is one of my favourite reserves because of its large population of giraffe. Again you can walk here and quite often I have been in the reserve and felt as if I was the only one there. Imagine waking up in the morning and looking out of your lodge window to see a giraffe sauntering past - magical!

You can spend time walking through the reserve seeing all the wildlife on foot and you can also do your own self drive safaris around the reserve as well. It is far too large to cover just on foot and there is a great bird hide that you can spend time at.

Mbuluzi only has self catering lodges which is why I only recommend those on self drives to stay there. All lodges have electricity with really good facilities for cooking and also lovely lounge areas for relaxing at the end of the day. Some even have plunge pools as well. The lodges also have beautiful sitting areas on decking overlooking the Mbuluzi river that meanders its way through the reserve. The lodges range from tented to individual lodges, some of which can sleep up to 8 people. So there is a lot of variety within the reserve catering for everyone.

Hlane
Hlane for 3 nights 

Hlane Royal National Park is the place to stay for three nights as it gives you the opportunity to go on a different safaris as well as simply relax by the main waterhole and watch rhino and elephant drink. There is something really charming about Hlane as it has that feeling of the old traditional camps of Kruger Park where there is no electricity and the main reason for staying here is to experience the African bush.

Safaris normally last about 2.5 hours so you have the opportunity to see the wildlife and yet also do things and under your own steam. If you have your own vehicle you can also do a self drive around the reserve and even spent time at Mahlindza waterhole.

Hlane’s Big 5 are in fenced areas, as the kingdom is so small that allowing elephants, rhino and lion to roam free would be very detrimental to the surrounding communities. Instead these animals are in vast enclosures. The lion enclosure has two prides of lion and is so large that I have been there and not seen a lion at all, but this is very rare. I love the safaris here because it is very relaxed. The guides are exceptionally knowledgeable by imparting traditional information but the best thing is that you will probably see big game, usually up close and very personal!

The accommodation here is delightful, traditional rondavels (round huts) set in the African bush with your own veranda where you can sit and watch the impala walk by. The main restaurant has wonderful decking overlooking Ndlovu waterhole. At night lanterns are lit for you to guide you back to your accommodation where you can be gently lulled to sleep to the distant roar of lion.

Mkhaya
Mkhaya for 2 nights

Mkhaya Game Reserve was initially set up in response to the need for breeding programs for the endangered and beleaguered wildlife of Swaziland, the flagship species being the black rhino.

Arriving at the entrance point I wouldn’t blame you if you wondered what you had let yourself in for; there are rusty cars, a small scrapyard and two rather dodgy looking long drops. The reason is the high security access to this reserve which is closely monitored and entrance into the reserve is only at 10am and 4pm and only with prior booking.

Once inside the reserve you can really appreciate that this is a gem of a place and worth the wait. I recommend two nights here so you get the full benefit of staying in this idyllic reserve where you are totally immersed into the wildlife and African bush life. Exclusivity at its finest.

Let the local guides transport you around the reserve in open topped Land Rover’s tracking the elusive black rhino as well as seeing other wildlife such as white rhino, elephant, buffalo, giraffe and a plethora of other plains game. The road system winds through the reserve from African savannah to riverine vegetation, and you never know what you going to see round the corner. The birdlife is also incredible and rare species such as the Narina Trogon can be seen.

Stone Camp is in the heart of the reserve and is beautifully situated along a dry riverbed. Each room is a stone cottage which is open to the surrounding bush and most people normally comment on their loo with a view! The bed has a cascade of mosquito netting that is drawn down at night for you so that you can see the African bush from your bed. Dine out under the stars under the giant sausage trees and become at one with nature.

Mozambique

Mozambique is famous for its azure blue seas, white sandy beaches and delicious garlic prawns. However there is a lot more to this country such as its vibrant culture, its bustling markets and its incredible architecture in the form of forts dotted along the coastline. Having said this most people do visit Mozambique to experience an island hideaway or stay in an exotic beach location.

Getting to Mozambique 

Getting to Mozambique can be really easy, if you are not coming from Swaziland then a simple flight into Maputo and then connecting flights onto any of the islands is really easy. If you are coming from Swaziland it is only a three hour journey from Mkhaya to Maputo marina. A private transfer is definitely recommended because driving yourself across the border and through Mozambique can be quite stressful with police roadblocks being rather unfriendly and quite aggressive and the driving of the Mozambicans is certainly leaves something to be desired! So leave your hire car in Swaziland and enjoy a hassle free transfer across to Maputo.

Machangulo

Machangulo Lodge for 5 nights 

Machangulo Lodge, in my mind, is the only lodge that is affordably accessible from Maputo which also ticks all the boxes of being idyllic, eco-friendly, secluded and luxurious. It is exactly how you would imagine a beach lodge in Mozambique to be.

Getting to Machangulo 

Machangulo is reached by a boat transfer and this needs to be organised in advance from the marina. It takes about 1 hour 15 mins to get to Machangulo and the first hour is across the open sea away from Maputo. During the last 15mins you will gently sweep past a small bay filled with brightly coloured wooden fishing boats, flamingos and palm trees bending over white beaches in the sunshine. It is at this point that everything seems to slow down and before you even reach the shores of Machangulo, you have already relaxed.

Location and Activities at Machangulo 

Machangulo is situated at the end of a promontory with the Indian Ocean on one side and sheltered areas on the other. This makes it perfect for all sorts of activities ranging from fishing to snorkelling and scuba diving to whale watching. There are also opportunities to visit the local village (where a lot of the staff are employed from), as well as being taken to a remote beach and left there for the day with a sumptuous lunch to dine on. Alternatively you can spend the day on one of their boats snorkelling in the national park and diving on the coral reefs. The last time I was there I spent most of my time looking in rock pools for small fish. Machangulo thinks of everything for everyone.

The Lodge is situated above the beach on the promontory and the views from the dining and bar area are spectacular. Be warned, there are a lot of steps to climb to get around the Lodge although small electric carts are provided for the less able. There are plenty of areas to simply relax in hammocks, lounge by the pool or sit in sofas on private decking overlooking the sea.

The rooms are divine and each one has views out over the surrounding area and some of them even have outdoor showers, as well as indoor showers, so you can wash as the sun sets. The rooms are beautifully designed in keeping with the environment yet have that luxury quality about them for the more discerning visitor. The serenity of the place simply allows you to relax from all those exhausting safaris that you have been on!

End the day with a sumptuous meal probably caught by one of the guests, fresh fish is the order of the day although there are plenty of other options available as well. I always dine out on seafood when I stay there, it is divine. The beauty of the food here is that it is all very fresh and more often than not it will have been bought from a local fisherman. Not only will the fish be fresh that day the lodge is also supporting the local community as well. Fresh fruit and vegetables are bought from the nearby village and everything is in keeping with the environment. And after an exhausting day of relaxing go to sleep to the sound of the gentle lapping of waves on the beach knowing that it will be a yet another beautiful day at Machangulo.


Jenny Bowen
Jenny has been organising tailor made safari holidays for 15 years through her business: Sense Africa. She is a qualified ecologist, and enjoys writing about the many once-in-a-lifetime experiences of Africa.

You can follow her blog, Sense Africa Blog, for more African Safari stories and information, and keep up-to-date on the wonders of Africa by following her on Twitter (@senseafrica) and Facebook.
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CyberSense - The New Online Safety App For 8-10 Year Olds‏

Pocket App, the UK’s largest independent app developer, has announced the launch of CyberSense, a new app developed for Internet Matters, an independent not-for-profit organisation set up by BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin to help parents keep their children safe online.

Available immediately on iOS and Android, the app has been created as an innovative new way to educate children about online safety.


Created specifically for tablets, CyberSense is a fun and engaging app that children aged 8-10 can use to learn good online practices and features a slick split-screen quiz that allows parents and children to select one of nine topics they would like to learn more about, such as cyberbullying, advertising and web-chatting.

The app is unique in that it doesn’t simply teach children about online safety, it encourages parents to use the app as a tool to be actively involved with the teaching process. When a quiz category is launched, the tablet screen splits into two, so that parents and children can answer the multiple-choice questions simultaneously. The parent is able to see which answers the child chooses, and so will be able to clearly see which subjects need further explanation.

In order to further encourage young audiences to engage with the quiz, users will be rewarded with a bonus game at the end of each quiz which involves tilting the screen to guide a character through a series of challenging obstacles. By answering quiz questions correctly, users will be rewarded with more time in which to play the game.

Paul Swaddle, CEO of Pocket App says that "... the questions are tailored to the knowledge of an eight year-old, but the use of a tablet app also encourages children to learn about the internet and mobile technology by experience, all in a safe environment and under the supervision of an adult.”

Since being released to the app market, CyberSense has had a great deal of positive feedback from parents who have found it a useful and highly engaging tool to help teach their children about online safety. The app featured in Virgin Media’s Christmas marketing campaign and has also been praised in an article in national newspaper, The Mirror, by Ulrika Jonsson as a fantastic way for parents to discuss with their children how to use the internet safely.

CyberSense is available from iTunes and Google Play.

More information about Pocket App at www.pocketapp.co.uk or @PocketApp.
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Wednesday, 27 January 2016

What is the infection Sepsis?

Until the recent coverage of the tragic case of little William Mead and the alleged failure of the NHS 111 helpline and other medical agencies to make a correct diagnosis of Sepsis, I was unaware of this potentially deadly disease. 

Baby raising hand - what is sepsis? - motherdistracted.co.uk

As parents, we sometimes put our faith in the NHS and other medical agencies to a worrying degree. My own often stated view is that, when in doubt, take your child to A&E or push for a second medical opinion.

And educate yourself.  I am not saying put blind faith in Google either but at least arm yourself with some basic knowledge which enables you to ask the right questions.

So what is Sepsis?

Sepsis is a common and potentially life-threatening condition triggered by an infection in any part of the body.  It is a whole-body inflammatory response which results in symptoms such as a fever, raised pulse rate, raised breathing and confusion.  

Sometimes, the specific infection and source of sepsis cannot be identified. Because it can begin in different parts of the body, the disease can have many different symptoms.

Sepsis is often referred to as either blood poisoning or septicaemia, although it could be argued that both terms are not entirely accurate. It is not just limited to the blood and can affect the whole body, including the organs. 

It can also be caused by viral or fungal infections, although bacterial infections are by far the most common cause.

Sepsis can also cause blood clots to form in your organs and in your arms, legs, fingers and toes leading to varying degrees of organ failure and tissue death (gangrene). 

Neonatal Sepsis can also be due to infection with fungi, viruses, or parasites but it can be difficult to diagnose as newborns may be asymptomatic. 

Symptoms of Sepsis are likely to include fever, warm skin, chills, shaking, rapid heart rate, skin rash, hyperventilation, hypothermia, confusion, delirium, drowsiness or a decrease in urination. However, the initial signs and symptoms of Sepsis are frequently non-specific, leading to a delay in diagnosis.

As with meningitis, the symptoms of Sepsis in children are not specific and vary from child to child.

If Sepsis is detected early enough and it has not yet affected vital organs, it may be possible to treat the condition at home with antibiotic tablets. If it is caused by a virus, antibiotics will not work. 

With early treatment, a full recovery is made in most cases with no lasting problems.

Severe cases often result from a body-wide infection that spreads through the bloodstream, but Sepsis can also stem from a localized infection. 

For example, in someone who already has kidney impairment, Sepsis can lead to kidney failure that requires lifelong dialysis. 

Severe Sepsis causes poor organ function or insufficient blood flow and is usually treated with intravenous fluids and antibiotics.  It is a particular risk for people already in hospital due to another serious illness. 

It is more common among males than females and the worldwide incidence of the disease is estimated to be 18 million cases per year. 

That's an incredible statistic for a disease I only learned about yesterday.

If you are in any doubt, please seek urgent medical attention.
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Win A Sparkling Romance Hamper From Spicers of Hythe


Hampers are always a great gift for those times when you want to impress and there's often a choice that suits everyone.

If you are looking for a Valentine's gift that is sure to please, I have discovered that Spicers of Hythe have a great range of Valentine's hampers to delight your loved one.  I would certainly be happy if the Husband surprised me with one of these.

Spicers of Hythe was founded in 1926 by Great Grandfather Percy Spicer who began packing Christmas hampers in the cellars of his grocery shop in Hythe, Kent. Today, there is a hamper for every date and occasion, from Valentine’s Day to Mother’s Day and Father's Day Hampers.

They also offer a range of summer themed hampers, non-alcoholic gift sets, gourmet fresh food baskets and Fairtrade Hampers, all beautifully bound, wrapped and presented. Plus, you can order today for delivery tomorrow.

This is my pick of the Valentine's Hampers on offer this year.

There's the Sparkling Romance Hamper (£48.63 inc delivery) which has a beautiful selection of sweet and savoury treats.



Or how about the Valentine Delight (£35.02 inc delivery) which contains a bottle of my favourite Malbec wine.



Or then there's the Valentine's Treats Hamper (£34.78 inc delivery) with marshmallows and milk chocolate eclairs?

You can find full details of the hampers contents on Spicers' website, together with information about delivery.

I was sent a Sparkling Romance hamper to try and I have to say it was beautifully packaged with one of the nicest baskets I've seen.


The prosecco was carefully packaged and placed beneath the top layer of goodies.


GIVEAWAY

I have a Sparkling Romance Hamper to give away which contains the following:-

Nua Prosecco 75cl
Original Cake Co Mini square cherry & almond topped cake
Café de Lucca Chocolate Wafers 200g
Buiteman Baked With Love Gouda & Chilli Biscuits 75g
Hamlet Belgian Chocolates 125g
Cocoabean Love Heart Plaque with Red Ribbon
Taste Chocolate Dipped Shortbread 150g
Cocoabean Toffee Bonbons 100g
Dormen Dry Roasted Peanuts 100g
Mrs Bridges Blackcurrant & Blueberry Preserve 113g

Please note this hamper is not suitable for those suffering from food or nut allergies.

Entry is via Rafflecopter and the giveaway ends at 11:59 pm on Wednesday 10th February 2016. Terms and conditions apply. UK entrants only.

Please also note that as Spicers do not deliver on a Sunday, the winner may receive their hamper just after Valentine's Day.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway




If you like this giveaway, please share with your friends using the icon buttons below this post. Thank you!

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Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Snuggle Up With Taylor or Johnny Tonight - ChattyPillow Pillow Case Giveaway


If the love of your life is unlikely to be with you on Valentine's Day this year, then why not snuggle up to Johnny Slept or Taylor Sleep?

Johnny Slept Pillow Case - ChattyPillow - motherdistracted.co.uk
Johnny Slept - £12.00
These quirky ChattyPillow pillowcases are made by fun sock company ChattyFeet from 100% cotton and are sure to brighten up the most lacklustre of winter evenings.

Do they remind you of anyone?

They would make an ideal gift for the hopeless romantic or the positively love-lorn. Each pillow case costs £12.00 or £22.00 for a pair and I have a pair to giveaway (one Johnny Slept and one Taylor Sleep).  Details of the giveaway are below.

Taylor Sleep Pillow Case - ChattyPillow - motherdistracted.co.uk
Taylor Sleep - £12.00
Chatty Feet also make a great range of socks featuring characters such as Prof. Brian Sox and Kate Middle-Toe Socks!

Prof Brian Sox - Chattyfeet - motherdistracted.co.uk
Prof Brian Socks - £7.50

Kate Middle-Toe Socks - Chattyfeet - motherdistracted.co.uk
Kate Middle-Toe Socks - £7.50
The socks also come in children's sizes from 12 months up to 10 years.  Adult sizes are from UK4 up to UK12.

Much more interesting than plain black socks and a definite ice-breaker.  Plus, they'd make really good sock puppets to amuse the kids.  Bonus!

Now to the giveaway and I'm asking - which is your favourite sock character from the ChattyFeet range?  Entry is via the Rafflecopter widget below.  The usual terms and conditions apply. UK entrants only. The giveaway ends at 11:59 pm on Monday 8th February.  Good luck!

ChattyPillow Pillow Cases - giveaway - motherdistracted.co.uk
The Giveaway Prize

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Monday, 25 January 2016

Review: Treat Your Valentine At Beefeater Grill

Now after a certain number of years with your partner (months if you're a celebrity), the romance may well fade slightly and, come Valentines Day, the onus is on the least romantic partner to pull their socks up and prove that they still know how to show their loved one a good time.

Beefeater Walston Castle Wenvoe

If you are a parent and the number of babysitters in your area is somewhere in the region of zero to one, this rekindling has to be done with the kids in tow.

Outside the Beefeater Grill Walston Castle
Ieuan is still firmly in his Harry Potter phase
Luckily for the Husband, we were invited to review our local Beefeater Grill, the Walston Castle in Wenvoe in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Menu outside Beefeater Grill Walston Castle Wenvoe

Conveniently situated next door to a very reasonably priced Premier Inn, the Walston Castle is just a stone's throw from Dyffryn Gardens (National Trust) and just a short drive away from Cardiff and Cowbridge with its designer boutiques and shops.

Founded in 1974, Beefeater is one of those brands that has been around for so long that I suspect it may not always be first choice when thinking of somewhere to eat, particularly given the competition from other food chains like Cafe Rouge, Prezzo, Zizzi and the fast food companies.   It had been such a long time since we had eaten at a Beefeater, we weren't quite sure what to expect.

The large car park is well sign-posted and it is possible to park close to both the hotel and restaurant entrances - always a bonus if you have prams or wheelchairs to think about.

Once inside, we found the restaurant to be spacious, clean and well set out.  There was also some quirky artwork on the walls to give the place a more personal feel.

Artwork Beefeater Grill Walston Castle Wenvoe
Don't worry it's true.  Ieuan's checked.
Ieuan's first question to Jane, our server, was whether it was indeed possible to eat there until the cows came home.  Cue a discussion about what time cows come home.  Nipping a discussion of modern dairy farming methods in the bud (since we stayed at Hollings Hill dairy farm last summer, Ieuan regards himself as an expert), we took a look at the menu.

Artwork Beefeater Grill Walston Castle Wenvoe

As you might expect, steak is a speciality of the Beefeater, although there are some vegetarian options such as the Veg-Out Burger (£8.99) or the Baked Veggie Enchiladas (£9.79).  We found the menu to be extensive with something for everyone.  You can check the dietary elements of each dish on the Beefeater website which is very handy.

There are a number of choices that are ideal for sharing with your date.  There's Sharing Potato Dippers (£7.99) - potato dippers with melted cheese, spring onions, tomatoes, jalapeños, sour cream & chive and red onion. Or how about Freshly Grilled Tear & Share Flatbread (£4.49) in Chimichurri, Garlic or BBQ Pulled Pork varieties and the Ribs & Wings Combo (£14.49) - sticky duck wings, spiced chicken wings, bourbon BBQ ribs, chunky slaw and chilli & lime seasoned mini corn on the cob with piri piri and blue cheese dips.

On the basis that foregoing a starter entitles you to dessert the Husband ordered the 8oz fillet steak with chunky chips (£19.49) and a herby Chimichurri sauce on the side.  There is a good choice of sauces, for an extra 99p.

Filet Steak & Chips - Beefeater Grill Walston Castle Wenvoe
The husband was in far too much of a hurry to get to his steak to take a decent picture for me!
All Beefeater steaks are served with half a slow roasted tomato, grilled mushroom, lamb's lettuce, salad and unlimited triple cooked chips or skinny fries.  There is no excuse for not sharing your chips and a very good excuse for your partner to help you clear your plate.

Each steak is hand-cut each and aged for 21 days and Beefeater trains all of their chefs in their very own steak academy.

I ordered Smothered Chicken Melt (£11.29) - chargrilled chicken breast glazed with smoky BBQ sauce and loaded with streaky bacon and Monterey Jack cheese. It came with triple cooked chips, chunky slaw and a side salad.

Smotherd Chicken Melt - Beefeater Grill Walston Castle Wenvoe

I was also tempted by the Signature Slow-Cooked Beef Chilli (£9.49) - slow-cooked beef in a mildly spiced chilli sauce served on a bed of basmati rice with spring onions, red chillies, guacamole, sour cream and crisp corn tortilla chips and the Oven-Baked Seabass (£14.49) - seabass fillet steamed in a pouch with courgettes and cherry tomatoes and served on a bed of thinly sliced potatoes with a crunchy Greek salad.

For the children there is an extensive Mr Men inspired menu from £4.49 with plenty of choice. There's also a 16 page activity booklet to keep them quiet whilst you reminisce about your great romantic highlights.

Kids menu Beefeater Grill Walston Castle Wenvoe

Caitlin and Ieuan had strawberry and chocolate milkshakes and they both had garlic bread to start.

Milkshakes Beefeater Grill Walston Castle Wenvoe

Ieuan eating garlic bread Beefeater Grill Walston Castle Wenvoe

For their main course, Ieuan chose Mr Perfect's Popin Chicken with chips and baked beans and Caitlin chose Little Miss Trouble's Tomato Penne Pasta.  I particularly liked that there is a range of items you can substitute the chips and beans for (although good luck with that) such as an option to have mashed potato or peas.

Mr Perfect's Popin' Chicken Beefeater Grill Walston Castle Wenvoe

Having cleared our plates we turned our attention to desserts - and there is a fabulous selection - many just right for sharing. The Husband is always wary of sharing a dessert with me because he claims he only ends up with about 20% of the pudding.  I refute this absolutely.

Anyway,  he chose the Raspberry Bakewell Tart with custard (£5.49) - a slice of bakewell with a light pastry base, raspberry jam, pistachios and almond flavoured sponge, served warm with custard.

Raspberry Bakewell Tart Beefeater Grill Walston Castle Wenvoe

I had the Warm Chocolate Brownie (£4.59) - served with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce.

Warm Chocolate Brownie Beefeater Grill Walston Castle Wenvoe

Both were delicious and I must confess, not a lot of sharing occurred. There is a large selection of sundaes though which are just right for two spoons.

Sundae menu Beefeater Grill Walston Castle Wenvoe

From the Kids' Menu, Ieuan chose Mr Jelly's Wobble Jelly and Ice Cream and Caitlin picked Funny Face ice cream which came with mini smarties and strawberry laces.

Caitlin eating Funny Face ice cream Beefeater Grill Walston Castle Wenvoe

Caitlin eating strawberry laces Beefeater Grill Walston Castle Wenvoe
Probably not ideal date behaviour
We really enjoyed our meal at the Beefeater Walston Castle.  The food was fresh and was piping hot. The restaurant was clean and the atmosphere nicely relaxing - no blaring disco music to ruin the intimacy.  The staff were friendly, attentive and good with the kids.  (Big thanks to Jane and Eddie).

Our meal came to £75 for 4 which included a sparkling water, a large glass of Malbec wine (I don't care what the Daily Mail says), two Costa coffees and an extra milkshake each for the kids.

The Husband often visits steak restaurants when working away in London and was favourably impressed with the quality of the steak he received at Beefeater.

Valentine napkins Beefeater Grill Walston Castle Wenvoe
Save money on Valentines Cards - get the kids to make them.
We thought the meal was very good value and we would certainly consider going there again. It's a great date-night venue. Beefeater Grill is certainly back on our list of places to eat out.

Now if only I could find that babysitter .....

Linda & Ieuan Hobbis at Beefeater Grill Walston Castle Wenvoe

Further information about your local Beefeater Grill is at www.beefeater.co.uk.  For the Beefeater Walston Castle, telephone 02920 593896 or you can book a table online.

There is also a reward club where you are entitled to a free meal on your birthday, 5 points for every pound spent and 300 points on activation of the card.
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