Jo Frost’s Family Matters Talk Show (ITV1 – April 28th 2014) – Do We Have a Game Plan?

Supernanny Jo Frost has a new daytime talk show on ITV which aired for the first time yesterday (April 28th).  It’s called Family Matters and is a mix of chat and video clips showing problem families at large.  I like Jo Frost’s no-nonsense approach and only manage her level of capable brusqueness after a large glass of vino so I dutifully (cough) tuned in to see what snippets of parenting nous I could glean.

Supernanny Jo Frost
Supernanny Jo Frost on her daytime talk show, “Family Matters” on ITV1

The show featured two case studies of children who were clearly strangers to the word ‘no’ and for whom the naughty step was still under construction.  Case number one featured three year old Kyle who lived in a house where dust was the enemy and Kelly Hoppen the only welcome guest. Poor Kyle and his eleven year old sister who was kept hidden in a bedroom upstairs, was prone to tantrums due to being unable to complete with a range of ornaments and exhibited all the emotional control of Damien from the Omen.  His parents were more concerned with channelling their inner fabulousness than doing anything as messy as colouring -although I’m surprised Kyle wasn’t able to recite the full range of Pantone colours.  His aunt was wheeled in to sniff into a tissue and to hint that perhaps the parents might be better off, you know, doing some parenting rather than interior decoration and cushion plumping.

Case two featured four boys, two of whom were twins and again, none of whom were familiar with being told no – although they were apparently fully IT literate and had an iPhone.  Dad worked seven days a week and came home to hide.  Mum shouted.  All day.  Mother-in-law was wheeled on to purse her lips, fold her arms and utter useful mother-in-law type phrases such as “I think your children are really spoiled” and to wear the facial expression of a woman whose immediate response to any kind of challenge would be to suggest an arm-wrestle.

Jo, remarkably, took quite a back seat in all this, taking the role of mediator and prompter.  “What do you think you could do better”  she asked, along with other questions such as “how did that make you feel”  and the show’s catch phrase – “Do we have a game plan”?

Like most daytime TV shows, however, the format relies on creating a judgemental atmosphere and, although at the moment, far less confrontational than Jeremy Kyle, I’d say the potential for running round corridors and storming off is there.  I think it will be extremely popular with parents who can at least watch and say “see, I’m not that bad a parent really” which, let’s be honest, is really why we watch – we want to benchmark our own performance (which those less confident of us consider as fair to dismal) and see how we compare.    There might be a set of ‘rules’ for romance and sexual relationships but I’m not sure anyone’s written the ‘rules’ for parenting yet. (And no, I don’t count the military manoeuvres of Gina Ford et al as sensible parenting rules).

I think the show needs a lot more talk from Jo Frost because if anyone can give us a set of rules, she can and this was the element that I thought was sorely missing from the “Family Matters” format.

So, in the meantime, “do we have a game plan”?  Um – over to you Jo.

It’s All Go Here At Master Chuff – Ladies & Gentlemen, Let’s Cook – Tomorrow

Having watched Masterchef for what seems like eons, I now feel qualified to throw together a sea bass on a bed of ‘foam’, cobble together cranachen and do something improbable with venison and blackberries. 

Unfortunately I have discovered a law of the universe so baffling that even Rhonda Byrne would have trouble hiking an enormous camera crew and numerous American Law of Attraction experts across Bondi Beach to explain it in one of those waffly self-help type films – the number of cookery books you own is inversely proportional to the amount of cooking you actually do – and worse, the level of skill you will attain.

Gregg Wallace & John Torode, Masterchef
Gregg & John would be traumatised by a visit to Hobbis Towers

I suspect this can be quickly validated by looking at the success of food blogger, anti-poverty campaigner and meal-on-a-budget expert Jack Monroe. Her cooking pizzazz is borne of necessity and uses minimum equipment and no fancy ingredients. I have a kitchen cupboard stuffed full of the most random and hotch potch collection of ingredients which appear whenever I have a new cookery book and kid myself that I will finally try to whip up something to tempt hubby’s tastebuds.The mere suggestion of this is enough to make him hide in the cupboard under the stairs until what he considers to be one of my latest hormonal onslaughts has passed.

I think lots of us equate food with love. Us mums are supposed to be legendary cooks, aren’t we? Aren’t we supposed to arm wrestle each other for supremacy of our Yorkshire pudding or roastie production skills? Our apple crumbles are supposed to be bottomless, our rice puddings skinless and our lasagne worthy of praise from Gino. I’m afraid my culinary CV would simply state “burns pans and creates smells”.

Still, whilst Ieuan is still vegetable averse and, as we tell him daily, never likely to grow higher than four feet, nor develop the motor skills to even put a Spiderman suit on, we are still in the “fishfinger years”.  The kids seem to be doing fine, despite having a fear of gravy and the husband, well, hands up, he tends to do most of the cooking.

Perhaps I’ll enter him for Masterchef.

Review: The Clarisonic Aria from

I remember, in the 1970’s having a facial scrub brush which was a simple battery-operated device that would cheerfully exfoliate the skin.

It got abandoned in due course because I found that a heavy-duty scrub, like Apri (an apricot shell scrub), would do the job just as well.

And, in those days I had young, healthy skin which didn’t require much more than a light buffing.

Clarisonic Aria - models in black, white and pink

Fast forward to today, just seven weeks short of my 50th birthday and my, how things have changed.

Two young kids (aged 6 and 4) both born in my mid-forties have created, understandably, a massive shift in my beauty routine.

What used to be a regular cleanse, tone, moisturise routine has now been generally reduced to a quick spruce up with a facial cleansing wash, removed with a flannel twice a day.

I’ve always been quite careful to avoid the sun so I don’t think I am too wrinkly but the healthy glow I used to have has vanished in favour of making sure the kids do their teeth and getting them either out of the door or into bed on time.

The opportunity to test the Clarisonic Aria from came just at the right time.

And it is a seriously sophisticated piece of kit.

Fully rechargeable, portable and programmable, the Clarisonic cleanses up to 6 times more
effectively than washing your face by hand.

It has three speeds and comes with its own drying stand which also becomes a charging unit by addition of a magnetic USB charger.

I love to read beauty blogs but am often deeply suspicious at ‘rave reviews’; by the time you get to 50, you have used a lot of products and generally feel that there is little new under the sun(screen)!

But, cynic that I am, I have to say I noticed an immediate improvement in the tone and colour of my skin.

I haven’t worn foundation for ages so friends and family are used to my slightly less than fresh pallor but my hubby remarked (without prompting) that the Aria had given my skin a healthier tone.

Clarisonic Aria - Linda Hobbis after using the brush

My skin looks better than it has in ages.

The brush is very easy to use and has timer settings to guide you.

You hold the brush against your face and move it in gentle circles for 20 seconds on your forehead, 20 seconds on your nose and chin and 10 seconds on each cheek.

That’s it.

One minute!

In your kit, there is also a sample size of refreshing cleansing gel which has lovely fresh
smell and lathers up with just the smallest amount.

It is recommended that the brush head (which is detachable) should be changed once
every three months or so.

I agreed to test the Clarisonic Aria for a period of 5 weeks after which the brush would either be returned or purchased at a discounted price.

This seems to me an entirely sensible approach to testing a product like this because it is easier to be truly objective when you are considering investing in your beauty routine.

The Aria retails around the £155 mark, however, being a fan of spa treatments, it was easy to compare against the price of a good facial which, here in Cardiff is around the £70 mark.

Frankly, the results given by the Aria after just a couple of uses are better – and I
just used it once a day, whereas it can be used morning and night.

I quickly got used to cleansing with the Aria each morning and would now loathe to part with it, such is the difference it has made to my skin.

I also think that proper cleansing has made my moisturiser work better and the discipline of having a routine again, albeit one that finally fits in with the kids, has made me want to take better care of my complexion.

Another knock-on effect is that my improved skin has made me more enthusiastic about using make-up again – a light BB cream and blusher – because a heavy foundation is simply not needed.

If you have become lost in the mire of new cleansers and the latest high tech ingredient, my advice would be to try the sonic power of the Clarisonic Aria because you may find it’s not the cleanser that makes the difference, it’s the cleansing technique.

And, for the price of a couple of salon facials (and far less than some of the top of the range moisturisers and cleansers), the Clarisonic Aria is an incredibly cost-effective way to get great skin.

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