Review: Rimless Glasses From Online Opticians UK

Readers of this blog will know that I am very particular about my glasses and purchasing any new pair requires quite a bit of to-ing and fro-ing and usually an eye test before I commit to spending what generally amounts to a not inconsiderable amount for them.  So it was with some trepidation that I agreed to review a pair of rimless glasses from Online Opticians UK.

My current frames are all made of lightweight titanium with the thinnest possible lenses and anti-allergy nose pads to avoid the remotest chance of irritation.  I hate heavy glasses as my nose is very sensitive and I cannot bear the burning sensation which these create.  I was, therefore, keen to try Online Optician’s price-friendly offering of a very similar frame type and lens style – from the Superlite range, a pair of Superlite 37 Titanium Rimless Glasses.

Although I often order contact lenses online, this was my first time ordering glasses and to do this you will need your current prescription which your optician is obliged to let you have.

Now, since it is recommended that you have an eye test every 2 years to check the health of your eyes, if your prescription is close to hitting this age then it would be worth having your eyes retested before you invest in lenses which don’t give you the best vision.  You may be entitled to a free eye test on the NHS if you meet certain criteria.

You will also need to know a piece of data that you may well have to return to your optician to get – as, in my experience, it is seldom measured during a routine eye test – it is called pupillary distance or PD.

This is the distance in millimetres between the centre of one pupil to the centre of the other and having a correct PD on your glasses prescription ensures that you are looking through the ideal spot in your lenses.

Now there are instructions on the website to explain how to measure pupillary distance yourself but I prefer to have an accurate measurement done by someone qualified.

So, before ordering lenses online, make sure that you have an up-to-date prescription which includes your PD.

Ordering your specs with Online Opticians is, however, quite simple and the website takes you through 4 stages in the ordering process.

Step 1 select your frame

The first step is to select your frame and you’ll need to check your measurements.  The easiest way to do this is to use an existing frame and compare the dimensions online.  You’ll need to check three measurements – eye size, arm size and bridge size.  Discover how to find your glasses measurements here. Online Opticians recommend that you order frames which are +/- 4mm of your existing frames.

Some frames also have different colour options.  The Superlite Rimless 37 is only available in bronze.

Step 2 select your lenses

Distance, Reading and clear lenses are free but there is a surcharge for the 3 levels of varifocal frame offered by Online opticians.

I will be honest and say that getting a varifocal prescription just right is something that, personally, I would rather do face to face with an optician in person due to the complexity of my requirements.

For that reason, I opted for distance lenses as it is always useful to have a spare pair for driving or just to have in your bag.  As a contact lens wearer there are still those moments of “I wish I could take them out and put my glasses on” when, for example, dust or dry eye hits or, worse, you get something in your eye which then irritates for ages afterwards.

Depending on which Superlite frame you choose, the lens shape varies so you need to look at them all to choose one that you think will be the most flattering.  I chose this frame as the shape is closest to my current specs.

Step 3 choose any lens option

Next you need to decide whether you wish to add any of the options in the online form the website presents you with.  Simply click to display a range of options but note that all of these incur a small additional charge and you do not have to select any of them.

For example, there’s a specific lens option if you are going to wear your glasses for driving.  You may require an anti-scratch or anti-glare coating, or an accessory like a cord or chain.  You can even have a coating to protect your eyes against blue light from digital equipment and, of course, you can choose to have a thinner lens or even an ultra-thin lens.

I am a huge fan of thin lenses because they reduce the weight of the frame on the nose and avoid that ‘milk bottle’ look.  And, for me, an anti-scratch and an anti-glare coating are non-negotiable – especially when you have kids.

Step 4 add your prescription details

With your prescription to hand, simply enter the measurements one eye at a time starting with the right.

For both eyes you will need to know:- sphere, cylinder, axis, and Add (near) and as mentioned, pupillary distance (one measurement covering both eyes).

Take your time and double-check your input to make sure you’ve got it right.

There is also a form field for you to add any extra comments.

You will then need to agree to Online Opticians terms and conditions before you finally order your glasses safe in the knowledge that there is a 100% no-quibble money-back guarantee. Delivery is free on all orders over £64.95 and payment is via a credit or debit card or Paypal.

Orders are despatched within 3-5 working days depending on the complexity of the prescription or specific requirements.

I particularly like that Online Opticians donate a pair of glasses for every pair they sell to help eye care charities in Burma, Ghana and Zambia.

After placing my order, my glasses arrived in around 5 days and came with a sleek black case, cleaning cloth, lens cleaner and, as a nice extra touch, a miniature screwdriver to tighten the frame screws.

The lenses were immaculate and the prescription was spot on and, whilst the titanium frame was not of the same quality of the usual higher-end brand I wear, it was perfectly acceptable for the price point of £79.95.

There was only one small detail which wasn’t quite right and that was the lugs housing the nose pads were not entirely symmetrical and the nose pads themselves were smaller than the ones I prefer. This means that the glasses do not sit entirely flat on my nose.

Neither of these is insurmountable and any frame will need to be fitted properly, no matter where you buy it.

This does mean, however, that if you do buy glasses online, you may still need to visit an optician to have them correctly fitted.  Whilst tightening the frame screws is something you can do yourself, altering the nose pad lugs and changing the nose pads is definitely not.

Most opticians will make these alterations for you free of charge, although I always think it’s a bit cheeky asking if you haven’t bought the specs there.

Would I buy glasses online again?  To be honest, no.

I prefer the personal service I get from my own local optician.  He knows how my prescription has changed over the years and exactly how I need my glasses to be fitted.  He also knows that I need silicon nose pads as I am allergic to other types.

That said, if you are looking for a replacement or spare pair or you can tolerate pretty much any frame, then online opticians are ideal.

Make sure though, that you get your eyes tested by an optician you trust – and that you get a fresh prescription every two years.

Not least because an eye test can flag up other problems with your health which need dealing with as soon as possible.

Review: Wallace & Gromit’s Musical Marvels

We have long been fans of Aardman’s Wallace & Gromit.  A new animation from them is an event not to be missed, particularly at Christmas. However, something new has hit the stage this summer.  Wallace & Gromit have gone on tour with a new show – Wallace & Gromit’s Musical Marvels – to celebrate 30 cracking years of fun, friendship and dealing with dastardly penguins.

In truth, we weren’t sure what to expect but the Carrot Productions show is a clever mix of live orchestral music, animation and video, all interwoven to create an interesting theatrical event which is unlike anything we’ve seen before as a family.

The first half of the show features classics like the overture from the Marriage of Figaro mixed with Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody and a medley of music from all the chase scenes in the Wallace & Gromit animations.

In between the musical numbers, there is plenty of input with Wallace and Gromit who are helping out backstage with the usual chaos put to rights by the inventor’s faithful pooch.  They appear via big screen to talk to the audience and direct the show.

The Wallace & Gromit theme tune was created by Julian Nott who was a fellow student with Nick Park at the National Film and Television School in the 1980s.  Did you know that A Grand Day Out was actually Nick Park’s graduation film?

Nick wanted something ‘brass band like’ for the theme, but there was no brass band available and Julian completed the famous theme the night before the music session with just a few orchestral brass players.

The master of ceremonies, Matthew Sharp, was funny, engaging and a great cello player.  In fact, he is an internationally recognised classical artist who has performed at major venues and festivals worldwide as solo cellist, baritone, actor and director.

We were treated to a lovely piece of music penned by Wallace himself – My Concerto In Ee Lad.  Or was it?  I won’t spoil it for you, suffice it to say that the concerto, for violin and cello was an uplifting piece of work by composer Daniel Whibley.

The Picture House Orchestra, which comprises some of the country’s top musician drawn from the Halle, BBC Philharmonic, BBC Concert and LSO, were excellent and entered fully into the spirit of the show.  Never before have I seen violinists disguised as pieces of cheese or sheep!

Conductor Steven Magee conducts and coaches many UK orchestras and ensembles and is himself a member of the BBC Symphony Orchestra in his role as Principal Contrabassoon.

The second half of the show was a screening of The Wrong Trousers with the orchestra playing the score making it a much more immersive experience than sitting at home on the sofa.

The show was just long enough to keep little ones’ attention and, as with all of Aardman’s work, there are plenty of in-jokes to amuse the adults too.

There is nothing like experiencing live orchestral music and Matthew made sure that the kids were introduced to the various instruments and their players.  Caitlin said (rather ominously I thought) that she now fancies playing the violin.

Well, there’s a strong musical tradition in our family. Dad is a piano teacher and cellist.  My sister Sara went to Dartington Music College to study piano and I play piano (a bit) by ear. Shows like this are a great way to introduce your children to the joys of live classical music to help them decide for themselves whether they enjoy it as much as their parents do.

We caught Wallace & Gromit’s Musical Marvels at Cardiff’s St. David’s Hall but you can see the show at various venues around the UK until 9th June.

Look out for The Snowman  Tour 2019 around the UK this Christmas too.

Highly recommended.

*We were gifted a family ticket for the purpose of this review.  All opinions are our own.

Review: Nixplay Seed Smart Photo Frame – And A Giveaway

There’s nothing quite so special as family photographs and I have discovered a brilliant way to display them around the home – the Nixplay Seed 10.1 smart photo frame.

We already stream our music with multi-room audio and this is a similar concept, but for all the photos you love, without having to search for them on iCloud for hours or thumb through old family photo albums.

It’s also a far cheaper way of displaying your photographs than trekking off clutching a USB stick in the quest to find somewhere to print them off.  Realistically,  there are only so many photo frames you can display without cluttering up the place.

I can also add more photos as I go along with just one click and create different albums of our family days out and holidays.  The possibilities are endless – a Christmas album, birthdays, any family celebration you can think of.

Photo sharing is a doddle too – simply email to the relevant Nixplay account.  You could send photos of the kids to the grandparents’ Nixplay Seed – how many of us remember to send a postcard when we are on holiday these days?  It doesn’t have to be your personal frame.

What’s in the Nixplay Seed 10.1 box?

The frame comes with a regular plug, a travel plug, connection cable, remote control and the digital 10.1-inch frame. At the back on the frame already attached is the stand and it can be placed either horizontally or vertically.

It’s quick and easy to set up.  Simply attach the connection cable to the back socket and plug in at the wall.

How to set up the Nixplay Seed 10.1 Smart Photo Frame

Setting up the Nixplay Seed was really simple to do, even if you’re a bit technologically challenged, as I am.

Firstly, make sure you download the free mobile app via the App Store. The app gives faster photo optimisation and 15-second video for both iOS and Android users.

Then you pair the frame to your phone which takes no time at all.  You are then ready to transfer your photos. The best way to organise your photos is on the app you’re able to create an album, give it a name and then add your photos and videos to it. You could even add captions if you wanted to. The photos and videos are then instantly sent to the frame.

Features of the Nixplay Seed 10.1

This is a pretty impressive piece of kit as the husband would say.  The Nixplay Seed offers:-

  • Instant sharing from anywhere in the world using the app or email
  • Simple connection via WiFi
  • Nixplay friends – invite family and friends to send photos directly to your frame
  • Access to all your photos via different devices using your Cloud account
  • High-resolution display – with clear and vivid colour photos
  • Hu-motion sensor – the frame automatically turns on when you enter a room

I started by sharing photos of our recent family day out to Dan Yr Ogof Caves in Wales and Kingsbridge in Devon. I created the album, added my chosen photos and sent them to the frame. As you do this, the frame alerts you that it has new photos to display which is particularly helpful if you are sending them to someone else’s frame.

The quality of the photograph display on the frame is excellent – at least as good as looking at them on an iPad or mobile phone.  And, with Father’s Day coming up in June, what a great idea for a gift.

Caitlin and Ieuan loved the frame and the idea of being able to send their own photos to it.  Having a blogging mother has certainly given them an interest in photography too.

You can find a full range of digital frames at Nixplay.

I’m really impressed with our Nixplay Seed frame.  Having your photos constantly on display is a lovely reminder of special times and is the memory boost you need to keep refreshing your photos and sharing them with the rest of the family.

Review: Eversbrook Men’s Luxury Shirts

GIFTED:  Eversbrook Men’s Luxury Shirts – Apsley Blue Shirt

The husband’s job takes him all around the world so his business attire has to be stylish, comfortable, durable and versatile – quite a challenge!

He has a wardrobe full of tailored shirts to go with his suits but when he is meeting clients in tech start-ups or small businesses, a less informal style is needed.  Plus, if he is entertaining clients in the evening, a more relaxed look is the order of the day.

We recently discovered Eversbrook Men’s Luxury Shirts. This is a luxury British brand whose menswear is designed by expert tailors and produced in London using fabric sourced in the UK wherever possible.

Eversbrook Men's Luxury Shirts Apsley Blue

We were sent the Apsley Sea Blue, a fitted shirt designed for wear on all occasions. It has a distinctive four-panel design and is made from 100% pure shirting cotton.  The shirt is a slim waist design with the panels accentuating the chest.

Features include a covered front button panel, whilst the inner collar and cuffs have a white lining and the shirt buttons are a toning deep blue.

Whilst the four panels on the Apsley Sea Blue are the same colour, you’ll find other shirt designs with contrasting panel colours for a stronger style statement.

The husband opted for size XL.  He would have preferred extra combinations of collar, waist and chest size to choose from in the tailor-made range since he has a 17″ collar but a 42″ chest.

This meant that the shirt we were sent was slightly long in the sleeves and a little large around the chest, however, neither of these were insurmountable problems.

The shirt fabric is excellent quality and, being cotton, should be comfortable to wear for business travel.

The lining on the cuffs is also a good feature since this is usually where wear and tear shows up first.  Frayed cuffs are not a good look when you’re trying to close a deal.

You also need a more generously cut cuff if you wear a larger watch or jewellery which the Apsley design has.

One small niggle was that there was no care label inside the shirt which, as chief laundress, I would have preferred.

We thought the Eversbrook Apsley Blue shirt was a good quality, versatile shirt with subtle design details that should go the distance.

Whilst formal suits used to be the standard for most workplaces, a smart-casual approach is often more in line with company culture these days. In fact, Eversbrook’s founder, Jay Bull, suggests that a pair of chinos paired with a formal dress shirt is the perfect combination for everyday work clothing.

A luxury shirt can be a value for money investment whether you are racking up air miles or wrestling with commuters on the DLR.

And don’t forget it’s Father’s Day on Sunday 16th June if you’re looking for gift ideas!

Review: Pure Green Coffee

You might have heard that lots of people are trying green coffee to support them in their weight loss journey.  I was recently sent some green coffee from the Pure Green Coffee Company to try.

I received the Slim Your Body 28 box which contains 28 individual coffee bags and read on because I have a box to give away worth £22.99.

What’s in the bags?

You may already be familiar with the health-giving properties of green tea but green coffee also has plenty to offer.

Pure Green Coffee Company coffee comes bagged in individual servings (28 per box) and has four primary ingredients:-

Green Coffee
Green coffee contains Chlorogenic acid to enhance metabolism. It can help to reduce high blood pressure, decrease the absorption of carbs and has antibacterial and antioxidant properties.
Common Nettle
Nettle is another metabolism booster and a natural diuretic.  It is used to reduce the symptoms of acid reflux and excess gas.  It is also a great source of iron, important for combatting anaemia and fatigue.
Common Dandelion
Dandelion helps to promote digestion and balance the good bacteria in your gut.  It is thought to improve liver function by removing toxins and reestablishing hydration and electrolyte balance.  Rich in antioxidants, dandelion is also believed to regular blood sugar and is rich in antioxidants.
Coleus Forskohlii: this increases cellular levels of an enzyme to support increased rates of fat loss.

What can it do?

There are some pretty impressive claims for pure green coffee.  The company says that their coffee:

  • burns fat faster than normal green coffee powder due to the addition of the herb Coleus Forskohlii, and it is a slimming aid that helps improve digestion.
  • can aid weight loss and help maintain weight as part of an active healthy lifestyle.
  • gives fast results, helping to reduce bloating and boost the metabolism – it’s a great drink when detoxing
  • boosts energy using natural caffeine and herbal ingredients.
  • is organic and natural with plenty of antioxidants to hydrate skin, increase wellbeing and vitality. 

How to drink your pure green coffee

You’ll need 200 ml of water per serving and the ideal temperature is below boiling at 90 degrees C.  Simply steep the bag for 3-5 minutes and discard.  You can add milk and sugar to taste, although the coffee has a pleasant taste without.

What did I think?

Whilst I didn’t experience a noticeable weight loss, (a couple of pounds), I did enjoy a daily pure green coffee and, given the huge number of weight loss aids on the market, this one is a natural alternative that I feel more comfortable taking.

I think that drinking pure green coffee is one of the small changes you can make to your daily lifestyle to get into a healthy eating mindset.

You can read more about the benefits of this coffee on the Pure Green Coffee Company website and on Amazon.

Any weight loss programme should, of course, be undertaken with advice from your doctor.

More coffee-related articles:

Review:  Bird & Wild and Decadent Decaf coffees

Review:  A Coffee Stash From Beanies The Flavour Company

Should you allow your teenagers to drink coffee?

Gift options for every coffee lover in your life

Customer service:  a little bit of coffee shop love will keep me loyal

Review: Show Them You Care With The Gift Experience

GIFTED:  Don’t you find that the older your family gets, the more difficult it is to find the perfect present?  Caitlin and Ieuan are generally happy with gift cards or anything digital, whilst the husband, much like my dad, has taken to saying “I have everything I need”.

Which is true.  But ….

The thing about giving gifts is just as much about making the giver feel good too.  And, it definitely makes me feel good if I don’t have to schlep around town getting hot and bothered trying to find something which will just end up in a drawer – or regifted.

Father’s Day is on the horizon (Sunday 6 June) and then there are end of term teacher’s gifts to consider, as well as the usual run of birthdays.

We were recently offered the chance to review family-run business The Gift Experience – an online gift shop offering gifts for almost any occasion you can think of, including personalised gifts.

You can search the site according to the occasion, or the person as you might expect but you will also find children’s books, experience days and personalised cards.  Just about everything on one website.

These are the gifts I chose (resisting the urge to treat myself).

Father’s Day Gifts 2019

Large Personalised Sweetie Jar

Tempted as I am to get Mat more socks, he’ll only accuse me of stealing them.  You can never have too many socks in my opinion and that’s the risk you run if you marry someone with a similar shoe size.  A better choice is this very large jar of retro sweets.

I can still remember when you could buy 4 Fruit Salad or Black Jacks for a penny. and you may find some of these in this jar (contents vary).  I’m am talking about the early ’70s though when Creme Eggs were the size of a real egg and a Wagon Wheel was the size of your head.

Other fond memories include love hearts, parma violets, cola bottles, space candy and sherbet lollies.  There’s even a packet of Candy Canes which the slightly older of you will remember used to be sold as candy cigarettes.  How times have changed!

Nestled beneath these treats are mixed packets of sweets such as dolly mixture, jelly babies and cola cubes.

The label on the front can be personalised with the name of the recipient or, preferably with the words “Keep Out – They’re Mine”.

This is a very generous selection and Mat has promised to share them, although strangely I’ve no idea where he’s put the jar now.

Motivational Statement Bracelet

These are all the rage at the moment and I’ve been looking for the perfect one for Caitlin for ages.

The If You Dream It, You Can Achieve It Bracelet is a beautifully made silver plated bracelet with this inspiring statement engraved on it.  Cleverly, the statement is repeated so that the words can be seen on the front and the back of the bracelet.

It would be perfect as a graduation gift but I chose it for Caitlin to boost her confidence for this year’s National Tests in school.

The bracelet comes inside a lilac coloured box with a small silver coloured plaque that can be inscribed with a short message or name of your choice.

Caitlin absolutely adores it – and despite its modest price point (RRP £24.99), it looks a far more expensive item.

The Gift Experience offer a gift wrapping service too to save you even more time and express delivery is available should you need a gift in a hurry.

We were really impressed with the quality of the items we received – and the personalisation was spot on too.

You can find them at www.thegiftexperience.co.uk.

Free Fun Football For Kids 5-11 With McDonald’s

What better way to get your kids active and away from their screen than a fun football session? With a few bank holiday weekends coming up, the extra day for us can mean extra boredom for the kids.

For parents, it’s always a challenge to find purse-friendly activities to stop youngsters mooching around the house or vegetating on the sofa in front of a games console.

McDonald’s has supported grassroots football for 17 years in partnership with The Football Associations of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland and they have set themselves a pretty exciting challenge.

McDonald’s recently launched their Fun Football Centres, part of their Fun Football programme that aims to provide 5 million hours of fun football for children aged 5-11 across the UK by 2022.

This means that McDonald’s will give over 500,000 children the chance to try football for the first time through their ‘turn up and play’ coaching sessions.

This is a brilliant way to encourage an active lifestyle and, hopefully, a lifelong love of the nation’s favourite game.

Emulating their sporting heroes like Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey or Harry Kane is, to my mind, a better way of spending their time than learning to floss.

Ieuan and I recently attended one of McDonald’s fun football sessions at our local centre, Gol in Cardiff.  The sessions are, it goes without saying, open to girls and boys.

Ieuan plays for his local team the Penarth Town Under 11s so was keen to make the most of some extra coaching to take on his rivals with more aplomb and more goals! The sessions are designed for the kids playing to have fun, no matter their previous football experience. It’s a great way to introduce them to football for the first time as they go through a lot of basic skills and drills but even with Ieuan’s previous experience, he still loved it.

We simply visited mcdonalds.co.uk/funfootball, searched for our local centre and then contacted the provider direct to book our session.

There were plenty of venues close to us, but you do have to check which day of the week the sessions are held and which age range they are for.

It was quick and easy and, best of all, cheap (sessions are either free or a few pounds).

In fact, this spring there are more than 600 football sessions available, so you are guaranteed to find one near you to get your kids out from under your feet, and with football boots on theirs!

Gol is a well set out football centre with several separate enclosed pitches and plenty of facilities for football mums and dads in need of a caffeine fix and a quiet Kindle session now they have 5 minutes peace and quiet.

Mike, who coached Ieuan’s session, put the boys through their paces making sure they could kick straight and run quickly with the ball, as well as how to tackle.

Ieuan was a little shy before going in, but a fun football session is an excellent way for children from different communities to get to know one another and participate – an aspect of the McDonald’s programme that is particularly important.

After an hour kicking a football around, the boys were tired but happy and had spent an hour in the fresh air.

I would heartily recommend a fun football session for girls and boys so, as a reminder, here’s what to do to make sure you don’t miss out.

Visit mcdonalds.co.uk/funfootball to register online

Click on a country logo to be taken to the FAW website for your area.

Find your McDonald’s Fun Football session provider from the map displayed.

Choose your preferred centre and contact them directly to book your free session.

Turn up and enjoy!  Ieuan had a blast.

Who knows, you could have a top striker or goalie on your hands.

Review: Welbeing Personal Alarm Service: Help At Hand For All The Family

#AD  This post is a review of the Welbeing Personal Alarm Service.

One of the big challenges for my generation is balancing childcare with the needs of our elderly parents.

It’s easy to find yourself pulled from pillar to post and, if your parents are still mobile and living independently, you may find yourself making numerous unscheduled trips to check that they are OK or to help with chores and tasks they are no longer able to do for themselves.

Welbeing Personal Alarm Service

Generally, we all get by, don’t we – until the point at which illness or a long-term medical condition enters the picture.

When that happens, your parent may experience a loss of independence and rely on you more for help and contact with the outside world.

Nobody wants to put their parents into a home or few have the funds to move immediately into sheltered accommodation.

But there are times when, with the best will in the world, you can’t be there or rather, you can’t get there quick enough.

Similarly, if one parent is in the role of carer to the other, their own personal freedom is likely to be vastly curtailed and they won’t want to venture far on their own in case something happens to their beloved partner.

My parents have been married for 56 years and are now both in their 80s with a variety of health conditions between them.

Last year, mum fell and broke her hip.  She has made a full recovery but her mobility has been affected and she is not as speedy on her feet as she once was.  She also suffers from temporal lobe epilepsy which generally gives her mild seizures but, on occasion, these are large, lengthy and severe enough to require hospitalisation.

It’s fair to say that the family copes as best it can from the different parts of the country in which we are situated – and I’ll bet our family set-up is replicated right across the country.

The Welbeing Personal Alarm Service

We have been trialling the Welbeing Personal Alarm Service which is a quick and simple way of getting help at the touch of a button in case of accident or emergency at home.

Welbeing is a Doro company so you can expect simple to understand and user-friendly technology.

The service offers 24 hour, 365-day a year monitoring to allow independent living to continue as long as possible.  The service costs from £15.96 per month.

Who is the service designed for?

The service is not just for the elderly.  It is designed to offer reassurance and immediate assistance to anyone living alone – whether they are suffering from medical conditions such as dementia or heart disease, a long-term condition or are just vulnerable and worried about safety and security.

The service can even help those suffering from epilepsy if their seizures are of the tonic clonic type.

How does it work?

The actual alarm is a piece of wearable technology which connects to an alarm unit linked to your home telephone landline.

The alarm comes in the form of a pendant which can be worn around your wrist or neck.

With the touch of a button, the wearer is able to contact a call centre with trained staff who will talk to you via the alarm unit.

The alarm unit is similar conference call technology where at two-way conversation can be held without needing a phone handset.

The operator will then contact either a designated family member (a keyholder) on their mobile or the emergency services – depending on the circumstances.

Ordering

Setting up the pendant was incredibly easy.  You complete a basic sign-up form explaining who the user is, their general medical requirements and who will be the emergency contacts.

There are no intrusive questions to answer – just a general outline of the types of medical condition that the emergency services or the family doctor would need to know about.

Welbeing Personal Alarm Unit & Pendant

Set-up

Once you have completed the form, you receive your alarm unit and your pendant.

You will need to complete the direct debit form as the pendant is paid for on a monthly subscription of £15.95 per month and return it to Welbeing.

The alarm unit plugs into an electrical socket and a landline telephone socket.  All the cables you’ll require are supplied in the neat little box.  There’s a full instruction booklet that is easy to understand.

You can connect the box to a landline or also to your home WiFi but as I’ve never managed to persuade dad to get this, a landline was the only choice!

Then you press the button on top of the unit to connect to the call centre so that they can do a test call.

Extra services are available at an additional cost.  For example, the alarm unit can work with a range of wireless sensors in the home to detect gas, smoke, flood or a person falling. You can even have a local audible alarm – in addition to alerting the key holder or emergency services.

For the purpose of our trial, however, we just tested the basic service and the response aspect of the pendant.

Pendant design

The pendant itself is a simple oblong unit with a push button which, when pushed, telephones the call centre remotely from up to 150m away.

It can be worn via a belt clip, around the wrist or around the neck and you simply slot the relevant pieces supplied into the pendant.

The unit is solid and functional to withstand daily wear and tear and it has a large central button for the wearer to press quickly and easily.

Mum’s type of epilepsy cannot be identified by the sensors offered as part of an additional service offered by Welbeing mentioned above and we focused our trial on mobility issues such as slips, trips and falls.

How it works in practice

My parents’ house is topsy-turvy in that the bedrooms are downstairs and the living rooms upstairs.  It was considered all the rage in the ’70s.

As an example of how the personal alarm service works, we asked mum to push the button from her bedroom downstairs and, reassuringly, the operator rang mum’s landline 5 times whilst calling her name via the loudspeaker.

This particular test was carried out around midday on Easter Sunday.

The speaker volume, incidentally, is very loud – as it needs to be – but you can ask for it to be reduced somewhat. Welbeing also advises that you don’t place the alarm unit right next to the telephone as this may result in high pitched interference.

We obviously explained that mum was fine and the operator explained that if, after 4 or 5 attempts to contact mum direct there was no response, she would escalate the call to the first emergency contact (me) and, if she couldn’t reach me, would telephone the emergency services.

It is important that whoever is the designated emergency contact has keys to the house on them at all times.

The operator, a lady, had a lovely soothing voice and was very gentle in her approach.  Important if someone is scared or in distress.

The benefits

Aside from the practical aspect of knowing that, if dad or I leave the house, mum can contact us at the push of a button, the reassurance that the Welbeing Personal Alarm Service gives both wearer and their carers or family members is considerable.

When you are caring for a loved one you are never entirely off duty which is not necessarily a good thing for the health and stress levels of the one in the role of carer.

And, in the event that the emergency services are needed, the call centre will be able to at least give some guidance as to the other medical conditions the wearer may suffer.

 

In summary

We thought the Welbeing Personal Alarm Service was a brilliant idea for relieving the anxiety and stress often experienced by both wearer and the people who care for them.

Having help on hand at the touch of the button is particularly freeing for carers like my dad who can do their daily errands without feeling as if they have to rush back in case something has happened.

I think the system would work to optimum effectiveness, however, with the input of the wearer’s GP and/or medical team particularly if the wearer suffers from different medical conditions and is treated under different consultants.

Mum’s particular medical conditions are too complex to rely solely on the personal alarm for the simple reason that some of these are unpredictable and happen out of the blue.

That said, for most of the time, we found her wearing of the pendant was a massive weight off our minds.

I felt the monthly subscription fee was reasonable and I think you have to adopt a pragmatic approach to caring for your elderly relatives.  There will be costs involved to ensure that independent living can continue for as long as possible in terms of all sorts of mobility aids.

Personally,  I would prefer to keep going along this route for as long as possible so that mum and dad can stay together in our family home.

For more information on the Welbeing Personal Alarm service visit www.welbeing.org.uk. You can also call them on 01323 644422 or email them at info@welbeing.org.uk.  You can connect with them on Facebook @dorocare and on Twitter @wel_being.

Review: Meet The Snapstar Squad – Dolls From Yulu

GIFTED: Move over Barbie because the #SNAPSTAR dolls are in town and they are taking no prisoners when it comes to their talents, looks or influencing skills.  These girls would probably have given Ken the big heave-ho ages ago and sold the pony.

Thanks to Yulu toys, Caitlin has three new gal pals who you’ll find at Smyths Toystore from 20th May.

#SNAPSTAR is described as “an immersive world of fashion, beauty, music, photography and design where our squad of six influencer dolls define what’s next and aspirational”.

We were sent Lola, Dawn and Yuki but the squad also comprises Aspen, Izzy and Echo. Each doll has a unique style and what sets them apart from the dolls I grew up with (and cut the hair off), you can change their hair and makeup and then post their looks to the #SNAPSTAR Studio app – or wherever you like.

The #SNAPSTAR Studio app is free to download and allows kids to style and customize their SNAPSTAR’s hair, make-up, eye colour and shape, accessories and background scene!

So you can play around with their looks some more on the app once you have created your look on the doll itself.

Each doll has different passions, such as the environment, travelling and kindness!

Dawn is a high-powered, high-fashion diva who only settles for the best and when she isn’t playing dress-up, she likes to rub elbows with the celebs at the most exclusive events.

Lola is a ball of positive energy who sees the best in everyone and the beauty in everything. She makes everyone around her feel great and want to be their best selves.

Lastly, Yuki is a feisty chick who marches to her own beat.  She’s a music enthusiast and is often booked for DJing parties all over town.

Each doll is 25 cm high with 15 points of articulation which allows them to strike lots of different poses.  They have inserted glass-like eyes and changeable hairstyles.

Our dolls came with a bag and mini mobile phone and in the box there was a self-assembly cardboard ‘green screen’ and a simple plastic stand to allow the dolls to be posed and to stand up.

The stand simply clips into a tiny hole at the back of each doll’s neck and the purpose of the screen is to help the photographic definition when using the #SNAPSTAR Studio app.

I thought the combination of a doll with simple technology added an extra dimension to these toys.  The only slight negative, for me, is that the focus is solely based around the ‘influencer lifestyle’ which, as a blogger, I can attest certainly isn’t all parties and posing!

There is also an assumption that the kids will have access to a mobile phone and social media platforms which, although the age for having an account on these platforms is 13, is frequently ignored by parents across the land. Caitlin has a mobile, however, she currently only uses TikTok.

It is, of course, entirely possible to enjoy playing dressing up with the dolls without the #SNAPSTAR Studio app but the age range for these products is ages 5 – 11.  At the very least parental supervision will be required with the app.

I think there’s a huge opportunity here for Yulu to add an educational element to the dolls, for example as has been done with Project Mc2 and their STEM focus. I would like to have seen a little less emphasis on looks, although there are some strong key messages here – for example, the importance of kindness and being your own person.

All that aside, the dolls are well made, attractive and whilst their outfits are rather flimsy, the ‘SNAPSTAR Squad are far more current than their rivals.

Check out the range of #SNAPSTAR dolls at Smyths Toys.  Current RRP £17.99 per doll and the new squad are available to pre-order online.

Review: Ring RTC1000 Rapid Digital Tyre Inflator

Car maintenance is one of those things which seems to be only carried out with any regularity by petrol heads or service mechanics.  In the past, I used to religiously check tyre pressure and top up the oil and water levels on my bright orange Golf GTi or the Ford Fiestas I inherited from dad.  In those days this meant wrestling with a foot pump, not the somewhat more sophisticated type of car tyre inflator available today.

Checking tyre pressure is particularly essential before embarking on a long car journey or after periods of extreme weather conditions which may cause the pressure to rise or fall.

Tyre pressure, after all, affects the control of your car, its steering and your overall safety.

Overinflate them, and your tyres are more likely to be damaged by potholes on the road and may even explode.

If your tyres are underinflated, not only will you have a bumpy, uncomfortable ride, but you’ll reduce control of your vehicle and reduce the life of your tyres by as much as 25%.

You’ll find the correct tyre pressure for your tyres (in PSI, pounds per square inch) either on the driver’s door jamb or inside the owner’s manual.  If you are still unsure, ask at your local garage or phone the dealer.

I was recently sent the RTC1000 Rapid Digital Tyre Inflator to review and I must confess I had to remind myself how to use one.  I’ve got into the bad habit of relying on a tyre check during my Skoda Roomster’s regular service visits which means trusting to luck the rest of the time.  Not good!

This tyre inflator comes in a compact black zip-up carry case and is an ideal size to pop in your boot without adding to the clutter already in there.

 

It’s a neat piece of kit which is very easy to use.  It has a standard 12v plug to go into your vehicle’s power socket and a generous 3.5m cable.  Both the cable and the air hose are stored neatly at the back of the unit.

There are several nice touches too.  The travel case contains a set of spare tyre valves and some disposable gloves to keep your hands clean.

The valve which connects to the tyre is made of good quality brass which allows you to deflate, as well as inflate the tyre if you overdo it.

I particularly like that the RTC1000 has an LED light for operating the pump at night and, most impressive of all, the unit can inflate a car tyre in two minutes.  While I didn’t time this claim, the speed with which my tyres were inflated gave no grounds to dispute this at all.

The correct tyre pressure for my Skoda is 32 PSI.  All you do is set the required pressure, hit the big grey button and let the unit do its thing.

It’s quick, simple to use and easily portable.  Price wise it retails around £50, and you’ll find it at stockists such as Amazon and Screwfix.

For a non-mechanically minded driver like me, it’s perfect, and it even comes with a three-piece adaptor kit for bicycle tyres, balls and other inflatables.

For more info on the Ring website.

Win A Year’s Worth Of Oilesen Vitamin D3 For the Family

Even though the sun is threatening to make a reappearance, it is still important for us to keep our levels of Vitamin D topped up.  Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin but, spending time outdoors is clearly not enough as it is estimated that 1 billion people worldwide, across all ethnicities and age groups, have a vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D plays many roles in the body, one of the most important being to enable the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, both of which are involved in a number of essential processes that occur inside our cells.

Vitamin D also promotes the laying down of minerals in bone (bone mineralisation) and supports the function of nerves and muscles.

It is particularly important for infants and young children because it is needed for the development of strong and healthy bones and teeth and it is also important for the functioning of the immune system.

You may have an extra risk of a Vitamin D deficiency if you are in one of these groups:

– individuals with darker skins who cannot synthesise vitamin D efficiently from the UK’s
relatively weak northern sunlight;
– individuals who cover their skin whilst outdoors;
– Individuals with minimal exposure to sunlight.

That certainly describes me – and, I suspect, most of us whose employment keeps them indoors for the majority of the day.

Whilst Caitlin and Ieuan do play outdoors during school playtimes, at home like many other children they spend a large amount of time indoors in front of screens.  Yes, we do our best to drag them out whenever we can but, like many parents, it is often a herculean struggle!

Did you know that, according to national surveys, one in five people have low vitamin D levels which are associated with a higher risk of poor musculoskeletal health such as rickets, osteomalacia, falls and poor muscle strength?

Even more concerning, a report published in December 2018 by the University of Queensland, reported that new-borns with vitamin D deficiency had a 44 per cent increased risk of being diagnosed with schizophrenia later in life compared to those with normal vitamin D levels.

In fact, Public Health England currently advises that in the UK all children under five take a daily vitamin D supplement year round and all adults throughout the autumn and winter months.

Sobering stuff!

We’ve been trying the Oilesen Vitamin D3 range from Swiss pharmaceutical company Valentis, containing high-grade natural ingredients including Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  The products are vegetarian, family friendly and competitively priced.

The products are intended to provide supplementary vitamin D3 and there’s a format to suit each member of the family: pregnant women, babies from birth through to older children, adolescents and adults, as well as individuals who may be housebound or who avoid sun exposure.

The product range includes Oilesen Vitamin D3 500 Spray; Oilesen Vitamin D3 400 Drops; and Oilesen Vitamin D3 1000 Soft Gel Capsules.

OILESEN™ Vitamin D3 500 Spray – RRP £7.00 for 30 ml (320 doses)

Really easy to use, you simply spray directly under the tongue or on the inside of the cheek for fast absorption.  It has a pleasant orange flavour too. Children aged 4 to 10 years should be given 2 doses per day whilst children over 10 years and adults need 2 to 4 doses per day. Each dose contains 12.5 ug of vitamin D3.  This was Caitlin’s preferred way to take it as she could do it herself and feel very grown up (under supervision, obviously!).

OILESEN™ Vitamin D3 1000, soft capsules made with Extra Virgin Olive Oil – £8 for a box of 80 capsules.

Children over 5 years and adults simply take 1 capsule per day during a meal. If there are issues with swallowing, the capsule can be chewed or the contents squeezed into a meal, a drink or directly into the mouth. 1 capsule contains 25 μg of vitamin D3.  Luckily Ieuan has never had a problem swallowing tablets and has lots of practice with his travel sickness pills.

The range also includes Oilesen™ Vitamin D3 400 Drops – RRP £6.00 for 10 ml. With a base of extra virgin olive oil which aids absorption, this product is intended to provide supplementary vitamin D3 for babies.

The dropper enables Mums and Dads to easily add a daily dose directly into the baby’s mouth or mix into food or drink.  Babies can be given 1 drop per day to be taken with a meal from birth. 1 drop contains 10 μg of vitamin D3.

The Oilesen Vitamin D3 range is available from local pharmacies nationwide and online
www.oilesenvitd3.com.

The giveaway

I have a year’s supply of Oilesen Vitamin D3 products worth £87 to give away, comprising 2 x drops, 5 x sprays and 5 packs of capsules.

Entry is via the GLEAM widget below and the usual terms and conditions apply which can be found on my giveaways page.  The giveaway ends at 11:59 pm on Friday 26 April and is open to UK entrants only.

Please note any emails submitted will be used solely for the purpose of contacting the winner and will not be retained.

Year’s Supply Of Oilesen Vitamin D3 Products

Good luck

 

David Charles Childrenswear: Party Dress Review

11 is an interesting age, isn’t it?  As tweens, our daughters are often a capricious mix of tweenager and little girl so it is great to find a range of gorgeous party and occasion dresses which allow them to feel grown up whilst still looking like the spirited young girls they truly are.  David Charles Childrenswear is just such a range and we were recently gifted the gorgeous Red Ruffle Party Gown from the David Charles Spring / Summer collection for Caitlin to try.

An iconic British brand, David Charles Childrenswear has been making luxury party dresses, occasionwear and accessories for girls aged 2-16 since the 1970s.

You’ll find their designer dresses in stores such as Harrods and Saks 5th Avenue and their clientele include celebrities and even royalty.

Caitlin’s dress arrived beautifully packaged and the fit was perfect. We chose a dress in size age 12.  I was particularly impressed by how well made the dress is, as you might expect for a designer price tag.

The Red Ruffle Party Gown is an off-the-shoulder dress in a vibrant red with Bardot shoulder details for added chic in an on-trend A-line cut.

The elasticated straps are wide enough to stay on comfortably and the concealed back zip is sturdy.  The attention to detail is excellent.

As well as girls’ party dresses, you’ll find dresses for all occasions, such as prom dresses, bridesmaid dresses and outfits for flower girls.  It’s often difficult to find these on the high street and the designs you’ll find at David Charles are really pretty and unique enough to let your little girl really stand out.

Caitlin is always happy to pose but only if she really likes what she’s wearing – and she certainly loved her new dress.

Then it was off to Cote Brasserie for some lunch (under strict instructions that she remember her serviette!).

Then it was off to Wales Millennium Centre which has a great open area and a stage where Caitlin will be singing to the public with her school in a couple of weeks’ time. You’ll also find a couple of good coffee shops and a gift shop, as well as, of course, a ticket office to book for all the forthcoming fabulous shows.

We were really impressed with our dress from David Charles Childrenswear.  At £199 the Red Ruffle Party Gown has a higher price point than you would expect to pay on the high street but, in my opinion, the price is reasonable given the quality and tailoring – and the element of exclusivity you wouldn’t get if you bought from Next for example.

I always assess value on a cost per wear basis and this is a dress that Caitlin will easily get a year’s wear out of.  It works as well with a pair of sparkly sandals and a shrug as it does with Caitlin’s beloved Converse and a biker jacket.

If you are watching the pennies, it’s worth noting that David Charles offers items on sale where you can bag a bargain with reductions of up to 80% on girls designer dresses at the end of the season.

If you have a special party or event coming up,  I really recommend a visit to David Charles Childrenswear.




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