The Disney Magic

Disney Cruise Line’s amazing new ‘Frozen’ destinations for 2015

I’m a huge Disney Cruise Line fan, as you know.  We were on the Disney Magic last year cruising around the Mediterranean and it was just absolutely magical.  Of course, the Magic has now had an incredible revamp and is ready, all sparkly and new, to set sail along with the Fantasy and Wonder for new destinations in the summer of 2015.

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Phones: so important when you travel.

The one where I turn detective in my quest for cheaper mobile data bills while travelling

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that I’ve been having a bit of a moan about mobile data roaming when travelling abroad.  Obviously, being online and staying in  contact is really important when, like me, it’s your business, but just generally, most people want to be able to stay in touch when they’re abroad (although obviously tweeting when you’re on the beach is generally only the preserve of nutters like me).

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Charlie photographing the Colosseum

Inghams Italy’s Parents Guide to Italy

Inghams Italy are experts in Italian holidays.  They’ve worked really hard to find tons of really unusual hotels, from vineyards to castles, with the flexibility of choosing to fly from over 20 UK airports on a day to suit you.  They’re specialists in tailor-made holidays with tons of flexibility and are all about making your holiday perfect for you.

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Dad selfie

Birthday week

Forty four.


So in honour of this momentous number, I decided that I should have a birthday week (what? it’s a thing) of fun, celebrations, yummy food and seeing the people I love.  7 happy days to celebrate.  Here are some of the things that have happened so far.  My Disreputable Dad’s first ever selfie – at 78! (above)…

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Styling Ladies Day at the Grand National

The Grand National is fast approaching, which means it will soon be Ladies Day: my favourite time of year to do some serious fashiony people watching and gaze (sometimes in wonder and – let’s face it – sometimes in horror) at the outfits on display.  Sadly I won’t be attending but the lovely chaps at Bookmakers asked me how I would have styled my day and – anything for a bit of online window shopping – I was happy to oblige!

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WWI celebrations in France (Verdun)

Universal capital of The First World War, Verdun was the hotspot of the greatest battle the 20th century has ever seen. Destroyed villages, combat sites, museums, memorials and re-enactments bear testimony to the scale and the destructiveness of the war, as well as of the valour and bravery of the city’s defenders.

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Weekend baking: fabulous fruity flapjacks

So, amazingly, Charlie has stuck to his rash ‘I’m not eating chocolate any more’ decision with incredibly amounts of willpower, even as we’ve been tucking into all sorts of treats we’ve been sent.  He’s not even been eating his previous post-school staple of chocolate brownies.  He is, however, still eating other treats, so I’m not overly worried that this is one of those mad teenage diets.

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Scarlett necklace

Scarlett Jewellery – perfect for Mothers’ Day

Scarlett Jewellery

Something personalised always makes a gift extra special, which goes down well with Mums.  Scarlett Jewellery is handmade in the UK and was founded by fellow mum, designer Sarah Fenton in 1998.   I had a chat with Sarah and she listened really hard when I was telling her what I would love for Mothers’ Day (basically something featuring ALL my family).  The result (with many of her suggestions) was this gorgeous necklace (above).

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Frozen creme egg

The one with the frozen Cadbury Creme Egg

I’m generally more of a cake lover then chocolate (you had no idea, right?) but there’s something about Cadbury Creme Eggs (yes, it’s Cadbury, not Cadbury’s – y’know, like Cinderella Castle at Disneyworld) that makes me long for Easter every year (the season is actually quite short – they’ll be gone from the shelves again on April 20th).  I think it’s a bit of a comfort thing in miserable January and February (plus March is my birthday month and I associate it with Creme Eggs!).   I’m a ‘bit the top off and lick the goo out’ person, but recently we’ve become a bit addicted to popping them in the freezer.  The filling doesn’t set solid, but becomes firm and fondanty.  Delicious, and a bit easier to scoff on the sofa, admittedly.

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Guinness cupcake with ganache

Ginger Guinness cupcakes for St Patrick’s Day

Regular English Mum readers will know that Ireland means a lot to us all here at English Towers.  In fact, it’s the reason why this little part of the interwebz even exists.  Long, long ago (eight whole years to be precise) we set off on a new adventure to the Emerald Isle and spent many happy years living first in Dublin, then later Meath and finally beautiful county Cavan.

Mr English is of Irish descent and the boys are proud of their heritage. Charlie can even wow you with a bit of Gaeilge if you ask nicely (although it’s mostly swears) so when Paddy’s Day approaches, it instills in us all a mixture of nostalgia and longing for places and friends left behind.

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Spiced lamb puff pastry pie

Weekend baking: spiced lamb puff pastry pies

Continuing with my new menu planning obsession (honestly, it’s saving me A FORTUNE – I’ve got my favourites saved on the online shopping app and I just tweak it every week, then buy the odd bit of fresh stuff from the farmer’s market or my fab local farm shop), I thought I’d share another of my staple ingredients: puff pastry.  I do quite like making puff pastry (well, rough puff), but there’s certainly no shame in using ready made, and a pack of all butter puff pastry is the perfect thing to keep in the fridge to make tarts, pies and much more.

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Me with my gorgeous boys

Sanctuary Spa – top gift ideas for Mothers’ Day

What would you like for Mothers’ Day?  I usually like hand cream, bubbles or maybe a scented candle. They’re the sort of thing that you don’t really always buy for yourself as it seems a bit self indulgent.  I thought this little illustration from Sanctuary Spa was so pretty – and SO true – generally what we’d really love isn’t expensive presents or fancy meals out, it’s a lie in, a cuddle, and a little bit of pampering.  I also thought it was very funny that 42% of mums had admitted to pretending to like past Mothers’ Day gifts – what on earth did they get?!  Something home made presumably (I’ve had some shockers – but all made with love) – a lot of the time it’s poor Dad who ends up getting the pressie (the pressure!), so let’s hope while Googling, they land here and find out what we really want! Read more

Lyra from bottom of stairs 700

The #whyDSLR photography challenge

I’m really not a good photographer.  I don’t own a decent camera and although I feel like my Instagram/food shots are improving, I’ve got quite a long way to go.

Recently, Panasonic launched a new campaign around their Lumix G range, called #whyDSLR.  It’s all about the benefits of mirrorless cameras over more traditional DSLRs (I’m not technical so I’m afraid you’ll have to look at the website for the details, but as far as I can work out, mirrorless cameras are the more modern, lighter, smaller option).  They sent me one of their Lumix GX7 cameras to try out and have a play with.

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Ten tips to get a spring-like look

Spring is a great time for the skin. After the challenges of winter, with its biting cold winds and fluctuations in temperature, it’s time to let your skin breathe and recover.  And while dark, glamorous looks may suit brooding skies and wintry nights, spring is a time to be playful and experimental with your make-up.  Here are ten tips for springtime success.

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