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Four reasons you should ‘refresh your refrigerator’!

Like most of your home and kitchen appliances, once your fridge is installed and working correctly, you barely even notice that it’s there. Even if it’s an enormous, plastic-looking white fridge from the ‘90s, it’s likely been a fixture of your kitchen for so long that the way it looks doesn’t bother you. You probably hardly even notice the smell when you open it any more. And when the energy bills come in, you likely pay it without thinking about how much it’s costing you – that’s just how much they cost to run, right?

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In your dreams, pal...

TWO teenagers driving? Give me strength!

Happy half term!  We’ve been really busy planning a trip to Florida next week (it’s Mr English’s 50th while we’re over there too), and I spent the weekend in London with my friend Erica (more of this very soon).  There’s also been more work on The Secret Special Thing that Cannot be Mentioned.  All will be revealed soon, I promise.

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The gardens at Le Manoir

The Raymond Blanc Cookery School at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons with Kenwood Chef Sense

Last week, I was lucky enough to be invited to Raymond Blanc’s beautiful Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Great Milton, Oxfordshire.  I’ve wanted to visit for ages, so I was beside myself with excitement.  As I drove up, I dithered outside the front gate in my car, not really knowing what to do, and instantly, a friendly gentleman in an immaculate suit rushed out to help, escorting me to the reception and driving my car off to park it for me.  First impressions?  Pretty darned good.

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The signature warm chocolate-banana torte at Citricos

Free dining with 2015 Walt Disney World holidays!

Our lovely visit to Walt Disney World in Orlando seems such a long time ago now.  I’m already pining for the sunshine, for Anna and Elsa, and, more importantly, all that amazing food.

Once upon a time (see what I did there?) I think most people thought that all you could probably eat while you were at Walt Disney World parks and resorts was junk food, or maybe Mickey-shaped ice creams.  Now, people are starting to realise that Walt Disney World features some of the best dining in the world, whether you’re after a snack, quick-service, grab and go option, or proper fine dining with table service.

So what can you expect?

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Brewing up our Pact coffee

Coffee tasting with Pact Coffee (and try your first bag for just £1)

We’re a bit divided on coffee in this house: Charlie and Mr English are hard-core coffee NUTS.  As far as they’re concerned coffee should be strong and black (and preferably served on demand throughout the day).  This contrasts completely with Sam and I, who like milky lattes.   I’ve even been known to add in a bit of cinnamon sugar for good measure.  In coffee shops, the hard-core boys will go for Americano with an extra shot and I’ll ask for a latte with just half a shot of coffee, which makes them roll their eyes, so we’re proper chalk and cheese.

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Image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/criminalintent/3538675366/

Forget about your worries and your strife – holiday essentials for the family

We’ve all been there at the airport: screaming, crying and throwing all our toys out of the pram…not to mention what the kids are up to. Yet it doesn’t have to be this way. You can plan for a much smoother operation whether it’s chilling out on the beach or pottering around the countryside together, all with your kids on side. Here’s a round-up of tips and essentials for family fun away from home.

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Arriving home to Heathrow

APH airport parking

One of the huge perks of my job is all the travel.  I get to visit some wonderful places and cruise on amazing ships.  I’m always pinching myself at how lucky I am.  One of the bits that I enjoy the least, though, is getting to the airport.  We actually only live about half an hour from Heathrow, but depending on how things are on the M25, that half hour can magically change into an hour or even longer.

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Fig leaf and cassis diffuser

Scented summer evenings

We’ve been enjoying the very last of the summer evenings here at English Towers, knowing that it’s the final summer we’ll spend in this house before moving on to our new house (which requires total refurbishment – eek!).  One of the things I’m really looking forward to in our new house, though, is using the lovely wood burner which is there.  I’m picturing a fireplace dotted with scented candles, filling the house with gorgeous scents.

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Charlie in the Bahamas

5 reasons why you should take your teenagers on a Caribbean cruise

Every parent of teenagers knows that feeling when you start to wonder exactly how long your children will keep wanting to come on holiday with you.  As they grow up, they naturally develop their own tastes, likes and dislikes (and even more naturally, these will tend to be the exact opposite to yours), so agreeing on a holiday destination (and indeed, persuading them to dump their mates and come on holiday with you) is never easy.

Enter, the Caribbean cruise.  Here’s why:

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The Honda Civic Tourer

On test: the Honda Civic Tourer 1.8i-VTEC SR

We’ve tested a few cars in the past, most notably the Honda CR-V that we drove around France, and really love doing it (basically, a lovely man appears on your doorstep with a brand new car and gives you the keys, leaving the car with you for a week – what’s not to love?).  This time, Honda asked if we’d like to try their new Civic Tourer 1.8 i-VTEC SR manual and, being a big car loving family, we jumped at the chance…

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Christmas lights

10 tips for sticking to a budget this Christmas

I know what you’re thinking: Christmas?  Really?  But now is the time of year where all the retailers are showcasing their Christmas stock to the trade (in fact, loads of retailers are already showing their Christmas ideas to the public too – have a look at the ‘New for Christmas 2014‘ range at John Lewis).

This year, I’m determined not to be panicking at the last minute.  I have a Christmas book (just a hard-backed notebook) and every year I make a few notes (and write down what people send to us so that I can write thank you notes) – it’s become a bit of a habit. This time I’ll be going more in depth. Here’s a few ideas I’ve got so far:

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Wowcherching cashback – we’re missing out on free money!

I’ve recently bought a new laptop and before I did, I had a good look around online for voucher codes or discount codes, but one thing I hadn’t really considered was cashback. Too late, sadly, I received an email from Wowcher’s new cashback website, Wowcherching last week so thought I’d have a look to see exactly how it works and how much I could earn.  If you’re not familiar with how cashback works, you visit their site and search for the retailer you are about to buy from, click through to the retailer via the link and once you’ve made your purchase the retailer then pays a referral commission back to Wowcherching, that they give to you as cashback. Read more

summer fun

5 tips for surviving the school summer holidays

So the kids are breaking up (or have broken up) from school and now the loooong summer stretches ahead.  My two seem to have been off for weeks already (both have done exams and have been on study leave since May – happily they both have part time jobs which at least keep them occupied some of the time).  So whether you’re embracing this time with your children, or dreading it, you’ll still have between a month and six weeks of time to fill and there’s nothing worse than bored kids. So how can you keep the kids entertained?  Here are my top 5 tips for surviving the school summer holidays:

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