I’ve just come back from a gorgeous break on the Cote d’Azur: three glorious days of sun, sightseeing, food and relaxation. But my word, the STUFF you need, just for three days: dresses, heels and some sort of clutch for going out to dinner; shorts, comfy shoes and t-shirts for sightseeing; swimsuits, cover ups and flips flops for beach days; and don’t get me started on beauty products, make up and toiletry bags, sunscreen and perfume. And if you’re taking little ones you can pretty much do that all over again (bar the heels and make-up admittedly).
So with all this in mind, I’ve teamed up with the gorgeous bunch at Insure and Away, who incidentally provide annual holiday insurance, another must-have for your holiday, to give you a little bonus with which to purchase some essentials for all your travel plans this summer: a £200 John Lewis voucher.
So that’s £200 of lovely shopping money, plus experts in cheap travel insurance to boot. You don’t have to thank me, honestly, answer the simple question below to enter, and give me a little shout out on Twitter as one of the extra bonus entry methods…
To enter, just:
Answer the following question in the comments box below: what is your no fail tip for a stress free travelling experience?
Tweet the following phrase:
I’d love to #win a John Lewis voucher with @EnglishMum and @InsureandAway #competition http://bit.ly/17oJb7a
…and follow @InsureandAway on Twitter. Leave a comment saying you have done so and state your Twitter username.
Like Insure and Away on Facebook and leave a comment saying you have done so below.
The usual English Mum competition rules apply. The winner will be chosen at random and this competition closes at midnight on Tuesday, 28th May 2013. And finally, don’t forget that if you’re a new commenter, your comment won’t show up immediately as it has to be approved first. Good luck!
It’s no secret that I love a bit of a shop, so when Zalando approached me about a competition, I was keen to have a look at their site to see the sort of things they sell. I wasn’t disappointed. They’ve got pretty much everything you could buy on the high street, including designer stuff like LK Bennett, uber trendy Ash known for their amazing wedge trainers, and, my own personal favourite, Orla Kiely. Or maybe if you’re not into fashion you’d prefer the home section, where they’ve got really nice bedlinen, kitchen stuff… you name it. OR maybe you’d prefer to treat yourself to a flash new watch? Gorgeous jewellery? Premium beauty products? A comfy pair of Uggs? I could go on, but I’d only bore you.
So, in the interests of giving you the best choice, we decided not to ‘fence you in’. Your prize, should you win, is £200 to spend ANYWHERE in the store, on ANYTHING at all.
I know, right? You’re welcome.
Just comment and tell me what you’d spend your little windfall on. Winner will be chosen at random and usual English Mum competition rules apply. This giveaway ends at midnight, this Saturday 13th April. Remember if you’re a first-time visitor to English mum your comment won’t appear until it’s approved. Good luck!
THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED. CONGRATULATIONS TO NICOLE COTTRELL.
If you follow me on Facebook (if not, why not? We’re a lovely gang and have all sorts of waffly conversations), you’ll know that a while back, my chums at Disney offered me the most FABULOUS prize for you, my lovely readers: a 7 night holiday in a Walt Disney World Resort, Florida, complete with park tickets. I, of course, bit their arms off (not literally – you don’t bite Mickey, it’s just not done), but then, disappointingly, we couldn’t persuade anyone to offer flights (it’s the end of the financial year, times are tough, blah blah) so I faltered. I wondered if people would be disgruntled with a competition that wasn’t a WHOLE holiday as it didn’t include the flights. But people commented, in their droves, to say that it didn’t matter, that they’d definitely enter a competition. And hey, it’s a fabulous holiday, worth a ton of money. So here it is, in all its glory.
The prize (squee!)
Disney will provide one winner with a vacation package for four people for seven nights and eight days at Disney’s wonderful Art of Animation resort consisting of accommodation (one standard room for four people for seven nights), PLUS four 8-day Magic Your Way tickets with Park Hopper® option (EXCLUDING flights).
How do I enter? I hear you cry!
My favourite attraction at Walt Disney World is Pirates of the Caribbean. I’ve always loved it. So just leave a comment and tell me: what’s the attraction you’ll be heading to first if you win this amazing prize?
(New commenters please note yours won’t show up until it’s been approved.)
For an extra chance to win, just comment and let me know that you’ve tweeted the phrase:
I’ve entered @EnglishMum’s Walt Disney World Florida holiday giveaway #visitMickeywithEnglishMum
The small print
There’s quite a lot of small print, I’ll admit, but hey, giving away a holiday is quite complicated, so I’d be really grateful if you have a read through and make sure you agree before entering. Ta muchly
THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED. THE WINNER, CHOSEN BY AN ONLINE RANDOMISER, IS CAROLINE CAVANAGH – CONGRATULATIONS! THANKS FOR ALL YOUR ENTRIES – MORE COMPETITIONS VERY SOON XX
Every so often someone comes up with an idea that’s just so brilliant, I’m amazed I haven’t heard of it before. Wimdu is one of those things. It’s a website (or ‘accommodation platform’ to use the technical term) that brings travellers together with people around the world who have accommodation. It’s not small, either. They currently list over 150,000 properties in over 50 countries around the world.
So what do they offer? I asked Wimdu’s lovely Joshua Goodwin to tell us more about it:
‘We offer a range of accommodation. Anything from a small private room in a Berliner’s flat to a villa in rural Spain. We list many unusual properties too but the vast majority of our business comes through city breaks and beach holidays. We are the number one alternative to hotels.’
So why choose Wimdu?
‘People stay with us because they prefer the comfort and authenticity of a home over a faceless hotel chain which they can stay at anywhere in the world.’
And what are the benefits of choosing Wimdu to book your accommodation?
‘People can decide to take a room in an apartment or the whole property which means we can suit almost all budgets. We want people to take a classic villa by the sea over an overpriced and over subscribed hotel you get with a package holiday. We want to show people that the extra comfort and authenticity does not come at extra cost and the average family will save money through us.’
I LOVE this idea. And presumably local people in these resorts benefit too?
‘Absolutely. I like how it takes a lot of tourism money away from the multinational hotels and puts the money back into local hands. It encourages people to mix with locals more, as you can often find yourself just surrrounded by fellow natives and it can really water down the culture which is a shame.’
So who are your hosts? Are they posh people with grand villas by the sea, or just ordinary folk?
‘You don’t have to own a second home to make a bit of money, just a spare room in the house or perhaps your child is away at uni or moved out and its a great way to make a bit of income.’
And to celebrate this absolutely FABULOUS idea, Wimdu have given me two £200 vouchers to give away.
As usual, there are a few ways to enter:
1. Leave a comment saying which accommodation you would choose on the Wimdu website (I would choose the stunningly beautiful modern apartment overlooking Lake d’Orta pictured above)
Usual English Mum competition rules apply. Competition ends Saturday 23rd February at midnight.
* THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED. WELL DONE TO STACEY GUILLIAT and ERICA PRICE. THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR ENTRIES*
I live quite near to Leavesden Studios and can’t believe that I haven’t been there yet. I was invited to a press thing there, but it was cancelled and I’ve never managed to get there under my own steam. I’m delighted, though, that the lovely chaps at My Voucher Codes have given me a fabulous family ticket for the studio tour to give away. Several friends have visited and said that it’s an absolute must-see, with a huge collection of props, costumes and entire sets from the Harry Potter movies.
If you want to know more about the tour, I suggest you pop over to my scrumptious friend Madame Guillotine’s blog and see her rather wonderful review.
About My Voucher Codes
My Voucher Codes was the first voucher discount website in the UK and was first launched in 2006. The site offers a wide range of online discount codes, sales and exclusive offers for savings in various different areas such as travel, home, food and beauty. The site provides dedicated pages for special occasions like Easter, St Patrick’s Day and Mother’s Day and stores include baby specialists, Kiddicare, Debenhams, Marks and Spencer and Argos.
How to enter:
The small print:
The usual English Mum competition rules apply. Prize will consist of one family ticket (admitting either two adults + two children, or one adult + three children) to The Making of Harry Potter Warner Bros Studio Tour, London. Competition closes Saturday 23rd Feb 2013.
* THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED. THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR ENTRIES – CONGRATULATIONS TO THOMAS E MARSH WHO WON THE TICKETS*
I absolutely love doing giveaways just before Christmas. Giving someone the chance to win something that will cross a pressie off their list gives me such a great feeling. This one is brilliant – I’ve teamed up with Argos to give you the chance to win probably the best toy in the whole of the LEGO Star Wars collection: the amazing Millennium Falcon!
This huge beast, with (and I quote) ‘hull plates that open to reveal a detailed interior, twin flick missiles, rotating quad laser cannons and detachable cockpit cover’, as well as including Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Chewbacca, Ben Kenobi, Princess Leia Organa and Darth Vader, is worth £129.99 and will make some small person’s Christmas this year, I’m sure.
Just comment to enter and tell me what you’d do with this amazing 58cm long beast of a toy!
The small print:
Click here to check out the rest of the LEGO Star Wars at Argos!
****THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED. THE LUCKY WINNER IS EMMA DUNN!****
But what happens if you’re not quite there yet? Maybe you’re still searching for Mr Right (or Miss Completely Perfect) – the Santa to your Mrs Claus, if you will? Well, on the run up to Christmas, that most lovey dovey time of year, eHarmony want all English Mum’s readers to be as loved up as Mr and Mrs Claus. First thing you can do is pop to the eHarmony dating site - it’s really easy to get started with free dating by filling out a relationship questionnaire.
1) Leave a short comment answering this question: “If you could have any famous couple (dead or alive) at your Christmas dinner, who would it be and why.”
Then as bonus entry methods:
2) Tweet the following phrase “I’d love to #win a John Lewis voucher via @EnglishMum and @eHarmonyUK http://tinyurl.com/EMeHarmony ” - leave a comment saying you’ve done so
3) Follow @eHarmonyUK on Twitter – leave a comment saying you’ve done so and specify your username
4) Like eHarmony on Facebook – leave a comment saying you’ve done so
And that’s it. Easy peasy. You’re on your way to sharing your own special Christmas with someone you love. But hey, if you’ve already found them, feel free to enter too. You can keep the vouchers and give away the eHarmony membership to someone deserving!
Oh and new commenters: don’t be surprised if your comment doesn’t appear straight away – all new comments go into moderation.
The small print: entrants must be over the age of 18. The prize will be sent out within 28 days. UK entries only. No cash alternative. Competition closes Sunday 9th December. Entries after that date will not be valid.
****THIS POST IS NOW CLOSED. THE LUCKY WINNER IS LISA WARNER – CONGRATULATIONS!****
‘I have worked for the last 15 years for some of the largest premium beauty companies helping them to find out what British women really want from their beauty regimes. In that time I spoke to literally hundreds of women who just felt that as they got older, their makeup routine didn’t really work for them.
‘When you have a hiatus such as having children, you pare your routine down to the absolute minimum because you just don’t really have time to think about it. Then things start to calm down a bit, you look up and find that everything’s changed and also you have changed and so what you used to do doesn’t really work anymore, but it’s hard to know where to start, especially as a lot of the looks you see in magazines are modelled on very young women and it’s hard to tell if they might be appropriate for you as you get older.
‘I did go back to work after I had my kids, but I increasingly felt I – and they – were missing out on spending time together, even though I loved putting my heels on a going into Bond street to work. So that’s why I set up Beautyland – really to try and bring back a bit of fun to people who have lost some confidence in their makeup and skincare but also so I can spend a bit more time at home with my kids.
I recognised myself in so much of this, and thought it would be fun for one lucky reader to try out a fabulous Christmas look. Suji’s very kindly agreed to put together a special selection of items perfect for Christmas (worth nearly £100). The kit contains:
The small print: the winner will be chosen at random. No cash alternative. UK only. Judge’s decision is final. Competition closes Sunday 25th November at midnight.
The Ninja Cat of Death has been up to her usual tricks again. This time, it’s the corner of our rather lovely leather headboard that’s taken the brunt of her aggression. She’s often to be found perched on the headboard at a jaunty angle – it gives her a good view of her kingdom and she can spot approaching humans in time to ambush them as they come in the room.
Anyhoo enough of my woes. Whether or not you’ve got a hideous destructive dictator of a cat, or maybe you’ve got a little one who’s outgrowing their cot and ready for their first proper bed, or indeed whether you’re just due a new bed (you’re supposed to have a new mattress every five years or so, apparently), I’ve got a £300 voucher to give away from Time4sleep.
If you don’t need a new bed, don’t despair, there are all sorts of lovely accessories, or if you want to add to your voucher and spend a bit more, that’s fine too (they’ve got a gorgeous double dark wood sleigh bed in the sale for £349).
For what it’s worth, if I won, I would spend my voucher on this gorgeous king size Como metal bed frame:
…but I’m not allowed to enter. Boo.
To enter, just leave a comment telling me what you’d spend your voucher on. Oh and if you’re a new commenter, don’t worry if your comment doesn’t appear straight away – it will need to be approved by me first.
The small print: this competition will end at midnight on 30th October 2012. The winner will be chosen by Time4Sleep after this date and will receive a £300 voucher to spend online at Time4sleep.com. UK only. The judge’s decision is final. No cash alternative.
****** THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED! THANKS FOR ALL YOUR ENTRIES *******
Although my children are teenagers, I seem to be surrounded by babies at the moment – several of my friends have had babies and I’m spending rather a lot of time oohing and ahhing over adorable baby videos (I am NOT broody, I am NOT broody…).
Just in time, then, the lovely chaps at Verdbaudet have offered one of my lucky readers an e-voucher worth £100 to spend on their website. Their children’s nursery and bedroom stuff is absolutely adorable, but if your children are older, don’t despair, because their range goes right up to 14 years.
Just leave a comment to enter and you’ll be in with a chance of winning.
The small print: This competition ends on Sunday 14th October. Winner will be chosen at random after this date and will receive a £100 e-voucher to spend online at Vertbaudet.co.uk. UK only. No cash alternative.
*******This competition is now closed. Well done to Lynn who bagged herself an e-voucher worth £100!*******
Okay, so I appreciate that I run the risk of you all beating me to death with your umbrellas, but I want to take a minute to talk about picnics. There’s really nothing better than heading out with a lovely stash of delicious food and unpacking all your goodies on a rug, ready to embrace the great outdoors (and stuff your face too).
To chase the rain clouds away, I’ve got a really lovely Hamper Gifts hamper to give away, including all sorts of yumminess like:
Check out Hamper Gifts’ range of delicious food hampers, fabulous for gifts… or alternatively one of these wine gift hampers. I love presents that are stylish but involve little effort on your part (in this case, parting up with your credit card details). They come lovingly hand wrapped with gorgeous ribbons too.
Sadly, with this current monsoon-type weather, your lucky recipient might just end up enjoying it all as a carpet picnic. But hey, what’s the harm in that?
Just comment to enter. The usual banter/what colour your underwear is/anything else thing will be fine. Closing date: midnight, Wednesday 25th July 2012.
The small print: The winner will be selected at random from all entries received. The winner will be notified within 7 days of the closing date. The prize is as stated: no cash alternatives are available. This competition is open to UK entrants only. No persons under 18 years of age may place an order or receive goods from Hamper Gifts if the goods contain alcohol.
***********This competition is now closed – well done to Jayne Howarth who won the hamper! ***************
The lovely chaps at Yeo Valley are always coming up with nice ways to use their 100% yeoganic yogurts. Recently they’ve been dabbling in smoothies (ooer) and have come up with some fab yogurty recipes – perfect for breakfast times, especially if you’re in a hurry, trying to be a bit healthier, or even just not mad keen on eating breakfast.
Such is the SHEER EXCITEMENT at the new smoothies down in the Yeo Valley, they’ve decided that they want everyone making them and have teamed up with the wondrous KitchenAid. From this weekend, you’ll be able to find a special code on promotional pots of Yeo Valley’s Natural and Fruited Big Pot Yeogurts which can be entered into Yeo Valley’s website or Facebook page. 1,000 (I know, right? 1000!) lucky people will win KitchenAid artisan blenders, and there are 10,000 gadget sets (they include a whisk, peeler, can-opener, ice cream scoop and spatula) too.
If you’re not one of the lucky ones, I’ve snaffled an extra blender away for you, my dearest reader. Just leave a comment. Any comment (tell me what smoothies you like… what you have for breakfast, hell, you can even tell me what colour drawers you have on… whatever takes your fancy) and one lucky person will be chosen at random to win the blender.
The small print: This competition ends on Monday 9th July. Winner will be chosen at random after this date and will receive one Empire Red KitchenAid blender. UK only. No cash alternative.
************THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED – WELL DONE TO ‘ANONOMUM’!!****************
So this is very exciting!! In the run up to the peak holiday season, Ice, a new and exciting loyalty scheme, has decided to give English Mum readers the chance to win a family Eurostar ticket to the destination of your choice!*
Ice is a flexible and generous loyalty scheme that rewards shoppers for buying from companies carefully selected for their environmental credentials. Ice identifies sustainable products and services, which range across a variety of sectors such as food, fashion, beauty, and of course travel, presents them to customers in a one-stop shop (www.myice.com), and rewards customers generously with Ice points that can be redeemed against future purchases. **
Customers will get the same or cheapest deal available from the retailer for the particular product or service they are purchasing, and will also collect Ice points to spend or put towards, other products available on myice.com. What’s more, customers can collect up to 11 points for every £1 spent, making it all the worthwhile.
About the competition
To be in for a chance of winning, all you need to do is send me your fabbest holiday photo and email it to me at english[dot]towers[at]gmail[dot]com, telling me who you are and where the photo was taken. Entries must be received by midnight on the closing date, which is 8th June, so basically you’ve got the whole of half term to send me your perfect holiday picture!
If you’re a blogger, please link back to this post, and if you’re a tweeter, please use the hashtag #englishmumsholidaysnaps
Extra points will obviously be awarded if you can get food in your picture somewhere
The small print:
*Eurostar is a brand partner of myIce.com and the family ticket comprises 2x Adult and 2x Child
tickets, up to the value of £400
** every Ice point collected is worth 1p
There is no cash alternative to the prize. The winner will be chosen at random after midnight, 8th June 2012.
So I’m off on my travels again on Friday. This time I’m heading off with Visit Florida to find out all about what Florida has to offer for families (I know, right, the things I do for you? You’re welcome).
Anyhoo, to keep you occupied while I’m away, Argos have very kindly offered me a fabulous car seat to give away.
I ummed and I ahhhed but I couldn’t think of a good question for you to answer, so I opened it up to Twitter and as usual, my lovey followers came to my rescue. So here goes (thanks to Emily at Never Bored of Bubbles for this question): all you need to do to be in for a chance of winning is leave a comment and tell me:
What’s the most disgusting thing you’ve ever found in your car?
And then just in case you’ve never found anything disgusting in your car, but really need to win a car seat, I’ll allow anything remotely car-related. Person that makes me laugh the most wins the seat.
And here’s the small print:
This competition is open to UK residents only and will close at midnight on 24th May. The winner will be chosen by me and no cash alternative is available.
******THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED******* THANKS FOR ALL YOUR ENTRIES AND CONGRATS TO DAWN REGAN – CAR SEAT ON ITS WAY
So yesterday I showed you all the beautiful entries to the ‘baked with love’ bakeoff.
Lovely Helen, our judge and resident wino (sorry, wine expert) had a terrible time picking a winner, but eventually decided on the one she’d most like to scoff (perfect way to choose, I reckon), which was…
Mari’s amazingly squishy chocolate, mascarpone and raspberry tarts.
Congratulations, Mari, because not only have you got two of these beautiful pink fizzy babies winging your way from the fabulously generous Jacob’s Creek, but two extra ‘secret squirrel’ wines not on general release!
Special mention from Helen went to Iris’ blackberry mascarpone macaroons, Laura’s chocolate whoopie pies and Helen from Icklebabes’ gorgeous caramel banana French toast, oh, and Yvonne from Hey Pesto!’s ‘heart’s desire’ cake too…. along with ‘anything with a small child in the photo’.
Thanks so much to everyone who entered, big squishes and snogs to our lovely judge, Helen, who was steadfast in the face of much crawling and flattering, and many thanks also to Jacob’s Creek for their generosity. Thanks all!
So here they are, then, in all their glory – the wondrous, creative, impressive and lovingly baked entries to the ‘baked with love’ bakeoff.
I can’t quite believe that everyone’s worked so hard and am very grateful to everyone who took part – especially those who made me laugh sending tweets to the judge telling her how beautiful/clever/fabulous she is. Made my day.
The good news is that the lovely chaps at Jacob’s Creek have not only agreed to part up with TWO of their fantastic bottles of pink fizz, but have also agreed to throw in two BRAND NEW bottles of wine (no pictures as they are ‘secret squirrel’ apparently) as part of the prize. Much kudos to our fantastic judge, Helen, for arranging this!
And so, without further ado, I invite you to feast your eyes on this luscious display of virtual cakey bun-ness. Click on the thumbnail to see a full-size picture. No drooling on your keyboards, now!
We are, dearest reader, a household divided. Nothing new there, you might think – we’re already divided into the pasta haters vs pasta lovers (that’s us three against English Dad), the creamy sauce lovers vs the creamy sauce haters (yup, that’s us three against English Dad too)… hmmm, there seems to be a pattern emerging.
Anyway, we’re two for two on the tea/coffee debate. I have the largest mug in Christendom (pink Minnie Mouse), which I fill on a fairly regular basis with builder’s tea, liberally topped up with milk. The Mad Prof is a tea lover too, whereas the Death Wish Dude and his Dad are confirmed coffee lovers.
Since we’ve been testing this Tassimo whatnot though, the house has been filled with the delicious smell of coffee, and I’ve even had the odd tongue-scorching, molten lava temperature cup of espresso. I know – not like me at all. It’s like when you really don’t fancy a mince pie, then someone warms one up and you smell it and really want one.
Anyhoo. Digressing. The Tassimo has these little plastic yokes that you pop in and press down on the thingy and then, voila! you get a freshly brewed mug of coffee! No filter papers or coffee grounds or any of that messy stuff. I love it.
Happily, I’ve also got one to give away. Pop over to my Facebook page here and leave me a comment (say hello, say ‘bum’, say whatever you like) on the Tassimo post and you can be entered into the draw. Good luck!
Draw closes Sunday 27th November. No cash alternative. Winner chosen at random.
So who’s baking what for Halloween (or Hallowe’en) then? My novelty baking skills are somewhat lacking (as evidenced by the debacle that was the spider cake a while back). I’ve had a look around and here are some of my faves so far:
Asda’s spooky recipes (especially the skeleton gingerbread men)
Sprinkle Bakes’ frankly fabulous ‘batty’ Battenburg cake
Lovely Jam and Cream’s Hallowe’en cupcakes
Lavender and Lovage’s Halloween owls
Annabel Karmel’s ghostly cakes
New Mummy’s Tips’ spider cupcakes
National Baking Week’s spooky cookies
Maison Cupcake’s fabulous chocolate orange bats
Cherished by Me’s spiderweb cakes
Nessa’s Family Kitchen’s selection of Hallowe’en recipes (love the severed fingers best)
Bat and Ghost cookies from The Party Times
Lovely Helen at Aardvark Cakes’ ghostly gifts
Leave a comment telling me which one you like best (or telling about any Halloween recipes I’ve missed – or just say hello if you like) and you’ll be entered into a draw to win all the Dr Oetker baking goodies!
Dr Oetker are also giving away tickets to Cake 2011 via their Facebook page - you can become a fan here.
THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED – THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR ENTRIES!
I used the random number generator and the number produced was 14. The 14th comment appears to be: Beth! Congrats Beth – email on its way to you
Lisa Brown’s utterly gorgeous Owl and the Pussycat ‘topsy turvey’ cake. Lisa lives in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria and is ‘an administrator by day but a cake decorator in my spare time’ and wins the fabulous Bush BAFF55161S Frost Free Fridge Freezer in Silver, worth £359.99 courtesy of the lovely chaps at Argos.
Honourable mentions from our poor judge, Arlene, who had such a difficult decision to make, go to:
Carol Smith’s Christening Cake for Lexi and Lacey – The detail on the ‘blankets’ on the two babies is just beautiful. So much work in the details here.
Emily Secker’s Ball of Wool Cake – I really loved this. The strands of yarn are so well made, and that kitty is soo cute! How could you ever cut it??
Claire Willmer’s Mickey Mouse Birthday Cake – What a fantastic cake! Reproducing characters is hard, and this likeness is amazing!
Lou Ellards’ 60th Birthday Cake – A lot of work on each part of this cake: the cushion, the toenails, the cup of tea. I can imagine the real life scene!
Ashleigh Sangster’s Chocolate Cake – Are they all ruffled sheets of chocolate? Er, wow! Again, how could you cut this??
Mary from asmallhandinmine’s Cookie Monster Cupcakes – These made me laugh. They’re great! And definitely worth the unavoidable blue mouth after scoffing the icing!
Sarah from sarahbakes Tow Mater Cake – Lots of work and effort here too, and a terrific replica!
Thank you so much to everyone who took part (you can see all the entries here). Another bakeoff will be along again shortly!
Wow. There’s been such a massive response to this latest bakeoff that my usual bout of slightly shouty hysteria in collating the results (I’m technologically challenged, okay?) has lasted much longer than normal. I actually still think I’ve managed to delete one entry, so if you’ve entered and you can’t see your pic, please feel free to email me via the contact form (don’t shout at me, though, I’m delicate). Still, buoyed by gin and a bit of sweariness, I’m there. So without further ado, I give you the fabulous entries. One of which will be winning a Bush BAFF55161S Frost Free Fridge Freezer in Silver, worth £359.99 courtesy of the lovely chaps at Argos.
So now it’s over to our glamorous judge and winner of the last bakeoff, Arlene from The Fuzzy Times. All devious approaches and offers of bribery should be directed directly to her (I’m keeping out of it), and just in case you were thinking of rubbing me off your Christmas list, I’d just like to point out that I’m not involved in the judging process and the judge’s decision is final.
So sit back, grab a coffee and feast your eyes upon the cakey beauty below (click on the pic to get a bigger image).
What’s your favourite, then?
I’ve seen some pretty fabulous cakes recently…. there’s Amy‘s fabulous Xbox cake, made for her husband’s birthday:
And my gorgeous Jen, BFF and maker of our wedding cake, made this fabulous handbag and shoe cake (the detail on the shoe is quite incredible):
And then I was chatting on twitter to the lovely Helen at Aardvark Cakes about how she made her amazing Gruffalo Cake:
… and she even went as far as publishing a tutorial so we can all have a go at making that amazing Gruffalo!
So all this gorgeous baking is making me think that it’s time for another bakeoff. Now obviously I’m not expecting Xbox cakes or Gruffalos, but just anything you’ve made yourself that you’re proud of. Maybe it’s a batch of fairy cakes, or a lovely pie that you made for tea? Maybe a great loaf of bread or a stonking batch of brownies?
As usual, there are very few rules (still sad about the scrapping of the ‘send English Mum a piece of each one’ rule, to be honest):
1. You’ve actually got to bake something (although see below re: sneaky rule breaking)
2. Take a picture
3. Email it to me at english[dot]towers[at]gmail[dot]com or via the contact form at the top of the page, telling me what it is and who you are. Entries must be received by midnight on the last day of May.
The Cheaty Bits
As usual, sneakiness is encouraged, and any entertaining reason why your entry should still be considered will be looked upon favourably. For example, if your trifle is beautiful, but obviously not exactly baked, let me know. I’m a flexible type and I’ll probably allow it. No lying though. Okay, a bit of lying then, but not too much…
If you’re a blogger, please link back to this post, and if you’re a tweeter, please use the hashtag #Bigbakeoff - you can find Argos on Twitter here: @Argos_Online. If you’re neither, then just ignore this bit completely.
The frankly fabulous chaps at Argos have agreed to give the winner an amazing Bush BAFF55161S Frost Free Fridge Freezer in Silver, worth £359.99 (don’t forget to check out the rest of Argos’ fridge freezers).
Entries will be displayed in one enormous blog post heralded by a complete mental breakdown (usually made public on Twitter – but hey, what’s a bakeoff without a little hysteria).
The wondrous and gorgeous winner of the last bakeoff, Arlene from The Fuzzy Times has foolishly agreed to be the judge. All bribes and approaches of a dubious nature are to be made directly to her and not via this blog. The judge’s decision is final.
So that’s it, then. You’ve got loads of time, plenty of inspiration, and some very ambiguous rules. Let’s get baking!
Bedtime stories, making jam, just listening, washing up, endless lifts, changing nappies, wiping noses, birthday parties, cheese on toast, buying presents, roast dinners, being a fab grandma, cleaning, school runs, baking, saying no, saying yes, lending me money, giving me money, homework help, ironing, belly laughs, parents’ evenings, burying several hamsters, phone bills, pierced ears, holidays, cuddles, plasters, bedtime stories, sandcastles, sleepovers, sewing, rice pudding, kissing it better, hot buttered toast, lemon meringue pie, shopping, snowmen, goldfish, phone calls, camp fires, macaroni cheese, driving lessons, porridge and syrup…
What do you want to thank your Mum for?
If you’d like to win this fabulous ‘I love you Mum’ gift set worth £59.95 from hampergifts.co.uk for your lovely mum (or someone else’s lovely mum, come to think of it) this Mother’s Day, then just thank your mum for something/anything! in the comments section here (tweet your entry with the hashtag #EMthanksmum for an extra shot at winning) and you’ll be placed into the draw. Off you go, then.
Entries must be received by 28th March 2011. No cash alternative to this prize is available. UK only addresses excluding Channel Islands, PO and BFPO boxes.
*****This competition is now closed. Thank you for all your entries. The lucky winner is Hayley Chalmers. Congratulations Hayley xx *****
So thank you to all the intrepid bakers who entered the Fresh Break Bakeoff. There are some really great entries here – from complete novices to some very accomplished bakers! Have a look at all the great entries and I’ll be letting you know the winner of all the Marriage’s goodies very soon!
So recently I showed you my simple recipe for easy step by step bread. I had a lot of comments from people saying they’d quite like to have a go – so now’s your chance! The newest, shiniest bakeoff is here – and it’s all about fresh bread! What do you fancy baking? A nice crusty loaf? Some shiny conker-brown bagels? Sticky buns?
As usual, we laugh in the face of rules. As long as you actually bake something bready, take a picture and send it to me (with a link if you have a website), you’re in.
Photos need to be emailed to me at: english [dot] towers [at] gmail [dot] com, with a brief note saying what your bakey masterpiece is and how you’d like to be credited.
Entries must be received by midnight on Feb 14th, St Valentine’s Day.
As usual, a bit of healthy rule-breaking is to be embraced and any creative wavering from the theme will be acceptable. As long as there’s a suitably waffly and entertaining reason why, I’ll let you off.
If you’re a blogger, please link back to this post, and if you’re a tweeter, please use the hashtag #freshbreadbakeoff. If you’re neither, then just ignore this bit completely.
The lovely chaps at Marriage’s Millers (www.flour.co.uk) have very kindly offered to provide a prize of a range of their fabulous quality flours, plus some scrapers, so you can bake bread like a pro! The entries will be displayed in one enormous blog post (this bit causes a total hysterical meltdown in my non-technical brain, but don’t worry, I’ll get over it).
The fabulous Hannah Marriage knows absolutely everything there is to know about flour, bread and baking and has foolishly agreed to be the judge. All bribes and dodgy approaches to be made directly and not via this blog. The judge’s decision is final.
So that’s it, then. You’ve got loads of time, plenty of inspiration, and some very ambiguous rules. Let’s get baking bread!
Kicking off a whole series of gift guides, then, it makes sense to start with the foodies:
Fudge’s biscuits are yum scrum and make for a really nice foodie pressie. I can vouch for this as they very kindly sent us a tin (they’re really nice people too, which always helps) and there was practically a fist fight. I think they’re well priced as well for such a luxurious selection (£10.50 – available from Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Asda as well as good independent farm shops, delis and stores.)
If you’re looking for a fabulous foodie present to send within Ireland, look no further than Sheridans Hampers. Another really nice bunch of people (their cheese warehouse is quite near here and I often pop in for a gorgeous wedge of Parmesan or some lovely free-range eggs), their hampers start from €32.50 for a Port and Wine selection. Collection from any of their four locations across Ireland. Delivery can be arranged at extra cost. They can also custom-make hampers too. Visit Sheridanscheesemongers.com for more info.
The Travelling Souk has some really unusual gifty ideas. Check out the gorgeous stationery and the foodie section too. The textiles from Ochre and Ocre are beautiful quality (organic cotton oven gloves £15.00) and arrive gorgeously gift-wrapped:
as do these cute little Craven and Hargreaves heart-shaped hammered spoons – perfect to stir your fairtrade coffee after a huge Christmas dinner – which are delightfully packaged in a soft organza pouch too (£26.50 with free shipping).
The Three Sisters Indian Cookbook: Delicious, Authentic and Easy Recipes to Make at Home is written (as the name would suggest), by sisters Priya, who lives in Delhi, Alexa who lives in the UK and Sereena who lives in the USA. The recipes in the book are based on their mother’s authentic Indian dishes. The book is priced £8.50 on Amazon or you can purchase a set containing the book plus an authentic Indian spice box, priced £48, online at www.flavoursandspices.co.uk
Don’t forget the non-drinkers this Christmas. We had a little taste test here at English towers and thoroughly recommend the Shloer White Grape sparkling juice, as well as their rosé version. They look delectably fizzy in a flute and mean that the drivers (and the teens!) don’t feel like they’re missing out on the festive champers!
Pukka Licorice and Cinnamon Tea is gorgeously (and festively) packaged and makes a lovely foodie gift. It’s also good for the digestion (which could be a bonus after that Christmas dinner). Check out www.pukkaherbs.com for their full range:
and talking of tea and coffee, my lovely twitter friend Kathryn, has a great website called Coffee to a Tea. I asked her what she recommended for Christmas and she had the following ideas:
‘Its hard to choose a single product as a gift idea… I think since its Christmas I would probably suggest the Cinnamon Ground or wholebean coffee and/or for something a bit different the Berry Fruit Tisane which is fruity and light to combat the normal heavy Christmas fayre.’
I have to say that I’ve got my eye on the Chocolate Cherry ground coffee – what a great pressie! You can find Kathryn’s shop at coffeetoatea.co.uk and on twitter @coffeetoatea.
Other great websites for foodie gifts are foodado.com for a really interesting range of artisan and gourmet pressies, and my old favourite Vintage Wine Gifts who deliver great wines in lovely presentation boxes. I’ve used them a lot and can recommend their very efficient service.
But wait – what foodie gift guide would be complete without the lovely Green & Blacks? I heartily recommend a box or two of miniatures kept ready-wrapped and stashed in case of last minute guests. The brand new 24 miniature bar collection, made up of eight of the best selling flavours – Dark, Milk, Creamy Milk, Butterscotch, Almond, Cherry, Ginger and White costs £8.99 from the usual supermarkets, etc. Of course if you manage not to give them away, then you can discover them on Boxing day and eat them yourself. Bonus.
And finally, the little chef elves at the English Cheesecake Company have been busy again this year making lots of lovely cheesecakes for Christmas. There’s White Chocolate and Cranberry – creamy white chocolate cheesecake blended with delicious fresh chunks of cranberry and white chocolate on top of a heavenly digestive biscuit base. Or there’s the Brandy Snap cheesecake stuffed with crispy brandy snaps and a brandy butter centre, or for those who don’t like cheesecake, there’s a deep deluxe Irish Fudge Cake with an Irish Cream topping and moist chocolate brownie chunks, and finally there’s the Pecan Pie baked vanilla cheesecake, with Dulche de Leche toffee glazing over a generous pecan topping. Yum scrum. Each 8″ inch cheesecake serves 12 and prices start from £24.99 including free UK delivery. Just click on: www.englishcheesecake.com
And as a special treat, just email me via the contact form at the top of the page with CHEESECAKE in the title and tell me which cheesecake you’d most like to scoff, along with your name and address. The winner will win the cheesecake of their choice delivered to their door. UK only entries please. Competition closes Wednesday 8th December.
This competition is now closed. Congratulations to Sharon Hingley, who won her choice of a white chocolate and cranberry cheesecake!