Often, the most stressful part of travel is getting to the airport. On my last trip, the flights were difficult to book and I ended up flying from Heathrow, but returning back to Gatwick. We always use APH meet and greet parking (I love being met at the airport by someone who whisks your car away leaving you free to walk straight into the airport, then magically returns it just as you walk out again after your trip) so I decided to drive to Heathrow, leave my car, then get an airport coach back from Gatwick on my return. APH were wonderful, and moved my car to Terminal 5, the nearest terminal, so I had the shortest journey possible to pick up my car again. I was delighted.
It’s no secret that I love my wine. And although I’m no expert, I’ve got to the stage where I’m interested enough to start recording my thoughts about wine that we’ve tried and liked, and want to know what other people think about wines.
What have you got planned this autumn? It’s the perfect time to get out and about, I always think – crunching through piles of golden leaves and wrapping up, getting out and discovering new places, all looking beautiful in their glowy autumn colours. To give you a bit of inspiration, I’ve teamed up with English Heritage to give two lucky winners a fabulous 12 month English Heritage family membership.
This weekend, I was invited down to Bluewater shopping centre in Kent for a bit of sandcastle fun with the team from the gorgeous Atlantis, The Palm. The beautiful resort, located on the incredible man-made island, The Palm in Dubai, was recreated in sand by some very clever people. And pretty impressive it was too. Here I am checking out the mahoosive sand sculpture: Read more
Ah I’ve absolutely loved looking through all the amazing bakeoff entries. Now it’s down to our lovely judge Catriona to choose a winner to receive all those lovely Yeo Valley goodies. Good luck everyone!
So once upon a time, back in… ooooh… 2010, I did this competition called The Great Cupcake Challenge. The entries were fab, and encouraged by this, the competition morphed into English Mum’s Big Bakeoff, (yes, before that one on the telly) and since then we’ve had various different ones, including the ‘baked with love’ bakeoff for Valentine’s Day, an Autumn bakeoff and even a fresh bread bakeoff. My fave, though, has always been the Christmas one.
So without further ado, I give you… The Big Christmas Bakeoff 2013!!
As usual, there really are no rules, and since the ‘send English Mum a piece of your entry for testing’ rule was scrapped (dammit) these are the only ones that remain:
1. You actually must have baked something yourself (although see below re: sneaky rule breaking) – doesn’t need to have been specifically for the bakeoff though.
2. You must take a picture (there’s none of those dodgy ‘I baked it, but then I ate it’ excuses…). The picture MUST be of your baking and MUST be original (I do check them!).
3. Email it to me at english[dot]towers[at]gmail[dot]com, telling me what it is and who you are. Entries must be received by midnight on the closing date (see below).
The Cheaty Bit
Hey, it’s Christmas, and any bit of Christmassy cookery is basically fair game. And I do like a healthy bit of skulduggery amongst friends, so any entertaining reason why your entry should 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…
The Social Media Bit
If you’re a blogger, please link back to this post, and if you’re on Facebook or a tweeter or Instagrammer, please use the hashtag #bigChristmasbakeoff - if you’re none of the above, then just ignore this bit completely.
The Exciting Bit!
Those lovely little pixies down on the farm at Yeo Valley have very kindly agreed to give the winner a copy of their brand new cookbook. The Great British Farmhouse Cookbook, plus a lovely cool bag full of delicious Yeo Valley goodies!
The Inspirationy Bit
Get that camera or phone out and snap a picture of your home made mince pies, your festive cupcakes or your Grandma’s old Christmas cake recipe. Or maybe you can have a go at my jaffa cake Christmas trees, or some cranberry and pistachio biscotti. Whatever floats your boat.
And don’t think you have so be some sort of uber super duper food stylist. The bakeoff is all about the fun.
The Judgy Bit
Entries will be displayed in one enormous blog post and accompanied by the usual descent into hysteria while I wrestle with pixels and uploading and all that other complicated stuff. Follow me on twitter (@englishmum) to witness the carnage as it happens.
The very lovely Catriona from the very popular Irish food blog Wholesome Ireland has very
foolishly kindly agreed to be our judge this year. You can find her on Twitter @wholesomeIE if you want to attempt a bit of online judge tampering. The judge’s decision is final. No arguing. She’s an Irish mammy y’know, she’ll take none of that boldness.
So that’s it, then. You’ve got loads of time, plenty of inspiration, and some very ambiguous rules. Let’s get baking!
The Small Printy Bit
This competition is open to everyone in the UK and Ireland. No age limit. The closing date will be Wednesday 18th December at midnight. There is no cash alternative to the prize. If you’re outside of the UK and want to enter, please feel free. If you win, I’ll mail you the cookbook but I’m afraid the yogurt won’t travel!
So donning my Santa hat once more, I’ve got another lovely giveaway for you all. This would be a fab present for those who love to travel and explore new countries. Or maybe you’d like to keep it for yourself and learn to chat away with the locals next time you’re away? It’s also a really fab thing to do as a family – I’ve had a go myself and it’s really quite easy – you can listen and repeat and the app will tell you if you’re pronouncing it correctly.
All you have to do is visit Rosetta Stone’s website, then leave a comment and tell me which language you’d like to learn and why. The winner will receive an online 6 month language course of their choice.
For a bonus entry, send a tweet to @englishmum and @RosettaStoneUK saying which language you’d like to learn, using the hashtag #RosettaMum and comment to confirm that you’ve done so.
Usual English Mum competition rules apply. This giveaway ends at 9am on Tuesday 10th December 2013. New commenters please note that your comment won’t show until it has been moderated. Winner will be chosen at random. Good luck!
**This giveaway is now closed. Thank you for all your entries – congratulations to winner Beth Gurney! **
It’s an expensive old business, Christmas. This is why I love it when people like the lovely chaps at Farmer’s Choice give me fab stuff to give away. This Christmas, they are offering you the chance to win a really amazing Farmers Choice Christmas hamper to give away, stuffed with all sorts of lovely stuff, including a huge 2kg beef topside, smoked salmon, lamb, streaky bacon, a gammon joint and loads more, worth £84.
To be in with a chance to win, all you have to do is take a look at the Farmers Choice Christmas dinner page and let me know what, for you, is the best part of Christmas dinner. Remember if you’re a first time commenter on English Mum, your comment won’t show up straight away.
There are also a couple of ways to increase your chances of winning: for one bonus entry, just like Farmers Choice on Facebook. Leave a separate comment to confirm that you’ve done so and this will be counted as an extra entry.
For a further bonus entry, follow @FarmersChoiceUK on Twitter. Leave a separate comment to confirm that you’ve done so and this will be counted as an extra entry. Usual English Mum competition rules apply. This giveaway ends at midnight on 15th December 2013. Winner will be chosen at random. Good luck!
**This competition is now closed – winner to be announced shortly!**
What’s your favourite holiday photograph? I have so many. This one, of Mr English on the deck of the Celebrity Infinity as it set sail from La Rochelle…
Or this lovely one of all of us during our visit to Aquatica on the SeaWorld trip:
Holiday Inn hotels are running a lovely social media competition all based around your holiday memories. The competition is in two parts:
The first part is being run by ten hotels on twitter who are asking their followers to submit their best family or childhood holiday images to Twitter. You can do this by tweeting the Holiday Inn hotels… any of the following:
Holiday Inn London Bloomsbury – @HIBloomsbury
Holiday Inn London Regent’s Park – @HIRegentsPark
Holiday Inn London Mayfair – @HILondonMayfair
Holiday Inn London Heathrow M4, Jct. 4 – @HIHeathrowM4J4
Holiday Inn London Gatwick Airport – @HIGatwickHotel
Holiday Inn Edinburgh – @HI_Edinburgh
Holiday Inn Glasgow Airport – @HIGlasgowAirprt
Holiday Inn York – @HolidayInnYork1
Holiday Inn London Kensington Forum – @HIKensington
Holiday Inn Bristol Filton – @HIBristolFilton
…with your image, using the hashtag #himemories. The winner will receive a free weekend stay in that hotel.
The second part is being run by the 49 other Holiday Inn hotels. Followers can win a free night in any of these hotels by submitting a tweet describing their best family or childhood holiday memory in a tweet, again using the hashtag #himemories.
This is a brand new competition so GET TWEETING THEM NOW! You have a really good change of bagging yourself a lovely weekend or night in a fabulous hotel. Good luck!
Want to win a dining experience unlike any other?
River Cottage evening events are a celebration of the River Cottage ethos, where the food, location and atmosphere take centre stage. You will be treated to delicious dishes whilst enjoying the familiar surroundings from the River Cottage TV series.
You will be seated outside on covered decking with beautiful views of the Axe valley below – should the evening be cooler there is an outdoor log burner to keep you warm and removable walls to ensure a comfortable evening.
When you arrive you will be met by members of the River Cottage team before getting on the tractor and trailer for the journey down to River Cottage HQ. Your host for the evening will greet you with a seasonal welcome drink and canapés will be served. You will have the opportunity to have a look around and soak up the atmosphere. Once seated, the chef will introduce the menu and talk about the dishes being served. You will learn about the River Cottage philosophy, the food, its provenance and how it has been prepared. You will enjoy further canapés at the table, before tucking into a four course menu made using the very best local and seasonal ingredients. The menu is decided on the day depending on what produce is at its very best. A wonderful evening is rounded off with coffee and petit fours. At this stage the tractor will be available to take you back to the car park when you are ready.
The prize is worth £140. There are a selection of dates available on Friday nights throughout the summer and all are subject to availability. To enter, just click the button and enter your details:
For further information about the dining events, cookery courses and other events at River Cottage visit www.rivercottage.net
THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED – THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR ENTRIES! ANNOUNCING THE WINNER VERY SOON!
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!
THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED – THANKS FOR ALL YOUR ENTRIES – WELL DONE TO KATIE H.
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
- Usual English Mum competition rules apply. This competition is open to the residents of UK and Ireland. You must be over 18 years of age. The prizes offered are not transferable (and may not be sold, traded, transferred or refunded) or exchangeable for cash. The winner will be chosen at random.
- Items that are not included as part of the winning vacation package are: meals, hotel room service, laundry service, alcoholic beverages, merchandise/souvenirs etc, local and long distance telephone calls, tips, gratuities, service charges or taxes, all other charges and items not offered as the main prize, and the big one: FLIGHTS. Entrants must arrange their own air travel.
- The winners are responsible for arranging visas, travel insurance, transfers, etc.
- The competition ends at midnight on Saturday 6th April 2013. No entries received after this time will be considered.
- Winners will be asked to provide 3 dates when they can travel, but departure date and accommodations are subject to availability; certain restrictions and block-out dates may apply. Prize to be taken within a year, subject to availability.
- Disney, its parent, related, affiliated and subsidiary companies and their respective officers, directors, agents, employees and assigns shall be released and discharged from any and all legal claims, losses, injuries, demands, damages, actions, and/or causes of actions that arise out of and/or in any way related to the prize, the receipt, use and/or enjoyment of the prize and/or the promotion.
- Oh and lastly – don’t cheat! One entry plus one bonus Twitter entry per person The system picks up on duplicate entries
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)
Then for an extra entry:
2. Like Wimdu on Facebook
And for another chance to win:
3. Tweet ‘I want to win holiday vouchers with @wimdu and @englishmum’.
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 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:
- This toy is suitable for ages 9 years and over, and NOT suitable for children under 3 years old
- Delivery will be within 28 days of Argos receiving the winner’s address (but Argos assure me it will be ordered as soon as the competition ends)
- The prize as described will be supplied direct from Argos, and there is no cash alternative
- This competition is open to UK residents only.
- Competition ends midnight 9th December 2012
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!****
I’ve recently discovered a GORGEOUS website with all sorts of really lovely brands. Beautyland.co.uk is the brainchild of the lovely Suji and sells some really great brands of make up and Glo Therapeutics skincare. I asked her a little bit more about the site and how it came into being:
‘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.
As for the brands – I chose Becca because they have amazing technology and the complexion products are second to none both in terms of technology and also the colour range. They do tend to focus a bit more on colours that are suitable for a more everyday kind of look – and so all the colours are really wearable. Paul and Jo are a bit less about the complexion and more about the fun aspect of makeup with great colours and really fun packaging.
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:
- Paul and Joe Shimmering Pressed Powder: a luminous powder you use to add a little glow and sparkle to your cheekbones, temples, collarbone, etc
- Paul and Joe Shimmering Body Lotion: a lightly scented moisturising body gel that adds a sensual shimmer to the skin
- Paul and Joe Nail Varnish in 30: a metallic silver nail varnish
- Paul and Joe Lash Macara in 01 – black
- Paul and Joe Eye Gloss Duo – a double ended eye gloss that features two complementary colours, one in a pearl finish and one in a metallic finish that can be worn separately or together. There are 3 colour options to choose from and you will find them here
- Becca Ultimate Colour Gloss – a long-lasting, highly pigmented gloss available in 7 shades that you can choose here
To be in for a chance to win all these gorgeous Beautyland goodies, all you have to do is leave a comment and tell me which colours you’d choose for the last two items, the Paul and Joe Eye Gloss Duo and the Becca Ultimate Colour Gloss.
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.
***THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED! THANKS FOR YOUR ENTRIES – WINNER TO BE ANNOUNCED SHORTLY!***
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 *******
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 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!
The small print
This competition is UK only unless onward transport is arranged by the winner
Delivery will be within 28 days of Argos receiving the winner’s address, and the competition prize may vary at the discretion of Argos
The prize as described will be supplied direct from Argos, and there is no cash alternative
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