Saturday, 27 April 2019

UK Road Trip Through Yorkshire Whilst Needing an MOT

Have you ever covered a lot of ground across the UK by road? 265 miles to be precise. We did just that a couple of years ago and just before Christmas too. We were due to get an MOT at the time and planned that into our itinerary, making sure we got a recommendation for somewhere reliable, as it's not something you let lapse especially not when travelling long distances with children for a much anticipated family trip. We always check the tyre pressure and water etc... before heading out, every single time we go on a long journey.

We went from London to York. And then on from York to Scarborough.... Actually my middle aged memory does not serve me right I think we went London to Scarborough and then York on the way home... best read the old blog posts and remind myself.

Anyway in York we were blessed to be able to review Premier Inn and during the 1st weekend of St Nick's Xmas Market no less.

In Scarborough we were blessed to review Ox Pasture Hall Hotel.

The problem was the decision of how exactly we would traverse all these "roads". Daddy desperately wanted to take the car for comfort and independence and I wanted him to use the Mega Bus given that we could then all be social and he could close his eyes if he needed to, given the amount of miles we would be covering. And actually had we taken the car we'd have done even more mileage as we'd have toured Scarborough instead of the alternative which was that we just enjoyed the boutique hotel we were reviewing and didn't see the surrounding area at all.

A visual guide at this point seems helpful:
I mark Ossett Tyre House above as that is where we looked into having our MOT done en route had we gone "down the road" (forgive the pun) of taking the car. To save your car from any damage book your MOT test in Dewsbury from Ossett Tyre House

It came recommended when we decided we'd be travelling through Yorkshire. What they say on site:
We can help you save money by servicing the vehicle before you get the MOT Test to ensure the vehicle is in the right condition to pass the test, reducing the need for you to have to pay for a re test. MOT in Dewsbury provides you with the facility to book in your vehicle online at any desired time. We provide economical rates and professional services to ensure your car stays safe.
Simply enter your vehicle registration details into our easy to use online booking widget, select the preferred date and time and we will contact you to confirm the booking.
Here at Ossett Tyre house we will also send customers a reminder for the due date to ensure you are safe and legal!
If a vehicle hasn't had an up to date MOT it can't be confirmed as being road worthy, which can compromise the safety of passengers which is no laughing matter at the best of times, but even more so as a parent when our children are such precious cargo. Accidents can be caused by unsafe cars. I'm old enough to remember my younger days in Ireland when MOTs were not compulsory - wow you should have seen some of the bangers on the road. Something you just don't see at all now. In fact they've gone to the other extreme and it always feels like people's cars are this year's or last year's. The NCT (National Car Test) was only introduced in Ireland as recently as 2000.
Compulsory car testing was introduced in Ireland in 2000 as part of an EU Directive that makes car testing compulsory in all member states. Source:

Without your current MOT you can be penalized in the UK and may have to pay a heavy fine, or fixed penalty notice:
The penalty for driving without an MOT... No points are issued on a driver's licence although a fine is imposed by court of up to a maximum of £1000. A fixed penalty notice is usually the method dealt with by Police which costs the driver £100.
I wouldn't travel in a car with kids if the MOT is not done on time or if I have any doubt as to whether the car will pass it when due. The MOT ensures that both the interior and exterior of the car are functional. Mechanical and electrical aspects are covered along with the obvious, like the seat belts that are so important in the event of an accident.

Only an expert in MOT can provide you with the right solution and provide the fix to pass the car should it fail.

In the end though we used Mega Bus for our UK road trip which had the positive that Daddy could sleep and Aaron could get out of his seat for the loo etc but also the negative that albeit seeming cheap, it actually wasn't at all when you added up all the legs of the journey given we had to change a couple of times. Literally our round trip was £200 which if you know how cheap Mega Bus is, is a lot!  Also not bringing the car meant we had the headache of still needing to do the MOT upon our return.

Collaborative post.

Thursday, 11 April 2019

This is Not Just Easter this is a Marks and Spencer's Easter

Dream come true to have access to unlimited chocolate and alcohol fizzy pop for an hour in beautiful Covent Garden :-) Lottie looked like a kid in a toy shop when upon arrival she was greeted with an Easter Egg Hunt. Warmly welcomed and issued with a basket to FILL and FILL it she did. We're still eating chocolate today 24 hours later. The older kids - my nieces and my son Aaron hung back and let Lottie dive in. Definitely she made up for their politeness. I was shouting out that at each "bush" or floral display she should leave a few for other children. She was hopping from each chocolate location to the next in a way that would have made the Easter Bunny himself proud.

Breaking news: have you heard that Marks and Spencer have revived their "This is Not Just" ad campaign? Yeah I didn't know either till I saw the hashtag being used on Instagram after this Easter Press Show we attended.
Marks & Spencer has revived its much-loved This is Not Just marketing campaign after a 12-year absence, with the launch of new adverts that give the strapline a modern twist.
First launched in 2004, the campaign’s initial run helped boost M&S’s food business into the stratosphere and cemented its reputation as a premium food retailer.
The new campaign also comes weeks after M&S unveiled a new deal with Ocado, which will see it step into online delivery for the first time once the partnership comes into effect in late 2020. M&S’s new set of This is Not Just adverts were directed by Charlie Stebbings and Guy Manwaring, who spent four months creating them. The adverts also pay homage to the original campaign and all show various people in key moments daydreaming about items in the M&S food range.
Source: Retail Gazette Marks and Spencer brings back This is Not Just Food Campaign 

This is Not Just an Easter Egg Hunt Trail it's a Stunning Easter Meadow: 

Venue @carousel_ldn/  Easter Egg "meadow" produced by @heaps_stacks/
Flowers by @ClareLoveBlooms via their meadow making flower fairy: @laura_c_benedict/ 
Spot the Easter Eggs here (although maybe this was filmed after Lottie raided it as there doesn't appear to be nearly as many as when we arrived): 

There was a professional photographer there so no doubt he has much classier versions of the above, but in their absence I will use my own pics, which are as good as I can get on my camera, made up for by Lottie's cuteness of course. Of course This is Not Just cute this is Lottie cute :-)

For the adults we were greeted with Gold Crème Brulee Liqueur served IN cracked Easter Eggs as below. This is not just alcohol this is Marks and Spencer's alcohol. My Prosecco was bottomless too so all was good :-) I had a laugh with them as I thought someone had just put a thumb through a whole box of chocolate eggs. It took a lot of mingling over to Lottie and back for me to realise that being that they were ON a bar they contained a drink.
I tried the White Russian too after all it would be rude not to:

This is Not Just a Boiled Egg These are Marks and Spencer's White Chocolate and Passion fruit Eggs

The hashtag at the event was #MyMarksFave and I have to say without a doubt, hands down these were MINE.

6 White Chocolate & Passionfruit Eggs - Serves 6 (Pre-order for Easter collection 18th-20th April) are £12 for six. Be quick they are currently sold out.

This is not just cake This is a Marks and Spencer Easter Cracked Egg Cake

I didn't personally taste this cake but I did fall in love with this Easter Cracked Egg Cake it and take the above photo. What I can tell you is that it retails at £15 and I think you'll agree is a show stopper for any table.
Layers of sponge filled with strawberry jam and buttercream, decorated with vanilla flecked buttercream, a cracked white chocolate egg and icing.

This is not just an Easter Egg this is a Marks and Spencer Chicky Chicky Bang Bang BBC Good Food Winner Egg

Marks & Spencer says:
Our cute Chicky Chicky Bang Bang egg is made for sharing – smash the creamy milk chocolate exterior and let everyone tuck in to the candy-covered Mini Speckled Eggs.It even got the seal of approval from BBC Good Food, who named it the Best Kids’ Egg in this year’s Easter Taste Awards, saying it was “ideal for an Easter egg hunt”. Pick up Chicky in store now and take one home in time for your Easter celebrations.

This is not just hair this is Easter hair

Before the Marks and Spencer Easter Press Show we had been at the London Transport Museum for a few hours, being that it is in Covent Garden too and so between the two Lottie had a costume change and her Fairy God Mother did her hair as below.......

A day spent in Covent Garden called for something special. Lottie's God Mother came up with this beautiful hair design. I need to learn it myself.

I'm so glad she changed from jeans to a dress as it suited the Easter Egg Hunt meadow down to a tee.

We were gifted a Moonbeam the Unicorn Egg each but this is what Marks and Spencer has to say about their range of kids' eggs below. I will update this post with a pic of us and our eggs but currently I am saving them for Easter Sunday.

These are not just Easter treats...Little and big kids alike will love the cast of chocolatey characters you'll find in store this Easter. Stars of the show are our new hand-decorated Angus the Bull and Moonbeam the Unicorn eggs, made with creamy milk and white chocolate.
If you’re planning an egg hunt with the family, there are plenty of tempting bite-size treats to squirrel away – look out for our trio of hand-painted eggs, milk chocolate Cheeky Chicks and foil-covered Choccy Eggs. And don't forget to invite our award-winning Chicky Chicky Bang Bang egg and chilled-out Yoga Bunny egg along.
We were gifted our entrance to the Marks and Spencer Easter Press Show and given refreshments whilst there. We also received a goodie bag each as photographed, containing a packet of Hot Cross Buns each and an Easter Egg each. We are working our way through the Hot Cross Buns - there are NINE varieties including SALTED CARAMEL (I know!!!!) and there is a 10th in the form of a Hot Cross LOAF!!!!! Alas I didn't get any decent photos that I am happy with of the hot cross buns. Marks and Spencer Food thanks so much for inviting us. I wasn't obliged to write this but after such a GREAT time had by all of us, I surely couldn't not.

Sunday, 7 April 2019

Amazon Adventure IMAX London Review April 2019

Ad: Arriving at the IMAX this morning - pic below - for Amazon Adventure 3D  "a true story of scientific discovery" which was truly amazing. We are clearly not as experienced as Henry Bates (the star of the movie) at exploring, as we circled the formidable eye catching IMAX building prior to realising there were no ground level access points and we needed to find subway entrances. Hey with kids it was an "adventure" forgive the pun and Lottie was very excited with the illuminated tunnels. Besides given that I get everywhere early, even with that diversion we were still 30 minutes early, but allowed in by security yay!!!

Aaron was thrilled with the place and wanted to pose with everything. He now obviously wants to see Shazam too:
 We took every opportunity we could for a photo.
 Whilst we waited to be allowed upstairs the kids made themselves comfortable:
Once upstairs with croissants, tea, coffee and goodies bags, Serkan arrived, so 4 of the 7 cousins were together. The youngest of course has to sit on the eldest's knee........ awww!
I remembered that 7th April specifically was a cast screening so I decided to explore with the objective of seeking out cast members. I wasn't disappointed to find the lovely William Postlethwaite who plays Samuel Stevens. Being that this was before the movie I was really confused when he said he wasn't in the Amazon for filming and "filmed his bits in London". I was like "with a green screen?" to be told "no". It all made sense within SECONDS of the movie starting. He may not have a tropical role but it truly was a crucial and critical one.

Samuel Stevens (William Postlethwaite)
Samuel Stevens (William Postlethwaite) was a natural history agent in London where he sold specimens of wild creatures collected from around the world. Two of his best-known clients were Henry Bates and Alfred Wallace, whom he supported on their joint expedition to the Amazon by displaying and selling their specimens.
This support was crucial - it was the finances upon which the explorers relied! 

I'm finding myself reluctant to tell you anything about the film as I can't recommend it enough and would prefer not to accidentally give you any spoilers. Don't look at the youtube trailers as they don't in any way do it justice. The cinematography lends itself to 3d and the large immersive IMAX screen. You literally feel as if you are IN the rain forest and youtube just doesn't offer that. My kids really trust me as they came today, and woke REALLY early on the strength of the youtube videos but like me they were truly blown away.

It's so interesting to know that Darwin required PROOF for his theories and that Bates was critical in providing that. That's all I will say for now :-)

I truly don't know how those two driven explorers withstood the elements. How inspiring their journey was. Truly humbling! I'm not at all surprised the writer admitted to having a crush on Bates and feeling his was a story that must be told.

After the movie I stepped away from the kids for a minute, leaving them with their older cousin, so that I could approach Director Mike Slee above. He'd spoken at length to our whole audience at the beginning of our special 7th April screening and I was fascinated by everything he'd said, sharing it in my Instagram stories. I was delighted he allowed us to have a photo taken with him. I had to split up a sibling disagreement to recruit Aaron for the photo - I don't know you can't take your eyes off them even for a moment. I was glad Aaron found his smile once again as he truly LOVED the film - captivated and mesmerized throughout. He turned to me as the credits rolled and quietly said in awe "Mum that was AMAZING!!!" Mike Slee asked Aaron what his favourite bit of the movie was and he said the camouflaging. So below I give you the Vine Lizard. We had a chat about his aims one of which was that every child should watch the film. The movie is 100% a must watch in terms of education if you want to know more about evolution and our planet. The script is written (beautifully by Wendy MacKeigan) in such a way that it is digestable for kids whilst also being academically stimulating for adults. Each sentence was punchy and the pace of the story worked in beautiful harmony with the cinematography. Totally gripping, romantic and nostalgic. The story was as immersive as the huge IMAX screen itself. As for the 3d it's the best I've ever seen. Lottie was literally reaching out to try and catch butterflies as it felt like they were THAT close to us and that's even though we were up in the stars practically in the back row.

The vine lizard camouflages with the tree vines to hide from predators:
I was thrilled when I spotted Bates himself (actor Calum Finlay) and even more so when I realised (actor Ed Birch) Wallace was with him. They both kindly chatted and posed with us below:

Alfred Russell Wallace (Ed Birch) - pictured far left above

Alfred Russell Wallace (Ed Birch) was in the Amazon for four years, the first of which he spent working with Bates, before there was a death in his family. He was beset by illness and forced to return to England, tragically losing his collection of specimens in a shipwreck on the journey home. He was rescued and unrelenting, he pushed on to the Malay Archipelago where he continued to study and collect wildlife and independently conceived the theory of evolution by natural selection.

Henry Bates (Calum Finlay)

Henry Bates (Calum Finlay) is one of the unsung heroes of evolutionary biology. His insatiable curiosity and 11 year journey in the Amazon river basin led him to discover 8,000 species new to science and develop his groundbreaking theory of mimicry. 
Being that he's the star of the movie click: about Bates.

The co stars in the actual movie itself:
Another cheesy pic on the way out:

Oh and just before we left I spotted the Director with none other than Brian May so my morning was complete:

Our attendance at the movie was complementary 
in exchange for an honest review
 - I have not received any compensation other than entrance 
and refreshments 
and 3d glasses.
 I have not been told what to say and all opinions are our own. 
All five of us (ages 17, 11, 8, 3 and 46)
truly loved the film and found it captivating 
beginning to end. 
I could have sat there for a further hour truth be told.


Book your IMAX tickets here: AMAZON ADVENTURE show times



Open to the public from 1st April, with special cast screening on 7th April, at London’s BFI IMAX attended by lead actor Calum Finlay, director Mike Slee and writer Wendy MacKeigan

AMAZON ADVENTURE, a spectacular IMAX®/Giant Screen film from award-winning SK Films brings audiences on a visually stunning odyssey through the wilds of the Amazon rainforest in an incredible story of scientific discovery.

The film traces the extraordinary journey of naturalist and explorer Henry Walter Bates - the most influential British scientist you’ve probably never heard of – who provided “the beautiful proof” to Charles Darwin for his then controversial theory of natural selection, the greatest scientific explanation for the development of life on Earth. As a young man, Bates risked his life for science during his 11-year expedition into the Amazon rainforest, accompanied for the first few years by his friend Alfred Wallace. AMAZON ADVENTURE is a compelling detective story of peril, perseverance and, ultimately, success, drawing audiences into the fascinating world of animal mimicry, the astonishing phenomenon where one animal adopts the look of another, gaining an advantage to survive.

Filmed on location in London, Manchester, Charles Darwin’s Down House and the remote Brazilian rainforest, AMAZON ADVENTURE uses the IMAX format to immerse viewers into a wild world of breath-taking beauty and captivating animal behavior. Things are not always as they seem in the jungle and audiences will be mesmerized by an array of nature’s masters of mimicry. From the makers of the immensely popular and multiple award-winning film Flight of the Butterflies 3D, the film is directed by Britain’s own Mike Slee and executive produced by Jonathan Barker and Sean B. Carroll, starring Calum Finlay as Henry Bates, written by Wendy MacKeigan and Carl Knutson and shot by UK cinematographers Gerry Vasbenter and Richard Kirby, with an original score by Brazilian composer Antonio Pinto. Although filming in the Amazon was very challenging, the team constantly reminded themselves of what it must have been like for Bates, without any of the transportation and communication technologies available today. 

Painstakingly researched for three years, AMAZON ADVENTURE enlisted the expertise of more than 100 scientists and historical advisors. MacKeigan and Slee sought out over 400 pieces of original research, which enabled them to draft the most comprehensive and accurate script and cinematic visualization of 19th century Amazonian exploration ever produced. “It’s an educational film so nothing was left to chance or uncorroborated” states MacKeigan. “What you will see is precisely the way it was for Bates.”

The team’s commitment to authenticity not only resulted in this rigorous re-creation, even using actual instruments and tools from the 1850s, but the writing team also incorporated many of Bates’ own words, as he was a gifted storyteller. The film, a co-production between Canada, the UK and Brazil, was granted unprecedented access by the Natural History Museum of London to film Bates’ own scientific field notebooks and botanical drawings, and to film the butterflies he personally collected over 160 years ago – butterflies that had never left the museum and had to go into quarantine for two weeks after filming.

Developed and produced in close collaboration with HHMI Tangled Bank Studios, the film also received major funding from the National Science Foundation. Other key partners include the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Simons Foundation and Foxconn Brazil.

About SK Films
SK Films is an award-winning content provider and a global leader in the IMAX®/Giant Screen industry. SK works across various genres and platforms, including theatrical, television and digital media, with a special emphasis on creating high impact natural history and science related content. SK has a reputation as one of the most accomplished and respected producers and distributors supplying 3D, 2D and Dome product to IMAX and other Giant Screen theatres worldwide, with a mission to entertain and inspire audiences and immerse them in the awe and wonder of the world we live in. For more information, please visit

About HHMI Tangled Bank Studios
HHMI Tangled Bank Studios is a production company established and funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute as an extension of its longstanding science education mission. Dedicated to the creation of original science documentaries for broadcast, theatrical and digital distribution, the company’s award-winning programs address important contemporary issues and capture compelling stories of discovery across all branches of scientific inquiry. For more information, please visit

Run Time: 45 Minutes