Sunday, 12 July 2015

#Silent Sunday 12/07/2015

Thursday, 2 July 2015

REVIEW- Chemist Direct- The online chemist

Last month, I was really excited to be given the opportunity to review Chemist Direct. They are the UK's number one pharmacy.

I lead a very busy life, as I work full time in a busy job and also have 2 small children. I leave the house by 8 each morning and don't get home till six so having time to visit a pharmacy is very difficult. I love the idea that I may not need to worry anymore about taking time off work to visit the pharmacy as I can order on-line. I am a big on-line shopper as it perfectly suits my needs so I was really keen to give Chemist Direct a go. Let me share with you how we got on.

I was given £50 to spend with the proviso that I couldn't use the voucher code on any discounted items. This turned out to be a pain for me as the vast majority i.e. 95% of the stuff on the site is discounted so it took me ages to be able to select some items and I wasn't able to buy a lot of items I would of liked to buy like Frontline for my cat and sun tan lotion for my kids.  I ended up bulk buying some items simply because I was finding it difficult to use the voucher code which is a shame because I haven't been able to show off the full range of items that are available on the site.

 The good news for you though is that you can really get some fantastic deals on the site, and the fact that so many things are discounted is great news for the average shopper. 

This is what I ended up buying

Vosene Citrus Refresh Anti-Dandruff Shampoo250ml-0.142
Henara Treatment Wax Tub375g-0.212
Colgate Whitening & Fresh Breath Toothpas100ml-0.076
Beechams Flu Plus Caps (8's)8 Capsules2.991
Anadin Original Tablets 16s16 Tablets-0.141
Do-Do ChestEze Tablets9 Tablets-0.151
Inecto Pure Cocunut Oil Conditioner500ml-0.145
Co-codamol 8/500mg Tablets32 Tablets-0.101
Schwarzkopf Gliss Colour Protect Shampoo250ml-0.151
Anadin Paracetamol Tablets 16's16 Tablets2.031
Dove Compressed Pure 48 Hour Protection 125ml125ml-0.272
Colgate Premier Toothbrush Twin Pack-0.081
Clairol 5in1 Hair Strength Shampoo200ml-0.103
You may worry about the controls that are placed on buying medication but you are asked certain questions when buying medication and  this is then reviewed by a doctor to sign it off before it is sent to you. There are also strict limits on how much of a particular type of medication you can order at one time. This is the  on-line doctor and prescription service and they cater for the following:

This is also a very useful service for those of us who can't get to the doctor easily.

I was very impressed with the range of items that were available- There were lots of toiletries, medications, vitamins and supplements, travel items, hair dye and styling items and pet health items. Basically most of the items you would find in a normal chemist. The only items that were missing for me were make up and perfume/aftershave which you can usually find in a big chemist.

We ordered on the 04th of June and they arrived with us fairly quickly, within a few days of us ordering.

The items were really well packaged and delivery was very reasonable at £3.49. You can pay extra for next day delivery which is also useful if you need your items in a hurry. All the bottles were wrapped in bubble wrap so we didn't have any spillages which was appreciated.

Overall I was very happy with the service I received from Chemist Direct and would definitely use them again. This is a really convenient option for busy people like myself. 

Monday, 29 June 2015

My birthday wishlist...,

OK, this is a shameless post alert so brace yourselves! 

I am a girl with simple needs and don't really spend much money on myself. This is mainly because I need to watch the pennies as our wages never seem to last long, but if I am honest with myself there is another reason. Over the last few years I haven't wanted much of a fuss on my birthday as I feel like I'm not worth the expense, and this is not just down to finances, but also down to my low self esteem.

This year is different. I am putting some of my ghosts to bed and generally feeling better about myself. I work hard for my family, and I have finally decided that I would like to be spoiled on this years birthday. This time next week I will be 37 and I am looking forward to celebrating being another year older with my friends and family. 

I have been having a little bit of fun today, thinking about what my ultimate birthday wish list would be. I am not saying for a minute that I would actually get any of these items but it does you good to have a wishlist, as I can always save towards the items I really want. So here is my ultimate birthday wishlist.

1. A brand spanking new Panasonic 4K TV . Those people who say size doesn't matter are talking rubbish. Well when it comes to TV's they are. A lovely new 65 inch Smart Full HD TV would be a wonderful addition to my life. It would mean I can catch up on all my favourite films- did I mention that I am a bit of a film buff!- in wonderfully high resolution and on a super sized screen. Sounds like heaven to me

2. Tickets to the Madness night at Chepstow Races. I was lucky enough to win tickets to see Madness earlier in the year in Cardiff and they were amazing. A night at the races, in my posh frock, all finished off with a Madness gig sounds like absolute heaven

3.  A nice new handbag like this one.  My current handbag for work is definitely past its best so it would be great to get a nice new one.

4. A Fitbit . One of my aims this year was to get healthier. Although I have lost weight, I really want to motivate myself to walk more as I spend most of the day at a desk. My boss has one of these and it has done wonders for her motivation so would love to try one too. 

5. A photo book. I have always regretted not getting a photo book of my son done. I did a couple for my daughter when she was a baby, but time and money have been against me when it came to my son. It would be lovely to have a keepsake of his early years for me to look back on. 

Anyway, that's it for my wish list. The items aren't cheap but a girl deserves to be spoilt once in awhile....right?

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Wychwood Festival- The Ultimate Family Festival!

I can't believe that a month has passed since we got back from Wychwood Festival. The James family had a brilliant weekend, and once again we have lots of lovely memories I would love to share with you. 

Iola and Bryn enjoying trying on wigs in one of the many stalls!

Last year there were a few problems with getting into the festival as there had been torrential rain the night before, which meant taking your vehicle on site was difficult and there were significant delays. This year, the Friday morning also saw heavy rain but entry into the festival was quick and easy. We were able to drive our vehicle on to set up up our tent and unload our stuff. This really is a godsend for those with young children and for anyone else really. I still have painful memories of walking miles across large festival sites, laden with heavy bags and feeling quite miserable! I would never do this with small children and I would seriously advise against it, if you want to have a non stressful time. This is one of the reasons that Wychwood festival is so great- it takes the majority of stress out of the festival camping experience, so you are able to really enjoy your self.

Before leaving we were slightly worried about the weather as the forecast wasn't very good. I suppose that's the only thing Wychwood can't control, but someone must have been looking after us as we were really lucky with the weather. Apart from rain on the Friday morning whilst we were setting up camp and rain on the Sunday morning, it was dry. The site was really well maintained with all of the paths being concrete so we didn't have to worry about a glasto style mud fest. This makes all the difference, especially when you have pushchairs. 

One of the first acts we saw in one of the children's tents were 'Natural Causes' who were amazing. They were doing workshops all weekend and I feel a bit sad that we didn't get time to go to any of the others, there was just so much going on. We got involved in helping to compose a Wychwood song and singing it- it was really good fun!

This is a photo of our camp

As you can see, the ground is very well maintained and we had a lovely pitch overlooking the race course. The children loved running around and it was great to give them a little bit of independence in playing together. It is such a safe feeling festival, you can really relax. 

This inflatable sofa was a good investment and we took it down the field with us to watch the bands. I was really pleased that we were able to watch the Undertones on the Friday night. It meant the kids staying up late but they were happy relaxing on the sofa and playing together. I would say though, that as soon as they did get tired and asked to go back- I took them back. I don't think it's fair to keep children up, just for the sake of your own enjoyment as you want them to enjoy themselves too. If they are too knackered the next day because they have been forced to stay up most of the night, that's a bit selfish of you if you ask me. 

Once they were put to bed, the husband kindly volunteered to babysit so me and my best friend could visit the silent disco. This was really good fun! For those of you who don't know the concept. You basically get given a pair of head phones, and there are 2 dj's playing popular music. You get to choose which DJ you want to listen to through the headphones and its really funny as everyone is dancing in complete silence if you take your headphones off. It also solves the problem of having late night music at the festival without upsetting the locals.

The highlight of the second day was definitely listening to the Edwyn Starr band in the Superspa DJ. The hot Tub was right in front of the main stage and we got to enjoy the music with the kids all squeezed into the hot tub for an hour! I think there were 13 of us in there at one stage which is quite an achievement!

We also really enjoyed visiting the bubble stall. The stall sells loads of bubble related stuff, and also do bubble shows. The kids loved chasing all the bubbles.

There was also some cool displays around the site which the children could play with. 

Bryn loved shouting into this one!

We were able to enjoy the Proclaimers on the Saturday night who were really good! After the kids had gone to bed, I was able to visit the poetry tent which was really quiet compared to some of the other tents, but it was brilliant. We saw some great poets who were also very funny too. I would highly recommend seeing the poetry even if its not your usual thing. 

We also really enjoyed visiting the cafe inside the old London Bus! The prices were really reasonable too- great for when you are on a budget.

We also embraced the fancy dress theme this year which was the 1970's. We went with an animal print 1970's theme.

The highlight of Sunday was definitely seeing Justin Fletcher aka Mr Tumble. Bryn even got dressed up in honour of the great man himself

The set was really good and Justin really got the crowd going even if the weather wasn't the best. He even gave a shout out for my friends son, who is his biggest fan. 

We went to some fantastic children's shows over the weekend, including a Punch and Judy show, a puppet show, art and craft workshops, clay modelling and circus workshops.

This was the wonderful puppet show about the Lambton Worm. 

We sadly had to say farewell on the Sunday afternoon as my children had school the next day and I had work, but we had a fabulous time once again at Wychwood festival. Amazingly we only spent just over £60 all weekend, simply by bringing our own food and taking picnics down to the main site which was only 5 minutes walk away. 

One thing is certain, we will be back once again next year, and are likely to bring even more people with us!

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Family Festival Fever in Wychwood festival!

This week the James family are mighty excited as we are off once again to Wychwood Festival and are on the final countdown to Friday when the fun begins.

 Matthew and I have shared a love for festivals since me met all those years ago. There is something about camping in a sunny field, listening to music with thousands of other people, that makes us both happy. For years we attended big mainstream commercial festivals and generally had a ball.

When our 2 children came along we really didn't want to put an end to our festival days but were reluctant to take them to the festivals we were used to going to as they weren't really designed for families and were just too vast. Last year we were lucky enough to win a family ticket to Wychwood Festival which is a real family festival. In fact it has been nominated Best Family Festival in the UK Festival Awards every year since the awards started. We knew it was a Family Festival but we were still a little unsure whether we could still enjoy a festival experience with 2 young children in tow.

We needn't have worried as we all had a wonderful time! In fact the children still talk about it now and are even more excited than us, that we are going back. The festival had so much going on for the children, it meant we could relax and take everything in whilst the children were entertained all day long! We did so much and the vast majority of activities are included in with the ticket price. One of our favourite memories was a free African drumming workshop in a huge tent, with lots of people taking part. The children really enjoyed and we did too!

Other highlights were seeing Justin Fletcher AKA Mr Tumble, standing up on stage and performing a RAP in a poetry workshop, the children's play area, pottery making, puppet shows, relaxing in front of the main stage with the kids in a hot tub courtesy of Superspa DJ which was the most fun we have had for ages!

The children absolutely loved the festival experience and camping with lots of other people including friends and their families was great fun. Here is my best friends mother Vicki enjoying the festival with her grandaughter Perla who was only 1 when she went. Matt can be seen in the background blowing up the biggest balloon known to man!

We really liked that there was a whole field dedicated to workshops and children's entertainment and that was all included in with the ticket price.  The festival is also easy to navigate and is quite compact. The organisers also allow you to drive your car onto the campsite to unload and set up your tent which is a godsend especially for those with young children.

Wychwood Festival 2015 has even more on offer for everyone including families, There is the Wychwood Comedy tent with award winning comedians such as Michael Legg.

There is  the Headphone Disco which is a really surreal and fun experience as it is basically a tent full of people dancing to music coming through headphones, choosing which DJ they want to listen to. If you take your headphones off, you are dancing in silence!

 We will be asking a friend to babysit on one of the evenings so we can take in some of the comedy and bands aswell as the headphone Disco as I don't like to keep the children up too late in the evening. The bonus with going with friends is that you can share the babysitting. There are a really diverse range of artists playing on the different stages at Wychwood and we are particularly keen to see UB40, Craig Charles, The Wonderstuff and Dr and the Medics to name a few!

Family activities include the Mega Roller Disco , Puppet shows, magic shows, bubble shows, Punch and Judy, music workshops, poetry workshops, story telling, singing workshops, Kids Literature Festival (including famous authors such as Christopher Edge and Steve Anthony) , Circus workshops and much much more. This is what makes Wychwood such a fantastic family festival- the sheer number of family activities that they put on ensures you are never bored. We will also be rocking out to Mr Tumble, he was fab last year.

We will definately be booking into the Super Spa DJ again as we enjoyed that so much. There is a charge but it is definately worth it!

There are also a variety of speakers at the festival and one I am definately interested in seeing is Ecotricity founder Dale Vince who is going to speak about renewable energy. I watched a documentary about him before and found his life story fascinating. He used to be a bit of a New Age traveller and had a small wind turbine on his caravan. This sparked a business venture and he now runs a very successful renewable energy company and is a self made millionaire on the back of wind power.

There is also a fancy dress theme this year for the first time. The James family love fancy dress so we will be fully embracing the theme Punk vs Disco! You will have to wait till the post festival review to see the pictures.

It is not too late to grab your tickets if you want to give Wychwood Festival a whirl. Tickets are very reasonably priced compared to some of the other large mainstream festivals and they really do offer fantastic value for what you get.

Wychwood Festival returns to Cheltenham Racecourse from 29th to 31st May 2015 featuring an eclectic line-up of music, comedy, literature and family entertainment. Weekend tickets are priced at just £129 for adults, £104 for concessions, £62 for 10-15 year olds, £22 for 5-9 year olds and under 5 free. Day tickets are available from £42 for adults, £32 for concessions, £22 for 10-15 year olds and £10 for 5-9 year olds and under 5 free. All tickets and more information is available from


Ladysmith Black Mambazo / UB40 - Ali Campbell, Astro, Mickey Virtue reunited / Boney M
The Undertones / Justin Fletcher / The Proclaimers / Craig Charles / Andy Kershaw / Dreadzone / Basseskou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba / Mad Dog Mcrea / Dr & The Medics / Songhoy Blues / The Outcast Band / The Going Goods / Talk In Code / A Way With Words /  The Edwin Starr Band ft. Angelo Starr / Electric Swing Circus / Rusty Shackle / Pocket Club / Ghostpoet / Lucy Rose / Mt. Wolf / Plastic Mermaids / Fickle Friends / Monsieur Doumani / The Wonder Stuff Acoustic / Darlia / Demob Happy / TED ZED / Black Honey / Palace / Zak Abel / Lanshapes / Syd Arthur / Henry Green / Hunter & The Bear / Loud Mountains / Cooper Black / Object Object / Josephine and the Artizans / Sophronie / George Montague / Danni Nicholls / The Black Feathers / John Adams / Grace Palmer / James Michael / All Ears Avow / Spice & The Readies / SPOILS / Ben Cipolla / Gigi St. Fallow / Bobby Scaife / Katie Collins/ Megan Timms / Joe Buckingham / Dan Walton / Maxine Stacey / Neil Morris / David Young

BBC Introducing Coventry & Warwickshire: Grassroutes, Rosetta Fire / Yes Sunshine / Reece Bahia /Quarry / Speak Brother / James TW / Emily Burns / The Commonjets / Joe Doloman

BBC Introducing Hereford and Worcester: Cantaloop / Ronin / Clark Carmody / Tom Forbes / Interior Castle / Crowsaw / 7shades / The Dale Von Minaker / Fictonian / Chase The Deer

Ali Sparkes / Petr Horacek / Giancarlo Gremin / Steve Anthony / Steve Cole / Chris Edge / Paul Strickland / John Dougherty / Anna Wilson / Karen Langtree / Tracey Corderoy / Philip Ardagh / Cathy Cassidy / Philip Adagh / Tracey Corderoy / Matt Brown / Tony de Saulles / First Draft

Michael Legge / Jenny Collier / Jack Heal / Chris Turner / Jay Cowle / Jamali M
addix / Jarred Christmas / Becky Brunning / Sam Chaplin / David Jordan

I would definately recommend taking your family to Wychwood. You won't regret it. We have convinced even more friends to join us this year so there should be about twenty of us in total. We are going to have a ball!

Thursday, 14 May 2015

How to help a friend or family member quit a bad habit

People have a much better chance of changing their lifestyle when the people around them are supportive of their efforts to improve how they live. That's certainly true for serious lifestyle concerns such as illegal drug addiction; rehab clinics know that former users are much more likely to quit successfully if they can break away from the people still in that lifestyle. It's also true for more everyday health habits, such as quitting smoking, losing weight or just trying to eat more healthily. 

So how can you assist a loved one to make positive changes in their lives? The answer is - by doing it with them! Making changes can be difficult if other people aren't changing with you. I recently noticed that my husband seemed to be drinking every single night and it was becoming a bit of a problem. We had a good discussion about it after I told him how I felt and we have now set some ground rules for us going forward. These include not drinking in the house, and not drinking when the kids are around. Even though I have previously also drunk in the house, I have felt much better since we have both stopped this. 

It's hard to stop smoking if all your friends are out there on the pub doorstep still puffing away, and it's miserable trying to diet if your family fills the cupboards with tempting treats. Be supportive of people trying to improve how they live by joining in with them - you could do yourself some good in the process! 

- If your friend is trying to be more active, why not join in with their exercise sessions so you can motivate each other, or consider signing up for a fun run you can do together.
- If your partner is improving their diet, it's important not to lead them astray. Make sure there are healthy snacks and food around the house and join in with what they're eating so they aren't tempted by your meal instead.
- If you're supporting someone as they quit smoking, use it as inspiration to quit yourself or consider switching to electronic cigarettes as they could be a healthier alternative. Don't tempt them; hide your cigarettes and don't put pressure on them to join you for a smoke.
- There's a strong correlation between the amount of time people spend preparing food and how slim they are. Restaurants tend to be more generous with butter, cream and salt than you'd be if you were cooking at home. So if you're trying to eat more healthily, eating out can be a minefield. If you have a friend or family member trying to eat healthily, don't base your social life around eating out. Instead, how about a healthy home cooked meal or visit a park or attraction where food isn't the focus?

Making changes alongside your loved one can improve you lifestyle too, and it can also improve your relationship with that person. I highly recommend it!

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Guest Post: My Name is Matthew and I have a mental health condition.....

My husband has very bravely agreed to talk about his Mental Health and how he manages his condition with the support of his friends and family.  Take a look at his post written from the heart. 
My name is Matthew and I have a mental health condition. When I agreed to do this blog I thought  how I was going to approach it. Firstly I thought about what I didn’t want it to be – I knew that if I could quickly identify this then I could probably write something useful and meaningful to others. I didn’t want to create something full of clich├ęs and stereotypes, nor did I want it to come across as an attention seeking, sympathy plea (which would only add fuel to an already all too common misconception of sufferers of mental health conditions). Instead I want the piece to be an open and honest account of how my condition affects me from day to day. I want to share my experiences with you on a level which I hope will achieve my goal of dispelling some of the stigma surrounding mental health so people have a better understanding and awareness of the subject.
I first realised that I had a mental health condition back in 2011 which ironically coincided with the birth of my second child. This was a very difficult time as coping with a new born baby, and feeling deeply depressed at the same time made it difficult to bond with my son at that time, and led to me feeling that I was a failure as a father.  Going through the journey of managing my illness I’ve learnt that I’ve always probably suffered with mental health issues throughout my life but was unable to self diagnose or recognise the symptoms as mental health was something people just didn’t talk about. Counselling has helped me piece together aspects and past experiences of my life to date and attribute them to my illness which is kind of good as it helps me to rationalise past things better so that I can draw a line under them and move on when before I would find myself reflecting on past events and dwelling on things that I couldn’t change which would bring me down.
I have learned that there are many different faces to mental health illness – it can manifest in different ways and the symptoms I think are personal to the individual (anxiety, self loathing, negative and suicidal thoughts etc). I have a number of ‘triggers’ or warning signs that I recognise which allow me to take appropriate measures to manage the problem. Early intervention is key for me in terms of my day to day management of the illness as it will allow me to take steps to enable me to function properly.
I feel that the danger of a decline into a dark spiral for me is increased if I do not have the support of others. I know that if I let myself slip into a state of isolation this will intensify the feelings associated with my condition and the harder it gets to come back up. That is why the various branches of support are so important to my recovery and continued journey. Support from family, friends, colleagues is very important. It is also important for me to keep connected to people on a day to day basis as this helps my symptoms. Simply by asking me ‘how are you?’ can be so important to me. People sometimes admit to me that they are scared to talk to me about my mental health problems as they don’t want to upset me. From a personal point of view, I find talking about my illness in an open and honest way has the opposite effect-it actually helps me feel better  rather than upsetting me. This blog is part of helping me with my condition. Being self aware, honest and open helps me keep on top of things although there are occasions/situations when I don’t feel comfortable
I do get a general feeling of lack of understanding of the illness and a great deal more can be done to help raise awareness. I’ve heard people associate the illness as attention seeking and a made up illness and that people suffering from depression are just ‘lazy’. This kind of misinformed labelling is damaging and negative and shows a lack of understanding. I’ve experienced that people who have experiences or exposure to mental health issues either directly or indirectly are more likely to approach me and enter into dialogue.
I live with a mental health condition and this will probably never leave me, but I am just grateful that I have the support of those around me. There will be times that I feel fine, and other times I will need extra support and understanding.  By having the courage to talk about mental health, and making time for people by just asking ‘how are you today’ you can make a real difference to people like me. 

Monday, 23 March 2015

My Daughter Has Cataracts.....

I often think that my daughter is one in a million, due to her wicked sense of humour and intelligence that surpasses mine by a mile. There is not a day that goes by that I don't feel proud of her in some shape or form. Don't get me wrong, there are times when she pushes my buttons but that's children for you! Every parent hopefully thinks their child is one in a million, but in Iola's particular case, she is 1 in 20'000 as she has Cataracts, well 'Bilateral Familial Congenital Cataracts' to be precise and she has had this since birth.

She has my husband to thank for this as due to a genetic anomaly in my husbands family, many of them are born with Cataracts. My husband was born with it, and 2 of his brothers. His mother was also born with it. When I was blessed with 2 children I always knew that there may be a chance that either or both of them would be born with the condition so flagged it up with the health visitor as soon as my daughter was born. Thanks to this, it was picked up early and she is monitored regularly by the hospital. Bryn has been lucky so far, but our wonderful child minder did mention to me a few weeks ago that he seemed to have trouble seeing things so we will have to watch this space.....

Iola's condition is rare, and so much so that the consultant in our local hospital referred her to a larger hospital in Swansea as they have more experience in dealing with the condition in children. We spent a good few hours there today having lots of tests to see if needs surgery. To be honest, apart from the fact that she wears glasses, I haven't noticed any real signs that she is struggling to see. Her teacher did mention that she seemed to be struggling on occasion to see the board but I wasn't sure if this was Iola excusing the fact that she had got something wrong by saying she couldn't see the board.

During the tests today I was shocked to find out that the Cataracts are so bad in one eye that she can barely see out of it. She has Cataracts in both eyes so it must be affecting her more than I realised. The consultant said that is likely that she will need surgery quite soon as her education will suffer otherwise. I now need to make an appointment to see her teacher to make sure the school are aware of how her condition has deteriorated, and also she needs to have a Special Educational Needs assessment to make sure her needs are catered for.

Although the extent of her Cataracts did come as a shock, it does make me thankful that we have the technology and NHS to fix this genetic abnormality. Years ago, she would have been left to go slowly blind which can be a heartbreaking thing to happen. There will be a risk with the laser surgery and she will need four weeks off school to recover, but eye sight is so precious, it's a small price to pay.

I would love to hear your thoughts if you have ever had any experience of this condition?

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Why I Feed My Kids Out Of Date Food

Well, they say everyone has their 15 minutes of fame, and mine happened to come a few weeks ago when I appeared on prime time ITV in Bargain Fever Britain. I have never been one to seek out the lime light but I definitely love a bargain. Let me tell you how it all began.....

I came across Approved Foods whilst reading another lovely blog Larger Family Life where Tanya tells us all about life raising a large family. Although both parents work, with such a large family it pays to be thrifty (a girl after my own heart) so she blogged about Approved Foods and how much money she was saving through ordering with them. It immediately got my interest so I decided to take a look on the site and was astounded how cheap everything was. You may be thinking why is the food so cheap? Well the answer is, that the vast majority of it is either past its 'best before' date or coming up to it.

A lot of people will be shocked at this, but the fact of the matter is, this food is perfectly safe to eat. They wouldn't be able to sell it if it wasn't! Let me explain further...... Retailers of dry goods will put a 'best before' date on their products. This is the date that the quality of the goods may start to decline but it is still perfectly safe to eat. This may put some people off, but don't let it! A 'best before' date is different to a 'use by' date which is generally put on fresh produce, meat, cheese etc where there is a danger of food poisoning if you eat it after that date.

I placed an order with approved food and ordered £200 worth of shopping for £50! Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you, that is right. The delivery charges are higher than you would pay with your local supermarket. but are actually quite reasonable. The bargain price of the food more than makes up for this. The goods are really well packed and if a product does get damaged there is no problem with getting a refund.

Well, they say the test is in the eating, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that everything tasted exactly the same to me despite being past its 'best before' date. From that date I was converted. I had no problems in feeding any of the stuff to my kids, and they never complained. My cupboards from that day of my first order have been absolutely packed full of delicious food that I got a rock bottom prices.

Don't just take my word for it, check out this picture of my cupboards..

This is actually a lot emptier than they usually are as I am waiting for my next delivery. Prior to writing this post I took a few items out of my cupboard that I had bought previously which are well past their 'best before' date.

This is just a few of the products but I would have no hesitation in feeding any of this to my kids. My children or I have never been ill, and we are saving a hell of a lot of money in the process. I have never been comfortable with the idea of how much food is wasted in the UK, when there are billions of families  in the world who do not have enough to eat. Approved Food Ltd appeals to me on two levels- I save lots of money, but it also saves lots of waste as all this food would previously have been added to landfill.

This fruit and nut flapjack kit has a 'best before' date of December 2013. We bought a few of these from the site and the kids love making them. The finished flapjacks are delicious! I think I paid 99 pence for 3 boxes, so you really do save a fortune.

Lots of people will still turn their noses up when I say that we eat this food, which I think is a real shame. I recently contacted my local foodbank as I wanted to donate some tinned and dried goods, but some of these were past their 'best before' date. I was told that it was not their policy to accept these goods, even though they knew that the goods were perfectly safe to eat.  I thought that this was a crazy policy considering that the people using food banks is increasing all the time. With a little bit of information explaining the concept of 'best before' dates I think a lot more people would be happy to accept this food.

My fifteen minutes of fame, came when I noticed on the Approved Food face book page that they were looking for someone who lived near Cardiff to film about their experience of Approved food. I feel really passionate about the company and what it stands for, so was happy to give up my time to do this. The filming was really enjoyable and I think I even converted the camera crew by the end of the afternoon! I was contacted about 6 months later to say that some of what I had filmed would be featured on Bargain Fever Britain which was a documentary looking at the changing face of British Retail and how many firms that can save you money are on the rise.

I was nervous about appearing on the television, and was really reluctant to tell anyone but there was no getting away from it!. I was actually really pleased with the finished product and it wasn't too painful to watch. The episode definitely got people interested in the concept and the Approved Food Website crashed that evening with all the interest, which was great news!

I recently ordered this week and some of the fantastic bargains I had were:

  • 5 bottles of Hellman's Extra Hot Ketchup for £1 (20 pence each!)
  • 10 packets of curry sauce for £1 (10 pence each!)
  • 2 boxes of Special K Chocolate Chip cereal bars for £1.00 (50 pence each)
  • 3 bottles of Nando's sweet Chilli sauce for £1.00 (33 pence each)
  • 3 jars of Wagamama stir fry sauce for £1.00 (33 pence each)
I could go on and on. As you can see the majority of the products are good quality brands but you really do get great bargains. I would love to hear your thoughts on 'best before' dates and if you do end up ordering from the site. My advice would be to check out the biggest saving tab, Bargain Alerts for the specials they have on offer each day, and the clearance tab as these will bring you the biggest saving. I do think the website could be improved to make it more user friendly but it is definitely worth taking a look.

A few of my friends are now converted and we tend to make one big order between us and then split the delivery charge. I'm even thinking of setting up a 'out of date' tuck shop in work to convert my work colleagues. Watch this space!!!