A Strong Coffee

Tuesday, 19 April 2022

[AD] DNA VR Review

 Disclaimer: We received gifted tickets to DNA VR but all opinions are my own

When an e mail invite to DNA VR arrived in my inbox, I did what any technophobe middle aged mother would do. I asked my boys what it was all about and if its something they thought we would enjoy. Middle man immediately went into some speech which didn't make a lot of sense but the upshot was they liked the sound of it.

We looked at the main website and Hammersmith is our nearest branch (there is also Battersea and Camden.) We then looked at what you could do there. I liked the idea of the escape game, but the boys through the VR arcade would suit us better. As I didn't really have a clue I took their advice.

If you are travelling to Hammersmith by car, you can park on Yeldham Road which is right next to Assembley where DNA VR is located. It is free on a weekend and you pay on Ringo in the week depending on the time of day. It is also a short walk from the station.

We arrived and sat in the waiting area. Here we were introduced to the controls before being hooked up in our own little cubicles.

If you see a blue grid in your game that shows you that you are next to the wall. Yes I did manage to hit the wall on a couple of occasions.

Middle man was very keen that we all play Superhot to start with. This is a solo game, but we were all hooked up so we could hear each other which I felt made it more social and was also helpful with tips on what to do. I got stuck on level  here as I couldn't work out how to throw a bottle at my attackers.

We then played a multiplayer game called Ragna Rock. Basically you hit your drums to the discs coming towards you to power your viking ship. We all liked this and once I got the hang of it I was a clear winner to everyone's shock and surprise.

We then played Skyfront which is a flying shooting game. This one was marmite. The older two boys loved it and I spend most of my time respawning before they killed me again. I didn't like it at all. I suffer from motion sickness and this made me very dizzy.

I then had to try out work simulator as the boys had been raving about it. It was a very funny game. I chose office worker. This meant I drank virtual coffee and ate virtual doughnuts! As my colleagues at work would confirm, I am not the best with technology and this was the case here too as I was unable to turn on my virtual computer. Turned out you needed to plug it in first!

I then had 10 minutes left so tried out some fruit ninjas (harder virtually than on the ipad and back to Ranga rock as I just loved it. The hour went very quickly. Too quickly for my boys but for me it was just right as my forehead was starting to hurt.

I wore my contact lenses to play which on the whole was fine. I asked about wearing glasses and was advised that it may be a bit uncomfortable so it is worth noting if you are a glasses wearer.

I was really impressed with the experience. It is not something I would have thought of doing normally but is perfect for teens and tweens. It is something I would now consider as a birthday treat for the boys.

If you are interested in finding out more, you can check out the DNA VR website here.

Sunday, 27 February 2022

Half Term (but not in Surrey)

Half term has flown by once again. It’s been an odd one as we seem to have been in the minority compared to the rest of the country and some places (Chessington and Hampton court for example) have quite frankly missed a trick on that one I think.

The beginning or the week saw doctors appointments and blood tests. I am hoping it is one of my last ones for a while. Over the next couple of weeks I have some hospital appointments where I hope they say, we have fixed your problem and you can come off the blood thinners. Fingers crossed.

We had a lovely day with my sister and her cute dog. As you can see I am loving being licked in the face.

On Friday we went to Hampton court palace. We currently have membership after finally visiting The Tower of London in October half term. COVID and operations had been against us and the membership meant we could easily move our tickets.

Hampton court was so quiet. I think we can say tourists have not returned on mass yet. Due to Surrey schools having half term a week earlier they had decided it wasn’t half term and and so some of the parts like the magic garden playground were closed. It was a shame but we certainly had the place to ourselves at times!

The audio guides were informative and free. Not as good as being shown around the Tower of London by a Yeoman but still made for a pleasant day.

I ended off half term with a trip to the local youth theatre with middle man. Now that was good. It never ceases to amaze me how talented people are, and the young girl playing Mrs Lockett was amazing. I really can’t wait to see my boy act like that in the future.
Now it’s back to school and hoping that Easter brings some spring sun and warmth.
What did you do in half term?

Sunday, 23 January 2022

Meal Planning 23rd Jan

Another week and some more saving as well as comping was on the go here. I used to enter loads of giveaways but since the pandemic they have been low on the ground and I hadn’t won anything for ages. However, I entered all the Thorpe Park advents this year on Instagram and won 2 tickets and 2 pick n mixes. Whoop whoop!  The boys are now fighting over who gets to go. I’ve said we will all go and I’ll use some of my Tesco clubcard points to buy the extra tickets. This win has given me the buzz to start entering giveaways again. It is also the reason I have gone slightly over budget this week. I popped to Lidl primarily to do a shop so I can enter a prize draw (well after another 3 shops there in the next 2 weeks.) Whilst I probably won’t be a winner it has highlighted to me that shopping around has its benefits. I usually do a weekly shop at Tesco online. I know prices are higher but it’s convenient. However, some of the savings I made a Lidl will make me look at going for a quick shop now and then to stock up.

So whilst I was around ten pounds over budget this week, lets look at savings I made. Two half sides of salmon (which can be frozen) at £12.58 was a saving of £2.12 from the current price at Tesco. A large cheddar saving 31p and chorizo saving 31p. I did lose out though by picking up an organic cucumber my mistake. I’m not used to checking these things now I shop online! Food for thought at least. It does mean that this week I will be looking to spend less on the shop by using more food from the freezer. We also have lots on including tutoring, karate, the dentist and drama. So small and quick meals are the way to go.Sunday: Homemade pizzasMonday. Spaghetti carbonara and garlic dough balls from last week pancetta from freezerTuesday: Smoked salmon bagels
Wednesday: Cottage pie batch cooked from a few weeks agoThursday: Beef kebabs and naan breadFriday: Ribs, wedges and corn on the cob.Saturday: Salmon and potatoesDo you shop around for your weekly shop?

Sunday, 16 January 2022

Meal Planning 16th Jan

 As I mentioned last week, I have set myself a little challenge to try and keep the shopping bill to around £100 a week. With three hungry growing boys in the house this is a bit of a challenge but last week, I was pretty much on track. I will have gone slightly over it this week as I decided to shop in The Spicery sale. I got some of their kits for Christmas and I decided that a lot of the time I can make a really delicious curry using the kits, rather than spend out on a takeaway. We also got a date night subscription for Christmas and this too is fantastic. If you want to try them out you can use my referral code LOUISE-104132 which will give you 10% off your first order over £20 and would give me £5 into my account.

Our date night in Corfu kit

Anyway, I digress, but as you will see from this weeks meal plan I am once again using The Spicery kits. It may be a risk with the tagine as I have no idea if the boys will like it. Worst case, they have a microwave pizza instead.

Talking of pizzas, the homemade ones last week worked really well and will be appearing again soon!

So what are we eating this week?

Sunday: Roast chicken with pigs in blankets

Monday: Chicken Fajitas 

Tuesday: Filled pasta with pesto and garlic dough balls (guess whats on offer in Tesco at the moment.)

Wednesday: Duck salad

Thursday: Chilli Jacket potatoes

Friday: Methi Chicken using a kit from The Spicery.

Saturday: Lamb tagine using a mix from The Spicery

Sunday, 9 January 2022

Meal Planning 9th Jan

I don't know about you, but our food bills have soared recently. With a combination of the effects of COVID on the shopping bill and 3 boys with huge appetites has made the food bill astronomical. I have therefore decided to get back to meal planning. My theory is that I will only buy what we need for a few weeks. Use up what is in the freezer, and when I have a bit of extra time, I will do some batch cooking and freeze that. Last week I made 2 cottage pies at once. One for dinner and one for a few weeks time. I bulked out the meat with some grated courgette and carrot. The boys didn't even notice.

So here are the meals I am planning for this week

Sunday: Roast beef and all the trimmings

Monday: Chicken or beefburgers from the freezer

Tuesday: Salmon with pak choi and noddles

Wednesday: Sausage and mash

Thursday: Courgette fritters for lunch,   homemade pizza for tea

 Friday: Beef stew with puff pastry

Saturday: My husband and I are having a date night kit from The Spicery and the boys can have my cheats sweet and sour chicken.

Do you meal plan? Have you found your shopping bill soar? What tips do you have?

Thursday, 16 December 2021

[Ad] The #Upsidedown Challenge Review

Everyone loves a good game that all the family can get involved with over the festive season and the #upsidedown challenge ticks a lot of my boxes on this.

The idea is that you try and complete simple challenges whilst using upside down glasses. 
No.This game is aimed at ages 7+. Personally I think 10+ would be more appropriate. My 10 year old really loved having a quick game with me but we had to adapt it to make it work. For example, below is my elephant, drawn using the glasses.

Hmmmm not much like an elephant! 

We decided that we would have the card visible with the pictures you could choose from so that we stood a chance of guessing whilst the sand went down. The instructions suggest this for younger players. For us it was all players, and we still had trouble guessing.I’m a glasses wearer and this did cause me an issue as you can’t wear the goggles over glasses. Maybe that’s why I was so bad! Or at least that will be my excuse.Personally for my family, we needed to practice with the glasses to enable us to enjoy the game. It is simply too hard to do straight out of the box.It can however be adapted to suit a number of players. Is as long or short as you want to make it. (Any game that is short and sweet is good with me.)With a little bit of practice it it is a game that all the family can play. We will get this out at Christmas and New Year along with some other family favourites. There are only a small number of cards so it’s not something I can see us playing numerous times. However, I guess we could make up some of our own challenges. You can purchase The #upsidedown challenge from Amazon.

Have you played this game? What did you think? 

We were given the game for the purpose of this review and all opinions are my own.

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

May-Thurner Syndrome

I had never heard of May-Thurner Syndrome until August this year. I was an active, reasonably fit, 45 year old Mum. So, when I couldn't walk one day, my world was turned upside down.

Just before taking the kids to a waterpark I had a slight twinge in my back. I thought nothing of it and carried on. We had such a fun time. Fast forward a few days and my back was getting worse. I believed I might have sciatica. I took it easy but kept moving.
Wednesday morning came and my husband was off to work at the office for the first time in weeks. I said I thought my back was bad and I was not sure if I could walk. He kissed me, said he would get some painkillers on the way home and I rolled over to get more sleep.Later that morning I tried to get up. I couldn’t walk properly. My left leg was really heavy. I shouted my eldest to tell him my concerns and he replied with “I’m not surprised as it’s swollen and a funny colour.”

I called the doctor and husband turned back home.I found myself with a next day appointment at a DVT clinic and on blood thinners as a precaution I wasn’t too worried as I still thought I had hurt my back and there was no reason for me to have DVT.It was at the DVT clinic that the nurse first mentioned May Thurner Syndrome. Her friend had had it and she told me not to worry. I had an ultrasound and the DVT clinic said I was ok. No clot. Just a sluggish vein at the top of my leg. But my D Dimer levels were high so I was told to come back in a week. (The D dimer level is an indicator to blood clotting.)  I was a bit annoyed. My walking was getting better and this just meant I had to cancel my trip to the spa with my sister. Which thanks to the pandemic was a year overdue.Anyway, I came off the thinners, started moving better and decided to head off to my father in laws for the weekend. I mean, it wasn’t a problem as I didn’t have DVT.We were meant to visit the sea side. I visited A and E. My leg had swelled, parts of me were blue. They poked me and said you need to go to a DVT clinic.So full circle I was back on thinners and after many phone calls and an out of hours doctors call I went back to the DVT clinic as planned.I already knew what was wrong with me. Or at least hoped. I felt the nurse on the previous visit was right when she suspected May Thurner syndrome. It had been dismissed by the ultrasound lady as I wasn’t pregnant. However, Dr Google was leading me down this route.I explained this to the ultrasound guy. “God Forbid it’s May Thurners” he replied. Then he found the clot in my thigh. “God forbid it goes all the way up here” he said going towards my belly button. His face said it all. I hobbled back to the DVT clinic trying not to cry.It was then full steam ahead. MRI within an hour. (Not the nicest procedure when you are 1 claustrophonic and 2. anxious. Breath in, breath out and hold your breath. It was a long 15 minutes of scanning.The doctor then came to see me with the news I already knew. I had May Thurner syndrome. I would have been born with it. My vein has been squashed between my vertebrae and artery in my pelvis. This had done damage to it and then caused the clot. I could stay on thinners forever or I could undergo an operation where the clot is removed and stent put in. With the latter the idea was that I may be able to come off thinners in the future and post thrombotic syndrome may be less. It wasn’t something they had much data on to show it was better. The decision needed to be made quickly as it’s only successful before the 2 week mark of clot formation.I changed my thinners and later emailed to say I would go ahead with the operation.It was then time to do a PCR and self isolate with the family until the day of the operation.The first procedure was to insert a catheter via my knee up through the clot. This would then allow thinner into the clot and dissolve it. I had to lay on my stomach while they did this and was awake. It was uncomfortable. I could hear him say that there was even clot in my calf by now. When done I needed to lay down for 24hrs attached to Flowtron boots that squeezed each calf every 15 seconds. I came out in pain. In my back. The Dr found this odd but said I could have IV paracetamol. Thankfully it did the trick. I was in the HMU and got very little sleep that night.

The next day it was time to see if the drugs had worked. There was no guarantee as I was borderline 2 weeks. Thankfully it had. Two stents were inserted to open up the damaged vein. I had loads of drugs and gas and air and was sent back to the ward to have the tiny cut squeezed for 15 minutes to help with the clotting.I am pleased to say that my leg is no longer swollen and I have no post thrombotic syndrome. I am currently on blood thinners with regular blood tests. It is hoped that I will be able to come off these in 6 months time. There is no guarantee and it may be for life. Either way, I feel lucky that I have come this far. Waking up one day and not being able to walk is scary. Not knowing if you may be in chronic pain for the rest of your life is too. It has been a warning of how life can change overnight and has made me realise that you shouldn't put things off as you never know whats round the corner. Ski trip 2023 here we come!