83% of UK teenagers would struggle to go ‘cold turkey’ from social media and their other vices for a month.



As we celebrate National Unplugging Day this Sunday 26th June, the UK’s largest digital detox movement, research published by Allen Carr Addiction Clinics emphasises that the explosion of social media, selfies and mobile devices is priming a generation of UK teenagers for a lifelong struggle with technology addiction.  Something I am keen to avoid when it comes to my own 3 kids. I was chatting earlier today with a close friend about how even as a 26 year old I am quite ‘old fashioned’ when it comes to my views on the internet and technology. Growing up with my grandparents I never really had the internet until I was in my late teens because we just didn’t ‘need it’. This is probably where my harsh views on i-tech probably stem from (strange, as I have ended up blogging), while my friend grew up as being one of the first kids in her class to have the internet and they always had the top ipads/ smartphones and broadband as soon as it was available to hand. Needless to say, our views differ.
The study by Allen Carr, which questioned 1,000 UK teenagers aged 12 – 18, unveiled a worrying trend, highlighting:  83% of UK teenagers admit they would struggle to give up their vices for a whole month. The average teen checks social media 11 times a day, sends 17 text/ WhatsApp messages and takes a ‘selfie’ picture every three days. When asked which behaviours they could abstain from, UK teens said they would most struggle living without texting (66%), followed by social networking (58%), junk food (28%) and alcohol (6%).  Mobile phones (79%), junk food (44%) and alcohol (9%) are the three activities teenagers were most likely to spend the most time on.

UK teenagers spend an average of £15.81 a week funding their various vices, meaning that they have to find £62 a month before they even consider paying for other pursuits such as sport or other recreational activities.  The average teen spends £6.64 a week on texting, mobile phones and data, junk food spending comes second with alcohol coming in as the third most expensive vice. I’m not sure what’s more worrying. Teens spending their pocket money on apps and screentime or booze. Shockingly, 14% of teens have lied to their families to get money to fund this area of spending, with 7% having gone as far as stealing from a relative!

There are obvious regional variations on the habits of UK teenagers. East Anglian teens are the most social media obsessed – 16% admit they check social media more than 30 times a day. The South East is the ‘selfie’ capital of the UK – 1 in 4 admit they take more than 20 selfies a month. Taking a selfie horrifies me, I don’t know whether its because I feel hideous or if I just don’t quite know how to get the right angle/lighting/pout. A scary 72% of youngsters remain oblivious to the dangers of over-use and potential addiction to social media, apps, games, and technology and don’t believe it is possible to develop an addiction to technology.
This constant pursuit of stimulation, peer approval, instant gratification, and elements of narcissism are all potential indicators of addictive behaviour. The study highlights that parents across the UK are inadvertently becoming ‘co-dependents’ enabling their child’s addictions by providing them with cash albeit with the best of intentions.

Why do we seem to ignore these addictions but feel it more important to chat to our children about the dangers of unprotected sex, binge drinking session and drugs. Of course, there are extremes to every situtaion but is it not as important to chat to our sons and daughters about their screen time and search for online gratification? I do believe we shall soon have an epidemic of young adults with issues in body image, lack of confidence, anxiety and even severe depression. Of course these issues have always been a concern for parents, but with the internet taking top spot in our kids’ lives these children are going to have no way of tackling these issues without Dr Google to hand, and typing their way through them.
The growing number of ever-changing, ever-updating tech and gadgets available to UK teens in 2016 run alongside established potentially addictive activities such as alcohol-use and consumption of junk food creating an environment where young people experience the compulsion to consume and engage more than they can legitimately fund, leading to desperate often risky behaviour – a hallmark of addiction.
John Dicey, Global Managing Director & Senior Therapist of Allen Carr Addiction Clinics comments; “The findings of this report are cause for concern and highlight a generation of young people exhibiting many of the hallmarks of addictive behaviour. The explosion of technology we have seen since the late 90’s offers incredible opportunities to our youth – the constant stimulation provided by access to the internet for example can be a good or a bad thing. There’s a price to pay. This study indicates that huge numbers of young people are developing compulsions and behaviours that they’re not entirely in control of and cannot financially support. Unless we educate our young people as to the dangers of constant stimulation and consumption, we are sleepwalking towards an epidemic of adulthood addiction in the future, as well as damaging childhood.”  Dicey continues “Make no mistake – technology and social media shouldn’t be demonised – they’re incredibly engaging and useful in our everyday lives – the objective of our study was to establish whether youngsters were moving beyond “normal use” and might therefore become pre-disposed to move on to other addictions later in life.”

While I am happy for my daughters to have minimal i-pad time playing on educational apps, I am concerned for the future and when they decide to create social media accounts and I find it harder to control what they view on the family computer or on their smart phones. My girls probably only play on the tablet once a week and only ever when they ask for it (although I do try to get them to reconsider this choice if I can by suggesting that they go play in the garden instead) so I don’t feel that this type of screen time is a problem for them at the moment at all.

I am NOT anti-internet or anti smart tech, I am just anti-over use. There is a pro and a con for everything and I suppose I really am just as ‘old fashioned’ as my friends like to say I am. But if I could live in a world where the internet shut down, and the whole of Facebook was wiped away I would be happy, and I’m never going to deny feeling like that.
John Dicey offers the following tips for teens and parents in support of National Unplugging Day:

1. Teach yourself to resist routinely checking your phone and email.  Set small challenges, such as 15 minutes without checking and gradually expand before you get into a groove of being able to spend a few hours without the need to be online.

2. Set aside daily periods of self-imposed non-screen time. One of the secrets to scaling back technology use to acceptable levels is to keep aside certain times of the day technology-free (mealtimes and bedtime, for example are a good starting place. In fact, kitchens and bedrooms should be made technology-free).

3. Only respond to emails and texts at specific times of the day. Some people do have jobs where they are tied to emails all day, but if you are not one of them, why not decide to look at email, say, just three times a day (9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.) It will save lots of time in the long run and create time for constructive, proactive and progressive work. Turning off email and social media, disabling push notifications, or simply turning the volume setting to silent on electronic devices will also reduce the urge to constantly check mobile devices.

4. Don’t use your smartphone or tablet as an alarm clock. By using a standard alarm clock to wake you in the morning, you will avoid the temptation to look at email and texts just as you are about to go to sleep or just wake up.  Ideally young teens won’t take their phones to bed with them.

5. Attempt a family digital detox – so the whole family study and are made aware of their technology habits.

6. Delete games and apps that can be time consuming and repetitively dumbing, such as Candy Crush, Angry Birds, etc.

7. Start to use a wrist watch again, which will stop you constantly checking your phone.

8. There is no void – just having a few moments a day where you can use your imagination or just think a few things through is wonderful. It requires some ‘space’ that only putting down technology for a while can provide.

9. Embrace tech to support change.  It sounds contradictory, given that we are trying to cut down on tech, but tech lovers can download apps that tell them how much time they’re spending online. Being made aware of a problem is often the first step in enabling behavioural change.

10. Parents should lead by example – you can’t tell your kids off for constantly checking their phones if you do the same.


***For further information if you are worried about your childs’ use of smart tech, or even your own visit or call 0800 389 2115.
• Survey conducted by One Poll***

Knitting your own retro style dishcloths

This week I shall mostly be knitting dishcloths… like an old lady!

I like knitting and self taught myself over a year ago with a cocktail of YouTube videos and one of those Buy-Weekly-Get-A-Free-Ring-binder-part-1-99p subscriptions. You know the ones I mean.

My local haberdashery sells knitting cotton for around £1.50 for a ball and I figured I may as well take a break from (unfinished) toys and random items of clothing and whip out a few dishcloths. I found I could knit 2 simple dishcloths from one ball of cotton. I was coming to the end of a pack of disposable kitchen sponges which I have slowly been working my way through for 3 months, and decided I didn’t fancy buying them again. ‘Why?!’ may you ask. Well we have been slowly cutting out disposable items from our home for a while now. First we got rid of the Pampers and switched to cloth nappies, then I disowned Tampax and make the change to go cloth for my period, then we went slightly more hard-core and stopped buying toilet paper. My nan used to always knit her own dishcloths and swore blind that they were better than shop bough cloths and sponges. I just always bought sponges as a second nature, never thought much of it really. I normally buy the big yellow ones with a scouring pad on the back. I couldn’t tell you how much they cost because it’s been so long since I bought some. Because the sponges are so big, I would cut them in half to make them last longer. Cheapskate.

I know knitting dishcloth may not save me as much money as using cloth nappies or toilet paper but they look pretty, take no time to knit and are the ultimate beginners knitting project. If you learn to make some now, you could knit a few for family and friends as a fun home-made Christmas present.

A simple square knitted in garter stitch, is so easy to learn. YouTube can teach you the very basics, so don’t worry if you’ve never attempted to knit anything before and a simple dish cloth is the very best thing you can make as your first project. After all, it is just a simple square. I cast on 32 stitches and work in garter stitch until my work is a square, then cast off. Simple that’s it, and as I said before YouTube can teach you these techniques easy peasy.

Not vintage but I also knit vintage style dishcloths.

Not legit vintage but I do knit vintage style dishcloths.

The Nine Circles of Sex

OK, I may not be on the same smart-ass level as Dante here or his epic poem Dante’s Inferno and the nine circles of hell. But things are getting close. For anyone with a child, I feel like we can all relate to the 9 circles of suffering when it comes to sex.

  1. Limbo

The first circle of sex for parents is Limbo. You are stuck in a foggy haze of being so over tired you could puke, and finding your partner irresistible as he comes through the front door from work in his smartest suit. Of course the irresistible feeling comes at the worst time imaginable. Normally when you are covered in leaky boob juice and you’re sporting vomit down your back.  Do you throw the kids at him and go for a bath or seize the moment thanking yourself for not letting the sprogs take a day time nap and call it an early night for all of you?

2. Lust

A strong sexual desire. But you can’t have him. Why? Because he is currently trying to get that annoying 15 month old off to sleep. He’s been trying for the last half hour, and it will probably take another half hour more. By the time he climbs into bed you will either have fallen asleep or ended up hoovering or some shit.

3. Gluttony

You’ve spent the last hour convincing your 2 year old to eat their damn dinner. Now the kids are asleep you want to indulge in some kinky food play. Trouble is, there’s only soggy rice cakes and Pombears in the pantry. No tantalising fruit, and certainly no chocolate sauce. Bloody kids polished that off earlier this week. You’ll just have to made do with toast.

4. Greed

He wants a full hour, you’d be happy with just 3 minutes. Fact of mum-life.

5. Wrath

Extreme anger. That feeling you get when your kid has been asleep for an hour, you and your partner are just getting it on, the heat is up … and you hear either a baby cry or your toddler asking for a glass of water. Yeah, that’s wrath.

6. Heresy

Ok, I can’t think of one to go with this. Other than maybe calling your child the spawn of Satan as soon as the above occurs.

7. Violence

Something which all parents consider using when you have managed to have a bath, get half way through your copy of the next 50 Shades rip-off book from ASDA (and don’t pretend you havn’t purchased it) and your husband starts snoring. There’s no way he’s waking up now.

8. Fraud

Pretending to be a confident sex-kitten when really you are worried about your boobs leaking during coitus and your muffin tops swallowing that sexy underwear (especially if you normally just wear gigantic knickers to hold the rolls in). Ladies, you may have stretch marks and muffin tops, but you are certainly no fraud. You ARE a sex-kitten.

9. Treachery

You promised the kids you would bring them one more cup of water, but really you just left them so long they fell asleep from the boredom of waiting. But hey, now they are asleep you can get your hands on your husband. Or just fall asleep from exhaustion from it all. What was the last night we spent child free? Oh the night before we conceived our first born 5 years ago, that’s right.

Where are your knickers young lady?!



A trip to BBC Gardeners World Live

What a day! Last night I remembered I was meant to be somewhere important today. I’m suffering from some serious brain fog at the moment, my head being filled with excitement of moving house (which still feels like I have forever to wait) getting my oldest ready for starting school and a million other house jobs. But, at 8pm as I sat on the sofa with a large glass of wine I decided to catch up on Gardeners World. Oooh, Monty Don is telling his loyal viewers all about BBC Gardeners World Live, an event happening this weekend at the Birmingham NEC.

Wait, what did he just say? This weekend? Oh SH*T!!! I’m down on the doors as going, in like what, 12 hours? And that’s when excitement and scrambled preparation kicked in.

bbc gardeners world live

So, this morning we shuttled the kids off to Nanny’s house, grabbed our Thermos and off we went to BBC Gardeners World Live. It was the final day of the show so we really had to cram in a lot in just 1 short day. Arriving at the NEC I realised just how huge this show was. I have been to several events at the NEC such as The Baby Show and The Gadget Show Live, so I sort of knew what to expect. But the sheer size of Gardeners World Live blew me away. Not only were the NEC halls full of glorious products, plants and well known faces, but the amazing-ness also spilt out of the doors and was taking up space outside of the arena with huge pop up marquees, full size gardens to explore, and a gazillion stall holders. Oh and a stunning barge on a mini waterway covered in (you guessed it) flowers.

Our first stop inside of the arena was the VegTrug Grow Your Own stage. VegTrug offer a nifty range of raised planters that look stylish and eliminate the developing back-ache often found in the garden. All day there were great talks from well known faces such as Skinny Jean Gardeners (Blue Peter gardeners and YouTubers) and even Matt Biggs (BBC Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time) to sit and listen to. Matt spoke passionately about growing fruit while the Skinny Jean Gardeners cracked jokes and felt like a breath of fresh air as they encouraged youngsters to step away from the Xbox and get into the garden. They also created a crazy green smoothie loaded from fresh veg grown in their own VegTrug – with the addition of a worrying amount of chillies. My regular readers will know that I am passionate about getting kids outside and in the garden discovering the joys of growing-their-own, so Skinny Jean Gardeners talk was not to be missed.

Skinny Jean Gardeners

We headed over to see the chickens who were doing a great job at attracting visitors over to the British Hen Welfare Trust and Poulty Talk stand. We took our youngest baby Ivy with us for the day, and please don’t underestimate how much Ivy is obsessed with chickens. We have 6 of our own at home so she is certainly used to being around our feathered friends. I listened to a talk on what the British Hen Welfare Trust are about and how they are encouraging us all to give ex-battery hens a fresh start through rehoming schemes, which was great to see so many people sat on the hay bales listening. Hens are not only great for giving eggs but they are also calming and fascinating birds to watch, and after many have sad starts in life through living on battery farms, with a new home and a few weeks to settle in they can start to enjoy life again.


We popped along to see the RSPB stand, seeing as we live literally on the edge of one of the RSPB reserves it seemed daft not to go and say hi. We signed up as members too, as this was something we hadn’t done before even though we quite regularly visit our local reserve. Membership costs however much you want it too, so you can choose to either donate £3 a month or £300… whatever goes. We received an awesome pack as a thank you for joining too. The RSPB had created a superb wildlife garden too for us all to explore (and kick start some amazing ideas for keeping the wildlife happy in our new garden once we move).

gardeners world live review

Monty Don was speaking in the Gardeners World Live theatre, as well as signing his new book for fans in the pop up WHSmith shop. Now, if you’re a fan of Gardeners World, you are a fan of Monty. The man is an absolute legend. He knows his stuff. There literally is not a thing that man doesn’t know about what to plant where, when and what with. Also, I may have been known to blush during summer episodes of Gardeners World when his jumper comes off. The man is gardening GOD.  Naturally, wherever Monty was within the NEC he was surrounded by fans. People were flocking to listen to his knowledge and seats for the GW Theatre were sold out. I luckily managed to get a picture, but I was nowhere as near to him as I would liked to have been.

monty don gw live

Also joining BBC Gardeners World Live in the NEC arena was BBC Good Food Live too. We briefly had a run through the amazing food stalls, trying not to feel hungry with all the temping and amazing food smells surrounding us, although I must admit I did try nearly every sample I passed without hesitation. We popped to say hi to the Linda McCartney team and waved vigorously at the Pulsin guys. I had to leave the food arena because my tummy was rumbling and I still had outside to explore.

Making our way outside, we first noticed the humongous Floral Marquee. That tent was massive. Stepping inside the beautiful smell of all the flowers hit me in the face first, then once my eyes adjusted I noticed all of the amazing flowers. Just wall to wall with every kind of indoor and outdoor plant imaginable (EDIT: I’m still on the hunt for a Swiss Cheese Plant and sadly GWL failed with that one). Professionals stood proudly displaying their prize flowers and happy to help with any question you may have been burning to ask. The atmosphere was as beautiful as the flowers surrounding us all.

Back outside we wandered through the stalls admiring the equipment, plants and tools for sale. We then took our time walking through the garden set-ups created specially for the show. From space saving tiny gardens to full sized allotment patches there was plenty of inspiration to be absorbed. The day was soon over, as people started to make their way out of the NEC and back to their cars. It couldn’t have been time to leave yet, surely? 🙁 I felt like we needed another whole day to see everything. There just were not enough hours to listen to all over the talks, see all of the stands and look at all of the stunning gardens, and that was just for Gardeners World Live. There was also the BBC Good Food Show on too, which could be visited as well, included in your ticket and was just as huge to walk around with some amazing speakers, such as THE QUEEN Mary Berry, Paul Hollywood and even the Hairy Bikers. Seriously, believe me when I say you need more than a day. There is a Travelodge on site and next year I know we shall be booking a room for a night so we can return to the show the next day to make sure we have seen all we wanted too.

gardeners world live

I am sure that next years Gardeners World Live will be just as amazing as this years show. So make sure you don’t miss out next year by keeping an eye on the BBC Gardeners World Live website for announcement details about next years show. If you can’t wait until next year, there is an all new show for muddy fans, BBC Country File Live comes to Bleinhem Palace between August 4th – 7th.

A sneak peek into my vintage collection

my vintage home

Growing up as a ‘nan kid’ , nothing in our home was younger than around 1980.

Definition from Urban Dictionary

Definition from Urban Dictionary

At the time I was embarrassed when friends popped over at how war-time our home looked. Embarrassed is a wrong word, I was more ‘aware’. We didn’t get a coloured TV until around 2005 and we never owned a washing machine until 2007. Previous to that we used an old fashioned twin tub and spinner out in the back yard. We had a beautiful open fire where all of our clothes dried on a rainy day and a whistling kettle was often found perched on the grate keeping water hot ready for a brew. We had a front room that was only ever used when guests came over or Christmas day. We lived out of the back room which was our kitchen cum living area. The room was huge with the dining table in the centre, 2 wooden chairs beside the fire, an old battered oven (as long as it worked, it stayed) and hung the back door was the dog leads and nans famous head scarf. It was perfect.

Now vintage is in fashion and the young become the old in search of kitchenettes and printed mirrors. I’ve been there for the last 26 darlings. And now my home is full of hand-me-downs from the over years, retro car-boot finds and freecycle pickups. From art deco cocktail cabinets to Bambi wall art, it’s all original and not much is younger than 40 years old.

Here’s some of the favourites from our little ‘collection’. It’s not really a collection, its just cheap practival living. I’ve included want we paid for it and history (if I know it) in the descriptions.