My very own website!!! Yikes!

Family Folk Show with Megson at Farnham Maltings

Last weekend we were lucky enough to be invited to a local venue to see Megson’s Family Folk Show. We raced to the front row which meant the children had easy access to the dance floor area in fron of the stage.

Megson is a husband and wife duo who play instruments and sing. The songs they perform all have a folk lilt and their family show has been carefully designed to appeal to parents and children.
The songs were catchy, had actions for the audience to join in with and some had sign language. Interaction and fun were at the heart of the show from start to finish. The couple play and sing beautifully so it was a real pleasure to watch (and join in!)

There was plenty of audience participation and Matthew was picked to name a bird for their ‘Little Bird’ song (he chose a jackdaw) and laughed hysterically at some of the suggestions for She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain (this got slightly out of hand on the drive home as the kids tried to be more and more absurd with the lyrics, but demonstrated how much it had caught their imagination).
Anya and Zach were completely spellbound for the entire show, dancing, signing and singing along with the music. For the finale they were up on their feet with the other children and no one wanted the show to finish.

Chris and I enjoyed the performance so much and there were plenty of songs that we recognised from our own childhoods and could sing along with (for example, Oats and Beans and Barley Grow, Ha Ha This A Way).
My only complaint was that the show was too short for me (I reeeeeeally didn’t want it to end!) but at 45 minutes was perfect for young children. Megson happily chatted to their fans after the show and, as you can see from the picture below, Zach was quite starstruck!
Little Bird is available on Amazon or from the Megson website: have a listen and enjoy!
Take a look at the tour dates at the end of this post: are they near you sometime soon?


Press information:
Megson present a brand new collection of children’s folk songs – little bird
Seven years since releasing their “When I Was A Lad” album, husband & wife folk duo Megson have followed it up other another collection of folk songs old and new entitled “Little Bird”.
One half of the duo Stu says “ever since we released When I Was A Lad we’ve had countless families asking us when there will be a follow up! We’ve been told on many occasions that their children have worn the cd out its been played that many times on car journeys. We’ve been promising to make this for the last five years so we’re chuffed to by finally able to share it with the world!”
Megson, aka Debbie & Stu Hanna, have been writing, recording & performing traditional & contemporary folk music for fifteen years. They have been nominated four times in the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and have won three Spiral Earth Awards. Megson draw heavily on their Teesside heritage to create a unique style of folk music. They combine original compositions with traditional music from the north east of England arranged for vocals, mandola, guitar, piano accordion & whistle. In 2010 they were described as “The most original duo on the British folk scene” by Robin Denselow in The Guardian.
Along with other their nine other regular folk albums this was produced and recorded by Megson in the home studio (a converted garage) and performed on a plethora of folk instruments including banjo, accordion, penny whistle, octave mandala and many more. It is very much a homemade affair with their daughter Lola and their dog Wizard even making guests appearances. There are a few nods to nature on the album with a song about dogs and two about birds, as well as a little colour in bird spotting guide which comes with the CD album.
In 2014 Megson developed their concert series for young audiences – ‘Family Folk Show with Megson’. Throughout the show Megson blend their infectious mix of heavenly vocals and lush harmonies to create a gentle, interactive concert specifically tailored for young children It features children’s folk songs both old and new from their ‘When I was a Lad’ & “Little Bird” albums. Between each song, the performers playfully involve the audience, introducing ideas, the instruments and stories that will feature in the songs. Family Folk Show has completed sell out shows at prestigious small venues including Half Moon Theatre Children’s Theatre, Cambridge Junction, MAC Birmingham, artsdepot, Kings Place and Colchester Arts Centre.
Arts education & the lack provisions in many schools is also an issue very close to Stu & Debs’ hearts & they frequently take their Family Folk Show into primary schools to help spread the joy of folk music to as many young people as possible.
Tour Dates:
28/09 – Crawley The Hawth
11:00am – 01293 553636
05/10 – Huntingdon Commemoration Hall
2:00pm – 01480 455167
06/10 – Brentford Watermans Arts Centre
3:00pm – 020 8232 1010
12/10 – Colchester Arts Centre
2:00pm – 01206 500900
13/10 – Cambridge Junction
11.30am & 2.30pm – 01223 511 511
03/11 – London, Kings Cross Kings Place
2:30pm – 020 7520 1490
09/11 – Oxford Pegasus Theatre
2:00pm & 4:00pm – 01865 812150
16/11 – Banbury Mill Arts Centre
11:00am – 01295 279002

*We received tickets to see Megson in exchange for this post. All pictures and opinions are my own.

Getting back in the school routine and being mindful of dental health

We had a brilliant summer. Now we are back to school and work. Routine is back on track again and the holidays feel like they never even happened.
One thing that never lost its importance was brushing our teeth. As a former dental nurse, I am aware of the importance of teaching effective brushing techniques to children and supervising their brushing to ensure it is completed properly.

The tooth fairy has been busy this summer and Matthew and Anya have lost 2 teeth each. Gappy smiles are difficult to clean!
Matthew in particular had his new adult teeth grown up behind the milk teeth at the bottom (imagine a shark with the rows of teeth!) This was awful to clean as food would get trapped in the gap but thankfully he now just has one at the front that I am desperately trying to get him wobbling every day!
Anya has her new teeth at the gumline as they have only just erupted. This means that poor brushing might miss them so a little bit of extra care is required to angle the brush correctly.

Zach is only 3 so whilst he likes to think he is grown up enough to clean his teeth, in reality I brush them after he has ‘finished’.
Zach also has an incredibly sweet tooth and nags me for biscuits and cake throughout the day. I try to restrict these to a single snack time or meal to minimise the potential damge to his teeth. Meanwhile Matthew and Anya have discovered fizzy drinks and are allowed them on special occasions with a meal.
Here is some information proivided by SimplyHealth on the dental health of children in the UK and I was genuinely quite shocked:


According to parents surveyed, one in ten (10%) British children have missed a full day of school to receive treatment due to tooth decay, new research reveals.
The Simplyhealth Consumer Oral Health Survey* highlighted a number of statistics regarding children’s oral health habits.
For parents who had a child admitted to hospital for tooth extraction, nearly one in five (19%) said their child had needed a total of four teeth extracting due to tooth decay.
The statistic come as the Government announces plans for a consultation on introducing a tooth brushing scheme in primary schools,**with nearly a third of parents (32%) saying they would like their child to receive daily tooth brushing sessions at school. Furthermore, 48% of parents said they would like their child to receive oral health education in school from dental professionals, and 35% said they’d like oral health education from teachers. In addition, 41% of parents said they would like to see dental check-ups at school.
The survey also explored the problems parents face when trying to get their children to brush their teeth regularly and correctly, with 64% of respondents saying getting their child to brush their teeth for two minutes, twice a day, was their biggest challenge.
More than one in five (21%)  children brush just once a day or less, and 13% of children aged seven and under are brushing their own teeth unsupervised, contrary to advice that children aged seven and under should be supervised while brushing, or have an adult brush their teeth for them.
Preparing tooth-friendly school lunchboxes could also prove tricky for parents this school year, as 37% admit they find ensuring their children have tooth-friendly snacks and (41%) drinks a struggle. Biscuits (28%), sweets/chocolates (16%), and fizzy drinks (7%) all featuring in the lunchboxes of those surveyed.

Commenting on the figures, Head Dental Officer at Simplyhealth, Dr Catherine Rutland said:
“It’s disappointing to hear that so many children are missing out on lessons at school as a result of tooth decay, especially as it’s a problem that can be so easily avoided. A regular family brushing routine, before and after school, is so important to reduce the risk of needing dental work at a young age and sets up strong habits for your little ones later in life. Brushing first thing in the morning before breakfast can help busy families to ensure that they get a proper brush before school, while the night-time brush cleans away plaque bacteria and food debris accumulated throughout the day so that it doesn’t sit on the teeth while they sleep.
“I would also encourage parents to look for low-sugar alternatives when packing lunchboxes and swap sweets for carrot sticks and fruit juices for water. Cheese is a great lunchbox snack to finish a meal with as it can naturally rebalance the pH level in your mouth, meaning less harmful acid and reducing the chances of tooth decay.”
It seems it’s not just during the school day where teeth are at risk though, as 30% of parents said their child often or always takes a drink to bed with them, of which, shockingly, one in ten (10%) admitted that their children takes a fizzy drink to bed. Furthermore, 24% said their child takes squash or cordial to bed, and 15% take fruit juice to bed.
Dr Catherine Rutland comments, “Sugary or fizzy drinks should only be consumed occasionally as a treat, and definitely never at bedtime. Drinking something with high sugar content leaves your children vulnerable to tooth decay. Less saliva is produced at night and so the teeth will be bathed in sugar and acid while they sleep. If your child needs a drink at night, always give them water.”
Dr Rutland urges parents to visit the dentist with their family at least once every six months. Regular visits help children get into a good oral health routine, as well as ensuring that any problems or early signs of tooth decay are detected at an early stage. Dentists can also advise parents on the best products for children’s teeth and provide some fun brushing techniques too.

Simplyhealth, the experts behind Denplan payment plans, who commissioned this research, is working in partnership with charities such as Teeth Team to help improve the oral health of primary school aged children in socially deprived communities.
To find out more visit www.teethteam.org.uk
To read the full report visit: https://www.simplyhealth.co.uk/COHS
Simplyhealth Consumer Oral Health Survey 2019. Online survey of 5083 adults conducted by Dynata (formally Research Now SSI) on behalf of Simplyhealth, undertaken 24 January – 5 February 2019. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (18+).
** Children’s section of the survey: Simplyhealth Consumer Oral Health Survey 2019. Online survey of 1014 adult parents conducted by Dynata (formally Research Now SSI) on behalf of Simplyhealth, undertaken 24 January – 31 January 2019. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (18+).

*I was provided with the above information by SimplyHealth and received some dental goodies

In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree, by Michael A. McLellan

Today I have something a little different for you! This blog tour is for two amazing novels by author, Michael McLellan. I will be sharing my review of In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree in addition to excerpts from both books and a giveaway to enter!

This novel is dedicated to the human race. I fear for us.
This is the dedication at the start of In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree and I must issue a trigger warning before I allow you to read further. The events described in this book and mentioned below are brutal and violent.
How can a book about the repugnant actions of humanity also be so compelling?
There are flashes of the innate goodness that also exists within us.
In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree in set in the US in the 1860s. Henry is a black slave who is freed by his master. The woman he loves is murdered shortly afterwards so he also loses his unborn child. John and Clara are a lovestruck couple with feuding fathers so their marriage is refused. John is sent to join the army and Clara runs away to join him. All three characters interact with the Native American tribes who are being incited to war.
The hardships, brutality and downright depravity that are revealed in the book are often horrific. I know very little about this period of history but I believe we should be educated more about it (I’m not sure if this is because I am in the UK or if the shame of mankind’s actions at this time have led to it being hushed up).
I admit to feeling uncomfortable with the language used to describe the racial groups in the book, however this also made it more realistic as the terms would have been in regular use at the time the book was set.
Love and loss radiate through this book and author Michael A. McLellan has carefully balanced the destructive nature of humanity with their capacity for kindness, hope in the face of danger and enduring love.
Tragic and heartbreaking experiences and disturbing acts of violence make this book difficult to enjoy but the bravery and strength of the main characters makes it worth reading.

Michael McLellan1

32886177In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree

Publication Date: April 26th, 2017

Genre: Historical Fiction

In 1865 a shadow hovers over the nation: the shadow lingers still…

Born into slavery, Henry’s young life is spent working in tobacco drying sheds on Missouri plantations. Freed at the onset of the Civil War, he’s alone, starving, and on the run from Confederate militiamen.

Five years later, Clara Hanfield, the daughter of a powerful New York shipping magnate, escapes her tyrannical father and travels west in pursuit of John Elliot, the man she loves. John, a U.S. Army lieutenant, was sent to the Dakota Territory where he discovers a government conspiracy to incite an all-out war with the Indians; a war meant to finally eliminate them as an obstacle to the westward expansion.

Henry finds himself caught in the middle.

Aided by Clara, John, and his native ally, Standing Elk, Henry must battle hatred, greed, and the ghosts of his past during this turbulent and troubling time in American history

Add to Goodreads


Emmet Dawson pulled the crumpled sheets of Henry and Eliza’s free papers from his coat and held them close to his face, squinting. “…Samuel Cromwell.” He held the papers out. “Can you read these?”

Henry averted his eyes. “No, sir,” he lied.

“No, of course you can’t. It’s not only near to impossible to teach a nigger to read but it’s also against the law—God’s and man’s.” He lowered the papers to his side. “These jayhawkers are burning and pillaging their way across our great state. They’re murdering innocent Missouri families in their sleep, then setting niggers loose on the land like a pestilence. That boy’s an orphan. His father, his mother, and his little baby sister were inside the house when it was set fire. They were unable to escape. We found their niggers a few miles away, riding their horses and leading their pigs just like they had the right to. We are at war, Henry. We are at war to save our families and our way of life.”

Emmet turned and looked at Bob. “Hang him with the others.”

Eliza let out an anguished wail and dropped to her knees where she began screaming hysterically. Henry tried to kneel down with her but Bob yanked the rope tight and wrapped it on his saddle horn. This left Henry standing at an awkward lean as he tried not to drag Eliza.

“What about the woman?” Bob asked.

Emmet Dawson looked down at Eliza appraisingly. “Shut her up and tie her to my wagon…and here,” he handed Bob the free papers. “Pin these to his shirt. There aren’t any free niggers in Missouri.” He gave Henry a final stony look then walked into the camp.

Available on Amazon

35618158American Flowers

Publication Date: July 7th, 2017

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/ Drama

*Triggers: Addiction, Abuse, Sexual Assault

Nineteen-year-old Chris Shafer and seventeen-year-old Allie Laughton came from similar backgrounds of neglect and indifference. Chris spent his childhood desperately trying to gain his alcoholic parents’ love. Allie was dragged through an ugly divorce before narrowly escaping being molested by her mother’s new boyfriend.

A chance meeting draws the two together and Allie is quickly caught up in Chris’ new-found lifestyle. Plagued by poor choices, Chris sets into motion a chain of events that drags them deeper into the murky world of meth. Ultimately pursued by both the police and Chris’ volatile tempered drug dealer, Chris and Allie are forced to confront their only real enemy: themselves.

Add to Goodreads


“You’re poison to that girl. You do see that?”

“We love each other and don’t want to be apart.”

“What do you know about love?” Jan suddenly spat, leaning forward in the easy chair and staring angrily at Chris.

“You listen to me. The only truly unbreakable love is that of a parent for their child. All the other kinds of love, like the kind you and that beautiful young girl in there think you have is fragile and weak, and saddest of all, fleeting. That kind of love can be broken in an instant”—she snapped her arthritis twisted fingers for emphasis, making more of a dry papery sound than a snap. “It can be broken by the smallest of indiscretions, or nothing more than a few poorly chosen words. Mostly it’s just worn away over time like the banks of that creek out there. And it’ll happen so slowly that you never even feel more than a faint tickle at the back of your mind. Oh, it can burn as hot as blue blazes for a moment, but eventually it burns out and leaves something entirely different behind…like the bed of ashes in the bottom of a woodstove after the fire’s gone out. Some folks still insist on calling it love, but it isn’t, not really. It’s obligation, it’s responsibility, it’s apathy. Often it just becomes who you are…what you’re accustomed to. Sometimes it even becomes hate.

Available on Amazon!

giveaway gif

Click HERE for a chance to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

About the Author

Mike Author 1

Michael’s love of books began with Beverly Cleary’s The Mouse and the Motorcycle when he was seven-years-old. Later influenced by the works of John Steinbeck, Harper Lee, Stephen King, James Baldwin, and Cormac McCarthy, Michael developed his style of storytelling. A self-proclaimed blue-collar writer, he draws on his experiences and observations to bring relevant and compelling topics to life.

Michael lives in Northern California and when he’s not writing, he can usually be found wandering around the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges.

His body of work includes the 2014 novel After and Again, the 2015 novel American Flowers, and the 2017 novel, In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree, as well as various shorts and essays.

Michael McLellan | Goodreads| Twitter

Michael McLellan2

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#StayClassyMama 49

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A Purrfect Alibi, by Leighann Dobbs

Those clever kitties are joined in their crime fighting by a ghost this time!
Jedediah Biddeford’s skeleton was found in the previous book and now his ghost makes an appearance trying to find out who killed him. Is there any link to the murder of a medium staying at the guesthouse in the present day?
Guesthouse owner Josie is anxious that another mysterious death will put potential guests off staying with her, and bank manager Myron is making her worried that he will recall the loan she needs to complete the renovations and return the hotel to its former glory.
Once again Josie’s mum and friend Millie are on hand to help investigate while the cats stay one step ahead thanks to the information provided by dead Jed.
I enjoyed the extra angle of the ghost and alleged mediums and psychics. The interaction between the cats and the ghost were quite funny at times. I liked the continuity with the previous books although it would work perfectly well as a stand alone book if you haven’t read the others.
As with previous books, it was fun to see the way the cats view situations compared to Josie’s perspective, and how they use their feline skills to suggest clues to their human counterpart.
The narrative is written in a light and humorous way despite the fact the book revolves around murder! The murder is not graphically described and author Leighann Dobbs leaves plenty of clues around to hint and distract both Josie and us as readers.
Read my reviews of the first two books in the series: A Twist in the Tail and A Whisker in the Dark

Book Description:
Fortune tellers and mediums have descended on the Oyster Cove Guesthouse, determined to finally solve the mystery of local seafarer Jedediah Biddeford’s murder 300 years ago. New owner Josie Waters has suddenly got bigger problems than burning the breakfasts: she’s up to her elbows in tarot cards and tea leaves…
When one of the mediums is found dead with an ominous note nearby, everything points to Jedediah’s ghost being the culprit. Suddenly, Josie finds that the fate of her guesthouse depends on not one murder but two, and she’s not going to rely on a crystal ball for answers. Despite the fact that cookbooks and candlesticks keep mysteriously falling off tables, Josie is sure there’s no such thing as ghosts. But guesthouse cats Nero and Marlowe know better…
Aided by her mom and eccentric family friend Millie, Josie sets out to prove the identity of the killer without summoning any spirits. Luckily Nero and Marlowe know the truth about ghosts, ghouls and things that go bump in the night and they are on the case! Can they make Josie realize she is scratching up the wrong tree before the killer strikes again?
From the bestselling author of the USA Today bestselling Mystic Notch series, purrfect for fans of Adele Abbott, cat lovers and anybody who loves to curl up with a page-turning cozy mystery.
Author Bio:
USA Today bestselling author, Leighann Dobbs, discovered her passion for writing after a twenty year career as a software engineer. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband Bruce, their trusty Chihuahua mix Mojo and beautiful rescue cat, Kitty. Her book “Dead Wrong” won the “Best Mystery Romance” award at the 2014 Indie Romance Convention. Her book “Ghostly Paws” was the 2015 Chanticleer Mystery & Mayhem First Place category winner in the Animal Mystery category.
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