Essential Autumn Car Maintenance*

Obviously keeping on top of car maintenance is a year round essential, but as the colder weather approaches it pays even more so to run some vital checks. Bob and I found this out for ourselves just a couple of days before we were due to set off on our (almost) 1500 mile round trip to Scotland- he was doing some essential pre-journey checks when he discovered a hole in the engine (where there most definitely shouldn’t be a hole!) Had he not have done these checks we wouldn’t have found out until it was too late- probably stranded somewhere between Inverness and the back and beyond! Thankfully he was able to get the part and get things fixed- and both the car, and ourselves survived many an hour on the road.

Here are a few checks that are especially important at this time of year:

(Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash)

Windscreen and Wipers:
Although in the UK it rains all year round, the rain and storms that come with the Autumn and Winter can be especially heavy. Check that your windscreen wipers aren’t dragging or leaving streaks- if they are then it’s time to replace the blades and make sure you have de-icer and an ice scraper at your disposal. If you have any chips in your screen then take the time to get them repaired, what starts out as one small ding can soon turn in to a rather large, and expensive crack.

Now is definitely the time to make sure your brakes are functioning at full capacity. With wet and perhaps icy roads on their way it really isn’t worth running the risk of not being able to stop when you need to, quickly and efficiently. Check your brake fluid and the brake discs- you can top up the fluid yourself if you need it, and if your discs are worn you can get them replaced easily, or even do it yourself if you know how.

Linked to brakes, safe and roadworthy tyres are another essential, 2mm tyre tread is recommended for winter driving (and the legal requirement is at least 1.6mm). Check for damage on the walls of the tyres too- any bulging or gashed tyres need to be replaced.

As the dark evenings draw in make sure you’ve checked that your head, brake and indicator lights are all fully functioning. Bulbs are relatively cheap and easy to replace (and you can’t put a price on road safety anyway!) Having any lights not properly working puts both yourself, other road users and pedestrians at risk.

On the whole this is the perfect time of year to give your entire car a once over, you can book in for routine checks of all parts- brands like Ossett Tyre House offer free car exhuasts inspection in West Yorkshire and you’ll find similar services all across the UK.

Do you have any car horror stories to share? What are your top tips for safe winter driving?


The September 2017 Degustabox

Another month and another delivery from foodie subscription service Degustabox*. Unless you are brand new to my blog (in which case, Hi!) you’ll know this is a regular feature. As with last month I’ve done my absolute best to try everything in the box, but time constraints and wanting to get a post up in a fairly prompt manner means that there are a couple of things I’m yet to sample. I’ll pop up some mini reviews of these on social media when I do try them for anyone who is as curious as I currently am to know what they were like, I’m getting really quite adventurous with my food trying lately so with each month the arrival of this box brings a whole new level of excitement!
Once again kicking off with the drinks selection, this month Degustabox presented me with a bottle of San Miguel Gluten Free (£2 per bottle, or £9 for a six pack). I’m not a beer drinker so haven’t tried this, but it’s essentially a gluten free variety of the ever popular San Miguel. Available for purchase from Tesco for anyone who’s been missing out on a cheeky evening beer.
I’ve become a bit dependent on energy drinks of late, and as much as I love my Red Bull I was pleased to have a healthier variety to try out. Virtue energy water (£1.35 each) costs about the same per can as my current crutch but contains zero calories, no sweeteners and the same amount of caffeine as your average cup of coffee. Once I got over how tart these are I really enjoyed them. The berry flavour was my overall favourite, but if I saw these in my local shop I’d pick these up over a can filled with artificial everything. As an added bonus, for every can sold Virtue will donate 500l clean drinking water.
I’m a serial cereal eater so discovering anything new is always a joy. Cheerios are one of my all time favourites so I was excited by Cheerios Oat Crisp (£2.49) which has whole grain oats mixed in with my favourite loops. It was developed to help lower cholesterol as well as being high in fibre, low in saturated fat and contains beta-glucan from the oat fibre which helps to keep your heart healthy. They don’t have quite the same appeal as a massive bowl of the original, but for a healthy breakfast and for anyone looking to lower their cholesterol through diet rather than medication then I do recommend giving these a go.

I’m not a huge fan of dairy milks on my breakfast and was hugely intrigued to see Dream Ancient Grains (£1.60) included in this month’s box. Ancient grains is made with buckwheat, oat, spelt and linseed. I haven’t tried this yet but I have it ear-marked for porridge and will report back in due course.

Cooking is a re-discovered passion of mine but when pushed for time it’s great to have some short-cuts to creating a quick and easy meal. Latin America Kitchen by Santa Maria is a new line inspired by the many varied flavours of this part of the world.
I haven’t had a chance to cook with these yet but the Caribbean sticky pineapple and chilli sauce (£1.85) is earmarked for a chicken dish ASAP- of course combined with the Aroz Amarillo yellow rice- I don’t yet know what’s special about it, but it certainly sounds fancy! Rice pouches also cost £1.85.
More savoury inclusions in the box, and more that I haven’t yet had a chance to try. Knorr concentrated stock (£2.20) is gluten free and made with real beef extract. This versatile sounding pot can be used to add flavour to meaty dishes such as bolognese or to make a rich stock for soups and stews.
A random but welcome inclusion to the box was Wild Planet Albacore Wild Tuna- I love tuna and this tin contains 100% pole and line caught steaks. There’s no need to drain making it perfect for a packed lunch addition to a salad- hopefully this tastes amazing enough to justify the £3.49 price tag.
Possibly the most exciting inclusion in the box (and one I don’t have the information for) is the Ramen Noodle kit from Miso Tasty. I love noodle dishes and Bob and I are planning to create something awesome this weekend- watch this space!
Mentos are one of my favourite sweets and this mixed up bag of mints has long been devoured. A resealable pouch (£1.19) perfect for keeping on your desk at work, or for sharing (maybe!)- as the slogan says, who says no to mentos?
A more grown up sweet option next in the form of Green & Black’s velvet edition- this is 70% dark chocolate combined with sweet Madagascan Vanilla, this is rich and smooth and entirely delicious. I had intended to share but it just didn’t happen. £1.99 and entirely worth every penny!
Last but not least a blast from the past- Green’s Egg Custard mix (69p) is the perfect way to create a comfort food classic. Egg custard tarts are a secret pleasure of mine, although it’s been far too long since I last had one. I must add pastry cases to my shopping list for a quick and easy fix!
For those who don’t yet know, Degustabox* is a monthly food subscription box that gives you the chance to try new and exciting products on the market whilst providing amazing value for money.

On a month by month basis the box costs £12.99 (with a discount for longer subscriptions) but the contents are generally worth far more than this as you can see if you do the maths.
If you’re persuaded to give Degustabox a go (and really, you should) you can claim a brilliant £7.00 off of your first box (making it just £5.99!) by entering the code 6HZJ8 at the checkout. It’s been a pleasure to work with the brand regularly over the last couple of years and it’s without a doubt something that I will continue to purchase long after our partnership ends. I love the monthly surprise and excitement as well as the chance to discover products I’d otherwise pass up on the supermarket shelves.
Let me know if you’ve tried any of these products and what you thought of them.


The Scotland Photo Post

I’ve been home for almost two weeks now and I’m only just finding the time to put up some of the photos from my holiday to Scotland with Bob. I haven’t got as far as getting any words to go with the post, life has been going 100mph since my return, but take a moment to sit back and take in the beautiful scenery of the North West Highlands alongside a few gratuitous selfies of the boy and I.
In a way this is a bit of a filler post, as mentioned up-post there just hasn’t been much time for anything but work and living my life in a way it hasn’t been lived in many a year. Fingers crossed I’m getting myself more organised from now and there will be some more quality and consistent content coming your way- bet you’re all on the edge of your seats with excitement!


How much would James Bond pay for his car?*

007 has had a very impressive vehicular history – some might also say successful; however, he has gone through more high-end performance car than glamorous supermodels! As each film concludes Bond’s car often looks a little more worse for wear than it did when the film began- and whilst we know he won’t have to fit the bill for these top cars it’s an interesting thought to think what would Bond’s car expense invoice actually look like?

For most of us owning a car like James Bond is nothing more than a dream. However leasing could make your dream car a possibility. Leasing options provide an affordable way for us to get the car we dream of. Car leasing experts Rosedale Leasing look back over the rich Bond car history and investigate how much some of the Bond cars are worth in reality and suggest what it would realistically cost to lease a James Bond car.

Photo by Cam Bowers on Unsplash

Sunbeam Alpine
Driven by Sean Connery, the Sunbeam Alpine featured in ‘Dr.No’ in 1962. It was far more affordable than the cars used in the later Bond films – however, similar to many Bond cars that followed, the Sunbeam was British made just outside of Coventry. The car costs £7,000 – whilst this might now seem relatively cheap for a car, in 1962 this would be expensive, however, not out of reach for many of the cinema patrons at the time as the car cost only £1,110 back then.

Bentley 3.5 litre
In ‘From Russia With Love’ Sean Connery played the role of James Bond again. The 1963 movie featured the Bentley 3.5 litre in the opening scene. It was considered as the first Bond car gadget, when Bond used it to answer a phone call. Already 30 years old at the time of filming the Bentley was already considered as somewhat of a classic. The car is currently valued at £1,000,000.
If James Bond was to lease a Bentley today it would cost him approximately £3,605.59 a month for a Bentley Continental GT Coupe on a personal leasing plan.

Aston Martin DB5
Featuring in two Bond films, the Aston Martin DB5 was driven by Connery in 1964 in ‘Goldfinger’ and in 1965 in ‘Thunderball’. It is one of the most recognisable cars ever to be driven by 007 and was only released three months before original filming began. Whilst it was used throughout both ‘Goldfinger’ and ‘Thunderball’ it was also featured in ‘Golden Eye’, ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’, ‘Casino Royale’ and ‘Skyfall’. The car is valued at £1,000,000.

Toyota 2000GT
‘You Only Live Twice’ was released in 1967 and featured Japan’s first supercar, the Toyota 2000GT – again driven by Sean Connery. The car was a limited edition with only 351 models produced – making this Bond car rarer than the DB5. Toyota made modifications to the design specifically for the film to produce an open top version. The car is valued at £300,000.

Aston Martin DBS
‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ introduced a new Bond in 1969 – George Lazenby. With expectations high following the Aston Martin DB5, the DBS appeared to be gadget free but with room in the glove compartment for a sniper rifle. The car is estimated to cost around £120,000.

AMC Hornet
In 1974 Roger Moore featured in ‘The Man With The Golden Gun’. Bond steals the AMC Horne in the film, driving it through the showroom window of a dealership. The two-door vehicle is an unlikely hero for a Bond film, but proves itself during handbrake turns and the infamous bridge jump. The car costs around £2,000.

Lotus Esprit
The tenth instalment of Bond films was released in 1977 – played by Roger Moore, ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ featured the Lotus Esprit. The car is known for its participation in a chase sequence that covered air, land and water. The Lotus transforms from car to mini submarine as it hits the water and then transforms back to car as Bond drives the vehicle out of the sea and onto the beach. The car is valued at £15,000.

Aston Martin V8 Vantage
In 1987 Timothy Dalton was introduced as the new Bond in ‘The Living Daylights’. The Aston Martin was brought back by producers after an 18 year absence in the James Bond franchise. The car was kitted out with all the gadgets that mirrored those in Goldfinger’s DB5. There were two V8’s used during the film, the first with a droptop was actually donated for use in the film by the chairman of Aston Martin – the second had an adapted roof for the winter driving scenes. The Aston martin V8 car is currently valued at around £150,000.
If James Bond was to lease an Aston Martin V8 Vantage today, it would cost him approximately £2,550.93 a month on a personal leasing plan.

In 1995 Pierce Brosnan is first introduced as the new James Bond in ‘Golden Eye’. This 007 instalment features the BMW Z3 alongside the return of the Aston Martin DB5. The Z3 didn’t come without it’s gadgets, with Q demonstrating its parachute braking system in laboratory and briefing 007 on the ejector seat. The Z3 is valued at around £1,500.

BMW 750iL
In 1997 the BMW 750iL was introduced in ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’ – again, alongside the Aston Martin DB5. The BMW featured bullet proof windows and bodywork that could withstand the impact of a sledgehammer – Bond was also able to drive the car via a remote control. Again, the 750iL doesn’t make it to the end of the film in one piece as Bond drives it off a rooftop car park and into an Avid rental shop. The car currently costs around £5,000.
If James Bond was to lease a BMW 7 Series today, it would cost him approximately £1,032.01 a month, on a personal leasing plan.

Pierce Brosnan continued to reign as Bond in 1999 in ‘The World Is Not Enough’ when the BMW Z8 made its appearance – a car that isn’t known for its gadgets unlike previous Bond cars. However, the Z8 doesn’t make it to the end of the film as a helicopter cuts the BMW in half. The car is valued at £200,000.

Ford Fairline/Aston Martin V12 Vanquish
2002 saw the release of ‘Die Another Day’, the final instalment of Brosnan’s reign as James Bond. The 2002 movie featured both the Ford Fairline and Aston Martin V12 Vanquish. The Fairline was used in one scene during the film – however, the Vanquish, or as Q calls it The Vanish, is complete with an invisible cloak, as well as all the usual gadgets such as ejector seat and target seeking shotguns. The Fairline costs around £15,000 whilst the V12 Vanquish comes in around £80,000.
If James Bond was to lease an Aston Martin V12 Vanquish today, it would cost him approximately £4,994.49 a month on a personal leasing plan.

Aston Martin DBS V12
When Daniel Craig was introduced as the new James Bond in ‘Casino Royal’ in 2006, so was the Aston Martin DBS V12 – which was also featured in 2008’s ‘Quantum of Solace’. In both films, the car featured minimal but realistic gadgets. In Casino Royale, Bond tries to use a defibrillator from the car on himself. The car is also part of stunt involved 7 flips in an intense crash. This car is valued at around £90,000.

Aston Martin DB5
The iconic Bond car returns in ‘Casino Royal’ in 2006 and in ‘Skyfall’ in 2012. In ‘Skyfall’ the DB5 becomes the hero once again as James Bond uses it to rescue M from an attack by Raoul Silva before taking her to Scotland as bait to avoid the loss of more lives in London. The Aston Martin DB5 is currently valued at £1,000,000.

Aston Martin DB10
In the latest instalment of 007, the Aston Martin DB10 is introduced in 2015 in ‘Spectre’. The current value of the DB10 is £1,000,000.
If James Bond was to lease an Aston Martin DB9, it would cost him approximately £4,182.21 a month on a personal leasing plan. Similarly, if Bond were to lease an Aston Martin DB11, it would cost him approximately £3,364.10 a month.


Bering at

I’ve been back from my trip to Scotland for just over a week now, and whilst it’s nice to be back in the world of wifi, phone signal and being within walking distance of a local shop I am seriously missing the isolation, quietness and natural beauty of the North West highlands.

We spent most of our trip in a static caravan on a site in Gairloch but made a trip over to the town of Ullapool where Bob lived and worked in a hotel for some time a few years ago. We booked a room in the hotel, caught up with some of his friends and family and found it to be the perfect environment to photograph my new watch by Bering at*.

The Bering Ladies’ Classic watch is hands down the classiest watch I own. The strap is a gorgeous khaki green and the dial is rose gold simplicity- perfect for wearing day and night. Since I’ve been home I’ve been wearing it daily for work, but whilst I was away I used it as a glam accessory for our night out in the hotel.

I wish I’d taken more photos at The Ceilidh Place as it’s hands down the nicest hotel I’ve stayed in to date. There are no televisions to be found, instead the rooms have a selection of books (and there’s a book shop attached to the hotel too) and a digital radio should you need more than the silence and enjoyment of a classic novel.
The rooms are cosy, clean and the bathroom was gorgeous. We ate at the hotel restaurant and I can happily confirm the food is delicious- I highly recommend the dressed crab. We stayed on for drinks too (a great array of gin!) and of course breakfast the next day…the perfect remedy for a sore head from the night before.
There’s a lovely vibe about the place and should you find yourself in Ullapool then I do recommend a stay here, or even just booking a table for dinner in the evening. I’ll do a photo re-cap post of my Scotland trip soon, life’s been absolute chaos since I’ve been back and I’m working pretty much full time again for the first time in ages but blog posts are brewing.

In the mean time, sit back, enjoy the pictures and let me know how you’d style this watch.