O5rcB_NXbIeHbJV7JFNcdfqL-vY Mummy From The Heart...

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Review: Misfit Shine Activity Tracker

A few weeks back I received a new activity tracker to review and after having damaged one and lost another I was super pleased to receive this one and to be able to see how I am doing on the trek towards a fitter Mich.

I had not heard of the Misfit Shine before receiving this but it is a really stylish looking tracker that can be worn on the wrist, around your neck or clipped to your shoe or clothing, I like how versatile it is and boy does it look nice too.  At first I choose to try out the Shine as a bracelet and wore it on my wrist for a couple of weeks. The rubber bracelet slips into the side groove on the shine very easily and has an adjustable strap with cute press button closing the same as the shine itself.


I loved how easy the Shine was to set up and the fact that I got a very easy to follow booklet with it was a bonus too. I really appreciate when companies send you an instruction leaflet with a product as so many just expect you to go online and read that way nowadays. Basically you use the battery tool to insert the battery, download the app onto your phone, sync the phone to the app and it asks for a few basic details, gender, height and weight and that is it, you are off and can use your tracker.

As well as wearing the Shine on my wrist I wore it using the strong magnetic clip on my neckline and this was good for work as I could hide it with a scarf or under a cardie, although it is so nice looking it does not really matter if anyone sees it.


When you are wearing the Shine you can tap it twice and see how you are doing towards achieving your days goal. There are 12 lights and basically they will give you an indication of how close you are or if they all light up and dance around, you have done it and achieved your goal!

The lights can also act as a watch by telling you the hour first and then the minutes, I confess I turned this off as I was totally confused and wear a watch anyway. I'm sure some people might like it, for me it was a waste of time.

Syncing the Shine to my iPhone was easy and it also works with Android devices (selected models that run Android 4.3 and over, and have Bluetooth 4.0). You just go in the app and then tap the Shine to the display and it uploads the data via bluetooth, easy and quick and can be done anywhere as there are no leads or such, I love this as it means I can upload the data straight after a workout at the gym to see how I have done. You do need to be aware though that once it syncs it loses the progress lights and you go back to the first light, so you don't easily know how much you have done that day and how far off target you are.


I was a bit confused the first time I synced and then looked at the data in the app as it counts things in points and asks you to set a goal by points and it gives you an idea of how that might translate to walking, running etc.  I initially went for 1000 points and was consistently busting it but sadly the Shine didn't encourage me to reassess or to up my game.

In the app if you tap the inner circle where it shows the points you can see your steps, calories burned (including those your body is naturally burning just by being alive and awake) and the mileage walked. You can also see a graph at the bottom with the times of the day so you can trace when you were most active.

It is easy to move between days and if you tap the calendar icon you can see how you have done week on week and evaluate which are your more busier days and I now know I hardly move on a Monday!

If you drag up the graph you get some more data and boxes give you a little low down on how you are doing, if you were very active and for how long or you might get a trophy or personal best.  Nice little reminders that things are going well. As I said before though no mention of pulling your socks up, pushing yourself harder or doing better.


I discovered there is also a food journal part to the app and if you find it helpful you can create a visual diary of what you are eating. That would certainly remind me what I need to cut down on.

The Shine also tracks your sleep and I found this quite good as I literally continued to wear my Shine and paid no thought to it and it seemed to just go into sleep mode itself. To be honest I didn't find the data it gave me that useful but then this is not a function I was after.



Plus points
  • Excellent battery life, lasts up to 4 months and no charging necessary
  • Water resistant, so I can wear it in the shower or swimming
  • Easy to sync and immediate data
  • Looks fabulous and is super light 
  • Wristband and magnetic clip both included
Not so great
  • When you double tap it, it does not always show you your progress and once you sync it, then you tap the shine it goes back to zero and does not show you your progress against goal for the day so far.
  • The watch is really confusing

Conclusion
I love the misfit Shine it is a fabulous tracker for someone like me who wants to wear something a bit more elegant that a big chunk of rubber. It does exactly what I need it to and at around £64 on Amazon it is a good price too.


Disclosure: I received the Misfit Shine free of charge for the purpose of this review. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.

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Monday, 20 October 2014

I'm off to America for the ONE #AYASummit


As you read this post I'll be on a plane heading towards Washington, D.C.  I've never been to America before so I am super excited but in truth I'm not sure how much of it I will get to see as this isn't a sightseeing holiday.  I arrive Monday night and then I have Tuesday and Wednesday daytime before my conference starts. I have no plans, I'll just play it by ear.

I'm staying with a beautiful family in Virgina and I'll happily take their recommendations of what I should get up to. I don't know if my time will be my own or if I'll get to visit the ONE head office in DC Where Jeannine (Senior Manager for Strategic Partnerships) works, the unknown is kinda fun though, it is so not my usual style.

The AYA summit itself will draw attention to issues facing girls and women in the developing world, it will showcase both the progress against and challenges of extreme poverty. The role that everyone must play if the bold goal of virtually eliminating extreme poverty by 2030 is to be met with be highligted. ONE believe that every voice and every hand is vital, whether it is the non-profit or faith communities, businesses, governments or even individuals like you and me.

When girls and women are given the necessary education and tools, they can be change-makers within their families and communities. Through a series of talks, panels, visuals, and demonstrations, The summit will explore what it means to be born female in Africa, and what ONE (and all its members), working together with our African partners, can do to make sure that all girls and women reach their potential. The summit will bring together leaders from the non-profit, government, private sector and celebrity arenas.

Photo Credit: ONE/ Karen Walrond

You'll see me tweeting, Instagrammng and sharing on Facebook this week using the hashtag #AYASummit and if you enjoy what you read then please do share or RT my posts. Any new people we can get signed up to ONE and joining the fight against extreme poverty will be a massive plus.

I'm looking forward to learning loads of new information about what is happening in Africa at the moment and I'll be thrilled to share what I learn with you all. I'm going to be sensible and live in the moment rather than breaking my back to blog each day whilst I'm in America so I expect to post Saturday 25th Onwards, although I'm on a plane most of that day so we will see!

I hope you have a great week whilst I'm away, I know I will.

Be blessed, Mich x
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Sunday, 19 October 2014

Christmas with Baby Annabel

Isn't it funny how children go through stages? A number of years back both my twin girls had a baby doll each and lots of accompanying bits - baths, cots, prams etc. Then they just stopped playing with them and when it came time to move last year I thought I was being very efficient giving them all to charity.

Not so, as it soon materialised that Miss E in particular really wanted a new baby to care for. I think this came about as our neighbour had a newborn and she is naturally very caring and nurturing. Luckily she received a Baby Annabell to review back in August and she goes most places with us, I often wonder what on earth the noise is when I'm driving and I can hearing a sucking from the back of the car. It is of course Baby Annabell enjoying her dummy!

My girls have been super lucky to receive some new accessories to go with their Baby Annabell doll and I'll let you know how we got on with them. I think they would all make super Christmas gifts.

Baby Annabell Change Bag



Miss E was over the moon to receive the change bag, when she saw that it came with a nappy she practically squealed with delight but then when she saw it was just one she was actually quite disappointed, as she had hoped there would be a few. The bag itself is a good size and fits all the bits of paraphernalia that my daughter wants to carry round with her. There are no fidley zips or such as it just Velcro closes which is good, especially for younger children.

There are only two short handles on the bag which surprised me as it makes it difficult to go over the handle of a pushchair just like mummy's would. The girls really liked the actual styling of the bag - the design, the colours and the charm.

Also included in the bag was a change mat, mock talc bottle and a teething ring. Both the latter are sturdy plastic and look as if they are built to last but it might have been even better if the talc actually opened or had more styling to it, rather than just being a chunk of pink plastic.

The change mat is basically a small piece of edged fabric in the signature Baby Annabell print, it coordinates with the bag and the girls are quite happy with it but I'd have liked to have seen it bigger and maybe with a little quilting or padding. Small things that I think would set this change bag & accessories apart from then more run of the mill ones. When you are spending £16.99on a dolls change bag set you want it to be a really good set.

Baby Annabell Comfort Seat


There is not a lot I can say about the comfort seat, what you seeing the picture is what you get. The actual seat is a sturdy pink plastic and then it has a removable soft cover in the signature Baby Annabell design. The handle lists up and down to make it good for both carrying and storing. There is a realistic harness so the baby does not fall out as she is being carried.  This was good for when the girls wanted to take Annabel in the car and then they used the seat belt to secure her, just like a real baby!

The best price I could find for the comfort sat was £19.52 on Amazon.

Also check out my review of Baby Annabell herself and the Rocking Cradle on Honest Mummy Reviews (my other blog!)

Conclusion
These dolls accessories are no-where near the cheapest on the market but they are all nice and I think they will last a good amount of time as they are well made but more than that if they are what your daughter especially wants this Christmas then they are sure to make her happy as they have the pretty little girl factor.

Disclosure: I was sent these 2 items free of charge for the purpose of this review. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.

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Saturday, 18 October 2014

A year in photos (weeks 40-41)

Oh I have got all behind again with my year in photos posts, so here is another catch up.  I hope you find something you feel is a visual delight!

OK, so this one is not really a visual delight but it makes me smile and that's important, so here is JJ enjoying his extra long McCain chip!


My little man turned 11 at the beginning of October and he still loves his cuddlies. These were probably his favourite presents!


We went away for JJ's birthday to the beautiful Camber Sands



I had a wonderful walk along this amazing beach with Miss M and as we strolled with our arms around each other we chatted and joked. This little one knows how to make me feel loved.


I've been playing with my close ups again!



My little forager is growing out her fringe at the moment and we have hit that messy stage!


I've been out enjoying where I live again



Not a great photo as this was taken on my iPhone in very dim light but I want to remember the wonderful fun we had bowling with our pastoral group.


I joined some friends in Bexhill for a coffee and chat about what Domesticity means to us . It was a great time and as result I'll be embroidering a duster, yes really!  The sea was pretty scary that day as my friend lives right on the beach front.


I'll be joining this post up with the 365 project over at The Boy and Me.
  TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky
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Friday, 17 October 2014

Confidence and breaking chains

I choose this picture because I'm not confident about it, I see fat face and messy hair,
I suspect you might see a fun time and shared love

I've been pondering the topic of confidence quite a lot recently and then a couple of Sundays ago at church it was the topic of the sermon and that of course felt very apt. The pastor started by presenting the question 'are you confident?'

My first thought was I'm confident in Christ and His abilities but not so much in myself. On thinking more I realised that my confidence in myself is situational and the more I think about it the more I realise I have lost confidence over the years.

I actually think I'm a bit of a conundrum, as when I reflect back to years gone by I can remember times of being very confident and forward, like when I was 14 and I received bad service in our local petrol station. I asked to see the manager and told them the service there was appalling and if they employed me I would make a difference, I got the job, became a supervisor by age 15 and stayed there until I went to Uni. Definite confidence in my abilities as a worker.

Then there are other memories of being a tween at someones party and sitting hiding behind the curtain and crying for the duration of the party. I didn't think I fitted in and to be honest pondering it now I realise that I was crying out for someone to find me and care - they didn't! No confidence in whether I was likeable.

I've worked hard on this needy nature and the desire to be loved and wanted and there has been immense progress but there are still times when my insecurities raise their ugly head and I think I'm being left out on purpose or that I'm not liked. I don't enjoy being like this but there is only so much you can change yourself, so now when the 'woe is me' feeling appears I just try to apply logic and speak to trusted friends to look for the common sense.

There are probably two areas where I still lack confidence, one is in my ability of lose weight and the other is in my ability to be a good wife. I married a man who is not good at verbalising his feelings and is not very demonstrative so this makes it incredibly hard for someone like me to be secure in her marriage and feel loved. I'm always looking for ways to be a better wife and of course the difficulty there is that I apply my interpretation of what a good wife is, rather than meeting dh's needs.

The weight issue also links to this and all the time I feel fat and frumpy I limit how I interact in my relationship and how uninhibited I am willing to be. I know I miss out on opportunities because of my perception of my size. A few weeks back there was a community day where I live and lots of fun activities were organised but rather than launching myself in and enjoying the team games, rafting or rounders I hid for fear of embarrassment or being too fat/ heavy to join in. I could probably spend the whole day listing all the things I don't allow myself to join in with or try, for fear of being too fat. Total lack of confidence in my body.

I suspect that if you asked people who knew me just a bit they would say I am a ballsy and confident woman but if you asked those who know me on a deeper level they might say not so much so. It really is quite strange, you can put me in front of 150 kids in an assembly, ask me to train 50 adults or give me a near impossible work deadline and I'll get on and do these things without a care in the world. However ask me to have just a few people over for dinner, to squeeze into a crowded space or to put myself out there for a voting competition with the chance of winning a blogging award and I'll be backing away as fast as anything.

From writing this today I have come to realise that I need to explore a bit more about the areas I am confident in and those I'm not and try to find the route cause of my lack of confidence in some areas. What is it I am scared of anyway? Why do I allow myself to be held back from things that might just be fun? How can I break down these barriers and change?

Years back a really good friend once said that if I ever lost weight she would dread to think just how confident I might be, as my size was the only thing I let hold me back. I wonder if I'm scared of that legacy she spoke over me and subconsciously I worry that I won't like me anymore if I lose the weight? I think it is time to break the chains and to be a big girl and just see who I might be if I shed my protective layer.

Anyway enough navel gazing for today, what I took away from the sermon at church is that the confidence I need is in God. I must remain firm in the things that I do know, that Christ died for me, that He loves me, that He accepts me as I am and that He is sovereign and above all else.

I need to take my difficulties and turn them into prayers and when I really believe my prayers will be answered and I'm willing to do the hard work then God will answer my prayers and in His time things will change. In the meantime all these trials that I go through will help to shape me and mould me towards the person God intends me to be.

These are some reminders of bible scripture to help me along this journey -

  • Proverbs 3:26 - For the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught. 
  • 1 John 5:14 - And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 
  • Romans 15:13 - May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. 
  • John 16:23 - In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.

Does any of this resonate with you?  Are you holding yourself back because you are scared? Fancy joining me in breaking some chains?
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Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Ebola in the UK - What you need to know

Last week on my Facebook timeline a status appeared from fellow blogger Cat, it read -
Oh for god's sake! It's easier to kill than MRSA, harder to catch than CDiff and won't kill as many people as flu this year. Why are people so determined to panic? Remember when we were all going to die of swine flu in 2009? You can kill it with soap and water people, just wash your bloody hands and don't lick any sweaty ill looking people who've been in Africa in the last two weeks.
This really made me sit up and take notice, you can kill Ebola with soap and water, seriously? I had no idea and I suspect most of the rest of the British public have no idea either. So this led to a week of me reading, watching and investigating Ebola to see what I could find out.

Now obviously it is always good to question the credibility of our sources and this was the first thing Cat pointed out to me, that she is not a medical professional. However, as an NHS Manager she has a good overview and she pointed me to an article written by the American Academy of Pediatrics and thus very reputable.  Make sure you read this, it is fabulous and totally no nonsense and you will come away feeling reassured.

Photo credit: ONE.org

If you want an in-a-nutshell version, that take a look at my 'what you need to know' section below -

What is Ebola? It is a viral infection that is actually pretty hard to spread.

What are the symptoms of Ebola? Firstly there will be a sudden high temperature and then other symptoms develop like severe headache, muscle pain, weakness, diarrhoea, vomiting, stomach pain, or unexplained bleeding or bruising.

What is the onset of the virus once you catch it? The time from infection with the virus to the onset of symptoms is from 2 to 21 days (with 8 to 10 days being most common).

When does an infected person become contagious? They can infect others as soon as they begin to have symptoms.

So how does Ebola spread? It is spread by direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person (either dead or alive). Unlike other viruses it cannot be spread by air or by water. Being near a patient who is coughing or sneezing won't give you Ebola, unless their bodily fluid - saliva or mucus comes into direct contact with your eyes, nose, or mouth or an open cut, wound, or abrasion. Check out the Centre for Disease Control page for more on how Ebola spreads.

Can I catch Ebola from touching a door handle or money? The likeliness of catching Ebola via an inanimate object is highly unlikely, the dried virus only lasts a few hours on a surface but it can last a few days if carried in blood and kept at room temperature. Hospital-grade disinfection (that is household bleach to me and you) kills Ebola instantly. So with good basic cleanliness there is no need for it to spread in this manner.

How can Ebola be killed?  Here is the really great news Ebola is not a resistant virus, it can be killed by soap and water, disinfection, heat or a sanitising agent.

Why is Ebola spreading so quickly in West Africa? Sadly the health care system, sanitation, communication and transportation in the affected countries is nothing like what we have here in the UK. I watched a really interesting program on 4OD the other day about Ebola, it is part of the Unreported World series and I would highly recommend a watch if you would like a greater understanding of why Ebola is spreading so fast in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. It showed me that help came too late to these countries, that education of how it spreads and can be treated is desperately needed, that people are hiding their loved ones in the villages as they fear the treatment centres as places of sure death and that funeral rituals dictate you touch your dead loved ones. All these things add up to the rapid spread of Ebola there.

How can someone with Ebola be treated?  There is no vaccine for Ebola at the moment but Ebola can often be effectively treated in a person with an otherwise healthy immune system. Anti-nausea drugs and fluids to keep them hydrated can lead to recovery from Ebola when it is caught early. Here in the UK we have excellent health care and as long as anyone with symptoms of Ebola comes forward quickly there is no reason why they should not recover.

Do survivors become immune?  At the moment it is known that survivors of Ebola have immunity for at least ten years and they cannot pass the infection to anyone. The only thing that the virus can survive in is semen and thus any recovered male should abstain from sex or use condoms for at least three months after recovery.

What about the forecast 10,000 cases per week by Christmas, should I be scared? I don't think so, I'm really quite cross with how the media are reporting on this. When you watch the clip of WHO assistant director-general Bruce Aylward he says he predicts 5,000 to 10,000 cases per week and of course just look at this BBC news article to see it is the 10,000 figure being used. But he is not talking about cases in the UK, the majority of those cases will be in the countries that already have the mass infection or it will be in other countries with low health care provision that perhaps neighbour them.

I'll leave you with a link to an excellent article by ONE CEO Michael Elliott.

If you feel that countries like Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea deserve better then please do sign up to ONE and add your voice to the fight against extreme poverty and all the tragedies that come as part of poverty.

Next week I'll be in Washington, DC with ONE and I'll learn more about Ebola and the effect it is having on people's lives, please follow #AYASummit if you are interested to find out more.
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Tuesday, 14 October 2014

National Trust Scotney Castle, Lamberhurst Kent


A couple of weeks ago we had my parents and aunt to stay and very conveniently school had an inset day (don’t you just love it when things work out), so whilst all the other parents were musing the inconvenience of an inset day just a week after they returned to school I was thankful for the time off. It meant we could all visit a National Trust site together without the normal weekend or holiday crowds.

We choose Scotney Castle for our visit as it was fairly local but not somewhere we had been yet. Living in 1066 country has its benefits as it means we have an abundance of local castles that we can visit and enjoy.

All was going well on our journey to Scotney Castle and we followed the brown signs and turned off the A21 and then missed a turning to the right almost as soon as we had turned off. So be aware to have your eyes peeled the minute you leave the A21. Luckily we didn’t go too far and the lack of brown signs warned me I had made an error. Once on site there was a pleasant drive down a single road with plenty of passing places and then a good amount of parking at the end.

Toilets were convenient right by the parking and they were clean and well stocked. The cafĂ© was also right by the entrance and the cream tea and chocolate cake that we had along with our drinks were good and fresh. We were not bowled over by the kids packed lunch offer to be honest, normally at NT sites we have found the kids can pick their own items to go in the pack but here it was set and not very imaginative. We didn’t have any of the hot meals or the fresh to order baguettes but lots came out and they all looked very good but as you expect with National Trust sites they were not cheap, probably about £7 or £8 a piece.

We moved through admission very quickly and were given a timed entry slot to the more modern house. Luckily our slot was straight away so we headed straight in there. The kids had a fun map of the home and there was something for them to spot in each room and a bit of history that was age appropriate. There were also laminated plans for the adults and these gave more detail and history. The house is beautiful and really well kept and it provides for a good hour or so tour around it. I found each of the NT staff that we spoke to knowledgeable and helpful and many really tried to engage the children and help them out with their questions.


Once we finished our tour of the house we started walking with the aim of going to the old castle but the kids spotted a discovery centre and we had to do a stop off there. This is a self-led area with loads of great information for the kids. They enjoyed doing brass leaf rubbings, watching out the big windows for birds, checking out the animal parts and preserved butterflies in the draws and generally reading and exploring all the nooks and crannies that are stuffed with information.


Next we headed off towards the old castle and took some detours through the grounds on the way, they really are very lovely and there is lots of great space for the kids to run and explore. Loads of levels to go up and down, so they won’t get bored.

I had not realised the old castle was a ruin but you can see how beautiful it would have been when fully intact. I was really interested to read that the family that first lived there were the Ashburnhams as I now live in the grounds of their ancestral home and it seemed such a coincidence of read of them here about 30 miles away.

In all we had a lovely time, this isn’t the best NT property I’ve been to but if you have membership it is definitely worth a visit and next time we go we will take my husband and explore the grounds more as there are 770 acres of beautiful land. The only thing that let it down on the day we visited was that there was scaffolding on the new house, as the roof needed fixing after last year’s storms and then when we got to the old castle there was scaffolding on that too as they were doing their annual maintenance and to be honest if I had paid for entry I would have been complaining as you could not get an uninterrupted and pretty picture of either building (I see it is now notified on the website, it wasn’t the day we visited).


If you are not a member then the cost of visiting Scotney Castle is £13 per adult and £6.50 for a child or you can get a family ticket for £32.50.  if you like this sort of day out though I’d definitely recommend membership as we have used ours so much since I bought it in April and then I also bought membership as a gift for my parents too!

I’m not sure which NT site we will visit next, I know JJ has his eye on Chartwell as he loves learning about the second world war and as this was Churchill's home I imagine there is a good amount of information and artefact's there.


Do let me know if you have any NT recommendations for me in the Sussex, Kent, Surrey kind of areas.  Thanks, Mich x

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Monday, 13 October 2014

Socks to make you smile


I'm not big into socks, in fact most of the time I don't wear them. I'm not really sure where my dislike came from but it has been around for years and even on the coldest winter days my feet are often bare in my shoes. Socks only really ever get put on if I want to wear boots and need to stop them rubbing.

This might all be about to change though as I really am quite taken with the Chatty Feet socks that were sent through to me to review. I ordered a gift set in large and medium with the intention that one set would be for my husband and one could be shared by my son and I have as we have the same size feet but JJ might not even get a look in at this rate!

A single pair of adult sized Chatty Feet socks retails for £7 but you can buy a gift set of 4 for £21 which I think is a good deal when you consider that they have a design on both the top and bottom, they are very good quality and fabulous fun.

Chatty Feet socks are available for adults in medium (UK size 4-8) and large (UK size 8.5 - 11.5) and also for children in sizes 12-24 months (UK infant size 3.5 - 6), 2-4 years (UK infant size 7-9) and 4-7 years (UK infant size 9-12) so there is a real gap as currently you cannot buy the socks in infant size 13 and adult sizes 1-3. I have two 7 year olds and one is a size 1 and the other a size 3, so both my girls had to miss out and I'd advise anyone buying these as gifts not to go on the age guide but to check the actual size of the child's feet.  Children's socks retail for £5 a pair.


Chatty Feet socks are 75% cotton, 23% polyamide and 2% lycra. They are best washed at 30 degrees and it is recommended that you do not tumble dry or iron them (really, do some people iron socks?). I have washed mine and they were filthy as they were worn in the sloppy mud to the reenactment of the Battle of Hastings last weekend and they have come up fabulous and look as good as new, thankfully no bobbling!

Delivery of my socks was very quick by Royal mail and the costs is included in the price you pay, it should take 2-3 days in the UK and they deliver worldwide.

Chatty Feet seems a really fun family company and each month they give away free socks in their competition, so once you have a pair, wear them somewhere memorable, get a picture and share it on Twitter, FB or Instagram with the hashtag #ChattyFeet to be in with the chance of becoming a winner.

I think Chatty Feet socks are both a great product and a fun novelty and as such I'll definitely be giving some some Christmas as presents.

You can follow Chatty Feet on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.


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