Tag Archives: Blogger Challenge

What makes Sydney so dreamy?

What makes Sydney so dreamy

There are a lot of wonderful places around the globe and some of them stick in our memories more than others. Some we simply like some we don’t but there are also the ones we love; the ones that given the opportunity we would never leave; the ones where we could see ourselves living happily ever after…

One of those places for me is Sydney.

So why is Sydney so dreamy you might ask?

Well… there is the outstanding architecture, weather to die for, good food and even better drinks, 100s of great pubs with live music and so on and so on… but once you actually look behind the obvious, there are few hidden reasons which make Sydney one of the kind.

Jogging along Port Jackson Bay

Jogging along Port Jackson Bay

Wide sidewalks with stunning views of the harbour and the sea breeze wafting over you. This is the perfect place to unwind after a busy day. You are still seeing and feeling the city, but at the same time you are in sync with nature. There is something magical about that. It is a deep soul stirring moment that is quite hard to describe. The best time for a jog is just before sunset, when the “white sails” of Opera House are changing its colours and the whole city is slowly lighting up ready for the night.

Coastal walk form Coogee to Bondi Beach

Coastal walk form Coogee to Bondi Beach

One of the most wonderful things about Sydney is its location. Living there you really have no need for holidays. All you have to do is to start walking… The Coastal walk form Coogee to Bondi Beach takes about 2 hours; during this time you can see some beautiful nature, feel the warm sand under your feet, admire the sharp cliffs but you can also see this magnificent city with a whole new perspective. Far away from the noise of the city centre, from our busy lives and daily troubles… this walk can give you power and inner peace and should you make it to Bondi Beach you can admire surfers battling the force of nature.

Sydney Mardi Gras

Sydney Mardi Gras

In general Mardi Gras refers to events during Carnival, but the Sydney Mardi Gras is a bit different. The Sydney Mardi Gras celebrates gay rights. The Sydney Mardi Gras Parade is one of a kind, not only is the organization perfect but the atmosphere is truly wonderful’ you can really feel the love. This festival really underlines the character of the people of this city, their open-mindedness, tolerance and love of good times!

I love Sydney

*This post is my entry into “A Tale of three Cities” competition run by Accor


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Autumn Cupcakes for #bettabakeoff

my autumn cupcakes for #bettabakeoff

Betta Living in celebration of National Cupcake Week have challenged bloggers to come up with an innovative and interesting variation. So with the nights’ drawing in and the temperatures definitely on a downward trend culinary thoughts wander towards comfort foods and homely foods. In light of this I would like to offer my take on an Autumnal Cupcake.

Turn your oven on to 180C and let warm up

Prepare your cupcake trays and line them with paper forms.

Ingredients for the cupcakes:

  • 2 large carrots; grated
  • 3 large eggs
  • 200ml sunflower oil
  • 220g brown sugar
  • 250g plain flour
  • 1.5tsp baking powder
  • 0.5tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 0.5tsp ground ginger
  • 0.5tsp ground nutmeg
  • A handful almonds; chopped
  • Pinch of salt

Ingredients for the decorations:

  • 200ml whipped cream
  • 125g mascarpone cheese
  • 1.5tblsp icing sugar
  • 1 large carrot
  • 250ml water
  • 220g caster sugar
  • Orange food colouring


Sieve the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the baking powder and the bicarbonate of soda.

Now add the spices (cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger) and the pinch of salt and mix well.

In a second bowl gentle whisk the eggs together mix in the oil; sugar, grated carrots and vanilla extract, you are wanting the ingredients to be just combined.

Now add your wet ingredients to your dry ones and throw in the chopped almonds and combine gently.

Spoon into your paper cupcake forms, you should have enough mixture for 18 cupcakes.

Place into your preheated oven for 20-25minutes or until golden brown and a wooden toothpick comes out clean when stuck into your cupcake.

Turn the oven down to 110C.

1. Autumn Cupcakes for #bettabakeoff

Allow the cupcakes to cool as we get ready to start creating the decorations.

2. Autumn Cupcakes for #bettabakeoff

Wash your carrot and peel it and dry with some kitchen roll. With a sharp knife you can turn half the carrot into julienne pieces and the other half into wafer thin leaves, or if you are like us who have good but not stunning knife skills then drag out your Oxo Chef’s Mandolin Slicer (other makes are available) and it’s done in seconds.

Add the sugar to the water in a heavy based saucepan and put on a low heat. Stir until all the sugar has dissolved. Add all the pre-cut carrot pieces to the pan and boil gently for 10-15 minutes.

Sieve the carrots to remove the excess water and place on a baking tray that is lined with baking paper, space them out so they each have lots of space. Place in the oven 20-25minutes.

3. Autumn Cupcakes for #bettabakeoff

Remove them from the oven and allow to cool. Once cool you want to roll the leaf shaped pieces around something like a skewer to help form the curl shape. The julienne pieces you want to tie together into knots. Once all the pieces are formed pop them back into the oven for another 20 minutes, we are wanting them to be very dry.

Whip the cream until stiff peaks form and then add then fold in the mascarpone cheese and the sugar. Split your cream if desired so that different colours can be added, we have created a nice orange cream to accentuate the cupcake base.

So we should now have 18 lovely baked cupcakes, a tray of carrot decorations and a bowl of topping.

Now all that is left to do is find your piping bag and let your imagination run riot.

Have fun and enjoy!

4. Autumn Cupcakes for #bettabakeoff7. Autumn Cupcakes for #bettabakeoff6. Autumn Cupcakes for #bettabakeoff


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Aviva Stress Less Challenge: Week 3

So three weeks have passed and my challenge is coming to an end. During this time I listened, I read and I tried to implement the changes in order to follow the tips given to me by the Aviva experts.

Last week I told you that I will share with you my week 2 tips, so here they come:

Work-life balance from Dr Doug

“Undertake a mind experiment and place yourself as the boss telling your ‘stressed self’ what they need to do. What would you say to an employee who was in your position? How would you prioritise their work, give them support, help manage their time and workload better? By placing yourself in a different role helps to put a different perspective on how you should deal with your work-life balance”.

Wellbeing from Dr Doug

“When you’re feeling overloaded or unsure what you need to do for the best outcome, change your focus for a bit to help you get a different perspective on a situation – do something different to what you’ve been doing e.g. make and enjoy a cup of coffee or take the dogs for a short walk. It will also improve the way you’re feeling as well as helping you be better placed to make the right decisions”.

Fitness from Mike, Billy and Jonny

“If you need some extra motivation to exercise challenge yourself by having a finish goal for example a 10km walk/run for charity. Tell your followers about it and share your progress. By doing this you won’t want to let yourself, your family or friends down especially if they’re sponsoring you”.
“Finish off each exercise session with a series of callisthenics exercises, e.g. press-ups, sit-ups and lunges to get more variation of exercises for the body”.

Diet from Paddy

“There’s a number of foods you could try to help you sleep. Foods rich in tryptophan will help as these help serotonin and melatonin, which are our brains ‘sleep chemicals’. For example turkey, spinach and halibut could help”.

I like the tips from week 2; actually I like them all.

The diet tip from Paddy is especially useful as I had no idea what tryptophan even was before I read this tip. I researched it a bit and I found that a lack of tryptophan can cause depression 😦 It looks like tryptophan is very important. Other foods which contain a high content of tryptophan are: eggs, cod, soybeans (raw), cheese especially Parmesan and cheddar, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and many more.

But my favourite tip by far is the second week’s wellbeing tip from Dr Doug – when you start feeling like you’re losing it, take a time out! It makes a lot of sense but so very often when I am stuck with something I tend to just keep going despite totally losing it at times. I tried to follow the “time out” rule last week and it does help. A little break will give you some perspective as to the task at hand and when you return to it everything seems so much simpler and far less complicated.

The aim of the challenge was to both reduce stress and to be better prepared to deal with stress. The Aviva experts think that a small change for a long time will help you to achieve it, so I am committing myself to a time out rule for a lifetime. When I feel like I am stuck in the muck I will take a short break and try to regroup. Hopefully this will allow me to clear my head a little and once I return to my original task it will not be so gloomy.

Will you commit to a small change which can benefit you over a lifetime?

What do you think about the tips I have received from the Aviva experts?

Do you have any special ways to deal with stress?

Aviva #StressLess Challenge

* I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network Research Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity.


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Aviva Stress Less Challenge: Week 2


I think the fact that I am taking part in this challenge is stressing me a bit. On one hand I have fantastic tips to follow which are supposed to help me be less stressed but on the other hand… I am stressing about whether I am not so stressed…

Does it make any sense?

I hope it does.

Anyway, I am on week 2 of my challenge and I have all the tips which are coming my way.

On my first week I received 3 tips:

Work-life balance from Dr Doug

“You say that the best thing about your job is not having a boss but actually you sound like you have a very demanding boss who wants you to do lots of things – you! You put pressure on yourself to do everything. Try to remember everything does not have equal importance rather than thinking everything has to be done.  Make sure that what you have on your to-do lists are things which you have to do – this helps reduce the list and pressure. Overall, it sounds that whilst you report high levels of stress, in many ways this is your normal state – consider whether you really want to make significant changes if this has always been the case”.

Wellbeing from Dr Doug

“Sleep is essential to help you be better prepared to tackle stress. Prepare yourself for  a good night’s sleep by having some relaxing time before bed. Avoid anything which makes your mind active such as online gaming and turn off your laptop or mobile devices so they don’t distract you from slumber”.

Diet from Paddy

“To get extra portions of your 5 a day in your diet, try different vegetarian dishes. Roasted vegetables are a great accompaniment to any meal you make, just chop up your favourite vegetables, add some seasoning and herbs of your choice and put in the oven until cooked. Try changing the seasoning for added variety”.

So what do I think about my week one tips?

Diet tip is a bit to sketchy for me. I think on most days I do get 5 a day and I do not agree that roasted vegetables go with any meal… Yes, I know I am hard to please…

… However I must agree with Dr Doug, especially regarding my sleep routine. Normally I would go to bed and then play a puzzle game or a round of scrabble, which is not helping me to calm down and more importantly keeping my brain activities quiet… therefore I wanted to follow this tip religiously so I decided it was time for a change: no mobiles allowed in or near the bed; to my surprise it really helps. Now instead of staring at my mobile I will have a “quiet” conversation with Mark (he always asks me why am I shouting when he is right next to me) and just drift off. It is much easier now to fall asleep.

I received 4 more tips for week two, which are actually quite interesting… The diet tip from Paddy is definitely my favourite one, but let me try them out for a week and I will tell you all about them in seven days’ time.

For now… stay calm and #stressless!

* I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network Research Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity.


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Aviva Stress Less Challenge: Week 1

Can you cure stress?Aviva stresses of life getting to you

Most likely not, but you can for sure reduce its occurrence and intensity.

I am a “stress monkey”. I stress too often, too much and most likely about things which I can do nothing about it… but I do not think that I am a lost cause because I am aware of my high stress state and I would love to change it. I think admitting that you have a problem is the first step to getting better 🙂

The Aviva team have joined up with Mumsnet to run a Stress Less Challenge with 10 UK bloggers. I was one of the lucky 10 chosen to be a part of it.

Aviva Stress Less Challenge Questionnaire

It all started with a long questionnaire about me, my lifestyle, my eating habits, work, home, hobbies etc… Based on the content of my answers, I received a bunch of tips to follow which should in theory allow me to stress less.

Aviva say “Armed with our experts ranging from a doctor, nutritionist and rugby coach we want to help you achieve a healthier and less stressed you. We want to give you some truly personalised health tips to try for 2 weeks aiming to commit to at least one for a lifetime. A small change for a big health benefit”.

My week 1 tips were about work-life balance, wellbeing and diet. They were very accurate and for sure were tailored specifically for me. “You say that the best thing about your job is not having a boss but actually you sound like you have a very demanding boss who wants you to do lots of things – you!” Lol this is so true! This is part of my problem. I want to do it all by myself. Everything has to be perfect and done now…

For as long as I can remember I have been in this high level of stress state and Dr Doug picked up on it. It was suggested to me that maybe I do not really want to change… I do! I really do! I want nothing more but to stress less and be able to relax easier and I am determine to change, so I will follow my tips and let’s hope I can stress less.

Wish me luck and I will keep you posted on the progress.

Aviva Put the spring back in your step

* I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network Research Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity.


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Out With The Old… In With The New! – Let there be light!

Out With The Old… In With The New Banner

Furniture Choice is currently running a pretty cool blogger competition. They will award £500 to one lucky winner to spend on any item / items they want from their website. All you have to do is to blog what and why you need it.

As our house is still a “work in progress” I couldn’t just walk away from the chance of getting something new replaced in our home.

Having had a very long browsing session through their website I settled on giving some love to our kitchen. Our kitchen needs replacing as a whole but we made a partial make-over a few years back by restoring all the units. We removed the wall between the kitchen and the dinner room creating a lovely open plan space. It looks good and we are pleased with it except for one small corner…

Out With The Old

We do not use this door into the conservatory simply because on the other side of it is a huge dog bed. This set up although not ideal, works for us… all we have to do is to walk a few steps further and enter the conservatory via the old dining room double doors. Using the space the way we are also gives us much needed storage space… but as you can see from the attached picture not a pretty one 😦 We have a long standing plan to replace those cheap units, which originally (years back) were in the office, with something much more stylish and that match the rest of the room. Our final goal is ideally to replace all the kitchen cabinets with oak ones so my pick from Furniture Choice seems to be the perfect dream match, which will stand up to our future, long term plans.

Behold Michigan Oak 2 Door Sideboard

In With The New

Pretty isn’t it?

I really think this is the perfect piece of furniture for us, being much lower (only 80cm) than our current furnishing in this corner will allow all the light usually blocked by the units to flow into the kitchen. I can visualise this set up in my head and I am sure it would be lovely.

Out With The Old… In With The New

What do you think? Will it work as well as I am imagining it?


Filed under Home and Garden, What's new

The Internet – Love it or Fear it?

Dear Mr Know It All,

Today I have a special question for you…

Do you remember life without the Internet? Sure you do, it wasn’t so long ago 🙂

Was it easier back then? Most likely not, but it was for sure much more secure. Now with all the knowledge and endless information streams just a click away I cannot even imagine going back to hard copy books, dictionaries, encyclopaedias etc…  That said, “back in the day” I didn’t have the worries and fears that I experience now.

Well whether you do or not, whether you prefer “back in the day” or embrace the new digital age have you considered this…

I work using the internet every day, same would say I am addicted to it and would not survive long without it, whether it be on my main PC, laptop or my Smartphone, I check it almost constantly – there is always something happening out there in the ether and I want to be a part of it, all of it! I have developed a low level worry that I will miss something but this is not the real problem… No, the real problem comes with security… security of my data, my personal information and most of all my precious pictures and documents I store on various devices which are connected to the Internet.

This is my biggest fear – losing my data. Who had that problem in the eighties?

Yes, I know that you can get anti-virus programs and yes I know that you can run additional scans but I know from my own experience that sometimes this just isn’t enough. In the last five years we have lost two HDD (Hard Disk Drives) to a Trojan. Ok, so we still have the discs full of data and we hope one day someone, somewhere will be able to recover it for us, but for this moment everything that is on them is lost for me… years of pictures, years of other stuff which I want back at some point! After the first HDD crash we bought an expensive, paid for legitimate anti-virus software and downloaded loads of other weird programs that only really make sense to technical people, which where supposed to help with protection… yes, it was good up to the point when something new attacked our PC. After the second HDD wipe, we did more or less the same with one big addition this time, we bought a huge external drive where we backed up our most important or valuable data. So far it is working but I think maybe cloud storage is the way to go… not sure, still doing my research on that matter.

But this is not the end of my online fears, as long as I believe I am doing all that is in my power to protect my own devices and make them as secure as possible in attempt to avoid any data lost, that fear subsides. Now what about the Internet itself…

What about something most of us use everyday like your email address. My main email address is very dear to me! Not only does it have all my contacts but also 1000s and 1000s of emails most with information which is very important, to me… ok, so there is a selection of jokes, funny pictures etc but I still want to keep them… Is our data stored in this way secured? I guess up to a point it is, but I remember a few years back there was a problem. My email crashed and with it everything that was there. There was no option of recovery… a so called unexpected error… no matter how many times I sent a begging email, there was only one reply coming back… we are very sorry for any inconvenience this might have caused… Again we can back it up, but no back up is 100% secure…

So this is my main fear related to the Internet.

I say main because there is much more I fear… I fear hacking and loosing access to my own various accounts, I fear hacking and having my bank accounts wiped clean, I fear identity theft, I fear accidently getting into site with inappropriate or prohibited content and being flagged somewhere by Big Brother, so I have a lot of latent fears every time I power up my computer but now there is no going back! One thing I can do is to learn how to protect myself and my data, ensure that all security protocols are in place and hope for the best.

So, to answer my own question: The Internet – Love it or Fear it?

The answer is: both.

I love it because it gives my freedom, it gives me access to the largest depository of knowledge ever assembled by mankind in all his history, it allows me to stay in touch with friends whom I otherwise wouldn’t have any contact with, it allows me to learn new things every day, it allows me to answer any question I can think of, within seconds and resolve debates about who is right and all this amounts to one thing it gives me power, but I do fear it and I try to my best to minimize the risk.

What do you think?

Are my fears reasonable?

Or am I being a drama queen?

So Mr Know It All: How do you feel about the Internet now – Love it or Fear it?

Yours sincerely

Aninter Netaddict


This post is my entry into the Check and Secure challenge. For more advice on family safety online, see Mums on Security.


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Currys PC World Blogger Gift Guide Challenge #bloggergiftguide

2013 gift guide

Less than a week to go! That is all and then Christmas Day will be here!… and with it hopefully comes tons of gifts, festive foods and an abundance of love.

Most of us struggle every year with the choice of gift for our loved ones. Some of us have it easier than others but we all face the same problem –

what to buy?

where to buy it from?


how to pay for it?

There is a lot of gift guides out there and they can really help us with our selection or if nothing else inspire ideas and options you may not have thought about before. This year Mark and I have decided that we will drop personal gifts on account of getting something bigger for the house that all of us can enjoy. Our choice wasn’t easy as we want a lot – TV for the kids room, so we don’t have to spend hours starring at kiddie movies, new oven for the kitchen as the existing one is falling to pieces, so cooking can be a pleasure again, new coffee machine which will allow us to enjoy a perfect cup of coffee every morning, tablet, as everyone seems to have one except us… and the list can go on and on… But as we are not millionaires and funds are limited at present, we had to narrow it down to a few things, things which we will make the most use of or something we really need opposed to wanting. We cut our loooong list down to 3 main items; we need to get for ourselves.

So here it is – My Dream Wish List for Christmas 2013 (in no particular order)

Our Dream New Laptop

Our Dream New Laptop

Currently we have a work PC and an old XP based laptop. We have no tablet (I wish we had, don’t know why but I am sure I need one) and sometimes we struggle. Too often, too many household members want or need to do something on the net. With me occupying the main PC almost 24/7 (work, you know :-)) there is only 1 laptop to go around. In light of this we really need a new one. Samsung ATIV Book 9 Lite looks perfect. It ticks all the boxes of what we were looking for.

Our Dream New Mixer

Our Dream New Mixer

As you all know Mark cooks and bakes a lot. We have a mixer but it is 10 years old now and it simply cannot handle what Mark wants it to do, “Not fit for purpose” he mumbles a lot.  You might think that this choice will be more a gift for Mark, but … not really. If he doesn’t bake lovely bread, delicious cookies, make us donuts, cakes, cheesecakes or any of the other yummy stuff we will have nothing nice to eat… so you see, it is in the best interest for all of us to get Mark a new mixer, he’s happy and therefore we are happy. We did a lot of research and the KitchenAid seems to be the one to get, Mark is forever pointing them out on the TV on cook shows. We are going for a red one, so it can match our other kitchen accessories like the kettle, toaster and microwave oven.

Our Dream – PS4

Our Dream – PS4

Yes, you might think this is just an extravagance to want a PS4 when we have PS3 and for example need a new oven but… we are cave people… so we really need it. A lot of our entertainment is home based. We have all consoles out there (except for new PS4 and Xbox One), gaming PC and 100s of DVD – this is the way we spend our free time. We don’t do “going out” so often. We invest in our home entertainment and a PS4 seems to be next logical step.

So here you go… this is what we want to find under Christmas tree this year.

What about you?

What is on top of your Christmas Wish List?


This post is my entry into Currys PC World Blogger Gift Guide Challenge #bloggergiftguide. If you wish to take part please hurry as it ends on Friday 20 December 2013 at 11:59pm.


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Humans desperately seek sleeping space

The other day when I spotted the Silentnight Spring Bedroom Makeover Challenge notice, I began to day dream. Imagine a big space, a big bed in the middle, sheets all white and crisp, net curtains billow gently in the breeze as the sun streams in through the vast window. The furniture is stylish and modern and sparkles with newness, space, air and freedom emanate from every corner of the dream… I say a dream, for that is what it is for this is not to be in our lives, reality is a cruel mistress. Let me explain….

We are the proud owners of the following collection of beasties. Heading up the pack is 65kgs of drooling black mass called Bunk, a Newfoundland fully grown male. Lady of the house, Lilly, is 35kgs of leggy blonde Labrador throw in a ginger and black tomcat both weighing in at 5kgs each and we are tipping the scales at 110kgs or bodies.

Zoo in the bed

There is a small ZOO in my bed

We are also the proud owner of a standard double bed replete with scroll back faux leather and an old mattress that still has some life in it once you find the right position.

On a typical day, when it comes to that time when sleep wins the battle, another battle begins in our house. There will for sure be the two cats and Lilly on the bed, snoring, legs akimbo without a care in the world. If the house is cold, say anytime in the last 6 months there is a good chance that in the middle of the bed will be Bunk. One well placed “OI!” and the two dogs begrudgingly remove themselves to the foot of the bed where they take up their sat and alert positions, watching. The two cats have to be physically placed on the floor with a heartfelt “pshhhht “ to discourage any attempts at returning to their warm spots. We remove the pet blanket to reveal a nice hair free bed and climb in to enjoy the warm patches that the former occupiers left. I would like to mention though that this is not a moment of relaxation, oh no, not even a little bit. A momentary loss of concentration and a re-enactment of the English rugby squad all diving on a loose ball comes to pass as all 110kg of bodies leap back onto the bed.

Ding Ding Seconds Out Round 1

Ding Ding Seconds Out Round 1

Let battle commence.

Every square cm of space becomes contested land, the constant ebb and flow of gain and loss. A well timed stretch from a dog can push a cat up to half a bed away, but wait a human fills the gap with a leg, foiled. A good tug on the quilt can cause a stretched out dog to roll thus freeing up valuable space.

I so wish for more bed space

I so wish for more bed space

In time heat makes Bunk give up and go downstairs to the cool, Lilly decides that she wants to sleep not fight for space and leaves to find a chair somewhere less contested. A gentle slow extension of a leg can result in the satisfying bump of a cat leaving the bed, success is near! Open the window and the last incumbent leaves; the bed is ours at last. Now, we can relax, yes tired, but once again, victory. A blissful night sleep lay ahead only interrupted by Ginger banging on the window to be let in, then out, in, out, wait a minute I want in, no out, no in… always the wrong side of a door or window, and unbelievably lucky he has made 5 years of age.

So what would I do to make my bedroom better? Ideally talk a bed making company into building a 2 tier bed with a raised section for humans and a lower section at the foot of the bed for beasties. (rough plans attached)

Our Dream Bed

Our Dream Bed with humans only zone

Failing that buy a bigger bed and a cat flap.

Oh and I don’t like the shade on the main light, would definitely replace that….

* This blog post is part of the Silentnight Spring Bedroom Makeover Challenge


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