Monday, 24 July 2017

Review - Pet Munchies dog treats

Pet Munchies make a wide range of natural dog treats. They are naturally low in fat and carbohydrates, so they are also very healthy for your dogs. Pet Munchies very kindly sent us three packets of treats for the dogs to try, so here is our review.

Product description 

Pet Munchies are premium, gourmet treats made with quality, human grade real meat and fish. All of their interesting treats are natural hand cuts that preserve the flavours of the finest chicken, duck, liver, venison, lamb and ocean white fish.
They naturally enhance their flavour by slow roasting them in their own natural juices..
Delicious, Nutritious and Wholesome… all made with 100% Natural  human grade meat and fish, Just like nature made them, with natural textures, flavours and exceptional palatability dogs love.
Today's consumers are demanding natural healthy products for their pets. And that's what you'll get with a Pet Munchies - the brand you can trust.
Their products are naturally low in fat & carbohydrates, and are low in salt. They are delicately roasted to perfection to ensure quality and flavour. No artificial colours or flavours are in their products.

Product links

You can see the range of natural meat treats here. They also have a range of salmon skin treatsgourmet stixtraining treats and 100% natural freeze dried treats for cats.


Pet Munchies have a wide range of different dog treats. They vary in size, texture and flavour, but they all have two things in common - they are all 100% natural and they are all extremely tasty! Our dogs tried three varieties of Pet Munchies treats - chicken strips, duck strips and venison strips.

Elgin trying a pet munchies venison stick.

The chicken strips and the duck strips are both 100% chicken/duck, so they are obviously very appealing to dogs - I don't know many dogs who will turn down 100% meat treats! The venison strips were a bit thicker than the other flavour strips, and they looked and smelt very 'meaty' so the dogs were instantly interested in them. They are made from quality venison fused with beef liver, and they are also 100% natural.

As soon as I opened the packets of treats, the dogs were super excited. Both Elgin and Cherry have very expressive faces and you can easily tell if they love the smell and taste of treats - and they definitely loved all three flavours of these treats! Cherry the beagle was literally spinning in circles with excitement after she tasted her first Pet Munchies treat! I had absolutely no chance of getting any photos of Cherry eating the treats as she simply wouldn't stay still. Both Cherry and Elgin ate the treats very quickly, they only lasted a few seconds, but they really enjoyed them.

I then borrowed one of my brother's lurchers, Skipper, so that he could try the Pet Munchies treats. The Skipper Challenge is usually quite a tough one as he's quite a fussy dog, but Pet Munchies passed the test with flying colours. After initially licking the chicken strips he soon discovered that they were very tasty and quickly devoured them. His favourite flavour seemed to be the venison which was Elgin and Cherry's favourite too.

Fussy Skipper loved the meat strips, especially the venison flavour.

The dogs ate most of the treats whole as extra special rewards, but I also broke some of them up to use as training treats. The chicken and duck strips broke up easily, but I had to use a knife to slice the venison ones as they were slightly thicker. The Pet Munchie strips made brilliant high value training treats for Elgin - he was so keen to earn a tasty treat that he learnt a new task very quickly. They also made great rewards for successful recalls when we were in the park, both Elgin and Cherry quickly returned to a call or whistle so that they could have a piece of the venison strips. The treats didn't break up in my treat bag either, so they didn't make a mess of the bag like biscuit based treats often do.

All of the dogs were crazy about Pet Munchies treats - they were very, very popular! The treats were very happy with the taste of the treats, and I was very happy that they were natural and healthy. I'll definitely be buying some more of these in the future and I'll also get some of the other varieties for the dogs to try. Elgin, Cherry and Skipper all highly recommend these treats.

Rating - the venison, duck and chicken strips all receive 5/5 stars 

Disclosure - I received three free packets of treats for the purpose of an unbiased review.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

French bulldog most desired designer dog to buy online, new figuresreveal

New figures reveal sheer scale of online puppy market - and increasing problems of unscrupulous breeders and dealers

French bulldogs are the most searched-for breed for sale online, new figures released today by Gumtree and the RSPCA reveal. 
As new figures show there were more than 66,000 searches for the fashionable breed in just one month (February 2017) on the popular classified online marketplace, closely followed by Labradors and pugs, the RSPCA is highlighting the risks and realities of buying puppies on the internet. 

The figures also reveal that the use of online websites to sell and rehome dogs has exploded within the last decade as Gumtree recorded a 785% increase in the number of dogs being listed on its site in Great Britain in the past 10 years (2007-2016)*.
Teaming up with Gumtree, the RSPCA has warned buyers to take care when looking for dogs online as the internet can provide the perfect marketplace for the unscrupulous puppy trade which puts profit over welfare.
“These figures are hugely concerning as they show the sheer number of people using the internet to buy and sell dogs. These are living, sentient creatures, which are being traded as easily as a second-hand car or a piece of furniture,” Justine Williams, from the RSPCA, said.
“While classified websites, if used responsibly, can be an effective method of advertising for responsible breeders and rescue organisations, sadly, far too many people abuse the internet and this has led to many animal welfare issues arising.
“The web provides the perfect marketplace for unscrupulous breeders and dealers to advertise puppies without arousing suspicion. And traders are finding clever and cunning ways to fool not only the buyers, but also the websites themselves. 
“The RSPCA has found that 87% of calls it receives on puppy trade issues are those where the puppy was bought online.”
Gumtree’s research shows that in just one month (February 2017), almost 10,000 listings were posted on the site advertising dogs, while there were more than 286,000 searches by prospective buyers for ‘puppies for sale’. And over a year, 204,182 adverts for dogs were posted on the classified site. 
“Whilst most people have safe and successful experiences rehoming dogs on Gumtree, there are a minority of unscrupulous breeders and dealers who put profit ahead of the health and welfare of the animals,” Morten Heuing, general manager at Gumtree UK, said.
“We take the welfare of animals very seriously and work hard to ensure our site is a safe place to find pets in need of rehoming. Our dedicated safety team takes steps to make it as hard as possible for illegal traders to operate on the site. For example, we do not allow ‘wanted’ ads in our ‘Pets’ category and we delete any ads we believe are encouraging or indicate signs of animal cruelty. If users have concerns about an ad on our site, they can use the ‘Report an Ad’ button on our website and our safety team will then investigate it.
“Furthermore, Gumtree works closely with the RSPCA and the Pet Advertising Advisory Group
(PAAG)*** to help educate users on how to buy pets safely and responsibly. Gumtree’s own Pet Advice Hub includes lots of useful advice for people looking to buy a new pet or find a home for a pet they already own.”
Top ten searched breeds
Based on data from Gumtree (February 2017)
Search term  Number of searches
French bulldog  66,439
Labrador  57,771
Jack russell  55,013
Pug  48,296
German shepherd  47,406
Chihuahua  47,110
Dachshund  44,341
Pomeranian  37,690
Yorkshire terrier  35,829
Shih tzu  33,109
The most searched for breeds included pugs, chihuahuas, dachshunds, Pomeranians and Yorkshire terriers, each attracting more than 35,000 searches. The RSPCA fears the soaring demand for these fashionable breeds is fuelling the puppy trade as demand drastically outstrips the numbers coming to market via legitimate and responsible sources.

Last year, the UK’s largest and oldest animal welfare charity saw its busiest year tackling the underground puppy trade, receiving more calls than ever from people reporting questionable breeders and dealers. 
The RSPCA is seeing a steady rise in the number of complaints coming in about the illegal puppy trade and, in 2016, dealt with 6% more calls than the previous year, and 132% more than five years before**. 
RSPCA chief inspector Ian Briggs, who leads the charity’s special investigations into the puppy trade, said: “There’s huge demand for certain breeds of dogs that have been popularised and, as responsible breeders struggle to keep up with demand, underground breeders and traders are filling the gap in the market and are offering buyers the chance to buy puppies at cheaper prices and without waiting lists - often with disastrous consequences. 
“This is the price of poor puppy breeding - buyers faced with sick and dying puppies who need intensive treatment or lifelong behavioural support; a surge in these breeds coming into the care of rescue centres from people who did not do their research before taking on a dog that requires a lot of time and commitment; and an increase in the number of these breeds being abandoned either because, as puppies, they didn’t sell or became poorly, or as breeding stock they couldn’t produce litters anymore. Organisations like the RSPCA are left picking up the pieces, and the animals are paying the ultimate price - often with their lives.
“That’s why we’re urging families considering getting a puppy over the summer holidays to be cautious when choosing who and where to buy from and - as hard as it may be - to walk away and contact the RSPCA or the local authority if something doesn’t seem right. 
“Anyone looking to buy a puppy should use the Puppy Contract to help ensure they are buying a happy and healthy dog.” 
The RSPCA has released a video warning buyers what to look out for, and is encouraging prospective buyers to consider rehoming a dog from a rescue centre. 
If you’re concerned about a breeder, please contact the RSPCA’s 24-hour emergency hotline on 0300 1234 999. And to help the RSPCA continue investigating the illegal puppy trade and rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming dogs saved from puppy farms please visit: or text LOVE to 87023 to give £3 (Text costs £3 + one standard network rate message). 

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Review - Stainless Steel Water Bottle by Dubblin

I purchased this product at a discounted rate for the purpose of an unbiased review.

Water bottles are so useful, I'm sure most of us have at least one in our kitchen cupboards. I use them a lot, both in the home and when I'm out and about. As a wheelchair user it can be awkward carrying glasses of water from one room to another, so after getting fed up of spilling my drinks everywhere I started to use water bottles instead. They are also very useful for taking cold drinks with you on walks, to work etc. I was happy to have the chance to review the Dubblin stainless steel water bottle as I immediately liked the look of it when I saw it online.

Product description 

  • LEAK PROOF - Our air tight screw lid ensures your bag stays dry no matter how active your lifestyle is.
  • BPA FREE - By using natural stainless steel as oppose to plastic we ensure your water is toxin free.
  • TEMPERATURE CONTROL - With a thermal vacuum double wall built in, your liquid stays warm for 12h and cold for 24h.
  • LIFETIME DURABILITY - With over 9 years of experience manufacturing water bottles, we source the most premium metals and ensure our production is exceptional.
  • 500ml/18 oz

Price - £14.99

Purchase Link 


The Dubblin water bottle is available in a variety of colours, I chose mint blue and it looks great. I must say that this is a very stylish looking bottle, it looks much nicer than all of my other bottles. It has quite a tall, slender shape that even with my poor hand strength and dexterity is comfortable to hold. The lid is also easy to unscrew and it has a leak proof seal. I have tested this out my carrying it around in my wheelchair bag, and I've given it to my assistance dog to carry in his little bag for me when I needed my hands to propel my manual wheelchair. So far the leak proof claim has proved to be true, with no leaks at all, even when it was jostled around in the bag. This is very important to me as I've recently had a water bottle leak in my wheelchair bag and it a real pain as I find it difficult to clean out.

As this bottle has a double thermal wall it will keep liquids cold or warm for a long time. The company claims it will keep cold drinks cold for 24 hour and warm drinks hot for 12 hours. I admit to being dubious about this but I've tested this claim and can confirm that it is 100% true - infact it kept my fruit juice cold for longer than 24 hours. It's so nice to be able to have a lovely cool drink when out and about in this hot weather we're currently having, it really does feel like you've just taken the bottle from the fridge. 

This bottle is slightly more expensive than I'd normally pay, but having compared this bottle to my usual cheaper bottles I'd definitely buy another one of these bottles at the full price. Cheaper bottles have proven to be a false economy as they never seem to last very long. The Dubblin stainless steel water bottle is top quality and very durable, I'd definitely recommend it.

Rating- 5/5 stars 

Monday, 17 July 2017

Little dog has major surgery after swallowing lollipop stick duringheatwave

During what may be the hottest June since 1976, a dog was admitted to Blue Cross after she was spotted swallowing a lollipop stick in one gulp. The five-year old Shih tzu’s owner contacted the charity’s Grimsby animal hospital where she needed surgery to remove the stick
Vets first tried to make Amy sick but the stick did not appear. She was put on a drip and given an anaesthetic for an endoscopy to be performed. Vets could see but not retrieve the lolly stick so Amy needed surgery for it to be removed.
Tracy Nicholson, Blue Cross vet Nurse at Grimsby said: “We can’t blame Amy for trying to keep cool in this hot weather but there are safer ways to do it than gobbling up the remains of a lolly. When she first arrived she was happy and quite pleased with herself but she would have become very poorly and could even have died. Thankfully her owners saw what she did and we were able to save her.”

Happily, Amy has since made a full recovery and is safely back home with her family, who are keeping their icy treats well out of her reach.
Amy’s owner Zoe Weakley from Cleethorpes said: “As a nurse myself I knew swallowing the stick whole would not be good for Amy. She is quite a greedy dog and does tend to eat her food in one gulp so I’m not completely surprised she did this. We will be keeping an even closer eye on her from now on.”
Zoe is taking part in the Beacon trail half marathon in the grounds of Beacon Hill Country Park to help raise funds for Blue Cross. To support her visit and search Zoe Weakley.
For advice on keeping dogs cool during the heatwave visit
To find out more about Blue Cross animal hospital in Grimsby, to make a donation towards the care of sick and injured pets, or see cats needing a new home in the area visit

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Review - Top Collar dog treats

I have to admit that my memory is atrocious! So it's not really surprising that I often forget to buy things until I've nearly run out - and much to Elgin and Cherry's horror than includes dog treats. I find it difficult to get to shops (I'm a wheelchair user and live in a rural area where a lot of shops aren't wheelchair accessible) so I order most things online - and every month I seem to have to do an emergency order of dog treats and pay for next day delivery! So imagine my delight in discovering Top Collar, a fortnightly subscription service that delivers a pack of tasty handmade treats to your door every two weeks.

Purchase Link


£5.99 per box (including postage)

Scroll down further to find out how you can get your first box FREE (just pay £1 for P & P)


When you sign up to Top Collar you are asked to upload a photo of your dog. This photo is used on the envelope's address label, which I think is a lovely personal touch, Elgin must have recognised himself as he seemed to know the parcel was for him - or maybe it was the smell of the treats that convinced him it was for him!

The treats arrive in an envelope with a personalised address label 

Each fortnight a different flavour of treats is sent, and I must say that the flavours are very inventive and different from the norm. Elgin was sent Pork Pie flavour which sounded very tasty, even to me! Other flavours that I've seen photos of on Top Collar's Instagram page include meatloaf, Sunday roast, full English and cheese board. The treats are all made with healthy natural, human grade ingredients and they are all wheat and gluten free.

"Mummy please can you stop taking photos and let me eat my treats?!"

Elgin absolutely loved these treats, he would have eaten the whole pack of I'd let him! They are heart shaped biscuits and are a nice size for a special treat. They looked good, very natural like you'd make at home - if I was any good at baking that is! They had a nice smell to them, that unlike some other treats, didn't smell artificial or overpowering. They were certainly very popular with Elgin.

Because his photo was on the packaging, Elgin was convinced that they should only be for him! But he was a good boy and shared with his sister Cherry. They made Cherry very happy and excited - so excited that I couldn't get her to stay still for a photo, so I had to take a video instead. As you can see, she loved them.

Top Collar currently have a wonderful offer where you get your first pack of treats for free, all you have to do is pay £1 for P & P. You do have do sign up for a subscription, but there is no commitment and you can easily cancel after the first box if your dog doesn't like them. Judging by Elgin and Cherry's reactions though I think most dogs will love them!

Here is the link to sign up:

One of the things that I most love about Top Collar treats is that they are gluten free. When Henry was alive we had big problems finding tasty treats that wouldn't flare up his colitis. He was intolerant to gluten, among other things, and at the time not many companies made treats that he could eat. He would have absolutely loved these treats, I wish I'd discovered them before he passed away.

I was very impressed with these treats - and I know the dogs were too! I highly recommend that you give the free pack offer a try.

Rating - 5/5 stars 

Friday, 14 July 2017

Review - Hotteeze Heat Pads

Disclosure - I received a free pack of Hotteeze Heat Pads for the purpose of a honest review. All opinions are my own.

I've tried many different brands of heat pads that claim to relieve pain over the years, but Hotteeze Heat Pads aren't like others that I tried. The main difference is that Hotteeze Pads aren't applied directly to your skin - they stick to the outside of your clothing. I must admit to being sceptical about how effective they'd be, but I was keen to give them a try as my pain levels are so high at the moment.

Purchase Link


£12.97 for a pack of 10 pads

Product Description 

Hotteeze Heat Pads are perfect for those times when you need a steady supply of heat. Use Hotteeze to comfort tired muscles. Take them outdoors or anywhere you’ll feel the cold.
  • 12+ hours of heat
  • Eco-friendly
  • Self-adhesive
  • Ultra-light
  • Odourless
  • Made in Japan quality
  • Endorsed by the Australian Physiotherapy Association
Contains 10 individually-sealed Hotteeze Heat Pads.
Each pad measures 132mm x 100mm.
Always read the instructions before use.

Photo credit- Hotteeze 

I have a few different types of pain caused by different health conditions. The main one is caused by a condition that causes severe muscle spasms which leaves my muscles feeling like I've just done an extreme gym session with heavy weights. Another causes my joints to dislocate which often causes muscle and tissue damage, this leaves me with severe pain in both the joint and surrounding muscles. I also suffer with sciatica and fibromyalgia which causes achy, sore muscles. I am on very strong painkillers, including Oramorph (liquid morphine), but I am always looking for alternatives as I hate having to take such strong and potentially addictive medication.

Initially I used the patches on my lower back to help with pain from sciatica. It took a couple of minutes for me to feel the heat, but once it was warmed up it felt lovely. It was just the right heat level for me - warm enough to feel like it was doing good, but not unbearably hot. The heat soon worked on my muscles, leaving them feeling really relaxed which therefore reduced my pain. It had them same effect on my thigh muscles after having a severe muscle spasm, it was very soothing and helped with the pain.

As I expected it didn't work quite as well on joints after a bad dislocation which caused muscle and tissue damage. But this pain is very severe and it takes high doses of morphine to help the pain so it probably isn't the level of pain that these patches are aimed at. The heat did make the joint feel looser and more a bit more comfortable though, especially the day after the dislocation, so it was obviously doing some good.

I found the patches worked best on tighter fitting clothes, so that the weight of the patches didn't pull the clothing away from your skin. Attaching them to underwear or a vest (depending on where the pain is located) would be ideal. 

I was impressed with how long the heat lasted - usually between 12 and 14 hours. This is much better than some leading brand products that I have tried - and these work out much cheaper too!

A patch on my upper back/shoulder blade area

The thing that most worried me about the patches was their staying power - I was convinced that they'd be falling off in an hour. Boy was I wrong! The patches stuck really well to all of the different fabrics I tried, not once did they even start to peel off. One time I gave them an extra test by leaving a patch on my pyjama top for over 24 hours while I was in bed unwell. Due to my pain I move about a lot in bed as I constantly have to change position, but this didn't affect the patch at all - not even a corner had started to lift, it was perfectly in place more than a day later. Considering that expensive patches that stick to your skin normally only last two or three hours on me, I think this is very impressive. I didn't have to worry that it was going to fall off at an inappropriate moment either - I've had more than one top brand patch fall off of my back and into the toilet before!!

Overall I was very happy with Hotteeze patches. They stick extremely well, are great value, last a long time, and they give a lovely warming feeling than soothes away pain in sore and aching muscles. They are also ideal for people with sensitive skin who can't stick patches directly onto their body. I highly recommend that you give Hotteeze patches a try.

Rating - 5/5 stars

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Battersea Husky Konta predicts a Wimbledon victory for her namesake

Wimbledon fever has overtaken Battersea Dogs & Cats Home with Konta, a homeless Siberian Husky predicting her namesake will storm to victory, and win the Wimbledon women’s singles title this weekend. 
Copyright - Battersea Dogs and Cats Home
Konta, named after Britain’s upcoming queen of tennis Johanna Konta, is one of several rescue dogs at the world-famous shelter who have been named in honour of the competition’s top seeds. 
Tennis fans across the country will be hoping the eight-year-old Husky’s prediction will be correct, as her namesake is now Britain’s only hope of a Wimbledon singles victory – after Andy Murray was knocked out by America’s Sam Querrey yesterday. 
With the finals just around the corner, Konta and her fellow Battersea dogs - named after the qualifying players - visited Battersea Park’s tennis courts to try out their skills as ball dogs.  
Predictably, chaos ensued, and video evidence shows that it’s a safe bet that none of them will be taking over as Wimbledon ball boys and girls any time soon. 
But, while they may not be professionals, these dogs are hoping their on-court antics will help them to find a different kind of match – with a new owner.
Battersea Dogs & Cats Home’s Centre Manager Robert Young said: “Tennis starts with Love and that’s what our Battersea Wimbledon champions are looking for. It’s not their fault they’ve been abandoned and all they want is an ace new family who will see them as their world number one. We’re putting out a rallying call to find them new families.”
Meet Battersea’s Wimbledon champions, hoping to become champions in a new owner’s eyes…
Konta the Siberian Husky
Copyright - Battersea Dogs and Cats Home 
She’s named after the player that everyone is talking about – Britain’s Johanna Konta. This eight-year-old Husky is predicting a victory for her namesake and she’s hoping to channel Johanna’s spirit to beat the competition and find the perfect owner. Konta’s a beautiful girl with a winning personality, but she doesn’t seem to have much potential as a ball girl. Instead, this fluffy lady is looking for a loving home where she can watch the tennis from a comfy sofa. 
Copyright - Battersea Dogs And Cats Home 
Roger the Greyhound
Roger the Greyhound has recently retired from racing and is now focusing his energies on becoming Battersea’s number one ball-boy. The gorgeous two-year-old Greyhound, named after Roger Federer, is already a number-one in the eyes of Battersea’s staff. But he’s setting his eyes on another grand-slam title – to win the hearts of his owner. If you think you could give him a home, he’ll be waiting for you on centre court. 
Venus the Greyhound 
This four-year-old Greyhound shows great potential as a ball girl and loves getting out on the tennis court. A sporty lady, like her namesake Venus Williams, she is hoping to score the greatest shot of all this summer by finding a loving new home. Although Venus does have a competitive streak, she can also be a great team player and could be rehomed with her fellow tennis mate Roger.  
Skye Terriers Jamie and Martina 
Copyright - Battersea Dogs And Cats Home 
Named after the mixed doubles champions, Martina Hingis and Jamie Murray, these tenacious Terriers adore tennis balls and love to have a rally between themselves. They’re the perfect mixed double and this lovable duo are looking for a home together. They’re both hoping to channel their namesakes, and find new owners who will see them as the world champions they were born to be.
Coco the Staffordshire Bull Terrier 
Copyright- Battersea Dogs And Cats Home 
Her namesake Coco Vandeweghe may have been knocked out of the competition, but this eight-year-old Staffie loves tennis balls so much -  Battersea staff decided to make an exception and let her take to the court with her fellow doggy qualifiers. Staffie Coco is hoping she will have more luck than her namesake and is crossing her paws that she will soon qualify as top dog in the eyes of a new owners. She’d love to be rehomed with a keen tennis player. 
The Battersea match was played between staff member Bryleigh Kingston-Rogers and Volunteer Graeme Smith. 
Battersea Dogs & Cats Home has been able to grow its volunteer programme and recruit more volunteers like Graeme thanks to the support of players of People’s Postcode Lottery, who kindly donated £200,000 in 2016.
If you would like to rehome any of Wimbledon’s champion ball boys or girls please visit

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Review - Oosilk Silk Sleep Eye Mask

Disclosure - I received this product free of charge for the purpose of an unbiased review.

I've had trouble sleeping since I was a child, and the older I get the worse it gets. My sleep pattern is very erratic, mainly due to varying pain levels caused by my health issues. Some nights pain will keep me awake all night, then at other times my medication will cause me to sleep for twelve hours straight. Because of this I often find myself needing to sleep during the day, but daylight keeps me awake. So I was very happy to have the chance to review the Oosilk silk sleep mask.

Current price - £15.69 (33% off usual price)
Product Details:

  • Cover Fabric: 100% 19MM mulberry silk of 400 TC.
  • Inner Filling: 100% pure and natural long strand mulberry silk floss.
  • Size: One size fits all with elastic band to suit all head sizes.
  • Benefits: Soft, smooth, lightweight, breathable, eye care, sleep promotion, easy to care.
  • International Certification: OEKO-TEX Standard 100.
Care Instructions:

  • Machine washable on most gentle cycle in lukewarm water.
  • No bleaches. Use neutral or soft detergent for silk.
  • Hang dry. Avoid direct sunlight exposure.
  • Cool Iron. Always iron on the inside.

The sleep mask arrived in a lovely gift box, but unfortunately it had been slightly squashed in the post. This wasn't a problem for me so I didn't need to contact the retailer, but I may have done if I'd intended to give it as a gift to somebody else. The sleep mask was nicely packaged inside of the box and was well protected.

The sleep mask is available in seven different colours. I chose the violet mask as it's one of my favourite colours and it looks great - it's a very rich, luxurious colour. The mask itself is made out of 100% mulberry silk, and it feels absolutely amazing. It is very soft and smooth, perfect for my sensitive skin as rough fabric can irritate it.

The elastic strap is fully adjustable, so the mask should fit everyone. I was worried the strap was going to be a bit rough on my scalp (I have no hair due to alopecia), but it was actually quite soft and comfortable.

The mask was quite large and easily blocked out all daylight, ensuring I was able to get to sleep. Unlike some cheaper sleep masks, this one didn't feel bulky or cumbersome and was very comfortable to wear - I soon forgot that I was wearing it.

It may be a little more expensive than other sleep masks, but the slightly higher price is definitely worth it. This is a very high quality product, the silk feels amazing against your skin and as it's so well made it will last you a long time. Highly recommended.

Rating - 5/5 stars 

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Review - Monkey World Ape Rescue Centre, Dorset

Cindy the chimpanzee and friends.

Attraction - Monkey World Ape Rescue Centre 

Location - Near Wareham, Dorset

Entrance cost - 
2 Adults, 2 children     £38

SINGLE PARENT1 Adult, 2 children     £27

Adult (aged 16 years +)        £12.00
Student (NUS Student Card required)      £10.50

Child (3-15 years old).  £9
Senior Citizen (aged 60 years +).    £9
Disabled (proof may be required).    £9
Carer       £9

Parking cost - n/a

Disabled parking available - yes

General facilities - toilets, gift shop, cafes, play areas, baby changing, picnic areas, ice cream & refreshment kiosks, first aid, smoking area

Disabled facilities - disabled toilets, wheelchair swings in children's play area, sensory statues, mobility scooters to hire (no charge, just a deposit), written keeper talks for hearing impaired visitors, first aid.

Accessibility - You cannot access the woodland walk in mobility scooters etc, but the rest of the park is accessible. There are some fairly steep slopes and the centre is large so I would recommend booking one of the mobility scooters if you have mobility problems.

Dogs welcome - No pet dogs. Assistance dogs are allowed, but this must be prearranged with the park. Assistance dogs are unable to go into the Malagasy Lemur walk through as the lemurs roam free in this area.

Date of visit - 29 June 2017

Stars - 5/5

Review -

Capuchin monkeys 

I'll start off this review by saying that I had very high expectations of Monkey World - and the centre, staff and wonderful primates more than met these expectations. More than a week after our visit I still can't stop talking about it - I'm sure I must be driving my family mad! Monkey World is featured in the Monkey Business and Monkey Life TV programs that are regularly shown on Pick TV and various Sky channels. I'll quite happily admit to being addicted to these programs and I couldn't wait to see some of my favourite characters from the shows.

We visited on a Thursday during term time in June, so the park was fairly quiet but I imagine it gets very busy at weekends and during school holidays as it's a perfect place for families to visit. During my visit I was accompanied by my mum, who is also my carer, and my assistance dog Elgin. We had arranged in advance for Elgin to accompany me and all primate care staff were aware that there would be a dog on the premises. Elgin was allowed everywhere in the park except the lemur walk as the lemurs roam free in the area, which is totally understandable and I knew this in advance of our visit.

Bryan the chimpanzee who was rescued from life as a beach photograpger's prop in Mexico.

When we arrived at the park we were greeted by a very friendly member of staff, I believe his name was Kevin. He was extremely welcoming and helpful, and he carried in our boxes of donated goods for us as they were heavy. Throughout the day we bumped into him a few times and he always stopped to greet us, he is definitely a credit to the Monkey World team. I also saw him helping visitors with mobility issues, teaching them how to use the park's mobility scooters etc. In fact all members of staff that we met were extremely helpful and friendly - from those at the gate, to the gift shop, to the cafes and the animal care staff we met around the park. We were made to feel very welcome, and all the other visitors that we met on the day agreed that Monkey World has a very friendly, happy atmosphere.

As a disabled person I sometimes feel that I'm missing out at visitor attractions because there is usually so much that I can't do, but Monkey World have obviously made a huge effort to ensure that everyone enjoys their visit. The park is large and has some steep slopes that may be tricky for visitors with mobility problems, so they have eighteen motorised scooters available to hire. I took my own scooter so that I wasn't using one that another visitor could use, but I was most impressed that these scooters were free to hire. All you need is a deposit and ID, but it's best to ring the park in advance to reserve a scooter, especially at busy times. The only part of the park that you can't access on mobility scooters is the woodland walk.

One of the things that I was most impressed with is that there were wheelchair swings available for children who are wheelchair users. I saw one being used and the young lad had a marvellous time, the joy on his face was delightful. It's so nice that disabled children have the opportunity to enjoy things that most children take for granted. For visually impaired visitors there are three sensory statues that give them the opportunity to feel the shape and size differences of a male orangutan, a chimpanzee and a tiny marmoset. I saw these being made on one of the Monkey Business TV programs, and they are even more impressive up close - the amount of detail is incredible. These are kept behind a fence to prevent damage, but visually impaired visitors just need to ask a member of staff for access. 

Guide dogs and other registered assistance dogs are allowed to accompany visitors, but you must inform Monkey World before your visit. This is so that all animal care staff can be notified that a dog will be on site and so that they can make any adjustments necessary to ensure the welfare of the primates. Everyone made my assistance dog, Elgin, very welcome - and that includes the monkeys too! They all seemed fascinated to see a dog - they probably thought he was a very funny looking monkey!

Sensory statue of Tuan the orangutan.

Most of the primates have been rescued from a life of abuse and neglect and are now living a happy life at the rescue centre. Monkey World is celebrating their 30th anniversary this year, and it amazing to see how much they have achieved in those thirty years. The ape rescue centre was founded by the late Jim Cronin MBE when he and his supporters rescued a group of chimpanzees from a life as beach photograpger's props in Spain. Many of these original chimpanzees are still at the park and it is amazing to see how they've flourished under the expert care of Monkey World. Some of these chimps were drugged, abused and forced to wear clothes, and they are now happily living with other chimps in wonderful enclosures.

They have so much to keep them busy, and the keepers give them lots of enrichment to keep them active and to help them develop natural behaviours like foraging for food. The enclosures are huge, especially for the chimpanzees and orangutans, and they were designed with the needs of the primates in mind rather than visitors. This means you can't always spot every single primate, but there are plenty of different viewing platforms and windows so we spent hours watching all of the monkeys and apes have fun. The orangutans in the nursery group were particularly cute and entertaining to watch, they really were adorable.

Elgin being photo bombed by Sammy the chimp 

There are plenty of places to have lunch or a snack at the park. There are two large cafes called Treetops and The Watering Hole, an outdoors cafe with undercover picnic benches called Malagasy. Plus ice cream and refreshment kiosks and picnic areas if you want to bring your own food. We did take a picnic because my medical conditions mean I choke very easily and I get embarrassed coughing and choking in busy cafes, and there were plenty of different area to enjoy our lunch at. We did go to the Treetops Cafe for a coffee twice though. The coffee was delicious and very reasonably price, the staff were also very friendly. The tables were well spaced out so there was plenty of room for my scooter, it may be a bit more awkward to take scooters inside on busier days though. There were also lots of tables outside the Treetops cafe where we sat for our afternoon coffee. From here you have an excellent view of the chimpanzees in Hananya's group - the perfect place to have a relaxing drink or a bite to eat. The Watering Hole cafe was closed during our visit and we didn't use the Malagasy cafe so I can't comment on those.

Mum is gluten intolerant and often struggles to find something she can eat when we're out, so we were very impressed to see a small gluten free menu at the Treetops cafe. There was a choice of cakes, soup and bread, sandwiches and jacket potatoes with fillings that were gluten free. Plus, unlike a lot of other places, the prices of the gluten free products were very reasonable.

I can't write about the cafes without mentioning the tables! They have photos of different primates available for adoption on them, and as you can see from the photo below, they are completely adorable! I would love one of these in my garden!!

Elgin resting at the Treetops cafe

During the afternoons there are various keeper talks about the different species of monkeys. I'd definitely recommend these, they are very informative and entertaining. The staff are clearly very passionate about their work and the animals in their care so it's well worth going to at least one of the talks. 

Young orangutan exploring. I think this is either Jin or Silvestre.

There is a large gift shop with a huge range of products available. I didn't go in the shop as by the end of my visit I was very tired and my pain levels were sky high, but I sent mum in to get me some items that I'd seen on the online store. Mum was very impressed with the range of products, prices and especially the helpful staff. She bought lots of items for me, including jewellery, and it came to a lot less than she was expecting. It's nice to find a tourist attraction that doesn't bump the prices up ridiculously high.

My mum took this lovely photo of a ring tailed lemur in the walk through lemur enclosure.

As you probably gathered, we thoroughly enjoyed our visit. Monkey World is a magical place where the lives of mistreated animals have been turned around. The monkeys are fascinating to watch, some of their characteristics are so human like. I fell in love with all the monkeys, but I especially enjoyed spending time with Sammy the chimp as he seemed fascinated by my assistance dog. Oshine the orangutan was one of my favourites too, while mum fell in love with the comical capuchin monkeys.

We definitely plan on visiting again - probably several times! I am going to adopt Sammy the chimpanzee, and with the adoption you get an entry pass that's valid for a year. Mum is going to adopt the cheeky capuchin group.

I thoroughly recommend a visit to Monkey World. It's suitable for people of all ages and abilities and you can easily spend all day there. I will remember my day at Monkey World for a long time, it really was a special day.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Cat-astrophe strikes for trapped cats

From intrepid moggies and fearless felines the RSPCA is on hand to rescue cats who have got themselves into a tight spot! 

It is a well known fact that cats can get themselves stuck… a lot!

Whether scaling a 50ft tree with no escape route, squeezing themselves into tiny gaps, or falling down a hole they can’t get out of, some cats can get themselves into some very tight squeezes. They are naturally curious and inquisitive animals but some cats are better than others at navigating the hazards that may pop up along the way.

On average the RSPCA receives a call to its National Control Centre about a cat every three minutes and receives more calls about cats than any other animal. New figures reveal that since the start of this year the RSPCA has been called to 2,819 trapped cats. May and June had the most rescues with 606 and 611 respectively. These figures include cats that have become entangled, ‘trapped up’, ‘trapped down’ or stuck in water. The largest amount of rescues were cats ‘trapped up’ something with 1,488 in total from January to June. Rescues can be a tricky business and requires specialist equipment to be able to safely free an animal from a tight spot without injury as well as avoiding a nasty nip or bite in the process. 

RSPCA superintendent Tim Minty said: “There is a range of equipment needed for these particular rescues. The animal in itself will be frightened and its behaviour is most likely to be unpredictable because of the situation it’s in and the fact they don’t know the person trying to rescue them.
 “Some standard equipment such as bitemaster gloves, eye protection and a grasper and restraining basket can all help with a cat rescue. 
 “Cats like height and so it’s very possible that our officers will need to reach heights themselves. 
 "Some of our officers have extendable ladders and nets which can reach to a first floor window and really helps in these situations - but sometimes we do need to ask the fire brigade for help if they are available."

For more difficult rescues there are also water and rope rescue teams available who use a variety of equipment, for example extendable poles, pulleys, harnesses, and three types of inflatable rescue boats. Some of the challenges cat’s face can leave some owners understandably concerned or worried about their safety.

However, for most cats going outside is important for keeping them happy and healthy, explains Alice Potter, the RSPCA’s cat welfare expert. She said: “Unfortunately we can't always be there to supervise our cats when they are out and about to make sure they are safe but there are some steps we can take.
 “Make sure your cat is microchipped and registered with your current contact details. Remember if you've moved home or changed your phone number you will need to update your details. 
 “Microchipping your cat is the most reliable way to identify them and gives you the best chances of being reunited if they become lost. If you decide to put a collar and ID tag on your cat it's important to ensure the collar is correctly fitted and is a quick release type collar with a snap-safe buckle - other collars can get caught and cause nasty injuries.
 “It can be helpful to have a consistent routine with your cat and to feed them their meals around the same time each day. This way your cat will know when to come home for food and can give you a chance to check in with them and make sure they are okay.”

There are also a few things that everyone can do to ensure there are less cat rescues needed. Alice Potter added: “Cats can fit into small spaces and like hiding and sleeping in warm quiet spots. This means it's important to always check that there are no cats in your garage, shed or conservatory before you lock it up. 
 “Likewise it’s important to be cautious with any bins or other places that cats might get in and become stuck.

“If you have any concerns or find a cat in distress, please contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.”

Our pick of the top cat rescues in June:

1. Albus, the three year old tabby cat, had become tightly stuck between an office building and an external wall in Coleridge Road, Hove, on Thursday (June 1). The owner of the building called the RSPCA and animal collection officer (ACO) Julie Parsons attended to try and free the cat.

She said: “Poor Albus was stuck very tightly between two walls with about a four inch gap. No one knew how he managed to fit in there in the first place.
 “It took about three hours, working with East Sussex Fire and Rescue to create a huge hole in the wall to free him.
 “He was struggling to breathe where he had wedged himself so tightly between the walls so time was of the essence.”

Just when it looked like Albus had used all up of his nine lives, one last tug saw the moggy freed and reunited with his grateful owner.

2. A plucky kitten which had got herself wedged 8ft up a chimney was freed after a four-hour rescue operation between the RSPCA and Merseyside Fire Service. Lola’s worried owner contacted the RSPCA after hearing the kitten making noises inside the chimney. She had not long been adopted by her owner and, feeling timid in her new home, sought a place to hide - behind the fireplace.
 “From there, she had somehow managed to climb inside the chimney - about 8ft up it,” said RSPCA Animal Welfare Officer Matt Brown, who went to rescue Lola from the house in Fairfield Drive, in Liverpool, on Friday (16 June).

3. A vulnerable kitten who used up one of his nine lives after getting stuck 20ft up a huge tree has landed on his feet - after bagging a new home with the firefighter who rescued him!

It took 90 minutes to get to the little ginger puss who was buried deep inside a very dense tree in Bigby High Road, Brigg.

RSPCA animal collection officer Carol Smith was called to the scene on Tuesday morning (27 June) and requested the help of Humberside Fire & Rescue Service as the kitten was so high up. 

She explained: “Due to his age and the height of the tree, I called in a local fire crew to help get to him.

“It took more than 90 minutes to get up to the tree and find him amongst the dense foliage. When they found him he was huddled inside a pigeon nest with some nestlings!”

To help the RSPCA continue rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals in desperate need of care please visit: or text LOVE to 87023 to give £3 (Text costs £3 + one standard network rate message).