Waving goodbye to our mattress

Recently one of the furniture companies was running radio adverts saying you should replace your mattress every 8 years.  Then I was stabbed by a spring when sleeping – and so decided, after discussions with the husband, that our long serving super kingsize mattress should be replaced.

We’ve been through a lot with that mattress!  Whilst I moved into the house my husband had shared with his ex wife (she’d vacated before I arrived – before I’d even met her ex, actually!) we did replace their bed pretty smartish – but that means the bed has been with us for over 13 years.

It’s been through 4 pregnancies (not all 4 conceptions – half of those stories involve a Premier Inn near Blackpool and Centerparcs Longleat!), 4 lots of breast feeding, 4 lots of potty training and numerous illnesses – not to mention some (although definitely not enough) sleeping.  In fact after writing all of that down, perhaps we should have considered replacing it sooner?!? ** Might not put all that info in the Ebay listing to flog it **

So once we’d decided to look for a new mattress – I went to my usual source of all things for the house – the John Lewis website.  I searched for a super kingsize mattress, and then ranked my search from high to low in terms of price and was SHOCKED to see that the most expensive mattress was £15,500!!!  I posted my shock at this on Facebook to which friends made various suggestions as to why it was so expensive – it being gold plated, or coming with a sesh with Magic Mike being my favourites!  Anyway – we decided we couldn’t decide without trying the mattress out – so off we went to good old John Lewis.

Mattress John Lewis

I was disappointed that John Lewis in Solihull didn’t have the £15,500 mattress in stock.  Who would spend that much money on a mattress without first having a chance to lie on it?!

Anyway – we tried out everything the store had to offer.

Mattress testing

Memory foam still seems to be popular – but I really struggle with it. I suffer from pretty bad motion sickness (I threw up after the Harry Potter ride in Orlando this summer, and have even been known to feel sick on a swing or a lilo!) and it seems that the way the memory foam ‘settles’ when you turn over makes me want to vom – so they were ruled out pretty much straight away.

In the end we went for a mid range sprung mattress – that should arrive just before Christmas.

The husband is now coming up with suggestions of what we need to do on the mattress before it goes.  Oh dear…………..

Grand Central Birmingham

If I had to list things that I like – after the obvious family and friends – then the following things would feature high up the list:

So imagine my delight when all of the above could be combined into one evening!!

I was invited to take part in a focus group about the new advertising for Grand Central, and offered a behind the scenes nose around the site which is due to open next month.

Grand Central logo

I’d never been involved in market research before – so it was all a bit intriguing.  I arrived at the management suite at Grand Central (the shopping centre that is being built above New Street station in the centre of Birmingham to replace the old slightly grim Pallasades. There were 4 other members of my group, and we were all 30 / 40 something parents.

First we talked a bit about Birmingham and what we all love about it (variety of shops / bars / restuarants, the fact the centre is compact, the mixture of architecture, even The Owls got a mention!) and what we’re not so fond of (the traffic, difficulty parking, how busy it can be)  We then talked more about Grand Central and the advertising that was being proposed for it.

Now I have to confess to not knowing much about what Grand Central was going to be.  I knew there was going to be a huge John Lewis (obvs!) but not much else.  I wasn’t sure what other retail and dining options there were going to be.  I wasn’t sure whether it fitted into the same space that the Pallasades did, or how it was going to connect to other areas of Birmingham. And I have to say 90 minutes into the various discussions we had – and looking at the proposed adverts – I was none the wiser either!  Thankfully today I’ve discovered the Grand Central Birmingham website which gives loads of information – and has made me much more excited at the shops and eateries we’re going to have.

The whole process of a market research focus group was really interesting.  Being able to waffle on about your own thoughts on stuff (rather than just typing it down here into the ether) was fun.  Whilst our overall feelings, as a group, about the adverts was quite similar – we did discuss it all, and changed each other’s opinions at times.  It all felt very ‘safe’ and as if you could say exactly what you thought without fear of being ridiculed.  Whether that was just because we had a lovely group – or the particular facilitator we had – I’m not sure.  But I really enjoyed it!

And once the ‘work’ was over, we got to don our full health and safety personal protective equipment and go and have a look round the site…..

Grand Central

And site it is.  It is VERY much still a working site.  Whilst the main atrium is in, and the escalators down to the station – there is still a lot of work to be done. And I mean a lot.  Floors / walls / lighting and that’s before the shops can even think about shop fitting with their own branding, shelves, stock etc!  And it’s all going to be ready for Thursday 24th September 2015…..

I was ‘slightly’ incredulous at this – but maybe the 3,500 people they have on site at the moment are startlingly more efficient than my workforce??

The frontage to the new John Lewis is hidden from prying eyes by roller shutters – but the width of the frontage is HUGE, it’s got to be 4 times the size of the entrance to John Lewis in Touchwood, Solihull.

The huge open plan space is amazing – and the light that will flood the place is immense – even down to the platforms, for the first time ever!  The roof is made out of the same material as the Eden project domes – and is self cleaning (even from seagull and pigeon poo – of which there is a lot in Birmingham). And throughout the mall, the height of any counters or tables is limited to 1.4m to ensure that people have a clear view around at all times.

Currently Westfield in London has the biggest footfall of a shopping centre at 42 million (2 million more than our very own Bull Ring) but Grand Central is predicting 45 million in the first year of operation!  The key will be to get the dwell time of these visitors to increase so that it’s seen as a proper destination – not just the exit route from New Street.  Maybe people will go and visit our Grand Central like I did as a tourist to Grand Central in New York!

And in exciting news – it will still be accessed by ‘the ramp at McDonalds’ (anyone from Birmingham knows that location!) and you will be able to walk all the way through to the Bull Ring through nice free flowing walkways, not random 90 degree turns like the olden days.

I should point out at this point that all of the above facts were from me paying attention to the lovely ops director who showed us around, and I have not independently verified any of them!  But his passion for the project oozed out of him (as did his excitement at having a Nando’s arriving!!)  The bringing together of a transport, retail and dining hub is incredible – and the fact that one of the (if not the?) busiest station in the UK has kept running through the regeneration is amazing.

However – having been very excited that an off peak return to New Street was only £2.80 from Kings Norton, the train home had a platform change and was delayed by 35 minutes – so let’s hope the trains standards can match that of the shopping facilities above…………

But I can’t wait to go and see Grand Central in all its glory when it opens next month.

Not sponsored by John Lewis!

A while ago one of my best friends lost loads of weight, had her first personal stylist session at John Lewis and now always looks FAB! (You know who you are!!!) So I promised myself that when I’d got back to pre baby weight (I managed it when the second baby was 3 years old – but have failed miserably after children 3 and 4!) that I would do the same. However, I realised a couple of months ago, that potentially it was more important to dress the chubby me appropriately – and so before our trip to New York, booked myself in for a 2 hour session at our local John Lewis store.  (I know other stores offer the same service – Debenhams and Top Shop being two – but I like the wide variety of brands offered by John Lewis – and as my sisters think our house should be sponsored by John Lewis given how much we buy from there – may as well say the same about the contents of my wardrobe too!!)

The 2 hour slot is free (there are various other options available – but I thought this would suit me best) and I arrived quite nervous but excited!  There is basically a room off the lingerie section (in the Solihull store) with some comfy chairs, and then individual changing rooms in there too.  The lovely personal stylist lady chatted to me about what I was shopping for – and about my size – and then she headed off to the shopfloor.  I sat chatting to two other ladies who were going through the same process.  It seems there is a massive cross section of people who go in for this – and as a just 40 something – I was pretty much mid age range.

The stylist came back with armfuls of clothes and I started the trying on.  For this I was in my own changing room – so wasn’t having to strip in front of other people (something I had been a bit nervous about beforehand).  And the outfits were FABULOUS!  It made me try things I would never have chosen myself – and from an eclectic mix of brands – Phase Eight trousers / Oasis top / Mint Velvet jacket – with John Lewis own brand scarf and necklace – perfect!

I tried on lots – and I have to say after 2 hours was exhausted of getting into and out of  things – but I was delighted with the results.  I managed to spend A LOT (although dwarfed by what my husband spent in Clements and Church the next day!!) and here are a couple of the outfits.

photo 1


photo 2

I am really chuffed with these (although the 9 year old just looked over my shoulder and asked if the second picture was his Nan – my Mum!……….)

I would really like to go back in the future – either for a new season’s wardrobe – or when I’ve FINALLY managed to shift some weight!!

This is definitely not a sponsored post – but I would be more than open to offers!!  Hey – a free hot drink and cake with my ‘My John Lewis’ card and I’m happy!!

Naming my 5th baby……….

  • When I was considering starting this repository of my inner thoughts – I put it ‘out there’ on Facebook and asked for suggestions as to what any future blog could be called.  My friends came up with lots of different ideas – and I thought they would provide a pretty good summary of what other people think of me – and would therefore make an informative second posting ….
    Multiple Children
    I liked the simplicity of ‘Party of Six’ and the fact that it reminded me of the TV show with one less to the party from the 1990s. However a husband and father of four in the US had already baggsied that name……
    Then – in the spirit of a Richard Curtis film ‘Four children and a prosecco’ – which does pretty much sum up my life and leads me on to the next topic……. 
    Booze Related Matters
    ‘Life, Prosecco, Ocado and Me’ – my sisters have long said my house should be sponsored by John Lewis and my kitchen cupboards by Waitrose or Ocado! I’m pretty much on first name terms with the delivery drivers from all of those companies.  Now – does anyone know anything about blog sponsorship?!?
    The suggestion of ‘Tonic Finder’ follows a particularly bad experience at the Alton Towers Resort Hotel where they had NO TONIC!!  Not just no slimline tonic, but no ACTUAL TONIC AT ALL!!  (I may have to blog about this in the future – but for now, here’s the Trip Advisor review!!) 
    Employment Matters
    ‘Not all accountants are boring’ reminded me of how aggrieved I was that the 1990s cult viewing ‘This Life’ was based around a bunch of lawyers and not accountants!!  Those of us working for the Big 6 accountancy firms back in the late 90s had an equally debauched life of working hard, playing hard and studying hard, but we weren’t made to look sexy in a TV drama.  I hope this blog does prove that not ALL accountants are boring?!
    Age Related Matters
    Four months ago I had a BIG BIRTHDAY – I celebrated at the time with a fabulous party with lots of my family and friends, and then have been using it as an excuse for loads of trips and activities this year – so ‘Life Begins’ was very apt.  I would definitely recommend grasping the whole 40th thing with both hands for anyone who’s not quite there yet.
    Name Puns
    Obviously with my surname ‘The Price is Right’ was suggested a number of times – and is very similar to what I plumped for!  There were other great suggestions too such as ‘Practically Perfect Price (mostly)’  – who doesn’t love an alliteration? And then ‘Taking Libby-ties’ – which read in my native Brummie tongue was AMAZING – but, as yet there aren’t local accent fonts (**Dragon’s Den here I come**)
    I discounted ‘Libby’s Blog’ for being just a bit dull (and it wasn’t even an accountant friend that suggested it!!)
    And then ‘The REAL Pricey speaks (not the blow up doll one that looks like a hooker!)’!!  I was grateful that it was clarified that I didn’t look like a lady of the night – although I do share Katie’s ample bosom (mine’s 100% self generated and thus to be found under my arm pits when I lie down – the joy of 4 lots of breast feeding!)  I then realised we did both have 4 kids at the moment – although mine are all with the one husband (aforementioned husband has had a beer with Dwight Yorke when he played for Aston Villa, been told by one of my friends that he reminds her of Peter Andre, and is a builder by trade – so is pretty much all of ‘Jordan’s’ baby fathers rolled into one!!!)  However there won’t be another Price child here – this blog is definitely my 5th baby!!