Summer Sale! Grab a bargain Merlin Annual Pass

The Merlin Annual Pass BIG SUMMER SALE starts at 10am on Thursday 1st June and ends at midnight on Monday 3rd July 2017. So there’s never been a better time to start planning adventures for your family this summer. With access to 32 top attractions across the UK, grab a Merlin Annual Pass in the sale for just £119 per person.

Escape this summer to the Alton Towers Resort, home to some of the world’s most iconic rollercoasters.  While you’re there, visit CBeebies Land which has new additions for 2017, including a live and interactive show hosted by the fuzzy puppets from The Furchester Hotel and the Go Jetters Vroomster Zoom ride which little thrill seekers will love. 

Big Summer Sale! Grab a bargain Merlin Annual Pass

Go in search of The Gruffalo at the Chessington World of Adventures Resort. Visit Sea Life Centres across the UK; explore the wonders of the ocean and come face to flipper, fin, tentacle, turtles, sharks, rays and octopuses.  Or start your ninja training at the new Lego Ninjago World at the Legoland Windsor Resort.

Among Merlin’s attractions are; Sea Life Centres, Madame Tussauds, Legoland, The Coca-Cola London Eye, The Dungeons, Gardaland Resort, Legoland Discovery Centres, Alton Towers Resort, Warwick Castle, Thorpe Park Resort, Blackpool Tower, Heide Park Resort, Sydney Tower Eye and Skywalk.  

Big Summer Sale! Grab a bargain Merlin Annual Pass

We have had so many wonderful days out with our Merlin Annual Pass. It’s very easy to quickly clock up excellent savings, especially over the long summer holidays. So whether you’re planning a staycation or just some fun family days out, a Merlin Annual Pass is a great way to maximise the good times this summer. 

See what you can save on your Merlin Annual Pass

Big Summer Sale! Grab a bargain Merlin Annual Pass

For more information or to buy passes in the Merlin summer sale, please visit www.merlinannualpass.co.uk.

I am a Merlin Annual Pass Blogger Ambassador.  I was not paid to write this blog post.

North West Bloggers – We Love Manchester

I am part of a Facebook group called “North West Bloggers”. There are over 500 bloggers from across the whole blogging spectrum in the group. We all have at least one thing in common; we are from the North West of England. Many of us live or work in Manchester, those who don’t live here know the city fairly well.

The shockwaves from the bombing on 2nd May 2017 were felt across the North West, and throughout the UK and beyond. Many of us in the group knew, or knew of people injured in the bombing. Some of us knew people who died that night. All of us were shaken by the tragedy that night.

In the days following the atrocity, several members of the group wrote blog posts expressing their shock and sense of loss. Others wrote about their pride for their city, some shared photos of their bee tattoos and experiences visiting the memorial in St Ann’s Square.

There was a feeling, a suggestion in the group that we should bring all of our blog posts together in one place. This is that place.

If you’ve written a blog post in remembrance of what happened, or perhaps a blog post celebrating the city of Manchester, please do join in the linky below.

Rules:

Please add the linky button below to your blog post (just copy and paste the code onto the bottom of your blog post).

Please do try to leave a comment on some of the blog posts. Also please feel free to share, tweet, stumble, whatever every click, like, love or share helps your fellow blogger.

Please feel free to Tweet me your link and I will happily retweet it.

I reserve the right to remove any blog posts which are not in the spirit of this link up.

About North West bloggers

North West Bloggers are a network of bloggers in the North West of England. We have parenting bloggers, fashion and beauty bloggers, business bloggers, Dad bloggers, fitness bloggers, you name it we have them in our group bloggers.

Tweet North West Bloggers for more information.

You can donate to the Manchester Just Giving Page here.

 

HodgePodgeDays

Manchester, so much to answer for (and all of it ace)

Mancunians are a pretty special kind of people. I know I’m biased because I am one, but its clear from talking to incomers to the area just how much this fine city gets under your skin. Manchester is a beautiful city, inside and out. Its people have more heart that they know what to do with and I’m blessed to have been born and bred here, and I’ve always felt that way.

Mancunians are a breed apart, different in outlook and temperament to their cousins in Liverpool and across the Pennines into Yorkshire. The rivalry may be fierce, but it is for the most part good humoured and affectionate. 

Manchester is an industrial city. It blossomed, bloomed and boomed during the industrial revolution and was known as Cottonopolis. From Manchester came the first passenger railway, the first computer and the invention of graphene. It was the birthplace of the Pankhurst’s and Karl Marx lived here for a time. We created a whole genre of music, and we’ve got famous actors, poets, writers and artists coming out of our ears. But what makes Mancunians special (apart from absolutely everything)?

Manchester, so much to answer for (and all of it ace)

© The Manchester Bee Company, 2017

We bloody love Manchester. We really bloody love Manchester. We’re incredibly proud of where we’ve come from and what a glorious, inclusive, cosmopolitan, historic, forward-thinking city it is. We love that we’re good at music, sports, science and the arts. We love our industrial heritage and our industrious nature. Manchester is awash with entrepreneurial spirit, we are grafters, thinkers and doers. We are rich in social history and compassion. 

Manchester is a city filled with many different kinds of people. City fans, United fans, indie kids, goths, we have a beautiful LGBT community who bring more to Manchester than I think even they realise. We have people from all over the world coming to live and work here. We have several huge universities and it seems that most people who come to Manchester to study never really go home again afterwards.

Mancunians are not generally intrusive people, but if someone is looking lost, upset or in trouble, we will step in and offer to help if we can. We are an incredibly kind people, sharing what we have with those we meet with no expectation of a reward beyond thanks.

We make eye contact on public transport, we talk to our neighbours and our neighbour’s neighbours. We’ll nod hello to strangers on the street. We rally round when people need us, we join together to show the world our collective strength. We are Manchester. 

Mancunian women have a reputation for being strong, some people call us battleaxes. Well, we are strong, we can be fierce, but we’d do owt for anyone and woe betide anyone who looked at our kids the wrong way.

Manchester is a diverse and wonderful city. Its people are full of good humour, with notable funny Mancunians including Les Dawson, Steve Coogan, Victoria Wood and Caroline Aherne, to name just a small handful.

Music has always been important to us, but we’re not *just* all about Oasis and The Stone Roses. The Halle Orchestra are resident here, and we have the world famous Chetham’s School of Music in the city. But yes, you’re right, we do love a bit of indie around here – Joy Division, New Order, The Smiths, Happy Mondays.

Tony Wilson is often quoted as saying “But this is Manchester, we do things differently here.” And we do.

We have beautiful green spaces, great parks, botanical gardens, wonderful architecture. We are a city and a people looking forward to the future, whilst embracing and taking pride in our industrial past. 

Pride is important to us. We are Proud Mancs. We’ve always been Proud Mancs. We are proud of our roots, our achievements, our attitude and our compassion. We are proud to be from this amazing city. This gorgeous, gleaming metropolis we call Cottonopolis. Its streets packed with history and hidden gems, its eye always on the future. 

I asked my friend Bob about what he thought made Mancunians special. He gave this lovely answer…

“Going to Love Train at the Ritz. Rubbing shoulders with goths and beardy old leather-clad rockers in Jilly’s back in the day. We’re such a strong community, even the venues have their own personalities. They come and go, Jilly’s and Hacienda have gone, but still loved and never forgotten. The city itself is our extended family. The City of Manchester stadium as the train pulls into Piccadilly. Beetham Tower on the horizon as the bus approaches Salford. It’s iconic from every angle and every time you pass a ‘Welcome to Manchester’ sign it’s a homecoming, whether you were born there or are adopted by the city, its people and its heart.”

Mancunians. We’re brave, bold, funny, kind, loving, we have heart and soul in spades. Int that right r kid?

5 things to do during Whit week half term 2017

The Whit Week Half Term falls under the sad shadow of the Manchester bombing. I live 5 miles away from the arena, and we’ve felt the emotional reverberations of the atrocity. The mood is defiant but subdued. Everyone I know wants to stay at home, holding their kids close where they can keep them safe. But generally kids don’t always love being stuck at home and will want to do something over the half term regardless.

For us our half term fun will be had on the fringes of the city. Whilst I’m happy to visit the city centre myself; for the next week or so at least we won’t be going in as a family. I know we can’t wrap our children up forever. We can just make sensible, informed choices and get on with life and live it well.

If you’re keen to avoid the city centre with your kids for now, I’ve selected a few out of town things to do in Manchester over the Whit Week Half Term. I’ve not included them here, but there will be lots of things to do over the Whit Week Half Term in the city centre, at the Whitworth Art Gallery, the Museum of Science and Industry, and at the People’s History Museum. However you choose to spend half term, enjoy it.

Waterside Arts Centre, Sale

We will be going to see The Three Musketeers at the Waterside Arts Centre in Sale on Friday 2 June. Presented by The Three Half Pints;  Fresh from Justin’s House and Spot Bots, we will be joining CBeebies’ favourites in this hilarious new slapstick adventure of chivalry, swordplay and suddenly falling over!  For ages 5+

5 things to do during Whit week half term 2017

For ages 3+ catch Julia Donaldson’s famous book The Scarecrows’ Wedding, brought to the stage by Scamp Theatre. Running on Friday 26, Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 May. Scarecrows Betty O’Barley and Harry O’Hay decide to get married and Harry sets off for their wedding day essentials. This truly heart-warming adaptation promises wit, drama and wedding bells!   

On Thursday 1 June, Waterside will be screening Sing-a-long Trolls.  Bring the kids and sing your socks off to Trolls hits such as Can’t Stop The Feeling and True Colours.  Come along in Troll-themed fancy dress or costumes in bright rainbow colours. Prizes will be given out for the best outfits!  Tickets just £5 (or £2.50 for Family Club members).

Based on the fabulous new book by Steven Lee and with magic designed by Paul Daniels, Don’t Dribble on The Dragon is a spectacular musical adventure about growing up and the importance of family is the perfect feel good show.  For ages 3+ on Saturday 3 June.  Steven will also be signing copies of Don’t Dribble on The Dragon after the show.

Salford Quays Culture’s Summer Showcase

Over half term, endangered species from land and sea migrate to the metropolis of MediaCityUK, in the form of four gigantic sculptures for Quays Culture’s Unnatural Borders exhibition, which will run from Saturday 20th May until Monday 29th May. 

Four large sculptures represent endangered species – Polar Bear, Whale, Red Squirrel and a Bee. By day the sculptures tower over the public on large separate plinths. When the sun sets at 9pm they are illuminated with stunning visual projections, bringing a magical show of light and illusion to these 3D animals and their location. Day or night, these sound pretty awesome and worth seeking out, especially if you’re visiting Media City for other reasons too.

5 things to do during Whit week half term 2017

Catalyst Science Discovery Centre

Ok, so this means a bit of a drive to Widnes, but the boys go here often and they really enjoy their visits. This amazing science centre has three interactive galleries to explore as well as a stunning rooftop observatory. During this half term they have two interactive workshops for budding scientists to enjoy.

Ludicrous Liquids – A chance for young scientists to get some hands-on fun in the lab, experimenting with interesting and surprising liquids. How many colours can you get into your rainbow straw and do you make a lava lamp? Hands-on workshops at 11am and 2pm

Fantastic Plastic – One of their most popular hands-on sessions. Enjoy working with an amazing plastic material to make a keyring to take home. Hands-on Workshops at 12 noon and 3pm

For more information about the Catalyst Science Discovery Centre, visit their website.

Wythenshawe Community Farm

Join the Junior Farmer’s Club and learn how to care for the animals on the farm. Groom and feed Pip the friendly pony, feed and muck out the pygmy goats and collect the eggs from the chickens. Available on Thursday 1st and Saturday 3rd June from 1-3pm. The cost of the session is £10, for more information or to book phone 0161 946 0726.

Read about one of our previous visits to Wythenshawe Community Farm here.

Wythenshawe Community Farm

SHIFT Digital 

Over Whit week half term, Shift Digital will be running a series of free events in libraries and other venues in Cheshire. If you’ve got kids who are into coding, computers or science, it’s well worth taking them along.

Join Shift for Superhero Sewable Circuits on Wednesday 31 May at the Electric Picturehouse, Cross Street, Congleton. Make your own light up superhero mask. Learn the basics of e-textile sewable circuits and stitch light up LEDs onto felt to customise and create your own design. Ages 7+ FREE Places limited – to book call  01260 270908.

Minecraft fans should go to PatternCraft at Congleton Library on Tuesday 30 May  – 10am-12noon / 1-3pm. Go along and create 8 x 8 punchcard designs; feedback your card into the reader and by the magic of python code converting the physical holes in to binary files of 0’s and 1’s, build it on a minecraft map. Drop In – FREE – All Ages Call 01260 375550.

At Holmes Chapel Library on Thursday 1 June 10am-12noon / 1-3pm, learn to program the Micro:bit LED display and create interactive bitmap art that responds to movement and button presses. Ages 7+ FREE Places limited – to book call  01477 689550.

The full SHIFT programme – including talks, workshops, professional training, tech meet ups, art installations, family events and drop-in coding sessions – is listed on their website: www.shift-digital.co.uk

We hope you have a great Whit Week Half Term. If you’ve got any ideas for other fun things to do, please do mention them in the comments below!

We are Manchester. This is The Place.

Scrolling through Twitter on Monday night, I was already tucked up in bed when a minute after the Manchester bomb I saw a tweet saying something was going on at Victoria Station. We often get these “I heard a big bang, what was that?” kind of tweets in Manchester, so at first I didn’t think much of it. But I decided to dig around Twitter to see if there was anything else in it.

Within minutes it was apparent there was a real situation unfolding at the Manchester Arena. I got online and started chatting in a Facebook group with some friends, all of us scrolling and searching for info. We all hoped against hope that it was a popped balloon, that it was a speaker which had exploded, that no one had been hurt.

We all stayed up, screenshotting and sharing statements from Greater Manchester Police. We checked as far as we could that people we knew weren’t there. We realised in the darkness of our early hours chat that this was deliberate, this was timed for maximum impact and it was designed to hurt children.

The swear words and tears flowed. This was our city. Our beautiful, cosmopolitan, inclusive city and someone wanted to hurt our children. It was about as low an act as it could be. We couldn’t do anything but re-tweet and share information. Helpless and despairing we all went to bed at 3am knowing we would wake up to terrible, terrible news.

Tuesday brought a whole range of emotions. Anger, pride, sorrow, love, anger again and fear. We all hugged our little ones close, were extra vigilant when we were out and about. They started to give names to the dead and the missing. All young, vital, full of joy and promise. I’ve wept for every one and each of their mothers too. 

We heard tales of bravery. We were scared and brave and bold and devastated in equal measure. We watched the vigil. We wept with pride, passion and sorrow when Tony Walsh known as Longfella, a local poet and Mancunian legend read his poem, This Is The Place. 

We are broken. 

Less than 48 hours after the attack I am numb. My heart is broken for the children and families caught up in this atrocity. My heart is broken for my friends who are sat by hospital beds with their poorly babies. My heart is broken that someone could do this to my city. My home town. To our children. To our people.

I love my city. Manchester gets under your skin and flows through your veins. It fills your heart with pride. I’m a Proud Manc. I could never be anything else but a Proud Manc. Those who want to divide us will only ever unite us further. 

This is Manchester. We are Manchester. This is The place. Our place.

We are Manchester. This Is The Place.

Take That Wonderland Tour – VIP Day with Key 103

I’ve been a Take That fan for 27 years (27 years, just let that sink in). Take That are currently in the middle of a huge UK tour of their Wonderland album. I went to see them at the Manchester Arena and took along my friend Liz along for the ride. We were there to experience a fabulous day of hospitality at the Manchester Arena with Key 103.

Our hospitality package included two Take That tickets, access to the Prime Experience hospitality area – the View Bar and a glass of champagne, pre-show dinner and drinks at Zouk, plus a chance to meet the Key 103 team at the Arena to see them presenting live on air.

Take That Wonderland Tour - VIP Day with Key 103

The Manchester Arena is incredibly easy to get to, we just hopped on the tram in Didsbury Village and got off at Victoria Station. We wanted to pick up our tickets early and to soak up some of the atmosphere. There were around a hundred people already queuing at the doors at 3pm, the numbers grew in the hour or so we were there. We met up with the Key 103 team who were broadcasting live from the arena and keeping the crowd entertained, which just added to the air of anticipation and excitement. 

Take That Wonderland Tour - VIP Day with Key 103

We had just enough time to jump in a taxi and head to Zouk in Manchester for a bite to eat before the concert started. Zouk, which is just off Oxford Road was a very nice, comfortable, contemporary restaurant which serves authentic and modern Pakistani and Indian cuisine. We’re both vegetarian and we were impressed with the range and quality of the food. I can also heartily recommend their cocktails, the Espresso Martini was the best I’ve ever had! We’ll both be going back and taking our friends!

Take That Wonderland Tour - VIP Day with Key 103

After dinner and buoyed by cocktails and Take That fan-girl excitement, we grabbed a cab back to the Manchester Arena. We dodged the queues and we were fast-tracked into the Prime Experience View Bar for a glass of champagne. As someone who hates queuing and standing around, entry to this bar suits me perfectly and it’s something I’d happily pay for again. A comfy seat, a pre-show drink and a toilet you don’t need to queue for are worth the price alone. 

Once we’d finished our drinks, we headed into the arena and to our seats. They were “the best seats in the house” and they were pretty darn good. We had an unobstructed view of the stage which unusually was located in the centre of the arena. We managed to catch almost all of the All Saints performance, which was fantastic. We’d forgotten how brilliant they were, they had us up singing and dancing, they were the perfect warm up for what was to come.

Take That Wonderland Tour - VIP Day with Key 103

I’ve been to see a lot of bands at the Manchester Arena, but this is the first time I’ve seen the stage in the centre of the arena. It really, really works. It means no one really gets a terrible view. Take That put on a real visual spectacle in the round; with amazing effects, brilliant dancers and dramatic acrobatics. It was at times visually jaw-dropping. But of course, the boys were what we were all there to see.

Take That may be 27 years old, with Gary, Mark and Howard all in their 40’s now; but they are still as energetic as they ever were. They played songs from their new album Wonderland, plus songs from across their back catalogue. Hits included; Wonderland, Pray, Relight My Fire, Satisfied, Greatest Day, How Deep Is Your Love, Back For Good, Patience and of course, Never Forget.

We sang, we danced, we did the waving our arms in the air thing to Never Forget and we had the best time. The. Best. Time. If you get the chance to go and see Take That on this tour, do it. Go. Go now and get tickets. It’s fantastic and you won’t regret it for a second.

You can watch some of the highlights from our fantastic afternoon and evening of Take That and Key 103 entertainment here –

 

I love going to see bands and live music in general. Going to see Take That as part of the hospitality package available at the Manchester Arena just made a great night even more special. It’s definitely something I’d look at booking again, especially if it was for a special occasion or celebration. 

Key 103 are the official radio partner for the Manchester Arena – Manchester’s premium venue for seeing the world biggest acts. Tuning in to Key 103, you’re guaranteed to hear more hits than ever. Key 103 plays all the biggest hits, all day long.

Note: We were invited guests of Key 103 and we were given the hospitality experience in return for this blog post.

Recipe: Alcohol Free Champagne Jelly

About ten years ago we went to a very smart restaurant in the Lake District and had a pretty fantastic meal. For pudding my husband had Champagne Jelly and I was incredibly jealous of his light and refreshing pud. Being a vegetarian I was unable to tuck in, but he assured me that it was as good as it looked. Ever since then I’ve thought about making a veggie friendly Champagne Jelly but I’d never actually got around to doing it. This week I bit the bullet and made a beautiful, Alcohol Free Champagne Jelly using Eisberg Sparkling Rosé.

Eisberg Sparkling Rosé is a light and refreshing alcohol free sparking wine which is bursting with fresh, fruity flavours. It has 33 calories per 125ml serving and the alcohol is not more than 0.05%vol; making it great for those who might be counting calories, pregnant ladies who fancy a glass of fizz or for people who are just avoiding alcohol. This is also a drink, or a pudding which children could enjoy on a special occasion too. No one needs to feel like they’re missing out!

Alcohol Free Champagne Jelly

Alcohol Free Champagne Jelly Recipe 

Ingredients (serves 4):

30g caster sugar
500ml Eisberg Sparkling Rosé
1 sachet of Dr.Oetker Vege-Gel (19.5g)
A handful of raspberries, or any fruit you like

Method

Measure out 500mls of Eisberg Sparkling Rosé and pour 200mls of the wine into a saucepan, add the 30g of caster sugar and start to heat through, stir to dissolve the sugar. Once dissolved, sprinkle the packet of Dr.Oetker Vege-Gel, bring to the boil and whisk the whole time.

The Vege-Gel sets very quickly, so once it’s dissolved, add the remaining 300mls of wine and whisk. Take it off the heat when it starts to thicken and carefully pour into glasses or serving bowls, or whatever you’re serving them in.

You might want to put a few raspberries into your glasses before pouring the jelly in on top. My jellies set very quickly, so you will need to move fast.  But you might want to pop them in the fridge for a few hours to make sure they’re set firmly. 

Alcohol Free Champagne Jelly

This was a really speedy dessert to make, with none of the faffing which comes with gelatine. Because it was vegetarian and alcohol free, we could all enjoy it, even my son! I love that it sets so fast it manages to capture some of the bubbles in the jelly.

The Alcohol Free Champagne Jelly was an incredibly light and refreshing end to our meal. It would be perfect for a summer barbecue or a party. The fizz itself is delicious, I was very pleasantly surprised as I’m not usually a fan of rosé, but this is something I would happily serve my guests this summer, either as a drink or as a lovely fruity jelly.

You can find out more about Eisberg Sparkling wines on their website.

Alcohol Free Champagne Jelly

Note: I was sent some alcohol-free Eisberg Sparkling wines to try, all images and opinions are my own.

If you’ve enjoyed this recipe, you might also like my recipe for alcohol-free slow cooked beef in red wine.

Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Electronic Music Mix Star-Lord figure

With the recent release of Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2, we have been checking out the new Guardians of the Galaxy Electronic Music Mix Star-Lord figure.

Star-Lord is one of the galaxy’s coolest heroes. Star-Lord, otherwise known as Peter Quill is played by Chris Pratt in the hit movies, he definitely has the best playlist in the galaxy. Released at the same time as Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2, the Electronic Music Mix Star-Lord figure was an instant hit with the small boy.

Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Electronic Music Mix Star-Lord figure

The Electronic Music Mix Star-Lord figure is 12 inches of fully moulded plastic. Just his arms, hands and head move, but he’s very solidly build and he can stand up on his own, which is a big bonus.

He comes with 2AA batteries already inserted, but these are demo batteries and will need to be replaced before long. Though it means that he’s chatting as soon as you get him out of his box.

Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Electronic Music Mix Star-Lord figure

Included with the Star-Lord figure are two sub-machine blasters, a mix tape and a set of instructions. The figure is suitable for ages 4+ and is available from a range of retailers including Amazon for around £27.99.

To set the music playing just insert the blue mix tape into the walkman on his belt. There is also a button here which you press to make him repeat the phrases.

The blue mix tape is pretty small and I’m certain it will be lost almost immediately, so I’m pleased that Star-Lord is still able to speak without it. One thing to note about the mix tape is when it’s inserted and playing a song, if you press the button it makes a cool rewinding sound. Which is a sound I miss.

Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Electronic Music Mix Star-Lord figure

The figure plays a number of songs from Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2 movie and has 25 different phrases including “It’s called a mix tape. You’ve never seen one?” and “Yea, that’s right, we’re the Guardians of the Galaxy.”

Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Electronic Music Mix Star-Lord figure

I have a fairly love/hate relationship with the two sub-machine blasters which come with the figure. They are pretty tricky to force into his hands. Be prepared for your kids to hand them to you and get you to do it. But, once they are in, they’re in, so they don’t easily fall out and get lost.

Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Electronic Music Mix Star-Lord figure

As with all noisy toys, I’m sure parents will tire of this pretty quickly. I know after half an hour of him pressing the button and singing along I had to excuse myself to get a few minutes peace. I love the film too, but I have a fairly low tolerance for noisy toys. This could probably do with some kind of volume control button.

Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Electronic Music Mix Star-Lord figure

I’m not sure how much appeal this toy will have after the initial flurry of new toy excitement. He has limited movement and I think once his stock of phrases and song selections have been rattled through a few times, he might find himself consigned to the toy box. Which is a shame, because he is a handsomely moulded figure and would look really cool on a shelf and taken down and played with when other Guardians of the Galaxy fans are visiting.

My son really loves this figure, he loves everything about it. I’m not 100% sure he will enjoy playing with it for long though. Once he’s grown tired of it, I’ll make sure it has a place on our cool things shelf. Because it is if nothing else a very cool thing.

To see the Guardians of the Galaxy Electronic Music Mix Star-Lord figure in action, please take a minute to watch this video… 
 

We were sent the Guardians of the Galaxy Electronic Music Mix Star-Lord figure for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own. This blog post contains affiliate links.

We're going on an adventure

WordPress: How to stop Linkis scraping your content

I’ve been blogging for almost four years now. One of the things that bother me the most are services which scrape my content and publish it on their site. It’s a very grey area, but for me it sets a copyright infringement alarm bell ringing in my head. Whether it’s legit or not, they are scraping my content and keeping the traffic, clicks and stats for themselves. There are a number of services which do this, but today I want to talk about Linkis.

At first glance Linkis appears to be a URL shortening service. Their links will look a bit like this – inkis.com or ln.is. However when you click on the link it takes you to the Linkis website. They will have scraped your content and put their frame over it. So whoever is looking at your content isn’t actually looking at your website.

Additionally if you’re using Twitter with an app such as on a tablet or phone, then Linkis will ask you to sign it which authorises the app. Once authorised every link you share will be a Linkis link until you disable the app (which you can do by going to settings / apps / revoke access). Annoying much?

As a blogger I spend a lot of time writing blog posts, taking pictures, doing bloggy things. For me it’s a full time job and to have someone like Linkis take my content and my click is infuriating. I’ve had to do all the hard work and someone else gets the glory. Sort of. 

I love compers, some of my loveliest and most chatty Twitter followers are compers. So I’m not criticising them in any way. I run giveaways on my blog and I’ve noticed that some compers use Linkis. They share my giveaway posts via Linkis. Which would be fine, but Linkis steals my traffic and my click and it also invalidates some of their entry options (see below for details). No fair right?

I did a bit of digging and found a WordPress plug-in called Frame Buster which I’ve installed and it seems to work well. Their blurb is below. I’ve had it installed for two weeks now and I haven’t seen a single Linkis share.

“You have spent a lot of time and effort building your website, creating your own calls-to-action, and strategizing your goals. The thought of someone throwing their own CTAs over top of your content without you knowing about it is probably both scary and infuriating.

This type of unsolicited activity can be accomplished by using apps such as:

  • Sniply
  • Linkis
  • Start A Fire

The Frame Buster by Warfare Plugins will detect any instance of your website being shown inside of a frame or a rerouted URL version of your content and redirect visitors to the original content (without the unsolicited calls-to-action). This ensures that content pirates cannot redirect traffic, leads and conversions to their own calls-to-action.”

There’s a very good article about Linkis and how to stop it scraping your content, including emailing them and asking for your site to be blacklisted by them. However I’ve found that since I’ve installed the Frame Buster plugin that Linkis has stopped allowing my links to be shared. If you do click on a Linkis link to my blog it now forces a redirect from the Linkis frame straight onto my blog post. 

I’ve discussed this issue with some of my blogging friends. Some were aware of it, some were horrified. It does just look like a standard URL shortening service, but it’s a bit more sinister than that.

I spoke to Jenny from The Brick Castle and she said “I’d add Bloglovin to that list – they are still not handing over all traffic, but that’s something for another day.” Jenny goes on to add that for competitions and giveaways she has a warning about Linkis on her site, as “the redirect url (going to your site via theirs) messes with the retweet url and you can’t find it via your Gleam or Rafflecopter form or by looking at ‘retweets’. So it won’t count and they can’t win.”

I have included Jenny’s warning below for info. 

NOTE TO USERS OF Twitter – Linkis changes the url of your tweet and it can’t be counted! To remove third party apps – ‘Profile And Settings’, ‘Settings’, ‘Apps’. 

Interesting points to consider for both bloggers and compers. 

For me, Frame Buster seems to be working a treat and I’d recommend installing it on WordPress. It dealt perfectly with my Linkis problem and I’m very happy with the plugin.

I’d like to hear what people think of Linkis and if you’re unhappy how did you solve the problem?

WordPress: How to stop Linkis scraping your content

For more blogging tips and tutorials click here.

Win a £20 Gift Voucher to spend at Melody Maison

Melody Maison are one of the UK’s leading retailers of shabby French Chic and vintage style home furnishings. They began trading in 2004 from a small spare bedroom in Yorkshire and now they design, manufacture and distribute French style furniture all over the world. 

In recent years, vintage and shabby chic furniture has been one of the key home interiors looks. As specialists in vintage, French and shabby chic furniture, Melody Maison are one of the leading companies in the UK specialising in this style. 

Vintage & Shabby Chic Furniture from Melody Maison PLUS Giveaway

Melody Maison is a real family business and they pride themselves on exceptional customer service. Their website is full of so many gorgeous pieces of furniture and accessories for every room in your home, including clocks, lights and mirrors. 

What would you choose from Melody Maison to enhance your home?

Visit the Melody Maison website to see their full range of vintage and shabby chic furniture and accessories.

WIN A £20 Melody Maison Gift Voucher

To be in with a chance to win a £20 Melody Maison Gift Voucher, simply complete the Rafflecopter widget below.  Don’t forget to visit their website and tell me what you’d spend your voucher on if you won. Good luck!

Check out our other giveaways over on our competitions page.

 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & Conditions:
1. The competition is open to residents of the UK only aged (18) and over.
2. The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered.
3. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter widget above, complete any mandatory entries and any optional entries you would like.
4. The two winners will be chosen at random from all valid entries.
5. Two winners will receive a £20 Melody Maison Gift Voucher.
6. The closing date for entries is 11.59pm GMT on 12th June 2017.
7. The winners will be informed by email within 7 days of the closing date.
8. The winners will be asked to provide a full UK postal address with postcode for delivery purposes.
9. The winners names will be available on request
10. Address details will be passed onto an agency to post the prize out to the winner, and is therefore beyond my control. I cannot be held responsible for prizes being lost in the post although I will endeavour to liaise with the agency.
11. Your email address may be passed on to the promoter for marketing purposes, you may unsubscribe at any time.
12. Entry to this giveaway confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions.
13. HodgePodgeDays decision is final in all matters relating to this giveaway.