Breaking Bad – Better Late Than Never

Review of Breaking Bad

What’s all the fuss about?

Everywhere I turned Facebook, Twitter and the pub, everyone kept talking about how amazing Breaking Bad was.  Many using the word ‘addiction’ to describe their new watching habits.  Many watching several episodes a night and finishing all 5 series in a week or two.  Quite a few of them have already started to watch it a second time.

When I tell people who have already watched it, that I’m just starting it,  they all tell me how ‘jealous’ they are.

A review of Breaking Bad

I had a general idea of the story line;  a Chemistry teacher is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and in a desperation to care for his family once he’s gone, he turns to a life of crime – using his Chemistry genius to cook up the purest Crystal Meth.   For some reason it really didn’t grab my attention, but with the level of hype around it I decided to give it a go as I have it via Netflix UK.

Hook, line and sinker!

I’m not a big telly watcher but I was hooked from the opening scene of the Pilot which aired in 2008.  Why was a man driving a motor home on a desert highway, in his pants wearing a gas mask, with two dead guys rolling around in the back and another slumped over the dashboard?  What could have possibly led up to that moment?

Opening Scene Breaking Bad

The cinematography is amazing, the plot is compelling and the casting perfect.  I made the assumption that both of the main characters Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) were relatively unknown, but this is down to my lack of TV watching.  I had no idea that Aaron had such an extensive list of credits to his name (e.g. Need for Speed, ER and Mission Impossible III) and so does Bryan.

I’m only half-way through series two so no spoilers please!  Should I watch it slowly to savour it or is it impossible?  I even found myself telling my taxi driver all about it the other morning.





Looking for a new PTA Fundraising Activity?

PTA Wine Tasting with Escaped GrapePTA Wine Tasting by Escaped Grape

Are you bored of the usual cake sales, fetes, Quiz Nights and Shopping evenings?  Why not have a Wine Tasting Evening.

For our school it’s not all about raising funds for the school but more a way of developing a sense of community amongst the parents.  It wasn’t a huge money spinner but was far more enjoyable than a cake sale.  Plus, I didn’t have to get up at the crack of dawn and attempt to bake.  Okay, who am I kidding, I would have bought a cake.

The seed was planted

A friend of mine’s brother bought her a wine tasting evening about 18 months ago, she finally got around to using it about a month ago.  Following the session she put the following message on Facebook.

Escaped Grape Wine Tasting - Testimonial

This got me thinking.  I connected with Simon from Escaped Grape to see what he could offer, ran it passed the Chair of the PTA and it went from there.

The Plan

We decided to limit the tickets to 30, to add the element of exclusivity, we sold out!  We charged £10 per ticket and the PTA would keep 60%.   The event ran from 8-10pm.  There were 7 different tastings of wine, cheese and nibbles to accompany the wine, plus Simon also managed to secure some Champagne, Cider and Gin for the tasting.  He’s a much better blagger than I am.  Unfortunately, and I don’t think this is a bad thing, the Gin was broken by the courier in transit but we had more than enough.

Another bonus is that Simon isn’t selling wine, it’s all about the tasting, so you don’t feel that you are going to be pressured into buying a case before you leave.

Choosing a Venue

We decided to hire a separate venue, to get away from the school setting (so to speak) and we would’ve been lost in the school hall.  As I am a member of the local St Albans, Dive Club, I was able to hire the lecture room for £40 and we prearranged for the bar to be open for 30 minutes before the event and an hour after for a bit of a social.

What makes a good party?

It may have been after a few wines but I started to think ‘What can we add to the night to make it a bit more special’.  In the end, I found myself modelling it on a children’s birthday party minus the alcohol of course.  We had everything from Face painters to Party Bags.


We managed to secure the lovely Hannah Padden from Glitterbox for the evening.  She is probably the most talented face painter I have ever come across.  What makes her special is her paint belt, which allows her to move freely around the room, you didn’t even notice her there.  I was very surprised many of the blokes didn’t need liquid encouragement to join in.  The face painting really added that WOW factor to the evening.

The Pudding Stop St Albans, Herts

And Wine Tasting wouldn’t be complete without puddings and cheese.  In St Albans, we are also very lucky to have Johnny, from the Great British Bake-Off fame, who owns the Pudding Stop in Town.  The parents demolished the Pecan Pie and the Baked Cheesecake.

Flowers by Nicky Towers

The Dive Club facilities are very basic, but we managed to tart it up nicely by dimming the lights, ironed our school table clothes and Flower Centre Pieces by the ever so talented Nicky Towers from Towers Flowers.  The flowers added that touch of class that we needed and at the end of the evening parents were able to purchase them.

Traditional  Sweets by Tuck Tuck

And you have to have Party Bags.  The lovely Lisa (Cherry Lips) Gomm from Tuck Tuck sweets supplied us with 18 bags of traditional sweets (e.g Cola Bottles, Jelly Babies, Aniseed Balls).  We weren’t sure what wine to pair them with so, to earn a bit more revenue, we sold them to the parents.  They disappeared in a flash.

It wouldn’t be a party without games either.  We contemplated a raffle, but to make things easier we opted for a 50/50 draw which generated a bit more money for the PTA and was easy to adminster after a bit of wine.

By all accounts our parents really enjoyed the evening.  One of the mums said she struggled to persuade her husband to come but at the end of the night he was telling her how much he enjoyed it.

As I said earlier it wasn’t a big money earner, but with a bit of creativity with peripherals (auctions, raffles, merchandise for sale)  I do think schools could put on a very enjoyable evening for parents and earn a bit of money as well.

Simon can be reached on 07738005975 and email  He is based in Hertfordshire.  I’m more than happy to recommend him.






My Top 8 TV Series to Watch on Netflix

What TV Series to Watch on Netflix UK?

Netflix UK

As I’ve said before I don’t tend to watch a lot of TV but am really enjoying being able to watch TV series on demand via Netflix.  On occasion, I find myself watching a couple of episodes a night and getting through series fairly quickly.  It really helps me to keep up with any complicated story lines.

In the past, if I was to watch TV, to give you an idea of my taste in TV programmes (or lack of), I would tend to watch things like Six Feet Under, Nip Tuck, 24, the Sopranos, House, The Office and Doc Martin.

So far so good!

We recently finished watching series two of House of Cards, about a scrupulous husband and wife in politics, who will do anything to succeed, starring Kevin Spacey, so you can’t go wrong.  Now we can’t wait for series three to come out.  I honestly, have no idea if there is in fact plans for series three.

We’ve just started watching the first series of Lilyhammer and I love it.  It’s about an ex-mobster, who testifies against one of his previous bosses, then is given a new identity and moves to rural Lillehammer in Norway.  The characters are brilliant and the opportunity for hilarity immense.

What TV Series Should I Watch on Netflix UK

Next on our Watchlist

I’ve been asking around for a few recommendations for when we finish Lilyhammer and after checking out the recommendations descriptions and ratings on IMDB we hope to watch the following.  This should take us through to at least Christmas 2014.

Orange is the New Black – this one was recommended time and time again.  The description on IMDB is very limited.  Apparently, it’s about a 30 year old who gets sent to prison for a crime her girlfriend committed 10 years before but with the number of recommendations I’m going to give it a go.

Breaking Bad – after being diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer and given only 2 years to live the main character turns to a life of crime to ensure that his family are financially secure after he is gone.

Dexter – we have watched a couple of episodes of this and it is truly disturbing.  Dexter, who during the day works for the Miami Police Department, moonlights in the evening as a Serial Killer, but don’t worry he only kills bad people.

The Good Wife – after her husband a politician is put behind bars for a sex and corruption scandal she is left to fend for her two kids so returns to work as a litigator in the courtroom.

Homeland – A Marine Sergeant is rescued after being kept captive in Iraq for 8 years and hailed a war-hero, but Carrie a member of the Counter Terrorism Unit reckons that he may have been turned by Al-Qaeda.

Blacklist –  A former government agent has eluded capture for 10 years but suddenly turns himself in promising to help catch a terrorist but will only work with a young FBI profiler.

There seems to be a theme running through my choices.  What else should we be watching?  Do leave your suggestions in the comments below.








Do you eat your Pizza with your hands?

‘Everybody likes pizza! It’s a quick and easy clean-up meal’ – Buddy Valastro

Do you eat with your hands?I’ve always eaten pizza with my hands.  However, once moving to the UK, I noticed more and more people eating it with a fork and knife, which I find a tad strange.  Often when I go out with friends, I always find myself apologizing in advance that I will be eating mine with my hands.


I’ve tried eating it with a fork and knife to look less of a heathen but I find it painstakingly slow, maybe it will slow me down so I eat less but I can’t be bothered.  Isn’t the whole point of the crust so that you can eat it in a similar vein to a sandwich?

I was invited down to Prezzo in St Albans, Herts last week to try out the new menu.  I took the opportunity to take a long time friend so we could have a proper catch up over some food and a glass of wine.  We’ve known each other long enough so I didn’t feel I needed to do the usual, ‘sorry I eat my pizza with my hands’.  The waiter also agreed with me.

Normally, I’m a bit predictable and normally have a Fiorentina Pizza, which is basically a Spinach Pizza with an Egg plopped on top.  But, as a seafood lover, I spotted a Lobster and Prawn option on the menu and asked the waiter which one I should have.  He quickly said, you can’t compare the two and you have to have the Lobster and Prawn one.  He couldn’t have been more right it was absolutely gorgeous.

You expect me to eat all of that?


I wish we would have got a picture of my face when it arrived at the table.  No word of a lie, it was as wide as the table and enough for at least two people and we’d just shared a Bread Board.  Plus, it came with a pizza cutter so I could cut it into slices and dive in with my hands!

Bread Board to Share at Prezzo, St Albans, Herts

I’ve been to a couple of other Pizza chains in St Albans, Herts and have only been to Prezzo once before, but in my opinion Prezzo was far superior.  The others I find a bit chainy, very open plan and clanging with noise.

We had a lovely table, it wasn’t heaving but still felt that we could have a decent conversation without competing with all the background noise, the service was excellent, reasonably priced, great selection of wines and both of our meals were gorgeous.  My friend opted for a Raviolli pasta dish and it was just as nice as my pizza and they were very accommodating when she asked if she could have mushrooms added to it.

So the big question is, do you eat your Pizza with a fork and knife or with your hands?  Please do leave a comment.




Netflix UK has come along way!

Netflix UK

I have to be honest, I had Netflix about 18 months ago and was absolutely scathing about it.  I was very disappointed with the content on offer at that time.  However, I was persuaded to give it another go and I have to say that we absolutely love it.  There is so much more content on it now than there was a year or so ago.  I’m actually tempted to get rid of or Virgin TV!

Mummy Netflix is so much better than the other one we had…….

I don’t tend to watch a lot of TV probably because there never seems to be that much on.  I’m absolutely loving being able to watch my own choice of TV Series, without ads, and whenever I want.  We can access Netflix on our iPads and via our Apple TV.   It’s incredibly easy to set up.

Spoiled for Choice

So far, we’ve watched Gavin and Stacey as everyone always raved about it and am now in the midst of House of Cards,  a Netflix Original, starring Kevin Spacey who plays a US Congressman who along with his conniving wife exact revenge on the people who betrayed him.  I need to rush through it before Season 2 comes out.  It’s outstanding!

Netflix UK

Next on my list is Lilyhammer, another Netflix Original Series  about a New York Mobster that goes into hiding in rural Norway after testifying against his former associates.

Happy Kids

There is also a good selection of content for my daughter and I do like that Netflix has given thought to parental controls which were easy to set profiles for myself and my 6 year old daughter.

Parental Controls Netflix

My only complaint at the moment is that it’s incredibly easy for her to switch to my content by simply clicking my name.  I have spoken to Netflix about this and hope to see passwords added to the profiles.

What should I watch next on Netflix?