The Great British Sewing Bee – Sustainable Style – Book review | Champagne Twist


Here’s a short video of my review of the new Great British Sewing Bee’s Sustainable Style sewing book.  Hope you find it informative, don’t forget to leave your comments below.

Keep safe and well everyone.

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How not to help others during Coronavirus

OK folks, I’m not about to tell you how to live your life. It’s your life, do with it what you will – all I ask that you don’t hurt anyone in the process.

But really? This is the best these celebrities could come up with?  Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, a bunch of rich people singing John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’, (I thought that was a song about world peace? I don’t think Coronavirus is listening, but hey worth a try I suppose), whilst holed up in houses that many 5 star hotels are jealous of. I know their hearts were in the right place but, it comes across as completely insensitive, and highlights the divide between rich and poor, the haves and the have nots.  When this is all over, they will return to lucrative jobs, whilst many of their fans may not have a job to return to. They are people who may not have a roof over their head by the end of the week – and sadly they may be considered when this is all over, to be the lucky ones.  People are dying, people are suffering, people are starving now, others are bearly surviving – the last thing in the world we need, is to listen to a bunch of well meaning celebs singing at us.

When you face an uncertain future, you’ve lost your job, visit super markets with empty shelves, and have no money to pay for anything even if they were full, and (un)like Simon, you’re down to your last sheet of loo paper, I can imagine that this particular song, with this particular group of people, will provide little comfort.

Look, I feel helpless like a lot of people, made worse by the fact that it’s Mother’s Day, and I won’t be able to see her.  But I am trying to prepare for the future.  I know some people who may struggle over the next few weeks, so I’m checking up with friends and family with regular phone calls and keeping in touch with neighbours in case they need things from the shop. It is not much, but I like to think it’s a bit better than singing an inappropriate song at people, whilst living in the lap of luxury.

Or am I being too harsh?

Marvellous distractions during Coronavirus

At the time of writing, (11am), my day has already been made. Why?, you may ask. Well, after checking today’s TV listings, I discovered that Marvel’s Avengers Assemble is being broadcast later on BBC1, and now I’m planning my whole evening’s entertainment around this movie.

Yes, I know it’s sad, but a) I don’t care – I fully acknowledge that this is a ‘sad’ act, and fully embrace it. I love Marvel movies and I’m happy for the whole world to know it.  OK so the only being I can physically tell this to is the neighbour’s cat, but it still counts and b) my thinking is, we should all take whatever joy, whether it be big or small, and make the most of it.

Funny enough, I was planning on downloading the Marvel Infinity Saga – that’s over 20 movies in case you were unaware – this morning, until I realised that at around £14 per movie, they are way out of my price league.  Hence, you may now understand why I’m made up that the BBC is broadcasting the Avengers tonight. It’s only 1 more, but it makes a huge difference. It’s saved me £14 already.

Films, whether it be new discoveries or old classics are the main distraction for me, as I try to ride out this whole isolation situation. In fact, films have helped me through numerous situations, from the stress of waiting for exam results, to distracting me from the general annoyances of daily life. In a way, I view this weird period of life as a welcome distraction in itself.

Up until a week ago I was working all the hours I could to set up my business, only for it to fall at the first hurdle because of this dreaded disease. Well it didn’t even get the chance to reach the first hurdle. It never occurred to me to include ‘near total global shutdown of life as we know it’, on my S.W.O.T. analysis report. The biggest threat I listed was an attack of greenfly, and I felt silly writing that.

I count myself as very lucky and am so grateful that I’m able to sustain myself at least for the time being. The point I’m badly trying to make is, make hay while the sun shines. This is a wake up call for all of us.  How many times have we said ‘oh I want to see that movie’, only for something trivial, but we think vitally important at the time, to prevent us from enjoying our time?  How many family events have been missed, how many times have we pushed back on our dreams.

I’m not saying that self isolation is fun for everyone, but I am suggesting that everyone, if they can, should take this time and just think where we are all going in life.  Do we really need to live the way we do in order to have a good life? Do we really need 200 pairs of shoes, when we many of us today can’t even wear one pair to walk past our front gate?

Tomorrow, I’m going back to the drawing board, and will try to salvage what I can from my business plans.  I will also be sowing more vegetable and flower seeds, just in case this situation continues for a prolonged period.

But tonight, imagine me parked on the sofa, with a big bowl of warm, freshly popped popcorn, watching the formation of a group of super heroes, fighting the invaders of the planet.  Maybe it will provide a few ideas for our current real life situation.

Shopping during Coronavirus

This is just a quick note to say hi, and I hope you are all well and doing OK under these strange circumstances.

And also just to say this.

toilet paper roll on canvas bag
Photo by Vie Studio on

Here, in the UK, we are fortunate to live in the 5th richest country in the world. You do not need to stock pile on loo paper  – or anything else for that matter. Please do not stock pile, and just purchase what you need.  There is more than enough for all of our needs, but not enough for our greeds.

Panic buying will only make an already bad situation potentially far, far worse.  It won’t be this horrible virus that will end us, it will be our collective selfishness and greed.

So, please, before you head down the shops, think before you buy.

I will be posting more content over the next few days on Twitter, YouTube and on this platform, so stay tuned for tips, hints and even the odd joke.

Take care of yourself and each other.

UK Bank Interest Rates to Double | Champagne Twist

money pink coins pig
Photo by Skitterphoto on

I flipped on the TV last night by chance, and caught the tail end of the Martin Lewis Money Show, and learnt that bank interest rates are set to double.



The fear and panic that came over me was so overwhelming, I immediately burst into tears. Thoughts included – I am bearly keeping my head above water as it is, and now could literally face bankruptcy.  It was all the more hurtful, as I was having a good day up to that point.  I have been making good, meaningful and positive inroads into my plans for the Champagne Twist social network and up coming business.

Then this bombshell.

To say I have been knocked for 6, is the understatement of the decade, and as this new decade is only 8 days old, that’s saying a lot.  But after a calming and reassuring chat with my mum (yes I resorted to that age old standard of calling my mum at the first sign of a crisis, don’t judge me, and if you do, I don’t care!) – I feel a little more hopeful.  I didn’t get much sleep, but as the daylight increases, things aren’t looking quite so dire.

What angers me, is that my financial institution has not informed me of these new changes.  This sneaky, underhanded way banks deal with their customers these days, is beyond appalling. Many charge nearly 40% in interest rates, but only give up to 1% for savings. As for their customer service, don’t get me started.

There is hope on the horizon. Next week The Martin Lewis Money Show is dedicating a major part of the show to dealing positivity with the new overdraft charges.  I strongly suggest you watch, even if you are financially sound.  With the uncertainly of recent world events, it would be wise to keep abreast.

Stay blessed everyone, and if you can, pass this post onto as many people as you can. Spread the message, you can help someone, and that’s a great thing to do.


The Martin Lewis Money Show

Monday 13th January 2020

ITV, 8pm and ITV+1, 9pm


The Garden Reflections Wooden Bird House – review | Champagne Twist

Picture Source -
Garden Reflections Wooden Bird House. Picture Source –

It’s arrived! I have been waiting an absolute age for this, and after weeks of internal self debate, I finally took the plunge and purchased the bird house and it arrived yesterday.

Of course, knowing my luck the delivery was twice delayed by the worse delivery service known to, well everyone, but still I’m so happy that my brand new, half price bird house has finally arrived.

It may not be the colour I wanted, sage green, but that was snapped up by faster shoppers, so I’m for the moment happy to make do with the grey.

Setting up the flat packed bird house wasn’t so challenging, the instruction sheet wasn’t the best, but I managed to muddle through the DIY process in about 40 minutes, only slowed down by taking photographs and the ridiculous lack of pilot holes.  Honestly for an item that was originally priced as the best part of £40, you would have thought they could have drilled in the pilot holes.  For the DIY novice, who may be a little heavy handed or over enthusiastic with a screw driver, this could prove disastrous.  The wood used isn’t very dense, I suppose to ensure a lower end cost, however it means that it is quite easy to split the pieces, rendering the entire bird house unusable.

That said, the top is very heavy once assembled, and I wonder if the design could be further improved with a quadrapod rather than a tripod base – we shall see.

For the sale price of just under £20, I think I may have made a good deal.  I certainly wasn’t going to purchase it for the original sale price of around £40, it simply isn’t worth it, considering the rather poor standard of the pieces.  I’m glad that they included a couple of spare screws – at least I hope they are spare – but the paint finish looks like it will need retouching in only a matter of weeks.  I have a sample pot of Wilko English sage green in standby.

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English sage paint – picture source


The over all look of the bird house is pleasing, and which initially led me to this item.  I’ve compared other bird houses in a few major DIY and garden stores, and shape wise, this is my favourite.  Selling from £40 upwards, the quality varied from cheap and tacky to fairly robust but over priced.  So for £20, I’m pleased with the end item, but it’s just a pity that more attention to detail and quality control, this could have been so much more.

Rating 3 out of 5

Bird House purchased from –




Saving the birds and No New Year Resolutions | Champagne Twist

I have long given up on making new year’s resolutions.  Partly because by this time of year, i.e. the 2nd of January, I’ve broken half of them.  But I have started to implement my plans to help encourage birds and beneficial pollinators to my outdoor space.  I’m starting with the birds by making sure that I supply various foods to sustain their diet during these cold winter months.

January and February tend to be the coldest months of the year, and food is very scarce both for food gardeners and wildlife.  I’ve taken advantage of the Christmas and New Year sales and purchased a bird table and bird food supplies.

Wilko is my go-to bird food supplier, I normally buy a tub of 50 fat balls for £4.  The birds which especially love these fat balls are robins, blue tits, magpies and the occasional big pigeon.


In an effort to attract a wider variety of birds and to tempt the blue tits away from my already blossoming honeysuckle, I’m trialing these suet blocks.  So far, however, they are not at all tempted by the, preferring to stick to the fat balls.  I’m think maybe I need to give the birds a bit more chance to discover them, or move the blocks elsewhere in the garden.  I’m hoping when the bird table arrives, I can place the blocks on it, and save my poor honeysuckle!


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I also placed a bird seed feeder outside, but again, the birds are not biting. Oddly, I’ve never had much luck when it comes to loose bird seed.  A few years ago, I was filling a seed feeder, when I spilled some on a now defunct garden table. I went inside to get something to clean it up, and in the few seconds I had turned my back, a family of squirrels appeared in the garden.  For a split second, I thought I was a Disney princess, and the squirrels had come to visit me in my fairy tale garden. Then I remembered how I spilled the bird seed.  I admit I was more than a little hurt that the fantasy didn’t pan out, and more than a little bit cross that at least 10 squirrels, came from nowhere to deprive the birds of their lunch.

I’m glad to say that the squirrels have not returned in such numbers, although we do get the occasional visit from a solo squirrel, one who I suspect keeps digging up my raised beds. But thanks to the neighbourhood cats, mainly stays out of the way on the roof tops.

While I hope that encouraging birds into the garden now, will encourage them to help me control the snail and slug population later in the Summer, I’m also doing this to help increase the local bird population. Some species have been declining for years, so every effort I make can only help them flourish.

I’m looking forward to receiving the bird table, and hopefully a bird feeding stand, currently on waitlist, and will review them, along with the bird food in due course.

This may not be a new year’s resolution in the true sense, but I’m glad that I’m actually doing something that will help the environment.  Far better than trying to be more healthy – that kinda went out the window yesterday morning when I ate 6 Spiced Blueberry Panacakes for breakfast, which I covered with icing sugar (not so bad on sugarless pancakes), vanilla yogurt (quite good) and half a bottle of maple syrup (ooops!).

Wait, blueberry is a super food right? Maybe I can still keep my ‘be more healthy in 20’ resolution then!

OK maybe not.

Spiced Blueberry Pancakes recipe – Champagne Twist

Spiced Blueberry Pancakes recipe | Champagne Twist.jpg

Well, it’s the first day of a brand new decade.  It’s a sobering thought that we are now in the new 20s era.  Personally, I’m hoping that this decade is better than the last one, and that all my plans and hopes pan out in a positive way.

With that, here’s the new look Champagne Twist YouTube Channel, the theme for this year being “New Vision”.

This year I’m starting with a bang food wise, with an easy and delicious recipe for Spiced Blueberry Pancakes.  These pancakes don’t have any sugar as the sweetness is derived from the blueberries, the vanilla yogurt and just a drizzle of maple syrup. You can of course use a cheaper golden syrup, but I think the Maple syrup adds a unique spicy hit which compliments the mixed spices, so is for me worth the extra expense.

When combining fruit with spices, the usual go-to flavour pairing with blueberries is cinnamon.  As it is still the Christmas season, I wanted to keep the festive flavours, but add a slight twist. So I plumped for a mixed spice blend, which does include cinnamon, as well as other spices – dill, coriander, nutmeg, ginger and cloves.

So here’s the recipe, let me know if you try this and what you think of it, it would be great to hear your considered opinions.

Here’s wishing everyone a peaceful, fun, healthy, happy and safe new year.

Spiced Blueberry Pancakes, with vanilla yogurt and maple syrup


  • 200g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground mixed spice
  • 1 egg
  • 300ml milk
  • knob of butter, melted
  • 150g fresh blueberries
  • oil or butter for cooking
  • maple syrup and vanilla yogurt to serve



  1. Mix together flour, baking powder and mixed spices in a large bowl.
  2. In a separate, small bowl, beat the egg, then add the milk and melted butter and combine.
  3. Gradually add the wet ingredients to the dr, to form a smooth batter.  Fold in the blueberries.
  4. Heat a teaspoon of oil or butter in a non-stick frying pan.
  5. Pour a small ladleful of batter into the pan.
  6. Cook on each side for about 3 minutes, until golden brown.

Serve with vanilla yogurt for a healthy breakfast, and with maple syrup for a pudding or treat.