Our Family Day in London with the Samsung Galaxy S6

If you follow me on social media you may have seen that I was hugely excited last week to be given the opportunity by Three Mobile to review the brand new Samsung Galaxy S6 phone. In addition to letting me put the S6 through it’s paces for a few days, Three Mobile also very kindly gave us a day out in London where we visited the Natural History Museum and their wonderful “Sensational Butterflies” exhibition.

The Samsung Galaxy S6

WP_20150618_11_50_36_Pro (3)A little bit about the phone first. It is really slim and light though a bit longer than my current phone. I tend to carry my phone in my pocket and I was concerned it wouldn’t fit, but actually, although taller than my current¬†Nokia, it is slimmer so fit a little better if anything, result!

It runs on Android, and being a Windows Phone user this did take a bit of getting used to but is much more user-friendly than the last time I used Android (we are talking a few years ago now) and I soon got to grips with it. I also found the phone very fast which is nice as being nearly 2 years old my phone can be a bit sluggish!

The best thing about the S6 though has got to be the cameras. Yes, plural, because both front and back cameras are very impressive. The back camera is a whopping 16megapixel and the front is a lovely 5megapixel. I love a good family selfie so it nice to be able to take a quality shot with the front camera for a change. To show you the difference here is a couple of selfies taken with the front camera on my current phone compared with the front camera on the S6. I have no make up on so apologies but you can see the difference. The third shot has “beauty mode” switched on which kindly smooths your skin out for you – definite improvement I think! ūüôā

Samsung Galaxy S6 Front Camera

I also loved the speed of the cameras. It loads super fast even when the screen is timed out, and, best of all it takes the photo almost instantly when you press the shutter. Kids move around seriously fast and I often find with my current phone that by the time it has focussed and taken the shot, I have missed the moment. This happened a lot less with the S6 which is a HUGE plus in my books.

That’s about as technical as I am going to get as I am not that technical!¬†So that you can see for yourself how great the cameras are, here is our day at the Natural History Museum.

Our day at the Natural History Museum

We set off on the train to London first thing in the morning. Monkey was so excited to be on a really fast train and loved every second of the journey, especially the tunnels.

on the train 1

We had hoped LM may nap on the train but it would seem she was too excited too as was not remotely in the mood to nap. We had a lot of fun keeping her entertained instead.

On the train 2

Getting around London on the tube with two tots, a buggy and our bags was interesting. The tube was absolutely packed, and we were squeezed in like sardines! Monkey was such a good boy but LM was not a fan…. though she was charming everyone by making sneaky grabs for people’s jumpers and sunglasses etc! Thankfully everyone she chose to grab was friendly and in a good mood.

We finally arrived at the Natural History Museum which is such an impressive building, and after a cheeky selfie (though I really need to have a bit more practice with my selfie stick) we headed inside to see the huge Brontosaurus.

natural history museum

We were concerned Monkey may be a bit wary of the dinosaur but he loved it and decided it was smiling hehe. We just had time for a quick cup of tea and slice of cake before heading out to the Sensational Butterflies exhibition.

Sensational Butterflies

In the grounds of the Museum is a tropical tent housing lots of beautiful butterflies who are free to fly and roam as they please. As you go through you follow the trail which charts the life cycle of the butterfly, from caterpillar to cocoon to butterfly, while all the way you are surrounded by butterflies fluttering past.

Butterflies 1

Unfortunately Monkey had a full on freak out about the butterflies. He found them really scary flying so close to us and one landed on my back which really set him off. LM seemed to love watching them flutter past though! I managed to get some gorgeous shots but we did have to rush through a bit to get the screaming, clinging mess of a toddler out of the tent :/

Butterflies 1

It was such a shame as it was a wonderful exhibition and lovely to see the butterflies up close and learn more about these gorgeous insects, but that’s kids for you, always unpredictable. I was glad that the camera was so fast to load and at taking photos, I would have liked a bit more time in there to play with manual mode – but was dead impressed with the shots captured with the auto focus.

The Museum

After calming Monkey down we headed back into the museum for more of an explore.

in the museum

Sadly the queue to see the dinosaur zone was massive so we went for a walk around the mammals instead. Monkey had¬†a few initial jitters about the stuffed Lions and Bears but once he realised they¬†wouldn’t move he relaxed and he loved it – he even told the Polar Bear that he loved him… bless him, such a softy.

in the museum 2

We had a great time wandering around and looking at all of the animals, skeletons and the other models. Monkey loved this big rotating earth and I love this picture of the two of us, again I am just so impressed with the photos we took on the S6.

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LM dozed off on our walk round (thank goodness) then we headed for some lunch. The service and speed in the restaurant were great considering it was a busy Saturday but it was pricey and the food wasn’t very good quality. We were hungry though so scoffed it down. Hubs had fun taking photos of the four of us in the huge mirrors in the restaurant.

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After lunch we checked on the queue for the dinosaurs again but it was even more massive so after a bit of a wander in the museum we headed outside to the ice cream van we had seen earlier – only to find that they had turned the ice cream machine off! We couldn’t believe it! We had promised Monkey an ice cream by this point and as the afternoon was getting on we decided to make our way back to the station. We found an ice cream along the way then had another hot and busy journey on the tube back to Kings Cross where we got the train home.

journey home

It was a long day and very tiring but so much fun too and I am proud of us for stepping out of our comfort zone and taking the kids on the train and tube on such a busy day. It proves we can do it, though I am not sure we will do it again in a hurry.

I loved giving the S6 a real test out and it has really got me thinking about what phone I am going to go for next. I’ve always loved the Windows Phone OS¬†but I found Android to be really user-friendly and the cameras are just amazing on the S6. I use my phone largely as a camera since becoming a blogger so it really is important to have a good one. There are things about the Windows phone OS that I would miss on the move to Android…. but not as much as I thought,¬†so I may have been converted as the camera is such a big temptation.

I really cannot fault the Samsung Galaxy S6 at all as it was so fast and just so easy to use and I think the pictures speak for themselves. I was using it all day, taking tonnes of photos and a few videos, and the battery lasted well until we got home which I did find impressive. I think I will be hard pressed to find a better option when it is time to upgrade my phone in a few months’ time!

Is your phone your main camera? Are you a lover of Android, Windows, or Apple?

I was loaned the Samsung Galaxy S6 for a few days and Three Mobile gave us tickets to London and entry to the Sensational Butterflies exhibition for the purpose of this review. All opinions and images are entirely my own.

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Christmas Tree Discount Code

Pines and Needles Christmas TreeYes you did read that right, this is indeed a post about Christmas Trees… in June… I know but just 6 months to go now and if you are the sort who likes to be organised nice and early then please keep reading! Regular readers may remember that last year we got a beautiful Christmas Tree from a lovely company called Pines and Needles, who grow their own Christmas Trees and offer a delivery service.

I’ve always loved going and choosing a tree… but with 2 kiddies in the back of the car now there just isn’t the space so we can’t go en masse anyway… and as a busy family having the Christmas Tree delivered just takes away one of the hassles of a busy time of year.

You can read more about Pines and Needles and the lovely tree we had last year here, but without further ado here are two very special offer codes if you wish to order your Christmas tree nice and early, or nearer to the time. With a lovely discount and a few freebies, why wouldn’t you?

STAYHW2C15¬†–¬†Use this code if you order between 25th June and 25th July 2015 and get:
10% off
Free 10″ Decorated Wreath
Free Holly
Free Mistletoe
Free Mini Tree

STAY15 РUse this code if ordering after the 25th July and you will still get:
Free 10″ Decorated Wreath
Free Holly
Free Mistletoe
Free Mini Tree

While for us it may seem early to think of Christmas, being a Christmas Tree company is not a seasonal business for Pines and Needles. Their efforts continue throughout the year to ensure the highest possible quality trees. Years of experience has allowed them to perfect their craft and encourage trees to grow into the bushy triangular shapes we all know and love.

Happy Christmas Tree buying!!

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WOW Toys Review & Giveaway

We were contacted recently and asked if Monkey would like to review some WOW toys and I have to admit that we jumped at the chance. We regularly visit a few garden centres stocking WOW toys and Monkey absolutely loves playing with the ones they have on display. He also has one at his Nanny & Pops’ house which he loves so we know what great toys they are. So we are thrilled to be able to review this great set and even better, we have a fantastic giveaway so you can see how great they are for yourself!

WOW Toys¬†are designed¬†for pre-schoolers with some toys from 12 months and many from 18 months plus.¬† They are safe, durable and don‚Äôt require batteries to make them work. They are perfect for firing little one’s imaginations as we saw when we reviewed the Police Patrol Pals set.

This set comes with both Charlie the Police Car and Pete the Police Plane, along with 2 policemen and 2 police dogs. Monkey loved them as soon as he saw them and was immediately flying Pete the Police Plane around the room.

WP_20150611_17_17_19_Pro Wow toys 1

We then drew a very basic road and runway on a big piece of paper so Monkey could let his imagination run wild and he spent ages nee-naw-ing the police car and vrooming the plane

Wow toys 2

The toys have great little details, such as the stickers showing the policemen’s equipment, notepad, torch, and of course supplies for their doggie friends! Monkey also loved the fact that the roof of the police car flips up when you press the petrol cap. In fact he spent the whole weekend showing everyone we came into contact with “look, it does this!” and flipping the top!

Wow toys 3

They are such fab toys and you have a chance to win one via the fab giveaway below! They are also available on Amazon, which you can reach by clicking my Wow blogger buddy badge in the sidebar. They are available at a variety of independent shops too so be sure to keep an eye out for them.

On to the competition, good luck! (Competition opens 00:00 16/06/15)

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Children’s clothes from House of Fraser

We have quite a lot of friends with slightly older kiddies so get a lot of hand-me-down clothes for Monkey and LM, which is great as so many are barely worn. But sometimes it is lovely to choose clothes for them myself. To pick something I want them to wear. So when House of Fraser got in touch and asked me to review some clothes for the kiddies again I couldn’t resist.

House of Fraser as a department store says luxury to me, and so traditionally isn’t somewhere I have thought of when looking for children’s clothes. But boy was I wrong as they have so many lovely bits to choose from and the prices are not astronomical either.

With Monkey’s birthday coming up I couldn’t resist this gorgeous¬†Little Criminal¬†shirt he could wear for¬†his family birthday party.¬†He is in t-shirts a lot of the time and it was lovely to see him in this lovely shirt as he looks so grown up! I love the colours too and it looks perfect with his purple trousers.

Little Criminal shirt

For LM I couldn’t resist this gorgeous Pumpkin Patch dress. Two of my favourite colours are purple and teal (and these colours were the theme for our wedding in fact) so I just thought this was gorgeous.

pumpkin patch dress

I tend to prefer jersey dresses for her day to day as they are a bit more flexible and comfy but for a special occasion this is lovely and with it being cotton it is very lightweight so is perfect for a warm sunny day.

Even with these two little beauties I still had room in the budget they gave me for a third item! So I chose this cute little octopus t-shirt by name it, a brand I had not heard of before. It is such a lovely t-shirt and is a lot more closely fitting than any of Monkey’s other t-shirts.

name it tshirt

It’s a lovely fit actually and more like the fit hubs wears with his t-shirts, so it makes Monkey look so grown up! We love it ūüôā

I am so pleased with the quality and fit of all of these lovely clothes, and the best bit, all together they come in at under £30, which is brilliant!

We received these clothes free of charge for the purpose of this review, however all words, opinions and images are my own.

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Launch of the new changing bag range from Babymoov

Last week I was very lucky in that I managed to get some real Mummy me-time, a day in London! Not just for anything, but for the launch of the fantastic new range of changing bags by Babymoov. Being mid-week I didn’t think I would be able to go, but knowing I was in need of a break Hubs took charge of the kids for the day and off I trotted to London, very excited to see some lovely bags.

Before the launch I got to have a bit of a mooch round by myself (such a luxury) and had yummy falafel in a very cute Lebanese restaurant near Carnaby Street. All very peaceful and pleasant ūüôā

London

Anyway enough about that, and on to the Babymoov bags, which I am really excited to tell you about because I truly think they have such a fantastic range with something for everyone.

My Bag, My Style

‘My Bag, My Style’ is the theme for the new range, with the idea being that your changing bag should be your¬†bag,¬†your¬†style. A bag that you would have chosen just for you that doesn’t¬†feel like a frumpy changing bag, but that is still every bit as practical. They have designed the range with Mums and Dads in mind and I really think they have a bag for just about everyone and for all occasions.

There are 29 styles in total, ranging in price from ¬£29.99-¬£79.99 with 7 models each coming in a number of colours and/or patterns. From uber-glam bags that don’t feel like changing bags at all, to large holdalls and some styles which make perfect changing bags for Dads to use.

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The whole range of bags come with¬†the essentials, an insulated bottle holder, soother holder,¬†wet clothes bag and the changing mat, which always has it’s own outside pocket/storage space which I love. It may sound daft but any parent will know it is not always easy getting a changing mat back inside a very full bag, so having a place to put it without having to do that is a real plus in my book. All the bags come with a lifetime warranty as standard too.

My favourites

WP_20150519_15_08_48_Pro (2)My absolute favourite in the range has to be the Glitter bag, and I was lucky enough to be able to take one of these beauties home with me (cue girlish squeal!). It is just gorgeous and does not feel at all like a changing bag.

It looks and feels like a luxurious handbag and some of my non-Mummy friends have said that they wouldn’t hesitate to use it as a bag.

Inside though it is every bit the practical changing bag with plenty of pockets and space to keep all the nappies & other bits and bobs . Plus of course the coordinating essentials and shoulder strap.

It is so roomy and although it looks very similar in size to my current changing bag, when I transferred everything across it felt a lot more spacious and much less crammed in! (With two kiddies still in nappies I have a lot of stuff in there!)

WP_20150519_18_05_26_Pro

WP_20150519_13_37_19_ProAnother style that I absolutely love is the Messenger bag. I think this style is so perfect for Dads as it is so unassuming and again just looks like a normal bag.

I know Hubs would much rather carry round one of these than the girly bags I prefer so we may well have to get him one. It’s not just for Dads though as it comes in different colours and styles to suit different personalities.

glober-changing-bag

image courtesy of babymoov.co.uk

The Glober bag is also worth a mention as I love the idea of a backpack changing bag. I think this bag would be perfect when you are out and about with active toddlers as you can have your hands free but still have everything you need.

This would also be perfect for anyone with back troubles as the weight can be distributed more evenly. This would have been perfect when I was pregnant with LM because of my SPD.

I¬†was under orders from my physio not to carry a bag on one shoulder so used a¬†my normal backpacks, but it just didn’t have the necessary pockets and useful bits so this would have been much more handy. Again it comes in a variety of colours and patterns, from an assuming grey to lovely bright patterns.

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The range also includes:

  • The City bag, which is another glamorous handbag style changing bag which also comes with a handy change purse. and stroller harness.
  • The Traveller is¬†a large holdall which would be perfect to take away on holiday,or to use as a hospital bag.
  • The¬†Essential bag is a¬†simple design which would be great to use on days out to the beach etc.
  • The Style bag, which is¬†a lovely handbag design¬†in gorgeous patterns and colours.

I had a lovely day in London and really enjoyed hte launch of this fantastic range of changing bags, perfect Mummy me-time!

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I received the Babymoov Glitter bag in return for attending the launch of the range however all thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

Lotherton Hall, nr Leeds

Last week we headed up the A1 towards Yorkshire for a lovely little family holiday. We wanted to head off first thing in the morning during LM’s first sleep but couldn’t get into the cottage until 3pm. We decided we would stop off along the way, but actually made really good time that morning and decided to carry on a bit further than the halfway point where we thought we would stop. The question was, where to stop?

SatNavs are great but I love a good map, and this is the perfect example of why. I got the map out and had a look for some landmarks and places where we could visit. I found Lotherton Hall, just off the A1 not far from Leeds and after a quick look online (thank goodness for mobile internet) decided it was the perfect place for a little visit!

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Entry was ¬£5 per adult, 2.50 for children but under 5s go free which was great for us and compared to a lot of places we have visited I didn’t think the price was bad at all! (There is membership available too if you are local and there seemed to be a lot of mums with kids there who go there regularly.

So what is there? Loads! It’s a lovely big house which you can go round, though we found plenty to keep us amused outside. There are manicured gardens where you can play games on the lawns, a rock garden to explore, a lovely woodland walk with some adventure play areas amongst the trees (more on that later) 2 big play areas, a cafe and outdoor seating area, plenty of picnics spots, and to top it off a big bird sanctuary in the centre of the grounds!

LM woke up when we arrived so we headed straight to the cafe for some refreshment. the cafe was lovely and not too expensive, with a lovely sunny seating area. I was also really impressed to see a section of the stables set aside for indoor picnics on days when the weather is less than warm. So many places don’t provide indoor eating areas unless you buy their food, so I thought this was a nice touch.

We then headed to the main playarea, which is huge! There is so much to do for all different abilities and Monkey had a fab time climbing, though Mummy did have to clamber up and help him on one of the difficult bits, after that we kept him on the younger side of the playarea hehe. He also got his first ride on the zipwire swing and he absolutely adored it! Trying to get him to hold tightly enough was a challenge though!

lotherton hall 1

After a bit of a play we went for a wander and discovered the bird sanctuary! We had no idea it was there and it was massive with lots of lovely fascinating birds with many of them in really nice roomy enclosures. they even had a couple of condors and one of them was suitably impressing us by showing off his awesome wingspan.

lotherton hall bird garden

Then it was picnic time and we headed to a big field, which is where we discovered another play area! Spread across the field was all manner of climbing frames, swings, monkey bars, spinny things, two more zipwire swings and all sorts – and there was a lot of children out there enjoying the sunshine and having a lovely play on all of the equipment.

After lunch we took a stroll to get LM to sleep and had a little look at the deer park, ¬†then wandered through the woods. Which is where we discovered lots of lovely wooden play equipment spread amongst the trees. Some of the wooden beams took hubs and I back to our childhood and we had a great time running across the spinning beam – miraculously I surprised us all and managed it on my first run across… but couldn’t do it at all when hubs tried to catch it on camera lol. Monkey thought it was great fun seeing Mummy and Daddy playing!

lotherton hall woods

We headed back to the field after that and had a bit more of a play there before deciding to head on to our holiday cottage

lotherton hall field

We had a lovely time at Lotherton Hall, there is so much to see and do which to me makes the entry fee totally worthwhile. If we lived nearer I imagine we would go quite a lot as Monkey loved it too!
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The Gadget Show Live with the OmniO Rider

Last week I was contacted about a fantastic new product, the OmniO Rider. A lightweight stroller which can be folded up and worn as a backpack. Straight away it sounded like a great idea to me for any parent with a toddler who wants to walk, but then gets tired out for the journey home.

WP_20150410_10_07_00_ProI am not the only person to think ¬†it is a fantastic idea and the¬†OmniO Rider has just won the Gadget Show Live’s British Invention of the Year Award!” ¬†The OmniO team¬†invited¬†us to go along to The Gadget Show Live and take¬†a look for ourselves.

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Win an Easter Hamper from Balloons by Up Up and Away!

With Easter approaching I am thrilled to share with you a fantastic giveaway courtesy of balloon and party supply company Balloons by Up Up and Away.

easter

Balloons by Up Up and Away ¬†supply a range of party supplies and are able to to cater for a range of events including weddings, birthdays and holiday occasions (Christmas/Easter/Mother’s Day etc).¬†The company has gone from¬†strength to strength since it was founded as a family business in 1990 and has beeen awarded “Party Times Best Wholesaler.”

Now, on to the fantastic giveaway! One lucky reader will win a fantastic hamper with all you need for some fantastic fun this Easter! Worth £40, the hamper will include:

  • 2x Balloons
  • Pack of Easter Decorations
  • 2x Easter Bonnets
  • Pack of Bunnies/Chicks Easter Eggs
  • Easter Cup Cake Kit
  • Selection of Tableware (Table Roll/Cups)
  • Pack of Windmills
  • Chocolate Egg
  • Cuddly Toy

The competition ends next Sunday, 29th March, I will contact the winner that morning, so please keep an eye on your mailbox as we will need your postal address as soon as possible so that this hamper can be sent out to you in time for Easter!

All you need to do is enter below. Best of Luck!

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Terms and Conditions:

Competition is open to UK residents only

Prize will be posted to winner within 72 hours on receipt of a valid postal address

Prize is not exchangeable for any cash value

Family Fever

Dr Brown’s Teethers

Monkey was an early teether and got his first tooth at 4 mths. Therefore it is no surprise that LM is also teething early, although no teeth as yet and her symptoms have definitely been up and down! I took to twitter for some advice on remedies people have used and received some really helpful info. Don’t you just love blogging and social media for that?

The lovely people at¬†Dr Brown’s¬†also replied and very kindly offered to send me a couple of teethers to try out with LM. They sent me their “Ridgees” Giraffe shaped teether and one of their “Orthees” which looks almost dummy shaped. Both are designed by Paediatric dentists and are suitable from 3 months up which is perfect for LM.

TE332_Product_H

Dr Brown’s Orthees

Developed by a paediatric dentist

  • Massages sore gums and relieves mouth pressure during teething
  • Ideal for front and back teething, Orthees¬ģ are easy for little hands to hold and help the jaw to develop as baby transitions to biting, chewing and speech
  • Freezer safe

 

TE445_Product_HDr Brown’s Ridgees

Developed by a paediatric dentist

  • Textured surfaces ease sore gums during all stages of teething
  • Reaches all areas of the mouth‚Äďincluding back molars
  • Firm edges massage gums while soft surfaces provide pressure relief for erupting teeth
  • Freezer safe

 

Both teethers are lovely and have different areas which are suitable for different parts of their little mouths. Both are also great for little hands to grab. Of the two LM definitely prefers the Ridgees Giraffe. Whenever I try and use the Orthees with her she gives me a very perplexed look and promptly spits it out. She always did the same with dummies and we never managed to get her to take one, she prefers sucking on her fingers. I would imagine that little ones who are used to dummies may take to it better… or it may just be that LM is particularly fussy and most other babies would be happy with it!

She loves the look of the Ridgees Giraffe and spends as much time looking at it as she actually does chewing it and it is a perfect size for her to grab hold of. It is harder plastic than I thought it would be from the pictures but I guess that is what they need for their little gums!

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I like the shape of it too as I think it will be easy for her to use as she grows and needs to chew on different parts of her gums. Both teethers are also freezer safe so we could pop them in the freezer to cool and help her little gums that way.

At this age (4 mths) she is a little fickle and doesn’t have preferences for anything or chew or play with any one toy for long so I can’t say that she has a particular preference for these but I hope that as she grows and continues to teeth that they will really help soothe her little gums.

For more information, or to buy any of the Dr Brown’s Teether range, please visit drbrowns.co.uk

We were sent the Dr Brown’s Ridgees and Orthees teethers for the purpose of this review however all thoughts, opinions and photos are my own.

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Mother’s Day Giveaway from Custom Canvas

Motherhood is hard work. It is amazing and wonderful and rewarding, but oh can it be hard work! It is a rollercoaster ride and a steep learning curve that doesn’t end, but continually changes as your children grow. Becoming a Mum myself has made me appreciate my own Mum all the more.

Mother’s Day is just around the corner and if, like me, you are thinking about what to get your Mum, then have a look at this amazing giveaway in association with Custom Canvas.¬†Custom Canvas¬†are specialists in creating beautiful customised canvas, acrylic and jigsaw prints using simple methods so you can upload photos via Facebook, Flickr, Instagram or using pictures saved to your computer.

As a special Mother’s Day treat they are offering one lucky winner a ¬£50 E voucher¬†for the Custom Canvas¬†website to upload their own image or photograph to receive a beautiful customised canvas.

You could give the voucher to your Mum to use, or pick a special photo to have printed onto canvas for her. The choice is yours but whichever way you go I am sure she will love it.

Best of luck!

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Terms and conditions. This competition is open to UK residents only.   The winner will be randomly selected and contacted directly by Custom Canvas.  The prize will be an E voucher up to the value £50 to be used on the Custom Canvas website and has no cash value.