Monday, 30 November 2020

Boyzone Dolls


Boyzone were a five piece boyband from Ireland. They were put together by Louis Walsh in 1993 and soon became a chart staple, churning out hit after hit until they eventually split in 2000. They later got back together and resumed touring, continuing on as a foursome after the untimely death of Stephen Gately in 2009.

Vivid Imaginations released a set of 12" lookalike dolls in 1995. If you collected three tokens from the tops of the doll boxes you could send them off, along with a £1.50 cheque or postal order to cover the postage, you could get a 'free' doll. As far as I can tell this was just sent at random from existing stock.

Boyzone Fashion Dolls

★ Ronan - box front / box back.
★ Shane - box front / box back.
★ Mike - box front / box back.
★ Steve - box front / box back.
★ Keith - box front / box back.

Boyzone Fashion Dolls

For more like this, please click the image below:

Sunday, 29 November 2020

This Week - 29/11/2020

Become Who You Are

This week has just been super stressful. We had the interview process for the new headteacher for Maendy Primary School, plus an emergency school closure due to coronavirus - nothing helps you remain calm and professional for long virtual meetings like a five year old poking you in the ribs and hissing 'MUM' every 10 seconds - and a bunch of other meetings on various topics. The main problem is that my anxiety has been through the roof, magnifying everything into a major crisis.

I had a telephone appointment with the doctor mid-week, so they upped my medication to the maximum dose. Hopefully it will help.

We put the Christmas tree up yesterday and today I promised Marianna her elf on the shelf would be arriving. So of course I can't find it. I've turned the spare room upside down to no avail so we've had to use the 'stuck in the TV' trick and order a new one on Amazon while Santa attempts to free him... (Anthony went in every shop in town but no joy.) 

At least the school is open again tomorrow. 

On the blog I posted a guide to Yaboom's Westlife dolls, Anthony's Christmas Gift Guide, a Friday Five looking at the Shroud of Turin, and a Mini Mart review. The new Tots100 scores came out and I fell from #40 to #129. It seems symbolic of this entire week to be honest!

Deal of the Week -

50% off Gousto food box using referral link code: JESSI19856522

Song of the Week -

What The Hell - Avril Lavigne

For more like this, please click the image below:
This Week - Weekly Overviews

Saturday, 28 November 2020

Mini Mart: Karen Baby 8

karenbaby8 1/12 scale Miniatures

Supplier: KarenBaby8
Website: Etsy Store


1/12 scale miniature household goods, including packaged food, cleaning products, and Christmas decorations. They are really well made and look super realistic. Just check out the little roll of bin liners.

karenbaby8 miniatures

Post and Packing:  Starts from £1.80 within the UK. 

For more like this, please click the image below:
Mini Mart - Reviews of Dolls and Scale Miniatures

Friday, 27 November 2020

Friday Five: The Shroud of Turin

Friday Five

This week I've been mostly reading about the Shroud of Turin. There was a documentary about it on Blaze which made me realise that though I'd heard of it, I didn't really know anything about it. So here we are a pile of books later with five important points to remember...

Shroud of Turin in Case

#5. What is it?

The Shroud of Turin is, well, a shroud that is kept at Turin Cathedral. It is a rectangle of fine three-to-one herringbone weave linen, measuring 4.4 by 1.1 metres - aka 8 by 2 Assyrian cubits, the measurements that would have been used in first century marketplaces. The same kind of marketplaces Joseph of Arimathea presumably bought his shroud from.

When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away.
Matthew 27:57-60 

Because the more notable thing about this shroud is that it is stained with blood and the mysteriously imprinted image of a crucified man. Perhaps, even, a very famous crucified man...

Shroud of Turin Negative

#4. Why All The Fuss?

Holy relics, while maybe not ten a penny, were certainly, er, well represented in the medieval church. As John Calvin once commented, if all the church's relics were brought together "it would be made manifest that every Apostle has more than four bodies, and every Saint two or three." Pope Clement VII himself seems to have decreed in 1390 that this shroud was not to be venerated as a relic, but could be presented as a representation of the actual holy shroud. It continued to have its supporters, even so, and Turin Cathedral held public exhibitions of it to mark notable occasions from the 16th century onwards.

What really changed the status of the Shroud of Turin was the 400th anniversary of Turin Cathedral in 1898. King Umberto I of Italy agreed to a public exhibition of the Shroud, and to Secondo Pia taking a few photographs to help publicise it. When Pia went to develop the plates he is said to have almost dropped them in shock - the negative plate revealed the full face of a man which had been all but hidden to the naked eye.

Sindonology, the scientific study of the Shroud of Turin, was born.

Image of Edessa

#3. Medieval or Not?

The history of the shroud can only be traced with any kind of certainty to 1354 when French knight Geoffroi de Charny put it on display at a Lirey church, perhaps to offer the populace hope during an outbreak of plague. From there it was entrusted to the custodianship of Humbert, Count de La Roche, whose widow - ignoring the pleas of the canons at Lirey - sold it to the Duchess of Savoy in exchange for a castle. 

The Savoys took it to various European cities before placing it in Turin Cathedral in 1578. They eventually gifted the shroud to the Holy See in 1983.

But. There is a school of thought that links the Shroud with the Image of Edessa - aka 'Mandylion' - which disappeared from Constantinople during a sacking by European crusaders in 1204. The legends of the Image claim it was originally sent to King Abgar of Edessa, via one of the disciples, after he wrote to Jesus asking for a cure. Of course, the Image is just a portrait of Jesus, while the shroud depicts the entire body.

Even that doesn't necessarily discredit the claim. The shroud was clearly kept folded for long periods of time - the triangular marks were made by melted silver burning through the folds in a 1532 church fire - and it is contended that the Image of Edessa was simply the shroud folded over so as to only show the face.

Shroud of Turin 3d Reconstruction
3D reconstruction by Prof. Giulio Fanti

#2. But Wasn't It Debunked Already?

The shroud has been subject to various bouts of scientific analysis over the years, perhaps most famously the radiocarbon dating of the linen in 1989. A swatch was taken from one corner of the shroud, from which the University of Oxford, the University of Arizona, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology concluded with 95% confidence that the material was made in the thirteenth or fourteenth century.

Believers argue, however, that the swatch taken was not representative of the entire shroud. The most convincing arguments contends that the area in question was subject to medieval 'reweaving', perhaps unraveling the cloth and splicing in dyed cotton threads for an almost invisible patch, either to restore damage or to allow people to take souvenirs from the cloth without it being obvious. Other contaminants that could have thrown off the radiocarbon date include smoke, carbon monoxide, bacteria, or the unknown energy source which potentially created the image. 

The best way to clear up the controversy would be to send swatches from various parts of the shroud for radiocarbon testing. The downsides to such a move are, well, cutting bits out of an irreplaceable relic. I guess as science advances further testing will one day become a possibility.

The Holy Shroud by Giovanni Battista Della Rovere
The Holy Shroud - Giovanni Battista della Rovere

#1. How Was The Image Made?

This is the real question and why the shroud remains such an enduring mystery. Because whether it's a genuine impression of Jesus or a medieval forgery, we still don't know how the image got onto the cloth. Science has concluded that it's not paint or dust-transfer or bas-relief or acid pigmentation. It was possibly created by a high intensity energy source or radiation - so high intensity we have so far been unable to recreate it on a full size replica.

The theory that has most intrigued me is by microbiologist Dr. Stephen Mattingly. His 2015 book, How Skin Bacteria Created the Image on the Shroud of Turin (available on Kindle Unlimited), explains how the crucifixion process could have created the perfect conditions for Staphylococcus epidermidis to create a biofilm on the skin which then transferred to the shroud. Mattingly used his own hand and face to demonstrate how it works, and the results are certainly intriguing.

Conclusive? No. But then it would no longer be a mystery, would it...

What do you think? Let me know in the comments! :)

For more like this, click the image below:
Friday Five

Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Anthony's Gift Guide For Men

Anthony's Gift Guide For Men

"Never knowing what to get for the men in her life, Jessica has asked me to put together this list of top picks for the set to put a smile on the face of any man..."

(AKA the post where Anthony lays out how disappointed he is likely to be on Christmas morning!)

Christmas Gift Guide Ideas


Future Perfect- Vintage Futuristic Graphics- Taschen : I've recently been getting reading some classic Doctor Who Comics from the 60's and I love the visions of the future from 60 years ago, its all flying cars, curved skyscrapers, and high walkways in pastel colours. 

The Stepford Wives- Ira Levin: A Sci-Fi classic where men can literally create their perfect woman, what could possibly go wrong in this vintage staple of science fiction literature? 

The Phantom Atlas: The Greatest Myths, Lies and Blunders on Maps: An Atlas not of the world as you know it, but an atlas as the world was thought to be, with made up mountain ranges, non existent islands and populations that never were. 

The Complete Flash Gordon Library: On the Planet Mongo Volume 1- Alex Raymond: The collected Sunday Comic Strips that brought the pulp hero to the page back in the 1930's collected here are Flash's early adventures taken from the Planet Earth to the far reaches of Mongo into the devilish hands of Ming the Merciless. 

The Hairy Bikers: Meat Feasts: What is Christmas without portions of food so large that you spend the next 12 months working them off?  Well that is what the Hairy Bikers deliver by the plateful, filled with over 120 recipes to set the mouth watering and the stomach churning furiously in hunger. 

The Doctor Who Annual 2021: its one of those traditions, getting an annual at Christmas, a Beano of a Dandy or a Match of the Day. Well this year, to round off my collection, I'm recommending the 2021 Doctor Who Annual 

Mel Brooks DVD Box Set: Collecting together some of the comedy great's earlier and lesser known works this box set provides a some rip roaring laughs that by this point in 2020 we could all use. 

The Addams Family Complete Series DVD Box Set: See the Creepy and Kooky Addams Family in their earliest adventures featuring madcap mayhem from TV's freakiest family. 

Addams Family 

Christmas Gift Guide 2020


Mucha Liga Tequila Blanco: Anything that comes served in the head of luchador is worth a look, but this may actually be the only drinkable tequila that I have ever discovered. 

Berry Bros and Rudd- Good Ordinary Claret: A wonderful red wine that's both full bodied and flavourful with no notes of pretentiousness about it. 

World of Zing- Mini Craft Cocktail Collection: A perfect way to beat back the holiday blues with this set of mini craft cocktails from The World of Zing 

Thorntons Turkish Delight Chocolate Box: My absolute favourite chocolate, however I now no longer have a local branch of Thornton's so have to make do with ordering online. 

Jack Link's Beef Jerky Selection Box: I'm pretty new to the whole jerky thing. I'm not really one for sweet snacks or crisps so when I discovered Jerky it was like a revelation to my snacking sensibilities. 

Snowdonia Cheese Company- Best Sellers Selection: Lots of different cheese from one of the best cheese companies that I've ever tasted. 

Tefal Blendforce Blender: A must have for any cocktail or smoothie enthusiast with a glass jug and stainless steel blades, makes blending a dream and cleaning even easier. 

Pyrex Oval Pie Dish: I've been getting into baking pies this year, as meals go they're pretty easy to make and overall pretty filling. But for a good pie you need the right equipment. Pyrex is a trusted brand for cookware, and something that Jessica swears by, and if she wants me to continue with all the cooking in this house, Santa better buy me a pie dish. 

VonShef Cocktail making kit: Perfect for any home bar or for getting you through a Christmas party. For making that Christmas play bearable, to help make your in laws tolerable or just to give you that final nudge to sleep after Christmas Dinner, the Von Shef Cocktail kit is perfect for any occasion. 

Vonshef Cocktail Set 

Christmas Gifts For Men


Samuel Windsor- Padstow Summer Blazer: This stylish light weight blazer is perfect for those stuffy Christmas parties, can be worn on the more formal side of things or as a smart casual ensemble. 

Satin Pyjamas- There is nothing as cozy as snuggling under a blanket in a pair of these bad boys. Until lockdown kicked in I wasn't sold on the whole pyjama's during the day scene. But I'm sold. 

Charles Tyrwhitt- Silk Scarf: Silk Scarves are an elegant way to add a dash of colour to your winter wardrobe. Working with a suit or any sort of casual winterwear. 

The Double O- James Bond Socks- By The London Sock Exchange: What sums up Christmas presents better than a pair of socks? And with these James Bond themed socks from the London Sock Exchange you can emulate the very epitome of masculine style from head to toe. 

Gunn and Moore Cricket Sweater: A winter warmer in a classic British style. 

Unisex Swatch MONO BLACK Watch SUOB720- A stunning piece that can bridge the gap between sport, work or formal. 

House of Commons Gold and Silver Portcullis Cufflinks: I like a nice pair of cufflinks, they aren't something that men wear much anymore, but when they do, they really add a little touch of flair to any occasion. 

Floris London No.89 Eau de Toilette: A floral cologne from one of the premier perfumeries of the UK. 

The Ritual of Samurai Gift Set: Lets face it I could have put any bath or shower gift on this list and as long as it wasn't Lynx Africa it'd probably look ok. 

Isner Mile Beard Grooming Kit for Men: To quote the Australian band, The Beard's "if your dad doesn't have a beard, you've got two mums" But that's no reason not to take pride and care in your facial follicles.  The Isner Mile kit is one of the most comprehensive for all your beard care needs. 

Isner Mile Beard Grooming Kit 


Lock Cowboy 30-Piece Lock Picking Set: I've always fancied that I could have become a great gentleman cat burglar, a sort of raffles for the 21st century, and following an incident that left Jessica locked out in the cold lock picking is a skill that one day might come in handy in our household. It'll certainly come in handy as a party trick if I can get the hang of it. 

Yes Cymru Car Sticker- Show your support for the cause here

YesCymru for Welsh Independence

For more like this, please click the image below:
Gift Ideas

Monday, 23 November 2020

Westlife Dolls


Westlife are an Irish boyband formed in 1998 and were rarely out of the top ten until the mid 2000s. 1/5 of the band, Brian McFadden, left in 2004 and the band eventually disbanded in 2012 - only to reunite in 2018. 

Yaboom Ltd released two sets of Westlife dolls in 2000.

Westlife Fashion Dolls

Basic Dolls

★ Bryan - box front / box back.
★ Shane - box front / box back.
★ Kian - box front / box back.
★ Mark - box front / box back.
★ Nicky - box front / box back.

Singing Dolls

★ Bryan - box front / box back.
★ Shane - box front / box back.
★ Kian - box front / box back.
★ Mark - box front / box back.
★ Nicky - box front / box back.

For more like this, please click the image below:

Sunday, 22 November 2020

This Week: 21/11/2020

And That's The Way It Is

I'm sure I did stuff this week, none of it is springing to mind as particularly memorable... 

Today we've been doing some Christmas crafts with Marianna. I can't believe the big day is only a few weeks away. Which means that Brexit will be here in 40 days. What a depressing start to the new year... What really galls me about it is that as much as I was against the idea of it, it could have been, well, not great but not awful if they had dealt with the negotiations and preparation competently. Now we just have yet another total shambles to heap on top of our struggling economy and Covid death toll. 

Further afield, I've been really enjoying Kenyan cartoonist/columnist Patrick Gathara's alternative US election coverage in the style of western reports on elections in African countries. It highlights a) how important language is in shaping our views, and b) just how low our expectations of politicians have fallen...

On the blog I posted a guide to Hasbro's S Club 7 dolls, Anthony's mention in the Guardian, a review of Maroon Mamma Miniatures, and a Friday Five looking at some of Anthony's 'hilarious' pranks.

Deal of the Week -

15% off at Baukjen using referral code link:

Song of the Week -

Classic You - Patent Pending

For more like this, please click the image below:
This Week - Weekly Overviews

Saturday, 21 November 2020

Mini Mart: Maroon Mamma

Maroon Mama 1/12 scale Miniatures

Supplier: Maroon Mamma
Website: Etsy Store


1/12 scale miniature bags, baskets and household accessories. I bought an awesomely realistic looking shopper (£3.50), and a cute little pot plant (£4). 

Post and Packing:  Starts from £1.50 within the UK. 

For more like this, please click the image below:
Mini Mart - Reviews of Dolls and Scale Miniatures

Friday, 20 November 2020

Friday Five: Anthony's Pranks

Friday Five

Anthony lives to annoy me. Or, you know, at the very least make me look stupid. Here are five of his best (worst?) attempts...

#5. It's Behind You!

It is no secret that I am terrified of spiders. Anthony does his best to play on the fact at every available opportunity, claiming to see a spider just behind, beside or above me. I guess those times I wake him up at three in the morning to dispose of an eight legged fiend are karmic recompense.

#4. Oh, No It Isn't...

Anthony loves to creep about the house. Rather than clatter about the place like any good god-fearing soul, Anthony prefers to move with stealth, wandering and waiting and loitering to suddenly appear from some unforeseen corner and frighten the living daylights out of me.

If I'm wearing headphones for anything I make a point to deliberately check on his whereabouts every now and then, just to try and head one of these riotous attacks off at the pass.

#3. Too Cool For School

Nothing brings Anthony greater childish glee than switching the hot water off when I'm in the shower. Because who wouldn't want to rinse their hair in freezing cold water?

#2. Tell Me Lies

"He has mastered the use of error, omission, exaggeration, diminution, equivocation and flat denial. He has perfected casuistry, circumlocution, false equivalence and false analogy. He is equally adept at the ironic jest, the fib and the grand lie; the weasel word and the half-truth; the hyperbolic lie, the obvious lie, and the bullshit lie – which may inadvertently be true."

That was Rory Stewart writing about Boris Johnson in The Times Literary Supplement a few weeks back. But it could also apply to Anthony's relationship with the truth when it comes to a pulling a prank.

Whether it's swearing something has always / never been there when I query it, or straight facedly claiming that he doesn't know what has happened to the item he's hidden in his pocket, Anthony has it covered. The other day, for instance, he kept up the claim that he hadn't taken my pillow for a good half hour. It wasn't until I checked the label and refuted his claim he had bought it for himself last year (the place rebranded before Marianna was born) that he finally gave up the game as lost.

Other 'classics' include the time he insisted for two years he was born in 1988 instead of 1989, and the (in)famous occasion he claimed he was having a heart attack. Clearly he didn't read The Boy Who Cried Wolf anywhere near enough as a kid.

#1. Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go

Today's hilarious effort was just typical Anthony. I had a couple of hours free this afternoon during which I figured I'd read my latest book. It says much more about the post-covid than the content, I'm afraid, but I ended up falling asleep.

Rather than wake me up to go pick Marianna up from school, Anthony generously did it himself.

Then on the way home rang me to say he was in town but the school had just been on the phone, and Marianna was left standing there all alone waiting for someone to get her. So there's me racing out the house, completely flustered, only to run straight into the pair of them at the end of the street, laughing their heads off.

That's the worst thing about it all - he's busy training up his partner in crime!

(I love them both really. I just need to think up a good way to get my own back...)

Do you have an Anthony in your own life? Let me know in the comments! :)

For more like this, click the image below:
Friday Five

Tuesday, 17 November 2020

In the Guardian

Anthony managed to get a mention in the Guardian (07/11/2020) in a piece on lockdown creativity! The journalist put out a call on Twitter asking for people to get in touch with their lockdown projects, so Anthony couldn't wait to show off his, er, magnificent creations.

You can read the full article in the online edition. Here's the relevant bit about Anthony:

Second lockdowns were announced at different times across the UK. But with each announcement, creativity flared. When Wales went into its second lockdown, Anthony Bird, the council mayor of Cwmbran, south Wales, knew exactly what he wanted to do with his extra time at home: make a cadaver-shaped buffet bar for his daughter’s Halloween party and a Hawaiian drinks bar in the garden for when the weather improves in the summer.

He said: “The first lockdown was just reactive. I was looking for things to keep me sane. We knew this second lockdown was coming, so I had time to plan it, learning from the first one. It’s reawakened something childlike in me that I haven’t felt in years.”

They even published his pic...

For more like this, please click the image below:
15 Seconds of Fame - find me in the press

Monday, 16 November 2020

S Club 7 Dolls

S Club 7

S Club 7 were a British pop band created in 1998. They had their own TV show, Miami 7, on CBBC and soon started racking up UK top ten hits. Paul left in 2002 and the remaining six disbanded in 2003, handing the S Club mantle over to spin-off youth group, S Club 8. S Club 7 reunited briefly in 2014, and a few of the members still tour as S Club Live.

Hasbro released two sets of dolls in 2000, a basic set of fashion dolls and a set of singing dolls. 

S Club 7 Fashion Dolls

Basic Dolls

★ Rachel - box front / box back.
★ Hannah - box front / box back.
★ Tina - box front / box back.
★ Jon Lee - box front / box back.
★ Jo - box front / box back.
★ Paul - box front / box back.
★ Bradley - box front / box back.

S Club 7 Singing Dolls

Singing Dolls 

★ Jo - box front / box back.
★ Rachel - box front / box back.
★ Tina - box front / box back.

Only the girls got singing versions...

S Club 7 Dolls Launch

For more like this, please click the image below:

newerPageTitle olderPageTitle Home