Tag Archives: christmas

It’s Christmas Jim, But Not As We Know It

22 Jul

We all have them. The brands you look to when the shit hits the fan and you have completely forgotten your mother’s birthday. The brands you go to when you knew you should have bought something for the engagement party you are attending at the weekend, but just didn’t get round to it. The brands you visit when your friend has a baby and you want a cracking card to celebrate the fact that they can eat cheese and shellfish again without fear.jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj

Mine is Not on the High Street (if you’ve read my posts before you will remember them) so when they invited me to their Christmas In July event, I was pretty interested. We’ll let them off for actually talking about Christmas event in the heat of the summer (as that’s what all the big brands do) so glossing smoothly over that, I turned up in anticipation of lots of fun goodies to make me look cool this Yule (even I sighed as I typed this).

I wasn’t disappointed.

As a brand, they are pretty cool. Over the years I have struck lucky for difficult presents (especially my father, who is a nightmare to buy for) choosing cherry trees for the garden and grown your own mushrooms set. Boyfriends Dad was sorted out with a gear stick style bottle stopper, and my wall decal in the old flat was found in the treasure trove decal section on the site. Perfect for making a rental flat home, as it doesn’t damage the wall on the way out!

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Their Christmas range wipes the floor with all my previous Christmas purchases too. I found a perfect iPhone gramophone for my sister (although at £500 I might need to rethink) as well as some gorgeous tree decorations. I buy my god-daughter a tree decoration every year, but it gets a bit difficult to be imaginative after a while! I know where ill head when it comes to me thinking it acceptable to do my Christmas shopping this year.

So that being said, I’ll leave you with some of the fantastic things that are on offer.

Once again NOTHS, outstanding work.

Funky Kilner Jar Lighting

Funky Kilner Jar Lighting

NOTHS

Worlds most coveted “&” sign. Not sure if the boy would accept it in the flat, but I MUST HAVE IT

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The gramaphone of dreams. Mainly my sisters as I’m not buying it for her

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Biscuiteers Blogger Meet Up, Notting Hill

17 Dec

When Lauren from Aspiring Kennedy emailed me about a blogger meet up, I was dubious. I find these things really awkward, talking to people I don’t know and trying to find a common ground, when essentially we have all been grouped together over such an ambiguous love, words.

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Biscuiteers, physical location in London’s Notting Hill

But when she mentioned biscuits, I was there. I mean really Lauren, you should just lead with that!

I’m so glad I went. What I experienced was the cutest little shop, Biscuiteers, and a collection of really lovely girls all icing biccies to their heart’s content, and getting covered in sugar syrup in the process.

There were pre-iced ones so we didn’t feel like total idiots, and we iced bauble and Christmas tree shapes, trying desperately to make them look even a little like the ones the lovely ladies who work there had crafted. Not so lucky in my case, but I had fun all the same!

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DIY Gingerbread house. SHUT. UP

The shop is darling. They sell all sorts of iced cookies, from day of the dead masks, to Superman, to an entire nativity crafted out of buttery biscuitness. Sadly, my godforsaken iPhone has died since the event so I am having to borrow photos from the other girls there to give you a visual idea, but if you ever find yourself in Notting Hill, go forth and find them. You will be plunged into a biscuity heaven!

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Biscuitty montage courtesy of ruthlgarner.com, who is a whizz with a camera!

I also met some lovely girls there, including Ruth from The Planned Adventure, Becca from Urban Flipflops and Amber from Amber Nouveau not to mention the lovely-as-ever Lauren who writes over at Aspiring Kennedy, and orchestrated the whole event. Check them out, all well worth a read.

Happy Holidays!

Walking in A Winter Wonderland

5 Dec

I love Christmas. I used to say I didn’t, but I was a teenager and didn’t like anything. Now I love when October comes and the air starts to crisp up  in anticipation, waiting for the onset of the cold snap and the prospect of all the festive fun to come.

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This year, Christmas feels to me to be tinged with a bitter sweetness, the first year I will wake in the morning and not see my Grandfather, dressed in his brushed cotton shirt with a cable knit jumper over. The first year I won’t hear the air peppered with swears when he realises he has cooked the goose upside down in the pan for the fourth year on the bounce, and the first year I won’t see the glee in his face as he shakes the presents and throws the wrapping paper over his shoulder.

Nonetheless, Christmas is exciting. My goddaughters are 6 and 2 respectively and still believe in the magic of the season (and so do I for that matter) so we will try to seek out father Christmas in the days before the main event, and make mince pies just in case he hasn’t had his fill by the time he gets to their house.

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And it’s a time for new traditions. This year, the boy and I exchanged advent calendars and Christmas jumpers on the first, when we also listened to Michael Buble (I love him and I don’t care who knows) and made the first round of mince pies. He was very thoughtful, so rather than getting chocolate in my calendar I got a Yankee Candle one (spot the diabetic). Most people forget so I was very touched!

Last night I came home and my housemate was making gifts; windfall chutney in cute little glass jars, and so I wrapped all the gifts I had bought and drank cups of tea with her. as soon as the tree comes we will adorn it with little toadstools and gingerbread lights to make it the pretties (and also fairly gargantuan for the size of our flat) tree in all the land.

terrifying

terrifying

I’ve bought some silly napkins that look like Father Christmas’s suit when you tuck them in to your collar, and my family will be made to wear reindeer antlers or other silly headgear at the table.

It’s a time for being with the ones you love and celebrating the fact that there is a day when you can throw away the rest of the world and all congregate.

And I think that’s the magic of Christmas.

What are your traditions and rituals of the season?

Pull On A Cracker! (+Competition!!)

29 Oct

There was a time in my life where I pretended I hated Christmas. The lights, the weather, the snow, the carols – I hated every minute of it. But that was borne out of being a) a stroppy teenager with far too many angsty hormones and a penchant for black, and b) being the product of a broken home (cue tragic violin music and teary wails) and Christmas being more like a military operation rather than an enjoyable eatathon and sort of birthday celebration, depending on how you look at it.

I now look at it this way. IF (and I say that to keep the happiness of all of you) Jesus was a real person, I respect his birthday attitude. I would like a birthday eve, birthday and birthday recovery day, so Jesus, I salute you.

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I also love the magic of the season. I’ve mentioned before so many times that the look on the little ones faces when they think Father Christmas is coming absolutely makes it for me, and they bear no thought to the fact that if one fat man could make it round the world delivering presents in one night then it would call into question the whole air travel issue, and also a real security problem for police forces up and down the country. Not to mention the fact that A&E would have to be on high alert come Christmas Eve, in case a family left the fire on.

As I, and the girls, get older, I love Christmas more and more. This weekend I bought bath flutes for Poppy as one of her presents (which I am really tempted to try out, you know, JUST TO SEE IF THEY WORK) and I attended a Pre Christmas launch event with George at ASDA, packed full of a selection of THE most fun Christmas jumpers.

pun believable

pun believable

I obviously bought some.

The range that they are offering is fantastic, with reindeer, and Christmas puds and Santas a go-go. I bought some delightful reindeer and snowman jumpers for the little ones, and seeing as the boy and I plan to have a terrible Christmas jumper competition, I bought his too. The rules are; you are to pick the most offensive and embarrassing Christmas jumper for the other, and these are to be exchanged on the first of December. Points will be gained for:

  • Best choice of horribly tacky jumper (for the buyer)
  • Points if you are able to wear that jumper in public (points to the receiver)

We will also have to wear aforementioned Christmas jumpers on our Christmas day.

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But back to the preview event. It was to showcase their selection of novelty jumpers, and I was pretty amazed by the range. The ladies jumpers are soft and really well made for their price point, and I also fell for a load of the men’s ones, as they are decidedly unisex, and a snip at £12 – £18. It made me think twice about supermarket clothes ranges, as the George range is really gorgeous, and it always helps when the novelty ranges are affordable. No one wants to spend £50 to dress up as a Christmas pudding for the day, do they?

And here’s a tip – they ship to more than just the UK. Snap them up while the mince pies are still hot!

And I’m offering the chance for one of you lucky people to win one of their range – all you need to do is go onto the George Novelty Jumpers section (click here), choose a jumper and let me know why you love a Christmas cracker! If you tweet this post (mentioning @lillyheart999 and @georgeatasda), you will get an additional entry, and I will post to anywhere in the world (no one likes to be excluded!)  I’ll announce the winner on the 16th of November so make sure you enter!

“Children See The Magic Because They Look For It”

16 Oct

Magic comes to those who make it, and I strongly believe in the sorcery of believing everything as a child. Children have an alarming clarity at times, and the ability to be able to see the world from a different point of view; a stance so far unaffected by politics and sadness and life events that willshape their future and colour their perception.

When I was a kid, my parents and grandparents revelled in the theatre of the Tooth Fairy and Father Christmas, with mince pies bitten and carrots carefully nibbled when we came bouncing through on Christmas morning. My dad still wildly claims that one year he REALLY DID hear Santa on the roof (although that was the year he got drunk and also claimed he had been abducted by aliens when we found him asleep round the toilet the following morning), and I believed in the tooth fairy for far longer than I should thanks to a timer switch in my Gran’s house and a set of grandparents with vivid imaginations.

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And I do the same for my Goddaughters. You won’t catch me debating the truth in the elves or if Rudolph’s nose really shines; if you can’t believe in the magic of children and the awe of the way they see everything then your world will be a smaller place. Every year I write them a letter from Father Christmas in response to their Christmas lists, alluding to being good and nice to Mummy, and ‘find’ it on the doorstep on my way in. Lilly loves to announce to everyone she knows that Father Christmas answers her, and that she absolutely has to be good to be in with a chance of getting “a dolly what poos” for Christmas this year. The mind boggles.

I love to lie on the grass in the summer with my little dumplings and play the cloud game – seeing if we can spot the different layers of clouds shaping dragons and princesses, cars and trains, for the wind to blow and the picture to change again. I play this all the time and often get laughed at for being dreamy and whimsical, but when I have two chubby little hands in mine, fingers entwined and a captive audience, I just know I can see a princess in a castle waiting for her prince, or a dog with a bone looking for the sun. And I love to hear the excitement in their voices when it comes to counting down to the visit from the big man himself; will he eat the mince pie? Will he not be too full after eating all the other mince pies from the other children? What if Rudolph is too tired to fly?

As JM Barrie once said, “On these magic shores children at play are for ever beaching their coracles. We too have been there; we can still hear the sound of the surf, though we shall land no more.”

As much as I moan about mince pies in the shops in August and people carolling way too early, I’m super excited about their little faces when the tree is decorated and the Christmas pjs are out :)

What do you love most about the season?

I’ve written about magic and children before, if you enjoyed this you might enjoy these posts:

Mary: The Truth about the Toothfairy

Those Who Don’t Believe In Magic Will Never Find It

Tell Me Sweet Little Lies

The Christmas Wilderness

28 Dec

At the moment I am sitting in the wilderness between Christmas and New Year, gazing at the twinkling lights on the tree and wondering if I can be bothered to take all the decorations off and take it to the dump. there is something depressing about the bare tree once the lights have been removed, like it has fulfilled its life purpose and knows it’s no for the metaphorical chop.  It’s a time when I would normally have headed back to work, but this year I start a new job in January so I have the time to myself. Bliss. An expanse of over two weeks to myself to sort out my life and plan the future. or so I thought.

Christmas is done. The presents have been unwrapped for another year, the goose, mince pies and cheeses are well and truly eaten, and the sales have been shopped. My Christmas money, burning a hole in my pocket, has been spent on a shiny new laptop and the box adorns the floor of the lounge like bodies in a battle; the proof of my win.

In reality, the sorting of the life ready for the house move is not going well. I have half heartedly packed a suitcase of clothes (in reticence of having to move from the flat I love) and a few of my least treasured items have gone on eBay. A charity bag has been filled (although im not sure how many orphans will want to be seen in a I heart geeks t-shirt which i found in a bargain bin in Hollywood, found funny, yet never wore. They will probably die of shame) and I am plonked on the sofa watching TV. I realised it was time to make a change just now when I finished my cup of tea, reached over the sofa and put the cup on the floor, only to have it clink on the last empty cup of tea that I still havent taken out to the kitchen.

So the blissful period between Christmas and New Year that you look forward to for a full twelve months turns out to be a bit mind numbing, doesn’t it? when I was a child I used to dread this no mans land. we used to spend Christmas at our grandparents, and in the car on the way home would be warned that when we got there we were to take our new toys to our bedrooms and find homes for them. we might even need to put old things in the charity shop bag! the horror across our faces was palpable. Give our stuff away?What a heinous suggestion! Nowadays I am the biggest anti hoarder, throwing away everything that isn’t nailed down. the charity shop staff near my flat know me by name such is my frequency to their store armed with bags full of bounty, and my flatmate moans that sometimes I bin things that were actually needed. Oops!

So today I begin the great flat sort out ready for the move. unless I get distracted by a Harry Potter marathon…

What are you doing between Christmas and New Year?

What Do You Love About Christmas?

24 Dec

Merry Christmas one and all!

Last night I went to see the babies to give them their Christmas gifts, because children are what Christmas is all about. Lilly had written a letter to Father Christmas a few weeks ago, so I wrote one back and signed it with squiggly handwriting. When I arrived I informed her I had found it stuck to the back door and I wasn’t sure who it was from. She opened it and as Lou read it to her her eyes lit up and she danced round the room shouting “Santa wrote to me!!” at the top of her voice. It was the cutest thing ever, and made me so glad I had written it. We dressed Poppy in the Christmas pudding outfit I had bought her, and she sat on my lap while Lilly dressed up in her princess dress and sun glasses to do us a show. She shouted “don’t look!” for about fifteen minutes to work the crowd up for her big performance, while Poppy giggled away at the bells she was shaking, and then the show began. She danced around and then stopped, whispered “I don’t know what to say” in an unusually shy way, and then let out the loudest fart I have ever heard for a four year old. With that, she ran off to her room, laughing. The show was over. Hahaha! Only Lilly.

Christmas is magical when you are a child. I can’t wait to have children of my own and observe all the rituals like leaving out a carrot and a minced pie on Christmas Eve. When we were children my dad used to swear we had to go to sleep because he could hear the bells, and I read in the paper this week that Kelly Osbourne loves Christmas because Ozzy used to go up and dance on the roof so it sounded like hooves!

I used to love getting the tree down but always wanted a real one and this is the first year I got my wish. Our tree was a sparse stick of fakeness that used to drop more bits than a real one, and we used to decorate it with knitted father Christmases and paper decks. I used to envy my friends who had a real tree because their families made a massive day of it; going to pick the tree, putting the lights on it etc. we used to badger my dad until he eventually got it out of the loft! We used to look forward to going to see my granny as she had some glass stickers of show flakes that we used to decorate the doors with.

My granny still has a loo roll Father Christmas that I made her when I was in primary school. It’s covered in crepe paper and has a cotton wool beard, and twenty years on its looking a bit ropey but she still loves it.

Our Christmas isn’t conventional; we make a big fuss of Christmas eve and have German sausages and curly kale and mashed potatoes. It’s one of my favourite things about the festivities. Then on Christmas day we eat goose and red cabbage (no turkey or pigs in blankets for us!) and I get to spend time with a family that I simply don’t see enough. I love the apple strudels too!

What is your favourite thing about Christmas? What are you most looking forward to? Merry Christmas 🙂

The Rain In Spain….

22 Dec

Here in the UK we get used to a bit of wet weather. After all, unlike Spain, where the rain falls mainly on the plain, it falls mainly on us individuals here in England. And believe me, there is a lot of it to fall. A few weeks ago our town centre flooded so badly that they closed the roads (don’t get me wrong, there wasn’t that much water, we just don’t seem to be able to cope with even a few more drops than normal, and adverse weather conditions send me the country into a tizzy).

It’s something we are brought up with; a bit like baby food I guess. Kids put up with it until they get teeth, because otherwise they would starve. Well people in Britain put up with rain, because we don’t really have much choice. We all feel pretty strongly about the fact that we hate it, but as we are so conditioned to water falling from the sky, we don’t do anything as drastic as to emigrate very often.

But it’s getting a bit much. In fact, the freak weather of this entire year is really starting to bother me. In April, when I was in California, Blighty was struck with an unseasonably early warm spell. This was the only summer we were going to have apparently. And I missed it.

Then we had the ‘summer’, when it consistently rained for four months, and then it came to October. The start of October was actually on one day, hotter than Istanbul and Morocco according to the excited man on the news, and now we are in mid-November and the temperature hasn’t dropped much lower than ten degrees yet. Every week on the weather forecast they tell us that there will be snow by the end of the week, and it never comes. I nervously go out to the car in the morning hoping that there isn’t a thick layer of frost on the glass, as I have my morning routine down and any slight change could delay me by ten minutes, causing me to be late for work.  Don’t get me wrong, I hate the cold and the snow. I hate when you can’t feel your fingers and when you suddenly remember the reason you considered buying those expensive boots (waterproof) but went with cheap ones. Your feet now smell like a damp kitchen cloth and you are always slightly soggy. But it felt a bit weird at the end of November when Em and I decided to go to the supermarket after dark (I mean post 8pm, the sun actually set this week just after 4) and it was warm enough for me to not wear a coat or any snuggly winter accessories. It’s just plain wrong!

Now we are a few days from Christmas the temperature has dropped enough for me to park the car in the garage for fear of having to scrape the ice off it (my least favourite job), but I haven’t worn my coat much and my mittens are forlornly waiting in the bottom of my hand bag (along with a load of other crap like tiger balm and a key whose purpose I am unsure of) for a cold snap!

Is anywhere else in the world experiencing weird weather conditions?

For the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me: Eleven Pipers Piping.

And Susie Lindau. Merry Christmas Susie and thanks for keeping me amused in 2011 🙂

My Eleven Pipers Piping post has to be Weak at the Knees, a post I wrote about the dying out phenomenon of a girl going weak at the knees.

Three more sleeps!

What Time Is It?

19 Dec

What time is it? Its hammer time! Well, no it’s not really, but it’s pretty much Santa Time. I’ve read some fantastic blogs this week about the world’s worst Christmas songs, but I thought it a good idea to break from the crowd and do a rundown of Christmas films. We all have the ones we love (more on that later) but there are some truly terrible ones out there that we insist on watching. They may not be Christmas themed, but these three remind me of Christmas, and are terrible!

1)      The 12 Dogs of Christmas – I’m all for a Christmas film and I can even sit through some of the terrible ones, but a film about a girl who uses dogs to teach people about the true meaning of Christmas? Ah come aaawn! Stick to A Christmas Carol, and if you need to dumb it down a little, the Muppets version is a pretty good one.

2)      Bridge over the River Kwai – I’m cringing as I write this as my granddad will be so disappointed, but this and Platoon! Drive me insane. My granddad used to put them on after dinner on Christmas day, and fall asleep within the first five minutes, with the remote shoved up the arm of his jumper or somewhere as inaccessible, leaving us to miserably watch it when Robbie the Reindeer was on the other channel.

But there are some super good ones; too many to mention, so here are my top three:

1)      It’s a Wonderful Life – I never saw this till a boyfriend spent Christmas with us a few years back and insisted I watch it, as it was a family tradition for him. Like Forest Gump, I was so disappointed I had never seen it before! It’s a true heart-warming film, where a man attempts to commit suicide on Christmas Eve (ok, bear with) and is rescued by a guardian angel who shows him what life would have been like in his town without him.

2)      Raymond Briggs The Snowman – I hope this is one you can get the world over, it’s just so beautiful. I liked to think as a child that one day my snowman would come to life and take me flying over the city, but I think I slept through him knocking at my door. I particularly like the way that there are no words in the film.

3)      I’m leaving the best to last.. if you know me at all you will know what this one is….
ELF!!! I absolutely adore it.Buddy, on New York “Its just like Santa’s workshop!! Except it smells like mushrooms, and everyone looks like they want to hurt me….

“SANTA! OH MY GOD! SANTA’S COMING! I KNOW HIM! I KNOW HIM!”

“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.”

I was a bit slack over the weekend with my 12 days of Christmas, so it’s a bumper one today!

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:

Eight Maids A Milking! And my eight maids a milking recommendation is Miss Vix. Our minds are regularly twinned and we often write about the same thing on the same day. She was one of the first blogs I subscribed to, and I love her!

Seven Swans a Swimming: Sam at That Place in My Head. She might be across the world, but she is super fun and I think we have a bit of an affinity with each other.

Six Geese a Layin: Live, Nerd, Die, Repeat – I adore these posts!!

My five gold rings was: Dazzle Rebel.

My four calling birds favourite was: Go Guilty Pleasures.

My three french hens fav was: The Byronic Man

My two turtle doves were: Brooke and McKenzie

My partridge in a pear tree was: The Redneck Princess

The eighth maids a milking post I think you should check out is: Why You Shouldn’t Trust The Internet. Or perhaps, why I shouldn’t be so gullible.

My seven swans a swimming would have been:A Classy Lady Needs A Classy Hat! Yes, that is me. There is no hope.

And my six geese a laying should be:Great Phrases for Office Use. Something to keep you amused in the week before Christmas!

Its my last week of work today and Im getting geared up for the festivities. My Mum got me a real tree and its standing on the wrapped up hoover box (imaginative way to make it taller) surrounded by pressies for my family. Im getting excited!

How is your Christmas prep going?

Guest Post – The Old Christmas Ruse

7 Dec

There are some days when I feel like offering you guys a chance to read something that’s not my ranting for a change (and not, as Rob points out, that I ‘cant be arsed’!), and today I wanted to offer you lovely readers the chance to get festive with the writer of I’m On The Bandwagon. He is an amazing writer, and someone who brings much hilarity to my life, so over to him!

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Tink can’t be arsed to write her own post, so I am here to save her neglected blog while she is knee-deep in dough and shit (What he so eloquently means is while we are Tinkering in the Kitchen!).

 Okay then, it’s nearly Christmas time so I thought I would just take a look at certain aspects of it that we don’t really think about.

When you were little, Christmas was a bit like watching ‘Lost’. You stuck with it because you wanted to believe that it was real, you were massively confused on how it all worked and thought it was going somewhere, maybe even lying to yourself in the process, but in the end it all turned out to be rubbish.  Well when we were little, Santa Claus was real. We could wait for Christmas because we knew Santa would be coming to visit, via chimney or front door, to deliver presents. We know this because it’s what our parents told us and we believed it. I may just be speaking for myself but I never questioned it, because I loved the idea of it. My parents did their best for as long as possible to keep the pack of lies, which was Santa Claus, going. But as the years went by, I started seeing cracks in their fibs.

Now I’m not just on about the obvious ones, like flying Reindeer and delivering presents to every child in one night, no, it was little things that didn’t add up. Firstly I couldn’t understand why my mum and dad weren’t blown away by the whole idea of it, as I was! I mean I would marvel at the idea of Santa’s operation and my dad would say “Yeah….good isn’t he!”……..good!? GOOD!? You have to give the bloke a bit more credit! Every Christmas morning I would wake up and think “He’s only gone and done it AGAIN!” But my parents were not bothered. AND I thought, my rough-looking mate, Tim, wasn’t allowed in the house, but a bloke they have never met is given licence to break in and roam around our house!? Santa’s Dad could have been banged up too, Mum!

Another factor was that I wasn’t allowed to send off my own Christmas list. Why? I know where he lives, what’s the problem? Nope, I had to give it to my Mum and Dad. One year I put something on that list that I KNEW my parents wouldn’t let me have. They would say it was ‘Not suitable’, so I thought I would bypass them, cut out the middleman and send the letter to the fat man myself. That way, Santa wouldn’t know any better. When the time came around to giving the list to my Mum I thought “Pfft no chance, I’m not a mug! This is going straight to the North Pole!” I never got that unsuitable present…..which was a goat for an Africa family if they are reading this.

Eventually I came to the realisation that it was a web of lies. Everyone does. And you get on with it like adults, which means, almost despising it. With Christmas songs being played in NOVEMBER! Snow and shopping for presents, it just takes years off your life.

Secret Santa is a weird one. Not if you do it with your mates, but if you have to take part in it at work, you always have to end up buying presents for someone you have probably spoke to twice. Nobody wants this. Where did this idea even come from anyway? I don’t want to point fingers but….Santa’s name IS in the title.

SANTA: Right! I have rounded everyone up! It’s that time of year again! SECRET ME! (Smiles and nudges an elf).  So who wants to go first?

RUDOLF: I will! I love this! Such a great idea!

COMET: (Out the side of his mouth to Prancer) doesn’t help himself does he? Up his arse!

For the record, I don’t completely hate Christmas now. As a result of all this, I Just will make sure my children are lied too as well. I’m going to take it out on them because the only bit of magic I can shatter for my parents is revealing how Sky Plus works. Rubbish.