Nacoa, doing great work for kids with alcoholic parents


Choosing which charities you support is often daunting, in recent years we’ve involved the children to help choose which charities will benefit from what little we can afford to donate. Nacoa aren’t a large or glamorous charity, they don’t benefit from a dedicated PR team that can do blogger outreach but Nacoa do very important work and they’re a charity I’m happy to support.

I came across Nacoa via a friend at my old book group who was volunteering for them at the time, rather than being directly affected by the issue they deal with but once I knew about what they did and the support they give kids and families, it was difficult not to feel moved. I’m sure you’ve probably never heard of Nacoa either, and I’m hear to educate you. The charity kindly offered to do a Q&A with me to explain what they do and how they do it.

Who are Nacoa UK?

Nacoa (the National Association for Children of Alcoholics) is a charity founded in 1990 to address the needs of children growing up in families where one or both parents suffer from alcoholism or a similar addictive problem. As well as conducting research and raising awareness, we operate a free confidential helpline that is open to people of all ages, from all walks of life, to offer support and advice to anybody affected.

How big a problem is alcoholism in parents?

Parental alcoholism is a huge problem. Research consistently shows that approximately 1 in 5 children in the UK are currently living in a household where one or more parent is dealing with alcoholism. Social Services report that alcohol is a factor in 74% of child mistreatment cases and 40% of domestic violence incidents. In the majority of those cases, nothing is ever done to address the alcoholism.

For children of alcoholics, the associated instability in home-life leads to long-term problems: children living with parental alcoholism are 5 times more likely to develop an eating problem, 3 times more likely to consider suicide, and 4 times as likely to develop alcoholism or other addictions themselves. View Full Post

Netflix and ILL

This week was all about (indirectly, and also making it all about me me me) feeling like a proper grown up rather than a man-child pretending to be an adult.

You see poor old Fifi (well not so much old, she’s only 7) had to have some dental surgery at a London hosptial. Fifi has abnormally weak teeth. This is probably partially inherited but also due to having chicken pox at a young age and possibly an early course of antibiotics too. Who can say exactly why but the fact is that she brushes her teeth diligently after every meal, uses a special fluoride mouthwash, and has a low sugar diet (no sweets, and all we drink is tap water) but nevertheless had to have 6 teeth out, 2 capped and a treatment put on the rest, under a general anaesthetic at St Tomas’ Hospital earlier this week. View Full Post

Xbox One S and a Minecraft Masterclass – Part II

In part I of our Xbox One S adventure, we went through what the Xbox One S is and why it’s as cool as ice, especially the version that Microsoft sent us that came bundled with Minecraft!

Part II is now here and you can watch the boy give me a lesson on what Minecraft is and how it works in the video below:

If you got the impression that he loves Minecraft, that’s probably about right! I understand it a bit more now too, Minecraft is more about using the resources and fitting stuff into the game world than just building things out of context.

The beauty of the Xbox One version is that you can easily record what you’re doing and make cool in picture videos if you have a Go Pro or even a smartphone. This made the lad feel one step closer to being like his hero Dan TDM (Daniel Middleton, one of those YouTubers that your child will no doubt have heard of and contributed to his wealth by watching lots of his videos).

Minecraft lends itself well to a controller, I’ve never managed to suss the touchscreen controls when the boy has tried to show me on his iPad before but once he relinquished the controller (you can do split screen on the Xbox One), I was soon whizzing around like nobodies business.

The Xbox One S is Microsofts most powerful console to date and it’s more than a match for running Minecraft at top speed. The Xbox One S Minecraft pack retails for £249 RRP but there are some crazy prices around at the moment and if you’re considering buying what I consider the best console on the market at the moment, you should snap one up now while they’re still going for £199 at places like Argos and John Lewis.

At the Vuelio 2016 Blog Awards

Friday night was the inaugural plus one* instalment of the annual Vuelio Blog Awards. Once again I was one of the first to accept the invite when in landed in my inbox. I’m firmly of the belief that there is such a thing as a free lunch, or in this instance a free dinner, and I’m not shy about it.

As it turns out there was a task I had to carry out at the Awards but it was one I was super glad to carry out and indeed felt honoured to do. View Full Post

P A R T Y? Because we gotta

Given the number of 5 year old birthday parties I’ve been to in the last month or so, there must have been something in the water back in February ’11. Yesterday saw the second one in a fortnight at the Sapphire Gym in Hemel. First time round, my satnav struggled with the magic roundabout, so I was relieved to be able to actually know where I was going.

This time round, I managed to find the main car park. This time round, I knew where we were going in the main building. This time round, I knew I’d have to follow Ned around in my socks to ensure he didn’t have a catastrophic accident. This time round, one of the staff gave me an odd look and asked,

Are you sure you’ve got the right party sir? Do you recognise anyone here?View Full Post

Racin’ around the Christmas Tree


This time last year we were lucky enough to review the Anki Overdrive starter kit. If you’ve not heard of Anki Overdrive, it’s basically the technological evolution of the slot car racers you’d have had as a kid. Basically with Anki Overdrive, there are no slots, and the cars the star. The cars have all sorts of clever sensors in them and connect wireless to your phone/tablet/iPod. They can change lane, accelerate, and even “shoot” each other to temporarily disable other cars. It’s so much fun, and it is proper “all the family” fun too, as even our 4 year old can play it. View Full Post

Review: Paper Mario: Color Splash on Wii U


In all the excitement over the Nintendo Switch it’s easy to forget that the Wii U still has a slow but steady run of top notch games coming out for it. The issue with the Wii U has never been about the quality games, more the volume of them. The Nintendo Switch looks like it’ll have the third party support that the Wii U has missed but that doesn’t stop the games that do come out on the Wii U being (mostly) ace. We’ve had great fun with Mario Kart 8, Mario Maker, Mario Sunshine 2, Yoshis Island, Captain Toad and so on. In fact I’d go as far to say that Mario Kart on the Wii U is probably my favourite racer of this current generation.

Now with the release of Paper Mario Color Splash, we have another absolutely beautiful game to get our grubby mitts on. View Full Post

Xbox One S and a Minecraft masterclass- Part I

I know I’m getting old. It’s not just that my birth certificate stubbornly refuses to say anything other than 1975 as my year of birth, or the calendar keeps upping the year count by one with depressing regularity, no it’s more that I don’t understand stuff like Minecraft and it’s a bit alarming. I started playing computer games back in 1982 when I was 7 and I haven’t really stopped in the intervening 34 years. Yes, there have been spells where I’ve not kept up as much as I would have liked (93-96 was a bit of a fallow period, as was 2008-2013 as we had too many babies to spend time doing anything really) but by and large I am still a gamer.

But I simply don’t get Minecraft.

Oh, I understand that it’s like a virtual LEGO, and that ironically you can even buy Minecraft LEGO now, but I’ve spent many many hours bashing my head against a brickwall trying to set it up properly on the PC for my kids to play. All the *.jar stuff, the impenetrable installation of mods, that fact that every incremental version of the game won’t work with the majority of the mods, it drove me utterly up the wall. I’m no n00b when it comes to PCs either, I’ve built several from scratch, and I’ve built a homemade NAS box with a custom operating system on a compact flash card before.

Fortunately the very fact that Minecraft is ubiquitous now has counted in my favour as it’s now on Xbox One, and Microsoft, in their infinite wisdom, offered to send the kids an Xbox One S Minecraft bundle so they could finally teach me what the heck is going on with it all. View Full Post

The death of empathy and kindness


We were on our way back from a blogging event yesterday when an elderly chap pushed past (I was holding the hand of our four year old at the time) with his wheelie suitcase and then stopped abruptly right in front of us to collapse the handle and labour slowly up the stairs. It was sort of a perambulatory version of those morons who see you coming and pull out of the supermarket car park at speed but only accelerate to 20 miles an hour. I got cross but my wife’s response was interesting and made me think. She basically said a few months ago she made peace with the fact that pretty much everybody has no thought for others, no empathy or compassion and she wasn’t going to get cross or react to it because she was expecting people to behave badly.  View Full Post

15 years of Xbox eh? My favourite games from the original Xbox

I remember buying my first Xbox from GAME in Watford. I’d owned a PS2 since launch but since my wife and I had recently bought a house, I couldn’t really justify going multi-platform. Fortunately (for me, not for them obviously) GAME was closing down and flogging everything else off on the cheap.


The X Brick as we affectionately knew it was a great machine and had some truly stand out games. These are a few of my personal favourites I’m reminiscing about to help celebrate Xbox’s 15th birthday. I’m by no means a huge gamer now days, I’ve got three little kids, a full time job and other things to keep my free time to a minimum but still like to game when I get a chance.

Here are my favourite:

  • beat em up;
  • racing game; and
  • shooter.

There’s no real point doing a sports game as it’ll be FIFA 200X :) View Full Post

The boys Fries-day selection!

McCain Crispy French Fries

On ‘Fries-day’ last week, Fifi helped me cook some yummy homemade chicken nuggets to go with our McCain fries. As I said then, cooking is part of the wind down routine we have for the weekend, we live such a hectic life during the week with swimming lessons, drumming, Brownies, guitar lessons and everything else, it’s just nice to start the weekend with a ‘Fries-day’ that is simple and slows things down a bit. Of course once the food has been made and scoffed, things tend to pick up pace a bit as we look to wear everyone out so we can have a bit of lie in on Saturday morning.*


This week it was the boy’s turn to pick what we were having on our McCain fuelled ‘Fries-day’and he didn’t disappoint- it was burger and fries! The boy is a fan of a certain popular fast food outlet when it comes to burger and fries, so the McCain Crispy French Fries are a perfect substitute for you typical restaurant french fries. For burgers we went for some Aberdeen Angus premium burgers but really, the secret is in what you garnish the burger with. View Full Post