How To Make Your Household Broadband Family Proof

It’s a fact of modern life that your children probably already spend a large amount of time online. With the internet, every member of the household now has a device to browse the online, stream Netflix or play games. It’s also a fact of modern life that the headlines are full of reminders of the dangers of the internet – from cyberbullying and identity theft, to internet addiction and predators.

This can be worrying for parents, as they want to endeavour to keep their children safe online but can feel overwhelmed by the amount of web trends and apps that they are using. And for every fun game, app or social network that becomes popular, there can be negative impacts of the internet too.

How do you keep your family safe? We have some ideas that you should consider taking onboard to keep your family secure on the internet.

Secure your Wi-Fi network

Your broadband network allows your kids to access the internet from any room in your house. This can make it that little bit harder to keep an eye on them and see what they are up to. As well as this, if the network is not secure there is the danger of intruders either using your bandwidth or compromising your security and infecting your household computers with malware.

In order to combat this, you should know all about what speeds and bandwidth that your broadband provider gives you, so you can keep an eye on your usage and speeds. You should also ensure that your Wi-Fi is highly secure using a strong password on your router and enabling encryption to restrict access to it.

Teach your kids safe social networking etiquette

When your kids become old enough to use social media, it’s worth teaching them how to keep safe while using it. It goes without saying that you should be keeping an eye on their friend list, but there are other things to consider too. For instance, you should teach family members to restrict their personal information on the internet; never use their full names or addresses on their profiles.

You should also teach them not to talk about identifiable details on social media, such as holiday plans or weekend activities, and try avoiding checking-in to public places.

Ensure a safe gaming environment for your kids

You probably have a kid or two that likes gaming online. This can be a great hobby, but it also comes with its own dangers. Live online games allow people to interact with other people all over the world, and this can expose them to a variety of security dangers such as bullying and harassment.

To protect against this, ensure that your gamer children don’t reveal their identities while playing games, and you should always check out who they are playing with – if possible, you should make sure that they only play with friends and family members that they know in real life. Often, a lot of games and consoles offer parental controls, so you can restrict certain features, so always check if these options are available.

Securing your house

Even adding virus protections, parental controls and passwords to every device in the house, it can still be hard to secure the internet completely. You should have an open and trustful relationship with your children when it comes to the internet, so that if anything does happen that they can come and tell you of any issues. Being forewarned will help keep them safe while online.

If you’d like to educate your family a little more on broadband, including speeds and what they mean for your family, then Hoppy has created an informative video which you can watch below!

Nozstock: the most family friendly festival becomes EVEN more family friendly!

We’ve been to the Nozstock festival in Herefordshire for a few years now and we all love it. It’s small enough that the kids don’t feel overwhelmed but big enough that they don’t get bored. Last year was a particular highlight as Ned accidentally learnt the words to the Dub Pistols Mucky Weekend (fortunately he doesn’t understand a word of it. If you want to pick up on our review of it, you can read it here.

  • Expanding and improving family camping to accommodate more tents and more space
  • Increasing the number of toilets on site by 25% and introducing child-friendly toilets in family camping
  • Supplies available for family campers including loo roll, wet wipes, sanitiser, sun cream, plasters, toothpaste and site maps. Whilst stocks last!
  • ‘Save your space’ scheme. Booked to use family camping but want to make sure you have enough space to camp together? A limited amount of 5m2 pitches are available to hire to save your space
  • Little Wonderful Kids Area expanded to include more activities aimed at older children and a dedicated breastfeeding space

As you can see from my review of this years festival, Nozstock is already really family friendly, so any improvement is going to be the icing on the cake.

So if you’re looking for a last minute Christmas pressie, you can buy tickets for the 2019 festival here.

5 Characteristics You Need to Get Your Dream Job

From an early age, many people aspire to work in their dream job when they grow up. The current job market makes these visions more likely to become a reality, especially as there are new varieties of jobs emerging every day. Not only this, but more people than ever are starting to set up their own businesses, meaning the myth that you can’t do a job you love is quickly being banished. However, that isn’t to say it is plain sailing, as there will be bumps along the way to you settling in a job you have fallen for. Fortunately, there are some key characteristics that you need to get your dream job that are easy to master in your daily life.


You may have an impressive skill set, but if you are not confident in yourself, it will be hard for employers to notice them. This is one of the biggest obstacles people face when applying for jobs, as confidence shows that you have the potential to bring new ideas to the table. If you want to effectively build your confidence and your self-esteem, there are some self-care tricks to follow that are easy to implement into your daily routine, such as starting the day right and repeating positive affirmations to yourself.


As you go through life, you will find that you will come across many abrasive people and difficult work situations that test you. This is where having a thick skin can truly help you brush past such things with ease, rather than letting them affect your work ethic and enjoyment. As you work on your confidence, resilience will come in time, but you should always remember to keep your empathetic side as you get stronger, as this will make you a memorable and humble colleague.

Communication skills

Having the ability to work in a team is essential for most areas of business, as you need to collaborate with other employees and work towards your goals together. The best way to do this is by working on your communication skills, as this will help you and your colleagues thrive in a comfortable and productive working environment. However, it will also enable you to develop leadership skills needed if you want to work your way to the top.


When people are in a job they aren’t happy with, they can lack the passion for driving them to perform well and make money. It is something that people in their dream jobs don’t struggle with because it is what spurs them on in the workplace. It is also key when you are searching for a new, exciting job, as employers will be looking for people who are enthusiastic about their company and truly believe in what they are doing.

In the job market, there are lots of people claiming to be passionate about a job, but who don’t take the time to show it. It goes hand in hand with the old idea that actions speak louder than words; employers are not looking for people to tell them how passionate they are, but to show them. Taking a proactive stance on your job increases your chances of success and ensure you stand out from the crowd when you deliver on results.

A useful instructional for the parents of boys

I don’t often publish instructionals and this one is even more out there as it’s from the BBC’s comedy show The Daily Mash (itself spun out of the satirical website of the same name).

However given the press recently on all sorts of shenanigans on the internet from kids not believing that Madeleine McCann was actually a real person, to what’s known as “redpilling“, it’s probably more relevant now than ever that we keep an eye on what our kids are up to online. Let’s face it, you don’t want to get down the line and long for the nostalgic days when all you had to worry about was your kid googling for “boobies” on the internet. Whether it’s right wing/racist/fascist stuff on YouTube, or endless conspiracy theories that younger people find hard to differentiate from the truth from poppycock, the important thing is to talk to your kids about it.

Which brings us on to the whole “incel” subculture in the video. I was terrible with girls at school but that was due to shyness, I didn’t feel the need to construct an entire narrative or reality around the way human interaction works to justify my crapness, I just knew I was shy. The whole incel movement, “involuntarily celibate” boys who go to rather extreme lengths to convince themselves that the world is ganging up on them reminds me rather of an old episode of Red Dwarf where Rimmer does the “worm do” joke from the 1,001 chat up lines book he has, and Lister tries to point out to him that women aren’t an unknown different species who have to be tricked into liking you.

That’s what I like about Rachel Parrish’s monologue above; although she rightly ridicules the whole movement, she doesn’t dismiss it and actually ends up with some (tongue in cheek) pointers to potential incels to stop them going down that crazy path.

Three Simple Ways to Achieve A Healthier Lifestyle

Sometimes it takes only the smallest of changes to see a difference in achieving a healthier lifestyle. You don’t have to completely overhaul everything in your life to be able to achieve a more balanced and better lifestyle. If you set yourself one dedicated goal or thing to change then you’ll be more likely to achieve it. Trying to do too much at once might not be the best approach and you might find yourself giving up.

Find a healthy hobby

When it comes to trying out different fitness hobbies there is something for everyone. From simple and free things like taking up running, to joining a local club and taking part in team sports like rugby or football or joining some local gym classes. There’s something that can suit everyone’s lifestyle and budget. If running is something you fancy getting involved in, then all you need are a good pair of trainers and you can be good to go. If you’re starting from scratch, then using an app like couch to 5k could help! It’s great being able to see improvement and feel yourself being able to run faster and further as the weeks go by.

Kick the habit

If you’re a smoker then you know that kicking this habit can be difficult. However, there are things you can do to take steps towards quitting. Swapping out your daily cigarettes for an alternative such as e-cigarettes like these from Juul can help you start kicking the habit. Although you’re not giving up on nicotine completely, you are giving up the harmful toxins that come with cigarettes. You’d be amazed as how much better you might feel if you ditch the old habit and making a simple swap can really help. So, if you are looking to give up smoking, then alternatives might be the way forward for you.

The tech detoxes

We don’t always like to admit just how much time we do spend on our tech devices and whilst for most of us, it can be all part of the day job a lot of us also find ourselves spending a lot of time on them in the evening too. As the winter approaches and the evenings are darker, it’s likely you’ll be spending more time inside. Although the temptation might be to stick on some shows and spend the evening browsing online, why not set aside a couple of evenings a week to get together as a family and do something different. This could be playing board games, where tech is banished from the table, or cooking up some tasty treats together. Finding some ways to encourage your kids to get involved and not want to spend as much time on technology devices is a great way to help them have a break from it too.

Your Go-To Guide to a Family Trip to London

If you are planning a trip to London with all the family, you will not want to miss one iconic sight, famous landmark or interesting attraction during your visit. You will also need to learn how to navigate your way across the city effectively.

Ensure your visit to the English capital is memorable for all the right reasons by checking out the below go-to tips for a family trip to London.

Master the Tube

The Underground is the simplest way to move across the city during a visit, as the landmarks and attractions are rather spread out. For example, you might plan to have dinner at a restaurant in Whitechapel but have tickets to a play at the West End.

Black cabs can be expensive and taking the bus might not always be a reliable option, which is why you should familiarise yourself with the tube map before you visit. An Oyster card is the most affordable option for adults, while younger children can either travel for free or at a discount.

Book Tickets in Advance to a West End Show

Speaking of the West End, you shouldn’t visit the capital without booking tickets to a theatre show. However, it’s wise to book in advance to avoid disappointment, as tickets can sell out quickly. If you’re travelling with kids, you can treat them to one of the many children’s shows London.

Visit the Many Free Museums

Exploring London doesn’t need to be expensive, as there are many free museums to choose from, such as the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum, which are both perfect for children.

For example, the Garden at the Science Museum is aimed for three to six-year-olds, as kids can have fun in the multisensory area that allows them to enjoy various sounds, reflections, shadows, and giant building blocks. Children will also love the incredible T. Rex at the Natural History Museum, while finding out how baby dinosaurs were born.

Grab a Cheap Bite to Eat at Covent Garden

Covent Garden never fails to disappoint as it regularly offers talented street performers in the piazza. It’s also the perfect place to grab a cheap bite to eat, as you can enjoy an affordable burger from the likes of Shake Shack, Byron, and Five Guys, to name just a few. There are also plenty of street food dishes to choose from for mum, dad and adventurous children, which start from as little as £3.70.

Take a Bus Tour

Save money on a trip to London by buying tickets for a bus tour for all the family. It will allow you to explore the capital at your leisure for one or more days, depending on the ticket option you choose.

It’s an affordable way to move across the city and visit the biggest and best landmarks it has to offer, such as Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, Big Ben, Downing Street and the Houses of Parliament, plus more.

Last night I got told off by my mum- I’m 43!

I’m used to be told off, it’s a part of life but it has been a number of years since my mum actually told me off. I’m well into my forties now and had thought that I’d passed that stage of my life. It appears that I haven’t.

I tend to have a weekly chat with my parents on the phone while I’m walking home from work. Although they’re only based 18 miles away, with three kids and lots of activities at the weekend, we only see them once every couple of months, so it’s good to keep in touch.

While I was chatting to mum yesterday, I mentioned that it’s great to be able to see what the boy has had for lunch- he’s newly started at secondary school and his school dinner money is done via biometrics- in this instance a thumb print. We can log on to an app and see what he’s spent and what he’s spent it on. Mum was impressed, I could tell. Mind you, a lot of technology impresses her generation, but even so, she said it was a shame that they didn’t have that sort of system when I was at school.

I was a creature of habit in my school days. Packed lunch containing:

  • two slices of Sainsbury wholemeal bread made into a Marmite sandwich (cut diagonally)
  • a bag of crisps (Ringos, Farmer Browns, Hula Hoops, Chipsticks)
  • a biscuit (orange/mint/fruit Club or a KitKat)
  • an apple
  • a carton of drink (5 Alive, Umbongo or something similar)

Blithely, I mentioned to mum I didn’t actually eat my packed lunch very often, instead I sold it to Mark Giltrow. Mark was on school dinners but didn’t like them and preferred a packed lunch, so I sold him mine for the equivalent of a school dinner, pocketing the money to fund my obsession with comics and computer games. Along with my 55p bus fare home I didn’t spend, choosing to walk instead, this added a huge £8.75 a week to my income. That was enough to buy a Megadrive game once a month!

There was silence on the other end of the phone. The silence extended and became awkward. Them mum replied, “You naughty boy, no wonder you were hungry when you got home, honestly Alex, I’m cross with you.”

I had to point out that we were talking about something that happened 30 years ago, and as a 43 year old parent of three I wasn’t about to take a telling off for something that happened so long ago but there was little I could say that would mollify her. I was in trouble!

The Coolest Tech Gifts for Kids this Christmas

Ah, I’ve said it, haven’t I?

The C word. The word we’re all trying to avoid as long as possible.

However, it would seem the other C word (children) don’t seem to be adhering to this same we-shall-not-speak-of-this policy.

Therefore, this has left me with no choice but to start doing my research into what toys are must-haves this year.

So here’s what I’ve found in the tech-related genre:

Ricky the Trick Lovin’ Pup

Many of us get the “I want a puppy” speech at least three times a year. Thankfully, this Christmas, you can fulfil your child’s wish without any mess or walkies.

Meet Ricky.

He’s a robotic puppy but one that, I have to admit, looks pretty darn cute. And he has 100 different sound and motion combinations, so he’s capable of a fair few tricks and surprises. Plus, he even comes with a selection of treats.

Ricky is priced at around £110.

Nerf Laser Alpha

Nerf guns have been all the rage for a while, but this one goes one step further, allowing you (I mean, the kids) to embark on live-action laser quests. This nifty device registers each hit through sounds and lights and can even be connected to its own app which tracks performance, earns power-ups, locates opponents and allows you to customise each blaster.

Priced at £29.99 to £49.99

Lego Technics Bugatti Chiron

Now, if I’m honest, I think this is one of the toys many dads will encourage their kids to ask Santa for this year. This 1:8 scale model of the Bugatti Chiron is brought to us by Lego and promises hours upon hours of fun.

However, while in real life this car will set you back £2.5 million, the Lego equivalent’s not too cheap, either. It costs approximately £329.99.


When you see one of these flying past you in the street, they do make you stop and stare.

Also known as balance boards, these clever gadgets allow you to change their direction and speed using just your feet. This means they do take some mastering but that’s all part of the fun. A hoverboard is also great for getting your kids out into the great outdoors.

Prices vary depending on the brand and how high-tech the hoverboard is but you can expect to pay around £200 to £500.


While this may be the cheapest item on this list, that doesn’t make it any less fun.

In fact, this stocking filler will have you reliving your childhood while you’re watching the kids play with it.

This spinning top has been brought kicking and screaming into the 21st century because it not only spins round and round but also counts the number of revolutions. It even allows kids to go head to head to see who can get the most spins.

As you can see, there’s a wide variety of tech gadgets out there this year – many of which will keep you as entertained as the kids!

Hoarding like a pro

It’s not getting any better. Whenever we have a big tidy up it seems like we’re just moving stuff about and relocating things rather than getting rid of stuff. Our house must weigh about twice as much as our neighbours because we’ve got so much darn stuff in it.

The kids don’t help the accumulation of detritus- attempt to get them to part with any old or broken toy they haven’t touched for years and they’ll wail and play with it incessantly until you leave the room and then revert to the scrumming wrestling game that is their preferred pastime. 

Still I’m no better, I keep on finding stuff in the house that I bought years ago and in some instances haven’t actually opened. Take this for example:

Dreamcast VMU

The Dreamcast was Sega’s last (and ill-fated) console. It was released in 1999 and discontinued in 2001. This is a sealed box VMU (memory card) for a Dreamcast that’s sat in a box in our loft for many many years.

Still, I did manage somewhat of a breakthrough. I took 17 boxes down from the loft that contained old video consoles, games and various cables and power supplies. I only returned 7 boxes, which I count as a win, but I’m still a little nervous about some of the PSUs I threw away.

I mean, just because I haven’t used them in the last 15 years, doesn’t mean they’re not vital. Right? Right???

Nozstock the Hidden Valley 2018 Review

This year Nozstock celebrated it’s 20th birthday, no mean feat given how the festival market has burgeoned in recent years. The secret to their success is threefold- Nozstock has refused to grow to the size of a mega festival, it has great music, and it’s just incredibly friendly.

This year the weather gods were kind to us,it was gloriously hot and sunny where it had been rather wet the previous year. The weather does make a big difference at a festival, even one where they deal with the mud really well, and I have to say combined with the lovely local cider and the musical line up, this was probably the best Nozstock yet.

We started off Friday with We Are Scientists, before moving on to the Selector for a bit of ska. Both were ace, but simply a warm up for Chase & Status a bit later in the evening, who did an awesome set. Day time is quite chilled at Nozstock, with a mixture of mellow acoustic, folk, and guitar based pop/rock. Things get really banging in the evenings. The kids did well on the first night, managing to stay up until gone midnight.

On day 2 we were joined by the rest of our posse (the Friday had been year six leavers party, so my wife, the eldest, and one of our friends and their eldest came up first thing Saturday morning). The last sets of the previous night only finished at around 2/3am, so the morning was quite chilled. I’d made the cardinal mistake of not filling up my water bottle so had to start the day with a gin in a tin to wet my whistle – why not start as you mean to carry on eh? 

Although the family camping has always been great at Nozstock (restricted to people with actual families and not groups of teenagers on their own like a few other festivals I could name), this year it really outdid itself with a bespoke adventure playground and some football goals.  This is a really great addition when you have kids that get up at 7am and the festival proper doesn’t open until 10!

Of course the bigger acts were reserved for the (late) evenings but with the likes of Electric Swing Circus on earlier, it really wasn’t the case of having to sit through a lot of rubbish just to make sure you got to see the likes of GrandMaster Flash or Goldfrapp.

The thing that sets Nozstock apart (aside from the music, the food, and well lots of other things really) is the atmosphere though. It is so friendly. We had “merry” lads and lasses coming up and asking the kids who their favourite artists were, complementing us on making the kids wear ear defenders, and just being genuinely nice. There was none of the argy bargy jostling and queue jumping you see at larger festivals, everybody is out to have a good time and enjoy themselves.

Tickets are already available for Nozstock’s 21st Festival, and you can pick them up here at an early bird rate. Don’t forget that kids under 12 go free, so it really is an awesome opportunity to spend a long weekend chilling.