Guest Post: Surviving A Camping Trip With The Kids

Dave McDonald from The Kayak Critic pops by The Bandwagon to share his wisdom and encourage parents to take the kids camping.

Going on a camping trip with children can be fun, but it can also be a challenging one. Not all kids love the outdoors and if your tots are like most of the children nowadays, it is probably difficult to take them away from their tablets, mobile devices, or computers; much more from accessing the Internet!

You’ll need the ultimate guide for camping with youngsters if you want to overcome these challenges and make your camping trip not just push through, but most importantly, make it an enjoyable experience for everyone.

While things may not be all smooth, it’s still worth the try because of the various advantages that you can get from this adventure. You’ll have a closer relationship with your loved ones and this is also the perfect opportunity to bond with them.

Kids who are first-timers in camping can be prepared for the real trip by bringing them outdoors during the day. This will familiarize them with the setting that they will be in on the campsite. Backyard camping is also a great idea as they will feel more comfortable sleeping in a tent on the actual camping day.

To help you plan for a fantastic camping trip with your little ones, here is an amazing infographic for you. It contains great tips and guides on what you can do to make this experience memorable and as hassle-free as possible. You will become more confident in bringing your kids at the campsite.



Guest Post: Helene Leuschel on healing from abuse


How do you mend a broken heart? How do you recover after bad treatment, emotional neglect, the feeling of having wasted years of your precious life; hence, how do you start again after abuse?

Why me? may be just one of many recurring questions you may ask yourself. Although some people may be much more vulnerable to falling victim to abuse, anyone can get trapped in a toxic relationship, be it at work, school, among friends, or at home.

Nevertheless, it can also be reassuring and liberating to seek the answer to this question, and find out why and how it was possible to slip into a situation where your right to respect and peace was severely jeopardized.

For all the victims of abuse I have met and gotten to know well over the years, they have told me that once they had made the decision to leave, they went into some kind of ‘limbo’. Finding the answer to the question had become a necessity to start a new life again. It allowed them to move forward with much more confidence, less feeling of guilt and regret. Without that vital clue, they felt that, just as they’d been trapped in a destructive roller-coaster relationship, they were now left to pick up the puzzle pieces and rebuild a picture that they could not see clearly.

I’ve given these courageous women a collective pseudonym here – I call her Emily – and she will go through the different stages of healing and the challenges they faced and/or are still facing.

Emily is breathing a sigh of relief. She and her three children are safe. They have gotten away, broken all ties with a person who never really had their well-being in mind, who cheated and deceived them, who abused their confidence and good-will and whose remorse never lasted long enough. On the contrary, who twisted their words, diverted attention from his actions and intimidated them even after proffering a few apologetic words or promises to change forever. He always ended up expertly shifting the guilt onto her.

Now she needs to create a new chapter in her life and, although she is happy with her decision, there is the weight of the past to deal with, the future to secure, her children’s well-being to consider. It either drags her down like a load of coal mounted onto her back one day or she feels hope another day.  

Physical and emotional exhaustion – a result that is not your fault

Emily knows that she is not alright, but safe and glad about her decision. The feelings of guilt and remorse subside as she surrounds herself with people who endorse and encourage her decision. She feels deeply hurt when comments such as ‘how could you have stayed with someone who cheated on you?’, ‘how was it possible you did not see?’, ‘anyone could tell he was a waster’ cut through a conversation because even though she cannot comprehend why she did not escape earlier, the comments are like salt rubbed into her healing wounds.

It is essential to surround yourself with people who are truly compassionate and caring, who are genuinely interested, especially in the first year after the separation. There will be much self-doubt, anxieties about how to cope with the future demands as a single mother, how to protect yourself from snide remarks, the doubt in people’s eyes and occasional pity.

Talk, talk … and talk some more
Rewriting your life-story and understanding Stockholm Syndrome

Emily is experiencing many highs and lows. Some days she is hunky dory, another her head feels heavy and the world is painted in shades of black and grey. She has found a new job, has made new friends and her children are all starting to talk, ask questions. Each one of the three children take turns in either brooding over their loss of an abusive father one day, or talking to her for hours another day. Emily feels the same need. Sometimes she retreats into silence, at others she reads everything there is to know about abusive relationships. The Internet, bookshops and many 24/7 helplines are available to answer all of her questions … except the main one: Why me? Because every Emily has a unique story to tell, based on different backgrounds and circumstances.

It is likely that during her search, a victim of abuse will stumble upon the term called ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ which is a descriptive term for the kind of coping mechanisms involved in dealing with a traumatic situation. The reason for the emotional attachment to the abuser is the result of the continuous stress and dependence and ultimately a way to survive. It’s an extremely powerful reaction and the result of a perceived threat that completely blurs a victim’s point of view on reality but makes them express empathy for their abuser to the extent that they will even defend them with teeth and claw. Often a small gesture of kindness from the manipulator is enough to trigger the adaptive behaviour.

Therapeutic recovery from ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ is said to be good … as long as the person is separated from the narcissistic manipulator/abuser.

Re-connect with the world therapy, diary-writing or meditation

Emily is working in a local estate agent, relishing the hours that she gets to meet other people – new colleagues and clients. It is not her favourite kind of job but that doesn’t matter because as long as she feels useful, is financially independent and reconnecting with ‘normal life’, she can embrace her new start.

Some days, Emily knows that the past will never quite leave, her feelings of loss, lack of self-esteem, the years forever gone are a painful reminder that she needs to find an outlet for the recurring memories. She turns to anything that can take some of the burden off her shoulders, help her re-assess what may have gone wrong, what aspects of her toxic relationship caused her to shift, lose her confidence, her self-worth.

For one woman, it is therapy under hypnosis, another prefers diary-writing, yet another finds peace and a feeling of refreshment and release when meditating, jogging or walking through a wood, reconnecting with nature. There are many apps available for free which may be helpful guides to start with relaxation techniques, yoga postures that are conducive for better sleep or breathing exercises that can help people to cope with emotional turmoil. Reading poetry is another activity that has proven beneficial and soothing when the dark clouds are threatening to blur your newly found vision.

Healing rather than revenge, truth rather than pretence
The Titanic Image

Emily imagines that she is Rose, the heroine in the movie Titanic. She is lying on a ripped piece of wood, floating on the freezing Arctic Sea. There is much debris moving around her and she is suddenly aware of a massive shadow looming in the corner of her eyes. She lifts her head to see what it is and her eyes widen with disbelief. She ponders whether to attempt reaching the ship again, finding a way to get back on. After all, she’d been told that it was the safest, the best built ship of all times, unsinkable. She believed it was but notices that within minutes, the massive bulk of the vessel is sinking and creating waves that carry her further and further away. The panic rises to her throat but she is so cold and weak that all she can emit is a small whimper.

What she thought was a beautiful and strong Ocean liner is now sinking in front of her very eyes. She must give up on the idea of returning. She looks around, not sure who has survived the shipwreck with her but also knows that her existence is precarious. She is trembling intensely, emotionally and physically drained. Staying out here for much longer will mean her certain death. She must accept that all’s changed, that she will only survive if she gets onto one of the few life boats floating nearby, wrapped around a blanket, finding warmth and comfort.

You are stronger than you think you are. You can accept and survive the symbolic disappearance of an illusion. The Titanic can represent any relationship which was not built strong enough to detect life’s perilous ice bergs.

Everyone deserves to be given respect, love and joy; the chance to grow and most of all a life that holds no daily threats, fears and anxieties. Whenever you falter, don’t reprimand yourself, embrace the emotion, observe it, then let it go, reminding yourself that you did survive the sinking of the Titanic, that whoever you left behind does not have a connection with you anymore. Rediscover just how powerful kindness, support, encouragement, and compassion of others are. These gestures have a huge impact on our brains and bodies and allow you to find that general sense of well-being you deserve.


15337013About The Author

Helene Andrea Leuschel was born and raised in Belgium to German parents. She gained a Licentiate in Journalism, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. Helene moved to the Algarve in 2009 with her husband and two children, working as a freelance TV producer and teaching yoga. She recently acquired a Master of Philosophy with the OU, deepening her passion for the study of the mind. Manipulated Lives is Helene’s first work of fiction.

@HALeuschel | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon


Hugo’s Earthquake: Campaigning for homelessness awareness

Hugo’s Earthquake is all about fighting for homelessness awareness and intervention, campaigning to ensure measures are put in place to prevent homelessness, and help those who do find themselves without a home.


In February, it was announced that local councils were to receive £48 million to expand provision for the homeless in the UK. Hugo’s Earthquake supports this extra injection of money being put into homelessness intervention.

News that £48m has been announced is welcome, if spent in the right way. In reaction, Campaign spokesperson Emily Saunders stated “£48 million isn’t a small amount when it comes to supporting the homeless, but we are really keen to make sure money is put in the right place and supports the most vulnerable in a place they feel comfortable.”

This money has been put aside because of the ever-closer Homelessness Reduction Bill becoming law. This Bill is a Private Members Bill by Bob Blackman MP and our reaction to this potential legislation can be found here.

Over the coming months, we will be closely monitoring where this money is going and openly challenge organisations as to what exactly are they going to do with this extra assistance.

The Campaign has been a driving force in Worcester, helping to uncover failings in service provision or commissioning, and we will strive to continue this scrutiny process, whatever part of the UK.

Homelessness is a feminist issue. Women are incredibly vulnerable out on the streets, at further risk of sexual assault and exploitation. But homelessness does not discriminate, and can affect almost anyone at some point in their life.

Hugo’s Earthquake is currently looking for volunteers. If you want to get involved with this worthwhile campaign, you can contact the Press Office at:, or email Hugo directly, You can also follow them on Twitter: @EarthquakePress or @HugosEarthquake.

Just Pristine Cleaning Services

For those of us living with a chronic illness, managing to do everything we need to do every day can be tough. Whether it’s working full-time, looking after the kids, running errands, food shopping, cleaning – or all of the above! – chronic illnesses can make everyday life even more difficult to deal with.

I battled the idea of hiring a cleaner for a long time. I’m still able to do these things, I argued with myself, ignoring the muscle spasms in my back from cleaning the toilet. I’m not completely disabled, I said, pushing away the fatigue after dusting the house. While it’s important to do what you can, it’s also important to not overdo it.

For those of us with Fibromyalgia, we know that a flare can come in a flash, and last weeks, leaving you unable to do even the simplest of tasks. But so many of us struggle when it comes to asking for help. We often seek help when it comes to traditionally “male” jobs – if your car breaks down, nobody expects you to fix it yourself. But when it comes to traditionally “female” jobs – cleaning, childcare – you are expected to be able to fit it in. When they say women can have it all, what they really mean is, women are expected to do it all. While my partner does his fair share, he works in London, and is out of the house 12 hours a day, making it difficult for him to find time to do what needs to be done. Between us, we can manage, but, during particularly busy times, or during a flare, it really helps to have some help!

Whether you need a big spring clean, or an extra pair of hands at the end of a tenancy, or just a bit of help every week, there’s nothing shameful in hiring someone to give you a hand.

Just Pristine Cleaning Services are based in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, but they travel within a fairly wide radius. Always on time and polite, they get the job done with efficiency and tact.


Just Pristine Cleaning Services. You don’t need magic, you need our high-quality cleaning service.

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Gollancz: In ‘one of the largest literary deals of the year’, DMG acquires rights to Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere Universe

Image result for brandon sandersonDMG Entertainment has acquired film and licensing rights to The Cosmere, Brandon Sanderson’s acclaimed series of interconnected fantasy novels including The Mistborn Series, The StormlightAchieve and standalone novels such asWarbreaker and Elantris.

The news broke last night, exclusively announced on Variety US.

‘The entertainment and media company [DMG] has committed to spending $270 million, which will cover half of the money needed to back the first three movies made from Sanderson’s canon. That makes it one of the largest literary deals of the year. DMG beat out several interested parties for rights to the series. As part of the pact, insiders say Sanderson will receive a minimum guarantee on each film that is produced, as well as a rich backend, allowing the author to make millions.

The “Cosmere” comprises the bulk of Sanderson’s writings, with DMG likening it to acquiring a comic book universe rather than a single book franchise. The books are a mixture of sci-fi and fantasy, and they unfold in a number of different worlds and time periods, but are unified by an intricate system of magic that drives the plots.

DMG is fast-tracking an adaptation of Sanderson’s “The Way of Kings,” the first in the author’s series, “The Stormlight Archive,” and has hired screenwriters Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan, the writing team behind several “Saw” films, to adapt the book. DMG founder Dan Mintz will produce the film, with Sanderson and Joshua Bilmes serving as executive producers. DMG also intends on simultaneously adapting the first book in Sanderson’s “Mistborn” series. It has yet to decide on a screenwriter for the project.’

About Brandon Sanderson:

Brandon Sanderson was born in Nebraska in 1975. Since his first publication in 2005 he has now written 27 novels, 8 novellas, a graphic novel and a collection of short stories. He was also chosen by Robert Jordan’s family to complete Jordan’s Wheel of Time Sequence. His global book sales now top 10 million copies. He lives in Utah.

For more information visit or follow @BrandSanderson on twitter.

Guest Blog: Read About Jim Webster’s Woman In Love

Author Jim Webster jumps on The Bandwagon to tell you all about his Woman In Love.

photo of Jim Oct 2015

I had a cunning plan once. Whenever you publish a new book you get this little jump in all your sales. So if I published more often I’d get this boost more often.

But I cannot write three books a year, life gets in the way. So, I thought I’d write a series of novellas. But readers have become wary of series. Firstly, some of them just appear to be one book hacked into bits so the writer can charge more. Secondly, an inordinate number of series written by indie writers seem to fade away and never get finished. So, I thought I’d write ‘a collection.’

The thing about a collection is that, like the Sherlock Holmes stories, it doesn’t really matter what order you read them in. Also, like the Sherlock Holmes stories again, I’d make each novella ‘stand alone’, so each has its own beginning, middle and end. Complete and perfect in itself.

The problem came when the fourth of these novellas was due to be published. Firstly, I’d been busy, with lambing followed by a chest infection, followed by starting another book. I really got into the book, the stories seemed to bubble up from somewhere and I was writing furiously. I was totally in the groove as it were. Then I looked at the calendar and thought, “ooops”, or something like that, and frantically had to start promoting.

The problem is that I feel that as a writer, if I write a blog post for somebody, each ought to be unique. Sending two bloggers identical blog posts is as ethically unsound as sleeping with them both in the same afternoon. But when you look at the events I’ve laid above out for your cynical guffaws, there is only a limited number of ways you can tell the story differently. But, in all candour, I have tried.

I got blogs written, generous bloggers started publishing them, and I relaxed a little. Only for the world of social media to burst into the largest and at times nastiest flame war I’ve seen, over the referendum result. Book promotions were flashing and burning unseen in the heat generated by the ‘discussions.’ I was left with the impression that if my novella was read at all, it would be by the light of the flickering flames as our civilisation collapsed into some sort of fiery demise. At one point I had vague hopes I might get a shadow cabinet minister to carry a kindle when they resigned with my tale open and being read. Hence when the media gurus scrutinised the pictures in detail to discover what was driving their thinking, they’d inadvertently sell my novella for me. And if hell had frozen over, I suppose I could have stood on the ice selling it.

So at last, here I am, brandishing my latest work and screeching ‘read this!’

A pleasant little tale called ‘Woman in Love.’ Set in a fantasy world of my own devising (with no orcs, elves, hobbits or dragons), it centres upon the solving of a mystery, the search for a husband who has disappeared.

Cover Woman in Love

Woman In Love

If you really need to know more about me, there’s always my Amazon page, and of course I have a blog, but it’s not very literary.

And if you wish to know more about Port Naain, Tallis Steelyard, poet and one of the characters in the story also has a blog.

Ask The Author: Jim Webster | Jim Webster Jumps On The Bandwagon | Jim Webster On The Importance of Having A Good Editor

Giveaway: The Madam by Jaime Raven

Fancy a copy of Jaime Ryan’s latest novel, The Madam? Read on to find out how!

Murder, loyalty, and vengeance collide in a gritty read perfect for fans of Martina Cole and Kimberley Chambers.

‘Orange is the New Black meets a twisted Southampton’ Molly, Amazon reviewer

‘If you like a crime novel with a strong female lead then you’ll love this’ Katie, Amazon reviewer

Three years and eleven months. That’s how long Lizzie Wells has been banged up inside Holloway prison, serving time for a crime she didn’t commit.

Six months. That’s how long it’s taken Lizzie to fall in love with her fellow inmate, Scar.

Now they are both finally free and, together, they are about to embark on a vengeful search to find those who framed Lizzie. It’s time to make them pay…


Goodreads | Amazon

We want to know your favourite crime fiction. Do you love a good whodunit? Or a tale full of revenge? How about a chilling thriller?

To enter this giveaway, comment below with your answer, or email

This giveaway will run until 27/07/16. The winner will be contacted by email. Open to UK participants only.