Friday 29 May 2015

Camping Adventure

Apologies for the lack of blog posts in the last week, life has not been as hectic and manic as you might expect, instead we have been relaxing and socialising with friends.

Over the course of the last year or so I have made friends with a few of the school mums whose children are in the same year at Ruby’s school. We are very fortunate that our children play together and get on as well as the parents do.

One of the parents has a caravan and we have a tent, so it was suggested we consider going camping for a few days. As a family we love camping it gives us the ability to be able to go away on a holiday without it costing a small fortune, its the only way in which we are able to holiday now due to the cost. Last year we purchased our 1st proper tent.

Last Friday we loaded up our car with all our camping gear - it really is amazing how much we take when we go camping, I have tried to reduce it but it never really has much of an affect and the girls still end up being squashed! I think we will be investing in a trailer soon.

On arrival at our campsite we pitched our tent while our girls enjoyed a game of football and then we waited for the other families to arrive, in total there were 4 families with 11 children between us! If I am honest I was a little worried how everyone would get on with one another, but I did not need to worry as everyone got on so well.

The site we stayed at is called Thornton Holt, first impressions were how clean and tidy the site was. The site is situated close to Sherwood Forest where we spent a day, I am sure I will blog about our forest adventure shortly. The site has both electric and non electric pitches, dependant on if you require electric or not, we did need the electric as when I camp I tend to glamp! As you can see from the video of our tent!

The site has its own heated indoor pool which can be used for £2 per person or you can hire the pool in the evening for £30 which is what we did.

Other than visiting the forest we stayed on site and the children played to their hearts content whilst as adults we sat and socialised. One day one of the parents organised a sports day and the children had a great time, there was even some adult races which provided some very amusing entertainment.

We had an amazing time camping with friends and I am disappointed to be back at home, I think its safe to say we are all hoping to go back again soon!

Thursday 21 May 2015

Marco Pierre White

A couple of weeks ago I was very kindly invited to review one of celebrity chef, Marco Pierre White's new restaurants. My intially thoughts were "oh how lovely... but would there be any food that I would be able to eat?". As many people may know I am vegetarian and also generally quite fussy about what I eat. Before deciding to visit the restaurant, I looked up the menu online and was excited to see a mixture of gormet American and Italian foods, I love italian food and knew there would be plenty I would be able to eat.

Marco Pierre White's restaurant is named 'Marco's' and is conviently situated in the Mercure Hotel in Leicester (or The Grand Hotel as most people know it). I have never been to the Grand Hotel before, but as the name suggests it is a very grand hotel. I was a little anxious about what the desired dress code would be for a hotel of this standard and a celebrity chefs restaurant, so I opted for a dress to be on the safe side.

It is not very often that my mother and I have evenings out together so I decided as a special treat to ask her to be my plus one, she is also an avid food lover and was really well placed to taste the non-vegetarian items and give her opinion.

On arrival at The hotel we walked into the impressive hall which contains a long stylish bar and plenty of comfy seats to sit and enjoy a glass or two of whatever takes your fancy. We started in the hall for welcome drinks before heading to the restaurant which is situated to the back of the hall. Once in the restaurant, you are greeted by various photos of Marco and chefs aprons in frames.

When it came to ordering our starters we were spoilt for choice, there were so many things I could eat and they all sounded delicious. We couldnt make a decission on starters so the staff very kindly made us a special platter that had most of the starters on it.

As you can see from the photo, it looks divine, and it was! I loved all of the starters; it wasnt over powered by adding any fancy sauces or dressings it was simple yet incredibly tasty. My mother, who I said at the start of this blog post isnt a vegetarian, also loved all of the vegetarian options.

For mains I opted for Mushroom Risotto and my mum had Sea Bass. The presentastion of the dishes were amazing, they invite you to dive straight in so you're very fortunate I managed to grab a photo before they were gone!

The mains did not disapoint; my risotto was just divine and my mum thoroughly enjoyed hers too.

Feeling quite full, I really wasn't sure if I would be able to manage a pudding, so I opted for limocello with icecream, it was divine, My mother chose vanilla panna cotta and she says it was the best panna cotta she has ever had!

The prices do range depending on what you have, however I was plesantly surpised at how reasonably priced it was bearing in mind it is a celebrity chefs restaurant and in the grounds of a fancy hotel.

If I am honest I know very little about Marco Pierre White, however he has certainly impressed me with the way he cooks and the simplicity and great flavours he creates that leave you asking "when can I come again?".

Marco Pierre White will be visiting his restauant in Leicester on the 26th May and will be availible to talk to; there will also be a special set three course meal.

I will certainly be heading back to Marco's, its probably just a case of how long can I resist the temptation to go back!

You can find out more on Marco's website.

Disclaimer: We were provided with complementary food and drink for the purpose of this review, however all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Thursday 14 May 2015

Girlie trip to Barnsdale Gardens

We have had some wonderful weather over the last few days, and as a family we do love to be outside in the countryside. We are very lucky that we live in a village and are surrounded by so much wonderful scenery, some times I think we take it for granted. My mum lives on a small holding in a village about 5 minutes from our house and its an amazing place to spend time, there is always so much to see and do, ranging from feeding the chickens, taking a walk around the lake or looking after the horses. Ruby and Lottie both share my passion for the outdoors and would much rather be outside in the cold and rain than being stuck indoors.

This week my mum took Lottie and myself out to a place that I had never been to before, Barnsdale Gardens. Barnsdale Gardens is situated in Rutland, very close to the well know Rutland Water; it was created by Geoff Hamiliton for BBC Gardeners World.

I have not been to Barnsdale before, so I was keen to explore and possibly get some new ideas for my own little garden back at home.

There are over 35 gardens, all of which are different in design, shape and space. As you can see from the photos Lottie had an amazing time running around and exploring the different gardens. Lottie particularly loved the garden that featured some toadstools as she loved sitting on them.

Lottie also enjoyed the mini maze; my mum hid her precious Li-Li in the centre of the maze for her to find, because the hedge was not very high she spotted Li-Li before she reached the centre and tried to lean over to get her, but she fell into the hedge, which resulted in much laughter from my mother and I!

We ate lunch in the tearoom and I had a lovely pannini filled with mozzarella, tomato and pesto, Lottie had what Miss Lottie always has ... beans on toast!

Barnsdale Gardens was a really lovely day out and I am sure we will be visiting again shortly, for further details you can visit their website

Wednesday 6 May 2015

Review: Lego Elves (from George)

We were recently approached by ASDA to review the range of toys that they offer on their George website, and I knew instantly my girls were going to love this.

George stocks a wide array of toys, everything from babies to teens, and as a parent it's easy to find something to suit your budget. I was impressed that the website is set up in particular themes of toys such as role play, construction or creative; it was a really good online shopping experience. Before having children I never really considered the impact that toys have on a child's development, helping them to learn and understand new things and enrich their learning and education.

When we were in London a few weeks ago we visited a world famous toy shop and noticed that they stocked a brand new Lego range based around elves. The official Lego website describes the range as follows:
"LEGO® Elves is a magical universe full of adventure. Children must help the Elves find 4 magic keys to get teenager Emily Jones back home. With sets including a sailing ship, magical bakery and treetop hideaway, this fantasy world means they can also create their own exciting quests with the Elves."
Ruby was really interested in the range and had even written it down for her birthday list. I was very pleased to see that George also stocked this range on their website, so I decided it would be a good opportunity to get some bits from the range to review, as I knew it would be a massive hit with Ruby. 

The Lego elves range currently consists of six sets, ranging in price from £9.99 to £39.99 (RRP). Lego has always been a massive hit in our house as it has so much to offer. It's not just a case of setting up the pack you purchase, you can link it in with other sets or even build something completely different. The Lego elves is suitable for ages seven to twelve, so it's a little big advanced for Ruby at the moment; with this in my mind my hubbie and I took it upon ourselfs to make the sets after the girls had gone to bed. Let's just say it took a good few hours and plenty of coffee to complete the three sets we had for this review. 

We ordered the 'Naidia's Spa Secret' set, the 'Azari and the Magical Bakery' set, and the largest set in the range, the 'Elves Treetop Hideaway' set:

Click to Enlarge
When Ruby woke up the following morning she was so excited to see the sets, so was Lottie, much to Ruby's annoyance! I think it's easy to say these Lego sets have been a hit as she really didn't want to go to school and couldn't wait to get home to continue to play with them. She has spent hours playing with them since!

Ruby + Lottie Rating: 10/10

Disclaimer: we were sent these toys to review for free, however all thoughts and opinions are our own.