Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Our Easter break in Cornwall..

Wow, I haven't been on here in ages! Thats because over the Easter holidays we have been super busy having some much needed family time.

The second week of the Easter holidays we took a holiday of our own, down to Cornwall.

We decided to stay in a lovely 2 bedroomed cottage in a small village called Coombe. It was just a short drive from Mevagissey and only 20 minutes to Newquay. A very central location, I am so glad we chose it and we will definitly be going back!

As both children love the beach and we have got National Trust memberships we decided to spend most of our holiday making the most of those two things. Finding places to go and explore was easy, the hard part was choosing exactly which ones. Cornwall has got so many gorgeous beaches, and National Trust properties (and beaches for that matter), we could not possibly fit them all in a week!

But I think in the end we made some pretty good choices, I am going to do a separate post for National Trust properties as I think some of them deserve their own write up, one in particular, Lanhydrock, is now officially my most favourite National Trust Property!

Our first day was spent traveling and just exploring our cottage and local surroundings. We stopped on the way for breakfast at Route 303. It was an American diner type place and the only reason we stopped was the simple reason that the car park was packed! Our instincts were right and it was delicious, filling and great value for money!

On day 2 we spent the morning in Newquay, this originally came about because Chester was whinging on about wanting to buy some Tsum Tsums. These can only be brought in the Disney Store or Clinton Cards. Cornwall are not lucky enough to have a Disney Store, and only have 2 branches of Clinton Cards, so we headed to Newquay in search of Tsum Tsums!

After purchasing some of the new Disney craze we wandered down to the beach. Stopping for an ice cream on the way of course!

It was a lovely morning and I was cross for not being prepared and leaving the kids swimwear and towels at the cottage! Nether the less we still had a great morning and then spent the afternoon/evening at two National Trust Properties!

Day 3 we headed into Mevagissey. I had heard so many lovely things about this little fishing harbour, we really wanted to go and explore! We  were not disappointed either, spending the day wandering around the lovely boutique shops, eating fish and chips on the quay, visiting both the small aquarium and the local museum. Both of which were free, although donations were welcome, and after having a fab time in both we were very happy to donate!

On the Tuesday we decided to venture down to St Ives for the day. Rather than drive all the way, one of my friends had suggested that we catch the park and ride train from Lelant Saltings. What a great suggestion that was! The children really enjoyed the train ride and Craig and I loved the scenery! It dropped us off at St Ives train station and the walk into the main town/sea front was less than 5 minutes! St Ives turned out to be one of our favourite days. We spent the day wandering through the narrow lanes filled with shops, in the amusement arcades and building sandcastles on a lovely warm beach. Not to mention the lovely lunch we had in a restaurant with beautiful Sea views!

We have named the Wednesday as disaster day! It was my fault from start to finish! I had researched (although clearly not enough) a National Trust cliff top walk which lead down to a lovely cove/beach. Upon arriving, it because apparent that I had misunderstood the tide times and after a VERY windy cliff top walk, we came to realise that the tide was very much in!

So we headed back to the car and moved along to Watergate Bay. For some reason I had not really noticed the fact that the beach was covered mainly with surfers. I regret not paying much attention now. Chester, Millie and I were paddling happily in the sea, it was barely up to my ankles, when all of a sudden the strength of the current knocked Millie out of my hand and under the water. I tried to reach out to her, but the current was so strong and was pulling me back. All I could see was my baby (ok, 3 year old, but you get what I mean) rolling over and over again under the water. I somehow managed to stay calm, and kept reassuring her it would be ok. After what seemed like forever, but in reality was probably only about 30 seconds I managed to get to her and pull her out. Still remaining calm I was upbeat in my reassurance to her that everything was ok and the silly sea must of been playing tricks. The last thing I wanted to happen was a fear of water. Thankfully Millie is ok and so far she appears to still be confident in the water. I however, am still shaken by the whole thing!

I will say though, that the day finished well with a trip to the local pub for dinner!

We visited St Michael's Mount the next day, it was the longest drive of the week at 50 minutes, but it was totally worth it! A bright, sunny day, we were able to walk across the causeway to the castle, and then by the time we were ready to leave the tide was in so we could catch the boat back to shore. The children were fascinated that we were able to walk over to the island, yet now, just a few hours later it was totally surrounded by the sea!

On our last full day we decided to drive the 10 short minutes down the road to Charlestown. Famous for its Tall ships and appearances on TV and in films, it really was a picturesque location. We visited the Shipwreck and heritage museum, which to our surprise was free for children! We spent well over 2  hours in there, exploring and learning. Chester was very pleased that he learnt to spell his name out in Morse Code! We ended our day with a final trip to Mevagissey for another portion of their delicious fish and chips and an ice cream for the children (read that as an ice cream for Craig, and the children!)

We left fairly early on our last day, its a long old drive back to Kent, and we had a plan! We decided to drive in 2 hour sections. So our first stop was Route 303 for Breakfast, our second was at Mottisfont, a National Trust property in Hampshire, so that we could stretch our legs and break the drive up a bit, then it was just over another 2 hours until we reached home! This format seemed to work quite well, so I am glad we decided to do it.

We had an absolutely fantastic week in Cornwall, lots of memories made.  Its back to reality now though, washing to do, School and Nursery runs to make, and dinners to cook!! Did you go away this Easter? What did you get up to?! Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Thursday, 2 April 2015

A family meal at Tudor Park, Marriott Hotel & Country Club

When I think of a hotel, I do not necessarily think of popping in for dinner. I mean if I was staying at the hotel, then yes, I would certainly be looking to dine there. But just to walk in and be seated in their restaurant? I had never thought of doing that!

We were invited to do just that at Tudor Park. Which is a Marriott Hotel & Country Club nestled in the Kent countryside. In Bearsted, which is not too far from Leeds Castle and within easy access to the M20 motorway.

Before we sat down for our Sunday Carvery style dinner we were given a tour of the facilities. The pool area (with private swimming lessons for Children) and gym look amazing, there is also a golf course and even Golf Camps for children aged 6+. I know a certain 6 year old who would just love to go to Golf Camp! They also have an outdoor garden area with gazebo, the perfect setting for a wedding reception!

I simply could not believe the amount of activities that were on offer, the added bonus being that most of them were Family friendly! You can even purchase a day pass to use the pool/gym facilities for just £12 per adult and £6 per child. I also noted that they do Afternoon teas starting from just £15 per person, so I have got a cost effective girly day out in mind in the not to distant future!

So on to dinner....

We were originally going to be reviewing the A La Carte Menu, but as we had chosen a Sunday it was the Carvery option instead. After all what would Sunday be without a roast dinner?!

The restaurant had a very relaxed atmosphere, with great views over the golf course. We were shown around the 3 meal stations. Starters, Mains and Desserts. The children were made to feel important, the staff chatted away to them and even offered to get them plastic cups and plates. This really impressed me, its the little things that count where Children are concerned. Chester and Millie were both over excited and a little bit of a handful that day, if I am honest. But the staff took their time to include the Children which was a welcome relief for Craig and I. It doesn't take much to include Children, but so many restaurant fail to do so. Tudor Park seem to have understood the importance of Family time and certainly strive to make it an enjoyable experience.

The choice of Starters was perfect for Adults. Meat, fish. Plus a range of salads including pasta, rice, couscous and noodles. Craig and I felt that it was a lovely light and refreshing starter, which we both really enjoyed. However, for Children, I do not think their is much choice in the way of starters. Chester is not really fussy when it comes to food, but he really struggled to find something here. He ended up with a bread roll and some cucumber! Millie is a little more fussy and she only ate a bread roll.

The mains was a Carvery. Consisting of Roast Beef, Roast Pork, Yorkshire Puddings, Crackling, Cauliflower and Broccoli cheese, Roast Potatoes, mixed root veg, red cabbage, Mash Potato and Gravy. It was delicious. The meat was cooked to perfection, the Yorkshire puddings were delicious and huge! All of the accompaniments were perfect. The meat was carved in front of you and served onto your plate (generous portions), you could then help yourself to the other items. The Chef was really good with Millie, when I asked her if she would like Pork or Beef she replied with Orange! Which had been placed purely for decoration, but instead of saying no the Chef happily 'carved' and Orange for Millie and placed it on her plate. She was very impressed by this, infact it made her smile for the rest of the day!

Puddings! Oh my gosh, where to start! There was so much choice! I have got such a sweet tooth so it was very hard for me to decide what to have. I decided to go for a hot pudding of Danish pastry bread and butter pudding with custard. It was delicious! Then Craig and I shared a Lemon Meringue Pie. That is one of my favourite desserts and this one didn't disappoint. There was also a cheese board on offer for people with a tooth less sweeter than mine, that looked amazing, with so many cheeses to choose from. I wish I had left a little room for it to be honest!

 Chester and Millie struggled with dessert. Millie has got a very sweet tooth like me, but again I think that the puddings were all a little bit 'grown up' for my two. A member of staff could see that I was struggling to get them to eat anything so she offered to go and get them some ice cream. I was very grateful, the ice cream went down a treat and we all left with full tummies and very happy!

The Sunday Carvery is £14.50 for 2 courses or £18.50 for 3 courses. Personally we thought that was incredible value for money (for the adults) as there was so much to choose from and the quality and taste of the food exceeded our expectations.

All in all we were impressed. It has made us wonder why we didn't know about this lovely Hotel before?! It is certainly high on our list of places to dine locally now!

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Chicken Pox.... Here we go again!

I heard a rumor last week that Chicken Pox was going round Millie's Nursery. I will admit that this did fill me with dread. We are not immune to Chicken Pox you see. I have had it 4 times! Yes you read that right FOUR times! The last time I had it I was 22 and it was awful! Chester has had it twice and Millie the once. Until now.

On Monday morning a friend mentioned to me on the School run that her Daughter (who is Millie's friend at Nursery) had got the dreaded Chicken Pox. So when I got home I just had a little niggle and decided to check Millie. What did I find? 4 very obvious Chicken pox on her back! How I did not notice this when getting her ready that morning I will never know! My only excuse it that I am not a morning person!

So for the second time Millie has Chicken Pox!

Arghhhhhh perfect timing Millie! Not!

We are just about to start the Easter Holidays and we go on our family holiday soon! Poor Chester has got his Easter Service today, he has been practicing his line so much, and is now gutted that I can not come and watch him. I feel awful for letting him down, but I simply can not take Millie!

The spots have really sprung up overnight, they are literally everywhere, she is complaining of pain today and I feel so sorry for her. She is currently covered from head to toe in Calamine lotion and Sudocrem! Even her head is covered in spots!

My happy little girl is no longer happy. I really hope that it passes quickly and that no one else manages to catch it again!

Anyone else had Chicken Pox more than once?!

Friday, 27 March 2015

Millie's home made Easter egg!

Millie came home with a note in her Nursery bag last week. Telling me that they were holding an Egg decorating competition this week. Basically the children had to decorate a hard boiled egg, there would then be three winners.

I discussed with Millie what she would like to put on her egg and she said 'baby chicks please'. To be honest I was very surprised, and relieved, that she didn't say 'baby Panda please'!

Anyway, a few days passed, I woke up on Tuesday morning and realised we hadn't decorated the egg! So very early on Tuesday morning Millie was busy painting her egg white, then after I dried it with the hairdryer she put her thumb in yellow paint and pressed it all over the egg. She loved that part! Then we got a felt tip pen and she drew on legs, which are really meant to be feet but I think she did very well for a 3 year old!

This is the finished egg....

She was very excited to be taking it into Nursery, but was not very happy when she realised that it had to stay there until the end of the week!

We popped in today to collect it and she was thrilled to be told that she had been picked as one of the three winners, and even more thrilled to get her beloved egg back! Funny child!

Did your little ones take part in any Easter themed activities at Nursery this week?

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Eds Easy Diner have some good news for Coeliacs!

The last few months have been pretty tough for my Sister, she has recently been diagnosed with Coeliac Disease. We were already familiar with the Disease as my cousin also has it. Plus my Sister is a Nurse, so I am sure she knew more of the medical problems that come with it than we did.

If you are unaware, Coeliac Disease is a lifelong autoimmune disease which is caused by an intolerance to Gluten. It is actually more common than you think as statistics show that 1 in 100 people have it.

Being in her 20's, changing a diet that you are already used to. and cutting out food that you love is very hard. I truly sympathise with her, not only is it hard to cut out food that she loves it is also hard finding food that she can now eat! This is especially the case when out and about. She has to plan her meals nowadays and take food with her incase she is unable to find somewhere to eat!

She was getting very down about it, when an email pinged into her inbox. It was from Eds Easy Diner, who were shouting about a new Gluten Free Menu. Not just 1 or 2 items slipped onto their main menu, oh no, a whole menu specifically Gluten Free. They have managed to make over 80% of their main menu into a Gluten Free alternative! The menu is available from Breakfast right through to dinner and includes malt free milk shakes AND even 3 desserts!  What fills us with even more happiness is that they are the first burger chain to have been accredited by Coeliac UK!

So, of course, we simply had to try this menu! Yesterday evening we visited to the Bluewater branch, but they have lots of other locations, which you can find on their website here.

Now Ed's Easy Diner has always been a favourite of mine, we love it not only for the food but also for the friendliness of the staff and how patient and good they are with my children. So it goes without saying that last night was no exception, the staff were fantastic, very attentive and happy to have a laugh and a joke with us. So for the purpose of this review I will now focus solely on the food...

We ordered an Eds Special Nutella shake between the two of us, all the shakes on the Gluten Free menu are malt free. The shakes are one of our favourite things at Eds and I love that they are so big that you can have 1 between 2 people! This one was delicious, it was VERY hard not to drink it all before our mains arrived!

Choosing our mains was harder for me than for my Sister! Since coming back from traveling she has become a vegetarian so the choices for her are always more limited. They have 1 vegetarian burger on the Gluten Free menu so she went for that. The Chickpea and Quinoa Burger with a side of Eds Famous Cheesy Fries. Sarah said that she was pleasantly surprised when her meal turned up. She was expecting a white roll, but the brown roll with seeds that turned up was lovely and soft (hard to find in a gluten free roll apparently) and it complimented the burger really well.

I had so much trouble choosing as there is so much choice for us non vegetarians! In the end I went for the All day breakfast burger with sweet potato fries and a pot of that yummy Cheese Sauce! I asked to omit the mushroom from mine. As someone who can normally eat gluten I was very intrigued to so how this tasted as a whole compared to what I eat when I normally dine at Eds. I have to say that it was delicious, I don't really know what I was expecting, but I certainly wasn't expecting it to be on par with what I am used to! The egg was cooked just as I like it, slightly soft yolk, the burger was cooked to perfection and juicy, in fact it was such a big burger I had to eat most of it with a knife and fork!

I think the Cheese Sauce deserves its own cheeky mention.... The reason my family fell in love with Eds in the first place was the cheese sauce, as you all know we have a Disney obsession and the Cheese sauce just takes us back to Florida, where you can find it on every menu! The cheese sauce in Eds is the only cheese sauce I have tasted in this country that actually tastes exactly like the American Cheese sauce we know and love!  

By the time we had finished our mains, we were pretty full up, but we made sure we had just a little bit of room left for dessert! We were so full up that we actually ended up SHARING the Brownie Points dessert! The staff were really good and even split our 1 portion onto 2 plates! Oh my gosh. It was AMAZING! Such a yummy chocolatey, gooey dessert, we actually forced ourselves to eat it all even though we were full because it was just too yummy to leave!

We left Eds Easy Diner practically rolling out from being so full!

We had a great time dining at Eds, Sarah said it was so nice to have a meal out without having to explain to the chef what she can and can't eat. She simply picked straight from the menu and relaxed, knowing that what she was going to be served was going to be ok for her to eat. The fact she can now arrange to meet friends or family for a meal with no hassle is great, that part of her social life will no longer be a worry, it will be a stress free and relaxing time!

We both loved the fact that the prices on the Gluten Free menu were exactly the same as on the main menu as were the portion sizes. All too often, you find that Gluten Free means more expense and less food, but that is certainly not the case here. They have done a great job of making everyone feel welcome. We only had 1 gripe and that was the fact there was only 1 vegetarian burger on the Gluten Free menu. However, looking at it another angle they only have 2 vegetarian burgers on their main menu so that is still 50% of their vegetarian menu added to the Gluten Free menu.

I can see that this is now going to be our go to place when enjoying a cheeky shopping trip, its yummy, good value and hassle free!

Do you follow a gluten free diet, how do you find eating out?

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Chester's first Taekwondo Tyger Combat Competition

On Saturday Chester took part in his very first Tyger Combat Competition. He still really enjoys his Taekwondo so we really encourage him to take part in as many of the extras as he wants too. So when the opportunity came up for a couple of training sessions for this Taekwondo extra, which would then lead to taking part in a Competition, we were only too happy to let him participate.

Having never been to a Competition before, none of us really knew what to expect. Chester was a little nervous, I could tell. But seemed to really enjoy himself and it was really great fun to watch.

First off they had to do a Hi Kick competition. They had to kick a tennis ball which was suspended from the ceiling. It was all to do with their height, for instance the first round height was measured to their nose. Chester did really well in rounds 1 and 2, but he didn't quite manage to kick the ball in round 3, so he was out. After a while it was down to just 2 children, it was really nail biting to watch, they were both really good!

Then it was onto the Combat competition, it was split into 3 groups, and they were split in height order. Chester was in the lowest height group. His first match he did really well, he managed to remember to block and attack at the same time, and he won 6-1.

His second match he started off really well, and he was winning 3-0, but I think he let the lead go to his head, and he soon lost concentration and forgot to block! Needless to say he lost that match and he was out!

But he was happy to have taken part and I was really proud of him and the fact that he remembered what I had said that morning. Its not the winning its the taking part that counts. He came out of his first competition raring to go and asking me when the next one would be! He had such a great time, I am really happy for him!

Tesco Hygro Towels Review

I was recently asked if I would like to try out some new towels. But they were no ordinary towels, oh no, they were Hygro towels. Now I will be honest and admit that I didn't have a clue about what Hygro meant, but now I do, so I shall explain....

Oh my gosh. Its not often I get excited over simple things such as towels. But these towels are different!

These 100% cotton Hygro towels are designed to get better and better the more you use them. Now what I mean by this is that even though they are soft and fluffy to start with, the more you use them, wash them, and tumble dry them, the more they fluff up! Apparently it's all thanks to the unique Hygro technology, a spinning technique that creates a hollow fibre that traps air to give a thicker pile.

Now I would be lying if I said I believed that the first time I read it. I mean, it does sound a bit impossible doesn't it? Towels that actually get better with use?! BUT I am happy to say that I am now 100% a believer! Having used and washed these towels several times I can honestly say WOW! Getting out of the shower or bath has never felt so good!

The Hygro towels are available at Tesco's both instore and online they start at a price of £1 for the face cloth then up to £9 for the Bath Sheet. We have got a hand towel, 2 bath towels and 2 bath sheets. That is a total cost of £36 for our family of 4, for good quality, generous sized towels such as these, I am really impressed with that price. They come in a wide range of colours so you are bound to find a colour that goes with your colour scheme.

I have actually surprised myself by having nothing but good things to say about these towels. The quality is amazing, no loose threads at all and they are super soft. I can honestly say that I am really impressed with these towels and the fact that they only get better with use!

Until this review we only ever had mismatched towels and I have to say, it is nice to have a matching set. Do you like your towels to match or do you like to mix it up a little?