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?

Outwell Kids Sleeping Bag Review

We were recently sent a childrens sleeping bag to review, the Children both get excited by the thought of a sleeping bag. To them it means excitement and adventure. It means that they are having a sleepover, or better still camping in a tent (albeit in our garden!).

The sleeping bag we were sent is the Outwell Kids Batboy its from Sleeping Bag Outlet, they have so many lovely sleeping bags to choose from. This one has a multi coloured pattern with a black bat print.

Its perfect for keeping little campers warm, with its 'Mummy' shape and extra insulation around the shoulders. It is designed to retained heat. It even comes in a carry bag in the matching design! It can be machine washed at 30 degrees which is a big plus from my point of view.

But, I have saved the best spec information until last... This sleeping bag also happens to have a torch in the zip puller and a front pocket for storing stuff. I say stuff because thats exactly how Chester put it in his excitement when he found it!

As you can imagine, Chester has used every excuse possible to use this sleeping bag on a daily basis!

He absolutely loves it, the fact that it has got a torch is extremely cool, and the pocket which he uses to store the most random of things is a big plus for him too. The inside is black with white stars and Chester is convinced they are glow in the dark (although I have no evidence to prove this!). It has kept him warm but not warm enough that he will sweat, and it is apparently very comfortable.

From a parents point of view I am happy with the sleeping bag, it is of good quality, it stores away small, I have never seen a sleeping bag come with a 'built in' torch before and the pocket is a great idea, especially if you have slightly older children that are likely to carry phones around with them. It is currently priced at £27.99 which I feel is a fair price. I am confident that this sleeping bag will last a long time.