Saturday, 30 June 2012

A day of firsts

This morning I decided that I would let Millie try some toast with a tiny bit of butter.....

I dont think she was amused! She spent the whole time giving it (and me) a look of disgust! After about half an hour Chester got bored of her wasting the toast and took it upon himself to just eat it for her! The look on her face then was even worse!

Me, Chester and Millie (Craig was at work) went to the School summer fair that was being held at the School next to where Chester attends nursery. Chester has been before, but never had a go at some of the activities! Today the first thing he saw was a giant bouncy castle type assort course. We que'd up and found out it was £1.50 for 5 mins! I thought that was expensive but after queuing there was no way I could tell Chester he couldn't go on it! Anyway I am sure he was on it for longer so I am not going to loose sleep over it.

He then had a go on the sweetie raffle, I thought it was a good idea. Basically on the stall were lots of jars of all different size and shape, which were all filled with different sweets (some with small toys). So Chester picked out a winning ticket and was pleased to get a jar with some little sweets in AND a toy! He then asked for another go and I let him, this time he won a jar full of marshmallows, he was not impressed as he does not like marshmallows. I caved in and let him have 2 more goes but he lost on both goes.

So then, after I managed to get him away from the sweet stall he wanted to have a go at hooking out a winning duck! It was quite a good game and we were there for quite a while, because he got 3 goes for his 50p and Chester was determined to hook the duck properly. He did win on that one, a small bouncy ball (to Chester, who is obsessed with bouncy balls this was like winning the lottery!).

He then wanted to go on the small (very small) merry go round, again this was £1.50, what a rip off. But sadly they know that we will pay it to stop our children getting upset!

We had a couple of goes on the bottle tombola and were pleased to win a soft drink! So we headed home, just in time for lunch and Craig getting home from work.

We then all decided as it was so nice that we would drive the 15mins down the road to the seaside. The main reason Chester likes the seaside is because in the arcades they have a bouncy ball grab machine with The Avengers characters on them. It is easy to win so he came out with 4! Millie came out with 1 ball and a teddy, I came out with 2 bracelets and Craig came out with an empty wallet haha.

We then took a stroll along the beach, the tide was out, so me and Chester went to investigate the small water pools. We were lucky enough to see some small Crabs, Chester was so excited he had never seen a live little crab like that before, he couldn't believe how close they were. A little girl had a bucket and was looking under the rocks, she had managed to find some bigger crabs so Chester was now helping her look for more! Millie was happy to sit with Craig and watch!

We then headed home, both Millie and Chester fell asleep in the car almost instantly. The sea air must of tired them out! Another lovely family day had by all.

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Friday, 29 June 2012

Masterclass with Marco Pierre White!

I am still on cloud nine about the Masterclass with Marco Pierre White, and I will explain why....

I am in no way a cooking expert, in fact I would actually say I am a better baker than a cook. But I have always loved watching (most) cookery shows and if I see something I think I would like to eat I often try and make it myself.

Ever since I can remember I have been a 'fan' of Marco Pierre White and this is mainly down to the fact that he uses ingredients that I would have in my home! I have eaten at Frankie's in Knightsbridge, the restaurant he shares with Frankie Dettori. I also had the best meal of my life in The White Room, which is one of the Restaurants on board Ventura the P&O cruise ship, the restaurant was created by Marco. I will always remember the deep fried duck egg served with asparagus. It still amazes me now that it had a runny yolk, yet it had been deep fried!

So after a very sleepless night, I got up Tuesday morning very nervous! Today I was going to meet someone I have the highest respect for. Thoughts going through my head are -  is he going to be waving his knife at me, and am I going to go as red as a tomato because I am embarrassed, will I even be able to string a sentence together?!

So I leave my children in the safe hands of my sister, and walk to the nearest train station. on the 50min journey to London those thoughts are still running through my head! When I get off the train at Waterloo east, I walk over to Waterloo and grab a Starbucks Caramel Macchiato (starbucks is a real treat for me, we do not have one near us, I wish we did). Then I checked my twitter and saw that Helen from The Crazy Kitchen (a fellow winner) was already in Wandsworth, I was very grateful as I didnt want to be the first there!

So I got to Wandsworth (walked around in a big circle once!) and met Helen outside of where we would be meeting Marco. The first thing I saw was Marco's car and his legs hanging out of it! Eeeeek! I was standing just a few feet away from Marco Pierre White!

We were lead inside, sat down and offered a drink. Everyone was very friendly and chatty. Two of the other winners Mel from Chef Mels Kitchen , Helen from Fuss free flavours were there, unfortunately the other 2 winners could not make it but the founders of BritMums Susanna (A Modern Mother) and Jen (Jenography) came in there place for a few hours.

Marco came in and said hello, he was very nice. His tone just put everyone at ease, he asked where were all from, took an interest in what we were saying and was very chilled out. Relief came over me at this point! I knew then that I would not need to worry about all the things I had been worrying about all morning!

We were then ushered into the kitchen area, sat down and got our notepads (and cameras!) at the ready! There were cameras filming everything throughout the day, but I didn't really notice them.

Marco came out, had another chat with us all. We all got to ask him some questions, one of the things he said that stuck with me was 'I am a great believer that when I am at home, I am exactly the same as yourselves - I want to cook a quick meal with store cupboard ingredients' and going back to what I said at the beginning of this post, that is exactly why I like him as a chef.

The first dish he showed us how to cook was Turkey bolognaise, we use mince a lot in our house so I loved this alternative to Beef. Marco explained to us that he uses stock as a seasoning rather than just a stock, this made sense, he uses the Knorr stockpots. I have used them before and sometimes have found them to be too rich but I now know its because I was using them the wrong quantities (oops!). He surprised us all by adding dark chocolate to it! It was only a small amount but actually it really did make a difference and gave it a different depth of flavour. I also noted that he advised to put in flavours such as chilli, chocolate and parsley at the end of cooking so you can identify each individual flavour.

Next Marco told us he would be making a Turkey Waldorf salad, he explained that Waldorf salad was one of the first things he learnt to make when he was working at Hotel St George (Harrogate) in 1978. This was a really fresh dish, using left over turkey. It was light and very refreshing, something I can see me making to go along side a summer bbq! He explained that he never throws away celery leaves, he chopped them up and added them too the salad.

It was a very simple dish and he advised us 'The more you put in, the more you take away so keep it simple' 

This ethos was used in the next dish too, he made Turkey and leek casserole. We were all surprised at how flavoursome it was considering that very few ingredients were used. We also were surprised at how quickly it was cooked. Marco used left over turkey so I suppose that quicken'd it up but the whole casserole only took 20mins at the most! A real winner for me as a busy mum of 2!

The next dish was something that to be honest I had been dreading! That sounds awful and incredibly ungrateful of me, but the dish was turkey Thai green curry. I am not a fan of curry, I will happily make it for my husband and my son but the look of it puts me off so I do not tend to eat it myself.
But thankfully Marco has changed my opinion on curry! Yes I did think it was a little to hot for me (but then he did add 5 chilli's to it!) but I would be happy to eat this again with less heat! This was another very quick meal, it was cooked in just under 20 mins.

I had noticed that Marco had used fresh parsley to dress every meal so far, I also noticed that he had been soaking it in water before using. I asked him why he put it in the water and he said it was so that it did not wilt when it hit the hot food. Very useful tip I thought.

The last meal of the day was Turkey Milanese, this was so so yummy (as were all of the other dishes!) but by this point I was so full up I only managed a few mouthfuls! I was surprised I could even walk!

We then had photos taken...

Then another surprise was that we were all given a copy of Marco's cook book (Marco made easy) which he gladly signed for us all. I asked for mine to be signed to my children, which he was happy to do, he even drew them a picture of pluto!

That was the end of my dream come true day! It was totally awesome, Marco was so lovely and friendly. Yes he did have that knife in his hand almost all of the time, but it wasn't scary at all! Oh and I'm not ashamed to admit that yes I do still think he is very charming, there is just something about him that makes him easy on the eye*blush*

Review on the FlexiBath baby bath tub

I was very excited when I was asked to review the FlexiBath, it is something that really appeals to me. Being a busy mum of two with little space in the house for anything but toys (it certainly feels like that a lot of the time!) a bath suitable from 0-4years that folds flat for storage sounds fantastic!

The FlexiBath is described as follows:

Bathrooms aren’t known for being the most spacious rooms in the house, so wouldn't it be great if you could just fold up your baby bath and stow it away when not in use? Now you can! The FlexiBath from Whitestep is the brainchild of Danish designers and is the first and only hard plastic children's bath tub that folds up flat in seconds.

It’s soft and pliable to the touch, very light, but remarkably strong, and suitable for children from 0 to 4. The Flexibath is ideal for holidays and travelling, and is also free of phthalates and other harmful materials.

When the FlexiBath arrived the delivery lady commented on how light my parcel was even though it was quite large (by large she meant long, as it was quite thin), and when she passed it over to me I totally agreed! In fact I was wondering what it could be, I was expecting the FlexiBath but hadn't imagined it to be SO compact!

I quickly unpacked it, and was pleased that it was a lovely bright red colour (it comes in a choice of 6 bright colours). The first thing I noticed is how thin it was! In fact it was so small that I was a little worried that my 3 year old would not fit in it at all!

So I unclipped the bath (it has a very simple, but clever clip attached to one of the side's of the bath) to unfold it. It was ready to use in literally seconds and I couldn't resist putting Millie into it straight away! She is 5 months old and at that stage where she can sit up but needs a little help, so I propped her up with the sides supporting her. It seems to be very stable, and not in any way flimsy! Obviously I had not put water in to it just yet though, I just wanted to see how she fit in! She is a very long baby but seemed to sit into it fine, I layed her into it and as she is so long she filled it!

The FlexiBath came just in time for us as it was the weekend we were off to Disneyland Paris (without Millie *sob*) so my parents we looking after her. Perfect time to try out the bath on our travels!

We had a very packed up car, I still do not know how we ended up with so much stuff for just a weekend away! But most of it was Millie's so I knew it would get off loaded once we got to my parents! The FlexiBath was the last thing I put in the car, and as it folds so flat it layed on top of stuff in the boot and took up next to no space!

My Mum bathed Millie in the FlexiBath whilst we were away, overall she could see the benefits of having such a compact bath. She said that Millie loved laying in the bath, she obviously felt secure and was happy to kick her legs and splash about. The problem she had was when bathing Millie in it whilst she was sitting up, there is not really any grip on the bottom of the FlexiBath so she slid all over the place and it was hard for my Mum (who already has a bad back) to keep her upright. I checked this out on the website and the spec claims to have non slip surface to prevent any accidents, so maybe this is something that needs to be reviewed? My Mum used the FlexiBath inside her own bath tub, it filled to the level she needed in seconds and removing the water with the rubber plug in the base was easy enough for her as an adult. She also pointed out that it would be hard for my son to take the plug out (a massive plus in my opinion!). Another point she made was that she would not be able to lift it with the water in it, so it would have to be used somewhere that the plug could be pulled out where the FlexiBath is placed.

When we got home back to our house I was excited to try the FlexiBath with my son as well as my daughter, so I placed in our bath tub, filled the FlexiBath with water and bubbles and let my son Chester get in first. He loved it! Sat in it well and was able to fit some toys in too! Its safe to say he was in there for longer than when I normally bathe him! What also occurred to me was that by bathing him in the FlexiBath I was saving water, fantastic! I am always looking of ways to save money, so this is a massive plus for me! We then put Millie in the FlexiBath, they both fit in with room to spare, but Millie had to sit up. This was a down side because just as my Mum had told us, it was hard to keep her sat up without her sliding all over the place. So she was out of the FlexiBath quite quickly. Again it was easy to empty, then once dry I folded it down and put into our airing cupboard with all the fresh towels.

Once the kiddies were tucked up in bed I started to think of other reasons I would use the bath. So I got it back out of the cupboard (it is so easy to unfold it took seconds), went to our en suite and placed it in the bottom of our shower cubicle. To my amazement it fit! So this meant that if we were to go away for a break away and the place we were staying only had a shower (quite often rooms with just showers are cheaper) we could take the kids and the FlexiBath and would not have to worry about how we would bathe them.
I also think it would be fab if you were going on a camping holiday, the water could just be drained away onto the grass. Another great use, which I have not been able to try out because of this awful British weather is in the garden! I would say as soon as Millie can confidently sit unaided I could use it instead of a baby paddling pool for her.

So in conclusion, Its a baby bath tub with a difference. I do think that the FlexiBath is worth the rrp of £29.95 if you are a family who spend time travelling, going on holidays, visiting relatives and have little spare space in your home. We are a family who fit into those categories so for us the positives far outweigh the negatives. Personally I would use it for a newborn to lay into, and then a child that was able to sit unaided. I do think that the fact it claims to be non slip needs to be looked at, with 2 separate family members finding out that it was not non slip with our Millie! I also think that once your children were beyond an age that they would fit into the FlexiBath that it would have other uses. For instance you could use it as a toy box, a laundry basket or even as a washing up bowl when you are camping!  I know we will be making use of it for many years to come, it is so durable and I am confident that it will last a very long time!

Saturday, 23 June 2012

A bit of a role swap day today for Hubbie!

Well today has been a good day! Craig offered to wash my very dirty car with the help of Chester, I found this highly amusing and if I wasn't so busy laughing I would of taken photos. Craig for some reason thought that Chester being 3 years old would mean that he would actually 'help' clean the car. Instead what he got was soaking wet and a very hyperactive boy running around like a monkey soaking everything/one in site!! Then Craig came in to 'tell' on Chester as if I needed to tell him off! He is his parent too so I just left him to it!

Then after a busy week (what a surprise in this house lol) after lunch I found myself very tired, so while I went upstairs to put Millie down for a nap in her cot (something I rarely do as I love her being near me, making a rod for my own back I know) I snuck into bed and text Craig who was downstairs with Chester to say I was having a little nap! Sneaky I know!

I then woke about 3 hours later, I obviously needed that nap. To find that Craig had got Millie up from her nap AND was just about to feed her! Hooray!

THEN he offered to cook the dinner, which I was a little worried about at first as Craig will be the first one to admit he is a rubbish cook! I normally do all of the cooking in our house, I am in no way saying I am a super chef but I am much better than Craig haha. But he did a fantastic job, cooking ribs in a bbq rub and rice. Yummy.

So all in all it has been a nice relaxed day for me today, with Craig finding out that looking after 2 cheeky monkeys is not as easy as I am sure he thought! Dont get me wrong I know that Craig works very very hard at work, but I personally think that looking after children is the most challenging (but most rewarding) job there is.

I have realised today that sometimes its nice to have lazy days!

Friday, 22 June 2012

Disneyland Paris... day 2!

Chester slept night through until 7am, Craig and I had a bit of a restless night. Mainly due to the MASSIVE thunderstorm that was happening! It was weird, never heard a storm like it! 
So we were fully expecting the weather to be a bit pony when we got up, but luckily it was just mild. 

We actually thought it was 6am when we got up but it was 7am because stupid me looked at my phone rather than my watch! So we quickly got showered and dressed, then headed down to breakfast! 
Breakfast was yummy, typical continental, everything was layed out well and it was surprisingly quiet. So we just took our time and filled up 

We then went back to the room to pack everything up and get things sorted for the day, I was quite sad at that point that we only stayed one night, as the Hotel was lovely, comfy beds, very clean and lovely power shower! We checked out and waited over the road for the shuttle bus. Chester spent the time waiting having 'fights' with me and Craig......

We took our case and extra bags to the lockers upstairs in the station and paid the 5.50 euros to store our bags for the day, then we decided to head straight into the Disney Park this time so once again we que'd to get our sky vouchers exchanged into tickets (I am such a money saving queen I will not go anywhere without getting some kind of discount.)

By this time it was 9.30 so we wandered around main st area, admiring the detail and taking photos. I am annoyed though because as I type this I realise I totally forgot to go down the walk ways either side this time

We decided that we would head straight to peter pan at rope drop to get fast passes (even though Chester wanted to go straight on to the 'Zurg shooting ride'). We got to Peter Pan and people were que'ing for fast pass so I said I would wait in que whilst Craig and Chester went over to que at Pinocchio. Everyone did not stay in que for fast pass and it seemed a bit of a free for all so after 5 mins or so waiting patiently I realised it was getting me no where so sadly I did the same.

I headed over to Pinoccio and found Craig and Chester. We didnt que for long it was fairly organised. Next Chester wanted to go on the tea cups but Craig refused so it was left to me to go on with him :sick: we went on twice in a row as there was no que!

Then we popped back to Peter pan for our fast pass time, loved it as usual.

By now Chester was desperate to go on Buzz Lightyear so we went round there got a fast pass, que'd to go on for about 10mins I think Craig won this time but still didnt beat my high score. Then we went over to the submarine and had a look around, a real hidden gem that I wish we would of done before tbh! 

Headed back over to buzz lightyear to use our fast passes and discovered that the fast pass didnt make much difference to que times this time around 

We were then late for our cowboy cookout lunch reservation for 12.00. Never the less we made our way over there and they were more than happy to let us in. It was not overly busy, we found a table I gave Craig the camera, Chester the autograph book and went to get the food.

We were not overly hungry so I changed our ticket to say 1 adult, I went up to the counter to order my one meal (the platter) and the server was a little stroppy with me as he did not believe that there was only one of me! But he still let me order it so it was all ok. 

Chester and Craig ate the meal, I ate the pudding!

When I got back with the food, Daisy had been round and Chester was extreamly excited that he had given her a kiss!

I have to say that I was a little disappointed in this Character meal, in that the characters didnt seem to pay attention to where they had been and we kept getting missed. So I ended up calling Pluto over and then we went to find Woody, Eeyore (who would not have a picture, even though he missed our table) and Tigger. Goofy came to our table. I really thought the food was massively over priced for what it was (26 euros for a counter service meal, consisting of starter, main, pudding and drink). Even when you take in to account meeting the characters as it was not very organised at all. 

When we left Cowboy cookout we went to check wait times for the rockets and for Autopia as Craig really wanted to go on that, but the wait time was mental! So we decided to head over to Disney Studios, Craig really wanted to see the stunt show and we hadn't managed it the day before.
On our way down main street we got caught up in the 20th anniversary train which was fab! Chester decided he needed to do a little dance to the music.....

Felt sad leaving the park as we knew we wouldnt be returning this trip. We all said goodbye to the Castle and off we went!

When we got into the studios we headed straight over to tram tours as Craig still wanted to do it, sadly it had broken down so was closed :( Chester was in his pushchair and had fallen asleep (very unusual!) so I took the opportunity to go in the single rider que for Parachutes and only que'd for max 10mins! Felt a bit guilty as Chester really wanted to go on it but the normal que was an hour long and I couldnt put him in single rider que! Luckily he was still asleep so knows nothing about me going on it!! 

We then woke Chester up so he could go onto Slinky dog, which we had to do twice! We really should of been walking over to the stunt show by now but Chester had a tired tantrum so we had to go on Cars. We que'd for 20mins for this, because it kept breaking down! 
When we got off we really thought we would of missed the show but I insisted we at least try to get in. To our surprise they were still letting people in even though we were 10/15mins late. We got a seat on the end of an isle, perfect with Chester, Chester and Craig both enjoyed this. I thought it was OK but as I had already seen it in WDW I could of taken or left it! Chester LOVED it when Lightning Mcqueen came out but was very confused when he was talking in English and Mater was speaking back in French?! I think they should do one or the other?! 

After the show everyone was lining up to see the stars and cars parade, I really wanted to see it but Craig was not fussed and as it was his birthday trip I didnt push it (we only had a little while left in the park) so we headed over to Aladins carpets and as it happens got stuck on the tail end of the parade :lmao: From what I saw I was very impressed! Lovely to see Remy as Chester loves Ratatouille!

We got on Aladin without any que and made it our last ride of the trip. Chester loved going up and down especially as Craig hates heights!! 

We then had one last look around at all the detailing and then headed out to Disney Village to get something to eat for on the Eurostar. I was going to get Chester a Happy meal until I saw the price! 4 euros!!! Mental! So instead we all got something from Earl of Sandwich (yes more expensive than the happy meal but you cant get it in the uk for less!) I have to say if/when we go to DLP again, I will make sure we go out of the parks and head to EoS for lunches it was yummy and very filling!

Anyway..... then we spent the last of our change in the station shop, I went to pick up our case etc from the locker (another thing I would do next time we came, such a time saver) and headed to Eurostar check in. This was a bit of a free for all and I didnt like it! Obviously I expected that we would have to fold down the pushchair to go through security so while waiting in the sort of que we did this and I struggled to the conveyer with it and Chester. Another family then tried to push in front but luckily the security saw what had happened and ushered us through! As we had never done Direct train before I totally didnt expect for the train to be there so that we could get sat down! This was a massive plus! We were able to get Chester settled and eating his tea with no panic of leaving in 2mins 

We had a nice journey back, chatting about the fun we had. Craig said how pleased he was that I had gone to all the trouble to organise it for him and it deffo was the best thing I could of done!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Disneyland Paris Day 1....

We are back!!!! Had a fab time, weather was fab, rides were fab, shows were fab. Now its back to reality, housework is not fab!!

So on Saturday we went for a meal at TGI Fridays for Craigs birthday meal. He knew we were going but he did not know about the other family members I had invited! He was very pleased to see everyone when we got there. That eve we went back to my parents house to stay, Craig gets on really well with my parents so we all had a lovely evening getting excited about Disney and having a laugh! Chester went to bed late because of this but we didn't mind. I went through everything to do with Millie with my Mum about 100 times!! I still felt/feel guilty about not taking her, but looking back now I know I did the right thing.

We were woken up early 5.40am by Chester who was singing we're going to Disneyland! So cute even at that time of the morning! Because of his singing he woke Millie up so it was no rest or lay in's for us! Chester wanted to wear his Jake and the Neverland Pirates outfit so that he was ready to fight Captain Hook (sadly we never met him), so he was ready to go pretty early!

My Dad kindly took us to Ebsfleet so that we could catch our direct eurostar train. The journey was fine, lots of excited kids including Chester!

When we arrived we were going to get the shuttle to our hotel, I had booked us in Hotel L'Elysee, Val de Europe which was 5mins from the park. However when we walked across road to the bus stop we found out that the shuttle didnt run between 12-2.40pm! So instead we braved it and went back into the train station to find a train to take us the one stop to Val de Europe! I do not know why I was so panic'd about this. It was really easy and the hotel was just across the road! We checked in, dumped our stuff and got on the shuttle bus to the parks!!

We decided to go into Disney Studio's first as Chester had remembered the Slinky Dog ride from last time! It is safe to say this is still his fave ride!

We went on Slinky dog and Cars, looked around a bit at the detailing then decided to get an early tea. We headed over to Disney Village and had tea in Annettes Diner. It was really nice, very well themed. Some of the waiters were on roller skates to go with the 50's theme! Chester's kids meal was massive so I shared with him!

Then we headed into Disneyland Park (Magic Kingdom equivalent to those Orlando Fans!), stopped to admire the castle.

Then headed straight for Buzz Lightyear space ranger spin. This is Craig's fave ride so he was a little gutted when I beat him at it hahahahahaha. The idea is you shoot Zurg with your lazer guns and score points. I managed to find a thing to shoot that gave out loads of points, so therefore I won!

We then accidentally saw the parade whilst walking over to Its a small world, they cordoned us off when we were trying to cross the road/path! Chester loved it though so we didnt mind. He even put his fists up when he saw Hook on a float! After the scrum of the parade we managed to get over to Its a small world and there was no que! Yay! next we headed to the fairytale ride and Casey Jr, both very fun. We then headed back to Buzz Lightyear space ranger spin, this time I sat next to Chester and he beat me!! Damn it! 

When we came out Chester brought himself a Space ranger spin gun and spent the rest of our stay 'shooting' people!

Next we headed to Pirates of the Caribbean, which at first Chester was scared of but he soon learnt to love it, especially the log drop! Before we went Chester wanted to go on Big thunder mountain but I thought he was just a cm to small. Sadly I was right, but the cast member who measured him was sympathetic and gave Chester a certificate so that when he comes back he can go straight to the front of the que, this made it all better for Chester!

I went on it, loved it, but glad Chester was too small! It would of been too much for him. Craig wanted to go on Phantom Manor so we headed round the corner to there. He wanted to take Chester on but I persuaded him not too, he is glad of this now. So while we were waiting Chester 'shot' some more people......

By now the time was 10.45pm and I was amazed that Chester was still standing! We headed across the park towards Main Street to get a spot for the Dreams show. Disneyland Paris are celebrating 20years this year so they have put together a show called dreams. It is basically a light projection show onto the castle and fireworks. I was gutted when at 10.58 Chester fell asleep (luckily we took his old pushchair!) but I knew waking him would be unfair, he had done so well all day.

The show was AMAZING! Totally lived up to the hype and Disney magic I am used to! My pictures do not do it justice so I wont put them up.

We left the park just before 11.30pm to catch the last shuttle bus back to the hotel. This was the only downside to our stay. The French are nothing like us, they do not understand que'ing or waiting there turn. It was an awful experience, people were climbing over Chester in the pushchair to get on before us!! Luckily a lovely Spanish man saw what was happening and just picked up the buggy and got people to move so we could squeeze on!

We got back to the hotel just before 12pm, we managed to put Chester in his bed without even waking him (even if I did have to take the space ranger spin gun out of his hand!) we then climbed into bed and crashed out!

What a wonderful first day we had, full of fantastic memories!

Day 2 coming soon.....

Friday, 15 June 2012

Double celebration!

There are two reasons I am celebrating today! Firstly because yesterday I found out that I was one of the 6 winners of the recent BritMums/Lean on turkey competition! Meaning I will get to attend a cooking masterclass with MARCO PIERRE WHITE!!!! I was staring at the email for a good 10mins thinking am I dreaming!!! I am still super excited about it and have pretty much been bouncing off the walls since yesterday  haha! Here is the recipe that won it for me : Cheeky Chester's rice crispie turkey

The second reason I am celebrating today is that it is my hubbie's 30th Birthday! He works very very hard, is a wonderful husband and an even better daddy to our 2 gorgeous children! So back in January I decided that I would make sure that his 30th was properly celebrated as it should be. After all he more than anyone I know deserves it. At first I was thinking of arranging a zoo keeper day because he would love that. I booked a travelodge £10 room deal and was just about to book the zoo keeper day when I discovered an even better totally awesome idea!

Craig (hubbie) and I are Disney mad! I have been going to Walt Disney World since I was a small child and Craig was lucky to be introduced to the magic when he met me! We then took our Honeymoon at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, Florida. So imagine my excitement when I found out Sky were rewarding there customers with 2 free tickets to DisneyLand Paris! I rang round relatives and started a birthday collection for him. Spent the next few weeks researching and booking a hotel and eurostar tickets all with help from my  mum. So thank you mum without your help I would not even be typing this!

So as a Disney mad family you can imagine how difficult this has been for me to keep it a secret from Craig and Chester! I have spent lots of time over the last couple of months putting together bits, making it as special as I could. Typically our printer broke just at the crucial moment of printing all the needed documents! Mum to the rescue yet again!

As a planner, what I have found the hardest thing is not planning! It has been impossible to do any planning as Craig could of checked computer history, seen notes I had written etc.

So this morning when I finally got to tell him and Chester (and Millie!) the relief of not having to keep a secret  was amazing! His face was a picture! But unfortunately it will not be a picture I can show anyone as I was so busy filming and watching his reaction I forgot to take photos! Something that people who know me will be shocked at! He honestly did not have a clue and certainly did not expect something so big, he was so appreciative of it all and I am so so pleased for him!

The next time I blog will be when we get back, so look out for that one. I should imagine it will be in two or three parts!

So here are a few pics of what he had to open this morning, it included a toothbrush that was nothing to do with Disney.... but when you pressed its button it played the tune from Its a small world!

Sunday, 10 June 2012

La Tasca Bluewater - A family friendly restaurant!

Recently, I saw that La Tasca have introduced Tapas to the kids menu. This really pleased me, as me and Craig really love Spanish food. We also really like La Tasca, however we have not been there for about a year, mainly due to being pregnant with Millie (I was sick throughout) and also finding time for ourselves is increasingly hard nowadays!

For those of you that do not know, tapas (the main offering at La Tasca) is basically a small dish and you would normally order a few of them to share rather than getting a big plate of food to yourself!

Chester has tried some tapas when we have had it before but he has never had his own, and as a very strong minded 3 year old being able to choose his own would be fab for him!

Finding a restaurant that is family friendly and good value for money is quite hard (well I find it is) so today we visited La Tasca in Bluewater shopping centre Kent to see how it coped with the whirlwind that is Chester! We got there at 1pm and was seated straight away, the restaurant is kind of split in two is has an indoors and an outdoors seating area. Now when I say outdoors I mean it is still undercover as its in the middle of a shopping centre but you get my drift.... I hope! We were sat in the outdoors area, which I found surprisingly quiet considering we were in a shopping centre! Our seats were lovely, we had a cushioned bench on one side and 2 chairs on the other. All the chairs in the restaurant are a bit pic 'n' mix which I think is great and gives it a really fun and relaxed feel.

Our waiter Neil, came over almost straight away and introduced himself and asked us what drinks we would like and if we would like bread or olives. We said yes to bread, no to olives (they are just not for us!).

Chester was pleased because he got given a sticker saying I love tapas and a passport that he can write his details in and get stamped every time we go. After 3 visits he gets a free drink and after 6 visits he gets a free t shirt. Personally I do not see the point of the free drink as he gets a drink included in his meal, but the t shirt is a really nice touch. Maybe an offering of badge or something would be more appropriate?

Whilst we were eating our bread we mulled over the very well layed out menu, Neil came over to check we were ok. We explained we were really struggling what to choose as we liked the look of it all! He was very good at helping us, giving us the suggestion that maybe we could choose 6 tapas dishes and if we felt we wanted more we could order some more throughout the meal. I thought this was a good idea, I asked him about the ribs on the children's menu and he was more than happy for us to have them as an adult dish. The only thing I felt disappointed about was that we wanted the chorizo and chicken paella tapas but it just so happened that today's offering was chicken and prawn, they alternate it. However this was easily solved as we chose to have the chicken and prawn paella and also order the chorizo tapas as well. All the tapas dishes in my opinion are fairly priced and range from around £3 to around £6.

So with our six dishes chosen ( Calemares, Croquetas de manchego, Chorizo, Spanish style lemon chicken, Paella del dia, pork ribs from the kids menu!) We then had to choose what Chester would have. On the kids menu they can choose 3 tapas dishes from a selection of 13. They were a mix of Spanish and English dishes, for example you can order paella but you can also order fish fingers. I think this is a fab idea, A. because your child can choose to try new foods if they like and B. because if your child is a little more fussy to trying different foods there is plenty of English choices for them.

Chester chose La Tasca Meatballs, Paella and Garlic bread! His menu also doubled as a colouring book so he was pleased while he waited. I should also add that for £5.95 the kids menu includes a drink, 3 tapas dishes, a pot of chopped veg and a dessert.

Mine and Craigs dishes were first to turn up, a waiter served them to us and a waitress explained what the dishes were. Unfortunatly Chester's dishes did not turn up at the same time (or even before ours as I would of expected) which I was a little disappointed in and so was he. However, Neil noticed this within a couple of minutes and got straight on the case in finding out what had happened. I did not have to call him or anyone else over he spotted it and dealt with it very efficiently so the problem was very short lived!

We all tucked in, I think Chester was a bit unsure at first as it was different to what he was used to in a restaurant, but once I cut up his meatballs and he had eaten his veg sticks he was happy to try it. He actually did like it all and ate about 3 quarters before he started getting bored (this is good for Chester). Neil noticed Chester getting fidgeity and brought him over a balloon and started chatting to him, we really appreciated this and Chester liked the fact he had someone else to show off too! The only thing I think I would of changed about Chester's choice was the Paella, looking back we should of realised that we ordered the Paella too so we could of  given him some of ours, giving him another new thing to try. I am not bothered though as its another excuse to go back and get him to try more!

Craig and I tucked into ours and it did not disappoint! We were very happy with our choices, the Lemon chicken was lovely I think we both agree it was our favourite. It really surprised us as we thought it would have a more lemony flavour to it (great for me but Craig is not so keen on lemon) but the lemon was very subtle and that worked really well, it was served with red onions, yellow peppers and courgettes. I am not a massive fan of fish but I am always happy to try something new, I can honestly say I didn't like the calemares (crispy squid) but that was personal taste nothing wrong with the dish. Craig liked it and was glad he tried it but he probably would not order again.
When in a Spanish restaurant I always order Manchego cheese as I really love it, I have had Manchego croquettes in La Tasca before so knew what to expect. The ones we ordered were new on the menu and contained spinach. I was pleasantly surprised  as they were completely different to what I have had before, even the texture was different, I think the new ones are my new favourites! The bbq pork ribs (which we were allowed to order from the kids menu) were fantastic as was the Paella and the Chorizo.

We cleared the tapas bowls and our plates, I am pleased Neil had suggested 6 dishes as they were quite filling!

Neil then spotted we were finished, had some banter with the kids (oh yes I should of pointed out, Millie who is 5 months old was happily sitting in her pushchair!) and cleared our table. Next came the hard part.... choosing dessert! Chester was easy, he loves fruit so wanted the fruit salad. I have a very sweet tooth so wanted everything haha! Eventually I chose the Chocolate fondant and Craig chose the Apple and Almond flan, both were served with Madagascan vanilla ice cream. Again I felt they were reasonably priced at under £5 each.

Desserts arrived and we were not disappointed, (I know I keep saying that but thats how we felt!) we all agreed that the ice cream was the best we had ever tasted and the rest of the puddings were fab too!

We were in La Tasca for just over one and half hours, we never felt rushed and were given great service by all staff. The restaurant and staff give a great atmosphere and Neil especially is a credit to the team! I overheard him with his other tables and he was just as friendly and helpful, even though he was busy he always had an eye on all of his tables and spotted when we needed attention without me even having to ask. Chester was very well catered and cared for and this is a big plus for me as I know some restaurants worst nightmares are a 3 year old child with lots of energy, but they embraced it!

We will definitely be returning to La Tasca not only as a family (Chester needs to fill that passport!) but as a couple and almost certainly with our friends too. I noticed lots of different deals, from lunch time quick bites to all you can eat feasts so they certainly cater for every budget. They really made us feel very welcome, nothing was too much trouble. Most of all they didn't even bat an eyelid at the mess Chester had left behind!

My summery is, that La Tasca is a very well organised family friendly restaurant, who cater for every type of customer. The staff are happy and upbeat and the atmosphere is fantastic. So if you have a La Tasca near to you, I would thoroughly recommend that you consider them for a fantastic meal out.

You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter where they will keep you up to date on offers, deals and restaurant news. You can also visit there website to check out the menus

Oh and I almost forgot! If anyone was wondering how happy Millie was about La Tasca, take a look at this....... Millie

Friday, 8 June 2012

Cheeky Chester's rice crispie turkey!

BritMums are running a Lean on Turkey competition, sponsored by The Prize is £250 and a masterclass with Marco Pierre White! YES, thats right I said Marco Pierre White!! WOW what a prize! So here is my entry!

Thinking of a turkey recipe was not hard for me because me and Chester (my very active cheeky 3 year old) make this one all the time! It is a fun family favourite that Chester loves to help me make.


4 Turkey breast steaks (roughly 340g)
100g plain flour*
2 eggs
150g rice puff cereal*

*With the flour and cereal you may find you need a little more but one of my pet hates is food waste so I feel its always best to start with minimum and then add more if needed!

Put the flour into a bowl, crack the eggs into another bowl and mix with a fork (I also add a small amount of water to make this mix go further!)

Next get a large bowl, pour in some rice puff cereal and using the end of a rolling pin (or if you are a cheeky 3 year old your hands!) and roughly crush the cereal.

 Get ready a baking tray with a wire rack on top and put the oven onto 200degrees.

Cut the turkey into strips ...

.... and place in the bowl of flour,then put it in the bowl with the egg and coat it in the egg mix, then put the turkey into the bowl with the rice puff cereal and roll it in the cereal until coated all over.

Place the Turkey onto the wire rack/baking tray and cook in oven for 25 mins.

We normally serve ours on one plate in the middle of the table with Jacket potatoes, salad and a selection of dips! We have also been known to share them while watching a family film on a rainy Sunday afternoon! There is 3 of us (will be 4 when Millie is old enough!) and we normally find it makes a perfect amount to fill our tummies!