Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Disney Tsum Tsum's - our new favourite craze!

Well its no secret that we are all a little Disney obsessed in this house. So when we heard about a new Disney craze - Tsum Tsum's we simply had to find out more!

Disney Tsum Tsum (pronounced ‘Soom Soom’) means “stack stack” in Japanese, and stems from
the Japanese Zen art of stone stacking. Tsum Tsum was  originally developed in Japan as a social mobile smartphone game, which was then followed by the collection of soft toys. The success so far has been amazing. For instance, in Japan when the app of the game was launched it took just 4 days before it hit 1 million downloads! Chester and I both have the game downloaded and I have to say I am not surprised it is so popular, it is an easy game to play and very fun, not to mention addictive!

Now, for the first time ever, Disney Store Guests in the UK are able to buy the cute and colourful soft toys! We, of course, have been collecting the Tsum Tsums ever since this launch a little over a month ago!

We were very excited to also find out about Tsum Tsum Tuesday at the Disney Store... In honour of Tsum Tsum, the first Tuesday of each month will be renamed ‘Tsum Tsum Tuesday’ and will see an additional new character released. The first of which was a Tsum Tsum Alice in Wonderland on April 7th. Next Tuesday, May 5th, see's a double release, one which we are most excited about. It will be Big Hero 6 AND The Little Mermaid! We are all super excited about this, I have spoken before about our love for Baymax and all things Big Hero 6 and of course we are all big Little Mermaid fans, staying in the Little Mermaid rooms when we went to Disney World! So needless to say both of those ranges will be top of the pocket money spends for May!

The Tsum Tsums are created for tweens and teens but as you can see from the photos Chester and Millie, who are aged just 6 and 3 are having enormous fun collecting them. In fact so am I! They just love to row them up, stack them up, knock them down, make them bounce high on the trampoline!

What I think makes them even more awesome is the price. For a mini Tsum Tsum it is just £3. For me, that means pocket money toys. Its an achievable goal for the children to save that money and be able to come away with a decent product rather than the handful of sweets and a bouncy ball that kind of pocket money would buy! So for us that will be the ones we collect the most. However, Millie did buy herself a medium Winnie the Pooh Tsum Tsum which was £15 and is just the right size for her to carry around or take to bed as a cuddle toy if she wishes. The large Tsum Tsums are £20 and whilst I think this is a little out of our budget for an everyday treat, I will admit that I am eyeing up a couple to use in place of large scatter cushions on my sofa!

So, what do you think of this new Disney craze? Will your children be collecting?

Bernard Matthews Turkey Escalopes - A perfect Al fresco meal!

Recently Bernard Matthews asked me to participate in an activity which included using their Bernard Matthews fresh breaded products. I needed to come up with a way in which I would incorporate them into a meal.

It didn't take me long to decide that I would use them to make a family meal to inspire Al Fresco dining! During the summer months (and most of spring to be honest), as a family, we love to eat our main meal outside. The lighter, warmer, evenings mean that we can enjoy the day for just a little bit longer!

Thinking about time (or lack of it) and meals that would suit our whole family I decided to incorporate Bernard Matthews Turkey Escalopes into our meal and make Turkey baguettes, served with sweet potato fries and homemade coleslaw.

Firstly I peeled and cut 4 sweet potatoes into chip shape/size pieces. I then placed them in a lightly oiled baking tray, drizzled with a little more olive oil and popped them in the oven for 25 minutes.

The Turkey baguettes were the easiest part to do. I simply popped the Bernard Matthews Turkey Escalopes into the oven for the time stated and cut and buttered the baguettes!

Lastly I made the coleslaw. To do this, I placed finely sliced carrot, red cabbage and celery into a big bowl. I then mixed together a 60ml tub of sour cream with a couple of big squeezes of mayonnaise.

I then mixed this in with the salad items until it was coated. Voila! A really delicious homemade coleslaw!

The whole meal, including prep took less than half an hour to make and the end result was that everyone was satisfied and happy with their dinner!

My only change would be that next time I think I would served the adults Escalopes in Ciabatta bread as I think this would be a lovely 'grown up' combination!

Do you love to dine outside in the summer months? Whats your favourite summer time meal?

Monday, 27 April 2015

Lanhydrock, my new favourite National Trust property!

You may remember me telling you that whilst on holiday in Cornwall over Easter, we made full use of our National Trust passes. Well, I really want to tell you a little bit about our day at Lanhydrock. It seems to have put a spell on me, and it is now my favourite National Trust property! I am just itching to go back and take in all of those magnificent rooms and history again. Sadly though, living in Kent means that this is not going to happen anytime soon, so instead I shall settle for telling you all about it!

Lanhydrock is a huge country house, with a huge estate. In fact so huge that we got the land train from just past the play area down to the house!

I absolutely love anything Victorian, this era has always fascinated me, since I was a child I have wanted to learn more about the way of life back then. So imagine how I felt when I realised that this house has been set out in exactly that era!

We got a feel for what life was like for the maids and servants, both in the vast kitchen areas and in the servants living quarters.

We got to see what kind of things the Children did to keep themselves entertained in the Nursery. This part really fascinated Chester and Millie, imagine, life without Ipads and computer games! Millie being a dolly loving child was fascinated with the detailing on the dolls back then, she loved the clothing they were wearing. As everyone knows I am not a dolly fan, and was secretly pleased that dolls are not made to look like that anymore!

With well over 50 rooms to explore it really was a great way to spend the day. It gave such a great insight into life back then, the phrase 'oh how the other half live' was heard many a time as we walked round and took in the details!

We also had just enough time to explore the gardens too, Chester and Millie completed an easter trail whilst Craig and I took in the beauty of it all.

The National Trust say this on their website.. 'Lanhydrock is the perfect country house and estate, with the feel of a wealthy but unpretentious family home.' and I think that sums it up perfectly. I think that the National Trust have done this property proud, keeping the feel of life back then and keeping it very personal to the family and staff whose lives were lived out there.

To be honest we could of done with another day there just to explore the grounds. It is so big that you can even hire bikes! It would have been nice to have time to go on one of the walks too. We made use of the wooden play area for the children, this was situated near the car park so I should imagine that many locals make use of this in the summer months, I know we would!

My only regret about the day was that I forgot to buy the guide book at the end. I managed to soak up a bit of information about the house and the family that lived there, of course, but when you visit with children you are bombarded with questions such as 'why do they have an animal as a rug', or 'how did the meat stay cool in that room', meaning I didn't get chance to read every bit of information! I should imagine the history of Lanhydrock would make for a very good read!

Are you National Trust Members? Do you have a favourite property that you love to visit?

Another trip to Selhurst Park.

So ever since we got back from our last trip to Selhurst Park to see Crystal Palace play football, Chester has wanted to go again.

Luckily for Chester, he has a Grandad who couldn't wait to take him to watch a football match!

So last weekend my parents traveled all the way up from Dorset so that my Dad could take Chester and I to watch Crystal Palace v Hull.

My Dad had chosen that match because we all thought it would be a sure way of Chester seeing Crystal Palace win. But, sadly that was not to be. Dad and I know how unpredictable Palace can be, they always seem to do the opposite of expectation. Chester however, at only 6 years old, has not yet learnt the ups and downs of being a Crystal Palace supporter! Needless to say, that he was very disappointed that they managed to lose again!

But from a parents point of view, I was very proud of Chester that day. He loved watching the match, he sang some songs and clapped along.We were sat on the second row in the Arthur Wait stand and were just by the halfway line, so he was happy to shout out at the players, telling them what to do! I couldn't help but smile when he was shouting out 'what are you doing, pass the ball, pass it wide'!

None of us were very happy when Palace' goal was disallowed, and as true Palace fans we spent the long walk back to the car moaning about the ref!

Even though we lost Chester had a great time, (I think the fact I brought him the away kit and some goalie shorts and socks probably helped soften the blow!) Once he had gotten over his strop about them losing, he was soon back to his happy self eager to tell his Dad all about the match  He desperately wants to go back again and he would love to see some away matches too. So hopefully next season I can arrange this for him.

Do your children like to watch football matches? How do they take it when their team looses?

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!