Sunday, 19 April 2015

Our Visit to The Norfolk Broads with Herbert Woods

We were delighted to be given the opportunity of a mini-break over Easter with Herbert Woods - a lovely boating yard in the heart of The Norfolk Broads. We have never been to Norfolk before - it is quite a distance from Liverpool, so we were well-prepared with lots of snacks, magazines and planned-breaks for the journey, which took around 5 hours in the car. The kids behaved really well and it was more like an exciting road trip than a long drive. As we started getting into Norfolk the scenery is really lovely, and we shared the driving - with little or no hiccups!

Arrival

We arrived at around 2.30pm and checked in with ease. Staff were friendly and helpful, explaining how to use the code for the secure gate for the car and showing us where our cottage was in the yard. We were also handed an information pack - this was really great as it contained lots of information and flyers including popular tourist destinations, a map, details on local restaurants and pubs, details of boat-hire and even a take-away guide! We also had a really cute Herbert Woods pen and keyring with a light on - Emily sharked both of these out of the pack straight away!



Our Cottage

The cottage was just a short walk from reception, situated literally on the river. There was a private parking space for us, and all gates around the property were secure - I felt really safe at all times. The cottage itself I can not rave over enough - it was literally a home from home. We stayed in Mallard - which is a two bedroom cottage. It has a long hallway with a downstairs bedroom with two single beds, and a downstairs shower room across from the bedroom. We set up our own travel cot in this room and the girls shared.



The living area was comfortable and warm, with two leather settees - perfect for chilling out with a glass of wine or two at night. Kitchen was brilliant - everything you would need to stay for however long you wanted. I had brought plenty of supplies with us for breakfasts - Coco Pops are essential in our house! So there were all kinds of utensils and pans and pots for us to use, as well as the usual items like kettle, toaster and a fridge. There was also a lovely dining table in the kitchen, but we didn't really use that. The double patio in the living area opened out onto the veranda overlooking the river - we ate outside on the bench most days - lovely and relaxing!

Upstairs there was a large double room with a double bed. Large dressing table - (quite the treat for me as we don't have room for one in our house at the moment!) The view out of the window was gorgeous, the sun beaming down and reflecting off the river, and boats making their way along the river. The pace of life was slower, more serene than normal. Just what we needed to relax. Upstairs was also a large bathroom with a bath and shower. I loved the fact that there was a balcony overlooking the living area - quite often the kids were messing around upstairs and laughing at us from there.

The whole house was tastefully decorated and very warm and cosy - the TV got well-used by us too - we don't normally find the time to sit and watch TV so this was something new for us I suppose!!

The Area

The area surrounding Herbert Woods is tranquil and relaxing. Based in the Broads, it is easy to while away a day walking around, watching the ducks and swans mulling about and the boats sailing. Herbert Woods do boat hire - this was something that we did consider, but then passed up on the chance. We thought that it might be a bit stressful with the babies being so young but this is something that we would love to be able to do when we go back.

Walking in the woods selfie!


Shops

There is a shop directly opposite the yard called Latham's - it actually stocks everything that you would ever need. Me being me, I had packed lots of things but had I done my research I wouldn't have had to take anything - you could buy literally anything from the shop (including Coco Pops!) at a good price - there were no high mark-ups, which is great. From experience I know that some resorts sell products a lot more expensive than you would buy normally, but this was not the case with Herbert Woods and Latham's.

Pubs and Restaurants

There are many pubs and restaurants within walking and short driving distance of Herbert Woods. We visited The Lion Inn in Thurn on the frst night. This was about twenty minute's drive and was a lovely country pub. We had lovely pub grub, the people were friendly and the kids loved it.

On the second night we went to The Greyhound Inn about ten minute's drive. This again was a lovely country pub, warm and friendly with lovely food. There is something about a real old school pub that just makes you relax and feel content - especially when the food is home-cooked and yummy!

We also popped to a couple of tea-rooms. The Flour & Bean across the way from the yard served ice cream for the kids and we chilled out on the front in the sunshine with a couple of drinks. Perfect way to unwind!

The second day we went to Potter's Tea Room - again just across the way from where we were staying. I had a cuppa and Warren and the kids shared a lovely home-made chocolate and caramel cake - I was being good sticking to my Slimming World - the cake looked divine!

At the water's edge surrounded by ducks and swans!


Things to Do

There are lots of activities and fun to be had in the Broads. There is a zoo not too far away, you can have boat-trips, fishing, horse-riding and many other activities. We went to Fairhaven Wildlife Park and spent a good couple of hours walking along the nature trail. The girls loved it - the fresh air was great for them - Alice kept saying that she loves her holiday home!

We made a little vlog including most of our photos - I hope you like it.



Overall

We absolutely loved our break. The children had an amazing time. Me and Warren have discussed perhaps going back just the two of us and hiring a boat for a few days in the summer. I can just picture us cruising along, totally relaxed and wound-down. I would absolutely recommend Herbert Woods for a holiday. They have some great deals on at the moment so do check out their website.

http://www.herbertwoods.co.uk/

You can also visit their Facebook Page

Or follow them on Twitter

We were provided with a holiday cottage by Herbert Woods for two nights. All words and views are our own.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Toddler Teeth-Brushing For National Smile Month!

This post was written for National Smile Month. All words and views are my own.

National Smile month begins on 18th May - smiles are not something that we are generally short of in this house. The children are so funny - you might have noticed on some of my blog photographs in the past - whenever I say "Smile!" or "Say Cheese!" with my iPhone or camera pointing at them - they all pull a really strange cartoon-like smile. It makes me laugh. If I want to get a more natural smile from them for photographs I have to catch them unawares!

Exhibit A (cartoon smile!)
I love their smiley faces, which is why I think it is so important for the children to be taught to brush their teeth from a young age. We encourage them to brush their teeth once in the morning and once at night. It can be difficult to get them to comply, but we have managed to get them into a good routine. They have their little Peppa Pig or cartoon toothbrushes and they follow our instruction. They sometimes do it in the bath - they can't escape our instructions in the bath! Rosie has a wide handled toothbrush but she has not quite mastered using it - we tend to intervene with Rosie and give her a helping hand.

To be honest, it's the eldest who we have the most problems with teeth-brushing. I find myself constantly asking her if she has brushed her teeth properly. I think it is because we know that she is going to have some work done next year. Her teeth are quite crooked and the orthodontist has said that from next year she will have to wear a brace once all of her baby teeth have fallen out. I had years of having a brace and I know how difficult it can be to take care of your teeth with a brace on - brushing in all of the crevices takes more time with a brace. This is why I am quite keen that she gets into good habits now and doesn't get lazy with it.

I have to have some work done on my teeth soon too. I have to have a filling on the front of my teeth - the brace I had when I was younger was not the best - when they removed it they scraped the enamel from my teeth and it has gradually worn away. Once I have had the fillings I will then need to have them whitened so that they are all the same colour - I'll be honest I am not looking forward to undertaking all this, but I suppose it will have to be done - when my finances will allow it of course. The Centre of Advanced Dentistry Yorkshire offers all kinds of treatments for teeth, including whitening. This is something that I will have to read up on when I decide to undergo the treatment.

Oral health is very important - to me and my children. We will be keeping up with our teeth-brushing and dentist appointments to keep our smiles looking tip-top - cartoon ones or otherwise!


Monday, 13 April 2015

Review: JustMyLook - Kaleo Rebalancing Facial Care Set

Like most women I enjoy a bit of a pamper session. This happens almost never, but what I do like to do is take care of my skin. I do all the cleansing, toning and moisturising – it’s one thing that I do take the time to do every day. I was really chuffed to be asked to review the Kaeso Rebalancing facial care set from JustMyLook. I don't have a lot of time to take care of my skin, but I do spend some time every day looking after my face.  I was excited when the postman dropped off a lovely package all together with everything I need a for a full face care routine.
 
·         Cleanser
·         Toner
·         Exfoliator
·         Face Mask
·         Moisturiser



 
First of all I cleansed. The cleanser comes in a pump action bottle, which is great – no mess. It is a lovely light consistency, and removed my make up quite easily with the help of cotton wool. The toner was also light and refreshing and swept easily over my skin, removing the remaining impurities and sort-of waking up my skin!

The overall smell and texture of the products I found great - the scent is uniform for all the products in the box -  it has a light cucumber-fragrance – very refreshing.
 
I loved the fact that the moisturiser is in a pump action bottle. Some of my favourite moisturisers come in tubs, and I always think that it’s not very hygienic sticking your fingers in tubs and then putting them on your face – this pump action is great. The moisturiser is very light and I would say great for every day use. I would say that it is quite deceptive - it's very light but it actually keeps my face feeling very moisturised. I do have dry patches on my T-zone across my nose (are you impressed with my knowledge of my facial area??!) - but this moisturiser really does do the trick.
 
The mask is great too. Really soothing, light – no tingly sensations like you can get with some masks. I prefer a lighter mask. I have used this mask a few times now and I love it. Afterwards my skin always feels refreshed.
 
I know that you are wanting to laugh at me in a face mask, so here you go here is a photo:


 
Overall I really like these products. I think they are great if you want to start a real routine going. I am pretty good with my face. I do get the odd spot and my skin isn’t perfect but I do like to know that I have done my best with it, and these products really do the job. I also like the price of these. For £19.99 you get a complete package so it is definitely worth the money.

I also really like the JustMyLook website. They sell all kinds of beauty products so definitely worth a browse if you are looking to treat yourself - or better still getting someone else to treat you!

You can also keep up to date with JustMyLook products by following them on Twitter @justmylookcouk

I was sent the Kaleo products free of charge for the purpose of an honest review. All words and views are my own.
 

Friday, 10 April 2015

Review: Brewers Fayre Chapel Brook, Huyton

We love taking the kids out for dinner (as if you didn't already know!) and we were delighted to be asked to visit Brewers Fayre in Chapel Brook - this is a quick car ride away from our house - perfect for an afternoon out with our lot.



Like a lot of families we like to try and get out and about in the Easter break - Brewers Fayre is ideal for a lovely affordable lunch or dinner - chuck in refillable drinks, some lovely food, a Play Zone and we have three happy kids and as we know, the golden rule: if the kids are happy then so are we!

The refillable drinks are great - I had two coffees and Emily had about three diet cokes. They were served from the dispensers that you use yourself so this was really handy - no faffing around.

The food itself was spot-on. I loved the menus at Brewers Fayre - there is plenty of choice, a huge variety of sides, salads, mains, or even just snacks. I chose the Chicken and Bacon Salad - (sticking to my Slimming World, of course!) Warren ordered the Spicy Chicken Ciabatta. The kids menu was also great - they can mix and match their sides and have the options of starter and dessert in with the meal. The two babies both chose macaroni and cheese with garlic brad (their favourite) and Emily chose a burger with some tomato soup as a starter. (She must have been hungry!) We also ordered a side of onion rings - these were demolished in about five seconds flat by my lot!



We loved the food. We ate most of the food - the babies usually can't eat a full plate so we let them off - the portion sizes on the kids meals were generous and great for the price.



After the meal - of course we had to visit either a) The Play Zone - and indoor play area with tunnels and ball pools - or b) The outside play area. As it was a lovely sunny day we opted to take them to play outside, and in any case, Rosie was already running for the door as soon as she had eaten enough!


All three girls were excited to be playing on the climbing frames and sliding down the slides!




The cost of the meal came to just over £30 for the five of us, that was with drinks included. I think this is a great price - the menu even offered two meals for £10 on some of the meals. Sadly this did not include my salad, and there was no way I was deviating from my plan! I think that the cost was great for all of us - we spent a good couple of hours there eating and playing in the sunshine over dinner time. The kids had a ball - I'd definitely recommend it. The indoor Play Zone also looked great for the kids. This would be great when the weather turns - the cost was £2 per child for an hour, which again I thought a fair price.

We really enjoyed our day out, and will definitely be returning at some point. If you fancy a meal out over the Easter period I would definitely recommend Brewers Fayre. Lovely, affordable food with plenty of things to entertain the kids.

We were sent a voucher to cover the cost of our meals. All words and views are my own.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Review: Beauty and The Beast At The Epstein Liverpool

We were thrilled to be invited to watch Beauty and The Beast at The Epstein Theatre in Liverpool yesterday - we have never been to a pantomime as a family so we were really excited about this!


We decided it would be better if I took Emily and Alice and leave the youngest, Rosie at home with her Dad. I thought that Rosie might enjoy it but I knew that at her age she would be VERY fidgety and might just run away like she does in most other situations!

The theatre itself is lovely. Big enough for a great atmosphere but intimate enough for any seat to be a "good seat." Alice was really excited - she is three so I knew I might have to keep an eye on her if there were any "mild peril" moments!

The panto itself was brilliant. We had an absolute ball. There were plenty of jokes and enough double entedres to keep the adults entertained too. Michael Chapman who played the cook at the Beast's house was absolutely rip-roaring hilarious - I was honestly laughing my head off - the kids were too. The panto obviously didn't take itself too seriously, so we just had a real fun time. The storyline was punctuated by loads of modern chart songs as well as a few oldies in there, so that kept us dancing and singing along.

Ritchie from Five was HOT. Hell yes.

*ahem*

He played the wicked Prince who wants to marry Belle. He was very funny (as well as being hot.) He also did a few Five hits managed to squeeze in a few Five lyrics as love poems to Belle - this was so hilarious The Beast was quite scary. He had a voice changer on, and I had to explain to Alice that he was a lovely prince underneath but that Belle had to love him to change him back. She responded with "Oooh do you think that they will fall in love?" So I knew she understood.

There was also plenty of audience interaction - volunteers were called for to sing on stage and then water guns - well, I don't want to spoil it all for you if you want to go yourself! I also loved the dancers - the dancing cast was mainly made up of children - they were fantastic.

We also got to take some pictures with the cast at the end.



All in all we had an absolute fantastic time. Cinderella is on at Christmas so we are hoping to get to that - Warren and Rosie too - I know that they would both love it.



If you want to see Beauty and The Beast check out the listing times and ticket prices here.

A family ticket is £54 which I think is a good price for such a fun day - I would absolutely recommend this - we absolutely loved it and seeing the kids enjoy it so much made it a perfect day for me.


We were provided tickets free of charge for the purpose of the review all words and views are my own.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Justin & Friends: Mr Tumble's Circus

Alice and Rosie are both a little bit obsessed by Mr Tumble. I'm not sure what is it - the rubber funny faces he pulls, the humour in the TV shows, the dress-up, or just the delightful pull of the primary colours - whatever it is they are hooked.

Like a lot of parents, we do let our kids watch some TV. CBeebies is a staple in our house - even back when Emily was younger we always let her watch the shows on there. Mr Tumble wasn't around when she was younger, but I'm sure if he had have been then she would have been watching that too! What I love about Something Special is that although it is fun and amusing to watch - it is also educational. Colours and numbers, as well as emotions and feelings are explored through the show and this gets us talking - which can only be a good thing.



I was really excited to see that Justin & Friends: Mr Tumble's Circus is doing the rounds. This is a live show based on the TV show including all of our children's regular favourites - Mr Tumble himself, and of course Aunt Polly and Grandad Tumble. Also involved are some of the fun characters from Gigglebiz including Keith Fitt, Dina Lady, Gale Force and Arthur Sleep. The show also promises lots of fun circus action like unicyclists, tumblers and jugglers - the whole show looks really exciting.

Family ticket prices (2 adults and 2 children) start from just £54 so that's a good price for a family day out. We are hoping to get to one of these shows with our children (time permitting!) If we go, we will arrange a full day out - picnic in the park, then the show and then maybe a coffee and a cake afterwards! 



If you are thinking of going to one of these shows over Easter with the kids then do check out CBeebies Live Website for dates and ticket availabilty. 

The show looks like it is set to be a massive success - enjoy!

 

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Our Visit to Pizza Hut Liverpool

We love nothing more than to take the kids out for the day at weekend, maybe a show, museum, park - and then on for something to eat. We love spending time with our girls and switching off from the daily grind - I suppose that is what you work for at the end of the day. These past few weeks, and the next few weeks to come are not being kind to me - end of uni is approaching and my stress levels are through the roof!

Which is why we were really chuffed to be invited by Pizza Hut in Liverpool to try their refurbished restaurant in Paradise Street, Liverpool One. We do love pizza now and again as a treat, and I knew that the girls would be over the moon to go and visit. We have been to Pizza Hut before but not this particular one - and we were excited to see what it would be like having been newly refurbished. We visit Liverpool town centre at least twice a month so we love having a walk round. Liverpool One is great for shopping and general mooching around with the kids, so it's in a great location.

Rosie had her usual afternoon nap, so by the time we got there she was hungry and happy - so it was perfect really. The staff were great showing us in and handing the kids a booklet to colour-in, some crayons and Sponge Bob masks - the kids were pleased as punch. Rosie sat in a high-chair and Alice was happy sat at the back with Emily. As it was a treat day me and Warren had a bottle of Peroni each - served in frosted glasses - definitely a treat for us!


This is me not thinking about writing an essay. Maybe.



We ordered a sharing starter, which was yummy - even Rosie got stuck in - then again, on this particular day, there wasn't much that Rosie didn't get stuck in to!

Rosie got stuck into everything 


The kids menu was great. There is a variety of meals to choose from and it is a good price - all with refillable drinks and optional unlimited ice cream for an extra £1.50, which of course with it being a treat day we took them up on! Rosie and Alice had macaroni and Emily ordered a cheese and ham pizza with fries on the side.



The main menu also offered a wide variety of dishes. I chose a "low calorie" pizza - I don;t have a huge appetite and this looked perfect for me, thin and crispy with prawns - it was gorgeous. Warren chose the New Orleans Cajun Sizzler - he assures me it was lovely.



We also had a few tortilla chips and dips from the salad bar - which is unlimited.

We had a lovely meal. The kids behaved really well. You know what I like about Pizza Hut - our kids can be a bit noisy and a bit rowdy (as most kids can be) but while we were there we felt really relaxed. It wasn't so much of an issue that Rosie really is too young to have table manners, and Alice and Emily were laughing and giggling really loud - it was no issue. The staff were a credit to Pizza Hit - nothing was too much trouble.



You can tell by the photos how much the kids enjoyed it.

A 5-person selfie would have been too awkward - what do you mean, 'selfie-stick??'

We would definitely recommend Pizza Hut. The food was lovely, fairly priced and out really quickly. This was great - hanging around waiting for food is not something you want to do when you have two toddlers, I'm sure you'll agree.

Thanks Pizza Hut for inviting us - you made our weekend.

To check out their menu or find the closest Pizza Hut to you visit their website http://www.pizzahut.co.uk/

You can also follow them on Twitter @pizzahutukuk

We were sent a voucher that covered the cost of our visit to Pizza Hut. All words and views are our own - we had a fantastic day.


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