Sunday, 28 June 2015

Care for the Garden

This post is a feature post with Compost Direct. All words and views are my own.

Gardening is definitely not "my thing." In fact I would go as far as to say that I usually completely absolutely avoid doing any gardening whatsoever. I think I used the lawn mower once and I was just like a little kid with a new toy! My reasons for this are simple; I am just actually far too busy in the house to worry about what happens on the outside! I think that one day I would love to get busy with hanging baskets and bushes, but for now - I simply haven't got the time or the inclination.

That said, Warren does get involved in the garden at times and we do have a few things growing there now like strawberries and a few herbs, which we do use. I suppose we just need to spend more time in the garden - it's all about making time I suppose. Maybe when the kids are a bit bigger we will have more time to put some real effort in.

I would love to have some decking in the back garden, with a small seating area. I would also like flower pots and beds all around the edges and maybe a wooden play house for the kids. I like the idea of being able to sit outside in the summer and eat - chill out with a glass of wine. Maybe this will be a project that we can undertake next year.

Fun in the garden!
We tend to keep our garden as a place for fun, toys and footballs! With that in mind Compost Direct have created this fun online sports quiz. I'd be lying if I said I got any of these right without guessing! Maybe you can do better than me!

Here's to fun in the garden this summer, whatever you plan on doing with yours!

Friday, 26 June 2015

Review: The Stag & Rainbow, Beefeater Liverpool

We were really chuffed to be invited to review the Beefeater Stag & Rainbow restaurant on Queens Drive in Liverpool to try out their new summer menu. We love taking the kids out for food, and we are always on the lookout for affordable child-friendly places to eat. I'd say we eat out maybe twice a month, it's always good to not have to cook and a treat definitely does us good. With us having the three kids we appreciate the price of food and the speed of the service. It is entirely different when we are out as a couple - we really don't mind waiting for food - but when you have little ones you really don't want them waiting around - they get bored and fed up and then run away. (Well, Rosie does!)

This was no such problem when we visited the Beefeater. The service was super-speedy, staff were friendly and helpful. There were worksheets and crayons for the kids to colour in, featuring Mr Men. This kept them entertained and happy while we waited for food.

There was plenty to choose from on the menu, and I liked that the kids menu was pretty much mix and match - our kids like to pick different sides, although the two youngest had the identical macaroni and cheese (I tasted it - it was lovely!) Myself and Warren chose steaks and Emily ordered the pulled pork burger. As I am watching what I am eating it was no problem for them to change chips to a jacket potato, so I was really chuffed with that.

We all really enjoyed our food. We'd even go as ar as to say that this was one of the best meals that we have had out with the kids - we couldn't fault it - everything was cooked perfectly and we completely cleared our plates.

Rosie getting stuck into her mac and cheese!
We don't always have dessert but because we loved this meal so much we treated the kids to a chocolate brownise sundae. (OK - I nicked a bit of the brownie - I'll admit it!) It was lovely. There was none of that left by the time the kids had demolished it!

Beefeater have also started doing milkshakes in time for the summer - but we didn't try these as we were stuffed from all our lovely food!

We really did enjoy this meal. The food was all fresh, tasty and reasonably priced. Our bill came to around £60 - that was for two meals from the kids' menu, three from the summer menu, the dessert and drinks for all of us. This was excellent value and definitely money well spent. We will definitely be returning to The Stag & Rainbow at some point this summer - it was lovely.

We were given a voucher towards the cost of our meal for the purpose of this review. All words and views are my own.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Review: The Tiger Who Came To Tea at The Epstein Theatre

We were so excited to go and see The Tiger Who Came to Tea at the Epstein Theatre in Liverpool last week. This would be the first production that we would attend as a family off five and we couldn't wait. I have visited the Epstein before - I love how intimate and cosy the venue is - you really feel part of the action. When it comes to children's productions I feel that is particularly important, especially if there is a bit of audience participation - it's great when the kids feel involved.

We hadn't taken Rosie to the theatre before. She was two in March so we have been a bit reluctant to take her anywhere she has to sit for a long time. However, The Tiger Who Came to Tea was a short and entertaining production - we all loved it and Rosie sat and watched in awe for almost all of the play. The last five minutes she spent at the back with Warren holding her as she had started to make a run for the stage - but that's our Rosie for you!

The Play

The play was based on the well-loved children's book The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr. To my shame we didn't actually own the book (house full of books and imagine us not having this one!) However, Alice was familiar with it through school so she was so excited to go.

The play starred three main characters, Mummy, Daddy and Sophie. Of course there was also the Tiger - and the play added in a few extra characters who did not get a speaking part in the book, such as the milk man and the boy from the shop. The costumes were amazing - exactly the same as in the book and the acting was energetic and fun. We particularly enjoyed the tiger's dancing scenes and the audience participation that came along with that! Alice and Rosie were dancing along - it was a lot of fun. We also loved the stage direction as the tiger "magically" eats all the food in the kitchen and much to Rosie's amusement "drinks all of Daddy's beer." The sing-along with the family and the kids was also a lot of fun - Alice still sings this at home!

What we did do after the play was purchase the book. Alice and Rosie absolutely love it, and reading the words brings back good memories of our day at the Epstein.

I would definitely recommend taking your kids to this theatre. It is small enough to feel comfortable, but large enough for the acoustics and music to sound perfect. 

The Epstein have Cinderella playing over Christmas - we are looking forward to this already!

We were given press tickets free of charge for the purpose of this review. All words and views are my own.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Review: Petit Filous Pouches and #summerdaysout

Summer is a time for family fun, outdoor adventures and general together-time for us. I love it when the kids are off school, and with Warren being a teacher he is off school too. We have LOTS of family fun times and enjoy getting out and about with the kids. One thing I do before we go anywhere is pack us a few items for the journey and the day out. This might include nappies, wipes and all of the other usual items - but I also try and pack food and snacks for the kids so that we don't end up paying over-the-odds for snacks while we are out. With the money we save we then buy ice creams or other treats!

With that in mind we were quite keen to try out Petit Filous Pouches. The kids are Petit Filous fans anyway, so we knew that these would be a hit.

We picked up a selection of these from the supermarket, and packed them in our bags for a few summer days out.

We have been on quite a lot of days out already even before school has broken up. Quite often we have a wander to Liverpool Docks, and last week we went to the Mersey River Festival and watched some bands. The sun was beaming down and we just spent time together as a family - it was lovely. We took some of the pouches with us in our bag and put them to the test!

Fun in the park!

The pouches are ideal for your bag. I loved that the cap was re-sealable as Rosie sometimes eats half a yoghurt and then goes back to it later - with the lid on I knew I could just chuck it back in the bag and it would all be fine! The portion size is about right for my kids - they tried all three flavours - I think that the strawberry one was the winner for flavour, although there was no waste! I do like that Petit Filous have 100% natural ingredients and you know that they have Vitamin D and calcium in the product too - a lovely healthy snack to carry out on our summer days!

Overall, we really enjoyed this product. They cost around 79p per pouch, so although it is more expensive than a pack of yoghurts, you are getting the added convenience of the pouch and no faffing around with spoons or half-eaten yoghurts wasted on your day out.

And if the kids behave, eat their healthy lunch and healthy yoghurt snack - there just might be room for ice cream later!

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

Friday, 5 June 2015

Octonauts Canal Clean-Up With Sea-Life Manchester

Over the half term holiday we were invited to attend a party with the Octonauts at Sea-Life Centre Manchester. We love the Sea-Life Centre having been before and we were really looking forward to the event. The kids love the Octonauts and we were especially chuffed that this event involved teaching the children about conservation and cleaning up our canals and green spaces.

Unfortunately, I was working so I sent my children and blogging correspondent representative (AKA Warren, the husband.) So what follows is a description of the day as well as photos taken by Warren himself. He reckons that this blogging lark is easy. (Note that I am the one who is typing this and not him - #fail.)

First of all they went to the Octonaut's party. The children were given paper hats and magazines and were given a short talk on the importance of keeping our environment safe and healthy for animals. The children were given examples of how pollution can damage wildlife such as plastic can rings getting stuck on turtle's bodies and plastic bags being harmful to other animals.

Next they explored the Sea Life Centre itself. My kids love the Sea Life centre. Emily's favourite is looking at the sharks swimming in the tank. Rosie and Alice love Ernie the turtle and they also like trying to "Find Nemo." We have visited before but the girls had a lovely time. I think it is important that they get to experience wildlife and learn about the environment at the same time.

Next was the Canal Clean-Up with Peso from the Octonauts. The children were given high-vis jackets, gloves, bin liners and litter pickers and were put to work picking up litter from the side of the canal. Now I know this doesn't sound very exciting, but my kids loved it. It is something different for them and I think that they learned a lot - I know that Rosie is young, but we always tell her to put her rubbish in the bin and although the entire message may have been lost on her - the main sentiment of not dropping rubbish was there.  Some lovely photos were taken of our girls as they walked the canal.

When they got home the kids were shattered. They had such a good day and it had really took it out of them. They told me all about their day with the Octonauts in high pitched voices and Warren showed me all of the pictures he had taken. I think he did a good job!

Disclosure: We were invited to the event free of charge for the purpose of this review. All words and views are our own.

LegoLand Discovery Centre Manchester

We were very excited to be invited to attend the opening of the Duplo Farm Play Area at the LegoLand Discovery Centre in Manchester. We have never been to LegoLand before and we were looking forward to going. The girls do really enjoy Lego figures, especially Rosie. The LDC is based in the Trafford Centre in Manchester, which is not too far for us. The girls couldn't wait to get in, and the Lego Buzz Lightyear at the front of the Centre had Rosie totally off on one from the start - she loves Buzz!

The Centre itself is brilliant. One of the first things we did was go on the Kingdom Quest Laser Ride. It was brilliant - we all had such a laugh. You get in a little cart with laser guns and shoot the baddies as you ride around the track. I think Alice actually scored the most by shooting the most baddies! We were all laughing like little kids as we went around it was a lot of fun. We also listened to one of the "Professors" telling us how each Lego piece is produced. Rosie and Alice spent most of this time messing around with the cogs and Rosie kept running up to the Lego men shouting "Hello leeeetle man."

Next we walked through the centre to see all of the Lego scenes. It really is brilliant. We stopped to look at the Liverpool scene. The Liver buildings, the docks - it's all there. It really is fascinating to watch, especially when the lights come on. They even had a little model of The Cavern with The Beatles playing underground.

There is a massive soft play area in the Centre, so needless to say our kids spent A LOT of time in there. I am the world's biggest misery when it comes to soft play - so Warren tends to get involved while I spectate. The kids had an absolute ball and were shattered by the time they came out.

The Duplo Farm play area is aimed at younger kids and is very sweet. Rosie spent a lot of time. Next to the farm is a sort-of earthquake tester. The kids spent a lot of time making a tower out of Lego and them putting it on the vibrating plate to see if it would withstand the earthquake. They had a lot of fun.

The girls also spend time in a sort of Princess area that had a karaoke machine in. We struggled to tear them away from this section!

Needless to say, we spent a long time at the Centre. It is big, with lots of things for the kids to do. There are lots of separate sections encouraging the children to be creative, to draw, to build, to play. We also loved the Star Wars collection - the detail that goes into the building of these is amazing.

All in all we had a fantastic day. All of the kids loved it - they really do cater for all ages - there is so much to do. If you do go I would look on the website first and plan your visit, especially if you have younger children. We didn't have a clear plan and so our children were running from one thing to the next so excitable. There is nothing wrong with this approach of course, but a bit of structure is always welcomed!

Tickets start from £9.95 and children under 2 are free. There are a lot of special offers on their web page so if you do go make sure you check there first as there are plenty of savings to be had!

Disclosure: We were invited to LegoLand Discovery Centre and were not charged to enter. All words and views are our own.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Iggle Piggle's Birthday Party at Alton Towers

Last week we were invited to attend a very special birthday party. Iggle Piggle from In The Night Garden was celebrating his special day and we were invited to go and celebrate with him. Our kids love In The Night Garden and we have never been to Alton Towers with the kids so we were very chuffed to go. Our plans were to attend the party and then go on to CBeeebies Land in Alton Towers. The babies are CBeebies obsessed so we thought that it would be the perfect day out - we were not wrong!

Alton Towers hosted a lovely tea party for Iggle Piggle's birthday. The kids were dancing and singing, crafting and playing. Eating lots of yummy party food and getting their picture taken with Iggle Piggle himself!

They also had their face painted - Alice absolutely loved this. The kids were treated to such a fun day - all the staff were friendly and helpful and made the day such fun!

After the party we went to CBeebies Land. This is so much fun. All of the favourites are there - Nina and the Neurons had a science section, there is a massive outdoor play area, an amazing Postman Pat van ride and also a performance stage where various acts sing and dance! The Num Tums number-go-round was as hardcore as we got for rides - we all went on that, it was fun. There is the Charlie and Lola's Moonsquirters and Green Drops play area and Justin's House Pie-o-matic Factory, Mr Bloom's allotment and much more.

We spent most of the day just in CBeebies Land. With  the kids being quite young we weren't too fussed about exploring the rest of Alton Towers on this occasion - they seemed pretty worn out from the party and all of the CBeebies activities that we got up to! We had a wonderful time. The kids were so excited - we just love taking them out and watching them enjoy themselves.

Disclosure: We were invited to Iggle Piggle's birthday and were given free entry to Alton Towers. All words and views are our own.

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