Wednesday, 25 September 2013

COMPING: Win Free Fashion For A Year (YB)

Check out this fantastic competition from MRP for your chance to win free fashion for a year! Be sure to check out their amazing prices too!

MRPCompetition



Wednesday, 11 September 2013

REVIEW: BrainBox All Around London (YB)

I had the pleasure of once again teaming up with BrainBox games (The Green Board Game Company) to review the BrainBox All Around London...



My son loves the BrainBox games and so he was very much looking forward to trying out this one too.

As with other BrainBox games, there is no real limit on the number of players, so you can enjoy reading the facts by yourself or play a fun game with friends and family.

Each person gets one draining of the timer to look at their card and then they pass it to the person on their right. They roll the dice and the person they have handed the card to reads out the corresponding question. If you get it correct, it goes in your keep pile, if you get it wrong, you put it back in the pack. The person with the most cards after 10 minutes of playing time is the winner!

The game is both fascinating and fun for players of all ages. Because you learn lots of fun facts about London along the way. A bonus to the All Around London game is that you can piece it all together to make a huge map of London!

It is also the ultimate in quick and easy to play games, as set up time is virtually non-existing.

The game is made of a minimum of 70% recycled material and includes 5 illustrated cards, 1 rules card, 1 timer and 1 eight-sided die.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

FUN & FROLICS: Indoor Camping (YB)

OK, so yesterday, we thought we'd try something different - indoor camping!



We didn't have the time, money nor inclination to be going camping for real, especially not so close to the end of the summer holidays, so we decided we could have a fun indoor camp instead.

It was quite a challenge fitting a 4 person tent into the living room, but it wasn't quite as bad as we'd expected!

We went shopping in the daytime and armed ourselves with plenty of snacks :@) Crisps, marshmallows, sweets, but also some Fridge Raiders and fruit pieces!

We turned off all the lights for effect and had just a couple of tealight candles lit. We used battery-powered head torches for navigating the rest of the house.



Something really funny was that we tried toasting marshmallows over the tealight candles - oh yes we did!! We stuck a marshmallow on a cocktail stick and then warmed it over the tealight candles lol. I accidentally set fire to one of mine though...



We told scary stories in the dark, we each had a go at telling a scary story, they were so bad we ended up laughing more than being scared!!

It was quite fun, so I'd recommend it to keep the kids entertained!



It wasn't the most comfortable sleep I'd ever had though...


Sunday, 25 August 2013

FUN & FROLICS: Living The Country Life (YB)

We went to the Cheshire Game & Country Fair on Saturday 24th August (that's me, Paul, our son David and my sister Latisha) thanks to a family Living Heritage ticket I won from British Turkey on Twitter :)

We wasn't sure exactly what to expect, but we'd had a look on their website and it sounded like a fun day out, so we hired a car for the day to go.

First of all, we saw the protector dogs. There was a display showing how they catch the bad guys and also how they stop a bad guy getting something that is not theirs. It was very interesting. I don't think I'd fancy being the person who has the dog attack them though - even if you do get to wear protective armour!!



Then we got to the birds section, we saw some gorgeous owls, falcons and other birds of prey. We also saw a peregrine falcon in flight. The kids also got to hold an owl and a photo taken with them.




Then we spotted the ferret racing - that is very funny. Everyone could "bet" on the winner for 50p a ticket and if they won, they got £1 back. David and Tisha both had a go on the first race, neither of them win though :P The ferrets are funny, sometimes they'd whizz of and you'd be sure one of them had won and then suddenly they'd turn around and run back to the start. They're very funny little creatures! They had a second race too and David & Tisha bet on them again, David lost, but Tisha picked the winner! Ferret racing is both funny and bizarre!

Next we went to see the hamsters - I was very, very tempted to buy one to take home!

We then went of for a coffee, well me & Paul did - the kids had milkshakes and David had a cookie and Tisha had a red velvet cupcake.



Then we watched the sheepdog show - we saw how the very well trained and intelligent sheepdog would herd together the sheep and even get them to go through designated targets and then into a pen. The sheepdog then did the same but with ducks. It was very impressive.



The kids then had a go at catapulting - neither of them were very good at it though!



We then had a look around the shops and stuff and it was very difficult to refrain from buying loads of stuff!

Next, the kids had a go at paintballing, they had loads of fun and actually did really well - they both got a certificate at the end!



We then went off to the food hall area, I couldn't resist buying some of the deliciously fresh fudge, some sweet chilli jam and a delicious homemade apple pie!

We then went off for dinner. It was a late dinner as it was gone 3pm! I had a fajita from the Old El Paso stall, Paul had a vegetarian noodle box, Latisha and David both had a huge hot dog each! I was really annoyed though as later in the day, I spotted a food van in a different part that sold hog roast which I really wanted to try or maybe even a pulled pork burger :(

We then wandered to look at more of the shops and stalls. I ended up buying this lovely own shaped candle (which I will never burn!) and a beautiful metal owl too. As you may already know, I am rather obsessed with owls!

Then we saw some people getting pulled along on skateboards/wakeboards (not sure which, if either!), by people on horses - very, very odd, but fun!



Next we saw the stunt show - a father and son team - it was very impressive. I've put a video below for you to see for yourselves!


video

Then finally we went to see the chainsaw carving competition - I was astounded just how intricate a design they were making using chainsaws!!






Thursday, 1 August 2013

REVIEW: Boursin Cheeses (YB)

Du vin, du pain, du Boursin ;)




I enjoyed the two flavours I tried, I'd be interested in trying any others. The cheese is fairly soft and almost crumbly. It spreads onto bread fairly nicely. As for the flavours my favourite was the Black Pepper. It has a good strong peppery flavour, not over the top - just right. The Garlic & Herbs one was also nice, but I felt the flavour could be stronger.

If I wasn't so greedy and managed to stop myself nibbling it straight out of the fridge I had meant to try some on a baked potato.

It comes in convienient individually wrapped portions open just one or two portion sized packets and you don't have to rush to use it up before it has been open too long. Still can't finish off a box before it's going to go out of date - stick it in the freezer!

I was pleased to discover these two and several other of Boursin's range are vegetarian as that also made it suitable for my husband who is a vegetarian. I also see it's suitable for pregnant women and it contains no gluten.


At £1.69 for six portions, it is fantastic value. Boursin is available Tesco and large Waitrose stores.

Monday, 8 July 2013

REVIEW: La Tasca Spanish Tapas Restaurant (YB)

I was offered the chance to do a review at our local La Tasca which is Queen Square, Liverpool. Here's how it went...


Image taken from http://www.latasca.com/liverpool/
We were booked in for Saturday 6th July 2013 at 6.30pm, that is me & Paul (hubby), our 10 year old son, David and my 11 year old sister, Latisha.

The waitress asked us were we would like to sit (indoors or outdoors - we chose outdoors seeing as it was a nice warm, sunny day) and seated us and gave us menus. The childrens menus were separate as they have some puzzles inside the menu and get given a small box of crayons.

I spoke to the manageress and she explained what we could choose from for the review - 6 tapas between me & Paul plus a jug of sangria or wine or soft drinks and the childrens menu each for the kids (3 tapas, 1 dessert and a Capri sun each), also a starter of bread and oil to share. She was very nice and approachable. She explained that one of the waiters, Anthony (I hope I remember his name correctly!), would be looking after us for the evening. He was also very nice, and very polite and made sure we were well looked after.

I ordered Gambas Gabardina, a Madrid dish ("king prawns, dipped in our special-recipe San Miguel batter and fried until crisp, then served with homemade paprika & roasted garlic mayonnaise and lemon"), Patatas Bravas, an España dish ("fried potato, with spicy tomato sauce") and the 'Chef's Special' Slow-Cooked Pork Cheeks With Pedro Ximenez, a Castilla Y León dish ("served with creamed mashed potato").

I absolutely loved the pork cheeks with mash, it was cooked to perfection, very soft and succulent pork and the mash was scrumptiously creamy and smooth. I would definitely have this again and recommend it to everyone who visits.

The king prawns were really nice - whenever I've had king prawns in other places, they have been quite chewy, but these were cooked just right, nice and soft and juicy, the batter was also soft and delicious and the dip complemented them perfectly.

The patatas bravas were very nice too. I think I would have preferred them a little spicier. They were different to the ones I had on holiday in Barcelona in a few weeks ago (the ones I had there were fried potato with a mayonnaise and spicy dip), but I assume it is just a regional varaiation. They were very nice anyway - they are like half size potato wedges in a spicy tomato sauce.

We waited a reasonable amount of time for our food to be served. We got to enjoy a glass of our sangria while we waited and enjoy sitting out in the warm evening air. It was a very pleasant atmosphere at the restaurant too. The staff all look pleasant and approachable and cheerful which is nice to see. They even have Spanish style music playing to give an authentic feel of Spain!

I felt that the food was very well presented and I was very, very impressed with how well my food was cooked too. It was perfect - I'm a fussy eater in general, so for me to give a 'perfect!' is quite rare. Everything was just as described.

I very much enjoyed my sangria too. It wasn't too strong, nor was it too weak. I find sangria is very varying in taste from place to place. I liked it very much though. It had a good selection of fruit pieces in - orange, lemon and lime.

The bread and oil starter was delicious too. I very much enjoyed that. Overall, I was very, very pleased with the meal, the atmosphere and the service.



Paul ordered Pimientos De Padrón, a Galicia dish ("imported directly from Padrón - hot!"), A Festival Of Mushrooms, a Rioja dish ("chestnut and button mushrooms, sautéed in garlic butter and white wine") and Tortilla Española, an España dish ("Spanish omelette, served with a spicy red pepper tapenade and roasted garlic mayonnaise").

I asked Paul what he thought of his meal and he said:

"I was impressed that there were quite a lot of veggie choices. There was a good variety of things I could have - I didn't feel like a second-class person just because I wasn't having something meaty. I liked it all, my favourite was the mushrooms - they were nicely coated in the flavouring, but not dripping with oil like some takeaway ones I've had before. There was a good variety of mushrooms and they were soft and flavoursome. 


The peppers/chillies were nice, but they were not as hot as I was expecting, they were nice anyway, but from the description on the menu, I was maybe expecting something a little hotter.

The omelette was nice too. The bread and olive oil starter was nice. I very much liked the sangria too. There was a nice lot of fruit in the sangria, I was pleased there wasn't too much ice, but it was still nicely chilled.

The tables were well set out to give you plenty of room to sit comfortably. The waiters & waitresses checked everything was alright and the food was brought out in a timely manner and the tables were cleared quickly after we'd finished.

There was a friendly and relaxed atmosphere and the music was on but not over the top, so you were able to chat comfortably."



David ordered La Tasca's Meatballs ("La Tasca's beef and pork meatballs, served in a tomato sauce"), Paella Of The Day ("chorizo and chicken paella") and French Fries ("served with tomato ketchup"), Chocolate Brownies ("served with vanilla ice cream") for dessert and a blackcurrant Capri Sun drink.

I asked David what he thought of his meal and he said:
"I thought it was very yummy and all the food was nice and done well. My favourite was the paella, it was just right. I wish there was a bit more food, I was a bit hungry afterwards. I wish there had been a little more choice in dessert too."



Latisha ordered two lots of Paella Of The Day ("chorizo and chicken paella") and French Fries ("served with tomato ketchup"), Chocolate Brownies ("served with vanilla ice cream") for dessert and a blackcurrant Capri Sun drink.

I asked Latisha what she thought of her meal and she said:
"It was lovely and the paella was my favourite. I think more would have been better though. It was cooked fabulous."



Wednesday, 3 July 2013

REVIEW: Burts Potato Chips (YB)

I received some Burts Potato Chips to review...



Burts Wave Cut Potato Chips - Jalapeno & Red Pepper
I've never tried these before, but I have to say I love them and now I'm going to seek them out in a local shop as they were that good!

They are so full of flavour, it's mindblowing! Lots of crisps are lacking in flavour or only get more flavoursome towards the bottom of the pack, but these were soaked in flavour top to bottom and that's just the type of crisps I like.

Not to mention then fact that I am a huge fan of all things spicy and so the jalapeno and red pepper flavour is a great choice for me.

In terms of crispy, they were just right too. As ironic as it might sound, I'm not a fan of crisps that are too crispy.

I shared the packet with my husband, Paul. This is what he thought of them: "They were nice and flavoursome and spicy. The bag seemed bigger than an average bag of crisps and more is better!"


"Whet your appetite and tickle your taste buds with Red Pepper & Jalapeno, the fiery, mouth-watering crisp inspired by traditional Mexican flavours. Perfect eaten straight from the packet or even better dipped in a cool salsa, hummous or tzatziki, these crisps are the perfect party snack or nibble for a summer BBQ, as they really pack some punch! Pair with a rum based cocktail such as a mojito or caipirinha, to get your party into full swing"



Burts British Potato Chips - Spicy Chorizo
I have never had chorizo before, so I honestly cannot comment on how realistic the flavour is, but again they are extremely flavoursome. I didn't like the flavour so much of this packet though. Maybe I just don't like chorizo?

The crisps are very fresh and well, crispy (as they should be). I am very impressed overall by the new spicy flavours and I for one, hope there will be many more spicy flavours added in the future. I'm officially a Burts convert now!

I shared this packet with my son, David, aged 10 and he said: "They are really nice and I liked the flavour lots. They had just the right amount of flavouring."


"Say hola! to Spicy Chorizo. The traditional rich Spanish sausage has been combined with fresh fiery chillies and fragrant paprika to give your pallet a serious kick. The perfect pre dinner party snack, these tasty potato chips are sure to prove popular with guests. Try incorporating into a tapas night with friends, pairing with a glass of full bodied red wine or a jug of cool, fruity sangria."




Burts Chips are available in 40g (RRP 69p) and 150g (RRP £1.89) bags from delicatessens, farm shops, independents, pubs and bars nationwide.

Flavours in the range include Sea Salted, Pesto, Mature Cheddar, Firecracker Lobster, Salt And Black Pepper, Salt And Vinegar, Sweet Chilli and Guinness*

*Guinness Burts Chips are available from Selfridges, Waitrose, Tesco and Morrisons, priced 75p for a 40g packet and £1.99 for a 150g packet.

Monday, 1 July 2013

RANT: Whose Child Is It Anyway? (YB)

A question that popped into my mind after a discussion/rant the other day is 'Whose child is it anyway?'...

It feels like the government lay claim to our children from the day they are born and that we don't really get a say in anything related to our children. It seems no-one else stops to question this though...

'Why?' I hear you ask. Well...

1) You get fined if your child is off school too often

Let me elaborate. Whilst I agree that some people would keep their child off school because they are too lazy to get off their arses and take them, other parents, like myself, only keep their children off when they are genuinely too ill to go into school. Like myself when I was a child, my son is off school maybe more than the average kid as he is simply ill more often. Whilst unconfirmed, I wonder if both he and I have a weaker immune system which makes us more susceptible to illness in the first place and/or makes it worse for us.

But averages... That's what it all boils down to. We are not individuals, merely statistics. If the 'average' child is off school for 5-10% in a school year, and another child is off say 15% in a school year, then that child must be off for no reason and not genuinely ill. WRONG. If only these idiots would realise an average is just that! NOT EVERYONE IN THE ENTIRE WORLD IS EXACTLY THE SAME! They are not even satisfied when you take your child to the doctor and the doctor agrees they should be off school - the idiot from the education welfare still insists she knows better than both us (me & hubby), the parents AND the QUALIFIED doctor at the GP surgery! Absolutely absurd!

2) Your child (or yourself) cannot leave the country without prior permission (i.e. a passport)

OK, it is apparent that from the day we are born, our country OWNS us. Yes, you heard right. Think about it... You are NOT allowed to leave the country without first requesting permission to do so. I'm sorry, but when did I ask to be born here? OK, I don't hate England, that's not the point in this post, I'm simply making a point. Whenever a child is born in this country, they are bound to stay here and they CANNOT leave without permission. Again, I didn't realise us or our children were OWNED by the country, but apparently we are. Yet no-one questions this. Has the world gone mad???



3) Your child must eat like this

Next up, we are basically given commands as to what our children can and cannot eat. Are we a bunch of idiots that need to be given specific instructions to raise our own children? Apparently the government thinks we are.

We are apparently not capable of deciding what OUR children should and shouldn't eat. OK, feel free to educate both adults and children as to what is good for you and what isn't, but don't dictate it!

I'd like to think we have a reasonable diet. Yes, we sometimes have chips cooked in oil, or sausages or burgers or bacon... BUT, we also have vegetables, grilled meals etc. too. Oh and yes, we sometimes have chocolate or biscuits or sweets... BUT, we also have fruit and salad. So the moral of the story is, can't we be left to figure out what is and isn't good for ourselves and our children?

Kids these days seem to be afraid of fried food - the schools have them worried what will happen to them. That is so wrong! Some fried food is OK, scaring the living daylights out of kids, albeit INCORRECTLY too is absolutely infuriating as well as ridiculous! A few years ago when my son was about 7 or 8, he refused to eat rice at home because his teachers had told him it was bad for him - rice!!!

I've seen friends posting on Facebook about how their children aren't allowed to take a chocolate biscuit to school or a carton of juice - insane!!! When I was little, when I had a packed lunch, I had a sandwich, a packet of crisps, a chocolate biscuit (like a Penguin/Taxi/Club/Breakaway or something) and a carton of juice. It did me no harm whatsoever. I was not an obese child. In fact, I was just your run of the mill, average child  in terms of weight.

While I'm on the subject, don't even get me started on this crap about obesity!! Let's get children eating really healthy so we don't have obese children, oh but lets promote techonology...

OK, when I was little, I played out with my friends, rode my bike, used my imagination (I'm only 30 by the way!)... Kids these days don't want to go out and play with their friends... They want to chat with them on their iPads/iPhones etc. Use their imagination? No need, they can just play games on their console! In my sons school, day to day they actively use iPads for lessons (not all, but too many in my opinion). What was wrong with good old pen & paper, conventional teaching and good old brainpower? Oh and the government wants every household in the UK to have internet access - hmmmm...

I read an article online saying how our brains are changing because of technology. Basically devolving. If we have a problem, we don't stop and think about it, we just hop on over to Google to find the answer. Children don't need to use their imagination to play. They just pop the 360 or PS3 on and play a mind-numbing game.

Personally, I try to actively encourage my son to write, draw, play board games, basically to think for himself, though he never seems to keen, but he enjoys it once he gets going. I want him to think for himself before he becomes just another drone in the world.

My hubby often jokes about a zombie apocalypse. I feel like it's already here! OK, so not zombies like you see on telly walking around mindless and chomping on living people, but as good as. People who are programmed from the moment they start school on how they should and shouldn't act, what they should and shouldn't eat, where they should and shouldn't go, how they should live, what they should never aspire to be (i.e. free thinking). It's a sad world in my opinion and it's only going to get worse the more technology progresses. Perfect for a government in a growing country. Mindless servants make the best citizens after all!


Saturday, 29 June 2013

ADVERT: Panasonic TZ40 (YB)

I am going to be posting some video's you might be interested in from http://www.spreaditfast.com starting with this Panasonic TZ40 video...






Thursday, 27 June 2013

REVIEW: Horrible Histories Vile Villains & Colour And Learn Sport (YB)

I was asked if I would like to do a review with BrainBox games and I was very pleased to take part. I was sent a Horrible Histories Vile Villains game and a Colour And Learn sport colouring book suited to my sons age...



My son, David, is 10 years old and I knew he would love helping with this review. We regularly play board games - we have a huge stack of them - so I knew this review would fit perfectly on my blog.

Firstly, the Colour And Learn sport colouring book...



My son is really into sport, so I knew he would like this. He's not very patient when colouring in though as he doesn't have the longest attention span ever, but he does like to finish things, even if it takes him a lot longer than it maybe would other kids.



As a parent, what I like about this colouring book, is that it's not just about colouring. For each sport, there are a number of facts about that sport to go with it, so it's quite educational too. I found that it encouraged my son to learn a little about the sport as well as have fun colouring in the pictures. So far, David has coloured 'The Hammer' and 'Diving' pages...



He has started colouring in several others too, but not finished them yet. I asked David what he liked about the Colour And Learn Sport colouring book and he said: "You can colour it in and then learn lots of different facts about the sport your coloured in."

I then asked him did he feel he had learnt much from the pages and he said: "Lots of stuff about them that I didn't already know."

I think David will get a lot more enjoyment out of this yet as it has lots of pages, so lots of fun colouring and learning to be had yet.

Next, the Horrible History Vile Villains board game...



This game is for 1 or more players aged 8+ (or 8-108 if you read the box :P ). It contains 55 illustrated cards, a rules card, a timer and an 8-sided die.

The game is really quick and simple. Me, hubby (Paul) and David had a lot of fun playing this.

Starting with the youngest player, so in our case, David, you take a card from the front and you can look at it for as long as the timer takes to become empty. Then you pass it to the next player, you roll the die and the other person asks you the question corresponding to the number you rolled. The questions are related to either the pictures or the facts on the card. When you get the question right, you get to keep the card. Otherwise, it goes back into the pile.

The game takes 10 minutes and the person who has won the most cards at the end of the 10 minutes wins the game.

As with the colouring book, this game is great fun, but also educational. You learn a lot of fun facts about historical figures, no matter what your age!

I really enjoyed the game. It's fast, fun and I love the facts. I like all things horrific, so the dastardly facts amused me no end.

I asked Paul what he thought and he said: "I quite enjoyed the game, it was interesting learning about all these gruesome people and events. It was nice that any age people can play together without children being at a big disadvantage. It's nice that the cards were good sized and solid - thin cardboard cards tend to end up getting bent and lost easily, these look much more durable. I'm worried that after playing it a few times we'll all know all the answers, but I suppose that's a possibility with any game involving question cards. It might've been better if you had to answer, say, 3 questions about each card and you win it if you get 2 out of 3. The 8 sided dice seemed to favour certain numbers (4 or 5 came out more often than anything else)."

I asked David what he liked and didn't like about the game and he said: "I didn't not like anything. I liked that you were on a timer and you had to read as much as you can and remember as much as you can so you can answer the question. Some of the facts were hard to understand, and some of them were funny. The questions were good and made me think. I'd like to try other ones like it because they look good. I think my friends would like playing it too."



Sunday, 23 June 2013

FUN & FROLICS: Gardening Makes For Great Family Time! (YB)

This post is an entry for BritMums’ #KidsGrowWild Challenge www.moneysupermarket.com/home-insurance/competitions/kids-grow-wild/.

We are all very into our gardening, so when I saw the #KidsGrowWild challenge, I just knew my son would want to take part.

He kind of 'caught' his greenfingers from us and plants things anyway, so this seemed perfect.

I was sent a gardening tool kit for David containing gardening gloves, trowel, gardening fork, watering can, seeds and plant markers.

Here's David planting some of his seeds from the kit...





He preferred to plant them in pots rather than grow them in an area of the garden as we get a lot of slugs eating the plants. That plus the cats from various neighbours seem to like to squash plants!

A few years ago, we decided we wanted to grow our own veg for a couple of reasons - to save money, to have fresh veg without the pesticides and just as a hobby. David wanted to grow some stuff too, so we started to introduce him to it too. That, plus his school often gets them growing their own stuff too.

Most recently, I purchased a pirate treasure growing kit from Dobbies for David which is what he has been growing as you can see in the photo's below...




We find gardening is a great way to get us actively having fun together as a family as well.

I asked David what he likes about growing stuff and he said: "I like that you can see how the plants look when they are fully grown and its a fun activity that you can do while you've got nothing else to do."

I asked him what are his favourite things to grow and he said: "Flowers and fun plants and fruit."

He's still growing his stuff, some of the things he'd already started growing are coming along really nice and he really does enjoy it. I think gardening is something kids of all ages can learn and enjoy and it's a good hobby for them to take with them into adulthood as it's something that never grows old.

REVIEW: Pom-Bear Zoo Crisps (YB)

I received some of the new Pom-Bear Zoo crisps to review...



If you love Pom-Bear crisps, then you'll love the new Pom-Bear Zoo crisps. They are cheesy flavoured snacks in the shapes of zoo animals. OK, maybe they are aimed at kids, but adults have got to love the cuteness too! I know I do!

We all tried them out (that's me, hubby and our 10 year old son, David). I think they are very nice, but could do with just a little more flavouring - I love overly flavoursome crisps, but that might just be me. They are tasty though and crunchy. It's fun even as an adult to guess the animals :P

Paul's (hubby) verdict was:
"They smell good and cheesy - not my favourite flavour. The animals are not as clear in real life or as the pictures on the packet. Some are mysterious! They are nice and crispy - I like crispy stuff. They had plenty of flavour."

David's verdict was:
"They're yummy but I wish they were a different flavour like sweet chilli or roast chicken or ready salted. The shapes were good, I liked guessing the animals. I like the elephant the best! They're scrumdiddlyumptious!"

Pom-Bear Zoo are available from June 2013 and have an RRP of £1.59 for a multipack of 6. Each pack contains less than 100 calories, they are gluten free, suitable for vegetarians and free from artificial colours and preservatives.

Friday, 21 June 2013

RECIPE: Spaghetti & Meatballs With Spicy Tomato Sauce (YB)

This post is an entry for BritMums’ Hungry to Happy Challenge sponsored by Richmond Mini Meatballs: http://www.britmums.com/2013/05/join-hungry-to-happy-linky-challenge-for-200-shopping-or-700-for-a-holiday/




My quick and easy recipe is for spaghetti with Richmond Mini Meatballs and my home made spicy tomato sauce. It serves four people. Preparation & cooking time is approx. 15-20 minutes.



INGREDIENTS:
12 fresh, ripe tomatoes
140g concentrated tomato puree
2 small onions, chopped roughly
3 cloves garlic, chopped roughly
25g fresh, chopped basil
4-6 chopped green birds eye chillies (seeds in if you like it super-spicy or removed if not)
Bag 40 Richmond mini meatballs
280g dried spaghetti

METHOD:
For the sauce:
- Get a pan of boiled water
- Lightly score the tomatoes into quarters and place them into the water for a few minutes
- Remove the tomatoes from the water and the peel should come off them with ease
- Put the peeled tomatoes into a food processor
- Add the onions, garlic, chillies, basil and tomato puree to the processor
- Whizz it all together on a high setting until the sauce becomes purified

Put the Richmond mini meatballs in the oven on gas mark 4 and cook for 10 minutes.
At the same time, place the spaghetti into a pan of boiling water and cook for 10 minutes.
In the last few minutes of cooking the meatballs and spaghetti, put the sauce into a pan and warm gently on a medium heat.

Lay the spaghetti on the plate, leaving a well in the middle. Put the meatballs and sauce into the well and serve.


Wednesday, 19 June 2013

TRAVEL: Sun & Sangria In Barcelona (YB)

Me & Paul went to Barcelona, Spain thanks to a fabulous win I had with Krave & Channel 4/E4 on Facebook back in November 2012. Oh, how I love my hobby - this is one of the many reasons I love comping!





This was only my second ever trip abroad (the first being Venice back in February) so it was super exciting to me. Well, holidays are to everyone, but it felt super-special to me. Here's what we got up to...

DAY 1 - 14th June
We set off from home at around 4.50am to head to Liverpool John Lennon airport in time for check-in at 5.05am ready for our flight with Easyjet at 7.05am.

After check-in and going through security, we had breakfast at Subway and a coffee at Go before heading to gate 1 to board our plane.

The flight was comfortable, though Easyjet really like to try and sell you stuff - when it's not food and drink, it's perfumes & aftershaves, teddy bears or even scratchcards! They don't even give you a free drink on board! Not even a glass of water! It's all sell, sell, sell with them.

We arrived 2 hours later - 10.25am local time. We met our taxi driver in the arrivals area as we had transfers booked and included. He was very polite and helpful. It took about 30 minutes from the airport to our hotel - H10 Catalunya Plaza in the heart of Barcelona. Check in was quick and easy and we had a nice cup of coffee while we unpacked and planned our 1st day.



H10 Catalunya Plaza where we stayed
After we were all unpacked, we went for a walk along La Rambla to see the many stalls and eateries and of course, the street entertainers. We continued along to Port Vell and walked around it before returning to La Rambla.




We had a rather late lunch at Pans & Co - I had a 'pit de pollastre' baguette while Paul had the vegetarian option of the 'grec' baguette and we shared some 'patates frigides' and 'patates bravas' and we got a cola each.

We had a well earned rest back at our hotel then until tea time. After a walk around nearby our hotel and looking at several café and restaurant menus, we chose to dine at Bracafé around the corner from our hotel on Passeig de Gràcia.

We had delicious tapas and I had roast chicken and vegetables (courgette, aubergine, asparagus and tomato) - which sounded more exotic in Spanish! Paul had a vegetarian rice dish - which also sounded more exotic in Spanish! I had a glass of white wine and Paul had sangria. The food was delicious, especially the tapas. Was all presented nicely and cooked well, so it looked both appetising and tasted delicious - buenísimo!



The tapas

My roast chicken & vegetables

Paul's vegetarian rice dish
We then went back to the hotel for the night after a look at the waterfalls near our hotel.



Paul standing by the fountains opposite our hotel
DAY 2 - 15th June
We got up at around 7am so we had time to go for breakfast before heading to our tour departure place. Breakfast was at the hotel, sadly they didn't have anything I liked :( What looked like Coco Pops, tasted nothing of the sort and I didn't like them. I ordered some breakfast off the menu (cooked breakfast), but again I was not impressed. The bacon was crispy and the fried egg was crispy on the bottom and barely cooked on the top!

We headed off towards where our tour started, but we were running late and then we couldn't find it either, so in the end we had to give up :( We decided to go on our own tour instead....

Firstly, we went to La Sagrada Familia, we didn't go inside, but we took plenty of photo's. There was a quaint little park opposite where we sat for quite some time, enjoying the sunshine, watching the birds and generally enjoying the greenery and scenery.



La Sagrada Familia

The park opposite La Sagrada Familia
We then went to see and take a photo of La Pedrera (Casa Milà).

La Pedrera
Then we stopped at a rather unusual place - a McCafé on Passeig de Gràcia - a part of a McDonalds that seems so much nicer and more sophisticated to the ones we have at home. I had a delicious slice of tiramisu and a yummy Frappe de Moka Xocolate while Paul just had a cappuccino.

My tasty tiramisu & frappe
Next we went to see and photo Casa Batlló which is a peculiar sight as it does not fit in with the buildings surrounding it at all.

Casa Batlló
We then just had a walk around, taking in the culture of Barcelona on the streets before grabbing some churros to take away from Bracafé on Carera de d'Ausiàs Marc which we sat eating in the little park bit opposite.

We then went back to the hotel for a brief break from the sun and to rest our feet for a little while.

Next, we took our first trip on the Metro (underground train) which cost just €13.40 each for 2 days unlimited travel and we wished we had thought of it earlier.

The Metro train
We went to Parc Güell. It's a beautiful gigantic park-like area. We walked to the top and got some stunning views across Barcelona. We stopped in the picnic area, just for a sit down and there was a man there playing his guitar, some delightfully calming and peaceful songs. He was greeted by applause after each song. It was quite a walk to the top, but very worthwhile. We picked up a few souvenirs and gifts on the way back.






We also stopped at the Store Café on Travessera de Dalt for our tea. I had hamburger, chips and salad (which was something like hamberguesa, patates frigides é salade in Spanish). Paul had 'cuatro cuesta' - four cheese pizza. We both had a glass of sangria. We were shocked when the bill came though as the sangria cost a whopping €7 each! Overall, the food was extremely pricey too considering its sub-standard quality. My burger & chips cost a whopping €13.50 while Paul's pizza cost €9. I was overly impressed by the food, drink or service here. My burger was gristly, fatty, burnt around the edges and had bits of bone or something else inedible in it!



Eeek! This one glass cost €7
We then took the metro back to Catalunya and went back to the hotel for the night as we were totally worn out.

DAY 3 - 16th June
We got up early with the hope that we could fill in the day at Montjuïc. It didn't really go as we had planned, but we had a fantastic day overall.

We took a photo of Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya before heading off to the L'Anella Olimpica & Estadi Olimpic where we took a few photo's. There was a race of some sort taking place around the Olympic stadium. The stadium is there from when the Olympics were held in Barcelona in 1992.

The Estadi Olimpic (side view)

The Estadi Olimpic (front view)

Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya
Afterwards, we visited the very beautiful Jardins de Joan Maragall and took in the beautiful scenery and took some more photo's.



We then went for lunch. Just a sandwich each today and a slush as it was exceedingly hot. The plan was to go to Castell de Montjuïc next but it was an extremely hot time of day and we were both so overwhelmed by the heat we decided to give it a miss. So we headed back to the hotel for a brief break and a cuppa.

Next, we went past the Arc De Triomfe to Parc de la Ciutedella. A gigantic park that plays host to the Parlament de Catalunya, as well as the gorgeous Cascada. We

The cascada

Paul at the cascada

The Arc de Triomf
Not content with our busy day, we returned to the hotel briefly to get suitable beach footwear and headed off to Platja de la Barceloneta - i.e. the beach. We sat at the beach for a while. Then we passed by the huge bustling market alongside the beach, a bizarre sight at gone 9pm.

Us on the beach
Then we headed back to the Barceloneta Metro station to head to Espanya Metro station to re-visit the La Font Màgica during it's operational hours of 9.30-11.30pm (we visited that morning when we went to Montjuïc too) to see it's spectacular display of water flow, music and lighting.




Officially knackered, we then headed back to the hotel for our final night of the holiday.

DAY 4 - 17th June
We had to check out of the hotel by 12pm on the last day, so we had a lie in and then headed off for a breakfast before packing everything up and getting ready for the day ahead.

We went for another walk along La Rambla, and sat in the park between La Rambla and Port Vell for a little while.

Then we carried on to Port Vell where we sat enjoying the breeze for a while. It wasn't just the ships we caught sailing by... Now before I continue, bear in mind this was a very busy tourist area with lots of people sitting on the benches, on the steps and walking or cycling by regularly, not just adults but children too... Well, a couple sitting on a bench further along seemed to be quite openly and publicly doing more than just sitting!! I'm sure you can figure out what I mean :D I'm not really sure people believed what they were seeing. People were even stopping and staring at them and it didn't seem to deter them. Though they disappeared soon after the port police passed by! Now, in Spain, you can be used to seeing people being publicly affectionate (not like us rigid English people) - i.e. hugging and kissing, but not quite this much "affection" is usually on display!

Anyway, we then walked back along La Rambla to near our hotel where our transfer would be waiting to take us to the airport. It was supposed to collect us at 5.40pm local time, but was gone 6pm local time, but it didn't matter (even if slightly annoying) as check-in was not until 7.45pm local time. Check in was quick and easy and so was going through security. Our plane was due to depart at 9.45pm local time, but was running late and didn't take off until 10.10pm local time. Despite taking off late, we arrived 5 minutes ahead of the scheduled arrival time of 11.20pm (UK time).

We then got a taxi home and then it finally hit that the holiday was over. It was fantastic and we both had a great time. It was really nice to see David again before school on Tuesday morning. I missed him loads!