Sunday, 25 September 2016

Crabbin' - Mini Blog

The girls got to spend the last day of their Summer break visiting Southwold with Grandma and Grandad. They like to have a trip down there each Summer to do a spot of Crabbing and exploring the town.

Following a sleepover at their Grandparents house, they set off after breakfast and took the half an hour trip down the coast to Southwold.
They headed to their favourite spot for crabbing, 

After unpacking the crabbing essentials of a bucket, fishing net, fishing line with off cuts of bacon in a drawstring washing net tied to the end of it, they were ready to start!

The girls spent a while dipping the baited line into the shallow waters edge and catching some snippy little friends!

Soon it was time to stop for a spot of lunch and a picnic was enjoyed by all.

Then it was back to the crabbin' line! 

In time the girls had caught 23 crabs! Then it was time to release them back into the water, unharmed.
Grandad carefully tipped the bucket over and the crabs went scuttling back across the shingle into the water.

You'll notice another sea friend in the bucket, the girls found a jellyfish too!

After crabbin' and when everything was packed away, they took a drive into the town centre where they spotted horse and carriage rides, prices are £4 per adult and £2 per child and rides last for approximately 5 minutes.

Then it was time to head home and a dip in the hot tub whilst Grandad cooked dinner! 

The girls love crabbin', it's a good, fun and free activity which can be enjoyed by all.
Although the girls went to Southwold with their Grandparents, there are lots of local spots which are great for crabbin' in the Gorleston and Great Yarmouth area, why not check them out.


Friday, 16 September 2016

Simple One Pot Chicken Dinner

After a hectic day back at work I really couldn't face prepping a dinner and then standing over a hot stove. 

So I got lazy!

The results were delicious, so I just had to share them with you all.

Ingredients (serves 4):
Chicken breasts, one per person.
250g long grain rice 
1 can of condensed chicken soup
1 can of condensed mushroom soup
4 cans of water
Vegetables of your choice to serve

What will you need:
A large ovenproof dish with a lid or tinfoil to cover
Wood spoon
Tin opener

All you need to do is mix the soups, water and uncooked rice in the dish, add the chicken breasts and season. Cover and place in a preheated oven at 160C/320F/Gas Mark 3.
Bake for 45 minutes (or until the chicken and rice are cooked through), stirring occasionally.

In the meantime prep and cook your vegetables ready to serve, I chose sweetcorn and green beans. This would also work well in a slow cooker, adapt cooking times according to your machine.

That's all!

Now just enjoy

Sunday, 11 September 2016


Well, It's that time of year again, time to buy and label up the girl's school uniforms. Not my most favourite job and I've tried several methods in the past. I'm not a fan of sewing so never gone down that route, sewing on their Brownies Badges is bad enough! 
I've purchased and iron on and stick on labels over the years and have been left disappointed after finding them floating about in the washing machine after a few washes.  You can't then re-apply so they were all picked out of the wet laundry and binned.
Last year I resorted to using a Sharpie pen which doesn't look great and this also washes out eventually.

This year I saw an advert on Facebook for Stamptastic and decided to give them a try.

Stampastic is a company run by two mums who's dream of an easier labelling system stemmed from their own struggles with the annual school uniform label chore.
After a year of planning, they were able to launch Stamptastic.

Their products include personalised name stamps (at £12), ink pads (at £10), fabric pens, address stamps, reflectors, greetings stamps and colour ink pads.

My order consisted of two of the personalised name stamps, one for each of the girls, and an ink pad.
The website is easy to navigate and order placement was straight forward  offers the usual methods of payment including PayPal which makes it nice and simple. They also offer free p&p to orders within the UK.
I placed my order on a Friday and then eagerly awaited delivery.
My order arrived on the following Tuesday and I got the girls to quickly go and gather up all of their uniform, shoes and bags. They didn't know what I had ordered so they ran upstairs whilst shouting out "Why?????"

The order arrived packaged in an A5 jiffy envelope. Inside this the two named stampers were wrapped in tissue paper and the ink pad was in a resealable plastic bag (keep this for storing the inkpad in) plus an order invoice sheet and a couple of leaflets, one of which containing a 15% off code for future orders.

By the time I had this unpackaged I had been joined by the girls with their piles of uniform.
I then gave them the wrapped stampers to open.
When they saw the stampers they were excited to start labelling their uniform.

The named stampers are made from a plastic transparent block which has a groove on either side which helps you to hold it firmly. The bottom end has the rubber attached which has you chosen name embossed on it. Through the plastic you can clearly see the name printed in black lettering which makes it simple to identify which you are using if you have more than one.

The ink pad has a secure lid which slides off. When we opened this I caught an aroma from the ink, not the usual permanent marker smell but a pleasant smell which Mollie declared "It smells of Cherry Bakewells!" 

Which indeed it does!

The ink pad should last for 2000 uses if stored correctly and once applied is said to last for 50 washes. More than enough to see a school year out.
You can use it on most material for clothing and also glass, wood, plastic etc so you can also label lunch boxes, pencil cases, pencils, drinks bottles and much more.

I then set the girls to work and they really enjoyed using the stampers. They were so simple to use and within minutes the girls had finished their uniforms, school shoes, bags and pencil cases. They even labelled their school socks!

Shortly Mollie disappeared upstairs and returned with her Brownies uniform and that was labelled up too ready for next week.

As you can see in the photo above, the ink doesn't go through to the other side of the label and it is touch dry within seconds so I was reassured that it wouldn't mark the other parts of the clothes.

The final test was to put it through a wash. I took one item of Emily's uniform and put it through the next 10 washes, varying from a cold wash, through 40 degrees and then 60 degrees. As you will see it stood the test!

So I think I have found the answer to my future labelling needs. This set should last me quite a few years now (so long as I don't loose it obviously!)

I would highly recommend this product, so simple and efficient. 
You can check out the products from Stampastic on their website or follow them on Facebook.

Right, I'm off to see what else needs labelling! 
Go check out Stamptastic and see what you think.


Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Snickers Marshmallows Crispy Delights

Coming back from holiday last week we stopped in the shop to grab some snacks for the flight, one of which was a Snickers Crisper bar. 

I've never seen these before and once settled down on the flight I unwrapped it to enjoy whilst watching an in-flight movie.
WOW! All the chocolate nutty taste of a regular snickers bar but with a delicious light crisp texture. 
I just wished I'd bought more.

So this bar has cropped up in my mind throughout the week and I decided to make my own adaptation of it using a marshmallow crispy treat base.

Here's the result.

The Ingredients:
150g Rice Crispies
200g Mini Marshmallows
50g Butter
400g Dairy Toffees
100g Chopped Nuts
400g Dairy Milk Chocolate

You Will Also Need:
Disposable large tin foil tray.
Mixing bowls.
Measuring scales.
Mixing spoons.

Step 1:
Firstly you will need to lightly grease the disposable tray, I find a spray oil the best for this but you could get the same results from rubbing lightly with butter or oil.
Then melt the 50g butter in a saucepan over a low heat and then add all of the marshmallows. Stir constantly until the marshmallows have melted into a beautiful gooey mess! Then pour this over the rice crispies and mix gently until the cereal is completely covered. Pour this into the tray and using a butter/oiled spatula press down and smooth out the mixture.

Step 2:
Now you need to melt the toffees. I find this best to do in a microwave, checking every 15 seconds to make sure they don't burn. I also added a knob of butter to the toffees to help make the melted sweets more malleable. Once melted pour this over the rice crispy mixture and once again you need to use the buttered/oiled spatula to smooth this down. The toffees will start to set quick so you need to work fast!
Next sprinkle the chopped nuts over the top and gently press down.

Step 3:
Now melt the chocolate, again I find a microwave is easiest so long as you check regularly. Once ready pour this over the nutty toffee and smooth out to cover evenly. 
Now just pop it into the fridge to set.

Step 4:
Once set, remove the Snickers Crispy Treat from the tray and allow to reach room temperature. Then cut into squares and ENJOY!

The Verdict:
WOW! This went down a treat with the whole family. The girls are keen to try other fillings now, perhaps make a fruit and nut bar or a popping candy addition!

(Make sure you let it warm up to room temperature before cutting as the toffee is really hard straight out of the fridge.)

I hope you enjoy this treat as much as we did

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Disappointed at Pleasurewood Hills

Pleasurewood Hills is a theme park situated just off the A12 in Suffolk. It's just a quick 10 minute drive from ours and in the past we have even invested in season passes.

The park is open from 10am -5/6pm daily throughout the summer season and weekends before and after this. Tickets can be purchased at a slight discount online but the gate prices are £18-21 with discounted rates for concessions. Children under 1m enter for free. For full details please click on the link.

We had arranged to meet friends here for the August Bank Holiday, they had packed up a picnic for us all to enjoy and we met outside the main entrance at 10am. 
When we arrived we saw that the car park was already busy. They had car park attendants directing visitors, although one of them wasn't paying much attention and there was some confusion for drivers which another member of staff then had to rectify.
There is ample free parking for visitors.
The car park, like at many theme parks is on grass so can be a bit bumpy or sludgy after wet weather so drive with caution when necessary.

The queues seemed fairly busy but as we approached the gates were opened and many visitors had already purchased their tickets and entered the park so we were able to walk straight up to the admission booth.
Displayed on the admission booths is notification of ride closures for the day. We were very disappointed to see three rides closed on the day of our visit, all were major attractions! The Rattlesnake we had already heard was closed and this is a long-term closure. Also the big attraction Wipeout was closed as was Marble Madness. Very disappointing. Full ticket prices still apply regardless of ride closures.
You do, of course have the chance to change your mind before you pay, to turn back but when you've made plans and the chidlren and their friends are excited then really that wasn't an option. 

Once we had paid and were given our wristbands we made our way through. As you enter there is a large shingled area with an old-fashioned van in the centre. Standing at the van to greet visitors and for photos, stood Woody Bear. Woody is the long-time mascot of Pleasurewood Hills. He once was a tubby Bear dressed in USA themed clothing, but over the years he has had some style changes, changing his costume a few years back to a more "French sailor" striped top before changing back to the well remembered stars and stripes again in recent years, he has even lost a few pounds recently, now sporting a more slim line look. Personally I prefer the tubby bear from my childhood.

Over to the left there is a large notice board detailing show times, we always take a photo of this so we never miss the shows we want to see! There are three shows at Pleasurewood this year; the sealion show, the parrot show and the high dive show.

We started our visit by going over to Enigma, classed as a thrill ride on the map, this roller coaster is fun for all the family (minimum height 1,25m unaccompanied, 1m accompanied.)
This was Emily's first time, she has grown a lot braver since our trip to Florida this summer!

Enigma proved a big hit with all the kids!

From here we headed over to Jolly Roger (minimum height 1.4m) This is a high Sky Drop, unfortunately, Mollie wasn't quite tall enough to ride, much to her disappointment. But Chris and our friend plus their daughter rode and enjoyed it.

Then it was time for the Pirate Ship, all the children wanted to ride this, again a first time for Emily, but as we approached the attendant was closing the ride. So another big ride closed!

So we went over to the Wave Swinger, this is new for this year, however, the park has had a similar ride for several years so didn't really feel as if they had added anything. The minimum height to ride this is 1.25m on a single seat or 1m on a double seat. All the girls rode this and loved it! 

After this we all headed on to the Hyper Drive, this is classed as a thrill ride on the website but I think it should be under family ride to be honest. A fun bumper car ride. Minimum height of 1.2m accompanied and 1.4m unaccompanied. 
 This again is new this year but the park also has another ride the same (albeit older) over the other end of the park. 

From here the children stopped off in the candy shop along "Main Street" for a treat and the lady serving was lovely. Then on to the carousel whilst the two dad's went on the Go Karts (minimum height 1.4m in a single seater, 1.6m in a double seater with passenger recommended minimum of 1m.) There is usually an additional charge for this but on this occassion it was free.

Then it was picnic time. Pleasurewood Hills does have food outlets but we never find the food that tempting and the park welcomes you to bring your own. There are several picnic areas around the park and we found a bench near to the miniature railway.

After this we headed down to the other end to do the Fireball, another thrill ride with a minimum height of 1.4m.
This spins you rapidly whilst also swinging you out to the sides (think the swing motion of a pirate ship.)
Mollie was quite relieved she wasn't tall enough for this when she saw it in action!

At this end of the park the Mini Dodgems had quite a long queue, this is possibly due to there not being many rides at this end of the park. But we noticed that the chairlift queue was a lot shorter than the other end so we headed to that.

All the girls were tall enough to ride without an adult, this was their first time so they had strict instructions to sit nicely and be sensible! 
Quite nerve-wracking for a parent to take the plunge and allow your children to take this step.
As we then waited for our seat to come round the attendee called two visitors over from the "Fast Pass" entrance (I hadn't heard of the park having Fast passes before and after looking at the website it appears they are a facility for disabled access, however I am not 100% sure on this.)
Now I fully appreciate that these visitors may not be able to queue for long but I was worried about being separated from the children. I asked the attendant whether we could ride behind the girls but he simply shrugged and loaded the Fast Pass visitors on the next seat. I do feel that families/groups should be sent together so perhaps next time Pleasurewood Hills could either send the Fast Pass guests on before the children (they were already standing there) or let the parents ride after their children. This just needs some common sense really.

Fortunately the girls were very sensible and waited at the other end for us to join them. 
Here the girls went on to the Kite Flyer, minimum height of 1.05m. On this ride you lay down and the ride spins round and pivots.

Then we wandered over to the play area, it has a large multilane slide, this could do with a bit of a clean up to be honest. There is also a climbing and swing set. Until fairly recently there was another one but this had been removed.

It was then time for the Sealion show, this is always a highlight of out visit and as always it was great. The sealion trainer was really good and the animals looked like they were having fun. They also had a seal this time who we haven't seen before, I'm guessing she's a new addition.

After this we found out that the Pirate Ship had reopened so we headed over to it, all the girls went on this ride and thoroughly enjoyed it. (minimum height 1.3m unaccompanied, 1m accompanied.)
We then stopped off for ice creams, there is a little hut just round the corner from the Pirate Ship that sells whippy ice cream or there is the Tea Rooms near the Carousel which sells ice lollies and Carte Dor.

At 5.05pm we headed to Timber Falls, again listed as a Thrill ride, I'd say more a family ride. (minimum height 1.25m unaccompanied or 1m accompanied.)
Sadly they had closed the queuing area for this ride as apparently it was too long. It was very disappointing to see the boats going round with just 2-3 people on board. We even saw a couple of boats with single riders! If they had filled the boats then more of the paying customers would have had a chance to ride! The line closure caused quite an uproar but they didn't budge, nor did they make sure the boats were full on each turn.
Such a shame.

To end the day the girls had another go on the Wave Swinger. The attendant on this ride was really great with the kids and those waiting to ride.

Then it was time to head home. 
As a family and being there with good friends we had a fun day, great company and some fun rides. The day did have a dampener due to the ride closures and the other couple of issues but we did our best to enjoy what we could and make the most of it. 

It was disappointing to have paid £74 for a family of four to then have not been able to do some of the parks biggest attractions.

As we left there was quite a queue in the Information and Reception building, I can only presume there were other disgruntled visitors perhaps...