Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Norfolk Road Trip Challenge

Well another blogger challenge and one that is right up my street or should I say 'road' 

Money Supermarket challenged me to go on a great road trip somewhere relatively local to where I live?

We live in East Anglia and its pretty easy to find some great spots to visit. My favourite people to accompany me on my trip have to be Chris,Paige and Conor.

I am a real lover of being by water so a day out is usually to a lake riverside or the sea.

Our favourite seaside haunt is  Wells-Next-The Sea and Holkham.Wells is  a small fishing town on the Norfolk coast. We head out really early as the road can get very busy and we also like to pack a whole day in,stopping on the way for a drink and nosy round.

Once off the  A47at Kings Lynn, we are onto the Cromer road (A148),a lot of people head for Cromer and onto Great Yarmouth but we are going for a place that is quaint, still feels like a vintage seaside place, yet has had a big regeneration in the last year,I'm secretly hoping not too many people find it!!

On our way we pass by cute cobbled stone covered cottages and pubs and past the gates to the back of Sandringham,the queen knows well the beauty of this area. 

We finally reach the turn off for Wells, it passes by the place that is pilgrimage to many people Walsingham, now I must admit to not knowing much more than way back in the 11th century a lady had a vision where she saw Nazareth and was asked to build a replica.Walsinghamis still known as  Englands Nazareth.

I'm not sure what you believe, for some the shrine will be a place to pray and meditate, but whatever you think, the village itself is just so pretty, the cottages worth a look at.  

Finally we arrive we always are torn whether to stop in the town and get the little railway up to the beach,or walk the top of the harbour,it varies depending on weather and tired legs.

Once at the beach its just a sight to see, the skies seems to go on forever here too, the sea comes in and leaves a channel of water not very deep and is where Paige learnt to swim,which makes it her favourite local beach also.

The beach has many unusual features,sand dunes are common to a lot of beaches, however here there are long wide channels of sand with dunes on either side you can climb great mountainous flat sand banks and sit and look down on the sea. 

The water comes around both sides (making the safe swimming channel) the flat banks  make for fab sliding games. To the left of the picture above is Holkham Nature reserve.

  The reserve is usually our first port of call,  now this is not some yawn making place, again there are huge dunes set in a woodland of trees, its a fab place to get out of the sun or rain as is sometimes the case. The start of Wells beach and reserve has cute little beach huts, and as  you climb the views out to the sea are cool.Its a long way off and we know that by evening it will be all the way into to the harbour where we will be crabbing!

But first we have to hunt out the butterflies strange shape trees to climb and the all important rope swings! 

The rope swings, I think local children dot them around, they are serious fun and we all spend quite a while here.

After a walk continuing up through the woods you reach Holkham Beach looking back to Wells you can make out the channel and beach dune now!  Its famous as the beach Gwyneth Paltrow walked on in Shakespeare in Love and apparently its a naturist beach,but we have never seen any hairy butts so all good!

Time to head into the town to grab fish and chips at Plattens (our favorite and  just been finallists in the Fish and Chip Quality awards. They are seriously good here.Locally caught and fresh from the fishing boats. 

Then its time to hit the penny arcades and then a spot of crabbing.

Finally we head  off home, we usually go the long way back through Hunstanton and via the front of the Sandringham estate. Time for a snooze in the back!

Hope you enjoyed my road trip,it may not be Route 66 but I promise you do get kicks!! 

I have taken part in the MoneySupermarket.com £50 Road Trip challenge and was given £50 to fill our tank for our trip.


Tuesday, 23 July 2013

My Ultimate Summer Driving Playlist

MoneySupermarket are asking bloggers to come up with their  ultimate summer driving playlist. What songs do I love to listen to on long journeys? 
Well this is easy we actually have a set of long drive favourites, they are added to as new songs come up.

1) Barcelona  Queen - Now I know that Wayne's World belted out Bohemian Rhapsody,but this warbling beauty gets us going and you better pray we have the windows up when we pass,its certainly not the Three Tenors,morelike a bad £1!

2) Elbow One Day Like This -  Its the perfect song for a journey somewhere exciting like a holiday or to a festval.

3) Summertime The Fresh Prince and Jassy Jeff. - Has to be full blast,windows down,seriously a great summer driving tune.

4) Feeling Good Muse - Title says it all.

5) James Morrison You Do Something. - We heard him sing this at Cornbury, on our list for travels to festy's

6) Beautiful Day U2 -  Its another one to belt out with the windows down and feel good you are travelling.

7) Road To Nowhere Talking Heads - This is great when you are lost and makes Chris smile if we are.

8) Everlong Foo Fighters - Best Driving song ever, possibly best song for anything

9) Born To Be Wild - My mantra for life

10) Waterboys Whole of The Moon - Its a song that is special to Chris and I,my maiden name being Mooney and we met and it was one of the songs on the jukebox,so always on in the car.

There is a serious message behind the idea of a great driving soundtrack. THINK! research suggests that almost 20% of accidents on major roads are sleep or tiredness related. Long journeys on motorways can lead to a lack of concentration and, as well as other preventative measures, listening to songs you love can be a great way to stay alert and focused on the road.

Disclosure : This is my entry for the MoneySupermarket ‘Ultimate Summer Driving Playlist’ blogger competition. Each blogger who takes part will receive £20 towards buying or downloading a driving playlist.

Wayfair.co.uk Review

I am doing everything this summer to make life easier.

Full time caring, on top a busy household Paige in and out between work and college, soon off to Uni, plus my broken finger has meant I need to be making fast meals that are simplistic.

I adore summer, but suffer the heat and meals can get a little too salad overload as the oven stays off.

I have been using a slow cooker this week, yes in this heat and not really sure now why I have only used it in winter. There is no heat coming off it to add to the 31 degree temperature outside, its simple to clean for Chris or Paige. Yay, broken digits have their benefits.
Added to that the already well known all-in-one meal benefits, I was keen to try out some recipes for summer cooking.

I was sent a Home Essence 3.5 litre oval slow cooker to try out,  its from Wayfair.co.uk, priced £25.52 the online retailer who offer just about everything for the kitchen and indeed the home. 

The recipe with chicken, chorizo, lemon, potatoes and rose was a real success, bearing in mind it was my first try of the cooker so its already very reliable.

See the recipe here

The slow cooker is a very good looking gadget, brushed steel,with a nice black ceramic dish. I do not usually use smaller appliances, think family sized and with Granny as well as us, Paige's boyfriend turning up, I tend to cook big. However this was great for a summer evening dish and was good for four eating.

What I do like is the auto facility, I'm not often out but to be able to time a meal to start for a busy worker or even for a student who is in college, it makes a good benefit. The LED light is handy and the cool touch lid. It worked really well first meal,which also is pleasing. The recipe book that comes with it is useful and has a few meals that I have not come across.

Now you may not be looking for a slow cooker,in that case, Wayfair.co.uk have an impressive selection of over 500,000 items for the home, to suit all styles and budgets from over 1,600 leading brands. If like me, chances are you will find something to suit.

What I like most is the free delivery over £40, the 3% cash back on purchases if you sign up to the Wayfair Rewards.

my Clip Bar is a user-friendly and intuitive clip bar tool which allows shoppers to browse the site and conveniently drag and drop items of interest without the need to place them in their shopping baskets. The tool ensures customers are given the opportunity to visualise items together, share them with friends, compare and save them for a stress-free online browsing and shopping experience.

At the moment there is a garden sale with 40% off and I'm already making a list of trellis,a bench and lights.

Its a great site, like a giant home and garden superstore but with a cuppa and armchair built in.


Riverford’s Big Worm Dig

Love Wildlife? Dig Worms!

Get busy this autumn with Riverford’s Big Worm Dig
Organic vegbox delivery company Riverford is launching a citizen science project to help improve our understanding of British earthworms. With their handy kit and just a lively half hour of rummaging in your garden, you’ll be contributing to brand new scientific research. Get involved and there’s also the chance to win a Canopy & Stars family glamping holiday, River Cottage courses, wormeries and of course Riverford meat and veg boxes.
“They may not be the most appealing of creatures, but we really need worms,” explains Riverford’s founding farmer, Guy Watson. “They are like mini tractors, loosening up the soil to allow air and water to penetrate. They also convert soil nutrients into a form that plants can use more readily, which is why we love them at Riverford; they help look after our veg. Whenever I find worms in our soils, I’m a happy farmer.”
Lots of other British wildlife species depend on worms too, as earthworm expert Emma Sherlock from the Natural History Museum explains. “Birds, badgers, moles, hedgehogs and even foxes rely on them as a source of protein. Without earthworms, leaf litter and dead decaying matter would start to build and build, and the world as we know it would change.”
Despite their importance we know very little about the British earthworm population. To help Emma and her colleagues understand them better, Riverford is hoping to get as many people as possible, young and old, taking part in their Big Worm Dig survey this autumn.
“We’ve come up with a really accessible and enjoyable way of surveying them that takes less than half an hour,” continues Emma, “and by uploading your results to Riverford’s Big Worm Dig website you’ll be contributing to real scientific research, and learning more about these fascinating creatures.”
This is the first year of the survey, the results of which will be released in September after scientific analysis.
Find out more at www.riverford.co.uk/bigwormdig.

Myths and truths about bedwetting

Although bed wetting can be an upsetting and frustrating time for many parents, under the age of five it is very common, so parents of children this age should not worry quite so much.
     MYTH: If your toddler wets the bed, it is down to laziness.

TRUTH: The issue of bed wetting can be a trying time for all involved, but your child is not doing it purposefully. Patience and reassurance is key.
·         MYTH: Bed wetting is uncommon

TRUTH: Do not worry; bed wetting is actually very common in young children.

MYTH: Preventing your child from drinking liquids just before bed will put an end to their bed wetting.

TRUTH: This is incorrect. It may lessen the amount of urine due to less fluid intake; however it will not stop bed wetting.

MYTH: Bed wetting means your child has behavioural problems.

TRUTH: No, bed wetting is very common and it is just one of those things that can happen. It does not mean your child has behavioural problems.

MYTH: Your child is to blame.

TRUTH: Absolutely not. It is not theirs or your fault. Bed wetting is just something which can happen; it’s something that will go in time.

 MYTH: Bed wetting is a serious condition.

TRUTH: There are many children who wet the bed, and for most there is nothing to worry about. With time, it will get better, just be a helping hand along the way until that day comes.

B-Sensible has created a “new dawn” in bedding for toddlers. They offer breathable and waterproof sheets and pillowcases so that your toddler can sleep in undisturbed natural comfort throughout the night whilst the mattress stays dry whatever happens, making B-Sensible every parent’s best friend.

Rachel Lachmann, of Harrogate, is a mother to Thomas, aged five and Charlotte, aged two.
She started using the B-Sensible bed sheet for Thomas ten months ago and was so impressed with the product that she has since recommended them to other mums.

“The B-Sensible sheets are brilliant. It stops the mattress getting wet and doesn’t feel wet next to Thomas’s skin. Thomas never complains about going to bed and when he does wet the bed he sleeps through, because the sheet isn’t wet and uncomfortable.

“I would have no hesitation in recommending B-Sensible to other mums and have done with all my friends who have young children.”

Rachel, 36, said that the sheet has helped her son sleep through the night and made life easier for her too because she’s not getting up in the middle of the night to change his bedding.
“Thomas has never been dry at night and it was a nightmare constantly washing and changing bed linen and duvets, even more so before I started using B-Sensible sheets because the mattress used to get wet as well.
“The sheets help us both get a proper night’s sleep and I’ll definitely be using them with Charlotte as well.”

The B-Sensible sheets come in a range of sizes to fit Moses cribs, cots and cot beds, so are with you and your child every step of the way through the early years; plus as they get older, you can upgrade to standard bed sizes!

The 2in1 fitted stretchable sheet and protector combine into one soft waterproof breathable product which acts like a “second skin” thanks to the innovative fibre Tencel. Tencel is known as the “new age fibre” as it absorbs moisture naturally.  The eco-friendly fibre is made from the wood found on the Eucalyptus tree, and has natural cooling mechanisms to control the temperature and humidity. The range also includes pillowcases!

The B-Sensible bedding range also offers many other benefits! The sheets and pillowcases absorb significantly more moisture than cotton and dry quicker due to its nano-fibre technology, thus helping to control humidity and body temperature. They are perfect for those little accidents as they are waterproof, breathable, have optimum moisture management, are hypo-allergenic, thermo regulating and eco-friendly.

If your child has sensitive skin, the hypo-allergenic range of products will prevent skin irritation, so are suitable for eczema, asthma and rhinitis sufferers.
Sooner or later your child will grow out of bed wetting, but until that day comes, the helping hand of B-Sensible will comfort them along the way! So, say goodbye to wet nights with the assistance of B-Sensible, which will ensure your toddler will be able to sleep dry, clean, and comfortable all night long.

For further information visit: WWW.Bsensible.net

Monday, 22 July 2013

Freddo Faces Review

Awwww that was the first reaction to my latest review, the Cadbury Freddo Faces. The rather cute faces are to celebrate Freddo being the grand old age of 40.

I distinctly remember going to the little post office on my way home from school with 10p pocket money and for  the large sum of 2p I could treat myself to a Freddo.
He is a cheery little chap, Paige and Conor grew up with these as a nice treat. Something about the cute little face always brought a smile.

Paige was kept smiling recently with a cuppa and a Freddo bar when her assignments were getting to her. She tweeted.
@Jo_Bryan and Freddo made me smile,when I was feeling so down.

The new faces have different expressions even more to make us smile.

We decided that Grumpy was definitely Chris who gets rather angst over the dishwasher being stacked by anybody but himself. Handing him a Freddo Grumpy face turned his frown upside down, his saying whenever we look blue.

There is a Confused Freddo, sure he will come in handy for supporting Paige's first Uni thesis, Cheeky which apparently I should be eating only those,  Happy which is so cute and my fave, In Love

Freddo Faces (RRP 52p) is a bag of delicious Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate. 

Freddo first launched in 1973 and has been a family favourite for years. This new launch marks the fortieth anniversary of Freddo spreading chocolaty joy and mischievous adventure across the country.

Freddo Faces joins the Cadbury Dairy Milk Freddo range which includes Freddo Original and Freddo Caramel. Visit www.cadbury.co.uk for more details. 

Disclosure - I received Freddo Faces in order to review, I was given noother incentive and my views are my own.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Natures Path Nice and Nobbly Granola Review

I find a good test of a good cereal for me is if I can eat it without milk, I put very little on my cereal anyway, often opt for yogurt and fruit. 

So when I was sent the new Nature's Path Granola to try, I dived straight into the packets first to have a munch. I love the name Nice and Nobbly, clever names always leap out on the shelves and the bright packaging helps.

Munching the 'nobbles' is very pleasant, my particular favourite are the Raspberries, Strawberries and blueberries with yogurt. 

For those who like their granola with milk, I did behave and try the Pumpkin Seeds, Almonds and Raisins with a light dash of cinnamon. The clusters are large in part and lovely and crunchy, the smaller oats are nice at the end of the breakfast still firm even in milk.  The raisins plump up a bit more and are satisfyingly sweet and juicy.

Oh I should mention this is gluten free granola, so good for those with any allergies or dietary needs.

Sorry but the Raspberry Granola remained a snack, it did spend a short time with some raspberry yogurt this morning, now that was a pleasure.

Other Serving Suggestions:
 Add a dollop of natural yogurt and a drizzle of honey.
Sprinkle on top of some cold stewed fruits for a quick and easy pudding.
Mix with a little melted butter for a uniquely ‘nobbly’ crumble topping.
 Keep some in a small plastic bag/container and eat as a snack at the office, or when out and about/exercising.

Fancy tucking in to some for yourself? Thought so! Nature's Path have kindly offered a nice and nobbly prize of two, yes two cases of the new Granolas for one lucky reader! 

Since 1985, Nature’s Path has been a ‘free-from’ breakfast pioneer and already makes the UK’s top-selling free-from cereal, ‘Mesa Sunrise’. It’s worked hard at ensuring its products pack a tasty punch – in contrast to the often bland free-from alternatives on the market.

‘Nice and Nobbly’ Granolas are available from Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose and Ocado, plus independent health food stores at £3.49 RRP (312g pouch size – serving suggestion of 30g).  All Nature’s Path products are endorsed by Coeliac UK. www.naturespath.co.uk.

Enter the giveaway via the easy peasy Rafflecopter
Don't be put off by the multiple entries, you only have to follow me and comment if that is allyou want to do,many of my winners have entered the minimum.

Disclosure - I was sent the two new Nature's Path Granola, my views are my own.

Sharwoods Indian Sauce range

I was sent the Sharwood's delicious new range of cooking sauces to try and the whole family were catered for.

They include some Indian restaurant favourites, Paige often chooses the Butter Chicken, she likes a mild curry on occasion if we are out, she eats hot at home but some restaurants do go a bit fiery on the medium range dishes.

I like a Balti or a Dopiaza as the onion flavour if cooked well is lovely.Plus if you have read my blog previously and saw that Chris did a hottest curry in the world and has eaten some very fierce chilli sauces,you will know he loves a Vindaloo, 

At only £1.69 per jar a meal for the family they area fraction of the price of a take-away!

They are simplicity itself to make, its a case of frying chicken or veg and adding the sauce. I added mushrooms to the chicken to bulk it out a bit and to use up leftovers.

Its far too hot weather wise at the moment so we ate without rice adding samosa and onion bhajis that were already in the fridge.
I like Sharwood's sauces, I can rely on them to be good tasting if its a favourite meal.
Chris said the Vindaloo was 'top' and I'm afraid to say we passed up on it, I will be trying when the weather has cooled down a little.
Butter Chicken is a mild, creamy curry mixed with the perfect blend of spices to please any palate; Dopiaza is a dark, savoury curry characterised by spicy onions in a rich tomato base; and Vindaloo, a traditional fiery dish, blends tomatoes and onions with chillies for a spicy sauce that is not for the faint of heart.

The new Sharwood’s sauces are available in all major supermarkets from April with an RRP of £1.69.

Disclosure I was sent the new Sharwood range to try, my views are my own, I did not receive any payment.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Slow Cooker Chicken with Chorizo and Lemon

This is a meal perfect for summer, lemon and spice work so well together, plus using a slow cooker in the heat we are having, means we can still eat well without turning the oven on.

I have been testing a new slow cooker from a great online shopping company called Wayfair, see here, its smaller than I usually use. A 3.5 litre capacity, most meals in our house are for 5 people all adults so this is a tad small for a big family casserole. But a summer evening dish for 3-4 perfect.

This is a complete concoction of favourite foods and flavours all mixed with a fingers crossed approach.

Chicken and potatoes is a good start for me, I used chicken breast, this could be thighs for more flavour, though these needed using. I imagine I will be trying this in my large slow cooker with a whole chicken, stuffing the lemon inside and resting on the potatoes and chorizo.

For this meal I made a mix of chilli, smoked paprika and rubbed into the chicken use a little or a lot according to your taste, don't use at all if you like a mild version. You can place straight into the slow cooker,without frying, but for photos and for just a nicer look on the plate, I fry first.

I had a bag of Jersey Royal new potatoes, actually this time of year I always do, they are used many times a week, again my finger break, means no peeling so a cinch for me.
Chorizo is such a good complement to chicken and potatoes,I decided to use the new Eng

Now I still make all my meals as Slimming World friendly, cooking chorizo as a treat is not too bad in syns. Sainsbury’s Spicy and Succulent mini Chorizo  is 2 syns per sausage, I have two halved. 

Tomatoes make a good base, I added in a stock cube for oomph, a glug of rosé to keep the summer theme.

I had a lemon in the fridge, intended for another recipe and it got forgotten,so it was a pure add it and see. I would use half a lemon next time or not squeeze before cooking. It was definitely the dominant flavour, we adore citrus foods so for us it was lovely.

3-4 chicken breasts
Fillipo Berio Olive Oil spray
Jersey Royal potatoes
1 lemon
8 x Cooking Chorizo sausage split or halved to let the red juices run.
1 tin chopped tomatoes
Chicken stock melt or cube
Smoked paprika
Chilli powder for rub
1/2-1 tsp Chilli powder 
Rosé wine (optional) or water

If using a rub,make slashes in the chicken breast and sprinkle a mix of paprika and chilli, rub into the breast, and leave for at least 30 minutes.

Place the potatoes, tomatoes,garlic, quartered lemons (squeezed if a strong lemon flavour is liked), a couple of glugs of rosé or water and chilli into the slow cooker dish. Mix thoroughly.

Spray a heavy pan with a few squirts of oil spray,heat and fry the chicken until golden on one side. Turn over and cook, adding the chorizo and frying until the red juices flows a little.

Place the chicken and chorizo onto the potato mix. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours.

I served with a green salad.

Persil, Dermot Flynn and Wow cleaning!

While review blogging I've been lucky to get involved in many challenges and events, I do remember the celebrity moments above many.
Highlights cooking in London with Ed Baines and Philadelphia, he has since gone on to cook for Prince Charles, hobnobbing with me can take you far!! 

Interviewing Bear Grylls here and a huge tick on the wow list talking to Sophie Ellis Bextor at Camp Bestival see here last year,this was for her  ‘Getting Messy with Music’ for Persil.

This time I am thrilled to have an art piece made for me, by artist Dermot Flynn, perhaps  you will be familiar with the Marmite ads, maybe his work on  book covers including the Penguin copies of  Captain Corelli's Mandolin and Norah Ephron's Heartburn.

Dermot has been working with Persil  as they have just launched the new Small and Mighty.It has an innovative Triple Cleaning System formulation and Stain Eraser Ball that can also be used as a pre-treater – so it’s really been specially developed with Mums in mind,with the amount of stains a Mum has to deal with its a great new product.

Dermot's art work for me is truly personal, he took a photograph I chose of Chris and I, and on a white 
t-shirt recreated it using common food stains.

I am pretty amazed by the image, to work with food and recreate a brilliant likeness I am impressed.

Now there is no way I would ever wash it, but using the Persil Small and Mighty in the last week it has certainly cleaned all of our clothes. 

However  Persil also sent me my own painting kit with food stains to try out on a white t-shirt, Chris was still offering his up, but I wanted a proper go. It's a bit scary, I am a bit of a clean freak when it comes to washing,I always use a stain remover first if there are stains,I use a lot of natural remedies for certain stains and  take quite a bit of pride in have a line full of white washing, coloured clothes never get mixed in and the whole family know its a big black mark if any washing gets mixed.

So to take a new white t-shirt and deliberately stain it was a tad strange for me. However Paige and I had a go.

Ink, juice, paint and chocolate all were applied,plus grass stains on the back as we got arty outdoors!

Now bear in mind I have no artistic skills whatsoever,so my tee was a message,thanking Dermot and a big ink message, I really thought this would still be there. I used the Stain Eraser ball to rub over the marks, popped it in the machine (on its own I might add, I was dubious that the ink may not come out but also may transfer) and set it going.

Well what do you think??

I was so amazed, I would previously used a Stain Devil ink remover before, I have never just put it in the machine. 

Thank you Persil,saved me some money on stain removal products for the future and thank you to Dermot for my T-shirt


Disclosure : I received Persil Small and Mighty, as well as a personalised T-shirt from Dermot Flynn