Saturday, 22 November 2014

Choccywoccydoohdah

Never heard of it?  Where have you been?!?!?  Choccywoccydoohdah has been one of my favourite programmes on Sky (Watch) ever since it started and I have gone on for years about how much I wanted to go to Brighton to visit.  My husband made my wish come true and not only a visit, a cake too!!!!!!
Window Display
So Choccy is a company that makes THE most amazing cakes, all decorated with special modelling chocolate, no fondant in sight.  Their most recent series has seen them making cakes for all sorts of celebs, they originally had a small shop in Brighton, then opened a cafe, then a shop in London and have just reopened a bigger shop in Brighton which encompasses both the cafe and shop.
We visited for some cake in the cafe, I chose the chocolate with white chocolate buttercream which was drizzled with melted chocolate.  I had a hot chocolate which was literally melted chocolate and hot milk - divine!  I was sooooo full it was untrue, Mark had a dipping platter which was gorgeous too but we could have easily shared either.  

The next day was my birthday and Mark said I had a VIP tour of Choccy booked so we had our breakfast and were straight there.  We were allowed in all of the roped off areas and sat in the famous Tiger chair.
We got into the room where Christine sits with her clients to discuss their requirements and the lady who showed us round told me to look at the cakes in the shed too.  As I opened the door, my eye was immediately drawn to this lovely cake right in front of me with Happy 30th Gina written across it. I couldn't believe my eyes, a Choccy cake all for me, my very own, MINE!!
Mark had chosen the chocolate cake (good job I had liked it the day before!) with chocolate praline filling which has turned out to be amazing!!  The cake is quite heavy as it has to hold all the chocolate mouldings, but it is still beautiful and moist and lovely in the microwave for half a minute.

Some of the other cakes on display.  If you need a cake for a special occasion, Choccy are the people to make one!!







Sunday, 16 November 2014

Centre Parcs Sherwood Forest

Mark's sister had booked a stay at Centre Parcs to celebrate my niece's 18th and it was also the week before my 30th too.  We were stopping at Sherwood Forest, Nottingham.  We had a 4 bedroom executive lodge booked but when we turned up there had been a problem and we were being upgraded to a Treehouse, I didn't realise quite how amazing this was having never been to Centre Parcs before.
The entrance to Centre Parcs was miles away from the accommodation and with most accommodation you can drop your luggage off by your villa and then move the car back to the car park which is a bit of a hassle however it does keep the site pretty safe without having to worry about traffic.  However with the treehouses you have proper allocated parking by them so that's easier.


I was pretty amazed at how big the area was, it really is like a small village or even a large village. 



THE TREEHOUSE

Okay so I looked up how much it would cost mid week for the same mid week next year and it is £2,499.  To be honest as lovely as it is I could never warrant that money, I would rather have a week in the Caribbean!   
 So the treehouse itself was all underfloor heating, finished to a really high standard.  It sat back from the roadside and you walked up a long ramp to get to it as it sat on stilts in the forest.  Outside there was a decked patio area where there was a hot tub, access to an outdoor toilet and Physiotherm Infrared room.  Along a walkway was the games den which housed the pool table, mini bar, fridge and Nintendo Wii - although there weren't really any good family games which was a shame.  The kitchen was fully stocked with all the appliances you may need.  There was one bedroom upstairs which was accessed by a spiral staircase and this had it's own huge balcony.  The other three bedrooms were downstairs all with ensuites that varied with some having baths, some showers etc.  
I can't really fault it, it was finished to a really high standard, everyone who hears you are in a treehouse wants to know all about it as they are really looked up to. The only complaint I would have is the soundproofing, the three bedrooms are all off the main living area and the walls are paper thin, you can hear everything said in the next room.  So personally I would prefer if the bedrooms were all upstairs.


FACILITIES



All the activities at Centre Parcs are extra apart from the swimming pool, we didn't end up booking anything as by the time we had decided we wanted to try the Segways they were fully booked - so do  this before or at the beginning of your break.  There wasn't a lot we could do with Macy being only being 17 months, most activities for the children start age 3.  However there is a nursery on site if you wanted to go and do something on your own,  We got there the Tuesday night so didn't think a week's bike hire was worth it, it was only when it was too late we discovered we could have hired one for the day!

Our first day we spent in the pool, I was concerened as a lot of reviews said it was cold but it wasn't too bad really.  We managed to get some sunbeds by the pool, the changing rooms were great as they were all cubicles for families so Mark and I could both get her ready and back dressed again rather than having to do it all on our own.  There are big lockers to put all your belongings in.  I was a bit miffed though that you had to take your towels from the villa with you and it was quite a long walk to have to lug them all over there.  You can pay for some there but that seemed a waste.  


There was plenty to do, several slides for various different ages, wave machine, smaller pools for the toddlers, rapids, a cold plunge pool, an outdoor pool.  One slide was a rubber ring which we all sat in, that was fun.  The children loved it, most of the slides were probably aimed more at children, older children or families.  There weren't any adult only slides which is a shame - that would have been good for the daredevils amongst us!  The rapids was probably the only thing that was older teenagers/adults only.
There was also a cafe by the pool so you could stop for a snack and a drink without having to get dried off, that way you could spend the day in there.  outside all of the facilities they have little shelters where you can leave your pushchair, you just need to take a bicycle lock with you to lock it up with.
There are also lots of indoor soft plays in the bars and restaurants etc which is great for when the weather is typically British!  Our favourite was the one in the Sports Bar which had quite a large area for the under 3s
As it was November, Centre Parcs had their winter wonderland on so we had to take the children to see santa.  They were given lots of chocolate coins and a good length of time to walk round the grotto before going in to see the main man!  Included in the cost was a photo which was not easy with a 1 yr old, 2 yr old and 3 yr old!  The younger two were a bit frightened so Mark sat with them hiding behind a tree!  They all had good presents which were cuddly toys, really nice good quality.
 They do make everywhere look really Christmassy with snow everywhere on the way to see Santa.
Older children can take a pony ride to see Santa and you can also ride in a Horse and Carriage.
There are plenty of outdoor play areas scattered about, including a beach, where twice a week they have a firework display.


EATING OUT

There is quite a variety of food establishments, somewhere for everyone.  With Starbucks and Cafe Rouge, some well know chains. However unless you like paying through the nose for bog standard food, you probably won't eat out that often.  The prices are rediculous, they have a captive audience.  We ordered an indian take away and paid £40 for two main course, two sides and two naans!  I don't mind paying for food but it was no better than any other Indian where we would have paid £20!

Okay you are on holiday but I can't help but sit there and think I could have a lovely, well cooked meal at our local high rated restaurant for that money rather than a curry!!

The Pancake House was lovely, however I had a Chocoholics pancake and was a bit disappointed as there wasn't a lot of chocolate on it.  The next day I had a savoury pancake and it was lovely so they were definitely the best!

IN SUMMARY

So all in all, personally I don't think it's somewhere I would go again.  If I go on holiday on this country I would rather it be somewhere a) by the sea, b) cheaper (then when it rains you don't feel like you have wasted that much money when all you do is stop in!).  I like my nice holidays abroad and would rather just put the money towards that rather than do a Centre Parcs again.  But a lot of people must really enjoy it as they seem to run at about 97% occupancy all year round.

Sometimes I think we are a bit spoilt as we live in the countryside, we walk through a small forest weekly so it didn't seem like anything special to me?  If you lived in the town and wanted a nice break in the country I can see the appeal but for me, it just doesn't appeal, I like to be beside the sea rather than in a forest.  I could see for children aged 5-10 they would have a great time but you would have to budget for the activities as they would mount up, perhaps you could then go off and enjoy the Spa!!

A bit of fun - I took the Go Pro down a water slide!!
video

Friday, 7 November 2014

Autumnal Photos!

I think we got to the woods about 10 minutes before the sun disappeared, all the best laid plans, we just didn't make it out in time.  However I think I got a couple that I am happy with, I love autumn photos.  You can click on them to maximise them.
Some taken a week or so ago of my lovely Sweep


Sunday, 2 November 2014

Millie’s Meerkat Barn

It was a rainy Sunday afternoon so we decided to take Macy to an indoor play to stop her going stir crazy!  We had not been to Millie’s Meerkat Barn in Bridgnorth before so we thought we would try it.

It cost us £6.50 for two adults and a 16 month old - £1.50 each adult.  I was a little disappointed as when you look at their website they make it sound a lot bigger than it actually is.  The under 3s area was a small padded area with some large soft shapes in it, no ball pond, no small slide – that was really disappointing.  Everywhere else I have been no matter how small have at least had a ball pond and most have a small slide as well.  The area for the older children was okay and they all seemed to be enjoying it and not getting bored, there are two large slides, a bouncy castle section and some rollers etc but again it isn’t overly big.  The bouncy area is quite large yet most children seemed to enjoy running round and down the slides.  There is also a bit of a court area to play football/basketball in.  So to be honest I thought it was a bit expensive for what is there - £1.50 for an adult is too much, most are 50p and they are usually a lot bigger.

The cafĂ© was good and they did some nice coffees and a good range of hot snacks.  It’s not somewhere I will go again as there are better soft play centres that are cheaper!

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Harvester – Telford, Southwater

We decided to go for breakfast, it is £4.99 each and is unlimited continental and cooked breakfast – we thought we couldn’t beat that really!  Breakfast ended at 11.30 so we got there at 10:15.  It looked like the mad rush was over as there were quite a lot of empty tables that needed clearing, it took about 15 minutes for us to be seated, not a good start as they could see we were trying to hold Macy who is getting heavy and bored by this time.  There was no reason we couldn’t be seated, one waitress didn’t look like she was doing much and the other was filling up some juice – it would have taken 2 minutes to seat us and go back to what they were doing – customers should come first!

We were eventually seated and ordered our cooked breakfasts – the toaster had broken so we had to order toast, they ran out of black pudding, crumpets and tomatoes.  We ordered unlimited coffee for  £2.25 per person.  However after one cup, the machine wasn’t filled up, eventually it was and we got a second cup, it ran out again and wasn’t filled up.  Juices ran out so all that was left was cranberry.  There weren’t any spoons for the cereals nor teaspoons for stirring coffee.  Our cooked breakfast arrived an hour later, Mark’s poached eggs were really overcooked and mine were undercooked – whites were still runny.  Half our toast arrived – this is an hour after we were seated!!  I have not had such poor service in a long time and we will not be going back to a Harvester again any time soon!!


I have also fed this back via their website and also Facebook - they have not even bothered to respond. 

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Grand Designs NEC & George Clarke!

Some of you may know we are knocking down our very damp, very small bungalow in the new year and rebuilding a larger dormer bungalow – hoorah!!  We visited the Grand Designs show last year but we were quite a way off the project and really only looked as windows etc, we got more out of the renovation and build show in the spring following as Grand Designs doesn’t have a lot of build information, more the finishing off.
We visited the show on the Friday so we could have a good look round the show concentrating on kitchens and bathroom really.  We had the VIP experience and had access to the Miele Lounge all day which was fab!  It was so nice to go and have a sit down away from the hustle and bustle of the show.  Breakfast consisted of croissant and pastries with a range of coffees and juice as well as prosecco.  We made sure we were back for some soup at lunch time (although a VERY small portion, more like a shot) and back again later for afternoon tea – beautiful warm fluffy scones with jam and butter as well as some cake.  We got lots of ideas for the kitchen and spoke to one company in particular – Princess Kitchens in Sutton Coldfield who gave us some great ideas and we have since been in to see them.  We also got some great ideas for home automation after we watched one of the theatres.  There are several theatres at the show covering various different topics from cooking to building your home.
Our biggest highlight was attending on Saturday for our on stage consultation with GEORGE CLARKE!!  I entered a competition via Grand Designs to win one of the slots available and we were lucky enough to be selected.  Saturday was packed, I am so glad we had attended on Friday as we could hardly move Saturday.  They were running sessions where self builders took their plans up on stage and discussed them with a celeb architect – Friday was Charlie ???? and Saturday George Clarke.  There was a couple who went up before us and then it was our time.  George was lovely and stopped to have his photo taken with everybody asked.  He gave us some great ideas and really got enthusiastic about our plans so we are really excited to get started.  He even signed our plans so we are going to get those framed and put up when we have finished! :)

It’s a great show, even if you aren’t really doing anything and are just thinking about wallpapering a new room.  There are some great ideas, new tech and also rooms for the garden and garden furniture etc.  It is so easy to get to by train – 5 minute undercover walk from Birmingham International.





Sunday, 5 October 2014

Pedigree Dentaflex


Thank you to Pedigree who sent us a box of goodies including a month's supply of Dentaflex for each dog, some food and treats for the kitten and a lovely limited edition bowl.
Sweep did a bit of posing before devouring his Dentaflex, nom nom nom.
Ember took a little longer over hers!
And Rum is probably the one who needs them most, he is 9 this year and has just started to get smelly breath!
Mmmmmm 

You feed them twice a week and I have to say I have noticed an improvement in Rum's breath. After a few days it started to smell so he had his second chew and smelt of roses again :) lol. 

They have all only had two so far so will report back after 4 weeks. They do smell horrid to me but the dogs seem to enjoy them so that's all that matters!