Date Night With Gousto

The more children we have and the older I get the less I can be bothered to make time for a date nights with my husband.

This is a huge bone of contention in our house as its something thats very important to him so we have to find a little bit of compromise.

Food is a big love for both of us so the perfect way to spend a little time together without the stress of going out is taking an evening or two away from the chaos of family meal times and preparing a meal for just the two of us.

This is however pretty time consuming so when we were asked to sample some meals from Gousto I thought this would be a great way to save some time and forethought in our very limited amount of alone time.

Gousto is so quick and easy to use. You simply need to log into their site, chose the size of box you require and select which meals you fancy from a varied list for the week ahead.

The box is then delivered directly to you door with all the ingredients carefully weighed out and prepared ready for you to follow the easy to use recipe cards that are provided alongside your food.

First up for us was a sticky chilli beef burrito with a lime mayo.

 All I needed to do was to grab the bits I needed that are all listed in words and pictures for you on the sheet and get on with the cooking.

The rest of the week we got to sample a curried chicken and sultana rice with a spicy kick that was complimented perfectly by the sweetness of the dried fruit.

Sea bass on smoky chorizo chowder that teamed a gorgeously creamy chowder with the crispy skin of the melt in the mouth fish.

And finally a chicken, red pepper and lemongrass curry which bought a completly take on rice for me.

Meals can become something of a chore at times and the ability to pick something you might not ordinarily choose really opened my eyes to recipes that I would usually consider to time consuming to prepare.

If you are looking for something to take the monotony out of the weekly meals plans, need something that is a great time saver or simply fancy trying something a little different then I highly recommend you give Guosto a try.

*we were given this Gousto box for the purpose of this review and they are all my own, honest opinion.

 

Chi Kitchen:Review

Ordinarily if someone asked you to come along to have lunch at at a department store I’m sure you wouldn’t be filled with excitement.

Admittedly when I was asked along to a review a restaurant inside Debenhams, Oxford Street my imidiate thoughts were curled up sandwiches in plastic wrappers and serve yourself coffee.

Upon arriving at Chi Kitchen this couldn’t be further from the truth.


With a completely separate entrance at  the back of the store as well as an internal entrance that welcomes you straight into a super cool champagne bar that overlooks the sushi preparation area, it wasn’t like anything I had experienced before.

The attentive staff saw us to our table and talked us through the vast menu that is a real voyage through South East Asia; offering dishes from Thailand, China, Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Korea.

My husband who is a real sushi lover opted for the salmon and tuna sashimi and California rolls.


The presentation was absolute perfection! The fish was served on a bed of perfectly handcrafted vegetables with clouds of billowing dry ice.


I opted for prawn dimsum and Thai green curry.

The dimsum were light and airy balls of perfection they just melted in the mouth.


The curry was the perfect blend of creaminess with a spicy kick that wasn’t to over powering.


I don’t normally go for puddings in Asian restaurants as I’m normally a bit disappointed with the small choice and factory supplied choices that are normally on offer.

Chi Kitchen however didn’t fall short in this area and it was at tricky choice between a passion fruit cheesecake and a mango creme brûlée.

The brûlée won and the crispy topping hid a delightfully creamy centre that I didn’t want to end.


Our meal was a complete experience for all the senses and completely smashed my preconceived ideas of superstore dining.

It is certainly somewhere to try whist out and about shopping or somewhere to make more of an evening of which is on our list to do next time!

Giving My Teen Some Responsiblity With Tetra

In the summer we went along to an event in Old Street tube station where Tetra had turned an area of the dingy station into a tranquil spot to sit back and relax whilst looking at all the beautiful fish swimming around peacefully whilst the hustle and bustle of London Town was going on in the background. 

Unfortunatly for me with three hyper children running around the experience was not as relaxing as I had hoped for!

We still managed to take in lots of information on the fish and how to look after them and they all loved trying out the cool Tetra app that allowed their colouring to come to life right in front of their eyes.

We already have a goldfish at home that as expected has always been my job to look after.

Number two however has been going on and on about having tropical fish for ages and it had always been a no, no as I didn’t want the responsibility of anything else.

When Tetra sent us a fantastic Cascade Globe Aquarium I decided it was time to let number two prove to me he is responsible enough to look after a fish by himself.

Although this tank isn’t suitable for tropical fish he was more than happy with the waterfall feature, LED lights and sleek design that was going to be perfect to house his new fancy goldfish.

There was no setting up at all apart from plugging in the filter which is always a bonus.

Tetra make a great product called Watersafe that makes the water ready to use straight away rather than having to have a tank full of water sitting there waiting for weeks.

Number two happily got the tank ready and put his new little friend in that was now going to be his sole responsibility.


So far so good and he has been enjoying the whole experience. 

For me a fish is the perfect first pet as care is minimal but children can still get a huge amount of enjoyment from them.

Let’s see if in time he will be able to get those much longed for tropical fish soon!

*we were fine this tank for the purpose of this review and they are all my own, honest opinions.

Splashing Around At Beddington Park

Beddington Park in Wallington is somewhere I’ve not visited for years, so when friends suggested meeting up there I was eagar to visit after so many years.

Parking was free, really easy and directly next to a nice little cafe that serves hot and cold food and a huge variety of delicious, Cornish icecreams that I just couldn’t resist trying!

After a coffee and a wizz around the large playground we headed towards the River Wandle that runs through the park creating a stunning, tranquil setting for the children to play in.

Nets and buckets in hand they all braved the cold water to seek out any little critters that were hiding in the reeds.

They were really successful and managed to catch quite a few shrimps and bull head fish. I was informed by my friend that this was their name as I’m really not clued up at all when it come to distinguishing species of fish!

This really is a beautiful spot to spend a few hours exploring and is absolutely perfect to visit whist we still have such good weather.

Shrek’s Adventure and Sea Life London Aquarium Review

What child wouldn’t love going on and adventure to find Shrek and Dory in the same day!

This is what we were lucky enough to do at the beginning of the holiday when we took a trip to Shrek’s Adventure and the Sea Life London Aquarium that are directly next to each other housed the stunning buildings along the Southbank.

Shrek was our first port of call and after a bit of a faff with a queuing system that didn’t seem to be working to well we set off on our adventure to find Shrek.

We were whisked off by Donkey on the magical 4D bus that tossed and turned us through the sky, giving us a few surprises on the way. 

 Next came several different rooms where we were met by wonderfully vivacious characters that helped us to piece together the mystery to where Shrek was with lots of twists, turns and eye-openers as we entered each new door, with the anticipation of finding Shrek the whole way round.

The whole experience kept my three youngest engaged throughout but it may be a little scary at times for little ones with sections of darkness and some very realistic acting, and as buggies are not permitted on the tour if you have one that doesn’t like walking asI did it can be a bit much on your arms. But this is why they state it is best suited for age 6+.

If you are a Shrek fan or not you will find something to love on this adventure that was filled with wonder and surprise the whole way round.  I would challenge anyone to not feel the same.

After we had completed our adventure we popped straight next door to the Sea Life London Aquarium where you immediately felt you had been submerged many miles under the ocean as you wind your way round looking at the majestic stingrays skimming the sand, pretty seahorses dancing in the reeds and voracious sharks owning the water.
Each tank brings you something different allowing your to take in the vast array of sealife that makes up the underwater world.

With the release of Disney Pixars Finding Dory there is a great quiz sheet available as you enter which kept mine amused as we walked around by filling in the questions and searching for the lovable character with your chance to get a special reward at the end.

We really enjoyed walking through the open tunnel and having the change to see everything so close up and from so many different angles.  The children loved climbing into the portholes to get a closer look.

Something I wasn’t expecting to see was the Gentoo penguins from the Antarctic. Although they were super cute to look at I’m not sure if I felt this type of enclosure was the best place for these wonderful creatures.

My little ones love the opportunity to get hands on with anything and were really excited when they got to touch a starfish which is something they have never done before.

The Sea Life London Aquarium offers children the experience to learn so much about sealife in an interesting, fun and hands-on way that it is well worth a trip.

Southbank really is a hive of entertainment and has so much to offer in one place.  There is the choice of Shrek’s Adventure, Sea Life London Aquarium, The London Eye and London Dungeon to chose from and some great deals when you book attractions together.

London Dungeon is certainly on my list of things to do with my teens as it looks like a real thrill seeking day out.

*We were given tickets for the purpose of this review and they are all my own, honest opinions. 

 

 

Top Outdoor Summer Activities In Surrey

With the summer holidays now upon us I’m sure you will all be planning what to do to keep your little once occupied.

With the weather holding out for us at the moment I wanted to give you a few of my favourite days out in the great outdoors in Surrey.

Mayfield Lavender Fields

 

The Mayfield Lavender Fields are truly a sight to behold and I would question anybody that is not stunned by its beauty.

They can be found just outside Banstead, Surrey and are well worth a visit.

This year the car parking is only £1 but be warned it gets extremely busy and there is not a great deal of parking.

There is a lovely little cafe where you can stop to get refreshments while taking in the sights.  And new this year they have also included a tractor ride.

Mine are more than happy running in between the flowers and searching for bugs whilst I try and capture the beauty on my camera.

Godstone Farm

For me Godstone Farm is great as it covers a variety of ages.

They have massive fields that you can walk around whilst looking at the larger animals such as cows, pigs and donkeys.

The children have a chance to get hands on with the smaller animals of the farm in the petting area.  Mine all love this as they can stroke and hold the rabbits and chickens.

There are set times during the day where you can watch the animals being fed which is always great fun.

The play activities here are endless.  There is a huge adventure playground at the top of the field with everything you could imagine.

There is a section with ride on toys for the younger children as well as several sandpits.

Mine all love the large soft play area that also homes a small cafe so you can relax whist the children play.

As far as eating goes there is a good cafe that serves reasonably priced hot and cold food.  Or there is the option of picnicking with ample picnic areas.

Priory Park

This is our all time favourite park.  It has everything you could expect to get from a local park and more.

They have a beautifully designed playground with the usual swings and slides with the added extras of a large sandpit and water features that are perfect for the summer.
The grounds are vast and have a wonderful fountain, surrounded by pretty gardens we often picnic by.


At the opposite end of the park there is a beautiful lake where you can feed the ducks and take a leisurely walk around.


 Numbers two’s favourite park is the large skatepark which is perfect for older children.

During the holiday there are always lots free activities put on for the children, and in the past we have taken part in bug hunting, den building and a great sports activity day.


Lastly in the centre of the park is a great cafe Pistachios In The Park offering great food and snacks that really adds to the whole day.

Chessington World Of Adventures

We are lucky enough to have annual passes for this great theme park and visit many times a year.

It gets bigger and better each time we visit and covers all of my children’s ages from 1-18.

I tend to let the oldest two wander off by themselves and go on all the thrill seeking rides that CWOA has to offer.


    

I can then take the younger ones to explore the Sealife centre, petting farm, massive zoo full of wonderful animals and to ride on the fabulous rides that are more suitable for their age.


We don’t normally take food with us as its a lot to carry around and there are plenty of great restaurants to chose from.

All of mine love to watch the exuberant Madagascar show that is put on a couple of times a day and the sea lion and penguin shows always go down a treat.


  

It really is a fun packed day and I would advice to get there early to ensure you get a go on the biggest and most popular rides without to much of a queue.

Priory Farm

This is a garden centre with a difference!

There is a large garden centre with all the usual things on offer which also houses a great coffee shop with wonderful hot and cold food, and the most wonderful cakes.


Attached to this is a newly refurbished play area that we have yet to visit this year.  Across from here is a huge pirate ship that mine all love to play on and a picnic area directly next to it which is fantastic to sit and watch them play.

Our favourite part of the farm is the discovery walk.  You pick up your quiz sheet at the start which takes you around all the different parts of the trail answering questions as you go.  At the top we usually stop for a rest and take in the views.  Near the end there is a chance to feed the fish which is my favourite part!!


Our day normally finishes with a walk around the well stock farm shop to pick something nice for our tea.

Chartwell House

If you are a reader of my blog you will know that National Trust venues are my favourite.

Chartwell House is one of the best for my family as it has such a lot to occupy tiny minds.

The gardens are exquisite and there is something different everywhere you turn.


  

I love the tiny playhouse that would have been used by the house owners for so many years before.


You can really educate the children in a fun way here as they are taking in information and not knowing it!

  
Keep an eye on their website as there are always some great cheap or free activities going on that mine all love.


We are yet to venture into the house as in not sure my nerves could take that until the small ones are a little older.

Flower Farm

Fruit picking is a brilliant activity for all the family.  It teaches children where the fruit originally comes from, gives them some exercise and they get a yummy, healthy treat at the end.


At flower farm there is always a good variety of different fruit and vegetable to pick at good prices.



They also have a lovely farm shop and a small tea room that is unfortunately closed for refurbishment at the moment.

I hope you have found some inspiration for days out here and I will be posting another list very soon so keep your eyes peeled.

  

  

  

A Fathers Day Trip To Abinger Hammer

This and every Father’s Day is spend with my beloved Dad.  He is everything to me and I would be completly lost without him.

He gave my sister and I such fantastic childhood memories to look back on.  He is always on the go and wants to fill every minute of his spare time with something fun to do and luckily enough my children have been able to reap the rewards of having the most fantastic grandfather too.

As children we always went to play at a beautiful spot in Dorking called Abinger Hammer.

It is a complete step back in time, and I have so many fond memories of days out here that are now being pasted down to my children.


  

After a lovely lunch where the children were surprisingly well behaved!  We set up a little spot for ourselves to relax with the family whist the children paddled in the stream, tried to catch some fish and played ball together.

It was the first time in a very long time that all five of mine were on a day trip together which was lovely for my Dad.


        

We also had another first this trip.  In over 20 years of trips here number five decided to take a nose dive straight into the stream!

This was mainly due to me trying to get a good picture and paying more attention to the camera than on him toppling in head first much to the amusement of everyone else.


        

It’s simple days like this that are my absolute favourite.  Good company, beautiful views and children being children.