My Sunday Photo 16th August 2015

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This picture was taken on Thursday whilst we were on holiday in Scotland.

Its the day our son turned 13 (eek a teenager) and he wanted to try his hand at clay pigeon shooting.

I love that he likes to try different activities and tries his hardest in everything he does.

And he thrashed his dad 10-6 in shooting the clays.

Well done son.

Sunday photo

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TGI Fridays New Menu

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Last week we were invited to our local TGI Fridays to try out their new menu. This is their biggest revamp in 8 years, and we were certain that TGI Fridays would wow us with their amazing flavours they are famous for. We had visited our local restaurant a few months ago with the children, and you can read our review here. But this time it was just me and the husband, and we were both looking forward to a night out.

Even though the restaurant was busy, we were seated within 10 minutes and handed the new menus. Husband had decided he was going to take on the new Warrior Burger. A whopping 2 x 7oz burgers, mozzarella dippers, cheese, bacon and onions, all served with chips and onion rings. I went for the 3 Little Pigs. A hot sandwich filled with Jack Daniels pork belly, BBQ pulled pork and bacon, served with chips and honey mustard mayo.

TGI Fridays new Warrior Burger

TGI Fridays new Warrior Burger

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3 Little Pigs Sandwich on the new TGI Fridays menu

3 Little Pigs Sandwich on the new TGI Fridays menu

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For starters we went for the Jack Daniels bucket of bones to share. A huge pot filled with ribs and chicken wings covered in Jack Daniels glaze. Other new menu choices included

Smoked Tomato Bruschetta

BBQ Smokey Joe Hot Dog

Jack Daniels Pork Belly

Boneless Hot Wings

Crispy Tostada Stack

Double Layered Nachos

Roasted Veg Pasta

Plus a great new range of hot dogs which have been inspired by New York’s best street food.

Bucket of Bones on the new TGI Fridays menu

Bucket of Bones on the new TGI Fridays menu

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I was really pleased that the Jack Daniels range had been extended. Being a lover of Jack Daniels, the flavour and taste when used in food is incredible. I loved the way our Bucket of Bones was presented, allowing us to keep the lid on to prevent the food from getting cold. A little tip is to give the pot a good stir as most of the Jack Daniels glaze had settled at the bottom. But oh my the ribs and chicken were so good, and the perfect size portion to share.

Husband suitably ‘met his match’ with the Warrior Burger. TGI Fridays are inviting customers to share their pictures on social media using #meetyourmatch which is a great idea. If only to see who else can manage to polish off the huge Warrior Burger (how my husband never puts weight on I will never know). My 3 Little Pigs sandwich was delicious. The pork was really tender, and the mixture of flavours with the Jack Daniels glaze worked really well. I too met my match with the 3 Little Pigs. Unfortunately there was no room for dessert, and as usual we left feeling like we didn’t need to eat for a week.

Husband met his match and polished off the new Warrior Burger

Husband met his match and polished off the new Warrior Burger

Yet again we had a lovely evening. TGI Fridays has such a fun and vibrant atmosphere, and its a place where couples, families and groups of friends can enjoy a great evening together. I have to say a special mention to our server Ryan at the Cheshire Oaks restaurant. He usually works behind the bar, but on the night we visited he was serving. He was very knowledgeable, attentive and built a great rapport with the customers. Thank you Ryan for adding to our evening, we will definitely be back, and we can thoroughly recommend the new menu.

We were invited to TGI Fridays to review their new menu. All words and thoughts are my own.

Luxury Glamping with added Hot Tub

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Last weekend we headed off for our 2nd adventure of the summer holidays. Well when I say headed off, I mean we got in the car and drove for 10 minutes. Which is actually a good thing as the teen had ONE job to do…. bring his bag. Guess what he forgot ? We may have only stayed local, but our one night glamping certainly recharged our batteries. We started camping around 6 years ago, and over time our camping trips have taken a more luxurious turn. No more hushed arguments with the husband as we battle with the tent in the wind and rain (I swear I have never returned to Anglesey after THAT trip).

Glamping pods do differ in what they offer you. Some pods will just be the shell, and you have to bring your own camping beds. Others will be kitted out with sofa beds, and the one we stayed in had a double bed. Yes a proper bed. The pods housed 4 and the children slept on single fold out futon style beds. We also had a small fridge (just enough space for that all important bottle of wine), a kettle, plenty of sockets, storage space and a TV and DVD. And the best bit was on the decking….

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You don’t get many glamping pods that come with your own personal hot tub, and Lady Heyes Caravan Park has 9 pods ALL with hot tubs. The site is on the outskirts of Frodsham in Cheshire, and there is so much to do in the area. But if you just want to get away for some relaxation, you don’t even have to leave the site.

The pods are set around a small grassy area with a picnic table you can use in the middle. Each pod does come with a small table and 2 chairs, and we also took our own camping chairs. There is also a fantastic fire pit on the decking, and we had great fun toasting marshmallows. There are 2 shower rooms that the pods share that are literally seconds away.

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We have been to Lady Heyes with our tent before, and even camped on the very first weekend the site opened. But this was our first time in the pods. We paid £110.00 for a Sunday night, which considering you have the hot tub, is good value. There was a good mixture of families and couples staying, and the site overall had a nice, relaxed feel to it. The manager of the site Alex is so helpful, and works really hard in making Lady Heyes Campsite such a success.

Would we return ? Yes. We had a lovely stay and it just goes to show you don’t always have to travel too far away from home to have an adventure.

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This was the view from our decking at night

This was the view from our decking at night

Coombe Mill

Monday escapes

My first car

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The day after my 17th birthday (which was a LONG time ago) I booked my first driving lesson. I knew that as soon as I was old enough, I wanted to pass my test and get my own car. After 6 months of lessons and passing first time, I started looking. Working in a bank meant I could get a loan at a reduced staff rate. And a few weeks of searching for a suitable car, I found it. Even though it was 24 years ago, I still remember exactly what my first car looked like.

It was a blue Ford Fiesta E reg. It was around 5 years old when I bought it, and it was ALL mine. It meant freedom and not having to rely on my mum to get me from A to B. Being a parent now, I bet she threw a party when she didn’t have to be ‘mum taxi’ anymore. The car took pride of place on the drive, and I used to wash it twice a week. How I laugh at this memory, as my car is lucky if its gets washed twice a year.

I took pride in how my car looked, and I loved picking my friends up and heading off to somewhere new. But would I know what to do if anything happened to my car ? Would I be able to change a tyre ? I was a careful driver even at 17, but I wouldn’t know what to do if my car skidded.  Just the other day I saw a car skid right infront of me. Luckily they were ok, and seemed to hit an oily patch on the road after it had been raining. But when this happens its really important to have the right tyres fitted to minimise any damage.

With my first car I left all the maintenance up to my step dad. But at 41 I need to take responsibility, and make sure I have the right tyres fitted. This is where Point S car tyres can help. You can get an instant price online, and then make an appointment to have your tyres fitted. I was really surprised that our nearest Point S centre was only 8 miles away. They have a wide range of tyres available and budgets to suit everybody. I will definitely be using this service next time I need to purchase tyres.

This is a collaborative post and all words and thoughts are my own.

10 reasons why July was awesome

So after taking a break in June, I am looking back at what we did this month.  July saw us have a mini heatwave. However I am currently sat here debating whether to put the heating on, whilst its chucking it down outside. Ah the great British weather eh.

1) Hubby and I went to our first outdoor concert at our local forest. We were so lucky with the weather, and enjoyed watching Tom Odell whilst sipping wine on camping chairs. Perfect night out.

Cheers

2) The kids and I went and cheered on hubby and our friends as they did a local downhill run. This is the second time husband has signed up, and he was thrilled to have come 12th out of around 250 runners.

3) Before the madness of the summer holidays started, I caught up with as many friends as I could. From drinking coffee in Starbucks to lunch at a local farm shop. It was very much needed before the long 6 weeks started.

4) I enjoyed some much needed ‘mum and son’ time. We headed to Nandos first and then watched Ant Man at the cinema. Whilst Marvel films are usually not my cup of tea, I really enjoyed this film. Son is definitely pushing my boundaries, making me watch different genres of films.

5) Whilst on holiday we enjoyed a day in Nottingham. We shopped and then spent a few hours in the National Video Game Arcade, which the boys loved.

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6) We spent 2 hours at the tweens parents evening seeing all of his teachers. It was nice to have it confirmed that he is an intelligent and capable lad, and he seems well liked at school.

7) I spent a lovely day with my mum. We had been through a tough time with losing my nan, and it was nice to spend the day shopping, lunching and chatting.

8) Having lots of family time exploring the forest whilst we were on holiday. We did bike rides, walks and watching the kids play together.

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9) Daughter had an awesome time going to Blackpool Pleasure Beach with her friend. It was her friends 9th birthday, and she invited Katie for a sleepover and then Blackpool the following day. She was VERY tired when I picked her up.

10) Spending time in the hot tub on holiday. Whether it was playing charades with the kids, or enjoying the peace and quiet by myself.

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ShareWithMePicMLinking up with Jenny from Lets Talk Mommy for Share with me

Forest Holidays Sherwood Forest – Part 2

Forest Holidays

As soon as the children broke up for the summer, we headed to Forest Holidays in Sherwood, Nottinghamshire for the week. I did a little ‘live blogging’ when we there, and you can read it here if you wish. Believe me, blogging on the dining room table is not the same as having this gorgeous view when writing.

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So what did we think of our first visit to Forest Holidays ? Did it live up to all the wonderful reviews I had read before we went ? Well in a word YES, and this is why we had one of the most relaxing holidays we have ever been on.

The Surroundings

Forest Holidays occupy a small corner of the Sherwood Pines Forest. There are 82 lodges on site, ranging from a 1 bedroom hideaway to the treehouses for up to 10 people. The majority of the lodges seemed well spaced out and private, and we were very lucky with our Golden Oak cabin. We were literally nestled into the forest, and I loved how we could just see an abundance of trees from every window. The surroundings offer so much nature, and whilst we were there we saw birds, squirrels, rabbits, butterflies and even a lizard. The great news is you have even more forest on your doorstep, with Sherwood Pines being a 5 minute walk away. See my post for 10 things to do at Sherwood Pines.

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The accommodation

We stayed in a 2 bedroom Golden Oak lodge. I love the anticipation of going into a holiday home for the first time, and as soon as I stepped inside I was blown away. The lodge was spacious, and I loved the little touches such as the ‘Welcome’ on the scrabble board. Our bedroom was at the back of the lodge, complete with en-suite. The kids shared a twin room and there was a further large bathroom. Does anyone else get excited when they realise you have miniature toiletries included ? And the fluffy towels and robe were perfect for wrapping yourself in after a dip in the hot tub.

The main living area was open plan and roomy. The kitchen had a dishwasher and an under the counter fridge with small freezer compartment. Luckily I knew beforehand the fridge was small, so I just packed food for a few days. There is a great co-op in Edwinstowe which is less than 5 minutes drive away. I had paid for the entertainment package before we went, which meant WIFI and a selection of films. We really made use of the package (which was £65) watching around 10 films during our stay. The tween had the occasional moan that the WIFI was not super fast, but hey we were in the forest, what does he expect.

But to be honest who needs WIFI when you have this on the decking. This is where Forest Holiday sets itself apart from other similar holiday companies.  We have been lucky to have stayed in some amazing lodges, but this one will take some beating.

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Forest Holiday Activities

During our week my daughter did the pottery painting twice. This was held in the Forest Retreat and could be done anytime it was open. This was great as it meant you didn’t have to plan the activity. The pottery was good value and the ladybird below cost £8.50.  As we were in Sherwood the boys booked in for the archery. It was £20 per adult and £10 per child, for around 1 hour 20 minutes. They both enjoyed the lesson but I don’t think they will be giving Robin Hood a run for his money.

The Forest Retreat also held a quiz on the Saturday and Thursday at 4.30pm priced £1 per person. This was great fun and the best bit……. coming 1st on the Thursday. And boy did I enjoy our winning wine that night. Other activities include Young Explorers, Family Den Building and Hawk Experience. Opposite the Forest Retreat is where you will find the play area, picnic benches, and a great open space which was perfect for games of football.

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What else do they offer ?

Fancy a night off from cooking, then you can hire a chef to come to your lodge and cook your meal. If you can’t stretch to the £150 (plus meal costs), then how about ordering a pizza or curry from the comfort of your lodge and having it delivered. We didn’t do this but its great to have the option. Food and drink is also served in the Forest Retreat, and I can highly recommend the milkshakes at £1.70. There is also a small shop selling gifts and food items such as bread and milk.

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They also offer in lodge pamper sessions, celebration packages and even doggy deli delights.

 Would we return ?

YES, without a doubt. There was nothing negative about our week long stay, and as I am a ‘holiday perfectionist’ I can sometimes be hard to please. The hot tub was cleaned every morning, the accommodation was one of the best lodges we have stayed in, and the forest was just divine. Having a nearly 13 year old our holidays are changing, and I wondered whether he would be bored. But there were plenty of activities to keep him busy, though I would say the WIFI package is a must. To be honest my 2 were just as happy sitting in the hot tub. We went the first week of the summer holidays, and even though the site was full it never felt crowded or noisy. You have to quieten down after 10pm, and the majority of guests adhered to this. Most nights all you could hear was the bubbling sounds of the hot tub.

Thank you Forest Holidays for a truly relaxing and peaceful week. I received a discount off our week long break and all comments and views are my own.

photo (32)Coombe MillMonday escapes