Monday, 3 August 2015

A fun filled family day out at Conkers

In the heart of the national Forest, which we are lucky enough to live on the fringes of, is the most fun outdoor place called Conkers. For some reason I've never been before although Chick has visited on school trips and with other families. When we were invited for a blogger day out I thought that Chick and her friends might like it f they could get over being cool for a day but didn't for a second think that I would have the most awesome day too!

Conkers is built on the site of two old mining areas and has 120 acres of maturing woodlands with lakes, high and low ropes, outdoor pursuits and an 18 stage assault course challenge. There are also several indoor areas with over 100 interactive activities which we will need to go back to visit as we missed most of them this time around!

There was a pretty cool start to the day as the first face I saw was Cass and we were long overdue a catch up :) The first organised activity was orienteering which was a great way for us to cover a lot of the site in a short period of time:

The letters that we gathered formed a clue for us to take to the next couple of activities which were shelter and fire building as well as marshmallow toasting:

The shelter building didn't seem to pose too much of a problem but the fire building was a different matter!! There had been torrential rain the day before so every twig and log that we could lay our hands on was wet. We (I say we but I mean the man and the kids!!) managed to get the fire going, with the girls doing a sterling job with the flint and steel but couldn't keep it going. With some help from a friendly ranger, we stripped the damp edges off of the twigs to get to the dry core and then we had a raging fire as you can see in the picture.  Roasting marshmallows on our own built fire was just the icing on the cake. Conkers run the bushcraft sessions twice a week, you do need to pre-book but it's included in the normal admission price.

It made me realise how much I miss camp and that although we try to head outdoors quite a lot, the girls haven't had that much time to 'rough' it in the great outdoors. My idea of camping involves lots of warm clothing and blankets rather than roughing it so this is a good way for the kids to have these experiences!

The next activity I really wasn't sure about....... The barefoot trail. I hate being barefoot and even make sure I wear shoes in the garden or putting the washing out. However, so as not to be shamed in front of everyone else that was doing it I thought I would give it a shot:

It was in equal parts fun and painful. The plain water troughs like this one, I could cope with even though the water was on the chilly side. The one with pebbles in was horrifically painful and the final one had some weird tree mulch in it that squidged through the toes. I may also have walked around the pit filled with clay as it looked very slippy and I have been known to be slightly accident prone!!! My favourite was definitely the mud. It was warm, squidgy and very soft on the feet even f it took me two days to get it all off afterwards :)

The girls giggled and squealed their way around and funnily enough didn't appear to find it anywhere near as painful as I did. I was't sure how 'cool' the girls would think the whole experience would be as they are 12 and 13 but actually they are desperate to go back and do all of the high and low ropes and all of the other stuff that we missed.

Next we had a ride on a train which took us to lunch and to the most amazing cake:

After lunch we were free to do as we wanted so the girls played on the huge adventure playground and the man and I did some serious walking through the woodland. We are definitely planning a return visit in the very near future!

Conkers is part of the 'Stay, Play, Explore' group which includes accommodation, breakfast and entrance to 3 out of 4 of fab attractions in Leicestershire including Conkers and the Space Centre from £129. For more information please click here.

Conkers were kind enough to invite all 5 of us to be their guests for the day and included all of the activities and lunch however all words, pictures and thoughts are my own.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

40 things to do before you're 40: Number 1 - Eat fish n chips on a pier

So some people around here may have just turned 39 and since then several people have asked me what I doing for the big 4-0. My dream (if I can afford it) is to go back to my life in California for a visit and to catch up with all my fabulous friends over there.

Now 40 is a big ol' number and to take away some of the freaking out, I've decided I may as well go big. Having already run a marathon and never planning on doing anything so ridiculous again, I turned to Dr.Google for inspiration and came across '40 things to do before you're 40'! Obviously being well travelled and immensely cool *ahem* I've already done a few of the things suggested but tasked myself with the idea of coming up with my own list. 

As I don't have oodles of money it hasn't got loads of far flung places on it or crazy ideas or anything unachievable, just some books I haven't read and probably should have, some films I haven't seen and again probably should have and some cool stuff that I've always fancied doing. I've decided not to give you the full list straight away but to try and blog about them as I tick them off.

Soooo to get started and not in any particular order, the first item that I've managed to complete was eating fish 'n' chips on the pier. This may sound easy and if you follow me on Instagram or Twitter you will probably know that we head to the beach at every opportunity and also eat fish n chips quite regularly but the usual seaside places that are close to us don't have piers. In the essence of going big (and seeing my brand new nephew) then why not head to a beach almost as far South as possible and go to Brighton which is exactly what happened yesterday, the sun even shone for me :)

Number one: ticked off!

Thursday, 28 May 2015 Tintagel, Cornwall

Tintagel is a tiny town on the coast of Cornwall and is supposedly the seat of King Arthur's Castle. Unfortunately we arrived too late to make it to the Castle and back (for someone so tall, I walk surprisingly slowly!!) but it looks amazing!

We decided that we would stay and potter around the village as rumour had it that there was a lovely fudge shop and oh my was there ever! It's called Granny Wobbly's Fudge Pantry and they have all kinds of beautiful, sugary flavours. If you time it right, you can also see the fudge being made and they also have very yummy testers:

As a simple country girl I stuck to plain old vanilla and it is the most gorgeous creamy, treacly fudge I've ever eaten. Unfortunately for me they also deliver slices of gorgeousness by post!!!

One of the best presents I received last year, was a 12 month membership to the National Trust and I know that we used the cost of the membership within about a month of having it. One of my favourite things about it is being able to explore places that I either wouldn't normally think about or might think is too pricey. A good example of this is the Old Post Office in Tintagel. It's a 14th Century Yeoman's farmhouse with a very wibbly roof:

They have the cutest little cottage garden at the rear of the property where I spotted these real unusual flowers that look like they are made of linen:

If ever you are in the area, I would say that Tintagel is well worth a visit if only for the fudge alone!

Our favourite hidden eating spots in London

There are many restaurants serving traditional English cuisine in London. In fact, English cuisine is a mix of various national cuisines. That is why it is absolutely normal to try Turkish, Italian, Thai, Chinese, Indian, Greek cuisine in London. As for me, the most reasonable prices can be found in Arab cafes and bars.

In general, you can find interesting places to eat in any area of ​​London. Due to the fact that I’m still a student, we ate mainly in the areas near the student living London. So let’s start with the most inexpensive hidden eating spots in London.

There are many decent cafes scattered across London such as EAT, Pizza Hut and Pret-A-Manger. I can safely advise them in terms of price. If you don’t mind Asian cuisine and are not afraid of food experiments, go to Soho where you can find a range of inexpensive restaurants including Thai and Chinese. As for Chinese cuisine, I advise Young Cheng in Soho. It has a simple scheme to attract customers: the buffet is located at the entrance so that you can see from the street what you get for the quoted price. You can take rice with seafood, shrimps and various vegetables. So if you want to have a square meal, come here or visit one of the neighboring Chinese bars with a similar system.

Another branch is Indian cuisine. We often go to Chambeli restaurant (close to Holborn tube station). As a result, I would call this taste the “taste of homemade food”. The food is very spicy because of sauces and spices, but quite tasty. So all in all I can recommend this restaurant to visit.

Of course, London is full of Italian restaurants and cafes. We have been in many of them. The most common is the Strada. The quality of food is quite decent, the prices are quite affordable. We had a chance to dine at Strada right next to the City Hall. We can also advise Ciao Bella near Russell Square. It's very popular mostly among local residents.

Do you still think that you won’t be able to find some interesting places to eat in London? I hope that our personal overview of hidden eating spots has changed your opinion about London as the most expensive city in the world!