Monday 14 September 2015

They Shoot, They Score!

My children have so many activities that they love to do, but two of their most popular ones are football and eating! So after racking our brains of how to keep them entertained for yet another rainy summers day, it seemed the perfect decision to combine these activities together and visit the new Cafe Football restaurant in Manchester, located within Hotel Football, right next to the Old Trafford football stadium.

The restaurant itself, is nicely presented, with numerous television screens so that you can keep upto date with all the football. We particularly loved the wallpaper by the seats that was like a recreation of the premier league sticker book entries.

The seats were comfy, and it has a great view overlooking the Old Trafford Stadium. On arrival we were warmly welcomed and seated, and the children were provided with their own menus which doubled up as activity sheets. I love it when restaurants and cafes do this as my daughter always gets quite flustered when ordering so when you can write on them she likes to tick off what she will be ordering to help her. They also featured a colouring sheet on the reverse and a wordsearch puzzle to keep kids entertained whilst waiting for their meal. The childrens menu is nicely laid out with easy to read text and graphics, and features a lovely selection of meals.

The waiter came over straight away, and was really friendly and chatty. It is always nice and welcoming when staff make an effort to talk to the kids. He seemed really enthusiastic and came across as loving his job which again just adds to the nice friendly atmosphere there. He took our drinks orders whilst we took some time to look over the menu and came back promptly with what can only be described as "the nicest milkshakes ever" according to the kids. They came presented in a small milk bottle, and the kids loved the quirkiness of them!

The main menu itself, is themed around football match favourites and features a lovely selection of meals to suit all tastes. I have fond memories of going to matches with my dad as a child, and we would always get a steak & kidney pudding and chips smothered in gravy. To my delight this was offered on the menu as Scholesys meal and so this was exactly what I ordered. The boys in the family opted for the burgers, which came nicely presented in ceramic versions of burger trays and my daughter went for the fish finger sandwich which she said was delicious.

My only very minor criticisms would be more in relation to their website as opposed to the actual restaurant. Firstly, there doesn't seem to be clear instructions as to wear to park. We drove around a few times before asking one of the Manchester United stewards who kindly directed us to a car park located across the road behind the adjacent Premier Inn hotel. If you are local and know the area then it is probably really easy to find, however having travelled from North Wales and not knowing the area well, we did have to drive round a couple of times in heavy traffic to find this.

Secondly the kids menu isn't featured on the website. I always like to plan ahead and see what is available in a restaurant beforehand and make sure that there are meals that my children will like and enjoy, in addition to getting a good idea as to how much it will cost. However in saying this, I would like to add that the social media team on facebook and twitter, along with the staff at the hotel & restaurant are very responsive to any queries and will quickly answer any questions you may have, and I am sure they would be more than happy to email a copy over if asked.

Unfortunately, we didn't have the chance to have a look around the hotel, so I cannot comment much on that, however I believe it has a rooftop pitch which my son would absolutely love, and based on our experience in the restaurant alone we will definitely be returning the next time we manage to get tickets to a match. My children have already been asking when we can go back for a meal, so when we do return we will aim to make a weekend of it!

For further information and to download the menus, The Cafe Football website can be found here.... Cafe Football

Our Top Tip....We visited at 12 noon on a non match day and it was reasonably quiet, however I can imagine that it would be very full in the evenings, weekends and on match days and would therefore recommend booking in advance where possible to avoid any disappointment.

I hope that you have enjoyed our review and should you have any questions then please feel free to add a comment below and I will be happy to assist as best I can. I would also love to hear comments from others who have visited the restaurant or stayed at the hotel, so please feel free to share your experiences with us in the comments.

Disclaimer. All opinions are my own and this review has been written based upon my own experience. I have not received any monetary payment in exchange for this review and it was written of my own accord to share information regarding our visit. Information was correct at time of visiting in August 2015 but is subject to change and I would always recommend visiting the restaurants own website for the most up to date information.

Thursday 3 September 2015

Back to School!

Well its the end of the summer holidays, so for the kids and my husband that means back to school, and for me, its back to work! We visited some fantastic attractions, restaurants and shows over the holidays and I cannot wait to share our blog posts on some of these very soon. We had a wonderful summer, and we are very lucky as a family to be able to spend the holidays together every year thanks to our jobs. I hope all my readers have had a fab time too and I look forward to hearing and reading about what you have all been up to. Very soon we will also be launching our first competition so keep your eyes peeled for that, and we also have some great product reviews coming soon too. Until then, I wanted to share a picture of my children ready to go back to school yesterday, they were very excited to be returning to their new classes!

Thursday 2 July 2015

It's Shaun the Sheep!

After a busy day, I had finally just sat down on the sofa to catch up on the soaps. It was 8pm and the kids were doing some drawings quietly upstairs. It was a lovely moment of peace and quiet, though quite literally just a moment!

Ben came down to show me his latest masterpiece and then casually asked, "Where are the cakes for school tomorrow?"."Cakes? what cakes?" I asked. "Its the school fair tomorrow" he said, "We need to take in some cakes for them to sell!". 

Now I admit it, there may have been a letter lurking in the depths of the children's school bags, and there may have been some not too gentle reminders on the schools twitter account, and the kids may have mentioned it a few hundred times before, but the reality was I had completely forgotten!

I knew I would be in a rush in the morning, and so an early morning trip to Asda to cheat and buy some ready made cakes was out of the question, so I quickly jumped back up, and started to raid the kitchen cupboards.

I then remembered that I had recently won a Shaun the Sheep Marshmallow Cake Kit from a competition that was held on Twitter by the Metro, and that I had put it away for a rainy day.  I moved a few cereal boxes out of the way, and there it was in all its glory waiting to save the day!

The cake kit itself is part of the Green's cake kit range, and as a family we have used many of these kits in the past and so it was a brand name that I knew I could trust in terms of quality. My daughter likes to read absolutely everything, so she was in charge of reading out the instructions, and she lay out the contents of the kit on the worktop ready to use. In addition to the kit, all you need is 1 medium sized egg and some cold water. Luckily we had some eggs in the fridge, and like most households we have a tap so it took just a quick minute to get everything ready, wash our hands, and then we were good to go!

The kit includes a Vanilla cake mix, an Icing mix, Mini Marshmallows, waferettes and cake cases. Firstly we laid out all the ingredients and made sure we had everything to hand. Next, my daughter started us off on the first of the six step instructions. I set the oven for 160 degrees, whilst Emma and Ben lay out the cake cases on the baking tray.

Next we mixed the cake mix, egg and 35ml of cold water in a bowl until it was creamy. The guide on the box states this should take around 2 minutes which is probably quite accurate, but with us all having a go, and taking it in turns we took a little longer.

Next we spooned equal amounts into the cases. Usually I find that we put too much in the first few and not enough in last, so we were quite cautious when dividing it out. We needn't have been though as there was a good quantity of cake mix and so it was easy to separate it evenly very easily. We then popped them in the oven for 12 minutes, watched them rise and then left them on a cooling rack for a further ten minutes.

During this time, I washed up some of the items we had used, whilst the kids repeatedly asked me "Are they ready yet?, Are they ready yet?"
Once they were ready, we put the icing mix in a bowl added 2 teaspoons of cold water and mixed. I added a further half a teaspoon to make the icing slightly more spreadable and easier for the kids. I then gave each of them 6 cakes each to decorate themselves. We initially tried using two mini spatulas to do this, but Emma and Ben found it much easier to use a normal dinner knife. The box recommends that you do one cake at a time, and so we took the hint and did just that.

Once the layer of icing was done, it was time for the fun part, creating a sheep! Emma and Ben both did their first layer of mini marshallows, then added another thin layer of icing on top, followed by a second row of marshmallows. They then added a small dot of icing on the back of the waferette and positioned this onto the cake so that the face was at the front with the bulk of the marshallows behind it. Ben was the first to finish and informed me that as this was his first, it was technically a tester, and so he would be eating it!

Before long our single sheep, was soon part of a fantastic flock, which all looked fantastic!

Emma and Ben each ate one to test them out, and we also saved one for their little brother Riley before neatly arranging them in a cake tub for the school fair. 

On the back of the packaging there is a cut out scene that you can also add behind your cakes for added effect, however we chose not to use this as the school would have simply removed it. Instead we cut it out and gave it to Riley the next day who has a few Shaun the Sheep toys and he enjoyed laying his toys out in front of it.

I am sure you will agree that the cakes look Baaaarilliant, sorry I couldn't resist, and although I didn't try one myself, the kids said that they were delicious. I think that their smiles and empty cake wrappers back that up.

Overall, I was very impressed with the kit. The instructions were very easy to follow, and the marshmallows added a new fun element which was a nice change to just placing waferettes on icing. The mix was enough to make 12 cakes as stated, and we found that there was more than enough icing sugar to do two thin layers on each cake.

Green's also offer an informative website, that provides clear pictures of their products, nutritional information and also a store locater.

Full details of their Shaun the Sheep Marshmallow Cake Kit can be found here Shaun the Sheep Marshmallow Cake Kit

We would love to hear your comments on this blog post, so do please feel free to leave us a message below.

Thanks for reading! xx

Disclaimer  This post has been written based on our own honest opinions and experience of this product. We are not affiliated with Greens in any way and have not received any form of payment for this review.

Tuesday 9 June 2015

Gulliver's Fun!

With the cold weather now hopefully behind us, its time to enjoy the sunshine and get out and about visiting some of our favourite places and attractions. Gulliver's Warrington is a firm favourite with my children and with it only being less than an hour away from us, it seemed a good a place as any, to head out to for a fun filled day!

We often rely heavily on sat nav to find places that we are visiting but found that this attraction is very well signposted in the surrounding areas, and so we chose to follow the signs as opposed to some of the roads that the sat nav was trying to send us down. We live just on the North Wales border and so with some slight traffic we got there with a comfortable journey time of 40 minutes.

The attraction has a large car park and so we have never found parking to be an issue, and there is the added bonuses that firstly parking is free and secondly the car park is only a a very short distance away from the entrance. There were some short queues at the kiosks to purchase tickets, but these queues moved relatively quickly. If you have a toddler, then I would recommend having them out of their pushchair ready to be measured at the kiosk as Gulliver's charge entry based on height as opposed to age, so there were some short delays whilst parents got their children out ready.

One constructive comment I would make in relation to this, is that although children are measured on entry to the park, they aren't provided with any kind of wristband to state that they are over 90cm and so this then causes further delays in the park at the entry to the rides where the ride operators double check children's heights. A wristband provided on entry could help remove the need for staff to do this, and speed up the ride boarding process.

When entering the park, there is a large stage on the left which has shows on throughout the day. Adjacent to this is a lovely lake area which is very picturesque and has an abundance of ducks swimming happily around.

The park itself is very well laid out and it isn't too big. It is an ideal size to make your way around in one day at a steady pace without having to rush from one side to the other to get on all the rides. The different areas of the park have all be named and the map provided on entry explains clearly which rides are in what area. There is also an interactive version of this available on their website here - Gullivers's Map. The interactive version also clearly details height restrictions in a colour coded format which is very easy to understand.

We visited in early May and didn't have any issues with large queues for rides. The maximum time we waited was only 15 minutes and this was for the log flume which seemed very popular. This was a fun family ride and I admit that I think I enjoyed this even more than the kids! 

One thing that I do have to commend the attraction on, is the number of parks that they have that are suitable for younger children. Near almost every larger ride there is a park nearby so you can keep the youngest members of the family entertained whilst the older ones enjoy the rides. They are also well positioned so that you can still see your other family members enjoy the rides and I found this to be a big plus point.

My two eldest children Ben age 7 and Emma age 8, absolutely loved it here as they were tall enough to go on everything, and with there being so many rides to choose from that were ideally suited for their age, it made it a very enjoyable experience. My daughters favourite ride was the Wild Mine Ride, though personally I found this terrifying haha! She was laughing all the way around whilst I was screaming and when she came off the ride she said that her tummy hurt from laughing so much and quickly ran around to queue to go on it again. Admittedly I gave it a miss the second time around.

Some of the rides also have the option of purchasing a photo of your ride experience which can be a nice memento of your day. There is no pressure to buy though and you can view your picture on the screen before deciding whether to purchase or not.

My son Ben loved The Lost World and looking at all the different dinosaurs. We found it to be very quiet in this area of the park and had no queue to go on any of the rides here. With it being quiet it also made it a nice area for our youngest child Riley to have a wander around out of his pushchair without having to worry about crowds of people.

There were several places to eat throughout the park, however we had gone out for a buffet breakfast prior to our arrival and so we didn't have any need to try any of the restaurants out. They did seem very popular though and the food that we saw other diners eating looked of good quality. The menu prices were reasonable in comparison to other attractions we have visited, and if, like me, you like to budget ahead of arrival and know what you will be paying for the day, there is also the option of purchasing a Fully Inclusive ticket which includes entry to the park as well as a meal, drink and iced treat. More information can be found on this here - Fully Inclusive.

For anyone interested in visiting Gulliver's here is some more information 

Cost of Entry - Adult £15 online when purchased two days in advance, £17 at gate
                            Child £15 online when purchased two days in advance, £17 at gate
                            Senior Citizen £14 online when purchased two days in advance, £16 at gate
                            Children under 90cm in height can enter free of charge

Combi tickets and fully inclusive tickets are also available. 

Opening times can vary throughout the year and so for the most up to date information I would recommend visiting their website prior to your visit.

For full information please visit their website here Gulliver's Website

*Disclaimer - This post has been written based on our own experience and opinion of this attraction. We are not in any way connected with Gulliver's and if considering a visit I would recommend visiting their website for all the latest up to date information on entry costs, opening times, height restrictions etc.