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A Tip Top Big Mac – Your New McDonalds

A Tip Top Big Mac – Your New McDonalds

A Tip Top Big Mac is what I made at McDonalds even if I do say so myself.

Your New McDonalds

Myself and some fellow bloggers were invited to take a look around one of Plymouths City Centre McDonalds where some pretty impressive changes have been made to improve the service that customers receive and streamline the whole McDonalds experience.

Your New McDonalds

What’s New

Self Service – If you’ve been into your local branch recently it may be one of over 50% of restaurants that have the touch screen self-service points in addition to the usual counter and drive through services.

You may have even already visited one of the restaurants that have table service on offer. Fear not as these services will be rolled out nationwide in the near future.

The self service points where you order and pay for your food are a really quick and convenient way to order food. It displays the whole menu with size options and meal deal options.

Using the screens couldn’t be simpler. All the food is displayed using pictures and gives you various options (including dips for meals that include this). The touch screens are so easy that you could let your children use the screens to pick choose and order their own food. The best thing about the screens is that the menu is visual and there are options on there that you may not even know is available.

Table Service – This has probably been a long awaited addition to the McDonalds restaurants and will make ordering so much easier for the vast majority of us.

As a parent, standing in the queue and ordering the food and then finding a table can be such a pain in the butt, and then you forget to get the straws or napkins.

These days are long gone. The self-service machine allows you to choose table service. They have plastic table number plaques which are Bluetooth enabled that you pick up which are all numbered (I’m sure they have an actual name). You tap this number in and once your order is placed the server will be able to find you via the number plaque. The server comes armed with a toolbelt loaded with napkins, straws and sauces so there’s no need for you to leave your seat.

Behind the Scenes

We got to have a nose around behind the scenes which was quite impressive.

We started off in the staff room where we were given our very own McDonalds apron, hat (plus hairnet) and name badge. I was totally sold by this point but I am quite easily pleased!

Your New McDonalds

The kitchen, whilst busy was very orderly and everybody was going about their work like a well oiled machine.

I’ve always been quite impressed by the number of staff that are working in any restaurant at any given time. There are approximately 40 staff on at any given time and more at peak times.

Your New McDonalds

We had a look at the walk-in fridges and freezers at all the fresh ingredients that are delivered almost daily and YES they do use fresh eggs!

Tablets

Some of the restaurants have a seating area where tablets are available. I always assumed that these were just for children, but as well as games available you can use the tablets to get news updates, check your emails and log-in to your social media sites.

Rest assured that the tablets have strict blocks so that unsavoury sites are not accessed by our kids.

You can also keep up to date with all news that is McDonalds including calorie content and community projects that McDonalds support.

The Best Bit

We got to make our very own Big Mac’s.

All of the burgers are made specific to McDonalds. There are clearly labelled charts above the work station to ensure that all burgers are made the same.

You can watch my video but this next bit is completely from my memory.

  1. Get your bun ready
  2. Pop it into the three sections of the special bun toaster
  3. Get your box ready
  4. Put the bun in box
  5. Shoot the Big Mac sauce gun at both parts of the bun
  6. Add lettuce
  7. A sprinkle of onion
  8. A slice of cheese on one side
  9. Two slices of gherkin on the other making sure that you separate so you get pickle in each bite
  10. Add a burger on each side
  11. Put the middle part of the bun on top of the bottom bun
  12. Shut the box
  13. BOOM the Big Mac is good to go

I totally aced my Big Mac making skills as you can see in my video.

Your New McDonalds

Cool McDonalds Facts

  • They use fresh ingredients. Contrary to what many people think where possible fresh ingredients are used and delivered to the restaurants daily.
  • No food is sat around – The burgers are freshly prepared to order
  • All waste is recycled. This was the biggest surprise for me. All food and packaging waste is separated and recycled including the oil used in the fryers
  • McDonalds aim to have a ‘Zero Waste Policy’ in all restaurants by 2020
  • To reduce the carbon footprint, delivery lorries deliver and pick-up at the same time so that no empty lorries are driving around
  • Since the introduction of the self-service touch screens more salads have been ordered. This maybe since the entire menu is visual on the screen it’s much easier to see what’s on offer
  • McDonalds work with local councils and volunteer for litter picking with the Love Where you Live campaign
  • McDonalds support local community projects and sports clubs

I bet you’re just a little bit impressed as was I. We like to take Isabelle to McDonalds for a treat and we allow her to choose her own meal whether it be a burger and fries or fish fingers and a fruit bag. It’s all about moderation!

As they say *whistles* ‘I’m Loving it!’

Lisa x

Your New McDonalds

 

 

Recipe – Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken

I’ve been so slack on the cooking front this week and Chris hasn’t really done any either. Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken is a really lazy recipe which has a big effect. All of us love the kind of meal where you stick it all in the middle of the table and help yourself.

Even better is that you put it all in the slow cooker in the morning and hey presto it’s all done in time for dinner later on.

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken

What you will need:

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat
1 1/2 cups BBQ Sauce (I used Sweet Baby Rays Honey BBQ)
3 medium red onions, grated
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp worchestershire sauce
2 Tbsp brown sugar

What to do:

Pop the chicken breasts in the slow cooker.

Mix all the other ingredients in a bowl and pour over the chicken.

Add the onion.

Leave to cook throughout the day.

Shred the chicken which should just fall apart.

Serve with salad, coleslaw in a roll or wrap.

Perfect.

Lisa x

Guest Post: How we cut more than £10k from our annual spending!

How we cut more than £10k from our annual spending, without even noticing!

Guest Post from Ryan Storey – How we cut more than £10k from our annual spending, without even noticing. I have been blogging for a while now at kakeibo about cost saving strategies and generally living a frugal lifestyle, but it wasn’t until a friend really challenged me on the benefits of these strategies, that I actually took the time to work out the overall impact to our family finances. I was absolutely blown away when I added it all up! There were some strategies that I was really pleased with when I found them, that honestly didn’t amount to much when I added them up over the year, but the cumulative saving came to £10k and I almost couldn’t believe it. I’ve outlined the strategies below so hopefully others can benefit from these too. I found it very useful putting them all together in one place, like a warm fuzzy metaphorical pat on the back, maybe you should try doing the same and give yourself some well-deserved credit too!

How We Cut More Than £10k From Our Annual Spending

Before I get into the detail, it is probably helpful to have a bit of a background to give these some context. I have briefly outlined our situation below:

  • Age: 32
  • Married with two children – my daughter is 3 and my son is 4 months old
  • Essentially a single income family, my wife stays at home with the kids, but does do a bit of work around pre-school times as a PA from home
  • I work in London and commute about an hour every day
  • I am an accountant, with a passion for financial education, seeing the benefit it has brought me so far
  • I am constantly shopping around and thinking of ways to save money – I treat it like a game
  • We have had significant debt in the past ~ £35k, which we have now predominantly paid off – more on that later…

I think it is important to say that the savings that we make are reinvested in other things, like home improvements and maintaining a comfortable lifestyle. There is a common misconception that living frugally equates to living like a pauper. The key for us is maintaining a lifestyle that we can afford, being more disciplined about each purchase we make, but living the life that we want to live. It is a fine balance, because like dieting, if the life you build is not sustainable long-term, then you are more likely to slip back into bad habits.

The B word…

I feel like I need to start with a brief bit about budgeting and monitoring finances – many people have a budget, but what is often missed is regular monitoring of your spending against your budget, both within the month and following the month, to ensure that you are staying within your means. I see budgeting as past, present and future.

Past 

I review expenditure following the month compared with the budget and revise my budget going forward if things are changing, i.e. fuel prices going up and spending more, I make an adjustment for that. The budget is only as good as the day you set it, you need to keep tweaking it to make it reasonably accurate. I also use this to categorise expenditure and then start working through each item and seeing if I can either cut down, or get a better deal. That is basically how I found most of the strategies in the first place, i.e. being motivated to go and do some shopping around. 

Present 

Ensuring that you stay within your means and budget, results in avoiding borrowing money to see you through the month. I update our budget vs. actual during the month at least once per week, and reign in spending if it is getting out of control. This could be a time consuming exercise, but last year I transitioned all of our budgeting and monitoring from a basic spreadsheet, to a cloud-based accounting package called Xero. It downloads your bank transactions and using AI categorises most for you to just review and accept, which has automated a huge amount of this process and given me back about 12 full days per year when I add up the time saving. The subscription does cost me money (approx. £60), but based on the savings below, assistance in keeping us in our budget and the time saving, this was an investment I was willing to make.

Future 

I run a rolling 12 month budget and deliberately budget monthly so that costs like holiday, birthdays, Xmas and other big outlays such as car service etc. are captured in the proper months. This helps me work out what I need to save each month to make sure that I am then not short in those months. This also helps me to forecast for other transactions that we are planning and see if it is feasible, like buying a sofa, or washing machine for example. It is better to work out that it is not possible in a spreadsheet, than signing up and realising that you have run out of money!

For more on budgeting, check out our detailed blog post at -> I’ve made a Budget, why do I still have no money?

Our cost cutting strategies – tried and tested!

So, without further ado, here is a summary of our cost cutting strategies in no particular order and the total that they will save us over the coming year:

Caveat: Some of these are specific to our circumstances and won’t be possible for all, but the concept remains the same – if it is a big cost, think about how you could save money, even if that is just changing your routine or behaviour. 

Mobile phones – this is my favourite, as previously there just weren’t really any options to reduce this cost drastically unless you could afford to buy your phone outright (or chose to not have a smartphone of course…). The other reason I have been raving about it to friends and family is because of the way that contracts have been sold in the past does not clearly demonstrate how much you are ending up paying for the phone, which I think is unfair to the consumer. Using Unshackled.com, I will have saved £150 on my phone this year (£300 over the life of the contract), but I will also use Unshackled.com for my wife when her contract is up in September too, which will save another £50 this year.

Razors and shaving – I was fed up with how much I was spending on razors and shaving stuff, so I shopped around and now have a King of Shaves subscription, saving me £44 per year. It also comes in the post, so you don’t even have to think about it!

National Insurance refund – it is a good idea to check your payslip, especially if you have changed employers in the tax year like I have. I realised that I had overpaid National Insurance by £261. National insurance is often overlooked, as it is not dealt with on a cumulative basis by your employer if you are under the PAYE scheme. I had to call and write to HRMC, but it is worth it if you can get some money back! This is also a reason to run a tight budget, as it will show up when you are comparing forecast to actual on a monthly basis. 

Multi-car insurance – I shopped around for insurance when my wife’s car was up for renewal, exploring multi-car policies and taking into account the £50 I had to pay to get out of the pre-existing separate insurance I had on my car, I will have saved £622 this year.

Parking for work – I commute to work and have to drive to my local train station, parking at the train station costs £12 per week, but I get up a bit earlier and manage to park on a nearby side street (they would all be taken if I didn’t go earlier), saving £500 per year. Who says the early bird doesn’t catch the worm?!

Train travel – I realised that on renewing my season ticket that if I made a slight tweak to my destination, I would no longer need to pay for tube fares getting to my office. It means that I need to walk a short distance, but that is more than worth it considering I will now save £1,360 over the next year!

Lunches for work – I either make my lunch everyday, or take leftovers (also reducing food waste), but on average cost no more than £1 per day. Before I was spending £5 per day, therefore this is a saving of £900 per year.

Coffee on my commute – I have a coffee on the way to work each morning (I’m up early to get that parking space remember), but since getting a KeepCup for Xmas and taking a coffee from home instead, I will now save £400 this year as a result.

Nappies for my newborn son – we use ‘subscribe and save’ through Amazon saving £38 per year.

Childcare vouchers£300 saved on pre-school fees before my daughter got the free hours, by getting the childcare vouchers through my employer and therefore saving the tax on my pay.

TV & broadband – saved £43 over the year, but managed to upgrade Sky to Sky Q and broadband to fibre on BT Infinity – I could have chosen to just get a discount on my Sky HD package instead, which I negotiated down to 50% off, for a saving of £300 per year, but decided to reinvest it instead. Broadband is one of life’s necessities after all…

Home insurance – shopped around for my home insurance and will save £90 this year by going through John Lewis Insurance. 

Groceries – we shop at Aldi where possible, we do still have to get some things elsewhere, but we save approx. £1,000 over the year as a result. Plus, you get a workout trying to pack your own bags as the checkout assistant fires things through at break-neck speed!

Meal wheel – for my wife’s baby shower present, instead of getting baby ‘stuff’ her best friend set up a ‘meal wheel’, which is basically your friends making you dinners and bringing them over in the first few weeks after the baby is born. It saves both time and money, which are equally important at that key time, but amounted to about £100 saved and immeasurable amounts in sanity. 

Hand me down clothes – with our first child being a girl, we would have needed to buy lots of clothes for our son, but friends and family have donated ‘hand me down’ clothes, which has already saved us at least £100, but will save us a lot more over the year as well.

Breastfeeding – my wife breastfeeds our son, which means we don’t buy formula, which will save us about £120 this year.

Leased car termination fee – I used to have a leased car through my employer. When I left last year I was required to pay a termination fee. It seemed high, so I challenged it, going all the way back to the terms and conditions after lots of arguing and doing my own calculation. They finally accepted a £500 reduction due to their “errors” in the calculation. It is important to know what you are paying for and sticking to your guns if it doesn’t seem right!

Nest thermostat and insulation – I had a Nest Thermostat installed last year, which learns your routines and how your house heats up. We used to have a basic timer on the boiler, which meant the heating was always on for 8 hours per day. Since having it installed there have been many days where it has only been on for 3 or 4 hours instead, even over the winter, giving us a comfortable environment. I will really need to run this for a whole year to determine cost savings, but I think this could help a lot. We also live in an older house, which had no insulation in large sections of the loft. I did some research and insulated it myself on a weekend. It cost me £300 for the insulation, but on average savings achieved by insulating your property can be £600+. Therefore, I estimate £200 saving (after taking into account what I spent) to be prudent over the year.

Re-mortgage – Last year we were planning on re-mortgaging our existing property, to reduce our monthly payments, take advantage of the ridiculously low interest rates and pay down credit card debt. We had the house valued as part of the process and actually ended up selling, moving to a bigger house paying off all our debt and getting a lower interest rate. It is important to say here that I used a financial advisor to help me with this process, which I would strongly recommend for any significant financial decisions like that. The result is that overall we are now £300 better off each month, therefore a saving of £3,600 over a year and have more space and a better quality of life. Much less of our hard earned cash goes into making interest payments.

Drum roll for the net total saving over the next year…..£10,318!

Hopefully you too can utilise some of these and make savings yourself. Are there any great cost saving strategies that I have missed? Let us know and get involved with the conversation on social media:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/kakeibo

Twitter: @puzzlingpieces

Instagram: @kakeibo_gram

Thank you Ryan for your great post. If you have any amazing ways to save money then do leave us a comment with your suggestions or pop over to Ryan’s site for more tips. 

Lisa

15 May Half Term Events in Devon

15 May Half Term Events in Devon

It’s come around again! May Half Term is almost upon us and again it’s up to us Mum’s and Dad’s to make sure our little lovelies have an action packed week whether it’s out and about or at home. Here are 15 May Half Term Events in Devon that will hopefully keep everybody happy.

The weather is slightly odd at the moment, with one day blue skies and sunny and the next day (or even afternoon) it’s pouring down with rain so we’ve found some indoor and outdoor suggestions.

1. Animal Encounters with Chris Johnson – Prickly Ball Farm – Monday 29th May 11am – 1pm

Pop down and meet some creepy crawlies with talks and show and tell. As well as this, take the time to visit the rest of the animals for a child friendly farm experience.

May Half Term Events

2. Exeter Respect Festival – 3rd – 4th June 11am, Belmont Park Exeter

We’ve been going to this for a few years and it’s always a really good day. There are loads of things to do for all ages, music, local food, stalls, hoola hooping. It’s a lovely laid-back day.

3. Summer Fair – Donkey Sanctuary – 3rd June 10am – 3pm

There’s loads of stuff to do at the Summer Fair. We went last year and had a great day. There are stalls, old fashioned carnival games, welly throwing competitions, food stalls and music. As well as this you can go around and meet lots of lovely donkeys. We took a picnic and the weather was lovely so we sat on the grass.

4. Tozers Charity Family Fun Day – Saturday 3rd June 10am – 3pm

There will be bouncy inflatables, fire engine, police car, food and drinks van. Get your face painted or a glitter tattoo. Buy from the many stalls selling sweets, arts and crafts and enjoy the various entertainers. Exeter City Football Club and Active Devon will be there with a 15ft inflatable target shoot and table tennis!! Guest appearance from Disney princesses, Spiderman and Minions and an opportunity to have your photo taken with your favourite character.

The Bear Trail

5. The Bear Trail – Open from 10am – 5pm

Get outside for some Muddy fun on the Bear Trail. There are a variety of obstacles to climb, zip wires, tunnels, swinging ropes, tyres and much more. See how much fun we had at The Bear Trail last weekend.

6. Discover Arts Award – RAMM – Wednesday 31st May, Thursday 1st June & Friday 2nd June – 10.30am – 3.30pm

This is a drop-in event so no booking required. Pick up a RAMM Discover Arts Award log booklet in the courtyard and follow Alfie the Sparrow around the museum at your own pace to complete arty activities and challenges in the galleries. I highly recommend the cakes in the cafe for afterwards!

May Halfterm Events

7. Meet Rex the T-Rex – The Big Sheep, Exmouth – Sunday 28th May

Meet Rex the 8 foot animatronic dinosaur with appearances throughout the day. The Big Sheep is a great day out with various rides and attractions as well as Lamb Feeding, Sheep Racing and Pony Rides

8. Paignton Zoo – Paignton

Who doesn’t love a trip to the zoo? We love a day at the zoo. A baby giraffe calf has recently been born which would be a lovely site to see as well. They also do a combo ticket (Zooper Ticket) with Living Coasts which will save you some money for two fab days out.

May Halfterm Events

9. Pirates Bay Adventure Golf Course – Paignton Seafront

This pirate themed crazy golf course is great fun for the family. You don’t have to be any good at golf (I’m not) and everybody can take part.

10. Trago Mills – Newton Abbot

Trago has loads to offer including animal petting, rides, food stalls, a boating lake, Go Karts and lots of outdoor play equipment. They also offer an unlimited ride ticket which is £4.99 for adults and £3.99 for children under 8 making this an affordable day out.

May Halfterm Events

11. Pennywell Farm – Buckfastleigh

27th – 28th May There will be a circus themed weekend with circus skills, workshops and shows including Spangles and the Clown.

To begin the long awaited school holidays there will be a circus themed weekend with circus skills workshops and shows on Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th May with Alison Lewis and Spangles and the Clown. On Wednesday 31st  children dressed as their favourite Superhero will get in FREE. Take part in bottle feeding, ferret racing, goat milking and pond dipping.

12. Powderham Castle – Powderham, Kenton

This half-term is Pirates and Mermaids week at the castle. Let your kids dress up as a Mermaid or a Pirate and join in the adventures.

13. Dynamic Adventures – Dartington Hall, Totnes

Dynamic Adventures’ range of exciting outdoor activities.  There’s archery, rock-climbing, abseiling, high ropes, a 500-foot-long zip line, canoeing and kayaking – all suitable for beginners.

14.  Free Fun Day – Princesshay – Exeter, 31st May 10am – 4pm

Join in with lots of free activities throughout the day aimed at getting people active. The activities include yoga, RockFit, dance, athletics, cycling, ping pong and more!

15. Pirate Week – World of Country Life – Exmouth

There are all sorts of piratey activities throughout the week as well as all the usual activities such as bottle feeding, animal handling, goat walking and ferret racing.

If the weather of this week is anything to go by, we’ll have a great time out and about.

What are you up to this week? Pop a comment below if you find any local gems that you think we should share.

Lisa x

 

 

 

 

You Baby Me Mummy

#southwestdaysout – Spellbound Fairy & Goblin Festival

Spellbound Fairy & Goblin Festival

On Sunday the sun was shining and we set off down to Plymouth for the Spellbound Fairy & Goblin Festival for a day filled with fairies, story tellers, crafts, music, face painting and much more…

Spellbound Fairy and Goblin Festival

The Soapbox Theatre

The Soapbox Theatre was created by a husband and wife team, Iain and Jacqueline who are both experienced theatre practitioners and community artists. They took over a semi-derelict World War II mustard gas decontamination unit (hmm I had to google it too) in Devonport Park, Plymouth. Huge efforts have been put into raising funds to develop this site through crowdfunding, grants and the local authority. The passion and enthusiasm for this going forward is visible on both Iain and Jacqueline’s efforts to make this a festival to remember.

Spellbound Fairy Goblin Festival

Iain explained the plans for the future which include a roof-top stage and amphitheatre which sounds like an amazing space for children and families to experience both watching shows and taking part in workshops and projects. Workshops and classes are available for all ages and capabilities making this a valuable asset to the local community.

The Festival 

The programme for the day was jam packed full of activities and we wanted to experience as much as possible. We did what we usually do on a day out, and took a wander round to work out what we would like to do first, second, third and so on.

Spellbound Fairy Goblin Festival

The whole entire place, which was fenced off for safety of the children  was decked out with colourful lanterns strung from the trees, flags and wind socks in bright colours. It was the perfect spot for the festival as it was set amongst a fairy village with houses, caravans and a washing line full of fairy clothes.

Spellbound Fairy Goblin Festival

There were tents set up all around for us ‘big people’ with various activities. The Big Top had various shows including The Fallen Cedars, Jazz singing, Elfic the Jester and his antics and an amazingly fun Samba band who marched through the park and led a parade around the site.

Spellbound Fairy Goblin Festival

First off we watched a puppet show which including a smelly creature, a man and a walrus. It captured all the kids attention, especially with the mention of bird poo and bottom burping.

Spellbound Fairy Goblin Festival

We saw Isabella Necessity Bicycle Storyteller whilst sat atop tree stumps.

We were amused by Elfic the Jester with his juggling antics.

We walked around the various stalls selling all sorts of fairy paraphanalia where we bought a plant pot fairy house to make at home complete with Tinkerbell.

We tasted gorgeous fruit lollies and sat on the grass and had freshly cooked fire baked pizzas (Chicken, pesto and mozzarella).

Spellbound Fairy Goblin Festival

Isabelle and I made fairy wands and a dream catcher using all kinds of tubing, ribbons, pipecleaners, shells, string, pom poms and glue. Whilst we were in the craft tent, Goblins were running amock and threw bits of mud and grass at us. They were dancing around, going through the bins and generally causing trouble.

Spellbound Fairy Goblin Festival

Isabelle was ‘Fairy Tested’ to determine if she was a genuine fairy or not with a special wooden dragonfly. She passed the test of course!

We both queued up for face painting but when it was our turn I felt mean taking up the make-up artists time whilst there were so many children waiting. I so wanted a glittery eye. Boo!

Spellbound Fairy Goblin Festival

There were lots of areas for little ones to play including the Petite cafe and a soft play area.

Spellbound Fairy Goblin Festival

Children and adults all lined up for the ‘Best dressed Fairy’ and ‘Best dressed Goblin’ and prizes were given to all.

Spellbound Fairy Goblin Festival

We stayed until the end and we’re really pleased that we did as the Crooked Tempo  Samba band played through the park and led a parade through the site with much bum shaking taking place.

What we thought

The Festival gets a huge Fairy Wands up from all of us. The day was filled with lots of fun and activities which were all included in the ticket price.  The choice of food was extremely reasonable and very tasty. The atmosphere was very relaxed and everything was family friendly. We even bumped into some family members so we had a bit of a catch up sat in the sun.

Spellbound Fairy Goblin Festival

Oh and did I mention that we go to meet the Fairy Queen herself.

Upcoming Events

Whilst the Fairy and Goblin Festival has been and gone for this year, there are lots of activities, shows and work-shops to take part in with the Soapbox Theatre so do make sure that you pop over to their Facebook Page for more details.

Lisa x

*please note that we were gifted tickets to the event in exchange for a review, but all thoughts and opinions are our own.

#southwestdaysout – The Bear Trail

#southwestdaysout – The Bear Trail.

On Sunday we went to The Bear Trail in Cullompton for the first time.

Isabelle and I had been looking at the pictures on facebook at all the mud covered adults and children. She thought it was ‘awesome’ and I wondered what on earth I should wear!

I opted for gym gear and trainers to make running, jumping and climbing possible.

The Bear Trail

At this point I should mention that the day before we went it absolutely bucketed down so it was definitely going to be an extra muddy day!

I am usually the bag carrier! Daddy is usually the one who does the physical stuff whilst I look after the bags/coats/picnic, but this time I decided that we were all going to take part and have some fun.

The Bear Trail

Our Visit

The Bear Trail was easy to find and there was ample parking when we arrived.

The carpark overlooked the trail where all the equipment was laid out in a wide open space with plenty of grass space in the middle, perfect for picnics.

Isabelle was very excited (and Daddy too) and were raring to go. When we arrived there were lots of cars arriving for a birthday party. All nicely dressed. Big mistake!

The Bear Trail

The Bear Trail

Inside the Bear Trail.

Aside from the trail itself there is a barn with inside seating, a kiosk selling hot drinks, sandwiches, cakes as well as freshly made wood fired pizzas, changing rooms, toilets and a shower area.

There is also a play area for the littles with a sandpit, but there is no age limit on any of the equipment. The ethos is that if you think you can do it – give it a go. You know your own child’s capability.

Not forgetting in the far corner there is a pen with some alpaca and ponies which when you’re having fun could easily be  overlooked, but we went over and gave the ponies a stroke.

The Trail

The trail has a selection of rope climbing frames, swing ropes, bridges, zip slides, tunnels, hay bales, stepping stones, tyres and more, all with a huge puddle of muddy water either before, after or underneath.

Off we went, and at first I think most people make some kind of attempt to stay out of the mud, but once you go in – you get stuck in. Isabelle had no hesitation and was a mud slick in minutes. Daddy closely followed whilst I lagged behind shop fresh clean.

After passing a fellow blogger who had got stuck in with her two boys I felt a bit of a wuss and with the help of Isabelle managed to get covered in mud. Squelchy feet and all.

You can go around the trail in order, but there were certain bits that we preferred so we made up our own route.

Some families set up picnics and had blankets and food laid out where the adults congregated and the kids were let loose to play. As it’s all open plan you can give the kids that bit of freedom.

We went round the trail for a good couple of hours before showering off and getting changed before being treated to a lovely lunch of a selection of wood fired pizzas, cakes and drinks.

The Bear Trail

About the Bear Trail

The trail set in Cullompton, Devon is about to celebrate it’s first birthday and was set in motion by Ben a former Army Man.

The trail is evolving and new obstacles are in the pipeline, as are better changing facilities. We thought lockers were a good idea to eliminate the trips back to the car.

The trail is kept as basic as can be – no flashing lights, music or bright colours. It’s all about getting outside and having good old fashioned fun.

All the obstacles have safety nets but it’s very much up to the individual’s capability. Isabelle is six and was capable of taking part in every part of the trail and made the most of it.

It’s an all weather day out. If it rains, you get muddier!

The Bear Trail

Info

The trail is open from 10 – 5pm. There are no time restrictions – you can stay all day.

Tickets are available at the entrance or online. If it’s the school holidays I would recommend booking beforehand to avoid disappointment.

Prices
Over 1 metre – £7.50
Under 1 metre – £4.50

Don’t wear your best clothes – they will get muddy.

Take spare clothes, shoes, towels and a bag to put all the muddy clothes in.

Food is available – the pizzas are awesome, but you can take your own. There are plenty of picnic tables and grassy areas to sit.

Bear Trail Birthday Party’s – You can host a birthday party at the trail with different priced packages to suit your budget.

All in all we had a great day so The Bear Trail gets the thumbs up from us.

To celebrate their first birthday they are having a Colour Bomb Run where you will be showered with the colours of the rainbow as well as mud – This is taking place on 23rd July and booking is advisable.

For you lovely readers we can offer 5% off the usual ticket price if you book online. Just add the code: BLOG5 at the checkout. 

The Bear Trail
One of my FAVE pics!

Have fun.

Lisa x

Elastoplast #TearsIntoSmiles Challenge

Elastoplast Tears into Smiles Challenge.

#TearsIntoSmiles

What do your kids call a cut or a graze?

A Baddie
A Boo Boo
An Oopsie
An Ouchie

Isabelle loves to make a huge song and dance whenever she falls over. She starts off crying and we’re desperately trying to work out if she’s hurt herself and if so what damage has been done whilst she bats us off covering up the ‘baddie’.

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Once we’ve had a look we have to assess the situation and work out if it’s just a bang and we might need to rub on a bit of arnica or whether it’s more than that.

We have, like most parents a whole kit of stuff for every eventuality.

We have arnica for bruises
Antiseptic spray and cream to get all the nastiness out of a cut or graze
Plasters of course in all shapes and sizes
Cotton wool pads – for holding over the baddies (better with a sprinkling of magic water)
A cold pack that we keep in the freezer

I think that the biggest part of a cut or graze is the initial shock of falling over that scares them more than the resulting injury.

If we have plain plasters, then part of making it ‘all better’ is drawing a design on the plaster whilst a cotton pad is held in place to clean it is all part and parcel of making sure that all is good and well in the world again.

I’m not playing down any falls that Isabelle may have, but thankfully she’s never had any serious ones that have needed proper medical attention.

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We were sent a set of both Frozen and Star Wars Plasters which have all the characters of the films on them so Isabelle has already pointed out her top few from both sets for ‘future baddies’.

#TearsintoSmiles

I love a challenge so it was no different when we were asked to take part in the Tears into Smiles Challenge – #TearsintoSmiles

So what do you do when your child has a fall?

We do all of the above and Isabelle plays a huge part in this by cleaning it herself and putting the on cream herself. She likes to put on the plaster but her aim isn’t that great so we try and do this ourselves if we can.

Following the clean up we have a bit of calm time when we sit and have a cuddle and either watch a bit of TV or read a book together.

Once this is all done, it’s definitely a game of distraction that helps get the day back on track.

We were sent a Hoopla Garden Game to try out as part of the challenge which we set up in the lounge to start with but have since played with it in the Garden, and it’s even been on a trip to Nanny and Papa’s house.

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Isabelle really liked this game and became the chief score taker (good for helping her count in tens and fives).

All the pieces come apart so could easily be packed away for the day on the beach as well.

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This post is an entry for the Britmums #TearsIntoSmiles Challenge, sponsored by Elastoplast.

Lisa x

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#whatwedidthisweek 01.05.17

What we did this week 01.05.17

#whatwedidthisweek – Bank Holiday Monday and we should have been out and about making the most of our day off, but after the birthday celebrations it feels like a chore to even smile. We’re all exhausted. Isabelle has opted to watch some things on her kindle laying on her bed and Chris and I are mooching around the house not doing a lot – except for washing!

The laundry volcano is spewing socks and pants like you wouldn’t believe. So much so that the lid won’t even fit on!

Back to work and school as per on Tuesday.

On Wednesday evening we went to meet a couple who may have Charlie when we go away. This time we didn’t go into their house but took the two dogs out for a walk on neutral ground. The lady had a fifteen year old poodle, and both dogs seemed happy in each other’s company.

I’m glad that she was able to see Charlie as he ‘really is’. He’s a lovable cheeky chappy who loves playing with other dogs and loves people. She saw him as we see him and hopefully, as I really liked her they will be happy to look after him. He will go for a sleepover with them in June so fingers crossed.

I don’t think I had this much trouble finding the perfect nursery for Ryan when he was little!

Thursday Isabelle’s school was used  as a polling station so we called upon Nanny P to have Isabelle for the day.

With Both of us working so much we’re finding it a bit of a struggle to muster up the energy to do much at the weekends, but on Saturday we took Charlie out for a walk and sat and made daisy chains. Isabelle is 42  daisies tall and played hoopla which was spoilt by Charlie and one of his mates as they kept pinching the hoops.

#whatwedidthisweek

Roller Disco Baby!

We then did something new to Isabelle. We went to a Roller Disco. I haven’t skated since I was about twelve but it is like riding a bike. The fearlessness of youth has definitely left me and I was terrified that a small person was going to skate out in front of me and I would take them out spectacularly. I was so pleased that I stayed on my feet the whole time.

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Isabelle was a bit terrified at first and did a fab impression of a baby giraffe.

She practiced on the carpet which was a bit easier than in the sports hall. The session ended with sweets to take away the pain of a sore bottom.

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Baby Giraffe impression!

Collectibles

Sunday was a trip into town to get some bits and bobs, look at suitcases for our holibobs and pick up the longed for Hatchimals Colleggtibles.

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That’s another thing to add to the evergrowing collectible things. Isabelle is currently collecting the Lego Mini figure cards from Sainsbury’s, Shopkins have been on the scene for a while, Beauty and the Beast Stickers, Beanie Babies and now these Colleggtibles.

What did you do this weekend?

Lisa x

Sparkles & Stretchmarks Sunday Best

Belle’s Bedtime Reads – Wake Up Do Lydia Lou

Belle’s Bedtime Reads

Belle’s Bedtime Reads – Wake Up Do Lydia Lou by Julia Donaldson.

I think I’ve said previously that Isabelle has been a big fan of Julia Donaldson since an early age with her favourite being What the Ladybird Heard.

Wake Up Do Lydia Lou

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The Ghost tries to wake-up Lydia-Lou but Lydia-Lou doesn’t wake up so he enlists the help of some friends such as a Kitten (Meeew), a Cow (Moooo), an Owl (Too-Whit-Too-Whoo) and some others to try and wake her up.

But she goes on sleeping!

What wakes up Lydia-Lou?

I won’t spoil the surprise.

This is a lovely bedtime read.

There are a lot of pictures and it’s not too long (bonus).

It can be quite an excitable book as your child joins in with all the various animal sounds.

This book gets a huge thumbs up from Isabelle and is in her ‘bedtime read basket’ which has all her faves (for the moment) in that we pick from each night and rotate on a regular basis.

We have two kids and probably enough books to fill a small library!

What are you reading to your kids at the moment? Leave me a comment.

Lisa x

 

*please note that this post includes affiliate links which I may receive a small payment if you click the link.

#whatwedidthisweek 24.04.17

#whatwedidthisweek 24.04.17

The last couple of weeks have been really stressful as we were fast approaching  Ryan’s 18th birthday. It’s not just about him turning eighteen (which is sooooo scary) but it signifies eighteen years of being a parent.

All was booked for a birthday meal and I was on track with making sure that I had everything needed to make the cake.

I knew what I wanted to do in my head but it changed slightly from pictures to a word cloud of all the things Ryan loved over the years. Some I’m sure he would love if we forgot such as Hannah Montana! 

#whatwedidthisweek

We had a family meal planned with all the rellies followed by drinks at ours whilst they watched the boxing. Ryan had drinking games lined up, and I planned on staying out of the way so that I couldn’t see the potential drink spillage, hear the noise or anything else related to having around fifteen 18 years olds trampling around the house.

Amongst this, on Thursday Charlie (the dog) went for a sleepover with the dog sitter who will hopefully have him when we go away.

It didn’t go too well. He was really sad and she couldn’t let him off his lead as he was desperately looking around for us. He slept by the door and didn’t want to play with the Labrador puppy that she was also looking after. Unfortunately she won’t take him so we’re meeting another couple couple next week.

Poor Charlie!

Birthday Celebrations!

Ryan’s Birthday arrived on Saturday and started off with a game of Pie Face Showdown which was hilarious. The dog also enjoyed cleaning up the cream.

We then went for a birthday brekkie before getting things and ourselves ready for the night ahead.

I think I got away with posting some baby pics of Ryan on Facebook which is probably the only embarrassing ‘mum thing’ that I did.

We went to our local pub which does awesome food where friends and family plied my poor boy with drinks. I think his tequila face was probably the funniest.

#whatwedidthisweek
When the meal was done and all the pressies were opened it was time for Ryan to leave us and join his mates for a night of drinking games, boxing and a night out.

Isabelle went off for a sleepover with Nanny and Papa so she was a happy girl.

When we arrived home, the boxing was underway and there was barely any room to move. It was fine! It could all be cleaned!

We did have a bit of bother with a neighbour which I thought was a bit mean since it was his 18th birthday, a Saturday night and the first time we’ve ever made any noise since living here.

Unplanned as it was we ended up going into town and stayed for a little while before leaving them to it.

Home to bed for us oldies!

Sunday poured down with rain and all the boys that celebrated Ryan’s birthday were also all playing football as well. As you can imagine they were useless (the ones that made it) and lost the match.

It turns out that there was quite a lot of drink spillage and lots of sick which Chris managed to get cleaned up without me knowing or having to see/smell.

Overall we’ve had a busy but great week and now our boy is officially an adult.

What did you do this week?