general, lifestyle, parenting

Roadtrip to Manchester

I realised just thismorning that we’re almost at the end of week 4 of the summer holidays! WEEK 4. Crazy. Looking back I feel like we haven’t done all that much, but putting it into perspective and to kind of justify it to myself,  we do a lot with the kids throughout the whole year. We’re out somewhere every Sunday regardless of the weather, so don’t really feel the pressure to have plans for every day over six weeks, or have the funds. Who does?

But my hubby was off last week. He takes two weeks off each summer but breaks them down as two single weeks. We’re strategic. Or rather I am. I figure I can do two weeks on my own no problem, it’s just like the Easter holidays (but minus the chocolate, unfortunately). By week three I’m usually lagging, and needing a bit of daddy support.

Rather than have a big holiday, we have short breaks throughout the year. This give us things to look forward to, an opportunity to unwind as a family, and I just love a roadtrip (and really really really, do not like flying)

So, as always the decision where to go was left up to me. I admit, I can be a bit of a control freak, but this is more because my hubby is rather laid back and happy to have little input in where we go. Although I always run suggestions by him, and this time we decided on Manchester. I then spent probably a whole afternoon deliberating where to stay. City Cenre, half an hour from the City Centre, or about an hour away in a country hotel, which wouldn’t really have even been Manchester.

We went with the city centre. I feel I want to boast for a second and stress that we set off around 9.30 am. I’m NEVER ready for 9.30 in the holidays (unless I’ve made plans to meet a friend. Otherwise I’m a sit in my pjs till lunch time kinda gal), but Andrew cleverly used the suggestion of  a McDonalds breakfast as an incentive. I have a feeling he will use this every time we go away, now

We arrived in Manchester City Centre after just under 4 hours travelling. We then spent around another hour figuring out how to get into the damn carpark. Andrew eventually resorted to popping into a local pub to use the toilet  ask the barman for help. He explained it’s a nightmare at the minute with roadworks and advised us to find another. So we did. Then we had a bit of an issue buying a parking ticket as it could be done over the phone only. Which would’ve been fine had we been able to find the ‘location number’ to enter into the automated phone system. We gave up and found another. Then had a 7 minute walk to our hotel (using google maps)

We then made our way to our rooms to sit back after the long journey, and relax. Only joking, we had a right muck on checking in having brought no photo ID with us (never been asked for this before) and I lost my patience with the receptionist when she looked at me with absolute horror that we’d booked a separate room for my son. I gave her ‘the glare’ with a sharp ‘And? Is there a problem’? Seriously though, he turned 18 on the sunday after we returned home.

Anwayay, after around another hour,  we finally made our way to our rooms. They weren’t the best, but fine for a couple of nights and a reminder that I really need to check out Tripadvisor first.

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We felt we really could do with a swim, so got kitted out in our swim gear, and the kids waddled down the corridors with arm bands over their clothes and goggles on,

2to be told children could only use the pool up unitl 5pm. It was 4.45.

So we had little options other than to check out the city centre instead. We thougt a Chinese buffet for tea would be nice, but the kids insisted on chicken nuggets and chips. Cue our second trip to McDonalds of the day for them, then a Chinese for us. However, they then thought they quite liked the look of Chinese too, and I think one of the waiters clocked me giving Emily some prawn toast. Although she was pretty vocal and drew attention to our table stating rather loudly ‘oh that food looks YUMMY. I wish I could have some’.

 

 

 

Obviously I had to try a cocktail, and Emily showed signs that she is going to be a bit of a party girl by asking if kids could have cocktails too.

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We then made our way back to the hotel, picking up a load of leafltes from reception for more ideas what to do the following day

bf After breakfast, we headed to Gullivers World in Warrington. We’d never took the girls to a theme park before, so this would be something different for us all. I wished I’d knew of Guillivers World earlier as it also has a hotel with themed rooms which looked amazing. and the girls would’ve loved a night there. But we were staying in a hotel which I am convinced smelt of illegal substances, had the smallest tv known to man on the wall and a Jacuzzi bath which didn’t work, so it was all good

We spent a full day there, arriving at 11 and leaving around 4.30. It’s a great place to go for kids from between the ages of 2 – 13. I was really worried surprised when the girls asked to go on the wooden rollercoaster. Obviously myself and Andrew had to go on with them, and it was fast. Really fast. The kids loved it, we actually really did too and a must if you visit.

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We also got thoroughly soaked on one of the water rides, but luckily the sun was out and we dried in no time. Only for Andrew and the girls to get soaked again on the Log Flume, which I found amusing.

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After about 5 hours in the theme park, we made our way back into Manchester. And we even managed to get lost walking back from the car park to the hotel, again.

 

After a quick change, Turtle Bay was my our choice of place to dine that night, and it was just amazing. We were literally spoilt for choice with a menu of Carribean food. I was however, gutted we’d just missed the 2 for 1 cocktail off. Didn’t stop me ordering a few though

Along with Garlic and Chili Pit Prawns and a Garlic and Herb Flat bread which we all shared, then a main of a Jerk ‘n’ Pull Pork Bun

Then we made our way to Gino Gelatos for ice cream and the most delicious Oreo Waffle.

8 So if you’re planning a trip to Manchester, you have to visit Ginos. To.die.for

37And no, my hubby will not thank me for this pic

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So after an early rise for a morning for a swim in the pool and use of the steam room and spa, that wrapped up out trip to Manchester.

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But one more thing. No matter how many hotels we visit, or how many gyms and leisure centres I go to. I just can not get my head around communal changing.

This hotel went one step further with a windowed shower. No curtain, just a big pane of glass. I showered in my costume and changed in the toilets.

We’re on our travels again in the last week of the holidays. We chose the last week for Andrews second weeks as presumably I’ll be demented by then. We’re off to Bath to visit family and we have lots of days out planned, and I am so happy to see there is a Turtle Bay in Bath.

food, general, lifestyle, review

Our afternoon at Loca, Whiltey Bay

When I noticed on Facebook that a new restaurant in my small hometown of Whitley Bay was looking for bloggers to attend their Press Event, I jumped at the opportunity. I’d never tried my hand at food blogging before, but I was more than willing to give it a go.

I arrived at 1pm along with my friend Jeannie, a keen foodie with an interest in the current ongoing regeneration of Whitley Bay, fellow cocktail enthusiast and bad influence (we were trying out a new eaterie in town monday afternoon with a voucher she won in my fundraising raffle) and we were told to go head next door to the Italian restaurant, as Loca was very much still under construction, where we were then each presented with a glass of Prosecco, and a press pack.

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We excitedly took a seat near the back of the restaurant along with other bloggers and a photographer, and had a look inside our press pack, where we found information about the Latin American Restaurant & Bar, Food and Cocktail Menus, a small plastic bottle containing an invite to the VIP launch the following night, and some photos of some rather tempting looking deserts.

We had a look through the menu, in the meantime was offered another Prosecco, which we gratefully accepted.

Within 5 minutes of scouring the menu, I had already decided what I would be ordering on my first visit (it’s got to be a Brazillian xim xim Chicken Rice bowl), then Jeannie and I sat and discussed what tapas we shall order when we go with our friends. This was before even trying anything. But with tapas dishes such as Salmon & Scallop Ceviche, Lime, Tofu and Mixed Bean Salad and Chipotle bbq Baby Back Ribs, there is something for everyone. And of course there is a selection of Bocadillos (or sandwiches on spanish bread – thank you Google), sharing dishes, Ensalada (salads, yes, I was about to google that too, then common sense kicked in) and a selection of Little Locas for the kids. Childrens usual favourites of Chicken burger, Chicken Strips, Cheeseburger and a vegetarian option of a Tofu Pitta. Along with impressive selection of sides

Ok, that’s the food. Now lets move on to the cocktails. Wow is all I can say. I will first of all point out that we only expected to be sampling cocktails in little shot glasses, just to get the general taste, which is why we went by car rather than endure the 5 minute walk in the rain. Generous bar staff presented us with a selection of full-sized cocktails. First off I tried a Loca Colada. A blended cocktail of white rum, coconut rum, coconut syrup, fresh banana and condensed milk. Delicious.

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Then I tried a Galapagos Iced Tea served in a tall glass and I must say it’s something I wouldn’t even think of ordering, but definitely will next time I’m in Loca.

Then onto a Sensation Sours – something else I would probably avoid as it contains egg white, but again, very nice.

Drinks are very reasonabley priced at £7 each, or 2-4-£8 before 7pm or after 9pm.

After then hearing from owner Steve Welsh as to why he chose to create his own ‘Latino Bay’ at Loca, we were then taken for a look around the establishment, which was still very much a building site at this point. We could see with VIP launch night happening in just over 24 hours, the builders had their hands full and were probably looking at pulling an all nighter.

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But we could still get the general feel of the bar with beautifully decorated walls and as we went back to the Italians next door to sample some food, I’d decided I’ d definitely be there the following night to see the finished result.

We then spent about half an hour sampling some Tapas. Dadinhos, Avacado, Corn & Black Bean Tostada, Empanadas which were without a doubt my favourite, and Chorizo, Jalapeno and Cheese Churros which may sound strange as a starter, but were really nice, although I did think how some Nutella to dip them in would be great right now.

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We then had one more cocktail for the road, another Sensation Sours for me and I have no idea what Jeannie had. At this point she was ringing her hubby to come get the bus down to drive both her and the car home. So a quick obligatory snap chat selfie, we thanked the staff for their hospitality, then left, impressed (no, I haven’t misspelt p*ssed)

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We returned the following night for the VIP launch, although we didn’t arrive till just before 9. I go to a dance fitness class on a thursday night for two hours, and missing it is just never an option. Instead I took a change of clothing, my make up, and baby wipes and ‘freshened up’ in the toilets (I know. I’m a minger) and Jeannie and I met up with our other boozy friend, Jenny.

The building work was complete, and the interior stunning. The place was buzzing, music playing and drinks flowing. I feel I should add we did wait half an hour for the barman to make three cocktails, and for that reason we only stayed for one, but I’m sure this was purely with it being opening night and service will improve.

Guests were again presented with a selection of food to try, we had chips, a really decent sized bowl full and very tasty

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Opening night slow service certainly hasn’t put me off and I am keen to return again soon. There is a wide selection of cocktails I plan to work my way through and the Chocotorta looks just devine

Thank you very much to all at Loca for a fantastic afternoon, and evening and wishing you all lots of luck and success for the future.

To check out the menus, opening times and book a table at http://locawhitleybay.com/

 

general, humour, lifestyle

I’m a ‘hot mess mum’ and that’s ok

So today I’ve had yet another morning of dragging my reluctant 5-year-old through the school gates. She’s still going through a particularly clingy phase, and tells me frequently between 7 – 8.50 each morning ‘Mummy, you are my best friend’ in hope they’re the magic words to bag her a day off school.

My response is the same each morning. I give her a hug, tell her I love her, then hand her over to staff and give her a wave as she looks back and throws me evils across the yard as she’s led into school by her teacher.

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Part of me feels I should go home feeling incredibly guilty, and ring in half an hour to check she’s settled ok. But the other part, like 90% of me part knows that this is life, she’ll be fine and I have nothing to gain in sitting around worrying. Then I feel incredible guilt for not feeling any guilt and wonder if this makes me a bad parent.

Infact I often find myself doing, or not doing things which make me question if I’m a bad parent.

As I type this, my house is slightly messy. Nothing serious, but I’m aware one of the kids left a half eaten lollipop stuck to the sofa as we were about to leave thismoring. Possibly Emily. She’ll have had it for breakfast along with the chocolate eyeballs and jelly fingers from Trick or Treating last night. Jessica had a slice or the godawful Halloween cake I made, with Angel delight, and I did too. You see some mornings I’ll get up extra early to make them berry topped ‘Brain Booster Pancakes’ for breakfast (oats, flaxseed, banana, coconut oil. That sort of Pinteresty shiz), others I’ll take the extra 20 minutes in bed and serve up a packet of chocolate digestives.

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Sometimes I’ll spend an hour or two preping and peeling veg, another hour cooking and dish up a particularly healthy and colourful tea. Others I keep it real and know most of it will end up in the bin so processed food it is. Like chips. Fishfingers and chips. They always go down well with about half a bottle of ketchup for the youngest.

Sometimes we’ll take them to McDonalds. Sometimes once a week (dead cert on a Saturday), sometimes even twice a week. But definitely 4 times a month, at least.

Sometimes when it’s a rainy day, we’ll do arts and crafts, or I’ll try and suppress my inner ‘would you like mummy to mix in the crispies/cut the cookies and you just eat them. Please’?  control freak, and let them do some baking

Okay, not necessarily rainy, but the ones where I just can not be bothered with the drama that is putting on coats and shoes. But the times we do go to the park, I’m often the parent sat on the bench Facebooking. Telling them to go on the slide as mummy is too tired to push a swing for half an hour. Yes, I sometimes use it as ‘me time’.

And others I’ll give them the Ipad and let them watch Dora the Explorer. It’s educational. They’ve both picked up some Spanish

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Sometimes we’re super prepared in the morning and we take a stroll to school stretching the one minute walk down the road to 5. We’ll go the more ‘scenic’ route looking in neighboring gardens and Emily likes to point at and name the flowers each time we do.

Others I’m running around looking for something. Usually my phone, or my sanity if it’s a Friday. Then I’ll realise as we’re about to leave the house my daughter hasn’t yet washed her beautiful little face. And I’ll take her to school anyway.

Sometimes I’ll hear one of them complain ‘I can’t find any clean socks’, and I’ll offer the solution of ‘wear yesterdays’.

Sometimes we’ll go out to eat and I’ll give them a little behavioral prep talk and that ‘pleeeeease just. behave’ glare when I can see they haven’t quite listened. Others I’ll think sod it, get it out of your system and lie on the floor under the table if you must.

Sometimes when we tackle the dreaded task of food shopping, I’ll quietly hurry behind them every time they run off in opposite directions, then get down to their level and explain why it’s not acceptable behavior. Others I’ll lose my shit and shout both there names followed by ‘get back here. NOW’!!

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Sometimes I have a run of taking the kids to every single party they’re invited to. But sometimes I forget one, or we arrive late. By a week. That’s happened before.

Sometimes I’m on a roll with the kids homework and ‘Weekend Diaries’. But others I’ll spend 15 minutes on a monday morning  searching through the kitchen drawers for a pen, then I’ll scribble away and knock up a story making their weekends sound so much more adventurous than they actually were.

And after I’ve finished typing this I’m off on a hunt for twigs, leaves and conkers to put into Emilys ‘Half-Term Autum Treasure bag’ I found inside her book bag. Thismorning

Sometimes I’ll yell at my kids. Sometimes I’ll laugh at them. But I always laugh with them

There’s some parents who appear to have it all together. Then there are the rest of us. We aren’t lazy. We aren’t incompetent. We aren’t bad parents. We’re still kick-ass awesome, loving caring mums.

We’re just, for lack of a better term, a hot mess.

 

clean 9, dance, depression, diet, excercise, forever living, general, health, health and fitness, lifestyle, mental health, wellbeing

Clean 9 – 8 weeks on

BY LOUISE SHARP | August 17, 2015

On June 22, I started something which I didn’t really realise would have such an impact on my life. After years of failed and half-hearted attempts of dieting, I began a 9 day detox. I documented each day on my blog, sharing what I’d ate, and how I felt at the end of every day.

It’s now almost 8 weeks since I completed the cleanse, and I thought that I’d provide readers with an update.

Like whilst doing Clean 9, my meals are still all fresh and cooked from scratch. I have fish at least once per week and chicken around three times. I no longer eat sandwiches for lunch but wholewheat pasta or soup. I’m also wary of how much water I’m drinking, and fill a water bottle up several times a day, so I know I’m not dehydrated like I was before. I’m finding that I don’t really do any snacking now, but I always have fruit in the house just in case I do feel a little hungry between meals.

I have gone from being an absolute chocoholic, who could eat a big bar of Dairy Milk each night, to eating no chocolate at all. In 8 weeks I’ve had two small packets of Maltesers and a melted Bournville on a pancake. Chocolate, crisps, fizzy drinks, biscuits just aren’t part of my diet now. I don’t want them and I don’t crave them. I did however, celebrate my son’s 16th birthday just two days ago and I had a small slice of cake. I also took my two daughters to a newly-opened ice cream parlour last weekend and I enjoyed the most amazing waffle, but these were special occasions and I’ve been extra active this week in order to work off the extra calories.

Just before I did the detox I had stated going to a Clubbercise class every Friday night, which I still go to, but I decided that one night per week just wasn’t enough, and I now go on Sunday mornings too. So no more sitting around the house in my pyjamas trying to find the energy to get dressed. I wake up, put on my leggings, neon top and trainers, grab my glow sticks and water and I’m dancing to club hits by 9.30am. I thought it was a great way to start the weekend on a Friday night, but it’s an even better way to start a Sunday morning.

In addition to this, a friend told me that her and three other girls do a session with a personal trainer once per week and asked if I wanted to go along and see what it’s like and possibly join their group. I went to meet the trainer and spent 20 minutes in the gym just to get an idea of where my fitness levels are currently at. As the other girls have been going for some months now, it was advised I do some catchup sessions first. I have my first session next week, which I’m both excited and nervous about. I guess it’s perfectly natural to be nervous about starting something new, but I can’t wait to see and feel the results.

I even really pushed my boundaries a few weeks ago by getting involved with a charity Clubbercise event. 75 of us eager neon-clad ravers filled a nightclub for an incredible hour and a half class… and we had fun, so much fun whilst raising money for a charity close to the hearts of the instructors. I’m looking forward to doing another in October; especially since I hear it is a Halloween special.

But that’s still not enough exercise for me. I feel I have loads more energy now which I need to burn, so I’m hoping to join yet another dance class one night per week, which is starting up in September. So I’ve gone from doing no exercise at all to two – potentially three – classes per week and sessions with a personal trainer.

I suffer from depression and low moods, and feel that I always will because it is part of me, but now I’m in control and I haven’t felt as happy in years as I have over the last two months. I wake up bursting with energy. I keep myself busy during the day with my studying and writing, which I’m finding much easier as even my concentration seems to have improved. My husband has said he has seen such a change in me; not only in appearance as I continue to lose weight, but also in my mood. He said that I look happier and my outlook on life is so much more positive. I’m aware that this new positive energy will also be felt by my kids, which is great. They don’t need to see their mum feeling sad any more or hear me say negative words about myself. They need a happy mum, with confidence, passion and full of energy, and they’ve got that at last.

I haven’t continued with any Forever Living products unfortunately, mainly due to cost, but I do drink Aloe Vera Gel three times a day, which I buy from a health food shop as it is slightly cheaper. My energy levels are still through the roof, and I’m finding drinking more water curbs any hunger during the day. So for those reasons I feel I that don’t need any supplements. I will however, be doing Clean 9 again after Christmas, as I know that there will be a few indulgences over the festive period. It may be an expensive detox, but it is worth every penny if it changes your life the way it has mine.

I can categorically say that doing Clean 9 is one of the best things I have ever done. It has changed my life, without a doubt. Sticking to the plan gave me a taste of what healthy living can feel like. It showed me that I don’t need to overeat, or comfort eat. Comfort eating is what was contributing to my negative feelings about myself and low self-esteem. I dealt with negative emotions by eating high calorie sugary snacks, which tasted good at the time, but was doing so much damage to my body (and mind). It was exercise I needed. It’s exercise which makes you feel good and lifts your mood. Exercise and a healthy diet go hand in hand because what’s the point in exercising then undoing all of your hard work with fatty, stodgy foods.

I no longer look in the mirror and hate what I see, or even avoid mirrors altogether. I see a work in progress and a happy person for the first time in years

(Origionally published in Cultnoise Magazine – currently under reconstruction. https://www.facebook.com/cultnoise)

diet, excercise, general, health, health and fitness, lifestyle, wellbeing

Title – there isn’t one

Started the morning with another 20 minutes of exercise, rowing machine again unfortunately, but I did also have a little dance in the kitchen whilst making my breakfast. Everything counts

I attempted to make the time go faster this time by listening to music on my phone, rather than watching a music channel. That way I could sing along to music I actually like, rather than the likes of Little Mix and Olly Murs yesterday. I need motivational, fast paced music. So that made it a little less painful, and the time did seem to go quicker.

I have ate very well today. Nothing exciting or which took a lot of thought or prep, so I won’t bore anyone with food photos.

After exercising thismorning I had a protein shake. We bought it over christmas after being advised which would be the best shake to not only add protein to our diet, but also assist weight loss.

 

So my hubby made it for me whilst having a shower and handed me a shaker full of really gross looking water. It tasted pretty vile, and not of chocolate at all. I was feeling doubtful I could drink it.

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However, upon reading the instructions of how to make it up, its 200 mils of water and one scoop of the protein powder. For some reason he decided to randomly add it to 500 mils of water. So after doing it correctly, it tasted much better. I’m not saying it was nice or anything, but it’s a small amount doing a lot of good so easily do-able. I bought unsweetened almond milk to make it with in future.

I’ve also had a shot of Aloe Gel. I’ve used it in the past as part of a detox, and it is really good and I do feel a difference when taking it, I just frequently forget.

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I also tried a strawberry and cream Pro2go bar. Really, really nice. Also really, really expensive (£1.50 on offer, not sure of usual price). So doubt I’ll be buying many of them.

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So today is the last day of the holidays, and usually I would be feeling really sad round about now. Andrew is back at work, the girls are off school till tuesday. In the past I’ve hated the idea of going back to normality and spending my days alone and at home with the kids. But this year I’m feeling really grateful to have had such an amazing two weeks with my family. The girls have really understood and got into the Christmas spirit this year. We’ve had so many great days out over the last two weeks, and spent time with friends and family and I just feel really happy. I am focused, determined, and very excited for the days, weeks and months ahead.

Blogging is a great help and it’s like a diet tool. Seriously, if you’re going to do something you would normally give up on after a few days, blog it.