Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Ravenglass Railway

A What's Go To Do Review

December has been quite busy for What's Good to Do reviews and we have had quite a few fun reviews to do. The latest one we did was the Ravenglasss railway which was a fun day out, we originally planned to go on my birthday but the forecast was snow so we didn't fancy driving up to the Lakes if the weather was going to be bad bad so we delayed it by a day and had a lovely crisp December day out.



Here is my review - 

We set off for our day out in the Lake District between Christmas and New Year. The day was cold and frosty but clear as we drove north on the M6. Ravenglass is on the west coast of the Lake District and is an area that we don't normally visit so we were looking forward to our trip. Having such a bright clear day meant we had great views of the snow-capped mountains and had a very pleasant drive up. Before we left we checked the website and found that both steam and diesel engines were running, we were aiming to get there for the 11.30 steam train but our sat nav took us via the scenic route - ordinarily this would have been a good idea but given the amount of ice on the roads it did lead to a slight delay, on reaching the top of a hill we decided that we wouldn’t risk driving down the other side which was still in the shade. The single track road was still covered in ice and we didn’t fancy sliding down the hill! We turned round and re-joined the main road and arrived at the car park just as the train left the station. The next train was a diesel train so we opted to wait for the next steam train which gave us time to explore Ravenglass and have some lunch. 



There are the remains of a Roman bathhouse nearby so we took a quick stroll to take a look and then walked back via the beach and returned to the station for some lunch. The station cafe serves a good range of reasonably priced food and drinks, we chose a hot beef sandwich, beans on toast, a baked potato and some soup. Everything was freshly made and tasted delicious. Also available is a range of food and drinks to take away - a good idea on a frosty train ride.
The station itself is very clean and tidy and was very tastefully decorated with Christmas decorations. We last visited about 7 years ago and I remember the station had lovely hanging baskets so they take a lot of pride in the look of the station. The toilets on the station were very clean too. Opening this spring is a new museum area, although this was still a building site when we visited. There is a large car park at the station with parking costing £3 per day. Whilst you can’t consume your own food in the cafe there are plenty of benches dotted around the station for you to sit and eat a picnic. There is also a good playground at the side of the station that will keep children entertained whilst waiting for the train. All the staff we talked to were very helpful and knowledgeable.





Once the train arrived at the platform we chose an open air carriage, most were covered but we wanted the full steam train experience! I did think we might be the only people mad enough to sit outside in the freezing cold but a number of other people sat in the open carriages too. We had wrapped up well with plenty of layers and hats and gloves so the journey wasn’t too cold, although with hindsight a blanket would have kept our legs warm. The 15 inch minimum gauge line winds its way for 7 miles through the beautiful Eskdale valley up to Dalegarth station near Boot. In an area popular with walkers many people choose to take the train one way and walk back or to pick up the train at one of a number of request stops on the route. There is another cafe at Dalegarth so you could break your journey with a drink and snack before returning to Ravenglass. With the weather being so cold a number of passengers bought warm drinks for the return journey. We changed to a covered, heated carriage for the return trip which was warm and comfortable however you do not see as much as you do in the open carriages. There are plenty of sheep in the fields and the scenic mountains in the background and I’m sure that when the weather is warmer you will see plenty more birds and wildlife.






There was a real mix of people on the train, young families, older couples and even a couple of dogs. This really is a day out that appeals to everyone, young or old. We had a great day out and won’t be leaving it as long to visit again.





Sunday, 21 December 2014

Christmas Tree



This year we decided to have a real Christmas tree. We have been really busy this December and hadn't got round to buying one so by the time we went this morning all the trees had been reduced by 75%, so we got a really nice tree for an absolute bargain! A few new decorations and it looks amazing!

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Snapfish Review



Snapfish is an online photo printing service that in addition to standard prints will produce a wide array of photo gifts. Whilst I was aware of Snapfish we had never used them before so when they asked if we would like to create some Christmas gifts we jumped at the chance.

After looking at the website we decided that calendars and a mug would make great Christmas gifts for our family. To create these we found the hardest job was sorting through our many photos and deciding which ones to use! We settled on a theme of “Out and About in 2014” and set to work. Once we had chosen enough pictures the next job was to upload them to the site. Snapfish allows uploads from Facebook, Flickr or straight from your computer and although there is a quick upload option I chose to upload full quality photos instead.



It was easy to browse the website and choose from a large selection of gift products, we chose a simple black background for our calendars, but many more are available. The calendar templates can then be adjusted, calendars can start at any month of the year and therefore are suitable for any time. Each page of the calendar can have one or more photos and can also contain text although we chose not to include text on our calendars. We designed three different calendars, a desk calendar for my desk at work and two kitchen calendars for our family. Mark decided on a photo mug displaying photos of the whole family that he will use at work.



The site works well but I did find having to upload the photos first a bit of a pain. If you are in the habit of printing your digital photos and use Snapfish anyway then this is not a problem but I don’t and so this added another step in the process and made it quite time consuming. 

After ordering it only took a few days for the gifts to arrive and we were really impressed with the quality. The printing is clear, text on the front of the calendar is sharp and the photos high quality. I am sure our families will be impressed with their calendars when they receive them on Christmas day. At £9.99 for the kitchen calendar and £10.99 for the desk calendar they are very reasonably priced and a personalised gift always goes down well with families. The mugs start at £7.99 and with 7 different options to choose from it is easy to create a special gift. 







Snapfish have created a list of their favourite Christmas gift ideas, why don’t you have a look at the list below and create some unique Christmas gifts for your friends and families.

Personalised Calendars
Personalised Mugs
Photo Ornaments
Photo Panels
Folded Greetings Cards
Personalised sets of Notecards
Photo Jigsaw Puzzles
Personalised Stocking Stuffers




Disclaimer - We received a £40 voucher to spend on Christmas gifts for the purpose of this review but all words, opinions and photos are our own.

Luke's Diving Awards


Over the last couple of months Luke has been doing some diving awards at swimming. He has worked very hard and last week he was presented with the badges and certificates.






Review - Aladdin at The Lowther Pavilion, Lytham



I am a reviewer for the What's Good To Do website and when we were asked if we wanted to review Aladdin we jumped at the chance.

So this afternoon with two excited children in the car we set off down the motorway to The Lowther Pavilion, Lytham, to see Aladdin. Luckily it only takes about 25 minutes to get to Lytham as I’m not sure they could have contained their excitement for much longer! 

Aladdin is one of my favourite pantomimes as it has a good strong story and it always keeps everyone’s interest. Having plenty of story to work with means that there is no need for the “padding out” scenes that you sometimes get in pantomimes. This production had all the usual elements that you expect in a pantomime with plenty of “goodies” and the usual “baddie”. Add in plenty of bad jokes, the usual local references and a good dollop of audience participation and we’re all set for a great show. 

As William wasn't that bothered about going we took our 4 year old niece with us as she had never seen a pantomime before. She had a great time and was clapping and joining in with everything. At one point there was a chase scene and the action moved off the stage and into the seating area, Luke and Daisy thought this was really funny especially when we all got showered with water from the water pistol!

The action moves from place to place with a great number of set changes. Some productions try to cope with a smaller number of sets but this was not the case here. There is a scene where Aladdin and Jasmine take to the air on a magic carpet which uses projection to give the illusion of flight this worked very well and had Daisy spellbound.

All the characters were well cast and included Scott Wright from Coronation Street. As you would expect from a panto there was plenty of humour, lots of silliness from Wishee Washee for the younger children and plenty of harmless jokes for the adults that went straight over the children’s heads. 

At the end of the day the real judges of how good a pantomime is are the children and judging by the faces of both our children and the children around us this pantomime was a definite hit. 

The pantomime is on until the 30th December and costs £13 for adults, £11 for children and £12 for concessions and is well worth a visit.





Disclaimer - We receieved free tickets for the purpose of this review but all words and opinions are our own.




Friday, 12 December 2014

Christmas Jumper Day




Today was a Christmas Jumper Day at school in aid of the NSPCC. Luke and Ed looked very smart in their jumpers.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Manchester Tart



William has been trying out some new recipes and at the weekend made a Manchester tart. I remember having this for pudding at school and the custard being bright yellow! The recipe he used was a much posher recipe as it had whole raspberries in it. I suspect the school dinner version was made with a very thin layer of raspberry jam and there certainly wasn't a raspberry in sight.

He first made a pastry case, baked it blind and then covered it with jam, raspberries and coconut.


He then made custard from scratch, this can be very difficult to do but his custard turned out really well. The lumps were soon beaten out and it tasted delicious.


The custard was put on the top and decorated with raspberries.

The Manchester Tart was really tasty and is definitely a recipe we will make again.

Cubs



I haven't posted much about Cubs recently so I thought I would give a quick update about what we have been doing recently. Earlier in the month Luke carried the flag at our Rememberance Sunday parade. Unfortunately as I was walking as well and Mark was at their parade this was the only photo I managed to get.


We did a night on knot tying and Luke has learnt a few new knots. This is a reef knot which he has now got the hang of tying.


We also did a night of bridge building with spagetti and mini marshmallows! The marshmallows held the spagetti together. The Cubs worked really well together building their creations.


Coming up we have the Cub carol service and a couple of Christmas activities. We will also be making our traditional mini Christmas cakes which the Cubs always enjoy.

The Garden

We have had a very mild November and consequently a lot of the flowers are still looking good. The begonias and fuschias in the planter by the front door are still flowering and the lily has plenty of leaves on. Underneath all the green I can see the cyclamen coming through again and the first bulbs poking through the soil.




I have a couple of pots of cyclamen by the front door that were looking a liitle tired when I bought them in the sale at Homebase. I removed the dead flowers and now they are looking lovely and healthy and colourful.





I always have lots of fuschias in the garden and whilst they aren't full of flowers any more they are still looking good.




I am really pleased that we still have some colour in the garden and hopefully the mild weather will last a bit longer.

What is your garden looking like at the minute?


Sunday, 23 November 2014

Review - The First Hippo on the Moon by David Walliams



The First Hippo on the Moon is written by David Walliams and illustrated by Tony Ross. It is a story about two hippos who both want to be the first hippo on the moon. The hippos, Hercules Waldorf-Franklin III and Sheila, both have the same dream but very different ways of achieving it. 




David Walliam's books are always well written and the humour really appeals to children (and adults too). The page with the bottom burp raised lots of giggles in our house.


Tony Ross's illustrations are bright and colourful and there is plenty to look at on every page. I like how the writing changes size and on some pages even becomes part of the illustrations. The speech bubbles add additional comic humour to the story.


We loved reading this book and think it will appeal to both boys and girls. It is available from Amazon here
 






Disclaimer - We received the book for the purpose of the review but all words, opinions and photos are our own.


Luke's new bike



We have been really busy recently and haven't managed to get out on our bikes as much as we would have liked but as Luke now has a new bike we needed a good ride to test it out. We planned to ride to Grandma's which is 12 miles away so that gave us plenty of opportunity to see how his new bike performed. We rode both on the road and cycle paths and Luke also managed to find lots of puddles and patches of mud to ride through!


Considering it is November the weather is very mild at the minute so this meant we only needed a t-shirt and jumper. I thought my fingers would be cold but I needn't have worried as once I got going I was plenty warm enough.


We really enjoyed the ride and when we got to Grandma's there was a nice lunch waiting for us. On the way home we went a slightly different way so the total miles that we cycled was 28 miles. Luke is really pleased with his new bike and has said that it is much better than his old one!



Friday, 7 November 2014

#AngelDelightMoments


Angel Delight was launched in 1967 by Birds and was really popular in the 1970's when I was at school. I remember having Angel Delight at school and pestering my Mum to buy it as I really liked it, my favourite was the chocolate flavoured pudding. After leaving school I didn't really eat it agin until I joined Venture Scouts and Angel Delight was an easy pudding to take when we were camping. It was also great to take when backpacking as it was lightweight and all you need to do is add milk and whisk, leave for 5 minutes and your pudding is ready to eat.

Tesco launced the new bubblegum flavour in September and we recently received a couple of packs to try along with a fancy glass dish and spotty straw.

William & Luke decided to have a go at making it first they added the Angel Delight to 300ml of cold milk.



Then they whisked it.



Finally they put it into the glass dish, ready to eat.


What are your memories of Angel Delight?


This post is an entry for #AngelDelightMoments Linky Challenge

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Saturday Evening



We went out this evening for a lovely tea at a pub. Luke had a huge sundae which matched his shirt! He is now busy reading Tractor & Machinery magazine which has been keeping him quiet for the last half hour!


William chose a huge burger for his tea, it was the biggest burger I have seen. As well as two beef burgers there was a chicken breast, pulled pork and cheese between the bread. To go with the burger there was also chips and onion rings. Whist he almost managed the burger he admitted defeat with the chips!


Friday, 31 October 2014

Pumpkin Pie



As we had three huge pumpkins Mark decided to make a pumpkin pie. This is the recipe that he used.

Ingredients

450g pumpkin
375g shortcrust pastry
175g brown sugar
175ml milk
4 eggs
250ml double cream
50ml brandy
2tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt

Chop the pumpkin flesh into small pieces
Steam the pumpkin for about 10-15 minutes until soft, leave to drain, preferably overnight.
Line a 25cm dish with the pastry and chill for 15 minutes
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C 
Place the pumpkin in a food processor with all the other ingredients and blend to a smooth puree
Pour the filling into the pastry case and bake for 1 1/4 hours until set.





I was really unsure about pumpkin pie however when I tasted it it was completely different to what I expected. It was more like a custard tart and tasted more of cinnamon and brandy than pumpkin. It was definitely a good way to use a pumpkin and made a nice change from pumpkin soup.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Pumpkins




With Halloween fast approaching we spotted these huge pumpins for sale at the local greengrocers, they were a bargain at £5 for the three. Luckily Mark was with me and the car was parked close by so between us we managed to carry them all.

Luke wanted to carve one so he started by taking all the seeds out.


It is quite a messy job but at least it was a big pumpkin so it was easy enough to get his hands in and get rid of all the seeds and loose strings of pumpkin.



He drew a face on the front and I helped him cut it out. Instead of a candle we used a pumpkin talker that Auntie Fiona sent in her Halloween parcel. It is really good as it lights up the pumpkin with a flickering light and also has a sensor so it talks when someone passes.  



We have been cooking with the other two pumpkins, so far we have made pumpkin soup, pumpkin fritters and pumpkin pie which I will write about later.