Friday 22 May 2015

The Garden

We have been busy tidying the garden over the last couple of weekends. Mark has also been building a new hen pen so we can get some new hens and Luke has been helping.

The pen looks very impressive and much bigger than the one we have at the minute. Mark is planning on getting 6 more hens so they will have lots of room.

The base is down ready for a new shed for the hens.

The plan is to keep Cocky (the cockerel) in the old pen as we have found that he is quite vicious and doesn't take kindly to new hens in his pen. The new pen is next to the old so they will be able to see each other through the wire but not get close enough to attack!

We have had to move a flowerbed to make the new pen so we have created a new bed at the side of the hen pen. It looks really nice and all the plants seem to have survived the move.

I have been doing a lot of weeding and also planting up the baskets that go on the back of the garage as well as a few pots. The beds are looking much better now the weeds have gone.

I am just waiting for some sun to help the flowers grow!

We have some tomatoes, aubergines, cucumbers and peppers growing in the greenhouse so hopefully they will give us a good crop this summer.

I did cheat and buy a couple of baskets with fuchsia plants in. It really wasn't worth doing my own as they were such a good price. They have been in the greenhouse for a couple of weeks now and if it warms up I will put them outside this weekend.

Monday 11 May 2015

Dog Bowl Manchester

On Saturday afternoon we went to Manchester to review DogBowl for What's Good To Do. DogBowl combines the fun of a 10 pin bowling alley with a trendy city bar and serves a great range of Tex-Mex style food. It is located in the railway arches underneath Oxford Road station so it is very easy to get to by train or for those like us who drive into the city there is plenty of parking close by.

We visited DogBowl at 5pm on a Saturday afternoon and when we arrived the bowling lanes were already quite busy, although the bar and restaurant were still pretty quiet. We were asked to write our names on a piece of paper and whilst we were putting on our shoes our names were set up on the computer so we could start bowling straight away. Having bowled before we knew that Luke would need the buffers and when we asked for them to be raised we discovered that the system could be set just to raise them for specific players which made the game more competitive. There are 5 full length lanes and all of them were in use whilst we were there. The alley was spotless and had plenty of bowling balls in a good range of sizes. There were also a couple of the metal guides available for younger children. There was plenty of seating available and tables for drinks and I noticed that empty glasses were quickly cleared away and tables wiped which kept it looking tidy. We all really enjoyed our game and it was a much nicer atmosphere than the usual warehouse style of bowling alley. DogBowl also do special offers and the current offer on their website is children bowl free on Mondays, unfortunately it is too far for us to go after school but I would certainly consider visiting in the holidays.

Once we had finished our game we were shown to our seats for our meal, we sat at a large table in the window which was very comfortable and a good size. There was background music playing which was not intrusive and created a great atmosphere.
The children’s menu costs £6.50 for a starter, main, dessert and soft drink. There is a variety of choices and Luke quickly decided on the BBQ wings, Cheese Burger and Ice Cream. Refreshingly DogBowl have chosen to offer the same high quality food to the children as they do on the adult menu, just smaller portions. Too many places resort to chicken nuggets, pizza or cheap sausage and chips and it was nice for him to eat the same tex mex flavours along with us.
There are lots of delicious dishes on the menu, we chose chicken wings, chicken strips and a smoked sausage dish for starters. They were all very nicely presented and tasted delicious. The chicken strips came with a Blacksticks Blue cheese dip which complemented the chicken perfectly. 

When ordering our main courses Mark ordered the rack of pork ribs and we were warned that this dish would take a little longer to prepare, we were fine with this but it’s always nice to be told. As it was all the main courses were served quite soon after the plates for the starters had been cleared away. The pork ribs were super succulent and served with chips and a BBQ sauce. We all had a taste and they were quite simply the best ribs that any of us have ever tasted. He also ordered a side dish of onion rings but we should have ordered two as they were quickly shared around the rest of the table! I ordered a pulled pork sandwich which was full of pork and served with slaw and fries. The pork was absolutely delicious and the fries were cooked perfectly. William ordered tacos, which was something new for him but he really enjoyed it and said he would order them again next time we visit!

The only criticism we had was that following our main course we were left for quite some time and had to ask for Luke’s ice cream to be served. The ice cream was worth the wait though as it was a good quality vanilla ice cream and he quickly finished it off.
By the time we were leaving the bar area and restaurant were getting much busier, it is obviously a popular venue for both food and cocktails.

Bowling Alleys are notoriously bad when it comes to food so DogBowl is the perfect solution - you get the fun of bowling but the food and atmosphere of a city centre restaurant. We all had a great afternoon out and would thoroughly recommend visiting. William and Luke are already asking when we can go back as they enjoyed it so much!

Disclaimer - we received one game of 10 pin bowling and a meal for the purpose of this review but all words, photos and opinions are our own.

Evening Bike Ride

Last weekend we cycled to KFC for tea. It was quite a chilly evening and we were ready for tea when we arrived at the Docks. There are no seats outside KFC so we ate our tea looking at the Docks which was quite nice.

We had to eat tea quite quickly as we didn't really want to be riding home in the dark and we also opted for a quicker route back.

Sunday 3 May 2015

Old Hall Farm, Bouth

A What's Good To Do Review

We recently visited Old Hall Farm at Bouth for What's Good To Do and had a great day out. The weather was perfect, sunny and warm and Luke was in his element with all the old tractors and he insisted that we took lots of pictures for Uncle Bill!

Here is our review - 

Old Hall Farm, Bouth is a historic working farm located in the southern part of the Lake District. It was easy to find being just over a mile off the A590 and there is ample free parking in the car park adjacent to the farm. The entrance is very welcoming, there are plenty of benches outside The Chicken Shed Tea Room for you to sit and watch the world go by whilst enjoying homemade cakes and ice cream. For the younger visitors there is a fenced off area with a good selection of pedal tractors and trailers which will keep the children entertained for a good while. Chickens wandering around also added to the farmyard feel. 

On entering the farm we were given a map and were also told what activities were happening that day. Being a working farm, the activities vary with both the weather and the seasons. We were very lucky with the weather and arrived on a beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon so all the activities were going ahead as planned. We were introduced to Charlotte, who with her husband Alex run Old Hall Farm, she explained a bit about the history of the farm and what we would be able to see whilst we were there. Prior to us arriving she had been taking children for pony rides and so the first thing we did was have a walk around the farm with Luke sitting in a trap pulled by a miniature Shetland pony which he loved. 

There are a number of different animals to see and one of the highlights was seeing the children bottle feeding the lambs. I was brought up on a farm and bottle feeding lambs was one of my favourite jobs so it brought back many happy memories. The children all loved having a go and all had massive smiles on their faces when they left the barn. They also had a few Oxford Sandy and Black pigs - just like the ones we had a few years ago.

Walking around the farm buildings you can see all the different types of machinery that are used on the farm, for machinery that is not in use at the moment, films are played to explain how they would have been used in times gone by. A range of machinery is used on the farm, from horse drawn seed drills from the 1850s to tractors from the 1960s. Alex has a passion for steam and this is reflected in the collection of steam traction engines and ploughing engines and the old belt driven threshing machine and saw bench. Stationary engines are used to drive the machines used to make butter or process food for the animals.

Earlier in the day potatoes had been planted and the fields had been harrowed with a vintage tractor. Whilst we were there we watched a team of shire horses sow this year’s crop of oats. It was fascinating watching the shire horses work in the field and Charlotte was also on hand to answer any questions. We watched whilst the horses were prepared and then led out to the field where Alex was waiting with the seed drill. It is quite a time consuming job so it was easy to see why farmers were so keen to move to tractors when they came along!

Milk from the farm is made into butter and there are demonstrations in the dairy. Charlotte also makes ice cream, try the jaffa cake flavour as it tastes amazing - it is worth a visit to the farm just for that!

The Chicken Shed Tea Room sells a variety of snacks, all of which were reasonably priced. Tea is served in pretty china tea cups which are a nice touch. The cakes are homemade and we really were spoilt for choice. There is also a farm shop selling a selection of farm themed gifts as well as seasonal farm produce.

Old Hall Farm is not just for families with children, anyone who has an interest in farming or steam power will enjoy their visit. They also run a couple of special courses, why not try one of their vintage tractor driving days, working with shire horses or working with steam engines for an extra special day out. Children will love the play barn with hay bales to climb on or the pedal tractors that they can ride on. As well as these there are lambs to feed, horses to groom and even a ride on a trap pulled by a Shetland pony. There are plenty of other animals on the farm too, including rare breed pigs, sheep, Jersey cows and a couple of rabbits.
We had a lovely day out and would certainly recommend it if you are in the Lake District. At £20 for 2 adults and up to 3 children it is excellent value. It is worth taking boots or wellies as some of the demonstrations are in the field and whilst we had lovely weather and the ground was dry this will not always be the case!

Disclaimer - we received free entry into Old Hall Farm for the purpose of this review but all words and opinions are our own

Virgin Media Business #Pitchtorich #VOOM 2015 competition

I have been a reviewer for What's Good To Do for a couple of years now and we have had some great products to review and been on some amazing days out. Today we visited the Cold War Bunker at York and are looking forward to a trip to Frankie & Benny's next week as well as seeing The Lancashire Hotpots and An Evening of Poetry with Mike Harding at the Lowry in May.

What's Good to Do have entered the Virgin Media Business #Pitchtorich #VOOM 2015 competition and are currently in 85th place. They need to be in the top 50 before 5pm on Tuesday 5th May so please will you take a minute to vote for them.

Thank you x