Saturday 28 January 2017

Bowling Party

This morning we went to Hollywood Bowl for Daisy's birthday party. Luke has been wanting to go go bowling for a good while so was very excited about the party.

Daisy's friends bowled together and Luke bowled with Charlie, Westley and Isabelle. They were quite competitive and didn't expect Westley to do quite as well as he did!

It's a good job the barriers were up as I don't think they would have done as well if the bowling bowl hadn't ricocheted of the barrier quite as much! Westley used the metal guider and was got excited when the pins fell, he had a huge grin on his face and was jumping up and down with excitement.

Luke was thrilled when he managed a couple of strikes and there were stickers for everyone who got a strike or a spare.

The children all had a great time and once they had finished bowling it was time to go to the party area for food. Everyone had a puzzle sheet and for a couple of minutes everyone was quiet whilst they solved the puzzles. Unfortunately the quiet didn't last long as they started a balloon fight and everyone was running around the room!

The children had a choice of burger, hot dog or chicken nuggets and chips which was soon eaten. Isabelle had made Daisy's birthday cake, a multi coloured D cake which everyone enjoyed.

Once the obligatory party bags had been given out it was time for home. Luke really enjoyed bowling and can't wait to go again. 

Tuesday 17 January 2017

The Chef Show, The Dukes

Last Friday night we went to The Dukes to see The Chef Show. We were told it was a combination of a play and a cookery demonstration so I have to say we were intruiged! We enjoy going to the theatre and Indian food so this sounded like a winning combination.

The Chef Show is written by Nick Ahad and stars Rohit Gokani and Kamal Kaan and is currently touring the North. We were invited to the opening night of the 2017 tour at The Duke’s Lancaster. 

Before we arrived we really weren’t sure what to expect, a two man play about life in an Indian restaurant, with a real chef on stage cooking during the play; how would it work and more importantly would we be able to taste the food! We liked the sound of it and when we walked into the Round Theatre there was a lovely atmosphere as Rohit and Kamal were mingling with the audience and chatting, making everyone feel very welcome.

The idea of the Chef Show came to Nick at a curry night in a village hall near his home and now we have seen the show we feel it was a fantastic idea and wonder why no one had thought of it sooner!. The chef cooks whilst the play carries on around him but at a couple of points in the play the dialogue stops and he talks about what he is cooking and we learn a little about the food and his own experiences of life in the restaurant trade.

The set was very simple but the presence and skill of the cast meant they needed few props. Rohit plays Abdul, who emigrated to England with just £12 in his pocket and now owns a successful Indian restaurant in a small village in Yorkshire. His son, played by Kamal, thinks his dad, who isn’t in the best of health, should transfer the running of business over to him. What he doesn’t appreciate are the various relationships that have been built up with the locals over many years. The events of the play teach the young man that there is more to running a restaurant than just cooking and serving food.

The two actors play a great many roles, from other staff members to the various stereotypical customers (both male and female) switching seamlessly from one to another. The problem with actors playing multiple roles is that it can be confusing but the characterisation was so good that we were never unsure as to what was happening.  Whilst dealing with some more serious themes like racism there is also plenty of humour, we especially liked the portrayal of the drunken hen party and the couple on their first date. Whilst the set was minimal, the sounds of cooking and the delicious aromas of spices really drew us into the story and placed us right into an Indian restaurant without using a single piece of flock wallpaper! 

The chef changes with every venue, Nurrul from Lancaster’s Bombay Balti was our chef for the evening and his food was excellent, we tasted a vegetable bhuna during the interval and a chicken shatkora, a traditional Bengali dish, at the end of the night.

We really enjoyed this production at The Dukes, and would definitely recommend that you go and see the show on its 2017 tour. It’s a great night out, something a bit different from the norm and there’s even food provided!

We received free tickets for the purpose of this review but all words and opinions are our own

Monday 2 January 2017

Write Size Pencils Review

Whilst Luke is very good at doing his homework his handwriting is atrocious, he just doesn't care what his writing looks like as he is more concerned with getting the homework finished as quickly as possible, rather than what it looks like. Since he started doing cursive writing I think it has got worse, so with him starting high school in September I have been trying to encourage him to take more care with his writing. I was thinking of ordering some handwriting pencils but with Christmas I hadn't quite got round to it so I was very pleased when Write Size sent us some of their pencils to review as they were just what Luke needs! 

Write Size say "we buy the right size shoes, the right size uniform and bags for our children, yet the most important tool in their pencil case is the wrong size for their hands making learning and perfecting the art of writing harder, with Write Size pencils they will have better control and better results."

After reading this statement on Write Sizes's website I know exactly where they are coming from, it's not something I have had thought about before but they really have hit the nail on the head. I have watched many Cub Scouts over the years struggle with the simple task of holding a pencil and now I can see why!

The pencils are available in three different sizes and are designed with smaller hands in mind. 

Ages 2-6 – These pencils are engineered to perfectly fit 2-6 year-old hands. Children can learn to grip the pencil correctly, whilst developing control and letter formation.

Aged 6-10 – These pencils are less chunky than the age 2-6 pencils and help improve confidence in their writing, easing the strain on a child’s whilst increasing ability in quality cursive.

Aged 10+ – Ensuring clearer handwriting to deliver good grades, by making writing easier to read for teachers, exam invigilators and peers.

We received a pack of the age 2-6 pencils and the age 6-10 and after a bit of persuasion (Luke wasn't impressed at having to write anything in the school holidays!) Luke sat down and tried out the pencils. He said that the pencils are much easier to hold and aren't top heavy like a normal sized pencil which make it more difficult to write. The pencils were easy to write with and Luke said they didn't snap as much as the pencil he uses at school does. He said he prefers theses pencils and will be taking them to school with him next week.

I asked my niece Daisy (aged 6) to try out the smaller pencils, she enjoys writing and drawing and was much easier to persuade to do some writing than Luke had been. She agreed with Luke that they are easier to hold and write with and was really excited about having some new pencils.

The pencils cost £3.99 for a pack of 5 and I think they are well worth the money.

Discalimer - we received two packs of pencils for the purpose of this review but all words , images and opinions are our own


Whilst it has been dry Mark has spent a couple of days in the garden, he has trimmed the laurel hedge which was getting a bit overgrown and also dug over the new border ready to move the roses. 

He has re-tied one of the roses to the trellis, this is the only rose that we are leaving in it's original spot as it was already trained to go up the trellis and we will still be able to see it when it starts flowering. 

There are plenty of signs of new life, the magnolia is just starting to bud and there are buds on the camelia too. 

Mark also cut back a lot of the shrubs so they look much tidier and will be a more manageable size this year, everything had got a bit overgrown last year so we decided to cut everything back and keep the shrubs smaller this year. 

There is still plenty of work to do which will keep us busy in the coming weeks!

Baking Day

Today we have been baking, we made 24 small chocolate buns and some mini meringues that we dipped in chocolate. Luke helped mix the cakes and William made the meringues so it was a real family effort!