Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Where have all the blog posts gone?

Notice from Emma

You might have seen that a dozen or so blog posts from the end of last year have disappeared from the blog.  We are really sorry, but they became corrupted and we couldn't retrieve them and repair them.  Rachel and I are really upset that her posts have gone but it won't stop us blogging more in the future.

Me and my double bass

I think you know
I play the double bass
It's loads of fun
But takes up lots of space

It deep and rich
But really rare
Not many people play it
But I don't care

Here's me in the first month of playing, it's the star wars tune

And here I am a few months later. This is a d major scale

And you should be able to see me playing in a double bass group here

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Life of Pi #God

What was your favourite part of the film?
I really liked the meercat section when they were on the island and when they were in the boat with the Tiger.  I didn't like the first part of the boat section, it was horrible in bits.

Do you think the Tiger was real?
I don't know; I don't think the Tiger was really there in the boat but perhaps there was no one in the boat at all and he imagined it all so he had company.

Do you think the film tells us anything about God?
I'm not sure. It says that it's nice to believe but that a lot of it is by us to help us understand.

Would you watch the film again?
Yes, definitely.

Do you think it's ok for kids?
Yes, it's not scary and it's not really sad when you watch it.  It probably needs a lot of thinking about though.

What score do you give it?


These are the questions I asked Rachel about the film.  Our conversation about God went into a lot of detail and I think she got it perfectly right when she said that religion is believing in something we can't understand.  We have stories which help us know a bit about God but in the end we just have to have faith and know only God knows everything about Him and life.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Lasagne and Garlic Bread @Morrisons #MorrisonsMum

Today Mike and I made lasagne for ourselves, our friends and their three kids.  We made two dishes which worked out as twelve good sized portions of lasagne and cost a grand total of £4.66.  That was a mere 39p per person. 

1 pack of lasagne sheet            75p
1 jar of bolognese sauce           89p
1 jar of white sauce                    89p
200g of grated cheddar        £1.00
500g of minced beef             £1.00
Onion                                             10p
Total                                         £4.66

We also had:
Tear and share garlic bread  £1.00
Treacle Tart                              £1.00        
Tiramisu                                    £1.00
3litres of fruit juices                £2.00
Total                                           £5.00

The entire meal cost less than £10 for four adults and four children. That is phenomenal value especially when I tell you it tasted as good as any meal out for about a sixth of the price.

Well done Morrisons; you have surpassed yourself.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Bank Holiday Shopping @morrisons #FoodForFriends #MorrisonsMum

You should have heard Mike laugh when he heard I'd been sent £80 of Morrisons vouchers from BritMums to go to Morrisons, do my bank holiday shopping and write a review.

"You, food shop?"
"I'd pay good money to see you do that!"

And that's exactly why I went today (Friday 1st May 2014) rather than wait until the weekend when he would be able to take the mick even more.  (In case you don't know; Mike does the food shopping because food shops raise my anxiety levels through the roof.)  I wasn't confident, I was nervous but I am trying to do a little challenge every day and this was it for today.

I drove the 3 miles into Reading for our nearest Morrisons.  I remember it when it was Safeway (we lived a few minutes walk away) and have only been maybe twice since Morrisons took it over.  I parked easily, such a pleasant change from the nightmare that is the ASDA carpark.

I found a trolley and off I went into the great unknown.
I was surprised and impressed with the space and clarity of the layout in the fruit and vegetables area which was the first I encountered.  There were bright coloured specimens all over the place, with clear signs and large price signs to help the shopper know exactly what everything costs.

Doesn't it look appealing; I challenge any toddler or teenager not to want to try some of these vegetables.

(yes, this empty apple area was quickly filled up by a member of staff who appeared with no fuss).

Here were my first three selections in my trolley.
Tomatoes which I thought were priced much as else where at 99p.
Avocados which were a huge bargain at 99p.
And my favourite fruit treat, strawberries, which were almost as cheap as they are in the summer at 99p.

I wish I was a better camera operator but look at this image below.  These are salads and herbs and in order to keep them in their optimum condition Morrisons has a system of mist spraying over them.  Not only does this show real care for the quality of the produce their selling, but it shows a level of ingenuity I have to say I didn't expect.  

Add to that the fact that there was no water on the floor and I didn't get wet when I came up close and I am ready to declare it the best piece of produce display I've ever seen.

What else took me by surprise?  The fish counter.  It looked more like the Harrods Food Hall than my expectations of Morrisons.  I'm a horrible snob aren't I! (don't answer that)  There were even the nicest looking oysters which were so tempting, but not on my list.

I'm not a massive olive fan but I know a man who is and this would have been impossible for him to walk past.  He never ever ever shops off the list but I guarantee that when I take him to Morrisons he'll be walking out with a bowl full of his own selection of olives.

And this is the self serve salad bar.
It was full to the brim with literally everything you could ever want from pasta and rice through vegetables cooked and raw to fruit from the four corners of the world.  My only issue is that the salad boxes could never be big enough for the selection on offer.

I had fizzy drinks on my list and I definitely wanted diet lemonade.  I know it's often expensive, which means it's not something we often have in the house, but look at the Morrisons great value prices, I got 4litres of diet lemonade for 90p.  What a steal.

Because I don't know the Morrisons Reading store I wondered up and down every aisle looking at what was on the shelves and getting the items from my list.  I was pleasantly surprised by the wine aisle(s); it felt more like an upmarket wine store than the middle of a supermarket.  There was a wide variety of wine from across the globe, something for every meal and every palate.

There is nothing that speaks of holidays to me more than the smell of fresh bread; it is all the holidays in France that does it.  Morrisons did not let me down with at least a dozen types of fresh bread baked on the premises.

And as for France; just look at this image of a boulangerie in store.  Bon.

As I was concluding my shop I found this wonderful collection of summer games and sports equipment; everything a family could want for the bank holiday weekend at home, at the park or on the beach.

I got a huge smiley faced ball for 99p as you'll see in the essential final photo; the trolley shot.  £74.95 of Food For Friends over a three day bank holiday and food for the rest of the week for our family.
We usually spend £95 per week including toiletries and the like which I didn't get, but even with this taken into account there is no doubt that the Morrisons shop was cheaper, the experience more pleasurable and the staff more friendly than those Mike or I usually encounter.

And the quality of the food, which in the end is the thing which matters the most to me.
I'm unbelievably impressed.  There are two main areas which matter the most to me when it comes to shopping and which stop me using online ordering (no one knows just how I like my bananas)
1- The fruit and veg - it is fresh and in perfect condition
2 - The bread - just perfect, it takes me right back to sunny mornings with a book.

We're making lasagne tomorrow and I'll blog all about that separately because we're using products entirely from the Morissons store and working out the cost per person; it'll be feeding 4 adults and 4 kids.  I also bought a 22p cake mix which I couldn't resist buying to try out; that will have it's own blog post as well.  Watch this space.

All that's left is to wonder which aisle I needed to go down to purchase the perfect weather for a bank holiday weekend because it doesn't look like it'll be very cooperative.  But at least we'll be eating well to make up for it.  Thank you Morrisons.

How tasty is a 22p cake? @Morrisons #MorrisonsMum

How tasty?
"Really good" according Rachel
"A bit weird" according to me

I couldn't resist buying a cake mix that was only 22p it just had to be tried.   All it needed was one egg and some cold water.  I mixed for 3 minutes as instructed and divided the mixture between 12 small cake cases. After 12 minutes in the oven They were cooked and after cooling they were ready for the kids to decorate. 

I'd bought these wonderful animal shapes for the kids to use as decorations alongside sprinkles and butterflies we already have.  The kids had a great time using white icing amd over sprinkled everything they could.   The results were impressive though.

But what I really cared about was the taste. 
They were light and strangely springy and the flavour was hard to identify. It wasn't unpleasant but not really very interesting. The men identified it first; "it's like a flan" and they were exactly right.

So no; I don't think I'll get the mix again UNLESS it's as a super cheap base for practicising cake decorating.i

Monday, 21 April 2014

Haven Littlesea Holiday Park Weymouth #review #haven #litlesea

We visited Haven Littlesea in the first week of the Easter Holidays 2014.
We expected the site to be busy and feel busy but were pleasantly surprised that it never felt crowded or uncomfortable. We could always speak to reception with no more than a few minutes wait, could find a table for a drink or meal in the Mash and Barrel and never had to wait to swim in the pool.

When we arrived the signs clearly took us to the check in desk where our only negative experience of the week took place. The lady who greeted us didn't exactly seem to understand what "greeting visitors" meant. She didn't look at us, rolled her eyes a few times and just passed us our keys. Luckily the greeter standing next to her realised that we had no idea where we were going and that we had been dumped and she guided us through the site and was extremely friendly and helpful.

Our caravan was more like a 5* villa than a static caravan. We suspect that the site might have realised we were going to review them and hence allocated us into this very swish caravan but we don't know this for sure. What we do know is that the van was privately owned, as were those around it, and they were all immaculately clean and well presented. 

Our caravan had a double bed in a room with more cupboards than our own bedroom at home and a flat screen tv. It had a walk in wardrobe in which the suitcase could fit easily to ensure we weren't tripping over it; and a compact and bijoux ensuite with shower

The second bedroom was a twin which was exactly as you'd expect and perfect for kids with the benefit of a wardrobe which we hadn't expected. The kitchen was fully stocked with microwave, oven, hob, fridge, freezer, toaster, kettle, pots, pans, cutlery, crockery, glasses and a wine rack. We even discovered an ironing board and iron which we had no intention of using but might be useful for some visitors. The lounge had two sofas and an arm chair, a flat screen tv, dvd player, sound system and a fabulous balcony with sea views. All in all we felt like kings and queens in a caravan with the only down side being that we were extremely nervous that we might drop something or spill something and cause damage.

The site had an inside swimming pool which was open and an outside one which wasn't open as yet. The pool was a good size and the perfect temperature and although often busy always felt safe. However I wouldn't have trusted my 8 year old alone in the pool since there were a lot of bigger teenagers and adults who weren't necessarily watching out for the bigger kids. I raised a slight concern with one of the lifeguards and to their credit they upped their vigilance and did stop some of the more rowdy games. My only point of improvement is that there should be a drinking water dispenser around the pool since the room is very hot; I felt quite unwell one day when I got out of the pool and could have done with some cool water to drink to help me feel better. 

There were a large range of pay for activities including archery, segway riding, pitch and put, football and water games/activities. We did the archery which was really good and we'd recommend; and the pitch and put which we felt was expensive but was in excellent condition (as you'd expect at the start of the season - I hope it is maintained well through to the season's end).

The food in the Mash and Barrel was good traditional pub grub at south of England prices. Although we have heard some complaints about the cost and quality of the food we were pleasantly surprised. We eat out a lot and were expecting much lower quality food and higher prices since all customers were choosing to eat there as an easier option than leaving site. We were impressed. We were also pleased that we were never rushed away from our table.

The arcade was even well set out with lots of room to mill around and lots of 2p machines for the kids to play with; that was very popular with Rachel and resulted in a lot of bouncy balls being won.

The only part of the facilities which we wouldn't recommend was the evening entertainment. The room is very dark and the speakers set very loud which doesn't make for a great place to sit and chat. However the Mash and Barrel is the place for that. We just have to accept that entertainment of that sort isn't our thing. 

All in all we had a fantastic week away and would highly recommend the Littlesea Holiday Park.

Fair review information.
We have never stayed at a holiday park in the UK before but have been commissioned to visit a selection of parks over the next few years to review here on our blog (Major Love of Film) and on trip advisor. We are not being paid for our reviews but are being given the accommodation for free. We have been asked to be as honest as possible to help other families select their holidays and to independently assess the holiday parks for their own improvement systems