In 7Heaven!

Everyone loves a burger – don’t they?
Well in our house we love them, although they are classed as ‘treat’ food so when we do have one, it has to be good.We went along to 7Heaven in Norwich last week to sample theirs and to see whether a menu of just 7 burgers and 7 waffles really could hit the mark.

I like the fact it’s an independant restaurant using local ingredients and making it clear they want to concentrate on doing a few things really well – my pet hate is a 50 page manual instead of a menu where each and every food group is repeatedly pounded and roasted and fried into a million dishes. 7Heaven did not disapoint. I ordered a delicious burger topped with their own slow-cooked pork, cheese and salad. Jonathan had the burger with portabello mushrooms and truffle oil – very fancy!

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Children eat free – always a bonus but what was even better was that Arthur’s food wasn’t an after thought, it had an equally delicious burger, served in brioche, just a smaller version. So often ‘kid’s menus’ are rubbish apologies for food, especially if there is a deal on, but this great quality all round.
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I may be easily pleased but I loved that the burgers came wrapped in paper – a nice touch. The fries, you could have sweet potato or normal, were served with skins on so they just had more flavour. There’s also a ‘pickle station’, where you can go and help yourself to their homemade pickles. I had gherkins and Jonathan tried the sweetcorn relish. None of your gloopy, from a jar stuff here, this was lush!
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Jonathan was also impressed that he got more than one mushroom! I hate the things so he’s always like a child in a sweetshop when he finds them! The burgers were great quality, juicy, thick and tasty, in fact so big I couldn’t quite finish mine.

But, as always I found room for a waffle – eton mess to be precise and what a choice. Lushious buttery pancake topped with a rhubarb sauce (tasted proper homemade) and lots of creamy fruit topping. Jonathan went for the banoffee which looked like a fluffy pillow of heaven. Arthur had strawberry icecream which actually tasted of real strawberries!
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The place has a great laid-back feel and all the staff were happy to help but not too attentive that you felt they were in the way! All in all a great meal, using fresh local ingredients where possible and delivering on taste.

Making magic moments

Last Friday we went to London, on a little trip, with Arthur and his buddy Leo.

There were museums, the London Eye and lots of standing and watching street entertainers. It was a fab but exhausting day. The week before we’d been boating, skating, on 15 mile bike rides and all sorts of brilliant but tiring fun was had.

So this week I took it down a level and we found our magic moments at home. I took a breath and we just played. We dug in the garden, we played dominoes and scooted and skateboarded round the corner.

Sometimes, time at home is underrated and underused so Arthur and I had some down time and our own play dates, because I wanted it to be just me and the boy. Life is busy and time flies and stopping and spending time with him is the most important thing in the world.Nothing is better than watching your child create ‘cyclone swimming pools and motorbikes’ out of junk. Or watching original episodes of Spider-Man and Scooby-Doo.
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A special lunch is always a winner when you’re at home so we had carpet picnics and lots of things Arthur loves. We included the new Petits Filous Magic Squares. Both flavours went down well with the Strawberry and vanilla coming out top.
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They are a little novelty but still full of good stuff with calcium and importantly, vitamin D.i managed to snaffle one too – delicious!
They felt a little more like an indulgent dessert than just a yoghurt and what four year old doesn’t love mixing up the pots and creating their own magic?!

This post is an entry for BritMums #MagicSquaresPlaydates Linky Challenge, sponsored by Petits Filous.

Lotto crazy – all while wearing my pjs!

The lottery is part of everyday life now – National lottery, Health lottery, even a Postcode lottery and if you head to my local supermarket on a Saturday afternoon the likelihood is you’ll get caught in the wave of lottery players. Frantic last-minutes queues of men women and children waiting for that winning ticket.

But I’ve given up my weekly shuffle to the front of the lottery queue and now I play online. Plus there’s always that fear of losing your ticket. Which pocket did I put it in? Did it go through the washing machine – has someone had a premonition I’m going to win and nicked it?! It’s all far too nerve-wrecking and time consuming.

No more writing tiny circles and crossed on pieces of paper and waiting in queues for me! No more double-checking the ticket is still in its ‘special place’. No sir, I just kick-back, get myself a cup of tea and do the lottery online. You can choose your game, decide when to play and hopefully winning the jackpot is as easy as that!

There’s something rather thrilling about typing those numbers in, at night, while the rest of the house sleeps. Granted, I’m only putting a pound or two down but just imagine if I won…

Voting – I just can’t be arsed.

I’ve walked away from the ballot box with a sadness and it’s not just about those who will be running this country for the next five years. It may be a little to do with the fact I’ll miss my little gaggle of eager 7pm visitors to whom I pledge my support – it was all rather Machiavellian. But more than missing Terry’s feigned interest in my one-woman mission to rid the streets of dog poo, it’s about apathy.

It’s about the endless Facebook posts I’ve read from women and mothers saying they were not going to vote because, it put it brutally, they couldn’t be arsed. I get it when you’re 18 full of deluded ideals but with little clue. But how can you get to your 30s and not see the significance of using your vote.

When did we become so detached from the immense responsibility of running this country. That’s rhetorical, I totally get the sense of detachment from Whitehall, but I see past that to connect to the everyday world in which I live. For example, if you moan about your bins not being emptied, or your school place, then you are very much attached to running this country.

How is it right that I’ve seen these same women online arguing for hours about parking in child spaces in supermarkets, being on the line for hours trying to reach the child tax people. Even arguing about working v stay at home mums. Yes so may have told me, outright, they weren’t going to vote. They didn’t have time, didn’t understand it. Ignorance is no excuse, bloody hell, Google it! Read the odd paper in the run up, discuss it with friends and family.

Central to the vote is a sense of freedom, a voice which means we are part of a democracy. We might not like the outcome but as a collective we have spoken. And guess what, if you’d all got off your arses and nipped to the polling stations it could have been different.

I wonder why politics is not taught in schools. As a whole, not shoe-horned into history or sociology lessons. Why do we not arm children with knowledge early, Christ surely it is as important as geography? Of course all this applied to men as well but lately I’ve been overwhelmed by women not voting.

I have so much more respect for those who voted for opposing parties to me. The impact of a voice, even one in disagreement with me, is a legacy we all share. We all leave a legacy for our children, one routed in the infrastructure, we as voting adults have been involved in choosing.

Christ our voice is limited enough – don’t smother it further with ignorance. Don’t  take from society without taking responsibility. We all know there are millions of women worldwide who can only dream of the chance to debate politics, to argue with passion and to do so in the light of day, without fear or prejudice.

Next time women, please get your bums to the polling booth. This time our voices have seen a profound shift in power – just imagine what we can do next time.

An amazing day on The Norfolk Broads

Last weekend we decided to go messing about on the water.

The Norfolk Broads are some of the most beautiful waterways in the country and I’ve always wanted to hire a boat and take Arthur out and about. So when Herbert Woods gave us the opportunity to come along and review one of their picnic boats –  I said a very quick and excited Yes!

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I wasn’t holding out much hope for the weather so when the sun peeked enticingly out from the clouds on Saturday morning it was the icing on the cake.

boat1   We arrived about 9.30am and after a quick tour of the boat and a rundown of dos and don’t from the lovely staff we set sail – well, actually we started the engine but you get the point. Jonathan had already assigned himself as captain so my friend and I happily let him take the helm while we organised the boat and four children.

It was genuinely one of the loveliest days I’ve had in a long time. The boat had everything we needed, including a small fridge, gas hob, hot and cold running water – even cutlery, plates and glasses. There was something rather enjoyable about boiling the old-fashioned whistling kettle while bobbing along the broads – a little home from home.

The boat is designed to take 10 people but I found three adults and four very active children was plenty. The children had a fantastic time, the sun dancing on the water, the windmills they’d only really seen from the roads and the sailing boats passing swiftly and silently by which, in our imagination, we turned into pirate ships.boat3

There are so many wonderful places to stop and we chose first to stop at Thurne, a little village which took just under an hour to get to. We had a wander around and the children found a playgroud to run off some steam. They bought postcards in the village shop and we wandered back to our boat. The relaxed sense of freedom and discovery was just perfect.

I loved watching the riverside cabins and houses and deciding which one I’d like to stay in – you really do get a difference perspective on the water and it was a chance to take in sights I’d never seen, or only seen from afar. There were a few boats out and about with a five-mile-an-our speed limit, it never felt frantic or rushed.

Next we headed to Ranworth Broad where we stopped for a picnic and had another lovely walk. The children played in the grass, collected sticks and basically reverted back to the kind of childhood moments straight from the pages of Swallows and Amazons.  It was busy on the Broad and we spent a long time just watching the boats and enjoying the atmosphere. I went to the local shop to buy some drinks and found out the new princess had been born – it was all happening that day!boat4

 On board Arthur and his buddy Leo loved sitting with Jonathan and helping him drive while the girls where happy to draw and play and watch the watery world from the windows. They also loved taking it in turns to sit on the back of the boat where the sun was warm and we could get close to the water. There was also endless fun waving at passing boats and everyone waved back too – now you wouldn’t get that in a car!

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We didn’t need it but the boat also had heating and the windows opened fully and closed easily if you felt the chill.

We headed up to Horning where it was very busy as there was a boat show on, we trundled along taking in the atmosphere then turned around to see what else we could discover. Our last stop was Benet Abbey, ruins from the xxxx which I’d never even heard of before. More adventures and discoveries as the children all ran around, climbing hills and discovering new places to hide. We even came across a hen party hauled up in part of the old ruins – The Norfolk Broads really do appeal to everyone!

We got back just before 5 (you get the boat 9-5) and after a quick check by staff we were back at the car. Herbert Woods also give you parking permits for the carpark which is literally next door to the boats. It really was a glorious day, relaxing, interesting, exciting and something I’d do again in a heartbeat. The children loved the adventure and, while it’s not cheap, I would whole-heartedly recommend this for a special family day out.

My new online secret

I have a confession to make. Last night my friend came round and we were supposed to be catching up after not seeing each other for a few weeks. We were also supposed to talking about a new ‘book club’ that’s kicked off at work.

I had plans that we would indulge in intellectually challenging debate, surf the literary world of ‘The Times’ endorsed paperbacks and, reaching 11pm and the bottom of a bottle of red, say goodbye with a renewed vigour.

Well it partly happened and we did catch up and I showed her a list of books, studiously written in a lovely list. We binned a few which seemed far too worthy and then it happened…her eyes glazed like a crazed banshee and she said:” Have you ever played online bingo”.

Of course not I whimpered into my red. It felt a bit like being in the school toilets aged 14 and being asked if you’d ‘done it’ yet. I immediately wanted to be in the gang even though I had no idea what it was all about. So she proceeded to show me how she plays online bingo and said it had become her little guilty secret. When the kids are asleep and she’s all alone she indulges.

I had a go and there’s something very exciting about sitting in your pjs on the sofa waiting to see if you’re a winner! Of course I only played with a tiny amount – £5 to be honest but the thrill was there! I’m not saying it’s going to replace book club but maybe we could section it off.

Bingo and Book Club – I think it’s got legs.

Slimming World update

Shirley, a long term SW member (I’ve changed her name to maintain comedic values) has continued to gain weight for the last three weeks, just a half here and a pound there but each time she comes back, like a embattled boxer facing retirement but refusing to give in.

Her gain this week produced my favourite ever line from our esteemed leader Jean: ” The scales may be going up but you’re still loosing Shirely. You’ve got a more fitted top on this week and I can see your shape.” Yes it’s more fitted because she’s putting the lard back on!

But mine is not to wonder why, I’ve not spent weeks training at SW headquarters among the elite of the slimming fraternity, so what do I know.
But Shirley, I’m going to be honest, if only behind the fortress of my blog. You’re eating too much and you’re NOT still loosing and if you continue to believe that, you’ll be paying a whole lotta money to chase that dream.

Back to me, this week was a rather pathetic half off. Jean seemed pleased, just enough to keep me but not enough to make me cocky. While she talked I pondered why I hold my stomach in when I step on the scales, I guess at the very least it might dispel any excess air in my lungs.

Syed, the now lithe and motorcycle riding, ‘at target’ Frenchman, was not there this week. I hope he gets complacent and returns in his Renault Clio unable to stradle his bike and desperate to join us again.

So onwards and upwards this week, it’s Bank Holiday so it’s a tough one. I’ll be buying a couple of fitted tops and having a hormonal week.

Bowled over at Namco Norwich

Last Saturday we headed off to Namco Funscape Bowling in Norwich for a morning of fun with Arthur and his buddies.

I’ve never taken him bowling before so I wasn’t sure what to expect but we had an absolutely blast. It’s a slightly strange sensation leaving the bright morning light and heading into the world of ten pin bowling, complete with two pennies machines and plenty of good natured noise!

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There were nine of us in total and once we’d donned our blue and red bowling shoes – we were ready for action! The place was full of families and young children and it was easy to see why. They loved it, there were loads of bowling stands so the children could roll their own balls and watching his ball knock over several pins absolutely thrilled Arthur!

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While we were all very civilised there was still a thread of competition between the adults!  It worked for all ages and we found one game and two lanes was plenty to keep four-year-olds happy for a couple of hours, any longer and I think we’d have been chasing them round and losing their interest.

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The staff were friendly and quick to help when the children randomly hit buttons and stopped the game. They explained everything clearly to us newbies and in general there was a laid back (if rather noisy!) feel to the place. There’s a cafe for drinks and food and a bar which I suspect gets well used in the evenings.

I’d definitely go back – it’s a great way to speand a couple of hours, especially if you have a rainy saturday morning. It was a great mix of families, serious bowling teams and groups
Of adults all having fun. I’ll also be back for a bowling evening with the adults – there are a few scores still to settle!

 

Time for a spring clean

It’s that time of year. I’ve wandered around the house making a mental note of all the jobs that need doing.

I’ve handed the list to Jonathan and assured him I’ll be ‘project managing’ each room! The kitchen is first in line because quite frankly we’ve done nothing since we moved in. There are two large windows but neither has curtains or a blind.

There’s something studenty about windows without curtains or blinds, so along with removing the hideous fan light it’s top of the list. I like the idea of closing the blinds at night and shutting out the world, at the moment it feels a little like I’ve left our home wide open for anyone to peer inside – a little too exposed.
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I feel a bit invigorated that we’ve started to get to grips with the kitchen – it will be on a budget but it’s amazing what a few splashes of colour and a fresh coat of paint can make.

VELUX was one of my first stops, they’ve got a fantastic range of blinds and I’m a bit spoilt for choice. I want something bright and colourful but it needs to stand the test of time.I’ve ordered some samples so I can spend ages standing at the window holding up colours while Jonathan quickly loses patience!

I also managed to pick up a new VELUX blind for the loft room – something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time. The loft room will eventually be Arthur’s bedroom so, along with the kitchen it’s been bottom of the list. But it was so easy to choose a blind ( I just needed a plain blue one) that I went with it.

Im on a mission and this Spring I’ll be painting walls, putting up blinds and putting those finishing touches to my home that have been in the back burner for too long.