A Strong Coffee

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Our Eurocamp Holiday At Marina De Venizia

When we arrived at our Eurocamp Vista mobile home at Marina De Venizia in Italy I was slightly concerned. Not because the site didn't look good. It was the opposite - it looked amazing. Not because the mobile home looked rubbish. No that seemed fine, with everything we would need for the week. My concern arose due to my husbands first question to me.

"So what days does the maid come?"

I panicked. Whilst I had spent my childhood holidays with Eurocamp, my husband had not. Clearly my husband, who is used to 4 and 5 star hotels paid for by his work, hadn't grasped the concept that this was a self catering holiday. Would a man preferring 5 star luxury enjoy a Eurocamp self catering holiday?

Eurocamp vista mobile home

Well I am pleased to say that once we had established that maids weren't part of the Eurocamp package, things got better. We had a look around our mobile home and it had everything we needed. We had ordered bedding, towels and beach towels as an extra with the mobile home booking. I would certainly do so again as it freed up space in our luggage.

Tired from travelling, we grabbed a take away pizza from one of the parc's restaurants and headed back to our mobile home to relax.

The next morning we went to pick up our campsite passes and collect our passports which we had left on arrival. The camping passes contained our all important wifi codes! There was one hour of free wifi a day using a special security code. Unfortunately, whilst most of the mobile homes would have been covered by wifi, ours was just a little bit too far out to use from the mobile home. Having said that, I actually enjoyed taking a break from it all.

underwater photo

The Eurocamp (and all other tour opertators) mobile homes were at the far end of the parc. Under the shade of pine trees. With the 30C heat in May, we were thankful for the shade. I didn't realise at first but we were the only mobile home in our row which had a tree in our decking. I kind of liked this. I felt it made our mobile home a bit special. That was until one day a pigeon decided to give me some luck! (or not as it felt at the time.)

We spent our first couple of days exploring the parc. It is located next to the beach, which has lifeguards patrolling. The thing that made our holiday was the fantastic swimming pool complex. Far better than any hotel we have stayed in. It was huge.

swimming pools at marina de venizia

Most of the pools were heated, meaning it was a pleasure to get in them. If you wanted to use a sunbed then there was a charge. This meant that they weren't all being kept by someones towel who had disappeared for the day. If you didn't want to pay, there were plenty of places you could leave your belongings. The complex had an olympic sized swimming pool and this is where aqua aerobics took place. There were three "big" waterslides for children over 1.2m (an adult could go down the slowest with a child under this height.) My boys loved the wave pool which was activated 4 times a day, and there were an array of other heated pools for varying ages. There really was something for everyone.

The reason we had decided upon this Eurocamp site was that you could easily do a day trip into Venice. Port Sabbioni is a short drive (5 mins) from Marina De Venizia. Here you can pay between 5 and 7 euros to park your car for the day. A return boat ride to Venice costs 10 euros per person (under 6's are free - well done little man for being 5!) There are also various travelcard combinations you can buy depending on when and where you want to go. A day trip around the islands costs 20 euros per person.

Venice was absolutely stunning. Whilst we didn't get to do the museums due to the boys lack of interest, we did get to go on a gondala ride. This is now little man's favourite mode of transport. At 80 euros a pop (100 euros in the evening) we had to tell him it was a one off experience.

gondalas in venice

As I said we also visited the islands. I will do a more in depth post on this, but Murano was by far the biggest hit with the children. Watching a man make a horse out of a ball of molten glass is pretty mesmerizing. Walking through a shop full of glass with my husband and 3 boys was slightly terrifying with lots of "be careful" shrieks.


The parc and mobile home had everything we needed. It is perfect for a weeks stay. I loved that staying in a mobile home gave us flexibility. We didn't need to get dressed to go for a lengthy dinner if we didn't fancy it. We could have a light lunch on the decking. We were able to treat the boys to ice creams without having to sell a kidney as we could buy them at the supermarket and pop them in the freezer. If you want to see Venice with kids, I honestly believe this is the way to do it. They had the time of their lives and so did we. Our mobile home even had much needed air conditioning. Venice was a 45 minute boat ride away and we made some fantastic memories.

A big thank you to Eurocamp who provided us with the Vista mobile home in return for an honest review.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Pork And Apple Burgers

These pork and apple burgers are perfect for a summers evening. They are lighter than a traditional beef burger and taste lovely and sweet with extra apple as a topping. I haven't tried it myself yet, but whilst writing up this recipe I have thought that it would go really well with a glass of cider.

pork and apple burger

As an added bonus, these pork and apple burgers are easy to make and you can get the children involved. I have used panko breadcrumbs in the recipe as I find them handy to have in the cupboard and have never needed to use egg to bind them together as well. Of course if you don't have panko breadcrumbs, fresh bread will do. However the older it is the better.

making pork and apple burgers

When I make these for the boys, I like to top them with fresh apple and edam cheese. I am not a big fan of tomato ketchup so a small dollop of BBQ sauce and mayonnaise would be my preference.

Pork And Apple Burgers

  • 500g pork mince
  • 75g panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 small apples (extra if you want to top with fresh apple.)
  • 1tsp dried sage
  • 1/2 red onion finely chopped
  1. Start by peeling 2 small apples and then grate each around the core.
  2. Mix the pork, breadcrumbs, grated apple, dried sage and red onion together.
  3. Pre heat the oven to 180C
  4. Divide the mixture into burger portions. I made 6. Roll them into a ball and flaten.
  5. Fry for a couple of minutes on each side and then transfer to a baking tray. Cook for 15-20 minutes.
  6. Top with sliced cheese and fresh apple, light mayonnaise and lettuce.
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Saturday, 24 June 2017

Air Hogs Hyper Stunt Drone Review

I think I was just as excited as my 9 year old when I told him that we were being sent an Air Hogs Hyper Stunt Drone to review. He had recently been asking if we could get one and I stalled him with the "lets put it on the Birthday list" excuse. If you have been looking at getting one yourself you will see that there is some variability in reviews.

Air Hogs Hyper Stunt Drone

The instructions are adequate but a little confusing, mainly as all languages are written together. The drone can be flown as it is, or with the roller cage. The advantage of the roller cage is that you are less likely to break the rotor blades and you can (with some practice) get it climbing up walls and across the ceiling.

First you need to charge the drone. This is done using a USB lead. The controller needs fitting with two AAA batteries.

Air hogs hyper stunt drone

When you turn on both you need to flick the throttle so that it will pair and then it should start to fly when you hit the throttle.

We had a few hiccups with using the hyper stunt drone. After it initially flew, it then gave up and just rolled around the ground. It took me ages to work out what was wrong, but it appeared than when it had crashed it had got some dust or hair stuck in the rotors. Once I took them off and cleaned them, it flew again.

The key to the enjoyment of this toy, is learning to fly it without breaking the rotor blades. We have broken two and have 2 spare ones left. I would therefore recommend that whilst you are learning to fly the drone, you keep it inside the roller cage as this will protect the part more.

There is no doubt that this is a fun toy and that applies to adults too! The age rating of 8+ is appropriate as younger children could easily break it. Only time will tell, to see how long it takes before we break all of the spare rotor blades that come with it.

In short, really fun but takes practice to fly and finds all matter of tiny dust particles and hairs that are in your house.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Phil Vickery's Pineapple With Chilli And Vanilla Syrup Using The JML Copper Stone Pan

A few weeks ago, I headed into London to see the new Grill Circle and Copper Stone Pans from JML. Our chef for the event was the lovely Phil Vickery.

Phil was very honest from the start and advised that when JML first contacted him, he was dubious about their claims. He advised that if he was sent the items to test then he would consider working with them if he thought they were any good.

grill circel
Photo credit: JML
First up, Phil demonstrated the Grill Circle to us. He advised that it was good as you could cook both the meat and sauce at once due to the various compartments. He made a gorgeous salmon dish which he advised worked perfectly on the grill as the salmon could caramelize without burning. The grill works by draining any fat away into a removable drip tray. You could also place the grill on your table and cook the food infront of you making it a fun gadget for a dinner party.

As a thank you for attending the event, we were given a small Copper Stone Pan to try for ourselves. I have a number of items of stoneware that I had accumulated from a number of Pampered Chef parties over the years. I was particularly impressed by the ease of cleaning the Copper Stone Pan. Once seasoned it is incredibly non stick. However, unlike other stoneware I own, you can use washing up liquid on in and even put it in the dishwasher.

The main advantage of the Coppers Stone Pans is that you don't need to use lots of oil in them. Making for a healthier meal. It is also fine with caramelized sugar. This can easily wreck a pan, but in the pineapple with chilli and vanilla syrup that Phil made us, it came off easily.

When I came back home, I felt the need to have a go at this recipe myself. Firstly, as it tasted fantastic and secondly as I wanted to test out my pan. I can tell you it tastes really good without the chili as I had to do just the vanilla syrup for my boys. As an adult though the chili really gives it a kick and makes it special.

Phil Vickery's Pineapple With Chilli And Vanilla Syrup

  • 100ml cold water
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped out (I didn't do this as I have a vanilla grinder so I used a few turns of this.)
  • 1 small red chilli, split with seeds removed. Finely chopped.
  • 55g unsalted butter
  • 1 medium pineapple
  1. Place the water, sugar, chopped chilli and vanilla into a saucepan and bring to the boil.
  2. When boiling take off the heat and leave to one side to infuse.
  3. Melt the butter in a Copper Stone Pan. When it bubbles add the slices of fresh pineapple. (It is best to dry them between kitchen towel first.) Brown each side.
  4. Add the chilli and vanilla syrup. The butter will thicken the syrup.
  5. Serve with vanilla ice cream or greek yoghurt.

chilli pineapple and vanilla ice cream

I have been impressed with the non stick properties of the Copper Stone Pan that I was given and its ease to clean. I am also looking out for Phil's latest cookbook which will be out in November. He is working with Diabetes UK to produce a cookbook which focuses on healthy eating for everyone and you could see his passion for the subject when you spoke to him.

Have you tried any products from JML? What products from their range would you recommend?

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warm pineapple covered in a rich vanilla and chilli syrup

Family Fever

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Will You Share Your Food? La Famiglia At Challenge

This post is an entry for the BritMums #PrezzoLaFamiglia Challenge, sponsored by Prezzo.

spaghetti carbonara at prezzo

When BritMums asked people to take part in the Prezzo La Famigila challenge I had a little chuckle to myself. If like me, you love Joey from Friends or Smithy from Gavin and Stacey, you would know that this concept wouldn't sit well with them. However, as a Mum of three who hates the confusion of trying to get her boys to actually decide what they want to eat in a restaurant the concept of ordering one big bowl of pasta for everyone is quite appealing. Ordering is simple and easy, leaving more time to relax and chat.

So easy infact, I had decided what we would have before we had even arrived at the restaurant. There are 4 La Famiglia sharing bowls to choose from: Penne Arrabiata, Spaghetti Bolognase, Spaghetti Carbonara or Penne Alla Rusticana. We opted for the Spaghetti Carbonara which is a firm favourite with my boys. Alongside the sharing bowl we were treated to two large garlic breads. I love the addition of balsamic onion on these.

La famiglia spaghetto carbonara

Sharing the Spaghetti Carbonara out was a serious business. Middle man was keen to have as much of the crispy Parma ham as possible! The portion was a really good size. It is suggested for 4 people but along with the garlic breads there was more than enough for our family. 

For dessert, my husband couldn't resist the honeycomb cheesecake whilst I opted for the blood orange sorbet. Both equally good. Middle man even said that he preferred my sorbet to his chocolate ice cream, so it nice!

blood orange sorbet

We are now looking forward to trying out some more of the Prezzo menu at a near by restaurant. Have you been to Prezzo recently? Do you like the idea of sharing your meal?

We were provided with a voucher to pay for 4 people.

Snickers Cupcake Recipe

There is something about the combination of chocolate and peanuts in a Snickers bar that I just love. The sweet versus salty combination. Having been on holiday it seems like forever since I have been doing any baking. Whilst wandering around the supermarket the other day I saw they were selling a multipack for a pound so I decided that Snickers cupcakes would be on this weeks menu.

I decided that I would use crunchy peanut butter as the main fat content to my cupcakes and add in some chocolate chips to compliment this.

For the frosting I used smooth peanut butter again as the main fat content. The frosting was thicker than usual but had a fantastic flavour. Melted chocolate and a slice of Snickers bar added to the luxurious topping.

Snickers Cupcakes

Makes 10 cupcakes

For the cupcakes
  • 3oz crunchy peanut butter
  • 1oz butter
  • 3oz caster sugar caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 oz self raising flour
  • 50g chocolate chips

For the frosting
  • 8oz icing sugar
  • 3oz smooth peanut butter
  • 1oz butter

To decorate
  • 25g chocolate to drizzle
  • 2 Snickers bars

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. 
  2. Mix all the cake ingredients together. 
  3. Divide the mixture between 10 cupcake cases. I find using an ice cream scoop helps to make them even.
  4. Bake until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool before adding the frosting.
  5. To make the peanut frosting mix the icing sugar, butter and peanut butter together using an electric whisk.
  6. Pipe this onto each cupcake. The mixture is quite stiff.
  7. Melt some chocolate and drizzle on over the cupcakes.
  8. Slice a small chunk of Snickers bar and add this to the top.

Perfect for any peanut butter lovers. What is your favourite chocolate bar?

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peanut butter and chocolate chip cupcakes topped with peanut butter frosting, melted chocolate and snickers.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Pomegranate and Apple Overnight Oats

If you are looking for a delicious breakfast that will fill you up until lunch, then you can't go wrong with overnight oats. I have to admit being pretty late on the overnight oats bandwagon, but I am totally sold. 

pomegranate and apple overnight oats

Let's just say I am not a morning person. Even my boys have learnt that it is best not to approach Mummy until she has finished her morning coffee. I used to skip breakfast as I didn't have time or didn't feel hungry. Of course this meant I was snacking by 10 am. If I am in a rush I grab for cereal which only really keeps me full until 11. Overnight oats on the other hand keep me full for longer. 

The beauty of overnight oats is that you can make them the evening before and they are sitting there in the fridge waiting for you.

When South African Fruits sent me a hamper full of delicious goodies, from conference pears to avocado, I knew I was going to make my breakfast with the biggest pomegranate I have ever seen!

pomegranate and apple overnight oats with almonds

I have written the recipe for one person as it makes more sense with the quantities, however, I usually make two up at a time for me and my husband.

Pomegranate and Apple Overnight Oats

  • 2tbsp porridge oats
  • 2tbsp plain yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate seeds
  • 1/2 a Gala apple
  • 5 almonds
  • A splash of milk
  1. Place a tablespoon of porridge oats at the bottom of a small jar
  2. Layer on a tablespoon of yoghurt
  3. Next add a layer of pomegranate seeds
  4. Then repeat steps 1-3 again. 
  5. Add a splash of milk and leave in the fridge overnight.
  6. Slice half a Gala apple and add to the top with 5 almonds.

The yoghurt you use is down to you. Greek yoghurt is lovely but I add a touch more milk if I use that. Frozen pomegranate works well if you don't have a fresg one to hand or its not in season. What is your favourite fruit to use with overnight oats?

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For a filling breakfast overnight oats are fantastic. Here oats are combined with yoghurt, pomemgranate, gala apples and almonds

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