A Strong Coffee

Friday, 22 July 2022

Iceland Day Two

Our second day in Iceland started well. Firstly, with the most gorgeous (if somewhat small) coffee and then the knowledge that my bag had finally made it to Iceland. Whoop whoop! 

We therefore decided that with the help of my husbands clothes we would make it through the day. Whilst not ideal we would do the golden circle in trainers. Our bag (with all the hiking gear) would meet us at our next hotel in Hella at the end of the day.

I was slightly concerned as it was raining in Reykjavik as we left but luckily the weather was kind and mainly dry. We decided to start our trip with the historical Thingvellir national park which was the site of the first parliament. We had a lovely walk and pictured some waterfalls before heading to try a hotdog at a gas station. It was the cheapest thing we ate in Iceland and I had all the recommended toppings. I had been concerned that lamb hot dogs would taste funny but they tasted like hot dogs so all was good.

Next up was Gullfloss. A beautiful waterfall where the power was apparent.

Then we visited Geysir where the smell of sulfur came and punched you in the face. I loved waiting for Strokkur to spout. The first time was a good one as it was 4 times.

Before heading back we also managed to fit in Kierid crater. There is a small charge for this that some seem to begrudge paying but I am glad we managed to fit it in. I mean how often do you manage to walk around the inside of a volcanic crater?

We then headed back to our next hotel. This was off the beaten track and beautiful. The only problem was that the food was too good for my youngests tastes! So we hunted around and found Valhalla restaurant. It really was an experience and the kids loved it. We all had nice meals which were served on wooden benches. Then after food whilst my eldest had a game of pool the younger two dressed up as Viking’s. 

Then it was off to bed ready to explore the south coast. Luckily with the correct clothing this time.

Thursday, 9 June 2022

Iceland Day One

Planning our recent trip to Iceland has kept me occupied for the last few months. I am pleased to say that all the planning was worth it and we managed to do everything we wanted. I therefore thought I would share our trip, for others planning to go.

As we were visiting Iceland with our children, we needed to carefully think about what they would like and enjoy, as well as me and my husband. We decided to hire a car and book a hotel in Hella on the South coast to minimise the amount of driving. We did, however, chose to miss out diamond beach and Jokulsarlon as the drive would just be too much for our boys to enjoy.After much umming and arrhing we decided to book the blue lagoon for our first day. Our flight was due to land at 8.30 and we booked the 11-12 time slot. This was perfect. What with a lost bag and a queue at the hire car company, it worked perfectly. We arrived 20 minutes early and walked around the back of the lagoon. The colour was beautiful.

The Blue Lagoon, Iceland

When inside we were given bracelets to open the lockers and charge any drinks to. The water was beautiful and warm. Much hotter than the geothermal pools we had experienced in Costa Rica. There was a smell of sulfur but we got used to it.I was paranoid my hair would be like straw so washed it, added conditioned and tied it up. It was fine.We spent about 2 hours in the pool. We hadn’t  even considered the sun which was a mistake as we all looked like lobsters the following day. We then grabbed a bite to eat in the cafe. The food was lovely but at a premium. If you have fussy kids (we have one) then harder to find something they will eat.We then decided to head towards the bridge across 2 continents. From the car it looked dubious. But when we got there it was pretty cool and not something many people can say they have done.

Two continental plates

Bridge between continents, Iceland

Flagging a bit we headed to our apartment in Reykjavik for a quick nap. Well for the adults at least!Around 5.30 we woke and headed into Reykjavik for a wander and to look for clothing. As I mentioned earlier, my bag never arrived. It contained all my clothes, all our rain gear and hiking stuff. We looked at clothes and concluded Iceland was very expensive. Everything was quality but costly. A pair of hiking trousers for me was in the region of £60-115. As we had a budget of £125 a day to buy essentials from Easy jet until they located my bag, we opted for pants, socks and a top and hope of good weather.We saw the main sites. The sun voyager.

The Sun Voyager

And the Hallgrimskirkja cathedral.

Hallgrimskirkja in Reykjavik 

Then we headed back for takeaway pizza and a well needed sleep. Hoping that the next day would bring kind weather and my lost luggage.

Tuesday, 19 April 2022

[AD] DNA VR Review

 Disclaimer: We received gifted tickets to DNA VR but all opinions are my own

When an e mail invite to DNA VR arrived in my inbox, I did what any technophobe middle aged mother would do. I asked my boys what it was all about and if its something they thought we would enjoy. Middle man immediately went into some speech which didn't make a lot of sense but the upshot was they liked the sound of it.

We looked at the main website and Hammersmith is our nearest branch (there is also Battersea and Camden.) We then looked at what you could do there. I liked the idea of the escape game, but the boys through the VR arcade would suit us better. As I didn't really have a clue I took their advice.

If you are travelling to Hammersmith by car, you can park on Yeldham Road which is right next to Assembley where DNA VR is located. It is free on a weekend and you pay on Ringo in the week depending on the time of day. It is also a short walk from the station.

We arrived and sat in the waiting area. Here we were introduced to the controls before being hooked up in our own little cubicles.

If you see a blue grid in your game that shows you that you are next to the wall. Yes I did manage to hit the wall on a couple of occasions.

Middle man was very keen that we all play Superhot to start with. This is a solo game, but we were all hooked up so we could hear each other which I felt made it more social and was also helpful with tips on what to do. I got stuck on level  here as I couldn't work out how to throw a bottle at my attackers.

We then played a multiplayer game called Ragna Rock. Basically you hit your drums to the discs coming towards you to power your viking ship. We all liked this and once I got the hang of it I was a clear winner to everyone's shock and surprise.

We then played Skyfront which is a flying shooting game. This one was marmite. The older two boys loved it and I spend most of my time respawning before they killed me again. I didn't like it at all. I suffer from motion sickness and this made me very dizzy.

I then had to try out work simulator as the boys had been raving about it. It was a very funny game. I chose office worker. This meant I drank virtual coffee and ate virtual doughnuts! As my colleagues at work would confirm, I am not the best with technology and this was the case here too as I was unable to turn on my virtual computer. Turned out you needed to plug it in first!

I then had 10 minutes left so tried out some fruit ninjas (harder virtually than on the ipad and back to Ranga rock as I just loved it. The hour went very quickly. Too quickly for my boys but for me it was just right as my forehead was starting to hurt.

I wore my contact lenses to play which on the whole was fine. I asked about wearing glasses and was advised that it may be a bit uncomfortable so it is worth noting if you are a glasses wearer.

I was really impressed with the experience. It is not something I would have thought of doing normally but is perfect for teens and tweens. It is something I would now consider as a birthday treat for the boys.

If you are interested in finding out more, you can check out the DNA VR website here.

Sunday, 27 February 2022

Half Term (but not in Surrey)

Half term has flown by once again. It’s been an odd one as we seem to have been in the minority compared to the rest of the country and some places (Chessington and Hampton court for example) have quite frankly missed a trick on that one I think.

The beginning or the week saw doctors appointments and blood tests. I am hoping it is one of my last ones for a while. Over the next couple of weeks I have some hospital appointments where I hope they say, we have fixed your problem and you can come off the blood thinners. Fingers crossed.

We had a lovely day with my sister and her cute dog. As you can see I am loving being licked in the face.

On Friday we went to Hampton court palace. We currently have membership after finally visiting The Tower of London in October half term. COVID and operations had been against us and the membership meant we could easily move our tickets.

Hampton court was so quiet. I think we can say tourists have not returned on mass yet. Due to Surrey schools having half term a week earlier they had decided it wasn’t half term and and so some of the parts like the magic garden playground were closed. It was a shame but we certainly had the place to ourselves at times!

The audio guides were informative and free. Not as good as being shown around the Tower of London by a Yeoman but still made for a pleasant day.

I ended off half term with a trip to the local youth theatre with middle man. Now that was good. It never ceases to amaze me how talented people are, and the young girl playing Mrs Lockett was amazing. I really can’t wait to see my boy act like that in the future.
Now it’s back to school and hoping that Easter brings some spring sun and warmth.
What did you do in half term?

Sunday, 23 January 2022

Meal Planning 23rd Jan

Another week and some more saving as well as comping was on the go here. I used to enter loads of giveaways but since the pandemic they have been low on the ground and I hadn’t won anything for ages. However, I entered all the Thorpe Park advents this year on Instagram and won 2 tickets and 2 pick n mixes. Whoop whoop!  The boys are now fighting over who gets to go. I’ve said we will all go and I’ll use some of my Tesco clubcard points to buy the extra tickets. This win has given me the buzz to start entering giveaways again. It is also the reason I have gone slightly over budget this week. I popped to Lidl primarily to do a shop so I can enter a prize draw (well after another 3 shops there in the next 2 weeks.) Whilst I probably won’t be a winner it has highlighted to me that shopping around has its benefits. I usually do a weekly shop at Tesco online. I know prices are higher but it’s convenient. However, some of the savings I made a Lidl will make me look at going for a quick shop now and then to stock up.

So whilst I was around ten pounds over budget this week, lets look at savings I made. Two half sides of salmon (which can be frozen) at £12.58 was a saving of £2.12 from the current price at Tesco. A large cheddar saving 31p and chorizo saving 31p. I did lose out though by picking up an organic cucumber my mistake. I’m not used to checking these things now I shop online! Food for thought at least. It does mean that this week I will be looking to spend less on the shop by using more food from the freezer. We also have lots on including tutoring, karate, the dentist and drama. So small and quick meals are the way to go.Sunday: Homemade pizzasMonday. Spaghetti carbonara and garlic dough balls from last week pancetta from freezerTuesday: Smoked salmon bagels
Wednesday: Cottage pie batch cooked from a few weeks agoThursday: Beef kebabs and naan breadFriday: Ribs, wedges and corn on the cob.Saturday: Salmon and potatoesDo you shop around for your weekly shop?

Sunday, 16 January 2022

Meal Planning 16th Jan

 As I mentioned last week, I have set myself a little challenge to try and keep the shopping bill to around £100 a week. With three hungry growing boys in the house this is a bit of a challenge but last week, I was pretty much on track. I will have gone slightly over it this week as I decided to shop in The Spicery sale. I got some of their kits for Christmas and I decided that a lot of the time I can make a really delicious curry using the kits, rather than spend out on a takeaway. We also got a date night subscription for Christmas and this too is fantastic. If you want to try them out you can use my referral code LOUISE-104132 which will give you 10% off your first order over £20 and would give me £5 into my account.

Our date night in Corfu kit

Anyway, I digress, but as you will see from this weeks meal plan I am once again using The Spicery kits. It may be a risk with the tagine as I have no idea if the boys will like it. Worst case, they have a microwave pizza instead.

Talking of pizzas, the homemade ones last week worked really well and will be appearing again soon!

So what are we eating this week?

Sunday: Roast chicken with pigs in blankets

Monday: Chicken Fajitas 

Tuesday: Filled pasta with pesto and garlic dough balls (guess whats on offer in Tesco at the moment.)

Wednesday: Duck salad

Thursday: Chilli Jacket potatoes

Friday: Methi Chicken using a kit from The Spicery.

Saturday: Lamb tagine using a mix from The Spicery

Sunday, 9 January 2022

Meal Planning 9th Jan

I don't know about you, but our food bills have soared recently. With a combination of the effects of COVID on the shopping bill and 3 boys with huge appetites has made the food bill astronomical. I have therefore decided to get back to meal planning. My theory is that I will only buy what we need for a few weeks. Use up what is in the freezer, and when I have a bit of extra time, I will do some batch cooking and freeze that. Last week I made 2 cottage pies at once. One for dinner and one for a few weeks time. I bulked out the meat with some grated courgette and carrot. The boys didn't even notice.

So here are the meals I am planning for this week

Sunday: Roast beef and all the trimmings

Monday: Chicken or beefburgers from the freezer

Tuesday: Salmon with pak choi and noddles

Wednesday: Sausage and mash

Thursday: Courgette fritters for lunch,   homemade pizza for tea

 Friday: Beef stew with puff pastry

Saturday: My husband and I are having a date night kit from The Spicery and the boys can have my cheats sweet and sour chicken.

Do you meal plan? Have you found your shopping bill soar? What tips do you have?