A Strong Coffee

Sunday, 12 September 2021

Trying A New Craft: Fused Glass Kits

I have always been a bit of a crafty person and my latest love is fused glass. It all started with a beautiful birthday gift from my parents.

I loved it so much that I thought I would look up the seller, and then saw these “make your own sun catchers”

You can choose not to have the hook added which I did so that it could be a coaster instead.

I started with the garden suncatcher from Berry Winter designs. It turns out that this is an easier kit. You are sent everything you need to make a sun catcher. Basically all you need to do is glue the pieces into place. Then package it back up and send it back to be fired. A few days later and this arrived.

I was so pleased with it, I decided to buy another one with some left over birthday money. This one is a harder kit in my opinion. Mainly as the pieces are smaller and in requires more waiting time for bits to dry. Not great for someone like me who is impatient!

And here is the finished design. (It looks different as unfortunately Royal Main smashed up my first attempt, but Berry sorted this out for me and I had a second go.)

Having looked through Etsy, I think my next fused glass project will be some Christmas decorations. Yes I know I am a little early but now school is back, Christmas will be with us before we know it!

Have you tried fused glass? What crafts do you enjoy?

Friday, 6 August 2021

Go Boat Kingston Review (Gifted)

If you are stuck for ideas on things to do on your staycation, then a trip on a Go Boat in Kingston or London is a great family day out.

With our summer staycation in full swing, yesterday we took an hours drive to Kingston upon Thames to have a self drive boat ride courtesy of Go Boat.

We booked the three hour trip as we wanted to make sure we had enough time to travel to Hampton court and back. (It is around 60 minutes there and you could do it in 2 hours.)

Booking in was simple. The desk is by Kingston bridge, so we parked at the Bentalls centre and walked there. We had to fill in some waiver details and then Rosie showed us where we needed to be positioned on the river as we headed to Hampton court and back. Generally you have to drive on the right but sometimes at the islands this changed. Having the board with pictures on really helped.

We then had a quick “how to use the boat” talk before we headed off. Luckily, steering the boat wasn’t too hard. The only confusing thing was that if you wanted to go right you turned left and vice versa. Yes, we may have gone in circles a few times at the start. However, it wasn't hard to get the hang of, but you can't take let your concentration lapse as it is really easy to go off course and rowers can come from nowhere. The Go Boats only travel at 4 miles an hour and you give way to everything else on the river. 

The boys were all able to have a go under our supervision and I was really Impressed by them. They generally grasped the controls better than me!

Go boats all have a picnic table so we made sure to bring one along to enjoy on our journey.

On the way I found a few houses I would like to buy.

We had a lovely time on the boat and I would certainly recommend it as a staycation activity. They also have boats in London, so you can boat down Regent's canal and see Little Venice.

Have you tried self drive boating? Did you enjoy it?

You can check out Go Boat on their website and if you follow them on Facebook there are often some midweek offers you can take advantage of.

We were provided with the trip in return for an honest review. 

Finishing Primary

I now only have one left at primary. How did that happen? It seems like only yesterday that I was juggling children in nursery and primary school. As of September I will have two off on their own at secondary. 

For middle man, his end to primary has been an odd one. All the things that they spend their junior school waiting for were cancelled. No residential, no end of year play (that would have been hard for my favourite actor) but at least there were no exams either. 

The school, however, tried their best to make it as normal as possible. Instead of a residential they had a sleepover at school, with a BBQ and water fight. They managed a waterside trip and had pizzas for getting through the year rather than for working hard at exams. 

Middle man has taken it all in his stride and hasn’t moaned once. He is excited for secondary and can’t wait to join the drama club. I never managed to sign him up to LAMDA classes as the slots went live when I was teaching and had gone in 20 minutes. Maybe next time! He is currently doing a transition at his new school and then for a well earned rest until September. I hope that things will be more normal than the last year or so. 

Do you have children leaving primary? How do you feel about it.

Wednesday, 28 July 2021

[Review] Love Yourself Keto Meals Delivered

I was reading an article yesterday which said that on average in the UK, adults had put on 3 kg over the pandemic. I was pleased that I didn’t fit into this, as I have lost 12 kg mainly thanks to the first lockdown. I went to a wedding in Feb 2020 and wanted to lose a couple of pounds and that’s when my friend told me about the keto diet. I continued with this over the pandemic and am now in a healthy BMI category.

Love Yourself Keto Meal Plan - 1 day

Keto is a strict way of eating which cuts out sugar and all your usual carbohydrates (flour, bread, pasta, rice, potatoes) and instead is high fat. I was a bit dubious at first but it works. Whilst I am more low carb now, I was keen to try the keto meals delivered by Love Yourself to see if they gave me more ideas for food.

The idea is simple, you order the number of days that you want and your food comes each day for the following day. If you want to try a new way of life or are too busy to prepare and cook meal then the love yourself meal plans could be for you.

I tried a couple of days of the low carb diet but it wasn’t really for me. There was a lot of meat and I felt overly full. The keto meal plan, however, was more up my street. If you haven’t tried keto before then you may find it strange as some of the flavours are unusual as almond and coconut flours are often used.

Here is a screen shot of the menu for the week I was given. I was delivered my Monday meal at 6.40pm on Sunday evening and my Tuesday meal was delivered just before 10pm on Monday.

I kind of knew I wouldn’t like the breakfast muffins that I had on Monday as I made the decision quite early on with keto that it was probably best to stay away from most cakes and bakes. They generally have an eggy taste with hints of almonds or coconut depending on what’s been used. These were no different.

The plant protein smoothie was lovely. Again, if it’s your first time at keto you may find the flavours odd but it was really nice.

Lunch was pork and cauliflower cheese with  omelette for tea. Whilst they may not make the best photos, the food tasted good, which is far more important.

Each portion tells you how to heat in the microwave (usually only a couple of minutes) and the containers are biodegradable so just need putting in your general rubbish.

Tuesdays food was another good mix. The Breakfast was too big for me so I saved half to eat on Wednesday.

The chocolate and vanilla praline was delicious and the kind of keto treat I am happy to eat. The salad for tea was fine but the lunch of chicken and pumpkin seeds was delicious.

All the ingredients are listed on the containers and it is an excellent way of trying a new way of eating. If lack of time has stopped you from trying keto then Love Yourself is a great way of solving this issue.

You can find more information on Love Yourself on their website.

Have you tried a keto diet? How did you find it?

I was given 4 days of Love Yourself meals in return for this honest review

Sunday, 11 July 2021

Cards Against Maturity Review (Gifted)

Cards Against Maturity is the way to get the teens and tweens off the tech and enjoying some family fun.

With the summer holidays fast approaching, I have gone into a blind panic over how we will spend the 6 weeks off. All we currently have booked is a day at Alton Towers and I was thinking of using some Tesco vouchers to buy a pizza express meal.

I can absolutely guarantee that my boys will be playing lots of computer games. Is that wrong? I don’t think so. I have fond memories of spending my summer holidays watching lunchtime and evening showings of Home and Away and Neighbours. But, I also have fond memories of spending time with my parents.

Whilst I feel that a holiday abroad is off the cards for us this year, no matter what Boris and co suggest, I do want to make evenings a bit more family oriented.

This is where Cards Against Maturity comes in. I need some family games that I’m happy to play (as well as the kids) and that don’t go on for hours and hours.

Cards against Maturity is the perfect option for older children this summer. It is simple to play and can take as long or as little time as you like.

The rules are simple. Each player has 10 answer cards. The person with the hardiest knuckles begins.....

No, that is not me!

A question card is read out and each player lays their funniest answer.

The player that has the most funny answers wins. You could set this at 3,5 or 10 depending on how long you want to play - result!

We enjoyed playing the game and the only downside was that some of the answers are aimed at an American audience. I had no idea who Jon Cena even was.

If you are looking for a game to play with older tweens and teens this summer on your staycation the. You can purchase cards against mature from Smyths Toys Superstores.

What have you got planned this summer? Are their any games that you would recommend for tweens and teens?

We were sent a copy of cards against maturity in return for a review but opinions are my own.

Sunday, 6 June 2021

Flight Of The Sky Lion At Legoland Windsor

Legoland Windsor have opened their new world this half term, known as Mythica. It consists of 2 new and 1 rebranded ride. Squid surfers is now known as Hydra. There are some drop towers called fire and ice frefall and the big draw is a flying theatre ride called flight of the sky lion.

I wouldn’t normally agree to wait such a long time for a ride (generally the queue ranged between 80-120 mins) but my boys are on the old side for Legoland and have been there many times so they wanted to wait for it as it was really something new they were looking to do.

You may have seen on Facebook (if you are in any Merlin groups) that people have been moaning about the lack of social distancing and the ride times at Legoland over half term. I’m afraid I have to say I agree. We knew and were prepared to wait for Sky Lion. However, all other rides had long queues too. When I say long I mean 45-80 minutes on average for most rides after midday. Even the advertised 15 mins for Mia’s riding adventure was actually around 45. Was social distance being adhered to? No. It was pretty disappointing to be honest and not like our trip last summer.

Anyway enough of the moaning and back to Mythica. If you are spending the whole day at Legoland, do not start with flight of the sky lion. The queue time will be 2 hrs and you are best off getting some of the other rides in early. By lunchtime the queue was around 90 minutes. Still long, but better. Unlike last year, there are barriers around the park not letting you enter the area until 10. Hotel guests will get there first.

Whilst we had the best part of an hour and three quarters wait for the ride, it really wasn’t as bad as I was bad expecting. In the outside queue line, you can scan a QR code in the Legoland app and it brings the Lego models to life through a magic portal.

Once inside it will take around 60 mins to get on the ride. However, there are screens explaining the story and introducing the characters as well as some Lego models. These all help pass the long queue time.

When it came to the loading bays, RAP had the first two rows. Then the normal queue had 5 rows on the day we went (one row was not being filled.) Groups were separated by 2 seats. Your number corresponds to your seat. We were on the top row of the ride. You have a little pre show and then sit down and strap yourself in. The ride starts and you are swung round to a massive screen and the experience starts.

If you have been to Walt Disney World then the ride is a cross between Soarin and flight of passage. The downside is that you can see the seats etc as in Soarin. The story is like flight of passage, in that you are flying around a mythical world. If you haven’t done anything like this before you will love it. It can make you feel a little motion sick, but it’s not too bad. My boys enjoyed it even though they had done flight of passage. They agreed that it wasn't quite as good. Another plus to the ride is that the queue line is undercover. As we went on a rainy day this was a bonus and kept us dry.

Overall we were impressed with the new Mythica area as a whole and flight of the sky lion is a fantastic addition to the park. Just be prepared for a long queue if you go at a peak time. 

Sunday, 2 May 2021

Teen And Tweens

Looking over at my tween today, it hit me. My babies are all big. No longer am I a mum of three little boys that think I am amazing. I am now a mum of tweens and a teen who barely grunt at me to tell me what they want to eat. 

Things are changing and I need to find myself again. I am so thankful that I returned to work a few years ago, to give me something to focus on and to help pay for the food bills that are growing by the second. Do you know how much teenage boys can eat!?!

But it’s not all bad. So I thought I would write a list of things I enjoy with my ever growing boys.

  1. We are getting rid of all the toys. Apart from a handful of games and a few crafty bits for school projects, we are saying goodbye to the majority of toys that have been cluttering the house. Of course it is only me that is doing anything about this and it’s taking forever, but I will get there. The house is so much tidier and that makes me happy.
  2. You can watch better TV. The highlight of my evenings over the last lockdown was watching Superstore with the teen. I know, I know, you could argue that this isn’t “better TV” but trust me when you have had to watch Dan TDM on you tube for years and feel like he lived in your house it is better.
  3. You can go out later. My boys have always wanted to stay up late, but have always been hell the next day if that is the case. Slowly but surely this is getting better.
  4. You can do more fun things. I have done my time sitting in play parks and soft play. Now let’s do Stealth, Go ape and water parks.
  5. You can have some good conversations with them. My youngest has more understanding about world affairs than many adults. They also all have a great sense of humour.
So if you are a mum of toddlers, pulling your hair out and seeking some adult interaction, trust me it will pass. All too soon. It won’t get easier. It will just get different. But different can also be good.