2017 | Modern Mummy

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Dough Ball Adventures at Pizza Express

This summer, Pizza Express are inviting children aged 5 to 12 to use their imagination and dream up an adventure for their dough balls! All they have to do is write a short story and then get a grown up to submit it to Pizza Express online here. There's a chance to win every week and prizes included a family adventure holiday with Featherdown, kids pizza making parties - and even the opportunity to see their story turned into a cartoon!

To celebrate the launch of this competition and the accompanying new kids pack, Pizza Express invited us to join them for a family meal - so last weekend me, Tom and the girls made our way to our local restaurant in Haslemere to see them for ourselves.

The kids menu had changed since we last visited - I love the addition of a salad option as a main, and the fact Pizza Express are now selling Cawston Press! I also think it's brilliant that the menu now tells kids how many of their five a day are in the different meals on offer so that they can make healthy choices for themselves.

Most of us went for our favourites when it came to ordering; Evie and Lily ordered dough balls and pasta from the piccolo menu, while Daisy went for a grown up's margherita.

We also had a single portion (yes, can you believe that photo is a starter for one!) of the antipasto to share amongst us all, and we gave the new calamari a go too.  Needless to say both were delicious - and we almost didn't have room for our pizzas!

Tom went for a Diavolo for his main, while I went for my first ever entirely dairy free Pizza Express meal. Since my cholecystectomy three years ago, and a bit of research into eating well without a gallbladder, last month I decided to embrace an entirely dairy free diet. This was no problem whatsoever at Pizza Express - I went for the Pianta pizza for my main, which is cheese free and vegan, although they now have a vegan mozzarella alternative that can be substituted on any other pizza too.

We all shared desserts - there were two dairy free sorbets on offer for me (coconut and raspberry) and also a portion of chocolate fondant and a great big slice of the honeycomb cream cake, both served with vanilla ice cream.

As is always the case, we had a great evening at Pizza Express. I've said it before, and I'll say it again - it really is the perfect place to go for a family meal. Service is fast, staff are always lovely and I love the constantly evolving seasonal menus and brilliant gluten and dairy free options.

Thanks so much to Pizza Express for inviting us to visit.

Our food and drinks were complimentary in exchange for this honest review. All words and photographs are my own.


Friday, 18 August 2017

Watching the Lego Scooby-Doo! Blowout Beach Bash Movie at Legoland, Windsor

Last week the girls and I were invited to the Legoland resort in Windsor for a special screening of the the new Lego Scooby-Doo! movie, Blowout Beach Bash.

If you're a fan of Scooby-Doo! then this is definitely a film to watch. Packed full of the usual shenanigans, it was absolutely brilliant to see the Mystery Inc. gang in Lego! The story follows them heading to the annual Blowout Beach Bash for three fun-filled days - however ghost pirates cause chaos and its up to the gang to foil these spooky swashbucklers in order to save the day!

Once the film was over we were free to check out the park. We've been a couple of times before, but now that the girls are a little bit older (and both Lego obsessed) we knew we were going to have the best time yet!

The girls LOVED Miniland and we spent ages wandering round looking at all the miniature Lego landmarks, shouting out the names of those we knew and trying to guess how many Lego pieces were used to make them all. The mini London was our favourite!

We also went on loads of rides and I have to say, if you're a solo parent (or planning a theme park trip as the only grown up) then Legoland is BRILLIANT for rides where you don't have to sit in a pair. I can remember visiting Chessington a couple of years ago and, as we were a three, we couldn't go on ANY rides. To be able to do so I'd have had to leave one of the kids on their own while I went on with the other, which I wasn't prepared to do. At Legoland there weren't any rides we wanted to go on that couldn't accommodate us as a threesome - and we had a total blast as a result. Some of our favourites were:

This was a brilliant underwater submarine voyage, where we got to see all sorts of fish (including sharks!) and plenty of Lego creations too.

We got to fly in a hot air balloon, and the girls in charge of how high we went! The views of the park were brilliant.

A train ride around the park with plenty of surprises on the journey. We got to hang out with the Mummy Endeavours and Life Daily crew on this one!

Is this not THE BEST photo you have ever seen?!! (Zoom in on Evie's face). This ride was brilliant, but we did end up totally drenched!

We also went on the Sky Rider and on Laser Raiders, and Daisy went on Mia's Riding Adventure, which she'd been gagging to go on last time we visited but was too small. The kids also played in the Castaway Camp (a massive outdoor climbing frame) and we got to watch the Lego Friends show.

We had a great meal at the Pizza and Pasta Buffet in Heartlake City. It was eat and drink all you can for £13.95 for adults and £6.95 for children, which I thought was pretty darn reasonable in the grand scheme of things, especially taking into account the amount of food my two can put away.

And of course, what trip to Legoland would be complete without making a Lego mini figure of your boyfriend? ;)

The new Lego Scooby-Doo! movie is out on DVD and digital download now. Thanks so much to Warner Bros. and Legoland for a brilliant day!

Feeling Nostalgic with Kickers #KickersPlayground

When I think back to my childhood in the early eighties, the first thing I think of is playing outside. In the street with the neighbourhood kids, in the local park with my siblings, in the playground at school. In those days there was very rarely such a thing as rainy day play - you were kicked out in your raincoat and wellies and carried on as normal. I think that's why bad weather doesn't bother me in the slightest today - I'm not going to let a bit of drizzle ruin my plans! - so the kids and I will always still go out regardless.

My primary school was in London but it wasn't big like lots of city schools are. In actual fact mine was teeny tiny; just one form entry with only twenty four pupils per class, which meant less than 170 kids in total! Our playground was concreted over (no soft bouncy tarmac, let alone lovely playing fields for us!) and the extent of our play equipment was football and hopscotch markings painted onto the ground. We would spend our playtimes running round like loons, playing games like tag, stick in the mud and Red Rover, often falling over and scraping our knees in the process.

As we got older, things became popular. We used to play with yo-yos, and cats cradle with pieces of string. I remember genuine rivalry over who had the nicest wool or string which is hilarious to think these days! We also started collections - Garbage Pail Kids cards were my favourite (they had a piece of BUBBLE GUM in each packet!) and spokey dokeys and reflectors for our our bike wheels, which came free in cereal packets. Playtimes were used for swapsies and as a place to show off the latest addition to your collection.

I've already mentioned yo-yos, but do you remember tamagotchis? Slapbands? Slinkys? Well everyone's favourite shoe brand, Kickers, are making us all feel nostalgic by giving away 100 #KickersPlayground packs which are made up of a Kickers lunchbox, a Kickers water bottle and a selection of playground favourites old and new. Winners will receive one of each, plus the current trend sweeping the nation (or the playground!) - the fidget spinner.

To enter you just need to share an image of either your old playground toy or your child's current one on Instagram or Facebook, tagging them @KickersUK and using the #KickersPlayground hashtag.

The closing date is 15th September. Click here for full terms and conditions. Good luck!


Thursday, 17 August 2017

Drinking Dark & Stormies on National Rum Day (+ Win a bottle of Dead Man's Fingers with 31DOVER.com)

I might have had a slightly sore head this morning.

Yesterday was National Rum Day, and after an epic five hour drive back from Wales with two incredibly noisy, argumentative, overtired travelling companions, if would have been rude not to pour myself a glass of the dark stuff once we got home and the kids were tucked up safely in bed. So that's exactly what I did.

I love a dark rum. In my opinion, there's only one way to drink it - and that's in a Dark & Stormy. Dark rum, ginger beer and a slice of lime; it's sweet, sour, refreshes you like you wouldn't believe in the height of summer and really does warm the cockles when its a bit nippy outside.

Dead Man's Fingers is my current favourite. An amazing small batch, spiced rum created by the owners of The Rum & Crab Shack in Exeter, Devon and St. Ives, Cornwall, it's made with a number of Caribbean rums which are blended and bottled in Cornwall. A 70cl bottle is super affordable at only £22.95 a bottle - and seriously one of the tastiest rums I've ever sampled.

Want to find out for yourself? I've joined forces with 31DOVER.com and have one bottle of Dead Man's Fingers to give away*.... Head on over to my Instagram to find out how you can win!

*18+ and UK residents only. Closes midnight, Saturday 19th August 2017.


Wednesday, 9 August 2017

A Family Dinner at Wagamama, Covent Garden

Oh wagamama, we love you!

Honestly, the girls and I love everything about this super cool Japanese inspired restaurant; the simple, clean décor, the open kitchens, knowledgeable staff and friendly chefs, the long tabled, canteen style eating arrangements - and, of course, the amazing, colourful, super nutritious menu. It's one of our most frequented restaurants as a result.

Last week we made our way up to Covent Garden to pay their newly refurbished restaurant on Bedford Street a visit and to check out their brand spanking new kids pack called the 'ko club'.

Over the past few months wagamama have been working hard on the ‘ko club’ and it has been well worth the wait. There's no lame colouring sheets to be seen here, but instead a super fun activity sheet packed with origami, word searches, the chance to invent your own recipe and even Japanese to learn; in other words, plenty to keep the kids engaged and happy during their visit to wagamama!

We kick started our lunch with juices, as we always do. I'm a keen juicer and wagamama have a seriously impressive selection of fresh, raw juices to choose from - I'm talking everything from regular fruits, like orange and apple, to spinach, cucumber, ginger, kale and celery. They beat boring old water and sugary pop hands down!

Usually, when we visit wagamama it's for a super speedy meal (they are so good at getting you seated and fed quickly, which is brilliant when you're out with kids and don't want to hang around) so we head straight for the main courses.

This time, however, we decided to give a few extra sides a go, and I don't think our lives will ever be the same again ;) The chilli squid and steamed chicken gyoza were absolutely amazing and were polished off in record time!

One of the things I love about wagamama is the extensive and ever evolving menu which means we can eat different meals every time we go (even if we go once a week, which is usually the case). I also love how versatile the menu is and that the waiting staff are more than happy for you to adapt meals to suit your tastebuds, which is particularly handy when dining with kids, or if you have a food intolerance or allergy.

This time the girls both went for chicken katsu, one with noodles and one with rice. The chilli ramen is one of my favourite dishes and this time I went for sirloin steak. If you can ever feel a cold coming on a bowl of the chilli ramen (steak or chicken) will sort it right out!

Sirloin steak chilli ramen is, quite simply, heaven in a bowl.

After our bowls of ramen and plates of katsu, the girls were still happily completing their ko club packs so we decided to stay for dessert, which is something we don't usually do. We shared the chocolate layer cake and almost asked for another two portions, it was so good!

As always we had a brilliant family meal at wagamama, made even better by the new ko club kids packs and we absolutely loved the new Bedford Street restaurant! We will definitely be back!

Our food and drinks were complimentary in exchange for this honest review. All words and photographs are my own.

Five Favourites ♥ Jumpsuits

Oh my goodness I am SO obsessed with jumpsuits right now. Because I'm an apple shape I've never really paid them much attention before, assuming the waistlines would do nothing for me except make me look like a barrel. But then last month I tried one on, fell head over heels in love with it, and the rest is history. I am now the proud owner of three bold jumpsuits, with my beady eye on a whole heap more!

I know there's the whole having to get naked thing just to go to the loo, but it's a small price to pay when your outfit is ready made, and all you have to worry about is whether to wear clogs or saltwaters with it!

Here are five of my favourite jumpsuits, all of which are in the shops now!

1 // Floral print Bardot jumpsuit, £49.50 - M&S 
THIS, my friends, is THE ORIGINAL JUMPSUIT. The one I tried on, fell for, treated myself to for my birthday and have been wearing ever since! I love the Bardot neckline and the bold PINK print.
2 // Flowing printed jumpsuit, £45 - ESPRIT 
I'm a real sucker for a floral print, and I adore the scrappy spaghetti straps and tapered legs of this jumpsuit. It would look great with a pair of high clogs and a messy top knot!
3 // Leopard print jersey jumpsuit, £15 (sale) - TopShop 
I think I must be turning into Bette Lynch in my old age, I'm all over animal print right now - this one particularly as I love the bold colour scheme.
4 // Riviera Floral Print jumpsuit, £159 - Lowie 
THIS JUMPSUIT! This was made famous by Steph from Don't Buy Her Flowers, over on Instagram. It's literally my dream jumpsuit but at £159 is going to have to stay just that (a dream) for a while.
5 // Tangerine dream jumpsuit, £95 (sale) - Whistles 
Pre-kiddos, when I was working in Mayfair, I spent ALL my wages in Whistles on South Molton Street. I think they lost their way a bit over the past couple of years but they are killing it this summer, and I am seriously enamoured by this orange beauty!

Which one do you like best?


Tuesday, 8 August 2017

One for One: TOMS Sunglasses

It's quite possible that I'm TOMS' biggest fan (the accessories brand, not the boyfriend, although he's pretty cool too). I love, love, love both their products and their ethics; knowing that I'm helping to make a difference in the world when buying things for myself or the kids is a great feeling. Thanks to their brilliant one for one initiative, over 70 million pairs of shoes have been given out to those who need them over the last ten years, and they have worked with some really incredible charities too, launching special limited edition collections in support of Wildaid Panda and Every Mother Counts, amongst others.

I only recently discovered that their giving extends beyond shoes and charitable donations; their One for One also applies with bags (TOMS will help provide a safe birth for a mother and baby in need with every bag purchase) and for every pair of eyewear purchased TOMS will help give sight to a person in need, be that in the form of prescription glasses, sight saving surgeries to treat cataracts and trachoma, or medical treatment for infections or traumas.

Ruth wears: Blythe sunglasses in shiny gold (currently only available 
in the States, but on sale in the UK in silver here) - £129.99
I'm wearing: Harlan sunglasses in matte champagne (currently only available 
in the States but on sale in the UK in tortoiseshell - here) - £129.99
Both c/o TOMS 

There's no denying I have a sunglasses addiction and I am always investing in new pairs, so it was only a matter of time before a pair of TOMS would be winging their way to me. I'm head over heels for my new Harlans, and wore them constantly at Camp Bestival last weekend. When choosing them I realised that the majority of my current collection have dark frames and lenses so opted for a lighter pair. I'm also obsessing over Ruth's seventies style oversized Blythes and trying to persuade her to lend them to me!

Which are your favourites out of the two?

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Camp Bestival 2017

We're back! Exhausted, ears ringing, with bellies full of amazing food, mild hangovers (grown ups only) and all everso slightly soggy but OH BOY Camp Bestival 2017 was a good'un!

Glitter. Fancy dress. A giant disco ball. The best motherlovin spicy Indian wraps in the whole entire world. BRIAN fricking WILSON performing PET SOUNDS for God's sake! There was so much to love about last weekend, I honestly don't know where to start now that the time has come for me to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and write about it!

Of course there was one major difference this year - the weather. But we'd kept our eyes on the weather forecast in the run up to the event and knew that rain (and MUD) would be on the cards. We made sure we went prepared so that we could enjoy the fun regardless - and it goes without saying that we did!

Another difference this year was that instead of heading to the general camping fields, we had a pre-booked pitch in Camping Plus which is something I would definitely recommend and we will definitely book again.

Camping Plus is where you pay a bit extra to have a camping plot reserved for you. You get a 5m x 7m pitch and you reserve it using a booking system similar to when you book a theatre/gig seat online, choosing exactly where you want to be in the field, which also means you and your friends can all book plots together. Camping Plus also has nicer loos, showers with smaller queues (the longest I had to wait all weekend was 20 minutes) and a dedicated car park right next to the field so you don't have to lug all that camping gear too far! A pitch costs £145 on top of the price of your tickets but I think it's well worth it just for the peace of mind of knowing you've got your spot sorted and don't have to rush to get a good one as soon as the camping fields open at 2pm.

As has become tradition now, we camped with our good pals the RocknRoller Baby and Mummy Endeavours families and having pre-booked pitches next door to each other meant we didn't have to meet up en route to Lulworth in order to arrive together and grab a spot big enough to accommodate us all in the regular camping fields.

Things we especially loved this year:

♥ Bumping into Alison from Not Another Mummy Blog, Emily from Family Four Fun and Emma from The Joy of Five over the course of the weekend, as well as making lots of new friends in Camping Plus.

Off to join the circus: outside Caravanserai

♥ Hanging out at Caravanserai. For some reason I've always overlooked this part of Camp Bestival (randomly I always thought it was a sit down restaurant!) but this year we wandered in and stayed there for pretty much the entire weekend! Built from vintage caravans and fairground rides, there were circus folk performing tricks and acrobatics, a brilliant climbing frame for the kids, delicious cocktails for the grown ups and some of the best foot tapping, gypsy music I have ever heard. It was no wonder that we didn't want to leave.

Horrified at Tom 'drinking' out of her boot!
Camp Bestival veterans! It was these guys fifth year there.
♥ The Pimms Bar - another brilliant spot we'd not spent time at before which had live, acoustic music from unsigned, local musicians as well as lots of local ales and ciders and, of course, Pimms.

♥ The delicious food. I love the food at Camp Bestival and like to sample as many different meals and cuisines as possible when we go. We discovered a few new eateries this year; Zoe's Ghana Kitchen was one of them - the food was insanely good! Daisy loved the burgers from Holy Cow so much that she had one for dinner on the Saturday night and a second for lunch the following day. The mac n cheese and pizzas on offer at the pizza joint by the Castle Stage was also a massive hit with the kids and the portions were huge enough to share between two or three, so they worked out to be pretty inexpensive meals.

How awesome?
The Magic Meadow - we spent a fair bit of time here this year too. There were loads of activities to entertain the kids, like willow weaving, dream catcher making and wood whittling. We enjoyed watching the skateboarders do their thing in the Sports Park and the girls and their friends found the beautiful, yarn bombed Little Fingys caravan that we first discovered last year and added a few new finger puppets to their collections!

Showing off their Little Fingys finger puppets

Rocking out to Right Said Fred
♥ The musical line up was epic this year, and some of the acts we especially loved were Kate Nash, Right Said Fred, All Saints, Louis Berry, Brian Wilson. I loved the token beach balls bouncing around the crowd while the rain poured down for his set, but when the clouds parted and sun came out during Good Vibrations it was the best feeling ever!

Things we love every single year:

Chapati BOOM!
♥ Chapati Man! No Camp Bestival is complete without paying Chris at Chapati Man a visit. His spicy Indian wraps were delicious, as they are every year.

♥ The WI tent - brilliant if you want to get the kids a couple of simple sandwiches for lunch, although they must have cottoned on to the fact they were onto a good thing as their prices had doubled since last year!

Lizzie's Way, in the Dingly Dell
♥ Letting the kids run off steam in the Dingly Dell. We LOVE this place. We were so inspired by their mud kitchen and cafe last year that the girls' grandad built them one of their very own at home! As well as making mud pies, playing in the play ground (which, this year, had a WINE BAR NEXT TO IT FOR THE ADULTS - genius!), tree climbing, den building and joining in with all sorts of other crafts, the Dingly Dell is a great place for kids to unwind, with little nooks to relax in, story telling sessions aplenty and even bedtime hot chocolate! As it's situated in the woods, it was a great place to hang out in the rain this year as the vast majority of it was under cover (similarly its great when the weather is hot as it's all in the shade).

The kids being incredibly helpful as we tried to pack up ;)
We did our usual trick of taking down the tent and packing up the car on Sunday morning, so that we were entirely ready to make a break for it after the firework finale. Doing this meant we were off site and on our way home by 11.30pm and didn't encounter any problems with the mud on leaving the car park, or any traffic getting home!

Camp Bestival 2017 you were utterly, completely and totally fantastic and we cannot WAIT to come back again next year! If you're keen to come too, then super early bird pre-sale tickets for 2018 are available to purchase RIGHT NOW! Priced at £170 for adult weekend tickets, and starting at £10 for kids weekend tickets (prices are staggered dependent on age) you can buy yours here.

We were official Camp Bestival bloggers, which meant our tickets were complimentary but this is an entirely honest review.

You can read all our past Camp Bestival experiences here: 2013 // 2014 // 2015 // 2016. Roll on 2018!

Friday, 4 August 2017

Biscuit Icing with Warner Bros at Biscuiteers, Notting Hill

Earlier this week, the kids and I made our way to Biscuiteers in Notting Hill for a biscuit icing workshop to celebrate the release of the new animated Warner Bros. film, The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature.

Starring high profile actors Will Arnett, Katherine Heigl and Jackie Chan, the film follows Surly and Andie the squirrels, Precious the pug and all their friends in their quest to stop their home, Liberty Park, having an amusement park built on it, rendering them all homeless in the process!

Biscuiteers had whipped up some bespoke Precious and Surly biscuits for us to decorate, especially for the occasion. After a quick lesson on how to use the piping bags the girls got to work on their edible creations. Needless to say, much icing was eaten during the workshop and of course the biscuits were eaten long before we got home!

I absolutely love Biscuiteers biscuits and have bought tins and tins of them as Christmas presents over the last couple of years. They make such a special (and delicious!) gift; they come beautifully packaged (with next day delivery options) and are honestly the most delicious biscuits I've ever tasted. I've only ever shopped with them online before so it was a real treat getting to browse the Notting Hill store and see what other products are available. We also loved spending time in the Icing Cafe - as a result Daisy is desperate to have a Biscuiteers birthday party later this year!

I loved this cake, complete with biscuits (of course). Biscuiteers sell a range of celebration cakes for both adults and children, plus they offer a bespoke cake making service too.

How amazing is this cheese and biscuit tin? I thought it would make the perfect dinner party present; as well as being a super kind and generous guest, you'd get to sample the goods after dinner too!

ps This book is on my Christmas list if anyone fancies treating me!

The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature hits UK cinemas on 11th August 2017.
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