Family · Food · Review

Travellers Joy Hungry Horse Review

Yesterday, we were invited along to our local Hungry Horse (the Traveller’s Joy in Rayleigh) to take a look at the new menu and have a family meal. We took my mother in law with us again, just like last year, so that we could see how it suited three generations of the family, and I have to say, it was a bit of a mixed bag.

Parking upon our arrival was a tricky affair as the car park was absolutely stuffed, although the fact that the place was so busy on a Tuesday afternoon is probably because it’s half term and it’s a very family-friendly venue, so the parking situation, whilst a bit annoying, was by no means their fault.

We were seated promptly and had our drinks order taken and were left to make our choices from the menu. Unfortunately, our server failed to tell us that the restaurant had no mashed potato, beef chilli or pulled pork, which was slightly annoying as two of our choices were meals which involved these items so we had to quickly scan the menu again to amend our choices, which I hate doing.

Our food arrived promptly and was hot and well-presented when it arrived; I ordered The Triple Rib Stacker, Husband had a Full Monty Mixed Grill, MIL ordered the Hand-Battered Fish & Chips and Sausage had the Cheese & Tomato Pizza served with a jacket potato and baked beans (BB had fallen asleep on the way there and slept almost the whole way through the meal and so missed out on our little treat). As was to be expected from previous visits to a Hungry Horse, all of the portions were huge but the quality of the meals was very varied.

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My ribs were absolutely delicious – the meat fell off of the bones and the sauce was beautiful. The coleslaw was really fresh-tasting and crunchy and the chips were cooked perfectly. I wasn’t a huge fan of the beans, but that’s just personal preference. If I had one minor complaint it was that my mini corn cob wasn’t served with a skewer or fork in the end to hold it with, so I felt rather self-conscious eating it with my hands in a restaurant.

MIL loved her fish and chips – I tasted her cod and it was really well cooked with a lovely crisp batter which wasn’t too thick. The little pot of tartare sauce was tasty and her peas tasted fresh. I was actually super impressed; MIL usually has a fairly moderate appetite and doesn’t like to feel too ful but she really soldiered through this massive portion and ate way more than I thought she would, which I think is a testament to how much she enjoyed it!

Husband’s mixed grill, on the other hand, was not such a positive experience. The piece of rump steak, which he ordered medium rare, was on the cremated side of well done and was really not a good quality piece of meat. On a couple of occasions, he looked rather green around the gills after taking a forkful and realising it consisted mainly of fat and gristle, and on one occasion actually excused himself to go to the bathroom to spit the meat into a hanky. The gammon was nice and well-cooked, as were the sausages, although the chicken breast was incredibly dry and the tomato looked as though it had been chucked on a grill for about 2 seconds and was basically raw and cold.

Sausage’s meal obviously came from the kids menu and although the choice is massive, I wasn’t hugely impressed with the quality of her meal. The pizza was (I’m pretty sure) a Chicago Town microwave pizza but it looked rather over-cooked and her jacket potato and beans looked more than a little bit sorry for themselves. I mean, I’m glad that there are kids options which don’t only come in nugget form and accompanied by chips but the overall quality wasn’t great. Having said that, Sausage demolished it, so perhaps my adult standards aren’t matched up to what a kid expects or finds appetising?

Not to be deterred by Husband’s bad experience, us ladies ordered dessert, with MIL going for the Jam Doughnut Pudding with Custard and the girls and I sharing The Ultimate BIG Candymania. MIL really enjoyed her pudding, which was warm and hearty and would have been perfect for a cold winter afternoon. The girls and I gave it our best but didn’t even come close to finishing our sundae, which probably would have comfortably served about 8 people but it was very tasty and the perfect thing to have as a treat.

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All in all, I’d say that our experience this time was mostly positive, however I was really disappointed with the quality of Husband’s meal. The young ladies who were serving us were really attentive and polite, although forgetting to tell us about the items which were off the menu hampered us a little in the beginning. We’d go back to the Traveller’s Joy Hungry Horse again given the value of the meals; our food would have cost £44.94, not including drinks, which is great value for three adults and a child, in my opinion, but I think Husband would be avoiding the steak next time around. Thanks to the Travellers Joy for having us and providing us with the meal for the purposes of this review.

Family · Health · Life

The Rising Cost of Funerals

This time of year always has us thinking about slightly upsetting things as two family members have passed away in October of previous years. Thinking about losing family members always makes me feel introspective and often makes me think about the practicalities of dying, such as writing a will and the cost of funerals. SunLife has put together an infographic which shows the average cost of a basic funeral in different parts of the country and how those costs have risen over the years. Take a look:

Infographic-cost-of-basic-funeral

Although cremation is still the cheapest option, the overall cost of a funeral including burial OR cremation has almost doubled in the 11 years since 2004. It’s an alarming statistic which definitely makes me think about investing in a funeral plan at some point because £5k is an awful lot of money for a family to try to come up with in the event of a tragedy.

I often think that funerals are more for the living than the dead – when I pass away (hopefully at some grand-old-age, after having done everything I want to do in life…) I’m happy for any viable organs to be used and I don’t really have a preference over what my family do with me once I’m gone as my body will simply be an empty vessel. One thing I do like the idea of is the tree pods, which uses your body as food to grow a new tree – something about living on as energy in a tree really speaks to my beliefs about the cycle of energy on the planet, but I’m not sure if it’s something that can be done in the UK.

The saddest thing about the info that SunLife has gathered is that 1 in 6 families now could not afford a funeral for a loved one and that over half of people need to borrow money to afford a “send off” if no previous arrangements had been put in place. The weight of responsibility on the people left behind to feel like they’ve given their loved ones a decent funeral can be huge, although so many people don’t make any arrangements at all because of some feeling of tempting fate by contemplating ones own mortality.

When it comes to it, if I were to make provision for my own funeral, the only thing which would really bother me was making things as easy and painless for my loved ones. I don’t mind what they do with me or if they decided to commemorate my life with a wake or a headstone, I just want to ease their upset as much as I can, and if that means ensuring that they don’t end up saddled with debt or money worries, then it’s something I definitely need to consider.

Crafts · Crowdsourced

Our Favourite Halloween Crafts

Sausage is a huge fan of Halloween. In fact, just the other day, she told me that Halloween was actually her favourite, ahead of Christmas; if a kid chooses something ahead of a holiday which involves copious amounts of presents, you know it’s serious! I do my best to indulge her love of Halloween with costumes and pumpkins and a yearly viewing of Ghostbusters, but this year the goalposts have changed. This year, we’re living in a village which actually DOES STUFF for Halloween!

On Saturday evening, we’ll pop over to the other half of the village to meet in the Mission Hall. From there we’ll indulge in a supper of hot dogs before all the families go trick or treating together! Sausage is beside herself with excitement as we’ve never done trick or treating before. Houses who wish to be involved are to place a pumpkin outside, so we thought we’d go one step further and make some awesome Halloween crafts for our display, and we’ve been searching blogs for inspiration. Here are our favourites:

These glowing ghosts over at Adventures of Adam are so simple, yet wonderfully effective and would make a lovely window display for Halloween night.

Toddler-made-ghosts

These tissue paper pumpkins from Parenthood Highs and Lows are wonderfully easy to make and look fab, and I reckon even Burrito Baby could get involved with making them.

Tissue paper Pumpkins

As someone with a Pokemon FANATIC as a daughter, I know for a fact that we’ll be making this at some point this week! Go to In The Playroom for full instructions.

Pumpkin-pikachu-pin

Another craft which would look fantastic as part of a window display and is super simple to do are these clothes peg mummies from Thinly Spread. Their googly eyes and wavy arms don’t make them look too scary, making them perfect for toddlers and little ones.

clothes peg mummies

If you’re looking for some fun, spooky treats to give out to Trick or Treaters, these brilliant spider cakes from Pink Oddy are just the thing and they’re great fun for the kids to make, too.

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We love a bit of bunting in our house and this super-simple Halloween version from Daisies and Pie is a great addition to any Halloween house, especially if you’re throwing a party.

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I’ve been wanting to make these Jelly Worms for ages as they make the perfect gruesome Halloween sweets, but I’ve never got around to it. Luckily, The Gingerbread House has a great tutorial to help you make your own.

Jelly Worms

These lanterns would be the perfect accompaniment to Trick or Treating, especially if you used battery powered tealights or glowsticks, as the tutorial from Mum in the Madhouse suggests.

Halloween-Crafts-Mason-Jar-Lanterns

These sugar skull dolls from Zing Zing Tree could not be more appropriate for us this year as Sausage is going to be dressed as a real-life Day of the Dead Senorita this year, so these will definitely be being made by us!

Sugar-Skull-Doll-Tutorial

Sausage and I were a bit late to the Hama beading party but now we’ve discovered them, we’re massive fans. This spooky glow-in-the-dark Hama craft from Hannah Spannah would be brilliant to hang in windows or on gate posts on the night itself.

Halloween Hama

If you have a little one (or even yourself) who isn’t keen on the full dress-up experience, then these autumnal Halloween masks from Dilly Drops could be the perfect solution.

Halloween Masks

Finally, these pop-up ghosts from Diary of a First Child make a really gentle ‘trick’ if people aren’t in the giving mood but you don’t want to go full-on and egg people’s houses! People will find it so adorable that they’re bound to muster up a treat after seeing them!

Pop Up Ghost

What will you be making this week?

Health

Five Tips to Help You Care for an Asthmatic Child

If you have never suffered with asthma yourself or have never been close to somebody who does, learning that your child has asthma can be something that is quite scary. However, with the help of your child’s healthcare providers, you can ensure that you deal with your child’s condition in the best possible way, even if you have never experienced a similar situation before. One of the most efficient ways to keep control of your child’s asthma and minimize their risk of having an asthma attack is to have an up to date asthma action plan. This plan should include a number of factors such as when your child will need to take their asthma medication along with what to do if their condition worsens. We’ve put together some helpful tips that you may find useful for looking after your child.

Tracking Trigger
The vast majority of asthmatics will have a number of different triggers, which are factors that contribute to their asthma worsening or even an asthma attack occurring. One of the best ways to help you understand what your child’s triggers are is to write them down, i.e. if your child always tends to have an asthma attack when in an area where dust has gathered up, dust is most likely a trigger for them. There are a number of triggers that are common in most asthma suffers, and you should be provided with a list of these by your healthcare provider. Alternatively, there are a number of healthcare software vendors which provide tracking software for asthmatics in the form of a smartphone or tablet application, as well as allowing you to order and pay for your child’s medication at home.

Keep to a Routine
If your child has been given a preventer inhaler from their healthcare provider it is important that they take it every day, even when they feel well and are not having any asthmatic symptoms. Keeping an action plan for your child’s asthma will tell you how many puffs they need to take each morning and evening. It’s a good idea to keep your child’s inhaler in the bathroom, so that they can get into the habit of taking it as they brush their teeth when they wake up in the morning and before they go to bed at night. Although as a parent you may feel uneasy about getting your child to take medication every day even when they don’t feel unwell, it’s important to remember that the preventer inhaler is key to ensuring that your child’s asthma is kept under control – meaning they’re less likely to react as much to their asthma triggers or feel out of breath as easily.

Keep the Action Plan Handy
It’s important that you keep your child’s asthma action plan handy and in a place where it’s easy to find, as it will have all the information included to tell you and other family members everything that you need to know to help your child stay well with their asthma. It’s also a good idea to make copies of the written action plan in order to give them to school, childminders, clubs, groups and anybody else who make look after your child when you are not there. You might also want to consider taking a photograph of the plan or making an electronic copy of it to store on your smartphone, so you’ve always got it with you. If your child is old enough, you should also give them their own copy in order to teach them to get into good habits regarding looking after their asthma.

Go For Regular Reviews
Taking your child for an asthma review will give you both the opportunity to speak with healthcare providers about the condition and how your child is getting on with managing it. Even if your child is feeling well and reacting positively to the medication that they’ve been given, you should still take them along for a regular review in order for their healthcare provider to check their asthma action plan and make any necessary changes to it, including any changes to the dosage of their asthma medication whether more or less.

Watch Out For Allergies
You should also be careful to watch out for any other allergies that your child may have, especially hay fever or food allergies which could also become a trigger for an asthma attack. Almost half of children who suffer with asthma will also suffer with some sort of allergy as well, particularly dust allergies, and if you are worried about any allergies that you think your child has, you may want to speak to your healthcare provider about carrying out an allergy test. When it comes to dealing with asthma, prevention is crucial. By getting allergy medication like Nasonex, you may be able to help prevent the risk of allergies causing asthma attacks.

Baby · Food · Review

Review: Little Dish – My First Pizza

Little Dish My First Pizza

Burrito Baby is a really good eater these days and since we’ve discovered that she can now have dairy, she happily eats things with normal cheese without any issues and is a huge fan of pizza. So when Little Dish got in touch and asked if we’d like to be some of the first people to try their brand new range of pizzas, My First Pizza, aimed at toddlers, we jumped at the chance. Here’s the blurb on the new products:

Our new range of My First Pizzas have been created in partnership with our nutritionist to ensure that they are not just yummy, but also nutritionally balanced. These tasty pizzas are made with 100% natural ingredients, contain 35% less salt than the average children’s chilled pizza* and have no added sugar, additives or preservatives. Plus, each mini pizza contains 1 of child’s recommended 5 a day thanks to the yummy toppings and hidden carrot puree into our unique pizza bases.

*35% less salt when compared against the average salt content (per 100g) in all children’s chilled pizza found in UK supermarkets

We were sent all three varieties of pizza; classic margherita, mini meatballs and veg, and pesto chicken and veg. The pizzas by themselves were the perfect size to give to BB for a hearty lunch and because they contained one of her 5 a day, as well as 35% less salt than conventional “kids” pizzas, it didn’t feel like we were giving her something unhealthy.

One of my favourite things about all of the Little Dish meals, not just the pizzas, is that they don’t patronise when it comes to ingredients. There seems to be an accepted wisdom that there are certain things that kids just won’t eat, and while there are plenty of fussy kids in the world, my two are really open to new flavours and textures and BB absolutely loved the butternut squash and spinach on the meatball pizza.

Little Dish My First Pizza

Obviously, there are some days when most toddlers decide to be difficult, which why these pizzas are so great – even the plain margherita contains carrot, peppers, onions and tomatoes, all hidden in the base and sauce, so you have the peace of mind that they’re eating a nutritious meal while they get to exert their toddler will and think they’re getting away with being fussy!

If you wanted to make a larger meal out of the pizzas, I’d wholly recommend serving them with sweet potato fries or wedges, for added calories and nutrition, or some steamed veg such as broccoli. We’ll definitely be buying these pizzas for BB in the future as they went down an absolute storm. Thanks, Little Dish, for sending them to us, along with the adorable little hamper and goodies to go with them.