83 articles Articles posted in Review

Eat Like a Horse at The Hungry Horse!

A couple of weeks ago, we were lucky enough to be invited along to The Travellers Joy in Rayleigh, our local Hungry Horse restaurant to sample their fayre and we took my lovely mother-in-law with us again so that I could offer the opinions of three generations of Crammond. We visited on a Monday afternoon and was surprised by just how lively the atmosphere was inside and were warmly greeted before being seated in a circular booth, which was perfect for fitting all of us in, as well as the buggy.

For starters, Sausage and I decided to share a plate of nachos, which were loaded with cheese, guacamole, salsa and jalapenos. There was also the option to add beef chilli, but we decided to keep it light. There was plenty to go around and the four of us all ended up tucking into the nachos! Husband went for the Chicken New Yorker Batons, which consisted of chicken, BBQ sauce, cheese and bacon inside filo pastry, served with a BBQ dip and were a very light choice, perfect if you have a smaller appetite. MIL decided to leave the starter and go straight for the mains as she’s got a fairly small appetite…which was about to be seriously tested!

For our main courses, Husband went for a fully loaded burrito which comes as a 12″ flour tortilla with Mexican rice, peppers & onions. Packed with shredded iceberg lettuce, grated cheese, salsa, sour cream and jalapeños, you can also choose from BBQ pulled pork, spicy chicken, rump steak or smoky bean chilli if you want a veggy option. Husband went for the pulled pork and was presented with a meal which would probably have fed two people adequately! Sausage opted for the kids meal which has a whole load of options to choose from, meaning they don’t have to end up with the usual nuggets and chips (although that’s exactly what she chose!), and Sausage was most impressed to find that they served authentic Heinz Alphabetti Spaghetti as a side option!

MIL chose the cheese, onion and potato pie which was served with chips, peas and gravy and was more like an enormous pastie than a pie, but she absolutely loved it and despite her best efforts to clear her plate, MIL was ultimately defeated by the huge Hungry Horse portions! I opted for the 14oz rump steak which was served chips, onion rings, buttered whole green beans, a flat mushroom and a grilled tomato. I ordered my steak rare, as I usually do – I’m pretty fussy about steak and find that it can be really hit and miss in the UK; usually, if you order rare you end up with something that’s medium rare and if you actually order medium rare, it turns up almost cremated. I was massively impressed when my huge slab of steak turned up properly rare! It was cooked to perfection and well seasoned, and the side dishes were excellent – some of the best chips I’ve had in ages!

By now, Husband and MIL were well and truly stuffed, but Sausage and I soldiered on (mostly because we’d caught sight of the very enticing dessert cabinet!) and ordered a slice of the Mars Attacks gateaux to share. The piece of cake that turned up was mind-bogglingly huge and could easily have fed all four of us! In fact, despite our best efforts, Sausage and I fell at the final hurdle and had to admit defeat halfway through our afters.

We were all really impressed with the food at the Hungry Horse and were aware, as we were ordering, that everything on the menu seemed to be pretty good value. However, I’ve just added up how much our meal would have cost, minus drinks, and I’m blown away to discover that the whole lot would have cost just under £38! That’s starters for three, mains for four and dessert for two, and all of our portions were really large. In fact, I was so surprised by the cost that I went back and added it up twice, just to be sure.

I can wholeheartedly recommend Hungry Horse and especially the Travellers Joy in Rayleigh, for the atmosphere, friendliness, excellent food, huge portions and brilliant value for money and am really pleased to know that there’s somewhere local we can go for a nice family meal which won’t cost the earth…and that gateaux alone makes it well worth a return visit!

Go HERE to find your nearest Hungry Horse.

Zizzi Ristorante Review #ZizziBambini

zizzi-roundelLast week we were invited along to our local Zizzi, a restaurant which serves a selection of traditional and contemporary Italian food and we decided to take my mother-in-law along too, so that we could see what 3 generations of Crammond thought of the food. We actually chose to visit the branch at Bluewater Shopping Centre, which is slightly farther afield for us, but we love Bluewater and combined it with a trip to the Lego shop so that Sausage could spend all of our money her birthday money.

The restaurant is located in The Village, a section of the mall filled with eateries which backs onto the lake, giving a gorgeous view whilst dining and we were seated right by the huge patio doors. The decor of the place was fresh and eclectic and I spent an inordinate amount of time lusting after their furnishings and fixtures. As soon as we were seated we were given our menus and had our drinks order taken, and we were given plenty of time to decide what we were eating (which was probably longer than usual as we’re 3 indecisive adults – Sausage put us to shame by knowing what she wanted right away!).

Zizzi Decor

For starters, Husband and I shared a plate of antipasti, which consisted of garlic breadsticks, sun-dried tomatoes, mozzarella, olives and a selection of meats, all of which tasted fresh and delicious – so much so that we went to the supermarket the next day and attempted to recreate the dish ourselves. My mother-in-law went for the garlic bread, which was a huge flat-bread style dish and tasted wonderful. The kids meal offered a selection of crudités and breadsticks which Sausage enjoyed in between colouring in her menu with the crayons she was supplied with.

For our mains, I went for the Cicchetti platter, a dish which can be eaten as a sharing plate for a starter or for one as a main and consisted of risotto balls (which literally melted in the mouth and were packed full of tender rice and melted cheese), chicken and pepper skewers, oven baked king prawn skewers, mini calzone with spicy n’duja sausage and a tomato and bufala mozzarella salad with a chunky peperonata dip. I’m a lady with a big appetite, but even I had to admit defeat as there was just SO much food on the plate.

Husband had the seafood risotto, which he felt was a little hit and miss – the risotto was cooked perfectly with just the right amount of bite, the seafood tasted fresh and even reinvigorated his enjoyment of squid (something he’s had bad experiences with in the past due to it being overcooked) but the flavour was a little overwhelmed by the amount of heat. He’s by no means a chilli-wuss, and can eat far hotter food than I, but he felt that the delicateness of the seafood was drowned out by the over-spicing of the dish. However, he did enjoy it and was complimentary overall.

Mother in Law went for the Pollo Prosciutto, or chicken and ham to you and I, and really enjoyed it. The chicken and prosciutto were perfectly cooked (chicken breast has the tendency to be slightly dry but this was juicy and tender) and the potatoes and green beans were a perfect accompaniment along with the white wine sauce.

Sausage’s main was obviously the show-stopper of the day, as she was able to actually construct her own pizza from the Zizzi Bambini menu. Presented with a cooked cheese and tomato pizza, she was able to use ham, tomatoes and olives to make the pizza to her  own specifications, and I have to say, it was both beautiful and delicious!

Zizzi Food

By this point, Husband was well and truly beaten, but us girls ploughed on with dessert, with Sausage going for the Zizzi Bambini Cones, a super-cute dish consisting of two scoops of ice cream, topped with mini cones and chocolate sprinkles. MIL had a simple bowl of vanilla ice-cream, and despite being beaten by my mains, I was a naughty girl and had a chocolate and banana calzone, an interesting invention which is new and exclusive to Zizzi and consisted of sweet dough wrapped around sweetly caramelised bananas and melted chocolate. I’m not sure I have enough superlatives in my vocabulary to explain you you just how delicious it was, but be assured, I was very impressed.

All in all, we were blown away by the quality of both food and service at Zizzi. The staff were very accommodating of us with our buggy, gave us just the right amount of attention, serving us quickly and chatting politely without making us feel like we were being hovered over or rushed and the food really exceeded our expectations. We’ll definitely be returning to Zizzi in the future as it’s the perfect place to take a family for a special lunch or dinner and we felt totally relaxed in our surroundings.

Thanks so much to Zizzi for hosting us…we’ll be back!

Feeding a Senior – Growling Tums Dog Food review

If you’ve read any of my older posts about our dog, Chuck, you’ll know that he didn’t have the best start in life. He came to us covered in scars from untold abuse, riddled with worms and a haunted look in his eye. We vowed that we’d always do our best to give him the best life we could, and his nutrition has always been a big part of that. He’s a bull terrier cross, with heavy musculature and a short coat, so he needs plenty of protein and exercise, as well as the right nutrients to keep him shiny and bright-eyed. 

He’s also a complicated beast, suffering with bouts of colitis and bloating, as well as having joint issues, so his food has to be both hypoallergenic and contain some sort of joint care, which is why when Growling Tums got in touch as asked if we’d like to try some of their dog food we were more than happy to give it a go. You see, their Golden Oldies senior dog food is both gentle on the tummies of older dogs and contains high-quality protein and Glucosamine, MSM and Chondroitin, all of which are essential for keeping Chuck’s joints well-cared for. 

Growling Tums Golden Oldies Senior Dog Food

The other thing we like about this food is that it’s calorie-controlled – when Chuck was a younger pooch Husband would take him on a five mile walk every day. As his joints gave him more issues, it became every other day and now, we’re only really able to take him a mile or so at a time, but once or twice a day. This means that he’s more prone to weight gain because he’s not exercising as much, but the Growling Tums Senior food helps us to control this – let’s face it, a fat dog is not good and more weight will ultimately put more strain on his joints.

Chuck’s been having the Growling Tums for a couple of weeks now and he’s absolutely loving it! He wolfs his dinner down when its put down for him (with other brands of dry food, he turns his nose up until he’s so hungry that he forces himself to eat!) and his coat is looking fantastic. Best of all, we’ve not had to give him any of his anti-inflammatories since he’s been on the new food either; occasionally, after a walk, he’ll develop a limp and his vet had given us some medicine to give him when he’s in pain, but we’ve been medicine-free for ages now!


Another great benefit of Growling Tums is the price – we were sent a 12kg bag for the purposes of review, which would ordinarily cost £34.99, which works out at £2.91 per kilo. The food we were giving Chuck previously (which matches up in terms of nutrition) would cost £3.57 per kilo, giving us a saving of around 66p per kilo. That might not seem like much but over the course of the year we’ll save over £70 by switching to Growling Tums.

Which, I think I can safely say, is something we’ll definitely be doing!

Fisher-Price Kick ‘n Play Piano Gym and Rainforest Friends Bouncer Review

When Sausage was little, we started as early as we could with stimulating her mentally. She loved to watch baby-focused DVDs with us, which played classical music and showed brightly coloured, highly contrasted images, and Husband would spend hours with her on his lap, looking at pictures of animals, listening to music and reading books. She’s an amazingly bright child (she recently got moved up to purple on the Pearson Books chart, which are books for kids in the end of year two and beginning of year three, whilst Sausage is still in year one) and I can’t help but wonder if her thirst for learning was kicked off by her early days. We’ve done our best to attempt the same level of interaction with BB and now that she’s at a stage where she’s holding her head up almost all of the time and her eyesight has sharpened, she’s really benefiting from it all.

When Fisher-Price got in touch and asked if we’d live to review their Kick ‘n Play Piano Gym and Rainforest Friends Bouncer we jumped at the chance. Sausage had a Fisher-Price seat which she loved and we thought that BB would really benefit from some apparatus to help with her development.

Fisher Price

It’s a little difficult to take pictures of BB using either of her things, because I don’t put candid pictures of the kids on here, but I did manage to get a snap of her using the mat which sums it up perfectly:

Fisher Price Kick and Play GymThat yellow circle? That’s a mirror. BB will happily kick away for AAAAGES whilst gazing lovingly at herself in that mirror, testing out all of her newly learned facial expressions. She loves kicking her feet and making music come out of the piano and she’s also now starting to try and grab the hanging parts, much to our amusement. The volume can be adjusted and it’s possible to choose from music or single notes when the piano keys are kicked, so there’s plenty of variety if BB seems to be getting bored.

The Rainforest Friends Bouncer is just as much of a delight to BB as the mat; the seat unit has a vibrate function, which can soothe her quite effectively when she’s feeling a bit grumbly and the removable toy bar allows us to moderate her levels of stimulation. In fact, when BB was going through the worst of her colic, one of the ways that we found best to soothe her was to gently bounce her in her Rainforest Friends Bouncer. I don’t know if the motion helped to move some wind through, but it definitely made a difference, and the fact that the crotch strap unclips from both sides made it easy to get her out and into bed once she’d finally dozed off.

Both items are colourful and well made, and the fabric parts are removable for washing, which makes life a whole lot easier. We’re really pleased with both the Rainforest Friends Bouncer and the Kick ‘n’ Play Piano Gym and would highly recommend them to parents both new and old.

We were sent the Fisher-Price Rainforest Friends Bouncer and the Kick ‘n’ Play Piano Gym for the purposes of review. No payment was received and all opinions are honest. 

Seagate Expansion Review

Review by Tony Crammond

We’re a completely digital family. We don’t do tangible incarnations of media at all and we love the freedom and space that goes along with it. On the road and want to watch a movie, sign in to BitTorrent Sync, wait a few short minutes and away you go – it really is the only way to fly. Naturally though, we use a lot of disk space, so when Tesco Compare home insurance asked us if we wanted to try out Seagate 3TB Expansion Drive, we jumped at the chance.

When we opened the box the first impressions were good. It’s a fairly small, unassuming little package with no gaudy, eye-catching decals or unnecessarily ugly ‘features’ like superfluous knobs or disco lights. It’s compact, black and well vented, which means there shouldn’t be any temperature related shenanigans. This was a plus one for Seagate, right off the bat.

Seagate Expansion 3TBDomo Kun Not Included!

Setting up the Expansion was a breeze. It was a case of sliding the correct plug adapter on to the plug and jamming both ends of the included USB 3.0 cable in. There’s no software to install or settings to fiddle around with. We have no qualms in saying that literally anyone could pick one of these up and have it up and running in no time with no outside assistance.

Now, aesthetics and ease of use are one thing, but we don’t buy removable storage for its looks or how easy it is to set up, do we? No, we buy it so that we can have somewhere secure to store all of our important media, be they back-ups for work, family photos or your entire HD iTunes movie collection, and in this capacity the Expansion was exemplary. Once you’ve plugged it in to your PC or laptop, you’ll notice a new drive appear in your ‘My Computer’ screen and you can dive right in, adding files to the drive.

The Expansion is fast, thanks to its USB 3.0 credentials, but USB 3.0 isn’t a necessity. You can go ahead and jam it in to your USB 2.0 port just as easily and while you won’t get the same nippy transfer speeds, you’ll still get solid performance. In our test run (using USB 3.0) we were able to copy a 1.2GB movie file from our home drive, which is a Samsung SSD, to the Expansion in about 10-11 seconds, which is more than fast enough for our everyday needs, and made moving a large portion of our media collection a painless affair.

The drive has so far excelled in stability too, with no drop-outs or outages in over 2 weeks of continuous use. Temperature hasn’t been an issue for us either, despite us having to keep our home at a balmy 22 degrees constantly to appease our new baby (who we think might be part lizard – but that’s another story, for another day).

So, overall we would like to give the Seagate Expansion (3TB) a huge thumbs-up. Its simple, effective approach to expanding home or office storage was a breath of fresh air and with an RRP of about £78 we can’t think of another device which we would choose above it.

A #morrisonsmum is a Happy Mum!

Just recently we were asked by the lovely ladies at BritMums to take a trip to our local Morrisons supermarket and give our verdict on the whole experience. We were sent £80 of vouchers to spend and told to shop for our Bank Holiday weekend, a challenge we accepted with relish! Our closest store is actually quite little and we wanted to make sure we had the biggest variety of choice possibly, so we travelled a little farther afield and went to the store 5 miles miles away instead. We went on Saturday evening (braced for it to be ridiculously busy!) and were pleasantly surprised by how good the atmosphere was inside the store. Although there were a lot of shoppers in store, the aisles were wide (important if you’re shopping with a buggy and a trolly) and the shop was really well laid out.

IMG_20140503_181437 We’d been invited to a barbeque on the Sunday and decided to pick up some bits to take with us. Much to our delight, there were lots of offers on meat and barbeque items, which meant that we got some lovely grill steaks, kebabs and chicken for just a few quid each. We also bought a whole chicken for a mid-week dinner, which was seasoned and stuffed and were not only surprised by the low price but also by the quality of the meat, which is guaranteed to be from a source of highest welfare standards, something that’s really important to us as a family.

IMG_20140503_181337We were also really impressed with the variety of produce on offer – there was a rather exotic herb display which was being kept fresh with a regular stream of dry ice, and the had not one but THREE varieties of aubergine. Three types of aubergine! I didn’t even know that there was more than one variety of aubergine, so I got an education that day, too!

IMG_20140503_183852Perhaps my best buy of the trip was the quick dinner that we grabbed for that evening. Obviously, we’d need something quick to munch on once we got home and unpacked our shop, so we headed to the excellent fresh pizza counter that Morrisons has and found a huge 14″ Ham and Pineapple pizza for just £3.70. We coupled this is a bag of onion rings which cost just 85p, which means that our dinner that evening cost £1.51 per head for the three of us, although there was MORE than enough food to serve 4, so it’s probably more like £1.13 per head. The pizza itself was seriously delicious – Husband commented that it was one of the best ‘cook at home’ pizzas he’d ever had and he’s tricky to please in that department.IMG_20140503_181535All in all, our shop included barbeque fayre, dinners for the week and even a bottle of wine (Mine and Husband’s favourite brand of Rioja for about 2/3rds the price we usually pay) and came to just over £92. Husband and I were so pleased with the value of the shop that we commented that even the extra 15 minutes in the car to get the bigger store and expenditure on petrol was worth it for the excellent savings (and, incidentally, we got a voucher for 10p off of every litre of petrol at a Morrisons filling station with our receipt, too!). The staff were friendly and helpful, the own-brand goods were of a disproportionately high quality for the price, the store was clean and well laid out, and we’ll definitely be going back for our next big shop. IMG_20140503_185053I’m not just a #morrisonsmum…we’re now a #morrisonsfamily!

Durex Real Feel Review

32680_DUREX_real_feel_pack_home_landingOkay, so my blog usually focuses on family life, so a review of condoms is a bit of a far cry from my usual content, but since BB was born I’ve not had a chance to arrange a more permanent form of contraception, so the opportunity came along at just the right time. Durex Real Feel condoms are made from a special new material which feels as close to the real thing as you’re going to get whilst being protected and the best part is, they’re latex free. Here’s me, talking about them a little bit more:



Durex has a dedicated site for their Real Feel condoms, and there’s a whole bunch of other bloggers over their talking about their experiences with the product, so do head over there to get the lowdown on what everyone else thought of them, as well as all of the ‘technical specifications’!

Easter at Thorntons

When I was pregnant, Thorntons Diabetic chocolate was just about the only thing that kept me sane, so when they got in touch and asked if we’d like to review some of their Easter eggs, we jumped at the chance. Yesterday morning, the postman turned up with this:

Thorntons Easter Eggs

Okay, so it may not be Easter quite yet, but we’ve been sampling the eggs already, strictly in the name of reviewing (ugh, my job is SO hard). The chocolate sheep and bunny lollies that you can see at the front are perfect for a smaller child and taste delicious. The Hopalot bunnies are also great for the littlies as they’re super Eastery (that’s totally a word…) without being too massive and getting them all hopped up (HOPPED up, geddit?!) on sugar.

The plain eggs are gorgeously simple, while the Super Scooter and Shining Star eggs are great for older kids who still want to get involved with the egg-giving traditions – and let’s face it, who doesn’t  like being given chocolate?!

My favourite egg was the big Special Toffee egg in the middle. The egg itself is set with tiny shards of toffee, and also comes with a slab of toffee in the box; the whole thing feels deliciously grown-up. Of course, being Thorntons, the chocolate in all of the eggs was excellent quality and everything we were sent both look and tasted amazing. I must admit, when I’m buying eggs for Easter, I usually end up going to the supermarket and doing some sort of multi-buy deal on branded eggs which contain some novelty item or another with a tiny, bland egg inside. However, after trying Thorntons eggs, I think this will be my new go-to shop for Easter treats.

They also do a whole range of other eggs, including smaller, brightly wrapped chocolate eggs which are perfect for Easter egg hunts, a great activity for getting the kids outside in the sunshine on a beautiful spring day.

Newborn Essentials – Our Reviews

Burrito Baby is a very lucky girl – she’s already being sent things to try out and review! Given that she has such a busy schedule of sleeping and milk-drinking, I thought I’d condense a few things down into one post of products that we’ve tried and loved in the last 5 weeks.

Aden+Anais Swaddling Muslins (£44.95 for a pack of 4)

aden+anaisWhen the lovely people at Aden+Anais found out how much Burrito Baby liked to be swaddled, they asked if we’d like to try out their extra large muslins, which are perfect for swaddling babies, amongst other things. We’ve found these muslins have come in super handy for a number of things – laying BB on while she was being weighed instead of putting her straight onto the cold scales, draping over her car seat and pram as a sun shade, and obviously using as a wiper-upper when she’s being burped. The patterns are so pretty and unique and the cloths have actually got softer each time we’ve washed them.

Sophie La Girafe Organic Skincare (from £10.99)


I’m not a huge fan of putting unnecessary products on babies – their skin is so delicate at this age and let’s face it, babies smell good enough as it is without slathering them in strong fragrances. However, the Sophie La Girafe range of products has won me over. It has a barely-there, subtle fragrance and are super gentle on BB’s skin. The Baby Oil is one of my favourite baby products ever and is perfect for when I massage BB after her bath – I can honestly say that this is a product I’ll buy myself when our review sample runs out. Also, and this is totally shallow of me, I LOVE the look of the packaging, sitting on BB’s changing station!

Pink Lining Not So Plain Jane Changing Bag – £69.00

I’ve been coveting a Pink Lining changing bag for ages, so when they asked me if I’d like to choose one from their new range of designs, I spent an absolute AGE trying to decide which one I liked best! Eventually, I settled on the gorgeous bike print above, which is so unique and pretty, but this bag is about so much more than looks. It’s got space for everything we need to carry around with us for BB and loads of clever practical touches, like a key fob, phone pocket and mirror. I’m completely in love with this bag and have lost count of the amount of complimets I’ve received since I’ve been using it.

Daisy Baby Mei Tai Sling – £19.99

BB has been suffering with both infant reflux and colic, and the Daisy Baby Mei Tai Sling has been an absolute godsend. Keeping her upright is the only way to soothe her when the colic and reflux strike and the sling is comfortable for both her and me. At first, I was wary about using a sling, but the Mei Tai is very well made and feels sturdy and safe when BB is in it. The pattern is lovely and neutral enough that Husband would be happy to wear it too. BB is very happy when she’s in the sling and it holds her in a position which doesn’t put any unnecessary pressure on her hips.

tommee tippee Closer to Nature Complete Starter Kit Review

We’ve been really lucky over the last few months, having been sent some fabulous products to review for the new baby. We were pretty savvy with Sausage’s baby things and kept the vast majority of it, but it’s still nice for the new baby to have had some new things too – and I won’t lie, it’s been a treat for me, as well! One of the things that we’ve used the most up to this point is the tommee tippee Closer to Nature Complete Starter Kit. Within this kit is basically everything you could possibly need to bottle feed a baby, and it’s made my life SO much easier!

tommee tippee closer to nature Complete Starter Kit

As well as containing 8 bottles (4 small and 4 large) and all of the lids, teats and cuffs needed to put them together (including a couple of size 2 teats for when the baby needs a faster flow), there’s an electric steam steriliser, electric bottle warmer, two insulated bottle holders and a cleaning brush and tongs – see, literally EVERYTHING!

The Baby is feeding on demand at the moment, which means she’s ready for a feed roughly every three hours, so we get through a lot of bottles in one day! The steriliser is SO easy to use – it sits on the worktop and once I’ve loaded the washed bottles and teats into it, it takes about 6 minutes to work, with just the touch of a button. There’s plenty of space inside too, which means that I can stick dummies in there to be sterilised if I need to, too. This means that, even if I get behind with bottle washing, I can have a clean, sterile bottle ready before you can say ‘hungry baby’!

The bottle warmer has been a godsend, too. It has an adjustable thermostat, so I can set it to heat a bottle to just the right temperature and it won’t get too hot – perfect for sticking a bottle on to warm up while I change the baby’s nappy before a feed.

One of the things I really love about this kit is one of the most simple additions – there are 4 little pots for carrying measured out formula powder, and they sit neatly inside the neck of a bottle, which means you can take everything you need for a feed when you’re out and about and it won’t take up too much space in your bag.

All of the bottles are BPA free, which is a huge thing to take into consideration, since it was discovered a few years back that a lot of baby bottles contained this potentially harmful substance, so this has given us real peace of mind to see right on the box that tommee tippee guarantee to have left it out of everything in this kit.

At £100, this kit may seem pricey, but when you consider everything that’s included it’s actually a real bargain. It contains everything we’ll need until we start to wean the baby once she’s older and the steam steriliser doesn’t require any additional cleaning products to be added, just 80ml of water with each cycle. If you’re expecting a baby, I can highly recommend the tommee tippee Closer to Nature Complete Starter Kit – if you’re bottle feeding (or expressing) it’ll make your life SO much easier and when you’ve got a newborn baby to think about, every little helps!