Tuesday, 25 November 2014

That Design Store, St Albans

On Saturday I was having my hair done, and Apollo and I were chewing the fat about the changing High Street, and obviously blaming the loss of a lot of our individual shops down to the influx of discount shops, and the slippery slope from there.   After my new "do" I wandered into town, only to discover the opening of a new Shop, where the old Whittards used to be, called That Design Store.
I had to have a look see, and I wasn't disappointed, it was full of lovely designer goods, from gorgeous lighting, champagne buckets, candles (that I NEED in my life), and other kitchen accessories (can never have enough)!

It reminded me of a scene from my favourite all time show "Absolutely Fabulous".......

Eddie: I'm opening a shop, Pats.
Patsy: Ooh, what are you going to sell?
Eddie: Oh, just gorgeous things, you know.
Patsy: Ooh, lovely.
Eddie: Gorgeous, tasteful, little stylish little gorgeous things.

The candles I was particularly drawn to, as they were made out of recycled wine bottles, and they smelled beautiful!  I love wine, I recycle everything I can, and I love candles.   These will definitely be on my Christmas list!

This is an unsponsored post, but I thought I'd share the love, as definitely some great Christmas present ideas in there, so go have a look!

Some more of this back in our lives would be fabulous! IMHO, though I wouldn't say no to a Primark - fickle thing that I am!
Thanks for reading!
Annie x

Sunday, 2 November 2014

At the wrath of a mums group on Facebook

So apparently I have been trolled?  Luckily I am too old to be that bothered, but it sure provoked a reaction amongst the baying crowds of local mummies!

I dared to ask out there whether other people would consider leaving their near 7yo daughter at home for 20 mins max whilst you nipped out for something?  It was meant slightly tongue in cheek, whilst still being interested in peoples opinion (I never left her by the way)!

The reaction varied from "stupid women", "unfit mother", "case for social services" to "did you not hear what happened to Maddie McCann"?

I bit my lip several times, and sat on my hands even more, as I saw the comments fly in.   Was more irked by the "does she not know better" but then they started to bring into the forum what I did for a living!  No matter my profession I am also a mother, and that is how I approached the forum.

To be fair a lot of mums sprang to my defence and it definitely sparked a debate,

Although I didn't leave her on this occasion, in fact dragged her out in her onesie!!!!! I do think the answer is down to the child in question and the set up at home.

1) Both my children know how to access the phone and call me, Chris, my mum or Chris's parents, or the police.
2) They know not to answer the door (have previously left Jasper who is 10)!
3) My house is so damned risk assessed you wouldn't believe, and safeguarded beyond reason, even my husband has trouble getting into the knife drawer!
4) Would always check a neighbour is in and child is aware in case they were worried.
5) I do a fire drill every three months with all the children.
6) Lastly, and most importantly, I know my child!

I believe children should be brought up to be independent and that their confidence grows with being given said independence.

Someone mentioned "but what if you were in a car accident and she was left at home" erm, would that not mean she was in a safer place!

Just thought I'd put it out there, but in the meantime will run and hide in a wifi-less zone until Next Christmas ;)

Annie x

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Crete, has it succumbed to some British tourists expectations of food.........

Don't get me wrong, you can still get great food, fresh vegetables, fish that were probably still swimming locally a few hours ago, and meat that looks and tastes like meat.  Not a white, insipid piece of plumped up pork in sight!


Back in the day, after a great meal, you would traditionally be served some fresh fruit, maybe with honey, and some Greek yoghurt, to accompany the slug of Raki of course!  This holiday it appears it's all change.   Gone are the fresh figs, or pomegranates, grapes or apples, it is now chocolate cakes and waffles drowned in Nutella, in huge portions, to which my kids of course fell in love with. Problem is, they would previously have devoured the fruit and yoghurt just as eagerly............

what would you chose?

Portion size, in some tavernas, also seems to have gone into the humongous regions.  We ate in one of these recently and it made me feel sick at the sight of it - I was brought up having to eat everything "because there are starving children" somewhere.  Last night I saw some children being served food on huge platters, with mounds of chips, the size even my dear old dad would have struggled with.

Yes, I know, you can leave food, and we all did, it just seems such a waste.  The amount we left probably would have fed us for the week!  We may not be going back to that taverna for a while!

Luckily, our favourite place hasn't succumbed to this war over bigger the better!  It's about quality, not quantity, however they have given into the chocolate cakes for dessert.

Whether it's what the tourists demand, or what the Cretans think we expect, I'm not sure, but either way it's a sad, sad thing..............And it's evident that some of the local ex-pats have markedly put on huge amounts of weight too.   Wonder why, hmmmmmmmmmmm

Rant over, now back to the sunshine, which thankfully no-one can mess about with (not going there ha)!

UPDATE:  Since writing this post I have discovered that you can still get the fruit and honey option if you ask for it, but the chances are the waiters will try to upsell you to some cake or waffles etc. Last night we had the fruit and honey, and without the option of anything else, the kids loved it.

Annie x

Monday, 8 September 2014

Vietnamese Food, with Kids, Easy Peasy lemon Squeezy! #pancakes

So we had the best holiday in Vietnam, kids were amazing and then some.  We came home last Tuesday and people were very interested in feedback, and guarantee the 2nd question was about he food.  Well Marks and Spencers have launched a Vietnamese food range, so that shows its "bang on trend", and I will be trying it tomorrow, but thought I'd let you see what we ate first hand.

Firstly, it's not spicy food.  The food is amazing and flavoursome, but they offer chillies and sauces for you to add heat if you wish.  The Pho is a principal dish in Vietnam, and can be eaten at any time. We saw a lot of the locals eating it for breakfast too.  It is pretty simplistic but absolutely beautiful. Considering I don't like soups, or wet food(!) even I loved it.  A lot of the mums from home were concerned about food for the children, but there was rice and pancakes on most menus, so if they didn't want to try anything else, they could still eat well.   Personally, when dragging kids around museums and stuff and they are happy to do so, interspersed with rice or pancakes, I'm all over that! Having said that, they also had spaghetti bolognese a couple of times, which also features in my Vietnamese cookbook!

Pho Ga (chicken noodle soup) I added the chilli myself!
Vietnam is renowned for its street food, and we were actually staying in what they called "food street" in the "Old Quarter"of Hanoi (incidental not planned)!  If you stayed in an all inclusive or a posh hotel in the City, and wandered into the old quarter, you might turn your nose up at the street traders, but!!!!!!    We were staying in an apartment overlooking "food street" and they washed and scrubbed everything to within an inch of its life, and could not have been cleaner - food, surfaces, pots and utensils.  We ate locally every night and we had the best food, without any "tummy" issues, another question I was asked!

We also loved it when eating local clams, to die for, to see a pizza delivery guy turn up at a hotel which overlooked "food street"..... no words!

White roses

street food, you picked it and they cooked it and brought to your own hot plate, see below

Spring rolls and chilli dip

Squid in banana leaves

Clams to die for - from food street, you ate what they had basically!

Cao Lau a favourite for Chis, local to Hoi An - includes pork rind!

Our bungalow in Hoi An, they cooked for us on Saturday night, as an offering and a thank you!

Spring rolls, on every menu, but delicious

Wantons, a favourite of mine, if not too greasy!

Steamed spring rolls

Stuffed squid

Morning Glory and garlic (a type of water spinach)

Sticky rice, Scarlett couldn't get enough of it (thankfully)!


Jasper had his own method of eating with chopticks, but it worked!

Trying some new fruit
My initial worry was that we would end up eating dog.  On the contrary most traders and locals had dogs as pets.  We were told that you could definitely get it in Hanoi, but we didn't go looking.  We had a book with us to translate the menus, but to be honest we didn't need it.

I will have a go at trying my own, it will never match up as it won't be in the location, in the heat, and deserved after a long day out in the sun or on the water, or up a mountain!

Will keep you posted!
Annie x

Monday, 11 August 2014

So Where's The Missing Pound? A bit of a yarn of my dad's!

My dad (RIP) used to love to tell this story to people, I still enjoy it myself, and for some reason it popped into my head so thought I'd share!

3 flatmates were in need of a new washing machine, and they found one for sale locally for £30.
They asked their mate John to get it for him, since he had a van.
John duly obliged, and when he went to pick it up, did a deal with the seller and got it for £25.

When he delivered the washing machine back to the flatmates, he explained the deal, and with the £5 change they agreed to accept £1 each back and let John keep £2 for his petrol.

So.............................if the girls therefore paid £9 each, 3 x 9 = £27, plus John's £2 = £29!
Where's the missing pound :)

Annie x