Sunday 31 July 2011

Summer activities for St Albans kids 2011

Here is the link for Summer activities in our local parks, going to check them out this week :)
They include Sports and Crafts :)
Annie x

Stockwood Park Discover Centre - Recycling Exhibition

We often go to Stockwood Park Discovery Centre, as it is free to enter, its an excellent resource, with a fab playground and museum, which the children love!  
We went this week and, after being mugged of an ice cream, from the ice cream van outside - went in and spent hours playing and walking around. 
I particularly enjoyed revisiting the Truck Art that we had seen before!  This pic doesn't do it justice, as the colours are magnificent!
We also enjoyed the permanent display in another room showing local artefacts from the local area through the ages.  There is a postcard on a pillar which always makes me smile! 
I nearly left before realising that they had the most brilliant recycling exhibition on, entitled Treasures From Trash!  Unfortunately at this point my two decided they were too tired for any more, so I couldn't get the most out of it, but will certainly go back!  The initiative and the colours hit you as soon as you enter!  Next time I will be going there before the playground!
Annie x

Wildlife Parks - Paradise Wildlife Park Review :)

On Saturday we decided to go to Paradise Wildlife Park in Broxbourne, Herts.   Some time ago I had bought a half price ticket at £25 from and being a Sunny Saturday in the school hols seemed the perfect time to use it!
We got there around 11.30am and were amazed at how quiet it was!   As you enter you immediately come to the playground, and whilst Chris and I were eager to see the animals, we forced ourselves to let the children lead us on their day out!  I must admit it is a pretty cool playground, and they've obviously been sprucing it up as it looked much more inviting than our last visit!
They also had a lifesize fire engine and an old steam train for the kids to play in - Jasper and Scarlett were in their element!  The inside of the train particularly was just as it would have been, and Jasper could only be withdrawn from it with the offer to go on the real train! 
It is a Thomas the Tank Engine replica, it's only £1 per person, and only does a little circuit.  However, if you have youngsters, there are wild animal models en route, which produce the relative scary noises!  The driver offered to turn them off for us, but not sure he could do if it was very busy?
Eventually we got to go see the animals, and again was impressed with all the improvements since our last visit!  
We particularly enjoyed the funny free-range chickens running about, and also the bloke who paniced thinking they'd somehow got loose, at least it wasn't a lion!
They were from the Farmyard area, there's also a Reptile place and a Rainforest Area.  The animals all seemed well kept and happy - not the greatest fan of zoos to be honest!
They also have a tractor ride around the Park, which is free, and worth doing if the little ones legs get tired!
There are some rides that they offer free at certain times, but charge at others, and a few other rides that they charge a minimal rate for!  We didn't go on any of these cos I figure once you've paid your entrance fee then that should be that!
After an animal too far the kids wanted back to the playground again!   So we grabbed some lunch and watched them play (they'd already have hotdogs)!
In all we were there about 3 hours.  If I'd paid full price I think I'd be a but upset, but the price I paid it was just about right.   Will definitely go again, if I can find on another deal!
Also, most importantly, everyone was worn out at the end! 
Annie x

DebutotsNWHerts Pirate Story

A few weeks ago we went to Big Space to meet @DebutotsNWHerts at Big Space in Harpenden. We heard the announcement for storytime and thought we'd send our little ones off to have a play, but turned out we had to stay with them eek!
We then went through a great story with music and big actions, which kept the kids engaged and excited.  It was a pirate story and there was alot of ahaaaaa's and big arm movements!
This week at the zoo I caught Scarlett going through the story again, and just about managed to catch on video!  
Will definitely go back!
Scarlett's Tribute to @DebutotNWHerts

Saturday 30 July 2011

Recipes for Salad - Slow Cook Warm Beetroot Salad with Cucumber Yoghurt & Coriander

Have re-done this recipe last night with gammon and Romaine lettuce, and re-photographed, yummy! (10th April 2012)

We were given some lovely veg from our neighbour's allotment, yes we have one too but stuck to spuds, garlic and shallots this year.  We were given beetroot and lettuce, so I scrabbled around and found a slowcook recipe which sounded delicious! The warm beetroot and beans, with the cold cucumber yoghurt and coriander was just amazing, we served it on lettuce with a pork chop, perfect for a crisp Summer evening, or rather a British Summer's evening :)

Recipe - serves 4
1 tbs olive oil
1 large onion diced
500g raw beetroot, peeled and diced
2 x 410g cans of Borlotti Beans (rinsed and drained)
450ml vegetable stock

To Serve
1/4 cucumber finely diced
200g natural yoghurt, though I used Greek for preference
1 lettuce of choice (used Romaine)
4 salad onions thinly sliced
4 tbs chopped coriander

Preheat the slowcooker if necessary.  Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the onion and fry, stirring for around 5 mins.  Add the beetroot to the pan with the drained beans, stock and season to taste.
Bring to the boil, stirring, then transfer to the slow cooker. Cover with the lid and cook on low for 3 to 5 hrs or until beetroot is tender.
Stir well and lift the pot out of the cooker.

Stir the cucumber in the yoghurt and season.  Arrange the lettuce leaves onto plate, then top with the warm beetroot salad.  Add spoonfuls of the cucumber yoghurt, scatter the spring onions and herbs over the top.  The combination is just perfect!
Annie x

Wednesday 27 July 2011

Rhubarb Crumble Recipe

We've been lucky enough to be given lots of allotment fruit and vegetables, including Rhubarb and cooking apples, and after a trip to "Pick Your Own" locally, had some lovely blackberries.  Crumble making therefore was the order of the day.
My mother is a chef, and she advised me to put the chopped rhubarb in a saucepan covered in sugar and leave overnight to draw the water out.  Next morning there was indeed lots of water to drain, which meant that the resulting crumble wasn't too soggy!
Recipe for Rhubarb Crumble
Enough Rhubarb to fill your chosen bakeware
For the Crumble: 125g Plain Flour, 50g, butter, 2tbs sugar
Turn the oven on to 190.  
After draining excess water from rhubarb, put saucepan on over medium heat, just to start off cooking, stir frequently, for around 10mins, then remove from heat.
In the meantime sieve the flour into a bowl, cut the butter into cubes and add to the flour.
Then rub the flour and butter together, a good method, once butter broken down, is to rub the ingredients between your fingers and palms of your hands.  
Continue until it resembles crumble! Stir in the sugar.
Put the rhubarb into your container, cover with the crumble mixture and bake for around 35mins.
Remove from oven, allow to cool, serve as you wish and enjoy!
We later made apple and blackberry crumble, adding a little sugar to the blackberry and apple mixture in the saucepan, then pretty much follow the same as above.

Thanks for reading!
Annie x

Tuesday 26 July 2011

Stupid play with kids toys!

Neighbour just gave me toys for Scarlett, so had to have a go myself!  Pretty rubbish youtube but hey!
Video link here!
Annie x

Fly Thomas Cook competition at @RedTedArt blog :)

I found a competition by @Flytc on @RedTedArt blog page As we travel with 2 children regularly, it  was good to visit the Thomas Club kids club packed with lots of tips, ideas, stories and games! 
I asked the kids if they wanted to enter the competition, and as soon as I mentioned the prizes they were jumping up and down with glee.   We read all the stories and they both decided that they wanted to recreate their version of The Magic Mirror.
I have to admit that I don't get the craft stuff out often enough, so the kids were even more super excited to be let loose.  We were going to do just the Turkish Man and the boy, but as you will see it ended up as a tad more, thank goodness for wine boxes and McDonalds - please do not take that as a reflection of our household eek!

Rather pleased!

Final Entry - Turk, Boy with mirror, Castle and Treasure Chest
A close-up of the Turk!

We are all rather pleased with our entry.  Though sure we won't win, had lots of fun in the meantime!
Good luck to everyone entering :)

Annie and family x

New Mezbar in St Albans

Recently a new restaurant and take-away opened up round the corner in London Road.  It is Greek Cypriot, and as our kids love Greek food couldn't wait to try it. 


We had Kalamari, one of Jasper's favourites, Manataria - my favourite mushrooms, Pastourma - Chris's spicy sausages, Keftedes - meatballs for Scarlett, and of course a Greek Salad.
The food was fab and we all cleared our plates.  I would say that the salad was a lot different to the one we have in Crete, it is obviously more Cypriot.  It might be worth them listing the ingredients as we were expecting cucumber and olives, and not lettuce and dresssing.  
They are currently applying for a licence to sell alcohol, but until that has gone through they are happy for you to bring your own!
Beside that, loved sitting outside so the kids could run a bit, and we will be back.
We wish them luck!
Annie x

Saturday 23 July 2011

An Ode to QPR

An Ode to QPR

Oh QPR what you do to me
The highs, the lows and inbetweens
But right now I miss you more than ever
And thank Twitter for a platform to blether

So Adel is going to stay put
And Warnock been told to keep it shut
Bothroyd and Dyer have signed
But staying PL am not yet resigned

August 13th cant come too soon
Want to banish all this doom and gloom
Get back in my seat, and enjoy such a treat
And sing that old familiar choon!

Da da da da, da da da da

Thursday 21 July 2011

Poets Day

My thing has always been writing poetry, not very good poetry, but a sad attempt to be funny.  Have decided since Friday is Poets Day, I would like a Friday challenge to write a poem of someones suggestion?
First one tomorrow, any requests?
Annie x

Free Stuff yayyyyy

Courtesy of my Yahoo will be working through these :)

Free entertainment
1) Download films legally for free from,, the Entertainment magazine website
2) Use and to search for free events, festivals, gigs and concerts near you.
3) Get two weeks of free DVD and computer game rentals with a trial — but don't forget to cancel after 14 days!
4) Get a free cinema ticket by signing up for free preview screenings with Show Film FirstSeeFilmFirst,Disney Screenings and MomentumScreenings.
5) Swap books for free using book swap sites like and
6) Watch cutting edge films for free at a free film festival
7) Join the audience at your favourite TV show using BBC TicketssroaudiencesTVRecordings,ClappersTicketsApplauseStoreHatTrick and LostInTV.
8) Get a free issue of current affairs magazine The Week.
9) Download free computer games onto your PC at
Free hair and beauty products
10) Destroy your wrinkles with a free sample of Revitalift 10, an anti-ageing product from L'Oreal (deal expires on 12 August 2011), and a free Garnier Ultralift Sample pack, containing 14 samples from their anti-wrinkle range.
12) Tame that frizz with a free sample of Herbal Essences 'Tame the Wild' hair product
14) Enjoy a free spa treatment with each promotional pack of laundry product Bold.
15) Repair your hair with a free sample from Dove's new Damage therapy range
16) Revitalise those locks with a free haircut from Vidal Sassoon's training academy.
17) Swap your old products for new ones using free swap site
18)  Get free cosmetics from in exchange for reviews.
Free food and drink
21) Have a free drink at a Marstons pub and a free cocktail at Pitcher and Piano when you register your email address.
22) Enjoy 50% off restaurants across the UK with a free three-month Tastecard.
24) Try free healthy snacks from Graze by post.
25) Gorge yourself on a free Casa di Mama pizza (you have to buy one and claim your money back).
26) Scoff rich, luxurious, creamy all-natural free chocolate.
27) Get a free Energy bar when you register your email address.
Home, garden, gadgets and other free stuff
28) Listen to a free CD of garden birdsongs so you can identify the birds in your garden.
29) Get free loft and cavity wall insulation from British Gas (if you're a British Gas energy or Homecare customer).
30) Sign up for a free pack that will help you create the ideal hedgehog habitat in your garden.
31) Create a personalised A5 greeting card for free with promo code FUNKYTEACH at Funky Pigeon, or send a free digital e-card.
32) Learn Welsh by downloading free MP3 Welsh lessons.
33) Get 60 free standard prints or a free Photo book worth £13.99 from
34) Download free antivirus software from Panda cloud.
35) Grab a free Ring Sizer so you can buy a perfectly sized ring!
36) Get three free condoms or, alternatively, two free pregnancy tests!
Parents and expectant mothers
37) Download Samuel Jackson reading the hilarious 'Go the F**k to Sleep' for free at
38) Get a free organic baby weaning recipe and advice folder.
39) Snap up free high visibility vests for kids aged 4 to 9.
40) Wave goodbye to stretch marks with a free sample of SilDerm stretch mark massage oil.
41) Get three packs of free parent/baby products from Argos and Lloyds pharmacies: the Mum-to-be package(PDF), the Bump to baby package (PDF) and the New Family package.
42) Become a member of the Argos Lego club and get a free Lego minifigure called Max.
43) Print off up to 1,000 free Crayola colouring pages and a free puzzle book.
44) Email to get a free sample of Nannycare Goat growing-up milk (if you then buy a tin, you get a free cuddly goat).
45) Get a free children's book about Bobby the Boiler who looks after the 'Green family'.
46) Finally, last but by no means least, would your life be complete without a a free nappy rash sample?
Find freebies yourself!
You can find all sorts of freebies yourself on sites like, and
If you've found any fantastic freebies I've missed, please share them using the comments box below!
More from
Register at for more articles like this

Tuesday 19 July 2011

Microsoft Scam

Just to update this post, I am pleased to say that due to the volume of complaints received by my mother's bank, they accepted the payment was taken fraudulently and in their words "clawed her money back"
I am so relieved that they didn't get away with it, though am sure they did in many thousands of cases!

Today I was at a softplay date with @mediocre_mum when my mum phoned.  She said she'd just been called by "microsoft" saying that she had viruses on her computer and they could help clean them up.  She was suspicious and said no thank you and immediately rang me.  I confirmed she had done the right thing, it sounded suspicious and I would ask twitter.  Which of course I did, and lots of my lovely friends on there agreed it was definitely dodgy and not to be trusted.  
I rang her back and she said its OK she's on the phone to them now!  Chrissie immediately looked suspicious, like you could get hold of Microsoft that easily - at minimum email enquiry first?  When mum called back she explained she'd rang AOL to see how these people called her, they told her to phone Microsoft direct, she googled and hit the first number she sees, genius, she is now calling the spammers back!!!!!!!   
£200 later she rings me saying she has given "Microsoft" control of her computer, it was an Indian Call Centre - double head desk from Chrissie and I - and they are cleaning it up for her!  So she has paid, not by Paypal or Credit Card it transpires, but from her debit card.   The card she used has since said they cannot refund as it wasn't a fraudulent payment since she gave number!  Yet more genius! Credit to Chrissie her concern was not to panic my mum any further, but we are at a loss what to do without our laptops to hand!
I could go on, yes I know I already have, but thanks to phonecalls, emails, texts and tweets, all kicked off due to twitter, I felt more in control!   Doubt she'll see the money back, but hoping thats the end of any scamming!  She is now in the hands of her security provider who, last I heard, confirmed this company had done nothing except take her security off her system!

For now just want to say huge thanks to my twitter mates, you all know who you are, and offer a couple of links to confirm that this is a huge viral scam and please tell everyone you know about it.  

Advice from Microsoft on the matter
Similar story with audio of them confronting!

They appear to be preying on the older people, my mum is 68, my FIL has had 3 calls and he is approaching 90!

Do we need to resurrect the old Grange Hill "Just say No" - on a tangent with that but its been a long day!

Thanks for listening and tell everyone you know!
Annie x

Sunday 17 July 2011

Boobie punching

Having a row with other half, parenting advice please.  My 7yo has taken to punching or groping my - as he calls "boobies" he has lost all treats on several occasions, but obviously forgets himself.
On one level it bloody hurts and on another level well you can imagine.  When I mention to other half he thinks its funny!  I asked whether he thought his 7yo daughter grabbing his balls would be funny and he laughed, grrr
Am I on my own here, advice would be welcomed!
Annie x

Friday 15 July 2011

A Poem - When I Go

In my Daily Mail reading days, I know I know, I used to enjoy the daily poems.  This one made me smile a lot and has been resident on my fridge ever since :)

When I Go
I'm going to buy a crocodile
And keep it at the zoo,
Until I kick the bucket,
Then here's what you must do.
Don't bury or cremate me,
Just feed me to the croc,
I hope it won't upset you,
It isn't meant to shock.
It may sound unconventional,
I hope it's not too gory,
To make my plan successful,
We must call the reptile Laurie.
As St Peter takes my details,
When I reach that Heavenly Gate
I can tell him without llying,
I'm the Poet Laurie ate.
by Hedley Metcalfe, Hebden Bridge, West Yorks