Sunday 29 September 2013

Return of the Prince - in support of the Kiyan Prince Foundation!

What QPR fan could forget that fatal day in 2006, when Kiyan Prince, a member of QPR's Centre of Excellence, was stabbed to death outside his school gates.   He was 15 years old.  Kiyan was set for a big future in football, but we, his family and friends will never be able to watch his progress.

Kiyan's Father, Mark Prince, set up the Kiyan Prince Foundation "to try to halt the volume of gun and knife crime that had plagued the inner cities in the UK. The foundation was designed to increase awareness and address the consequences of gun and knife crime via education and mentoring".

On Oct 4th, former WBO/IBF Inter-Continental Champion boxer Mark, is preparing to return to the ring, after a 14yr hiatus, in a bid to raise the profile of his important Foundation.

Let's all get behind Mark, I've bought my T-Shirt and have been wearing it with pride.    You can purchase tickets here!  And visit the shop and order your own merchandise here!  It doesn't show the logo on the site but check out the picture of Mark wearing his and see the picture of mine.

Oh, and don't forget to follow Mark on Twitter @markno1prince 

Go Mark and COYR's........... Let's hope Mark is as successful as our boys have been so far!

Annie x

Disclosure:  I have not been paid for this blog and paid for the T-Shirt myself in support of the Kiyan Prince Foundation.

Wednesday 25 September 2013

Mushroom Burger to die for...........

My husband introduced meat free Monday to me.  He often complains since that he would prefer a lamb chop with it, but rules are rules.

If you've never tried the mushroom burger I would urge you to do so, it is so tasty and meaty - ironically - and its a healthy twist on a favourite dish!

Mushroom Burger
Olive oil
Portobella Mushroom
Cream Cheese - I use Philadelphia Light
1 Garlic clove chopped
Roll of choice
Lettuce, tomato etc. or whatever you wish to load it with!

Brush the mushroom all over, lightly, with the oil, and place under a medium grill for 6 minutes each side.   Mix the garlic into 2 tbsp of cream cheese then place the mixture around the stem.   Put mushroom back under the grill for a further 6 minutes and its done.  Load it into a roll, with whatever you like, and enjoy! :)

Annie x

Monday 16 September 2013

Florida, Universal Islands of Adventure, a review........

The Monday of the second week we finally got around to going to Universal Islands of Adventure.   The Harry Potter ride was on my radar, but apart from that had no real expectations.  Boy oh boy what a treat!   This turned out to be one of THE best ever days on this trip.   And this was agreed by all of us.   We also chose to go back on the Thursday, the day before we left for home, so we really got the best out of it.

The park itself is very manageable, and only has 7 “lands”.  We headed straight to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride.  The Floridian kids were back to school this last week of August and queues were no longer than 20mins.  Having said that, they do have a child swap room, to make life easier, so 1 parent stays with the young one/s, and then walks straight on the ride when the first parent comes off.  They were in fact playing the 1st  Harry Potter film in the Child Swap room, with gory bits deleted in case of very young ones.  Scarlett was a little star the whole trip, and patiently sat out rides whilst the three of us took our turns.   They also have a single rider queue by the way, as most of them do, and they don’t seem to mind if groups go together, as long as they understand that they will be split up when they get to the front.
Hogwarts School
Enjoying a family Butterbeer

I absolutely adored this ride.  I actually squealed when it felt I was flying high above the Quidditch pitch!!!!  However, Chris wasn’t a fan, and neither was Jasper.  We’ve worked out now that Jasper doesn’t like anything in the dark, and Chris is a purest Coaster boy… doesn’t like jerky.   For me it was the visuals that did it, and if you relax and go with it am sure you’ll love it too.  Actually, I can’t swear that you will love it, but having ridden it around 7 times over 2 days, I loved it so much.  (Do let me know)! 

The whole Harry Potter area in itself was something to behold.   The Hogwarts Express was there of course, as well as the conductor, the train station next door, and rising spectacularly up in front of you, amidst the blue sky and fluffy clouds, is Hogwarts itself.  All the little shops mentioned in the books and films are there too, and you can buy Butter Beer of course!   What’s not to love?  It really was magical.   Within the area are some other rides too, a tamer coaster for younger ones called Flight of the Hippogriff, and another double coaster called Dragon Challenge.   You have to ride both of them as they are both separate in themselves.
Dragon Challenge

There was something for everybody here, and I was particularly pleased that Jasper got his big-ride-mojo back and rode Hulk in Marvel Super Hero Island.  He went on with Chris first and then dragged me on.  Thinking it was just another coaster it has some wicked surprises, I loved it too, best coaster ever (though Seaworld’s Manta up there too hmmmm).  The Amazing Adventure of Spider-Man was a great ride/simulator for all of us too.   Scarlett was a bit wary, but loved it.

For Scarlett herself (5yo), there was Seuss landing, perfectly designed for her age group (though I confess to loving the Cat in the Hat ride too).  Although our children weren’t really brought up with Dr Seuss, the area is really fun, like you are actually walking through a children’s book, with fun rides, a high up train around the area and also a carousel.

If water rides are your thing then head to Toon LagoonJurassic Park has a cute, soar through the air over the park *thing*, but it’s an 80 second ride and probably didn’t warrant the 20 min wait. 
No Queues

Just a fantastic park, if we were booking to go back (here’s hoping in a few years) visiting this park would make us all very excited.  If you are in the area it is a must see, for at least 1 day!

Annie x

Tuesday 10 September 2013

Florida, Seaworld's Aquatica, a review.............

After the second morning at Seaworld, we got the bus over to their Sister waterpark Aquatica.  That way you only pay 1 parking fee!

It was fabulous.  More wave machines, but there were downtimes too.   Unfortunately I'd run my battery down taking pics at Seaworld (Shamu Show part 2), but it also had some great rides and features, and also the free life preservers.

One thrill was anything but a lazy river, Roas Rapids.  The artificial current propels you all around the park.  Whilst it was fab, I went with Scarlett, in a life vest, but I was still concerned when she went a head of me.  Of course she loved it, she has been quite the thrill seeker this trip!

As it comes with your ticket it's well worth using on a blistering hot day.   It hit 91 the afternoon we were there.

We only did 2 water parks, this and Typhoon Lagoon, which was part of Disney.   Both were excellent but at a push I'd say the the Typhoon Lagoon felt a little dated in comparison.  Having said that, it was the only park we visited that didn't ask for a parking fee, so maybe they bear that in mind?

Annie x

Florida, shopping, a review.............

Well I'm not a great shopper, a day's shopping would  normally fill me with dread.  However, we were told by many that we had to go shop at the Premium Outlet Centre/s (there are 2, 1 at either end of International Drive).

They weren't wrong, my indulged in some Converse, Timberland and Vans, of course.  BIG TIP!!!!   After we had bought our Timberland, at the information centre in the Food Court, we found discount cards for 15% off!   I was all set for taking our bits back, and re-buying with the coupon, however Chris thought it would be wrong.

I've since found out that they would have been fine about it, and almost expect it.  Hmmmmm, I may keep the receipt (not really, not that sad, but we would have saved around $25)!

We only brought 2 big bags and 2 smaller bags for the kids.  Never time it will be 4 big bags to leave space for such goods!

Have fun!
Annie x

Florida Kennedy Space Centre - a review......

Scarlett had her Princess day at the Magic Kingdom, booked from the UK, and today was Jasper's treat, lunch with an Astronaut at NASA - Kennedy Space Centre.   It was a surprise for him and he was very, very excited.

We started in the Rocket Garden, and managed to grab a walking tour around it, with a very knowledgeable guide.   Whilst I was very interested in everything that we saw, it became ever more evident to me that I have no desire to go into space.   Spending weeks in a capsule, side by side with another person, having to do bodily functions in a space suit, erm no thanks.   My claustrophobia alone wouldn't cope with it.  But hats off to the boys and girls who do!

And talking of girls, Jasper hated the sign below that I kept quoting to him!  Ahem, #girlpower

We then headed over to see a film all about The International Space Station.   It was absolutely fascinating what they have done up there.   It was narrated by Tom Cruise, which seemed fitting (no idea why), but we all really enjoyed it.

After that, Chris and Jasper went off to have their lunch with John Creighton, their astronaut for the day.   He said it was absolutely brilliant, fantastic food and a fascinating chat.   Of course one kid asked about the ablutions etc.  It involves vacuumed space and stuff.   The liquid stuff gets let out into space, the other stays in there for someone to clear out at a later date.   Anyway......... Whilst the boys were being enlightened about such stuff, Scarlett and I went to the soft play they have.   It is all space ship type climbing stuff and slides, not very big, but big enough to entertain Scarlett for half an hour or so.

We experienced a space shuttle launch, which made Scarlett laugh watching my face!!!!   And plenty of opportunity to get up close and personal with the shuttles and exhibits showing the Apollo series etc. It really is fascinating, and I didn't think I was going to get as much out of it as I did.

There are busses leaving every 15 minutes to take you around the rest of the place, which is also home to lots of wild birds and animals?  We saw the launch pad, which was very exciting, and you are taken to another exhibition centre with lots more rockets and shuttles to see.   Truly breathtaking!    It wasn't until here that we saw any reference to man landing on the moon, phew!   Even the Fodor book we were using as a guide didn't mention it?   Anyhoo, it was a really good day out.   We got to do everything we wanted to do, but could have done more.

Your ticket also gets you into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame.  It is just a short way further down the road, but we'd run out of time.   Will have to go back another time.

Well worth a day out.   Even just for the NASA fleece, T-Shirts and space ice-cream, as you do!
Annie x

Saturday 7 September 2013

Year 5 Swimming (aged 9 and 10) Gogglegate!!!!!

Some of you may have heard the @OC reading out my tweets on @absoluteradio, about the letter I received home regarding my son's school swimming sessions.

Here is the letter that left me open mouthed.   Goggles, hazardous? Really? I would bang on about the need for a coat too, but in the shadow of gogglegate I shall let that pass.

Call me a terrible mother, but I have indeed written a letter accepting full responsibility for any accident that may occur. I shall worry terribly for that half an hour I have allowed his exposure to potentially hazardous goggles, but I think this will be absolutely fine character building!

Shoot me now!
Annie x

Monday 2 September 2013

Walkers Mighty Lights

We were sent Walkers Mighty Lights during the Summer, but as we had been away, they arrived 2 days before back to school, and back to packed lunch time!  Having just come back from America, and a fortnight being frustrated at not being able to buy a "normal" sized packet of crisps, they were refreshing indeed!

Today we took advantage of Inset day to go to our local farm.  First stop the tractors and Scarlett decided to use hers to distribute the Walkers to the others.

They claim to be "mighty in flavour" and "lower in fat".  The kids agreed with the first statement - Jasper said they were "immense", whilst the second claim ticks boxes for me.  It's often a challenge providing a healthy packed lunch that the kids will enjoy.  I try and make sure they have a balanced lunchbox, and they know they have to eat their sandwich before their treat, which this would be.  They are crinkle cut too which is new to them, so win win here.

As well as being
✔30% less fat than standard crisps, they are also
✔made from real potatoes
✔a source of fibre
✔no MSG
✔Suitable for vegetarians
✔no artificial colours or preservatives

Give them a go, Walkers are certainly coming up with some great new products!  For more information you can look at

Annie x
Disclosure - I was sent packets of Walkers Mighty Lights to review.