Monday, 30 March 2015

Cinderella and the Ladybird

Lily James as Cinderella

This weekend, I managed to persuade Tall Daughter to come to the cinema with me to see Cinderella, the new Disney live action version.  I say persuaded, but chocolate was promised, so you could call it bribery.

We loved it, it's a very charming version of the traditional tale with a terrific cast.  Downton Abbey's Lily James is also perfectly cast as the sweet Cinders, and Cate Blanchett is fabulous as the wicked step-mother.

I couldn't help thinking that whoever designed Cinderella's beautiful ballgown had taken some inspiration from one of my favourite Ladybird books, at least I'd like to think so anyway.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Sponsored video: Flavours of home

Home cooked food, particularly meals cooked lovingly by your mum, has to be one of life's greatest pleasures.

When I was 19 I went to work abroad for two years, and one of the things I missed most was the food. More specifically, I missed my Mum's home cooking and on the few occasions I went home for holidays or Christmas the first thing I wanted to eat was Mum's Lancashire Hot Pot, or double egg and chips. Fat chips, with dippy yolks, brown sauce and sliced white bread, not the healthiest choice perhaps but it meant home to me. I dare say I could have made both meals where I lived in Germany, but there was something special about the way they tasted at home.

This video shows Carmen who works in the Arctic as a husky guide (what a amazing job!). We see Carmen talking about home and getting a bit emotional, completely unaware that Knorr have flown her mum out to cook her favourite meal for her.  It's a lovely feel-good video, and it gets extra brownie points from me for featuring the gorgeous huskies.

Of course you can recreate the flavours of your favourite meals wherever you are with the right ingredients.  A couple of years ago I followed one of Mum's recipes but the final dish didn't taste quite right until I added white pepper.  Such a simple addition, but that extra flavour made all the difference.

You can find more flavour inspiration on the Knorr website.

Disclosure: This post has been sponsored by Knorr, but all thoughts and words are my own.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

The perfect weekend in London for teenagers

Trying to find a weekend away that will interest teenagers can be a bit of a challenge, but when Superbreak invited us to take a weekend break in London with a very cleverly designed itinerary that ticked all the boxes for Tall Daughter (aged 15), we couldn't wait to go.  

Living in the North West, we don't visit London very often which is shame as the express line from Liverpool takes just 2 hours, but on Saturday morning we caught the early train to give us as much time as possible in the capital.

Things To Do

We packed quite a lot into our weekend, arriving on Saturday morning and leaving on Sunday evening. On Saturday we visited the Sherlock Holmes exhibition at the Museum of London which, if you're a fan of Sherlock is a must-see.  Entering through a secret door, the exhibition uses early film and photographs to evoke the London of Arthur Conan Doyle and the Sherlock Holmes stories are brought to life with artefacts, early manuscripts and film posters. The highlight for me was seeing the original Monet 'Pont de Londres' painting on display, which was totally unexpected. 

After a quick lunch break, we hit the shops. For a teenager London has to be shopping heaven, and Tall Daughter loved it.  One of the shops she insisted on visiting was Victoria's Secret which was so busy, hot and oppressive, it felt like being trapped inside a teenager's wardrobe. But still, she was happy. 

On the Saturday evening we took a short stroll from the hotel to find somewhere to eat, and decided on 189 Piccadilly, an Italian restaurant, where Tall Daughter had a very tasty lasagne and I had one of the best seafood risottos I've ever eaten. 

After our meal we went to see Billy Elliot the Musical at the Victoria Palace Theatre. We loved it, not only is it laugh-out-loud funny, but the singing and dancing is phenomenal and there were also a few poignant moments, with a few tears shed (mine, not theirs). It's a really uplifting musical, and I guarantee you'll leave the theatre wanting to dance down the street.  Fantastic.


On the Sunday, after a leisurely breakfast at the hotel, we went on a tour of London on a vintage red Routemaster open-top bus.  Our tour guide Dan mentioned that, unusually, all of the passengers that day were British so he amended his commentary to suit (no explanations about pubs or the Royal Family).  We really enjoyed the tour, and Dan's commentary was entertaining, informative and very witty. I learned a lot about the London's history, and we covered a lot of the city in just over 2 hours, with the bus stopping at three places (Buckingham Palace, St. Paul's cathedral and the Tower of London) for photos and a coffee break.  At the end of the tour we had afternoon tea at the Park Plaza hotel, overlooking Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. 

We stayed at the Cavendish Hotel in central London, close to Fortnum and Mason, and central enough to walk to some places of interest and within easy access of the Tube. The hotel was fabulous and we were impressed by how friendly and helpful the staff were. 

The beauty of a Superbreak weekend is that they do all the planning and arranging for you, and at a lower price than if you book everything yourself.  They also send all the tickets, vouchers, and a full itinerary in the post so that you have it all before you go.

Our weekend cost £362.90 per person for a one night say at the 4* Cavendish Hotel in London including breakfast, plus 12pm entry to the Sherlock Holmes Exhibition, Vintage London Bus Tour with afternoon tea, top price evening tickets to see Billy Elliot at the Victoria Palace Theatre and return rail from Liverpool to London Euston. 

For more inspiration and to book simply visit or call 0800 042 0288.