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Friday 17 June 2011

Review of Morphy Richards Accents Range

You probably know that I am lucky enough to be a Morphy Richards Innovator.  This means that I get sent a product each month to review and give my honest opinion on.  I want to make clear that just because I am part of the innovator scheme does not mean I am on the Morphy Richards payroll or that they can dictate to me what to say about their products.

That said, it is completely not a problem as I have no fault with any of the products they have supplied me with so far. Morphy Richards is a name I remember from my childhood and the positive image still remains. This month I was extra lucky as I received both a kettle and toaster to review and I am loving both of them.  I would love to write you a witty post but let's be honest there is not a lot to say about kettles and toasters. My requirement from both of these small appliances is that they do the job they are supposed to do and that they look nice.  Big tick on both accounts.

Here are my old toaster and kettle - a very sad corner of the kitchen, right? Bog standard, boring white, bought for utility rather than look.  I kept thinking one day I'll get the kitchen re-done and then I will have nice posh ones, but for now...

and then my fairy godmother from Morphy Richards came along and said Michelle choose yourself a nice new toaster or kettle.  Brilliant thought I and I had a good look through the new Accents range.  There are some beautiful coloured appliances and two different shapes of kettles and if I had a bright and modern kitchen I would definitely have gone for something like the lime green or red but sadly I have a dated 80's kitchen and I just need to add classic touches to try and make the best of it.  So here are the classic appliances that I did receive -

a massive improvement on the white ones, yes? I will tell you my favourite feature; they both wipe clean with a damp cloth without leaving any kind of streaky marks.  I have this little fear of stainless steel as it used to be that it took loads of care to keep it looking good but both the brushed steel of the kettle and the polished steel sides and top of the toaster keep as good as new.  I have been using the products for about three weeks now and not a sign of wear - brilliant!

The toaster has all the features you would expect, variable browning, hi-lift to remove smaller items like muffins and crumpets and removable crumb trays to keep it squeaky clean. There are also reheat and defrost settings  and the whole toaster is cool to the touch, great for my little kids.

The kettle is 1.7 litres, enough for about 8 good size cups.  I love the double window to allow both left and right handed people to use the kettle effectively and the gauge really does help you to boil just the right amount that you need, as little as for 2 cups.

As with other Morphy Richards products a 1 year guarantee comes as standard and if you register within 28 days of purchase they will double that to a 2 year guarantee - super value!

All in all I am a happy girl and I would recommend both these products.  You can buy directly from Morphy Richards or I noticed Debenhams had a wonderful display of the range last weekend. Also, don't forget to visit their blog, Home of the House proud - it really is very good!

I received a kettle and toaster free to charge to review as part of the Morphy Richards House Proud Innovators Scheme.  I was not instructed what to write and I remain honest.

Sunday 5 June 2011

Our Family Roadtest an Ask Restaurant

If you have ever read my other blog you may well know that I have very lively kids.  Nice kids you understand, but they are not exactly quiet and they have a real sense of fun!  This is OK, I don't mind, I always wanted children to be full of life and to have their own personalities but this can present challenges when we want to go out and eat as a family.

Not to be deterred, my hubbie and I have taken the children to restaurants from an early age and thus they have become used to having to sit down but that does not mean they like it! When I heard that Vouchercodes.co.uk online lifestyle magazine, Most Wanted were putting together the Fuss Free Dining Report I thought this sounded like an excellent resource for parents who feel a bit nervous about going out to eat with their children.

Our family task for the Fuss Free Dining Report was to eat at an Ask Italian restaurant earlier this week and we got the children to fill out scorecards and let us know what they thought.  Dh and I also give our review here.

6pm on a weekday we decided to head to our local Ask restaurant in Hertfordshire.  It was not too busy and we were seated straight away.  We were aware that this was later than normal for our kids to be eating so this could present some challenges but great we thought, lets see how the restaurant deal with it.  Upon being seated the kids were given a children's menu that they could draw a picture on the back of. Plenty of pencils were handed to us as well.  All the kids were quite happy and when they saw there was a display wall just behind us they were ecstatic to think that their prized pictures could be featured in the restaurant for all to see!

We were pleased with the children's menu, it is £6.10 for garlic bread,  a small Mediterranean salad (cucumber, cherry tomatoes, pepper slices and olives)  and a main and dessert of their choice.  Miss M and JJ went for a pizza each, these were very authentic and tasted great and Miss E opted for a creamy pasta dish, her portion was enormous!  Dessert was banana, ice cream, sauce and sprinkles for the girls and JJ ordered his own Gelato, because he did not want ice cream! lol

The drinks for children was a bit lacking in selection, the only thing on the kids menu was milkshake, which costs £1.95.  JJ had one of these and thoroughly enjoyed it, Miss M just had tap water and they were happy to oblige with this and Miss E had milk and this was not on the menu but there was no questions asked, it was just served and we got charged £1.40.  There did not appear to be any squash available and the juice was £2.45 a glass, so on the steep side for a child.  This is perhaps an area they need to think more about.

This is the only thing I could knock to be honest, so they did very well.  The food arrived quickly, the serving staff were attentive but not too much so.  My husband had a pizza and it was large and full of topping, he also ordered a side order of fries with garlic mayo to try out and these were tasty but nothing special really.  My main meal the chicken Marsalla was divine and I loved it and would certainly order again.

Another factor that made our meal even better is that we had a 2 for 1 voucher direct from Ask.  About once a week I get an email from them with their latest deals, this is certainly worth signing up for.  Our meal for 5 people, including starters cost us just over £41, you can't knock that!  We were in the restaurant for about 1 hour 20 minutes and it was a pleasant experience.  I would highly recommend Ask as a family friendly restaurant.  When the girls wanted to go the the toilet numerous times during the meal (just to have a look around you understand) no one batted an eyelid and when the noise level rose and they had a bit of kiddish fun, we fitted right in as there were numerous other families with children in the restaurant.

We were asked to rate the restaurant on a scale of 1 to 5 (with 5 being the best I assume!) on the following categories -

Friendliness of service       4/5
Range of choice for kids   5/5
Entertainment on offer    3/5 (only the colouring really!)
Value for money  5/5 (with the voucher, perhaps 3.5 without the voucher)
Quality of Food    5/5

I asked each of my kids to give their opinion on our meal out and they all said big thumbs up! JJ said the best thing was having his picture on the wall for all to see, apparently we have to go again soon so he can see it displayed.  Miss E said she loved her pasta and Miss wants more pink ice cream!

Yum, I could eat this again, right now!

This is a review post.  I was renumerated to eat in the restaurant and to report back on our findings.  I was not instructed what to write and I remain honest.

Friday 3 June 2011

You're Taking your Kids on the London Eye?

Look, there it is Mummy!

That was what a good friend of mine said at the weekend when I told her where we were going to the London Eye and out for a day in London on bank holiday Monday.  She was astounded and had no idea that it would appeal to kids but I have to tell you that all three of my children (near 4-year-old twins and a 7-year-old) really enjoyed it.

Miss M kept referring to the big windmill and Miss E announced upon seeing it, that she did not want to go up high. A naughty white lie from Mummy that our capsule would not go too high and we were OK. Dh had reservations that we might spend hours in the queue but take a look at the picture below, this is the queue we literally walked straight through - fabulous!

The wheel never really appears to stop so you get on and off as it slowly moves by but it really is very slow so this is not a problem, even with toddlers.  I was completely impressed with the staff who clean each capsule and check it over for safety reasons between travellers.

JJ tells me there were about 25 people in our capsule and this number was fine.  Yes it was busy but we could see out of every window and get good views, we always managed to get a seat on the central bench when we wanted one and everyone seemed to help each other out with taking group photos etc.  I was being a bit silly that day and ducked out of most photos!

The views were excellent and I loved the fact that you could see in every direction and the capsule was labelled so you could tell if you were looking North, South, East or West. We were lucky that the weather was good and thus our views were excellent, the kids got very excited when they could see the Wembly Arch.  Daddy was able to talk the kids through what they were seeing and even the girls could not keep away from looking out and watching London go by!  I was just grateful for a completely smooth ride.

Once we left the ride you were ushered into the shop but I have to say there was no pressure, the door was right there and you could escape if you did not wish to purchase anything.  Whilst you ride the eye a photo is taken from the outside and that is quite a novel photograph to buy, but at £10 per print, it was an expensive luxury in my view.  So we bought JJ a nice acrylic frame with the London Eye on it for £5 and we will print out our own photo so he has a nice memento.

With regard to price, you are best to book online at least 24 hours in advance and this will save you about 10% on the ticket price.  The price is £16.74 for an adult and £8.59 for a child aged 4 - 15.  Children of 3 and under are completely free, so all the more motivation for taking your pre-schooler on the London Eye.

The day does not have to turn out to be too expensive there is a great grassy area right by the eye and you could easily pack a picnic, or do what we did and have a McDonalds treat on the grass.  There is also a good adventure park right there.  We had thought that we would travel over to a museum after finishing the eye but the South Bank provides a day out in itself when the weather is nice. All the street performers and exhibitions outside the National Theatre made for a fun day.  I think my kids favourite part of the day was the bus ride back to Kings Cross on the double-decker - yes, they are easily pleased! However, if you want to extend your day into a weekend then check out some of the best Airbnbs in London.

All in all, we had a great time and every one of our kids said they would love to visit the London eye again. You never know if we win the lottery I might even let the is have a birthday party on the eye!

This is a review post.  I was provided with free tickets to the London Eye for the purposes of writing this review.  I was not instructed what to write and I remain honest.