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Thursday, 30 July 2015

Make your Lunctime a Quicknic with Greggs

Isn't it about time that you created a bit of me-time for yourself this summer by treating yourself to a relaxing lunchtime treat? Well, Greggs think so, and are challenging us to take time out of our busy day to relax and enjoy a stress free lunch. Dubbed the 'Quicknic', a 'quick picnic' for one - whether it is al fresco or al desko - could potentially put us in a better frame of mind and add to our daily productivity. Enjoying lunch, instead of bolting it down between phone calls, checking emails and banging away at the keyboard of a laptop, may give us the chance to wind down, nourishing our bodies and minds, making us better able to cope with the stresses and strains of a hectic day.

Greggs, lunch


To test this theory, Greggs have provided me with lunches for a week, which I agreed to enjoy along with some much needed me-time. Greggs isn't all about the pies (although the vegetable pasty is a favourite of mine) they also have a range of salads and sandwiches, including their Balanced Choice items for a healthier option. Greggs also do fresh coffee or if you prefer a cold drink, they have a selection of chilled juices and soft drinks.

As a vegetarian, the range for me isn't as extensive, but there is still plenty to pick from, with some imaginative options for those of us who want more just a cheese sandwich!

The new Balanced Choice Mexican Five Bean Flatbread is a great way to spice up your lunchtime. The delicious flatbread is filled with mixed beans in a tasty tomato, chilli and coriander sauce, served alongside sliced red onions, jalapenos, fresh mixed peppers and finished with a light Monterey jack cheese with chilli. It's £2.50 and contains 328 Calories.

A lunchtime meal deal gives you a sandwich and a drink for just £3.00, so I you can pick one of the flatbreads, baguettes, rolls or sandwiches along with a flavoured spring water, soft drink or juice. It's a good value meal.

With a huge range of cakes to pick from, you can add a sweet treat to complete a lovely lunch. There are always some cake multi-packs on offer so you can grab a bargain.

Greggs, lunch


The Mexican Five Bean Flatbread is really good, packed with fresh, crisp vegetables, spicy chilli and jalapenos. It has a real kick to it and makes a great lunchtime meal, full of flavour! I am very impressed with Greggs for doing some a bold option for vegetarians.

Greggs, lunch


There is a nice cheese and tomato pasta salad, egg or cheese sandwiches, cheesy rolls, vegetable pasties and cheese and onion pasties as well as the Greggs Margherita pizza to provide variety at lunchtime for vegetarians. The prices are all really competitive, giving a good value lunch to treat yourself.

Getting a Greggs to take away and actually using a plate to serve it on, made lunchtime feel so much less hurried. Relaxing and enjoying my food certainly allowed me to unwind and appreciate the food I was eating. As someone who works from home, it is too easy to skip lunch or just grab a snack to eat whilst working on the laptop, so actually taking a half hour to myself was a real treat. The Quicknic is definitely a good way to reconnect with yourself and not lose yourself in a never ending stream of daily drudgery.

Enjoy a Greggs Quicknic and see whether taking some time out for lunch makes a positive difference to your day!



Sunday, 26 July 2015

Hardcore Gaming at PLAY it! #PLAYitManc

gaming


We visited PLAY it! at the Museum of Science and Industry on the opening day for a family gaming session. The exhibition was quite simply a gamer's paradise, providing a huge range of games and consoles from the past 30 years for some hands on gaming action.

The event room at the MOSI is divided into six zones:

Zone 1: Retro Gaming - retro to modern computer games and consoles
Zone 2: Manchester - including games programmed by Ocean Games and the 80s classroom
Zone 3: Rhythm - music and dance based gaming
Zone 4: Minecraft
Zone 5: Celebrations - film, TV and character based games
Zone 6: Lounge - multiplayer gaming

nintendo 64, gaming, playit


Favourite gaming franchises such as Sonic, Mario, Tomb Raider, Star Wars, Street Fighter and LEGO games are represented in all their glory on a range of consoles. It was really interesting to see the evolution of characters such as Lara Croft across the different formats. We remembered having several of the games and it was very nostalgic having a play.

The Minecraft area was a real hit with Freddy who spent the time learning how to play the game on the PC rather than on the PS3 that he has at home. He got lots of tips from the other kids in the Minecraft zone.

PC, Playit, Minecraft


I loved watching him concentrate so hard on mining, building, taming animals and blowing up his Minecraft world! Minecraft is such a phenomena, it was great to see it have its very own zone.

Minecraft, Playit


I introduced Kezia to some of my old favourites including Crash Bandicoot on the original Playstation. We also had a go at the Mega Drive, the Nintendo 64 and the SNES. There are plenty of consoles so we never had to wait for a go on anything. We just found a free spot and jumped in to try it. Although there was a lot of serious, hardcore gamers around, we never felt at all intimidated or embarassed by our lack of skill, in fact there were plenty of people willing to lend a hand or offer advice when we were obviously struggling due to our lack of gaming prowess.

gaming, Playit


Kezia and I had some fun at the selfie table, trying on Mario and Luigi hats. It was a bit of light relief from our attempts at gaming. and donning the iconic headgear definitely made us feel the part!

playit, nintendo


There is a cafe area selling drinks and snacks including some brilliant gaming cupcakes. The guy who served us told us the legendary story of when Atari tried to make an ET game after the release of the film, which was so rubbish that the whole lot was resigned to landfill. This became the stuff of urban legend until many years later when thousands of the games were unearthed when the land was being developed! The chocolate cupcakes played homage to this tale. Comfy seating allowed us to have a nice rest while we sampled a drink and one of the cakes.

pacman, minecraft, atari, cakes, playit


Seeing the range of games and consoles makes you realise just how far the gaming industry has come, from the old original video consoles such as the Spectrum and the Commodore, right up to the most modern, contemporary games. The advancements over the last thirty years really are quite mindblowing. When I had my first console, the Intellevision, back in 1979, I could never have imagined what my own kids would be playing in the future.

The nostalgia of seeing the Sega Master System and the Mega Drive made my day, bringing back many memories of a younger me playing for hours and hours. I used be quite good back in the day, but the advancements in technology saw my skills lag further and further behind. These days I leave it to the kids, but I enjoyed this trip down memory lane.

playit, gaming



With individual 90 minute sessions costing just £4 and full day passes £10, PLAY it! is a great opportunity to experience some blasts from the past as well as trying your hand at some modern gaming. Whether you are competitive and looking at taking on other seasoned gamers or if you are like me and looking for a nostalgic way to revisit your youth, it is well worth a visit.

Find out more and book at: www.mosi.org.uk/whats-on/play-it-manchester

Dreaming of Route 66 with HomeSpace Direct

Once upon a time, my daughter Kezia had a bedroom that was pretty in pink with a pastel coloured floral bedspread strewn with cuddly toys and frilly cushions. Then, as if overnight, she breached the gates of teenage-dom, becoming edgier and cooler, discovering a new found love of punk rock bands, ripped jeans and the colour black. Suddenly her girlie bedroom no longer fitted her personality.

When our children reach an age where Disney princesses or cutesy cartoon characters fail to impress, it is good to know that there are alternative duvet designs available. The bed is the focal point of a bedroom, so cool and funky bed linen can create a room they are proud of: a place to relax, chill out and enjoy a good night's sleep.

In keeping with her current tastes, Kezia has been sent a brand new duvet from HomeSpace Direct's teenager's bedding range, featuring a vintage Route 66 design. The duvet cover and pillow cases are reversible with a star covered pattern on a distressed black background on the other side.

homespace direct, teens


The montage of US number plates is a photographic print giving a clear, sharp image. The Route 66 sign features on both the pillow cases and the duvet cover and the material is quality polycotton, which feels thick and strong.

Kezia loved the retro feel of her new duvet cover and the fact that she could reverse it for a completely new look was a definite plus. It is like getting two designs for the price of one. It looks perfect alongside her band and film posters bringing some classic Americana to her room.

route 66 duvet cover, reversible duvet, teens


HomeSpace Direct has a huge range of bedding suitable for teens and young adults with designs suited to all tastes. From Union Jacks to football teams to animals to camper vans - there is a big variety to choose from. Plus there are loads of children's character bedding for the younger kids.

Prices are really reasonable with Kezia's double duvet cover set priced at £15.99.  Delivery is a flat rate of £3.50 no matter how much you order.  HomeSpace Direct also sell curtains, cushions, rugs and bath linen.

Take a look at www.homespacedirect.com for all your home textile needs, from budget to luxury lines.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Join us for a Plasticine Softeez Twitter Party

Join us on Wednesday August 5th from 2-4pm for a Twitter party for new Plasticine Softeez.

Plasticine Softeez is a new product range coming soon from Flair, which is aimed at children aged 3-7 years old. New Plasticine Softeez has the stability of original Plasticine and never dries out, but is softer and easier to model with than the original. So is perfect for little hands!

We'll be putting it to the test and having some fun, while sharing our experiences over on Twitter with @UKMumstv and #PlasticineSofteez. There will be some great prizes to be won too!

ukmumstv, plasticine

To host the party, we have received a box of goodies including an under the sea set, a cupcake set and various tubs and samples of Plasticine Softeez so we can take part in a variety of fun activities. Every child will be taking home a goodie bag with their own Plasticine Softeez to take away and play with.



Katy by Jacqueline Wilson #bookreview

Katy Carr is the eldest of six children in her family and fills the role perfectly with her daring, bossy, funny, imaginative and sometimes outrageous personality. Katy loves nothing more than playing in the great outdoors: climbing trees, skateboarding, cycling or swinging. However, her life changes unexpectedly and dramatically in an instant, following a serious accident that leaves her with a spinal injury.

Jacqueline Wilson


As Katy tries to come to terms with her new life, we share her anger and frustration, but also see her resilience, grit and determination. She courageously battles on and manages to reinvent what it means to be Katy Carr and discovers that you can still fly, even when you can no longer walk.

The subject matter is mature, but handled in Wilson's usual sympathetic and understanding way, allowing readers to feel uplifted, even through the darkest moments. Although sad, the story is also empowering, showing readers that with courage and determination anything could be possible.

The story is a modern and contemporary reworking on the nineteenth century classic What Katy Did, a favourite of the author when she was a child. This new book has a message that is appropriate to today's audience, underpinning the importance of finding the strength and determination to overcome even the hardest of obstacles. A message that can be applied to a whole range of situations, and not just the situation that Katy found herself in.

We are big Jacqueline Wilson fans and this new title gives us yet another engaging young heroine that young girls can relate to, delivered to us through sensitive storytelling. Jacqueline Wilson has a style of writing that is a little old fashioned compared to some of the other YA authors that my children read, but it's comforting, reassuring and familiar, just like a favourite blanket. We always have a place for the latest Jacqueline Wilson book on our shelf.

Katy is out on 30th July 2015, published by Puffin, £12.99 in hardback. Also available as an e-book.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

The Little Prince #BookReview

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Every so often a book comes along that changes your life, and The Little Prince is exactly that. The children's book was originally written  and quirkily illustrated in 1942 by a French aviator and writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery. It tells the story of a pilot who has crash landed in the Sahara Desert and meets a strange young boy who introduces himself as the Little Prince. The Little Prince tells him the story of how he grew up on a tiny asteroid before travelling across the universe from planet to planet before coming to earth.

The Little Prince's experiences, encounters and discoveries are retold with childish innocence, but they give us a profound, philisophical and thought provoking reflection on human nature. The book is rich in allegory, highlighting the strange behaviours and beliefs of mankind, told in a simple yet quite, extraordinary way.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery


The Little Prince has met many characters on his travels such as a vain, petulant but beautiful rose, which he loves and cares for; a lonely, authority-obsessed king with no-one to rule over; the perpetual streetlamp lighter who spends all day doing his repetitive job; the business who endlessly counts the stars, which he claims to own and the railway switchman stuck in an endless cycle of comings and goings. The prince questions everything and his curious, mysterious reasoning is just so thought provoking that we recognise our own traits and foibles and question ourselves in return. The book is a journey of self-discovery wrapped up in a beautiful, innocent and touching short story. We come to realise that grown-ups are indeed really odd creatures and it is the things we seek with our heart that will bring us true contentment.

The Little Prince is the most translated book of fiction ever, available in 250 languages, and it is one of the top five best selling books ever. If you haven't discovered it already then check out the new translation by Gregory Norminton published by Alma Classics, which is £6.99 in paperback. It includes a section of extra material for young readers and features all the original artwork. The book is aimed at ages 7 - 11, but transcends age restrictions. It's my 19 year old daughter's favourite book and at 46 I love it too.

www.almaclassics.com/the-little-prince

Unleash your inner Ninja with LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre this summer

From Saturday 1st to Monday 31st August, LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre in Manchester will be transformed into the world of Ninjago as visitors embark on an epic adventure to celebrate the release of LEGO Ninjago Airjitzu!

Fans can immerse themselves in the Ninjago adventures by building their own LEGO® Ninjago Mask, taking part in the LEGO® Ninjago Laser Maze Challenge, and using their Ninja skills to build a LEGO® Ninjago Airjitzu flyer before ascending the magnificent ‘Fly-High-Tower’ to practice their fierce flying skills.

Visitors can also enjoy the Ninjago takeover at MINILAND, where they can take part in an exciting character hunt and even have the chance to meet ‘Kai’, the Red Fire Ninja, who will be at LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre everyday throughout August at 11.00am, 1.00pm, 3.00pm and 5.00pm.

Ninjago, Airjitsu



We've been invited down to join in the Airjitsu fun, which Freddy is so excited about! He watches Ninjago on Netflix so will love the chance to take part in all these fun activities!

For more information and to buy tickets visit: www.legolanddiscoverycentre.co.uk/manchester. 

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