I have some big news for you, do you know Andy and the odd socks are coming to the north east on their big UK tour?
well yes they will be here Saturday 20th October and I have 4 tickets to give away to one lucky winner.
The tour dates are:
Oct 20 – Newcastle Student Union
Oct 21 – Glasgow Dry Gate
Oct 23 – Nottingham Arts Theatre
Oct 24 – Folkstone Tower Theatre
Oct 29 – Brighton The Old Market
If you havent heard of this amazing children’s band heres a bit of background for you: Andy & The Odd Socks are fast becoming one of the most popular bands for kids in the country, led by children’s TV superstar Andy Day are a huge favourite for kids and parents alike.
Already proving hugely popular with Andy’s existing fan base of young children, older children and Mums and Dads are admitting to having their favourite songs too! Parents are particularly loving the subtle message the band send out to their kids, that it’s cool to be different….we are all unique and should be proud of who we are and kind and accepting of one another.
Widely known for his TV antics tackling dinosaurs, baby animals and being on safari, Andy launched his band at Glastonbury in 2017, and they haven’t stopped since. With a host of appearances at festivals up and down the country including Camp Bestival, Big Feastival, Gloworm, Port Eliot, Shambala and CBBC Summer Social. As well as taking their sell out show on the road for the first time over Easter 2018.
I love halloween. Back when I was younger I loved the excuse to get dressed up for a halloween party or night out. I dont get the chance nowadays as halloween has become all about our kids. Im pretty sure if you asked my missus she would tell you that Halloween/Bonfire night is her favourite time of the year! So much so that the house becomes decorated from the first week in October!
So when we were recently invited to Scream Factories VIP preview night along with plenty of other influencers and bloggers I was over the moon. The missus not so much – she loves all the decorations and activities but she does not do well with anything remotely scary. I honestly dont think she has seen one horror movie, not even the classics!
So once the date came we set off not really knowing what to expect on arrival. We arrived half an hour early and parked the car in the museum car park as instructed There were plenty of wanted signs pinned on tree walkway for you to follow to the venue.
We seemed to wait for a lengthy period of time before anyone got to enter and just as I was starting to get a little bored out came a few surprises wandering through the crowd. The clown with his shovel scraping along the path instantly sent a chill up your spine. The missus instantly grabbed my arm stronger than she ever did during both labours of our sons and obviously I acted as masculine as I could but secretly I was hoping the nurse with her tongue half hanging out didnt come and cop a feel of me like she did with the chaps infront of us. There is something quite freaky about the way they linger round you and touch you.
When we were eventually invited in we were offered a glass of either something fizzy or a blood red lemonade and ushered off to have our photo taken. The tables were decorated with pumpkins and spiders that put our home creations to shame! food was also a plenty with a selection of pulled pork, pork and stuffing or beef to make your sandwich of choice. You could also get a hot chocolate and marshmallows – but we decided to save this for when we came back out, just incase we needed a sugar hit to get over the fright! There was photo opportunities with a few of the actors but as there was so many people I only managed to grab one or two.
The Scare Factory
After we ate our food we made our way over to the door where team members were putting together groups of around 8-10 people. We recieved a little brief – such as to watch your footing on uneven ground, to stick to the route etc. At this point I still didn’t really feel that scared of what was to come, however the missus was back holding on to my arm for dear life again!
We wandered off down the path and a man walked out from the trees. My first shock in all honesty and he wasnt even part of the show, just another crew member ensuring we were going the right way and presumbly ensuring that there was enough time gap between the groups entering. He told us to enter the Motel and my nerves kicked in at this point as I just didn’t know what to expect. We were second in the group behind 2 other women. A safe position i would think – no way would i want to be first and being at the back leaves you vulnerable.
GET YOURSELF PREPARED FOR PLENTY OF SHOCKS
I got my first three shocks in two minutes flat. Amongst the chaos and frights i ended up pushing my missus in front of me! Because I am just that much of a gentleman!
After 5 minutes I honestly didn’t think I was going to last all the way round because I just kept getting a fright at unexpected moments, which I know is the whole point but at some points I thought I may need a change of pants.
Without giving the game away and revealing too much there is basically a number of different zones; each with there own surprises. As your walking through black tunnels you cant help but wonder if something touched my leg. The anticipation of whats to come is what makes this walk so spectacularly scary.
A few of the zones were particularly more hair raising than others and some just weren’t scary at all – kind of a refuge to allow you to recover from the previous shock. A few of the areas were also there to test your senses more than anything – think strobe lighting, moving platforms and smoke!
Im pretty sure half way round that we seemed to loose two people from our group – either they succumbed to the horror of it all and scarpered home early or they got lost!
Half way round we somehow ended up at the back of group, which I didn’t like at all. The element of surprise disappeared somewhat because of hearing the screams of your group before you had even got there. I really felt as though 10 people was just too many for each group and it would work better if it was 4-6 people per group. But understandably the show is just so popular that it would make it impossible to get every one through the doors. Im sure there is an option to do the walk exclusively at set times and i would definitely consider that for next year.
We made it…JUST!
So we made it out alive – but only just! I think the missus will be considering the wearing of tena lady for next year!
This event is definitely up there with one of the best things we have done in a long time. The adrenaline, the excitement and the thrill of shocks has left me wanting more and I cant urge you enough to get booked up and GO!
Its starting to get to my favourite time of year for photography, the time we have very early dark nights, and later sunrises.
I recently stayed in one of my favourite location up in Northumberland, and I was woken to a bright light beaming through the window, I havent moved as quick to get ready and head out with the camera, I didn’t have to go far as the shot I had in mind was right out the frnt door of the shepherds hut we were staying in.
The sun was rising behind the hills in the distance with the Shepherds hut as my focal point in this shot
The cloud formation was just spectacular But for this shot I had to bracket at 1 stop intervals because I was getting unwanted sun-flare that wasn’t helping the image at all. I think there is a time and a place for sun-flare and this wasn’t it.
So like I said I had to bracket the shots, I took 3 in total all shot in manual mode and manual focus set at F16, the shutter speed changed as the different bracketed shots were fired, and all images were processed in Lightroom.
I am pretty pleased with the outcome of this shot and I definitely think that the clouds made it work better.
I am the biggest fan of anything Disney related and when I got offered the chance to go and see Disney on Ice at Newcastle Metro Arena – I certainly wasn’t going to turn the offer down! I mean yes it is for the younger generation, but I am secretly still a child at heart and I was certainly excited for it.
The buzz of excitement as the lights went down as the show was about to begin – it was electric! Its even more exciting when you see your little ones face lit up in anticipation as there staring down onto the ice to see all the characters of the movies they simply love right in front of them.
My son has been so excited since we told him we were going to see Disney on Ice. Knowing that Moana and Muai could possibly be there, he loves the movie and the soundtrack is the main request to Alexa on the Echo in the kitchen at the minute!
The doors opened 1 hour prior to the start time and there is plenty to see in the foyer with lots of Disney merchandise on sale. I will add however to be prepared with requests from your offspring to get something and my goodness the prices are eye watering, but hey ho its to be expected. Unfortunately Zach has been unwell for a few days and due to an impromptu nap from nursery we only made it to the arena in time to have a quick look around the merchandise and find our seats. We promised Zach a treat as he had been brave still coming to the show even though he had been off colour and so he chose Maui light up sword. Another toy to add to the excessive collection!!
Once we were seated the show began pretty quickly and there were dancers covering the stage with Mickey and Minnie showing off there dance moves to celebrate their 90thAnniversary! I must say they seem to still have a good relationship after 90 years!!
This is the first time we have been to a Disney on Ice show as we have always felt that Zach was still a little too young so we weren’t entirely sure what to expect. Each year is apparently a different theme, and this year was all about Princess and Superheroes from our favourite movies. Tinkerbell was also there to open some of the acts flying around sprinkling her magic dust.
The first act out on stage was Aladdin, with a good choice of scene too. The market place where Aladdin first meets Yasmin with the guards chasing him. Then “POOOOOF!” suddenly the genie appears and Aladdin is a prince after his first wish.
This is what I liked about the show, it doesn’t linger on each scene, its just long enough to keep you entertained before moving onto the next scene – but the detail within each of the characters parts are excellent.
Other appearances included Belle but no beast unfortunately, Rapunzel from the film Tangled and our personal favourite Moana.
Moana and Maui skated beautifully whilst me and the missus sang our hearts out to the songs much to Zach’s annoyance that we were singing louder than him! I must admit though, I was expecting to see them more with them being one of the newest additions, but they were still brilliant either way, and the Maui character was brill. He is certainly our favourite at the moment.
Little mermaid, sleeping beauty, Cinderella and the ugly sisters also made an appearance.
But not surprisingly the star of the show… I bet you can guess?
Frozen, of course! You could hear the excitement when Anna and Elsa came on to the ice. I`ll not give anything away for this one, you will just have to book tickets to see it for yourself but it was certainly good.
Overall the show was well executed with brilliant props and the skaters do a brilliant job with some awe inspiring moves. The show lasted for about 1hour 45minutes with a short interval in between. We certainly recommend it for a lovely family evening out. It was so lovely to see lots of children dressed up for the show too and getting involved with the singing and dancing during the songs. There is something so amazing about the magic that Disney brings to both children and adults!
Fitness trackers, health bands, pedometers are all of the range now; they are so popular! There are an abundance to choose from on the market and it can be a minefield to find one that you think is going to tick all the boxes and work for you.
I have the Fourfit health band smart watch and i thought it might be good to give a little round up of the features i like on it! I also have a little discount code available for you all if anyone is currently in the market place for one of these gadgets.
Health bands differ from your usual fitness watches, as they measure all different aspects of your body stats throughout the day, rather than just steps, heart rate etc.
The Fourfit Health Band has an array of features;
GPRS distance tracking
Heart rate tracking
Blood pressure monitoring
Blood oxygen levels
Advanced Full sleep Analysis
Phone link enabled
4 day battery time
Water resistant (in cold water only ie. swimming)
Some of the features you can see the results on the screen of the watch through out the day and others require you to download the data via bluetooth in to an app on your phone.
In the box you get your watch, a charger and a small booklet. The booklet isn’t jam packed full of information and doesn’t really tell you anything to be honest! But thankfully there isn’t much you need to know in terms of set up, the watch sets its self up. I will admit however that it took me a while to work out how to even turn the thing on. I thought the battery was dead, hence not turning on so I popped it on to charge again. The charger is simply a clip that goes around the watch, the battery should last you around 3-4 days once fully charged. But to turn it on you need to long press the touch button until the watch vibrates and turns on, simple once you have worked it out!
To get the best out the watch you will need to download the app for your phone, you can get it for both Android and IOS. The app and the watch display the same information but the app has a little more in depth information about your stats. It is set out into categories which you can then click on to see more information. It is very simple to use and navigating your way round is easy.
The main feature of these health bands is the pedometer or step counter, thats one of the main purchase reasons for people to monitor there daily exercise levels. I tested the pedometer out over a period of 4 weeks to see how accurate it was as i was fairly skeptical to be honest. So each day I would count to 100 3 times at different times of the day, and each time the count was right on the money or only 1-2 steps out, so for me the step count was very accurate. To go along side the step counter, it also has a calorie counter; this counts how many calories are being burnt when walking/exercising. Its something I havent been keeping an eye on, but i can imagine it can be quite handy.
The sleep tracking has been the most eye opening feature for me. I do have awful problems sleeping but seeing how bad it is some nights on my mobile phone screen is quite shocking. On the watch screen you can see how many hours of sleep you had the night before but once in the app it really breaks it down for you. You can see how much light and deep sleep you have had during your sleep period and any times you may have been awake. On average an adult needs between 7 – 9 hours of sleep per night, which I know I dont get because of my work schedule and the time I get up in the morning. Oh that and the fact I have 2 small children that on occasions more often i care to mention just DO NOT sleep! I must admit though it has caused a little rift in our household…the missus asked if she could wear the watch one night to check on her sleep pattern and lets just say its become a competition as to who has had the least sleep!
Another thing I like about the watch too is the reminders and alarms which you can set up in the app. I have an alarm that goes off at 5am every morning and it is so loud it usually wakes everyone in the house up before i get myself pulled round and functioning enough to turn it off. now the watch has an alarm and it vibrates on your wrist, I didn’t think it would wake me but it does have a very strong vibrate. You can set this up so it only goes off midweek, weekends or even the whole week. You can also set it up so when you get a call or text the watch will also vibrate, but not only does it vibrate when a call comes through but it shows the name of the caller on the watch, another brilliant feature. I think this feature is my favourite.
The Four Fit Health band also measures blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen levels. I dont know how accurate these measurements are as I have nothing to test them out against. It does state in the manual that the readings aren’t medically accurate, but they are there and again there are more in depth readings within the app.
The watch is also waterproof in cool water. Unfortunately I haven’t been swimming recently to test this out, but I have been caught in heavy rain on numerous occassions and its withstood against the elements.
Four Fit Health Band final thoughts
All in all I am loving wearing the Four Fit Health Band fitness watch. I’m finding it is encouraging me to move about more and try to beat the previous days step count. In my current job I dont do as much walking as I did, or thats what I thought. I broke 9000 steps on my first day wearing the watch which shocked me as I didn’t think I walked as much. My highest step count upto now has been 26,000 which is pretty good going if i may say so!
The watch is easy to use and very comfortable to wear. It also comes in a variety of colours.
If you are looking for a fitness tracker for yourself or for a Christmas gift I recommend checking out the Four Fit range. you wont be disappointed. And as a bonus for you, here is a brilliant discount code for 10% off. Adventure10
Disclaimer: I have received this item in return for my honest review and thoughts.
The Northern Spire Bridge is Sunderland’s newest landmark and is likely to be one of the most photographed bridges in the north east for some time! Rightly so, it’s a magnificent structure and is very photogenic, especially at night.
When something new comes around it of course exciting in the photography world but sometimes it can get a bit continuous when all you’re seeing is one subject being continuously posted online. I am too in that bracket. But I don’t post online, I keep to writing and posting my images right here on my blog.
The History of the Bridge.
The bridge itself has been a long time coming. A total of 13 years actually, I remember seeing in the paper when the designs got released, but financial difficulties stopped the construction. Then in 2015 construction of the bridge commenced.
The bridge opened to the public on the 28th August and I knew every man and his dog would be there to take photos, so I waited a few days for the excitement to calm down before I ventured out to see what the fuss was about.
I have seen some fantastic images of this bridge before its release, but now on a night the whole bridge is lit up with colour changing lights and oh boy does it pop! What a sight to see, you can nearly see the bridge from all over Sunderland. Some of the photos being shared online are truly stunning.
One of the most popular places to see and photograph this bridge is from the car park at the Royal Mail just off Wessington Way, It gives you a perfect shot looking right up the River Wear with the bridge perfectly aligned in the centre of the frame.
This is where I started on the night, and the conditions were perfect, the river was nice and still meaning the reflections to be had would be brilliant, which is what you want when photographing scenes like this.
My first shot was set up using my trusty Sony a6000 and my Samyang 12mm, using this set up means I can lots more in frame as the 12mm is a super wide lens (it’s also one of the best for night photography and stars) The shot itself was shot at 12mm – 20secs – ISO 400 – F16. By using F16 this gives you the ability to make the street lights burst with an amazing star like effect.
I was also kindly sent these images below by Brian Priest to share – using his Inspire 2 Drone, you can check his work here.
These are images you won’t see every day and really do show you the scale and beauty of the Northern Spire
The next location was on the bridge itself, there is a central reservation which you can stand on, but it looks as though a barrier will eventually go up here which will stop you getting this shot. But the symmetry you can get here with the main part of the bridge itself is amazing.
Scotland has got to be my favourite places to take holidays. We have been here twice already this year and if I am honest I wouldn’t mind coming back in December.
This time up we have stayed on Inchmurrin, which is one of only three habited islands on Loch Lomond. It is approximately 1 1/2 miles long and ½ mile wide and only a short boat ride across from the car park near Balloch. We have stayed here once before five years ago when it was the Queens Jubilee and the island was one of the chosen places to light a beacon on the highest point of the island as part of the celebrations. We had a great week back then and have been meaning to come back ever since, especially since Zach was born but have just never got the chance as we have had other holidays and occasions planned.
Once on the island in a way you’re stuck away from civilisation. Obviously the owners family live on the island, as well as visitors coming across via boats to the islands popular restaurant. But the property we stay in is hidden away from others with its own private garden and beach – so you can choose to be away from all signs of human life if required! There is no shop on the island so you need all the supplies you will require brought over with you, unless you intend to come off the island at any point!
This was our supplies for four days for 4 adults, 2 kids and 2 dogs!! Dear lord I was knackered by the time we got them from the car in the compound to the jetty, into the boat and back out and then trekked all the way over to the property we were staying in. I ended up using a wheelbarrow so we didn’t have to make as many trips backwards and forwards.
The island is family owned by the Scotts and has been for three generations. As well as having the holiday lets, long lease properties and the restaurant; it is also a working farm with the current residents being cows, sheep and horses. In years gone by the land has been used for a hunting lodge, a castle and mental asylum! More recently there is a section of land leased by a nudist colony! I am yet to come across this section, not sure whether I am happy or disappointed by this!! We also secretly know that a famous actor out of a super famous television drama also rents a property here!!!! Never seen him though – I would of definitely got a selfie with him!
You can read more about the history of the Island here.
The Island has 2 Lodges and 3 apartments available for holiday lets–
The Ben which sleeps a total of eight people, it has 2 double rooms with en-suite and 2 twin rooms with a family bathroom.
The Lodge which sleeps six, it again has 2 double rooms and a twin room as well a family bathroom.
Then the three apartments which sleep between 4-6 people are situated right next to the bar and restaurant, you can read more about them here.
The pub is just a shortish walk from the lodges, depending on which one you are in, and offers good views out over the Loch. There is plenty of seating both indoors and outdoors and has jetty’s which are open to the public to come and use when visiting the pub. Plenty of people come and go to the restaurant. Theres nothing better than sitting outside the pub with a pint on a nice day, people watching as boats come and go.
This year we spent a considerable amount of time in the water with Zach. Since his first wild swimming experience on our last holiday to Windermere he has been craving to get back into the water. This time we bought him his own wetsuit as we weren’t expecting such good weather whilst away. Luckily though we had some fairly decent weather. We took over a large dinghy with us for Zach to play around in and he loved it. Begging me to row out further and further into the loch – that kids much braver than me i tell you!
The last time we were here, pre kids, me and Steph’s brother paddled round the island to the pub and back, and my goodness was it hard work in that rubber dinghy and him in a kayak, but its all part of the fun.
On a night, its nice and peaceful sitting down on the private beach with a little fire going, toasting marshmallows and having a few of Scotland’s finest tennant’s lagers. On the first night, we watched the sun go down as the sun sets just over the mountains on the mainland across from our beach.
We found plenty of ways to while away the days on the island with the boys by playing on the water, but Zachs favourite day had to be when we walked the full length of the island to the untouched beach at the end, had a picnic and spent a few hours exploring. The island is very hilly so its rough terrain – the highest point is 89 metres up so you can imagine that the view of the surrounding loch and mountains is breathtaking. Zach then decided that he wanted to walk back along the edge of the shore, who are we to say no. So off we went, we discovered a mile in that there was a rocky edge that wasn’t passable on land so in we all went knee deep into the loch to get round it. The things you do for kids eh? It took two days for our boots to all dry out! But it was worth it as we stumbled across a old homemade swing in a tree right on the waters edge.
Off the island there is an abundance of things to do, plenty of places to visit ranging from tourist attractions to being up and into the mountains.
Balloch is just a 5-minute drive down the road and has shops, restaurants and petrol stations. You can also go on sightseeing boat trips from here and they have a sea life centre based on the edge of the loch, which we visited last week to kill a few hours in the rain.
We also visited the Faerie Trail in Luss, which is a new addition to the area since our last visit at the start of the year. You purchase a guide book from in the village centre and the public car park and it leads you off into a lovely woodland walk filled with plenty of Faerie wonders, but watch out for the goblins that might be lurking! Highly recommend this activity for those with young kids with a wild imagination like ours. Zach loved it! So did the missus but dont tell her I told you that.
I must also must make a shout out here to a lovely independent toy shop that we stumbled upon in Helensburgh, The Toy Shop. Helensburgh is a lovely coastal town with a few nice shops and worth a visit for a few hours. The Toy Shop is right on the front and had a very good selection of toys. I am talking well thought out toys not just your usual plastic crap from Argos and the lady behind the counter was super helpful and friendly to chat too so we made a few purchases for the boys upcoming birthdays.
If you want to see more of Scotland and don’t mind the drive you could take yourself up to Glencoe, my favourite place to visit for photography, but here you can ski, walk, canoe and even see the wild stags and deer. On the way back down the loch i would recommend calling into the Drovers Inn before heading back to the island. The food here is good quality and the taxidermy company even better! Its certainly worth a little look in to experience the quirkiness for yourself.
Over all it has been another successful Scotland adventure and i am sad to see the back of it, but we will certainly be returning sooner than the last time and thats a promise.
Did you know that the world famous Cirque Du Soleil is in town? I went along to the opening night last night and got to see the brand new show for myself.
Cirque Du Soleil – OVO conjures a fantasy world of insects which is interrupted by a tired yet energetic bluebottle carrying a large egg. Hence the OVO, which is Portuguese for egg.
The story follows the Foreigner (bluebottle) and his love at first sight for a ladybug and at times has the crowd belly laughing with his affectionate advances. I particularly liked his attempt at the floss!
The costumes are incredible and the background scenes very visually appealing.
If you have ever seen the Chinese State Circus and enjoyed the performances…then your in for a bigger treat with the Cirque Du Soleil.
The show kicked off with some amazing synchronisation from the Ants. It’s something I’ve seen before rolling kiwis on there feet, up until they then added an extra element and starting juggling each other as well juggling the kiwi and corn. It certainly opened up the show with a taste of what was to come!
The human trapeze was extremely exciting, if not nail biting on your edge of your seat dramatic at times too. 3 tall poles with the scarabs swinging the women throwing them from one to another, faster and faster.
There were so many dramatic acts in each half. Plenty to keep you entertained and whooping for more for the entire evening. But the concluding act of crickets trampolining, backflipping and wall climbing was an incredible way to end the show and certainly my favourite act.
Overall a very enjoyable night, and something just a little bit different. It certainly brightened up our normal mundane Wednesday evening. The whole show was bizarre yet mystifying, you just didn’t know what was coming next, every act kept you on your toes and constantly wanting mores
If you fancy yourself a taste of the action – you can book here!
Tickets are priced between £27 and £70.
Important dates of when and where to see the show
All dates shown are 2018
Newcastle – August 29th – September 2nd
Glasgow – September 5th – 9th
Nottingham – September 12th – 16th
Leeds – September 19th – 23rd
Manchester – September 26th – 30th
Birmingham – October 3rd – 7th
Dublin – October 10th – 14th
Belfast – October 17th – 21th
CIRQUE DU SOLEIL ARE TOURING IN UNITED KINGDOM, IRELAND, FRANCE, SPAIN AND PORTUGAL
I received complimentary tickets to the opening show – however the review is completely my own opinion.
I am just about to send an email off to the Chief Exec of Cirque du Soleil because after encountering last nights performance I certainly fancy a change in career to the bright lights of the stage…not sure what act me and my Dad bod could bring to it but you never know! Watch this space!
What not to love about Scotland, it offers so many opportunities to take photos. This time I was on the island of Inchmurrin on the waters of Loch Lomond.
I have recently been on holiday on Inchmurrin, one of three habited islands on Loch Lomond. I wasn’t here for photography and never went looking for images, but my camera was always with me, more for family images but just in case I stumbled across a composition.
We ventured to the far end of island and decided to try a different route back following the shore line round the island. We were approaching where we needed to come off the beach when I spotted a nice view point with large rocks leading my eye down Loch Lomond.
My set up was my usual, I was using my Sony A6000, with my favourite wide angle the Samyang 12mm. Its a set up I almost use all the time, Landscapes isn’t always about grand vistas, sometimes focusing on one point in the landscape is better, but I just love using my wide angle lens.
As for filters I had my Nisi V5 Pro with a Nisi 0.9 medium grad and a Lee 10 Stop. I played around with settings as my first few images were just too blurred. The water was too smooth, the clouds just didn’t seem right. the whole image just didn’t jump out to me.
I readjusted my position and changed the setting slightly just get more atmosphere into it. The only thing about this is the clouds. I would have liked a bit more of them in the shot, but I still like the end result.
Over the next coming weeks I will be starting a new series on my blog, teaching you how to take different shots and be more creative. If there is a certain shot you would like to learn, please feel free to comment below, get in touch via social media or email me.
I love burgers, no doubt about it, im boring too when it comes to eating out, I always opt for the burger on the menu, I just cant seem to help myself.
When ever I get the opportunity I will make my own in the house, nothing beats homemade food especially a burger, If its done right of course, or in this case if its done my way.
Please read all ingredients and method before proceeding
What you will need
This is a hard one really apart from the obvious you can put what ever you want on it. My favourite burger joint make a PB&J burger mmmm. But were not here for that unfortunately.
So the ingredients for the burger I made:
500g of mixed beef and pork mince
Yellow American Mustard
Cheese (your choice, I used Cheddar)
Burger sauce or Reds true BBQ, (there are plenty of different flavours)
Salt and black pepper
You will also need:
A Glass bowl (large enough to go over the pan)
butter or oil
Yes I know what your thinking, a glass bowl? well just wait and see.
To start off wash your hands and put your frying pan on to heat up, then crisp your bacon in a little oil, once done to your liking take out and put on some kitchen paper, leaving the fat in the pan and on the heat.
Then get to squeezing that mince so its all nice and combined then separate them into 6 balls.
Put a ball in your ball in your hand and gently press down in between your palms to form your patty. drop them in the frying pan 2 at a time, depending on the size of your pan, Mine fits 4.
Once you have put the patties in the pan, drop the heat down a little as you dont want to cook them quickly as they will dry out and become tough. Slowly does it. Sprinkle with a little salt and black pepper.
Cook the patties on both sides and brush the patties with yellow mustard in between each flip – 2 mins on one side then 3 on the other and then flip them back over onto the first side, Now you need to work quickly, place your bacon on top of the patties and top with as much cheese as you want.
Now the magic can happen, place the glass bowl over the pan and leave it for about 3-4 minutes – What this does is it creates a mini sauna in the pan to the steam cooks your burger allowing it to become more moist and succulent as well melting that cheese on the top.
Once finished you can take the burgers out and place on a board, the next step is totally optional, you can either toast your buns in the oven for a few minutes on a low heat, or leave the pan on the heat and toast in the pan. What I like to do is put the bottoms of the buns in the pan to soak up all that flavour and the tops in the oven, This is up to you, you dont have to toast them but I would recommend you do as its stops the buns going soggy.
Now the best part, building your burger, you can top it with anything you like, Me I like to leave it as is, but you could add slaw, tomatoes, lettuce, its your burger, you decide. I topped mine with a little burger sauce and thats it, done, time to tuck in.
Tip: Try this recipe on the BBQ, its even better.
Like the sound of this recipe? how about you pin it for later or share it amongst your friends.
Disclaimer – All food items were purchased from ALDI UK, this is not a sponsored post or paid campaign, all items were purchased myself and the recipe is 100% my own.
Im certainly not going to sit here and try to tell you that i am the healthiest chap going! But whilst the woman indoors likes to keep a tight fist on our breakfasts and teas being always home cooked and healthy – if i had my way I would eat utter crap breakfast dinner and tea and still chuck in some seriously bad snacks for good measure. Im not stupid – I know its bad for me – my problem is is that im just damned lazy and cant be bothered to prepare anything for myself. Lunches are the only meal that i ever really have to prepare – the rest is done for me and even though there is an abundance of stuff to make for my dinner already bought in the house i do the easiest thing and just nip to a shop on my lunch break.
By doing this lazy lunching only means two things; one im eating an unhealthy diet for lunch which of course adds to my Dad bod and two it is an un-needed and unnecessary added cost each week!
So one way to help combat the laziness is by food prepping. Yeah you will of heard of it – Insta is full of eye catching squares with boxes all lined in a row (just like my snap below) and its the latest trend for the gym goers!!
As most people probably find the hardest thing about eating healthy is the actual time it takes to plan and cook your meals. By the time I get in from work on an evening and sorted the kids I can never be bothered to start making lunches for the next day, never mind planning my meals for the week and deciding what is what. Gold award definitely goes to my missus for being able to plan our other meals for 7 days a week – shop for it and then prepare it each day! Im useless!
So for us useless buggers this is where meal prepping comes in or should I specifically say Prep Stop who lovingly prepare the meals for us. Bonus – someone else does your cooking for you, all you need to do is remember to collect it from the fridge each morning!!
Why Do It?
There are lots of good reasons to start prepping meals ahead of time, but the biggest reasons are that is saves lots of time, money and it might just kick start a healthier you.
I was recently asked by Prep Stop to test out a 6 day meal plan of theirs and give some good old honest feedback. It was something I was very interested in as I have seen others success from it but also – the missus was away with the kids for a week that week and what better way to make sure that someone was still feeding me and at least ensuring i had at least one of my five a day that week?!?!?!
So whats the drill? Prep Stop splits your week into two parts, you receive three days worth of food at the beginning, and then collect the remaining three days on the third day. This way all the produce is freshly cooked and not sitting around in your fridge all week.
If you have a look at Prep stop on Instagram, you can see the lists of meals which are prepared each week, along with specials and the occasional success story being shared. All you need to do is send them a message with your requirements and arrange your delivery of meals. It currently costs £40 for a 6 day meal plan – which is very good value considering you are getting 2 square meals per day cooked for you. The portions are a good size too – I never found that i went hungry.
The first batch of meals i picked up looked incredible and i wanted to get stuck into one there and then! Each meal had lots of flavour and plenty of veggies in them.
Over all I was well impressed with the meals; everything I was given to try out I ate, there wasn’t anything I didn’t like the look or taste of and the communication was brilliant. No grab your money and run type here, they are happy to help answer any questions and chat about the meals or any dietary requirements. They also offer a handy delivery service too.
You can Find Prep Stops Social media below, go and check it out and see some of the meals on offer for yourself.
I received the items mentioned in this post in return for a totally honest review.
Now that we are half way through the year and the dark nights are slowly rolling in I thought I would look back at some old photos.
What I love about the dark nights is the creativity it can offer, from long exposures of cityscapes, to stars, to painting with light.
When we were in Scotland, we knew because of the time of year it would get dark pretty early on so I wouldnt have to keep my kids up to late to be able to get a photo.
Every time we go away we always take sparklers with us, just something to excite the little ones.
Sparklers can obversely be dangerous so if you do plan to take images with your kids please do be careful.
I set my camera up on a tripod as you always need to do when taking a long exposure, setting always change and really does depend on you but for this photo the settings were: 6secs | iso125 | F9 | 12mm |
The settings will depend on the complexity of the photo you want to achieve, my son is a little young to be able to ask him to do patterns so a few rapid hand shakes still made for a good example photo of what you can achieve.
Will you be trying this one with your kids? or will you be trying more complex patterns by yourself?
Recently me and the family threw caution to the wind and took an evening trip up to Northumberland on a school night to explore the great outdoors, and to be re-wilded! We attended a Mini Expedition with Wild Intrigue for a Bats and Pizza night at Wild Northumbrian. We have stayed here a few times so the choice of venue was familiar to us. The place still excites us each time we get to visit. Its filled with such natural beauty and every time we have stayed we have been reluctant to leave.
When we arrived on site we were warmly greeted by Cain and Heather who are the founders of Wild Intrigue, after a few introductions to all that were attending we headed off to the Pole barn where the table was set with our dough ready for the pizzas, and plenty of toppings to choose.
When we stayed here last time the pizza oven was there and free to use but we never did get round to trying it. So this was a perfect opportunity to give it a whirl. Like I said before the dough was all prepped on the table, so the hard work had been done. All we had to do was attempt to stretch it out very thin and in a good oval shape (I say attempt as we were all rubbish!!) Well thats not strictly true, Newgirlintoon was there on the same night and her partner absolutely nailed it! He never said…but I think he may have been an Italian chef?! But the shape didn’t really matter its all about the taste surely? That didn’t stop me being jealous of his perfection though! HaHa.
What I liked about the set up of the table was that we were all seated together on one long table, the boys included. Meaning we all got to have a good chat whilst getting on with our pizza creations. It was nice to meet new people in such a calm environment and listening to Heather and Cain talk about there inspiring work.
My eldest son Zach had an amazing time making his pizza. He actually played with his dough like playdoh and may have even dropped it in the dirt a few times. Now i know we are quite open to the great outdoors but i draw the line at him eating pizza topped with soil so I had to make his base in the end but he still had a go.
He loved putting all his topping choices on his own, and then he eagerly followed Cain to pop it into the pizza oven. It only took a matter of 2 minutes to cook through, and even lesser time to for him to demolish it! So all in all, the pizzas were very tasty. There was even more dough to go around for a second helping of pizza if we wanted, and It took all my will power to say no because I secretly wanted a second, maybe even a third they were that good.
After stuffing our faces we took a little stroll around the site just as the sun was considering setting after such a beautiful day. It was nice to have a look around again as it has been a while since we have been here. We headed down over the rope bridge, which Zach is now old enough to tackle independently since our last visit and so he proceeded on over with whoops of glee. He is such an adventurer. We then passed the new Treehouse, which looked amazing. Definitely wanting to stay there in the near future. We then crossed over the stream and back up again and as we reached the top the light was stunning and i managed to grab a quick action shot of us strolling through the grass.
Cain and Heather told us all about the ecology reports they had carried out on the land at Wild Northumbrian and the various cameras they had hidden around too. Unfortunately no badgers were out and about so early on on our wander but we did get the promise of something potentially crossing the paths of the cameras.
Zach loved helping out with the cameras, he was constantly chatting and asking a hundred questions. The outdoors really inspires him and he thrives on learning. He makes me very proud – total proud Dad moment. I think he enjoyed the evening even more than me.
After our walk we headed back to the Pole Barn to some hot chocolate and lit the fire ready to toast some marshmallows on. Cain prepared us some perfect marshmallow skewers, much better than the shop bought bamboo ones we tend to use and i was interested to hear that he had chosen willow to chop and use as that is the fastest growing tree that would then regrow what we had used the quickest.
As we were finishing off our treats Heather and Cain got out the bat detectors, and were explaining the different types of bats and what was more common around the area. They even had little booklets showing you the different breeds of bats which Zach took great interest in. You can buy them from field-studies-council.org I thought these were really good and definitely something I want to invest in for the kids adventures. As well as talking about the different bats Heather showed us the two different types of detectors they had. One which plugs into your phone were you can see the sonogram of the noises on the app, and the other where you can hear the different frequencies of the bats.
Once we were all prepped and dusk was upon us we headed on round to the toilet block then to the church yard to see if we could spot any bats. Zach’s detector went off first and I have never seen him so happy, he was over the moon. We managed to pick up common pipistrelle and we spent some time watching them flit backwards and forward through the tree lined church yard. Zach’s face was glowing in happiness. It was a lovely moment and a one i wont forget in a hurry. He has honestly told everyone and anyone that would listen about his trip to “catch” bats. Even getting to stand up at nursery at carpet time to tell everyone about his latest adventure.
So if you fancy yourself a little adventure on a summers evening or your just sick of doing the same old thing with your kids or as a couple and fancy a change of scenery; why not give this a try? I can promise you, you will not be disappointed. It will be the best evening you will spend in a long time.
It is definitely something I would do again and I look forward to booking up onto the next one.
Check out the website here http://wildintrigue.co.uk/ ; there are a few different events coming up this year, as well as more of the Pizza and Bat Night that we attended.
Photobooks for personal use have become a big thing these days! Gone are the times of film and photo albums made of prints. Photobooks are great for gifts, whether that be Fathers Day, Mothers Day, Birthdays, Christmas – even Valentines Day and Anniversaries.
I cant be the only guilty one when it comes to my images?! I take hundreds of them and then they are stored away on a hard drive only for me to usually do nothing with them! Whoops!
I have a computer full of images as well as on my mobile phone, which has thousands of images stored on it too. I have all the intentions of editing them and then having them printed but I struggle to find time to see it through.
Its a shame really, as nothing can beat seeing your images in print form. Or even better in a neat and tidy photo book. Whether that be a large photobook you keep on the coffee table to glance at when you are feeling nostalgic or a one that can fit right into your bag to show off to family and friends.
Photos are the essence of our memories of both happy and at times; sad times. Therefore having them kept safe and at your fingertips to look at whenever you wish is so important.
Thats where Saal digitalcomes in and offers a whole caboodle of printing services – from large poster prints to photobooks and even photo calendars. They cover all your printing needs, so do check them out.
So were here to talk about photobooks?!
To start with you will need to download the album builder, which can be downloaded for both PC and MAC and doesn’t take too long. The software is very easy to use, as it basically walks you through the steps. Basically you choose your photo item first (for example a photobook), then the size and paper quality. You can then choose to build the book yourself or let the software create it for you. I opted to make it myself, as the book I made was of my first born son, and I wanted the book to go through from his birth to the present day.
There are other options within the software too. Such as to set themes, I chose the cartoon dinosaur theme, on some pages there are dinosaur eggs, it just adds something a little different rather than just a plain page, which I thought was a very nice touch. There are plenty of themes to choose from.
If you have never made a photobook before then you will be in for a treat, its fun to build and dont just think that you get one image per page, you can choose to have a full 2 page images, or 1 small image on the page, or maybe you want to have multiple images, you really can get carried away.
From the book being ordered to delivery was only 3 days! Thats super efficient and quick turnaround. I honestly got a shock when it came landing on the doormat. Even though Saal is located in Germany; the delivery is second to none.
In my eyes quality is everything, and its certainly quality you get. Even with the standard paper which I opted for, the prints were good. This is the second photobook i have ordered from Saal and have been very impressed with both. The hardback book versions look and feel well made and is very seamless. You can opt for a full cover print on too, which I did here.
Overall from downloading the software, to creating and ordering, to then delivery – everything went like a dream and I cannot fault either of my photobooks.
Disclosure: I received a gift voucher to order a photobook from Saal, however, all the creating was down to me. However this isn’t the first book I have ordered from Saal therefore all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Gin has become a national favourite, and it feels like it has grown very quickly. There are gin bars popping up everywhere, and all are offering some very tasty and unique flavours.
Ive always been one for testing out and trying new flavours in drinks, and one I continue to make every year is Sloe Gin, with my oldest bottle being from 2014, this is my vintage, im want to see if I cane leave it until its about 12 years old.
Anyway I have been trying to test out different gins, I have an allotment where I grow Rhubarb so the obvious thing was try doing something with it, so last year I made a Rhubarb and Ornage and my misss drank this with the week. So it was obviously tasty.
But this year I wanted to try something with rhubard and something else – meet Rhubard and custard.
I just couldn’t think on how to get the custard flavouring into the drink, but then of course there are Rhubarb and Custard sweeties.
So the recipe, the main thing your here for, and it is easy and only takes about 3-4 days before you an drink it, not like the 6 months to a year for the Sloe Gin.
What you will need.
1litre kilner jar or a wide open neck bottle
2 small bags of Rhubarb and Custard sweets
2 sticks of rhubarb (optional)
All ingredients were bought from Aldi but this is not in anyway a sponsored post, its just where I shop.
Its really simple, just put everything into your kilner jar, shake it up and leave it, just remember to shake at least once per day as the sweets stick to the jar.
Who loved the 90s? Or even better who loved a good rave back in the day? All that partying stopped since the kids came along? Well problem solved – the company Big fish Little Fishgives you the opportunity to get that rave feeling but in a family orientated environment. I mean obviously you cant sink numerous pints and leave for a cheeky takeaway at an ungodly hour. But its a safe rave that allows adults to dance along with their kids to some top Djs and have a really good time, with decent food and drinks for sale.
I was invited along with my little people to the newest venue right here in Sunderlands newest place to eat and party “The Bonded Warehouse“. The rave itself was located in the function room upstairs and offered a vast space with the outside space in use too. Previous raves have been held at other locations in the city that were on two levels, which made it difficult to keep the vibe the same across all levels. But being at the Bonded Warehouse has solved this problem. Access for buggies and wheelchairs is good thanks to the lift, but buggies needed to stay outside of the main room. Not always ideal if you have teeny tiny ones (slinging perhaps?) but otherwise there was a member of staff out on the door to keep an eye on your abandoned buggys.
As part of the Big Fish Little Fish eventsit offers the kids various things to do other than to just dance. For the youngest ravers there is a low key soft play area with a couple of ball pools, activity gym, cushioned matting and age appropriate toys to play with. For the older kids, other than the dancefloor, there were tents and tunnels to one area but the thing Zach was more interested in was the craft table. Where plenty of things were set up so the kids could draw, cut, stick, squish playdough into someone elses flooring and also make glow stick glasses!
They also had a lovely face painter – Flutter shine faces – who were creating some fab ultra violet/glow in the dark designs. Zach demanded a shark design and then a flower tattoo to his leg….what can I say? Gender neutral in this house! It was £3.50 for facepainting.
At the front of the function room the stage is set with the DJ stood playing some decent tuneage and a gathering of both big and little people dancing. Some busting all kinds of shapes and others merely toe tapping – both acceptable here. Zach went for the run round like a crazy kiddo type dance move and Mammy took to swaying with Eli when one of her favourite tunes came on! There were balloons aplenty for the kids to play with, the occasional confetti canon and every so often the bubble machine would come on which gave the kids further ammunition to run round like crazies.
Right at the end of the event the staff gather at dancefloor with a parachute so the kids can have a boogie underneath that too. Nice touch.
We did have a couple of thoughts about the event. One was the light, I personally would have liked the room to have been just that little bit darker so it felt more like a rave, and with the use of more lighting effects – im thinking disco ball!! but understand this may not be to every families cup of tea.
The missus also thought that they should of been more seating. I dont mind standing but my missus likes to sit, especially when you have a baby. Standing with with a baby in your arms can get tiring pretty quickly. There was a couple of benches to one side which were full most of the time and the seating around the craft table. It appeared that a few people took to sitting at the craft table for seating which made it difficult to get little ones in at times. We also didnt eat at the event even though there was Fat Hippo Burgers on offering (my favourite too) as there was no tables to sit at?
But overall we all had a good time and enjoyed a few hours together in a different environment to our usual. I would definitely book to go to the next one and would recommend anyone to give it a try!
You can buy your tickets HERE and see all the events happening this year, both in the UK and abroad, BFLF is a world wide family rave
Ever heard of Sock Ons? The clever design that go over babies feet to keep their socks in place? Well the same designers have also got a similar product – Moccons. Using the same concept – the slipper socks are thicker material with little moccasins attached to the bottom. They range in size from 6-12 months up to 2-3 years and come in a variety of unisex designs to go with all outfits.
We were kindly gifted a pair and I chose the navy stripes as they caught my eye and were likely to go with most outfits.
Elijah has been wearing them for a few weeks now – mostly when he is in his carrier on a walk, especially on an evening or chillier day, as they are perfect for keeping his toes warm. We also use them for little slippers when we are away camping. In the last three weeks he has started to crawl and so when we are away and in the awning we like to have his feet covered so these are the perfect option.
The sock section is highly elasticated so they stay on the feet really well, so you run no risks of loosing one when your out and about. I am sure you have all been there (not just the Dads…) when you get back home and you realise even after all the checks every few minutes, that you have lost either a sock, or God forbid an expensive (if not pointless!?) shoe?? Nodding your head in agreement? Yeah the missus still hasnt forgiven me for loosing one of Zachs sandals almost 3 years ago when he was a baby!!!
Being the outdoors family that we are – Eli had the moccons covered in mud second time of wearing them. So i am happy to confirm that they are in fact machine washable and come out in perfect condition again ready for the next adventure.
If you fancy a pair for your little ones feet you can purchase them here direct from the website. But they are also available widely at various stockists.
Disclaimer: I was gifted this item in return for my thoughts on this product.
Ive never been one to have a full on beauty routine (can men say this???!!) ; more so because I didn’t think it was masculine to be moisturising after a wash. Since having a beard I have always used a beard oil but i’ve never been one to use any other products on my skin, ie scrubs or moisturiser.I should as I do suffer from dry skin from time to time and doing my current job I often rock up home absolutely filthy.
I have used many brands of oils for my beard and I am yet to find one that doesn’t leave it feeling greasy. So when I was approached by Admiral products. to test out some of their products I was eager to use the beard oil first.
Like I said before I have never been one to use skin products, but Admiral kindly sent a facial scrub to try too. I used it on the first day I received it and what can I say….I am a converted man. The exfoliating face scrub has bits in the cream and leaves my skin feeling super clean and fresh.
The beard shampoo is what I was looking forward to using the most. It seems that nowadays every Tom, Dick and Harry have a beard. But not everyone seems to take good care of them. Nothing worse that the beard being very coarse and the skin becoming irritated underneath.
Admiral beard shampoo is a good cleanser and smells pretty good too. You only need to use a small amount, as it lathers up and goes a long way. I tend to leave it on for at least a few minutes and giving the beard a good scrub in the shower. Once dried off its time to oil up, use as much as you need depending on the length of your beard. I use about a pea size amount for me and rub it all in using your fingers; getting it all the way to your skin. I leave it to soak in then apply the beard balm for an extra silky look.
Overall I am very impressed with the products. I have used them for around 3 weeks now and I can certainly see the difference in both my skin and facial hair. I will definitely be continuing to use them until I need to buy more.
These would also make a brilliant gift for fathers day too, as they have gift sets as well as selling the individual products. The good news is, the kind people at Admiral have given me a discount code just for my readers to use to save some £££. A whopping 25% off – GO GO GO!
I have been a long time follower of The Curry Guy on Social Media, back in the day when there was only a blog! But now The Curry Guy – Dan Toombs, has 2 books; The Curry Guy and his latest new release Curry Guy Easy.
I ordered his first book on pre release a while back and once I received it, for many months our Saturday nights became curry night and we would try a different recipe each week. His recipes are so easy to follow and honestly taste like the real thing. When ever I get the chance to have a curry night then its his books I turn to. We are big curry fans in our house – we have tried all kinds of recipes and spice mixes from other companies but nothing compares to the recipes that we can knock up from these books.
I wrote a review of his first book The Curry Guya while back – go give it a read. Most of the recipes in there are mouthwateringly good. Once you have made your base curry sauce the rest is easy. The base sauce is a labour of love, as it takes a little time to prep but it is well worth having, freezing it and its then there ready to knock up a whole host of different curries. Not all his recipes require the base sauce though – and we quite often make the chicken kebab recipes with naans and salad for a quick but tasty tea.
I pre ordered his latest book on Amazon back when he announced it many months ago and it came just in time for my birthday – little birthday present to myself! No surprise that I loved it just as much as the first book. We are yet to make many of the new recipes as I have only had it myself for four weeks and two of those Saturdays we have been away. However one of the first recipes we have tried were the Masala chips. Dear lord were they tasty!
One thing I must also say about Dan is just how friendly and approachable he is online on social media. He is always happy to chat about anything curry related and will give you helpful advice if you need it. So if you are struggling with any of the recipes or have a curry question – give him a follow on Twitter and ask away.
So to mark the release of Dan Toombs new cook book, I have teamed up with the main man himself to give away one copy of The Curry Guy Easy.
See the link below and get in your enteries. Competition runs from 4th June 2018 – 17th June 2018.
If you aren’t the lucky winner of the competition you can pick up a copy of the book on Amazon for currently only £6!
Rigrigg Meadows is located on the shores of Windermere, just before you get to Bowness. Its a nice walk around through woodland and waterfalls and the water edge itself. you do have to pay for car parking and it can get quite expensive in Windermere, I think it costs about £3 for 2 hours and up to £10 all day. There are also toilets in the car park but you have to pay to access those.
I went here for Sunset and Sunrise on 2 separate days, the Sunset worked out pretty well, however Sunrise didn’t happen and it was too wet and foggy, but it didn’t stop me I still got up early and ventured out as sometimes the risk pays off.
This is a popular place for people during the day and on a night so if you were to come here, maybe sunrise may be better as when I was there it was very busy and I was lucky to get a shot.
Down at the waters edge are two jetties, the jetty to the left is more photogenic as the posts stick up further making for a more interesting image, still, both are photogenic.
This was the only image I caught on sunset, I needed more clouds for the light to bounce off but it didn’t happen, the colour could have been there but its a shame it didn’t really happen for me, Its an image I didn’t really want to share because it doesn’t really do anything for me, but I felt I needed t show it for location purposes.
The second image is my favourite, the sunrise never happened, it was very moody, and foggy down by the water, I knew as soon as I seen the conditions what type of shot I wanted, and these types of settings I think it needs to be in Black and White.
In a dull flat setting Black and White always suites, there is no colour, just greys and blacks. In the above image I have tried to pull as much out of the image as possible, and I was able to do this by shooting the image in a RAW format. as you can see it has become very grainy and noisey, but those clouds and fog give the image depth and I love how the jetty looks as if it is going on forever, as if it were a bridge to the unknown.
This image is exactly the same as the previous, this image was edited using Lightroom CC, where as the other was used using LR and Silver Efex.
There is potential here and it would be a location I would love to come back to, just a shame I didn’t quite get the conditions I was after. I did record a short vlog on this location, you can check it out at the bottom of this post.
Pin this post
This blog has been added to Photalife blog, click the badge below to see more posts.