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Healthy Eating with Meal Prepping

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

Disclaimer

I received the items mentioned in this post in return for a totally honest review. 

 

 

 

 

Simple creative photography

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sparklers, long exposure, photography, night photography, scotland

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 |

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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?

 

 

Wild Intrigue – a chance to be Re-Wilded!

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.ad, bats, blog, pizza making, promotional, wild intrigue, wild northumbrian, gifted, things to do, north east, northumberland, school holiday ideas, days out north east, what ti do in the school holidays,

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.

The following dates are already planned:

Monday 13th – Adults only night

Tuesday 14th -Family Night

Wednesday 15th – Family Night

 

Find Wild Northumberian here –

http://www.wildnorthumbrian.co.uk/

Thorneyburn
Old Rectory
Hexham
NE48 1NA

I also wrote a blog post about Wild Northumbrian not so long back here if you want to know more about this little hidden gem.

Disclosure – I was invited to enjoy a complimentary experience in return for a totally honest review.

Using Photobooks to save memories – Saal Digital

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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 digital comes 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.

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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.

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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.

Delivery

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.

Quality

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. 

DIY Daddy

Rhubard and Custard gin recipe

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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.

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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)

70cl Gin

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.

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Big Fish Little Fish – Family Rave

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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 Fish gives 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.

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As part of the Big Fish Little Fish events it 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!

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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.

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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!

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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

That time I lost my sons shoe -Mocc ons Review-

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

Looking fly for a bearded guy!

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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.

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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.

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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!

DISCOUNT CODE – ADVEN25

WEBSITE – http://admiralgrooming.co.uk

Laters….Im off to go have a pamper session – may even try a facemask too!!!

 

The Curry Guy Easy book Giveaway

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curry guy easy, dan toombs, curry guy

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.

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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 Guy  a 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.

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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.

Good luck!

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!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Rayrigg Meadows in Windermere

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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.

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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.

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Rayrigg Meadows – Windermere, Lake District

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.

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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.

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Camping in Seahouses – Springhill Farm

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taken just as we set up, whilst the site was quite, As you can see there is plenty of room

adventure, camping, holiday, road trip

 

At last, we made it on to our first camping trip, and actually survived it. We took delivery of our first folding camper at the beginning of the year but due to having no tow bar on any of our vehicles and the time of year we put off until we got some essentials sorted.

So for our first trip we wanted to stay reasonably close to home just in case, but far enough away that it actually felt like we were on holiday. We took to the internet for a little bit of inspiration and decided upon somewhere in Northumberland so we were only an hours drive from home, somewhere we were fairly familiar with but yet interesting enough to feel as though we were getting a holiday.

We decided on SpringHill Farm. We had read a blog post on North East Family Fun on the top 10 places in the North East  to stop.  springhill was one of the sites reccomended and it caught our eye. The site itself houses holiday cottages, as well as camping pods but its main focus is the camping site. The review swung us as it looked as though it suited our needs so we took to the computer and booked up.

This was my first time towing anything, and im going to be honest and not act all MANLY here – I was shitting it. To be fair, it was nerve wracking, plus my towing wing mirrors came off mid journey so it didn’t help that I couldn’t see properly. But we made it in one piece and in fairly good time – practice makes perfect – hopefully!

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On arrival to the site there is a board with your booking name on telling you where you will be placed on the site, I did read that you  dont have to check in and all you need to do is look on the board for your pitch and go get set up, but I still went in and got a friendly greeting.

Our pitch was No 2 on the camping field. We couldn’t have got a better pitch with views of Bamburgh Castle and the Farne Islands to our right. It didn’t take us long to set up, but it was hard work and with 2 kids in tow plus a dog to keep our eye on, we certainly deserved a drink afterwards. After setting up it was too late to cook anything, or more like we were so drained from the day we couldn’t be bothered, so we headed out to Seahouses for some Fish and Chips at Neptunes.

The Site

The site is set back away from the main road side of the between Seahouses and Bamburgh and into the peaceful countryside. You still get the great views of the sea yet you have the wonderful greenery surrounding you. The site itself is very family friendly and dog friendly too. Springhill Farm suites everyones holiday requirements by allowing tents, folding campers, caravans and motorhomes. However if you dont own any of these then you czn stay in the wigwams they have on site which are situated near the main reception, or you could opt for something a little closer to home and stay in the cottage lets, these are located just off site away from the main camping and caravan fields.

The site is very clean, tidy and well maintained. The pitches themselves had so much room around them, it didn’t feel like everyone was on top of each other, unlike other sites where your crammed into the pitches like sardines.

The shower block on site is again very clean and basic, it has what you need, the bonus of this is it also has a family room which has a bath in which when you have small children can come in handy as it did with us.

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Springhill is actually a working farm so as you drive in your passing the farm house and barnes as well as the holiday lets you can rent out, but you can see the wonderful highland cows in the fields just at the entrance of the site.

Their is a small onsite shop, which to be honest doesn’t come overly well equipped, however it had enough in case of emergencies.But there is a few local shops nearby in Seahouses, 5 minutes down the road, just incase you were to need anything, The nearest supermarket is about 15 miles away.

The site also has a small play park located at the rear of the site and is all fenced off and again is well maintained, Zach never bothered with it only because we were always busy doing other things. There is room for the kids to run about and burn off energy, play football or fly kites.

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Whats around

Depending on what your purpose for staying on the Northumberland coastline is it can meet a lot of interests. They are so many places to visit both at the coast and further in land.

Seahouses itself is a 5 minutes drive, It doesn’t have a vast array of things to do here, but it is still nice to walk around this seaside town.  There are plenty of fish and chip shops, but Neptunes is my favourite, you can take away or sit in and enjoy your meal. If you have little ones there is a small mini golf just opposite Neptune’s and a few little shops to get those important souvenirs. I am sure i also spotted an amusemnts too.

If you do visit Seahouses, you can book a boat trip to the Farne Islands  from here. 

The Islands can be seen from Bamburgh beach and offers so much more than a little boat trip. You can Bird watch and see the beautiful puffin birds (in season), you can see the seals, dive, and even go for sunset if your into photography. Or you can just watch them from afar whilst sitting enjoying the golden sand on the beach.

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Bamburgh beach is a beautiful stretch of clean golden sand, you can walk from the castle to seahouses,  but im unsure of the distance – but it is quite a walk especially with little legs. If taking the car then you have plenty of space to park up for the day in both free car parks and also in gravelled lay bys all along the road. Wherever you seem to park you are a five minute walk down onto the beach through the dunes. See my photography vlog here>>> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DmkmNSgFSJU

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These are the 3 main attractions around the camp site, all of which are both within fair walking distance. But if you dont mind jumping in the car and traveling then you can open up your options for different days out. Without going too far in the car here are a few different ideas.

  • Alnwick Castle and Gardens
  • Holy Island (check tide times for crossing)
  • Dunstanburgh Castle
  • Almouth
  • Howick

 

Camping score

The site 8/10

Facilities 9/10

The Pitch 9/10

Amenities 6/10

Overall 8/10

 

 

 

Potty Adventures

Family photos by a professional photographer

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photoshoot, jesmond dene, newcastle, mandy charlton photography, mandy charlton, family photos, north east, uk, family moments,

In our family I am usually the one behind the camera taking the photos and as a result I’m hardly ever in the images. Unless I set up my camera on a tripod, set the timer and dash back to get in the shot. It’s time consuming and doesn’t usually get the results I am looking for. When we go out for days or even go on holiday, all the photos I take are of the kids enjoying themselves or with the missus and  kids. I rarely feature in any of the photos taken on my camera. The missus takes a few sly shots on her Iphone when she thinks im not looking but other than that we have very few family shots with us all together.

I recently got the chance to get my photo taken with my family…  you can imagine my delight when this opportunity came about and I was offered a mnishoot with Mandy Charlton.  Mandy is a professional photographer based in Newcastle, North East of England.

Mandy suggested a couple of locations to choose for the shoot, one of which was Jesmond Dene. The Dene has a lot to offer with the river, blossom trees that were bang on in season for when our photos were being taken and open grassed areas, as well as the animals and play park area.

We met Mandy on a sunny Sunday afternoon at 1:30 near the information centre in the Dene, she was bang on time and we were all raring to get started. After a few introductions it was straight into the shooting. I am not a one for staged photos and prefer natural shots. Partly because i am like Chandler from Friends….if you have ever seen the episode when he is getting his photos taken for his wedding announcement…ask me to smile and i go all awkward and my smile is less than attractive!!

The session lasted approximately 45minutes and it certainly felt like we got a range of images in different areas of the park. Zachs favourite part of the session was definitely when Mandy offered him a chocolate out of her bag for doing some top notch smiles for her camera.

It only took around 3 days for the images to be ready and we received our photos via Dropbox, easy downloaded and easy usuable, no disks or memory sticks that can be lost.

I was really impressed with the images and hope to get our favourite printed and framed for the house.

Mandy Charlton Photography

Website

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Here are some examples.

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Disclaimer: I was gifted a free photoshoot in return for this review. All thoughts, opinions are my own. 

Bamburgh Castle sunset photography

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I have recently been camping in Seahouses, and with the beautiful Bamburgh Castle right on my door step I needed to go and photography this wonderful structure.

For those who don’t know, the castle is located in Northumberland right on the North East coast, it stands high on top of the hill overlooking the North Sea.

The Castle itself ofers so many photo opportunities and from so many different angles. It is part surrounded by sand dunes which make for a good foreground. I opted to stay in the dunes from the south beach, However if you want to shoot from the sand you need to go to the North beach.

It did take me a while to find a good composition but when I did I was quite happy with the results.

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I wanted to capture the sun rays because there wasnt much going on in the sky, I would have like a few more clouds for the light to bounce off and give me more colour but it didnt happen so the next best thing was rays.

As you can see from this image the amount of dunes, these stretch nearly as far as Seahouses itself .

After this I moved over the dunes for a different shot, The sun sets so quick I barely had time to get there.

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Dad tips to store your children’s toys

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Both of our children already have so many toys between them and yet we still seem to be collecting more. We all do it, we’re all guilty of over purchasing to some extent, and we’re all guilty of letting all the toys stack up, both old and new, most of them getting forgotten about. We live in a throw away world nowadays and yet we sometimes find ourselves never throwing anything away.

Children can have so many toys, most of which just never get regularly played with. Then what happens? They end up at the bottom of a pile never to be seen again, or sometimes they don’t even make it out the box.

To prevent the dreaded waste of toys I have put together a few tips to help you organise toys so your child may never get bored with what he or she plays with. Lets face it, there are always going to be toys that our children will always look to play with and favoured over others but if we learn to alternate them then it may prevent them getting bored of them.

In my eldest sons room we have bought two IKEA shelving units and storage boxes. In each box we have separated his toys into categories.  So for example in one box we have a collection of cars and trucks, another has his dinosaurs, or another has jigsaws. We have a total of 8 boxes in his room as well as other overflow plastic storage boxes that we keep in the garage, which house his Lego and train set collections.

Every day we will get a different box out from his bedroom and bring it downstairs for him to play with. Its a great idea for young children, as we all know attention spans aren’t great so having something different to play with each day should help. This way every toy that they own should then at least be played with at some point and not left to gather dust somewhere. Then as your child grows out of toys or gets new toys; you could donate your toys to a charity and add the new toys to the box.

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Under-bed storage

Make use of all the dead space you can. A layered sliding storage can be especially made for the under-bed area or you can just put things in a handy boxes under the bed, we bought a handmade bed that was made to our specification, rather than bunkbeds I opted for a cabin bed with built in wardrobe, cubby hole and plenty of storage.

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This was when we first got the bed, but as you can see there is a large draw under the bed, as well as each step on the left is a draw for storage.

Storage cubes

storage boxes and IKEA cubes are brilliant for storage, these are easy to build and stack up and Zach can get a box out when he wants, each box has been categorised rather than everything being put in and mixed together.

 

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Up on the rod

Here I found an old rod in the garage which I attached to the bed and it made a perfect place to hand all of Zachs dress up clothes.

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The Perfect Destinations For A Scenic Getaway

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loch lomond, kids, photography, sony a6000, how to take photos of kids

The best holiday destinations are visually impressive. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing trip or an adventurous excursion, you should aim to visit somewhere that has a lot to offer in terms of natural (or even manmade) beauty. Of course, there are a lot of places that fit such a description. If you’re stuck for future travel ideas then here are some of the perfect destinations for a scenic getaway.

Scotland.

We’ve talked a lot about the beauty of Scotland before. The shores of Loch Long in Argyll provide a natural paradise with stunning fir tree forests and the crisp waters of the loch itself. You can read all about our adventures in this beautiful place that’s teeming with natural beauty, but the western county of Argyll is only the tip of what Scotland has to offer in terms of scenic locations. Even the capital is a beautiful destination. Most modern cities are packed with glitzy skyscrapers, but Edinburgh retains its historic status with beautiful architecture, culture, and stunning natural sights. Arthur’s Seat is the peak of a beautiful group of hills overlooking the city; it’s definitely worth a hike. Of course, if you’d rather stay away from cities on your scenic adventure then you should head to the Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye. These stunning pools sit at the foot of the Black Cuillin mountains and look like they’ve been plucked from a fantasy novel such as The Hobbit. If you want a scenic getaway in Scotland then this is the place to be.

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The Caribbean.

Of course, if you’re looking for a beautiful island getaway then you should definitely head to the Caribbean. There are some idyllic islands in this region that are well worth a visit if you want to experience both sweltering heat and some stunning natural sights. The islands of Trinidad and Tobago offer exquisite local amenities and unbelievable natural beauty. You should check out Courtyard Port of Spain if you want to stay in a luxurious Trinidadian hotel that’s near all the famous sights of the island. The Maracas Beach is a wonderful spot that you should visit if you want to relax whilst admiring the natural splendour of the island.

Spain.

Finally, you need to visit Spain if you want to experience culture and beautiful locations rolled into one. This country has so much to offer when it comes to fantastic visuals. The city of Barcelona is the perfect place to start. Walk the streets of this amazing city and admire the beautiful architecture of Gaudi that practically makes up the majority of the city. And the Sagrada Familia is a stunning cathedral that you should stop to admire whilst you’re in Barcelona. It’s still being built to this day, a century after Gaudi’s death, and that’s a true testament to the impact that his artistic mind has had on the city. You should also head to Alcala la Real to see the Fortaleza de la Mota castle. Set in the heart of gloriously green hills, it’s a beautifully scenic place to visit.

The Perfect Accommodation for a Family Break

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Many parents worry about travelling when their children are young. Often putting it off entirely or staying relatively close to home and avoiding long drives and air travel until their children are older. This can be a shame. Travelling with young children can be wonderful. They view the world with such innocent wonder, exploring everywhere without discrimination or fear. This can be contagious. As an adult, your sense of wonder may have been deadened slightly. Travelling with a child and their infectious excitement can bring it all back. Yes, you need to be more organised and plan a little more. Yes, the flight might be a little more stressful (but probably nowhere near as bad as you think) and yes if you get a delay, it could well be a little nightmare. But, it’s surely worth it to see the world in such a wonderful way while introducing your children to all it has to offer and instilling in them a fantastic sense of adventure.

Often when we do travel with children, we spend a long time worrying about the flight. But, your choice of accommodation also plays a big part in the success of your trip. Here are some of the best options when you are travelling with family.

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A Villa

Staying in a luxury villa like those from Elegant Address can be a great option when you are travelling with kids. You’ll have everything you need close to hand, plenty of space, room for a car and perhaps even your own private pool. You can have a safe and enclosed holiday without worry. Villas also tend to have extra bedrooms, so you could take the grandparents along to help with babysitting.

Camping

Camping might not seem like the ideal choice when your children are young, but it could be perfect. Children love the excitement and adventure that camping brings. They relish getting stuck in and sleeping on the floor, and they’ll love exploring nature and eating around a campfire. As they get older, they might start to moan and ask to stay in luxury hotels so make the most of it while you can. We have just bought a folding camper and our first trip away with it is fast approaching. 

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A Package Holiday

If you are a bit of an adventurer yourself, the idea of a package holiday where everything is arranged, you stay in a hotel with other tourists and all your meals are provided might not sound too appealing. But, if you are travelling with children for the first time, it can be a great way to find your feet. There are usually kid’s clubs and plenty of activities to keep them occupied and you can always brave going out to explore the local area when you are ready.

A Cruise

A Cruise is probably the last thing that you’d think of. But, some cruises are catered with families in mind. There’s always plenty going on and lots to see, fantastic facilities and they are completely safe. It’s like having all of the benefits of a package holiday while getting to see a little more of the world.

Rusty Rivets Lab Playset GIVEAWAY (promotional)

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I have some exciting news for you all, one being a new series of Rusty Rivets is on its way and secondly we have a fabulous giveaway just in time!

I have been tasked to host a giveaway of The Rusty Rivets lab playset in Partnership with Nick Jr.

The new series of Rusty Rivets airs on tv from Monday 23rd April 2018! Never heard of it?? You can watch a clip here,

Rusty Rivets are from the creators of the well known Canine hero’s show; Paw Patrol and is just as gripping and fun as the six pups.

 

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Episode Synopsis:

In “Rusty’s Mobile Rivet Lab,” when Ranger Anna crash lands her planes in the distant savannah, Rusty and Ruby realise they need a new vehicle that can not only travel the distance but aid them in their builds. Thus, the Mobile Rivet Lab is born!

 

 

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Synopsis:

When there’s a job to do and stakes are high, ten-year-old Rusty Rivets – along with best bud Ruby – invents his way out of every jam by repurposing parts and objects into the wildest, coolest most awesome contraptions ever.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Here are the all important competition guidelines:

This giveaway is open to residents of the UK only

Entrants must be 18 or over at time of entry

No purchase necessary

There will be one winner

The winner will receive one Rusty Rivets Rivet Lab Playset worth £44.99

There is no cash alternative to the prize stated, the prize is not transferable and no part or parts of the prize may be substituted for other benefits, items or additions

The giveaway will open from Monday 9th until Monday 23rd April 2018 which is when the new series starts.

The winner will be drawn at random within 24 hours of the giveaway ending and notified by email. If the prize is not claimed within 28 days, another winner will be chosen

Invalid or incomplete entries will be disqualified

AdventureBrown accepts no responsibility for the delivery of this prize (the prize will be sent out direct from the Nickelodeon offices)

The Rusty Rivets Rivet Lab Playset prize will be delivered 30 days following notification of win.

 Get entering and make sure you have the new series of Rusty Rivets set to reminder!

Summit to eat, the perfect outdoor food

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How many times have you been camping, went on a hike, or even gone to a festival, and the food you take just isnt suitable or palatable once it comes to eating it? Or it just takes up far too much room in your bag?

I was recently approached by Summit to Eat to take a look at their dehydrated food. It got me excited as these are the types of things that appeal to me when I go out on photography trips, but even more so now as we have just bought a folding camper and plan to have many outdoor adventures.

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Me and my family have just been away to North Yorkshire for the weekend and I took a trip to Brimham Rocks one day for some photography. I never managed to get many decent images, but I enjoyed the walk and the time to sit and grab something to eat. I packed my mini stove, some water and my mini kettle and headed up into the stunning landscape. When I reached a nice location I stopped and set things up.

The good thing about these meals is it only needs 350ml of boiling water, so you dont really need to have a stove. A small flask with boiling water would suffice. Which would save more space when walking in your kit.

Everything i needed today easily went into my camera bag. Mind i cant say that would be the case if i had the two kiddies in tow, as i usually end up with nappies/wipes and everything in between.

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As you can see inside the bag is a line marked A – all you need to do is fill with boiling water up to the line, reseal the bag and wait 9 minutes, and there you have it, a perfectly cooked meal.

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What I loved about this product is it actual tastes like a home cooked meal, I can honestly say it was as if I had made a curry from scratch and then hoyed it in a bag to eat. It was very tasty indeed.

The Chicken Tikka had a nice spicy hit but wasn’t too hot, it was just right, it was packed full of flavour and could easily give you that energy boost needed to continue your walk.

They do different kits too, so for example if your planning a 2 day trip then you can buy a box that comes with everything you will need – breakfast, lunch and tea. They even do desserts. The flavours and recipes range from simple porridge oats to chicken curry or even salmon! There is even a chocolate mouse to satisfy any sweet tooths. Plenty of options to suit all.

If you have never used this type of product and think it may not be for you, then I would highly recommend trying them out. Maybe for your next long day out, camping, hiking, or even a festival. I would even go as far as saying I would use this as part of my picnics in the winter with the kids when were out all day and you want something hot to warm you up!

Day out at Birchfield Ice Cream Farm

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If your from North Yorkshire you may have heard of Birchfield Ice Cream, it is a family working farm that in recent years has grown to quite a attraction, but not yet that commercial where you avoid it like the plague!

We have been coming here for quite a few years now when we visit my parents in law caravan in Ripley and love each visit.  I thought it was about time I shared this little gem with others!

Every year they offer lots of different events throughout the season, but the two main events we always make sure we come along for is the Pumpkin Patch event in the October half term for Halloween and the Lambing Live over the Easter weekend.

At Halloween you can go down into the pumpkin patch and choose your own pumpkin and bring them up to be washed and then on into the barn to carve your pumpkin and feed the scraps to the pigs! (always a highlight) They also have other activities on in the background and everywhere is dressed for halloween. I have added a few photos of previous years below.

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The farm is located in Summerbridge, Harrogate and is a brilliant day out with the family all year round. When we arrived we paid in and in total it cost us £6 (2 adults and 1 child) then £2.50 to participate in the easter egg trail for Zach. Not a bad price for a family of four, Eli went free. Especially considering you can easily spend a good afternoon here and with the introduction of the new bigger cafe you can while away some time there too.

When we arrived today it was busy – but not so busy that it makes you not want to get out of the car and turnaround home. We went straight in to see the lambs and ewes in the barn. There was plenty of lambs, some older than others and Zach took the opportunity to sit and hold one on his knee with Steph. Eli absolutely loved it too and stretched his hand out to get a feel. Obviously going to be a big animal lover like his Mammy and brother. We then qued up to have a turn at feeding the lambs – which the farm does each day at 11am or 2pm through lambing season. I helped Zach out with this, normally I stay well clear of farm animals (im sh*t scared of them) but how scary can a small lamb be right?? Yeah I know what your thinking – big bloke and frightened of farm animals, how pathetic! Well dont judge, I may have a totally valid reason….but I dont!!! Im just an absolute wally that is terrified that they may bite me!!!! Hahahaha

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This year they also had chicks on show in one of the rooms off the cafe, alongside some of the incubators. Last time we gave Zach a chick to hold he was 18months old at the Yorkshire Show and he gripped it so hard I was petrified that the poor thing wouldn’t make it out alive! So needless to say I was holding my breath when he asked to pick one up, but he held it perfectly and proudly showed Eli him and telling him excitedly that he would grow into a hen soon!

We also took part in the easter egg hunt – wandering around the farm yard and grounds to find the gold egg boards with questions on to answer. Once you had collected all the answers – it was back to the bunnys burrow to pick up a special easter egg treat from the Easter bunny!

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To finish off the afternoon we headed into the cafe for an ice cream – the ice cream is made on the farm from the Jersey cows and is delicious! They always have some really different flavours on such a liquorice or jammy dodger! Zach plucked for chocolate (surprise surprise) I had praline and Steph had elderflower ripple! All in all another lovely few hours spent in the best way with the family.

If your local – go give it a try, even its just for an ice cream.

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#ChallengePhotography Linky

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Welcome to my #challengephotography Link up.

Gear I use:

Sony A6000
Sony 55-200mm
Samyang 85mm f1.4
Samyang 12mm f2
Velbon ultra Tripod 
Manfrotto 055 Tripod
Tripod head
Nisi V5 Pro
Lee 10 stop



This week you can post what ever theme you want, post a recent or past post you wish to share.

Next week will be a set theme, and the theme will be Water, I am fortunate enough to live 10 minute drive to my North East coast line which offer a vast amount of opportunity to get some amazing images. One good thing about living in the North East is we get some brilliant sunrise images. This theme can be anything you want, as long as it includes Water – whether that be river, lake, sea, the choice is yours.

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I took this image before I bough my filters, however i did use a cheap 3 stop I bought from eBay, just to help slow the shutter speed down a little. The settings I did use here was F16, I used this to help with the long exposure as well getting as much in focus as I could, This was shot at 24mm at 1.3 seconds, ISO100. Sometimes it is easy to shoot long exposures to long, I wanted it long enough to blur the water, But if I shot this at 30 seconds then the sky would have too much movement with the fast rising sun. So getting that balance is paramount. Not all images at the sea has to taken as a long exposure, and not all images has to be a seascape, maybe try and capture the waves with a long exposure, a portrait with the sea behind, seabirds, seaweed, water and rocks, the images you can get are endless at the sea.

Good luck and I look forward to seeing all your images.


 

Adventure Brown


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