Saturday, 3 August 2019

Harts Barn Cookery School - Family Cooking Session

We've just got home from a really fun day at the Harts Barn Cookery School. 

We booked a family session for 4 hours where us and other families would be cooking a 3 course meal. 

It was great fun from start to finish.  The lady running it was really friendly and nothing was too much trouble.

We made a watercress soup for starters with flatbreads.  I was dubious about the soup as I'm definitely a tomato soup person but it was delicious.  The flatbreads were great and so simple to make.  Our main course was frittata; we did a veggie one and a meat one to please everyone.  Unfortunately these went wrong and to be honest were awful.  Libby did a mean salad though.  Desserts was meringues which we made and we could decorate how we wanted.  I have to say ours which were a bit of a play on a strawberry shortcake were divine. 

The whole day went really well.  The booking was simple and easy, the teacher was lovely, the lady doing the tidying was helpful and the facilities were lovely (apart from the blow torch which broke oops).  The setting of the cookery school is lovely in the heart of the Forest of Dean and due to lovely weather we ate everything outside.

I cannot recommend this highly enough and we will be back.

Stroud Outdoor Swimming Pool

Bit of a quick visit to this one. 

It was during the very very hot weather and we were desperate for a cool down.  We had to choose between Stroud (our closest) or Cheltenham (quite a bit further away and in the centre of town).  Time and ease lead us to Stroud.

The pool itself is large with an extra toddler pool.  When we arrived the main pool was sectioned off and it looked like only 2 small sections were usable.  The rest was closed.  The toddler pool was also closed.

The water was cool which was our reason to be there but overall its a very run down facility that either needs updating or replacing.  A real shame as outdoor pools are few and far between and this one could be really good if some money was spent on it.

Friday, 2 August 2019

Woolacombe Bay Beach Area

Last minute decision to have a day at the beach and what a fabulous beach we chose.

Its quite a drive from home but after 2hr 45minutes we arrived.  The beach is absolutely lovely but the sea was a long way out. We were dry before we reached our towels after the walk up from the water!  We made the walk several times and felt it the next day.

We set ourselves up and went down to the water.  Libby had a new boogie board and was determined to try it out.  She had lots of fun and many hours in the waves and we thoroughly enjoyed the whole atmosphere.

The beach was crowded but it was a sunny day in the school holidays so I wouldn't expect anything else.  Not sure what the facilities are like as we took everything with us.  There seemed to be a steady flow of people coming past with hot food and drinks so I assume there were several place.

It really is an old fashioned British seaside at its best without all the cheesy stuff.  We shall definitely be back.

Saturday, 27 July 2019

National Justice Museum - Nottingham

A break visiting family included a trip to the National Justice Museum in Nottingham. 

As someone who is interested in all things crime (other than committing it of course!) I was very intrigued and definitely looking forward to this trip.

We booked our group ticket on line and when we arrived we were given our wristbands with our 'convict number' on them.  The numbers corresponded to different information around the museum which would tell you what your crime was, what sentence you were given etc.  The idea was that everyone in the group got a different number unfortunately several of ours were duplicated which was a little disappointing.  We did discover that overall we were a sorry bunch of pickpocketers, silk stocking smugglers etc not a murderer in sight!

The museum is actually the old court house and is really interesting.  There's a mock Witch Trial with actors that you can attend which was at best is a bit silly but not really worth the time it took to watch.  There's also a 'hanging' you can attend but again it's a little disappointing.  Other than that the museum is great.  Lots and lots of facts.  Lots of interesting exhibits and the ship taking convicts to Australia is done very well.  You can read a diary of several different characters as they embark on their new life.  It's really worth taking the time to read each of their diary entries.

The café is basic but really good.  They were very helpful and made something to order that wasn't on the menu with no complaints and lots of friendly chat.

There's an exhibit at the entrance which you can see for free which covers different areas of crime detection; DNA, fingerprinting etc. and is really good.

Overall a good place to visit and one I would recommend for all ages. 

Sunday, 21 July 2019

Symonds Yat Day Trip

On the first Sunday of the school summer holidays we decided to take advantage of the lovely weather and go for a trip to Symonds Yat.  It really is an area of natural beauty and is absolutely stunning.

We parked in the main car park and decided to go for a walk along the river.  There's a path that runs alongside the river past the hotels and tea rooms that is easily accessible.  We only walked for a while as we wanted to go for a boat trip and needed to keep an eye on the times.  Our walk took us past a tree swing that someone had kindly left behind and Libby had great fun swinging out over the water.
Symonds Yat Rope Swing
When it was time for the boat trip we made our way back to the main tourist area and boarded 'The Kingfisher' which was a 40 minute cruise along the River Wye with commentary.  This was lovely and breezy on such a warm day so we all enjoyed the cool air.  There are refreshments available on board and its really very reasonably priced.  The commentary is a little dated with lots and lots and LOTS about salmon fishing but the trip is still worth it.

After the boat trip we went up to the viewing point (I have to confess we drove up as it was so hot) stopping for a bite to eat at the café at the top.  We were very impressed by the quantity of choices offered for vegetarians and the food in general was lovely.

The view from the top is amazing and you can see right across the Wye Valley with the river running below.  We stood for ages watching the view and taking it all in and for any Harry Potter fans this is where some of the scenes The Deathly Hallows were filmed.
Symonds Yat View Point
Wye Valley

Saturday, 22 June 2019

Whipsnade Safari Park Sunset Session

A trip to our favourite safari park was made even more special by attending the Sunset session at Whipsnade Safari Park.

We arrived just before 6 and after a short queue we parked up and made our way to the entrance.  Whilst there were a lot of people milling around it didn't seem crowded at all.

Once we were booked in everyone dispersed to different parts of the park.  We made our way to the chimpanzees who unfortunately didn't make an appearance so we set off in search of brown bears and weren't disappointed.  They were out and very playful.  This seemed to be the theme for most of the animals.  The lion enclosure is fabulous and we got to see the pack up close, personal and very active. 
Daddy and daughter time at Whipsnade Wildlife Park

Next we made our way to the tigers who were very active and playful tumbling about with each other.  Each animal we visited was active and it was a pleasure to witness them at a different time of day than normal.

There were refreshment kiosks all round the park serving light refreshments but unfortunately we chose the wrong way when entering the park and completely missed the enormous food court serving lots of different types of hot food in trucks - oops!

We had pre booked and paid for a behind the scenes elephant care tour.  It was really educational and informative.  The keeper was really friendly and explained lots of unusual details.  Who knew that elephants on average sleep only 4 hours in a 24 hour period - not us!  We got to see the way care has changed over the decades and the latest most modern building in use.  Of course we got to see the elephants up close as well especially the youngest 'Sam' who was adorable and very playful.
Sam the elephant
We managed a trip round on the steam train which was fun even though I've been riding that train for 40 years.  Lots of information from the driver.  This is an extra cost as well but only a few pounds.

The evening session is only 4 hours so is a bit of a whistle stop tour but we shall definitely be returning next year although we'll probably book to stay somewhere overnight as we didn't arrive back in Gloucester until the small hours with a very fast asleep 10 year old mind you we slept pretty well that night.

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Northern Cities Cruise Royal Caribbean 2019

We've been on several cruises before but by far my favourite was to Norway and the Fjords.  This time we chose to visit the Norwegian capital Oslo and several other major northern cities of Europe.

Independence of the Seas Promenade
We went on our favourite ship Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas.  We love everything about this ship and my favourite place is the cantilever spa pools - one on either side of the ship.  It's a great place to view everything and an added bonus that no children are allowed.

Libby our daughter was finally (after years of waiting) tall enough to try the flowrider.  We booked a group lesson for early on the first morning so she could try it out without large numbers of people watching.  Unfortunately after arriving and waiting for over 40 minutes no one turned up.  She was very disappointed but the staff admitted they had completely forgotten so arranged another lesson just for her and her dad the next day.  It was fabulous.  The 2 instructors were really good fun and by the end of the session she was doing great.  It was used many times over the week and she gained quite a reputation amongst the hardened surfer men who cheered her on and were great with her.  I on the other hand chose to do the recording and photographs.
Libby surfing on the Flowrider
Our dining choice was to sit at a table with another family.  This can sometimes work and be fun or you can get seated with people who are total opposites.  This time we were lucky and enjoyed a week with a lovely mum and her son.  We had lots of laughs with both them and the dining room staff who were as always absolutely fabulous going above and beyond to help and make it very special.  I celebrated my birthday on board and our table was treated to a specially made dinner that happened to be my favourites (I had mentioned this to one of the waiters earlier in the week) - well done Royal Caribbean.

We did a cupcake decorating class which again was great fun and enjoyed by all.  Unfortunately, my husband turned out to be the most creative and his stiletto cupcake design was stunning - we'll never live it down.
Jonathan's masterpiece!
Why did it have to be so good?
As for the cities we visited; Oslo, Hamburg and Brugee they were all lovely.  Oslo was stunning with lots to do and very friendly people who couldn't do enough to help.  If you get the chance visit Vigeland Sculpture Park as its quite something to see.  Hamburg was a little functional but still a lovely place to visit, the departure was beautiful and we got lots of waving from people on the banks. The lake in the centre of the city is beautiful and surrounded by stunning houses and different embassies.  Brugee was, as always, gorgeous.  A stunning historical city with lovely waterways, medieval buildings and lots and lots of chocolate shops.  Libby's favourite was obviously Brugee and she shopped til she dropped - it took us many weeks to eat all the chocolate she bought (a difficult job but someone had to do it).

Vigeland Sculpture Park, Oslo
We had a lovely week and cannot wait to return.  I truly feel as though I left a little piece of my heart in Norway and maybe someday this is where I'll end up.