Valley Mill Handmade Soaps – Review

I was recently asked to review some handmade soap from Valley Mill. They offer a wide range of natural products such as soap, soy candles and gorgeous Welsh slate products. You can order from their website or visit the shop which is based in Neath, South Wales. Funnily enough this is where my husband is from, and his parents and sister still live in Neath. I will definitely be taking a visit to the shop next time we head down to South Wales.

photo 1 (79)

I received 2 soap products, which arrived beautifully packaged. Everything about the packaging felt natural whilst still retaining a luxury feel to it. As soon as I opened the box, I was met with the most wonderful fragrance. We had been sent the Bergamot and Basil and also the Tea-Tree and Witch Hazel soaps.

photo 2 (80)

As my son was suffering with the usual teenage spots, I gave him the Tea-Tree soap to try. After using it for a few days, I noticed his spots had actually started to disappear and his complexion was clearer. He said the soap felt nice on his face, and he has been using it daily since I received it. I will definitely buy him some more instead of his usual face wash. With it being 100% natural and hand made, I know its going to be kinder to his teenage skin.

photo 3 (53)

photo 4 (43)

This left the Bergamot and Basil bar for me to try out. I loved the smell of the soap, which I thought had a liquorice smell to it. The soap lathered up quickly and the smell really lingered on your hands after using it.

photo (39)

I use liquid hand soap but I will definitely be switching to Valley Mill soaps from now on. They are priced at £4.00 which I think is good value considering they are natural and hand made.

photo 5 (37)

Thank you to Valley Mill for supplying me with 2 bars of soap. All words and opinions are my own.

Tried and Tested

Auchenlarie Holiday Park in Scotland

Late on Sunday we returned home from our 3rd and final adventure of the summer holidays. We had been up to Scotland for our 4th visit to Auchenlarie Holiday Park, which is in Dumfries and Galloway. Whilst we love to holiday in different places, Auchenlarie is somewhere we have never tired of visiting. The kids love it there as much as we do, and here is why

The Seaview

The site slopes down to the sea which means that virtually every caravan or lodge will have a Seaview. I find it so relaxing gazing out to sea with a coffee/wine in hand.  Here is the view from our decking

photo 3 (52)

The accommodation

As with most holiday parks, Auchenlarie has a wide range of accommodation.  On previous occasions we have stayed in a standard caravan, even snapping up 4 nights during Easter for £69.00. This year we stayed in the park lodge, which was virtually brand new. It had 3 bedrooms, a huge ensuite and a fireplace I could look at all day. The price was £575.oo for the full week, which for the quality of the lodge was fantastic value. One thing I love is that ALL of the accommodation comes complete with decking, even the standard caravans.

photo 4 (42)

photo 1 (75)

photo 1 (76)

photo 2 (77)

Private Beach

Whilst it is quite a steep slope getting down to it, it is worth the trip to the private beach. We enjoyed many hours on the beach, playing football, climbing on the rocks, paddling in the sea and having picnics. It was never busy, and one time we even had the whole beach to ourselves. Pure bliss.

Beach

photo 1 (77)

photo 2 (78)

Facilities on site

There is a small pool, arcade, restaurant, take away, sports bar, crazy golf, shop, and play areas dotted around the site. You have to book a session in the pool, and they also have pool parties twice a week. There is an additional charge of £2.oo per person, but this was well worth it as the kids had a great time. We enjoyed the take away one evening back in the lodge, which was good value and tasted fresh.

Entertainment

There is a modern entertainment suite which usually opens at 7.30pm. You need to purchase entertainment passes, which are around £30.00 for 2 adults and 2 children for the full week. There is a good mix of entertainment in the evening, and there is always a good atmosphere in there.  They also have activities running during the day. My daughter went to Build a Bear, daytime karaoke and we did the family quiz (which we won whoop).

Katie with the bunny she made

photo (37)

This is the balloon Katie won when we visited in 2014. Oh the fun we had getting it in the car

IMG-20140410-00443

The local area

There really is lots to do in the local area, and even though we have visited 4 times we are still finding new places to go to. Some of our favourites are Cream o Galloway (ice cream farm and adventure park), Laggan outdoor activity centre and the chocolate factory. And whilst you are driving to nearby places, sit back and enjoy the stunning Scottish scenery.

photo 2 (79)

Would we return for a 5th time ?

Before we went, I honestly thought this would be our last visit. But sitting on the decking with the sun shining down (a rare miracle in Scotland), I felt sad with the prospect of not returning again. The park has such a nice atmosphere, and the staff have always been so helpful and friendly. Its a safe site and the children are getting to the age where they can go off and explore by themselves. The children are already asking to go back next year, so I am sure they will twist my arm. Though where holidays are concerned, my arm needs no twisting. See you next year Auchenlarie for our 5th visit.

Linking up with mytravelmonkey and packingmysuitcase for Monday Escapes

Monday escapes

Ravensburger Puzzle Review – Happy Days Tenby

photo 1 (73)

Ravensburger recently sent me one of their puzzles to review. It has been about 12 years since I last tackled a puzzle with more than 50 pieces and didn’t have a Disney Princess on it. This puzzle was a huge 1000 pieces and was entitled ‘Happy Days Tenby’.

The puzzle is part of the Happy Days series from Ravensburger, and the painting of Tenby’s famous harbour is by artist Kevin Walsh. I love the picture as there is so much detail and colour to it. Which is a good thing when you are tackling a puzzle.

First thing we had to decide was where to actually do the puzzle. I didn’t really want to do it on the dining room table, so we borrowed a large folding table from my mum. I must admit it was the perfect size, and meant we could tackle the puzzle from the comfort of the sofa.

photo 2 (74)

On opening the box the actual pieces are contained in a sealed bag. There is also a leaflet giving some information on the artist, plus an additional picture of the scene. This is a must when 2 people are tackling the puzzle together. Upon realising the enormity of the challenge, I quickly set to work. Obviously I started with the outer pieces, and then worked on the different colour houses, boats and then the hardest bits which were the sky and the sea.

photo 3 (51)

The puzzle was well crafted, and thankfully all 1000 pieces were there. I started on the Thursday evening and the final piece was put in on Monday morning. Husband actually thought it would take me weeks to finish it, but I proved him wrong and did it in a few days. Despite not touching a puzzle for all those years, I really enjoyed doing it. I found it relaxing, and kept my hands busy in the evenings. Which is a good thing because if your hands are busy they keep out of the biscuit tin ! And above all a sense of achievement. A sense of achievement that the whole family shared, as husband and the kids got involved too.

photo 1 (74)

photo 2 (75)

photo 5 (35)

I will definitely not leave it another 12 years before tackling another puzzle. Thank you to Ravensburger for supplying the puzzle for the purpose of this review.

Tried and Tested

My Sunday Photo 16th August 2015

photo (36)

This picture was taken on Thursday whilst we were on holiday in Scotland.

Its the day our son turned 13 (eek a teenager) and he wanted to try his hand at clay pigeon shooting.

I love that he likes to try different activities and tries his hardest in everything he does.

And he thrashed his dad 10-6 in shooting the clays.

Well done son.

Sunday photo

TGI Fridays New Menu

photo 1 (72)

Last week we were invited to our local TGI Fridays to try out their new menu. This is their biggest revamp in 8 years, and we were certain that TGI Fridays would wow us with their amazing flavours they are famous for. We had visited our local restaurant a few months ago with the children, and you can read our review here. But this time it was just me and the husband, and we were both looking forward to a night out.

Even though the restaurant was busy, we were seated within 10 minutes and handed the new menus. Husband had decided he was going to take on the new Warrior Burger. A whopping 2 x 7oz burgers, mozzarella dippers, cheese, bacon and onions, all served with chips and onion rings. I went for the 3 Little Pigs. A hot sandwich filled with Jack Daniels pork belly, BBQ pulled pork and bacon, served with chips and honey mustard mayo.

TGI Fridays new Warrior Burger

TGI Fridays new Warrior Burger

photo 4 (39)

3 Little Pigs Sandwich on the new TGI Fridays menu

3 Little Pigs Sandwich on the new TGI Fridays menu

photo 1 (71)

For starters we went for the Jack Daniels bucket of bones to share. A huge pot filled with ribs and chicken wings covered in Jack Daniels glaze. Other new menu choices included

Smoked Tomato Bruschetta

BBQ Smokey Joe Hot Dog

Jack Daniels Pork Belly

Boneless Hot Wings

Crispy Tostada Stack

Double Layered Nachos

Roasted Veg Pasta

Plus a great new range of hot dogs which have been inspired by New York’s best street food.

Bucket of Bones on the new TGI Fridays menu

Bucket of Bones on the new TGI Fridays menu

photo 3 (50)

I was really pleased that the Jack Daniels range had been extended. Being a lover of Jack Daniels, the flavour and taste when used in food is incredible. I loved the way our Bucket of Bones was presented, allowing us to keep the lid on to prevent the food from getting cold. A little tip is to give the pot a good stir as most of the Jack Daniels glaze had settled at the bottom. But oh my the ribs and chicken were so good, and the perfect size portion to share.

Husband suitably ‘met his match’ with the Warrior Burger. TGI Fridays are inviting customers to share their pictures on social media using #meetyourmatch which is a great idea. If only to see who else can manage to polish off the huge Warrior Burger (how my husband never puts weight on I will never know). My 3 Little Pigs sandwich was delicious. The pork was really tender, and the mixture of flavours with the Jack Daniels glaze worked really well. I too met my match with the 3 Little Pigs. Unfortunately there was no room for dessert, and as usual we left feeling like we didn’t need to eat for a week.

Husband met his match and polished off the new Warrior Burger

Husband met his match and polished off the new Warrior Burger

Yet again we had a lovely evening. TGI Fridays has such a fun and vibrant atmosphere, and its a place where couples, families and groups of friends can enjoy a great evening together. I have to say a special mention to our server Ryan at the Cheshire Oaks restaurant. He usually works behind the bar, but on the night we visited he was serving. He was very knowledgeable, attentive and built a great rapport with the customers. Thank you Ryan for adding to our evening, we will definitely be back, and we can thoroughly recommend the new menu.

We were invited to TGI Fridays to review their new menu. All words and thoughts are my own.

Luxury Glamping with added Hot Tub

photo 1 (69)

Last weekend we headed off for our 2nd adventure of the summer holidays. Well when I say headed off, I mean we got in the car and drove for 10 minutes. Which is actually a good thing as the teen had ONE job to do…. bring his bag. Guess what he forgot ? We may have only stayed local, but our one night glamping certainly recharged our batteries. We started camping around 6 years ago, and over time our camping trips have taken a more luxurious turn. No more hushed arguments with the husband as we battle with the tent in the wind and rain (I swear I have never returned to Anglesey after THAT trip).

Glamping pods do differ in what they offer you. Some pods will just be the shell, and you have to bring your own camping beds. Others will be kitted out with sofa beds, and the one we stayed in had a double bed. Yes a proper bed. The pods housed 4 and the children slept on single fold out futon style beds. We also had a small fridge (just enough space for that all important bottle of wine), a kettle, plenty of sockets, storage space and a TV and DVD. And the best bit was on the decking….

photo 1 (70)

You don’t get many glamping pods that come with your own personal hot tub, and Lady Heyes Caravan Park has 9 pods ALL with hot tubs. The site is on the outskirts of Frodsham in Cheshire, and there is so much to do in the area. But if you just want to get away for some relaxation, you don’t even have to leave the site.

The pods are set around a small grassy area with a picnic table you can use in the middle. Each pod does come with a small table and 2 chairs, and we also took our own camping chairs. There is also a fantastic fire pit on the decking, and we had great fun toasting marshmallows. There are 2 shower rooms that the pods share that are literally seconds away.

photo 3 (47)

photo 5 (31)

photo 4 (37)

We have been to Lady Heyes with our tent before, and even camped on the very first weekend the site opened. But this was our first time in the pods. We paid £110.00 for a Sunday night, which considering you have the hot tub, is good value. There was a good mixture of families and couples staying, and the site overall had a nice, relaxed feel to it. The manager of the site Alex is so helpful, and works really hard in making Lady Heyes Campsite such a success.

Would we return ? Yes. We had a lovely stay and it just goes to show you don’t always have to travel too far away from home to have an adventure.

photo 2 (71)

This was the view from our decking at night

This was the view from our decking at night

Coombe Mill