Frankie and Benny’s new menu – June 2014

 

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Today (10th June 2014) sees the launch of Frankie and Benny’s new menu. I was really excited as my family and I got the chance to sample the new menu on Saturday. I love Frankie and Benny’s, and was only there last Monday with 2 of my friends. We love going there for great food and a girly gossip. This visit I took my husband and our 2 children who have been to Frankie and Benny’s LOTS and also love it.

We usually go to the Widnes branch, but this time we were heading to Warrington Gemini. We were seated quickly and we were handed our NEW menu’s and were told we were the only ones in the restaurant that had them. As we know the old menu inside out, we quickly spotted the new items and ordered. We also decided on a starter to share which was Double Dip Dough Balls. OH MY these were scrummy. Really light and fluffy and the 2 sauces you got with them were delicious. I was really surprised at how many you actually get. At £4.75 I think these are great value for a starter.

Double Dip Dough Balls

Double Dip Dough Balls

We ordered the following for our main courses

Chicken and Chorizo burger – Husband

Grilled Chicken Pitta - Me

Pulled Pork Pizza – Son

BBQ ribs – Daughter

New menu items Frankie and Benny's

New menu items Frankie and Benny’s

The starters were soon cleared away and we were tucking into our mains. I had swopped the chips with my Chicken pitta for a jacket potato. You also get the choice of 4 sauces to go on top of your chicken, and I opted for the chilli, garlic and lime. My meal was delicious, and as I am currently on Slimming World, this meal fitted in well (as long as you swop the chips) ! I went away having had a lovely meal and not feeling the ‘diet guilt’. Husband tried the Chicken and Chorizo burger and again he said this was delicious.

As son is nearly 12, gone are the days when I could feed him a kids meal. He opted for the pulled pork burger. I was really impressed with the amount of pork that was on the pizza. There is one new item on the kids menu which was the chicken pitta. My daughter did not fancy this and she opted for the BBQ ribs. This was a new choice for her, and she really enjoyed it. As you can see below, our plates were pretty empty by the time we had finished.

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Puddings were pancakes from the children’s menu (and WOW what a portion she got) and hubby and son opted for the new peanut cheesecake. I MAY have had a tiny teeny amount purely for tasting !!!! One word…… heaven.

Waffles from the children's menu

Waffles from the children’s menu

Peanut Cheesecake.... HEAVEN

Peanut Cheesecake…. HEAVEN

So overall we really enjoyed the new items on the menu. Frankie and Benny’s really does cater for everybody and they have a vast choice. We loved visiting the Warrington Gemini restaurant, and our server Chantelle was helpful and friendly. I am sure we will be back in the not so distant future, as I definitely have my eye on the new blackened steak skewers.

Also if you want to treat your Dad this Father’s Day, he will eat for FREE. He can choose from 2 courses from the specials menu which is a great excuse to head over to Frankie and Benny’s. (Term and Conditions apply)

Disclosure – we were given a £50.00 voucher to sample items from the new menu before it launched on the 10th June 2014.

Thank you Frankie and Benny’s    

 

Centerparcs Woburn Forest

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Centerparcs Woburn Forest

On Friday the 6th June 2014 Centerparcs will officially open its 5th holiday park in Woburn in Bedfordshire. I was one of the VERY LUCKY people who got the chance to visit Woburn on a trial break 2 weeks ago. I have to credit my best friend here, as she was the one who was offered a trial break, and invited me and my daughter to go with her. From the minute I got the text I was beyond excited. I LOVE Centerparcs and all it stands for, and have visited Whinfell over 10 times. But here I was getting the chance to go to Woburn before it opened. I have decided to review it as I am assuming there will not be many customer reviews online yet.

Woburn was really easy to find off the M1 (coming from the North) and its about 10 minutes away from the motorway. Check in was straight forward, and my daughter was given a bag of chocolate coins which I thought was a nice touch. I was given directions to our lodge, but as I had studied the map online for the past 2 weeks I knew exactly where our lodge would be. I could not believe we were actually at Woburn, and for the next 2 days I had to keep pinching myself.

The Lodges

Our accommodation was in an excellent location and we stayed in a 3 bedroom executive lodge, which was amazing. I loved the full wall picture of the forest in the living room. Each bedroom had an en suite, and the master bedroom also had a Jacuzzi bath. Outside there was a sauna, along with table and chairs for 6, and also a large BBQ. Also included in the executive lodges is maid service and also free wifi. We also had a blu ray player, and televisions in all bedrooms. The lodge was very well equipped and comfortable, though I felt they were a little smaller than the ones at Whinfell. There is a mixture of accommodation at Woburn. There are some fantastic 4 bedroom lodges dotted around the park, with some having balconies. As well as the lodges, you also have the hotel and also the Spa Suites.

3 Bedroom Exec Lodge

3 Bedroom Executive Lodge

 

Outside of Lodge 443 at Centerparcs Woburn

Outside of Lodge 443 at Centerparcs Woburn

The Plaza

This is where you will find most of the sports activities, the children’s club, pottery and craft rooms. There are also shops and eating places such as the Sports Bar, and outside you have a great play area. You will also find the Parc Market here. I loved The Plaza, especially sitting outside in the sunshine whilst the children played on the park. Further round from The Plaza is the hotel and also the Aqua Sana. We were given a tour round the spa and all I can say is WOW !!! The spa is over 2 floors, with an outside pool and sun loungers, and you can really tell Centerparcs has spent a lot of money creating a truly outstanding spa experience. I WILL have to return one day as it really did take your breath away.

Plaza at Centerparcs Woburn

The Swimming Pool

I was really looking forward to the swimming pool, and we spent a good few hours in there one evening. The changing rooms are very similar to Whinfell, and its good to have your accommodation wrist bands which act as your lodge key and also your locker key. You can also charge items to your wrist band when in the swimming pool. The pool has 2 areas for children. 1 for younger children and babies, and another section for older children. You also have the rapids which I loved. Whinfell do not have the rapids like the other parks do, so it was nice to hurtle down them. You also have several slides including the raft water slide which is similar to the one at Elvedon. Now I usually HATE water slides, but I went on and despite screaming the whole time, I LOVED it. Well if my 8 year old was going on, I suppose Mummy better had ! My friend had also hired a Cabana which are fantastic. I knew what to expect as we had hired one at Whinfell in January. There were around 6 cabanas at Woburn all in one area close to the changing rooms. We really enjoyed our time here, but felt it was missing an outside pool.

Swimming Pool at Centerparcs Woburn

Swimming Pool at Centerparcs Woburn

Eating places

There are many eating places at Woburn, and many of the restaurants you will find at other parks. We ate at The Pancake House which is overlooking the lake and beach area. We also dined at Hucks and also Dexters Kitchen when we were there. All the restaurants were fantastic with great service, and only wish we could have tried them all.

Pancake House and Dexters Kitchen Burger

Pancake House and Dexters Kitchen Burger

Activities

As with all Centerparcs there is a huge range of activities to book, and Woburn is no exception. Whilst we were there we did the pottery painting, which is in its own pottery studio in the Plaza. This was a great activity and the staff were very helpful. My daughter also had her hair braided, and the lady was fantastic and made my daughter feel very special. I also could not escape the Build a Bear type activity, and we came home with a purple unicorn !

Activities at Centerparcs Woburn

Activities at Centerparcs Woburn

 

 The pictures below are from walking around Woburn Forest

The Play Areas at Woburn

The Play Areas at Woburn

 

Area where the shops and restaurants are

The Village Square at Woburn

 

The amazing Aqua Sana at Centerparcs Woburn

The amazing Aqua Sana and hotel at Centerparcs Woburn

 

I truly had a wonderful time away and felt very lucky to have experienced Woburn on one of the trial breaks they were offering. I am a massive Centerparcs fan, and it was nice to visit another park other than Whinfell. I loved that Woburn has the village square, and there are more opportunities to sit out and have a meal in the sunshine. The spa looks amazing and I WILL be back to try it out. All the staff we came into contact with were very friendly and professional, and I wish them all the best of luck when Woburn opens up to the paying public. Thank you to Centerparcs for this wonderful opportunity, but more importantly a MASSIVE thank you to my best friend for inviting me. Woburn I will be back, and I am sure everyone who has booked will not be disappointed with this fantastic park.

If you would like any further information about our trip, please comment on this post or feel free to email me.

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The Rainforest Cafe london

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Following on from my post about our trip to London, I wanted to blog about the Rainforest Café in more detail. We went to the Rainforest Café when we were in Orlando a few years back and loved it. So when I was planning our trip to London, I just knew that a visit to Rainforest Café would be on the cards. I booked a table online a few weeks before as I knew it would be busy.

View from our table

View from our table

Rainforest Café is just around the corner from Piccadilly Circus tube stop. You enter into the shop and head towards the back where you book in. The actual restaurant is downstairs, and we were told to wait at the bar until we were called. After about a 3 minute wait we were introduced to our server and led to our table. I have to say I was really impressed with our table. We were right in front of the elephants which my daughter loved.  Though there were lots of funny moments when servers passed our table with new customers and introduced the ‘mummy and baby elephants’ and my son was convinced they were talking about me and his darling sister !

Gorgeous Lamb Shank

Gorgeous Lamb Shank

I had scrutinised the menu online at home, so I pretty much knew what I was having. I opted for the lamb shank, husband had a chicken sandwich and the children had a pizza and burger meal. The kids meals were priced at £12.50 (which included a main, pudding and a drink). Of course my 8 year old wanted an activity pack priced at £3.00. I figured it would be cheaper than the shop and I was pleasantly surprised with the contents. Good value for £3.00.

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The scrummy looking Volcano

All of our meals were extremely tasty, and there was not one bit of food left on the plate (well apart from my lamb shank bone). The children really wanted the ‘Volcano’ for pudding. Basically its a pudding to share which is covered in chocolate and cream. As I am on Slimming World I drooled at their pudding for around 10 minutes, and then tucked into my fruit salad. The fruit salad was from the kids menu, but as they were busy overdosing on chocolate I was happy to eat the fruit salad which was very nice (I say this through gritted teeth) !!! We have had the ‘Volcano’ in Orlando and the servers come out shouting and waving your pudding in the air for all to see. Thankfully this did not happen in London.

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The atmosphere is amazing in the restaurant. The elephants in front of us kept coming alive every so often. There is rainforest noises and even thunder and lightening. I had read reviews that it was very busy and very noisy but I have to say we did not find this. We actually enjoyed a lovely meal which was nice and chilled out. The service was very good with our server interacting well with our children.

Best Bar Stools !!!

Best Bar Stools !!!

Our meal came to just under £70.00. We would not normally pay this for a meal, but I think for a treat the Rainforest Café certainly ticks all of the boxes. You are definitely paying for the atmosphere which I think I loved just as much as the children. If you have a Merlin annual pass (which we do) you get 20% discount off your food. There is also a 12.5% service charge added to your bill. Next time we are in London, we would not hesitate to return to this fantastic restaurant.

The gift shop

The gift shop

 

 

 

 

Our trip to London 31.05.14

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Yesterday we went down to London for a day out with the kids. I booked the train tickets back in May (thanks to Virgin Trains sale) and paid £57.00 for the 4 of us return. This would be our third visit down to the capital, and my sons fourth visit as he went with school in April. The main reason we usually visit London is to go to the Merlin Attractions, thanks to our annual pass.

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Saturday morning was a VERY early start. We got up around 5.30am to ensure we were on the 7.00am train we had booked. Walking into the station I could not believe how busy it was !! Is this what normal people get up to when we are usually in bed at this hour on the weekend. Train journey was great, and in less than 2 hours we were pulling into London. We then purchased an all day tube ticket which cost £25.00 (children are free) and our first of many tube journeys began. The previous 2 times we have visited have been on a Sunday, and I must admit Saturday seemed so much busier. Thankfully the kids know the ‘tube etiquette’ getting on as fast as you can…. standing to the right on the escalators…. putting your ticket in quickly…. and no doubt many more that we are yet to learn !

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Our first stop was Madame Tuassards and we arrived at 9.30am. Could not believe the amount of people queuing even at this early time. We joined the Merlin Pass and Pre Booked queue, which to be honest was huge and took us about 25 minutes to get in. I like Madame Tuassards but it gets very busy, and taking pictures with the waxworks is tricky with the throngs of people. However we all enjoyed it, and the highlight is the Taxi Ride at the end and then the 4d Marvel Cinema which is excellent.

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Back out into the sunshine and back on another tube and onto the London Eye. Again we were met with half of London queuing for the Eye. We asked a member of staff where we go as we have passes, as last time we went straight on. Not this time as Merlin has changed the rules and he pointed at a queue which was around an hour long. Great…. so I spend over £300 on passes and Merlin expects me to wait in a huge queue for a ticket we do not need. The member of staff could sense my increasing anger, and what he did next went well beyond his job and I applaud him for this. Instead of saying well that is just how it is, he took us over to the very front of the London Eye queue and got us on the next capsule !!! I could have kissed him. What fantastic customer service. Merlin take note !!!

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After an enjoyable ride and lots of photos later, we were back on the ground and headed to the nearby park area where we had our picnic. It was lovely to sit down and enjoy the sunshine, and afterwards we had a wander around and watched the street entertainment by the South Bank. Husband and son then went to the London Dungeon, and me and daughter went back to the park.

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Soon it was 4pm and time for another tube journey over to the Rainforest Café. I was really excited about this. We have been to the Rainforest Café in Orlando and loved it. I am going to do a full review of our visit so will leave it there. After a wander around Piccadilly Circus, it was time for our final tube journey back to Euston in time for the 7.00pm train back home to the North.

Arrived home at 9.30pm and after a quick shower to wash the ‘tube grime’ away it was time for bed. What a great day we all had.

 

 

 

 

 

Go Ape Junior Course – Review

Go ApeOn Sunday, my children were given the great opportunity to visit the new Junior Course at Go Ape. Our local Go Ape is only 15 minutes away from us, in Delamere Forest in Cheshire. My son and husband had visited Go Ape last year, and they had a great time. This time my son and daughter went and tried out the new Junior Course which opened earlier this year. The Junior Course is aimed at children 6-12 years. However if your child is over 1 metre and under 6, they can still enjoy Go Ape, and just need an adult to do the course with them.

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You can book online and choose your time slot. We decided on 10.30am, and we got there at 10.15am as instructed. This gave us time to complete the forms, and the children were fitted with their safety harness. The Junior Course is different from the normal course, as in you are always attached. This means no unclipping as you move through the trees, which is better for younger children.

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The Junior Course is split into 3 loops, and at the end of each loop you can go down the zip wire and then climb back up the steps and complete another loop. The first loop is the easiest and then loops two and three get harder. My daughter preferred the first loop, and she stuck to that. My son however loved all of the loops, and he was soon zipping round high in the trees. You get an hour on the course, and both children were up there for the full hour. I thought my son might get bored doing the Junior course as he has done the adult course, but he really enjoyed it.

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I was surprised at how high the course was, but this did not seem to bother the children at all. My 8 year old was a little nervous at first as it was her first time. However, after a few shouts of encouragement from Mum and Dad on the ground, she soon become confident with the course. There were 3 members of staff supervising the Junior Course (2 on the ground and 1 in the trees) so it felt very safe at all times. The instructors were all polite and friendly, and took an interest in our children. At the end of the hour the children were presented with certificates, and we headed off to the café for a well deserved cake and drink.

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The children loved the Junior Course, and as parents it was good to see them grow in confidence up in the trees. We will definitely return in the near future.

Disclosure – The Junior course is priced at £17.00 each and I was given 2 free tickets for the purpose of this review. All words and thoughts are my own.

Sealife Centre – Manchester

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As we have Merlin cards, we decided to visit the Sealife Centre in Manchester last weekend, which is located at The Trafford Centre. We had visited it last year just after it had opened, and it was very busy. This visit was much quieter, and as such we were able to enjoy the different exhibits without getting herded along with the crowds.

We went on the Sunday morning and got there at 10.30am. The attraction opens at 10.00am and there was no queue to enter. When you first go in, there is the obligatory picture opportunity that you can purchase at the end in the shop. You then go into the first part of the attraction where a member of staff explains a little about the centre, and also talks about turtles. I found this was really good and even learnt something !! Who knew that the temperature of the sand determines what sex the turtles will be.

After the talk you are free to wander round at your own pace. There are further talks going on during the day, but we just enjoyed walking around by ourselves and looking at the fish. There is a small soft play area, which we stopped at for 10 minutes, but at 8 and 11 my two are getting too old for soft play now (gives a little cheer). At the end of the attraction, there was a craft area and a chance to make a badge which was free. You then of course exit into the shop.

Whilst this is quite a small Sealife centre, we enjoyed ourselves and the place was clean and the staff were friendly. We were probably in there for 90 minutes so it is not a full or even half day attraction. You can get a combined ticket to visit Legoland Discovery Centre which is next door but one, and this would make a great day out. We combined our visit with a look round the Trafford Centre and a meal.

If you planning on a visit, look out for bogof vouchers as these are readily available on the internet and through promotions in stores. As we have Merlin cards, we will definitely return.  Oh and look out for Ernie the giant turtle !!