Cinema Night at Chez Jules in Chester

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Chez Jules is a gorgeous French restaurant in the city of Chester, which opened in 1997. When I read that they had recently started doing ‘cinema nights’ I was intrigued. They have seen a gap in the market as Chester is without a cinema, and created there own unique evening, which happens once a month. The films all have a French connection, and when I saw that Leon would be the film of choice for April, I knew we had to book.

Leon at Chez Jules Cinema Night in Chester

Leon at Chez Jules Cinema Night in Chester

This was our first visit to Chez Jules. Friends of ours had been and said both the food and service were amazing. The restaurant is so beautiful from the outside, and the building used to house Chester’s Fire Station from 1911 to 1971. There was a lively and bustling atmosphere downstairs, and as we were booked in for the cinema evening we headed upstairs. We were seated at our front row table, but to be honest all seats were set out so everyone would have a good view of the screen.

For £20.00 each we got a glass of wine, a main course and a dessert plate or cheese board to share. Plus there was the showing of the film and popcorn was served during the screening. I chose the pan roast chicken breast and hubby the beef bourguignon. We opted for the cheese board for afters, but looking around and seeing the dessert plate we wish we would have gone for that.  Bread was also served when we were seated.

Bread to start

Bread to start

Pan roast chicken breast

Pan roast chicken breast

Beef bourguignon

Beef bourguignon

Cheese board to share

Cheese board to share

It is not our normal choice to eat at a French restaurant, but my word the food was amazing. It was all fresh and you could tell the highest quality ingredients had been used. Chez Jules pride themselves on having no freezers or fryers, just fresh food. We could not fault the service either. Our waitress was extremely attentive and friendly.

When the desserts had been cleared away it was time to start the film. Leon came out in 1994, and I remember watching it at the cinema. Its one of my all time favourite films, and it was great to be watching it again in a gorgeous restaurant after an incredible meal. During the film we were served popcorn, and if you wanted a drink you just had to raise a hand and a waiter would be over.

Popcorn during the film

Popcorn during the film

Cheers

Cheers

Our bill came to just under £50.00. We loved the whole evening and it is something we will definitely do again. The next screening is Amelie on the 14th May, however it is all booked up as the evenings are proving to be very popular.

Thank you to the manager at Chez Jules and all the hard working staff. We will definitely return to your gorgeous restaurant.

We paid for our meal and all thoughts and views are my own. Even though a little part of me wants to keep this place a secret, I feel its only fair to share our wonderful evening.

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Our Easter DIY

New bedroom for Katie

New bedroom for Katie

Over the Easter weekend we did the traditional task of DIY. Well when I say ‘we’ I mean husband did lots of sanding and painting, and I did the fun stuff of shopping for new things. This time it was daughters room to get a new image. We had last painted her room for her 3rd birthday, all pink and Disney Princess. But as she is now 9 it was time to give her room a more grown up feel. Katie has the small box room, and I did look at getting her a cabin bed. We even contemplated building a bed over the ‘block’ in her room, but in the end we have seen an Ikea bed which will be ideal. We just need to get this in the next few weeks. She has a Mamas and Papas wardrobe that we bought when I was pregnant with our eldest. Its quite a large wardrobe, but we decided to keep it as it goes well in the room. photo 1 (28) We bought her another Ikea storage unit which we put on the ‘block’.  Katie chose the colours for her room, and she decided on lilac and green after seeing a room painted like this in Next.  No new room is complete without new knick knacks which is my favourite part. I absolutely love the bunting I got yesterday from Home and Bargain for the excellent price of £1.99 ! Katie chose a lovely hanging picture which was only £2.99. The butterfly bedding was from Very at £12.00. I must say a huge thank you to Mummydaddyandmemakesthree for featuring these gorgeous House Shelves on her blog. Katie had chosen them for her daughters new room, and my Katie loved them. There were £18.00 which I think is really reasonable. We just need to find some more trinkets to put in them.

Ikea house shelves

Ikea house shelves

Along with buying a new bed, she needs to choose a new lampshade. I am trying to find a lovely lilac or green one with butterflies. We are also thinking of changing all our light bulbs to the new LED bulbs. These bulbs help in saving electricity which leads to lower bills, and you also get a better quality of light. This would work really well in our kitchen which is quite dark, and also our playroom. LED bulbs are also longer lasting. Whenever a bulb goes in our house, we then spend about 10 minutes searching for where we keep the new ones. The LED bulbs can last up to 30 years which is an incredible length of time. LED planet have a fantastic range of LED bulbs, and have really competitive prices on their website www.ledplanet.co.uk. I especially like the Rustic Gold bulb which would fit nicely with our bedroom.

Bulbs from LED Planet

Bulbs from LED Planet

Katie absolutely loves her new bedroom, and is another sign that she is growing up. I have to say a huge thank you to my hubby who worked hard on his painting skills over the Easter weekend.

Our stay at The Fergus Cala Blanca Hotel in Majorca

 

Fergus Cala Blanca Hotel in Santa Ponsa Majorca

Fergus Cala Blanca Hotel in Santa Ponsa Majorca

We have just returned from a fantastic 4 night break to Majorca during the Easter holidays. I booked both the flight and hotel with Monarch back in January, and we chose to stay at the Fergus Cala Blanca hotel in Santa Ponsa. I have been to Santa Ponsa a few times as my Dad and Step Mum used to live there, but it would be our first time as a family visiting Majorca.

We had a VERY early get up last Tuesday morning as our flight was at 6.00am. As is the tradition at the airport, we had a very early breakfast at Frankie and Bennys around 4.30am. Soon it was time to board the plane, and we actually took off 10 minutes early. We flew with Monarch last year when we went to Corfu, and again I was really impressed with the service from them.

We met my Dad at Palma airport, and it was around 30 minutes to get to Santa Ponsa. First impressions of the hotel were wow as we were met by a lovely gleaming white reception. As we arrived at the hotel around 11am we had to wait a few hours for our room to be ready. Once we were in our room, we quickly unpacked and headed to the restaurant for lunch. We were all inclusive, but the hotel also offers bed and breakfast and also half board options. We could not fault the service in the restaurant, and the choice at every meal was plentiful. We certainly got used to having a large glass of wine with our lunch and evening meal.

The restaurant at the Fergus Cala Blanca

The restaurant at the Fergus Cala Blanca

A very large gin and tonic

A very large gin and tonic

Part of the bar area

Part of the bar area

The rooms at the Cala Blanca are very spacious, and were perfect for us. We had a separate bedroom, and the children slept in the living room. There was a huge walk in room which was perfect for storing suitcases in. The balcony was the largest one we have seen, and the best bit was the bed. Perfect for siestas !

The separate bedroom at the Fergus Cala Blanca

The separate bedroom at the Fergus Cala Blanca

Huge walk in room for all your clothes and suitcases

Huge walk in room for all your clothes and suitcases

The balcony bed at the Fergus Cala Blanca

The balcony bed at the Fergus Cala Blanca

The hotel also has an entertainment programme, from pilates in the morning to shows in the evening. There is also a kids club which runs in the day at certain hours, but our 2 made friends really quickly, and they were happy to play/hang out with them. Our 2 loved the zip wire, the table tennis and the football pitch, and of course the hotels pony Pongus. This is where they spent the majority of their time with friends, whilst we enjoyed a very relaxing holiday.

The hotel zip wire

The hotel zip wire

Pongus the hotel pony

Pongus the hotel pony

The pool area is nice and there were plenty of people sunbathing. Daughter did brave the outdoor pool but it was very cold, but kids are kids and didn’t seem to bother them. The hotel also has a beach bar, and I believe you can see some stunning sunsets from there.

The pool area at the Fergus Cala Blanca

The pool area at the Fergus Cala Blanca

All in all we were very impressed with the hotel and we will certainly return. Its very clean and modern and the staff seem to work very hard in looking after the customers, especially in the restaurant. The only negative we had was not enough staff behind the bar. However this would not stop us from booking again, as the hotel had a very relaxed feel to it. The children made some lovely friends, as did we, and this certainly made our holiday. Happy kids = Happy parents.

Enjoying a gin in the hotel reception

Enjoying a gin in the hotel reception

Thank you to Fergus Hotels and also Monarch for making our holiday fantastic. I booked the flights and hotel separate (both through Monarch), and paid £920 for 2 adults and 2 children which was all inclusive. This was for 4 nights during the Easter holidays.

Apple Macs in the hotel reception

Apple Macs in the hotel reception

Beefeater Preston Brook in Runcorn

Entrance to the Beefeater Preston Brook

Entrance to the Beefeater Preston Brook

What better way to spend a Sunday evening than going to our local Beefeater for a family meal. We only live a minute away from our local one which is in Preston Brook in Runcorn. It was previously a Table Table, and since it changed to a Beefeater last year we have never been just the 4 of us.

We were booked in for 5pm, and were seated quickly. The Beefeater chain has been around for 40 years, and they specialise in burgers and steaks. Husband and son need no excuse to order a burger, and daughter ordered Mac and Cheese with a side dish of peas and crunchy vegetables. I like the kids meal selection as there is a good choice, and you also get a great Mr Men activity pack which kept daughter happy. I went for the nachos with steak which is a sharing  starter, but had it for my main meal.

Mr Men activity packs

Mr Men activity packs

The food came quickly but after a few mouthfuls I realised they had not put the steak on my nachos. This however was quickly rectified. All plates were cleared and the kids even had room for dessert.

Nachos with steak sharing platter

Nachos with steak sharing platter

Cheese and mushroom steak burger

Cheese and mushroom steak burger

Kids mac n cheese

Kids mac n cheese

The Beefeater has great service and food. If you are regulars at the chain, grab a Beefeater card where you can earn points. These can then be swapped for money off vouchers. Our bill came to just over £47.00. I do think this is a little on the pricey side considering we all had soft drinks. But for a special occasion we would return.

I was given £40.00 vouchers from Beefeater towards the cost of my meal. All views and words are my own. 

Gadget Show Live 2015

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The husband and tween are huge fans of the Gadget Show, and when they were given the chance to visit the Gadget Show Live they were beyond excited. The Gadget Show Live is held every year at the NEC in Birmingham, and promises to bring the television show to life. They caught the train to Birmingham International which is located at the NEC with the show just a short walk away.

What follows is what they saw, felt and experienced in their own words.

Upon entry we could not help but notice the vastness of the arena and the multitude of stalls and exhibitions. There were people of all ages there wandering around and taking in what was on show. We were instantly drawn to the bike race and decided that we were up for the challenge. After a few minutes of queuing we each were allocated an exercise bike that was linked to a large screen. All ten competing bikes were graphically represented, soon the race was on. Three…… two……. one ……..go and we were off. The faster we rode the bike the faster our avatar travelled within the race. Two laps later and after much panting the race was over. We did not win and we will not be entering the Tour de France in the near future based on our performance. (basically the husband was last) !

Interactive bikes at The Gadget Show Live

Interactive bikes at The Gadget Show Live

It was soon time for the live show with all the presenters  from the Gadget Show. We got there in plenty of time and were allocated good seats at the front of the stage. We were entertained by a flying drone that was also filming the crowd. A large screen above the stage also showed random audience members, our appearance was greeted by vigorous waving. Soon the lights went out and the show began.

Waiting for The Theatre Show to start

Waiting for The Theatre Show to start

And what a good show it was too with great audience participation and lots of chances to win prizes (sadly not by us). One person walked away with over £4000 worth of tech prizes, we were not jealous at all (honest…well just a little bit). The highlight for us was the appearance of a replica Back to the Future time machine car.

Replica Back to the Future car

Replica Back to the Future car

Next was a hands on history lesson of electronic gaming at the Centre of Computing History stand with consoles ranging from “Ping pong” from the 70’s to Amiga computers from the 90’s. Each was set up with a classic game like Crash Bandicoot or Lemmings. For one of us it was a trip down memory lane, for the other it was a glimpse into the dark ages ! This area was very popular with all ages, and seems to confirm the increasing interest of retro gaming.

Hands up who remembers Ping Pong ?

Hands up who remembers Ping Pong ?

Playing Crash Bandicoot

Playing Crash Bandicoot

A great hands on experience was the Robo Challenge arena where members of the public could build  robots, and let them battle it out in a purpose built arena. We managed to get booked onto a slot for the last session of the day. This was good fun and I would recommend booking on to this as soon as you can upon arrival. With screw drivers in hand we set about putting together our instrument of destruction, and soon we were ready for combat. My son volunteered to be the controller for the challenge and performed well, and soon dispatched the other robots like a professional.

Building the robot

Building the robot

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While there my son became a DJ, played the musical vegetables, ducked from a drone or two and battled 3-D zombies. We both had a great time and will be back again next year.

Anyone for musical vegetables ?

Anyone for musical vegetables ?

DJ Morgan

DJ Morgan

Time for a rest and some computer gaming !

Time for a rest and some computer gaming !

Huge Rubiks Cube

Huge Rubiks Cube

And here are some words from the tween. Remember he is 12 and a master of very few words.

I really enjoyed the experience of going to The Gadget Show Live with my Dad. My best bits were designing our robot, and also playing on all of the retro games. I just wish my Dad still had his PlayStation 1 so I could play on it. I was very jealous of the guy who won the £4000 worth of tech. How awesome would that be.

Currys have also teamed up with The Gadget Show and have some great videos and tech on their website below

http://www.currys.co.uk/gbuk/gifts-the-gadget-show-love-1443-commercial.html

Thank you to Currys and Joe Blogs Blogger Network for supplying 2 tickets for The Gadget Show Live and the Theatre Show. As you can see my husband and son had a fantastic time.

Download the app before you go to get the best out of your visit

Download the app before you go to get the best out of your visit

Craft Mine St Georges Hall Liverpool

Craft mine

Yesterday the children and I caught the train into Liverpool City Centre. We were heading to St Georges Hall for their very first Craft Mine event. Craft Mine is a maze of different activities and workshops, such as building your own optical illusion, creating an exploding volcano and playing on games such as Pac Man and Minecraft.

St Georges Hall is located opposite Lime Street Station. There are different sessions running throughout the day, and we were booked into the 12pm till 2pm session. The Craft Mine is located at the Heritage Centre entrance.  Once we were inside we were greeted by a lady who gave the children their cloth bags, which they could collect their creative items in to take home.  The Craft Mine is located in the Catacombs of St Georges Hall, which are very atmospheric. Even though it was a sunny day outside, the Catacombs are a little chilly, so I would pack a cardigan or jumper for the kids.

Armed with a map, daughter HAD to visit the Frozen Cave first. We were met by Elsa and daughter had the chance to decorate a Frozen castle. It was glitter galore in the room ! The tween headed off to the Games Area and immersed himself in playing Pac Man. He was pleased as he managed to get the highest score of the day. The next hour was spent exploring and daughter enjoyed the Caricature Cave and also building an exploding volcano. There is a small café which served drinks and snacks.

The event is open from the 7th – 11th April and then the 14th – 17th April 2015. The price is £10.00 per child and 1 adult goes free per three children. The age range is from 5-14 years. The tween is 12 and whilst he enjoyed playing Pac Man, he wasn’t interested in any of the other activities. However he is not arty, and I think it would suit up to 14 if you have an arty and creative tween/teen. That said he did enjoy seeing some of the creative works of art from his sister ! My 9 year daughter loved the event, and we went home with lots of things she had created.

Craft Mine at St Georges Hall in Liverpool

Craft Mine at St Georges Hall in Liverpool

Caricature drawing and building exploding volcanoes

Caricature drawing and building exploding volcanoes

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We had free entry into the Craft Mine for the purpose of this review. All words and views are my own.

Looking back at our Florida and Disneyworld trips

A princess meeting a princess !

A princess meeting a princess !

4 years ago today we went on our ‘once in a lifetime’ trip to Disneyworld in Florida. I still remember the excitement of that day. Our first trip to the magic had been years in the planning. 2011 had been chosen as we had been married for 10 years, and also hubby turned 40. The kids would be 5 and 8 which we thought would be a good age to visit Disney (though I do think ANY age is great to go there). We were going with my mum and step dad, my step sister, her husband and their son. So in total there were 9 of us. I was chief planner and I threw myself into the task from the word go. I believe planning is key when visiting Florida, and I love all the excitement and build up before you go. Here are some of my tips I have learnt from planning our ‘once in a lifetime’ trip, and not forgetting the other 2 trips we had in 2012 and 2013.

You will not do everything in one trip. We have been 3 times and there is still things we want to do. Sit down and write a list of your priorities and which parks you want to visit. The first year we did all of the Disney Parks and Universal. Second visit was Disney, SeaWorld and NASA. And our third visit we just did Disney.

In 2013 when we stayed at Disney Old Key West hotel

In 2013 when we stayed at Disney Old Key West hotel

Don’t discount staying in a Disney hotel. Many people think that Disney hotels are simply too expensive, but if you book when they have the free dining on they can be great value. On our third visit we stayed in Old Key West Hotel. We booked for 2 weeks and paid £2000 which included all of our meals (including character meals) for the 4 of us. This meant that we dined in the ‘actual’ castle which was included in our dining plan. You do have to pay tips, but we covered this cost with a $300 gift card we also got when we booked. The free dining is usually released around the start of April.

The amazing Disney food

The amazing Disney food

Knowing when to book your flights is also key. You will need to decide whether you want to fly direct or indirect. Indirect will be cheaper, but you have to weigh up the cost saving against hanging round airports or worse still rushing (with kids) to get your connection. Direct was the only option for me, basically because I hate taking off and landing. Virgin Atlantic and British Airways have sales throughout the year. For our last 2 visits we booked with Virgin Atlantic in the September sale, for flying the following May. Both years we paid just under £2000 for the 4 of us.

Shop around for tickets and I would personally get them before you travel. There are many ticket agents such as Attraction Tickets Direct  and FloridaTix who are great to deal with. You can also purchase Disney tickets at the Disney stores in the UK. If you are booking a Disney hotel combined with the free dining plan, you will have to order your Disney tickets at the time of booking. This is a condition of the deal, but to be honest last time we found Disney was offering the best price for their tickets.

Plan in some rest days. Florida is exhausting, with the walking and the heat combined. We tend to do 2 days of visiting parks and then a rest day. This seems to work well with us, and we can enjoy some down time in the hotel room or villa. This stops us from burning out towards the end of the holiday.

A tired princess back in 2013

A tired Princess back in 2013

Going back to our first trip it had been years in the planning. The photo below was taken about 2 hours after we had landed in Orlando. It was in Applebees which is your traditional American diner, and was about 2am UK time.

Our very first night in Orlando on 1st April 2011

Our very first night in Orlando on 1st April 2011

I still remember walking up Main Street in the Magic Kingdom and seeing THE CASTLE for the very first time. I was really emotional as I thought ‘wow we are really here’. Its funny as I don’t really feel I am there until I see the castle.

Our very first picture in front of the castle in 2011

Our very first picture in front of the castle in 2011

We hope to visit Florida again (hopefully next year) and I know next time we visit it will give us a different experience. That’s the beauty about this magical place. Any age is the best time to visit. I just really wish it was 4 years ago. I would be somewhere over the Atlantic, instead of sat here watching the rain pouring down. At least I have our wonderful memories of our 3 trips to treasure forever.

One of my favourite pictures from our last visit in 2013

One of my favourite pictures from our last visit in 2013