A Family Like Us

Saturday, 20 April 2019


Time to relax


Aria Resorts -Retallack Resort and Spa - our time to relax Easter break!


After the crazy start to our year, the Easter break really couldn’t come around quickly enough! We spent most of February and March in and out of the Evelina London with our middle son and were all totally and utterly exhausted, we then stumbled across the web site for Aria resorts and found they had a site in Cornwall, Cornwall holds a very special place in both Neil and my hearts. Just to have some time out – to just be a family and slow down. Life really is always so busy and dedicating time to each other can be really tricky. The laid back vibe and beauty of Cornwall makes this the perfect place! 

A few clicks later we had booked for the first week of the Easter holidays staying in a Premium Lodge 4, pet, (We couldn’t go to Cornwall without Lainey could we?)

We arrived bright and early on the Saturday morning as left sunny old Surrey at about 5am, I know many of you will think we are mad, but there is method to our madness, it just means we get past Stonehenge and well on our way before the traffic starts to build. When we arrived in Cornwall we headed to Padstow as we knew it wasn’t far from Retallack and meant we could have a little wander around the most picturesque harbour town, grab some lovely food and have a wander on the beach. 

We headed over to Retallack at about 1pm, we knew we couldn’t access our property until 4pm as had received a call on the Friday night from the reception team wishing us a safe journey and giving us arrival details, (nice touch!) We thought we would arrive and have a nose about, but actually we were pleasantly surprised to be told out accommodation was ready, and we could go straight over. 

Top 5 things - Retallack Resort 

1.    Accommodation – fantastic standard, clean, modern and spacious.
2.    Private hot tub – We all enjoyed it so much!
3.    Flow Rider – The smiles said it all.
4.    Aqua park and its atmosphere.
5.    Location – easy to get to so many beautiful beaches

View from the first floor balcony
Hot tub!


The accommodation is a two story, 4 bedroom lodge, it consisted of two bedrooms on the first floor, one large double with en-suite shower room and one large twin with an en-suite whirlpool bathroom with a separate shower as well, the second rooms was a really good size and we didn’t need it but there was a travel cot in the wardrobe should you need it and plenty of space to use it (how annoying is it when they say space for a travel cot and there really isn’t?)  



The bedrooms upstairs were both tastefully decorated with pretty paintings representing the Cornish coast and wildlife. Each room had a lovely wooden wardrobe, chest of draws and bedside tables so plenty of room for everything
Twin Room
Huge Upstairs lounge



The first floor also had the most amazing,      absolutely huge lounge. I am not exaggerating, it was massive! Ours had two four-seater sofas, a large tv, a fabulous table football that the boys loved, and its crowning glory was an amazing balcony overlooking the fishing lake and the views of the rolling Cornish Countryside beyond. 




The ground floor had wooden flooring throughout and two more bedrooms, again one large double bedroom and a twin, these had use of an incredibly generous wet room. The hallway in from the front door leads past the bedrooms and wet room and small utility room with washer dryer, (as a mum of boys this was a life saver!) high chair into an open plan living, dining and kitchen area. Another two sofas and large tv to one and dining table (seating at-least 8) and kitchen to the other.

 The kitchen was perfectly equipped with everything you could need to cook along with children’s crockery. The open plan living area has huge sliding doors opening onto a lovely deck area overlooking the lake and with the most inviting and relaxing hot tub! The boys were straight in, followed by Neil and I about ten minutes later, the perfect way to relax. 

We had pre ordered a food delivery to save on the hassle of having to go shopping for essentials such as prosecco!

Retallack has a huge water sports lake with an array of activities, from wakeboarding, inflatable aqua park, zorbs and doughnuts, so many to choose from. The weather was great while we were there and spring was definitely in the air but we just didn’t get a chance to use these on this visit, we did hang out at the beach area for a while and enjoyed relaxing while listening to a DJ playing to chill out tunes from a converted camper van. The relaxed Cornish vibe is definitely present here, the staff are super friendly, and we really enjoyed a drink and sometime soaking up the atmosphere in the beach bar. 

The boys loved the pool area and we visited most days, its clean and well maintained with a steam and sauna area. We were excited to read the plans they have for a huge water leisure complex (think Centre Parcs swimming pools) and really think this makes sense, the pool is nice, but the large leisure complex really does look amazing! 

There is also a spa on site – but unfortunately it didn’t seem to be open every day and the list of treatments was quite small, I do wonder if its because the are undergoing re development and that this may change in the future? Neil and I would have loved some time out in a spa. 

The boys LOVED the flow rider! The flow rider is a surf simulator and all three of the boys were able to have a go, which Jack was over the moon about as he is normally to small but it appears he is now tall enough to join in with the big boys! The team at the flow rider couldn’t have been more helpful, from booking, arriving for the activity and taking part they really cared. They took time to teach the boys what to do, made them feel safe and helped there confidence grow. It was incredible to see all of the boys smiles, we highly recommend having a go – I have vowed to have a go myself if we return! 


Food wise the lookout restaurant above the pool serves drinks, cakes lunch and evening meals. The coffee was excellent and the afternoon coffee and homemade cake for £3.95 a bargain.  We ate one evening meal in the restaurant, the food was ok, however we were told it has been better and that they are going through chef changes at the moment and they will potentially be re locating the restaurant once the leisure complex is complete – A new fresh, up and coming Cornish Chef would be a brilliant touch here and we all know Cornish fish and fresh food is amazing! 


There are also loads of activities for the kids but we just didn’t get to try them, we will definaltey try if we return, Jack was keen to take part in animal encounter, Harry fancied archery and Ewan laser tag. The list was extensive, with something for everyone but they did seem to book up quickly so might be worth doing some pre planning and booking before you arrive. 

The location of Retallack is fantastic with easy access to both Padstow and Newquay and the numerous little hidden gems in the area. 

We really did have a lovely stay, the accommodation was incredible, the hot tub was such a welcome sight every day and knowing the staff checked it daily gave us that extra reassurance. We highly recommend as the perfect place for family time or time to relax with a group of friends. It won't disappoint! 
This wasn't a gift or a paid trip - just an honest family review! 

web site link - https://www.ariaresorts.co.uk/?_ga=2.251072069.2140352198.1555768567-10541483.1555768567






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Wednesday, 23 January 2019

So how is it going??

Well here we are.. tonight is episode three of Tom Kerridge fresh start and I can't quite believe the weeks are flying by.

Week one was incredibly exciting as we were Kindly invited to Toms restaurant The Coach in Marlow along with all of the other families and production crew to watch the broadcasting of episode one. It was lovely to see everyone and we were all incredibly nervous to watch it go out and see how we came across! We posted a little video on our insta stories, go and check it out and you can feel the nerves!

The topic of episode one was get cooking - basically the focus here was to get people cooking. It was a little different for us as we did like cooking but had kind of fell out of love with it and had become swept up with busy family life, so for us it was a re focus moment, a moment to say ok, we need to re order our priorities and the realise that food impacted every area of our lives including the ones we wanted so desperately to change, like fitness, weight and family time.

Episode two was even more scary as we knew this was going to focus more on us! The title of episode two is Boss the kitchen. This really is something that resinates with me and came up a lot in our pre filming chats. The things I really found hard are time, time to be organised, to ensure that the busy nights are sorted and that the food is under control. Our boys, like im sure sure so many others, come in from school and are like locusts, they are starving and I felt like they literally ate everything before I could blink. Tom stopped me in my tracks and made me think of it in simple terms - planning! We plan our work diary, our appointments so we need to take control of our kitchen and food and plan! The planning has made such a difference. Just having and making a list at the weekend, doing it as a team means we can see what we have coming up. We make list of our shopping and we know what we need. Doing this has meant that so far, we waste less and stick to our food plans. 100% this is my top tip! I know its simple, I know it sounds like a pain but honestly... do it! It really really helps!
The plan also means I know the busy nights, I can see when the temptation to reach for a frozen pizza (which believe me I don't have an issue with every now and then,) is coming and I can pre prep anything that I can. If you know you have a crazy family week, take an extra hour on a day when you have it and pre make and freeze a dish, or chop everything and leave it ready for tomorrow, it just leaves you feeling in control and organised, I own the kitchen! Its not controlling me and making me feel like a moody teen, I know whats coming and I can do it.

I will come back to my planning an organisation, I think it deserves a blog of its own or I am going to ramble on!

After episode two I was asked to join Tom on Radio five live with Nihal to talk about the show and my feelings. This was a fabulous experience and I loved every moment.

Episode three was get them cooking and made us all think about getting the children cooking. I really think we are all so busy that it is so tempting to "just do it," and the children don't help much in the kitchen. This really made me think about my role as a parent, about how I need to equip the boys to be good adults, to know about food, nutrition and cooking. Believe me it was hard! Not because I didn't want the boys to cook or to teach them but the thoughts of the mess, the thoughts of what could go wrong and the thought of how long was this going to take! BUT..   I can tell you hand on heart, this has been a revelation! Yes the mess is a little more, but they can help! Who knew... this has shared some of the kitchen roles and means that things actually get done quicker.

So tonight is episode four - get moving! Oh how I am not looking forward to this one! My red, hot sweaty face, working out in front of my tv! I think I will leave you there with that wonderful thought and chat more about it tomorrow once its been aired.


 



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Vegan Banana Bread!


Once again, the I hate waste kicked in and as I stood looking at some very sad looking bananas in the fruit bowl I decided I must be able to rescue them and turn them into something that the boys and I will love… about an hour later a voila, yummy banana bread. 

It didn’t last long, it was gone by the afternoon. 

So, if you have some left over bananas and don’t want to waste the recipe is below – 

Over ripe bananas
75g Sunflower spread
100g brown sugar
225g Plain flour
3 heaped tsp baking powder
a good shake of cinnamon. 

*Heat the oven to 180ish fan
*Mash the bananas with a fork and then add to a mixer 
*Melt the sunflower spread and add to the mixer, mix with the bananas.
*Add all the dry ingredients – mix until just combined, don’t over mix. 
*Bake in a pre-greased and lined loaf tin for approx. 40mins.

Easy peasy and yummy! 

Enjoy


 

 

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Saturday, 5 January 2019



                 So, Christmas and New Year have passed…

I’m still a little out of sorts as the boys don’t actually start back at school until Monday but I am trying to re-focus and get organised again in the kitchen.

One thing I HATE – Food waste! It really, really annoys me. So, as I stood looking at lots of carrots and parsnips that were looking a little sad I decided it’s time to get back in my kitchen, get organised and use things up. 

So today I have made Spicy Carrot and Parsnip soup.I actually think the title is misleading as our boys don’t like lots of spice and it really wasn’t that spicy, it does have warmth from some curry powder and the ginger but the sweetness of the carrots and parsnips really balanced it out. 

It was super easy, took about fifteen mins to prep and 30 mins to cook, plus I have popped some in pots and frozen for busy days. Mum win! 

As a basic summary – Spicy Carrot and Parsnip Soup

·      Chop two onions – pop in a large pot and fry off with a splash of olive oil. 
·      Peel and Thinly chop three cloves of garlic.
·      Grate about an inch piece of ginger.
·      When the onions are soft add the ginger and garlic and cook for another couple of minutes. 
·      Add a table spoon of curry powder of your choice (I used a tandoori powder as its all I had in the cupboard!) and cook for a further couple of mins. 
·      Chop up your parsnips (I had five big ones) 
·      Chop up your carrots (I had quite a few)
·      Pop them all in the pot with the spices, onions, ginger and garlic and give a quick stir. 
·      Add one litre of stock – I used chicken as I didn’t have veggie stock!
·      Simmer for 30mins or until veg is tender (soft to a knife going in!)
·      Whizz up with a hand blender or in a food processor and you’re done!

I served ours with a swirl of cream (Left over from new year!!) and a handful of pumpkin seeds, alongside some nice sour dough and easy bake baguettes. 

I have to be honest – Jack cried when I put it on the table as apparently, he hates soup – however, he ate it all and said it was the best soup ever! I think the sweetness of the veggies helped! 

We all loved it and it really is super easy. 


Hope you enjoy! 


 
 



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A fresh Start! 
 The Johnsons

Back in the spring of 2018 we were faced with a simply amazing opportunity and we are so pleased to finally be able to share everything with you all. 

As a busy family with three boys and our own business life is always a little manic and fitting everything in, especially food planning and organisation in general is hard. So, as you can imagine when we were asked if we would be interested in taking part in the new Tom Kerridge television series for BBC2 to be titled a fresh start, our ears pricked up! 

The premise of the show is to basically make a fresh start to our approach to food. All of the families involved had different reasons for wanting to take part, but ours was to take control in the kitchen, to bring back some enjoyment in cooking and not let time slip away so that we end up eating rubbish. We hoped that by doing this we would not only change our approach but change our lifestyle, get more active with the boys, improve our health in general and have a blast. 

The process was fabulous, it really made us focus. Before starting it, we obviously did cook, but it felt like a real chore, I would dread the thought process each day of, “what will I feed them!” I felt like a moody teenager dropping my shoulders in a sulk each time I “had” to do dinner and on busy nights it was even worse. 

I’m super proud to say that has really changed! I love my kitchen (although I am a realist and it needs a jolly good sort out after Christmas) and being planned and organised has made life so much easier. 

We aim to share our journey with you both here and on social media, with tips and tricks we have learnt, things we find really work, what doesn’t seem to work for us and how we found each stage of the process. I’m not an insta perfect mum, with a full face of make-up and prefect posts every day, I real and I hope that really comes across. 

We would love you to join us along the way, so please do like and share – I’m surely not the only mum in the world that found the kitchen a little overwhelming. 

Much Love B x
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Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Not feeling ok ... is ok!

So I’m sitting here writing this whilst honestly feeling really rather awful. 


The funny thing is as a mum not being ok, seems to be one of the hardest things to admit and allow ourselves to be. 

From the instant that we become parents we put someone else first, someone else takes priority and making sure that they are more than fine is most important, then life kicks along, they grow, maybe more children come along and then before we know it we seem to be so far down the pecking order that even acknowledging that we aren’t fine becomes a mission. 

So here I am putting it out there.. today I’m just not ok!


I have a list of jobs that I need to do, washing piling all over the bathroom floor and what am I doing... I’m stopping and acknowledging that I really feel rubbish! So I’m going to take this hour before I have to drag my sorry but out on the school runs to acknowledge that I’m not ok! I feel naff, and when I feel naff my anxiety and depression use it as a wonderful time to try and worm their way back into my head. I’m going to stop. I’m going to just take an hour to not be ok, to rest and think about me, some self care, and remember, actually as mums we need to be the top of the pecking order for a while! 

Wish me luck and please tell me I’m not alone? 






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Friday, 10 August 2018




Summer is upon us!

For once we are enjoying a long hot summer, one of those ones that we dream of, sunkist hair and sandy beaches, of reading books and enjoying summer cocktails… and then there is reality!

Don’t get me wrong, I love my boys more than life itself and I do love the sunshine but the reality is its too hot to move! I have sweat in places that quite frankly is awful, keeping the house resembling organised is a mega mission, the children are like termites that will eat everything and anything that I have in the cupboard and any communication between the three of them ends in either verbal or physical fights! As for Sunkist hair, more like dry split ends and the closest im currently getting to a cocktail is a glass of water as its even too hot to drink my beloved tea!

I am grateful for the weather and I will be one of the first to moan as soon as it gets cold or wet, but for now please cool off by just a few degrees.

So, my mission – how to keep the kids entertained whilst not in front of computers and not killing each other… wish my luck!!
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