Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Santa's Grotto at Intu Derby

Intu Derby, Santa's Grotto, Santa, Christmas, family

This year, things are getting magical now Taylor is of the age to start understanding Christmas a little more. He's super excited about Santa so when we were invited to visit the Santa's Grotto at Intu Derby last weekend, we couldn't wait.

James booked the day off work so we could all go along together. I hadn't been to the centre in a few years, I think it was still a Westfield the last time I went. But I was impressed with the centre itself. It had a great variety of shops, the toilets were modern and quirky and everywhere seemed clean. 

We arrived a little earlier than our booked appointment so we had a little look around. We found a snow garden, full of artificial snow, for children to play in. It was fantastic. Taylor loved throwing the snow around, and other children were making snow angels. It was lovely! A member of staff came over, handed us chocolate coins and gave us the opportunity to write letters to Santa and post them in the special box [unfortunately we forgot to do this!]. A fantastic idea! If you get the chance, take your little ones for some snow fun!

Intu Derby, Santa's Grotto, Santa, Christmas, family

When we eventually found the Grotto [Intu is a great centre, but needs to up their game when it comes to directions and signage! ;)] we headed to the desk where the lady elves handed the boys cardboard reindeer antler hats and showed us to the front of the grotto. I was told I wasn't allowed to take any photos inside. I asked if I was able to take any of the experience itself as long as I didn't get any children or members of the public in but was told no, which was unfortunate as would've been nice to show you a little more inside the grotto. 

Once inside, we found a space amongst the other families while two elves were on stage performing tricks, singing songs and telling jokes. It was a lovely way to keep the children entertained whilst waiting for Santa. I think Taylor was possibly a little young to understand it all, and a little young for all the waiting around so kept himself amused by attempting to hug the Christmas tree, touch all the decorations and run around the room. :)

We were shown through to a back room where Santa was sat in a little white room. He was a great Santa, he looked fantastic and was very chatty with Taylor and even included Bradley too [at 12, he played along well for his little brothers sake ;)]. It was a brief chat with Santa, Taylor was able to choose a Playmobil toy from one of Santa's sacks and we had a family photo taken with him.

Intu Derby, Santa's Grotto, Santa, Christmas, Playmobil

Intu Derby, Santa's Grotto, Santa, Christmas, family

We purchased the photo for £6.00, other photo gifts such as keyrings were available too. 

You can visit Santa's Grotto for £6.50 per child, plus £1.00 per adult, and each child receives a small Playmobil toy.

Have you visited Santa yet this Christmas?

*I was invited along to Intu Derby to experience the Santa's Grotto for the purpose of this review.
I ordered an extra adult ticket for James.
As always, all words are my own and are my 100% honest opinion

Many thanks to Intu Derby for inviting us along.

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Monday, 5 December 2016

New Charity Single Launches for UK's Seriously Ill Children

Wellchild, charity, charity single

WellChild is a charity I have supported before. The project aims to raise awareness of the challenges faced by thousands of families across the UK caring for a child or young person at home with serious illness or exceptional health needs.
The charity provides a nationwide network of WellChild's Nurses who work with families to get children and young people out of hospital quicker and for longer. They also enlist the support of volunteers to make homes and gardens safer for children and young people living with exceptional health needs and run numerous services to support families at home. The charity has invested more than £20 million in ground-breaking children's health research projects. 

This month sees the launch of their brand new charity single - an amazing new version of Daniel Powter’s ‘Bad Day’ sung by the WellChild Nurse and Families choir and featuring chart topping band Scouting For Girls and rising X-Factor star Josh Daniel. 

well child, charity, charity single, scouting for girls
Scouting For Girls - image courtesy of WellChild

The single, unveiled for the first time at the WellChild Awards at the Dorchester earlier this month, marks the ten-year anniversary of the first ever WellChild Children’s Nurse in 2006. The network has since grown to more than 30 nurses across the UK providing support to children with exceptional health needs so they can leave hospital to be cared for at home with their families. 

As well as Scouting for Girls and Josh Daniels, the video for 'Bad Day' also features WellChild Patron, Prince Harry.

WellChild Chief Executive Colin Dyer said: “This single captures a unique spirit that we see time and again amongst the growing number of families caring for a child at home with exceptional health needs. Many work 24/7 and face daily battles to keep their children safe. Their enduring resilience and positivity is an inspiration to us all and this is what we are hoping to convey with our first ever charity single. 

The single is currently available to be pre-ordered on iTunes ahead of general release across all platforms on the 11th November. You can pre-order the single priced just 99p and help propel it up the charts ready for its general release. 

To pre-order the single, search ‘WellChild Bad Day’ on iTunes or simply click here

*I was asked if I would share this information on behalf of WellChild.
I received no fee for this post.

Friday, 2 December 2016

PizzaExpress Christmas Menu

PizzaExpress, leicester, Christmas

I love pizza. I love Christmas. So when I was invited along for a complimentary meal at one of my local PizzaExpress' which had just recently undergone a refurb, to review the new Christmas menu, I was there with jingle bells on. 

Tucked down a side street, known as Leicester's Professional Quarter, just steps away from the hustle and bustle of the busy town centre, is King Street; home to Leicester's original PizzaExpress. 

After a recent transformation, the intimate restaurant has a brand new look just in time to launch their Christmas menu.

PizzaExpress, leicester, Christmas

It had been a few years since we last visited, but the place looked great, from the outside in! With the eye catching new shop front to the pendant lighting and new stylish artwork inside, the restaurant felt cosy yet vibrant. 

There was a lovely, intimate atmosphere as we arrived and was warmly greeted by a lovely guy [we think his name was Harley] who showed us to our table.

Being such a small venue, the staff were always on hand to make sure we were comfortable and happy. We didn't have to wait long at all to order and the food came out super quick, after watching it being freshly made just feet away in the open kitchen. 

PizzaExpress, leicester, Christmas

PizzaExpress, leicester, Christmas

Of course we started by sharing a plate of dough balls, because HELLO! THE best thing about PizzaExpress, in my opinion, are the dough balls. They are just AH-MAZING! You cannot visit this place and not have a plate of them, with garlic butter. But of course, there are a wide range of other yummy starters to choose from!

If you haven't, you need to! ;)

There are a couple of new 'starter' options available for Christmas, take a look at the menu here. 

PizzaExpress, leicester, Christmas

PizzaExpress, leicester, Christmas, food

Now on to the mains. As we were here to road test the new Christmas menu, it was only fair I tried one of the three new Christmas themed pizzas. The Porchetta Natale contains pulled, seasoned hog roast, soft herb stuffing, pancetta, mozzarella, fresh rosemary, tomato, garlic oil and pine kernels, finished with fresh parsley. 

It tasted as delicious as it sounds. The hog roast most definitely gave it that festive taste. Get ready for the massive cliche, but you may have heard the words 'it tastes like Christmas' leave my mouth! 

I'm usually a simple pepperoni or dare I say it, hawaiian kinda girl when it comes to pizza, but this was really delicious!

PizzaExpress, Leicester, food, Christmas

PizzaExpress, Leicester, food, Christmas

James ordered the Calzone Classico, a folded pizza with salami, pepperoni, spinach, mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, basil and parsley served with a side salad. He said it tasted great, really fresh ingredients and the salad complimented it well since it was so light. 

We'd have loved some crispy potato fries to accompany our meals, but they only offer traditional Italian alternative, Polenta Chips, which are thick fluffy potato coated in cornmeal [maize flour] and served with a honey and mustard dip. They were nice, but we weren't huge fans.

PizzaExpress, Leicester, food, Christmas

PizzaExpress, Leicester, food, Christmas

PizzaExpress, Leicester, food, Christmas

Happy and full after our mains, we were wondering if we could manage to squeeze a dessert in. Ha who am I kidding? Of course there was room for dessert!! It's the best bit, right?

PizzaExpress have the most amazing desserts on offer, there are some great dishes to choose from. But we both decided to choose one of the Christmas Specials.

James went with the Jaffa Profiteroles; chocolate coated and filled with a chocolate cream and orange gel centre. Wow. I'm a huge chocolate orange fan and these tasted SO GOOD! Accompanied by a scoop of vanilla gelato, they've done themselves proud with this one. Now, who's starting the petition to keep these on the menu all year round?

PizzaExpress, Leicester, food, Christmas

PizzaExpress, Leicester, food, Christmas

I chose the Panettone Cheesecake; chocolate chip and orange marmalade panettone pieces in a creamy vanilla cheesecake on a thick crumbly biscuit base. SOLD. I had mine with a scoop of soft vanilla gelato which accompanied it beautifully. 

It was truly delicious! All the different textures just complimented each other so well, I really enjoyed it. The cheesecake was the perfect consistency, and the bitter chocolate and marmalade finished it off nicely. No leftovers here. If you need me, I'll be in a food coma in the corner...

PizzaExpress, Leicester, food, Christmas

PizzaExpress, Leicester, food, Christmas

We were well looked after all evening. It was our second visit here and I think we'll definitely be back here more often. I love the new look, the food was fantastic and the staff were really attentive. With an NCP right around the corner, it's an ideal place for date night.

Looking for somewhere different to eat over the festive period? I definitely recommend heading to your local PizzaExpress for something a little different!

PizzaExpress, Leicester, food, Christmas

Are you a fan of PizzaExpress?

*Huge thank you to PizzaExpress, King Street, Leicester 
for inviting me along for a complimentary meal in return for this review.
All words are, as always, my own and 100% honest

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Gizmo Saves Christmas in new Vision Direct Christmas Advert

Twinkly lights, a red cup from a well-known coffee shop, cosy nights in around the tree, family time, gifts...  and of course, it isn't Christmas without a heart-warming festive advert!
Vision Direct, the UK’s largest online only retailer of eye care, including glasses and contact lenses, is excited to release its Christmas campaign for 2016. Produced by Bespoke Film and Communications, Gizmo Saves Christmas plays on the familiar theme of festive neighbourhood rivalry as well as the age old dog vs. cat debate. 

The advert features Vision Direct’s super cute brand mascot, Mr Gizmo the pug, as well as a new character, Cuddles the cat. It follows last year’s Vision Direct Christmas ad, which was extremely successful, amassing over one million views across social media.

I'm going to put it out there, I'm not so much a dog or cat person. Don't hate me. But this advert had me ooh-ing and ahh-ing, smiling, and not to mention gasping! 

Watch it and you'll see what I mean!!

It's super cute and definitely gives that huge department store advert a run for it's money!

I love the play on the rivalry between neighbours, I can see this most definitely happening in the real world! But, of course, in the festive spirit, finishing by showing Gizmo's caring side, looking out for others, a value close to the Vision Direct brand. 

The UK's first and longest running online retailer of contact lenses, Vision Direct have recently introduced their new range of prescription glasses, available from just £19.99 with lenses. 

I'm fortunate enough not to have any problems with my sight, but James is meant to wear them in certain situations, so at this price, this is definitely something we'll look into. 

Now without further a do, I present to you, Gizmo Saves Christmas...

What did you think? The advert will be available to watch over the festive period on their Facebook and YouTube channels. Or you can visit their website, which includes lots of fun games and competitions as part of their countdown to Christmas advent calendar.

Are you a fan of Christmas adverts?

*Collaborative Post

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