Sodastream : Getting Busy With the Fizzy

As children , me , my sister and my brother mithered and bothered and whinged and moaned and cried and sulked our parents into buying a superduper never been seen before Sodastream ! A magical machine that fizzed up your common old garden tap water and then you added sticky syrups  until voila … You had fizzy pop !!!! Now it lost a bit of favour as the 80’s ebbed away and the 90’s entered our lives … however I am so pleased to say that right here , right now in 2013 .. Sodastream has landed back in our lives with an almighty ..FIZZZZZZZZZ !!!Image

 

Now I don’t know about you but the very fact that I can have diet cola quite literally at my fingertips makes me smile …. and not only that but I can have virtually any fizzy drink you can think of .. with the added bonus of being able to regress to childhood and whilst the water is being fizzed .. my tummy is also fizzing with excitement (I know !!!). Add to that , that all the kids absolutely love it … to the point that at one point I had a kitchen full of boys ages ranging from 13 to 6 all mesmerised by this magnificent machine .. greeting the litre of cola with an almighty “Wooooah”, The Sodastream stands tall and proud on the sideboard !! Sodastream is a winner …. for sure !!

Now you can have so many different flavours .. so far we’ve tried about 10 “soft” drinks (with many more to try)and 3 fabulous “adult” drinks … Cocktails !! They are actually non alcoholic unless you add booze yourself … that’s your call but it means everyone can have a cosmopolitan .. or a mojito .. or a margerita .. whether they are driving or not !! GENIUS !! Cocktails & mocktails in one little magic syrup pocket !!!

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I can honestly say that our Sodastream Source is a very welcome addition to our family home .. and so far the novelty hasn’t worn off … even with the boys !! They are busy deciding on their next flavours as I type .. it’s looking likely to be Dr. Pete , Hghland Fizz and Dandelion & Burdock !! Me …?  I’m heading straight to the margerita !!! YUM !!!!

Welcome back Sodastream … It’s been a while but I’m glad you’re back xx 

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Go see what you can get at http://www.sodastream.co.uk … you won’t be disappointed !

 

Our SodaStream Source was very kindly provided by Sodastream for review.

 

Gingerbread Boys …

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After a glorious day yesterday  we had high hopes for a sunny day today … however the weather Gods appeared to have a different idea !! So what else is there to do on a dull , grey summers afternoon …. other than make that most autumnal of treats !! Gingerbread men …!

F got a baking set for his birthday and finally he got to use it !! I made them the gingerbread dough ( For my own sanity really …) and then I let them loose with rolling pins , cutters and icing sugar .. Lots and lots of icing sugar !!

They both had a great time ..  even making their own Sponge bob and Patrick shaped biscuits …spirits undampened by the eldest  suggesting the baked biscuits “smelt like sick” .. Gee thanks Bill !!!

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Here’s the recipe I used for Gingerbread (makes 20 )

350g plain flour

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp cinnamon

125g butter

175g soft brown sugar

1 egg

4 tbsp golden syrup

Method :

Sift the flour , bicarb , ginger & cinnamon together add the butter and using the fingertip method  (rubbing in)  rub it in until the mixture resembles bread crumbs.. now stir in the sugar .

Beat the egg and the golden syrup together and add to the breadcrumbby mixture and stir with a blunt knife until the mixture becomes a soft dough. wrap in clingfilm & pop in the fridge for 30 mins.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and line 2 baking trays with greaseproof paper .

Next .. hand the kids a lump of dough each … liberally flour/icing sugar the sideboard …. launch rolling pins and cutters in their general direction .. and leg it as far away as possible !!!!!

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Once the carnage has subsided … place the shapes made by the kids and place them on the baking trays ! Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes …

Once out of the oven leave on the trays for 10 mins and then Cool on a wire rack until cold and hardened.

Next hand the kids some icing pens and other such cakey decorations ( smarties , raisins , silver balls  etc ) and once again run for cover …..

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The only thing left to do is EAT and enjoy !! Oh and grab a cuppa and thank the heavens above you came through it all with your sanity in tact  .. and if not your sanity .. at least with a hot cup of tea … maybe !!!!

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Days Out : Sudbury Hall

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As a wedding anniversary present we were bought a family membership to the National Trust .. and so one afternoon when the boys had quite simply had enough of each other and all the joys that a wet and un-sunlit garden can bring  we decided to bundle them in the car and head on over to one of our local national trust buildings ! We are very lucky to live within a few miles of numerous NT houses , halls , gardens & buildings  … and so we decided upon Sudbury Hall & Museum of Childhood  with the knowledge that a) the kids love to outdoor play area and walking around the grounds and b) if the rain came again we could hot foot it into the museum of childhood and the boys would love that just as much !! Sudbury is somewhere my own Mum used to bring me & my sister and brother when ( I presume from hindsight) that she needed to escape and get 3 mithering little children out into the fresh air ….

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Sudbury has ample parking facilities just a short walk from the hall … You do have to cross quite a busy road but there is relevant signage to warn you of this ! Once across the road you are met with an impressive building … always an awesome sight ! Around the side of the hall you will find a wide open picnic area … along with a gift  shop . museum shop and a cafe ( A tad pricey if I’m being honest .. 4 drinks cost us £8.15 !! 2 apple juices , a dandelion & burdock and a water !!! ) Then through an archway in the trees the magic begins to unfold ….

In a tree covered copse you will find a playground of dreams … a place for every little boy and girl to allow their imaginations to run wild … from a pirate ship .. to a climbing wall .. a swing of gargantuan proportions ( well big enough for my 3 to swing comfortably) .. to a roundabout  only a child could work out how to use … balancing beams and the rickety old bridge …. not to mention trees to climb .. Everyone should climb a tree at some point in their lives …hours of fun at a cost of ZERO !!!!! But memories being made everywhere you look …

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The weather improved so much on our visit that we didn’t need to go into the hall or the museum of childhood … we didn’t even take up the clipboard challenge to look at all the creatures and find out more about whats in and around Sudbury … we figured we’d save that for another day !! The boys were happy to play …(with only a break for ice creams , juice and a wander by the river) and who I am I to stop little boys from playing …. Imaginations running wild … dreams being met and memories being stored …… !! Sudbury Hall ….Well worth a visit !!!!

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Mummy’s Jolly to Chester

Sometimes .. just sometimes .. Mummy needs a break from the blue eyed boys … and this weekend I got to go away with the husband ( the brown eyed one )  to celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary ! 7 Years … 7 years .. you get less for … well .. you know ….

We went off to Chester with plans of just relaxing and being together .. just the two of us .. away from the mad hustle , bustle , buzz and high energy life we live normally !!  And thats just what we got … we stayed at a beautiful B & B called Stone Villa Chester just off the Hoole Rd ( http://www.stonevillachester.co.uk).

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This was the ultimate in calm and chill !! Dave greeted us as long lost friends .. settled us into our gorgeous room ( With the most enormous & fabulously sparkling en suite) gave us the little housekeeping chat ( wi-fi .. very important for a social media addict like me !) then invited us downstairs for tea & homemade cakes !!! Dave and Kirsty couldn’t do enough for us .. from booking our restaurant tables to giving directions to where we needed to go to local information to ensure we were completely happy ! The B & B itself was meticulously clean and homely … a calm , quiet and friendly place where you could relax in the lounge or just lay your head at night ! We particularly loved the complimentary sherry at reception … a truly British tradition alive and well at Stone Villa

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( Oh and just as an aside .. the breakfasts were immense .. and I can highly recommend the porridge … cream , honey & drambuie if you please .. a great way to kick start your day !!) . We will definitely be returning … whenever we get to escape .. erm I mean the lovely opportunity to visit again !!

We met with friends in the evening .. my very best friend who I see too little … we had a fantastic evening of food and wine  and a jolly good catch up ! Just what the doctor ordered !!

The next day , after a rather naughty but gorgeous full English we headed off to Cheshire Oaks for the brown eyed one to buy himself some new trainers ! The joy of himself is that he’s pretty easy to please … so the task was not an arduous  one thankfully !!  We then stopped in at the Tourist Info point to purchase discounted & fast track entrance tickets to Chester Zoo ( A very lucky stumble upon as we were fully prepared for full price!!) and off we went ..

Now going to a zoo is always fun .. going to a zoo as a mother of 3 without the children .. is quite possibly one of the most bizarre experiences!  I loved seeing the animals .. I loved being able to be as excited as I wanted to be without the eldest rolling his eyes declaring loudly & sullenly ” Muuuuum …..!!”  and I loved not having to stop every 5 minutes for a toilet break .. drink .. ice cream … However I did feel a little bit lost and spent quite alot of time announcing ” I wish the kids were here ” ! Never satisfied …. ! Chester Zoo is a must if you are in this part of our wonderful country … so much to see and do (if you’ve got the kids with you !!! ) It’s a fantastic day out for all the family !! Loads of open spaces for picnics and resting .. plus plenty of facilities & snack huts with indoor facilities should the Great British Summer return !! ( I mean rain ..)

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Our weekend doesn’t end there .. well you have to make the most of it .. who knows when the next child free one will be ????

We headed back to Stone Villa then popped round the corner to The Faulkner pub and had the most amazing burgers … I opted for Black Pudding & Chorizo burger … Uh-Maze-Ing !!!  and totally adequate to refuel this Mum on a mission !! (Along with a cheeky pint or two of lager !! Dontcha know …)

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We then headed back to Cheshire Oaks to watch a film .. The World End ! As a Simon Pegg fan … This Geekfest was just what I needed (and we missed the big storms too .. Double bubble bonus)  I also had a close encounter with a minion ….. who knew they were so BIG !!!!!

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On the Sunday  after another immense breakfast at Stone Villa ( See aforementioned Manna from Heaven … I mean ..porridge) we headed into Chester (a 10 minute walk from Stone Villa)  and walked the city walls ! Chester is gorgeous .. so ye olde worldy .. yet so modern , vibrant and bustling .. without being busy and oppressive  ! I loved it !!!  A perfect end to a perfect weekend ….

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But by golly I missed my boys ……….!!!