Thursday 16 May 2013

Cliveden, Maidenhead, Buckinghamshire

So now we have our National Trust membership we are going to spend as many weekends as we can visiting some really wonderful places. And what a weekend we picked to go to Cliveden, a gorgeous bank holiday weekend with wonderful blue skies and the bluebells were out.

Cliveden is all about its stunning grounds, it is possible to go round the house (now an exclusive hotel) by timed ticket on certain days, but we stuck to the gardens and the wonderful walks. We were there all day and only got to see maybe half of the grounds. There is a lot of walking, if you want to do a lot of walking, with a hill and steps down to the river Thames. If you have a pushchair you may want to stay to the upper levels, of which there is still plenty to look at. There is shuttle bus service to get you up and down the hill if needed.

We arrived close to lunch time, after a stop off at the information centre (we have worked out always head there first. You may find extra maps, child packs, suggested walking routes and we picked up our 50 things book), we headed to the fountain of love and the grand walk towards the house. We walked round the the back of the house and the view across the grounds were stunning.

All the kids were rushing towards the flower beds as there is a small slope for them to roll down. We then chased each other round the flower beds until we reached the statue at the far end with a view back to the house.

From here we took a windy path down the hill to the river. Where you can sit on the grass and enjoy the view or take a boat along a river cruise.

We then took a scenic steep root up the hill to the Dukes Statue, with a view across to the house and a bit further up is a wonderful look out point to see across the river.

Amongst the bluebells was a fitness trail which was amusing for everyone! 

Not sure how we found the energy for doing the press-ups and jumps after walking up the hill but we did (or should that be Daddy and Charlotte did).

We headed back towards the car park via the grotto to get an ice cream from the dolls house by the play park. A very popular ice cream stop this one so we just went on the fantastic play park, themed on traditional book characters like Wind in the Willows, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland etc.

Took a delightful stroll through the water garden and sat down with our ice creams on the grass as its was so calm and pretty. 

Just before closing time we slid into the maze, hoping we would make it out before the grounds did close. We did make it out but took quite a few wrong turns along the way.

Our last stop was our first stop, to get our stickers for our 50 things book from the information centre. We could have done so many things but we achieved:
  • rolling down a hill (was a small hill but you have to start small and build up)
  • walking bare footed across the grass in the water garden

We had a fantastic day out, we can't wait to go back again to see all the things we missed, like the secret garden, play trail and maybe inside the house. We did stop for lunch in the cafe, which had some wonderful cake but think next time we would take a picnic as the grounds are great.

Friday 10 May 2013

One Cold Drink, Squeezed Not Stirred

I remember wanting a Mr Frosty when I was little, having a nice cold turn your tongue blue drink on a hot day. But the wow that followed seeing a Mr Frosty appear soon dissipated when your slushy wasn't as you expected.

Roll on 20 years and Charlotte was coming out with the wows over a slushy she had just made that out performs the Mr Frosty 10 fold.

So pretending the sun hasn't gone in and that its hot and sunny outside we try out our Chill Factor slushy maker. Out of the freezer it comes and we pour in some orange juice for its first outing. It took about a child size cup of drink. Charlotte started squeezing but not much was happening, so I took over.

giving the cup a squeeze
Good few squeezes later and it was starting to turn slushy, frozen clumps were sticking to the sides, bit more and it was done. For added effect (and more wows) I poured it out into her cup with the help of the spoon/straw provided. This was a little tricky because the cup had come unscrewed and the shape of the frozen sleeve. On our second attempt the cup didn't come unscrewed just make sure you tighten well.

one slushy ready for drinking
The spoon/straw is a great idea, it means you can't pierce the frozen sleeve with something sharp, but the straw won't go all the way to the bottom. Think this is our only minor niggle and reason why I prefer to pour it into a cup.

All parts separated
The Chill Factor Cup is a quick way to do a nice cold drink after the kids have been out playing on a hot day.  Its also small enough to pack if your maybe doing a self catering stay-cation and know you will have a freezer. Once a drink is made up it would probably last a good while in the cup with the cool sides keeping it frozen. We also found if you scoop your slushy into a cup you can make another drink straight after, so with one cup you could get a couple of drinks.

it's turning slushy
We struggle to get fluids into Charlotte some days as she doesn't seem to want to drink, but she loves this idea so now we are now wondering what drinks to do next. Water, squash, juice, smoothies, frozen milkshake, frozen yoghurt drink. Or how about one for the adults, nice chilled cocktail once the kids are in bed and hubby was wondering how to do a chilled coffee. The ideas are endless.

The Chill Factor retails for £12.99 and is available from Character Options. It will also be available from all good retailers soon (already spotted in our local toy shop), or if you're going to Mums Show Live or BBC Good Food show look out for the stand.

I received this item for review but opinions are my own