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Halloween treats from Marks & Spencer

Halloween with Marks & SpencerIt’s close to midnight and something evil’s lurking in the dark
Under the moonlight you see a sight that almost stops your heart
You try to scream but terror takes the sound before you make it
You start to freeze as horror looks you right between the eyes,
You’re paralyzed

Don’t worry, I’ll save my rendition of Michael Jackson classics for later, but I thought that the opening verse of Thriller would get us in the mood for tomorrow because it’s Halloween! Now, let’s be honest, I am usually not a massive fan of Halloween. I hate fancy dress, it just makes me feel like an idiot, and the whole trick or treating thing, well that is just as awkward for me, but with Amy getting older I thought it might be nice to ehm get a little more into it.

I’m not going to push the boat out and spend five hours on my outfit for a Halloween party, but I got Amy a little costume and we’ll be having a little Halloween party with her cousins tomorrow. They’ll all get to dress up and have fun together and I’m escaping teenagers trying to raid my well hidden sweet stash. I might scare them with some of the scary treats from Marks & Spencer’s Halloween range though. We were kindly sent a big box full of goodies (see above) and they’ll really add a great touch to our little ghostly get together. With prices between £1 and £2, they are super affordable too, so make sure to top up on them in the morning or ready for your party at the weekend. I can’t wait to try them all out – shh don’t tell anyone that I’ve had some sneaky witches hair!

Disclosure: Marks & Spencer kindly send us some treats to try, but they didn’t ask us to write about them.

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Blogger Pumpkin Challenge for Halloween

Haunted house Halloween Pumpkin Kitten Halloween Pumpkin

Halloween is a challenge in itself to me. I’m no natural when it comes to dressing up or in fact begging for sweets, but I am making an exception for Amy this year as I do know that she will like the whole spectacle – I mean which child doesn’t?

Also, I do like a good challenge. A challenge you ask? Well, the lovely people from Family Investments got in touch a couple of weeks ago and asked us, if we would like to take part in their Blogger Pumpkin Carving Challenge and here we are, presenting two of our three pumpkin designs to you. We got three pumpkins altogether, one for each of us, and I decided to go with a haunted house design while Ben went for a traditional Jack O’Lantern and Amy asked for a kitten. She’s obsessed with our new cat Betty, so I wasn’t really surprised by her wish.

Amy and I got to work early and emptied all the pumpkins ready for our little carving session. For some reason, she really loved picking out the seeds and trying them while they were still raw – don’t ask me who she gets that from, I have no idea! We quickly finished the slimy part of the job, so that we could go over to the fun bit, deciding on a design for our pumpkin. And what greater source of inspiration for bloggers is there than Pinterest? On a quick search, I found dozens of designs and even templates to print out, but I thought that would be cheating, so I drew a free-hand design onto my pumpkin – makes it look even more haunted, don’t you think?

We had great fun designing and carving our pumpkins and the fact that we had a pumpkin carving set this year made things so much easier. Why has nobody told me about pumpkin saws before? They are amazing and not once did I get close to chopping of my fingers – that’s a great improvement compared to last year! Oh and look at our box of sweet treats! Don’t they look yummy?

halloween sweets

Anyway, I’ll leave it at that for now, but keep your eyes peeled for some more Halloween post over the next couple of days. We’ll be having a Halloween party tonight and I can’t wait to see what Amy will think about the whole trick or treating shebang.

All I want to know now is, what do you think of our pumpkins? Thumbs ups or thumbs down and also, did you get creative yourself?

I’d love to hear about your pumpkin design, so leave me a comment below. I do read them all.

Disclosure: We received £5 to purchase some pumpkins for the Family Investments blogger challenge

 

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Review: JUST EAT Takeaway Bristol

just eat takeaway websiteAbout a week before we went on holiday, the people from JUST EAT got in touch to ask, if we would like to test their service and what better time is there to have takeaways than the week before you jet off into the sunset – or drive to Germany in our case?

To us, the timing was absolutely perfect. We were on a mission to empty the fridge without buying any new food before our holiday and with the £50 takeaway gift card that we were provided with, it couldn’t have been easier. The order process and handling of the JUST EAT website was really simple. We typed our postcode into the search bar and a list of over 60 different restaurants delivering to our doorstep unfolded right in front of us. With cuisines reaching from traditional English and Chinese over kebab houses, Japanese restaurants or Indian and Bangladeshi food, we were well and truly spoiled for choice, but in the end we decided to order an Indian and a kebab and pizza mix.

just eat takeaway review bristol Spice Bazaar

We are usually a little picky when it comes to Indian food. We either make it from scratch using authentic Indian recipes or we are going with the same curry house every single time. When I saw the extensive menu of Spice Bazaar (based in Brislington) though, I knew that we would have to give it a try. It took us a while to decide what to order, with over 200 mains and starters there really was something for everyone on the menu, but in the end I went for my favourite chicken badhonia, while Ben chose a lamb biryani. We also ordered mushroom badjhi, some mixed vegetables as well as pilau rice, poppadoms and pershwari naan as sides and I have to say that I was really impressed when we promptly received our order after only 30 minutes.

The food was absolutely delicious and could easily compete with our usual Indian restaurant. The sauce of my badhonia was thick and flavoursome and Ben really enjoyed the tender lamb of his biryani. Amy kept coming back for more from both our plates and seems to be following me in her love for naan bread with a nutty and fruity filling. I knew that this girl’s got taste! All in all, we were more than pleased with our order from Spice Bazaar. The flavours of our meals were restaurant worthy, the delivery was quick and friendly and all in all we got a ridiculous amount of food for only £25 – we will definitely be back for more.

just eat takeaway review bristol pizza and kebab

Our second order came from Bedminster Kebab House. Not the most creative name for a restaurant and the menu wasn’t terribly exciting either, but it was perfectly fine for a kebab and pizza order. Surprisingly we even received a second complimentary pizza on the house – so what’s not to like? The pizza topping was a little greasy, but the dough was really light and fluffy and nice enough to tuck into the day after. I personally wasn’t keen on the kebab meat, but the salad was by far the best I’ve ever had in a kebab – so yes, maybe I’ll try out the chicken kebab next time!

Overall, this was great value for money, if you can ever say that about a takeaway. We came away with a second big pizza that we didn’t have to pay for and discovered a restaurant that might be an alternative for Pizza Hut, if we fancy a change.

Will we be using JUST EAT again? Definitely! It saves you so much time when trying to find out which restaurant is delivering to your house and I really liked that you can book your delivery early in the day for a set slot in the evening. It also gives you correct information at all times, so you always know that you have the correct menu at hand and or a valid telephone number, if you’ve messed up your order or have any questions. We’re very impressed with the website and also the fact that you can buy gift cards for friends and family – perfect moving in present for students or new homeowners, don’t you think?

Disclosure: We were provided with a gift card for the purpose of this review. All opinions are our own.

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Why traveling by ferry beats going by plane

We love traveling – no matter if in the UK or the rest of the world, but living on an island does mean that you have to get off it somehow when you want to go exploring a little further afield. The only solution here is catching a plane or a ferry and after our most recent trip to Germany, I have to say that I would choose a ferry all the way.

It’s just so much more stress-free. You can take your own car, which gives you an incredible amount of independence at your destination and much more space for clothes, toys and all the souvenirs you buy on your travels. Whenever we went by plane, we always worried about our luggage allowance, because believe me or not – you don’t fit that much in a 20kg suitcase, especially if your other half packs for four seasons, a wedding and a funeral.

But it’s not the luggage that convinced me of travelling by ferry. It was the comfort on board. We travelled on an overnight ferry and it was just like being in a hotel. We boarded, settled in our room and then explored the ship before going for a three course meal in one of the lovely restaurants on board. I then had the best night’s sleep in months, before waking up on the other side of the channel and could start the day refreshed and ready for the rest of our journey – perfect!

For more reasons, why ferries beat planes, check out the infographic below:

ferry-england-to-france-vs-plane-infographic

 

Disclosure: This post was bought to you in association with Brittany Ferries.

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Where witches and devils dance – Hexentanzplatz Thale

tierpark hexentanzplatz thale devil

The Hexentanzplatz Thale or the Witches’ Dance Floor as international tourists would call the plateau in the Harz moutains is a place full of legends and myths. 
 tierpark hexentanzplatz thale witch

It lies high above the Bode Gorge opposite the Rosstrappe (a 403m high granite crag) and is an Old Saxon cult site, at which locals celebrated the forest and mountain goddesses, the Hagedisen until Christian Franks invaded the area and banned the cult.

tierpark hexentanzplatz thale wooden witch

But the Walpurgisnacht did not find an end then: Even today, in the night before 1 May, witches meet on the Hexentanzplatz to fly to the Blocksbberg/Brocken together to get married to the devil.

tierpark hexentanzplatz thale wooden owl

Over the years, the Walpurgisnacht has become somewhat of a mass event attracting visitors from all over the world, but it is great fun for all the family and most of all, the legend is being kept alive by a eclectic mix of tradition, magic and a hint of erotic – some witches can look rather saucy, you know? 
 tierpark hexentanzplatz thale rocks

From the plateau, you have an amazing view of the surrounding rocks and each and every one of them has its very own story to tell. The Harz mountains really are one of the most magical regions of Germany and legends fill dozens of story books for young and old. Believe me, I have read them all!

tierpark hexentanzplatz thale

Another thing that the Hexentanzplatz is popular for is it’s nature park. My paternal grandma lives not far from here and when my grandad was still alive, we often came here for a stroll.

 tierpark hexentanzplatz thale 1

It is a fairly small nature park compared to the Natur- und Umweltpark Güstrow, but I really like that about it and at €4.00 for adults and €2.50 it is really great value for money, if you are planning a family day out. tierpark hexentanzplatz thale deer

On entering the park, you can learn all about local birds and wild birds and if you are really quiet, you can hear the woodpecker hammering his holes into the trees.
tierpark hexentanzplatz thale buck deer

If like us, you follow the round course, you will walk past an enclosure for fallow deer and admire the majestic stag bellowing through the thicket while Bambi and his mum are sharing a moment. 
tierpark hexentanzplatz thale witch on broom

Of course, you will also meet the rare breed of the hexe hexentanzplatio, which elegantly wooshes over your head and leads you straight to these adorable fellas… tierpark hexentanzplatz thale racoon

Just how cute is this little raccoon? I really can’t blame my sister for falling in love with these gorgeous little fur balls when visiting this Tierpark about 15 years ago. It’s funny how you remember these things when walking down memory lane, don’t you think?
tierpark hexentanzplatz thale wild boar piglet

An animal that she would definitely not let anywhere near her are wild boars, but who knows, she might make an exception for this little one. It’s crazy that these cute little piglets turn into these ginormous ehm unattractive pigs that could kill a human. tierpark hexentanzplatz thale helicopterBefore that happens though, we’ll quickly jump into our fancy helicopter. There are more adventures waiting for us after all…

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Win a Yankee Candle Advent Calendar

yankee candle advent calendar 2013

Christmas is creeping up on us, apparently it’s only eight more Sunday’s until the big day and I love nothing more than giving presents, so when my friend Ali showed me this amazing Yankee Candle Advent Calendar, I just knew that I had to get it for one of you guys.

Every day reveals a tea light candle in one of six christmassy scents, including an extra special treat in the 24th! The six fragrances include Snow in Love, Balsam and Cedar, Merry Marshmallow, Red Apple Wreath, Snowflake Cookie and Sparkling Cinnamon.

If you want to win the Yankee Candle Advent Calendar and light a new candle each day of the festive season, simply fill in the Rafflecopter form below. And remember, no cheating – Father Christmas is watching you and so am I!

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Bloggers: Why Bristol is the best city to live in the UK

A couple of days ago, the Telegraph announced that Bristol is the ‘best city to live in the UK’ and having lived here for over five years, I can only agree. Bristol is friendly, vibrant and full of culture. It also seems to be the secret blogging capital of the UK, so I have asked my local blogger friends exactly why they think that Bristol is the best city to live in the UK.

And here’s what they said:

tigerlilly quinn bristol blog

Fritha from Tigerlilly Quinn says: I have lived in Bristol for almost five years now and love it! It is a very vegetarian and vegan friendly city which is brilliant for me and my family. Our little corner of Bristol is quite multicultural and I love that my son is growing up with people of all cultures. I grew up in the countryside but love that Bristol is small enough to not feel like too much of a city, and with parks every ten minutes walk there is no end of greenery.

knitty mummy street party bristol

Kath from Knitty Mummy says: One of the things I love about Bristol is the sense of community – Bristol is the street party capital of Europe. I love that the council are really behind schemes like “playing out” allowing regular temporary road closures to allow kids to play safely in the street with their friends. So nice in the middle of a city where open space is minimal.

slummy single mummy gromit bristol

Jo from Slummy Single Mummy says: I moved to Bristol from a small dead-end town two years ago after years of dreaming and planning. Bristol is a great place to live because it makes me happy! It has so much going on, and a vibrancy and excitement about it that lifts my spirits just walking down the street. I have been amazed too at how many friends I have made in the local community in such a short space of time.

helloitsgemma balloon festival bristol

Gemma from Helloitsgemma loves that: The city centre is threaded with water, the harbour and the river. It creates a calm amongst the city traffic jams. A walk around the harbourside, is always interesting, never the same.  We moved to Bristol last year and I love the festivals the city plays host to, clustered around the waters edge in town or out at Aston court to the iconic balloon festival.

bristol bites restaurant

Emily from Bristol Bites says: There’s just so much going on in the world of food and drink in Bristol: we have new restaurants, coffee shops, delis and more springing up all the time. There’s something to suit all budgets and tastes here, and we’re also lucky enough to have some amazing local producers on our doorstep. What’s not to love?

Instinctive Mum Bristol Cathedral Bristol

Jen from Instinctive Mum found it hard to sum up why Bristol is a great place to live. She tried it with these very poignant words: Vibrant, diverse, busy, never still. Changing, growing, adapting and blended. So much to do, many people to meet, places to visit. Old and new, historical, unique.

Circus Queen natural parenting bristol

Adele from Circus Queen thinks: Bristol is a fantastic place to raise kids with a ‘natural’ approach. There are so many beautiful outdoor spaces and a huge community of people devoted to holistic living. There are lots of creative options for home educating families too, which really appeals to us.

globalmouse travels balloon fiesta bristo

Nichola from Globalmouse Travels finds that: Bristol is one of the most colourful cities in the UK – whether it’s the hot air balloons that are always floating over it, the individually painted houses of Totterdown or Hotwells or the Harbourside festivals that go on throughout the summer. I love the colour it brings, it’s happy and fun and shouts out about a city that loves life and embraces it to the full!

Bristol Culture blog Castle Park playground

Martin from Bristol Culture says: Green spaces, cider, close to London, water, Massive Attack, yadda yadda yadda. All well and good, yes, but what I love about Bristol is its myriad of secret corners. Such as the miniature commemorative plaque underneath the clock at the bottom of Park Street, Redcliffe Caves, the chocolate path, hidden trails in Leigh Woods and th post-apocalyptic children’s playground in Castle Park.

Mum of One Up Fest Bristol

Jenny from Mum To One answered: I love that Bristol has numerous vibrant festivals throughout the year, my favourite being UpFest, a celebration of Bristol’s hugely talented Urban Painters. I love the large number of independent cafes, bars and restaurants that thrive on Gloucester Rd and I love the community spirit of Southville where I live.

Are you from Bristol? I’d love to know what you love about the city or what would maybe make it even better! If you are not from this neck of the woods, but have been to Bristol on a visit – what did you think about it? Is Bristol a place that you would want to live in and does it deserve the title ‘best city to live in the UK’?

PS: Thanks to all bloggers who got involved with this blog post and to Matt Gibson for the photo of the Grain Barge. All other photos have been supplied by the bloggers in this blog post.