Zacry’s, Watergate Bay

 

Wind back to the late 1970s, and I remember Watergate Bay in autumns and winters as this extraordinary and enormous, empty stretch of flat firm sand and ever roaring surf.  The wind would whip through my duffel coat toggles and I’d have to force the lapels together with mitten-clad hands. I remember groups of camper vans parked overlooking the beach and cold, shivering men peeling off wetsuits.  A gathering of mates drawn from the sedate south Cornish coast for their thrill fix had become rugged guys with an assumed air of ‘cool’, and me, that an awkward teenage girl, more self-conscious by a family walk, would surreptitiously gawk at.

The only building near the sea was the hotel, imposing but of a bygone age, seemingly locked until the summer season returned.

How things have changed, except the beach that it. Surfing is de rigueur at The Extreme Academy Watergate, along with learning to kitesurf, waveski and paddlesurf. So that tramping in with wet sandy feet into what is now a splendid hotel for all seasons is perfectly acceptable.

An autumn night and the Other Half and I were recently invited to dine at Zacry’s, the Watergate Hotel’s new restaurant. Zacry’s is a somewhat metropolitan looking brassiere of zig-zag angles. It was a sliding doors moment (indeed even the doors slide from terrace) to step from a blustery dark night and the sea’s roar and into the calm and the light.

063-zacrys-restaurant-3146983387-O 027-zacrys-restaurant-3146979982-OYes, it’s true we felt middle-aged but determined to still get with it and I was pleased with myself for not over-dressing. For though this is ‘posh food’ for local standards, the ambience is relaxed and people-friendly. Bring your children, eat with just your fork, it won’t lessen the absolutely exemplary standard of attentive service you’ll be treated to and the maître d’ isn’t going to make you feel awkward if both elbows rest on the table. Continue reading

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Three men in a boat, a picnic hamper and a dark tale involving suitcases….

Going to the theatre is a bit like catching buses. You don’t go for ages and then multiple opportunities to climb on board come along in quick succession.

Well, I know it’s not everyone’s analogy. But that’s how it is for me.

One trip to the theatre is special. Two in the same week is downright indulgent. A rare cornucopia of theatrical delights after an ceaselessly LONG dramatic pause. And, please believe me, Victorian comedy with exaggerated acting and modernised jokes on Tuesday followed by the early 18th century’s  Beggar’s Opera twisted, reformed and spat screaming into the 21st Century on Friday, left me feeling a bit dazed like a rabbit caught in the spotlight.

As stories go, the first was light and comic, it involved three chaps buffooning wonderfully and a female pianist who we always thought was on the point of breaking into words, but never did. Her expressions did her talking.photo 1 photo 3

The Hall for Cornwall offered me two tickets to see Three Men in a Boat , a complimentary pre-theatre ‘hamper’ worth £15, of local cheeses, olives, fresh bread and a selection salamis, I would guess by the quality were from of Deli Farm Charcuterie, to enjoy before the show and washed down with generous glasses of wine.  It was a totally unexpected invitation, and as with things unexpected, I had  absolutely no idea what to expect. It seems most others are equally clueless, as every time I mentioned “I went to see three men in a boat…” the quick reply would come back with a questions: “What?  Dara Ó Briain, Rory McGrath and Griff Rhys Jones  in person?” It  goes to prove the  TV series has overshadowed the original Jerome K Jerome’s classic tale of boating misadventure on which this production was based.

As the first people to sample the Hall for Cornwall’s hamper,  this ‘new’ initiative, we felt a little self-conscious, but once we’d taken our seats at the front of the theatre, felt bereft of ‘picnic’ hamper that by that time we’d demolished and left in the bar. The scene set and a hilarious tale from the river told,  it was just the thing that should really have been taken with us and eaten on this imaginary river bank…..

Produced by The Original Theatre Company and The Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds the performance drew on the quintessential example of the charm and wit of Victorian England. Attempting to escape the stresses of city life, three friends, Harris, George and J – accompanied by their faithful canine companion – decide to take to the river in order to relax and rejuvenate.

The holiday, however, quickly unravels and descends into chaos… and my friend and I, on the other hand, soon found ourselves sitting amid people roaring with laughter. We looked at each other, and laughed like the last people to catch on with the joke.

 

The later end of the week, “Dead Dog in a suitcase (and other love songs)” A new Beggar’s Opera, from the ever inventive Kneehigh Theatre, was laced with dark humour and a grim tale of bribery, corruption, immorality and greed brought right up to date.

It was meant as a family outing for a birthday treat. It was only at the end I read not suitable for under 14’s. Well, my youngest, may have a been a little traumatized by the bawdy brothel scenes, but he is only a few months off his 14th and he’ll get over it.

I’ve grown up with the Kneehigh, I’ve been on an adolescent journey with them since I was sixteen, and frankly, there’s nothing quite like a Kneehigh performance for sheer inventiveness, puppetry, pyrotechnics and performance.

Mayor Goodman has been assassinated. Contract killer Macheath has just married Pretty Polly Peachum and Mr and Mrs Peachum aren’t happy. Not one bit.

Based on the Beggar’s Opera, John Gay’s classic musical satire, Dead Dog in a Suitcase (and other love songs) is busting with wit, wonder and weirdness. An extraordinary Kneehigh cast of actor musicians shoot, hoot and shimmy their way through this twisted morality tale of our times…by turns SHOCKING, HILARIOUS, HEARTFELT and ABSURD!

The gorgeous and powerful live score combines trip hop and folk, Renaissance polyphony and psychedelia, and ska, grime and dubstep. … echoing Gay’s original by plundering the sounds of our times.

What the HELL is the world coming to?

This is now, this is it

The world is poor and man’s a shit

The game is rigged, nothing’s truer

Death’s a joke and life a sewer!

As drama it couldn’t  have been more much more different – barring the energy of both performances, that both were brilliant and a somewhat ‘stiff’ dog in each play – I didn’t know whether to end my week laughing, howling or just to end it.

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/100090170″>STORY</a&gt; from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/wearekneehigh”>WeAreKneehigh</a&gt; on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

 

 

 

Extreme Food (Fifteen Cornwall)

Cornwall has extremes. Often so beautiful, on clement days and in sunshine, that she steals all words that might adequately describe her as a welcoming marvel, leaving the spectator speechless and in awe.

In contrast, this southwestern extremity, with craggy toe posturing towards the Atlantic, can turn overnight into a salty wet, ill-tempered, moody bitch especially on exposed coasts. Bleak and blustering, she screams at low-grown thorny trees who bend cowering under the banshee’s onslaught. Grabbing loose hair, she tosses it into bird’s nest mangles, whips up a foam of green-grey scum off the ocean and throws buckets of sea mixed with rain relentlessly upon us. There is not much to do. Either dress for it and face the weather and be exhilarated by it,  or stay indoors, batten down the hatches, and comfort eat.IMG_1292

Pondering both options, wet or dry, there’s few better locations, than a mid-week lunch on Watergate Bay at Fifteen Cornwall, to enjoy both. I chose comfort over thrill, but with a great ringside view to see the kite-surfers zip up and down the shoreline, sometimes taken airborne above the waves, most of my food bites were accompanied by gasps of wonder.

Personally, I find it impossible not to love the food at Fifteen Cornwall, and a three course mid-week lunch for £21 makes the off-season experience well worth while. Currently running Monday to Friday until 20th December, this makes it a local’s special treat and,  the Autumn into Winter menus feature richer, earthier food that’s full of flavour.IMG_0776

Not every plate of food is as pretty or refined as each other, but it doesn’t matter one jot unless you only measure taste through your eyes! The thick Tuscan soup – resembling something I might have concocted from everything I found in my cupboard in fridge in my University days – was actually a flavour marvel. Rich, warming and spicy. Perfect comfort food on the cold, windswept November day I chose it. Mullet with its fine flavour and flakey texture, I have to declare is now my favourite fish.

Where my partner chose the opposite dishes, starting light and building towards his Sticky toffee apple pudding; I worked in reverse and finished with a light creamy panna cotta with spicy plums. Delicious!

I only have one teeny-weeny gripe, that on that day the service was slow and we were itching for a beach blast that would give our  dog a good  run before the tide came in. On the upside, slow is a good if you want to stay unhurried, watch the surf action and savour every Fifteen moment warm in doors.

Try the delicious Lemongrass and Ginger or Fifteen’s home-made Cola for a non-alcoholic treat.

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Mozzarella di bufala, dressed beets and almonds

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Ribollita (a thick Tuscan soup)

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Crispy fillet of mullet with herby potatoes, cavolo nero and aioli

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Pappardelle of slow cooked balsamic pork ragu and crispy herbs

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Sticky toffee apple pudding and clotted cream

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Panna cotta, spiced plums and shortbread

Boscundle Manor – Restaurant Review

If I said that Boscundle was an entirely new discovery wouldn’t be the truth. Locals have quietly considered this small, chic hotel – possibly too quietly – as having one of the best restaurants within St. Austell. However, best-kept secrets can sometime be skewed.

I’d not though about eating at Boscundle for years. I like my food experience to stimulate my imagination and not just my taste buds and my assumption was, based on its country manor location, that the offering would be very formal, conventional and a tad expensive. But I love those terrific moments of epiphany when you can happily say, ‘I was wrong. I’ve now seen the light’.photo[4]

The experience for me has just blown my tongue’s nerve endings out of hibernation. I love food experiences when they are so good that you go on dining on the memory of it for weeks, maybe even years, afterwards and this was most definitely one of those. The other half and I will still be asking each other ‘what magic had been performed in a seemingly simple yet velvety smooth Pea veloute to make it taste better and fresher than fresh peas straight from the pod?’ for years to come.  This is not toe-curling over-enthusiasm being expressed here. I’m too British for that. Quite simply this was a beautiful introduction to six amazing courses of a superb tasting menu at an amazingly reasonable price of £49 per head. Added to which we were treated to a glass of Prosecco and a plate of delicious canapés while we read the menu.  It will now go down as one of the best stand out meals I’ve possible ever had.

My mother once worked as a cook and she effortlessly produced thousands of family meals all through her lifetime. I too, cook meals from scratch almost everyday. It means that a meal that’s been cooked for me is always a treat. I like to think I’m not a boring cook but I am a bored cook and I most want eat food that’s genuinely delicious. Luckily in Cornwall, we’re completely spoiled for fresh produce, and have a swelling gastronomic reputation enhanced by celebrity restaurants and a healthy collection of Michelin stars. I can rattle off the names of a good dozen male chefs who have very notable reputations, but only knew of two women in Cornwall who ran restaurants worth making a beeline for. How does that imbalance occur? Scores of women like my mother and I, effortlessly bang out good meals all their lives and we remain ordinary. It’s as if men are in possession of some superior ‘chef gene’ that transcends decent cooking into culinary brilliance. This thought had surfaced in my brain and grew with certainty with each exquisite course. It shames me that I assumed that just because the food was so carefully constructed it could only be man-made.

photoThe smooth pea soup served in a witty black, with white spots, coffee cup had three whole peas to be discovered like sweet bursts of summer in my childhood’s kitchen garden.

photo[5]The second course that followed was a flavourful and densely meaty ham hock terrine with celeriac, a hint of mustard and apple and caramel dots.

photo[3]The third course caught me by surprise. Incredulous that the placing of a mackerel fillet on spidery fennel and orange segments with a cider and caper dressing should work was extraordinary. Not to be deconstructed and examined but best taken as a mouthful of all the flavours combined. Naturally it seemed wrong to have fish with orange and yet together it tasted… bizarre… but right.

photoThe only course that seemed more ordinary, but no less delicious, was the main: Breast of Cornish duck, confit leg, fondant potato, cherry sauce. Saying that just proves how much I was being spoilt.

Finally, in rapturous awe, although we did our best to slow our dining experience to snail’s pace, we drew into the pudding zone.

photo[2]I wonder have you ever had a chocolate crème brulée? A piece of heaven that I can’t help wondering why something so obvious isn’t everywhere. My husband has a thing about chocolate and one tiny spoonful and he was summoning the waitress. “The thing is,” he says, “this is too good to have now. Would you mind taking it away now and bringing it back so I can enjoy it with my coffee?” I gave an apologetic smile on his behalf but she was very obliging and perfectly happy to humour him. Perhaps she should have mentioned that there was to be petite fours with the coffee and spared his later blushes.

photoPudding didn’t end there; the final delight was out of this world: Strawberry and champagne jelly, honeycomb and elderflower sorbet. Not only a thing of beauty that held an assortment of delicious blue and red berries in suspended flotation, but full of surprising sparkling tingles on the tongue. It was fresh, light and a perfect end that I did my best to finish slowly.  Clever, clever chef I thought, turning food into divine. Boscundle’s head chef and hidden talent is one to watch. Remember the name: Jenny Reed, a girl, hurrah!

Boscundle, St Austell, PL25 3RL UK

01726 813557, e-mail, reservations@boscundlemanor.co.uk

www.boscundlemanor.co.uk

This review featured in Cornwall Today Magazine September 2013

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Hub ‘Burger’ Box

Yesterday,  I had a burger with chips for lunch.

I doubt you are really interested to know that, but you should. You should sit up and take notice and not be too slack about it either.  For this burger was Damn Good.

You may be familiar with the Hub Bar & Kitchen on the St.Ives Harbour Front; I confess I’m not. But as a way of celebrating their 10th year, restaurateur Richard Boon decided it would be a  a 30 ft shipping container and then had it fully customised and professionally converted into a mini-restaurant. Three weeks from a dockside in Liverpool to Lemon Quay in Truro.

A8Szo1qCQAADYG7.jpg_largeRichard says he’d love to be able to map the epic journeys this box has taken around the globe becoming a rectangular ‘burger box’ right outside M&S. “They have serial numbers so in theory it’s possible to do.” I would certainly be a neat full circle when it comes to discussing food miles.

There’s a choice of ‘eat in’ where you can either squeeze socially into one of three tables inside the box, or opt for more elbow room outside. Or you can ‘take out’.

The Menu , overseen by Hub Head chef Alex Towill includes hand-made burgers made from the beef from Warrens Butcher in Launceston who supply beef to Michelin starred restaurants from Chris Eden at the Driftwood in Porthscatho to Brett Graham at The Ledbury in London. No wonder it tasted so Damn Good.

Proper chips with skins on, cheeseburgers with Cornish Blue, hot dogs, pulled pork, Falafels or crispy mackerel. It’s eat-with-your-hands-food to enjoy with cold Cornish craft beers and larger or local pressed apple juice… and if that’s not enough the value of the food is amazing. My OH and I came away stuffed and happy on meals that cost very little in relation to the quality.

The Big Kahuna / two burgers, BBQ Pulled Pork, Swiss Cheese and Onion Rings with chips cost £7.95, The Mack Daddy / Crispy Mackerel, Beetroot Jam and Horseradish Mayo £5.95  and a classic burger is only £4.95.

I said, don’t be too slack if you thought it would be nice to pop by and take a look at this new pop-up eatery, for the Hub Box will only be in situ for the next 12 weeks.

‘The plan is to make Hub and Hub-Box concept the number 1 name in burgers and ribs,” says Richard and he hopes that Hub-Boxes will be popping up at major events and locations in Cornwall and across the South West.

Follow the Hub Box progress ate @hubstives or on Facebook stiveshub.

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Mother & Baby Awards 2012/13

Mother & Baby is undoubtedly the most influential and trusted brand with a heritage that spans over 56 years. Mums frequently say that they look for the Mother & Baby Gold rosette when buying for baby. This is because they know that every product has been tested and voted by mums for mums as the best for their little ones.

This is the 19th year of the Mother & Baby Awards and this year around 500 mums put a total of 520 separate products, across 34 reader-tested categories, through their paces. Those women deserve to be heartily thanked and congratulated

A staggering 5000 pristine samples were carefully wrapped and posted off for our mummy testers to try out. Of course, this meant the all-important babies had their say too. Chewing them, dribbling on them and even bashing them against the food …all in the serious business of finding out which of these products deserved to be claimed the best.

All the 254 products shortlisted came through the most vigorous of tests and have impressed the harsher critics –  mums (and dads for that matter).

Unfortunately, there can only be one Gold, one Silver and one Bronze winner is each category but any of the shortlisted products could equally have been winners!

Here’s the shortlist with the winners.


BABY WIPE

Aldi: Mamia Baby Wipes (Fragranced) – GOLD

Jackson Reece Kinder by Nature: Natural Unscented Baby Wipes – SILVER

Tesco Baby Ultra Soft Wipes (Fragrance Free) – BRONZE

CLEARLY HERBAL Natural Wipes

Jackson Reece Kinder by Nature: Natural Herbal Baby Wipes

JOHNSON’S® Baby: Extra Sensitive Wipes

ASDA: Little Angels fragranced cotton soft baby wipes

Little Ones at Sainsbury’s: Hand and Face Wipes

Aldi: Mamia Baby Wipes Sensitive

Pampers®: Sensitive Wipes

Tesco: Baby Newborn Wipes

 

BEST DISPOSABLE NAPPY OR NAPPY BRAND

ASDA: Little Angels: New Arrival  – GOLD

Kiddicare: Just4Bums -SILVER

Pampers®: Active Fit with DryMax™ and 3-Way Fit -BRONZE

Aldi: Mamia New Born Range

Aldi: Mamia Ultra Dry Range

ASDA: Little Angels Action Fit

ASDA: Little Angels Comfort Dry

Pampers®: Baby-Dry

 

BEST BABY CARRIER / SLING OR BACK CARRIER

BabyBjörn: Baby Carrier Miracle – GOLD

Close: Caboo + organic – SILVER

Stokke: MyCarrier – BRONZE

ERGObaby: Original Carrier

LittleLife: Voyager S2 child carrier

MaByLand: Trek Snuggle Carrier

 

BEST BABY FOOD RANGE/PRODUCT

HiPP Organic Mini Pots Range – GOLD

Cow & Gate: 100% fruit pouches – SILVER

Plum Baby: Stage 1 Pouches – BRONZE

ASDA: Little Angels Organic Baby Food

Boots: Baby Organic

Disney Annabel Karmel: Savoury Rice Snacks

Ella’s Kitchen: Ella’s Kitchen dairy range

Heinz Baby: Heinz Fruit Smoothie

HiPP Organic: Organic pouches

Plum Baby: Stage 2 Pouches

Truly Scrummy Organic Range (Stage 1,2,3)


BEST BABY MONITOR

Motorola: MBP36 – GOLD

BT: Baby Monitor & Pacifier – SILVER

Summer Infant: BabyTouch Digital Video Monitor – BRONZE

BT: Baby Monitor 250

Philips AVENT: Super Sensitive Eco DECT Baby Monitor

Tommee Tippee® Closer to Nature®: Video Monitor with Sensor Pad

TOMY: Digital Video Plus TDV450 Monitor

 

BEST BABY TOY -UNDER 12 MONTHS

Chicco: Magic Stars Cot Mobile – GOLD

Taf Toys: Clip-On Pram Book – SILVER

MOTHERCARE Little Circus Walk around -BRONZE

Babies ‘R’ Us: Garden Friends Sydney the Spider

Bondie Bird Limited: The Bondie Bird Playwrap

Dandelion: Corn Teething Keys

Fisher-Price: Discover n’ Grow Kick & Play Piano Gym

Munchkin: Inflatable Safety Duck Bath

VTech Baby: Yellow Peek-a-Boo Book

 

BEST BABY TOY 12 -24 MONTHS

Kiddicare: Buzzing Brains Stack n Sort Cups – GOLD

VTech Baby: Toot-Toot Drivers Garage – SILVER

Mega Bloks: Mega Bloks® Big Block Wagon – BRONZE

Chicco: Quattro 4 in 1 Sit ‘n’ Ride

LeapFrog: Animal Adventure Learning Table

Little Tikes: 3-in-1 Trike with Discover Sounds® Dashboard

Mega Bloks: Mega Bloks® Lil Vehicles Dylan Dump Truck

 

BEST BATHTIME PRODUCT

Brother Max: Ray Digital Bath & Room Thermometer – GOLD

Babyway Karibu: Foldable Bath – SILVER

Babies R Us: Sea Turtle bath – BRONZE

Babyway: Podium Toilet Trainer

Brush-Baby Ltd: Chewable Toothbrush

Clevamama: ClevaBath Extra Long BathMat

Cuddledry: baby apron bath towel

Kiddicare: Essentials Bath Seat

Munchkin: Inflatable Safety Duck Bath

 

BEST BOUNCY CHAIR/ROCKER OR SEAT

Fisher-Price: Soothe & Go Bouncy Seat – GOLD

Fisher-Price: Woodsy Friends Bouncer – SILVER

Chicco: Polly Swing – BRONZE

Babies ‘R’ Us: Winnie the Pooh Cradling Bouncer

BabyBjörn: Babysitter Balance

Cushi Tush: Baby Seat

Kiddicare: Essentials Baby Bouncer

Nuna: The Nuna LEAF™

Stokke®: Bounce ‘n’ Sleep bouncer

 

BEST CAR SEAT – GROUP 2, 3 & GROUP 1, 2, 3

RECARO: Monza Nova Seatfix – GOLD

Graco: Nautilus – SILVER

Maxi-Cosi: RodiFix – BRONZE

Apramo: Hestia Car Seat- Group 1,2,3

Diono: Monterey2 Expandable Booster Seat

 Kiddicare: Baby Weavers Opus SP Car Seat

Kiddy: Guardian Pro 2

Renolux: Step 123

 

BEST CAR SEAT – GROUP 1

Britax: TRIFIX – GOLD

Maxi-Cosi: Pearl and FamilyFix Base – SILVER

Graco: Coast – BRONZE

MyChild: Astrofix

 

BEST CAR SEAT (NEWBORN) – GROUP 0 & 0+

Britax: BABY-SAFE plus SHR II – GOLD

Maxi-Cosi: Pebble with FamilyFix Base – SILVER

Graco: Logico S HP – BRONZE

Concord: AIR

BeSafe: iZi GO

JANE: Matrix Light 2 Car Seat & Matrix Platform

 

BEST FEEDING PRODUCT FOR WEANING

Munchkin: 3 Pk Suction Bowls – GOLD

Tommee Tippee® Explora®: First Weaning Spoons x2 – SILVER

Philips AVENT: Combined Steamer and Blender – BRONZE

Annabel Karmel by NUK: Food Cube Tray

BEABA: BABYCOOK Solo

MAM UK LTD: MAM Dipper Set

Mothercare: Essential weaning range

NUBY Natural Touch: First Cup

OXO Tot: Training Plate

Vital Baby®: Weaning Set

 

BEST BABY SKINCARE RANGE/PRODUCT

Boo Boo Baby – GOLD

Earth Friendly Baby (natural and organic range) – Earth Friendly Baby by Lansinoh – SILVER

JOHNSON’S® Baby: JOHNSON’S® Baby Nappy Cream – BRONZE

ASDA: Little Angels Range

by Maclaren: Beginning

Disney Corine de Farme: The Disney and Corine de Farme babycare range

Green Baby: Organic Skincare

Halos N Horns: baby skincare range

Organic Babies: Organic Babies Range

Weleda Baby: Calendula Range

 

BEST HIGHCHAIR

Graco: Contempo – GOLD

Stokke®: Tripp Trapp® – SILVER

Kiddicare: Baby Weavers Wean Me Highchair – BRONZE

BabyBjörn: High Chair

bloom: fresco chrome

Cosatto: Trof Highchair

Geuther: Swing Highchair

MOTHERCARE: HIGH T HIGHCHAIR

 

BEST LIGHTWEIGHT BUGGY/STROLLER

Maclaren: Quest – GOLD

Mothercare: Mino Stroller – SILVER

Obaby: Atlas V2 Stroller – BRONZE

Kiddicare: Jet Pushchair

Kiddu  Cruz 5-Position Lie Back Buggy

RED CASTLE: Connect® stroller

 

BEST MATERNITY SKINCARE PRODUCT

Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula: Tummy Butter – GOLD

Mothercare: It’s Your Body – SILVER

Weleda: Stretch Mark Massage Oil – BRONZE

Bio-Oil

Shea Mooti: Mama’s Everything Body Balm

Tesco: Tesco Blossom Stretch Cream

 

BEST NEWBORN SLEEP AID – 0-3 MONTHS

Tiny Love: Soothe ‘n Groove Mobile – GOLD

Fisher-Price: Discover n’ Grow Nursery Rhymes Projection Soother – SILVER

SleepCurve® from TOMY: SleepCurve® moses basket mattress – BRONZE

Fisher-Price: Soothe & Glow Seahorse

Love To Dream: Love To Swaddle Up

Prince Lionheart: back to sleep slumber bear plus

Summer Infant: Summer Infant Slumber Buddy

The Gro Company : Gro-swaddle

 

BEST NURSERY PRODUCT (INC BASKETS, CRIBS & COTS)

KUB: Dreema – GOLD

Saplings: Kitty Cot Bed – SILVER

Baroo: My Little Stars Moses Basket – BRONZE

Baby Joule: Magical Moses Basket

Kiddicare: Kiddicouture Hampton Cotbed

KUB: Folia and ECO Stand

Mothercare: Puzzle Cot Bed

Mothercare: Treasured moses basket and stand

Stokke®: Sleepi package

 

BEST NURSERY PRODUCT

The Gro Company : Grobag Baby Sleeping Bag – GOLD

Merino Kids: GoGo Bag – SILVER

Sock Ons – BRONZE

AeroSleep: 3D Baby Protect

Babies ‘R’ Us: Olive, Henri & Friends Nursery Collection

Brother Max: Bear Carry & Hang Nightlight

Naturalmat: Latex Mat Mattress Standard Cot Bed Size

Stokke®: Bounce ‘n’ Sleep

The Dream Bag: Baby Sleeping Bag

The Nursery Paint Company: Nursery Paint

 

BEST PRODUCT FOR BOTTLE FEEDING

NUK: Winnie the Pooh First Choice Learner Bottle – GOLD

MAM UK LTD: MAM Anti Colic Starter Set – SILVER

Philips AVENT: Natural bottle – BRONZE

AQUAINT: Cleansing Water for Infant Hands, Skin & Much More

Hippychick: Chillipeeps Adaptable Teat

Munchkin: Deluxe Bottle Brush

NUBY Natural Touch: Feeding bottle with Easy Latch Teat

NUK: First Choice Learner Bottle 

Tommee Tippee® Closer to Nature®: 2 x 150ml bottles

 

BEST PRODUCT FOR BREASTFEEDING

Lansinoh Laboratories: Lansinoh HPA® Lanolin – GOLD

Lansinoh Laboratories: Lansinoh Disposable Nursing Pads – SILVER

MAM UK LTD: MAM Manual Breast Pump – BRONZE

Ameda: Lactaline Double Electric Breastpump

ARDO: Calypso

breastvest: breastvest

Emma – Jane: 361 Maternity / Nursing Bra

Philips AVENT: Comfort Breast Pump (Manual)

The Essential Parent Company: The Essential Baby Care Guide DVD 1 Feeding

Theraline: The Original Maternity & Nursing Pillow

Theraline: Wynnie

 

BEST PUSHCHAIR

Baby Jogger: City Mini GT – GOLD

Maclaren: Techno XT – SILVER

Mamas & Papas Urbo – BRONZE

Graco: Swift-Fold

Mothercare: Movix Pram and Pushchair

Mutsy: EVO

Obaby: ZeZu Pramette

Out’n’About: Nipper 360 single

Quinny: Moodd

Stokke®: Xplory®

 

BEST REUSABLE NAPPY

TotsBots: Bamboozle Stretch – GOLD

BumGenius: Freetime Nappy – SILVER

Baba+Boo: Reusable Pocket Nappy – BRONZE

Bambino Mio: miosolo

Charlie Banana: One size reusable cloth diaper

Close: Pop-in new generation + bamboo

Close: Pop-in new generation + minkee

Splash About: Baby Snug

 

 BEST SAFETY PRODUCT

Lindam: Sure Shut Axis Safety Gate – GOLD

LittleLife: Runabout Toddler Daysack – SILVER

Tommee Tippee® Closer to Nature®: Digital Ear Thermometer – BRONZE

AQUAINT: Cleansing Water for Infant Hands, Skin & Much More

Diono: Easy View

Gripfast: Door Stop Snail

Lindam: Easy Fit Plus Safety Gate

Splash About: Float Jacket

The Gro Company : Grobag

The Gro Company : New Gro-egg

 

BEST TODDLER TOY – 24 MONTHS +

LEGO DUPLO: Creative Cakes – GOLD

Tidy Books: The Tidy Books Box – SILVER

Little Tikes: First Slide – BRONZE

babyboomboom: junior bang-bag

Hippychick: HappyHopperz

LeapFrog: Touch Magic Learning Bus

Little Tikes: Pillow Racers

Micro Scooters Ltd.: Mini Micro 3in1 Scooter

Ozbozz: Junior Helmet

Reading Eggs and Reading Eggspress

 

BEST TRAVEL PRODUCT

Mia Tui: Minnie Amelie – GOLD

JJ Cole: Blanket Grey/Red – SILVER

Momymoo Maia Change Bag – BRONZE

Cheeky Rascals: My Carry Potty

Cuski Baby Ltd: The Great Swandoodle

Fisher-Price: Laugh & Learn Apptivity Case for iPhone

Momymoo Maia ‘On-The-Go’ Changing Mat

Phil&Teds : Lobster

Quack Quack Moo: Dribble Bubbs Hooded Blanket

 

BEST TRAVEL PRODUCT (UNDER £20)

SIGG: SIGG Bottle – GOLD

Galt Toys: Drivetime Monkey – SILVER

Charlie Banana: 2-in-1 Swim Diaper & Training Pants – BRONZE

AQUAINT: Cleansing Water for Infant Hands, Skin & Much More

Brica: UV Alert Shade (£13)

Clippasafe: Secure Belt-Travel Pillow, 1-3yrs and 3-8 yrs

Coverdry: SnuggleBlanki

Milton: Milton Mini Portable Soother Steriliser

Outlook: auto-shade

Trunki: PaddlePak

 

BEST TRAVEL SLEEP PRODUCT OR TRAVEL COT

The Gro Company :  Grobag Travel Baby Sleeping Bag – GOLD

Lights Out Blinds: Portable Pop Up Black Out Blinds – SILVER

SleepCurve® from TOMY: SleepCurve® moses basket mattress – BRONZE

BabyBjörn: Travel Cot Light

Graco: Contour Electra

Kiddicare: Kip Travel Cot

Nuna: The Nuna SENA™

The Dream Bag: Travel Sleeping Bag

 

 

BEST TRAVEL SYSTEM

UPPAbaby: VISTA – GOLD

Mothercare: Movix Pram and Pushchair (with Maxi Cosi Cabriofix) – SILVER

Red Kite Baby: Push Me Switch – BRONZE

BabyStyle: Oyster

Graco: Evo

JANE: MUUM MATRIX TRAVEL SYSTEM

Obaby: Chase 3 Wheel 2 in 1 Pramette Travel System

 

BEST TWIN/TANDEM

Britax: B-DUAL – GOLD

Cosatto: You2 Twin Stroller – SILVER

JANE: TwOne – BRONZE

Bugaboo: Bugaboo Donkey

Mountain Buggy: Duet

Phil&Teds: Promenade

 

BEST INNOVATION

BEABA: BABYCOOK Duo

Britax: TRIFIX

Galt Toys: Playnest® Car

iBabyGuard Infant Snooze

Kiddicare: Funky Friends 123 Swaddler

Kit for Kids Baby: Ventiflow Dual Core Mattress

MAM UK LTD: MAM Perfect 6+M Soother – WINNER 

Mamas & Papas: Baby Snug

Quack Quack Moo: Dribble Bubbs Bed Protector

Safe Dreams: Safebreathe™ Hoppy and Patch

Sock Ons Limited: Sock Ons

Stokke: MyCarrier

Summer Infant: Summer Infant Superseat

The Essential Parent Company: The Essential Baby Care Guide

The Little Green Sheep: Twist Natural Mattress

VTech Baby: Alfie Lullaby Comforter

WaterBaby: Pregnancy Care Drink

 

READER VOTED AWARDS

BEST NURSERY RETAILER     – Mothercare

BEST ONLINE RETAILER         – Kiddicare

SUPERMARKET OF THE YEAR   –  Tesco

BEST HEALTH PRODUCT         – Calpol

Tea India

I have just found my favourite tea. Well actually it’s a tea blend.

I couldn’t go to the Mother & Baby awards tonight. Floods and cancelled trains have put the kibosh on that plan so I’m stuck at home drinking a pot of Tea India instead of  sipping champagne.

For nearly 30 years I make a pot of tea with one tea bag of ordinary tea and one bag of Earl Grey. It’s a combo of flavour and fragrance that hits the spot morning and afternoon. However, Tea India recently sent me some of their Black Tea and Cardamon Chai to try so I’m currently enjoying a bag of each of these in my pot and it really is a comforting brew given my current Cinders-you-can’t-go-to-the-ball status.

I’d even go as far as to say that I’m currently happier slumped on my sofa with my mug of aromatic Cardamon / Assam blend than I would  be tottering on heels and sipping bubbles.

The only shame is that currently there is no Tea India stockist anywhere near where I live  😦 and I’m now newly addicted and desperate. Please let me know where I can get hold of Vanilla Chai and Masala Chai , the other two teas in their range.

This is what Tea India say:

Inspired by the fusion of tradition with the vibrancy of modern India, we’ve used our 70 years of tea blending experience, picking only the two top leaves and the bud when the tea is at its freshest, to create a truly unique range of authentic Indian teas.

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Wrapped in Seasalt

Nope, this isn’t  something culinary. Salting something to draw out water and improve flavour although it is easy to be confused.

Seasalt in this instance is Cornwall’s (and mine) favourite clothing brand.  I’ve a Seasalt coat and collected of many shirts, t-shirts and woollen knits from Seasalt’s earliest beginnings. The flattery is mutual apparently as I’m told: “We’re a massive fan of FishWifey blog here at Seasalt” which was the best invitation I’ve ever had to review one of their newest products.   

Seasalt have  been designing and selling their own line of clothing since 2003 and were the first fashion company to use Soil Association certified cotton in their clothing and accessories.

I only have one tiny complaint with Seasalt – or more my boys do – their children’s clothing only goes up to age 8 years. So apart from dressing them in ladies size 8 from time to time, my 14 year old has just taken to dressing himself (with added cats and dog) in this  super luxurious 100% lambswool blanket  that Seasalt have sent me to enjoy!

I had to resort to sneaking Seasalt’s gorgeous blue Jacquard design back from his room while he was at school today. Now there’s wintry chill in the air, I’m rather glad to have covertly and discreetly wrapped this blanket across my knees under my desk as I type. The Topsy blanket is, for want of a better way to describe it, a Cornish nautical twist on a traditional Scandinavian pattern. He came down looking for it, but I shrugged my shoulders saying that the pixies must have run off with it….It is certainly very warm and I’d now rather be cuddled up and sleepy on the sofa .

I’ve attached images of the blankets  here – all are priced at £75.00 and are available at any one of Seasalt’s 13 shops across the Southwest or available online at www.seasaltcornwall.co.uk

Being a Cornish success story is something Seasalt is very proud of and quite naturally they design garments that are inspired by  Cornish sea.

Do let me know your thoughts. Are you a Seasalt fan and what’s you favourite?

Stowells Light and the best laid plan.

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The idea was simple.

Ask some of our best friends round – the kind that know us well enough to be unfazed by the ‘take us as you find us’ – and ply them with wine and some food. Surely, since we so often say, “Let’s get together – anytime….” It ought to have been an infallible no-plan, I thought.

This is a sponsored post for Stowells who need me to get the message out there nice and quick, especially if you’re wondering what wine to buy for Christmas.

“How about meeting up for something to eat?” I asked each one in turn.

“Oh, yes!” they’d say. “We’re free maybe on Tuesday next week….” and I’d have to answer,

“Sorry, that’s too late. This is a, now or never, this weekend ONLY offer if you’re hoping to share my Stowells Light with me.”

Thankfully they know me well enough not to take offence…(I hope).

It so happens, that we will be sharing our Christmas dinner this year with some friends. It has become a bit of tradition with this particular family to do so if we can. Perfect timing, I thought since wine and catering and trimmings is something we need to discuss… diplomatically working out ‘who has the responsibility for cooking the turkey?’ would have been perfect over a bottle of Stowells Light. With its low alcohol content, at 5.5 percent, we’d have been able to keep a sober head on the matter. Plus, I need to remind you, dear readers how much we need to drink responsibly!

As ever, kids (in both families have plans of their own) and in one way or another put the kibosh on the idea of a pre-Christmas get together. So, we resorted to a ‘dinner party’ in remote halves. My husband I quaffed the Stowells Light Rosé, while my friends took home the Stowells Light White to enjoy. The plan was to compare notes, and say ‘cheers’ via phone, facebook, e-mail and twitter and banter with one another (the prequel to Christmas Day when will do it for real) making ‘nom nom’ noises over our wine and food.

To raise our half of the ‘dinner party’  out of the ordinary ‘family supper’, I super-chilled our bottle of Stowells ‘Shriaz’ rosé  and bought a chocolate mousse dessert out of the freezer. I’ll have to apologise for my youngest child’s insistence on tomato ketchup (they do like to lower the tone!) He was having none of that ‘drizzling of pesto and wine vinegar’ over his ‘bangers and mash’. Continue reading

Vampish tips.

I’m having an odd experience here at the keyboard. It appears that someone else’s fingers are doing the typing. The hands that tap and flit before me have shiny red tips that belong to the very glamorous. My own nails, the last time I gave them a cursory glance, were hard-worn, chipped and uneven.

It so happens that us girls generally sit in two camps. As if there was invisible dividing lines between those who’ve had certain experiences and those who have not. From childbirth, which is huge, to the seemingly most trivial. I’ll dare to admit that even first waxings, eyebrow plucking, hair-colouring moments have felt like mini rites of passage. After you’ve sat in both camps and passed from one to the other, you never quite relate to the old self again. How could I have thought that having children would spoil my fun or that an interest in making myself look and feel better was just silly vanity?

I’ve just had a proper nail manicure – the first in my life as it happens and, frivolous though sounds, there was a tiny life changing moment even in this. Continue reading