Bunzilla from Byron – it’s a monster!

Did we run screaming from the big Bunzilla?   Never!  Manchester was packed, not surprised after a rainy morning the sun was out, bright and proud.  We’d come along to the fairly new Byron at the Corn Exchange in Manchester, which is packed full of great places to eat.

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The Honeycomb ice-cream is yum

Never one to turn down a challenge we sat ready and waiting to ‘Unleash the beast from the east’ by tying out the new Bunzilla; a 6 ounce hamburger, soy glaze, miso-roasted bacon, crispy onion ring, shredded white cabbage, wasabi mayo and pickled cucumber.  My husband and I got stuck in straight-away, so not scared of this beast.  A burger is just a burger some would say, but you could say that about trousers or a jacket right?  It’s the accessories, the thought and care and just the great idea of how it’s put together that makes the difference.  And the Bunzilla is a burger dressed up for a super-glam night out, with awesome shoes and a killer bag.  Can I just stop you now and say miso-roasted bacon should be the next biggest thing in food, hard to describe just how utterly moreish it is.  It should be on the menu as a regular side to order.    Again white cabbage in a burger, so not weird and just a crunchy delight.  The staff here work their socks off and are very cheery and chatty and I’m sure they’ve all been Bunzilla’d.  It is here I confess the Bunzilla beat me and I could not finish it, unlike my other half who scoffed the lot (such a beast :-)). So much choice when you decide to eat out and you want to feel you are loved and looked after and Byron does this with ease.  The best bit about Byron specials is that for each special bought they provide a school meal for children living in some of the poorest places in the world through the One Feeds Two campaign – www.byronhamburgers/onefeedstwo

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Of course the classics are a must on this burger menu, but inject these cheeky-sexy specials and we are hooked.  The specials come and go and I for one am excited about the next one, the ‘Byronaldo’ that features crispy Bovril onions which is something to do with the head chef, football and terrible weather.

Go figure, or go eat it at the very least, I am sure you won’t be disappointed.

Byron – Corn Exchange Manchester

PS: The children’s milkshakes (from the Mini Byron menu) are bang on the money, freshly prepared with a choice of vanilla, chocolate, banana or Oreo cookie.

 

May Day Parade Perfection

Just because I love the May Day parade in Knutsford! The weekend was sunny, hot and packed and the 600 or so children who took park were brilliant.  So many people work so hard to bring this spectacular event to our town year after year, for over 150 years in fact!  Thank you

Come fly with us! Runway Visitor Park

We’ve been to watch planes take off and land at Manchester Airport on many a sunny and rainy day over the years.  I’d never been quite sure of the attraction myself, this whole plane/train spotting hobby, but I am pleased to say that I am now a convert, of sorts.

The whole Runway Visitor Park complex at Manchester Airport has improved enormously over the years, with the addition of a café, event/conference venue and of course the star attraction, Concorde, underneath which you can hold a conference or party.  New to us this year are the tours and we were lucky enough to go on the Flight Academy Tour aged 8-12 (also available for ages 4-7) 90 minutes £7 per person.

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The Gold-plated visor

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The cockpit

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View from the cafe

You start off by climbing aboard a real aircraft, well a half of one from Monach Air.  You are then sit in the seats and a welcome and presentation starts.  There is some dressing-up to be done, parents and well as children as you are given a talk on what the airport is all about.  My son loved wearing the £350 fireman’s helmet with the gold-plated visor, which reflects the heat.   Did you know over 20,000 people work at the airport?  And that 450 planes land a day and a peak-times this rises to over 650?  Impressive stats if I do say so myself!

Next on the agenda was air traffic control and their shiny new £20 million control tower, followed by baggage check and details of how they scare ever persistent birds away by playing different sounds of birds in distress, which puts them right off thank goodness!

We’ve saved the best bit till last, getting to sit in the cockpit and to fiddle with all those buttons, every boy’s dream.  This is the bit my son really enjoyed, as you never get to see this view, a real treat.  The staff knew everything there was to know about the airport and handled the barrage of questions from the children well.  The tour is just the right amount of time and has a good balance between active hands-on stuff and talks.

The not-so good bits are paying £10 for parking and the plane used for the tour has seen better days, being a little cold and damp.  The café was great as you can sit and eat whilst watching the planes come and go.  We had some sandwiches and hot drink which were good.  With a play area and shop and all the planes to watch, this place is worth a visit.  You must book in advance to ensure you there is space on the tours.

There are loads of fun special events throughout the year including a special Father’s Day Carvery & Concorde (£24.50 PP) a roast and a tour of Concorde is surely many a Dad’s dream.  You can also buy gift vouchers for all the tours which would make a great birthday present.

Not to mention a two-day Aviation and Transport Festival 16th & 17th July, where even the most modest transport fan can fill their boots on all things with wheels, such as 500 classic cars and a the Spitfire Display Team.  £5 pp and includes car parking – full details here – Runway Visitor Park

Zip World- Betws Y Coed -MEGA!

My husband and I have always joked that as long as we are both on ground level we are fine.  He hates heights and I can’t do anything underground.  So for me to get the chance to zip wire in a Welsh forest is my idea of heaven and his idea of hell.  So here we were on the session with a stag do, the stag I presume, was dressed as Superman.  So he’d save me if things went wrong, right?

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Do I look nervous?

You have a quite a short but steep walk up from the car park where you are given training on how to get into you harness and use of the fail-safe clip system.  Our lovely instructor triple checks everything and you are good to go.  You get to practice with your feet on the ground, at first it feels hard and alien to get the clips on and off but you soon get used to it.  You basically can’t ever have both clips open at the same time, one is always attached.  Then you get to do you first lift off, albeit on just  few few off the ground. Superman went first as his mates hummed the Superman music.  Then with each section you get a bit higher, then a bit higher and before you know it you are 60 feet up in the air!

I went last, my eldest (13) first and then my youngest (9) then me (aged 45).  The first time you launch yourself off a platform your mind is just screaming at you “what on earth are you doing, stop it now!”  So you just have to literally take a leap of faith and go for it.  With my two children having done it before me it was no time for being a chicken, I had to do it.

And what a feeling you get!  It’s a rush, panic, daring and delight all rolled into one.  You can breathe when you make it over to the other side and steady yourself for the next zip. You can sort of see where you are going through the forest, but it doesn’t really matter as you zip from tree to tree.  img_6230Some zips longer than others, but it is the same for each, clip unclip attach the glider-thing (sorry forgotten name of it) and grit your teeth and go for it.

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Up in the trees

My husband seemed a tiny dot on the floor and he admitted later his legs were wobbly and his palms sweaty at the very thought of his whole family up in the branches.  About a third of the way round I realised I was totally loving it, off came one hand then the other at each zip to fully embrace to freedom flying feeling – wooo hoo get me!  Our instructor was close by at all times, which made me feel safe.  My boys loved every moment, totally embracing the wonder of every zip.  It was hard work on the hands taking off and on the clips, but my youngest did brilliantly; even yelling ‘I love you Mum’ on one of the zip runs.

About half way round there is a selfie-platform which takes seven adults (all the others take three max) and there is a certain mountain (nicknamed Snowdie by my youngest) in the background that just makes THE best view.  I stood there alone just looking, truly stunning and just makes you aware of how amazing Wales is.  I’ve not included a picture here because you just have to get up there and see it for yourself, words can’t describe and a picture won’t do it justice.

There are two gut-wrenching bridges to cross during the course.  You are still clipped on but my-oh-my they mess with your head.  One has little wooden posts you have to step on and this was no-doubt the most hideous bit of the whole thing; I was doing some sort of labour-style panting during these bits.  I gave the tree such a big hug after this bit and I just know the tree hugged me back.

Everyone gets hooked into the normalities of daily life and you are rarely pushed outside your comfort zone.  I am so proud of myself for doing this, it just shows when you want to do something, you darn-well can if you put your mind to it; even when it is screaming at you not to do it and you are breathing like you are giving birth!  The last two zips are the longest and most wildest fun, a brilliant finale to two hours of action packed thrills and heart pounding action.  We would have done it all over again there and then.  The whole site is genius and the team behind the design very inspired.

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GO GET YOUR ZIP ON!

There is a lovely cafe on site where much needed tea and cake was eaten after our adventure.  All children under 16 have to be accompanied by an adult at Zip Word Betws Y Coed (Zip Sarafi, Plummet, Skride, Tree Top Nets, Junior Tree Trail) is just one of three sites in North Wales where Zip World have some of the best adventures you’ll every go on, including:- Titan, Bounce Below and Velocity  Click here for full details.

 

 

 

 

Risotto Heaven at Gino D’Acampo Restaurant

We were all pretty tired when we arrived at Gino D’Acampo restaurant at the Corn Exchange in Machester after a full on day of cycling and football, so food was very much on the agenda. I was immediately in love with the lighting, huge cream shades above each table giving up a soft ochre light helping to set the relaxed mood. Lighting design can add ten fold to the enjoyment of eating out and I’ve been in some places where interrogation seems to have been the brief.

The speedy waiters did not look much older than my 14-year-old son (must be their Italian genes) and I briefly imagined their mothers back in the Tuscan hills pining for their precious adorable sons.  The kitchen is open and you can see all the chefs in action, moving furiously back and forth between stations before shouting ‘servizio’ the very second each dish was ready.

Grissini with Parma ham and fresh pesto to start with some olives and I had to fend of the rest of the family to get even one.  One of the greatest pleasures in life for me is fresh made pesto!  We are total no-brainers when it comes to food, seafood for Mum & Dad and pizzas for the children.  Hence Risotto with Scallops, creamy lemon risotto with Scallops and Seafood Linguine.

My eldest practically inhaled his Fiorenina Pizza steaming hot and crisp out of the wood-fired pizza oven.  The youngest opted for a pizza Parmigiana, with chicken, buffalo mozzarella, parmesan and basil.  Fresh, huge and full of flavour.  Pizzas are simple but often so dreadful, but not here.  “Best pizza ever” was the verdict  Of course we had to have some Courgette Fries, who wouldn’t!

Our seafood was fresh and perfectly cooked, I wasn’t feeling generous so didn’t even give away one of my melt-in-the-mouth scallops, but everyone else dived into the risotto and I was told in no uncertain terms in was ‘much better than mine’  Two glasses of Pinot Grigio Blush added beautifully to the mix.

I’ve always been a fan on the booth style seating, gives a real intimacy and cosiness to dinner.  We adored the music too and Shazamed several tracks to make our playlist at home!

The place is busy and bustling, with city centre workers popping in for an early dinner, and those looking for sustenance after a hard day hitting the shops.  The staff are all like little fireflies seemingly dancing around in your vision attending to customers needs. We finished with lemon sorbet and Nutella ice cream – home-made, hand-made and delicious, we all had a total spoon fight over these two!  Each came with a flat waffle cone, genius.  Two espresso’s for us and that was us all done, stuffed with deliciousness and ready for the journey home.

Every Mum knows that having dinner cooked for you that you have not had to think about, shop for and prepare is just the business.  Ramp that feeling by a zillion and this is the feeling I had when eating dinner here.  This place is just the total and utter BUSINESS and so said all of us.

To get you own slice of this Italian dreamboat visit here

You can pop in any time to the bar at the front and have a quick bite and drink and something  I plan to do soon.

 

Legoland Manchester – is it AWESOME?

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Ready for 4D action!

There has always been huge love for Lego in our house, having two sons it is a total no brainer, with many Lego models made over the years still adorning their bedrooms.  So with the Easter hols to fill we jumped into the car and headed to Legoland Discovery Manchester.  I think I was more excited about all the lovely home stores to be found at Barnton Square, but that’s allowed right?  My eldest who is nearly 14 came along somewhat reluctantly as he is not really the target

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Building & Racing

range, but my youngest aged 9 couldn’t wait!   After visiting Legoland Windsor you have to be prepared that Legoland Discovery centre is a whole different kettle of fish.  We’d come to see the new Lego Movie 4D Adventure that launched on March 11th.  Seated wearing 3D glasses in this age of virtual reality could seem a little old-fashioned, but as soon as the lights went down the movie started we were into it!  With air and water being felt throughout the movie it was a fun experience.  The Lego Movie was a real hit in our house and to see it brought to life in 4D was fantastic!  This is one of those places you could spend hours just playing with Lego and studying all the great buildings in Miniland including Blackpool Tower, the Lake District and Oblivion at Alton Towers.  The staff were lovely and chatty too, I always think this make a huge difference when staff are engaged and look like they actually enjoy their job.

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‘Kiss Me Quick’ at Blackpool Tower

Not to mention a football game you could play by tilting the table. Kingdom Quest with lasers was another firm favourite, even for my teenager!  Miniland always a big hit and reminds you why every single Lego brick is just so awesome.  As was the Lego Build and Test area for making cars and holding races.  The verdict of my youngest was ‘So much mega fun’  the verdict of my somewhat too old teen was ‘it’s not bad’ which is a huge compliment!  Legoland Discovery Manchester can’t help but be loved by those who love Lego and I don’t know anyone who isn’t captivated by those little bricks.  I even bought myself a little Lego Ewok key ring to show my love.

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Alton Towers Oblivion

You can hold your birthday party here and there are special nights for adult fans of Lego; something for everyone and who can fault that?

PS: Afterwards I did have a little shop in some of the homestores and bought a very nice fruit bowl from HomeSense!

For full details of opening times and prices click here

Cafe Rouge Cheshire Oaks – fashion & food

 

new interior

Okay so it was half term and it wasn’t my idea really to go shopping at Cheshire Oaks.  With my eldest son away my youngest son and husband both deciding they needed new trainers.  It was freezing cold really busy and raining so wasn’t feeling it at all.   I’m not really into shopping I only go when I’m on a mission when there is something I really need/want.   Thankfully I knew I had lunch at Cafe Rouge to look forward to.

selection of warm breads

Once seated in this newly refurbished lovely cosy restaurant I was glad I made it out of the house!  The restaurant is situated on the left hand side just as you come in to Cheshire Oaks, near New Balance & Nike, which was perfect for a trainer search.  We started with a selection of breads (£5.00) that arrived on a beautiful wooden board and all the breads were fresh smelling just delicious.

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the ultimate french onion soup

We shared a French Onion Soup (£5.50) to start, a total classic with, with deliciously goey croutons.  Hearty and warming, so much so we had a little scrap over who would have the last mouthful!

the croque

One of the best things about cafe rouge over the years has been their  Croques, a classic grilled sandwich with fries or house salad.    My Smoked Salmon Gruyere Cheese with Horseradish Crème Fraîche and Lemon (£10.00) was delicious.  My son had the child version with Smoked Ham and Cheese (£6.95) which is just half a sandwich and some fries, a perfect amount.

My husband has always loved Beef  Bourguignon (£14.00) so it was no surprise to me he ordered this.  Que 20 minutes or so of him barely speaking to me as he ploughed his way through the delicious rich meaty dish with accompanying mash & vege.

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The Beouf

We went to France this summer and ate lots macarons in Paris and my eight-year-old developed a real taste for them, so was delighted to see I lovely big display of raspberry ones under a glass bell jar.  We all had a bite, just like Paris! 

Citron Presse

My Citron Presse (£2.60) say gave me the taste of summer to come and I love the fact you can make it as tart or as sweet as you like with the additional sugar syrup, so French so lovely.

Cafe Rouge at Cheshire Oaks is a real desitanation to head to mid-shop for lunch, dinner or a quick bite;  you can even just pop in for coffee and cake! Each one has a lovely sense of individual character and all the staff seemed to know exactly what they are doing, which made for fast and friendly service.  This one has a lovely nod to fashion with photography and even shoes on display, which of course makes you want even more shoes!  When we left I felt warm and satisfied after having such a lovely lunch in this calm warm French corner of Cheshire Oaks, not to mentioned even more fortified to head back to the shops in the wind and rain.

More details here