A lunchtime treat at the Castleyard Cafe Oxford

Monkey and I were spending a day in our county city recently and we were invited to have a lunchtime treat at the Castleyard Cafe Oxford.  The cafe is right next door to the Oxford Castle, and only a few minutes walk from the hustle and bustle of the city centre. Actually it’s a little oasis of peace, light and airy and by the looks of the cakes on offer, we would eat well!

A lunchtime treat at the Castleyard Cafe Oxford

The Castleyard Cafe had a bit of a makeover earlier in the year and was relaunched with a new name, new look and a new menu.  We’d not been before so I can’t comment on the transformation, but I certainly like the feel of it now. The team pride themselves on offering locally sourced items, from the breads in their deli style sandwiches, through to their cakes and ice creams.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from a lunchtime treat at the Castleyard Cafe Oxford, as the website doesn’t show their menu.  Eating out with a fussy eater of a 6 year old can always be a rather tricky experience.  I have a child who will eat all sorts of things at home, but when we’re out – not a chance.

A lunchtime treat at the Castleyard Cafe Oxford

We were meeting Emma from Bubbablue and Me for lunch and we’d arrived just before her.  Monkey took the opportunity to sit down and survey the menu.  The cafe offers soup, deli style sandwiches, pies and I also spotted a beam salad and couscous.  I knew Monkey would probably not eat anything on offer.

Emma arrived and we both agreed that The Healthy sandwich with Chicken and Avocado sounded lovely. Sadly there had been an issue with some deliveries and this option wouldn’t be available.  I decided on The New Yorker with Pastrami, Emmental and Gherkins on Rye.  But what about Monkey? In the end we decided on The Italian with no rocket or tomatoes.

Of course, when it arrived Monkey decided he wouldn’t eat mozzarella either (loves it at home).  We were then told that they had cheddar available.  Lovely, the sandwich was changed and he had a Mortadella and Cheddar sandwich in the end.

A lunchtime treat at the Castleyard Cafe Oxford

There are a whole host of drinks options available, I settled for a Coke with plenty of ice and Monkey had his favourite, an Apple Juice.  We’d left him to pick a table for us, and he decided a seat with a view would be best.

A lunchtime treat at the Castleyard Cafe Oxford

I didn’t notice it until we were leaving, but we were sat next to a bookcase full of books for all ages.  I wish I’d noticed it earlier as my sandwich got forgotten and Monkey was getting a bit fractious, waiting for his mother to eat.

I thought Monkey might have gone for one of the Judes Ice Cream tubs, but no, he thought that a Calipo lolly was in order.  Emma and I had both been drooling over the cakes, she had opted for the Stout and Chocolate cake, whilst I was sold on the Peach and Raspberry cake.  Both were devine, served with fresh coffee and hot chocolate to end our meal off nicely.

 

I hadn’t realised that free wi-fi was also available in the Castleyard Cafe until I got home.  I might have missed the signs in the cafe for that.  There are baby changing facilities and the cafe prides itself on being breast-feeding friendly.  Personally, to make it more family friendly, a few less ‘fussy’ standard sandwich options would go down well.  I know my son isn’t the only child who likes the plainer things in life.  But the food we did eat was tasty and fresh and you could tell that the staff really cared about what they were selling.

With full tummy’s it was time to head over to the Castle for our Oxford Castle Unlocked experience.  Read more about that later in the week.

You might like to pin for later if you’re visiting Oxford?

A lunchtime treat at the Castleyard Cafe Oxford

disclosure:  we were given a voucher to cover the cost of our lunch in exchange for an honest review

 

 

Posted in Days Out, Food and Drink, Hotel and Restaurants, Reviews, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines Silent Sunday My Sunday Photo 240716

Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines Silent Sunday My Sunday Photo 240716

OneDad3Girls

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Preparing for Year Two with Cleancut Wood

As regular readers know, Monkey sometimes finds school challenging.  Writing has certainly not been one of his favourite activities at school.  But I can see some noticeable improvements in his efforts in the last few months.  I’ve had notes written for me, cards have appeared for friends and family and his is a little more willing to put pen to paper.  I thought he deserved a little treat as we look forward to the next academic year.  Something a little different. He’ll be preparing for Year Two with Cleancut Wood and their beautiful personalised wooden pencil-case.

Preparing for Year Two with Cleancut Wood

Cleancut Wood produce a range of wooden gifts, made in oak and bamboo.  They have a wide selection of items, ranging from memorial plaques, rulers and trinket boxes to chopping boards, snowflake decorations and furniture.  The vast majority of the items can also be personalised.

I really liked the idea of the personalised pencil box, its something a little different, and something that Monkey can use for many years to come.  Being made of oak, I know its going to last too.

You can arrange for a personalisation on both sides of the slip lid. I decided to have Monkey’s name on the front of the lid and a little message on the reverse.

Preparing for Year Two with Cleancut Wood

With rounded edges the pencil box is really tactile and the engraving is very well finished. It is worth noting that Cleancut Wood finish their products with Danish Oil, which was a little strong-smelling when we first opened our delivery.  Our pencil-case also came in a little cloth bag, which I thought was a nice touch.

Preparing for Year Two with Cleancut Wood

It’s perfectly sized to house all manner of pens and pencils and has made a perfect end of year gift for a little boy who has tried so hard to catch up this year.

Preparing for Year Two with Cleancut Wood

The quality of the craftsmanship shows and I’m really pleased with this item.  I think we may well have to look at getting their personalised ruler at some point too.  Priced at £45.00, this is a beautiful gift made of solid oak, something special to be treasured for a long time to come.

To see the full range of items manufactured by Cleancut Wood pop over to their website. It’s also worth noting that they offer free delivery on all items.

disclosure: we were sent the item mentioned in exchange for an honest review


The team at Cleancut Wood would like to offer one lucky reader the chance to win a Personalised Solid Oak Ruler worth £14.95 with one line of personalised text on the front of the ruler included.  Complete the Gleam form below for your chance to win.  Good luck!

Personalised Graduation Gift Wooden Ruler a

Terms and conditions:

(Please note that all entries will be checked against comments for validation).

Only the first step of this form is mandatory, all other steps are optional. Only one entry per person is allowed.

This giveaway is for UK residents only.

Once a winner is randomly picked, I will check if the winner has done what was requested and I will contact them, if they do not reply within one week, the prize will be allocated to another person.

The prize is a Personalised Solid Oak Ruler worth £14.95 with one line of personalised text on the front of the ruler included.

The giveaway will close on 17th August 2016 at midnight.

Personalised Solid Oak Ruler worth £14.95

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Please Be Nice to Sharks – review and giveaway

Whenever we visit an Aquarium the Sharks are always a big draw for Monkey.  For me, they conjure up images of the film Jaws, from my childhood.  Perhaps it was time for both of us to learn a little more about these creatures and Sterling Books came to our aid. Please Be Nice to Sharks is now available in the UK in hardback and is full of interesting facts about these animals.

Please Be Nice to Sharks

In Please Be Nice to Sharks we learn about 14 different species of Shark, along with a Manta Ray.  Neither of us had heard of a Bamboo Shark before reading this book.  The photography is stunning and Monkey could easily recognise Sharks we’ve seen before, such as the Hammerhead. He was fascinated to learn that a Lemon Shark exists, he is a greengrocers son after all!

Please Be Nice to Sharks

As well as a Shark Fact list for some of the different species, each shark is described in a way that engages with children.  There’s also a strong message throughout from Mark Weiss in Please Be Nice to Sharks about conservation, which I appreciate.

Please Be Nice to Sharks

Who knew there was such a thing as a Wobbegong Shark? He lives on the ocean floor and  is so well camouflaged.  It’s a fascinating book, which has certainly engaged Monkey. Priced at £9.99, I’ve included my Amazon Affiliate link below for your information.

disclosure:  we were sent the item mentioned in exchange for an honest review


GMC Distribution have kindly offered me 3 copies of Please be Nice to Sharks to give away to you, my readers.  Please complete the Gleam form below for your chance to win.  Good luck!

Terms and conditions:

(Please note that all entries will be checked against comments for validation).

Only the first step of this form is mandatory, all other steps are optional. Only one entry per person is allowed.

This giveaway is for UK residents only.

Once a winner is randomly picked, I will check if the winner has done what was requested and I will contact them, if they do not reply within one week, the prize will be allocated to another person.

The giveaway will close on 21st August 2016 at midnight.

Please Be Nice to Sharks book worth £9.99

Posted in Book Reviews, Giveaways, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Making the world better with pets #WeAreBetterWithPets

I’ve had a pet of one sort or another, pretty much my entire life.  From terrapins, to tortoises, cats, rabbits and a dog, a pet has always been close to my heart.  Except perhaps my brothers gerbils and hamsters, who all had rather sharp teeth, but we’ll gloss over that. I think it’s really important for children to have a pet, it teaches them about responsibilities, taking care of each other and of course that nothing and nobody lives forever. Purina are making the world better with pets, by making a commitment to improve society for pets; both as a brand and as a company of individual employees.

Making the world better with pets

They’ve created a film to share their vision with us all, and asking us to become active participants.  How can we make this commitment? Well the team a Purina have created a ‘Commitment Generator’ tool to enable us all to make our pledges and share them across social media.

Making the world better with pets

Brewster’s the first long-haired cat I’ve owned and grooming is an interesting experience. As pretty as he looks, keeping his fur at its best can be a bit of a nightmare.  He hates being brushed or combed, so I have to take it slowly with him.  But it’s a job that needs to be done regularly, especially at this time of year, when his coat is full of grass seeds after an adventure.  So my commitment is easy, I promise to brush his hair every day.

Making the world better with pets

The commitment generator is so easy to use, let’s face it, if I can do it, anyone can!  Pop over, add your commitment, upload your pet focussed photo, create and share across social media.  It takes seconds.  The idea is that Purina will then share these commitments and it will give them focus on future brand initiatives.

I can’t imagine our home without a pet as part of it.  I know how empty the place felt after we said good-bye to Monty before Brewster arrived to cause chaos.

What will your commitment be?

disclosure:  I have been compensated for this post, but my thoughts remain my own honest opinions.

 

 

 

 

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Finishing Year One

So today I was you as you are finishing Year One, my son.  You have grown so much in this academic year and I am so proud of all you have achieved.  I know you struggle with reading and writing and lessons in general.  But you’ve made so many steps in all areas.  I look back on your class book from September and I can see just how much your writing has improved.  I can see the sentence structures, the use of capitals and punctuation.  You may not be where your peers are, but god I’m proud of you.  You show such determination, and you were starting so far behind them.  To be where you are today, is an achievement, something to be proud of.

Your reading has come on in leaps and bounds.  You are starting to read your ‘home books’, or at least help me to read them.  You know how happy this makes me.  It’s so lovely to see you learning to love reading. Who would have thought we’d be saying that when you started Year One?

You still have your one favourite best friend and you’ve coped so well not being in his class this year.  You’re being reunited in Year Two and I know how excited you are about that prospect.  Whilst he is still number one, you have been more sociable this year, you’ve explored the possibility of making other friends.  I know you’ve found this hard at times, you’ve struggled when others haven’t wanted to play with you, or play your games.  It’s a double-edged sword, and a life lesson you need to learn.  Compromise.  It’s a big one my son.

You brought me to tears when it was your school Sports Day.  My son, my timid, sport hating son.  You joined in with your peers, not once, but twice.  The tears rolled down my cheeks as I watched you.  I think I actually saw a smile or two that day.  I was so extremely proud of you – you faced a fear and ran anyway.  You were awesome.

Finishing Year One has seen your confidence grow in so many ways.  You’re more willing to try new things, have a go, take a few risks.  I know Beavers is helping with this too.  It’s so wonderful to watch others start to see the boy I know you are.  To see you chatting to people, having fun, enjoying life and feeling relaxed enough to just be yourself.

Your imagination never ceases to amaze me.  You can recount our adventures in detail and my living room carpet has seen so many recounts of the fun we’ve had over the last year. You’ve been my teacher as I’ve learnt your phonics sounds, been taught Cherry Tree Maths and seen that actually, you are taking everything in from school.  It may not be going down on paper as well as it should.  But it’s in your head.  You understand.  It’s there.

You are a bright, happy, quiet little boy. You are funny, naughty (always two sides to every coin) but kind and compassionate. You love engineering, vehicles are still a major obsession.  You love life and I love you more than words can ever say.

Finishing Year One

You are so excited to have the same form teacher in Year Two.  It’s a mixed year class again with Year Three children.  We will see how that will work.  I know academically that the next year is going to be hard.  Hard on both of us I think.  Hard for me because I know what’s ‘expected’ by this ludicrous system, hard for you, because you are starting on the back foot.  But you are strong, you are growing in so many ways.

I will be there every step of the way.  Whatever Year Two brings, we will face it together. But for now, my lovely young son, school is out and the summer has begun!  Get that Trunki case packed, let our adventures begin!

 

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Staying safe in the sun with EVY Sunscreen Mousse

Monkey and I are flying off to Spain tomorrow to see my parents.  I cannot wait for guaranteed blue skies and warm weather.  Let’s face it, our summer, so far, hasn’t really arrived.  There will be a marked different in the temperature as we arrive in rural Andalucia, and I shall be staying safe in the sun with EVY Sunscreen Mousse.  Yes you read that correctly, a sun mousse!

Staying safe in the sun with EVY Sun Mousse

The EVY sunscreen mousse range comes from Sweden and its mild formula means it can be used with sensitive skins as well as for children aged 6 months and over. There are 5 different SPF options, all offering over 90% protection against both UVA and UVB. They have a UVA five star rating too. EVY also offer an After Sun Mousse.

Staying safe in the sun with EVY Sun Mousse

We certainly haven’t had much sunshine here lately, so I’ve not had much of an opportunity to put the mousse fully to the test as yet.  But I can confirm that you only need to use a small amount of the mousse.  Once applied it offers up to 6 hours protection. Unlike the majority of creams which sit on top of the skin, EVY Sunscreen Mousse is absorbed into the skins top layer.  It absorbs really well and leaves no stickiness at all.

Staying safe in the sun with EVY Sun Mousse

Staying safe in the sun with EVY Sunscreen Mousse also means that I can go swimming, dry myself down and still be protected.  I also like the idea that the 150ml can of mousse lasts twice as long as most creams, giving me good value for money too.

The full range of EVY Sunscreen Mousse is available from IFSOGO priced at £18.95 each. They have price reductions for multibuys so it’s worth popping over to check the range.

disclosure:  we were sent the item mentioned in exchange for an honest review

 

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300 Fantastic Facts books range from Miles Kelly

Monkey may still be lagging behind with his reading but this boy certainly does love information and the 300 Fantastic Facts books range from Miles Kelly has gone down rather well here.  The books are primarily aimed at children aged 7 years and over.

300 Fantastic Facts books range from Miles Kelly

The 300 Fantastic Facts books range from Miles Kelly consists of 4 books covering the topics of Bugs, Science, Ancient History and Earth.  Published earlier this month, these large paperback books have been providing Monkey with all sorts of facts and figures recently.

300 Fantastic Facts books range from Miles Kelly

The 300 Fantastic Facts – Bugs was always going to be a winner here, with the family interest in minibeasts.

The 128 page book, as with the others in the series is crammed full of information, photographs and clear illustrations.  The book is a really good source of reference and Monkey has spent ages looking through it recently.

There’s information on spiders, butterflies and moths as well as fact about blood thirsty bugs, which bugs burrow the best and so on. We’ve both been very impressed with the content.  Big thumbs up here.

Next up in the 300 Fantastic Facts books range from Miles Kelly is the History book which focuses on the Ancient Worlds of Greece, Rome and Egypt.

300 Fantastic Facts books range from Miles Kelly

My love affair with Egypt began at school when I learnt about Ancient Egypt and I can’t wait to share the journey with Monkey when he learns about it too.  The History 300 Fantastic Facts book is a great source to learn about all three of the ancient civilisations.

From the class hierarchy within Egypt, to Mummy making through the use of Hieroglyphics, the facts, pictures and photographs will help Monkey learn about my favourite ancient world.  For Ancient Greece he can read up about the Trojan Horse and the various Kings, Gods and all about the Olympic Games.  The section on Ancient Rome includes topics such as Gladiators, farming and Roman Baths.

In each of the 300 Fantastic Facts books range from Miles Kelly there are little quizzes through the books to test what children have learnt.

I can already see that Science will be an area that Monkey will enjoy at school, and this 300 Fantastic Facts book will be much referred to in the years ahead.

300 Fantastic Facts books range from Miles Kelly

Facts covered include Engine Power, Chemicals and Science in Nature as well as information on different scientists through the ages.  The Human Body is also covered, everything from how we breathe to muscle power and hair and nail.  Facts and figures galore along with great illustrations.

The last of the 300 Fantastic Facts books range from Miles Kelly covers Planet Earth in all its glory.

300 Fantastic Facts books range from Miles Kelly 12

Covering the planet Earth itself, its Oceans and its wonderful weather, the book is once again crammed with useful facts and is well illustrated.  We’ve looked at information on Caves and Fossils and how we can care for our planet.  There’s information on Rock Pools, ocean living animals and who and what rides waves.  The weather is a bit of a sore point at the moment isn’t it!  But the book covers the season, how and why they are different as well as looking at clouds and the changing climate.

Priced at £9.99 each (currently £7.49 on the Miles Kelly website) these are a great factual books, that will be well read here. Bring on the school projects, we are ready for you!

disclosure:  we were sent the items mentioned in exchange for an honest review


Miles Kelly are offering 3 copies of the 300 Fantastic Facts EARTH book for you to win. Complete the Gleam form below for your chance to secure a copy.  Good luck!

300 Fantastic Facts books range from Miles Kelly 12


Terms and conditions:

(Please note that all entries will be checked against comments for validation).

Only the first step of this form is mandatory, all other steps are optional. Only one entry per person is allowed.

This giveaway is for UK residents only.

Once a winner is randomly picked, I will check if the winner has done what was requested and I will contact them, if they do not reply within one week, the prize will be allocated to another person.

The giveaway will close on 14th August 2016 at midnight.

300 Fantastic Facts EARTH book worth £9.99

Posted in Book Reviews, Giveaways, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 47 Comments

Feeling Tyred? Silent Sunday My Sunday Photo 170716

Feeling tyred Silent Sunday My Sunday Photo 170716

OneDad3Girls

Posted in Family Life, Photography | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

Project 366 2016 Week 27-28

Project 366 2016 Week 27-28 Day 185-198 Two weeks of madness, and I’ll warn you now, there are a few Formula One pictures in this post!

Sunday 3rd July – Day 185

Project 366 2016 Week 27-28

We spent the day at the Flywheel Festival in Bicester.  The weather behaved itself and we were treated to air displays and classic old cars spinning round a track.  It was all rather wonderful and Monkey became the 3rd generation in our family to meet Sir Stirling Moss.

Monday 4th July – Day 186

Project 366 2016 Week 27-28

I helped out in school in the morning and Monkey got crafty at Beavers and made a bird table, coming home complete with bird seed.  He was rather pleased with himself.

Tuesday 5th July – Day 187

Project 366 2016 Week 27-28

I walked Monkey to school and then drove over to Blenheim Palace for the day.  There was a press preview for the Countryfile Live event taking place next month, and I got to face my fear.  The girl who hates water went out in a canoe and she survived.  You can see the evidence in my post!

We’d been invited to Pizza Express for dinner, so we picked Daddy P up from work and headed over to the local restaurant.  Monkey was a very happy boy.

Wednesday 6th July – Day 188

Project 366 2016 Week 27-28

I dropped Monkey at school and headed down to London on the train to visit a range of Christmas in July events. They were spread right across central London, and on a sunny day I found a few moments to enjoy the architecture as I made my way from one tube station to another.  I missed my train, so Daddy P had to collect Monkey from school for me.  Oops!

Thursday 7th July – Day 189

Project 366 2016 Week 27-28

I spent the day running around getting ready for the weekend.  Yesterdays sunshine resulted in my lilies bursting into bloom.  Thankfully this year the dreaded beetles hadn’t devoured them before they flowered.
Warning: Prepare for Grand Prix spam!

Friday 8th July – Day 190

Project 366 2016 Week 27-28

British Grand Prix time again and I headed over to my brothers bright and early, and we drove into Silverstone together.  We managed to find our way to the Paddock entrance to see pretty much all of the drivers before heading to the grandstands to see the Free Practice sessions.  Vettel was trialling the new Halo protection device on his Ferrari in the morning practice.

Saturday 9th July – Day 191

Project 366 2016 Week 27-28

My nephew joined us for the day and we decided to watch Free Practice and Qualifying from Stowe for a change.  There was no chance my boys in Red were going to be fighting for pole position sadly. A Mercedes white wash on that front.

Sunday 10th July – Day 192

Project 366 2016 Week 27-28

Lewis Hamilton had the race in the bag from the start of the race really.  We had torrential rain before the race began so it was started under the safety car.  The race was his, the Ferrari’s ……. lest said the better.  The three of us headed onto the track to watch the podium celebrations and then Hamilton surprised everyone by running down to the crowds and crowd surfing right next to us.

Monday 11th July – Day 193

Project 366 2016 Week 27-28

As much as it was lovely to have 3 whole days to myself, being me rather than Mum, I did miss my little sidekick.  He’d been to the Woodcote Steam Rally yesterday with Daddy P and I got a full reenactment of the event over breakfast.

I wasn’t needed at school with the run up to the end of term, so had planned to go back to bed.  I was knackered after a long three days at Silverstone. But a few things needed sorted and before I knew it was time to pick Monkey up from school.

Tuesday 12th July – Day 194

Project 366 2016 Week 27-28

I’d booked my ticket to go to the Formula One test day with my brother ages ago, we’d also bought Pit Walk tickets.  At the last minute I had a chat with Monkey’s teacher and I took Monkey with me too.  He got to see our beloved Ferrari running in the morning, before the rain descended.  We didn’t get to see it again, but thankfully during the day we got to see most of the other teams running.  He still loves Alonso even if he’s in a Mclaren these days.

We queued for the Pit Walk in the rain for ages, only to find the Ferrari garage was closed completely, my brother and I were gutted for Monkey.  His one chance to get really close to his dream car had evaporated.  Even though he got to see other cars along the pit walk, they weren’t a Prancing Horse.  But bless him, he handled it all better than we did.  He was buzzing on the way home.

Wednesday 13th July – Day 195

Project 366 2016 Week 27-28

I’d planned on going to London for a couple more Christmas in July events but something at school had cropped up, making a train journey impossible.  I was also totally shattered, the last few weeks had finally caught up with me.

We’re looking after our neighbours house while they are away, Monkey loves helping to water their plants.

Thursday 14th July – Day 196

Project 366 2016 Week 27-28

A day of trying to catch up with blog work before the holidays start next week.  I had a meeting in town with a lady from a reading app company, before heading back to the laptop again.

After school Monkey was meant to be making cards for his teachers, but he had different ideas.

Friday 15th July – Day 197

Project 366 2016 Week 27-28

I caught up with an old friend for coffee, grabbed a few bits for next term for Monkey and headed home to catch up on a couple of blog posts.  By the time I’d done all that the sunshine had disappeared and it was raining, again.

One very cheeky Monkey having his dinner, leaving half his Quiche around his chops!

Saturday 16th July – Day 198

Project 366 2016 Week 27-28

Monkey and I had been invited to the Oxford Castle complex, lunch at the Castle Courtyard Cafe and then a guided tour of Oxford Castle.  Having a local park and ride service into Oxford makes a trip into the city hassle free.  I was so impressed with Monkey, I wasn’t sure how he’d cope with a 1 hour tour, but he was enthralled – phew!  As part of the entry free you also get access to the Castle Mound and Monkey happily posed for me. Growing up fast!

 

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