The Slim Fast Challenge – Day 5

The Slim Fast Challenge – Day 5

Today is day 5 and I’ve yet to fall off the wagon! I’ve actually found doing Slim Fast a lot easier than I thought I would.

I haven’t suffered from any rumbling tummy and have enjoyed everything I’ve tried so far. I am totally in love with the snack chocolate bars. They taste like you’re having a Mars or a Snickers but are a fraction of the calories.

I’ve enjoyed some really nice balanced dinners some of which have come from the recipe ideas on the Slim Fast website. My boys really liked the fish finger pie and for the first time in ages we had a dinner time without a single complaint about the food!

My only complaint so far is that I feel like I’m constantly eating sugar. The shakes and meal replacement bars have really high sugar content. Having 2 of these a day is nearly your recommended daily allowance of sugar straight away.

The bit you’re waiting for though. I got on the scales for the first time this morning and so far 3lbs have disappeared which I’m really pleased about.

The Slim Fast Challenge – Day 1

The Slim Fast Challenge – Day 1

The big day has arrived. Last night I enjoyed a big roast dinner and a glass of wine as my last supper! A meal like that isn’t going to fit in my 600 kcal dinner allowance.

I’m going to be brave and admit that this morning I stepped on the scales and I weighed 13st 9 lbs which makes my BMI 29.9. Not fantastic by any means but that’s the reason I wanted to give Slim Fast a go.

Breakfast
This mornings breakfast was a bit different from the normal toast and marmite. I had a banana shake about 9.30 and made sure I planned a busy morning of baby clinic and visiting my parents to take my mind off any hunger.

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I picked banana this morning as I’m not a huge fan of banana milkshake and wanted to get it out the way but I really enjoyed it. I expected them to taste a bit powdery but it was just like any normal banana milkshake. I downed it in secret so the kids didn’t try to steal any and flew out the door. Having a shake for breakfast is an awful lot more convenient than my usual breakfast choice.

Lunch
We had lunch at about 1ish as we’d been out all morning. I’d packed one of my snacks to have during the morning but was too busy so I added them onto my lunch.
Lunch consisted of a bag of cheese bites and a chocolate peanut meal replacement bar.

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The crisps had plenty of cheese flavour and were lovely and crunchy. They certainly made up for not having my lunchtime bag of crisps.

The meal bar had plenty of chocolate on it which sorted out my lunchtime sugar hit and certainly gave my jaw a workout with how chewy it was. It tasted great.

I had a snack mid afternoon of barbecue flavour tortilla crisps. They had plenty of flavouring and were certainly a great afternoon pick me up. Unfortunately the kids spotted me having these and wanted to try them. They enjoyed they as they came back for seconds!

Dinner
I was really looking forward to dinner. I struggled cooking the kids dinner as it was making me so hungry. I literally ran down the stairs and did the quickest dinner we had in the house. Dinner consisted of a tuna steak, asparagus, cous cous and leftover barbecue corn on the cob coming in at just under 600 kcal.
I saved my final snack of the day for after dinner as I always like to have something sweet. I swapped a Slim Fast snack for a Muller Light yoghurt. Anything counts as a snack as long as it’s under 100 kcal.

Exercise
I took the twins to baby clinic so walked just over a mile and a half with the pushchair.
Fitbit steps today – 7265

Dad Zone – Keeping My Family Safe – Buying New Tyres

Dad Zone – Keeping My Family Safe – Buying New Tyres

So here we go again. Our annual visit with Mr MOT for our second car and all was well – kind of. The car passed but had advisories on 3 tyres.

I am often mocked by friends about my tyre purchasing habits. When we bought our family car, it came with budget tyres. To make it worse, the rear tyres were not circular anymore and had developed a flat spot that caused a really irritating drumming noise. Being a family car, used for transporting my army of kids daily, I felt it only right to change them. An obscene amount of money later, my car had new treads.

Given that tyres are a hot topic in our house, I thought I would use my first guest post to tell you the 5 things I look for when buying new tyres.

1) Brand and model
Look at what your car originally came with. If your car came out the factory with Pirelli P6000s, think about sticking with it. Car manufacturers spend millions developing cars to perform and handle in a specific way. Some of this is attributed to the tyre choice. If you like the way it drives from the factory, go for it again.

2) Tyre size
Check you’re putting the correct size on your car. When I bought my first Focus, it had smaller tyres with a lower speed rating than designed for the car. I can only presume the previous owner thought it looked “sportier”. What they didn’t consider was the impact this has on a number of safety and driving factors. A smaller tyre means your speedo is out. In my case it was 7-8% lower than what I was actually doing. This was also decreasing my fuel efficiency which nobody wants!
To make things simpler, websites like Point S help you search and buy tyres by just entering the UK reg number. So even if you don’t know the size, speed and load rating it doesn’t matter!

3) EU Tyre Rating
Just like buying a fridge or washing machine, tyres are required to have a rating. There are 3 ratings given to tyres for fuel efficiency, wet grip and noise. Fuel efficiency and wet grips are scored A to G with A being the best and noise by 3 bars, the loudest getting 3 bars. The AA give a good explanation of the ratings.
Personally, both my cars have nothing less than a B rating for wet grip and fuel efficiency and the noisest have a 1 bar rating (70db).

4) Reviews
These are vitally important. I always read through many consumer reviews and professional test drive reviews on a specific brand of tyre before deciding.

5) Price
Very obvious but shop around. Companies often have offers which make the individual tyre price cheaper the more you buy. Also, check cashback websites like Quidco for offers on top of the original discounts.

I hope this helps explains what to look for when buying new tyres for a safe family drive. I always like to remind myself that the tyres are like shoes for the car. The better they are (not always the most expensive) the less likely you are to lose grip and fall over.

The Slim Fast Challenge – Introduction

The Slim Fast Challenge – Introduction

I have lost an awful lot of weight in the 10 months since my twins arrived. I weighed myself on the morning of my c-section and to date have lost 6 stone 7lbs. Some of that was baby weight but most was there before I fell pregnant.

While pregnant I had gestational diabetes so had to modify my diet significantly. I have kept up with this healthier eating since having the babies and also added in exercise at least 3 times a week.

In the last few months though, my weight loss has stalled and as the pounds have stopped coming off, my motivation has faltered.

When offered to opportunity to give the Slim Fast Challenge a go, I jumped at it. I’m hoping it will give me the kick start I need to get back on track. I’m also due back at work next month as would love to walk back into the office looking a million dollars and making them think I’m excelling at parenting 4 small people plus looking after myself!

The Slim Fast 3-2-1 plan sounds perfect for me. The 3 snacks, 2 meal replacement bars or shakes plus 1 meal of 600 kcal should suit my busy days where I sometimes struggle to sit down to eat. It also still allows me to have an evening meal with the Mr and secretly put him on an evening meal diet too!

I will be starting Monday morning and I’m quite looking forward to trying all the different flavours of shake and the snacks. Some of them sound really yummy and still allow me to have a hit of chocolate!

If I can get down into the next stone bracket, a place I don’t think I’ve been since I was about 5 years old, I’ll feel that Slim Fast has been a success.

Alton Towers

Alton Towers

As mentioned in my previous blog post, I am a massive rollercoaster junkie. My husband knew he was onto a winner with a trip there for my 30th birthday.

The day started early with a buffet breakfast at the hotel before heading over to the monorail station to get to the park entrance. The monorail station is less than a 5 minute walk from the hotel so very easily accessible.

We already had our tickets courtesy of The Sun offer (£1.50 bargain) but we had the option to purchase them as part of our hotel package at a reduced cost of £30 per person for 2 days entry.

Hotel guests are entitled to enter the park an hour before normal guests to ride certain rides. We were never challenged and asked if we were hotel guests so anybody who had prebooked tickets could get into the park an hour early. Today’s choice was Nemesis, Air, The Runaway Mine Train and the whole of Cbeebies Land. We know that both Nemesis and Air can build up quite long queues so headed straight over there.

Nemesis is an oldie but goodie. Given it’s 20 years old, it’s still going strong and also still considered one of the best rollercoasters in the world. There was no queue at all and we walked straight on to seats in the back row. I love riding in the back row as you get pulled along rather than driven which I think gives a better thrill.

Alton Towers are currently running the Big 6 competition. The idea is to ride the Big 6 coasters (Nemesis, Air, Rita, Thirteen, The Smiler and Oblivion) once each and scan a barcode on their app to receive free entry to the park on 4th November.

We gave this a go and scanned every time we went on one of those rides. It turns out that by the end of the day, we had travelled quite a distance by coaster! We weren’t even trying that hard as our old people brains can’t take it any more!

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We rode Nemesis and Air several times and decided to head on over to The Smiler for park opening time. I love The Smiler! I think I actually cried a little bit when we last visited Alton Towers as I couldn’t go on this and everybody else could! It had been raining pretty hard by this point and we had to wade (literally) our way through the enormous queue line almost straight to the front. We waited 15 minutes and this was the longest queue all day. While on the ride it started to hail. That stings at 60mph!

We followed The Smiler with a go on Oblivion thankfully just as the rain and hail finished. We then headed on over to complete the Big 6 challenge with Rita and Thirteen.

Big 6 challenge under our belt, we decided to try something we’ve never done before – Ice Age 4D. We waited outside in the rain for ages and it was unfortunately really disappointing. I don’t know if it had anything to do with the new 4D film being released the following week but the effects we completely out of sync.

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While over in the area we had a quick go on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I haven’t done this since it opened and it lacked excitement for me as a teenager but, having just read this story to my kids, I have a new love of it. The boat ride takes you through the story and then the glass elevator simulator takes you up and out!

We had a quick burger and chips in the now Alton Towers owned burger restaurant which was really nice. There was a good vegetarian option which the Mr said he was a bit jealous of when he saw it. The chain restaurants have been kicked out the park in the past few years and now Alton Towers have their own versions of them instead.

We hopped on the Skyride back over to the rear of the park again. The Skyride takes you over all the beautiful gardens which nobody (except my mother) has ever had the time to visit.

We rode Nemesis and Air again then started to head back towards the front of the park. We skipped Nemesis Sub-Terra as I pooped my pants the one and only time I’ve ever done it. I have honestly never been so scared!

We popped in for a good old husband and wife battle in Dual then back over to The Smiler for two last goes. The queue was even shorter this time but no less flooded! Not a great time to discover a hole in your shoe!

Our final stop of the day was Sonic Spinball. The queue was so short that they were only loading cars on 1 side meaning we were getting some serious spin!

Exhausted and all coastered out, we headed to the monorail and back to the hotel to collect the car. If staying in the hotel, make sure you keep your hotel card handy when leaving the resort. We were asked to show it to get out the car park and it was buried in our bag in the boot!

We had a great couple of days and I think Alton Towers still ranks as my favourite UK theme park. I loved spending quality time with the Mr as it’s something we very rarely do these days. It’s spending time together like this that reminds me why I married him. He’s a keeper!

Just as an extra, this is my Fitbit report from my day at Alton Towers. I guess I earnt my burger and chips at lunchtime! Neither of us guessed we’d walk anywhere near this distance.

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Linked to Twinkly Tuesday

5 Great Things About My June

5 Great Things About My June

I can’t believe it’s June already! May has been a very busy and exciting month. We had lots of time with Daddy at home and we all had a holiday. The kids went off to their grandparents and we took a trip to Alton Towers.

June is looking much, much quieter thankfully.

1. Trip To London
We have family coming to visit from Italy and the only way to get everyone together is to meet in Central London. Not ideal with 4 small children but with my parents help and 2 slings we can hopefully do it without pushchairs and without losing any children!

2. Parents Evening
It’s introduction evening at B’s new school. We’ll get the opportunity to meet his teacher and the new headteacher plus order his uniform. I’ve been warned to take my tissues as they show a tearjerker of a video!

3. First School Visit
Following on from parents evening, B has his first visit to his new school to meet his new classmates. He’s very excited!

4. A Catch Up With My Bestie
We’ve known each other since we were 2 and used to live just 10 doors apart but since I moved from London and we both had kids, we don’t get to spend as much time together. Our catch ups usually involve lots of wine and chatting (plus the odd husband moan). I miss her so much but I know she’s always on the end of the phone if I need her.

5. Tour Of Cambridgeshire Cycle Race
Although a massive inconvenience to us if we want to travel anywhere, the cycle race is coming through our village. We thought the boys would like to go and watch all the cyclists coming through and see what’s going on. It’s not very often something like this comes to our sleepy village.

Interview With My 4 Year Old

Interview With My 4 Year Old

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I thought I would interview my biggest boy and ask him a few questions about Mummy. These answers are exactly what he said! No prompting involved.

What makes you happy?
My sisters. They make me smile.

What does Mummy always say to you?
Love you lots

How old is Mummy?
21 (the boy can stay!)

How tall is Mummy?
(Stretches arms out really wide) 20m

What makes Mummy happy?
Kisses

What is Mummy really good at?
Reaching for things

What is Mummy’s job?
Work in a boring old office (very true!)

What do you and Mummy do together?
Play all day long

Where is Mummy’s favourite place?
Here (home) on your own

What does Mummy do when you’re not at home?
Sit down and put on the tv. Just relax

What’s Mummy’s favourite food?
Salmon

What does Mummy like about Daddy?
He’s really big and really strong

What’s your favourite thing to do with Mummy?
Making things and getting messy

Where is Mummy’s favourite place to go?
To the park with me

Well that was a small insight into my 4 year old. He makes me out to be very boring but all is forgiven as he thinks I’m 21!

Do your little people come out with any gems when asked questions like this?

Alton Towers Hotel and Splash Landings

Alton Towers Hotel and Splash Landings

A few of you may have heard that I had a big birthday recently (I haven’t been banging on about it at all!). To celebrate the fact that I was turning 30, the Mr decided to treat me to an overnighter at Alton Towers in Staffordshire.

I am a rollercoaster junkie. I could go on them over and over again and I would just not get bored. This was part of the reason he chose Alton Towers and also due to the fact that last time we went, I was 5 weeks post c-section and joyriding Postman Pats van was about as extreme as I got!

The drive from Cambridgeshire takes about 2 and a half hours so we decided to stay over and try out the Alton Towers Hotel and Splash Landings Water Park while we were there.

We had an incredibly wet drive and arrived at the hotel just after lunch. We quickly checked in, got our water park tickets and dropped our bags with the porter before heading over to the Splash Landing Hotel where the water park is located.

Thankfully, both hotels are linked by a covered walkway otherwise we would have been soaked before even getting close to a swimming pool!

On first sight, the water park was smaller than we thought it would be. With several children’s areas plus 7 water slides, a water coaster, both an indoor and outdoor pool plus heated jacuzzi type pools, a lot gets packed into a tight space.

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I took a few photos of the water park after it had closed as it didn’t seem right to be taking them while the pool was open.

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The outside pool which was being enjoyed by a cheeky duck after closing!

After scanning our tickets at the turnstiles you go directly into the changing rooms. They have a selection of different sized cubicles for singles, doubles or families. There are plenty of lockers, which take a 20p piece, and were more than big enough for both our belongings.

The water park is a very short walk from the changing rooms and upon entering you are immediately hit by the heat! On such a chilly day outside, we could have been forgiven for thinking we were in the Caribbean!

The pool water was also amazingly warm. I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to getting in swimming pools and will try my hardest to keep my body parts out for as long as possible! Here, I was able to enter the water straight away without the sharp intake of breath!

We spent several hours trying out the various slides (all in the interest of research). The Mr is a huge water slide fan and spent much longer doing them than me. I much preferred cooking myself in the outside hot tub!

The slides were certainly extreme enough for me. As I mentioned in a previous post (One Lovely Blog Award), I am terrified of water so don’t go expecting anything along the lines of a Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon water park.

We are definitely getting old as mid afternoon we had a break from the water while we had tea and a cake!

The choice of food here is fairly limited and definitely priced accordingly! Our 2 hot drinks and 2 muffins came to £7. If you were looking for something more substantial, they had sandwiches, pies and paninis on offer with an ice cream parlour next door.

We spent a few more hours in the pool before deciding to retreat to our hotel and check out our room.

We had room 263 which was just being the reception desk and along the busy main corridor.

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It was a really good size with a double bed, a single and a pull out second single. We thought we could easily get all 6 of us in here while the twins are still in a cot!

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The bathroom was compact with a shower hiding just behind the door. The sink, as you can see, had its uses! That’s my birthday drinks waiting to be consumed. The Mr contacted the hotel to ask if they could do anything to help make our stay more special. They offered him a birthday package of 6 Bud beers, a birthday cake and a few balloons for the amazing price of just £35! Needless to say, we took our own!

After the exertion of the water park we were starving so headed on over to Flambos buffet restaurant in Splash Landings for dinner. Thankfully, we had reserved a table when we checked in as they were turning people away.

There’s a good choice of restaurants across the 3 hotels with buffets, a la carte and a pizzeria available. We chose the buffet restaurant as for £19.95 per person all you can eat, we thought it was quite good value. We certainly got our money’s worth! The food was really tasty and I was impressed that they had an entire section for vegetarian food.

All hotels have evening entertainment ranging from discos to pub quizzes. We were going to give the quiz a go (we love a good pub quiz) but could hardly keep ourselves awake! Knowing we had a busy day tomorrow, we admitted defeat and headed off to bed!

Given where our room was located, we were worried it might be quite noisy but we both managed to get a great nights sleep. Even though we had no children with us, we were still up and raring to go by 7! It’s true what they say about never sleeping the same once you’ve had children!

The cost of our room also included a buffet breakfast. We headed down to the Secret Garden restaurant on the bottom floor of the hotel. It was the first chance we’d had to look round the hotel and it’s pretty cool.

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The breakfast was good and certainly set us up for the day. There was plenty of choice from hot to cold food. There’s nothing quite like a full cooked breakfast before you get hurled around on rollercoasters.

This is a great hotel and was definitely worth the money we paid for it. I’m not sure I’d have been so happy if we’d paid full price for the room though. I’m hoping we can bring the kids back one day but with the biggest boy starting school in September, I’m not sure we’ll be able to afford it or have the patience for the school holiday queues!

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A Sunny Afternoon – Van Hage, Amwell

A Sunny Afternoon – Van Hage, Amwell

Our boys are having a mini holiday at their Grandparents while we go away to celebrate my 30th birthday. This meant we had to take the kids to the in-laws to deliver them safely into their care.

Usually, we get to their house and don’t really do too much but, as the weather was so lovely, we decided to head off to the local garden centre. Van Hages is not your average garden centre (although they do sell some really amazing stuff). They have a fantastic pets corner and a miniature railway.

The boys loved looking at the animals and trying to convince Daddy that we need a pet. I need no convincing (as if 4 children isn’t enough!).

They have a huge array of animals including goats, sheep, rabbits, birds and some strange exotic named creatures!

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After a visit to the animals we headed over to the miniature railway. Run by the East Herts Miniature Railway, this ride on train goes on a journey around a small section of the garden centre. A ride is £1 for anybody over 2 years old which I thought was really good value for money.

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The boys had a ride with their Grumps who didn’t complain when we suggested he take the kids on! The boys were so excited about their train ride.

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We were only there just over an hour but could quite easily have spent much longer. It’s definitely a great place to go to pass a few hours without spending huge amounts of money.