Sunday, 10 November 2013

The story of an American Horror - Not For The Faint Hearted!

It was by accident that we stumbled across this programme, it wasn't my usual cup of tea but even from the first episode I was hooked.Now we are watching Season 3,The Coven.

The surprising fact behind this psychotic series is it was created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk....remember Glee?

 I always like to have a series to watch in the evening once the O.Y.O has gone to 
bed,this winter it is going to be American Horror Story The Coven.

The first season was in my opinion the best,it is focused around a dysfunctional family who end up buying a haunted house.

I really enjoy the love stories in the American Horror franchise,this season revolves around teenage lust and the meaning of love.

This programme isn't for the faint hearted,I have spent many a time hiding behind a cushion because I'm so scared,the producers spare no details when it comes to the gruesome scenes.

At the end of each episode you are left wanting to watch more,it's very addictive!

The second season is by far the most gruesome and sadistic,I can't say I enjoyed it that much,but like I mentioned above it is very addictive to watch.

It is set in a Asylum called Briarcliff which is run by nuns,it is home to various residents who have commited crimes from adultery to murder.

On first glance you would side with the doctors,nurses and nuns but by mid way through you will be running for the hills,cheering the mental patients on.

The producers cleverly play with your mind,turning reality on its axel. 

The series cover every taboo subject under the sun, from paranormal to aliens, sociopaths to incest.

"Don't be afraid of the unknown,be afraid of what you already know"

I have only seen four episodes of the current season,but I already love it. Thus season focuses less on gruesome horror and more on the story between the characters.

In my opinion there is a big difference between a good actress/actor and someone's who plays the character brilliantly.

My favourite actress is Lily Rabe ,in each seasons she can change her whole demeanor to suit the role she is given.The first season she was a haunted mother,the second a nun who is controlled by the devil and the third a witch.

Each role is as convincing as the last,she is constantly in character and never once slips into an older characters attitude.Through the seasons she has had to change her accent,attitude and the way she holds herself,but she has never changed her appearance apart from the costumes she wears - to be able to captivate the audience as a new character so convincingly but not actually change much about her appearance is an achievement in itself.

Alternatively my favourite character is Fiona,the actresses actual name is Jessica Lang,what makes her my favourite character rather than my favourite actress is the fact each role she plays is exactly the same. The name may change,the direction and setting but her whole demeanor remains the same.

Unlike Lily Rabe her voice,style and attitude remains the same: she plays a character you initially believe to be a "baddie" ,who inevitably becomes a confused "goodie".

Now there is nothing wrong with the each character she plays,each one is believable and passionate,she carries the show at a swift pace with a touch of old school glamour. For me she makes the show,if she wasn't in the next seasons (if there is another season) I would be extremely disappointed.

There is many characters and actors I haven't even touched upon,but tonight I think i'll leave them to another post.

As always these opinions are my own,and this definitely is not something I recommend to be watched before the kiddies are in bed!

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Merry,Merrie Gardens!

Last night we went out for a family dinner to Merrie Gardens in Lake.

It wasn't meant to be a family dinner,it was meant to be mummy and daddy time but due unforeseen circumstances (Nana changing her mind) the O.Y.O had to come with us. Luckily the restaurant was a big hit,especially with O.Y.O.

We had the choice of sitting wherever we wanted,this meant we got a nice big table in front of the under 5s play room.

The play room in my opinion was the perfect balance of being fun but safe,there was only one entrance in and low walls surrounding it so you could easily keep an eye on your children. 

The two play tables and one standing activity board were spotless,you go to some restaurants and find toys covered in last week's dinner or bits of dribble all over it,but you could tell these were wiped over and kept clean. I prefer a play area without lots of little toys as you don't know when they were last cleaned and what's living on them!

The restaurant is extremely child friendly which for me,as mother is a big selling point. There was a ample supply of nice,CLEAN high chairs available and the staff make a fuss of the children,making them feel special rather than an inconvenience.

(The decor in the restaurant brought out the child in us!) 

Now on to the most important part of the evening.....the food! 

Before going I had signed up to the online newsletter which means you get a free drink on your first visit,there was a great selection of alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks.

I also tried their 1,2,3 offer,I went for option 2 which meant I got 2 courses for £8. The restaurants selling point is the Rotisserie chicken with chips and gravy. I'm not a massive fan of chicken as it can be quite dry,but this chicken was succulent and had a smoky flavour. It fell to pieces when you pulled it apart! 

Ok my only moan has to be the gravy,everything else was tip'top apart from what tasted like cheap gravy,it was too watery and tasted too peppery. Please,please get rid of it!

My partner got the beef burger and chips,it tasted delicious. The outside of the burger was slightly crispy and it wasn't fatty at all,the worst type of burger is the one where the fat has drenched the bun and it's all soggy.

The restaurant also has free wifi which comes in handy as neither O2 or Vodafone has signal in Lake.

The standard of customer service was what really made this place stand out from the rest,here is the email I sent to the managers,it sums up what I thought of the waitresses and Waiter who worked there:

"Dear Michael and Sharon Cockram,

Tonight me,my partner and our one year old son had dinner at your establishment.

Instantly when we walked through the doors we were served by an enthusiastic and polite waiter from behind the bar. He was helpful and attentive,he gave us plenty of time to choose our meal after serving our drinks,and was happy to sort out our code which gave us free drinks.

Next we had a girl called Millie serve us our food,she made sure we had everything we needed and came back to check we were enjoying our meals.

Finally a lovely boy brought me the yummy chocolate pud desert,and got the bill.

Each member of your staff went above and beyond what was needed,and genuinely wanted to make sure we had a great time!

Your staff are a credit to your restaurant,and we will be returning soon.

Thank you very much Liam,Millie and Chris,you were all fantastic! "

Well done Merrie Gardens,keep up the good work!

Friday, 8 November 2013

Feeding time at the Zoo.

At what age do you let your child eat messy food on their own?

When I say messy foods I mean something like Readybrek or vegetable soup.

(I'd like to point out this is chocolate Readybrek- and no I never originally agreed to feeding my child chocolate for breakfast...but then originally I didn't think a child's ability to wrap you around their little finger was so strong.)

The O.Y.O insists on eating every meal himself,that means lots of mess for me and more clothes to be washed.

My belief is,if you don't allow your child to try and feed themselves then how will they learn?

My partner however sees it more as an inconvenience,the time it takes cleaning up all the mess over and over again at every meal,he'd rather spoon feed the O.Y.O for the rest of his life... I wonder how that would look at his first day of university?

You read so many reports of infant eating disorders on the rise that I just want the O.Y.O to eat and enjoy his food,even if that does mean making a bit of mess!

I happened to read a local schools prospectus (Yes I know he's only one but I couldn't resist), under the section about what's expected for the children to wear or bring into school I noticed a paragraph dedicated to what food is not allowed to be consumed at the school. 

Cakes,chocolate,sweets,biscuits,crisps,fizzy drinks,nuts,seafood,any drink other than water or orange squash were off of the menu.

Now don't get me wrong I agree with the majority of the items above,especially nut products as I have family members who are severely allergic and it only takes one bit of nut shell to start a reaction,but to say absolutely no chocolate,cakes or biscuits otherwise they will be confiscated is a bit extreme. As I child I always had a bit of fruit and a little chocolate bar at break,and it never did me any harm.

I understand there's so many rules,regulations and policy's out there,and schools have a lot of pressure on them to promote healthy eating but I don't ever want the O.Y.O to become a fussy eater or become too focused on his weight.

Amazon World, Part 2.

The second time we went to A.W. I think it was the best.

As much as I love my family it is so much easier to go around the enclosures with only yourself and a toddler to worry about.

Well I say it's easier but the day did include the O.Y.O trying to eat bird poo pellets,him smearing it over his hands,then smearing it over me as I tried to wipe it off...not a fun experience!

I found the animals,especially the birds were a lot friendlier with us,they all kept coming up to the O.Y.O as if they knew he was just a gentle,innocent baby.

This time we went it wasn't raining so we got the chance to go outside more. The penguins were very inquisitive waddling up to us in search of food. I didn't think they would be too impressed with cheese string,much to the O.Y.O's dismay.

There was one casualty of the day, the red converse (which featured in an earlier post of mine) ended up drenched in dirty water from jumping in muddy puddles... Yes Peppa & George I am holding you two accountable ;) 

We also got to see the elusive armadillo this time,we had started to think he didn't actually live there and instead it was a stuffed toy.

The second time we went it definitely made the price tag seem a little more value for money,especially as this time we took our own little picnic.

I think the staff may have thought I was a bit nuts as half way through the trip I did run out to the car to get the pram,I was seconds away from pulling my hair out,sometimes I wish I was an octopus!

I would definitely recommend people visiting the Zoo on its quieter days,especially if your taking inquisitive little hands,there's no queues and it has a much calmer atmosphere.

"When the humans go away,the animals come out to play"

A little late but....Happy Halloween!

It's been ridiculously busy with work,so please excuse the lateness.

Last week was the fright night,

The most frightening part of the evening was when the O.Y.O's dad nearly forgot to buy more milk and we ran out of tea bags (survival essentials). 

We both had work and the little one had nursery,

The other children dressed up and the one year old went in as a skeleton,we took in milky buttons for all of his nursery friends,they all looked so cute! 

I've got to say the nursery did a good job when it came to celebrating Halloween,especially for busy families like us. 

During the nursery day they made ginger bread bats covered in orange slime and black ants (icing & sprinkles), yummy! 

We tried to save some for daddy,but unfortunately two scary monsters came and gobbled it all up....this resulted in the baby monster jumping off the walls and ceiling on a sugar high....this family can't handle too much of the naughty stuff,aha.

Where bubs is only one  years old we didn't know what to do about trick or treating,it was late,dark and cold by the time we got home. We came up with a master plan of having our own little trick or treat game at home,a different sweetie hidden behind each door! 

What you can't see in the picture is all the miniature milkyway,milky buttons and scary babeybels at the bottom of the pumpkin. 

Obviously the one year-old wanted to stuff it all into his mouth at once,so mummy had to play bad cop and put some into the fridge,limiting him to only 2 treats.

We didn't do much this year I think that was down to us working and bubs being so little,but next year we would have moved to somewhere bigger (hopefully) and can have a little monster Halloween party :) 

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Amazon World,Isle of Wight.

Dear readers,

Sorry for the delay in typing up another post,between work/life + mummy hood it's a struggle to squeeze in a blog. 

Last Friday was family day,

Grandma,cousin M,the double trouble aunties,nana,me and the one year-old decided to hop into two cars and head to Amazon World for the day.

I make it sound simple but the journey there was anything but,

Me,Grandma and the one year-old were in one car and the rest of them in another. I had never driven to Amazon World so that was a mission by itself.

The plan of action had been for Nana and the rest of the gang to follow my car to the big T as I had to nip in for some picnic bits,and then for me to follow them the rest of the way, but I had forgot to get petrol the day before and only noticed as we were leaving. So Nana's car went one way and our car another,10 minutes later we had petrol but no Nana.

Since I'm typing this post you have obviously grasped I made it Amazon World safe and sound,with no casualties along the way.It was nice to prove to Grandma how far I've come with my driving - as some people thought I would never pass!

Now A.W. isn't my favourite Zoo,its smaller than Sandown Zoo and concentrates more on the smaller critters and creature of the animal kingdom,but when it comes to choosing which Zoo is better for the one year-old I would say A.W. wins.

The main part of A.W. is enclosed,you get to walk around the inside of what I can only describe a massive tropical conservatory.The first part you walk through houses birds,a sloth family,two cute monkeys and the alligators.The birds are allowed to roam freely,every so often you see a flutter of colour or hear a cheerful chirp.

The second part of the building has a loan sloth which wanders around the top of the room near the ceiling,some more monkeys,birds and tortoises! The tortoises and some of the bigger birds are kept in an open stone enclosure in the center,you can get up close and personal with the residents here,they all seem so friendly and tame.

As move through the Zoo you can go to the carp pond with the waterfall and a gigantic open fish tank containing Piranhas and Oscar fish (Best named fish in the ocean! ;). The fish can be fed with pellets form the 50p machine,I think this part is lovely for children and adults because you are interacting with the animals,without a pricey fee.

Something that does let A.W. down compared to Sandown Zoo is there isn't as many talks with the keepers about the animals,and the one that I did see was a bit...well rubbish. The keepers at Sandown Zoo seem a lot more enthusiastic and knowledgeable when it comes to talking about the tenants there.

My favourite part of the zoo is the dark room which homes the bats and kinkajou's. You are in a room behind glass windows,while the bats fly around their enclosure and occasionally try to poop on the glass,and the cute kinkajou's climb around the vines looking at you with their huge alien eyes.

Since the one year-old can now walk,he insists on doing everything on his own,so down the pebbly paths he wobbled inspecting every piece of dirt or leaf on the track.I don't know whether its something all kids do,but the O.Y.O. (one year-old) seems to be obsessed with putting everything in his mouth! I mean everything!
It was a fight to stop bark/mud being picked up and eaten.

The outside of A.W. is where the bigger animals are kept and is now home to the meerkats (they previously lived inside the "desert" section of the building with the armadillos).On a sunny day its lovely because you can wander around and look at all the different species of monkeys,the penguin enclosure and even walk around the lemur enclosure (which is completely free!),but on the friday it decided to rain - so it was a quick dash around to say hi to the Flamingos and the Ocelot then rushing back into the building.

I think the O.Y.O has hit the terrible two's already,he didn't want to leave the outside part of the Zoo as he was having fun jumping in muddy puddles, and kept running off down staff entrances.

How many people does it take to watch a one year-old? Apparently at least 6! 

A.W. Is a bit pricey at £8.99 an adult,and £6.99 a child,although that does include free parking and re-entry within 7 day. 

For a whole day out with the kids it's a reasonable price to pay.When you think about the amount it costs to go the cinema or swimming it seems better value to go and see something like this which is educational and fun!