Monday, 17 August 2015

Brewer's Fayre, Dennis is there

I'm never one to turn down a meal out, it saves on washing up, and I can get to try things I wouldn't make at home.  So when we were invited along to our local Brewer's Fayre restaurant to have a look at their newly revamped children's play area, Play at Brewer's Fayre, and have a spot of lunch, you know it wasn't going to be a difficult decision.

Castle, of the falling down variety
So, off we popped on Saturday to Caerphilly, usually more notable for cheese, being the birthplace of Tommy Cooper, and having a somewhat falling-down type castle.

Rock on Tommy
But we weren't interested in comedians, cheese or castles, we were all about the restaurant.  We've actually visited this restaurant before, and while the food was fine, the soft play was dated and not the most exciting, so I was interested to see what had changed.  As soon as we arrived, Squeaky spotted someone very special, being very naughty indeed.  Dennis the Menace had also come to have a bite to eat, along with Gnasher.  And they were wreaking havoc in the way that only true menaces can.  Dennis and Gnasher, along with the rest of the Beano gang, are Brewer's Fayre's children's menu stars, and the restaurant have regular special issues of the Beano to keep young people (and adults) occupied while waiting for their dinner.

Dennis, menacing
The unsupervised soft-play area has been fully renewed, with a toddlers area, as well as three levels to climb, run, slide, squeeze, push & balance.  According to Squeaky, the soft play was "Awesome, can I go now please mummy?"  I'm no expert, but all the equipment was clean, and looked brand spanking new (as it should do).  There were giant beanbags to land on at the bottom of the slide, which makes a refreshing change from a ball pool, the contents of which usually end up everywhere but where they were meant to be.  There were plenty of friendly staff on hand to chat with the children, and make sure everyone was playing safely and having a good time, but they were clear that parents were responsible for supervising their own children, no running away to hide in the bar!  A face painter had even come along especially for the launch day, and was busy making the children look stunning. I'm never going to try anything more complicated than an England flag during the rugby world cup, she was that good!

Do you know how difficult it is to take photos in soft play?
One thing that soft play centres do extremely well is build up an appetite in even the fussiest of Squeaks.  So we were very grateful that Brewer's Fayre offered us lunch as well as a play.  I really like the children's menu, it's got a good mix of sensible, child-friendly foods, without relying on chips and beans with everything.  Squeaky being the child she is, she opted for pizza and garlic bread, while I remained true to my Slimpod and settled on the chicken salad.  Both were delicious, but we had to save room for desserts.

Desserts, ah, yes.  We do love a good dessert.  Squeaky didn't have a great deal of choice, because I'd already picked our meals in advance, and know that she tends to have eyes bigger than her belly when it comes to ice-cream sundaes, so instead I picked for her what she called an "ice cream Saturday", or in other words, the Cookie Double Dare - vanilla ice-cream sandwiched between two chocolate chip cookies.

Cookies & face paints
The cookies were perfectly crisp on the outside, yet chewy in the middle, which had the added advantage of helping her very wobbly front tooth on its journey to meet the tooth fairy.  It would have been a little embarrassing if her tooth had come out while we were in the restaurant, so I'm relieved that it waited until we got home to fall out.

We had a great visit to the Caerphilly restaurant, and it's firmly back on my radar as somewhere to call in for a meal, snack, or even just a cheeky coffee when we're out & about, especially if Squeaky can run around like a loon for half an hour or so.  The food was fab, with some great menu choices, and the staff were really friendly and welcoming.  You can tell when people actually mean it, rather than just going through the motions, thinking about payday.  And I'll leave you with something that really made me smile.  Attention to detail, this was the carpet in the soft play zone.  How much fun is this?

Disclosure: I was invited to attend this launch event, and provided with meals and soft drinks for my family free of charge. I was not obliged to write this post. I have not been told what to write and all opinions are my own. Links are provided for convenience only, I am not a member of any affiliate scheme and will not receive payment for their use.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Be Not So Busy

Ok, this is one of those posts that I have to start with a disclaimer.  This post is not written with any person in kind, aside from myself. It is not about you, your friend, or that person we both know, smile at in passing, but don't really like much. It is not. To paraphrase Carly Simon, "you're so vain, you probably think this post is about you." However, to borrow a phrase from a friend of mine's facebook status the other day, if the shoe fits, feel free to wear it.

Reassess, yes that's the word.  I love blogging, I'm endlessly grateful for the opportunities it affords me and my family, to try new things, go to new places and make new friends.  But how much of my life does it swallow up, and what is the real impact on my family?  I'm finding that rather than enjoying experiences, I'm spending more of my time lining up the perfect photo, thinking about how to word things for the blog.  Rather than living in the moment and having fun, it's all about how I can write things up into a blog post. And that's not the point.  I didn't become a parent so that I could blog about it, I started blogging because I became a parent. Parenthood is the primary thing, not blogging.  A blog post takes maybe an hour to write, then you add in the time it takes to take and edit the photos, the thinking time, the time promoting on Facebook and Twitter, and even then I hear from those "in the know" that I'm not doing enough, I should be on G+, Instagram and Periscope (wtf is periscope, anyway?) as well.  I can't do that, I'm busy with my family, and my job.  Blogging is meant to be fun, not an obsession.

Be not so busy being a parent blogger that you forget to be a parent.  That's my new motto. I've had a bit of time off from the blog, you may have noticed. I'm back and refreshed, but with a new attitude. Quality not quantity in terms of posts, quality AND quantity in terms of family life.