Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Thai Terre Uckfield - review

Uckfield is buzzing with news of a Thai restaurant opening in the High Street.  Thai Terre already has a restaurant in Eastbourne but we heard they were coming to Uckfield in the recently closed down Pepper Dining.  People have been waiting for weeks for news of its opening and we were excited at the thought of more variety in Uckfield's food scene too.  Tonight was opening night and we booked a table, it was perfect timing since the twins are enjoying a rare sleepover at their grandparents!

As soon as we arrived at 7:45pm, we noticed the place was busy but there were still tables free.  We went along with open minds, expecting there may be a few teething problems on the first night and we may have a wait for food so we were relieved it wasn't completely full and hoped all would go well.  It did, we loved the food and the staff were very friendly.

We were greeted warmly and I asked for a table by the window if possible and we were led to the last available window table.  Menus soon followed and we were impressed with the professional finish to the menus and overall decor in the restaurant.  I'd been once before when it was Pepper Dining and they've done a good job of redecorating, adding their own touches with Thai wall art and fresh orchids in the windows.

I'd already had a sneaky peek at the menu on their original restaurant website and it does appear to be the same.  They explain that they use fresh local ingredients where possible for their traditional Thai recipes and we definitely felt the food reflected the high quality they claim.  Everything sounded delicious and we opted for one of the dim sum options to start along with spare ribs, planning to share.

Although the food & drinks menus arrived quickly, we did have to wait a while to order and although it was opening night and it was quite busy, we did feel forgotten about.  After around 15 minutes they came to take our drinks order and we both opted for Thai Singha beers and some tap water.  As we'd already waited a while, we also ordered our food at the same time and both our drinks and starters arrived swiftly within 10 minutes.

The Saa Lai Dim Sum is described as "minced prawn and crab in seaweed roll".  The See Krong Moo (pork spare ribs) were marinated in Oyster sauce with cauliflower and seasoning.  The dim sum was disappointing, they had minced prawn around the edge but had crab sticks in the centre rather than fresh real crab and the overwhelming flavour was of crab stick.  The ribs however were divine!  The sauce was delicious and the meat so tender and full of flavour although I'm not sure where the cauliflower comes in, perhaps it's in the sauce or maybe that's what the flower garnish is carved out of.  We both agreed we wouldn't get the prawn & crab dim sum again but we loved the ribs and would definitely go back for more of those.

Our mains took a little longer to arrive but we didn't mind this now we had our drinks, except for the water that was forgotten.  Nik had opted for the Duck in Tamarind sauce with steamed Jasmine rice and I chose the Thai green chicken curry with coconut rice.  Both were lovely, the portions were a very good size, I actually asked to bring the rest of my curry home as I felt full.  The duck was tender and had nice crispy skin which went very well with the sweet & tangy sticky sauce and lettuce leaves it was served with.

My curry was excellent, fairly mild but with a decent kick the more you ate.  The vegetables in the curry were cooked to perfection and you could really taste all the different flavours with the slightly sweet coconut rice.  The food looked lovely too, they make an effort to present it well, we really enjoyed it and would recommend both main courses.

Our bill for two courses each and two beers came to £46.80 plus tip.  Our mains added up to around £12 & £14 each when we added the rice, the beers were £3.50 each and the starters £6.50 and £6.95.

The toilet was clean and bright, again freshly decorated - you could still smell the paint.  We didn't have the kids with us so I forgot to check facilities but there was a disabled toilet which hopefully has a changing table.

I loved the overall decor with the big Buddha head on the end of the bar and the wooden carvings and metal artwork along with fresh flowers on the tables and fresh orchids dotted in the windows.  It's Thai style done tastefully with frosted decals on the windows also adding a touch of Thailand.  Hopefully I'll be able to pop in soon when it's a bit quieter during the day and take some better photos of the place.

It would be interesting to see how they cope on a busy Saturday night as the tables are quite tightly packed, I had trouble squeezing past where people were sitting to get to the toilet and we noticed the staff had to go a long way around to serve some food to tables.  Hopefully they'll get quicker at taking drinks orders too but for their first night we think it went really well.

In summary, we love Thai Terre and think it will be really successful here.  The food is delicious and service is friendly and generally efficient.  Although we had to wait 15 minutes to order drinks after receiving our menus and had to remind them about our water twice, we were impressed there were no other teething problems for such a large restaurant on a busy opening night, we reckon we'll be back often.

Olive Dragonfly Rating - Thai Terre Uckfield
Food & Drink - 8/10
Atmosphere - 8/10
Service - 8/10
Value - 8/10

Overall - 8/10

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Firle Vintage Fair - Review

We went along to explore Firle Vintage Fair at Firle Place today.  It was a flying visit as we're now in London for a family get together but we had a great time and I wanted to share a few photos this evening in case anyone is thinking about whether to go along tomorrow.

The venue is stunning with the big manor house and epic grounds providing the backdrop to so many stands selling beautiful and varied vintage or vintage style goods.

We found jewellery, toys, plant and gardening stalls, various kitchenalia, loads of quirky things, furniture, clothes, maps, fabrics, bottles, vases and plenty of other home wares.  It was a vintage lover's dream with so much to browse!  Here are a few photos of my favourite finds today.  We've just had to shell out for a new hot water cylinder so I managed to resist most but did make a small purchase of a necklace (of course!) from the 1960s for £8.

There was also had a beautiful old fashioned fun fair with a big carousel the twins loved riding on.  We were lucky to get such a beautiful day after initially preparing for rain.  I'd definitely recommend heading along if you don't mind paying an entry fee to go shopping, there were plenty of people in attendance as it's a nice day out even if you're just there to browse.  They had a dancing stage with music playing near all the food stands and plenty of drinks on offer including various ales, cider and a Prosecco bar as well as various yummy baked goods.  And of course, the ever popular face painting stall.

Entry to the fair is £10 for adults and £5 for 5-17 year olds.  Under 5s are free.  We received free entry in return for this review.  As always, all views expressed are my own, honest opinion.

Raystede Centre for Animal Welfare review - Adventures with Toddlers

On Thursday we met up with friends for a play date at Raystede near Halland.  If you don't know it, Raystede is an animal rescue centre with animals ranging from bunnies to horses and it's a lovely place to visit with the kids.  Entry is free but you can make a donation or become a sponsor to give continued help to one specific animal section if you wish or become a Friend of Raystede for just £3/month and as well as helping the animals you also get perks like Friends Only events and discounts.  It's good to have some free activities available in the holidays as it all adds up with various trips out but even if you can't afford to make a big donation, I'm sure everything helps and if you visit the cafe, you're also helping to support the centre.

The twins love it here, it's safe for them to run about and explore without having to worry too much.  They love the duck pond which is also a nice place to walk around on a sunny day and there's a play park area too.  We started off with one of their highlights of putting some coins in one of the donation spinners before trying to spot a tortoise (we didn't, they must have been sleeping) while we waited for our friends to arrive.

We met them at the park and did some climbing (and snacking) before heading off to explore the other areas.  We only spotted one dog today but they have a few waiting to be re-homed at the moment, I wish we could take one home but it's tricky with Nik's allergies (and still a bit too early for me with the kids still being so young, maybe one day...).

The rabbits were a big hit as we saw quite a few and there was a game at the end of all the hutches with a giant dice with various boards giving instructions as well as bunny info.

The duck pond was full of angry geese, we saw quite a few fighting although it's not nesting season (they actually close some of the paths off when it is due to aggressive birds).  The kids all had fun on the rainbow platform and looking through the telescope (20p).

All the way around the centre we found information points and buttons to press which they all loved.  Some were part of a trail for the holidays, you can pick up a sheet at the information desk and go around finding posts and answering questions for a bit of fun learning and extra entertainment.

When it started to rain, we decided it was time to head back to the cafe for lunch.

It was very busy in there, unsurprisingly but our food came quickly.  I would definitely avoid it if you don't like noise, maybe take a picnic to eat outside instead.  I ordered scampi & chips (£6.95) for the twins and I to share although they mostly ate the rest of the snacks I'd brought.  Kalyan's recent favourite thing is mayonnaise so he had cucumber smothered in mayo, a few chips and one scampi.  Since they'd been so good I treated them to an ice-cream (£2.00, they had 1/2 scoop each) and I had a slice of chocolate cake and a mocha which were delicious!

We had a great morning out with our friends, we go to Raystede often as it's such a great place as well as a great cause.  Maybe one day we'll be able to adopt a dog too!

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Toothy Tips - Brushing Toddlers' Teeth

One of the requests thrown in by a reader in my feedback survey was regarding teeth.  This astute reader who remained anonymous had picked up on my occasional alludings to my profession and commented "Would love a feature on children and teeth - tips, funny stuff, how to tell you're at a good dentist (my experience has been dreadful with my little one), what you should do, products to use - I think you work in dentistry?! ??"

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Survey results - a personal post ;)

Thank you SO much to everyone who's taken my survey so far!  I wasn't sure how many people would actually take the time to do it but I have found it so interesting and definitely helpful, I'm so grateful.  (It's still open so if you fancy adding your tuppence worth, here's the link!)

The information I've received so far has been along the lines I expected but there have been some surprising and lovely comments.  There's only been one slight negative so far and that was something I had expected might be an issue anyway (hence including it in the ticky boxes to make it easy for people to confirm any thoughts), the fact I use too many photos and some posts are too long as a result.  Something I've been trying to work on as I'm my own worst editor!  Clare has helped me with that along with my general photography skills which I've also been working on recently over at Bexphoto.  I'm hoping it will make the blog look even better too as I think I am taking better photos now and thinking more about what I choose to include.  Downloading BlogStomp has certainly helped in being more strict on which photos to use and presenting them better but I will continue to try being stricter and keep more photos for albums on the Olive Dragonfly Facebook Page instead.  So if you are a fan of lots of photos, I suggest liking the page ;)

Before and after coffee faces (it was hot milk not coffee don't worry!)

My Sunday Photo

A super quick Sunday Photo link-up with Photalife today as I'm busy analysing the responses to my survey (please take it here) but I wanted to share a few of my favourite photos of Granny & Grampy's recent visit.  I'll be sharing the full photo sessions soon over on my currently neglected Bexphoto blog.


Saturday, 5 August 2017

England's Medieval Festival Winner Announced!

I'm delighted to announce the winner of our giveaway with England's Medieval Festival!  It's less than 3 weeks now until the festival and I can't wait!  So who will also be going along to join in?

Entry no.96, Amy M from Brighton!  Congratulations!!

England's Medieval Festival ticket giveaway with Olive Dragonfly Blog

Please get in touch with Sarah at England's Medieval Festival to claim your family day ticket and I hope you have a fantastic day out!

If you missed out, you can still get discounted advance tickets via the England's Medieval Festival website.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Feedback Survey

You may have noticed I've been back to blogging more regularly lately and I'm working on improving the blog.  I've been wondering about lots of things and have a few ideas for features and further ways to improve the blog overall.  It would be massively helpful if you could please fill in this short survey I've made, I'm hoping it will give me a bit of insight into what people like about Olive Dragonfly and how you came to be readers.

I love this blog, being able to write about everything I love, share my photos and connect with people.  I hope it inspires you, be it through using my recipes, visiting somewhere I've recommended or just enjoying my photos.  Blogging has led to me making friends, trying new experiences and some wonderful opportunities along the way and I've made a few tweaks here and there as I learn more.  I'm hoping to keep tweaking and working on it to make it even better, hopefully with your help!

Image Source - Amy Tangerine's gorgeous watercolour quote, via Pinterest

So tell me, what do/don't you like, what would you like to see more/less of...?  There are just 10 simple questions, mostly multiple choice and you can remain anonymous so please be honest.  I'd love to know what you think.

Click here to take the survey.


It's come a long way already...

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Sneak Peek of Into Mills - Home Wares

Yesterday I had the pleasure of taking photos and helping to style products for a new website launching soon.  Sally Ashen runs a home wares business, INto Mills, from her home in Lewes and after we met at Joy Festival in June, she asked me to take some photos of her beautiful products.

Sally has such great taste and this is one kind of photography I wanted to gain more experience in so I gladly accepted.  As well as the benefits of gaining experience and building a more commercial style portfolio, Sally also agreed to a collaboration on the blog too so we will be running a little giveaway promotion when she is ready to launch her new website so watch this space!

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Bear & Boo Photography - Family Photo Shoot

A few weeks ago we had a family photo shoot with Bear & Boo Photography, the new family photography business of wedding photographer Eliza Claire.  Eliza asked for families via Instagram to help build her portfolio so we of course volunteered and were lucky enough to be selected as one of the first entries (thanks for the heads up Lucy Stendall)!

We had a fun morning with Eliza down at Rottingdean, we had intended to investigate the rock pools that Laura had recommended to me ages ago but we'd never managed to get a weekend with the right tide times.  This weekend had seemed like a good bet with the time we were due to meet being close to the tide being out but it turned out not close enough with the tide already being much further in than I anticipated!

Love this one of us in front of the white cliffs with the vast blue sky.

Monday, 31 July 2017

CAU - Buenos Heroes menu - review by Bex

We were invited along to try out the new menu at CAU in Tunbridge Wells while they're running their #BuenosHeroes promotion which offers diners the chance to win the trip of a lifetime to Buenos Aires.  (See below for more details about the promotion.)

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Outside The Box Clothes Winners

Thank you so much to everyone who entered our competition to win one of Holly's awesome unisex items of clothing.  We had 70 entries and I'm very pleased to announce our winners below!

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Anything Goes Sale in aid of Our Gambia Project

I had the pleasure of meeting Tanya recently in the lovely Chapter Three shop in town and she told me all about her project to help raise £12,000 to buy land and build a pre-school in Gambia.  She's clearly very passionate about it and is holding an "Anything Goes" sale at the Cinque Ports in Uckfield today (Saturday 29th July) from 11am - 3pm.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Fruit Picking at Oast Farm Buxted - review by Bex

You all know how much we love Oast Farm, it's so handy for us and the ladies who run it are just lovely, it feels like visiting friends when we head down there.  I've been meaning to have a go at fruit picking with the twins and have finally managed it!

I recently discovered a fellow local blogger from Uckfield and we arranged to meet up at Oast Farm for a coffee and have a go at PYO while we were there.  Zoe from Juggling on Rollerskates is also a Mum who blogs about her adventures with her kids, one of whom is just a few months younger than Kalyan & Priya.  We all had a great time playing at the cafe followed by some breakfast and then went off to explore the farm and pick some raspberries.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Kew Science Festival at Wakehurst - review by Bex

We were invited along to Wakehurst this weekend to check out the Kew Science Festival in the gardens this weekend and I wanted to get a post up on the blog tonight to show you all how much is going on, we'd definitely recommend it if you're at a loose end tomorrow!  Although it's aimed at older kids, there's still plenty for toddlers to do and keep entertained.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Outside The Box Clothes - review & GIVEAWAY by Bex

To celebrate my first column for Uckfield News today and with the launch of OTB Clothes' unisex shorts, I'm delighted to be running a giveaway with Outside The Box Clothes!  Priya was wearing her dress at the Uckfield Festival Big Day and we went back to Luxford park for a photo shoot to show off the clothes against the slightly roughened bright colours of the play equipment so you may have noticed it in my column today and now you have a chance to win one for your child!

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Brighton Kite Festival - review by Bex

We went along to the Brighton Kite Festival for the first time this year and loved it!  It was definitely the highlight of Kalyan's year - he adores all flying things and was yelling constantly about the "flags" - "Look!"  "Look!"  He didn't have enough arms to point in all directions, it was so funny!  We actually had a great time too, helped by the fact it was a gorgeous day.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Uckfield Festival 2017

We went along to Luxford Field for the Big Day of Uckfield Festival (the first proper big day of the week long festival) to check out all of the stalls and entertainment.  It was basically like a giant village fete with lots of local businesses and charities all in attendance with activities, stalls and games to play as well as a stage area for local dance troops to show us their moves and bands to play music throughout the day.  

The kids looked a bit bored on the Teacups after being super excited to go on!

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Lemon & Lime Cake with Lemon Buttercream - recipe by Bex

I've made a version of this cake a few times now and it's always a winner!  It's light, moist and super tasty - sort of a cross between a lemon drizzle and a normal sponge cake with buttercream (I use my own buttercream recipe which isn't too sweet).  The original version includes lemon curd which I'm not a fan of but if you want it to be sweeter and even more lemony then by all means add a layer between the slices and mix some in to the icing.  I added the lime when I ran out of lemons and it worked well so here's my version of this delicious cake.

Cafe Rust, Brighton - review by Bex

Last week I took the twins to Brighton to visit Laura and her daughter, Arla.  We went to a soft play first so the toddlers could burn off a bit of energy before we decided it was time for lunch.  The original cafe Laura had planned to take us too was already full so we went to Cafe Rust on Preston Road which she'd planned on trying and we're so glad we did!  It was absolutely gorgeous!  As soon as we walked in and saw the door at the back opening out onto a garden we headed straight through and walked out into a beautiful little walled garden full of flowers and blue chairs and wheelbarrows.  It was lovely!

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Freddie's Flowers - review by Bex

While at Foodie's Festival I was taking photos of the Freddie's Flower's bicycle with the beautiful rose lilies in the basket and got talking to Kieran.  I had thought about signing up to regular flower deliveries before but had thought when I looked at the website, that you had to get a delivery every week and at £22 a pop that adds up pretty quickly!  Not having £88 to spare a month, I left it but I've since discovered that you can choose entirely how often you receive your flowers.  You can set it to fortnightly deliveries and even then can edit so you only get them once a month if you prefer and you can un-tick all deliveries for the next 6 weeks if you'll be away for a while too.

They're supposed to last well and £22 a month is much more manageable so I signed up.  I love having flowers in the house although I'm a sucker for a £3 bunch of Alstromerias (which last forever!), they're not the same as having a delivery of a proper big bunch of varied and well chosen flowers.  A properly designed bouquet every few weeks will be lovely and I can still get my Alstromerias in between deliveries.  Also, with a referral code from my in-laws, I got my first bouquet free!

(Read on for my code which can also get you a free bunch if you decide to try them out!)

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Columnist for Uckfield News

If you haven't already seen, I have some super exciting news to report!  Following a meeting on Tuesday morning with Cathy, I can confirm that I will be writing a monthly column for Uckfield News!

For those of you who might not know, Uckfield News is our local news website.  Run by Cathy who
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