Friday, 18 August 2017

Eastbourne's Hot Air Balloon Festival - review

Sadly due to continued high winds, we didn't actually see any hot air balloons at the Air Balloon Festival on the Sunday but there was still plenty of entertainment.  They had a fun fair and a few stalls, pony rides, dog show, live music, a Harvey's bar with their beautiful and ever popular Dray horses and The Brighton Kite Flyers were there displaying some of their epic kites (at least they were glad of the wind).

Luckily we had taken along the twins' kites we bought at the Kite Festival I wrote about last month and we found a large space near the Superman kite to have another go at flying them.  Kalyan had an absolute ball with Daddy and Grampy helping to fly the Octopus kites while Priya sat watching with Granny before insisting it was snack time!

The Festival was free although you had to pay for certain things, it's a shame the weather let it down and the balloons couldn't fly, I hope they do it again next year as it seemed really well organised and could be an amazing spectacle with all the balloons.

Wakehurst's Kew Science Festival - day two review

I already wrote about our first impressions of Kew Science Festival at Wakehurst but we also went back the following day for more educational fun.

On the Sunday, Kalyan's first thought was for the duck in the puddle we'd seen on our way out the day before.  He was so excited to see it and luckily the same duck was in the same puddle again!

We managed to catch one of the plays aimed at little ones, it was so much fun, all about gardening without pesticides and with interactive sections for the kids to join in with.  Judging by the excited faces and the fact our twins watched the whole thing, it was very well received!

We had a go at pressing flowers, making a specimen sheet and some DIY glitter tattooing.  There was a stand for making paper seeds which were then fired from a giant air canon to float back down.  And a colourful map with lots of facts about plants and animals around the world.

The staff were all wonderful, so enthusiastic and friendly.  It was great to see so many children being encouraged about science and finding it interesting.  The kids could earn stickers and medals by participating in various activities too.

Unfortunately we were disappointed with the food on both days, we were unimpressed in the restaurant on Saturday so opted for the only choice at the main festival, the wood fired pizza (although the oven looked a lot like gas to me) and hot dogs which were sadly cremated.  The pizza was nice but expensive at £4 for one slice!  We agreed that if it's on again next year, we'd take a picnic.  The ice-cream was amazing though, Nik and I had salted caramel and the twins shared a raspberry ripple.

We saw the giant butterfly wandering around again, she had a few helpers supporting her legs too.

After lunch we checked out the Community Chef from Lewes who I think is the teacher of our cookery school teacher!  He was making Badger Bean Burgers in flatbreads as an example of "Food for the Future" and we got to taste some after, they were delicious with the sauerkraut slaw!  The recipes can be found here.

It was raining again so we headed back into the Millenium seed bank, watching a tour head down to the vault, before it was time to leave.  We had a quick look around the shop too which was full of lovely thinks including the Botanical book of gorgeous illustrations by Katie Scott who designed a clothing line for H&M which the twins have a few pieces of.  I'm also eyeing up one of her prints too!  And we spotted some lovely looking Kew gins which were also beautifully illustrated on the boxes.

We had a great time at the Science Festival and loved Wakehurst.  We'll be heading back soon to check out more of the grounds and we're interested in a few more of their events too.  Check out the Wakehurst website for more info.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Ringmer Steam & Country Show - review

A couple of weeks ago we planned to go to Eastbourne's Hot Air Balloon Festival but we'd heard due to high winds the balloons probably wouldn't be flying so we decided to check out the Ringmer Steam & Country Show instead.  We thought Kalyan would enjoy seeing all the steam engines and tractors and we weren't wrong!  There were loads of engines to see and the kids loved watching them all moving and chugging, especially the big steam rollers driving around every so often.  Kalyan found a row of tractors and made sure to touch every one and the vintage big red bus was super exciting, they ran right across the field for that one!

If you're not into engines, there was a fun fair and Punch & Judy shows, falconry, a few bric-a-brac stalls and craft tent but not much else, it was definitely aimed towards engine enthusiasts with motorbikes and trucks in the arena too, along with the big steam engines and vintage cars.

I bought a couple of interesting bits at the market stalls including a bargain rainbow flag for just £3.50 to take on our festival adventures next month.  It's currently alongside the twins' playhouse.

For lunch I got a hog roast roll but it wasn't great, it was a bit dry and flavourless.  We did enjoy the cheese on toast and crepes though.  The rain started while we ate so we ran to the bar tent and listened to the band playing for bit before exploring more of the fair when the rain eased for a while.

We watched a bit of the falconry display and huddled in a tent with some soggy ice-creams before heading home.

Adult entry to the show was £8.  The kids really enjoyed it and there was a fair bit to keep us all entertained.  Engines aren't really my thing so this isn't something I'd rush back to except for Kalyan enjoying it.  It might have been more fun if the weather was nicer.

Beachy Head

After Eastbourne's Hot Air Balloon Festival a couple of weeks ago, we decided to try a local place for a Sunday Roast.  A friend recommended The Ship Inn in Meads and our review will be featuring soon as the first in my Sunday Lunch review series.  When we got to Meads we noticed signs for Beachy Head very close by so after lunch we drove up there for a walk.

Beachy Head is a chalk headland near Eastbourne.  We found a car park and followed a path along the coast at the top of a grassy slope.  

You could see back to Eastbourne Pier and round the corner, views to the Lighthouse.  There was apparently lots to point at!

It was pretty windy up on the exposed path though, as you can see from Priya's windswept hair and horizontal ponytail!  The twins soon wanted to be carried and once we got to the memorial along the path, Kalyan had had enough, he was being blown about a lot right at the edge (which also made me nervous!) so we turned to head back.

The views were amazing so we'll definitely be back to explore further along next time, on a less windy day.

Do you know of any other local beauty spots we should visit?  We've so much do discover around here, I've heard Birling Gap is a good one so that's already on the list.

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!

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