Wednesday, 28 May 2014
Posted by Ian Newbold at 16:05
Tuesday, 20 May 2014
I could just start and end this review by saying, or typing:
Chester Zoo is awesome!
But I suppose I should really quantify that statement.
It’s been a while since we’ve visited a zoo, which is why we were keen to take up an offer from Chester Zoo to visit them.
We’ve visited zoos in this country, as well as some around the world, and it’s fair to say the standard we’ve come across had been vast and unpredictable, some being brilliant, and some leaving you wondering if you should have even visited, and are they not on the wrong side of cruel.
Simply put, Chester Zoo is fantastic, and probably the best we’ve ever visited.
I did get told off by my young explorer sidekick for him having to wait over nine years to visit!
From the minute you arrive the place is very well organised, we left home a little later than we’d planned to, and therefore expected the worst as we’d be arriving at the peak time of day.
But while there were a lot of people, they seem to be so organised that driving in and parking was a breeze, as was getting into the actual zoo. No one seemed to be queuing for very long, all very relaxed.
The zoo is stunning from the off, and you are immediately struck by the vast elephant enclosure.
And I would say that is something consistent with the enclosures at Chester Zoo, they all seem to a layman to be generous in size and sympathetically laid and decked out for the animals that live in them.
Watching one of the elephants take water from the waterfall was an instant highlight.
There are an absolute truck load of animals. I’m struggling to think of animals that they don’t have.
They have some we’d never even heard of before.
TIPS FOR VISITING CHESTER ZOO
Take comfy footwear.
Download the Chester Zoo App before you go.
Allow plenty of time to get round.
Posted by Ian Newbold at 13:09
Wednesday, 7 May 2014
Not that you’d know it at certain times, but we have rules in our home.
Amongst my favourites, are my forever instilled ‘one or none’ rule. Max absolutely loves that one. It’s the rule where I’m really giving him no alternative other than to be grateful for what he has, rather than ask for more.
Another rule I’m very rigid on is a around waste, and simply not having any when it comes to cooking our food.
I’ve probably asked my son three hundred and seven squillion times: “Do we waste food in this house?” without ever needing an answer.
drives me mad irritates more than a little to see food go to waste. Think it may come from a hazy memory of my old parents banging on at me to eat all my dinner throughout my childhood.
I won’t be alone in once being threatened with my dinner being sent to the world’s starving if I didn’t work on my grateful.
And they were damn right too.
There are plenty of motives to eat without waste, to be healthy, to be grateful for what we have, and cost amongst them. The principle of working with, or looking for, no more than you need is one I like to think we've adopted here.
And I’ve also been working with E.ON on a campaign helping people to focus on just that.
We could all do with a little help with ideas for around the home, picking up tips from others as to the best ways to keep a handle on costs but still run a happy home that doesn’t really want for any of the important stuff.
For the latest part of the E.ON campaign they have created an Energy Saving Guide on Facebook that includes tips from a variety of bloggers.
It focuses on three areas of family life: saving energy in the home, how to become a more efficient family and tips for running an efficient kitchen. And I’ve added my ideas amongst them, sharing a little about how we run our family ship that hopefully others will find useful.
My boy, Max, has even got in on the act, sharing his advice as to the best way as to avoiding wasting food.
That’s a top tip for him, and it really does work a treat. Which incidentally is what he gets for following it!
And here are a few of My Own Kitchen Tips
Like all things with kids it’s a balance of wanting them to try new foods and eat healthily without creating any waste. I’ve learnt from experience that cooking a new food for a child can often end in complete disaster and waste, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it, and I’ve stumbled upon a technique that works for us.
When introducing new foods to your children, do so in small quantities, or let them take some to try from your plate to accompany a tried and tested meal.
I’ve found doing found this reduces waste, and I then know if I cook a full portion for my boy next time, he doesn’t really have an excuse not to eat it. It also adds a sharing and fun element. Max is always a little keener to try things if he thinks they are mine, so something that starts its life on my plate is always going to be a little more desirable than something on his own.
Eat fresh food, but get your portions right and consider frozen vegetables and dried fruit as supplements.
Eating healthily is important here, and as a result we get through a good amount of vegetables, fruit and salad. But fresh food quickly goes off, so avoiding waste can be difficult. Family life changes constantly, and what you’ve planned for dinner can quickly change for any number of reasons too, and avoiding food waste can be difficult. For that reason we err on the side of caution when ordering fresh food, but keep frozen versions and alternatives in stock. Meaning if we are a little shy on fresh broccoli, we’ll add some frozen green beans or cauliflower to our cooking. We adopt the same principle with healthy snacks, having fresh apples and oranges for example, but also having raisins on standby if we run out.
Have your dinner for your lunch.
Likewise if we have a little leftover, we cook it and then have it for lunches in the days afterwards. We plan lunches that we can freeze, or with long expiry dates like tinned soup, meaning eating re-heated fresh food just bumps their consumption further down the diary and there’s less to order on next week's food shop.
Look at alternatives, especially to expensive items like meat.
One of the changes we’ve made fairly recently is using turkey mince as an alternative to beef or lamb. It’s healthy if you cook it right and drain the fat away, and I don’t know how sophisticated your taste palette is, but mine is not such that it is noticing much difference in our lasagnes.
Use a steamer stack.
My discovery of steam as a means of cooking has been a revelation. I was from the school of boiling or roasting the crap out of everything. But since someone bought us a steamer a few years ago, it’s my go-to cooking technique. It’s healthy, easier and on our electric induction hob the most efficient cooking technique. It also has the added benefit of still having boiling water in the bottom of the steamer stack, which we often use if we are mashing potatoes or a swede. Any spare capacity can also be used to cook stuff for the day after, as reheating stuff can be a lot quicker, convenient and ultimately cheaper.
Share your Energy Saving Tips and Win!!!!!!!
Hopefully you’ll find some of those tips useful, and I’d be absolutely delighted to read some of your ideas and so would E.ON. Keep your eyes peeled for a competition asking for top tips. With the best or most popular ones submitted receiving some Amazon vouchers.
Posted by Ian Newbold at 11:37