The Black Horse at Great Linford

Last night I had a truly scrumptious meal. I had forgotten how amazing the food was at this establishment because the service has always been slower than a child putting on their shoes and coat. Yes that slow! I think they may have improved on this now; which means that the Black Horse is now officially on my list of favourite eateries in Milton Keynes.

You could do worse than sitting by the canal, with a glass of Prosecco on a long, lazy summer evening, or sat by the fire in a large armchair on a dark winters’ night. I love that they have a multitude of seating options, both inside and out.

However, the most notable thing is the food. Imagine the M&S food lady reading this out slowly to you:

A 9oz 28-day aged Rib-eye steak with bone-marrow butter, twice cooked chips, crispy onions and beef dripping gravy.

If that doesn’t make you salivate, than I’m sorry, we cannot be friends! 😉

My heart was literally aching as I struggled to decide which desserts I would not be able to partake of. I painstakingly chose a warm chocolate brownie with bourbon vanilla icecream, the brownie was a delectable moist chocolate treat which was so good I didn’t even notice the icecream! So it was not a disappointment, but I was disappointed that I had to leave the, Dulce de Leche Profiteroles, Meltingly Golden Chocolate Bomb and the Home-made triple bakes cookies, to my imagination.

I cannot wait to return, let’s hope the service continues to be relatively speedy.



Jamie’s Italian – Family Review

I have to admit that I haven’t been to Jamie’s Italian for a couple of years, mostly because I, stupidly, thought they didn’t have a kids menu, how wrong I was!

This was our first restaurant experience as a family of four, and it was such a lovely treat to get out of the house (which we have been cooped up in since my daughter’s birth). 10 day old Savannah happily slept through the entire experience, but not because she was bored by the food or the atmosphere!

baby girl sleeping

We decided to try out the super lunch deal, which is £10.95 for 2 courses or £12.95 for 3 courses, which is super reasonable considering we spent far more than that in a department store restaurant (a couple of weeks ago for far less interesting food). Plus they serve the “lunch” menu and pricing all the way from 12-6pm and in August the kids menu is absolutely free, which considering how great the kids menu was, I could not have been more impressed.

So let’s start with the kids menu; now being completely honest, I made a big faux-pas by letting my 4 year old choose something I knew he would never eat – why did I do that? Because I have a newborn and all the sleep deprivation that comes along with that! I wish that I had encouraged him to choose the hamburgers, because they looked so great (on the other table), and I know he would have eaten them, but never mind.

Nate ordered the “Jamie’s Proper Picnic Box” which consisted of a chicken wrap, a salad, some vegetable crisps and an apple. My 4 year old does not have a sophisticated palette enough to cope with a chicken wrap, though I wish he did, so he left that, but he did eat most of the salad, a few crisps and the apple. It was such a shame because it looked amazing, and the presentation was clever, with a real lunch box and pieces of comic book paper added a cute touch.

jamie's proper lunch box

The whole kids menu was amazing, from a parent’s point of view, it is the kind of food you want your children to eat, rather than the traditional fish fingers/pizza/chicken nuggets and chips that most restaurants offer. I think when Nate is a few years older he will really appreciate this rather mature menu.

For dessert Nate had the chocolate brownie and icecream, which I had the adult version of, and we can both categorically say it was sublime, though Nate can say this most confidently as he ate about a third of mine in addition to his own! This was my 4 year old’s assessment of the brownie:

It tasted like a chocolate sandwich and was my favouritist I have ever had.

4 year old eating brownieepic brownie

I have two suggestions for improvements to the kids menu though:

  1. Add some starters, they didn’t have any, and my son had to wait while we ate our starters – and no, kids are not patient!
  2. Include a couple of options for the younger audience that are smaller, cheaper and accessible to the fussy toddler/pre-schooler market. I am sure Jamie’s Italian could do a clever healthy twist on a pizza or some sausages, let’s face it, what toddler doesn’t love pizza? In terms of the pricing, it was free this time, but I would not have been happy to pay £6.50 for a meal for my 4 year old, at lunch time, mostly because (like this time) you never know if it will be eaten or not.

Super Lunch Menu

My husband and I both chose the Truffle Pasta for our starter – can anyone tell me if there is anything in this world more delicious than black truffles? No? I didn’t think so.  And as my husband said, it is not often that you find truffles on the menu of a high-street chain restaurant, it is a little touch of elegance. It was very simple, literally just the pasta and the truffles in butter, but wow what an impact. The only downside for me was that it was slightly more al dente than I prefer, but I tend to overcook my pasta so that is just personal preference really.

truffle tagliatelle pasta

My husband had the chicken club for his main meal, he said that it was succulent, the brioche bun was a nice touch. It was a big burger but didn’t come with any chips however he suggested chips were not necessary. Personally, if I had ordered the burger, I would have been disappointed that it did not come with chips, but I am a bit of a piggy!

gennaro's chicken club

The one disappointment for my husband, and his pet peeve whenever we eat out is that they ran out of the dessert he really wanted, so he ended up with just ice-cream. However, it was honeycomb ice-cream with cherry topping and it was gorgeous, simple and he loved it, he said it was special to be able to share with our son.

The prices were really good for the food you get and we cannot wait to go back as there were loads on the menu we wanted to try. The waitresses at the Milton Keynes restaurant cared, knew their stuff,  and they  even knocked up truffle chips for us, which is no longer on the menu. We will definitely be going back again, and soon.

*Our meals were provided for free for the purpose of this review, but all thoughts and images are my own, we genuinely loved it.


Treetops Bed and Breakfast in Fort William

I cannot tell you how happy we were with our choice of bed and breakfast in Fort William. So I just had to review them because it was fabulous and you all need to know. I researched where to stay using Tripadvisor and their reviews were so exceptional, and the views looked spectacular, so we went for it and boy I am glad we did.

Treetops Bed and Breakfast is just outside of Fort William in a place called Banavie. It is high up on a hill so you are looking down on Fort William with an excellent prospect of the Mountains. And not just any mountains, but Ben Nevis!

view of ben nevis from bed and breakfast

We arrived after a long journey, as I am sure everyone does in the Highlands, to the friendly and welcoming JJ, the owner. He showed us to our room and announced that we had been upgraded to the best room in the place, and wow what a room. We stayed in the Great Glen room, which had the addition of a Balcony overlooking Ben Nevis. I have to say, that Balcony made me so happy, I could have just sat our there all day reading and staring at the mountains.

JJ then presented us with a warm pot of tea and homemade Scottish Shortbread, what a delight after 5 hours of driving. Not only that, he booked us dinner at the best restaurant in town, called the Ben Nevis Inn, what service! We did enjoy dinner there, but after spending 2 days in the Lake District the food was somewhat of a disappointment. It was perfectly nice, of course, just not exceptional. The atmosphere was very good, friendly service but served family-style (meaning that you just sit on a long bench with other people, not something I am used to though it was nice to experience something different.

In the morning we experienced the breakfast and I was blown away. The breakfast JJ served up was probably the biggest and best breakfast I have ever encountered in any hotel or B&B, there were so many options and each one was sublime:

  • A huge bowl full of fresh chopped fruit and a bowl of yoghurt
  • Juices and Cereals
  • A freshly handmade smoothie (I’m not the biggest fan of smoothie’s usually but it was delicious)
  • Toast
  • Home-made scottish porridge (absolutely enticing and my favourite part of the meal)
  • Choice of hot meal e.g. full scottish breakfast, salmon bagels, kippers etc.

That is a lot of food to eat for breakfast, we literally didn’t eat again until dinner, it was so filling, but I couldn’t say no to any of the course, they were too irrisistible.

homemade smoothie granola and yoghurthome-made scottish porridgescottish breakfast highlands

On our first day, the hubby decided to climb Ben Nevis, you know for fun, like you do. Well he never intended to climb the whole thing (because it takes on average 6 hours in total, depending on your fitness levels), but just wanted to see what the views would be like up there. So he got about half way and found a loch, actually on the mountain – who knew?!

loch on top of ben nevis

I spent a lazy morning recuperating from the long journey, reading out on the balcony, watching the clouds pass over Ben Nevis. It couldn’t have been more relaxing.

ben nevis images

The room was large and decorated beautifully with gorgeous little touches such as coasters of scottie dogs, beautiful lamps and Harris Tweed cushion covers. The bathroom was immense, had a bidet and a spa bath. We had an absolutely fabulous time.

harris tweed cusion covers

Do you wanna read The Snowman? (Review and Competition)

A fantastic personalised book of the classic story “The Snowman” by Raymond Briggs, except this is an updated version called “The Snowman and the Snowdog”. The televised version was released in 2012 after the 30th Celebration of The Snowman.

the snowman book and sheep teddy

My 3 year old son is super lucky, he got an early Christmas present, a Christmas present in the summer. A fabulous company called Penwizard offered us a personalised book to review and share with my readers, and I can give one away to a lucky reader (scroll to the bottom to enter the competition). I have to admit, this is our first ever personalised book! Shock horror! I know they have been around for a while now and I am shocked that I am so behind the trend, I wish I had bought one sooner, especially after seeing Nate’s reaction to it.

I told Nate he had a special early Christmas present, but that once we had read it, I will be putting it away again until Christmas Day, he actually accepted that gracefully and I hope he will forget about it so that it becomes a surprise on Christmas Day.

When he opened the box he said “Ooooh its a flying snowman”. I asked him Continue reading


22 Things we LOVED about Hatton Adventure World

hatton park review

Hatton Country World in Warwickshire was the next stop on our 50 Counties Challenge. I did start writing a traditional review post, but there were so many activities, so many things to do big and small, and so many things we enjoyed that it made sense to do a list instead, so without further ado, this is our list of 20 things we loved about Hatton Park:

1. Getting there was easy, it was well sign-posted and my Apple maps sat nav actually got me to the front door (but of course they don’t have a door as such, being an adventure park but you know what I mean). If you read my recent post about Abbotsbury Swannery you will know that this is pretty rare, getting lost is usually part of any good British day out.

2. Slides, slides and more slides. When I saw the picture of the slides Hatton have in their indoor play structure, I practically ran inside, grabbed my 3 year old and plopped him on my lap. He definitely “needed” mummy to go on the slides with him, and I was completely self-less, of course. They were a lot of fun! Note: your child will need to be fully clothed to go on the slides to prevent friction burns, so don’t forget to pack socks, and long sleeved tops and trousers or leggings. They will not be allowed on the near vertical slide with uncovered legs and arms. Though they do have cardigans, leggings and socks that you can rent, which is a nice touch, and prevents upset children, the kind lady even went off and brought them back to our table – good service. They also had a fun outdoor twisty slide.

slides at hatton parktwisted slide hatton

3. Sheep racing – this was the one thing I was most looking forward to and it didn’t disappoint. The sheep are so cute, they have teddy bear sheep strapped to their backs – Nate totally loved that because his favourite bedtime comfort toy is ewan the sheep. It was very exciting and Nate got thoroughly into it.

4. Bouncy castles – I was amazed by how many different types of bouncy castles they had, for different ages. They had a standard bouncy castle, then they had one aimed at older children with a climbing pyramid in the middle. I have to say I felt nervous watching my 3 year old climb up that, but was also quietly proud. Finally they had a bouncy castle slide, I think Nate enjoyed this one most of all.

3 year old climbing up a pyramid3 year old on bouncy slide

5. Trampolines – again they had several trampolines dotted around the park, and they given age restrictions, which I think is good so that younger children don’t get trampled on and older children get to jump freely without reprisals.

6. Guinea Pig Village – oh my this was so cute. There was a village of houses and even a canal and lock where hundreds of guinea pigs lived, it was so sweet, and such a clever idea.

guinea pig village

7. Reptile house – it had an array of spiders, snakes, lizards, turtles and they even had allotted times where children could interact, hold and stroke some of the reptiles.

8. JCB zone – I have actually encountered quite a few similar ‘digger zones’ at various places and have to say this is the best I have seen. They are usually very unloved areas, which broken diggers and no children. This one was very busy, had tunnels, ramps and a petrol station. If only my three year old could pedal, we definitely need to work on that.

3 year old playing with diggersreview of hatton adventure world

9. Falconry – I personally loved see all the birds, falcons, hawks and the owls, there were a multitude of different owls with funny faces. I found them quite mesmerising. Nate did not like the ones that were out of their cages. Unfortunately we had just missed the falconry show.

10. Park – there were several pieces of play equipment dotted around, from slides, swings and roundabouts, to this rather whimsical pretend cow that you could milk.

11. Sandpits (including one with diggers) – we had a little respite as Nate played in the big sandpit for about 20 minutes, and even made “new friends” which two girls around his age. The sandpits had buckets, spades and other paraphernalia to play with, and there was a sandpit with diggers in.

3 year old in sandpit

12. Tractor rides – the tractor rides were approximately every 30 minutes, and would have been fun, but there was simply too much to fit in, which is a lovely problem to have. They also had donkey rides, but since they cost extra, I am not listing it as one of the things I loved.

13. Selection of food – as I said before we go on days out very regularly and Hatton had, probably the best selection of food, especially for children, that I think I have ever seen at similar venues. The main food area is in with the soft play, which is perfect when you have an antsy toddler or 3 year old who takes two bites then wants to go and play, at least you can eat your lunch whilst watching them play, I loved that. Going back to the food, they had these little pots which are simply perfect for fussy toddlers, it had chunks of cheese, fruit, sausages etc each in a little pot, a wonderful selection. The cakes were amazing too, and delicious, the only downside was the price of the cakes were a bit expensive.

hatton adventure world foodhatton park food review

14. Condiments! – I am aware this is a strange thing to love, but really look at this selection of free condiments, in a world where your local KFC now charges you 10p a satchet of sauce, it is so nice to have not just sauces but milk and butter and all the little extras that you are normally charged for, included. It was a nice touch.

15. Shops – they actually have a whole shopping village, full of little boutiques that I love to wander around dreamily. Whilst my boys queued up for icecream, which incidentally took way too long (30 minutes!) and is something Hatton could look at (the icecream stand near to the peacocks). I was actually able to do a spot of shopping, I found a birthday present, and treated hubby and me to some special belgian chocolates, and little man chose something too.

16. Covered seating areas – living in Britain and our random weather patterns, it is great to have these covered seating areas, individual family booths they were, which, because it was so intensely hot that day, we really needed for some respite from the sun, perfect for random showers too.

17. Panning for gold – Nate loved this as he is a big fan of water play, and he would have stayed there longer and got himself completely soaked, if we didn’t want to take part in the pirates treasure hunt. Alas we are none the richer, but it was fun.

family panning for goldpanning for gold

18. Llamas (and other farm animals) – it’s not completely commonplace to see Llama’s though I definitely see them more than when I was growing up. They are funny looking and when they have their big hair, they kind of remind me of surfer dudes! These ones were shaved though, but still cute.

19. 1 day old piglets – I know I mentioned the farm animals already but the one day old piglets were so darn cute, they kinda needed their own number.

piglets at hatton farm parkchildren interacting with piglets

20. Soft (indoor) play – I already mentioned the slides but the indoor play area was more than just amazing slides. They had three sections, one for everyone (that included the slides), one for 4 and under and then a baby sensory zone. I do love it when they have special zones for younger children and babies, because older children do not always realise how rough they play. The younger areas were closer to the food, meaning parents could keep a special eye on the toddlers.

21. Laser combat – my little one was not old enough, as it is for 6 years and upwards, however, it looked a lot of fun, and we will definitely going back in a few years so that he can try this.

22. Beautiful scenery – Hatton is in the middle of a large farm so it is naturally beautiful, not cultivated or manicured just English countryside at its best.

hatton country world prices

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*This is a sponsored post, we were given free tickets in return for an honest review, all views are honest and are my own.