Sometimes it just takes over me. An urge to do things, get out there, make some memories. I get scared that it might be my last chance to have some fun with the kids. They are growing so quickly and I’m not getting any younger myself. This half term was time for making memories.
It was half term and I made a plan of all the things I wanted to do. Was it too ambitious? Maybe, especially as we had to go out three days in a week, normally I have to rest after a day out. But, there was a birthday in there and you can’t postpone a birthday. The celebrations maybe, but not the buying of gifts and cards.
So, Monday was buying day. The card shop is practically next door to the toy shop, which would have been great had the birthday boy been under 40! But, no point in wasting a trip to the toy shop with the kids in tow, it was definitely time to spend that pocket money that was building up. Thankfully, the gifts had already been bought, but Graham still treated himself to a new game for his PS4 (yes, I did say he was over 40!) And Boo bought him a new DAD mug. He needs a coffee mug twice as big as the regular mugs to help him stay awake to play his PS4 all night.
Tuesday was Graham’s birthday and we went out for lunch. We could have gone out for dinner and included the whole family, but we’d only done that a couple of weeks ago for No1 Son. So, lunch it was at the local Brewer’s Fayre. The girls discovered that they were too big now to play in the play area so The little Man went off on his own. I wasn’t worried about him, he’s not shy and makes friends so easily, he talks to everyone. Plus we had a screen we could watch from the table. Boo, however, worried incessantly, ‘what if he gets hurt?’ ‘What if he goes somewhere else and we don’t see him?’ ‘What if someone bullies him?’ She’s just like a mini mum. I think I was probably like that when I was younger, but you kind of become more relaxed when you’ve had five children.
Thursday we had decided to go out. ‘Let’s go to the Think Tank’ I said. We haven’t been there for years and it was somewhere I wanted to go. The kids agreed but were not too excited. Had I worn them out already, surely they didn’t prefer to be stuck indoors?
The morning started as usual, breakfast then laptops. But, not without protest, I’d managed to persuade them to get dressed too. I got ready for our day out but no-one seemed really keen. Boo complained that she’d been to the Think Tank with her school just last year. Star complained that she didn’t want to go to the Think Tank but wouldn’t offer a reason. The Little Man just wanted to play Roblox, he didn’t even want to put his socks on.
Then Star said she didn’t want to go out unless we went to Mc Donalds first. I knew what would happen, it’s happened many a time before. We’d go to Mc Donald’s and then she’d insist we came home again. Eventually, she agreed to go to the Sea Life Centre instead of the Think Tank. Arrrgh! At least it was getting out, although I didn’t want to go to the Sea Life Centre, it’s way too familiar. Why was it so difficult, I just wanted to make some fun memories for my kids? Health wise I am probably better off staying home and doing nothing at all, but I don’t want my kids to have that as their childhood memory.
Anyway, cut a long story short, we went to Mc Donalds, then to the Sea Life Centre which was fully booked and we couldn’t go in. So, guess where we ended up? Yes, The Think Tank! On arrival at the Think Tank, Star brightened up as she recognised the place. Then we realised that we hadn’t actually explained anything to her about it and she’d become anxious because she didn’t know where she was going. That’s the problem when you have an autistic child, sometimes it’s easy to forget ‘the rules’ to forget how her mind works. Even though we know she’s autistic we still get it wrong and think she’s just being awkward. The tears and tantrums and effort just to get out of the house could possibly have been avoided had we just spent five minutes explaining that we’d been to the Think Tank before and tried to remind her of what it was like. Or maybe not, you never can tell.
So, fun was had (eventually) and memories made and hopefully, somewhere in the back of their minds they will retain only good thoughts and images of our ‘fun’ packed half term.
It turned out to be quite a busy week last week. Well, busy in my terms anyway, compared to not doing very much at all.
I had to go out and buy my first born some birthday cards which is always a task. Do you think I can remember how many siblings he has and which card will be appropriate for each one. You may think it easier to take them to choose their own, but I think I’ll pass on that and get them myself. Cards purchased I decided to pop into nearby M&S to buy a birthday cake. The choice was not brilliant and despite us being a large family, I couldn’t really justify buying a cake for sixteen. What I did buy was a chocolate tray bake which looked really nice, and was already cut into portions so no arguing over who gets the biggest slice.
I also popped into Boots to look for something a little extra for my son and discovered that they had a lot of their Christmas gifts on sale for half price. So I stocked up! I’ve got a few family birthdays in the next three months so that will save me loads.
I really enjoyed the shopping trip. It’s good when we go somewhere newly built because they always accommodate wheelchair users, sliding doors and no steps are such a bonus that walkers take for granted. The only problem I did have was that it was so cold I lost all feeling in my legs. It was a struggle to get back in the car afterwards.
My son’s birthday arrived, but his birthday present didn’t. I’d ordered him a really nice gift online over a week ago and it didn’t turn up in time. I don’t like late presents, I believe that everyone should have gifts to open on their birthday and not have to wait, even if the gift is worth waiting for. I had however, stocked up on some gifts on the previous days shopping trip, so he had some to enjoy. Then when his main gift arrives it will be an extra treat.
As it was his day he decided that he wanted us to go out shopping so off we went again. Thankfully the weather was a little kinder which meant I didn’t suffer so much, but after spending two hours walking around he still didn’t buy anything.
We got home, picked the kids up from school and then it was time to go our for our dinner. He’d chosen Frankie and Benny’s for his treat. The restaurant is only a few miles from our home but as there are seven of us and our car is a five seater, we had to order a taxi. But, no-one wanted to go in the taxi (well apart from the Little Man who thought the car looked like a Lamborghini) so an argument was brewing. It was sorted eventually though and we all arrived at the restaurant at basically the same time.
The food took ages as the restaurant was very busy. It seemed every five minutes the lights went down and they played Happy Birthday to someone while taking them a cake with candles. My son would have walked out if I’d arranged that for him, thankfully I know better. In fact we had a poll while we were there, Boo, Star, No1 Son and Eldest Daughter said ‘no way,’ but me, Graham and the Little Man said we would enjoy it.
We all enjoyed our meals, with everyone ordering something different which just goes to show how difficult I find it making meals that please everyone at home.
Then it was time to leave and to stop the argument with the taxi again, Graham said he’d make two journeys. He took the girls home first while I stayed with my two sons. We waited for the bill (ouch!) and then walked over to the arcade that was in the bowling alley opposite. As soon as we were in there I was reminded of summer holiday camps. The kids love nothing more than walking around amusement arcades playing all the games and trying to win toys from the grabber machines. We were not in there long though, Graham was back and looking for us.
When we got home the birthday boy went in first and the living room was in darkness apart from the candles on his cake. Then the girls jumped out and yelled Happy Birthday! He’s not one for surprises but this was so lovely I think he really liked that they had thought to do it.
After all that we had eaten, do you think we could manage birthday cake? Of course we could!
It had been a couple of really busy days and I’d been out two days in a row. I had to pay the price, my body gave up completely and I spent a whole day doing ‘absolutely nothing!’ I always feel guilty, like I’m deliberately being lazy, but I have limitations, and boy do those limitations hit me hard.
By the next day I was feeling more rested and able to move a little. But, when I get knocked down like that, I worry about doing anything that will make the pain come back.
Thankfully, I’m feeling much better now and ready to face the week ahead.
So, January is almost over, but Christmas seems like it was a lifetime away. I’m one birthday down already, and the rest of the year is laid out ahead. So much to do, so much to see, so many new friends to make. How can anyone feel depressed in January when it’s a whole new beginning?
Now, I’m longing for Spring and warmer weather. I want to see flowers and leaves on the trees. I want to feel the sun warm my bones. In my Autumn years I’ve turned into a Summer person. All my life it’s been the cold weather that I’ve loved, brisk walks on chilly days, playing in the snow, early days and wrapping up warm. But since I got sick, feeling cold is really not an option because it hurts so bad. So, I long for the heat that I once shied away from, just because it feels better.
Are you a winter or summer person?
On Saturday we celebrated being free of Chicken Pox by having a family meal out at The Church Tavern in Perry Barr Birmingham.
The Church Tavern has been recently refurbished and is now a Sizzling Restaurant. It has a whole new look and a brand new menu.
We found The Church Tavern comfortable and pleasant. I didn’t go in my wheelchair as we were able to park outside the restaurant doors. Some of the seating had steps to it, but there was seating without steps so it was still accessible. There were also two wheelchair accessible/disabled toilets which were also baby changing rooms.
The staff were friendly and helpful. They apologised right from the start that they were busy and the food would take longer than expected. However, we really did not have to wait long at all and the plates were cleared away between each meal promptly. We’ve had much worse experiences at other pub restaurants, so the apology was really not required.
Now, on to the menu. I love it when you can preview the menu online before visiting a restaurant and you can do this on the Sizzling Pub website. It really helps when you have awkward family members who take forever to choose, or children who can never make up their minds. The first thing that struck me about the menu was how well priced it was, I just hoped the food was good as this seemed good value. There was also loads to choose from, the kids had a total of eleven meals to choose from including a vegetarian option. The kid’s main meals start at £2.99 which is cheaper than the fast food restaurants. Of course when dining out like this the main meals are not enough you have to have starters and deserts too as well as drinks. I was given a £50 tab for the meal and this stretched to starters, mains, sides, deserts and two lots of drinks for all five of us. Then although all our tab was spent the staff were happy for our children to visit the soft play centre for free, usual cost is only £3 so that’s good value too.
I decided to go for Fish and Chips, it’s only been the past few years that I’ve eaten white fish and the second time I’ve ever had fish and chips out, but it didn’t disappoint. The fish was huge! The batter was absolutely delicious, it was really light and crispy.
Hubby went for the All Day Breakfast, which again was huge.
The people on the next table went for the Sizzling Grills on the menu and the kids were fascinated by the actual sizzle coming from the plates.
I decided to go for the Cream Pie which came with caramel balls and chocolate and caramel sauce and a lovely dollop of whipped cream with chocolate chips.
Hubby went for the Baked Cheesecake which came with a berry sauce and a dollop of whipped cream.
We had a lovely afternoon at the Church Tavern and would definitely visit again. By visiting the website you can see if there is a Sizzling Pub near you.
What do you think, do our meals look yummy? Have you ever visited a Sizzling Pub?
I was asked if I’d like to try the festive menu at a Table Table restaurant, never the type to turn down a free lunch how could I resist. However, there is no such thing as a free lunch so here is my review.
Our closest Table Table restaurant was a gastro pub, the Ridgacre in West Bromwich. As the kids all had an inset day at school they were able to come with us so we had a lovely family day. The kids were so excited choosing their meals that the waitress taking our order, should have been in a real tiz, but she calmly wrote everything down and read it back to us. Then me and the hubby chose our food from the festive menu.
I chose Garlic and Herb Breaded Mushrooms with BBQ sauce, a Roast Turkey dinner (of course!) and Mince Pie Ice Cream. Hubs chose Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Soup, Festive Steak and a Christmas Brownie.
Then the kids settled down with the activities provided, all based on ‘We’re Going On a Bear Hunt.’
Any parent knows that activities like this are a life saver while waiting for food.
The starters arrived fairly quickly. The kids had all chosen garlic bread starters which came with slices of cucumber. They said it was the best garlic bread ever!
My starter was delicious, the crispy coating on the mushrooms was delicately flavoured with garlic and herbs and the BBQ sauce was really tasty.
|Garlic and Herb Breaded Mushrooms with BBQ sauce|
I had been really looking forward to my main course, I really love Christmas dinner and I could eat it all year. I didn’t even consider anything else on the menu, it was turkey dinner or nothing for me. I really wasn’t disappointed with my plate full of delight. As well as the roast turkey I was served stuffing, roast potatoes, carrots, sprouts, yorkshire pudding a pig in blanket, gravy and a side of cauliflower cheese. It was MASSIVE!
|Roast Turkey Dinner|
By the time I’d wolfed down as much as I could, I wasn’t sure I could manage dessert, but I was intrigued as to what mince pie ice cream would be like. One of my favourite ice creams is rum and raisin and this dish was quite similar in texture having the fruit mixed in the ice cream. It was truly delicious, and I’m not ashamed to say I ate it all! I now know what I’ll be doing with my left over mincemeat after I’ve made all my mince pies, it will be going into my ice cream.
|Mince Pie Ice Cream|
We went to our local Beefeater Restaurant to see what was new.
I decided not to go in my wheelchair but wished I had because it was a fair trek to the restaurant from the car park on my crutches. The helpful staff opened up the emergency exit for me to make my journey a little shorter. We also found out that it was easier to exit through Premier Inn adjoining the restaurant, and the car be brought right outside. Good for remembering in the future because I’m sure we will visit again.
Our very helpful and friendly waitress, Natalie, showed us to our table and fetched our menus.She also gave some helpful suggestions on what to have; like the brand new Sticky Duck Wings for starters. I do love sticky duck.
For our main meals we reverted to the lunchtime menu as we don’t like to over fill ourselves at lunch time, although the chips are bottomless, which means you can have has many as you like.
I had fish and chips and so did our guests, my partner opted for the 10oz rump steak cooked exactly how he liked. He also had a lovely lime and chilli coating on his chips which was very tasty. Nothing was too much trouble for our waitress who also brought us all sorts of condiments and sauces.
The new spring menu had some exciting additions, I was definitely drawn to the Surf and Turf, an 8oz sirloin steak topped with king prawns, what a combination! If I were looking for a lighter alternative I’d have opted for the Chicken, Bacon and Avocado Salad or the Chargrilled Chicken and Mushroom Risotto, both of which sounded utterly delicious. As a lunchtime visitor you are given the option of ordering from either the lunch time or the evening menus.
When it came to desserts it was so difficult to choose. In the end I went for the Cookie Dough Sundae, my partner went for the Lemon Meringue and our guest went for the Salted Toffee Apple Crumble with custard. We all loved our desserts.
We had a lovely time at the restaurant, our waitress was delightful and we really enjoyed the food. We’d definitely recommend it to our friends, although according to their Facebook log-ins it looks like most of them are already regulars there.
We didn’t take the kids with us this time but we will in the future, the kids Mr Men and Little Miss menu looks a lot of fun and there are a lot of my kid’s favourites on their like pizza and poppin’ chicken.
With lunchtime meals starting from £4.99, evening meals starting from £12.49 for 2 courses and children’s meals starting from £4.49, you get a good hearty meal for a reasonable price.
Disclosure: I was sent £50 towards my meals at Beefeater, my bill came to just over £53 for four people including two beers, one soft drink and a pot of tea. All thoughts and opinions are my own.