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Stay and Play in (and around) Leicester….

A few weeks ago,, I launched a competition to win a stay and play break in Leicester and as it’s due to finish tomorrow night, I thought now would be as good a time as any to tell you about how much fun we had when we reviewed a stay and play break ourselves last week.

First of all, we chose to stay at the Hinckley Island Hotel which was a lot more impressive than you would expect considering the cost of the deal!  There’s not too much to do in the immediate area of the hotel but to be fair, the hotel served us so well as a base that we didn’t really need to venture out.  There’s a bar, a restaurant, a games room for the kids and a swimming pool that the kids loved!  They also do some great children’s activities in the school holidays so it’s ideal as a base for your family during your stay.  Miss Frugal just reminded me that breakfast was DELICIOUS!

Hinckley island hotel review

 When we checked in, we were given a voucher which entitled us to entry to three of the following five attractions:

  • Conkers,
  • National Space Centre,
  • Snibston Discovery Museum,
  • Twinlakes Theme Park,
  • Twycross Zoo.

We knew we were going to the National Space Centre as Master Frugal was desperate to go and we also fancied Twycross zoo but as for the third one – we had no idea.

We started off at the National Space Centre which was very different to what I thought to be honest – it was very interactive and a lot of fun! There was that much for us to get involved with – including making our very own snot in a pot and watching a really interesting show in the planetarium.  It was fascinating for all of us and we spent a lot longer than we expected looking round.

National Space Centre

After we’d finished at the National Space Centre we drove over to Twycross Zoo which brilliant.  You might remember that Master Frugal loves monkeys and he was in his element here!  There were so many animals to see and a lovely cafe where you can sit looking out on the Snow Leopards.

Twycross Zoo

We didn’t even have time to visit our third attraction which was really disappointing but we had so much fun at the first two.  Ideally we would have done one attraction the first day before checking in to  the hotel and then two the following day but we were late arriving on the first day as we were travelling over from Wales and stopped quite a few times for toilet breaks, play parks, ice creams and just to look at the view once or twice.  We had a lovely journey but with hindsight, we should have just powered through so we could squeeze in another attraction.

Now, if you fancy staying and playing with your family, you should pop over to my competition before it ends and see if you can win a break.  If not, you can book one yourself here.  It’s just £109 for your stay in the hotel and entry to three of the five listed attractions which is amazing value and even though the price is based on 2 adults and 2 children, they can accommodate larger families if you just ask them.

Have fun!

Homemade Jelly….

Have you ever tried making your own jelly?  

I’d never even thought about it really because jelly isn’t exactly expensive and there’s so many flavours to choose from so it seemed like a bit of a waste of time and energy making it.  But when we were away in Wales last week, we saw some rather posh people being served a rather lovely looking afternoon tea which included some sort of clear jelly with fruit floating in it so we decided to have a go ourselves and yesterday we made Lemonade Jelly and Ginger Ale and Lime Jelly.


It’s ridiculously easy to make and the resulting jellies are so much nicer than anything you can buy in the shop!

I used Dr Oetker gelatine but you can also buy a vegetarian version of this in the baking section of most supermarkets which will work just as well and the instructions on the quantities you of liquid and gelatine that you need to use will vary depending on what make you buy and how much jelly you want to make.  The instructions were on the side of all of the different packs I looked but this is what I did for the Dr Oetker one that I bought.

  • First of all, I arranged the fruit in the base of the bowls (wine glasses actually) that I was going to be using – I used raspberries and blueberries in the lemonade jelly (mainly because that’s what was on offer when I went shopping) and a lime cut into wedges for the ginger ale jelly.
  • This is the bit that may change depending on what brand you’re using.  I made each jelly separately and for each one I soaked four sheets for of gelatine in cold water for five minutes – while this was soaking, I got on with heating up my liquid.
  • For the lemonade jelly I gently heated up a pint of lemonade and for the ginger I heated a pint of ginger ale but added a quick squeeze of lime juice.  
  • As the liquids started to gently boil I took them off the heat and then after squeezing the excess water from my soak gelatine, I added the four sheets to each pan and stirred it in.
  • I then returned the pans to the heat for two minutes making sure that it didn’t boil as the packet said that this could affect the setting of the jelly.
  • After two minutes, I poured the liquid into a jug and then slowly poured it over my fruit.
  • Then I put them in the fridge to set for 4 hours and voila, gorgeous looking, yummy tasting, homemade jellies.

Homemade lemonade jelly

It’s completely worth the effort making your own jelly – the lemonade jelly especially was delicious!


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A fishy tale with a sad ending….

RIP Jackson (This is the best pic we have of him as he was a teeny baby when we got him)

RIP Jackson
(This is the best pic we have of him as he was a teeny baby when we got him)

One of our goldfish sadly died yesterday, we had been expecting it so it wasn’t a shock but it was still a sad moment.

We held a very touching toilet burial ceremony for Jackson which involved us saying a few words to thank him for the contribution he made to our fishy community and to send him to the big blue sea in the sky.

We grieved for an hour or so and then headed off to the Pet shop to replace him (as you do) and ended up buying two because the kids couldn’t decide on which one to get.  Master Frugal chose one who he called Ninja as soon as he saw him as he had a marking on his head that looked like a mask and Miss Frugal chose a cute (as cute as fish can be) small one which was christened Sugar Pinky before the lady had scooped her out into the plastic bag for us.

So, we have two fish in a plastic bag inside a brown bag which Miss Frugal carefully nursed all the way home.  

When we got home, Miss Frugal carefully carried the fish to the tank and took the brown paper bag off them while the rest of us brought the shopping in from the car.  Seconds later, she came running back out to tell us that she couldn’t find Sugar Pinky!

I looked at her and said (in a sarcastic voice) that she couldn’t have looked very hard because it wasn’t like she could have escaped from a small plastic bag.  

And then we saw it – Angel Pinky’s tale sticking out of Ninja’s mouth!

Naught Ninja!

The little bugger was eating her.  We jiggled the bag and Ninja gave up his lunch and Sugar Pinky was free again to rather slowly swim away from him.  But he was clearly still hungry and he had her back in his mouth before we reached the tank!  

Another shake of the bag freed Sugar Pinky again but this time she didn’t move.

Bad Ninja!

We left her a while in case she was just stunned and sure enough, she did start moving again albeit very slowly, only on her side and only in a circle!  It seems that Ninja had eaten one of her fins and she was also an eye missing!

Super Bad Ninja!

Again we left her in case she recovered (and because I didn’t know what else to do) but she didn’t so we’ve had to hold a second funeral.

I know you’re supposed to eat fish on Good Friday but this is ridiculous!

PS I’d like to say that no fish were hurt in the making of this story but unfortunately for poor Sugar Pinky, this would be a lie.

Freecycle – One man’s trash is another man’s treasure….

trash treasure

I do love that saying – One mans trash is another man’s treasure!

It never fails to astound me just how true that really is as we’ve learned at the various car boot sales that we’ve done over the years.  The things we think will never sell in a million years are often the things that sell first and make the most money!  I shared my tips for having a successful car boot sale a little while ago and if you’re in the mood, this weekend actually looks like it’ll be a great time to do one weather wise!  

But my post today isn’t about having a car boot sale, or even making money from your unwanted things.  It’s about finding new homes for them – the things you can’t or don’t want to sell.  

Maybe you think no-one would buy them or even want them.  You might not have the time or energy to sell the things but you no longer need or want them so you may as well get rid of them and reclaim some space!  And while you’re at it, you can help someone else in the process so you get to declutter and feel good….

Have you guessed what I’m going to rave about today?  


I love Freecycle but for those of you who aren’t familiar with it, it’s a network of online communities spread right across the UK.  You sign up (which takes about 30 seconds), choose your local group and then you just post on there the things you’re getting rid of.  You can also post wanted ads on there as well which is great if you’re looking for something specific.

Last night I listed a bed, a small fish tank, an overlocker, some suitcases filled with car boot sale stuff and a child’s Trunki on there along with a rabbit hutch that has definitely seen better days.  So far, the rabbit hutch has been collected and I have people coming to pick up everything except the bed and even that I have someone interested.

I’ve cleared out so much space in my garage that you can actually move in there now – that’s a great start to my lovely four day weekend off work.  I’m off to steam clean now ;-)

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