Our Favourite Five – July 2016

There just seems to be so much negativity all over social media at the moment. So here’s Our Favourite Five for July to try and redress the balance!

1. Dyson Cordless Vacuum

We love Dyson in our house. We’ve never owned any other brand of vacuum in 18 years of adulting together! Despite our last purchase (an Dyson Animal D23 we bought in 2010) still going strong, our lives have changed significantly in the 6 years since we got it. We’ve gone from a professional couple in a one floor apartment to a young family in a three story period cottage. Think steep stairs. Lots of ’em. Anyway I’ve been lusting after a cordless Dyson for a few years now. They just made so much sense to me. However Ben wasn’t convinced they’d be good enough for cleaning a whole house, or to be fair, that the whopping price tag was worth it, especially when we already had a machine that worked well enough. However, things they are a changing round Casa del Savage at the moment. With Oscar starting school in September I decided that a cleaner was no longer going to be a weekly expense I could justify, meaning I was going to have to go back to cleaning myself. Meaning I needed a decent machine, fit for purpose. And not one I was afraid would fall on my head every time I vacuumed the stairs.

Ben finally capitulated in July and we got a Dyson Cordless Absolute V8. And it’s already changed the way we clean the house. It’s just so easy to grab at the end of every day when we put Oscar’s toys away and give the tiny downstairs a once over before we sit down to our evening. Or should Oscar (or myself to be honest) make a mess in the day, it’s just so quick to grab and sort out. The battery is fabulous and I’ve done the entire three floor house on one charge (the battery only drains while you pull the trigger, so in between rooms it’s saving all the energy it can – clever!) It makes me sad that we didn’t have something like this sooner. It would have been a boon when Oscar was weaning!

And Ben is also completely sold. He’s just as happy to grab it and spend  the two minutes it takes to clean the downstairs as I am. Thank you Dyson for giving all your cleaners the look and feel of military hardware (at least in my husbands eyes!)

The Dyson V8 Absolute is kept in its charging bay in the conservatory. Always ready to tackle any job!

The Dyson V8 Absolute is kept in its charging bay in the conservatory. Always ready to tackle any job!

Dyson cordless vacuum

The new love of my life

2.Thaikhun

You may have read my previous post about the Thai Street Food restaurant Thaikhun earlier this week. I took Oscar and you can read about my thoughts on the eatery from a parent’s perspective in my review. However at the end of July, I decided to do a really nice thing for some of my mummy blogger friends who have helped and supported me recently. So I arranged an End of Term celebration at Thaikhun Guildford for us all. I wanted us to breathe a sigh of relief that we’d made it to the end of term and take a steeling breath to prepare us for the holidays! And what better way to do that than get the ladies together and have cocktails and wonderful food in a really fun location? Thaikhun were kind enough to host and we can’t thank them enough!

We started the evening with spicy crackers and cocktails! Elfa from Californian Mum in London and I began with a Thai Takeaway – not dinner but a cocktail in a box! Then the non drivers among us moved on to drinks in a bag! Seriously, a bag!

Woman drinking cocktail

A Thai Takeaway. A cocktail in a box? Yes please!

A 'Street Sipper' literally came in a plastic bag!

A ‘Street Sipper’ literally came in a plastic bag!

I wasn't so sure. I mean it's not the most elegant of drinking vessels. But it was actually delicious!

I wasn’t so sure. I mean it’s not the most elegant of drinking vessels. But it was actually delicious!

The four of us then had starters. Maria from Suburban Mum won that round with the most gorgeous looking Tempura Prawns! And I would have to say I won the mains round with my beloved Moo Prik King – Pork Belly in Red Curry Sauce, but then I am a bit biased! We talked and laughed and talked some more. When I told the girls about the worms they’d given Oscar and I, Elfa insisted we get our own to try! We had such a great night and we would like to thank Thaikhun Guildford for being such wonderful and accommodating hosts. I’d also like to say thank you to the girls for coming from all over Surrey to join me and especially to Alice from Three Men, a Little Lady and Me for giving me a lift. Thaikhun is the best kind of place for a girlie night out with your chums, we had a super night!

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Thank you ladies. Photo courtesy of Californian Mum in London

3.Trains

Oscar’s been a die hard fan of Thomas the Tank Engine for a long time now, but has only just recently started to look at modern trains with an understanding that they are also trains. Until recently we’d avoided taking him on a train ride as A) we weren’t sure he’d enjoy it or B) that he’d be able to sit for any length of time. However, he’s recently become much better at following instructions and using public transport without the buggy (we’ve been walking and getting the bus for preschool every day in July). So a couple of weeks ago we finally decided to give it a go. And he LOVES it. I mean LOVES it. From buying the ticket, to the waiting on the platform to riding on the actual train, he gets so much out of it. It’s also opened up doors for days out that we just didn’t have before.

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We also love the one of the ticket staff in Haslemere Station. She very kindly made Oscar his own special ticket, when she saw how excited he was at going on a rail journey. She didn’t need to do that and it really touched me! Thank you South West Trains ticket lady!

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4.Pick Your Own

I love berries and there really is no better or fresher way of getting them than picking your own. We’ve not gone for a few years, as Oscar has struggled to cope with new places and not running off, however this year we thought it was time to try again. So a few weeks ago we took him to Secretts Pick Your Own in Milford. And what can I say; he amazed us! Awesome at picking the best looking strawberries, he enjoyed it so much we ended up with an enormous bucket full! Although no need to worry, Strawberries are Oscar’s favourite and they all got eaten! We came back with Raspberries and Strawberries and Rhubarb and even Sunflowers. Such a fun day out and such good value too! No way could you buy as many berries for the price of pick your own in the supermarkets. And the taste? I swear it’ll catapult you back to childhood.

Strawberries

All of the Strawberries!

raspberries

It was so relaxing picking this many raspberries, especially when I found some canes away from where the noisy family (not mine) were

Sunflowers

How gorgeous are these Sunflowers? I just love them against the brickwork of our fireplace!

5.Marwell Zoo

We’ve been to Marwell Zoo a few times now. Oscar likes it there, but for the most part I haven’t enjoyed our trips. I think its primarily because I have found it so hard to deal with the fact that Oscar is accessing the park in a completely different way to how one would expect a child to access a Zoo. He hasn’t ever really showed much interest in the animals and has always just run from one thing to the next. It’s been exhausting and also made me feel like we could be anywhere, a park near the house would be giving him as much as a Zoo an hour away. However, this time we went I was more prepared to let him go where he wanted and do what he found interesting. And yes much of that was the play parks around the Zoo, but he also LOVED the train that went round the park and he did actually start to pay attention to the animals (He loved the giraffes). The best bit was that this was the first visit where we didn’t leave with him in mid melt down!

 the Marwell Zoo train

He loved the Marwell Zoo train, Well it was a train afterall!

Boy and giraffe at Marwell Zoo

He was fascinated by the giraffe. Who wouldn’t be?

It wont always be a great day out, I get that, but this time really was. And I think that was largely down to me managing my expectations and coming to terms with who he is.

PLyground at Marwell Zoo

His favourite was still the playground. Ahh well!

What were your favourites last month I’d love to know!

 

I would like to thank Thaikhun for their hospitality and hosting our Mummy Bloggers End of Term Celebration.

I paid for my Dyson myself. Well Ben did. But you know what I mean! As always all opinions are my own.

Thaikhun Restaurant Children’s Menu – A Review

In May I was invited to the launch of a new restaurant in Guildford, specialising in Thai style street food. Thaikhun (pronounced Tycoon) are a small chain with 8 branches across the UK. I had a lovely evening at the launch, meeting the joint owner Kim Kaewkraikhot. We talked all about her life in Thailand, making award winning noodles. How when her now business partner, tasted them, he was inspired to invest in her and develop Thaikhun in the UK. Such an interesting story!

The Look

The decor of the restaurant is fantastic. Authentic and fun it’s designed especially to remind diners of the street markets of Kim’s home country. She even explained how she hand picks many of the items used for decoration on her trips back to Thailand. It was clear to see the time and thought that had gone into it.

A replica of the cart Kim sold her food from. Every restaurant has one to remind them of where the idea for Thaikhun came from. You can see the 'train tracks on the floor too. These run throughout the restaurant. Many of the markets in Thailand are built over train tracks and have to be picked up periodically to let the trains through!

A replica of the cart Kim originally sold her food from. Every restaurant has one to represent Thaikhun’s humble beginnings. See the ‘train tracks’ on the floor? Many of the markets in Thailand are built over train tracks and have to be picked up periodically to let the trains through!

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The decor is authentic down to the old sets playing Thai TV in the corner!

The Food

I love Thai food, but I don’t get out to eat it much since moving away from London. The food I tried at Thaikhun was hands down some of the best I’ve had. Noodles, of course, but also curries, salads, various stir fried dishes and options from the grill. The enthusiastic staff seemed keen to explain that Thai food doesn’t just begin and end with Pad Thai. And I’m so glad they did. It’s the thing I always order in Thai restaurants, partly because I love it and partly because it’s the dish I’m most familiar with I guess. However, when I was given the Pork Belly with Green Beans in Red Curry Sauce (Moo Prik King), well, all that changed. Juicy pork, with a flavoursome heat and crunchy beans!  I could have eaten a bucket of just that. With some sticky rice perhaps. Delicious!

Starting the meal with spicy crackers and a cocktail in a box? Yes please!

Starting the meal with spicy crackers and a cocktail in a box? Yes please!

Starters

A selection of starters. The Fishcakes were gorgeous little morsels!

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Take your pick. A selection of mains including the ever popular Pad Thai

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My new favourite Moo Prik King. Pork Belly with Green Beans in Red Curry Sauce. Amazeballs!

While I was chatting to the management I asked whether they felt the restaurant was suitable for children (once a mummy blogger always a mummy blogger after all!) I could see there were plenty of high chairs and a changing facility, but wondered if the busy decor and bustling feeling might be too much for some children. They told me that they were actually working on their children’s offering and asked if I would be willing to come back when it was launched to let them know my thoughts. I said I’d love to.

High chairs

Plenty of (decent) high chairs!

Children’s Menu

I have to admit I was concerned whether Oscar would cope with the busy decor and the unusual food. His autism means we can never be sure how he’ll cope in new places, so to be sure I could offer a fair review I actually took him for lunch a few weeks beforehand. He did brilliantly and loved the busy decor, especially the Garfield Phone! We ordered the PopCorn Chicken from the old children’s menu and I gave him some of my rice. He tried it all, including the spicy prawn crackers. I actually thought the children’s options were pretty good (and tasted lovely!) The only niggle was that I had to ask three different people to bring him crayons to colour his menu mat and by the time they did he’d lost patience and wanted to leave.

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What else do you do with the cloche over the condiments?

The Garfield phone went down a storm!

The Garfield phone went down a storm!

Going back he was much calmer and knew where he wanted to sit. It was interesting to see the new menus. They had retained the Pad Thai and Pop corn style chicken and rice options, but had introduced a Mix n Match option. I loved this idea as it allows children to pick the elements they liked and mix with a choice of three sauces, making the dish as flavoursome or not as taste dictates. Brilliant!

The new Thaikhun Children's Menu

The new Thaikhun Children’s Menu

All children’s meals start with crudités (vegetable sticks), then I chose him the plain noodles, the char grilled chicken and a nut free satay sauce. My thinking was that he likes chicken, occasionally eats noodles and adores peanut butter! It came, not on a plate as before, but in a yellow version of the compartmentalised school dinner tray, with plastic cutlery. I couldn’t really work out why, although I know some children prefer the compartmentalised approach to food, so maybe it was that. I have to say it didn’t really add anything to the experience for us.  The chicken was lovely  and the noodles were, well, noodles. He wouldn’t add the sauce to them, which was a real shame, as I think it would have been much tastier if he had! Ahh well that’s my boy. Maybe next time. But all in all I loved this idea. Children love control over the food they eat and this hands it to them nicely.

Child's meal tray

Children’s meals come in these trays. Great if your child likes to keep their food separate, but plenty of room to mix it up if they would prefer.

As a bit of fun the restaurant also serve all children a small pot of ‘creepy crawlies’ or Buffalo Worms as they’re actually called, to try. Oaty in flavour they were perfectly inoffensive, but Oscar would not touch them, telling me “You don’t eat worms Mummy!” Far too sensible my chap 😂. The dessert for the set childrens menu was a Mini Milk Lolly. Which I have to say I wasn’t sure about. A branded lolly, very squarely aimed at young toddlers, in a culturally specific restaurant, after a meal aimed, I would say, at children of all ages. It felt a bit odd to me, but the boy didn’t seem to mind and it would have meant we could have taken it with us if we’d needed to leave in a hurry, something I’m always appreciative of!

Buffalo Worms to try.

“You don’t eat worms mummy!” Buffalo Worms to try.

Green tea ice cream

The Boy got a Mini Milk, I got Green Tea Ice Cream. Mummy wins this one kiddo!

Thoughts

I like Thaikhun child’s offering. The food is well pitched and can be adjusted to how adventurous the child is feeling! The only thing I was a little disappointed with was what came with the food. On the new Menu it talks about “Fun Facts and Activities with National Geographic”. I like this idea. Something more than just a colouring option would definitely raise it above other children’s dining options on the high street. However other than the worms, we saw nothing of these. Oscar was just bought an old menu to colour, albeit much quicker than before. It was perfectly nice and all and I don’t have anything against colouring as an activity. I don’t know, maybe I was just expecting something a little bit different.

Maybe I was just expecting more than an old menu and some crayons.

Maybe I was just expecting more than an old menu and some crayons.

Would I recommend it as somewhere to take children?

I like that the children’s menu is flexible and the staff have always been unremittingly helpful and warm. If you have a child that is happy to veer away from the beige choices of potato based meals, then I would absolutely recommend it.

And if you’re taking them, it means you get to have Moo Prik King. You lucky thing 😉

Happy boy = Happy Mummy

Happy boy = Happy Mummy

 

 

Thank you so much to Thaikhun for their generous hospitality. I was not paid to write this review and as always all opinions are my own.

You can find your nearest Thaikhun here