Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Best Sunday Lunch In North Wales?

North Wales has recently turned into a foodie’s delight, thanks to investment from within and without. As result the region has flourished – with a number of truly fine eating establishments cropping up within the recent years – partially due to the fact that North Wales offers just about everything needed to provide excellent service. But what about Sunday lunch, a British staple? For Sunday Lunch in Caernarfon there’s one big winner out of some very tough competition.

With excellent transportation links, enough farmland to ensure local, fresh produce and of course the sea, North Wales offers restaurateurs the very best of both worlds. Proximity to mainland England so their deliveries are always fresh and never compromised, and an abundance of natural recourses us city-folk don’t normally have access to. In the city, we think growing our own herbs on a windowsill is enough. But in North Wales, that’s the base minimum of effort required to ensure an excellent meal.

We headed to a truly beautiful Country House in Snowdonia, the T’yn Rhos – in order to sample their fare, and we weren’t disappointed. Their dining room is exactly what we like – very well put together and offering a real fine dining experience, yet not pretentious. No, you won’t be looked upon kindly if you turn up in shorts and flip-flops, but it’s hardly a black tie affair. It’s just the right balance between classy and comfortable, and we’re big fans. We’ve also heard that their gigantic selection of wines is because of links to a local wine merchant...

Astoundingly, every menu that the T’yn Rhos serves is sourced that very day, mostly from the area around the Country House. Their talented team of chefs endeavour to provide fresh, great-tasting local produce from the surrounding region on a daily basis – there’s absolutely no food vans trundling around the corner with vacuum-packed food. And their Sunday lunch is more than exceptional.

We tucked into a chicken liver pate with toasted briorche (that was toasted just right!) and a fruit chutney that suggested that indeed, it had been made that day. For our main, we enjoyed a very traditional (but delicious) roast rib of beef, served with every trimming imaginable. While indeed they had a wonderful choice of desserts available, we couldn’t fit in much but a serving of gigantic strawberries, with fresh cream.

We’re convinced that the T’yn Rhos Country House serves the very best Sunday Lunch in North Wales. If you’d like to judge their offerings for yourself, please keep in mind that it is normally a busy event, so therefore reservations apply. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Best Kids Party Ideas

Creating the perfect children’s party can be tough business. A simple gathering of children with sweet treats just won’t do anymore – especially when we think about how big themed parties becoming the norm. Even if you do have the money to spend on all things lavish, it doesn’t guarantee everyone will be entertained. At the heart of it all, it’s all about having fun with your friends, so we’ve got the best kids party ideas to give everyone something to remember.

Teddy bear party – This is a great one for kids of all ages that still give you huge variety in what you actually decide to do. Go all out and 10 no sewing and no fuss bear making kits. They keep children entertained making their own special bear that they can take home and treasure. Ask the kids to bring their favourite soft toys along to show and share or even go bear mad with the decorations.

Build a fort – We all have fond memories of building our secret hideout as children. Why not dig out a few bedsheets and build one or two forts right in the living room. When you’re finished, eat your treats in the fort or even have a sleepover party in them!

Activity day - Fun days out for the children will always give them something to remember. There’s so much choice, particularly in the activity hub of North Wales. Why not have a climbing party with all your friends? Many climbing centres now facilitate children’s parties providing them with fun and colourful courses to test out their abilities and build character. Bounce Below, based in Blaenau Ffestiniog offer fun days out letting you bounce your way through an underground world of nets, lights and  music.

Craft Party – A firm favourite for girls but boys can certainly get involved too with the huge range of unisex kits out there. For as little as £30 you can buy giant, complete wristband kits online which will keep children entertained for hours. If you’re feeling really creative why not decorate your own trinket, make your own bag or even build and decorate your own birdhouse. This idea can get a bit messy but it’s one that’s guaranteed to be loved by all.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Best Toy Comebacks of 2016

The retro toys of yesteryear that are still being favoured over the all singing, all dancing toys of today. In fact, there are toys that are making come back even since their last big appearance over 40 years ago.  Some things just don’t go out of fashion, just like the teddy bear which now available in bear making kits along with a range of teddy bear clothing. Take a look at the biggest nostalgic comebacks of the last decade, making their way back into our shelves as nostalgic toy icons.

Be My Bear – The classic teddy bear has always been a firm favourite for young children in particular but now you can just as easily make your own. You can buy your easy-build kit which is perfectly suitable for younger children with a no sew, no fuss approach to bear building. The kit includes the bear itself, stuffing, a wishing star, birth certificate and adventure passport.
SodaStream – Invented all the way back in 1955 but most popular in the 70’s and 80’s, the Soda Stream made its way back onto our shelves in 2010 after a world-wide relaunch. This exciting little gadget lets you become your own carbonated drink producer, choosing from either the Sodastream flavours or by making your own creation. Even if you’re simply a fan of carbonated water, the Soda Stream is a worthy investment, saving unnecessary expense and plastic waste.

Nintendo Classic mini – The NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) is the pinnacle of gaming nostalgia for most. Today, serious gamers (the majority of whom came from the 80’s era of gaming) will have fond memories of this definitive gaming console. Nintendo now brings you the Classic mini, a modern miniature version, resembling the original colour  and design.  It comes complete with 30 of the NES games built-in, including PAC-MAN, Donkey Kong and Super Mario Bros).  

My little Pony –The popular toy horse was established in the 80’s under the brand ‘My Pretty Pony’. The toy is well distinguished; a colourful ten-inch horse with long locks of hair. Since the 80’s the brand has been re-established under the ‘My Little Pony’, even more colour has been added to the mix! The toys now even come with headwear, shoes and outfits.

Jurassic Park and TMNT – New movies based on the original 80’s iconic films have been hitting our screens since 2015. With this, a new launch of the of famous figurines have been favorited. Even the Dr. Martens boot company have introduced a line in 2016, especially dedicated to TMNT using the tell-tale colours of each character’s headgear and glow in the dark paint to give that  secret special feature to the iconic boot.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

A Brief History of Teddy Bears

They are the toys we’ve come to know and love above all others, notably the classic teddy bear. Dating back to 1902, the beloved novelty toys took over store shelves and now we simply can’t get enough of them. Of course, not only bear shaped we can have them in any shape and colour we like not to mention, ‘build a bear’ kits. Let’s discover a brief history of the bear and how we’ve come to love them so much. 

According to the Dorset Teddy Bear Museum, the teddy bear came about, from the events when President Theodore Roosevelt was hunting in Mississippi (1902).  Having been unable to shoot a bear for the entire trip, the hunting party tied a bear to a tree in desperation for the president to be able to make his kill. When Theodore Roosevelt arrived at the scene, he refused to shoot the bear as he considered it to be unsportsmanlike. To mark these events, two shopkeepers; Morris and Rose Michom created a plush bear toy for their window, naming it ‘Teddy’s Bear’ after seeing the famous newspaper cartoon illustrating the events.

Around the same time, Richard Steiff came up with a new toy design based on the bear he saw at the zoo whilst working with his aunt Margarete Steiff. This design then went into production around the 1902-1903 period. An American buyer thought they were fantastic and 3000 shipped over to the US. Thus, the teddy bear craze was born.

Nothing like we have today, the first teddy bears were often made with mohair; goat hair with wool mixture. Inside you would have found excelsior packing or ‘wood wool’. This meant they were quite heavy not at all alike today's push toys. For eyes, the bears used black leather shoe buttons which could easily be torn away.  The toys often resembled figures by the way their arms and legs could be moved to make the bear sit or stand. By today’s standards, we wouldn't consider them a bedside friend at all. Yet it comes to show how well loved the classic bear is, that even over a century later they are still such a cherished toy – being recreated and adapted continuously to keep up with modern times. There certainly aren’t many other toys that have stood the test of time like in the same way as the class

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Wales’ Best Kept Secret

We’re rather large fans of the finer things in life, and our holidays are, of course, one of them. We’ve found as of late UK holidays seem to be quite an emerging Thing, and at first we were in disbelief. British holidays conjure images of gigantic, faceless holiday parks with caravans arranged in rows as far as the eye can see, spits of sand heaving with deckchairs and sunburnt revellers, and £10 holiday deals from tabloid newspapers. While we’re not exactly ones to knock that sort of holiday, it’s certainly not our thing. We like our extras – be them fluffy robes, wonderful toiletries, or individually styled suites. A British Caravan Holiday is not that. Imagine our surprise when we found a number of very high quality hotels in Conwy, which provide romantic retreats which are fantastic experiences, even if the Welsh weather doesn’t cooperate.

At the heart of North Wales lies the Groes Inn- Apparently the oldest inn in Wales- possessive of all the oldy-timey charm you’d expect from a Welsh character building. Wrapped in aged vines, the Groes Inn strikes a very pretty picture from the outside with it’s hanging baskets, matching outdoor furniture and expansive gardens. Yet we felt a vague sense of dread. While historically, the quaint cottage look, with wooden beams, gigantic fireplaces and spoons on the wall is very… Welsh (when on holiday in Wales, can you expect more?) We’re not fans. We like double-glazing, for a start.

We were relieved to find that the Groes Inn’s High Cabin is anything but traditional. We were given the keys to the building and a map to the secluded log cabin, which is on the side of a particularly pretty section of the Welsh Hillside. We found the views stunning, ancient woodlands providing quite the view alongside the rolling valleys and peaks of the middle of Snowdonia. The feeling is spectacular. You’re entirely and completely alone. And truthfully, it’s wonderful.

The cabin’s comforts are myriad and many. Our favourites included the kingsize bed, a gorgeous bathroom that’s indeed, capable of producing hot water regardless of the cabin’s remote location, a very well-stocked kitchen, a very handsomely decorated lounge, some recent DVDs for when you just don’t want to move, as well as some rather lovely toiletries. Our absolute favourite was the hot tub. It doesn’t matter what time of year it is. Heated to 37°C, we found it wonderful for stargazing, and of course drinking champagne from the High Cabin’s fully-stocked kitchen.

This is absolutely not a typical holiday in North Wales. You won’t find yourself elbowing through people at the beach, or standing in line in a tatty hotel, wondering if the carpets are older than you. This is modern, this is new, and the best kept secret in Wales ensures that it truly feels that you’re the only people in the world.