Film and TV reviews

This is something I have pondered about for a while now. My teen and I have always enjoyed going to the cinema and will talk non stop all the way home about whatever film we have just watched. My son has always been into his films and TV series from a young age, now at age18 he has developed into a great critic looking at actors, directors and how the film was shot, along with what he thought worked and didn’t. Its one of the things we really have in common and quite often he will ask to go with me rather than his mates as he knows I watch with a similar keen eye. I would love to start a blog/ Youtube channel or podcast with him as we have some great discussions after watching something either in the cinema, on Netflix or Now Tv………………..but to no avail……….he wont do it!

So, I have decided to do my own reviews on this little corner of the internet and hope they help someone along the way. They will not all be the latest releases from the cinema (although some will) but will also include binge worthy Tv series and those films released onto streaming services too. The aim is to help people find something to watch next, especially with so much on offer from so many streaming services it can sometimes be difficult to chose. I see people on Twitter a lot asking for recommendations of what to watch next and hopefully my reviews will point someone in the right direction along the way.

My son has always been one to watch on his Ipad as he can pop his headphones on and bring it around the house with him ( especially when he goes into cooking mode in the kitchen!). I actually get a lot of recommendations from him of decent films to watch, he has great taste and generally won’t be what you would expect from his age group. From about the age of 14 films such as Schindler’s List and Shawshank Redemption have been in his top 5. Even at the age of about 9 or 10 he would speed watch the likes of Jaws in about 10 minutes literally fast forwarding (think DVD’s) to the gruesome bits! His DVD and Blueray collection has the likes of American Psycho, Birdman and Saving Private Ryan, so not your typical collection for his age group.

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Jump In, Tonbridge- Review

I have seen more and more of these style of trampoline parks popping up all over the place taking over (almost) from the generation of kids indoor playcentres, with the difference being that us adults can also now ‘pay and play’!

We were invited along to Jump In trampoline park Tonbridge in Kent over the half term,  which has just recently opened in fact. This one was on an industrial estate ( which most of these places are anyway) and although there was a decent sised sign on the outer gate we really had to look hard to make sure we were in the right place as this was the sign on the building itself….

jump-in-sign

We were advised to register everyone in our group that were actually going onto the trampolines and those under 18 need to be signed in by an adult on the waiver form.

As my eldest was home from uni we decided to all go on and try it ( yes even me!) but unfortunately for us we were restricted on our time that week and so were there around 3pm, and obviously at those times it was full of young children from toddlers up to teens. Thankfully we are not a family to be put off and we went on anyway. I am sure the later you go the older the kids/teens would be ( it is open until 9pm on weekdays and 10pm on weekends -Fri and Sat) but like I said we were a little restricted that week working around my eldest.

The venue itself you could tell had not been open long, the walls were a clean crisp grey and everything had that newly painted/ decorated feel. Once you register and book in and pay, you are given your grip socks which you need if you are going on the trampolines. The sessions are one hour long at £12 inc your grip socks with a second hour available for £6 (prices for under 5’s are reduced ). So at £12 a child it could be kind of expensive with more than one child- however, I guarantee you they will come off totally knackered…………… so worth it if you think about it! We were also given a coloured wrist band as it was peak time in half term and very busy, but I imagine this is the only way to actually keep a restriction on how many people they are allowed on at any one time. Then we were sent into a holding room to view a 4 minute ‘Do’s and Don’t’s’ video before entering the trampoline area itself.

There are small lockers available if you are all going on for you to pop your phones/ bags/ valuables etc into which you get your money back from each time.

As you walk through you are into the seating/ cafe area on the same level (think normal playcentre and you will get an idea of what to expect) and then if you are going on the trampoline area which is completely raised there is a ramp walkway to get on there. It is still easy to see your children from the cafe and there is a small walkway all along that you can go up to check on them if you want.

Like I say we all went on and had a ball. I lasted about 20-30 minutes before I was completely shattered and went for a coffee from the cafe ( ladies be warned Tena ladies would be very handy if you are jumping!! Just saying). Our 2 teens stayed on there the whole time! There was an area unfinished in the top corner which was bordered off from the rest of the park, it was set in lower and looked like it was going to be used for a dodge ball area ( I could be wrong on that but it did look like it). They also have a small 2 hoop basketball area which you queue for to go and have a try- using the trampolines to get the bounce and height to help you get the ball in the hoop- looked good fun. There is also an under 5’s small area bordered off near the cafe area. There is also an area at the top end where you have obstacles to get past over a pit filled with sponge blocks- string ladders to climb up and ‘gladiator’ style jousting on a slim walkway were you are given head gear to put on and bash your opponent with a large soft paddle to knock them off into the pit.

All in all we had a fun time, next time we would definitely book an evening slot so the age group would be older and more suitable for teens and adults alike without worrying that when you jump you are going to unknowingly fling a young child about 10ft in the air! They also run exercise classes which I imagine would be amazing fun and great exercise- my hubby and I can confirm our legs felt like lead the next day so this would be a great form of cardio exercise! It’s definitely something we all enjoyed and said e would do again……….and lets face it most teens don’t want to do anything with their parents so were pleased they said they would go back again.

Unlike normal playcentres though it is advisable to pre book your slot online before you go as once they reach their maximum amount of people at that time the slot will no longer be available for obvious health and safety reasons. You also get to keep your grip socks after the first time so a 1 hour slot reduces to £10 an hour when you bring those socks back to re use them each time.

If you fancy trying it then just check out their website here for more details on pricing/ times/ classes/ parties  etc.

 

Bexleyheath Marriott Leisure Club – Review

Last week I was invited along to the Leisure Club in Bexleyheath’s Marriott Hotel to have a look around their facilities in particular their new gym equipment. Now as most of you know I am not able to use these sorts of machines due to my illness however, I managed to coax my husband to come along for the afternoon to possibly try some of it out.

If you are anything like myself, you probably would think that the facilities in the hotel’s leisure club are strictly for the hotel guests, or for those booked onto a spa day retreat. However, this could not be further from the truth and in fact this particular leisure club already has over 600 local members. It has a small swimming pool ( the type you would totally expect in a hotel) that has a decent sized raised jacuzzi at the far end and has comfortable lounge seating along each side. Just off to the side there is both a steam room and a sauna and separate showers so once you are changed and in this area all these facilities are together. This area is set out as you would imagine a day spa to be and there are often clients in there in their robes enjoying a spa afternoon.

Just before you reach the leisure club reception desk itself is a separate gym room with all the equipment your regular gym would provide, again it is the size you would expect from a hotel facility ( so not huge) but is extremely well equipped and set out in a manner that allows them to make the most of the room.

gym equipment

As you can see they have all the regular up to date machines including, running machines, cross trainers, cycle machines and a rowing machine.

cross trainer

They also have specific weights equipment in one area and then a separate small weights area to suit all styles of training.

weights equip

They also have TV screens up on the front wall to help occupy your mind with either music or programmes to help take your mind of what you are doing! When I used to run regularly before my illness I always loved to pop my earphones in and listen to some fast, loud music to help me keep running to a suitable rhythm and pace but I do know some people prefer something visual as they work out.

running machines

Now I visited the facility on an early midweek afternoon and the hotel was kind enough to allow my husband and I to enjoy the club for a few hours. At the time we were there, I have to be honest there were only a few ‘regulars’ in the pools area and the gym itself was empty. This is obviously music to ‘off peak’ patrons ears and this is definitely a bonus in my eyes that if you were able to use the facilities at these times it would indeed be a very relaxing time, or if you love having a gym to yourself that is definitely the time to go. We all know however that most people will be at work during the day and therefore would be visiting at the ‘full peak’ times after 4pm into the evening and on weekends during the day. I can imagine the club being quite different at these times and there may also be the possibility of waiting for gym equipment to become free, or say the pool/ jazuzzi being quite full- but obviously I can only speak from my experience on that particular day.

One thing I did really pick up on was the ‘non exclusiveness’ ( and I truly mean that in a very good way) we felt while we were there. The staff were very friendly and I noticed the manager would talk to all the members as she went about her business. The ‘regulars’ also seemed quite friendly and openly chatted to my husband and I while we were there- they did not ignore or exclude us because we were new faces. This is something that I am afraid DOES NOT happen in all leisure style clubs, and I have experienced an awkwardness in another well known club so much that I never went back, so I can say wholeheartedly that this was one of the main things I liked about the Marriott’s Leisure club. Another bonus is that the hotel offers free parking for patrons so when you do visit the leisure club you just need to register your car registration and your parking will be free.

Memberships at this particular club start at £44 a month, which is a rolling contract and can be cancelled at any time ( with 30 days notice) with the only additional payment I noticed was a £35 joining fee. This Marriott membership also allows for some additional benefits such as 20% off food and beverages at the hotel and 10% of any Health and Beauty treatments at that hotel amongst other things.

I personally found that using the 2 heat rooms on the day seemed to help my muscular pain levels especially in my neck, that in itself allowed me to get some extra sleep that evening. So because it’s a rolling contract I can cancel any time I have joined this week to allow me to explore using very gentle exercise such as a short swim followed by the use of the steam room and sauna to help with my levels of muscular pain. I will be looking at using it maybe twice a week to see if there is any difference and if that the heat rooms used as a therapy will help manage my illness overall.

 

For more info on the tarriffs and memberships please visit their website

Bella Italia Oprington review

This time last week I had the chance to pop along the the new branch of Bella Italia that has opened in Orpington just next to the new cinema complex at The Walnuts centre. I have to admit it has been a few years since I was in a Bella Italia restaurant and so I was interested to see what had changed both in style and menu.

On entering the quirky style decor caught my eye immediately with vibrant colours and fabulous wall art. What did catch my attention was the brilliant use of lots of huge old picture frames painted in bright colours that made up the so called ceiling which you could see much higher up. I also adored the wire framed bulb lights which really suited the style perfectly.

bella italia decor

We went on a Tuesday evening around 630ish and although there were customers in there it wasn’t particularly busy so we had our choice of seats. Tables were decorated with old wine bottles with a candle in the top as your table light, kind of cheesy but something I personally have always liked for a bit of a rustic feel. They had a main menu but also they had a specials menu already on the table for you to have a look through- a meal for less than 300 calories ( believe it or not using the popular ‘vegetable spaghetti’ as the base) wonderful if you are on a healthy eating plan without missing out on going out with friends. There are also lots of gluten free options too some that are dishes in their own right and some that can be adapted to gluten free from the main menu such as the pizzas.

Having my husband with me ( my personal designated driver) I gladly opted for a lovely glass of rose wine whilst we had a good snoop of the menu which is quite extensive with everything from pizzas and calzones, pasta dishes, ribs and even sea bass. My husband knew exactly what he wanted and had looked forward to a calzone all day. I on the other hand am absolutely rubbish at choosing when there is so much on offer!

So, for starters I went for something I have never tried before and ordered Tempura Kind Prawns with a mayonnaise dip, my husband decided on the deep fried calamari- again something he doesn’t have that often. Both dishes came up on wooden boards with the fish served in mini fry baskets which both my husband and I loving that presentation. the prawns were delicious and I wouldn’t hesitating to order this again.

bella italia starter

For mains my husband ordered the Carne calzone, filled with pancetta, spicy meatballs, red onion, mozzarella and beef ragu. It took me a while to decide but I went for Pollo Formaggi al Forno which was chicken and crispy pancetta  in a four cheese sauce with giant shell pasta and a crumb topping. We both ordered a side salad but chose one of each , a mixed salad and a rocket and granello cheese one so we could share.

bella italia mains

As you can see both dishes came up well sized and mine was extremely filling to the point I couldn’t finish it. My husband was  very pleased with his calzone saying the only thing it needed was just an extra spoonful or two of sauce juice as that is how he likes it.

We were both quite full but thought it would be very rude not to try a dessert and they did the perfect option which was a choice of 3 of the 5 different dessert shots that included banoffee pie and strawberry cheesecake and a mini pannacotta to name just a couple. However, our luck wasn’t in that evening as our server apologised and told us there had been an accident in the kitchen and the desserts had fallen and there wasn’t any left. So we went for a 4 scoop sharing gelato bowl with a mixture of flavours and some chocolate beans on top ( although there are lots of toppings to choose from).

YES we did actually share it!
YES we did actually share it!

I can only speak about our experience on that evening in that particular branch, but we enjoyed the food, the service was good and the staff were friendly. Our meal didn’t feel rushed in any way but we also didn’t wait overly long for the courses to be cooked either. I can see this branch becoming popular as it is right next to the cinema and would make a great pre or post film dinner option. They also serve breakfasts and lunches too so there would be something for any part of the day depending on your plans and there is also lots of covered seating outside for when the weather warms up too. This would be a nice relaxed place to come with the girls for a good natter, a bit of wine drinking and lots of yummy food for a great night out. The night we were there we noticed couples like ourselves, families, groups of friends and even a couple ,one of which was using a mobility scooter, and the layout of the seating meant it was easy for her to have it beside her table and therefore she wasn’t excluded in any way.

From my experience that evening I would have no trouble recommending this restaurant to others and I know I will certainly go back there myself.

 

DISCLAIMER: my meal was complimentary in return for an honest review. All view are my own and I can only base that on the food and service we received at the branch we visited on that particular evening.

 

 

Ashford Eureka Park Beefeater review

I was recently asked to go along to this branch of Beefeater to review their menu ahead of Mother’s day and having not been down at this park before I was also interested to see what else was there.

We were booked into the restaurant for an earlyish meal around 6pm as a family of four before my eldest teen’s social like took priority and we became a party of three! When we arrived at Eureka Park it was clear to see the Beefeater was probably the main restaurant for the Premier Inn next to it and to be fair it seemed like it was one of the larger branches of the restaurant.

On entering it had a large bar area both with bar and table seating and seemed the perfect place for the people staying at the hotel to pop along in the evening and have a drink or some food. The reception area was a nice open space and we were greeted and seated straight away. Most of the seating in this branch is free standing tables and chairs however there is a diner style area of boothed seating adjacent to the open cooking/ serving area and that’s were we were seated.

This is looking onto the boothed seating back towards the reception area leading onto the bar.
This is looking onto the boothed seating back towards the reception area leading onto the bar.

My youngest teen had already decided what he was having before he got there as he absolutely loves their burgers ( the best burger he has ever had apparently- and he can be pretty fussy!). This time he took advantage of adding an extra burger patty for only 99p making his meal around £9 as he had ordered off the early menu before 6.30pm.

Double 1/4 lb burger with skinny fries and slaw from the early menu that finishes around 6.30pm
Double 1/4 lb burger with skinny fries and slaw from the early menu that finishes around 6.30pm

Normally from this sort of restaurant I would play safe and get something with chips but this time I decided to try something different, so I opted for the Liver and Bacon with mash and curly Kale. I adore liver when it has been cook properly as it is beautiful and tender, full of flavour and very good for you too. When it came up I was slightly disappointed at the size, just because I was very hungry and I thought it would come up served as a roast style dinner. However, I could not have been more wrong about the portion size- it was a very filling meal!

Curly kale not visable but is at the bottom, with creamy mash on top, several slices of bacon on top and then piled with crispy onions with gravy around the side.
Curly kale is not visible but is at the bottom, with creamy mash on top, several slices of bacon on top and then piled with crispy onions with gravy around the side.

Obviously liver can be a disaster when overcooked feeling like a bit of shoe leather and therefore, I was overjoyed to see it was cooked perfectly with the liver being gorgeously tender- so much so that my teen and mu husband (who hates liver!) gave it a try and actually liked it. I really must learn how to cook it properly myself as this was a beautiful dinner. The crispy onions were a really nice contrast to the soft creamy mash and believe me about 2/3’s of the way through I was getting pretty full. This dish came in at £13.99 and was definitely worth the money.

My husband also opted for a different choice and stayed clear of chips as he ordered the chilli. It came served in a little dish already on top of the rice with some separate flat breads and pots of sour cream and guacamole served on the side. Again the chilli pot did not look that big and my hubby has a good appetite so I was slightly worried he may have regretted his choice. I tried some of it myself and there was enough spice in the sauce for my taste but he opted to have the extra chilli pieces on top!!

The rice is not visible but is actually already under the sauce in the pot. The extra chillies and onions on top are optional and would depend on your taste.
The rice is not visible but is actually already under the sauce in the pot. The extra chillies and onions on top are optional and would depend on your taste.

The chilli is their signature slow cooked recipe and seemed a little thick in consistency and difficult to mix through the rice, however the flavour was perfect and the meat was super tender. Mixed with the sour cream and guacamole the texture then worked nicely and I would be tempted to have this myself next time I visit. The chilli is amazing value coming in at just £9.99 and although I thought my husband would still be hungry after it he said that with the flat breads on the side it was more filling than he expected it to be.

We are not really one’s to have starters usually as we enjoy having something sweet at the end, so we only ordered mains and then had a desert. We love traditional deserts do both of us ended up choosing the same thing which was their new Salted Toffee apple crumble and both of us opted for custard………….c’mon it has to be custard with crumble! You do have the choice though and we could have had either cream or ice cream if we had wanted.

Say nothing about the fact I tucked in before I remembered to take a photo!
Say nothing about the fact I tucked in before I remembered to take a photo!

This was seriously lush as a crumble lover and was only £4.99 which is very reasonable. My son just wanted plain ice cream as he is not a big ‘pudding’ eater and they were very obliging with that.

We were there on an early Friday evening so I would imagine this is one of the busier nights for them as staff. There was certainly plenty of people both in the restaurant part and in the bar area but that didn’t seem to impact on the service at all. I can only speak from our experience that evening, but there seemed to be plenty of staff serving and a regular turnover of meals at the kitchen service area.

Like I said earlier, it maybe has less of a cosy restaurant feel to it and more an open diner feel, and I could imagine a busy breakfast serving in there with all the people using it from the Premier Inn next door. In that respect it was definitely built for purpose and seemed to work fluidly in that way.

They also run a reward card where you get points for every pound you spend so if you have a branch near you then this would definitely be worth thinking about and if you were looking for somewhere different to go with family on Mother’s Day then there is something for every taste on this menu. It is also worth mentioning that soft drinks such as Coke/ Pepsi etc come as a refillable option which is great if you have kids as you pay just the one price but they can refill as much as they want ( my teen son loves this option!).

DISCLOSURE: I was given a voucher towards the meal cost in return for an honest review. All comments are my own and I can only comment on my experience that evening in that branch

Coast to Coast America Grill Bar- review

Last week I went along to the Coast To Coast restaurant near Rochester to try out their menu and one of their lovely cocktails. I have never eaten in this chain of restaurants before so I was keen to try out something from their menu.

When we walked in it reminded me of another chain of ‘american grill style’ restaurants, it was nicely laid out with lots of boothed seating and it automatically gave off a lively, fun, easy going feel. We were seated in a circular booth seating area that looked over the restaurant seating area and we could could also see the open style cooking area. It was a Saturday evening so the restaurant was fairly busy but this did not distract from the service we received while we were there.

The menu though was far from that ‘other american grill style restaurant’ it instantly looked as though it was offering something a little extra and I felt that was reflected in the prices being a little more expensive.. Yes they had burgers and grills on there, that’s exactly what I expected but they weren’t just your regular burger and grills as we could see when plates were being whisked past us. So we felt we had lots of choice, and my husband dived straight in the deep end with their Triple Burger that consisted of three 4oz burgers complete with pulled pork, bacon and Monterey Jack cheese and their signature BBQ sauce served with either normal or sweet potato chips.

triple burger
Note your steak knife comes staked through your burger holding the tower together!

I opted for a chicken grill that was topped with bacon slices and cheese along with their BBQ sauce with sweet potato fries, beer-battered onion rings and a little pot of house red slaw which was delicious.

chicken grill
This was a large butterfly breast of chicken, 4 rashers of bacon and cheese- enough to fill even the hungriest of people.

As you can see both choices came up well sized and with plenty of extras so we certainly felt we didn’t need to add any sides to our order, although there is plenty to choose from.

I had also been told about their amazing cocktails which it definitely would have been rude not to try! They are running a promotion over the Mother’s day weekend were us well deserved mums get a free………YES I SAID FREE…….cocktail with our meals. There are several cocktails on the offer which are either a:

French Martini

Black Raspberry

Strawberry Daiquiri

Cosmopolitan

New Yorker

I opted for  Black Raspberry having never tried it before and I definitely made the right choice…………it was lush!

Black Raspberry- Bombay Sapphire Gin, Chambord, sugar syrup, lemon juice and soda………..I would definitely recommend this!

Now when it came to the puddings we were told outright when we were seated that there were a few things on the menu that were not available that day due, such as the waffles and the pancakes, to a delivery issue and they apologised outright. So when it came to pudding our server called ‘Huggy’ was brilliant with recomendations ( hence my husband going straight for the triple burger!) told me I would not be disappointed with the pecan pie. This is actually something I have never tried before, so in for a penny in for a pound I took his advice and ordered it. My husband on the other hand was completely stuffed from his almost ‘Man V Food’ mains could not even contemplate anything else. As Huggy had said I definitely was NOT disappointed by my pecan pie. So in ‘Huggy’s’ words………… ‘Always trust a chubby waiter’!

pecan pudding
Pecan pie served with gorgeous little ‘buckets’ of Chantilly cream and caramel ice cream- what is not to like?

Like I said earlier the restaurant was fairly and we noticed the different types of groups that were in there that evening, a 50th party, a family 60th celebration ( can tell by the balloons), couples and families. The music is fairly loud but they had excellent taste playing Motown while we were there. It is a lively, noisy, fun place to eat and the food may seem a little pricey on first look, but is totally worth every penny. The service was very fast, not that they were rushing you out, more that you didn’t have to wait long when you ordered. We had several people come and check if we needed extra drinks and find out if everything was OK with our food. Our server Huggy was friendly, non pushy, funny and totally made us feel welcome.

Our bill for two of us came to £55 approx, that covered a cocktail,a glass of wine, several glasses of Coke, two main meals and one pudding- which equates to just over £25 a head or so depending on what you order. We have already said we will take our teens back down there as my eldest will go straight for the full rack of ribs and I know we will be getting a good service and good quality food.

Find out where your nearest branch is here and don’t forget the Mother’s Day promotion they are running over the Mother’s Day weekend of a free cocktail with your meal for all mum’s who come and dine.

DISCLAIMER: we were given a voucher for £50 towards our meal in return for an honest review, we really enjoyed ourselves on that particular evening at that particular branch of the restaurant and so all opinions are my own

Review- Long Reach Beefeater, Whitstable

In all honesty I haven’t been to a Beefeater in a few years, therefore when I was invited to go along and review the newly refurbished The Long Reach Beefeater in Whitstable I jumped at the chance to see what they were like these days, I have seen lots of Beefeater restaurants pop up alongside Premier Inn’s as their resident eatery so unless I went in stayed there I probably wouldn’t think of going in to try it. Also Whitstable is one of my all time favourite places to have a day out so it was a good excuse for a little afternoon at the coast.

This particular Beefeater is attached to  Premier Inn just outside the main town, but had undergone a huge refurbishment at the the end of Oct 2015 when it closed for just a week for the work to be done.

After a windswept and rainy afternoon in the town we pitched up a good bit earlier than our booked time as we thought at least we can have a little drink and keep warm until we eat, but the very lovely lady who met us as we came in (Sam) was brilliant and sorted us a table early anyway. On coming through the entrance hall we couldn’t help but get a little tactile with the fabulous grassy ‘Hello’ sign…..
grass hello

The reception as you come inside properly is open, warm and inviting allowing you to instantly see the bar and see that there is a snug bar to the right and the restaurant seating to the left although you are open to sit in the bar area too. Just at the reception desk there is a fabulous set of buffalo plates which I was told that Beefeater had made a huge purchase for their restaurants getting these as they are the original plates that they served their well renowned steaks on many years ago! As a lover of vintage and retro I thought this was a fab idea and did look quirky but brilliant on the wall as you waited to be seated.

beefeater collage decor

The restaurant seating area had been refurbished in muted yellow (more mustard) and grey with added raw wood for a more modern feel. Although they varied the colours in different areas ie: the area we sat in had grey on the walls with the seating taking on the yellow either in free standing chairs or leather boothed style seating, in other areas it was the exact opposite and yet I think both styles worked well together. It was bright but warm and comfortable with added touches such as these fabulous lights at a table near us where the shades where suspended along huge leather ‘belts’ from the setting on the ceiling which looked amazing actually and was a lovely throwback ‘old western’ feel.

beefeater lights

Some areas apparently had been changed fully to make the running of the restaurant more practical for the staff there, such as opening the end of the bar into what would be the ‘breakfast’ serving area and taking away a serving station near to the same area which allowed a more open feel for customers but also allowed for a more fluid self service area for the breakfasts. As the Premier Inn and clientèle numbers increased there was need for an extension to the restaurant to cater for the customers. This area is towards the back of the restaurant and accessed via double doors although these are open most of the time unless the seating area is not required. There is unfortunately a drop in temperature in this area which I was assured was only due to the large family table just beside the doors that evening were they had to close one of the doors in order to accommodate the family seated there. This area although is decorated in the same manner just felt as though it had a little less character than the main original restaurant, but would make for an excellent area if you were having a family celebration where you could keep everyone together and feel as though you were in an exclusive area for the occasion.

interior bar and seating beefeater

The food itself on the day was amazing. We had our youngest teen with us who is 15 years old and can be very picky with his food. He opted for the burger and skinny chips ( which came as an unlimited option-perfect for hungry teens) and declared it was the best burger he had ever had as he doesn’t normally enjoy or finish the bun but cleared his plate that evening! Both my husband and I opted for the steaks ( when in Rome and all that, or should I say when in Beefeater eat beef!) although we have them cooked very differently. Again they came with unlimited chips which my husband took advantage of and the steaks came up cooked to our individual requests- perfect.

beefeater dinner pics

In fact in one area of the restaurant there are a set of pictures depicting how to test if a steak is cooked in relation to how you like it, for example, if you like it ‘rare’ you would press your forefinger and thumb together and ‘feel’ the puffy area of skin just under your thumb, then as you move towards well done you press each finger in turn and that should be the test that your steak has been cooked to how you like it if it feels the same ‘tension or softness’ of that area on your hand…………..make sense?

steak testing pic

There are also fantastic pictures/ paintings on the wall showing all the different styles of knives used and what they are used for. So all the decor fits with ‘eating’ ambience that is created here.

Now, there is a varied range of food available on the menu from the good old steaks to sea bass. The main menu is priced more like a a ‘proper’ restaurant rather than other cheaper restaurant chains I could mention. However, there is a ‘value’ style menu available until 6.30pm which has a lot of the choices from the main menu available from it such as the burgers, steaks and chicken options. After having tasted the steaks and seen the portion sizes of the food itself I didn’t feel as though they had compromised any of the dishes we had ordered which came from the ‘early value’ menu.

We were served by a lovely waitress called Heather who kept our drinks filled without us having to ask, cleared our plates without hovering over us or rushing us and happily gave us plenty of time to choose from the menu when we weren’t quite ready. Although we were eating around 5-530 ish that evening the restaurant filled up from around 6pm giving it a lovely busy feel but without compromising on any service we received.

So without a doubt anytime I am down at the coast visiting Whitstable I will definitely be popping into the Long Reach Beefeater, even if it wasn’t for a full meal I would certainly feel comfortable popping in there for a drink or a coffee ( or another steak!) before heading back home.

** I would like to thanks Sam Stevenson who took the time to show me around the venue and explain the new refurbishment during what looked like a busy time there, she was extremely professional and friendly and made our Beefeater experience very enjoyable**

DISCLOSURE: I was invited to review this particular branch of Beefeater and my meal cost was covered for the purpose of the review. HOWEVER, all views written here, are independent and relate only to my experience on that day.

 

Lunch at Bexleyheath Marriott Hotel

I was recently invited to have lunch at my local Marriott Hotel in Bexleyheath and having only been in there once before many years ago for an afternoon tea with friends I took the opportunity to go and have a look at what was there. It has always ‘appeared’ quite business like to me as an outsider however, once you are inside the spacious and open reception area automatically that view is changed.

Love these light trees dotted about the hotel areas
Love these light trees dotted about the hotel areas

We were directed to the bar area which is much more informal than the restaurant looked and also had a different menu on offer. The bar had a welcoming feel with a mix of table styles, smaller ones with straight backed chairs as you would expect but also lower style tables surrounded by lovely comfy sofas for those who were just having a drink rather than eating.

While my friend and I was there we saw two other groups having an afternoon tea, as well as two ladies in their spa robes ( yes they have a spa here too) who wandered casually in for a drink and snacks in between their treatments which in fact we thought they were very brave to do so!

We were given the Copper Lunch Menu to choose from which had everything from sandwiches and panini’s, salads and burgers and then individual style mains. I chose the Battered Haddock Fillet ,Beer Batter, Scraps, Pickled Onion, Minted Mushy Peas, Lemon, Tartar Sauce, Double Cooked Chips priced at £12.50 and my friend chose the (V) Roasted Pumpkin and Sage Ravioli, Chestnut Mushrooms, Sage Butter, British Truffle Oil, Pecorino priced at £15.00. We also enjoyed a gorgeous glass of Pinot Grigot rose while we had a good old gossip and waited for our food. In all fairness, we did wait quite a while for the main course and then dessert considering it wasn’t very busy that particular day, however, as we were having a lovely catch up, and didn’t need to do a school pick up it wasn’t an issue for us and it was a lovely relaxing atmosphere anyway.

When our food arrived I immediately new I had made the right choice on mine, it looked beautifully cooked, crisp and smelled delicious.

The chips were amazing and the batter on the fish was beautifully dry and crisp and don't even get me started on the minted mushy peas! :)
The chips were amazing and the batter on the fish was beautifully dry and crisp and don’t even get me started on the minted mushy peas!

My friend however, was a little disappointed at the portion size of her pasta dish as a main, especially for the price, but she did say she thoroughly enjoyed it none the less.

As you can see the portion size of the pasta came up a little disappointing considering the price although the taste was  lovely
As you can see the portion size of the pasta came up a little disappointing considering the price although the taste was lovely

It was a tough choice on desserts as I probably could have ordered any one of them to be honest, but I opted for the Rhubarb and custard, Honeycomb crumble priced at £5.95 as I though it was a lovely traditional crumble and custard. This couldn’t have been more wrong it came up almost as a trifle and although I was a little disappointed it was truly lush! After gorging on my fish and chips, which was a very filling meal this dessert was light and creamy and a perfect finish to my meal, I think anything more substantial for me would have left me feeling a little too stuffed. The only thing I would say is that 4 tiny pieces of honeycomb on the top does not make a crumble and it would have benefited from some more honeycomb.

See it's not a traditional crumble.............but absolutely gorgeous, so light and creamy!
See it’s not a traditional crumble………….but absolutely gorgeous, so light and creamy!

My friend though opted for the Sticky Toffee pudding, butterscotch with frozen caramel cream priced at £4.50, again as her pasta dish was not overly filling this was a perfect dessert for her and was exactly what it said on the menu. I did try a little and it tasted beautiful and was a good size dessert too.

Looks lush and tasted lush.............enough said!
Looks lush and tasted lush………….enough said!

I loved the tree lights the hotel has both in the bar area and the reception are they are truly stunning and really added a touch of elegance for the hotel. The staff in the bar were very approachable and friendly and we were ‘checked’ on a few times and even the barman came over checking if we needed more drinks too. It was a lovely lunch overall and having never really used the hotel in that respect before I would certainly go back as a treat again. I think when you see a hotel it doesn’t really occur to you to book into the restaurant or bar for lunch unless you are staying there, but obviously with special lunch menus, Christmas dinner and New Year options and afternoon teas available it is actually a shame not to when it is on your doorstep.

DISCLOSURE: I was invited  to enjoy a courtesy lunch at the Marriott Hotel in Bexleyheath for review purposes however, all views are my own

Brewers Fayre- Midweek Value and Autumn menu review

I will admit the only time I have used a Brewers Fayre is when I have stayed in a Premier Inn and it has been the restaurant attached and each time we have been happy enough with the style of food and the choice offered.

Recently in my local area a new Brewers Fayre has popped up next to a new hotel branch in Bexleyheath and I was lucky enough to get the chance to try out their menu. In general there is a good varied choice of dishes available, but along side that there is a ‘midweek value’ style offer which allows you to get 2 mains off the list for £10.99 with the bonus of 2 starters for £2.50 and 2 desserts for £2.50, with  their fizzy soft drinks also offered as a refillable option which offers amazing value when you have teenagers that eat and drink like adults. They also have added some new menu choices under an ‘Autumn range‘ throughout the main menu such as Cock- a – Leekie soup, Chicken and ham pie or even Smoked Haddock Florentine to name a couple.

We popped to our new branch on a Friday evening around 5pm  and found it quite quiet at that time, however as we were leaving just before 6.30pm it had really filled up and become busier. looking through the menu we opted for a few of the value meals including curry, ribs and chicken. We ordered a couple of the potato dippers as starters to share which acme with both a sour cream dip and a gorgeous sweet chilli dip. The teens initially didn’t want any then aswe all got chatting we noticed them start to tuck in and my eldest who is quite fussy commented on how nice they were. So the 2 starters were plenty for all four of use to have a good nibble at as the portion sizes were generous.

One portion of the potato dippers
One portion of the potato dippers

As for mains, we all ordered something different, my youngest chose  the chicken tikka masala which came with rice, a nan bread and a popadom with a pot of mango chutney. He ate most of it but said it was very filling.

my son's curry choice- the garlic bread was with my meal he just stole it!!
my son’s curry choice- the garlic bread was with my meal he just stole it!!

My eldest loves his BBQ ribs so it was no surprise he ordered them. Again the portions size was filling as it was served with chips, salad and a coleslaw.

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My hubby went for the Atlantic Cod and chips that were served with peas and a pot of tartar sauce. My hubby and eldest’s choice were two of the choices you could upgrade to 2 mains for £12.99- still great value for two main meals.

The fish was sat on top of the chips so half of them are hidden
The fish was sat on top of the chips so half of them are hidden

I went for chicken, it was smothered chicken with bacon, cheese and a BBQ sauce serves with chips, salad and a slice of garlic bread ( which my youngest decided he would have!)

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You can see from the pictures that all the portions were definitely regular sized and no adjustment had been made because of the value option. They were so filling in fact that none of us managed to try a dessert but decided to have some coffees instead which again are refillable and are Costa Coffees which are my favourites anyway.

A Costa coffee just to finish off with
A Costa coffee just to finish off with

So all in all the bill would have come to around £44 for effectively four adults including all our drinks which I am sure you will agree is cheaper than most other places when eating out. All of us were quite surprised at how nice the food was ad very impressed by the portion sizes considering the prices.

Also while we were there we noticed that they run a ‘buffet style’ Chef’s counter option each night Monday- Saturday between 5-8pm from only £7.49 a person, but also on a Sunday between 12-6pm for a carvery roast costing £9.99 which includes a soup starter. There are different versions each night from a mexican theme with all the trimmings, a  curry night with all the extras, a pizza them or a burger/hot dog them or on a Friday it’s a fish and chip shop theme and then chicken on Saturdays. This is something I would be interested in going back to try with my husband (especially the mexican evening) as it is available at a great time of the early evening when we are maybe doing the teens taxi cab runs and we could maybe treat ourselves in between! Mind you I do love a good carvery.

It was hard to get this picture but you can see it's a different theme each night
It was hard to get this picture but you can see it’s a different theme each night

We took one of their Bonus Club card where you collect points on food ans drinks when you dine there and also get a free meal on your birthday………..what’s not to like about that? I can safely say we will definitely be returning so our Bonus card will come in handy.

 

**DISCLOSURE- we were gifted our meal in return for a review, however, we have been honest with our views and it is a fair representation of what we thought.

Remington Pro 2100w hair dryer – review

First of all I am publically declaring that I DETEST my hair! I was obviously last in the line for hair and ended up with an auburn (used to be bright ginger) naturally frizzy curly mop that I can do nothing with.

However, in saying that we all have to make the best of what we have so I apply anti frizz and curl defining cream to help make it more curly and less of a ‘just plugged myself into the electric’ look. I occasionally straighten it which in all honesty I prefer however, it is such a palava and takes so long that I just cant be bothered unless it’s a special occasion.

My hairdryer is just a little small travel one with one speed and an open nozzle, I know this doesn’t help me much but due to my muscular pain I cannot hold anything heavier for any length of time before it gets too sore and uncomfortable.

I was chuffed to bits to  try out a beauty case    with the Remington Pro 2100w hair dryer  over the Christmas period. I was sceptical at first ( I mean a hair dryer is just a hair dryer, right?) and was worried that it would be too heavy for me to use for any lenth of time. When I dry my hair normally it would take around 25 minutes or so and easily an hour and a half if I straighten it!

Being used to my little travel one I was actually excited to get some gadgets with this one, a diffuser and a prcision nozzle along with different styles of brushes for different hair types. It all comes in a handy carry bag which actually is great to chuck it all in when your done and shove it out of the way in the wardrobe. It was also the most powerful one I had tried too.

DSCF4019So, to try out both styles I decided to try the straightening on my eldest son’s hair. Although he has lovely thick dark hair he unfortunately has been cursed with the natural wavyness which means his hair normally looks a state within minutes of drying it. It all tends to curl up at the edges however hard you try to make it stop ( I’m sure a hair straightener will be going on his next Christmas list). I didn’t use any straightening product, I just dried his hair using the small pecision nozzle to see what would happen.

Look no curls!!
Look no curls!!

Both of us were quite impressed- him especially! This was just down to the sheer power of the hairdryer and the little nozzle on the end, amazing- he was a very happy chappy.

I then tried the diffuser on mine, something I never use as have always belived it would frizz my hair even more. Again the power of the dryer cut the drying time down to around 10-15 minutes which is great for me. I used my normal hair product which is a anti frizz wet spray before drying and then a curl defining cream when it has been dried.

And Voila!
And Voila!

Excuse my very small bathroom ( smallest one my plumber has ever installed lol but it’s still an en-suite!). Now I do have generally big 80’s hair however I was impressed by the less frizzy results after using the diffuser. I tend to straighten a fringe as I normally clip the front part up….

 

So this is the end result- my normal style.
So this is the end result- my normal style.

All in all I never really thought that the hairdryer would make such a difference, I always thought it was how the hairdresser made it look better and therefore I just wasn’t much good. My little one is just a point and shoot rather than a styler, so I have definitely been converted.

Now with all good beauty products they don’t tend to come cheap. But this one considering what comes with it, and the fact it is the highest powered I have seen I think this is a reasonably priced product overall at around £30-£50 depending on where it is from . It cut down my drying time which compensated for the dryer itself being heavier with the extras on there. It also has 3 speeds you can use and a ‘cool’ button in case you think the heat is too much. So generally it does everything that I would imagine anyone needing.

So the verdict?

A decent product for a decent price!

 

DISCLOSURE: this review was in collaboration with Chemist Direct, however all views are my own and I was sent the product free of charge in return for an honest review.