Recipes: Gluten free chocolate brownies

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Sorry again for the terrible photo, but once again I forgot to take the photos before setting down to eat the product! Also this bake wasn’t actually for me. It was for a friend who has recently had a baby, I had just kept a couple of the off-cuts. I wasn’t going to try them because they have normal sugar in them, but for blog purposes, ya know! I was impressed! Especially with the cakey-ness they seemed to have! Considering they have no flour in them! So I thought I’d pop the recipe on my blog. As always, everything I do is a bit of an experiment!

I had surfed pinterest for a few recipe ideas for gluten free stuff, and had seen almond flour used as a sub for regular flour, so I bought a couple of packets of that to keep in the cupboard for this very purpose!….until I forgot to use it that is.

Here is the recipe:

4 large eggs whisked
1 cup of your fav(gluten free-they usually are!) cocoa powder
1 cup of sugar..I would have used honey(maybe less than a cup with liquid sugar like maple or honey) but as it wasn’t for me and coconut sugar takes some getting used to as it’s not very sweet, I used light brown sugar.
1/4 and a bit(sorry!) cup of soft butter(coconut baking butter, coconut oil, regular butter-the choice is YOURS!)
2tsps of vanilla extract(non of that essence crude)
A few shakes of salt!

I mixed it altogether and whacked it into a loaf baking tin(new one! I tried to best avoid cross contamination of wheat as much as possible) and baked it for 25minutes(or until the knife came out clean-ish!)
And they seem like proper brownies! I was shocked! A little bitter for the sugar eater maybe(perhaps a little more sugar or less cocoa in the future) and not the gooiest brownies ever(I may use liquid sugar next time to see how that works) but I was actually pretty impressed! A great recipe for the gluten free and for those who want to eat less carbs, and if you use honey or coconut sugar, not SO bad on the sugars either…well….not terrible 😛

Let me know if you try it and how it goes! 🙂

Our Sir Harold Hillier Gardens Review

Sir Harold Hillier Gardens is a beautiful large gardens set up a guy named Sir Harold Hillier(you guessed that right?) and he was the son of a world famous conifer genius, apparently! His family ran a garden centre in Winchester, which is not too far from the gardens. Sir Harold’s father and grandfather were plant fanatics and Sir Harold intended to extend their plant collection over his life, and that he did! Plants from all over the world are in these gardens and the gardens are famous world over.

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Now I am not a gardening fanatic whatsoever, I am not a big fan of plants or flowers or much in nature I guess. I can appreciate birds and plants, but it’s in no way a passion. But I do love to go to these gardens, I have a been a few times in my life, once on an educational visit, and a couple of times as a child and once or twice as a parent. It’s just a beautiful, peaceful haven away from a busy life!
They also have a lovely little tea room far from the entrance of the place, situated in an old house that’s obviously been situated where it is for a very long time, and seen different owners, but it’s very pretty.
There is also a more canteen type of restaurant which does a nice afternoon tea of a scone, jam, cream and tea for less than £4.00. I recommend!
Adult entry is usually 8-9£ and under 17s are free.

Jijah’s favourite thing about the garden’s is the ‘tree house’. It has a huge slide!

IMG_5304IMG_5303Jijah’s other favourite bit about the gardens is the education garden. It is pretty great!!

It has a bamboo foresty area with musical poles and very large ‘drum sticks’ to play them with, a magical water dish that is supposed to hum(we couldn’t get it to work!) and a pond area, herb garden…Here are some pics 🙂

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We would really recommend a visit, it’s a lovely place for preschoolers and there is lots of grass for picnics or baby crawling in the summer! I’ll certainly be going back, especially now I have a year’s pass! (Thanks, Grandparents!) 1 year’s pass was cheaper than buying four adult tickets, and for the first time at least you can get three guests in free! Great!

Thanks for reading!

You’re a winner!

I stumbled upon this ‘prompt post’ by The Daily Post. It’s basically a little chance for advertisement for Daily Post, and the responder’s own blog! It’s quite fun to read everyone else’s responses to this, and to notice the wide varieties of writing styles and types of blogs.
Here is mine:

This post caught my attention because on a recent road trip, Daddy and I had a conversation about what we would do with our millions if we ever won the lottery, which is unlikely, seeing as we don’t actually play the lottery!!!
So what would we do if we won billions?!!!!
I said I wouldn’t tell anyone if we won the lottery, I would end up one of those anonymous winners! Simply because I wouldn’t want people to think differently of our family, because our outlook on life would most likely stay the same! We said if people asked we would just say that ‘God had blessed us’ or something as equally as cringe worthy!
So watch out! If we start wearing Ralph Lauren and driving flashy BMWs you might have cause to be suspicious! XD
To start off we would tithe 10% and probably more of it to our church, because, well…we can 😉 and we would also probably give some to Daddy’s church from Uni, because he likes to support them as they mainly serve students and rely on old student members donates to keep running.
We also said we would donate to some charities and organisations of our choice, Daddy has supported The Christian Institute and Tearfund in the past, and I would probably pick something local and attempt to do something for our sponsored child and the organisation that educates him and cares for him and his family, XP Missions.
I would also want to help out any friends and family we think might need help! Although that may not be the simple way of just giving them money but some other interesting ways like employing them in the next thing we would do with our money; Daddy has this dream to set up and own some kind of business where he trains and teaches people who need the help with training and employment, like the homeless, those who missed out on opportunities for Uni etc etc..but of course all that needs money!!! In real life Daddy hopes to find investors one day, and knowing him I am sure he will some day! But if we won the lottery, he would want to start it now, he would also probably stay working for the company where he is now(somehow) whilst doing this, and he would like to use the opportunity of owning a business to be able to spend more time at home with Jijah and Juju, so that would be the first thing we would do for ourselves!
And from there, Daddy pretty much doesn’t know what else he would do, except stay pretty frugal and the same and self-less. Sickening isn’t it! 😉 (He’s a great guy!)
Now along comes Mummy! Whilst I am not quite so frugal! I’m not materialistic and revoltingly selfish! I do quite like shopping, what woman doesn’t?! and I would love to have a nicer, bigger car(we have a just about working but old Honda Civic!) and a bigger(ok massive) house and about 10 more children! I would probably quite selfishly do 100 things to make my life more easy! Like get a cleaner, have a laundry room(drool!), maybe even a healthy chef to cook all my meals for me 😉 and a private tutor for all my dozen children! haha…

In all seriousness, there isn’t anything particularly interesting we would do! Sorry! We wouldn’t want to live a millionaire lifestyle, I would like to live a big family lifestyle in comfortableness and Daddy would like to live a big family lifestyle in selflessness…so we would probably somehow mix the two!
Like live in a mansion and still drive this old Honda which is a ‘bit rusty'(Jijah’s words!) 😉
What would you do? Travel? Invest? Give it all away? Would you tell people?

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “You’re a Winner!.”

Our Muscle Food Review

Muscle Food is a website that sells bulk meat and body building/health supplements and all foodie bits and bobs to do with healthy living/body building! It sells ALOT!
Now don’t hold me to this, because I can’t find a page on their large and plentiful website that says this, but I believe Muscle Foods original and well, still current aim is to supply quality lean meat and body building supplements to all those body building, gym bunny types out there.
But then along came the money saving mummy bunnies and I do reckon they have slightly taken over!..ok maybe a slight exaggeration, but still, all the thrifty mums are doing it, they’re buying their healthy, lean meats from Muscle Food and freezing them in their extra large chest freezers in their garages!! 🙂

I joined a facebook group a while back called ‘Feed your family for about £20 a week’, as a on a shoe string budgeting family this was a good facebook group to join! They have lots of cook from scratch, money saving tips and tricks, especially aimed at the family types, like us, but their stuff of course can apply to anyone! But a family of 5 is usually who their recipes are written for.
Anyway, back to Muscle Food, FYF4£20 have teamed up with Muscle Food a couple of times to bring their readers some voucher and discount codes, and I was always a little sceptical about doing it.
I am a fussy meat eater, I would LOVE to eat 100% local and free range meats but it’s just not possible to eat that 100% for us. I’ve tried it and over spent on my budget by alot. So we have and do try to cut down on our consumption of meat, we all should, right?
Anyway, I struggle to buy cheap meats from the likes of Aldi or Lidl(although my friends assure me it’s brill) and I struggle to eat frozen and processed meats too, unfortunately all the cheap things! This made the idea of muscle food a bit unappealing…I mean, buying your meat on the internet?! It just sounds a bit odd!
But one day I sat and did a bit of research, and whilst they don’t claim all their meat is free range, and they do have various more premium items which are more free range etc they do assure their meats are all great quality and of course, super lean. They have won many awards too, they have a little bar at the top of their website with all the badges on…a good badge does impress me! haha!

So I bit the bullet and went for it! And I’m glad I did!!!
The first month back in June I bought the ‘new member pack’ which has a selection of their meats to try. Premium and non. I put most of it into freezer slow cooker meals on the day the order arrived, and the other stuff we used in meals!
Our favourites from those packs were: the meaty sausages(best sausages I’ve had in a long time!) the chicken sausages and the meatballs and burgers! We are still to eat the steaks, and have eaten the chicken and loved that too!
Their packaging was great, they claim their packaging keeps the meats cool for 72hours in the box, so no worrying if you’re out! And you can gain loyalty points to spend another time as you shop with them.
Muscle food also sell a whole lot more than meat, like paleo stuff, healthy snacks, protein rich everything! I’ve tried some of their sweet potato fries and enjoyed them, but they’re not very thrifty! It’s cheaper to cut your own sweet potatoes! 🙂

The one thing I will say, is that this pack lasted us a month, and whilst it saved me time putting it all into freezer meals etc, it didn’t save us much money from our normal weekly shop. Mainly because there were premium meats and we don’t usually buy premium or as much meat as that even! We spent about the same as normal. So still a good deal, more meat for the same amount of money. Just not saving money, which is what I want to do!

Also, the only thing I’m not loving about Muscle Food is their website!! There is alot on there, and alot to see and read, it’s very busy! And sometimes it just doesn’t work how I’d expect it to…I think it’s just not had as much money put into it as a supermarket website and I need to remember that they aren’t a supermarket, so that’s fair enough!

The next order I am doing(End of August-End of Oct) is the suggested discount code pack and 2 month meal plan from ‘Feed your family for about £20 a week’. I will include the pics of the meal plan below: I have changed a couple of the meals on my meal plan though, but using the same meats. I will let you know how I get on!!! Will it end up being about 20£ a week?!  I hope it’s not too much more!

If you want to have a go at ordering from muscle food, they also give customers referal codes etc.

Here’s mine:

Your Referral Code: PP190476
Your Hidden URL: Hidden URL
Not 100% sure what they do but I take it something good!
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Please note: I haven’t been paid or asked by either pages/websites to write about them! I’m not affiliated with them in any way.

Recipe: Banana and Date oat cookies

It was movie night the other night and I wanted cookies and milk for a movie snack! WHAT kind of cookies can you eat when you can’t eat sugar? Anything rubbish would have been well…rubbish! Just not the feeling you want from cookies and milk!

We had lots of bananas and some oats I wanted to use in a recipe, so I opened those and used up the bananas and made these babies. Banana and Date Oat Cookies. And these did it for me!! Yes!! Nice cookies! A bit banana flapjack like, and not quite a chocolate chip cookie, but they definitely solved my sweet tooth. The best no sugar recipe I’ve made so far! Although, my Mother didn’t agree!! She is a sugar eater though 😉 to a non sugar eater, these were quite sweet!

11760267_10155775151780543_2449004687820722156_n Apologies for the piccy, but I forgot to take a photo until we were watching the movie in the dark! The darker ones are ‘the forgotten batch’ that got left in the oven too long!

All these cookies take is:

  • 1 cup mashed ripe banana(about 3 medium ones)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil or butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup almond flour(ground almonds)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup dates, roughly chopped

I blended the bananas and butter in the Magic Bullet with the spices and mixed in the rest. Spoon onto a tray and squish a bit! cook for about 15 minutes. (although I forgot the 2nd batch and cooked them for 30 minutes, but they survived and maybe came out nicer(to me) – more crunchy!!)

So delicious. Definitely a win.

Pippa gets Fitter: Zumba first Impressions!

Second stop on my ‘Pippa gets Fitter’ journey was Zumba! I wanted to try something in a class or group exercise setting, and my baby(ok..she’s 20 now!) cousin has been to Zumba and we’re fairly alike, if she can do it, it usually inspires me to have a go 😉
I didn’t really want to go it alone though! So I managed to find a friend who was up for going with me! Said friend was really quite good at Zumba!
I on the other hand felt like a bit of a wolly! The Zumba was held in the local village hall, which was a little small to be fair! I’m not sure they could fit anyone else in!! And on the first occasion(and only so far) I went, it was also a little dark with minimal lighting! I should have worn my glasses! Especially as I wanted to stay at the back xD
I didn’t find the exercise that hard. It was the dance moves I found hard! I have decided that I am not very co ordinated and salsa is a bit too ‘in public sexy'(I mean nearly all the songs were about sexy things!) and fast for my liking, but I hope I get at least a little better as time goes on! It’s got to be better than this last time! Zumba was alot more dancey than I expected! Most of the time it felt more like a dance class than an exercise class! Although I felt totally awkward, especially as a few of the girls looked like young teenage dancer girls and I got the feeling one especially thought ‘what the hell is that fat woman doing here?’ xD I will keep going! I don’t give a damn what people think and I kinda wanna have another go! So, I will keep going every week until either it defeats me or I get bored and wanna try something else xD
My fitness pal app told me an hour of Zumba burns 800 or so calories too!! Is that even true?!!
Will keep you updated on how it all goes!

FYI- I am not affiliated with Zumba..yadda yadda yadda…

Recipe: Chocolate date balls

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These little balls, which I must say look rather suspicious at first glance! are one of my ‘tea time treat’ attempts. At those moments where you’re tired and need a little pick me up. These are the kind of things I turn to instead of the bad stuff!

Made with no refined or raw cane sugar, they’re quite healthy! And they last ages in a Tupperware!

12 Medjool dates(I did at least 1 cup of chopped, but I’d add some more next time)
1 cup almond meal
1/2 cup shredded coconut, plus 1/3 cup extra for rolling(I didn’t do the rolling this time!)
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup cacao powder
1 tablespoon walnuts
A squirt of honey for good measure!

In my Magic Bullet, I blended up the nuts, chopped dates, coconut and almond meal and then put that in a bowl, and then blended up the coconut oil and cacao powder next and mixed them both together!
Simple really!
I then proceeded to get a dessert spoonful in my hand and roll it into a ball, now this took too long for me so next time I might try making bars instead(squashed in a rectangular tin and cut into bars).
I also found these very bitter, although my husband didn’t. Next time I will try adding more dates, a bit more honey and less cacao. 🙂 I will update my recipe and repost once I’ve tried!

Just to note, this is the cacao I’m currently using.  Bought from Ocado.

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I wanna live forever!!

Ok, not quite…I am into misleading blog titles though, can you tell?!
This blog post is actually a little introduction to my sugar-free-living recipes and a little about my attempts at living a healthy lifestyle.

The reason why I gave this blog post it’s silly title is because I want to live as sugar-free, and as healthy, of a lifestyle as I can. Mainly to ensure I can live a lifestyle that is healthy and active for myself and my family for as long as I am on planet earth!

A fairly long little backstory, since the age of 10 I have not been skinny, ever. Not slim, not skinny, not gangly but chubby and/or fat(what a terrible word IMO) so I do not ever plan on being skinny nor even being smaller than I am. To the rest of the world this may be surprising, but none of this is about the shape of my body. I’m fine with my body. I have a husband who loves the way I am and in the right clothes I love the way I look. This is about health. I have never had major health issues, and whilst I’ve never been fit, I’ve never had a reason to be. I’ve never been highly unfit either. Just somewhere between fit and unfit..!
I have also always had PCOS and insulin resistance, or so my doctors told me. They didn’t help me with that or tell me anything else about that, only that I had it!
So I tried my best to live a low GI diet, wholewheat carbs etc..that’s all I knew about insulin resistance.

After my first baby who, no matter what I did, just would. not. sleep. I used full fat coke and chocolate as an energy booster, and not only did it boost my energy, but also my weight by a stone! Whatever to that I say.
Slightly unrelated, I am not exactly sure why, but my husband and I are very into living naturally, we don’t like eating things with sweeteners in them and prefer natural treatment for stuff instead of medication..etc etc..we really have no reason why, it’s just the way we are! We aren’t exactly ‘crunchy’ living people..we still ate/eat meat(although I had been on a mission for it all to be free range) and we ate sugar and some fast food once in a while.

Then just before I had my second baby I watched something about sugar and how awful it is for you. Then I got pregnant and decided to only eat natural sugars, not even raw cane sugar, just fruit sugars. I did that for a month, and then got morning sickness and could only stomach apple juice and donuts…that worked out well!! I was then diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes later on, and I hadn’t had that with baby number one, so whilst it was probably always possible for me to have it (it’s very common in woman who have PCOS and insulin resistance – not that my doctors kindly let me know that either!) I was about 1 and a half stone heavier than when I had my 1st baby and I probably did less cardio exercise than I did whilst pregnant with my 1st. This probably all equalled to me having GD the 2nd time around. My body was just not as healthy, and I felt/feel it.

So all of that little journey is what has brought me to this life long decision to not eat raw or refined sugar 90% of my life.To help lessen the probability(which is about 40% more likely to happen) of getting normal diabetes in later life. I do not want to have to deal with diabetes, if I can help that, why wouldn’t I?
It’s been pretty successful most of the time. As a rule I only eat fruit sugars, there is also the odd product which is made with sugar from malt or cereals, which I consider a slight cheat. But it’s in nearly every pre packed food!!! I also eat coconut sugar, honey and maple, but also try to class those as cheats, because it’s all sugar at the end of the day and my body just doesn’t process sugar well. Any sugar, even fruit!
I also have two sugar days a month, it’s lovely to have a sugary starbucks and buttery sweet piece of cake, but you have to bear in mind that it’s hard the next day..even after one day of sugar, your body craves it again and it’s back to square 1..I do however personally feel  once you’ve done it a few times it’s quicker getting back to whichever square you were on before because you’ve done it before!

Life without sweet stuff is just not..sweet! What is a cup of tea without a piece of cake? An apple and a cuppa just doesn’t cut it sometimes! So I try and make my own sweet treats with natural sugars..I will be posting up some of the recipes on my blog so you can try them yourself, soon!

For these, a strong and handy food processor or blender is your best friend…get one! 🙂 I have the ‘magic bullet’ and currently am loving it! Review to come soon.

Another key part of my healthy life journey is exercise. I am probably THE most exercise unloving person there is. I hate watching sport, I am scared of footballs and I always used to create an excuse for PE!
To be fair to myself I have quite severe feet problems that leave me in lots of pain after just a long walk, sometimes for days afterwards. A doctor once told me I have the feet of a 90 year old and probably have had all my life.
I remember it making me hate walking and exercise as a child, and I think that has helped develop my hatred of exercise, but I HAVE to exercise now. I don’t have a choice. Just healthy eating alone isn’t going to help me. Exercise will help a whole lot when it comes to lowering sugars in my body. And seeing as I’ve been ‘healthy eating’ for two months now with very little change in body weight after my initial loss, and I’ve always been overweight and I’ve never eaten terribly unhealthily, exercise is probably the key to helping my body be healthy.
So I have to do it, and this month has been the start of my exercise journey! So far I’ve been doing an online workout called bikini body mommy, by this nice american lady. It’s been good and I’ve ached afterwards, which means it must be doing something! But I want to do something else, something with other people, and just something different, so soon will be starting Zumba(will review!) and some kind of dance fitness class! Should be interesting!!! I will keep my blog updated with developments 😉

As for today, we’ve been on holiday all week, and I’ve had a week of eating sugar sometimes and sometimes not…nothing strict..but I am feeling it!!! I feel yuck. Think a sugar detox is needed next week!! One day I hope I will think having sugar days are just not worth it…:) Will keep you posted 😉

Our Dinosaur Isle review.

This is all just the personal opinion of our little family, we have a 3 year old and a 10 month old 🙂

Dinosaur Isle is an ‘interactive museum’ all about, can you guess it? Dinosaurs! It’s located in Sandown on the Isle of Wight, right by the beach. Good location I think! Museum then beach visit, good day out! 🙂
Our 3 year old has just started to get into dinosaurs and we were recommended this place by our neighbour. So as it was a very dull day the day we went to the Island, we decided a museum would be a good idea. Entry costs £5.00 for adults and £4.00 for over 3’s. Not a bad price 🙂

IMG_5139The museum is full of everything dinosaur! There is an education room upstairs that provides worksheets and things, which we didn’t go and explore as we figured Jijah was a bit young.

The great thing about this museum is that it’s got interactive things for children to do, and they have a range of found fossils and bones available to touch and hold freely. They also have glass walled workshops where you can watch the staff work on the fossils.

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There is alot of information that is readable for you to see, so would suit an older child, but Jijah and even Juju found some things to do too! Their favourite was the ‘sand archaeological dig’ that was available to play with.
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We also liked the ‘binoculars’ they had to look through. You got to see how a dinosaur would have seen. IMG_5155
Jijah liked hidiing behind the soft toy from the loud  dinosaur roars that could be heard regularly. 🙂
IMG_5147 IMG_5134         The ‘what can you feel?’ holes were interesting too!!

Overall, a lovely place! Our three year old quite enjoyed it for upto an hour. An older child could probably get a couple of hours out of it with guidance. A great rainy day place to go!

Our The Needles Landmark Attraction review.

This is all just the personal opinion of our little family, we have a 3 year old and a 10 month old 🙂
We went to The Needles Attraction on the 13th of July. A day we perhaps stupidly expected, being summer, to be sunny!! The day was overcast and very very windy! The attraction is of course, right by the cliffs and right by the sea, and it is windy! Very!!

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We had booked an advanced ticket with red funnel when we booked our ferry tickets. This gave us 12 attraction tickets, free parking and entry into the park.
The park boasts of a sweet shop and factory, a glass works, sand art bottle making, games, rides, amusements, restaurant and tea room, a chair lift up and down the cliff and the only place on the island where you can get a good view of the Needles cliffs.
I thought this sounded great! Stuff for the kids and us. When we arrived I remembered that actually I’d been here before as a child!
Upon entry we received a park map with some ‘free tickets’ a free ride on the carousel, a free chairlift unlimited ticket, a free entry into the glass works and sweet factory, a free game at the games kiosk etc
The problem for us on this day, was that because it wasn’t a nice day, it was crazy windy and the chair lift was out of action because of it. Also, I’m not totally sure why, but the games kiosk was closed too. There weren’t too many people at the park, but there was enough. Also the sweet factory was closed. So alot of the free tickets weren’t even useful.
The tickets we bought could be used on just about everything in the park, even food! One ticket was equivalent to £1 and rides usually took two tickets per go, and under 5’s have to have an adult go with them, thankfully adults are free on the rides!!
We used up all the tickets we had bought on a sand art bottle(3.50) and rides!!! Jijah went on the vintage cars multiple times! 🙂

Thankfully for us, our son is in love with rides, so he LOVED the tea cup ride and the carousel. Also there was ‘vintage car ride’ like a train on a track. It was all a little old, a little well loved and a little naff but as long as Jijah loved it, we were happy!!

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To me that was kind of the theme of the park..a little naff and a little old. It looked a little like it needed doing up, but then it is a seaside attraction. Alot of those look like that. The wind can be harsh on paintwork etc…

I think on a nice day with the sun shining, it may have looked more appealing.

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We stopped for lunch in the restaurant because we were all hungry. There is a nice looking small tea room which sells cakes, sandwiches and drinks and a large resturant which looks like a greasy spoon, but serves a large array of meals and sandwiches. The food looked quite nice, and tasted quite nice too! We had fish and chips and enjoyed it, not the best ever, but nice enough.

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I think that sums up our little trip. Once we ate, we went to have a little look at the real star of the place, the needles! It was windy to the point of knocking you down though, so it was a very short look!! 🙂 Beautiful though! My windy, misty photo doesn’t do it justice!

IMG_5115Thanks for reading! 🙂