RdgUK: Safari Supper Club Is a Must For Foodies!

I love blogging, me, I really do.

Yes, you get the odd lairy moment to deal with, as this weekend and phantom phonecam wannabe Paps, but then, you also get to spend an evening, stuffing yourself, with loads of yummy food. Its a hard life.

That’s exactly what I did last week in Reading, in The Oracle, my local shopping precinct.

Myself and some fellow local food bloggers all met, our mission to try out some of the mix of eateries in the Oracle, as part of the upcoming Safari Supper Club “SummerDine” app launching soon.

SummerDine will provide those with the app the chance to try out different cuisines, and offer shoppers discounts on dining throughout the summer holiday period. From 10am on Saturday 1st August, foodies and those wanting to try all sorts of lush dishes can enjoy savings by downloading and registering the PLUS app. Or you can collect anoffer booklet from the Oracel’s ever friendly and easy to find Customer Service desk (located near the escalators outside H&M near the riverside entrance.

The free app will regularly update users on the latest promotions and mix of offers available, which are redeemable from a mixture of retailers. The app will be downloadable from Google Play or the App Store.

So, what can you eat in Oracle on a balmy Wednesday in June?

We started off at an eatery I had wanted to try for a while, Jamie’s Italian.

We were treated to an amazing mix of starters, some traditional and other’s far more experimental, and better still, we were given an indepth chat telling us all about where everything was from and why Jamie and Gennero had chosen it exclusively to be shipped to us on and other diners on Reading’s Riverside.

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Our sharing planks contained quality meats that cost £600 for a leg and are hung upstairs so you can see that you’re not told it’s really expensive and then given catering meat instead(!), beautiful cheese and yummy Music Bread. I cannot recommend the Planks enough as great for all the family, especially if you have fussy buggers who have perhaps not tried Antipasti before to dip into bits and bobs to ease them in gently.

Next was the main course so we took a quick tour to CAU, recently opened and who have really made their part of the river a great place to relax.

I love steak, seriously, it’s one of my most favorite meals and is beloved by Elder too, and he is quite good at cooking a good steak and pepper sauce.

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Well, I had to message him and tell him he had been beaten hands down by CAU and it’s chef. From the beautifully rare meat, to the dainty mini frying baskets of chips, and the posh truffle Mac and Cheese, frankly reader, I wanted to hide under the table and move in for life. God it was good, it was varied, the meat was complimented by several different accompanying sauces so every time you tried a new sauce with some of the tender beef it tasted like a brand new explosion every time. The staff are so keen on their wine too, which was smoky and full bodied, and we all loved the staff uniform saying CAU Girl or Boy on the back. The food is excellent and they deliver too.

With tummies almost full, we bid a farewell and headed for dessert at Ed’s Easy Diner.

I love the look and atmosphere of Ed’s, with it’s neon 50s diner set up and the mini jukeboxes on every table with old school hits ready to play for 20p. Every 20p goes to charity too.

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I went for the KitKat Sundae, and it was just the best. I could eat one just because it’s a Tuesday it was so good, it was gooey, chocolatey and moreish, with tiny kitkat pieces hidden amongst smooth ice cream and whipped cream with chocolate sauce. Divine.

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Reading is very lucky to have an amazing amount of taste experiences, its possible to travel round the world without leaving on a plane, and the SummerDine app gives you just the excuse to enjoy an evening where you can eat beautiful food and not worry about dishes.

If you are local to the area, then go download the app as soon as possible!

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Taking People’s Photos Is Not OK, OK? #BestBuggy

I’m going to file the shenanigans of the last few days under #Drama with a capital D people.

I did mention this in passing yesterday on my Britmums Live post, but it escalated rather quickly as these things tend to the scary point where me and someone who I really do not get on with (fuck knows why, its been so long I can barely remember but there you go) were actually unwittingly agreeing (me being unable to see what the usually toxic one was saying and vice versus due to blocks).

Which made me slightly scared and others in the know realise how much this shit had gotten real.

Basically, it opened up a debate on where we post our images and what rights other’s have to use them, with or without permission and in what context.

A site I had not heard of owing to the lack of need for buggies these days had, inexplicably, allowed/used themselves (its a grey area as it was posted on their Facebook page using their banner, not a members banner but they deny this and have since removed it) a photo, taken from The Montcalm, of some of the Babes with Babes in arms Mummies and their gorgeous and well behaved offspring outside in the courtyard.

This meet was pre-planned to take a memento photo of the babies in their Doola pushchairs together. It was planned on the Facebook BML page so a lot of us knew it was happening.

The issue started as this person clearly knew this was happening, and took a snap from above. They did not ask to do so. They then, further inexplicably, posted it under the banner of the group page (so an admin of the page then), slating to death the Mums. It had lots of false allegations, such as the babies were in the car seat part of the pushchairs “for two whole days”.

No they weren’t. BML is not a whole two day event, and even if it was, and they would know this having been there, there is no sodding room for buggies, prams and the like in the place as its positively heaving from 2pm Friday onwards. Not only that, another image lifted from one of their pages showed that, yes, baby was in the car seat bit for a photo, but you could clearly see Mum had a sling on- as that’s where the babies were.

Worse than that, this snide and sensationalist stat chaser had spoken to them over the weekend and had posted that she was told by one of the ladies that she did not have a car with her. So? Some folk cannot afford some spacious mini caravan on wheels for their child. Buggies go through rigorous safety checks, or they would not be on sale.

The killer line though, which made me seethe was they had accused the Mums, wrongly, of not caring that their child could suffer growth problems amongst others. And SIDS.

Now, SIDS, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, is an emotive topic in society anyway, but none more so than with us bloggers. We have jumped out of planes, lit up Instagram and Twitter with purple and rainbows and stars, and have supported at least one member through something not one sane parent ever wants to experience. We have fund raised and blogged tirelessly for the Lullaby Trust.

YOU JUST DON’T DO THAT, YOU DON’T ACCUSE A FELLOW PARENT OF TRYING TO CAUSE SIDS TO THEIR  CHILD, YOU BLOODY MORON.

Its not clever, funny, appropriate, right, legitimate or many other words I could use to ever, dare, say that, accuse that, or mention that in a sentence unless you want people with more brains than you in their arse to tell you you actually suck.

Which, of course, we did. Cos we are like that.

They then ignored us and removed comments like mine, and pretty much though allowed their members to keep on re-sharing on their pages instead.

It then turned out that this is not the first time this page had pinched photos used by bloggers who were reviewing or had bought the Doola pram and included their child in the picture. All without permission and all whilst slating parent’s including them for using it.

They have done this quite a few times. They don’t ask to, they certainly do not pay.

Its not unusual of course for the uninitiated or down right ignorant to pinch a picture found on Google images and not realise/not care this is totally and utterly against the law.

But this bunch have been told time and time and again and they simply deny, block and ignore the person who, quite rightly, gets the hump.

You cannot be spouting (in caps of all things) that you are concerned for a child’s welfare and then blatantly post an image, taken from above without consent or taken from a blog, google images, Instagram, Pinterest, or anywhere else with the child in it. You are a tool if you think you can.

They however, do not see or simply don’t wish to that they are in the wrong. They finally responded last night on twitter, and it was the same old rubbish about how the image was in the public domain, their site had not shown it just linked to it (rubbish as they did use it on their Facebook page under their banner), blah, blah, blah.

I tried to be polite, saying to them along with other knowledgeable folk that you cannot do this, you can use stock images (free or otherwise and readily available) but linking to, or posting images without consent is blatant theft. They did not want to know.

The other issue here is, as a parent with an 8 and 6 year old, its  not like them good old days when your parent’s rocked up to the school play armed with a shaky old camera (with film- remember them?) or a Camcorder the size of a BBC outdoor broadcast camera and in some cases with a boom attached and plot out and take whatever images and film you like.

You have to wait until the end, collar your over stimulated child and pose them away from everyone else. Or ask permission of their mates parent’s to have them in the photo.

You cannot simply take images with other people’s children in and not be in line for having your collar felt by the Local Police, should someone complain that you accidentally got their cherub in (and it’s happened).

So, taking a photo, above, without telling the parent’s involved and then posting it online publicly in a forum, and expecting and encouraging others to share their post and accompanying braying mob mentality, is totally and utterly, unquestionably something you can, and should you weird bugger, get yourself in massive piles of shite for.

Taking photos is fine. Of your own kid. Off a free to use stock image site. With permission from someone else.

Taking photos from someone else’s site, or social media, or above like some weird stalker person, is never, ever OK.

And I hope the person responsible is dealt with soon.

🙂

The Annual, “I Went to Britmums Live and Here Is What I Did” Post

Its June so that means it was Britmums Live weekend again, and  I set off to London on Friday morning full of excitement to see some top bloggers, brands and the odd famous face over the two days.

I was very well behaved this year, I got to Paddington early and had lunch first (whereas last year I didn’t eat until 9pm and carnage ensued as a result) then got on the slowest Tube train, ever.

Since I’ve been going to The Brewery, due to Crossrail, you have to get on the tube at Paddington as far as Edgware Road- one stop- and then on to Moorgate. It takes about ten minutes tops.

I got on at 11.10, feeling smug I would get to Travelodge nice and early before 12pm. The tube had other ideas though, and stopped in a tunnel seconds out of Paddington for ten minutes, then changed to go straight to Moorgate. It caused quite a bit of hilarity on the tube- which was mad as no one even maintains eye contact usually, even more so when the tube became confused and kept announcing our next station was Paddington and then Edgware Road on repeat.

I finally stepped out of Moorgate station at 11.55! Madness!

I was very happy to see the Travelodge and get some fresh air at that point.

Special mention straight away goes to my roomie for the night, Kirsty of Hijacked by Twins who sorted out my Damsel in Distress lack of room at the last minute situation. Thank you for the laughs and the much needed coffee in the morning (knackered as I was after waking up wondering why I’d not heard Littlest and realising it was because I was in London).

Then it was off to All Bar One for the pre-meet up- thank you to everyone who came along and took over the pub as usual, hope you all managed to meet up with at least one blogging Buddy for the weekend.

It was very nice to see the extremely healthy these days Laura from Life Unexpected. Although she doesn’t half make me feel like a very unhealthy cake shoveller these days but actually, her healthy eating is pretty easy to follow if, unlike me, you aren’t a lazy old so and so. She looks amazing! It was also lovely to have a gossip with her as usual.

With two pm fast approaching, we walked down to the Brewery meeting more bloggers in the process, and then the doors opened- it was on!

It was lovely to see Kate from Striking Mum looking absolutely gorgeous- what an inspiration you are to us cake lovers darling- and Michelle from Mummy From the Heart.

I then saw bestie chum of mine and glowing Liska, who I had a massive and well needed hug after not seeing her for ages! You looked amazing Lis, and I am soooooo excited for the next year (she says, not saying anything else and being shifty, nudge nudge wink wink).

It was lovely to chat BlogOn and other blog related shizzle with Laura from Tired Mummy of Two (Happy Birthday for today Elizabeth!) who always has very good tips for old and tired bloggers like me.

Then we found (as its hard not to being she is six foot) Alice of Life as Alice. You know fun will always happen when Alice is around, from posing for suggestive pics to allowing my other half to flirt with her (and willy straws. Yes, really), it was a pleasure to see her mad self again. How you can drink that much and still look human, well, you are clearly a robot.

There were so many of you I loved seeing, including:

Mel, Afra, Emma (my now very healthy mate, I am keeping everything crossed you get sorted soon x), Julie, Ally, Karen, Hayley amongst others (and if you dont have a mention I am sorry but I am crap).

I have heard folk say it was slower this year with less brands but actually I think that worked well as usually you rush around to meet everyone and throw a business card their way. I liked the fact I could chat to brands for  a bit longer this year as in my experience having a friendly relaxed chin wag helps immensely more than a faceless card.

Speaking of brands, hello to the ladies at Beattie Communications who I swear now need to tell Huggies to bring out  Hipster Wipes for cleaning records (and give me millions when they see lots), Carnival (I wanted to pinch their insta cam), and Aaron Huckett from Publicasity who I wish myself, him, Laura and Alice could all live together and do a really messed up sarcastic UK version of Friends (he does, after all, work with Lindemanns and Homesense, so thats the booze and sofa sorted right there).

Yes, I was pleased Butlins were not there, but I was very pleased to see Merci Maman there instead and I love my bracelet lots.

All in all, I really enjoyed the relaxed pace, there has been one twat who has to act like a knob end (Best Buggy, taking images of people’s babies to slate them without permission and then pretending to be concerned for said babies for hits is a sham, may you be kicked to the Brewery curb next year) but we dealt with that shite pronto (us bloggers, we can be twits, but actually  we do stick up for each other when the need arises).

Thank you as ever to the Britmums team, and of course my wonderful sponsors Happy Monkey Drinks for making my attendance possible, now bring on Blogstock and BlogOn……

Alvin and the Chipmunks- What New Hell Is This?

Mini, bless her, is sick.

The timing of this bug could not be worse, as today she was meant to have had the starring female role in her class’s play about the Peak District, had learned her lines and was all raring to go. Then the bug hit yesterday and it has been a never ending cycle of sick, even water makes her vom, bless her (excuse the TMI).

That was the end of starring role, right there.

Hence, we have her at home and have done for the last two days, and she has monopolized not just the sofa but the TV too (when her heads not stuck in a bucket so you kind of have to let her).

Despite being 8, she has firmly stuck to her old fave channels of Nick Jr and Nick Jr Too. Despite me trying to introduce the concept of older kids programming. Its a head scratcher, as she loves reading older books like Wimpy Kid and Harry Potter, but when it comes to TV she is still quite happy to watch Ben and Holly.

That I can tolerate. After binge watching, yes, I have my limit, but that is by far not as bad as a programme I was guilty of watching when I was her age but which now makes my teeth hurt.

Alvin and the (fecking) Chipmunks.

Shudder.

For starters, why have they made them look nothing like Chipmunks? They look creepier than they ever did in my childhood, like little boys with tails, a hybrid created by Dave who is their Dad (but who is fully male human, making one think as an adult that he must have had some questionable relationship with a lady chipmunk).

All levels of wrong for starters.

Not only that, but bar some other female chipmunk hybrids they go to school as the only bunch of chipmunk human strangeness and no one bats an eyelid.

I get the idea that they get up to mischief like most other kids TV character fodder as a way of educating the kids on being good or facing the consequences.

But, and this is where the teeth hurting comes in, did they have to do it with those sodding squeaky helium voices?

Double shudder.

All the way through the programme, the more irate or scared or naughty they get, the higher those balls voices go (as an aside, do Chipmunks have balls? Cos I’m assuming they must do, and boy must this three have been kicked in them a hell of a lot of times, but by who? Who knows?).

To top off this squeakier than a squeaky door on Halloween in a squeaky door factory voices, they sing at points during the show too, in the squeaky voices, which get even more squeakier (if that were possible) to the point I fear my teeth, zinging as they are, will literally give up and jump from my mouth for mercy.

Of course, my pair, love this programme most of all, my Sky+ is full of it, either watched ones or one’s they have all series linked ready for more parent related torture.

There were so many other cartoons of better quality (with less stupid voices) that they could have brought back- The Raccoons,  Duck Tales, Heathcliffe and Marmaduke, even Trapdoor and Count Duckula. Why the squeaky hell of Chipmunks?

It’ll be the bloody albums being re-released next. And no doubt those other squeaky voices beggars Chip N Dale Rescue Rangers too.

I am very mean, but I am hoping to slowly shove them in the direction of The Clangers reboot instead  if they must persist in watching shows which are far too young for them.

What shows annoy you the most? Did you love Chipmunks in the eighties?

Let me know, below….

Music, Fun and a Very Big Lunch Indeed

Yesterday was the yearly Big Lunch event in the  UK, and all around the country neighbours were invited out of their gardens and sitting rooms and asked to bring some food and drink to share with the rest of their street.

We’d never been to one before- we were too new to know about it last year and Maiden-Snoot never bothered going in for anything like it (miserable sods), so when we heard about it via one of the Mums from school (who is literally like Superwoman, she organises three children, a house, a hubbie, a part time job and the local Play Street every month, not to mention the PTA at school- she makes me tired listing all that), we had to join in.

One massive thing we missed from moving from Kent to Berkshire nearly 8 years  ago now was the loss of a sense of community, of neighbours chatting over more than just parking issues or annoying tenants in the Craplords other properties.

We missed our days of bringing a sofa out to the street to copy a KFC Salad advert and having all the neighbours come and sit and listen to music of a summer. Even more we missed Halloween and New Years Eve when a neighbour would always throw a party. Or Footie when we’d, as a street, unofficially and with no permission whatsoever take over the road with a barbecue and a big old style CRT TV and all watch together.

I hoped for the same here (but with more council clearance as the road it was held on is rather more busy than our old much missed Kent street) and I wasn’t disappointed.

It wasn’t just our little road invited, it was the big street at the bottom and all the roads around it who were invited to join in. And join in they did.

Neighbours whom I’ve only ever nodded at, sharing a samosa or a handmade wrap or a potato cake, and having a chat and a giggle.

Every age was catered for, from newborns to elderly ladies, all the kids played football with goals, and skittles. They chalked the road. Much fizzy pop was drunk and I imagine many children went to bed early, completely shattered after 3 hours of running round with friends from their own school and other schools.

Image courtesy of Zoe Ryan

We did our bit by providing- what else- the music, setting up both old skool decks (Elder) and a PC (Me) in a driveway complete with a palm tree! We played everything from Frank Sinatra and the Beatles to 80’s ska, house music classics and modern pop for the kids too.

If there was ever a time I’ve sat back and thought, my God I am glad we couldn’t find anywhere in Maidenhead, this was it.

It was old school, old community spirit, all races and ages joining in, swapping plants. The kids were safe, you could relax and meet new folk.

Not everyone joined in of course but no one moaned, we all cleared up at the end and it was mad how one minute there were a hundred people there and tables, football goals and food all over the place, and the next it was all neatly put away.

In this day and age, barely anyone knows further than their next door neighbour, and some are struggling behind closed doors. But just for that afternoon, no one cared who you were or what you did, they just came together and enjoyed themselves.

And what can be better than that?

Is It Just Me: That Applauds the Princess Charlotte Pics?

Last night, Kensington Palace released the first in a series of Official photos of the new Royal Baby, Princess Charlotte.

Unusually, the photographs were not taken by one of the favored Royal photographers, but by the Duchess of Cambridge herself. Even more unusually, they were released on Twitter and Instagram.

I’m no Royalist (Scotland the Brave and all that), but I quite like Kate. I like that she’s kind of marking a new era of semi normality in the Windsor household.

There is much discussion though whether it is right or proper to use social media to show off the first photos of the future King and his new sister.

But why?

In the world we live in, if someone has a newborn, you can bet that you will be Baby Spammed to the nines by said parents. Nothing is off limits. There’s even a hashtag for it on both Twitter and Instagram in #BabySpam (I’m only miffed that Kate didn’t go for that herself).

Yes, we do generally expect a different level of decorum from the Royal family, but for too long they’ve had people speculate that they were old fashioned and set themselves completely apart from the rest of us.

I love the images taken by Kate- they are relaxed, they are posed of course but not in a stiffly sat in a chair, unsmiling way. They look similar to images I took of Mini and Littlest, and no doubt like other parent’s own pictures.

In fact, they are the sort of snaps that you would only see come from a Mum or Dad- if anyone is going to put a child at ease long enough to sit carefully with their baby sister, and smile, or give her a cute peck on the cheek, its the child’s parent.

I think this shows how much more with it the younger Royals are. I bet most folk will prefer them to the next official images which will be released after Charlotte is Christened at Sandringham.

I say well done Kate, give the girl a camera and let her share some candids of the Queen and the elder Royals too.

It’ll be far better for a new modern Royal Family if they do.

Announcing my Britmums Live 2015 Sponsor!

I am very happy to say I am now sponsored for Britmums Live 2015.

To me, sponsorship is more than just not worrying about the cost of my ticket. To me, I love the opportunity it gives me to work with a brilliant brand for a year and give you readers some great opportunities too (as I’ve done in the past). I am incredibly excited this year to be working with a brand that the Brats already love and who make Mum’s life, lunchbox and day out wise, easier with a healthy option and great range.

My sponsor is HAPPY MONKEY DRINKS!

Happy Monkey Drinks are brilliant for busy Mums and Dads who are conscious about what they give their children. Containing no sweeteners, preservatives, or sugars, they are 100% fruit and nothing more. My pair love them as unlike other healthy drinks, they taste delicious and have no nasty bits to put them off.

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The company started out small, and using the combined food industry knowledge of two friends has gone on to win awards for sustainability, and are also approved by the Rainforest Alliance.

I love that the brand started out with great  intentions and big ideas and has never deviated from what they set out to do- provide healthy drinks for kids and do so in an environmentally aware way.

They have a range of milkshakes as well as brand new Fruit Splashie too. If you haven’t tried Happy Monkey, then you really should give them a go, it’s such an easy way of providing healthy fruit to kids, and much simpler than trying to pulp fruit yourself!

You can find out more about Happy Monkey Drinks at their site, or follow them on Social media at Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram too.

I am really chuffed to be working with them, so look out for updates on all my social media channels (and Mini is very pleased that she gets to drink nice drinks she loves and vlog review them too).

Thanks Happy Monkey! I’m not a Monkey but I’m certainly a Happy Mummy!