30 November 2016

My Boys Tech Club - November 2016

My Boys Tech Club - November 2016


This month in My Boys Tech Club my nine-year-old wants to tell you why he loves playing the TEMPLE RUN 2 game, on his Amazon Fire Tablet, with his top 5 facts.

Temple Run 2 a review by my boys club


1. Temple Run 2 is an endless running game that takes place in a temple floating in the clouds instead of a thick swamp in the jungle. The aim of the game is to collect coins to buy or upgrade power-ups and select new characters. You start in a temple with two free characters – Scarlet Fox and Guy Dangerous. To play, you run through different levels by swiping down, up, sideways and tilting the tablet to move the characters in different directions.

Temple Run 2 a review by my boys club


2. You start in a level called Blazing Sands, a desert where you have to follow the track without getting caught in traps, such as rivers, broken bridges, rocks, landslides and giant mousetraps. On the way, you need to collect chests, power-ups, gems and coins. Blazing Sands only lasts for a limited time or until you have collected 500 gems – you can buy these through In-App purchase (we don’t) or collect them on runs. It’s easy to collect coins and power-ups but a lot harder to collect gems and chests

Temple Run 2 a review by my boys club



3. Once Blazing Sands in no longer accessible you have to play in Sky Summit. Here you run through the sky on paths held up by floating rocks. While collecting more coins, power-ups, gems and chests you need to avoid falling rocks, fallen trees, holes in the path, low bridges and walls blocking your route. You can then buy entry into other lands such as Cold Land with 500 gems. Cold Land has a wintery feel, covered in snow and ice with frozen rocks. Or play challenges to gain entry.

Temple Run 2 a review by my boys club


4. You can be caught by a demon monkey. If you touch some the orange/red tiles sticking up from the floor it will release a monster that is following you into the bottom of the screen for two minutes. If you touch another tile or trap in this time, then you lose a life. You can then use a gem to restart in the same place by spinning a wheel to gain a power-up, gem, or coins. 

Temple Run 2 a review by my boys club


5. This is a fast paced game that needs quick reactions. I really like that throughout the year different themes appear such as Halloween and Winter. Halloween turns Sky Summit into Spooky Summit – special costumes for the characters make them become Halloween monsters such as Scarlet Bat and Franken Guy and the area gets a Halloween theme. Winter turns Cold Land into Frozen Shadows – the monster is a yeti and these can jump down on to you.

Temple Run 2 a review by my boys club


Cost: Game free to download
Time: Endless hours of fun
Boys Club Rating: 4.5 out of 5

What games would you like My Boys to review?

Deb x



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Celebrating Three Months of My Boys Club with Cake

My Boys Club is three months old today. It's a proud moment. It's made it this far and a few people (more than just family and friends) have actually read my blog. And now I have cake!




My Boys Club launched at the end of summer 2016 to share lifestyle, food and travel posts about life in a family of boys. I've had friends say that actually, it is not that much different to what I posted on social media anyway - maybe just a little more professional looking. I love my friends!

But although its fun, I love writing, I've had lots of great opportunities in these three months, and met lots of lovely bloggers (both online and offline), building a successful blog is not easy. 

There is a lot of hard work involved. It's not just about writing but there are photographs to source and take, then edit, content to create, layouts to choose, code to understand, and when the post is complete the even harder work begins of trying to get people to read it. Many people give up after a few months, a year, and it's not difficult to see why.

In three months I've gained over 500 followers on Twitter, Instgram and Facebook, a handful on Pinterest and Bloglovin and seen over 6000 hits to the website from nearly 1000 unique users. but that's small fry to many other blogs out there. 

But a massive thanks to everyone who has read a My Boys Club post so far. Hope you enjoy reading it. I love writing it.




My Top 5 tips for blogging:

  • Write about what you love and be yourself - that way people will enjoy what you write.
  • Don't put pressure on yourself - it is your blog - write it and post content when you want to.
  • Don't be a slave to social media - but do find online tools to make your life easier
  • Be honest about your opinions - explore the reasons why you did or did not like something.
  • Be truthful about your motivation - if you are being paid or received something for free, then say so.


Caketoppers fortuitously contacted me last week to see if I'd like to review their cake (of course) which can be topped with any image you wish. I chose to use our logo ' My Boys Club'. 

The cakes arrived and were perfect for a late launch and to celebrate three months since going live.



And so to the cake. It was delicious. The whole family ate it and wanted more. They arrived fresh, moist, securely packaged, and on an overnight delivery. If I was organising a big event I'd have no hesitation in ordering some. 

Caketoppers specialise in cakes, cupcakes and printed icing edible toppers for delivery across the UK. These can be personalised with a photo, logo or message making them perfect for any special occasion.  



Find out more on their website but if you are interested you can gain a 10% discount by entering MBC10 at the checkout stage (the code makes me no money just gains you a discount!) Prices start at £14.29 for 6 for cupcakes with a logo or brand design.



28 November 2016

Rub-A-Dub-Dub, Three Cocktails and Fun

Rub Smokehouse & Bar recently opened a third restaurant in Newcastle upon Tyne, following on from its successful ventures in Nottingham and Birmingham. ‘Rub on the Tyne' opened in October 2016 in the leisure complex called The Gate, serving up huge plates of food, cocktails and creating 60 new jobs at the same time. 


In a bid to let more people know about the cocktails on offer, an invitation to a cocktail class arrived in my inbox.


class cocktails at rub smokehouse and bar in newcastle


So what's a girl to do when she gets an invitation to a cocktail mixing night? Accept straight away of course. So that’s what I did (once I’d made sure hubby was happy to do bedtime duties solo that evening).

Recently opened in The Gate in Newcastle-on-Tyne, where the Ask restaurant was formerly located, Rub Smokehouse & Bar is a BBQ restaurant with it roots firmly in the South of the USA. 

class cocktails at rub smokehouse and bar in newcastle


A passion for food, drink and creating a party atmosphere are the three ingredients, that Rub say make up this larger-than-life Amercian style barbecue and cocktail bar, which has brought it’s own a taste of America with barbecue, milkshakes, waffles into the city centre.

With 150–covers, this casual, loud and bold bar and restaurant, which has been inspired by the 1980s, is open from 11am until late Monday to Friday, and from 10am until “very, very late” at weekends, adding to Newcastle's already vibrant nightlife scene.

The menu at Rub on the Tyne’s is packed with specialities including ‘low n slow’ meats smoked over hickory, including pork shoulders and beef brisket cooked for 16 hours, burgers, desserts and inventions listed on the menu as #Epicfood. 

The portion sizes may be oversized but I like the fact that doggy bags are given to customers who can’t clear their plates so they can take the rest home, avoiding unnecessary waste.

Although on this occasion we were not there to sample the food, complimentary dishes were served to accompany the cocktails. 

class cocktails at rub smokehouse and bar in newcastle


It’s a BBQ restaurant so I wouldn’t expect many veggie options but with Potato Skins, Forest Burger, Southwestern Salad and Mixed Bean Chilli, plus seafood options there are alternatives to meat that sound pretty tasty. I’ll be trying them next time.

However, this visit was all about the cocktails! There are 20 classic cocktails, 26 speciality cocktails, including sharers served in tin baths as well as mocktails and alcoholic slushies.

class cocktails at rub smokehouse and bar in newcastle


To someone who was legally allowed (only just mind), to actually drink 80s cocktails in the 1980s, then the drinks list at Rub brings back all sorts of memories. You'll find the commonly known Cosmopolitan, Daiquiri, Manhattan, Mojito and Pina Colada as well as imaginatively and creatively named cocktails with an 80s twist: Dead Pig Society, Papa Don't Preach, Saving Mr Banksy and Buffalo Soldier to name just a few.

class cocktails at rub smokehouse and bar in newcastle


Mixologist and cocktail creator Joe MacBeth, demonstrated how to make a cocktail – and with his expertise made it all look so easy! We could see how he had recently been crowned a winner in a global cocktail competition.

class cocktails at rub smokehouse and bar in newcastle


The first cocktail he demonstrated was an OLD FASHIONED. 

Once demonstrated we then had to make our own pictured below ...

Here is the recipe if you’d like to try it at home but please drink responsibly!
  • 50ml Wild Turkey 101
  • 5ml Sugar Syrup
  • 3 drops of Angostura Bitters
  • Orange peel which releases oils and aroma
  • Add Ice then shake

class cocktails at rub smokehouse and bar in newcastle


Another from the classic menu was a WHISKEY SOUR
  • 50ml Buffalo Trace
  • 30ml Lemon Juice
  • 25ml Egg White
  • 25ml Sugar Syrup
  • For this one you add ice, shake then remove the ice and shake again to allow the drink to expand.
  • Add bitters and a slice of lemon.

class cocktails at rub smokehouse and bar in newcastle


And from the speciality menu a BUBBLEGUM HEMINGWAY
  • 50ml Red Stag
  • 25ml Bubblegum & Cherry Syrup
  • 10ml Lime Juice
  • 40ml Grapefruit Juice
  • Shake, pour over ice and top with bubblegum foam.
class cocktails at rub smokehouse and bar in newcastle


class cocktails at rub smokehouse and bar in newcastle

These all sound far easier than they are to make and it’s a lot harder, trying not to spill the drink when shaking without looking like you are going to do yourself an injury. As we were soon to find out!

Next, we had to create our own from ingredients provided. 

For us, these were Stolichnaya Vanilla, Cassis, Sugar Syrup, Mountain Dew, Crushed Ice, a Meringue and Strawberry Syrup. 

Looking like a list of dessert ingredients rather than a cocktail we created a rather sweet, but still quite tasty drink which we named ‘A Messy Rub’ paying homage to the delicious dessert that is an Eton Mess. 

rub smokehouse and bar newcastle cocktails


It's not going to win an award, even if described as ‘pretty’ by the cocktail creator himself (notice he didn’t describe the taste) and it's never going to beat my number one cocktail the ‘Expresso Martini’.

class cocktails at rub smokehouse and bar in newcastle


The cocktail king did though make me an Expresso Martini and it was perfect!

If I'm honest, Rub probably wouldn’t have been top of my list for an evening out, but now that I've been and seen that the venue is fun, clean and bright, I can see the boys loving the décor and the food and me loving the cocktails.


class cocktails at rub smokehouse and bar in newcastle



Cost: Cocktails are from £7.00 with Classic Cocktails 2 for 1 11am-7pm and 10pm to close.
Location: The Gate, Newcastle upon Tyne - close to shopping centres, bus stations and train stations
Boys Club Rating: Definitely a taste of the 80s.


What's your favourite cocktail?

Deb x.


Big thanks to Laura from Ellefluence for organising the evening and to Laura Pearman for some of the above images. Ellefluence launches early 2017 to bring brands together with a growing collective of bloggers and influencers.

class cocktails at rub smokehouse and bar in newcastle




25 November 2016

Two TV Treats to catch-up on - November 2016

 My regular look at what's good to watch on TV via catch up.


After the boys have gone to bed, I’m always looking for something to watch on catch-up TV? If you are too, then here’s my Top 2 Things to watch this month.

This month it's a 'Series 2' double, with the return of a nature documentary and  a thrilling drama to our screens …



Planet Earth



The series is presented and narrated by Sir David Attenborough - the best narrator on earth - is gaining the highest TV viewing figures ever for a nature documentary. But let us admit it, Planet Earth is not just any old nature documentary it is extraordinary, amazing and so much better than any of the words I could use to describe it.



So far viewers have been fortunate to see some truly astounding footage of animals living their lives on remote islands, hostile mountains, and, most recently, in clouded and flooded jungles. Who knew that sloths swim (and slowly at that), flamingos skate on ice, dolphins swim in the middle of the jungle, bears can dance and  that a jaguar can easily kill a caiman?

I also love the ‘making of’ snippets. The film crews are awesome! I don’t even mind that some of the sound effects are added in the editing suite. It is still the best thing on TV.

The only problem I have is how will I cope when the series, of just six episodes, ends.

At least it will be Christmas.

Watch on BBC IPlayer

The Missing




I know I’m really late to this one, and already watching it on catch-up myself. But basically, its is a drama which starts with the return of someone who has been missing. And after one episode I’m hooked.

Its got a great cast too. I always seem to like any drama that has either Keeley Hawes or David Morrisey in it.

The story flips between 2014 and the present time, which can be a little confusing but aided by visual clues in the appearances of central characters. It is based on a British army base in Germany. It features Sam and Gemma Webster, whose daughter Alice went missing in 2003.

However, the police inform the parents that Alice has reappeared and mentioned when found another girl, Sophie Giroux, a French girl who disappeared at about the same time. A French detective Julien Baptiste was in charge of the Giroux investigation, and although now retired, he becomes involved again and travels to both Germany and Iraq to find answers.

At the end of the first episode, we discover that Alice died not long after returning. There are many unanswered questions, what happened to her brother, where did the scars on the dad come from.

I’m definitely expecting plenty of false leads and plot twists in this drama which has gripped audiences nationwide.

 After just one episode I am gripped. But luckily for me, as I’m watching on catch-up I can watch nearly all of it all in one go without having to wait a week for the next episode.


Watch on BBC Iplayer


What have you watched on TV this week that you'd recommend? No spoilers mind!

Deb x

23 November 2016

Christmas cocktails, sushi and a twilight spa.

I love Christmas. Yes, it's a busy time of year but really is there anything better. Yet no matter how enjoyable, it does takes its toll on you. It is stressful, there is the endless shopping, writing lists, wrapping, cooking, being snowed under (sometimes in more ways than one) and although I love this time of year, it is easy to forget to recharge the batteries. However, after an invitation to review a recently refurbished spa, The Spa at Ramside Hall - well really, who would say no - I now have the solution.





A relaxing spa, as autumn slowly turns into winter, is just what Santa ordered to set you up for a fantastic festive season, ready to face Christmas and everything this great time of year can throw at you.





Located just off the A1, close to Durham City, Ramside Hall Hotel, Golf and Spa is a four-star hotel, set within 350 acres of private grounds. Formerly the home of the Pemberton family, it became a hotel in the sixties.



However, the bright and modern spa emerged as part of a multi-million-pound extension, which also included a second golf course and 47 additional bedrooms to the hotel. The £8m luxury spa now boasts a 25-metre swimming pool, hydro pool, aroma steam, drench shower and sunken sauna, sleep pods, mud chamber and 14 treatment rooms, outdoor garden, vitality pool and infinity pool, state of the art gym, salon and restaurant.

On arrival we were welcomed with a Green Dragon, a glass of fizz with the addition of Midiuri melon liqueur and also a taste of a Gingerbread Martini, one of their new Winter Cocktails which all have a Narnia twist, others include Snowstorm, White Witch, Aslan's Road and a The Lime, The Witch and the Wardrobe mocktail.



Next came the show around from the very informative staff and there was a new ooh and ah around every corner. The gym itself was cool, spacious and uncrowded. The treatment rooms, plush and looked very comfortable and the quiet room an opulent sleep pod that we didn't want to leave.






Then it was time for dinner. We were served a selection of sushi, starters including spring rolls and dim sum with sweet chilli, satay and soy sauce. The food was plentiful and delicious. I love Asian food so this was a real treat. The sushi was so good we took some home for lunch the following day.




The Fusion Asian Restaurant creates a little piece of the orient with its unique take on pan-Asian food resulting in an imaginative and delicious range of dishes? It is open 13 hours a day from 8.30am for brunch, lunch, Asian afternoon tea and dinner.

After dinner and it was time to spa. 



We were handed robes, slippers and a snazzy wristband which gains you access to the amazing facilities. The changing rooms are beautiful. Lockers were easy to use and plenty of towels. I swim as often as I can and I still can't believe I simply ignored the beautiful, empty 25m pool and headed straight to the spa. 



First stop for most of us was the Vitality Pool in the Outdoor Spa Herb Garden. The outside air temperature was close to freezing but that didn't stop us chilling out in the warm bubbles in the pool which has a temperature of 38 degrees. We eased away any tension with the bubbles and swan-necked massage jets whilst having a great catch up for quite a long time. We just wished we didn't have to drive home otherwise another glass if fizz would have been the perfect accompaniment. 




Instead, the juice bar with its selection of (fresh) fruit infused water was a good alternative.

A dip followed in the Hydrotherapy Pool, one of the largest in the UK and which is slightly cooler than the Vitality Pool at 35 degrees but no less relaxing.  The various massage bays and seating areas, with great names such as the central volcano, the calming millpond come with bubbles and spurts of water appearing from above, below and from the side, to massage different muscles and areas of the body, for approximately 6-8 mins at a time. This is said to be very beneficial for sore and painful muscles and to reduce stress and anxiety. It definitely gave me a glow.





A quick stop off in the aroma steam room and sauna then brought the evening to an end. I didn't use the thermal suite fully or get to see the Infinity Pool (closed) so I have the perfect excuse to return.




There is no doubt that driving home on a dark, frosty evening that I felt relaxed, re-energised and very lucky to have the opportunity to try the Spa at Ramside.

A spa experience is very special. And having some me-time in the run up to festive season has now really got me into the Christmas spirit. In the few days since we've baked our Christmas cake and visited our first Santas grotto and it's not even December yet. Christmas bring it on. And it if all gets too much, well I'll just have to 'spa' again.

The Twilight Catch Up, from £55, includes a welcome drink on arrival, fluffy robes and spa footwear; a two-course evening meal in the Spa Fusion restaurant and full use of the outstanding spa facilities until 9.30pm.

Many other packages are also available at a variety of prices, times of day, treatments and to suit all occasions. For full details see Ramside Spa Website


Cost: We were invited to review The Spa at Ramside at no cost to us in return for an honest review, however. the twilight spa is priced from £55.
Time: A good few hours.
Boys Club Rating: Yes I'll be back. Just need to find a good excuse now ...


Which is your favourite spa?

Deb x

22 November 2016

Delicious food at Prezzo but ...

So the whole family was invited by Nanna, for lunch at Prezzo in Newcastle, one Saturday lunchtime. As there would be six of us, she had booked ahead to ensure we would get a table.




Even an EDL march, anti-fascist demonstration and a slight detour to see the Great North Snowdogs, couldn't prevent us from trying out this restaurant for the first time. I'd eaten at Strada a few times in the past, but not since it had changed.


Offering Italian cuisine in a restaurant split over two floors with views over Old Eldon Square, it became Prezzo in 2014 and the menu when we looked online was definitely tasty. The menu is comprehensive. It offers a good choice of alcoholic and soft drinks and the menu includes all the usual favourites including pizza, pasta, risotto, grills and salads.

The layout hasn't changed but the decor has. It was glitzier and quite snazzy yet on closer inspection there was a lot of dust on the mirrored lamps on the tables, which the boys had started writing their names in.

The table had been reserved, not upstairs as we'd been told when booking, but downstairs in a booth, the booths are lovely but a little squashed with little 'elbow room' for six, even when two are young children. 

Have to say though looking back the signs weren't good when it took over 20 mins to have a drinks order taken, and when a waiter did arrive we took full advantage and ordered meals as well as drinks – a pint of Peroni, Latte, water, Squash and a Bambinoccino (frothy milk sprinkled with milk chocolate flakes. Served hot).




The kid's menus are great. Fun and come with puzzles accompanied by two menus one for under 5s (£3.99) and 5-11yo (£6.59) for 3 courses and a drink. Can't complain at that.

One puzzle was called ‘Where is my food?’ – ironically, at this stage we didn’t think it was going to be the story of the afternoon!





Sadly it then took an age for the main to be brought to us. The boys behaved incredibly well under the circumstances. We even had to stack our own dishes in order to clear the table. The boys had ordered pizza with a different topping each so they could mix and match, one with pineapple and the other with pepperoni. However, they both arrived with pineapple. The waitress apologised for it being her fault and they took the pizza away added pepperoni and brought it back - so they ended up with a double topping pizza by default. No complaints from the boys - the pizza was a good size but easily demolished by the boys who had been playing football all morning.





My main course was sea bass, it may have been a wait but it was worth it. Perfectly cooked it was accompanied by a delicious mix of cannellini, edamame, mung beans, peas, mange tout, cherry tomatoes and red onion in a mint butter with spinach, drizzled with pesto. And came with a side of salad, but I could have chosen fries or mashed potato.








We ordered desserts and coffees whilst a member of staff was passing rather than waiting again, however, this also didn't go to plan. The boys ordered a fruit ice lolly and ice cream. One arrived before the other - a tip for restaurants if keeps kids far happier when their meals arrive at the same time! However, both were great and included real bits of fruit too.






I ordered a latte which was fine, yet missing the Amaretti biscuit that my husbands had come with when he had his at the start of the meal. Another member of our party ordered an Americano with an extra shot and asked for cold milk on the side. It arrived cold, watery and without the milk. A replacement was offered, but again arrived without the milk, but on this occasion was rectified.



 

We then asked for the bill. Considering the standard of service and the messing around over mains, coffee and dessert, I would have expected the manager to  not charge for some items. But no, and the fries (that never arrived) finally made their appearance on the bill.

It was definitely a case of not enough waiting staff, the food was cooked to perfection but the staff were inattentive, made mistakes and sadly were very slow. We spoke to three different members of staff in total, none of whom were rude but our complaints didn’t seem to be a surprise to them. 

I wondered if this was just a one-off bad day for the restaurant, however, a quick check on Trip Advisor and sadly it seems not. Yes, the food was lovely but there are so many good places to eat in Newcastle, with better customer service that it may be a while before we return.

Cost: It was a treat from Nanna and we used Tesco Club Card vouchers but at full price the children's meals were £6.59 each and two courses for an adult approx. £20
Time: Too long.
Boys Club Rating: The food was delicious but the service sadly left little to be desired.



Have you been to Prezzo? Did you have a better experience?

Deb x

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