How Do You Compare to Mrs Average?

The latest Benenden Health Report is out, over 4000 people were surveyed to give an accurate picture of the state of the nation’s health. As is the norm with these things, the news isn’t great. We are a nation that’s overweight, stressed and consuming more alcohol than Big Brother the government says we should.

What’s more interesting, is having a look at how you compare to everyone else. Although I don’t really care, it’s fun to see how your behaviours compare to other people like you.

Here’s the stats for Mrs Average;

Sleep per day: 6.5 hours
Portions of fruit and veg per day: 3.5
Water per day: 897ml
Cardio per week: 69 minutes
Muscle workouts per week: 1.1
Alcohol per week: 8.4 units
Cigarettes per day: 3.3
Average BMI: 25.9

I used the even more accurate comparison tool to see how I measured up. I did better than average for alcohol, cigarettes and sleep. I fell short on the exercise and water.

Perhaps I’ll make a bit more effort this week and take Daisy out for a little power walk.

How do you compare?

This post is brought to you by Benenden

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Ziggy’s, St Andrews

Ziggy's St AndrewsI’m just back from a trip to Tennessee, which is famous for it’s barbecue (yes I did sample some, more on that soon). However the week prior to going I actually experienced some ribs to rival those that I had out there right here in Scotland in St Andrews.

Ziggy’s is an American style diner which has been established since 1983 (coincidentally the same year I was born). 31 years is a long time for an independent business to be….in business, it’s got to be good right?

After a week of packing and organising to go away I was desperate for a cocktail, unfortunately they only come in pitcher size so you need to take some friends along if you want to partake.

We ordered maple glazed wings and nachos to start. The wings were excellent, they hadn’t been jointed so you got two for the price of one on each wing. It didn’t take us long to polish the little bucket off though. Unfortunately I found the nachos a bit disappointing, the Mexican sauce had made them go mushy so I opted out. Alex finished them though so there was no wastage.

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The main courses were what really made us fall in love with Ziggy’s. We both ordered the steak with a half rack of ribs. I’m always waxing lyrical about American beef and how flavoursome it is, but this steak rivalled that. We asked about the beef at the end of the meal and we were told that it came from an award winning butchers. We were rather pleased with ourselves to have identified that it was high quality. The ribs had also been really well cooked, the meat was falling off the bone and the sauce wasn’t overly sweet and cloying as they can be sometimes. Erin enjoyed her own mini portion which also got a big thumbs up.

We were stuffed after the huge main courses so we ordered one dessert between the three of us just to make sure we gave Ziggy’s a thorough review. It was fine, nothing wrong with it, it just didn’t live up to the mains which were the clear star of the show.

Our verdict? Go for the steak, ribs and chicken. We would definitely go again.

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Saturday Night Snacks

One of my favourite things about Winter is that all the Saturday night programs come back and it’s a great excuse to get the cwtchy blankets out and cuddle up on the couch together. Erin loves our Saturday nights, I remember loving ours as a child, especially our Saturday night picnic teas.

Good snackage is a must, here are couple of new ones that we’ve been putting to the test recently.

Veronica’s Snacks
Veronica's Crisps
We were sent some Veronica’s Crisps to try out, I was particularly keen as they are gluten free. We were sent three flavours to try out; Barbeque, Roast Tomato & Spanish Paprika veggie crisps and Sour Cream, Herb and
Onion. I’m not a massive fan of crisps as I find them quite greasy but these are baked not fried so they weren’t greasy at all. The flavours were all really good and it’s nice to have a vegetable crisp option in the range. A thumbs up from us.

Nib Nibs
Nib Nibs
Nibs nibs are moreish little straws in a variety of flavours. I tried the cheese and chilli mini nib nibs last Saturday, they come in a handy little resealable container which is great as bread snacks can go soft and take on a weird flavour really quickly. I really enjoyed snacking on these, I actually wished I’d had some hummous as they’d be great for dipping. I like the fact they are made in North Yorskhire by Susan and Darren, it’s good to support the smaller local businesses. Mini Nibs Nibs come in three different flavours Mininibs Exceptional Cheddar Cheese; Cheddar & Spicy Chilli and Cheddar & Cheeky Onion.

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Disney On Ice: 100 Years Of Magic

A couple of weeks ago we headed to the Braehead Arena in Glasgow to see the Disney On Ice: 100 Years Of Magic show. I took along two very discerning eight year olds to help me review it.

When it comes to anything Disney, you know it won’t be cheap, but you ALWAYS get value. At £22 a ticket we felt it was well worth it. The staging was fantastic, no corners had been cut. The castle backdrop changed and grew throughout the show and the light effects during one part of the show were really striking. All your favourite characters were in attendance including; Mickey and Minnie (of course!), a selection of Disney Prince and Princesses, The Incredibles and the Toy Story crew. The cast was perfectly balanced for any boy/girl preferences and all ages up to around eight or nine were catered for.

Here are a few of the pictures we managed to take (click to enlarge), although we were all enjoying ourselves so much we did sort of forget about our camera!

Well worth seeing if it’s stopping near you.

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STV’s RBS – Finding Scotland’s Real Heroes

RBS Finding Scotland's HeroesI was invited to celebrate Scotland’s Real Heroes during a special ceremony in Edinburgh. You may have caught the broadcast on STV this week, if not then you can catch up on the STV player.

I was asked to champion the Community Entrepreneur of the Year, a category very much in line with my own interests.

Guests enjoyed dinner before assembling for the ceremony which was presented by Carol Smillie and supported by a host of Scottish celebrities including X Factor’s Nicholas McDonald and comedian Des Clark.

I was sat alongside a few other Scottish bloggers, of course we were all tapping away on iPads, tweeting and taking notes about the inspiring finalists.

The winners came from communities the length and breadth of Scotland. Finalists have done everything from running play centres for children, setting up a bike recycling initiative, and the creation of a woodland walk accessible to all.

The finalists in the Community of the Entrepreneur category were;

Ross who is ensuring that there is a defibrillator within five minutes reach in his community.

Vicky was inspired by her autistic daughter to set up a centre for other autistic children.

Jim who’s protecting the safety of members of his community by fitting security systems free of charge.

Vicky McCarthy was announced as the overall winner in her category and I’m looked forward to interviewing her right here on the blog in a few months time.

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Dining at 150 Central Park

Fairly shortly after boarding Oasis of the Seas we decided that we wanted to treat ourselves to the six course tasting menu at 150 Central Park. The additional cover charge of $35 represented excellent value.

150 Central Park

Inside, 150 Central Park is as impressive as the food, it certainly creates the right atmosphere.

150 Central Park

Our meal began with their signature martini – a refreshing blend of cucumber, basil and lemongrass. The waiter joked that it was the never ending martini, and he wasn’t far wrong, I was still drinking it at the end of the meal! The glass was conical shaped so it sat over a bed of ice which kept it cool, it’s the little things that set these restaurants apart.

150 Central Park

The salt tasting was one of the most enjoyable and unusual food experiences I’ve had. Salt is salt, isn’t it? Nope. The difference in flavour between these speciality and salts from around the world was surprising. I have a new appreciation for salt!

Our salt tasting was accompanied with a variety of freshly baked bread (which I ate far too much of).

150 Central Park

A starter of beetroot and goats cheese was one of my favourite courses, the betroot came in various forms including pickled and powdered (freeze dried and ground I think). It was of course presented like a piece of modern art.

150 Central Park

I’m not a massive soup fan but this butternut squash one was pretty good, to add crunch it was topped with roasted nuts. I’ll definitely be stealing that little trick.

150 Central Park

Neither of us had tried pompano before. Alex was obviously listening more closely than I was, he tells me it’s a fish that’s native to Florida. It had quite a meaty texture, I don’t eat a lot of fish but it reminded me a little of turbot, although much thinner. I always like to try new foods when I’m abroad so it was nice that they’d chosen some ‘local’ produce – as much as you can when you’re cruising in the Caribbean and therefore constantly on the move.

150 Central Park

Our main course was short ribs (deboned) from an award winning ranch, served with romesco sauce and onions. It was very rich, but so tasty. I constantly wax lyrical about American beef, it’s just so much tastier than ours…sorry, it’s true (although I have had two excellent steaks in the UK recently, so maybe I’m just eating in the wrong places!)

150 Central Park

Greek yoghurt panna cotta and baklava was the finale to our six course tasting menu. If you’re on board Oasis of the Seas I highly recommend you take advantage of the low cover charge for this, this sort of dinner would usually cost hundreds so it’s well worth it if you are into your food.

150 Central Park

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Our Day In The Bahamas

One of the best things about cruise holidays is that you have the opportunity to visit multiple countries during one trip. During our recent cruise we visited The Bahamas, St Thomas (part of the US Virgin Islands), Tortola (part of the British Virgin Islands) and St Martin.

Our first port was Nassau in The Bahamas, we had an excursion booked to the Atlantis Resort.

Atlantis was a short taxi ride from port, there’s a large waterpark, a casino, and an aquarium there. We didn’t make it to the aquarium but we did see the turtles and sharks in the outdoor areas.

I didn’t get the opportunity to gamble in the casino but we did take a wander through to see the amazing Chihuly glass sculptures.

Just outside Atlantis is a lovely shopping area, we had a little look but were happy to settle for an ice cream before heading back to meet Oasis of the Seas and cruise on to St Thomas.

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Sponsored Video: Stand Up For Good Snacks

We like our snacks, especially on a Saturday night. Family nights in front of the TV at the weekend are a low cost treat that Erin really enjoys, and a nice way for us all to enjoy some family time. We may be watching TV but there’s plenty of conversation about the singers on X Factor or the dancers on Strictly – depending on how we are feeling we may also score them all out of ten, Erin loves to play judge! We always plan our Saturday night snacks well in advance and are usually a mix of healthy and ‘treat’ snacks. Some of our favourite healthy snacks are; grapes (sometimes we freeze them), carrot sticks and poppadums with homemade masala papad. We’ve also been taste testing some of the latest gluten free and healthy snacks available to buy, more on that soon.

Ella’s Kitchen have started a snacking revolution with the help of some pint sized snack fans. Check out the video below. Kids love eating in small bite sized portions so I think it’s great to promote this as a healthy way of eating. Erin’s favourite dinner when she was small was a ‘picnic tea’, we’d include lots of fruit like grapes and strawberries as well as mini sausages, a yoghurt and breadsticks, it was easy for me and she loved it.

Now that Erin is older I am trying to pass on my love of cooking to her, and have been teaching her how to make some healthy snacks of her own. She enjoys making dishes like chicken pho and samosas, not everything we make is healthy but it’s always tasty!

Visit Ella’s Kitchen for ready made healthy snacks

Featured post in association with Ella’s Kitchen

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Rapunzel at Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre

One of the fun things about being a parent is being able to share new experiences with your children, but also to have new experiences yourself. Ballet is not something I’ve ever been to see in the theatre so BalletLORENT Rapunzel was a new experience for us both.
Rapunzel
BalletLORENT’s Rapunzel have reinterpreted this fairytale popularised by Disney into a show that is as much for adults as it is for children (a word about its suitability for children below).

You are probably familiar with the story, the parents forced to give up their child, the witch who takes her from them, the woman the child becomes, and the prince who discovers and rescues her. The music is by Doctor Who composer Murray Gold, and the costumes by Michele Clapton, award-winning Costume Designer for Game of Thrones.

The age guide for this production is 7+ and I think that’s a fair assessment, children who are used to theatre will enjoy it very much. There are some scenes that move at a slower pace and younger children or those that get bored easily may struggle a bit.

When I said to Erin that it was ballet she was intrigued, I think in her head ballet is tutus and ballet shoes so she was surprised by how they were able to tell the story (in particular the angry parts) through the music and dance.

We really enjoyed this, and if you are looking to provide a range of theatre experiences to your children then I think this is one that can really bridge the gap between children’s shows and those aimed at adults.

The Making of Rapunzel from balletLORENT on Vimeo.


Further details on tickets and pricing here.

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On Board Oasis of the Seas: Our Stateroom and The Boardwalk

During the summer we took our first family cruise to the Caribbean. I always find with holidays that you never fully appreciate how amazing they were until you get back. Weeks, or more usually months later you start having little flashbacks. I’m reminiscing today, our cruise was nearly three months ago – long enough for me to start to appreciate just how good it was.

Cruise 1

Our stateroom with balcony, plenty of space for the three of us.

Cruise 2

The rock climbing wall on The Boardwalk

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The Boardwalk with restaurants, shops and attractions.

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Erin wishing to be Big.

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The Carousel

The Boardwalk was an area I wasn’t familiar with before going on Oasis of the Seas, the smaller Liberty of the Seas didn’t have a boardwalk. We all loved it as it had a different feel from other areas of the ship, it was pretty busy when we were on board as lots of people were enjoying the World Cup on the big screen. If we are lucky enough to go back on Oasis I’d definitely want to see the aerial water show which we missed out on this time.

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Burger, Edinburgh

I’d already had my eye on a visit to Burger well before I was invited to review it. There’s a branch located beside one of my cafe offices, I poked my head around to look at their menu a few weeks ago and it looked right up the husband’s street.

We were invited to review the new Burger restaurant at Shandwick Place. The idea behind Burger is straightforward no nonsense food and excellent value money. They are a brand new business that have their first outlets in Edinburgh but I expect they will want to expand pretty quickly, they are onto a winning formula.

Edinburgh

I ordered one of the specials (the menu changes every two weeks), a burger topped with pulled pork. On the side a portion of fries and two dips, chipotle lime and orange pop barbecue.

The husband ordered a double bacon cheeseburger, and fries topped with chilli.

The food was without fault. The brioche buns are made locally, while the rest of the food is freshly prepared at a local kitchen before being cooked on site. I’m not a massive fan of burgers, I find them dense and difficult to digest. This burger was juicy and only enough pressure applied to keep the meat in a patty shape, it was moist and tasty….it was perhaps the best burger I’ve ever had actually. The pulled pork wasn’t shredded to within an inch of its life, it still looked like pork and instead of a sickly sweet bbq sauce it had been cooked with proper spices. It was really good.

Edinburgh

The dips are worthy of mention – they too were freshly prepared, and it makes so much difference to something out of a squeezy bottle.

As we tucked in, we were already discussing the other menu items we would come back and try (the Chicken Katsu burger and the Hot Dog, to name two).

Edinburgh

Before we left, Hayley the manager brought us some tasters of their homemade ice cream and sorbet. We tried lemon posset, dulce de leche, blackcurrant and blood orange – they were all delicious but the husband grabbed the lemon posset and there was no way he was getting another look at the blood orange sorbet. It was the perfect way to end our lunch. A few things, done very well is Burger’s aim. It’s mission accomplished as far as we were concerned.

Move over Rascals and Wannaburger, there’s a new boy in town!

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Easy Lamb Dopiaza

Easy Lamb DopiazaThe second part of my Scotch Lamb challenge (the first part) was to create a dish from diced lamb. I’ve been cooking quite a bit of Indian food recently, I’ve never attempted a dopiaza before but it turned out pretty close.

Dopiaza means ‘double onions’, the base of this curry includes softened onions and then a second batch of chunky fried onions at the end.

It’s pretty difficult to go wrong with this because the longer you cook the lamb the better it will be, just remember to top it up with water so it doesn’t dry out. Ours was on the drier side so just adjust to suit your own taste.

Ingredients

Diced lamb
Tin of chopped tomatoes
2 x onions
2 x cloves of garlic
Fennel seeds
Cumin seeds
Coriander seeds
Garam masala
Turmeric
3 cardamom pods
Red chilli
Malt vinegar
Sugar
Sea salt
Black pepper
Olive oil

1. Brown the lamb, set it aside in a pot with a lid suitable for the oven.

2. Slice one onion and fry on a low heat with a glug of olive oil and two teaspoons of vinegar. The vinegar will help them brown.

3. Slice the red chilli and add it to the pot. Grind the rest of the spices with a pestle and mortar.

4. Add the onions the pot. Use the frying pan to fry out the ground spices with a bit of olive oil. Add in the tomatoes and season to taste, use a little sugar to sweeten if required. Add to the pot along with three cardamom pods.

5. Cook on a low heat (160) for at least a couple of hours.

6. Chop the second onion into large chunks and fry off on a high heat, a few burnt bits will only add to the flavour. Add these to the pot and cook for a further 30 minutes.

Serve with your favourite Indian accompaniments

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LG G3 Review

image(1)The mobile phone market has become a little crowded of late. The two big brands are Apple & Android with the new Windows phones playing catch up. Traditionally if you wanted an android phone, Samsung were the major player. After receiving the new LG G3 to review, I started to ask why? Why have I never considered LG as a realistic alternative to Samsung? Sure, the likes of Sony & HTC have always been around but LG? They only make TV’s, don’t they?

When I unpacked the G3, the first thing that struck me was the size. It’s massive. Coming from an iPhone, I’m used to a compact design so the large screen took a little getting used to. The size does have a huge upside however. The new quad HD screen is a masterpiece providing crystal clear images on the 5.5 inch display. If you use your phone to watch Netflix for example, you couldn’t help but be impressed by the sharpness and clarity of the images.

LG G3 1The operating system (Android 4.4 kit kat) is really easy to use and more intuitive than other android phones I’ve used. It has the usual App options available through the Google Play Store. It also has a unique way to unlock the phone in the form of Knockcode. Rather than using a PIN number or a pattern code you can tap a sequence on the screen which is quite fun but not always successful.

The 13 mp camera on the G3 is also a big step up from other models on offer, using a laser to pinpoint what you are photographing and auto focus on that. The front camera us also high quality, in case you’re partial to the odd selfie.

The G3 also boasts the Qualcomm Snapdragon quad processor so it’s more than capable of standing up to the demands of browsing Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Using the Google Chrome browser the internet is also rather speedy, especially if you have a 4G connection. With all these new, faster and more powerful options you would think battery life would suffer but I found the opposite to be true. The battery lasted longer than any other phone I’ve owned (well, except my old Nokia which lasted a week on one charge, no matter how much Snake you played). In the never ending quest for longer battery life, LG have taken a huge leap forward.

The only drawback I found with this phone was the way it felt in your hand. It has a metallic looking back which looks great but is actually plastic and because of this, the phone feels less premium and well made as handsets such as the iPhone or the new HTC ONE M8. This is a small drawback however, in what is otherwise a fantastic new phone.

So if you’re in the market for a new phone the question about LG shouldn’t be why? It should be, why not?

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