Sunday 30 September 2018

Madhouse diaries : A windy walk on Hastings pier

On our recent trip back in Hastings last month, we headed down to the newly relaunched pier, to see what they'd been getting up to. We wandered along from the town to the pier, taking in the views along the prom.

Looking left, in the top photo, all seemed calm, but just turning around and looking along towards the pier, we could see a more threatening weather front coming in. Hmmm would we have time to complete our stroll down to the end of the pier?!

Arriving at the beginning of the pier, I couldn't help but notice how the colours of the sky were imitating the colours of the pier.

While Pierre went up and down on his new scooter, Sophie honed in on the ... what shall we say ? ... slightly dodgy-looking chip-man ! What I want to know is who tied his bootlaces together ?!

We started off our exploration by looking at the wildlife statues.

Since being bought by Eastbourne Pier owner Sheikh Abid Gulzar, all eyes are on Hastings pier now, to see what he has planned. 

There's been lots of criticism, but I'm waiting to see what else he has in store before making my decision. He'd only been involved for about a month when I took the photos, so it's a bit too soon to tell.

Ahhhh a lovely group photo of my oh-so-happy-looking kids !

We moved over to the row of brightly painted beach huts.

The wind was definitely starting to pick up, even if the seagulls didn't seem the slightest bit bothered ! 

 Now, I'd just like to point out that we were all being silly trying on the hats at the photo booth but I was the only one willing to be photographed.

Just a bit further along was a display of old postcards - Sophie soon gave up and took photos of herself with the bunting instead !

You can see from the LGBT Pride flags (blowing all weekend to mark some special occasion, but I can't remember what now !) just how windy it was getting by now, but I was far too busy looking at the different grains of wood on the walls to pay attention. They are all recovered from the old pier boardwalk, from before the fire back in 2010.

At the end of the pier, we glanced to the right and noticed a huge bank of cloud (and probably rain) on the way. We were just about to head for home when I heard a noise and, after some investigation, we spotted a seal in the water - I didn't manage to get a photo of it though.

The end of the pier has several of these signs, with things to spot and read. The kids weren't interested though - they could feel the rain on the way !

Turning back round, we headed back towards the safety (and warmth) of the car, just making it before the heavens opened !

#MySundayphoto #SundaySnap 30/9

A windy day on Hastings Pier !

OneDad3GirlsSunday Snap

Saturday 29 September 2018

Fab freebies of the week 29/9

Wow, where is the time going? Give it a couple of days and we're already into October. The good news is, that means half term is not that long away -woohoo ! Sorry, I'm getting ahead of myself ! In the meantime, here's another roundup of great freebies. Have a fantastic weekend !


Cadbury's have a fab Match & Win giveaway running - enter with barcode 5034660520825 & batch code 0B00582351. Good luck !

TRY ALO FOR FREE - grab a bottle from one of several stores and claim cashback

Have a look and see if your Debenhams is on the roster for a free Kat Von D foundation sample (boo - Hastings isn't on there !)

If you have a Debenhams Beauty card, you can go and grab this month's freebie (still not at Hastings - aaaggghhh !) 

Grab a free pack of Princes Tuna Fillers

Pick up a free bag of  Butterkist Crunchy Toffee Popcorn from Shopmium

We are looking for 600 owners and their dogs to participate in this campaign by trialing one of 12 Winalot® products, and all you need to do is leave us a testimonial to let us know your opinion! It’s super easy, just click below to read through the campaign page, and register before 3rd October to take part.

Over on My Green Pod, 150 winners will receive a Weleda Very Vanilla Kids’ Shampoo & Bodywash!

Caboodle have 100 copies of The Flower Girls crime fiction to give away

Available for a limited time only!!! FREE samples of both our Silicone and Acrylic Fire Sealants. Follow the link to request yours….
#FireStopping #Sealants #SmartSolutions

Looking for some free samples so you test out our range of self-adhesive tapes? Contact us today to request them

Closes tomorrow - Win one of 1,000 Balance Me Super Moisturising Hand Creams over at Emerald Street

You can see previous weeks' freebie roundups by clicking here but be warned, many of the offers are only valid for a short time. Let me know if any have expired and I'll remove them from the roundup.

Friday 28 September 2018

#KitchenClearout September roundup and October linky

Well, the month's not quite up yet, but my linky has already run out, as I was catching up over the summer, so I'll start another one ! This month was a bit of a weird one - winding down the summer ingredients and definitely heading towards autumn and even winter. Brrr I'm hoping we'll end up with a bit more heat before winding down into snow and ice.

So, what was on this month's round-up?

Wow, this one seems so long ago, because it was Sophie's birthday cake back in August ! This was a great way of clearing out the baking cupboard, using up some tubs of ready-made icing and lots of sprinkles.

Blanquette de veau, or creamy veal stew, is a classic French stew. It was also the perfect way to use up all the odds and ends out of my veg drawer in the fridge, as well as some eggs and cream.

Tex-Mew Cowboy Dinner was a totally made-up meal that was a great way of using up some leftover sausages and potatoes. Ooh I think I might have to make this again actually. It would be perfect now that the temperatures are starting to drop.

Alison from Dragons & Fairy Dust shared her Caribbean Chicken with Sweet Potatoes, which looks like another perfect recipe for the cooler weather. This used up some Caribbean seasoning that was lurking in the cupboard.

Galina from Chez Maximka linked up her Honey & Matcha Muffins, which look and sound very interesting. I'm not a huge fan of matcha, but I'd be willing to give one a try !

Galina's next (and beautifully presented) dish is Roasted Cauliflower with Flaked Almonds - a dish that uses not just the white part of the cauliflower but also the green leaves. That sounds like a great idea to me. It also used up some leftover oil and desiccated coconut.

Next was a dish from Jane, from Onions and Paper. Her Stuffed Tomatoes were filled with a mixture that included rice, pistachios and currants. That's definitely something that I need to try next time.

Finally this month was another one from me - a Chicken & Broccoli Stir Fry that used up lots of odds and ends from my seasonings, as well as the end of a bag of frozen broccoli.

That's it for this month - thanks to everyone for taking part again. Hopefully we've given you some inspiration for creating tummy-fill, not land-fill, with the odds and ends lurking in your kitchen cupboards !

Feeling inspired and fancy joining in? Have a rummage through your kitchen cupboards, spice rack, freezer or fridge and see if there's anything that needs using up, then come and share your creations with us. Or if it's way past its sell-by date, throw it in the bin and come and tell us what you found ! It would be great if you could add my badge and a link to this post for anyone else who wants to get involved.

Thursday 27 September 2018

Giveaway #697 : Win a jar of Coconut Oil - closed - winner Pam Francis Gregory

What did you get up to at the weekend? We spent most of the time at home, as it was wet, windy and quite cold - brrrrr. This meant that we had plenty of time to get involved in the Coconut Oil challenge though, as the lovely people at Holland & Barrett had kindly sent us a jar of 100% natural raw virgin coconut oil to play with. As it says on the jar, it is great for cooking, baking or spreading - hmmmmm decisions decisions !

Well, if you scroll through my blog, you will find some lovely recipes using coconut oil. How about trying some Blueberry & Coconut Crumble Squares or maybe a Swedish-style Kladdkaka Cake (see below) ? Or you might like to go savoury and try the Hairy Bikers' Vietnamese Pork or Coconut Prawn Laksa instead?

This time, we decided to use it in some homemade beauty treatments though. It's been really windy here for about the last week, and as I have long hair, I've really felt it - here was my hair before jumping in the shower. I should point out that this was how it looked AFTER brushing it !

I warmed up a couple of spoonfuls of the coconut oil and added it to some avocado oil that I had in the cupboard, giving it a good stir. It looked a bit strange, so I wasn't too sure it would work, so I decided to pre-condition my hair, using my regular shampoo afterwards, just in case.

After leaving it on for 20 minutes, then washing it out really well, here was my hair post wash - I think you can see how much better it looked ! There was no styling involved - just a quick brush once it had dried naturally. I was amazed to see the difference, and it's definitely something I'll be doing again.

If you fancy giving it a go, you can buy this coconut oil in two different sizes. If you buy it at Holland & Barrett online, the small 453g jar retails at £14.99 (with a buy one get one half price offer available), but the bigger 920g jar currently has a special price of £9.49 (usually £19.99) so I know which one I'd go for !

I do have another option available though - you can currently win one on my blog ! Just fill in your entries via the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck !

UK only. Closing date : 11/10/18

T & C's : Entries close at midnight on the closing date. Winners will be selected with a random number generator and announced on facebook and in the giveaway post subject line. Please note, you will be contacted by email and/or twitter and if I haven't heard from you after 28 days, I'll have to pick another winner. Prizes will be sent out by the companies or their PR directly to winners. Madhouse Family Reviews cannot be held responsible for any prizes that go astray. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. The winners' personal contact information will be passed on to the PR / Brand responsible and used only for delivery of their prize. 

Wednesday 26 September 2018

Forever Aloe Ever-Shield Deodorant Stick review

Ahhh deodorant. When you're running around at work and after the kids like a headless chicken all day, dragging home heavy bags of shopping and battling with the buses after work, it can be your best friend. But what about all the chemicals in them? Sometimes, I spray on a deodorant and it instantly creates a foamy or dusty mess that falls to the floor and makes me wonder what it does to my skin. I was therefore very pleased to put the Forever Aloe-Shield Deodorant Stick by Forever Living Products to the test.

This product contains none of the harsh aluminium salts, parabens or alcohol that are usually found in antiperspirant deodorants. It uses a unique Aloe Vera formula instead, using plants grown in the Dominican Republic. At the plantation, all Aloe is picked and then is sent to be processed as quickly as possible to ensure that the inner gel is still intact with its nutritional and natural qualities. The gel then goes through a special stabilisation process, with Forever Living being the only company in the world to hold the patent to stabilise Aloe this way. This means the Aloe used in Ever-Shield Deodorant is premium quality to protect you from irritation and dryness.

The Forever Aloe Vera deodorant formula promises to provide exceptional all-day protection from sweat. It can also be used to soothe sensitive underarm skin and is even recommended by Macmillan as suitable for people recovering from a cancer treatment. Even if this doesn't apply to you, I still find that very reassuring.

So, does it actually work? Well, the first thing that impressed me when I peeled off the top was the scent. Unlike many natural products, it has a strong fragrance, which is very pleasant. Imagine walking through a country passage surrounded by brambles and trees, looking out over green fields, during a summer rain-storm - that's what it makes me think of !

Secondly, the application is very simple. It slides on simply and effectively after your shower, and doesn't even sting, even if you've just been shaving. However, it does feel a bit "damp" for a while, so give it time to dry before you get dressed.

In terms of effectiveness, it's not bad at all. I did have some dampness at the end of some days, but even with my regular deodorant, this can happen, if I've been running around a lot, so I'd say that's pretty efficient.

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £6.50

Disclaimer : I received the product in order to write an honest review.

Tuesday 25 September 2018

Hotel Transylvania toys range (review)

Hands up if you recognise these guys ! Yep, you've got it, it's the characters from the Hotel Transylvania movies. On the left, the good old Count Dracula himself, then his daughter Mavis, her totally human husband Johnny, and their son, Dennis.

They all came in this Hotel Transylvania Drac's Pack box, featuring all of the main characters from the films. They are all fully bendable and can be used for acting out all sorts of stories based on or inspired by the movies (or maybe you prefer the TV series?).

Along with this pack, we also received the Scream Cheese Cafe to play with. It features another doll of Mavis to play with, along with the backdrop of a little cafe.

The packaging gaily informs you that there are 11 pieces included and, once you start unpacking, you can see how it all fits together. There's a table with two chairs, a funky door, a little till area and a tea trolley.


There is also a little key for you to open the cash register and reveal a secret surprise - we got a cheeky little earwig or scorpion, with a funky, punky hairstyle on his head !

We love the set up and also the little Mavis doll, and we were particularly impressed to see how she can sit on the chairs, hold the key and really get involved with the other elements of the kit.

Pierre had great fun bringing all the characters together and making up stories for all them to get involved with. I seem to think he mentioned a mystery man who managed to create a magical Mavis clone, which explained why he had two of them !

We also got some Hotel Transylvania Monster Mayhem mystery trunks to open up. Each one comes with a monster, a trunk, a collector's guide and a key, but each key can be used to unlock all of them, so don't panic if you lose some !

Here are some of the contents of our Monster Mayhem trunks. Lots more things to be added to the playsets and help inspire more fun stories !

It's a great range for any fan of the Hotel Transylvania movies.

Disclosure : We received the products in order to write an honest review.
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