Saturday 31 October 2020

Fab freebies of the week 31/10

Happy Halloween ! Do you have anything planned? There'll be no trick or treating for us this year, as we're back in lockdown - boo ! I can't believe we're almost into November. In next to no time, Christmas will be upon us. This year has gone racing past ! :-/ Well, make the most of the weekend whatever you're up to. Here's this week's selection of fab freebies - hope there's something that appeals to you this week :)


This week, on Shopmium, you can grab Dole Utterly Fruit Jelly and S. Pellegrino Essenza Sparkling Water

If you have a Debenhams Beauty Club card - Calling all Beauty Club members! This month discover CHANEL with a complimentary sample of the new LE VOLUME STRETCH mascara. Available in-store today. While stocks last. T&Cs apply.

Simply register or sign into your Perks by NESCAFÉ account for a chance to try 1 of 2000 NESCAFÉ Gold frothy coffees of your choice* for free.

Win one of 50 jars of Horlicks Vegan

One for the bookworms ! For this month's Caboodle Firsts, we're giving 100 readers the chance to get their claws into Catriona Ward's must-read gothic thriller The Last House on Needless Street before it's out next year.

JOE@JOE_co_uk Free Beer? Beer; for free?! Bud Light are giving away FREE beer to cheer up your 2020. Simply add #BudLight2020 to your old NYE Insta posts, and make sure you're following Bud Light UK on Instagram; they’ll do the rest! 

 Here’s another chance for you to get your hands on exclusive hoodies, hats and golden wellies to celebrate a weekend of free live streamed gigs from Stormzy, Lewis Capaldi, Jess Glynn and more! To win one of the thousands of pieces of merch, tap ‘Learn More’ and fill in the form before the giveaway closes at 11.59 Sunday 1st November. 

MINAMI® Nutritional Scientists have created a range of supplements for different lifestyles and life stages. In this campaign, you will have the opportunity to try one product from their Omega-3 range. Why MINAMI® Omega-3? Pure Omega-3. Higher Concentration. Proven Science. We are looking for 100 Insiders to try Nestlé MINAMI® and let us know their thoughts. Are you Interested? Then apply now by clicking the subscribe button below. Subscription will close on Tuesday 3rd November. 
 Claim YOUR CeraVe cleansing sample! (They have 2500 samples of each choice to give away)

Try signing up for the Macmillan Children's Books campaign on Come Round : You must be at least 18 years old to apply to be a Little Readers ambassador on behalf of your child. 100 applicants will be shortlisted as a Little Readers ambassador based on how well each applicant's demographic information matches the demographic profile we require for this marketing campaign.

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.

You may also be interested in my current giveaways :

Friday 30 October 2020

Madhouse recipe : Ham & Cheese Croissant Bake

As we've been on holiday for the past couple of weeks, the kids have been getting up later and later. Juliette tends to sleep right through until midday most days - it's a miracle how perfectly awake she is when the alarm goes off at 6.15am on a school day ! - so she's been getting out of bed just in time for lunch. I joked that sitting down for pasta or baked potatoes just after brushing her teeth must seem a bit weird and she'd probably be happier starting off with a bowl of cereal. This recipe for a croissant casserole sounded perfect as a brunch option to suit everyone. I used the recipe for Ham and Cheese Croissant Casserole on the Joyous Apron website and tweaked to suit what we had in the cupboards. It's not bad at all and could be modified to suit your tastes, maybe adding extra ingredients like mushrooms, tomatoes and bacon to give it some extra zing. 

Ham & Cheese Croissant Bake

ingredients :

6 croissants (don't panic if they're slightly stale)
 6 slices ham, chopped 
6 eggs
120ml milk
1 tsp garlic powder
 1/4 tsp mustard powder
 1/4 tsp salt 
1/2 tsp black pepper 
a good handful of grated cheddar
a good handful of grated mozzarella 

Preheat the oven to 180°C then start by chopping up your croissants. I cut them in half horizontally (to make two layers) then into four slices so each croissant gives eight pieces. Slightly stale croissants are fine, so this is a great way of using them up. Transfer to a baking dish. (You can grease the dish if you want, but I didn't bother.)

Whisk together the eggs, milk, garlic powder, mustard powder, salt and pepper. Pour it all over the croissant pieces. (This is where I would add some halved cherry tomatoes and mushroom slices to the mix.)

Sprinkle over the pieces of ham then top with the grated cheese.

The original recipe said to put it in the oven covered in foil for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and leave it for another 20 minutes. This does work and makes sure you have lovely soft, not crunchy, cheese, but I think you could get away with just putting it in for half an hour with no foil. It really depends on your own personal tastes.

And that's it ! Remove from the oven and tuck in.

It's not bad at all and was gobbled up enthusiastically, but the kids weren't keen on the eggy mixture at the bottom, which they found bland. I would personally add half of the cheese and the ham to the egg mixture before pouring it over the croissants, giving it a good mix, then topping with the remaining cheese. If you add extra breakfast ingredients - such as cherry tomatoes or fried mushrooms - the juices would add extra flavour to the dish too. It's got great potential though and I'm sure we'll make it again.

Wednesday 28 October 2020

October 2020 Degustabox review : Movie Night & Halloween

October is here. November isn't far away. The wind is blowing all the dead leaves out of the trees, the rain is pretty much constant and there's absolutely nothing I want to do more than to snuggle up under the duvet and watch something exciting on Netflix ! When the postie dropped off this month's Degustabox, I was delighted to see that they totally agreed with me. This month's theme is Movie Night and Halloween. Bring it on ! 

As I unpacked the goodies from the box, my smile got bigger and bigger ! This month's box is packed full of tasty treats, from chocolate and snack bars to hot drinks and instant meals. The perfect fuel for being a couch potato for a while ! Well, OK, that's the dream - in reality, the kids will undoubtedly scoff most of it ! Here's what was hiding inside this month's box.

Attack A Snak Nachos Snack Kit (RRP £1.50) is a product that we've already tried in a previous Degustabox and the kids love it. This is the first vegetarian product in the range, combining  tortilla chips, a tangy tomato salsa and Mexican cheese sauce. Simply top 'em, dip 'em and snack 'em ! Be warned though, the pack contains 320 calories, so you might want to share if you're eating them as just a snack ! Don't buy too many in advance as the cheese content means they have a short expiry date. A resounding thumbs up from the kids ! An extra advantage at the moment is the on-pack promotion. Just enter the code on each pack into their website to be in with a chance of winning two free Cineworld tickets. The promotion runs from 1st September to 31st December and twenty winners are announced every day.

Costa Coffee (RRP £5.50) promises the perfect balance of delicate Arabica and strong Robusta beans, slow-roasted for a smooth and nutty flavour and rich aroma. It smells lovely but none of us drink coffee so I'll be passing this on to a friend.

Maltesers Hot Chocolate (RRP £2.59), on the other hand, has been dipped into repeatedly. The kids love it and it's perfect for warming up when temperatures drop. This is delicious as a drink, on its own or topped with mini marshmallows and squirty cream, but it can also be used as an ingredient for your favourite brownie, cookie and cake recipes. We thought it tasted the same as usual and, after checking out the info, it just has a new fancy look. Maltesers Instant Hot Chocolate is available in a 350g or 180g jar, 140g pouch, individual serving stick and pods, so there's something for everyone to enjoy! 

Brynmor Chocolate Flapjack (RRP £1.29) is a delicious treat, lovingly baked in Wales and made with high quality natural ingredients. We received two other flavours - Caramel Fudge and Apple & Raspberry - in a previous Degustabox and this time we got to sample Chocolate. Chocoholics rejoice ! This bar is covered in delicious chocolate so it seems extra indulgent. Just a word of warning - each bar whacks in 370 calories so they're great fuel for your outdoor adventures but maybe a bit too much for chomping on the settee !

Staying on the theme of chocolate, Kit Kat Senses (RRP £5) are the perfect pass-around box of individually wrapped chocolates to share with your friends and family (or secretly scoff all by yourself, if you prefer !). Inside the box, you get three flavours to choose from : Hazelnut Praline, Salted Caramel and Double Chocolate. They're absolutely lovely and would make a great Christmas gift.

Naked Malaysian Style Rendang Curry Veg Pot (RRP £1.50) is great if you need a quick lunch on-the-go. Just add hot water, wait for a few minutes and you're good to go. This mushroom and broccoli pot, along with the other two flavours in the range (Korean BBQ Ramen and Chinese Green Vegetable Broth) are 100% plant based and count as one of your five-a-day. The exotic flavours are lovely but if you want to jazz things up, you could toss in some chopped up leftovers of meat, veggies and/or rice.  

Olly's Pretzels Thins (RRP 2 x £1) are described as the perfect healthy alternative to crisps. Not only are they oven-baked, extra crispy and super "impretzive", they also have up to 80% less fat, 45% fewer calories than potato crisps and come in at less than 98 calories per pack. They're also vegan-friendly. We tried two flavours, Salted Original and Multi-Seed Sesame, which were both big hits with the kids.

Reese's Peanut Butter Cups Minis (RRP £1.50) were delightedly snapped up by Juliette. She loves the big Peanut Butter Cups, but I always find them a bit too sickly sweet, so these are a great alternative. You still get the lovely flavour of peanut butter and chocolate and the smaller sweets look very cute - perfect, in fact, for sticking on the top of a cupcake. (If Juliette hasn't eaten them all by the time I get around to making them !)

Pierre was delighted to see the name of the next product - St Pierre Brioche Burger Buns (RRP £2) ! Despite the name, these can be used for so many things - stuffed with beefburgers, sausages, veggie burgers or halloumi for a hot meal, eaten cold with cheese, ham and salad for lunch or even filled with something sweet like jam or Nutella when the kids are hungry. They have a lovely buttery taste that adds richness to whatever you're serving. They're pre-sliced which is nice and convenient and they're wonderfully soft with a lovely shiny glaze on top. Délicieux !

There was a voucher in the box to pick up a pack of Scarestrings Strawberry Yollies (RRP £2) - yogurt made so thick it will stay on the stick ! A source of calcium and vitamin D, I'm sure these will go down well with the kids !

As did the Whaoo! Chocolate Filled Crêpes (RRP £1.75) ! These are hugely popular in France, where they are served for breakfast or as a mid-afternoon snack. They are individually wrapped so they're great as snacks-on-the-go too. They're made without any artificial preservatives, colours or flavours and no palm oil. They have a short expiry date but that's not a problem - they won't hang around for long !

Kookie Cat Wild Berries Cashew & Oat Cookie (RRP : gift) is a tasty organic and vegan snack. It combines tender cacao butter drops and sweet but slightly sour lingonberries. The kids weren't keen on this one but I happily munched away !

Finally, Yes! Plant Protein Bars (RRP 2 x £1.59), which were this month's Product of the Month. We got Cashew, Blueberry and Dark Choc (crunchy cashew and pumpkin seeds, tangy blueberries &and smooth dark chocolate - what's not to like?!) and Almond, Peanut and Double Dark Choc (as indulgent as it sounds). These are new flavours to the range and were both a big hit with us. Each bar contains 10g of plant based protein with nuts as the number one ingredient. 

This box was hugely popular with the kids, who LOVED all the sweets and snack options. They will be looking out for some of the products the next time we go shopping, no doubt ! 

 A subscription to Degustabox costs £12.99 per month including delivery, with each box having a value of much more than that, but the great news is, I have a discount coupon code for you which means you'll get the first box for just £9.99 - enter code PKUFE at the checkout. 

for more information :

Also now on Instagram @DegustaboxUK

Disclosure : We received the box in order to write an honest review. As a Degustabox blogger, I receive all of the products that go into the monthly boxes, but subscribers may not get exactly the same selection.

Monday 26 October 2020

Giveaway #742 : Win a Spooky Tales 3-movie collection - closed - winner Keith Hunt

Halloween is almost here - woohoohoo ! (That was a scary ghost voice, not a big whoop of excitement by the way !) It's going to be a bit of a strange year though, what with coronavirus rules and lockdown and face masks making trick-or-treating a less than appealing option. How about making this year different, buying in your own sweets and maybe baking up some spooky treats then having a movie-fest at home instead ? You could even dress up to watch the movies in the comfort of your own home ! Well, if I've convinced you, I have the perfect viewing option - Universal Pictures Home Entertainment have released some fabulous kids' Halloween collections, including this Spooky Tales 3-movie option.

Start off with everyone's favourite ghost, CASPER. 'Ghost therapist' Dr. James Harvey and his daughter Kat arrive at drafty, old Whipstaff Manor. Its greedy owner, Carrigan Crittendon, has hired Dr. Harvey to exorcise the house's apparitions: a friendly but lonely young ghost named Casper, who's just looking for a friend, and his outrageous uncles Stretch, Stinkie and Fatso (The Ghostly Trio). If the plan works, she and Dibs, her partner-in-slime, can get their hands on the manor's fabled treasure. Meanwhile, Casper has found a kindred spirit in Kat, but The Ghostly Trio will not tolerate 'fleshies' in their house. 

Actors: Bill Pullman, Christina Ricci, Cathy Moriarty, Eric Idle, Don Novello  
Director: Brad Silberling 
 Producer: Jeff Franklin, Steve Waterman, Colin Wilson 
 Screenplay: Sherri Stoner, Deanna Oliver

Next is THE ADDAMS FAMILY. Get ready to snap your fingers! The first family of Halloween, The Addams Family, is back on the big screen in the first animated comedy about the kookiest family on the block. Funny, outlandish, and completely iconic, The Addams Family redefines what it means to be a good neighbour. 

 Actors: Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Chloe Grace Moretz, Finn Wolfhard, Nick Kroll, Snoop Dog, Bette Midler, Allison Janney 
 Director: Greg Tiernan, Conrad Vernon 
 Producer: Gail Berman p.g.a, Conrad Vernon p.g.a, Alex Schwartz p.g.a, Alison O’Brien p.g.a,
 Screenplay: Matt Lieberman 

Finally, MONSTER FAMILY. Meet the Wishbone family! When an evil witch turns mum Emma into a vampire, dad Frank into Frankenstein’s Monster, and kids Fay and Max into a Mummy and a werewolf, they must go on an adventure chasing the witch around the world to return them to their human selves. But when Dracula and his mischievous bats kidnap Emma, the family are thrown apart and forced to find their inner strengths, reunite and reverse the curse that turned them into a Monster Family. 

Actors: Emily Watson, Jason Isaacs, Nick Frost, Jessica Brown Findlay, Celia Imrie
 Director: Holger Tappe 
 Producer: Maya Gräfin Rothkirch, Michael Mack, Stefan Mischke, Holger Tappe 
 Screenplay: David Safier, Catharina Junk


Forget the tricks ... I have a great treat lined up ! One of you will be winning your very own copy of the Spooky Tales 3-movie collection. Just fill in your entries in the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck and happy Halloweeeeeeen !

UK only. Closing date : 9/11/20

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.

You may also like to enter my other giveaways :

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 43

Last week, we stayed pretty much on plan. I didn't make chicken pot pie as we had lots of leftovers to use up but everything else got eaten. It was nice to have the time (and energy !) to actually try out some new recipes for a change ! Some more winter warmers on the menu this week (brrr !) and it's my birthday on Wednesday so we'll go to the local Chinese for a meal :)


lunch- Leftover chicken in gravy with roast potatoes and veg

dinner - Stewed beef with carrots, onions & mushrooms in the slow cooker, with pasta


lunch- leftover beef stew and pasta

dinner- Chicken pot pie with biscuits (using this recipe) & mash


lunch- It's my birthday so I think we'll go to our local Chinese restaurant :)

dinner- I doubt anyone will be very hungry but there should be plenty of leftovers to use up


lunch- sausages & chips

dinner- pork casserole with couscous


lunch-  battered fish, pasta & veg

dinner - paprika chicken with rice


lunch- McDonald's probably 

dinner- cottage pie


lunch- leftover cottage pie

dinner- sandwich or cheese on toast

***Click on my Menu Plans tag to see all my other weekly menu plan blogposts.***


Sunday 25 October 2020

Project 366 : Photo diary week 43

 Hands up if you forgot to put the clocks back ! I went to get the roast potatoes out of the oven this lunchtime then realised it was only half past eleven - oops ! I was convinced it was next week we changed ! Oh well ... This week, we've been on holiday so it's been bliss. No rushing around, plenty of time to do everything, slowly ticking things off the never-ending to-do list. Basically lots of much needed rest and recuperation for everyone - and we still have a week to go. Aaahhh ! :)

Sunday - A stress-free day. All the usual must-do jobs for the weekend (laundry, cleaning, dealing with paperwork, lesson planning/marking, shopping, ...) have been put back to next week when I'm on holiday. After tucking into a laid-back Sunday lunch out of the slow cooker, I had a video call with Sophie and my mum and dad, walked the dog and that was it for the day ! I settled down to read A Perfect Storm, sent to me by the author all the way from Canada. You may have read some of my reviews of the previous Sgt Windflower books - this one will be up on the blog next week.

Monday - I've had no time for blogging lately so I gave myself a day (or two or three !) to catch up on replying to emails and sorting out blog posts. Walking the dog was as energetic as it got today ! I tried a new recipe for Chicken & Bacon Ranch Casserole today - not bad, especially in the colder weather. It's the first time I've made a casserole with rice in it. 

Tuesday - Juliette was off out with her friends for lunch at McDonald's and a trip to the cinema. I'm really pleased that she's settled in and made herself some new friends in her class, as she didn't know anybody when they went back. In the afternoon, I did a few jobs around the house then headed off to the supermarket. I bumped into my neighbour on the way who had kindly offered to get his dad in to help with all the jobs around the house, starting with changing the battery in the car and taking it in for its MOT before I finally sell it. He said he'd be over tomorrow. I've put together a list of jobs that need doing - everything from changing the shower attachment (the old one is so tightly screwed on (or probably blocked with limescale) that I can't get it off to changing the tap in the kitchen, changing the leaky flush in the toilet and taking a load of old furniture/junk to the dump (not easy when you don't drive !). The skies have been really menacing today - it doesn't make you want to get outside for fresh air, that's for sure !

Wednesday - After a lazy morning, I started on my list of jobs. First, I had a big tidy-up in the kitchen and cleared some space on the table (which gets used as a general dumping zone !) then I cleared out all the bags of rubbish that were in front of the car so that it can be accessed easily for the battery charging/changing. The dustmen come once a week so I've been trying to siphon off the excess bags (from the big clear-out over the summer in the kids' rooms) in the bin whenever there's room. The neighbour came around and did (in minutes !) all those jobs I couldn't figure out, like sorting out the cupboard door that wouldn't stay on its hinges or changing the shower head (the water tube had a hole but it was stuck on with limescale and I couldn't get it off). I'll have to get the other neighbour on to sorting out the car though, as they couldn't manage ! A quick pop to the supermarket revealed this selection of pumpkins and gourds - they're finally branching out and stocking parsnips regularly too. Woohoo !

Thursday - My new phone arrived, as my old one had totally stopped working - it looks very posh but it wasn't that expensive. I love the back which is blue fading into white and kind of reflective so you get pink flashes too if you tilt it. I also went into town and dropped off the paperwork for getting €80 back for buying a new bike for Pierre (a measure brought in at the end of confinement - presumably to help reduce the numbers of people on the (free) bus network?) and also enquired about the money you can claim back on changing your boiler.

Friday - We decided to bring our trip to town forward a day, to hopefully avoid the crowds. After a visit to McDonald's (definitely less busy than at the weekend), we headed to the shops. Juliette got a jumper and pointed out lots of things she likes as ideas for Christmas presents, then we bought a necklace that she fell in love with (that has been put aside for Christmas). I even bought some pyjamas and underwear for myself. I never normally start Christmas shopping this early but who knows what will happen with confinement. I need to head back to Le Furet du Nord (the equivalent of Virgin/HMV) as they had lots of bits that would be good as stocking filler-type presents for the kids. We finished off with a drink in a smoothie bar and Juliette sent a photo to Sophie to annoy her - kids !

Saturday - A total lazy day ! I played Gardenscape for far too long (as I changed phones, I lost my account so I was back to level 1 - oh well !), went food shopping and popped to see the neighbour so he can sort out the car before its MOT. Nothing to show today besides a picture from our dog walk along the canal !

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Saturday 24 October 2020

Fab freebies of the week 24/10

This week has been lovely and relaxing, as I've been on holiday. I got some stuff done around the house, spent some quality time with the kids and just chilled ! The best part? I have another week to do exactly the same ! :) Hope you have a good week, whatever you have planned. Kick things off in style with this week's selection of lovely freebies!



 Join the C&G Baby Club and get a free babygrow - **For the first 15,000 people who sign up through us. Your limited edition baby grow will be size 0-6 or 6-12 months, depending on the age of your baby.

Which bowl of Bakers® will your dog fall in love with? Discover it on the Insiders' campaign’s info page and subscribe before 26th October once you’ve found the perfect match.

And if you have a cat rather than a dog : We are looking for 1000 owners and their cats to join our new campaign for Felix® Treats. This campaign gives you the opportunity to treat your cat with the wide range of tasty treats from Felix®. Sign up by tomorrow.

 Every child who visits a Lindt chocolate shop in their pyjamas on the magical Lindt Pyjama Day (Wednesday 28th October) will receive a free chocolate Teddy dressed in Pyjamas as the Swiss based chocolatier launches its range for Christmas, a range that, of course, includes a teddy in pyjamas. (LINDT Outlet Chocolate Shops are located in Ashford, Birmingham, Braintree Village, Bridgend, Cheshire Oaks, Clarks Village Somerset, Dalton Park Co. Durham, East Midlands, Gloucester Quays, Kildare Ireland, Livingston, Portsmouth Gunwharf Quays, Swindon, The O2, Wembley and York. LINDT Boutique Chocolate Shops are located in Leeds Trinity Centre, Manchester Arndale Centre, Liverpool One and Bluewater Kent.)

There seem to have been a zillion new Sopost offers this week but most of them don't last long. Try this one : Introducing MY WAY Eau de Parfum, the new feminine fragrance by Giorgio Armani.

 At Harrogate Organics Company, we totally get that scents are personal. So for that very reason, why not have a Scent Pack sent right to your house at no cost, with no catch?

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.

You may also be interested in my current giveaways :

Friday 23 October 2020

Asmodee UK Blogger Board Game Club review : Picture Show

As the nights are drawing in and temperatures are dropping (not to mention the rain - does it ever end ?!), we're looking for more inside activities to keep us in the warm and dry. Settling down to watch something on Netflix is fine, but you can't beat rounding up the family to play a board game together. After our recent reviews for BrainBox : The World and Dice Academy, we're back with another game to show you : Picture Show.

Taking the lid off the box, it looks quite complicated to set up but it's actually very simple. The game is based on the time-honoured classic, Chinese Shadows. If you're inwardly groaning, remembering that you never managed to reproduce anything apart from a flying bird and a dog's head with your hands and an old torch, rest assured ! In this game, you can use the cut-out shapes in the box to help you.

Set up is simple. Just slot the screen into the stands, set up the spotlight behind you and you're good to go. Use the two sticks and the magnetic shapes to represent the word or phrase on the cards. There are 45 shapes that you can use for 40 cards with 120 proposals, so I would recommend allowing sound effects from the player. As well as making it slightly easier, it can be hysterically funny too ! You can also overlay the shapes if you want to be extra clever.

What we love about this game is the spotlight, which also acts as a timer and starts flashing ten seconds before the end of your time as 'Master of Shadows'. Much (light-hearted) stress guaranteed ! You can also play on Training Mode which means that the spotlight stays on with no time constraints.

It's a slightly fiddly game so the magnetic shapes fall off if you're not careful and the game play calls for some lateral thinking, so the suggested age range is 7+. Just don't forget the batteries - 3 x AAA batteries are required and not included.

RRP : £21.99

2-8 players. Age 7+.

Disclosure : We received the product in order to share our honest opinion.

Thursday 22 October 2020

Smashed Alcohol-Free Beers and Ciders review

When I was a student (many many moons ago !), my housemates and I regularly used to meet up for a quick chat in the communal kitchen and throw out a random proposal of "let's have a night in and get smashed" ! Well, funnily enough, that's something I could imagine myself saying again fairly regularly, but this time, it has nothing to do with boozy nights in and painful hangovers the next day. Smashed is the name of a new range of alcohol-free beers and ciders that taste great and have none of the downsides of their alcoholic counterparts.  


As you can see from the packaging, they look just like cans and bottles of regular beer and cider, which is always a good thing if you're the only one not drinking. I can remember when I was pregnant and it was a birthday or Christmas celebration, I always felt a bit left out when everyone was happily knocking back champagne or wine and I'd have a glass of orange juice. I can also remember when we used to go out to pubs, I'd regularly get given a hard time about not drinking if I opted for a coke. Whether you're the designated driver for the night or just fancy a night off the booze, you can still join in and look the part if you opt for a can or bottle of Smashed. Definitely something to stock up on for all the end of year get togethers and parties (even if they end up being online meet-ups !).

It's such a great idea that I was actually surprised to learn that Smashed is the only British alcohol-free drinks brand which produces 0% beer, lager, ale and ciders. The Manchester-based business secured one of Dragons' Den's best ever deals in March 2020 with Peter Jones amazed at how close to an alcoholic drink its Smashed beers and cider tasted. Drynks is the only UK drinks brand who can produce the full remit of craft beers and cider because it owns the first and only state-of-the-art alcohol-free brewery which gently removes alcohol from premium craft beer and cider. 

Whatever you like to drink, you're bound to find something to suit your tastes. The range includes five options :

Lager - A refreshing pale gold lager beer with a clean taste which perfectly balances with a hint of barley malt, complex aromatic floral notes and a mild hoppy bitterness. 

 Cider - A golden, slightly opaque, sparkling liquid with a fresh, inviting aroma of English apples. The taste delivers pure refreshment with a perfect balance of sharpness, sweetness and bite. The initial refreshing upfront green apple taste is perfectly complimented with a great mouthfeel and a satisfying astringent mature English cider finish.

Berry - A new addition (and my favourite). A purple berry-coloured sparkling fruit cider with a fruity, fresh, clean nose with hints of English cider. The taste is sharp and refreshing with a perfect balance of sweetness backed up with a strong summer berry flavour, followed by hints of English cider and a firm cider astringency to finish.

 Pale Ale - Another new addition to the range. This light and refreshing drink is a fusion of the traditional and the modern. Caramel and hints of Toffee are finished with a modern American hop providing Tropical and Passionfruit notes.

Citrus - A pale gold sparkling liquid with fresh, clean aroma expressing English malt, hints of hop and a touch of citrus. The taste has been crafted for pure refreshment and has a pleasant malty base with perfect balance. A hint of sweetness pairs perfectly with the slightly sharp citrus notes in the aftertaste.

All Smashed drinks are vegan, gluten free (where possible), low in sugar and contain less than 100 calories per bottle/ can. That's great news too ! They are available in both 330ml bottles and 300ml cans, with a NEW 660ml Smashed Lager bottle which is great for sharing with friends. The 330ml Smashed bottles and cans have a RRP of £1.99 and are available in Booths supermarkets, as well as online at,, (exclusive Smashed Lager 660ml) and a range of local independent retailers across the UK.

Disclosure : We received some samples, in order to share our honest review.

Wednesday 21 October 2020

Giveaway #741 : Win Wish Upon A Unicorn dvd - closed - winner Margeret Gallagher

With half term holidays on the way and the weather (not to mention COVID-lockdown news) not looking great, it sounds to me like the perfect time for investing in some new films to watch with the kids ! Universal Pictures Home Entertainment have just released WISH UPON A UNICORN, which is sure to be a hit. 


In this film, two sisters and their father move from the city to the country to live with their grandmother. On her farm, they miraculously discover and befriend a baby unicorn named Rocco. Rocco has magical powers and gives the girls a little bit of luck, hijinks and a lot of laughter, which makes the adjustment to their new home and school easier. But when the local good-for-nothing cowboys learn about the magical unicorn, the gang steals Rocco to use his powers for themselves. The sisters must embark on a fun Western adventure to save Rocco in this original story full of heart, humour and magical adventures –perfect for the whole family. 

 Wish Upon A Unicorn is available on DVD from 19th October from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

 Cast & Crew: 
 Steve Bencich – Director & Writer 
Ryan Kiera Armstrong – Mia Dindal 
Summer Fontana – Emma Dindal 
Kevin J O’Connor – Willie 
Tait Blum – Patrick 
Jonathan Lajoie – Louis Dindal

If you like the look of this movie, I have a dvd copy up for grabs. Fill in your entries in the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck !

UK only. Closing date : 4/11/20

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.

Tuesday 20 October 2020

Book review : Where The Edge Is - Gráinne Murphy

Where The Edge Is is the new release from début author Gráinne Murphy, an Irish author whose second novel, The Ghostlights, is set for release in 2020.

The book is set in a sleepy, rural, Irish town, where, as the day begins, a road subsides, trapping five passengers inside a bus. Rescue workers are rapidly called in to deal with the nail-biting scene. Two of the passengers manage to get out of the bus but it falls deeper into the hole before the others can be released. Watched by the unrelenting eye of the media, their lives hang in the balance.

The bus accident, dramatic as it may be, soon fades into the background though, as the book starts to delve into the lives, past and present, of those involved in the scene. From Richie, the bus driver pulled from the wreckage, to Nina, the reporter covering the story, and on to the rescue workers trying to save the passengers, each character reveals their struggles that their lives have thrown at them. 

So many painful emotions and events have gone into making the people currently at the scene - racism, family issues, relationships, homelessness, even the death of a child, ... Each character reveals their hidden stories and links to the other characters and some of them are painfully tragic. A wide range of different people are revealed, in terms of origin, social context and personal tragedy. The story of the bus becomes much less powerful when the reader hears of these new stories and personal dramas - in fact, the bus, teetering on the edge, could even be seen as a symbol of the characters themselves, lurching around on a fragile cliff edge as they try to come to terms with their own personal stories and identities.

It's a book that is big on emotions, less so on action. This isn't a problem, unless you've read the blurb on the back of the book and are expecting a heart-stopping story of a dangerous bus rescue. While there are moments of humour, it is ultimately a book that will leave you feeling down-hearted as you ponder the tragedies that some people in this world have been through and how they have come back from them. I can see this being a great choice for book clubs as it will offer great opportunities to explore a wide range of characters and themes.

star rating : 4/5

  • Paperback : 288 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1789559413
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1789559415
  • Product Dimensions : 19.7 x 2.4 x 13 cm
  • Publisher : Legend Press (15 Sept. 2020)
  • Language: : English

Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.
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