Easter bakes with lots of the chocolate stuff!

My children just love sweets; I remember when my first son was born, I attempted to convince him that raisins were sweets; it worked for a little while anyway. Now I have four older children they certainly know what they like.

Recently I saw an idea circulating about Facebook – someone had made crème egg muffins, which looked superb. In our house we prefer brownies; all the children go mad for them as they are lovely and moist. We used our normal chocolate brownie recipe (listed below) and then part way through the cooking dropped the halved frozen mini crème eggs into each section of the mix.

Ingredients for our standard chocolate brownies + buy one packet of mini crème eggs (freeze the night before)

  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 100g milk chololate
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 95g plain flour
  • 45g cocoa powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 275g sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 160C and grease a brownie baking tin (if you have one) or a normal tin if you haven’t.
  2. Melt the butter and dark chocolate together in the microwave.
  3. Break the eggs into a bowl and tip in 275g sugar. Beat until the mix has become thick and creamy.
  4. Pour the chocolate mixture over the eggy mixture, then fold together.
  5. Sieve the cocoa and flour mixture over the combined mixtures. Gently fold in and pour into the baking tin.
  6. Bake the mixture for 15 minutes then press the Cadbury’s Crème egg halves into the mix. Put back in the over for another 5-10 minutes.

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My daughter (aged 10) loved making them, and we loved eating them! They were really straightforward to make and are the perfect Easter themed chocolate dessert. The result looks much more complicated than it is and it’s a really lovely tasty treat for the children too (and not too big either!)

A new twist on pancake day #Cloudy2Competition

Tots100 are running a great ‘Show Us Your Foodimals’ competition in conjunction with Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, so we just had to have a go, my children just love pancake day and as it’s just round the corner it seemed like a perfect excuse to dust down the frying pan and get the children involved in some basic cooking – it’s great fun making strange shapes and finding new and interesting ingredients to add. This year we decided to have some fun, so I bought a copy of OMG Pancakes by Jim Belosic and then topped up on food colourings and some chocolate drops for some experimentation in the kitchen.

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I let the children have a few attempts with the batter, our technique was to make up lots of batter and then add a few drops of colour to each small quantity once it was in the bottle. Here is William holding one of the most successful foodimals we did, he loves dinosaurs so it seemed like quite a good one to have a go at. He loved making it and enjoyed eating it even more!

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This is my entry to Make Your Food Fun and Win a £500 Home Cinema System!

My pet tails

I’ve always loved animals so when I saw that Eurotunnel were asking bloggers to blog about their pet stories I felt I had to have a go. If you want to try too all you have to do is publish a blog entry before the 25th January about your favourite pet story using social media and #petlovers.

We have had cats for as long as I remember, when I was young we had tabby cats called Tiddles and Hannah. One funny story relates to when we took him to the vets, in those days the vaccines were expensive and generally weren’t as available as they are now-a-days, so many cats caught things and they sometimes got poorly. Well, this time Tiddles was ill, he was sweating loads and lethargic. My dad took him to the vet along with me, when we took him into the room the vet insisted on calling him by his name which my dad winced at every time he said it. The more embarrassing thing was that when he called it I butted in with his middle name which was POM-POM (forgive me I was only 7 when I named him). The vet raised an eyebrow and insisted my dad repeat the name. I have never seen him more embarrassed. It was very funny and once Tiddles Pom-Pom had a few doses of medicine he was back to his normal self.

Photo of me aged about 8 with my dad and one of my cats.

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We had the cats until I was about 18, my parents refused to get any more as we lived by a main road and neighbours were always loosing their cats to the road. So when I got married we decided we would like cats, my husband’s family had always had cats too so it was decided we would get a couple of kittens as soon as we got a house. We found a lovely house in a quiet cul-de-sac, it had a woods next to it and was ideal for having cats. So we made enquiries and got a kitten, we then added a second kitten, but made the mistake of getting a boy and a girl (unrelated) kitten. Of course the inevitable happened and they produced three tiny but perfect beautiful kittens. We found a good home for one of them and we received Christmas cards from the family who homed him for over 15 years showing what he had got up to that year. We kept all 5 cats – they all lived a good life and our eldest lived up to 18 years old.

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This shows dad and his babies, he was such a softie he even helped wash them when mum was too tired.

Again, these cats lived a very long and happy life despite being very naughty. I remember once having my cousin over, he was helping out and earning a bit of money in the summer holidays doing some gardening for us. I had cooked him a lovely sausage and mash dinner as a reward for his hard work, as he went to get cutlery the cat pushed the sausages off his plate and ate them in front of him. I think given the look my cousin gave him he possible lost one of his 9 lives!

Our children had loved having the cats but as they got older the cats really just wanted a quite corner to curl up in. We had a lovely ginger tom just down the road so my daughter had always said she would love a big fat ginger cat, I tried to explain that not all cats are friendly but she wouldn’t have it. I went in search and after talking to a dog groomer cousin of mine she said she knew a lady who was looking to re-home her two Maine Coon cats and one was a big ginger tom. I Googled the breed as I hadn’t heard of it before and I fell in love. I made contact with her and within a week we had collected them. They were beauties, the funniest thing being that as we let them out they tried to stack on top of each other, they hid under my desk to begin with, once stacked on top of the other in such a bizarre way. As a few days went by the got more and more adventurous, we were soon in love with them. Their odd quirks include going bonkers over running water, cat stacking in scary situations, following you everywhere, trying to get on the toilet faster than someone trying to use it, loving hot chocolates and yorkshire pudding mixture!

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Nelson and Simba showing off how beautiful they are

Sadly we lost Simba (cream) just before Christmas, we were all devastated, but Nelson (ginger) is doing well and we had decided to continue our cat tails as we are adding Jasper below to our family in February. We are hoping he gives us some fabulous #petlovers tails to tell.

Below my daughter Eleanor holding Jasper who we get in February 

IMG_9853a (Large)This is my entry for Eurotunnels #petlovers pet writing competition sponsored by Eurotunnel and Arden Grange

Food Glorious Food!

Glorious make lovely soup, it is healthy and mouth-wateringly tasty. The range of soups are inspired by recipes from around the world – they transport the eater to far away places with their exotic flavours and colours. When I saw that Foodies100 were running a bloggers competition #GloriousAdventures to blog about their soups and your favourite travel destinations I just had to have a go. I just adore soup, and for someone that is always trying to stay healthy and fit it is a nice easy nutritious option that is low calorie. The prize is amazing – a chance to win an amazing food adventure to Mumbai.

 Our Italian adventure

I have been to Italy quite a few times, it is a beautiful place and it is known for its fresh food and above all delicious pizza and pasta. We recently travelled to Rome with the whole family and spent quite a bit of time tasting the delights of Italian food. We all loved the fresh fruit, its quality is amazing. The fresh pasta and pizza dough is incredible too -we couldn’t get enough of it and talking like this makes my mouth water for the tastes and smells of Italy. It is a truly beautiful country which is very child friendly, we are so lucky to live so near to such a beautiful place.

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On our trip we visited food markets and watched our pizzas being hand made. I think they were used to getting people watching as the restaurant had a massive glass window, and the cooks would smile and laugh as the children watched them kneed the dough and add the toppings.

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 It’s a handy meal and my children love it too!

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My children often snack after school and as soon as they saw this in the fridge it was gone, so much for my healthy lunch (next time I will buy more!) Details of all of the soups available can be found on the Glorious Soups Website.

This blog post is an entry into the Foodies100/GLORIOUS! soup #GloriousAdventures blogger challenge”.

Santa loves Cravendale too!

In our house milk is loved; and I mean big time, so when I saw that Britmums were running a bloggers competition to write your personal Cravendale story I felt we just had to take part, if you want to take part too, all you need to do is write about how your family enjoy Cravendale and tag it with #MilkDrinkersMilk.- but be quick as the competition closes on the 9th November 2015.

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Now milk has changed a bit since I was my children’s age (ahem back in the late 70’s). I remember the tiny bottles of milk which were delivered into the classroom at school and the lovely freshness that you got from drinking it. I also remember the doorstep deliveries by our local milkman which the birds always seems to beat us to in the morning! Then in my teens I remember an advertising campaign to get people to drink more milk called ‘Got milk’ where celebrities wore milk moustaches with pride. Eleanor obliged for one of these photos without too much persuasion.

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My youngest daughter Eleanor adores milk; in fact every time we go out, she chooses milk above fizzy drinks. So with the vouchers you sent to us we got one of each type of milk, a blue, green and red. Red (skimmed is my son William’s favourite), Green (semi) is my favourite and Blue (full) is Eleanor’s favourite. We end up with all of them in our fridge at the start of the week.

Milk in our house is enjoyed any-time, before school, during school (if its on the menu) and definitely after school. The children prefer it on its own especially if it is Cravendale. Their favourite way to drink it is with a straw, in one of these covered cups as the cats will compete for it otherwise.

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Now we have just done Halloween in our house the children’s thoughts soon turn to Christmas (I know, but they are counting the weeks already) and of course we always have to leave food and drink out for Santa on Christmas Eve so even Santa will be drinking Cravendale this winter.

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“This post is an entry for BritMums #MilkDrinkersMilk Linky Challenge, sponsored by Cravendale

Having fun with the #HandAScavengerHunt

I love a challenge and it sure was to find the items on the #HandAScavengerHunt. Tots100 and H&A have come up with a fun summer activity for us grown ups. It is to find the following items;

  1. Something blue
  2. A rainbow
  3. Something that grows
  4. A summer creepy crawly (butterflies, ladybirds, beetles)
  5. A circle
  6. A red front door
  7. A ball
  8. Something on wheels
  9. H&A Frozen Olaf Bath & Shower Bubbles
  10. H&A Frozen Olaf Colour Change Wash Mitt

Then all you do is write a blog post and share it on Twitter or Instagram tagging @tots100 and using the hashtag #HandAScavengerHunt. It is worth entering as the prize is heaps of Frozen goodies my daughter would love.

BeFunky CollageBeFunky CollageaWith the children’s help I managed all of them; some with a little interpretation, but we had great fun doing this.

This is my entry for @Tots100 and H&A’s scavenger hunt.

Walk The Plank With A Turkey Galleon boat for the #TurkeyTractorChallenge

When I saw that there was a British Turkey & Red Tractor Recipe Challenge we just had to take part. We were cutting it fine time-wise so unfortunately I don’t think there is any more time to enter. Usually I enter ahead of time so I can encourage other people to take part, but sorry not this time.

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Red Tractor food standards cover a range of UK products, including meat, dairy, cereals and fruit and vegetables. Just look for the logo on pack to ensure that the product has been produced to some of the most comprehensive and respected standards in the world. The logo ensures food is traceable, safe to eat and has been produced responsibly – from farms to fork! More info can be found at www.redtractor.org.uk. This challenge is designed to help raise awareness of The Red Tractor logo.

I really wondered what to do for this; often pirate themed food fits more of a dessert theme rather than a main course. So I set the children thinking, in the end they decided that we should make a galleon boat; ambitions; yes! Anyway, they loved getting dressed up for the occasion and pretending to help! So we decided to use Red Tractor turkey mince which we combined with onions, mushrooms and parsley. It is a simple recipe which the children also enjoy baking with chicken or sausage meat. So they followed the recipe and then we decorated the galleon afterwards. Here is the result!

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‘This is SlummyMummy’s entry for the British Turkey Blogger Recipe Challenge’  Other recipes can be found at British Turkey Website.

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Anyone for tennis?

We are definitely not the sportiest of families; but my girls and I dance and the boys enjoy BMX and hubby loves road biking. We were looking for things to do over the summer so when I noticed the Tots100 competition to try tennis I thought it was a great idea for a day out. I popped into the shops and picked up some rackets and tennis balls and headed to the nearest court which for us is next to the playground. It was deserted!

This weekend (1st & 2nd August) was the last weekend of the Great British Tennis Weekend, run by the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) where clubs all over the country opened their doors to give anyone the chance to play tennis for FREE.

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As a result of our hours worth of tennis my son now wants lessons! We had a great time and every time we drive past the courts I end up getting asked when we can next play. We followed up the playing with some strawberry picking and some traditional strawberries and cream in the park. A superb days activities and 3 happy exercised and well fed children can’t be bad!

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To enter the competition just share a photo of your family playing tennis on Twitter or Instagram tagging @BritishTennis and @tots100 with the phrase #AnyoneforTennis Photo Challenge and you could win £100 in vouchers, or write a blog post and link to The Great British Tennis Weekend to win an expenses-paid trip to London for the whole family, including the chance to see your favourite tennis stars at the prestigious ATP World Finals!

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Banishing those bathroom blues

I have just found the most amazing competition to enter from The Dream Bathroom, the competition is limited entry by invitation only so if you want to have a go please drop them a tweet or email and they will see if you qualify to enter. The prizes are amazing –

1st Prize – A Bathroom Remodel Worth £3,500!
2nd Prize – £1,000 Worth Of Vouchers!
3rd Prize – £500 Worth Of Vouchers!

All you have to do is write a blog post and make a pinterest board of 3 bathroom suites that best match your dream bathroom makeover from the BigBathroomShop.co.uk, and then go to the TileMountain.co.uk and choose your 3 favourite tiles that best match your dream bathroom.

Now, my hu179462_1588676443529_1141410_nbby only just revamped our smaller bathroom the children use; he has done a lovely job, we have a tubby tub (roll top bath) and it is beautiful, he has even added LED lighting that changes colour. Our main bathroom is en-suite and was done a few years ago; it is all mirrors and black. Unusual for a bathroom, so our plumbers said anyway!

Anyway, so in summary I’m happy with our bathrooms so when I saw this competition I desperately wanted to enter and help one of my best friends. We met at my first proper job about 20 years ago and have been firm friends since, we have children a similar age, and I actually introduced her (on a blind date) to the father of her children (I’m not sure she thanks me for all of that, but two lovely children were born from it!) There is no sob story or that silly teak-jerking music they play when they start a sob story on x-factor! It is simply a case of being a busy working mum of two, who struggles to get everything done. Her name is Barb and she has two lovely children called Lauren (16) and Fred (11); the bathroom was done about 15 years ago but like most things has suffered with the march of time (don’t I know that well too!)

(Above – well, hopefully!) Me on the left and my best mate barb on the right, dressed up for a burlesque nite out on the town!

Below are some photos from my friends bathroom, her comment to me was she was shocked at how shabby it looked on the photos, I think that you tend not to notice when you live with something but it is in a very sorry state. So I wrote this rhyme about it…

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My friends bathroom is in a sorry state;
it’s in desperate need of being up to date
The grout is black and full of mold;
the windows leaky and lets in the cold
It’s a desperate dash when you need the loo;
you don’t even stay long when u need a number 2!
The taps are old and are always dripping;
the walls are damp and they need stripping
You don’t go in there unless you are desperate;
we really need the help of a bathroom expert
So please dream bathroom hear our plea;
Turn a nightmare to a daydream and make it a lush place to be!

Now, I’m pretty rubbish at putting things together, but both my friend and I really like Victorian styled tiles; in fact when I rang and told her about the competition the thing she talked about were the old fashioned brick beveled tiles. She also currently collects blue and white porcelain so I was made up when I found some nice blue and white retro tiles on the TileMountain site that could be combined with the brick tiles in some fashion, or used as a separate idea. Anyway, there is a great choice on the site so I am sure we would be able to make a choice depending on the suite chosen.

When it came to bathroom suites I love the Milano and the Phoenix suites as I have a passion for roll top baths (see my toes peeping out of mine on my pinterest board!) But the Milano Canterbury might be a more of a compromised choice for my friends bathroom as I am not sure a roll-top would fit or be suitable. We would need a good measure up!

So I have put together the pinterest mood board based around this idea of a slightly retro bathroom suite and tiles to match.  – here is our jointly chosen Pinterest board

 

Follow anna’s board Big Bathroom inspiration on Pinterest.

We have also included a few fun hacks as well for making the bathroom more individual, and a great place to be.

This is my entry to win on behalf of my friend for ‘The dream bathroom’ competition.

Top 5 top TV dads!

Wow, Samsung are running a fabulous competition to win a Samsung SUHD TV, now I know nothing about gadgetry but the hubby does, and boy does he love his tech. We currently have a Samsung telly on the wall so I am guessing he would be totally made up if I won this prize for him. Anyway, if you also want to enter the competition link is here, but make sure you enter by 21st June to stand a chance of winning this awesome prize. All you have to do is have some fun naming your top 5 TV dads, then weet your post to @CurrysPCWorld on Twitter using the hashtag #topTVdads to confirm your entry. This was actually quite tricky for me as I don’t watch a great deal of TV, I have perhaps picked some alternative dads!

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1. Frank Spencer & Jessica (1973)

Oh my he came to mind as soon as I mulled the question over, he is funny and totally bonkers, adding a baby in the mix was hilarious. I just love the episode where the baby arrives. He drives her to the hospital in the car and on the top is the pram, so funny even now. Lots of innuendos and misunderstandings. Brilliant fun!

Occupation – DIY fanatic

Children – Jessica

Best dad moment – Getting the pram to the hospital on the top of the car! Lets hope he takes more care of the baby!

Ideal fathers day gift – A DIY SOS video for all those repairs!

2. Walter White (2013)

What a great program, he knows his chemistry (always impressive) and is very protective of his children. I love the contrast of his role in the program, a dad that does good for his own children but equally is supplying an underground illegal trade in hard drugs. An excellent character and brilliantly put together program, which makes you ask questions about how you far you would go to provide for your own children given the problems he has faced.

Occupation – Chemist and drug manufacturer

Children – Flynn & baby Holly

Best dad moment – Putting money into a trust fund for his son

Ideal fathers day gift – A chemistry kit!

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3/ Hugh Dennis as Pete in Outnumbered (2012)

This has to be one of the best sitcoms ever made. The dad is long suffering and in fact I think this gets funnier the older the children get, I think we have seen all of the episodes aired of this and have re-watched them too. The acting is brilliant and the children are especially good. I think my hubby can identify with this as we have four children and our eldest is like Ben, he was always asking questions at awkward moments too!

Occupation – School Teacher

Children – Ben, Karen and Jake

Best dad moment – Explaining rude words to Karen when she hears them rowing one night

Ideal fathers day gift – A day off!

 

4/ Dexter Morgan in Dexter (2006-2013)

What an amazing series. We watched it back to back in this house. Dexter was an unwilling dad, fearful of passing on his willingness to take life. But anyone who has watched Dexter has also seen the caring side to his character. He adores his kids, even his step-kids. His character is a real vigilante, happy to ‘take out the trash’ on people that the police department can’t or won’t deal with. A great watch that has you totally drawn into the characters from early on.

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Occupation – Blood spatter analysist

Children – Astor, Cody & baby Harrison

Best dad moment – Hiding who he really is from his children

Ideal fathers day gift – Bin liners and bleach!

 

 

 


5/ Eugene Levy, the dad from American Pie (1999)

A fun one to end with – I just adore his character. The actor, who played Jim’s father in the film, he became as massive success as his character offered his son explicit and unwanted advice about his love life,  his sex education chats with his son are 1st rate comedy gold. He was named the most embarrassing on-screen father in a recent poll but I just love him, how excellent would it be to have a dad so open and honest about life!

Occupation – Embarrassing dad

Children – Jim

Best dad moment – The unwanted sex education tips

Ideal fathers day gift – Beat him at his own game – The Karma Sutra!

 

So that’s it, my top 5 TV Dads; a real mixed bag of actors, but full of laughs.

This post is an entry a blogging competition to win a 48″ Samsung television worth £1800 with Currys PC World

My children’s daddy

I got my two girls to write down what they love about their dad, with funny results! Here is Charlotte (age 12) and Eleanor (age 7) with the results.

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‘You’re All-Included’ – First Choice Blogger Competition’

When I saw that First Choice were running a bloggers competition I felt I just had to enter. If you also want to enter the link is here, but hurry it closes at midnight on the 5th June! The winners will feature on the First Choice travel blog and 5 lucky bloggers will take away an iPad for their efforts.

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Now, we love our holidays, but the main issue we have always encountered is that there are 6 of us. Me, the hubby and Matthew (14), Charlotte (12 yesterday), William (9) and Eleanor (age 7) which always makes accommodation in hotels tricky to say the least. Often hotels say we have to have one adult in each room which doesn’t exactly make for a nice get away for me and the hubby. So generally we go the camping route, but this year now the children are a bit older and more responsible we decided to experience an all-inclusive holiday for the first time this year. Several friends recommended it, but I have always been a bit put off with the idea you don’t need to travel outside of the holiday park. But I need not have worried as there was plenty to do both inside and outside of the site. When it came to accommodating all of us we popped the children in one room and us in the other. We were just a few doors apart from each other and the children loved the responsibility of having their own key card and own room (even if we did have a couple of panics about where the card was!)

We have been quite a few locations in Europe and didn’t want to spend a fortune so we opted for Turkey. None of us had ever travelled there before so it was a new experience for all of us. The children experienced a mud bath, a boat trip along the Dalyan River, a trip to the Jesus Beach, seeing the Carian rock tombs, a chocolate spa at the hotel, horse riding and a 4×4 experience. But I think if you ask them what they loved best it would be the food!

Our hotel was brilliant – we stayed at The Green Nature Resort and Spa hotel. It was clean and comfortable, but did I mention the food – it was amazing! Best of all I didn’t have to cook or clean up for the whole week. As well as serving typically English food (chips) they served a range of amazing local meals, some of which we never quite discovered what they were! The food was cooked in front of you, in fact I took some photos of the chefs who seemed to enjoy attracting an audience for their tossing and frying of food.

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We ate outdoors when the weather was warm and indoors if it was cooler, and there was great choice even for breakfast the whole counters were brimming with different choices.

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My youngest Eleanor fell in love with the chocolate puddings; I actually think they couldn’t keep up with demand. By the end of the week though the children were getting adventurous and trying lots of new local foods including fish and meat we had never heard of before. Her she is lining up her puddings!

We had beautiful views, a lush swimming pool on site, a spa in the hotel, shows and children’s entertainment in the evening, great friendly service and best of all we didn’t have to worry about the cost (or the clearing up). With the amount the children ate and drank we certainly got great value for money.

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So we had a fabulous holiday in Turkey, made even more brilliant by being all-inclusive. We didn’t have to attempt to find a restaurant that suited everyone, and other than our day trips out we ate every meal at the hotel. A big heart from all of us for all-inclusive holidays! The children tried local food and things they had never seen before which they just wouldn’t have done otherwise. Another bonus was that you could always get drinks and best of all a cup of tea was available anytime!

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11354702_10204612741945204_596616918_nThis is Slummy Mummy’s entry for First Choice bloggers all-inclusive holiday competition.