Category Archives: Review

A Trip to Brighton with Travelodge #Bloggerlodge

We were really lucky when Travelodge offered us a 2 night stay in a family room in Brighton, to review their newly updated rooms.

Brighton is a lovely city and as we have family living there, we thought it was a great chance to take Nancy to Brighton to see the sights.

The journey to Brighton was relatively straight forward, and the Travelodge was easy to find. We were staying at the Brighton Travelodge on Preston Road.

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Parking in Brighton is at a premium, luckily there was parking on site although this is first come first served. You also have to pay to park, it was about £15 for two days parking. However having been to Brighton before, I know parking is a nightmare and it does cost a lot, so I wasn’t phased by this, but its worth remembering.

The room was a Family Room, and it was large! We were really lucky as one of the single beds was in a little alcove which meant that we could have the lamps on it didn’t affect Nancy too much when she slept.  The bed was a good size, and there were tea and coffee facilities.The room was clean and also had the added touch of a Fan in the room which was great seeing as it was so hot! There was also a TV in the room too. WiFi is available with 30 minutes free and 24 hours costing £3 – the wi-fi was actually very good, and Nancy could even watch YouTube on it without buffering! One thing I really would have loved to have seen was a fridge – in a family room especially with Nancy liking a lot of Milk to drink, a fridge would have been a great addition to the room.

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The Bathroom was a little disappointing. The bedroom had clearly had a makeover, but the bathroom looked old and there were a few worn bits, although it was as clean as it could be. Still, it did the job. Well, at first it didn’t as the shower fell to pieces but the lovely staff at the Travelodge got this fixed in no time, and we were happy with that.

The location of the Travelodge is not near the sea; however it was a very quick bus journey of less than 10 minutes and we were right there on the seafront. The Travelodge is near a big park though called Preston Park which was just across the road; this was a lovely place to wander around in the evening, and there were also some gorgeous wild flowers that I stopped to admire. A 10 minute walk away is London Road with many lovely pubs and places to eat. On our first night we went to Hare and Hounds which has a mexican street food menu, and it was delicious. They allow children in up to 8pm so this was perfect for us and then we walked back to the hotel via the Park.

What To Do In Brighton:

Brighton has everything a seaside town should; it has the famous pier, with arcades and rides and the beach. There is a Sealife centre right on the front as well as The Big Wheel – which is a bit like a smaller version of the London Eye. We went into full tourist mode and went on the wheel, which Nancy loved, and although it was half raining, half sunny when we went on board, we could see some lovely views. Watch out though – you turn around and suddenly there is a photographer in your face taking your photo, and at the end they try to get you to buy the photos, so just be warned!

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The arcades are just such a british seaside tradition, and the arcade on Brighton Pier is a famous one. I remember my grandparents taking me to the 2p machines when I was young. Nancy loved the hustle and bustle of the arcades and even had a little go at the 2p machines, and her Dad even managed to win her a few prizes. Unfortunately it started to really rain at this point so we didn’t walk further down the pier to the end, which was a shame.

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The Sealife Centre was something I was really looking forward to. It has recently been refurbished, and it looked like there was a lot going on. The main arcade of the centre is amazing, and there are lots of fish and animals to see as you wander through. Nancy loved experiencing a rock pool, being able to touch a starfish and a crab, as well as shells. The rainforest section is well designed and Nancy loved going into the little view ports for children. There were snakes, turtles and other fish. Nancy thought the piranha looked a bit sad.

The main attraction for me was the walk-under tunnel, where you can see massive turtles and sting rays float right over your head. There is a glass bottomed boat you can ride in as well, for an extra cost (which we didn’t go on). There is a Jurassic style section but I didn’t feel this was well stocked at all and Nancy was not really interested in the sealife in this section. In general it was a good couple of hours to spend out of the rain and Nancy did enjoy it. Oh, and there is also a photo opportunity in the sealife centre, so again be warned!

The weather thankfully cleared up in the afternoon, and we headed to the lanes for a spot of window shopping and some tea and cake. I love the lanes, so much vibrancy and lots of lovely little unique shops to explore. After tea and cake we wandered down to the beach again and walked along the promenade to Hove, where we met with some family members for a catch-up.

After this, we walked into Hove and had our dinner in a great Italian restaurant. Hove is a lovely little place, with a village feel to it.  We got a taxi back to our Travelodge from Hove which cost around £8.

How Did We Sleep?

Our nights in the Travelodge were good. Our beds were comfortable and at night it was relatively quiet where we were staying. Having seen the location of the seafront Travleodge, right in the middle of all the clubs and bars, I was quite grateful for our location!

We all managed to sleep well despite the heat, and in the morning we had a complimentary breakfast (usual price £7.95). The breakfast was eat all you like, which included cereal, fruit, toast, yoghurt, croissants, bacon, scrambled eggs, baked beans, tomato, sausage, fruit juice, tea and coffee. I felt there was a good range for the breakfast and something for everyone and the cooked breakfast was very tasty and cooked well. £7.95 seems moderately priced for breakfast and you could literally fill up on whatever you liked. I have paid a lot more than this for a breakfast at other hotels so whilst not cheap, I didn’t feel this was too bad a price.

Checking out was easy, and it was great that we didn’t have to check out until 12, although we did check out earlier as we wanted to get going to visit Arundel Castle on our way back!

We really enjoyed staying in Brighton, it was a lovely break and there was so much to do. The Travelodge was a great base to explore Brighton from, and the room was comfortable and spacious.

We received 2 nights complimentary stay at Travelodge including breakfast in order to undertake this review. All views and opinions are my own.

Fathers Day Gift Ideas with Truprint #TruprintDads

Truprint have a lot of great ideas for Fathers Day Gifts. I was lucky to be asked by Truprint to try out some of their gift ideas. Take a look at the whole Father’s Day Gift selection here

I wanted to do something with Nancy to make this Father’s Day Special for her Dad. This year has been a bit of a stressful one, and I want to make sure he has a lovely day this year.

There are a lot of lovely gifts on the Truprint website. Using your own photos, you can put together lots of personalised items such as mugs, posters and canvas prints.

As Dan is a big tea fan (like me!) I decided that a personalised mug from Nancy would be a fab idea. It was easy to upload photos and to choose which ones to put on the mug. We added some text and chose the colour for the background.

  
The mug is great and the photos are printed to a high standard. I am very pleased with the overall look and finish of the product. 

To go with his mug, we also chose photos to go on some coasters. Again this was very easy to do, once you have uploaded your photos to Truprint you can just pick them from your online album, so it didn’t take long to make the coasters. 

The coasters are lovely and the photos are really good, they look really shiny and vibrant. The coasters are a good quality and look sturdy and not cheap. 

  
We added some chocolate and of course teabags to the cup before we wrapped it too. Nancy enjoyed putting these in the cup and added a little surprise! 

I also chose a sheet of stickers for Nancy to use to make some wrapping paper! The stickers were again easy to use. I would have liked an option to have a sheet of a selection of photos rather than just one type of sticker, but I am thrilled with how they turned out.  The stickers were printed well, and were a good size. 

Delivery of the products were super quick too which was fab.

To make our wrapping paper, I utilised Nancy’s easel which she had for her birthday (it’s from Ikea). This has a roll of paper on it which is just perfect to make wrapping paper! We got out our stickers, and coloured pens and crayons and got to work. 

  
It was so much fun and the personalised stickers just add that little bit of loveliness – he won’t want to unwrap his presents!

  
Get up to £30 off your Father’s Day order if you use the code LOVEMYDAD on the Truprint website. 

Terms and Conditions:


Code LOVEMYDAD gives £10 discount on order £20-£49.99 and £30 discount on orders £50 or more

Minimum spend does not include P&P charges

Offer is valid until midnight 15th June 2015.

Offer is valid for single use during the promotional period and to customers residing in the UK on Truprint.co.uk only.

P&P charges will apply

Offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer or on pre-paid prints.

Please allow an additional 1-2 delivery days during this promotional period. 

We were sent some Fathers Day gifts from Truprint in order to undertake this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Mindful Eating with #LVLoveLife

Mindful Eating is something that I have heard a lot about recently. When LV offered me the chance to try mindful eating, by using a Spiralizer to make healthy, interesting meals, I thought I’d give it a go. 

Mindful eating is the habit of actually being conscious of what you are eating, as you eat it, taking time to really savour and taste the flavours and texture of the food. Mindful eating is also a good way of eating less, as by taking time to really chew and appreciate the food in your mouth, you actually give your brain signals time to tell your stomach you’re full and so you are not as likely to over eat. LV have a great article on Mindful Eating which is worth a read if you’re interested in this topic. 

Mindful Eating to me is really important. I find nowadays I am always in a rush and so tend to not think much about the food I eat, and gulp it down when I have the chance. I really do feel that my mealtimes are rushed, and this can also make me not appreciate the food and also sometimes I still feel hungry afterwards! I am trying to lose weight as you all know so so trying mindful eating seemed a great idea. I am trying my best to eat ‘clean’, focusing on healthy, unprocessed food and plenty of fruit and veg. Using fresh food and lots of herbs and spices, should mean that using the Mindful Eating method I can take the take to enjoy all this lovely food more! 

Using the Spiralizer has also really helped with my healthy eating. Spiralizing food is fun and adds a new twist to your meals. I am in love with Courgetti and also sweet potato noodles which were so so tasty! I am now obsessed with seeing what veg work well being put through the Spiralizer! Using a Spiralizer to make Courgetti or zoodles, or other types of curly spirally veg, and using this in place of carbs such as pasta and rice, can really help with healthy eating and cutting down on carbs and calories. I love Courgetti and have had this with Thai curry and also with a roasted veg sauce. – anywhere I would use rice, pasta, potatoes. It’s a great fresh taste and I really did not miss the carbs that the Courgetti replaced. I think using the Spiralizer and eating courgette in this way means you taste it in a differnt way, it tastes fresher and meals feel lighter as you haven’t got lots of starchy carbs. 

The Spiralizer itself is way to use. You stick your veg into the spiky end and then make sure the centre of the veg goes into the metal part on the other side. You turn the handle and the veg is pushed through the cutter and voila! Spirally veg is yours. I did worry a bit about cleaning this item but it was easy – I rinsed the Spiralizer under the tap and all the little bits of veg just washed out. I put the cutter attachment into the dishwasher and it cleaned it absolutely fine. It was so easy and you’d be surprised how much spirally goodness you get for piece of veg! 

So, what about Mindful Eating?

I was really looking forward to eating the meals I cooked because I am a big kid and was well excited about my spiralled veg!

Taking time to eat my meals has meant that mealtimes have become more of an occasion. I eat more slowly, chewing more and thinking about the taste and texture in my mouth. It has also spurred me on to eat more dinners round the table as a family. Not rushing around and eating properly as well as healthy meals has definitely made me feel much better too.

This is definitely a habit I want to continue with, I will let you know if it helps me with my weight loss at all!

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I was sent a Spiralizer in order to undertake this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own

Learning Spanish with Three Mobile

I was offered the chance to learn Spanish with Three Mobile, and I had no hesitation in saying “Sí!”

I have always wanted to learn another language and learning spanish is on my bucket list.

I was given an iTunes voucher to download some language apps to start learning Spanish. This is because Three mobile have added Spain to the list of destinations you can travel to and use your phone at no extra cost – sounds like a fab idea!  See more details on the Feel at Home page.

I was sent a fab Spanish pack with my voucher, a Spanish flag and a rough guide to Spain to plan my next trip. I’ve only been to Spain once so there’s loads of places I’d love to visit. It’s a great idea to be able to use your phone at no extra cost, especially to somewhere like Spain. There are 18 destinations you can also use your Three mobile phone including New Zealand.

So, how am I getting on?

I am actually really enjoying learning Spanish and using the app. My favourite is an app called duolingo and it is a lot of fun! The app is free to download but to get further you have to buy further sections. I like the interactive way you can learn with an app. The sessions are 10 minutes, so a nice bite size chunk which is easy to fit in around everything else I have to do in the day!

You pick the right word to match to the picture, complete sentences and have to repeat back via the microphone Spanish phrases. It’s amazing how quickly you can pick up words. I am amazing my family with phrases such as “I have an Apple” which is surely going to come in useful!

Another app I have tried is Mind snacks Spanish. This app uses a matching style game to help you learn Spanish words. It’s a lot of fun and something children would also find fun to play too.

Babbel is also an app I have used, this is also a great app using word matching and speaking into the microphone. It keeps you interested and engaged in learning a new language. It’s so easy to find a few minutes each day to complete a new section of the course.

Just having some idea of the vocabulary and some stock phrases is so useful. I am still struggling a bit on the grammar side of things but generally the apps help to identify what to say to get your message across.

Having the ability to use your phone for calls, text and data at no extra cost would have been a godsend when I went to Spain last year. Having YouTube or iplayer to hand would have been so handy with Nancy to keep her occupied. Also being able to send pictures to friends and family and keep in touch via Skype or Facebook would also be lovely.

The lovely people at Three have also put together this infographic to help plan your Spanish trips and make the most of your photos (and all that data you can use to send your pictures to your friends!)

How to #holidayspam in Spain like a boss
Use your phone abroad at no extra cost with Feel At Home on Three

Overall, I am loving thinking about Spain, talking Spanish and just getting into the holiday mood. Where do you like to go to in Spain? Do you have any tips? Let me know! 

 

Walk to School Month with Kiddicare

Kiddicare kindly sent us a buggy to review to help us support Walk to School Month this October. Walk to school month is an international day when primary schools and nurseries try and encourage as many people as possible to walk to school or nursery.

Walking is not only good for us and our health, but for the environment too. With me also losing weight it was a no-brainer for us to take part in the walk to school month!

The buggy we were sent was the Kiddicare Deko Plus Stroller Pixel Olive.

This buggy is compact and great for short walks like to nursery. The buggy comes with a raincover which is great especially now the weather has changed a bit! The hood gives good cover and has a little window so you can see your child even when it’s raining.

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The buggy is suitable from birth, and has a reclining back seat so that babies can lie flat. This is also great for when Bubs wants a nap! It’s easy to move the back into position too using the straps.

This stroller has added comfort extras such as a reversible padded cover and padded chest pads. which looks lovely and comfortable. The 5 point safety harness is also a reassuring safety measure and I found it easy to strap Bubs into the seat. The straps are easily adjustable to your little ones size.

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It’s easy to put together and putting it down is easy once you’ve figured it out! It is a little fiddly initially to put up/down but it’s something you get used to over time. It’s lightweight and fits easily into the back of my car as well for those times even you are going further afield.

It is lovely to push and feels quite sturdy, it was easy to manouver around corners and different terrain. Bubs did seem a bit big in the buggy however even though she is nowhere near the upper weight limit. The buggy has a lovely modern design and many people commented how nice it looked! There is a shopping basket underneath the buggy which is quite roomy too, which I was surprised about.

This is a great buggy for us at the moment, when Bubs loves walking but also needs a rest for a while as well.

We have really enjoyed using the buggy and getting out and walking to nursery, and also other places, during Walk to School month. I’ve felt so much better for walking and blowing away the cobwebs. Bubs has also enjoyed walking as much as she can, and having the buggy means that she can have a well deserved rest when she needs one.

The Kiddicare Deko Plus Stroller costs £69.99.

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Museum Selection – Tea Caddy and Tea Cup Review

When Museum selection asked me if I’d like to review their tea caddy and tea cup, I thought it sounded a great idea! Museum Selection is a website that works with many museums and galleries providing gifts for their gift shops. Their items therefore are steeped in nostalgia and relate back to days gone by.

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The tea caddy I was asked to review is beautiful, and would make a great gift. One thing I would say however is that a few people have indicated to me that they feel the shape is a little urn like, but I love the elephant design and detail.

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The tea itself is very nice. I always worry that tea in such an item would be cheap and tasteless, but this is a pleasant afternoon tea that went down lovely. It’s an easy to drink tea that most people would drink and find agreeable. I would personally make this tea in a teapot, rather than in the cup.

The tea cup is beautiful. It’s bone china and has been hand finished with 22ct gold. It’s so nice I don’t really want to drink out of it. The design has a 20s/30s style to me, and it looks so elegant. Again, a great idea for a gift for a tea lover. I feel extremely elegant sipping on some tea in my posh cup and saucer.

Elephant Afternoon Tea Caddy is £9.99, Tea Cup and Saucer £24.99 from Museum Selection.

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I was sent some afternoon tea in a tea caddy with a cup and saucer in order to undertake this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Bagabook Tote Bag Review

Bagabook are a unique company with a unique product – a book cover carrier which protects your book or diary, as well as being functional like a bag.

I was asked by Bagabook to review some of their new range which they have recently launched. I was sent a Tote Bag, but the range also includes matching book covers, iPad covers and a scarf. There are three designs in the range: liquorice, candy stripe or bouquet. I was sent a bouquet tote bag, and the design is bright, colourful and modern.

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The tote bag is a good size – it fits under your arm easily and there is lots of room inside for your book, your purse and anything else you may need.

The bag is made well, and feels sturdy. The ‘BB’ emblem on my bag looks a little at a slant but you can’t really notice this – I suspect that’s just my bag however. The pockets inside are a good detail, meaning that you have places to put your phone and keys. The phone pocket is nice and wide, making sure all sorts of phones can fit in – there’s nothing more annoying than having a bag where you can’t use the phone pocket! There is plenty of room in here for any other bits and pieces you may need to take out – for me it’s usually juice cups and wet wipes!

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The tote bag is great for when you want to take your book and a few other things out, it all fits nicely inside and it’s easy to wear on your shoulder.

For me, the bags price is a little out of my usual price range – it’s £39.95 – I would usually be looking at bags for less than this, so I would see this more as a gift item than something I would buy myself. If you know someone who has the Bagabook book cover, then getting the tote bag to match would be a great Christmas gift.

I was sent the bouquet tote bag from Bagabook in order to undertake this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Lego Movie Review

I was asked by Suppose.com if I would like to review The Lego Movie, and they kindly sent me the DVD to review.

The Lego Movie is about Emmet, just an ordinary Lego worker who is identified as the ‘Special’ one, who will save the world. He joins a quest to defeat an evil tyrant, and has a lot of escapades on the way.

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We loved this film. It is funny and easy to watch, and also a lot of fun! I also couldn’t get the infamous “everything is awesome” song out of my head! This is a lovely family film which kids and grown ups will both like. It’s amazing how they can make the film so true to lego life, and the detail is fab. Lego is something we love in our family and so this was a nice movie which caught our attention from the get go. It is funny, and features a lot of the classic lego-isms that Lego fans will notice. A great movie to watch on a Sunday afternoon.

I was sent a copy of the Lego Movie in order to undertake this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own

Little Miracles Organic Soft Drinks Review

When I was contacted about Little Miracles, I was intrigued. A soft drink, with tea? As a self confessed tea addict I thought it would be a great idea to review these drinks on the blog.

Little Miracles are organic soft drinks, made using organic teas and ingredients. Penax Gingseng is used in its purest form, which the company say is its secret ingredient. They are free from articfical flavours, colours and sweeteners. The drinks are being advertised as having all natural ingredients that can give you a natural boost to your day.

There are four flavours of Little Miracles:

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Green Tea, Gingseng and Pomegranate

White Tea, Gingseng and Cherry

Black Tea, Gingseng and Peach

Lemongrass Tea, Orange ansd Ginger (New Flavour)

The packaging of the drinks is bright and colourful, and the bottles are a screw cap which is easy to open.

The drinks are a still soft drink, and overall I have really enjoyed the drinks and their flavours. My least favourite flavour is the Lemongrass, Orange and Ginger – I wasn’t too keen on the ginger aftertaste. My favourite flavour is Black Tea, Gingseng and Peach, a lovely smooth flavour which I felt was refreshing. The addition of tea makes these comparable to iced tea drinks, and I do feel the different teas do add a flavour element. These drinks work best ice cold I feel, and would really be refreshing on a sunny day – luckily we have had a few of these lately and these drinks have quenched my thirst.

Did  I feel more energised after the drinks? I am not sure, but I tended to have the drinks with me at work, usually either mid morning or mid afternoon, so they may have helped to give me a boost. By drinking the drinks, I didn’t actually snack mid-morning or mid-afternoon, so maybe they did give me some extra energy. I think it is probably a subjective experience as to how you feel after drinking the drinks, but I enjoyed the taste and I think that probably matters a bit more than how they make you feel afterwards.

I’d be interested to see what other flavours may come out in the future. This is a drink I would occasionally buy in the shops, the price of £1.59 means it is slightly more expensive than say a bottle of Diet Coke (my usual bottle of choice) but it is a nice alternative to fizzy drinks and if you are watching your weight it can give you more options. I like the fact that it is an organic drink, using organic ingredients.

Little Miracles are available to buy in most major supermarkets for £1.59 per bottle.

I was sent a bottle of each flavour of Little Miracles in order to undertake this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Organic September with Waitrose

I was invited by Waitrose to go organic for at least one meal for a week, and to see what Organic food is like. We were sent a voucher so that we could go to Waitrose and purchase some organic foods to try for the week. I have always liked the idea of Organic food, but on the whole we don’t buy much organic food mainly due to the price. Seeing as it is Organic September, and as I am trying my best to keep to my diet and eat healthily, it seemed a great opportunity.

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Firstly, I didn’t realise how many foods are organic. In Waitrose, there is a big range of organic foods, and they are easily identifiable by the organic logo and different coloured labels which means the organic foods really stand out.  Of course, fruit and veg has a good organic range, but there was at least one organic item on nearly every shelf in the store. I would say though that when we went in to buy our food it was in the evening, and a few organic vegetable items were out of stock, which was a little disappointing.

I stuck as close as possible to what we usually shop so that I could compare. Price wise, yes organic is more expensive but I do think it depends on what you buy. The fruit and veg was more expensive, and for example the carrots were really expensive compared to my normal standard carrots. Other items such as long life foods were not much more expensive.

So, what am I going to eat?

This is my meal plan for this week (I am just highlighting here which meals we switched to organic):

Monday: Dinner: Pasta and Pesto with cheese

Tuesday: Lunch: Feta Salad with Pitta Bread

Dinner: Sirloin Steak with Oven Chips, Salad, Mushrooms and Cherry Tomatoes with Garlic Butter

Wednesday: Dinner: Pasta Bake

Thursday: Dinner: Stuffed Peppers with Couscous

Friday: Lunch: Chickpea and Couscous Salad with Pitta Bread

Dinner: Tofu Stir Fry with Rice

Saturday: Breakfast: Baked Beans on Toast

Dinner: Vegetable Curry with Rice

Sunday: Breakfast: Poached Eggs with Mushrooms and Tomatoes

Already two days into my Organic week and I can really taste a difference.When I started this week, I was not convinced that organic food would be any better than ‘normal’ range food,other than it was grown in better environments and so on – but the first thing I have noticed about organic food, is the smell and the taste.

The fruit and veg smell gorgeous, and just make you want to eat them. There is an earthy smell to the vegetables and the taste is definitely better. The cherry tomatoes we bought were absolutely delicious, much more flavour than the usual we buy and they really added something to all the meals I have used them in so far. The organic garlic is much stronger and the smell hits you as soon as you unpeel them.

Even the oven chips we bought tasted different – the potatoes are definitely superior and it really does show. I am so surprised at this, as I really didn’t expect it.

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I am really excited about the rest of this week, and I will do another post at the end of the week to show you what we have created with our organic buys. Although organic is expensive, there are definitely some items I think I will buy organic in the future, even if I can’t buy everything organic, I think a few replacements in my shopping is worth it for the taste alone.

Waitrose are celebrating Organic September and have some organic recipes online– worth taking a look if you need some organic inspiration.

I was sent a voucher by Waitrose to purchase Organic Foods in order to undertake this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.