personal · review

A trip down memory Lane 7

Hi all.

Many years ago, whilst I was still in college at the tender age of 17 I used to work in a call centre for Orange (now EE!) in the middle of town. The company was called Garlands and we operated from the CNE (Centre North East) building. Sadly, Garlands ended up closing and the building was mostly empty bar a few floors. Underneath CNE there are a few units which have been a myriad of businesses and clubs over the years. One of them was Walkabout (now Turtle Bay!) and we used to roll out of the building on a Friday night and straight into there for post work drinks. It’s safe to say I had some of the best nights out of my life in those days!

As part of the regeneration of the building some of the units have been taken over and turned into new businesses and one of these businesses is Lane 7!

Lane 7 is a retro style bowling alley with a full bar and an amazing retro arcade. They have two other locations in Newcastle and Aberdeen and I was so excited when I found out that there would be a new location opening in Middlesbrough. I was then even more excited to be invited along to the opening night.

I’ve always been a huge fan of bowling. Mine and Adams second ever date (6 years ago this month ahh!!) was at Hollywood Bowl and it’s always been an activity I’ve loved. Sadly we don’t go so much because honestly the only local place is Hollywood Bowl which I find to be absolutely mental and over run with kids screaming and running all over the place. When I found out a more “adult” bowling place was open I just knew we had to visit.

As I said previously, I was invited along to the opening evening of Lane 7 and was offered a free game for me and my friends, drinks and tokens for the arcade. Of course I wasn’t going to turn down the opportunity to check out a new place!

We invited along our good friends Luke and Anna. Luke is actually Eleanors godfather and has been Adams pal since school. We managed to part pretty close by and walked to the venue unsure of what we would find. Lane 7 is in the basement of the CNE building and is accessed by a door just next to the CNE entrance doors. You walk in and immediately walk down a flight of stairs and find yourself right next to the shoe hire.

We went and checked in and got our shoes. The shoes were velcro for ease and retro style. We of course had to take a shoe selfie!

Next we went to the bar whilst we waited for our friends and I got a peach schnapps and lemonade – such an underrated drink! I was pretty taken with the novelty bowling balls on display and the red pins.

After drinks it was time to bowl. There’s only four lanes so there’s a real intimate feel. The retro look is paired with an industrial feel which suits the building. Sadly I didn’t win at bowling. I started strong and just slowly went downhill, but I didn’t mind cause I had a lot of fun just playing.

 

After bowling we were given some tokens to hit the arcades. It’s not the biggest of arcades but there was some great games and my favourite was this pinball machine.

Adam was more taken with “The House Of The Dead”, a game he used to play in his younger years.

Sadly the zombies were a little too much for Adam and I had to step in and show him how it’s done. Couples who slay together, stay together!

(Thanks Anna for the pic!)

As much as I loved the bowling and the arcade, one of the coolest aspects was the gender neutral toilets. I thought this was a really great touch.

We loved our evening at Lane 7 and have already been talking about going back. It’s so nice to see more entertainment options coming to Middlesbrough, more than just going out for a drink. It’s opened up more options for me and Adam for date nights as we often have to get back for the baby and we aren’t big drinkers anyway. That said, they do have a fully stocked bar and open till late so it could be a good place to start a night out.

We can’t wait to head back and have to say a huge thank you to all the staff who made us feel welcome and spoke to us about the venue.

So if you’re in Middlesbrough and fancy something different, definitely check it out!

Thanks for reading,

Hannah x

 

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home · personal · review

Photowall* Fab Fat Mama Reviews.

Hi all!

Some of you may know that I absolutely love home decor and doing up houses. I love to express my personal style over my home by putting my stamp on it and I tend to go for bold colours and prints against a backdrop of grey. I’m so obsessed with grey, I literally have it in every room in my house. The only room that is grey free is the bathroom which was tiled before we moved in – however we bought grey towels.

I’m always looking for ways to add to my home and to make it more personal to us, and so I was super pleased when the lovely Christine from Photowall got in touch and offered me either wallpaper of my choice or a canvas.

I’m not going to lie, It took me quite a long time to decide what to get. I was pretty sad that I’d just bought wallpaper to re-do our living room and here I was hit with loads of amazing choices that I could of had but I got over it when I saw the canvas selection.

I ended up choosing a canvas because I love having images of my family around the house and I didn’t really have an up to date one. As we had just been on holiday it seemed the perfect chance to get one of our images blown up so we could keep the memory going.

I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to actually order the canvas and the number of different custom sizes you could choose from. It’s not in regimented sizes, you can pretty much choose what you want and you can crop parts from your image and move your selection around.

I chose one of the smaller sizes available, put the crop selection to the part of the image I wanted and ordered the canvas as well as a D I Y kit to make it at home.

My canvas came pretty speedily in a long box. I knew there was going to be some building involved and so I set everything out ready to go!

I rolled out the canvas and was really shocked at how good the quality was as I’d sent quite a bad image and thought it might not come out so great. I set this on the table to straighten out whilst I unpacked the rest of the pieces.

The D I Y kit contained some side pieces which had been pre-taped, some metal brackets and some plastic ended screws. This meant that you didn’t actually need any physical tools to put together the canvas which I thought was a really great idea.

I consulted the instructions and decided to just go for it. It seemed pretty straight forward to put together and the instructions were very helpful.

I got the wooden pieces on pretty easily. I made sure to leave a lip each side with the canvas and rolled it round the corner of the wood which it shows on the instructions. This helped to line up the wood and the bits of tape stuck together when the wood rolled in. I put the wood on the edges of the canvas and once all 4 pieces were on it was time to roll them in together and meet the corners.

Once rolled in, they were secured together using the metal brackets and screws. I found the easiest way to do this was to only screw in a little bit so there was some flexibility and then once all the screws were in to then tighten them. I managed to do this myself and finally the canvas was together.

I always knew where I wanted to put the canvas, which was at the top of my stairs on a patch of wall with nothing much around it. I didn’t actually mount it as we’re waiting to re-paint the wall but I actually like it here on the top of the drawers. It puts a smile on my face every morning when I step out of my bedroom and I’ve had so many compliments on it so far.

I would definitely use Photowall again in the future as their delivery was so quick and the product is really good quality. I would love to try their personalised wallpaper which I think sounds amazing and could be a great way to get a really unique look for your home. I can imagine scanning in Eleanors artwork when she’s older and decorating a play room with it – that would be so cool and cute!

If you would like to try Photowall they’ve got a black friday deal on for the next couple of days. You can use the code blackfriday17 for 25% off!

Thank you so much to Photowall for gifting me the canvas. As much as I was given the item for free, the words in this review are all my own and they are my own opinions.

Thanks for reading!

Hannah xx

personal · review

The Nuthatch Stockton – FabFatMama Reviews

Hi all!

This post is almost a continuation of my last post which you can find here!

So if you read my last post, you’ll of known we’d just been for some dinner at Hope & Union before going to see one of my besties Charlotte sing over at The Nuthatch. The Nuthatch is a small cocktail bar which started in Middlesbrough but now has a branch in Stockton too. I’ve wanted to go for quite a long time and I was very excited to actually book a table and go. I booked a table online and requested to be sat near my 3 friends and their husbands and we ended up actually being seated together which was great.

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The Nuthatch is situated in Wasps Nest Yard which can be accessed through a very colourful archway via Silver Street in Stockton-On-Tees – almost blink and you miss it. I loved the feeling of almost stepping into somewhere unknown and hidden, almost like you weren’t in Stockton at all any more.

We met 2 of our friends on the way and all arrived together. We’d luckily been seated in a table of eight which meant we were all together. I took my seat in-front of the open folding doors and took in my surroundings.

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The interior is tiny, but beautiful. It’s a mix of exposed brick, mixed shabby chic chairs, thick green foliage and small handmade looking tables. I was particularly in love with the bar area which was full of hanging cocktail glasses and copper equipment.

After taking our seats we were given two menus – one was the original menu and one was the special’s menu. They had a handful of cocktails on offer at just £5. I selected my first cocktail, one I was super excited to taste and it didn’t let me down.

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My first cocktail was Blueberry Amaretto Sour – Blueberries, Disaronno, Lemon Juice, Egg White. 

I’ve had a Blueberry Amaretto Sour at new year when I made them with my cousin and loved them then and so I was super excited to try their version and honestly, I wasn’t let down. I always think it tastes like fruity Doctor Pepper. This one was so smooth and velvety I literally couldn’t stop drinking it. The small glass was deceptive too as it felt like the drink never ended – not that I was complaining.

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Next up I tried The Nuthatch – Edinburgh Raspberry, Lemon, Pink Grapefruit, Framboise Liqueur, Cranberry, Rosemary.

This is the Nuthatch’ signature cocktail and is served in “that” bird glass. This was on the £5 menu and I really thought it was great value for money. I love a fruity cocktail and this one was just to my liking. I particularly liked the citrus flavours mixed with the hit of burnt rosemary. This cocktail doesn’t just tingle your taste buds but also gets your other senses going resulting in a well rounded cocktail experience.

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My final cocktail was the Passionfruit Martini – Absolut Vanilla, Passionfruit Liqueur, Apple Juice, Passionfruit Puree, Vanilla Syrup.

Being a huge fan of a “Pornstar Martini”, I had to try one of these. I got hooked on them thanks to my cousin Carley and was excited to see how they served theirs. Again, these were on the £5 menu which was a great deal. I really enjoyed this cocktail, it was smooth and sweet with a little bit of tang. It slipped down maybe a little bit TOO easily as I just couldn’t stop drinking it. I know the classic version comes with a shot of Prosecco but I honestly didn’t miss it.

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Of course the real reason I was there was to see my friend Charlotte perform. She was performing at their Songbird night which is held on a Thursday and features one local artist per week. It was lovely to have her perform in such a beautiful relaxed setting whilst we sipped away on our cocktails. The atmosphere was just what i’m into and I really enjoyed the evening.

One thing I was quite impressed with was the large gin selection, the “build your own gin” menu and the amount of different craft/flavoured beers they sell. They even have a “mocktail” menu so there is literally something for everybody.

In all I had a lovely night, and I’ll definitely be heading back. The Nuthatch is calm and relaxing, has really great drinks and is manned by some really lovely and knowledgeable staff. Me and my friend Steph had a great conversation with the guys behind the bar and they definitely made us feel welcome.

The only question is, what to try next? And who’s coming for a drink?

Hannah x

fashion · food · personal · review

Hope & Union. FabFatMama Reviews!

Hi All!

So I feel like since I’ve been hanging out with my gorgeous new gal pals I’ve been out loads. Don’t get me wrong, I still used to go out but not for nearly as interesting places as I’ve been going recently!

One of these new places I’ve been to is Hope & Union in Stockton and is somewhere I’ve been eyeing up for quite a while ever since I found them on Instagram. They hold gin nights which is how I originally came to follow them and they also have live music. Once I showed my partner that they did yorkshire pudding wraps we vowed that one Sunday, we would go.

This has not happened.

Fast forward a few weeks/months and my friend Charlotte was planning a gig in another local establishment, a cocktail bar called The Nuthatch and me and Adam decided to meet up with the rest of the “squad” and our significant others. My mum kindly offered to have Eleanor for the night and as she came quite early we thought we would make the most of if and grab a bite to eat out before the gig. Knowing that the Hope & Union was nearby we finally had an excuse to pop in and decided that’s where we would head.

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Now, some of you who have followed me for a long time will know I used to be a huge wig enthusiast. In fact, at one point I had over 70 wigs in my collection as I used to write a separate wig reviewing blog. I sold off/gave away most of my wigs after having Eleanor as I didn’t have the space to keep them and they weren’t very practical with a new-born. I did however keep a handful of my favourite wigs for special occasions and on a whim I decided to pull my all time favourite out of retirement for a night out. This was mostly because I fancied changing my look up a bit but also partly because I’d been swimming earlier in the day and my hair just was not playing ball.

Outfit wise I slipped on a velvet dress I got for Christmas which, didn’t fit me quite how I wanted it to anymore (it’s gotten too big as I’ve lost weight) and teamed it with my trusty flat-forms and my devore kimono.

When we got to Hope & Union I had to laugh – it was literally a stones throw from The Nuthatch. We were worrying it would take us a while to find them both or to walk from one to the other but unless they were physically touching – they couldn’t be closer.

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We walked inside and I immediately loved the atmosphere and the decor. I’m massively into the industrial/DIY look which is quite a key design feature in the venue. There’s handmade tables with pipes and wood, scaffolding board bar shelves, an amazing see-through barrel store/”cellar” and cages containing beers/items to buy. This is mixed with old Chesterfield sofas, low tables built up from crates and booth seating. I was impressed.

Although I was quite impressed at the decor, what impressed me more was the HUGE selection of gins for sale. I couldn’t choose one and so asked the bar man for something citrus based and he recommended Williams Seville Orange with classic tonic and lemon/lime garnish. I accepted and was so glad I went with his suggestion as this was so delicious. The orange bursts through and is truly a beautiful drink.

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We found a table and started looking at the menu. The menu is really small and there’s also some daily specials. We were quite impressed to see that the meat comes from a butchers literally 5 minutes walk away from the bar and is a butcher we’ve actually used ourselves who sells really quality meats. I thought about getting some of the small plates which reminded me almost of a british style tapas with things like pork pie and mushy peas, black pudding bon bons and runny in the middle scotch eggs but I ultimately decided on the Dirty Dawg. The Dirty Dawg (as pictured above) is a Cumberland sausage wrapped in bacon and brushed with mustard and smothered in cheese on top of butter rolled cornbread and served with rustic skin on fries and homemade slaw.

I loved this dish. I couldn’t finish it all and had a little help from Adam but it was amazing. The cornbread completely melted in your mouth and the quality of the meat was so obvious. I’m not really one for chips but these steak cut skin on chips were delicious and cooked quite honestly to perfection. A real stand out part of the meal though had to be the slaw. It was just a great, homemade delicious slaw and it cut through the richness of the cheese so well.

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As much as I enjoyed mine, Adam enjoyed his even more. He went for the beer and beef burger which was topped with bacon jam and he also upgraded his chips to loaded chips which meant they were topped with cheese and thick chunks of ham. I tasted his and instantly regretted not upgrading mine.

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Adam washed his down with this grapefruit beer which is about 2. something percent and was recommended as a great beer for those who are driving. Adam thought it was really tasty, almost like a fruity shandy. In fact, he liked it so much that when we went to the next venue he nipped back in for another one and drank it outside.

We both really enjoyed our time in the Hope & Union. The food and drinks were all delicious and it was nice to be in somewhere with my kind of music playing (yes, they even play The Smiths!!!!!). I like to support independent local businesses and I can most definitely see me heading back here for yorkshire pudding wraps, British tapas and copious amounts of gin!

Hannah x

baby · fashion · food · parenting · plus size · review

Bears at Butlins! – Our family holiday. Part 3!

Hi all!

So finally here comes the final post about my time in Butlins which is part 3! (Part1 and Part 2 are also available to read.)

Day 4

On day 4 we decided the weather looked alright again and so decided to head out for the day to Fantasy Island which I was keen to go to as I loved it as a child.

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We got ready, threw on our shorts for a sunny day and headed for breakfast whilst we decided how we would get there. After the bus issues the day before – we decided to drive.

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We drove to Fantasy Island which was around 5 minutes away from Butlins and I felt a huge wave of nostalgia hit me. Even though it had gotten so much bigger in size and had tons more shops and cafes, so much of it was the same and I instantly recognised some of the rides as ones from my childhood. They still had the log flume I loved, the spinning ride my brother one fell out of, the magic carpet ride I used to go on with my dad and the indoor flume which stained mine and my cousins matching white trousers. Some rides, such as the indoor  rollercoaster which seemed so big and fast when I was younger now seemed so tiny. It was at this moment that I realised I had now taken the place of my parents and was actually the adult – what a scary feeling!

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We weren’t that bothered about going on the actual rides, and I was quite sore from pushing the pram which I grew to hate over the holiday so we didn’t go around all the shops and stalls – there were thousands there! We did pick up some good items though, such as wax tarts for our candle burner and most importantly – we found Eleanor the perfect Christening gown. My mum had wanted to go shopping for it with me and I’m sad that we didn’t get to have that experience but the second I saw the dress in the window I knew it was everything I was looking for. My mum really wanted to buy her dress so I called her and explained and she was happy to still buy the dress.Thankfully she loved it as much as I do when she saw it.

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After a good look around, a few games in the amusements (I won a teddy on hook a duck!) and our dress purchase, it was time to feed Eleanor and so we popped into a diner where we decided to grab a dessert whilst we fed her. Adam settled on a jumbo ice cream (not realising the sheer size of it at the time) and as what I wanted was sold out I decided I’d just have a few spoons of his. Well I’m glad we shared because it was absolutely huge! It had numerous different flavours of ice cream, cream, sauce, wafers, flakes and even spiral wafers – Adam was sad he had to share.

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After a slow walk back to the car we headed back to the site and back to our room to pick up swimming costumes. We headed to splash which was pretty quiet and had our last go in the swimming pools. We went on our favourite lazy river and found the wave pool for the first time which was fun and which Eleanor really enjoyed.

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We went for dinner a little earlier than we were used to as we were hoping to head to the Aladdin Rocks show afterward which we heard would be busy. Busy was an understatement! We only JUST got in and there was no tables so I asked people for spare chairs so we could at least sit! The show was amazing and had just enough adventure and sparkle for the kids mixed with enough smutty jokes and puns for the parents. After the show we had our final few games in the arcades and headed back to make sure we were all set for the morning (Adam had already packed most of the clothes whilst me and Eleanor had an afternoon nap) so there wasn’t much to do. We’re the kinds of people who pack as we go so we don’t have loads to do at checking out time – that way we can be relaxed and we don’t leave stuff.

Day 5

On the Friday we woke at our usual time and got little bear sorted with her morning bottle whilst we pottered around. We got ourselves dressed and started filling the car so we could leave after breakfast so we would hit her naptime as we were driving. We had our last breakfast and walk around the complex and even looked at prices for next year – I think we’d stay in an apartment next time for more space and so we had place to have drinks/food in the room.

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Leaving Butlins was sad. That place holds so many precious childhood memories for me – it’s almost like a little piece of me is there. Butlins is where my family was happiest, and where me and cousins bonded and grew up together and where I started to hate UB40 (after dad continuously played it on a loop driving there/back. My parents have broken up now and so it was strange for me to go back to a place where we were such a “together” unit and such a typical family. I also have a grandad and another family member who I have so many fond memories of at Butlins.

As I walked around the park it was so bittersweet to remember the happy times, the people who we had loved and lost and the old memories following me around and mixing with the new memories I was making with my child. I was surreal to think of her taking it in for the first time as I had once taken in the excitement for the first time, but even more surreal that I wasn’t 5 years old anymore, I was 25 years old and the tiny child I had been pushing around all week was my own.

I definitely want to come back to Butlins and keep making memories with my family. For value for money, fun and entertainment I really rate Butlins. There’s always something going on for people of all ages and the staff are so kind and helpful and really make your trip worthwhile. I can’t wait to return.

Here’s to making memories.

Hannah, Adam
& Eleanor x

baby · food · review

Remember Me Tearooms – FabFatMama Reviews

Hi all!

One of my absolute favourite things to do is to go out for afternoon tea. Me and my mum love it so much that she’s actually having an afternoon tea themed birthday party in a couple of weeks. We love going online and getting random deals to head off to places for afternoon tea – it gives us some time to spend together too.

I was in Stockton town centre a few weeks ago visiting a friends shop and I felt peckish. I weighed up my options and decided to try somewhere I had walked past a few times but never tried. Actually, I went to try it once with Adam but I don’t think they took card so we went elsewhere.

I popped in with Eleanor who was due a bottle and just managed to get the last table as somebody was leaving. It’s always a good sign to see a place busy! I had a look at the menu which was full of lovely treats such as toasties, bagels, jacket potatoes and loads more. I did consider quiche and a cake but settled on classic afternoon tea. It was a bargain at £6.50 (this has recently gone up to £7.50 but still excellently priced!).

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On the afternoon tea there was a sandwich choice (I chose ham and mustard), crisps, side salad, scone choice (I chose cheese) and a few different options for cake. I chose a pancake inspired cake with mini pancakes on top.

It all came together on a cute china stand with mismatched cup and saucer and a pot of tea.

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I’m a sucker for mismatched crockery and love the kitsch vibe it gives. I really enjoyed my sandwich but didn’t really touch the side salad. I wish that the rest of the sandwich was served as I only got 2 triangles, but there was plenty of other bits.

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The cheese scone was really tasty and I highly recommend it!

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I’m not usually all for sweet things but the cake was delicious. The sponge was light and airy and I loved the mini pancakes and syrup on top. These should be on the menu more!

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I really enjoyed my afternoon tea and time in the cafe but I have to admit it wasn’t really baby friendly. I couldn’t see any high chairs anywhere and the tables were quite close together so I felt like I was blocking the way with my pram. Also, there’s a toilet but no baby change or real place to change a baby. I ended up on my knees in a tiny toilet trying to change my baby which wasn’t great.

Despite the lack of changing facilities I’d definitely go back. The staff were kind and helpful, the decor was kitsch and cute and what I ate was really delicious. I need to go back and try the quiche because I saw somebody else order a slice and it looked lush!

Maybe I’ll take my mum next time we’re looking for a bite to eat!

Thanks for reading,

Hannah x

food · review · Uncategorized

FabFatMama reviews! – Creams Cafe Middlesbrough

Hi all!

A few weekends ago me, my mum, Adam and Eleanor went out for some dinner together in Middlesbrough. As my mum was having Eleanor for the night, me and Adam decided to try out a new dessert place together and spend some time together before going home.

Middlesbrough is erupting with new places to eat/drink and we’re really spoilt for choice whenever we head out. I knew however that I wanted to head to Creams at some point and was glad when we decided to pop in.

The interior is gorgeous.

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It’s clearly part of a chain and is immaculate an really sticks with a black and purple theme. There are various styles of seating such as booths, tables with tub chairs and tables with normal chairs so there’s really something for everybody’s comfort

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There’s so many icecreams on offer and you can get cones, tubs and custom sundae’s. There’s also a menu full of ready made combos including crepes, waffles, milkshakes and other drinks. We sat for ages trying to decide but finally decided on a sundae each.

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I went for the classic banana and toffee split. If I’m honest I was slightly disappointed. The banana was fresh and the cream and sauce was lovely, but after that it was just whipped ice cream from a machine – I would of much preferred real scooped ice cream as the whipped stuff got a bit samey. The wafers were lovely and it was great to see the branded wafers which added a nice touch, however the tiny fudge pieces were quite hard and took some chewing. I don’t think I’d order this again and would probably go for the scoops which looked much more interesting.

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Adam went for the choc fudge hot’n’cold volcano which looked amazing and which Adam really enjoyed. Adam loves a hot and cold contrast and this sundae was full of hot chocolate fudge cake and hot toffee sauce mixed with the whippy ice cream – perfect for him. It was absolutely stuffed with cake and sauce and I was a little bit jealous watching him eat his.

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I think next time we go I’d try one of the waffles which come with various toppings and the whippy ice cream on the side, or a custom sundae with the delicious looking scooped ice creams. I really fancied the pistachio!

There’s a little bit for everybody’s price range here, from single cones to something called “the crowd pleaser” which is a huge platter of ice cream, waffles, cream and other bits. I’d definitely love to get a few people together and dig in! It’s definitely a nice place to go with the family and all the staff were warm and welcoming – plus they have disney movies playing!

What more could you want?

Hannah x