Tuesday, 2 October 2012

One is The Magic Number

My twin boys have just turned one! When you first have a baby everyone tells you how quickly they will grow up and how fast the time will fly….. at the time, I didn’t believe them and no doubt during the long sleepless nights, I was begging for this to happen! But, now they’ve finally reached this key milestone, I’m gobsmacked that we’ve got here so quick!!

Turning one, is a cause for celebration for many reasons, not just that your tiny baby (or babies in my case) has grown up, but the fact that we can now say bye bye to the things that made early baby life so difficult. Such as the sterilizer and bottles, so glad this has finally gone, no longer do I have to hear the cries of hungry babies at night while waiting for their bottles to sterilize on time and it’s one less bulky item we have to take to grandma’s house! 

Hello cow’s milk, are we glad to see you, especially when my boys were going through a box of Aptamil milk every three days, my purse strings can finally relax. Also, since turning one the boys have slept through every night (yes I’m now a very smug mum) gone are my dark bags and a new, fresh faced me has arrived!  So when your little ones hit this magic number, get out the jelly and ice cream and crack open the champers, because you’ve made it!!

Here is a little shout out to those that have recently helped make being a mum a little easier, firstly Anywayup Cups. If you don’t have one of these cups for your child, I recommend you go out and buy one!

The lovely people at Anywayup heard about the disasters I was having with cups that claim they are ‘non spill’ when they clearly are not. The worst offender, is the Tommee Tippee Explore Cup, it comes with a removable valve that is meant to ensure that the water stays in the cup. However, if your toddler is anything like my two, who like to throw their cups around, you’ll know that this removable valve is useless and will pop out on all the wrong occasions. Think nice clean outfit, just about to leave the house for an event which we are already late for (due to explosive nappies, trantums and packing everything in the car but the kitchen sink) the boys want a drink, pop goes the value and you’ve got two soggy toddlers on your hands!

Anywayup kindly sent me two of their green, original leak proof, classic cups, to put to the ultimate test and after a month of been thrown round my kitchen (with a stone floor) these cool, retro looking cups have put up a tough fight. I can confirm they really live up to their name. Due to the clever but simple technology in the Anywayup Cups, there is not a separate valve in these cups, just two parts, the lid and the actual cup, so there is no messing around when it comes to filling/cleaning these cups. Check them out at http://www.anywayup.com/

Secondly IKEA, now I can’t be a glamorous lady that lunches in fabulous places everyday, so when I was stuck in the hustle and bustle of a busy IKEA store during a playroom planning melt down, I loved my visit to the haven that is the IKEA café. Cheap food, clean highchairs, baby cutlery, disposable bibs, heating facilities, mum chill out/feeding areas and free food for babies (not forgetting the free crèche they offer) this café has it all for families…ooooo imagine a world where all shops introduced something like this and staff in places like Harvey Nics smiled when they saw your buggy coming and liked watching your toddler trying to take the latest Mulberry Handbag off the manikin! 

Lastly, a HUGE thank you to the Kids Clubhouse in Horsforth for hosting my boys first birthday party, this is such a fantastic soft play venue for all ages, with lovely staff, we can certainly recommend it for anyone who’s looking for a party venue in the Leeds area. http://www.kids-clubhouse.co.uk/

Here is the latest Ladies & Babies That Lunch restaurant review:

The Roundhay Fox

Roundhay, Leeds
Occasion: Day out with three friends and four babies (yes we were outnumbered by babies)
Day & Time: Tuesday 12.00 noon

The Roundhay Fox tends to be regular haunt for anyone who visits the popular Roundhay Park, this vintage inn is normally packed outside in the summer months with people having a refreshing drink in the sunshine and full inside in the colder months with those looking for a hearty, winter lunch.

After a busy morning at Tropical World, and a planned picnic in the park getting rained off we thought we’d best opt for plan B which was lunch at the Roundhay Fox.

When we arrived, it was very quiet, so we had the pick of the tables, we opted for a large round table, big enough to fit four high chairs round and with two buggies and my bus (aka the double buggy) we needed to ensure we had lots of space. Luckily there was lots of it.

There were a selection of wooden highchairs to choose from, which came with and without trays and found some suited the older babies in the group better than the younger ones who were slipping down in their seats, but after some switching around (musical highchairs) this was fine. There was an extensive menu for the kids, but as we had already packed a picnic, we let them munch away on their pack ups while we chose and ordered from the menu of home comforts and lunch bites.

With four babies, we fortunately only had two trips to the baby changing rooms; at a squeeze I could fit my double buggy into the changing room to take both my boys at once, bonus! The changing room wasn’t the best or worst I’ve seen before, but it was clean. The changing unit was located on the wall which had to be pulled down and the strap was broken on this – very annoying!!

It was also inconveniently located over the toilet, not great when you have a wriggler toddler to change; we almost lost a shoe down it! Embarrassingly, my friend almost got a black eye from the changing table as it is very quick to swing down off the wall. As I was second in the changing room I knew to look out for this, so watch out mummies, this changing table is out to get us!

While we were there, The Roundhay Fox started to get busier and was obviously very popular with people visiting the area and it’s easy to see why….comfy, country pub feel and a large, reasonably priced menu to choose from. Our food arrived quite quickly, but not all at the same time. The food was nice and so was the price.

 Leaving the restaurant with almost a black eye and the unnoticed mushed cheese sandwich on my leg (thanks boys!) we agreed it was nice for lunch with friends and family but probably not for a special occasion.

Service 3/5
Baby Facilities 3/5
Space for Buggy 4/5
Food for adults 4/5
Food for Children – N/A as we brought our own this time


Monday, 16 July 2012

 The Art of Baby Table Manners....

To help ease my twins into the world of fine dining (and to ensure I can eat my own lunch without it going cold) I’m currently trying to teach the boys a few table manners! This does not mean teaching them if their bread roll should be on their left or right, or which knife they should be using for the fish course. It means teaching them the basics, this week’s lesson.......Plates aren’t Frizbees!

My boys love their food and they will eat anything that I put in front of them, including all the vegetables. Yes, i am a lucky mummy, but, as soon as I put that food onto a plate, it’s a different story, within minutes my kitchen will look like a scene from My Big Fat Greek Wedding!

I normally have to have a firm hold of any plate that is placed in front of them and they will happily eat straight from their highchair tray.  With many restaurants providing highchairs without trays and I sometimes have to question the hygiene of some restaurant highchairs (i’ve started to carry detol wipes in my changing bag – a must for any ladies and babies that lunch). It’s time the boy’s learnt that plates aren’t for throwing.

So, to help me teach the boys this skill I’ve invested in the Tommee Tippee Explora suction mats, these mats work with the Tommee Tippee bowls and plates to ensure that they stay firmly placed on the surface in front of them. The mats when wet, are meant to stick to any surface and they have a suction cup that will firmly hold a bowl or plate, so it can’t be lifted up. 

When we first used the mats, they were a great success, the boys couldn’t lift the bowls in front of them and they munched away at their lunch whist I got to watch and eat my HOT dinner ...aaahhhh bliss!

By day two, my clever boys had worked out that the bowls and plates will move off the suction mats if they slide them rather than lift them. Damn, I knew it was too good to be true, however, from this short experience my boys did learn a lesson, to eat all of their food before throwing the bowl/plate onto the floor, probably in protest as they always want more. My boys are masters in the art of finger food, but they have also started to use their own spoon, leaving me now completely hands free when it comes to feeding - hurray!! So, after a week of using the mats, I can confirm that the boys are eating from any bowls or plates we put in front of them, but we can’t yet guarantee it won’t end up on the floor once they’ve finished.

Here is this week’s restaurants review...

The Stansfield Arms, Apperley Bridge
Occasion: Gossip & Wedding talk with a dear friend
Day & Time: Saturday, lunchtime

Ok, so this is more gastro pub than fine dining, but more up market than your local boozer. When my twins were just a twinkle in my eye, my hubby and I were regulars here as we use to take advantage of their evening, early bird special (two courses for £10.95).  As that now clashes with the bedtime routine we don’t often get to visit, so I jumped at the chance when my friend came to visit.

As it was a nice day and this pub is local to me, my friend and I decided to walk here. When we got there, we were shown to a table near the door and were provided with two highchairs. My friend headed to the bar, while I sorted out the boys. I had only got one into a highchair when i was greeted by a grumpy front of house, moaning that my buggy was blocking a walk way and commenting on the size of it! Yes i was aware that we were in the way, but i was going to move it once i had got both of my boys safely fastened into their highchairs. He stopped moaning once i said i would be moving it. The highchairs weren’t great; think basic, plastic, ikea style without a tray, which is disappointing as they don’t fit with the style of the pub. The highchairs also looked liked they had been chewed by a hundred teething babies!

I started to feel this wouldn’t be a great visit to The Stansfield Arms...we ordered our food from the extensive menu and were impressed by the large children’s menu that didn’t just include dishes with chips! When the food arrived (service was without a smile) they had got my friends order slightly wrong so that had to go back, and my duck hoi sin wrap lacked hoi sin sauce!! Very disappointing as the service and food is normally great, so maybe they were just having an off day. The child’s portion (lasagne) was very tasty and huge, infact the twins and I could have shared it and for £4.95 it was a bargain!

Whilst tucking into our food, one of my boys decided to throw a tantrum with the full waterworks, maybe because he was tired or maybe it was because of the uncomfy highchair he was sat in. At that point the pub was fairly quiet (no other families in there) but nobody seemed to mind my screaming child. Once we quickly put him back into his buggy, he calmed down, thankfully....maybe it was the highchair after all.

At the end of the meal we started to smell something nasty, don’t worry it wasn’t the kitchen but my other sons explosive nappy (yes being a lady that lunches isn’t always full of glamour!) so this was a great opportunity to put the baby changing rooms to the test.

The baby changing facilities were located in the disabled toilet, when i walked in I was greeted with a wall mounted changing table, it seemed to be a very old style and very high up on the wall. I’m average height and as it came up to my chest i thought this changing table was far too high. It also wouldn’t lay flat and was on a slight incline, but worst of all the safety strap was broken. This isn’t great when you have a baby who’s decided he hates having his nappies changed! It wasn’t easy or safe to change his nappy and unless you were desperate i wouldn’t use that changing table, it needs to be fixed asap!

Overall, I’m very disappointed with my first visit as a mum to The Stansfield Arms and feel let down by what was once one of my favourite places to eat. The food is normally great, with a nice atmosphere and the early bird is good value for money so maybe it’s one for the date nights but definitely not for ladies and babies that lunch, unless changes are made ASAP!

Service 3/5
Baby Facilities 2/5
Space for Buggy 2/5
Food for Adults 3/5 (normally 4/5 so maybe avoid the duck wrap)
Food for Children 4/5

We are now on twitter!! Yes my lovely friends who taught me how to blog are teaching me how to tweet, please follow us @LBThatLunch


Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Ladies & Babies That Lunch – First Restaurant Review

My lovely friends have introduced me into the world of blogging and they’ve convinced me to finally start my own blog. With thousands of blogs out there, I’ve tried to find a little niche in the blogging world  that not only relates to me, but helps others out there...especially yummy mummies!

As a twenty something, new mum of twins (yes twins....no their not identical, they aren’t double trouble and yes I’ve got my hands full) who loves to eat out. I didn’t want becoming a mummy to be the end of my wining and dining experience, I still want to enjoy eating my way through the restaurants of my home city (Leeds). Instead of waiting for the odd date night with the hubby (every blue moon) to visit nice restaurants, i think it’s time i broaden my horizons of the eating out experience and take on a new challenge....eating in nice restaurants with my 10 month old twin sons! When I say restaurants i mean nice restaurants, so no, this does not include typical family haunts such as McDonalds, Pizza Hut or anywhere that has a whacky warehouse attached.

I believe parents don’t have to live in fear of eating in nice restaurants with their babies or toddlers.  Just because there isn’t a high chair insight doesn’t mean that the restaurant you’ve heard all your friends talking about doesn’t have one. It typically means that many parents are too scared to enter; worrying that they’ll be turned away by a snotty hostess who’s only worry in life is what to wear that day!

So, I’ve created this blog to follow my family and I on our tour of restaurants, providing you with an honest review of what it’s actually like to eat there with babies and if I’d recommend it..... and remember I have 10 month old twins so I’m definitely putting restaurants to the test!

Here is my first review:

Restaurant Bar & Grill, Leeds
Occasion: Celebration drink and light lunch with friends and my twin sons.
Day & Time: Saturday 1.00pm

As it was a rare sunny day my friends and I wanted to take advantage of the restaurants large outdoor seating area and as we were celebrating my friends engagement we wanted to go somewhere nice. When we arrived at the restaurant, with my double buggy (aka the bus) there wasn’t a highchair or buggy insight, I started to fear that we were going to be turned away in front of all the al fresco diners in their designer shades.

I had no reason to fear, the restaurant host showed us to a lovely table in the shade and was quick to attend to all of our needs, even ensuring I had enough space for my buggy. The boys were asleep at this point so i left them to snooze in the shade while we enjoyed a celebration drink. When they woke up we were offered nice wooden highchairs (no trays) for the boys to sit in.  The only looks we received from other diners were those of happy smiles to see twins, not frowns or disgust for bringing babies to this restaurant.

The restaurant was happy to assist with heating baby food and as we were outside they didn’t seem to mind if any accidently ended up on the floor - bonus!

The only downside to our experience was the baby changing facilities, as they were located down stairs, through the staff room. I thought this was very odd, you did have to ask to use these facilities and you were lead down the spiral stairs (no lift, definitely not ideal if you have more than one child or unable to carry your child) to the baby changing room. However, the staff were willing to be a spare pair of hands and help carry anything you needed to the changing room, which was clean and well equipped.

Overall, it was a very pleasurable experience, friendly, welcoming staff, plenty of room for the buggy, comfy clean high chairs and the boys behaved. I would definitely recommend for any parents and babies who want to enjoy a spot of al fresco dining during the day

Service 4/5
Baby Facilities 3/5
Space for Buggy 4/5
Food for adults 4/5
Food for Children – N/A as we brought our own this time

Wonder where we’ll eat next week...

PS if you’d like to eat somewhere with your family in the Leeds area and are too nervous to try, let me know and we’ll be the guinea pigs!