Franco Manca Pizza, Bournemouth

I was recently invited to the opening of the brand new Franco Manca pizza in Bournemouth (thanks W Comms!). I usually take Nick along to these things or just meet up with the Bournemouth blogger girls but this time I thought it would be nice to take my sister along as we only usually get to hang out during the day with the kids.

pizza2

We arrived and were seated with my blogger chum Freya and a few of her work mates in an area that had been reserved for the ‘press’. We were offered some drinks and were told that food would just arrive as and when it was ready. (FYI the organic lemonade was lush.) We were then quite literally showered with starters. I’ve never seen so much food! The olives were incredible (coming from someone who isn’t a massive olive lover) and the burrata was truly out of this world. We gorged ourselves on unbelievable rich soft cheeses and cured meats.

burrata at franco manca bournemouth

burrata at franco manca pizza bournemouth

To be honest, by this point, we were all a little worried that we weren’t going to fit any pizza in! But due to the gorgeously chewy sourdough bases I think I managed a good 6 or 7 slices of various flavours! I’m a bit of a sucker for a margherita because I think if you can get the basics right then you’re on to a good thing and it certainly didn’t disappoint. The number 6 pizza with chorizo also stood out as being pretty special. I can’t remember which pizza they were on now but one of them had the most mind-blowing tomatoes I’ve ever had that are grown on the slopes of Mt Vesuvius.

pizza at franco manca bournemouth

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As a special treat, we were invited into the ‘kitchen’ (I use quotation marks as it’s all out in the open in the middle of the restaurant so you can watch your pizza being made) to make our own pizza. Obviously hilarity ensued as we tried to follow instructions from a pretty thick-accented Italian in the searing heat with the noise of the restaurant booming in our ears but we were all pretty successful (even if I did accidentally flip mine mid-cook in the pizza oven!)

freya NorseSouth

making pizza at franco manca

pizza masterclass at franco manca bournemouth

pizza making at franco manca

We were then served a beautiful plate of desserts which we happily scoffed down. The rosemary & olive oil cake was new to me and a perfect choice if you’re not into overly sweet things. As we were rolling out the door we were handed an amazing goody bag filled with foodie treats like chilli oil, roasted artichokes and a copy of the Franco Manca book. Thanks again to Franco Manca & W Comms for having us!

Huxley’s 3rd birthday

Huxley turned 3 on Friday. I’m a little shell-shocked by it all to be honest. I know it’s such a cliche parenting thing to say, but I really don’t know where the time has gone! His birthday was pretty low-key this year due to the fact that I’m huge and can’t go far – can I just say how nervous I was all day about going into labour!? (For Huxley’s first birthday we went to Weymouth Sealife Centre, for his second birthday we went to Marwell Zoo).

This year we decided to take him to the cinema in the morning as Cineworld are currently running a promotion to support Children in Need where every day this half term, the tickets are £2 each and you can see Secret Life of Pets, Finding Dory or Ice Age: Collision Course. Hux has only been to the cinema twice (and not since February) so it was still a really big, exciting novelty for him. I showed him all the trailers for the movies the night before and he chose Ice Age (much to mine & Nick’s despair!). Sadly, we were the only people in the cinema which is a real shame as it was for a good cause but I suppose half-term hadn’t really kicked in on Friday.

After the cinema we went to Toys’R’us as he had a voucher to spend and we got him a Schleich whale, a Schleich Anhanguera (which is a flying dinosaur – I had to Google it!) and an Elsa doll. After that it was definitely time to eat! I was starving!

Harvester had recently contacted me and asked if I’d like to review their newly refurbished branch in Poole. Never one to turn down free food, I jumped at the chance and they kindly sent us £50 to spend on some lunch. It was really smart in Harvester and I was impressed at how modern it looked, while still retaining a cosy, family-friendly pub feel. It was filled with little cosy nooks and inviting looking fireplaces as well as having practical plus-points like a bottle-warming area for parents with babies.

Harvester Parkstone Poole

harvester seahorse refurbishment dorset

family friendly harvester seahorse poole

harvester seahorse alder hills poole dorset

Obviously one of the best things about Harvester is the unlimited salad bar and I wasted no time stocking up on crunchy croutons and creamy potato salad. Nick & I both ordered the same thing, the Harvester ’83 combo which comes with fries, gravy, corn on the cob, half a rotisserie chicken and a half rack of ribs. Deeeeelish. The kids meals are £5.99 for a main with 2 sides, a drink & a dessert. Hux had a swirly sausage with peas and chips but he’d gorged on popcorn at the cinema so didn’t eat all that much of it. He didn’t even seem that excited at the prospect of ice-cream so we could tell he was full and tired!

Harvester seahorse alder hills poole

schleich toys

family-at-harvester

harvester unlimited salad

Nick skipped dessert while I went for coconut panna cotta with mango coulis. I’m usually a chocolate person but there’s just something about coconut that wins every time. Nick was pretty impressed with the beer offering though and opted for a pint of Brewdog in place of dessert. The total bill came to £41.51 for a beer (£4.55), two adult main courses (£25.98), a kids meal (£5.99) and a dessert (£4.99) so it was pretty budget friendly!

harvester 83 chicken ribs combo

harvester 83 combo poole

coconut panna cotta with mango coulis at harvester

After a quick whizz around the toy sale at the huge Sainsburys next door, it was time to head for the beach. Hux was adamant about going in the sea and it didn’t seem to bother him at all that it was freezing cold. He really, really loves the sea and I think he’d have spent all day chasing the waves back and forth but it was already gone 3pm by the time we got there so we only stayed about half an hour.

alum chine beach october

alum chine bournemouth october in the sea

autumn on the beach bournemouth

alum chine beach bournemouth dorset

We finished the day off at Nick’s mum’s house where he played with his cousins – I have no idea how he managed to stay awake the whole time. He didn’t even fall asleep in the car on the way home! Needless to say he was pretty grumpy for the next day or two from being so tired!

Ice skating in Bournemouth gardens

I have to admit that my health has been at the bottom of my pile of priorities lately as I’ve been so busy with work and getting things ready to move house (looks like it won’t be happening before Christmas now – boo!). Add that to the fact that it’s hard to get yourself motivated when it’s miserable outside and you spend most of your days in thick baggy clothes and I’d estimate that I haven’t been active for, oh, I don’t know, 6 months. Oops. It was all going so well before we went to Spain. Healthy eating, working out three times a week, but it’s just gone downhill from there and now I’m in that awful spiral of ‘there’s no point in doing anything about it now because it’s nearly Christmas’.

I was recently contacted by Simplyhealth and invited to go ice skating in Bournemouth gardens as part of their #SHhealthyhabits campaign. They’ve got some great ideas to keep fit this festive season. I was more than grateful to be invited out to get some fresh air in my lungs and remind my legs that they still work. I took my sister along as we used to go ice skating quite often as children so I knew she wouldn’t be dragging me down. To be honest, she was off and I was the one clinging on to her arm, begging her to hold my hand!

Bournemouth gardens ice rink

Bournemouth ice bar

ice skate

Zara scarf, Tesco trench coat, Gap black jeans

Ice rink in Bournemouth gardens

Ice skating in Bournemouth

UK lifestyle blogger ice skating in Bournemouth gardens

Uk lifestyle blogger Bournemouth

UK fashion blogger ice skating

Scarf: Zara | Coat: Tesco (old) | Jeans: Gap

Scarf: Crew Clothing| Jumper: Crew Clothing |

Rock Reef, Bournemouth Pier

Last week I was kindly invited to try out the new Rock Reef activity centre on Bournemouth Pier with a couple of other local bloggers. It was a dark and stormy night so it was nice to seek refuge in the bright and colourful building that used to house the pier theatre.

Bournemouth bloggers Lucy Does, The Style Box, The Witt Family & Amy Everything Mummy

Lucy, me, Claire & Amy

Rock Reef climbing centre Bournemouth pier

We stood around nervously signing consent forms and chatting excitedly before stuffing our belongings in a locker and heading off to get our harnesses fitted. Be warned – the harnesses are TIGHT and not the most flattering of things. But on the plus side, they stop you falling to your death so you know, you win some, you lose some.

We were then shown the basics (I was going to make a corny joke then about being ‘shown the ropes’ but I’ll refrain) of how to clip on and off and how to get down safely. It’s pretty nerve-wracking to just let go of what you’re holding on to and throw yourself backwards but you get used to it. Lucy was brave enough to have the first go.

Lucy Does at Rock Reef BournemouthBournemouth blogger Lucy Does at Rock ReefAfter we’d all had a little go and gotten used to it, we were then let loose to try out some of the other interesting looking walls around the room. I decided to give the ice wall a try and nearly wet myself laughing after having a bit of a palaver with the ‘ice picks’.

The Style Box at Rock Reef Bournemouth bloggersIce wall climb at Rock Reef BournemouthIt wasn’t long before our attention turned to the more daring looking challenges like the Leap of Faith, the Vertical Drop Slide and the Stairway to Heaven. The Leap of Faith involves climbing a rather high ladder and stepping out onto a small wooden platform before leaping into the great unknown to try and cuddle a punch bag before plummeting gently meandering back down to the ground. I have to admit that I made it all the way up the stairs but chickened out when I reached the platform and climbed straight back down again. Lucy and Claire on the other hand are made of stronger stuff and bravely flung themselves off the platform like it was no trouble at all.

Lucy Does Leap of Faith Rock Reef Bournemouth Pier

Without wanting to be completely defeated, Amy & I decided to try the drop slide instead as that didn’t involve any jumping (and there was no way of backing out once you’re up there other than dropping down the slide). We had to climb into these rather fetching suits and then you lay down on the slide and cling onto the bar as it slowly raises you higher and higher. Honestly, it looks much scarier than it is. It was so much fun that I did it twice! (My poor weakling arms did struggle to keep hold of the bar while holding onto my full weight!)

Amy Everything Mummy at Rock Reef BournemouthBournemouth blogger The Style Box Rock ReefVertical drop slide at Rock Reef Bournemouth

After that we had a go on the high line which is a course of wooden obstacles high in the air that you have to make your way around. I had loads of fun doing this but unfortunately we didn’t take any photos as it’s quite hard to cling onto a camera and a piece of wood whilst mid-air but you can see some photos of it on Louise’s blog.

After we’d finished on the high line, we decided it was time to tackle the cave. I was quite nervous about the cave, even more so when I saw exactly how teeny tiny the holes are that you have to crawl through. I have to admit that it was rather fun. It involves some pretty intricate moves and is not for the faint-hearted! There’s one bit where you have to do a handstand/somersault in order to get out! It was pretty dark in there and you can mainly just see the person in front of you’s feet for the most part so I only snapped one usable picture (which had to be lightened up rather a lot in Photoshop so please excuse the appalling quality!)

Bournemouth bloggers in a cave Rock Reef

After we’d extracted ourselves from the cave, rubbing our elbows and knees, we decided to have one last go on the Stairway to Heaven before heading back out into the dark and stormy night.

Stairway to Heaven Rock Reef BournemouthClaire Witt Family Rock Reef BournemouthBournemouth-sea

I had an absolutely fantastic evening and I’d like to thank Rock Reef for having me. Hopefully next summer I can come back and give the zip wire from the end of the pier to the beach a go!

 

7Bone Burger Co, Bournemouth

Last week Nick and I headed to Bournemouth’s newest burger joint, 7Bone. We’d been excited about it since we first saw the Southampton branch featured on The Restaurant Man on BBC 2 back in March.

Bournemouth seems to have had a little flurry of burger joints opening up which is good news because the town centre could really do with some better eateries than the standard fare of Prezzo & Pizza Express.

I’ve eaten a lot of burgers all round America in my time and have yet to find anything that comes close to my all-time favourite, Gotts in San Francisco.

First off I have to say that I absolutely loved the vibe in 7Bone. It’s all exposed brick and very cool looking. Just what Bournemouth needs. There’s also a speakeasy bar downstairs that Nick seemed very impressed with.

7Bone Burger Co Bournemouth We settled down at a table, gave Huxley an apple to keep him occupied and made our orders. Nick was raving about their beer offerings and kept telling me that it’s hard to find these beers outside of London. We ordered a burger each and a side of ‘dirty’ fries.

7Bone Burger Co Shuffle to Straight Time burgerShuffle to Straight Time burger

7Bone Prince Charles is Overrated burgerPrince Charles is Overrated burger

7Bone Burger Co dirty friesMy burger (the Shuffle to Straight Time) was fine but Nick’s (the Prince Charles was Overrated) was awesome. I thought there was a bit too much mustard in mine and it overpowered everything else. I don’t even know what was in Nick’s but it was delicious.

The side order of dirty fries was enormous but not really my kind of thing. Why would I want lettuce on my chips? Also, the bits of bacon on the top were chewy and made me feel a bit queasy.

7Bone dirty friesI’m not going to let my bad menu decisions put me off though and we’ll definitely be going back. They do a buttermilk fried chicken burger that I want to try and Nick wants to give some of their BBQ offerings a go. They also do a truffled mac’n’cheese which sounds pretty special.

At some point I need to squeeze in a visit to their rival around the corner, Longhorn Burgers too!

Hux2HuxWe followed our meal up with a quick stroll round Bournemouth gardens and the play park before Nick headed off to a meeting.

Bournemouth gardens play park

Moody skies at Mudeford

Last week we popped over to Mudeford to see our friends Jim & Soph and their little boy Kip as they were having a holiday in one of the awesome beach huts on Mudeford Spit. They treated us to an amazing lunch and we had a lovely time catching up. The weather was a bit crazy though – one second it was hot and sunny and the next it was cold and grey and pouring with rain.

I’m not going to show you any photos of them as it was their private family holiday but the crazy, moody skies were too good not to share.

Angry skies at MudefordMudeford QuayIsle of Wight from MudefordHuxRain over HighcliffeNick-&-Hux-seaHux-on-the-beachBeach hut at MudefordNick-&-HuxMudeford spit, DorsetMudeford, DorsetLuckily, we managed the 45 minute walk back to the car without getting wet at all! And we were greeted by the sun beaming off Bournemouth pier.

Storms over Bournemouth Dorset

Bournemouth Air Show

On Saturday I went to the Bournemouth Air Show for the very first time. I know. Shocking. It’s been going for 6 years now (I think) but I’ve just never made it down to the beach to see the actual displays before.

I think we were away on holiday for the first couple of years and then I watched the Red Arrows from the windows of my office building for a couple of years (and got extremely angry and annoyed at my 10 minute drive home taking nearly 2 hours in standstill traffic!). Last year Nick & I went up onto the roof of our flats to watch the Red Arrows. Although we can’t see the display from the roof, they often bank around to head back into Bournemouth right over our flat so they come really really close.

But this year, as the weather was so glorious, I decided it was finally time to get myself down there. After all, with a little boy on the way, it’s bound to be an annual occurrence from now on! Despite my usual disdain for crowds of that size I actually found it okay. I think it’s because I’m heavily pregnant so I have no choice but to walk slowly anyway whereas I’m usually trying to rush about and the slow crowds get on my nerves.

We met up with our friends Kat and Albert and after walking through the Haribo experience inflatables to get our hands on some free sweeties, we manoeuvred our way precariously through the blankets and beach tents and plonked ourselves down on a tiny patch of spare sand right by the waters edge. Turns out we weren’t that far from the hospitality tent so we were basically sat right in the middle of where the main display takes place.

The Red Arrows were the first display of the day and it was absolutely incredible to finally see them in action properly.

Red Arrows at Bournemouth Air Festival 2013The red arrowsred arrowsRed Arrows at Bournemouth Air Show 2013As the weather was so nice we stuck around for about 3 hours and watched a couple of the other displays like the Miss Demeanour and the Lancaster Bomber.

Backflip helicopter at Bournemouth air showWhat’s that? Oh just a helicopter doing a backflip. No big deal. Seriously. Mind. Blown.

Bournemouth air show 2013All in all I think the Air Show is an absolutely brilliant day out for families, especially considering that the whole thing is completely free. Just be prepared to work your way very slowly through the hoards of people, get there early if you want a generous sized spot on the beach, leave plenty of time to queue for the toilets and pack lots of water and suncream if the weather is hot!

 

A day in Bournemouth & introducing Stylight

As we’re not going away anywhere this year I’ve been trying to make the most of getting out of the house as much as I can, although this is starting to prove difficult as I move into the third trimester of my pregnancy as I get tired so easily.

Yesterday morning we went into Bournemouth for a little wander around and to grab some avocado on toast for breakfast at South Coast Roast. Although we live just outside Bournemouth we usually try to avoid visiting the town centre as much as possible, especially in the summer as it gets crazy busy with all the tourists. I wanted to go and see the new space where the infamous Imax once stood and see what they’d done to spruce up the area. It actually looked really nice and I was surprised at how pretty the gardens looked on our walk to the beach.

Bournemouth pierpurple flowerBournemouth hot air balloon

Bandstand in Bournemouth gardensBournemouth gardensInside South Coast Roast, Bournemouth, DorsetAvocado, chilli & lime on sourdough toast at South Coast Roast, BournemouthThe Style Box UK lifestyle and fashion bloggerI honestly didn’t realise my face had gotten this chubby until I saw this photo! I suppose it’s all the chocolate digestives and cookies I’m living on at the moment…

NickCan you tell Nick hates having his photo taken?

I was recently contacted by Stylight and asked to talk about the website and now I’m hooked! Imagine Pinterest crossed with WIWT crossed with Polyvore and you’re almost there. Not only can you upload your outfits but you can highlight the products you’re wearing and add music, videos and quotes to really tell a story about your look.

The homepage allows you to see trending looks, members and products so it’s really easy to get hooked! There’s some great bloggers already using the site like TempSec, Girl in the LensKayture, Gala Gonzalez, Anouska Proetta Brandon, Jazzabelle’s Diary, What Olivia Did and Carrie from Wish Wish Wish.

This is the first look that I created for the site. I haven’t seen any other maternity looks on there yet so maybe this is the first one?!? It’s not very exciting but my choices are limited at the moment and my main priority is to be comfortable and try and stay cool.

If you’d like to follow me on Stylight, you can check out my profile here.

blogger 29 weeks pregnant in black

29 weeks pregnant

Sunday – Cycling & Bournemouth Sky Ride

Today we got up early and ventured out into the drizzle to take part in the Bournemouth Sky Ride. This is an annual event put on by Sky (as in Sky TV) which is trying to encourage people to get out and about on their bikes and see the sights of their local town. It’s a free event and you can cycle as much or as little of the route as you want.

Bournemouth Sky Ride banner

We started at the beach as that was closest to where we live. Sky had kindly arranged some bike hire for us from Front bike hire and off we went. It was pretty cold to start with and the drizzle was quite persistent but it wasn’t enough to put us off. We cycled up through Bournemouth gardens and past the band stand, where a band was playing some lovely music and it made me feel all British and patriotic.

Bournemouth Gardens Band Stand

Then we cycled through Bournemouth Square where they had shut most of the roads and only a few buses could go at a time. There were also lanes with stewards going across the pedestrian part of the square so that the shoppers wouldn’t get knocked over. Then you go past the town hall and the war memorial and up to Meyrick Park, which was the official start point.

Bournemouth Sky Ride Town HallFront bike hire Bournemouth SeafrontMeyrick Park was full of food stands and activities for the kids and this is where you could pick up your official Sky Ride bib – much to Nick’s sheer embarrassment (I wasn’t mean enough to make him wear one! Although I did make him pose for a photo for Heart FM’s website inside a cardboard cut-out heart haha!)

Bournemouth Sky Ride Meyrick ParkAfter collecting our bibs, we set off again through more of the gardens (via closed-off roads) and saw some of the sites, including the amazing Jurassic kids park (and Beales).

Bournemouth Jurassic Play JungleView of Bournemouth Beales from Bournemouth GardensThe route then takes you up the hill to the Triangle (again all the roads are closed so it’s perfectly safe) and there were more bouncy things for the kids to play on and you could grab a drink.

Bournemouth Sky RideAfter that, it’s back through the gardens, past the Bournemouth hot-air balloon, towards the beach and Bournemouth pier (and our starting point).

On a Front bike on Bournemouth Beach near Bournemouth PierAll in all, it took us about an hour to get round the route (going at a very steady pace and stopping to take pictures!) and I think it’s about 6km in total. There were tons of families taking part and I would definitely recommend it as a day of fun. Had the weather been nicer, we probably would have packed a picnic and had lunch in the gardens or at Meyrick Park but that can’t be helped and it certainly didn’t spoil our day.

(This is not a sponsored post, although Sky were kind enough to pay for our bike hire if that counts?)

Tuesday – The beach and OASAP

I’m pretty sure every blogger and her dog is going to blog about how blooming fantastic the weather has been today! Unfortunately I’ve been stuck in a room with no windows for most of it but I managed to walk to work along the beach this morning and me and Nick went for a walk on the beach after work so I feel like I made up for it!

Before I went on holiday, I was contacted by a new fashion website, OASAP, about joining their ‘fashion hunter’ program. I ordered a dress which I was hoping would arrive before I left so I could take it on holiday for me but unfortunately that didn’t work out. But, it did mean I arrived home to a new dress (hooray!) and I’ve been waiting for the weather to perk up a bit so I could wear it out.

OASAP dress at Bournemouth beachOASAP dress at Bournemouth beach

Wearing:

Dress – OASAP (gifted)

Sandals – Zara

The sea at Bournemouth beachCanford Cliffs beach near Sandbanks, DorsetAt the beachObligatory photo taken at arm’s length