Thursday, 23 February 2017

PizzaExpress, Formby ǀ Review

Living in such a small place it is always exciting news when you hear about a new restaurant opening nearby.  We love to eat out as a family but finding different options to try which are also family-friendly and not a 45 minute drive can be a little tricky unless we want to go to the same place each time!

So when we were invited down to visit the new PizzaExpress restaurant which has just opened in Formby you can bet we were down there like a shot.

The restaurant is located right in the heart of Formby and we visited on a Thursday evening; we were warmly greeted on arrival and although the restaurant was incredibly busy and we had a little wait for our table, it was fine and it gave us the opportunity to have a quick look around at the decor.

In keeping with the fact that Formby is on the seafront, the restaurant has been decorated in a nautical style, with reclaimed timber planks making up the counter areas as well.  We adored the sailor-style hats which Meg and Eli were presented with on arrival too and thought it went with the style of the restaurant perfectly.

Our waitress was Megan and she was very attentive throughout our meal, introducing herself to us and the kids, asking their names and engaging with them the entire time we were there.

The PizzaExpress menu is fairly extensive and we had a hard time choosing what we wanted!  I was impressed with the variety and the price of the children's menu; £6.95 for 3 courses and a Bambinoccino to round off with at the end was great and neither of the kids could eat their dinner fast enough, which is always a good sign!

For starters James opted for the Bruschetta Originale 'PizzaExpress' and I had the Roasted Tomatoes; both of which were very tasty and a great start to our meal.  For our mains James chose the Sloppy Giuseppe; hot spiced beef and peppers and I went for the Pollo Pesto; chicken and pennette pasta in a béchamel and pesto sauce.  James' pizza was absolutely huge and, like the kids, he made short work of eating it.  I wasn't too enthused about the pasta, it was a little dry for my taste but that might just be my personal preference.

For dessert Meg and Eli both had sundaes from the Piccolo menu and as we were both pretty stuffed, James and I shared a PizzaExpress Chocolate Fondant which in hindsight may have been a mistake as we ended up fighting over the last mouthful.  It was absolutely delicious with a soft melting centre served with vanilla gelato.  Yum!

All the serving staff, and in particular Megan, were very attentive and although the restaurant was busy, we didn't feel like we were left waiting for our food.  As anyone with children will tell you, this is a very important thing!  Eli just does not understand the concept of waiting at all and expects his dinner to arrive like magic as soon as he has ordered it.  So anywhere which has fast service is a winner with us.

The kids were given crayons and an activity sheet to help keep them occupied, although they also enjoyed the fact that the kitchen area was open and they could see the pizzas being shaped and made.  We didn't manage to see one getting thrown in the air though which was a shame!

The restaurant is very well positioned in Formby and I can see it proving to be a very popular addition.  There was a real ambience and an inviting atmosphere; it'll definitely be our first choice the next time we pop over to Formby for the day.

Overall we had a very enjoyable evening, and are very pleased that a PizzaExpress has opened up so close to us!

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Walking Wounded by Anna Franklin Osborne ǀ Book Review

Welcome to my post for the blog tour of Anna Franklin Osborne's 'Walking Wounded'.  I was kindly sent a copy of the book in order to write the following review...

Anyone who has been here before will know that I have a real love of stories set during the First and Second World Wars so when I heard about 'Walking Wounded' I was immediately intrigued.  This is a book which shines the spotlight on those who were left behind whilst the men went off to war as well as touching a little bit on the soldiers as well.

It is a family saga which predominantly follows the story of one young woman, born at the end of the First World War into a big family, trying to find her place, surviving through the Second World War and ending with emigration to Australia as part of the 'Ten Pound Poms' exodus which took place during the 1950s.

I believe that the story is based, in part, upon the experiences of the author's own family and there are certainly plenty of interesting facts to keep you turning the pages.  

The book is incredibly short at just 156 pages and for me, I would say that it reads more like a collection of polaroid moments rather than a novel.  The paragraphs are short and snappy and jump through the various time periods fairly rapidly which gives it that 'snapshot' feel.  Additionally, you don't just follow the main character, May, but other members of the family including May's older sister Lydia who has her own battles to face, Lydia's husband who is left behind when the men go off to war, several of May and Lydia's brothers who go to fight overseas and May's husband, Jimmy as well.

Due to the fact that you are following the story of many different characters, it could be so easy to get lost in who is who and what is happening but the author manages to give each one an individual voice, and although they are all experiencing the same awful situations, their reactions and their ways of coping and keeping on are all incredibly different.

This is a moving story about how people's lives were impacted by the eruption of the First and Second World Wars and how the decisions that were made in such trying circumstances had far-reaching and long-lasting consequences.  It wasn't just the men who suffered but also the women who were left behind to keep on going, and to pick up the pieces when the soldiers returned.

Overall I found the story to be an incredibly fast read and an enjoyable one, however one thing I do wish is that the book had been longer!  I think Anna Franklin Osborne has such a readable and relatable writing style and I could easily have got swept up in the story.  I would have loved even more detail about the characters and how their lives were during this time in history, and some more depth on some of the harder topics she touched on.  I certainly hope she continues writing so I can keep an eye out for future work!

Now some exciting news, you can win one of two signed copies of 'Walking Wounded', just use the rafflecopter below to enter.  And make sure you hop over to some of the other blogs also taking part in the tour.  Information on this is also below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I was provided with a free e-book version of Walking Wounded for the purpose of this review.