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Sunday, 24 July 2016

Child of the 80's: Movies

The 80's was the decade of my birth so obviously I have a soft spot for all things 80's but one thing I think we can all agree on is that the 80's had THE best movies. This was the decade when the traditional summer blockbuster really took off.

Family movies were huge hits in the 80's and are still some of the best movies to watch with your kids. Here are some of my favourites.


The Goonies - 1985

A group of kids in small town America go on an adventure after finding a treasure map in the attic. Avoiding the booby traps and escaping the the evil Fratellis in search of One Eyed Willy's fortune. I've watched this film so many times I could probably quote it word for word but it's still great fun and one of my all time favourite movies. #heyyouguys



Ferris Bueller's day off - 1986

Ferris fakes an illness and has a great day instead of being stuck at school. What kid wouldn't want to watch a movie about tricking your parents into letting you stay home from school and then having fun with your friends. I remember watching this for the first time and wishing Ferris was my friend (I wasn't cool enough to think I could BE Ferris). #saveferris



Back to the Future - 1985

Marty Mcfly goes back in time and meets his parents but in doing so stops them from falling in love, so he has to get them together and find a way to get back home. Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd are both brilliant and the supporting cast are also great playing both teenage kids in the 50's and the grown up versions in the 80's. This is just about the best movie produced in the 80's. #greatscott






Some of the films I love from the 80's were not suitable for kids and I often wonder, as Harry will be turning 10 soon, should I let him watch some of these next films as I definitely watched them when I was younger than him.

Aliens -1986

Probably one of the best sci-fi movies of all time, arguably the best sequel of all time. Aliens is an action packed war movie set on a distant planet. Sigourney Weaver's Ripley returns to LV-426 this time with a squad of Colonial Marines to face off against the titular Xenomorphs. #gameovermangameover



The Terminator - 1984

A cyborg from the future is sent back in time to kill Sarah Connor, the mother of the leader of the human resistance to stop him being born. The movie that launched Arnold Schwarzenegger into superstardom, It is his best film and in my opinion this film is superior to it's much acclaimed sequel.  #illbeback



Robocop - 1987

When Officer Alex Murphy is fatally wounded on duty for the Detroit Police Department, he is rebuilt as the future of law enforcement, Robocop. This film was rated 18 when it was released in the UK but I remember having all the toys for it. Now you very rarely get an 18 rated movie these days but I think if you did you wouldn't get a range of toys accompanying it (which is a shame, I think). #idbuythatforadollar



Whilst writing this post I could've listed dozens more films and written 5 or 6 posts so I think I'll definitely revisit this in the future with more of my favourite 80's movies. Let me know what your favourite 80's movies were and what you think of my choices.

Well, that's all for now.

S




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Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Dress to Impress

One of Mrs Cool's oldest friends got married recently and as a reward for hitting my first weight loss target I bought a new suit for the big day. I have a few suits already but I've had them a while and they are looking a bit shabby and (as I've lost weight) they are a bit big now. To be honest the suits I have bought in the past have usually been on the cheap side so I decided to treat myself this time and set a budget of £250 to get my new suit.

A few months ago Mrs Cool had a blog assignment Dalton Park which is a retail outlet not far from us. I saw a few suits in a shop called Skopes that I liked so decided to head back to buy my new one. I had already decided on a blue suit as I think this colour is both classic and contemporary the staff at Skopes were really helpful and friendly. The tailor who served me really seemed interested in the wedding I was going to asking about how I knew the couple and where the venue was, I really think this approach to sales is so much better than just the 'Hard Sell' approach.


When it comes to a wedding my opinion is that a man needs to wear a three piece suit, the waistcoat really makes it feel more formal (a tip I picked up from from the tailor who dressed me for my friend Graeme's wedding is that you should never fasten the bottom button of a waistcoat). Also when you need to take your blazer off you still look very smart in a waistcoat. 


When you're wearing a suit this colour then there is only one option for shoes. It has to be brogues and they have to be brown. I had been to a few shops and they all seemed very expensive (£220 in John Lewis) but I managed to find a good pair in Top Man in a sale for only £35 (bargin!).


The best way to make the same suit last for for a lot of different events is with the right accessories. A different shirt and tie can make it look like a new suit. The handkerchief (or pocket square) should fit with the style of the suit but shouldn't be an exact match to the tie. There are loads of combination of tie knots and handkerchief folds. I went for a Hanover knot (here is a easy to follow video to show you how) and a simple straight Handkerchief fold.


This suit, including the shoes, tie and handkerchief, came in at £215 which I though was very reasonable, I was very happy with the quality. It was really comfortable all day and night (even when I was pulling out some killer moves on the dance floor).


The wedding was really great. The bride looked beautiful, the service was lovely and very personal to the happy couple. The grounds were stunning, the meal was delicious and the evening reception was a lot of fun with lots of drinking and dancing.



Thank you and good evening.

Well, that's all for now.

S

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Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Y Viva Espańa - Our Family Holiday at Calella De Palafrugell


Calella De Palafrugell, I'd never heard of it either, but me and the family have just come back from our holiday here and it has been the best family holiday we have had. When Mrs Cool told me she had booked us a holiday on a resort located on the Catalonian coast and that we would be travelling there by bus I was reminded of my 1st holiday abroad to Estartit with my Mam, Dad and Sister back in the 80's.

We travelled with Siesta Holidays but the bus we travelled on was nothing like the one I remembered from 1989. Each seat had a TV built into it with with hundreds of movies and TV shows on demand as well as a vast music library which kept the kids (big and small) entertained throughout the mammoth 30 hour journey. There was also food and drinks available to buy as and when you wanted them. I was expecting the food to be poor but it was actually really tasty and Karen, our hostess, was really helpful and friendly.

We left, sleepy-eyed, from Newcastle at 5.30am and travelled though Britain picking up fellow holidaymakers on the way. We travelled into France via the Euro Tunnel (a first for me) and through the Gallic Countryside stopping at various service stations having the odd croissant and coffee. We passed the Pyrenees into Spain and it wasn't long until we arrived at our destination at Camping La Siesta in Calella de Palafrugell.

We were staying in one of those caravan/lodge type things you get at some camp sites. The lodge (as I will call it from now on) was perfect for us. 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a kitchen/dining area as well as decking outside for some al fresco dining. The site was just a few minutes walk to the beaches.


Although the beach itself was a bit 'stoney' for my liking, the views were fantastic. There were lots of great restaurants right on the beachfront. The 1st night we were there we had tapas at a restaurant called La Vela. We had tomato bread, salt cod fritters, calamari and cheese croquettes all of the food was delicious. The tomato bread tasted so fresh it was like eating a tomato. I think we must have been a bit too excited and hungry as we didn't take any photos of the food but trust me it was all great and after our meal we decided to have a moonlit walk around the town.


Our day at the camp site comprised mainly of a lazy lie in and once everyone was up we would put on our suncream. As a family of gingers we're about as tolerant to sunlight as Count Dracula but on this holiday we used a once a day cream Calypso and my god it was a revelation. We all applied our cream in the morning and that was it, we just had to stay out of the sun for the 1st 15 minutes and then after that we were set for the day. It was water proof too so we didn't even need to re-apply after swimming in the pool. Once we had our cream either me or Mrs Cool would go to the bakery and shop for our brunch which we would have at the lodge. We would usually have croissant, pan aux chocolat, tomato, avocado (obvs), cheese and charcuterie all washed down with fresh squeezed orange juice.



After brunch we would head to the pool which all the kids loved. Harry has recently been having swimming lessons at school and was keen to show off his skills, Heidi was still in water wings but by the end of the holidays she had discarded them and was happily swimming on her own. We got a GoPro a while a go and decided to take it with us for the 1st time. Here's a video we made with the GoPro at the pool.




I think from now on we will be using our GoPro a lot more as it was great fun making this video.


The next town to Calella De Palafrugell is Llafranc so we decided to have a walk along the coast one night and have a meal there. The walk took us about 20 minutes and again there was some great views. I loved all the boast anchored just off the beach, we found Hotel Llevant that also had a nice restaurant. They had a tasting menu that was incredible you can find the menu here.



Another restaurant we tried in Calella De Palafrugell was Sol i Mar which was literally one step off the beach. It was a bit windy that day but we still sat outside and the the kind lady who ran front of house gave our kids some blankets so they didn't get too cold. The view was incredible and the food even better. Mrs Cool had grilled shrimps with garlic and parsley, I had Sossos (whitebait), Harry had a massive portion of calamari and Heidi and Jack had spaghetti.

The view from our table at Sol i Mar
Harry's Calamari
Grilled Shrimp with garlic and parsley
Sossos (whitebait)

On our last night we decided to have out meal at the campsite restaurant. The staff here were always friendly and the food as really good. I always think why do restaurants on resorts like this abroad alway provide such good quality food at a reasonable price when the restaurants you get on British holiday parks always serve utter crap at ridiculous prices? Anyway, the kids had their favourite, chicken nuggets with chips and for some reason spaghetti. Me and Mrs Cool had Paella, I love Paella and had been looking for one since we got there but you always have to have it for a minimum of 2 people, it took me all week to convince Sam to get one and when it came we weren't disappointed we also had a big jug on Sangria (because why not?).


We had such a great time at Camping La Siesta in Calella De Palafrugell and we will definitely be back. We are already planning our next visit in 2 years time. Now I'm back home and melancholy is setting in I am looking forward to my holiday next year which will be in Cuba and I can't freaking wait. I'm looking forward to riding in a 1950's Cadillac around the streets of Havana smoking a fat cigar and drinking lots of Rum. Viva La Revolucion!

Well, that's all for now.

S

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Friday, 17 June 2016

Time for change update: 9 1/2 weeks

We've been really busy since our last weigh in so we decided to extend our next weigh in to just before our holiday. My original plan was to lose 20lbs before my holiday and I'm happy to say I already surpassed that the last time I was weighed. Since my last weigh in I have lost a further 5lbs which means in total I have lost 27lbs.

Since the last update I've had a few meals out and also tried a few dishes I'd never tried before. Here are my favourite meals from the last few weeks  


Ko Sai in Fenwick's food hall is great for Thai street food. These are mango, chilli and avocado (#teamavocado) summer rolls. 


I've decided to have one meat-free day each week, This is quorn tacos, I recently found out taco shells contain 200 calories each! I found a recipe that replaced taco shells with little gem lettuce leaves and this means you can have three or four of these tacos for the same calories as one normal taco.. 


As you probably know avocado is my favourite food at the minute. Although it is higher in calories that most other fruit/vegetables it is full of the kind of fats you need to be eating to have a healthy lifestyle. Here I used sliced avocado in place of soldiers when I had a boiled egg. 




This is another meat-free dish. Quorn chilli, you can find the recipe here, each portion was only around 350 calories and honestly I couldn't tell the difference between this and chilli made with beef mince.


On a recent trip to the Grainger Market in Newcastle I found a fruit and veg stall selling avocados 6 for £1! I was in avocado heaven as normally I would pay £2-£3 for 2 avocados in the supermarket.


Mrs Cool ordered us a Gousto box which is a meal box which includes the ingredients and recipes for 4 meals. This was the lamb Biryani. It was really easy to make, delicious and very filling.


They say necessity is the mother of invention and that was certainly the case for this dish. We were supposed to have scallop salad but only the scallop, chilli and spring onion turned up when our shopping was delivered. So I also used some garlic and ginger I already had in the store cupboard and stir fried all of the ingredients with some soy sauce. 


This was another Gousto Box dish. Miso-butter noodles with chicken and charred peppers and asparagus. I didn't think this meal looked very photogenic but when I put it on Instagram (you can follow me on Instagram here) it became my most liked photo ever, I think I'm getting the hang of this food photography malarky. 


Now this is quite high in calories from what I usually have but at 630 I don't think that is too bad for what is essentially burger and chips. This is cayenne chicken burger with oregano roast potatoes.


When it comes to breakfast eggs are king. I'd ran out of bread and crispbakes so have to improvise with some hash browns.

As well as eating well I've said before that I've started doing a lot more walking. I recently did one of my favourite walks from Craster to Dunstanburgh Castle in Northumberland. The walk is about 4 miles there and back and has some stunning views of the north east coastline.



Now it's time for our holiday to Calella de Palafrugell in Spain. This is not going to be the start of me falling back into my old lifestyle and although I won't be quite as strict as I have been in the last 9 1/2 weeks I am still going to eat healthy and continue to have as many long walks as I can. I'll be posting some pictures when I come back and might even do a blog post about it.

Well, that's all for now.

S

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Saturday, 11 June 2016

Child of the 80's: Television

As I child of the 80's I (rightly) consider the 80's to be the best decade for entertainment. The music was brilliant, the movies were amazing, the fashion was... err, well lets skip that. But the enduring memory I have of the 80's is the TV shows that entertained me and I thought I would take you on a trip down memory lane with some of my favourite cartoons and TV shows that I loved as a kid.

Cartoons

He-man and the Masters of the Universe

The battle between good and evil on the planet Eternia was my absolute favourite. The ultimate hero He-man and his friends like Battle-Cat, Man-at-Arms, Teela and Orko battle the evil forces of Skeletor. What I remember most about He-Man is not just the show but that I had pretty much all of the action figures (they were NOT dolls despite what my Dad used to tell me). I would sit watching the show whilst acting out my own adventure with my toys. Looking back at it now it does seem that the show was a big advert for the toys with massive helping of homo-eroticism but when I watched a few episodes again recently it was still brilliant and brought back so many memories.


Thundercats

Another of my favourites was Thundercats, it is about of group of anthropomorphic cats lead by Lion-O who have to flee from the planet Thundera and arrive on a new planet called Third-Earth. When they arrive they find the evil Mumm-Ra and his minions are terrorising Third-Earth. I think the premise of Thundercats is brilliant, Lion-O has the mind of a child but in an adults body due to a malfunction of his suspension capsule when the Thundercats were travelling through space and has to learn how to be a leader. All of the characters are fantastic and Mumm-Ra has to be one of the best baddies of all time, also Thundercats has the best theme tune of any of the shows I used to watch.



Transformers

Transformers was another show I used to watch whilst playing with my toys, I would start with a car that looked a bit like a robot and somehow transform it into a robot that looks a bit like a car. Before Michael Bay got his hands on it and shoved Megan Fox and Shia Lebeuf down our throats I loved to watch the battle between he iconic Autobots lead by Optimus Prime and the evil Decepticons lead by Megatron. In this show I always preferred the Decepticons, Soundwave had a cool voice and even cooler helpers in the form of Laserbeak and Ravage, Shockwave was a badass laser connon but Starscream was my favourite, the treacherous jet-fighter was always trying to usurp Megatrons position as leader of the Decepticons.



Honourable Mentions

Some of the other cartoons I watched included Visionaries, Dungeons and Dragons, Bravestarr, MASK and Centurions.


TV Shows

The A-Team

Action packed family fun. No one ever died, no one ever swore and the A-Team could knock up a tank with nothing more that a shopping trolly, some corrugated steel and motor powered by 2 AA batteries. Hannibal, Face, B.A. Baracus and Murdoch were a dream team of soldiers of fortune helping those in need whilst trying to clear their names.


Knight Rider

David Hasselhoff, a talking car and kick ass theme tune. Need I say more?



Knightmare

Part game show, part fantasy series. Three friends would guide a fourth sightless dungeoneer around a computer generated medieval world. I'll never forget the time I nearly killed my sister whilst playing Knightmare as I guided her (whilst blindfolded) around our house and I got her to jump down the stairs, ah good times!


Honourable Mentions

I also used to love Quantum Leap, V, ALF, Red Dwarf and The Young Ones.



What were your favourite shows when you were kid? Let me know your memories of 80's TV.

Well, that's all for now.

S

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Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Lane 7: Racing rig

Lane 7: Racing rig exterior


Lane 7 is boutique bowling alley with a difference in Newcastle city centre. It doubles as a bar and restaurant and has other activities on offer like pool tables, ping pong and karaoke. I've been a few times, the food is always great and on a recent work night out we booked the karaoke room and had a great night. Last night Me, Mrs Cool and a few of our friends were invited for a meal from the new menu and to try out the new Racing Rig.

Lane 7: Racing rig track

We arrived and confirmed our reservation and then had a drink at the bar while we waited for the rest of our friends to arrive. Once everyone had turned up we went to our table to have dinner. The food at Lane 7 is the type of food I love, chicken wings, BBQ ribs, burgers, pulled pork and grilled sandwiches. Mrs Cool had the pulled pork bun and I went for The Cuban Press which is essentially a ham and cheese toastie, but what a ham and cheese toastie it is! All of the mains come with either fries or sweet potato fries, we both opted for sweet potato fries.

Lane 7: Racing rig The Cuban Press
The Cuban Press with Sweet Potato Fries
Lane 7: Racing rig Pulled Pork Bun
Pulled Pork Bun with Sweet Potato Fries

After our meal we headed upstairs to the Racing Rig, this new attraction is a miniature racing track for up to 10 racers. When you first arrive your asked to make a race licence, this is to upload your details to the computer to track your laps and time your race.

Lane 7: Racing rig Race Licence

Once you're registered you can take your place in one of the drivers seats, scan your licence so your details are assigned to your car and wait for the race to begin.

Lane 7: Racing rig Cars

The race is so much fun, it took a few laps for me to get the hang of it as I kept over steering and the spinning around, as the cars speed around the track crashing into each other and the walls various racing and car themed songs play (starting with The Chain by Fleetwood Mac obviously) and there is a trackside commentator giving in-race updates. The winner is the first to complete 20 laps and although I finished 2nd in our race I was 8 laps behind the winner, this is probably because I spent a few laps either going backwards or round the track the wrong way. After the race you can get your picture taken on the podium (if you're good enough to finish in the top 3).

Lane 7: Racing rig winners podium

You can find more information about Lane 7 here. The racing rig cost £3 for one turn or £10 for four turns. You don't need to pre book but there might be a queue if its busy. It's recommended for ages 7+ but children under 18 have to leave by 7pm due to licensing.

Here is a video of our night that Mrs Cool did for her blog:



Well, that's all for now.

S


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Monday, 30 May 2016

Meat Free Chilli Recipe

As you may or may not know I'm trying to lose weight. One of the things I have started to do is to eat meat free one day a week. This week I've decided to to adapt my own Chilli recipe and replaced the beef mince with quorn mince and removed some other high calorie ingredients. I cook this mainly in the slow cooker just because it makes it easier, this recipe will make 6 portions and will be around 350 calories per portion.

The Ingredients

1 onion
1 small bag of mushrooms
1 pepper
2 garlic cloves
300g Quorn mince
400g can of chopped tomatos
400g can of baked beans
400g can of kidney beans
400g can of cannellini beans
2 chillies (as hot as you like)
2 tbsp chilli powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
shake of mushroom ketchup
salt
freshly ground black pepper
bunch of coriander roughly chopped



The Method

Put the chopped tomato, baked beans and quorn straight in the slow cooker. Drain the kidney beans and cannellini beans and add them to the slow cooker as well. Chop the mushrooms, onion, pepper and chilli and crush the garlic.


Spray a frying pan with 1 calorie cooking spray and put on a medium heat. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and fry for about 2 minutes, then add the peppers and chilli and fry for another few minutes.


Once everything has softened add them along with the mushrooms to the slow cooker and mix together then add the spices and mix again. 


Put the lid on and and leave it for as long as you like. As there is no meat all you need to wait for is the flavours to infuse to the point you like and add salt and black pepper to taste.


Serve in a bowl and sprinkle on some chopped coriander for garnish. I've served it here with some home made guacamole, if you want you can also have it with rice (or cauliflower rice).

Well, that's all for now.

S



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