Food & Adventures

Thursday 28 June 2018

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Review

The fifth instalment of the Jurassic Park franchise is in cinemas and who doesn't love a raucous jaunt running away from terrible lizards. When I was a kid I was obsessed with Dinosaurs and going to the cinema as a 12 year old to see the original is one of my fondest memories from my childhood as it blew my tiny little mind. Now, my sons Harry (11) and Jack (7) have taken on my obsession so we dragged Heidi (9) along (Mrs. Cool was busy that night) and went to see Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. 

Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt reprise their roles as Claire and Owen. This time joined by Rafe Spall as Eli Mills, Ted Levine as Wheatley, Toby Jones as Gunnar Eversol and James Cromwell as Benjamin Lockwood. Jeff Goldblum also returns to the Jurassic Park Universe after a 21 year hiatus as Dr. Ian Malcom.

The plot is pretty predictable, Dinosaurs that were left on the Island after the park was abandoned in the last film are threatened as the Volcano that makes up the island has become active again. Some people think the dinos should be left and let nature take it course but other want to rescue them.

Funded by Benjamin Lockwood, an old friend of John Hammond, Claire convinces Owen to join the rescue mission with the hope of finding Blue, The Velociraptor he trained from a baby. Lockwoods fortune is being managed by Eli Mills and immediately he seems like a smarmy shit. 

Obviously the rescue turns out to be bullshit and Mills is really taking the dinosaurs off the island so they can be sold at auction to a bunch of shady bastards to fund the next phase of genetic engineering. The Indo-raptor is a new designer dino that uses the traits of the Indominus Rex from the last film and compacts it into the size of a Velociraptor. You can tell where the plot is going with this, right?

Chris Pratt is cool A.F. as Owen who acts like he doesn't care but really wants to save his fave dino, Blue. I think Claire is a pretty generic character and Bryce Dallas Howard is a better actor than the character she portrays allows (check out the 'Nosedive' Episode of Black Mirror). The character of Benjamin Lockwood, for me, seemed like he was just a replacement for John Hammond but I did think the side plot involving his granddaughter was and interesting one. Rafe Spall and Toby Jones were both great as the scheming bad guys trying to flog off all the dinosaurs. Ted Levine is also good as the archetypical mercenary hunter who leads the round up of the dinosaurs. I was however disappointed with the return of Jeff Goldblum, I love Jeff Goldblum and think he is brilliant in most things but with a lot of the hype and trailers involving him I felt his part in the film simply wasn't big enough.

The real stars of film though are the dinosaurs. The CGI effects that bring the dinosaurs to life are really spot on and some of the dinosaurs really steal the show. My personal favourite are Blue the Velociraptor and the Stygimoloch that helps Claire and Owen in one scene. Jack loves Rexy the T-Rex and this is Harry's favourite too. Heidi loved the baby dinos especially the Triceratops but said she was sad for the Brachiosaurus that was left behind on the Island.

The film is a lot more gory than previous films in the series and even though it is a 12A I felt some of the scenes were a bit much for younger kids. I could tell Heidi was little scared as she kept clinging onto me in some of the scenes. I also thought the soundtrack was little distracting, the musical score was big, epic and powerful to go with the dinosaurs but I think it was too much and couldn't been toned down in some scenes.

All in all we loved it, it was always going to be a winner for us and with another film scheduled for 2021 we can't wait to see what the future has in store for this franchise. 

Well, that's all for now.


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Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Review


Monday 25 June 2018

Catch | Ponteland - Lunch Review

If you read my recent post about The Fish Shack you will know that I love seafood. This week me and Mrs. Cool headed out for lunch to try Catch, a seafood restaurant in Ponteland. We often go to Ponteland (it's where our nearest Waitrose is) and we've enjoyed several good meals in this town at places such as Haveli, the Badger, the Blackbird and the Postbox. Catch is all on it's own along the A696 but it has big enough car park that there should be no problem getting parked.

The interior is a mix of rustic and modern with an open kitchen, we were sat close to the pass and it was really interesting to watch the chefs working on their various dishes. Their menu (you can find it on their website here) is packed full of great dishes and even has a cool map showing where all of the produce comes from. There is also a Daily Catch menu served Monday to Friday 12pm-6pm and is a bit of a bargain at two courses for £15 or three courses for £19. We decided to order from the Daily Catch menu.

For starter Mrs. Cool had the Prawn Cocktail, it was served in all it's old school glory in a traditional tall sundae glass. Mrs. Cool said she could tell the prawns were good quality and there were plenty of them which is always a bonus and that the whole dish had been elevated above other prawn cocktails by something but she couldn't quite put her finger on what it was that made it so good.

For her main Mrs. Cool had the Fish and Chips, this seemed to be the most popular dish when we were there as there were around 8-10 orders for Fish and Chips in the short time we were there. The chips were proper homemade chips and the fish was cod which was nice and flakey and the batter really crisp. The only negative was that any sides were £1.50 each which included mushy peas and bread and butter, being a proper Geordie Girl Mrs. Cool decided to have Curry Sauce with hers.

For my starter I chose the Ham Hock Terrine which, although not seafood, I just can't resist if I see it on a menu. It comes with Red onion chutney but that really doesn't do this justice. This was the nicest chutney I've ever had with a terrine (and I've had a lot of terrine). Also, I think was made to order as it was still warm when I got it. The terrine was really good and I got a few big wedges of bread to go with it.

For my main I went for the Swordfish Steak with Crayfish Linguine. I hadn't noticed this but Mrs. Cool mentioned that I get Swordfish quite regularly at seafood restaurants. I do love it, I think it's because it is a really meaty fish and reminds me of a pork steak and for me Pork is Bae. The Swordfish was perfect, pan fried with butter and garlic. The linguine was really good too with a creamy sauce and plenty of Crayfish as well. The portion was a bit big (even for me) and I had to leave a few mouthfuls.

There are also rooms available at Catch and the packages are quite reasonably priced with one deal being an overnight stay for two with a 3 course meal and breakfast included for £129. I think we'll add this to the list of potential places for me and Mrs. Cool to stay when we next have a child free night.
Well. that's all for now.



Thursday 21 June 2018

Summer Picnic Drinks with Fentimans

*This is a collaboration with Fentimans

One of my favourite soft drinks brands is Fentimans, whenever we're on one of our days out and there is a cafe or restaurant at the place we're at I always hope they have Fentimans. When Fentimans asked me to help promote a Charity Bike Ride they are doing with Hanover Dairies in aid of The Rainbow Trust I was more than willing to help out. As well as helping a worthy charity it was also a chance to try some of the new releases from Fentimans.

What I really like about Fentimans is that they are a local business, still run by the family of the original founder. The history of the company is a good story (you can read more here) I also love the fact their company logo is a picture of 'Fearless' founder Thomas Fentiman's dog from the 1930's.

We had a picnic this week and Fentimans is just perfect to have in your cool box. My favourite is the Victorian Lemonade but I tried the Rose Lemonade for the first time and this is really good too, It's a really refreshing drink and great for a picnic. But I didn't realise just how many different flavours there are. Harry loves Ginger Beer and Fentimans have made a special Ginger Beer for the Rainbow Trust Bike Ride.

As well as soft drinks there is also a great range of Tonics to choose from if you're looking for a cheeky G&T. I don't often have a G&T but do like them from time to time. The Tonic really makes the G&T and Fentimans Tonics includes a Naturally Light Tonic Water, Pink Grapefruit Tonic, Valencian Orange Tonic (My personal favourite), Indian Tonic Water and the Connoisseur Tonic Water. All really good and very refreshing on a summer afternoon.

Fentimans are teaming up Hanover Dairies to raise money for a brilliant cause. On 29th June Eldon Robson, the Great, Great Grandson of the original Thomas Fentiman and Trevor Hanover, Michael Hanover and Paul Doran from Hanover Dairies are going to be cycling over 300 miles and are trying to raise £20,000 for The Rainbow Trust, a charity supporting families with seriously ill children.

You can donate to this great cause at or you can text you donation amount along with MILK73 to 70070.

Well, that's all for now.



Monday 18 June 2018

Four Bean Chilli Con Carne with Homemade Guacamole

One of my favourite 'one pot' meals is a Chilli Con Carne. I've been faffing about with different recipes for a few years and I think I've settled on my favourite. This one is on the milder side of hot (I just can't take spicy food as much as I used too). If you like a little more heat you can use use a hotter variety of chilli.

The Ingredients

For the Chilli:

1 onion (diced)
1 small bag of mushrooms (quartered or sliced)
1 pepper (chopped)
2 garlic cloves (crushed)
500g beef mince
400g can of chopped tomatoes
400g can of baked beans
400g can of kidney beans
400g can of cannellini beans
400g can of black eyed beans
2 red chillies (chopped)
2 tbsp chilli powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
shake of Worcestershire sauce
freshly ground black pepper
bunch of fresh coriander (roughly chopped)

For the Guacamole:

1 avocado
4 cherry tomatoes
1 red chilli
the juice of half a lime
fresh corirander

The Method

Heat some oil in a large pan or casserole dish on a medium heat, add the onion and cook for a few minutes until it starts to go translucent. Next add the garlic and cook for another couple of minutes, then add the tomato purée and mix this with the onion and garlic.

Now add the mince and cook until brown, once browned add the chopped tomato, mushrooms, pepper and chilli and mix everything together.

Drain and add the four types on beans and mix everything together again and add the chilli powder, ground cumin and ground coriander. Taste the chilli at this point and season with salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce until it's how you want it.

Once you have the seasoning right turn the temperature down to low and cover the dish, leave it to cook for a minimum of half an hour, but leave a long as possible (the flavour gets better the longer you leave it).

Now for the Guacamole, cut the avocado in half and remove the stone and scoop the flesh from the skin. Chop the flesh of the avocado and then crush it with a fork, chop the tomato, chilli and coriander and mix this with the avocado and lime juice. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Serve the chilli with boiled rice and a scoop of Guacamole and garnish with chopped coriander.

Buen Provecho


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Thursday 14 June 2018

Celebrating Father's Day a week early

Father's day this year happens to fall on a day when I'm at work. On top of that Mrs. Cool is doing a thing with the kids for her blog in freaking Italy so we decided to celebrate Father's Day a week early and make it last all weekend. I started by making a start on tedious the laborious task of removing the ivy from our garden. A word of advice, don't ever have Ivy, it gets everywhere and it's a bugger to get off. This ended up being a bigger task than I was expecting so I sacked that off and will finish the other half on another day.

Mrs. Cool has been desperate to head back to Brocksbushes in Corbridge so we can pick our own Strawberries. We couldn't believe it had been SIX years since we were last there. Brocksbushes is a great day out. You pay £1 entry and then pick your own Strawberries from the fields filled with rows and rows of Strawberries then you take you basket to be weighed and pay per kilo. Our basket was pretty full by the end and we only had to pay £6.95 which I think is a bargain. There is also a tea room and farm shop on site too so we picked up some burgers and buns for our dinner, Mrs Cool thought the burgers weren't as good as the home made ones I make (which I suppose is true) but me and the kids all enjoyed them.

Next up we headed to Wheelbirks farm in Stocksfield for some Ice Cream. The Ice Cream at Wheelbirks is truly incredible if you haven't been before it is worth the trip. There are so many flavours to choose from, I went for a scoop of Mint Choc Chip and scoop of Cherry Blossom, Mrs Cool had Raspberry Honeycomb, the kids being kids had Chocolate Ice Cream. As well as Ice Cream there is a restaurant serving light bites such as quiches, soups and sandwiches so there is plenty to choose from and there is a great outdoor eating area. It's also a working farm too with lots of animals to see so you can have a good day out for the whole family. 

The following morning was my fake Father's Day, the kids woke me up with my card and told me my present was still in the post and would be with me next week. Next they had made me breakfast with the strawberries we picked the day before with some yoghurt and granola. After breakfast we headed out for Sunday Lunch.

Leaving Cramlington in my short sleeved shirt, shorts and sunglasses I was pretty annoyed when around half an hour into the journey the sky turned dark and the rain started and quite quickly we were being pelted by pretty huge hailstones. It was so bad I had to actually pull the car over as we couldn't see anything in front of us. When the weather cleared a bit we finished our journey and arrived at The Coach House in Otterburn.

The Coach House is very nice and the hostess was really friendly. We ordered our food and had a chat about Mrs. Cool and the kids' trip to Italy. For starters Mrs. Cool had Northumberland Goats Cheese and Truffle Honey and I went for the Duck Parfait with Red Onion Marmelade, I always love a pâté or a terrine or a parfait for starters and this was really good.

For our mains Mrs. Cool went for the Roast Rib of Northumberland Beef with Yorkshire pudding. I was torn between the lamb and the pork but in the end the black pudding made my decision for me and I went for Maple Glazed Belly Pork with Stornoway Black Pudding. The Pork was falling apart but still with a good crisp on the edges and the Black Pudding was really amazing.

When we left the Sun was shining again and put on my favourite playlist in the car on the way home. Do you have any plans for Father's day? Do you like to go out for a special meal or do you prefer a chilled day at home?

Well, that's all for now.


*Disclaimer: Sam was invited to The Coach House for a review on North East Family Fun

Monday 11 June 2018

The Fish Shack, Amble - Lunch Menu Review

What I love most about living in Northumberland is the abundance of costal towns and villages that I can visit on a little day trip. This week me and Mrs. Cool headed to Amble for a little ramble and a bite to eat. The Fish Shack in Amble is the perfect harbourside retreat if you're looking to have a fishy on a little dishy.

The shack itself was made out of an old ship called Sea Quest. There is a main dining area with two little nooks either side for a more private meal. We sat in the main dining area and as much as I loved the exterior, the interior is even better. There are rustic wooden tables and chairs (very instagramable) and the walls are adorned with all manner of fishing paraphernalia and even snuggly little blankets for if it gets too chilly.

We had looked at the menu on their website before hand and already had an idea of what we were going to have, it was a hard choice though as all of the dishes on the menu sound great.  Now I don't know if they were training new staff or if they were just having an off day but the service was a little... Shall we say, 'erratic'. While we were waiting for our meals to come another table had theirs served but only one dish was brought out, a few minutes later the waitress came back out and apologised to another diner as she had given their meal to the other table. Whilst I can imagine this being a slight inconvenience to the diners involved we found this amusing and it just added to the quirky charm of the Fish Shack.

Mrs. Cool went for the Beer Battered Tiger Prawn Tails which comes with Chilli Pil Pil Dip, Spring Salad and Twice Cooked Chips. The chips are amazing (why are chips always better when they're cooked more than once?) The prawns were plentiful and succulent. It was a pretty big portion for lunch and Mrs. Cool couldn't finish it all and although she loves a bit of rustic bread she had to sacrifice it on this occasion so she could finish all the prawns.

I love a strong fish and although I don't order it often (it can be a bit fiddly with all the bones) I do love Sardines so I went for the Sea Salt and Thyme Roasted Sardines, this is supposed to be served with Patatas Bravas and Spicy Tomato Sauce but for some reason mine was served with the sides for a different dish on the menu (The Whole Swallow's of Seahouses Kipper) so I ended up with Toasted rustic bread and Horseradish and Dill Poatoes (I told you the service was weird) I didn't mind though and enjoyed it all the same.

Despite the service issues the food was all great and our waitress did apologise when I mentioned about the mix up with the sides and they offered us a complimentary dessert but we were pretty stuffed and weren't particularly put out so we declined. The bill came to £28 including 2 drinks and I think it is really good value for money. Next time we are in Amble we will try The Fish Shack again as there are few more dishes I want to sample.

If you'd like to see more from our day out in Amble and a proper look at the Fish Shack's interior, you can watch Mrs Cool's video from the day below:

Well, that's all for now.


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Thursday 7 June 2018

Solo: A Star Wars Story

Solo: A Star Wars Story

Growing up in the eighties Star Wars was a big part of my childhood. However, recently I've had a bit of a love/hate relationship with it. I enjoyed The Force Awakens but wasn't blown away by it. I loved Rogue One (It's probably my favourite) but I hated The Last Jedi. I thought The Last Jedi was so bad I couldn't even bring myself to write a review of it.

I was not expecting much from Solo after I had heard there was problems during filming between the directors and the studio but when I heard that Ron Howard had taken over directing I was hopeful the finished product would be something worth watching. Solo stars Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo, Emilia Clarke as Qi'ra, Woody Harrelson as Tobias Becket, Paul Bettany as Dryden Vos and Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian

The film itself is essentially a heist movie. Starting with the back story of Han and Qi'ra on their home planet of Corellia where they are working for a local gangster called Lady Proxima. Proxima is a giant centipede-like creature that lives in an underground lair. I personally think this character was pretty crap. I felt in unnecessary to have a CG creature here and think the character would have been far more sinister as human.

Fast forward a few years and Han has escaped Corellia by joining the Empire but has recently been kicked out of the Imperial Navy Academy (for having a mind of his own as he says). He meets Beckett, who leads a crew of thieves who are trying to steal an imperial ship. Han tries to join them as he is looking to get back to Corellia to rescue Qi'ra. They refuse his offer an Han ends up in pit with 'The Beast'. After using all his charisma and wits Han manages to befriend 'The Beast' (you probably know who that is) and they both join Beckett's crew and they try to steal some valuable fuel. Things don't go to plan and they need to bargain for their lives from Dryden Vos, A gangster and high ranking member of the criminal syndicate Crimson Dawn whose top lieutenant happens to be Qi'ra. Planning a new heist they need a fast ship and Qi'ra knows a scoundrel by the name of Lando Calrissian and after Han impresses Lando in a game of Sabaac the whole crew head off on their new heist.

There is a lot to like about this film. Alden Ehrenreich is great as Han and manages to get a lot of the mannerisms of Harrison Ford's portrayal with a mix of youthful idealism. Woody Harrelson is great (is he ever not great) as a dodgy mentor to Han. Emilia Clarke, however, I think is under-utilised here playing a love interest and intermediary with the Crimson Dawn but not much else. Paul Bettany (another actor I really like) also plays the villain Dryden Vos brilliantly with malicious gusto complete with menacing British accent. However the one that steals the whole film is Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian he absolutely nails a young Billy Dee Williams and plays the preening smuggler in all his vain glory.

There are some great nods to the older Star Wars films with the explanation of the Kessel Run and the first meetings between Han and Chewbacca and Lando as well as surprising cameo that I totally wasn't expecting and it was great to tie this in with other branches of Star Wars media. It also leaves the door open for other Star Wars Anthology films and with Alden Ehrenreich having an option to two more films in his contract I can see Han making an appearance in the Boba Fett movie planned for 2020 and hopefully a future Lando film with Donald Glover returning.

Next in the franchise is episode XI in December 2019 and I really hope they can build on Solo, erase the mistakes of The Last Jedi and end the Sequel trilogy on a high. However with another change to the director after the project has already started I've got a baad feeling about this.

May the force be with you.


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Solo: A Star Wars Story


Monday 4 June 2018

Big Cool Five

I seem to be working all the time recently and haven't had much time off but we still had a full schedule last month and managed to fit a hell of a lot into my days off. I managed to get Mrs. Cool to start watching the Marvel show's on Netflix and made some really good food at home but I've decided these are my May highlights.

Avengers: Infinity War
I started the month off by going to see the new Avengers movie. I took the boys and we all really enjoyed it but it was also a hard watch. If you haven't seen it yet (err, where have you been?) then be prepared for a lot of death. I've written a full review here.

Road Trip to Manchester
We dusted off our sunnies and headed to Manchester for a Blog conference. We had some great food (and some rubbish food) and went to some sessions that really helped me get my blogging mojo back. We went with our friends from Here Come the Hoopers and you can read all about our journey here.

Vegetarian Shawarma Salad
Spring means a return of lighter, colourful dishes and my favourite this month was this Vegetarian Shawarma Salad. So tasty, full of Levantine flavours and not your average boring salad. You can find the full recipe here.

The Pie & Bottle Shop
If you like a good pie then head down to The Pie and Bottle Shop in North Shields. We tried their Pie Tea (like high tea, get it?) and weren't disappointed. I'm already craving their Steak Pie, I might have to pay them another visit soon. I've written a full review here.

Deadpool 2
The Merc with the Mouth is back and just as violent, funny and depraved as ever. Over the top fight scenes, crazy stunts and Rob Delaney's moustache make this a must see film. If you liked the first film you'll love this one. I've written a full review here.

I'm looking forward to June with lot's planned again. There are few films coming out I want to see and have a few recipe ideas up my sleeve. Check back soon for the next Big Cool Five.

Well, that's all for now.


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