Monday, 10 July 2017

Rollercoaster Restaurant at Alton Towers

I didn't really intend to review the restaurant when we were there but having got back, lots of people have asked me about it so luckily I managed to grab some candid photos and a short video while we were there and here is a quick review.

We took Macy to Alton Towers for her 4th birthday, we went during the week on a sunny day.  The theme park was pretty packed.  I had looked online beforehand about booking the Rollercoaster Restaurant for lunch but you can't, only dinner can be booked.  We thought we would be in for a wait.  As it happened, we weren't, we got there about 1:30pm and were seated straight away, there were quite a few empty tables too. 
video
At first it sounds a bit complicated as you are passed an ipad to order on rather than speak to a waitress but you soon get the hang of it.  Each one of you has an individual number on the table and you order your drinks and food on the ipad via that number.  I will explain the setup (or at least try to!) imagine a flower - where the centre of the flower is the rollercoaster and there are petals which are the tables at which you are seated, each 'table/petal' seats 4 people.  As the drinks come down the rollercoaster they have your number attached so you know it doesn't belong to someone on another 'petal' as each rollercoaster serves several 'tables/petals' - if that makes sense?
Kid Starter - Veggie Sticks
The menu isn't overly exciting as it is still fast food at the end of the day and it is really fast service!  We had our meals in no time.  A burger meal was £14 which isn't cheap but I don't think it's a bad price seeing as you are inside the theme park and at a bit of a novelty restaurant.  The food comes down the rollercoaster in little tubs which you then empty out onto a plate (which sits under the rolercoaster). 
Quorn Burger Meal
The food was good, well it was a burger meal so nothing amazing but it was cooked fine and tasted nice enough.  So I would recommend it if you haven't been as it is a different dining experience.  Probably isn't somewhere you would go back to as it is the novelty of it that appeals, although when you have been walking round the park it is nice to have a sit down meal rather than queue at a burger bar.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Habito - The Digital Mortgage Broker

Habito is an online, digital mortgage broker, through Mumsnet they were looking for people to test their service.  As our fixed rate has come to an end we have been looking at remortgaging but we have also seen somewhere with some land we are interested in buying also however as that has a large acreage we have been told by a mortgage advisor this would need to be mortgaged commercially.
Habito say:
"At habito, we believe that getting a mortgage should not be a scary experience. Whether you’re doing it for the first time or are an experienced remortgaging veteran, the process should be fast, transparent and painless.

First and foremost you need to know how much you can borrow, so we start with a proper ‘mortgage calculator’ (we call it a habito mortgage illustration) which asks you a few questions then gives you an accurate illustration of what you could get, it allows you to change certain numbers and factors to understand which inputs affect your total amount and/or repayments.


At that point, if you wish, you can sign up and have a live chat session (or phone call if you prefer) with one of our certified mortgage experts to fine tune your application, find the right mortgage for you based on true cost, and submit it to your chosen lender for approval. And the entire process can be done in a few hours, rather than weeks. For free. And with no commitment or credit checks until you agree to submit your application."

So I logged on to www.habito.com - it was easy enough to create an account, literally email address and password, that is all that you need.  The online form is simple and inviting when you initially click through, it also works well on mobile.
One of the questions isn't clear which is the 'How much do you earn each year?  Please enter your total income before tax'  I wasn't sure whether this was joint income or just my income.  Husband also receives dividends and it doesn't make it clear whether these should be included. I only put my income in and once I clicked continue I couldn't find any way to go back a page.  I had to go back to the beginning and start a new process.  I wasn't sure about dividends so asked the question via live chat, they were quick coming back to me and advised it is just normal income without dividends.  I think they could do with a little button next to this with more info advising it is the joint income and without and other income from other sources.
When you get your illustration you then go onto a following page where you have to put further info in for both applicants.  Unfortunately if you do make a mistake there is no way of going back but if you do speak to an advisor they will then be able to amend anything incorrect.

Once you have completed these forms you go through the usual questions about whether there are any life changing events etc.  They also mention life insurance and work with Zurich to offer policies with about 6-10% discount. 

After this you have to chat (either online or by phone) to an advisor, their opening hours are: 
  • Monday & Tuesday: 9am-9pm 
  • Wednesday, Thursday & Friday: 9am-5pm 
  • Sunday: 12-5pm
I think it would be a good idea to have mentioned these opening times at the start of the application process as you would want to sit down and do it all at the same time, not get so far then find you can't continue. 

I clicked on start chat and it looked as though it was loading but it wouldn't connect. I then realised there was a little number one on the chat icon bottom right so I clicked on that which opened the chat but it was showing as being 'away.'  However I did manage to then speak to someone online.

I was a bit annoyed that two of the questions the mortgage advisor asked were already answered in my application and he wanted to confirm income figures but he had noted them down all incorrect so it just seemed like he had rushed looking through it all.  I advised him our fixed rate with Lloyds had come to an end and he responded with 'Llloyds will reward loyalty with high rates, so you have to get away from them as soon as possible!'  Something else that got my back up slightly as I cannot stand companies slagging off other companies - all they are trying to do is to get you to go with themselves and I think it is a pushy and disgusting sales tactic.  
Once the advisor has confirmed any info that perhaps isn't clear then the process is as follows:

'The live chat is the start of the journey, here is what happens next:
1.We'll research the market for the best product available for you (you can close this chat and don't need to stay online - we have everything we need from you for now).
2. We'll send you a ‘Key Facts Illustration’ (KFI) in 2 working days. We'll recommend a specific mortgage product that we think best matches your needs and circumstances (we'll send it to you by email, and you can review it at your leisure)

3. You let us know if you're happy to proceed to an Application with the lender(s). This will involve a credit check and we will need enough documents to confirm your identity, income and address.
4. We'll manage the process through to completion. From this point on we will liaise directly with your lender and update you regularly on the progress of your case

Please let us know if you have any other questions along the way - we're always here to help!'

So overall I fell quite negatively about Habito as I still feel quite put off that they were putting other companies down, I hate this type of sales tactic.  I also expected to get a list of available mortgages giving me how much I could borrow, monthly figures etc  I didn't get an accurate illustration as I couldn't include the dividends which are our main source of income.  It also doesn't give you any idea on monthly cost.  So to be honest it isn't something I would use again as I expected to get more information through without having to wait for them to search the market.  I can use an online calculator with Moneysupermarket and see a list of available lenders, their fees, interest rates, monthly cost etc at the touch of a button.  Perhaps someone who is a first time buyer and is searching the market for a new mortgage it would be a really good tool for.  They have  the backup of someone being there to help with questions but they also can start the process online today without having to wait for an appointment with someone.  If they could speed up the process and get the information generated like other calculator do then it would be a lot more useful.

I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity. I have received a voucher in return for writing this post. 


UPDATE 14.07.2017
Habito have since read my blog and will be rolling out some updates to their site which address some of the points I have raised such as being able to go back and amend figures.  They are looking at putting more info next to the income box to explain what figures are needed.

They have also said they are constantly training staff and confirmed that the experts don't work on commission so should have no need to push their services.  I am impressed they have taken the points on board and arranged to improve things. 

I have also since received a list of suitable mortgages, the rates seem to be the same as if I were to go direct to those lenders.  However they did recommend a lender I hadn't found that worked out better than the others which was Digital Mortgages (Atom Bank), I am a bit wary of using companies I have not heard of but they did manage to find these whereas I hadn't.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

TRX2 Trial - Improving thinning hair?

Following on from my post in April, I have now finished the 3 month trial of TRX2.   
I wanted to get involved with this trial as my hair is getting a little on the thin side, being over 30 and having had a child and also using colour and straightners and a hairdryer probably doesn't help!  My hair is one thing I try to look after, my skin I must admit I do forget about a bite.  However if my hair looks awful I feel awful!

Information about the Product
I had 3 months supply of the TRX2® Molecular Food Supplement for Hair:
~ Boosts the absorption of essential nutrients within the hair follicle to support the production of strong, healthy hair.
~ Take three capsules per day with food - either spread throughout the day or all at once.
~ 150g bottle contains a month’s supply of 90 capsules.
~ TRX2® Molecular Food Supplement for Hair - £47.96 per bottle.
~ Available from www.trx2.co.uk


Along with 3 months supply of the TRX2® Hair Revitalizing Lotion:
~  Easy-to-use non-greasy formula.
~  Active components penetrate into the skin, nourishing and helping to revitalize hair follicles.
~  Apply 1ml with dropper twice a day (once in the morning and once at night) to the scalp in areas of thinning hair.
~  Use fingers to massage into scalp to help nourish hair follicles.
~  Continue use to maintain results.
~  One 60 ml bottle contains a month’s supply.
~ TRX2® Hair Revitalizing Lotion – £42.36 per bottle.
~ Available from www.trx2.co.uk

What I liked about the product was that it is completely natural, TRX2® combines combines potassium chloride, branched chain amino acids (BCAA) and nicotinamide (niacin) - all powerful, nutritional stimulants – with a pure form of a naturally-generated substance (L-Carnitine-L-Tartrate). The formulation is:
~ Drug-free, meaning unwanted side-effects are limited.
~ Not tested on animals. 
~ Suitable for vegetarians. 
~ Free-from artificial colours, gluten and preservatives.

How it works

Backed by world-class research, TRX2® works by engaging potassium channels:
~ People experiencing hair loss have been found to show reduced potassium channel activity.
~ Each hair follicle contains potassium channels - small pore-forming protein structures through which vital nutrients are transported to the hair follicle membrane.
~ Studies show that over time, potassium channels in men and women begin to wear out, gradually inhibiting the transport of essential nutrients to the membrane. This results in hair no longer receiving vital nutrients and vitamins which leads to visibly thinning hair.
~ TRX2® works by re-activating tired and clogged up potassium channels so they are able to absorb essential nutrients and support the production of strong, healthy hair.


I was sent a three month trial, as when the trials took place some people did reoprt thicker and fuller hair in that time, however the majority did find significant improvement after around six months.


TRX2® is not just for people who are developing bald patches etc, it is suitable for anyone who wants to enhance their appearance with a younger-looking head of visibly stronger, thicker, healthy hair.
~ Clinically-proven to boost the health and improve the appearance of hair, one strand at a time.
~ Maintains normal, healthy hair, even in more noticeable areas prone to hair thinning, such as frontal and temporal zones.


My Findings
Like I have said before, my hair is a bit thinner than it used to be - hairdressers always used to comment how thick my hair was but nowadays it is a lot thinner and I do find quite a lot in the drain of the shower and in my hairbrush!  I don't however have any patches where my hair is particularly thinner than anywhere else.
I took my three tablets with my evening meal, I have to say it is a shame they couldn't have just manufactured one tablet rather than having to take three.  When going out for dinner with friends it is rather obvious when taking three tablets, one is a little more discreet.  People think you are taking diet pills!  They are easy enough to swallow.
I applied the drops to my hair in the morning after a shower and at night, however I did find they left my hair greasy.  I tried to spread it about as I don't have particular areas I needed to apply to and even then my hair got greasy.  My skin and my hair is quite oily though, I struggle with moisturisers as can never find one that doesn't make my skin break out in spots - no matter how much money I spend, I have probably wasted hundreds on moisturisers over the years and not found one that works.  
Before

After
I have to say I haven't noticed any difference, in my case I wonder whether perhaps my hair wasn't bad enough in the first place?  To me, my hair is a lot thinner than it used to be, however it used to be very thick so perhaps now my hair is more of a normal thickness so it didn't have any effect.  After all it has been clinically proven in trials.    It is expensive as it is the best part of £100 a month and they do say you need to keep using it all the time for it to work properly.  
I think a shampoo instead of the drops would be better and being able to take one tablet rather than three would make life easier. 

Other products available in the range include:
·  TRX2® Hair Revitalizing Foam coming soon - £42.36 per bottle
· TRX2® Thickening & Styling cream – £17.25 per jar

For more information visit www.oxfordbiolabs.com and www.trx2.co.uk
I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not been paid, I have however received the TRX2® 3 month trial in order to review and a voucher as thanks. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Prezzo La Famiglia Challenge

I love Italian food, we visited the new Prezzo in Telford recently and were disappointed with the service. When I saw that Britmums were part of the #PrezzoLaFamiglia Challenge with Prezzo restaurants I jumped at the chance to be part of it and give Prezzo, Telford another chance.
Prezzo have a novel and affordable idea for eating out with the family – that is the new La Famiglia sharing dish which Prezzo say ‘depending on how hungry you are, can serve up to 4.’ You can choose one of four flavours: 
Penne Arrabiata - Crushed chillies, parsley and garlic in a pomodoro sauce. 
Spaghetti Bolognese - Traditional slow cooked beef rag├╣. 
Spaghetti Carbonara - Pancetta in a carbonara sauce with crispy prosciutto and parsley. 
Penne Alla Rusticana - Seasoned chicken, pancetta, peppers and rosemary in a creamy pomodoro sauce.

When you walk past Prezzo and look inside, it is very modern and minimalist inside, very smart however I have never thought of it as a family restaurant.  It always looks quite quiet and civilised, not that children can’t be quiet and civilised (I like to be able to take Macy to nice restaurants but not all parents share the same values!) but not necessarily where I would think of as being a family restaurant.  However, we were pleasantly surprised when we were welcomed in and Macy was given some colouring crayons and a colouring sheet to keep her entertained.  We decided to go for the Spaghetti Bolognese, however asked them to swap the spaghetti for penne pasta as we thought that sharing spaghetti could get a little messy! 

We ordered two portions of large garlic pizza bread with balsamic onions and mozzarella to go with our pasta.  I do think though that aiming this at a family there isn't an awful lot of choice for toppings - spag bol is a bit ordinary, the arrabiata has chillies in it so would be too spicy for my daughter and then none of us are keen on creamy sauces!  Lol, perhaps we are too fussy but I would have liked to have seen a pesto type sauce that would be a veggie option too.

I love the idea of having food in the centre of the table and all of us dipping in and sharing.  It also takes away the nagging at the children to finish their food before they can have dessert!  Macy can sit and eat her food really well or sometimes we have to go on and on at her to eat up!  Though it is also stressful when you have someone like my hubby who seems to inhale food and you are trying to get your fair share too, however I think this encouraged Macy to eat as she didn’t want daddy eating it all.  It was a fun way of sharing food.  I don’t know about having ‘no stress picking from the menu’ as we all like fairly different things so I think it’s more stressful arguing over what we all were going to compromise on. 
We were treated to dessert which was 2 scoops of gelato, ice cream or sorbet.  I am not a big ice cream fan to be quite honest, I usually ask them to leave it off when I have a dessert.  There is a choice of chocolate and sea salt gelato; vanilla, strawberry or chocolate ice cream; melon and lime or blood orange sorbet.  I thought there might be some more exciting flavours of gelato like honeycomb or caramel.  I ended up going for the blood orange sorbet and the chocolate, Macy had the sorbet and strawberry.  The chocolate and the orange went really nicely together, I actually really enjoyed it, Macy's strawberry had lovely chunks of fruit in too.
It was an enjoyable family night and the service this time was great, the food was really tasty and we felt closer when sharing the food.  Instead of sitting and eating our own dishes I did feel like we came together more so.  I also think of my niece who can never decide what to have and suffers from serious food envy - this would be ideal for her!

This post is an entry for the #PrezzoLaFamiglia Challenge, sponsored by Prezzo. https://www.prezzorestaurants.co.uk/LaFamiglia/


I have not been paid for this post, however I received vouchers for a free meal in order to review. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity.