Off to the seaside! 

Today I joined my sister and her two boys on a trip to Lytham St Anne’s. Only about an hour’s drive from Manchester, but feels like a world away. 

This was Boy 2’s first trip to the sea. Whilst I know it will be a few years before he really understands and appreciates the enormity of it, it was great to see him touch sand and sea for the first time. 

As a city living family we rarely get out of the hussle and bustle, but sometimes it’s nice to just get away for a few hours. 

So nice to go for a wander, eat fish and chips and build sandcastles! 

   

   
Obligatory ice cream. The sun might have been out but it was bloody freezing! 

A few thoughts about sleep

Tiredness is a bitch. There, I said it. Getting up in the morning feeling like I never actually went to sleep is a horrible sensation. 

My head is ringing with a hangover-style buzz. I feel sick. The kind of sick you feel when you are unbelievably nervous, waiting for some bad news. My body hurts like I’ve just done a 24 hour bootcamp. In fact every now and then I get the shakes as if my muscles have given up on me. But none of the above is true. I just have a baby.

To be completely honest I sometimes feel anxious once night time arrives. Boy 1 is in bed. Hubby will home from work and might put Boy 2 to bed. The house is peaceful. But I know it won’t last. I know that even before I’ve got myself ready for bed, I’ll be upstairs settling and feeding. Then once I’m in bed I’ll be looking at the clock wondering how many hours or minutes’ rest I’ll get before I’m back up. Then the whole cycle will repeat throughout the night until it’s time to get up and face the day. When will this torture end?? 

It’s strange how tiredness can really impact your daily life. Every decision seems so much harder (Nutella or butter on my cold toast I didn’t get chance to eat??). Lifting and shifting the tiniest of objects feels like such a strain. I operate at a slower pace, meaning I’m probably then late to wherever I need to be, adding to the stress. And the combination of all these makes me  irritable, emotional and somewhat irrational. 

I know you’ll agree! 

Thankfully I’ve been here before and guess what… I survived. It gets better. It gets easier. I can’t predict when it will happen but at some point Boy2 will wake less. He will actually sleep through the whole night. One day I’ll be the one waking HIM up! It might be tomorrow, it might be next year. But I know it won’t always be like this. This is just training. The initiation into the parenting club. 

Get through this and you can get through anything. Believe me, one day you’ll long for those midnight cuddles again…..

Review: Zizzi, Corn Exchange Manchester

Last week I received an email from the Corn Exhchange in Manchester to say that some of the new restaurants are ready to open. More importantly it said that the new Zizzi branch was holding a training day, which meant I got to see the new venue and taste the food before anyone else. Result.

It’s been a long time since I ate in a Zizzi. It was always seen as a slightly fancier version of Pizza Express in my student days. So I was looking forward to seeing what they had to offer now.

So I booked a table for myself, my mum, Boy 1, with Boy 2 in tow. We arrived promptly and they had my details. Tick.

As we we had a buggy, we needed to use the lift to get down to the main restaurant. With it being a training day, staff were literally learning on the job so we were the lift guinea pigs. Low and behold we got stuck!

Once seated, our friendly waiter Zsolt came to the table to take our orders. Unfortunately a few items on the menu weren’t available, but he was quick to offer alternatives and recommendations.

The food 

 

We went for the garlic bread and Zizzi antipasti to start. Both came on rather trendy long wooden boards, which were rather impressive. The garlic bread, fresh pizza base with a tasty garlic butter, was more generous than expected. Slightly crispy, but soft in the middle.

The antipasti came with a selection of prosciutto, speck, coppa and finocciona, along with a dollop of creamy mozzarella, olives and dough sticks. While the meat serving s didn’t look particularly big, when combined with everything else, it was plenty. Definitely enough for three of us.


My mum went for the Calzone Pollo Spinaci. It was huge! Generous portion of chicken, mushroom and spinach, stuffed in a pizza base and topped with coppa ham. The little tomato sauce on the size was tasty, but not really necessary. All in all … Tick 

 

I went for the Classic Caprina on a rustica base, which is stretched to a thinner, more oblong shape than the classic. The vegetarian pizza is topped with goat’s cheese, pepperonata, spring onions, roquito pepper pearls and baby watercress. All in all a very tasty and filling dish.  Depending on the size of your appetite, I’d say it could easily be shared with a side salad.

The kids menu at Zizzi is pretty simple and to be expected. All receive a starter of carrot and cucumber sticks with a couple of dough sticks, which is just enough. Boy 1 did tuck into some our starter too, but he loves garlic bread. A choice of pasta (sauce options of bolognese, tomato sauce or cheese sauce) or pizza (choose your topping).

The drink 

Both adults decided to go for a glass of wine (well, it would be rude not to!). The California Zinfandel was a little on the sweet side for me, but was chilled and refreshing, while the Montepulciano was crisp and light, a good value choice for lunch.

The good bit aka Dessert

Boy 1 chose a scoop of strawberry sorbet and a scoop of chocolate ice cream. Good enough size to fill smaller stomaches, although I wonder if a younger child would have been able to finish it all.


While mum decided to bow out after round two I just had to go for a dessert and chose the summer special Raspberry Rosa Sundae. If you are a fan of Eton Mess, this would work for you. Scoops of soft strawberry sorbet, ice cream, mascarpone, topped with meringue and fresh raspberries. Delicious!

The verdict…

All in all we definitely enjoyed our lunch. Good food and great service, a good choice for a family lunch, or a stop while out shopping if you don’t want to go for American style food or pub grub. Or total bill was just under £70.

Welcome to Manchester, Zizzi. It will be interesting to see if they can maintain the quality once the honeymoon is over and some of the other, more ‘exciting’ venues have opened their doors.

Rating: 3.5/5

Kids bike workshops at Halfords

During the holidays, Halfords, the national cycling retailer holds FREE bike maintenance workshops for kids.

We booked a place and went along to the Trafford store in White City.

 On arrival we had to wait a few minutes, as there was a bit of confusion about where the session would take place. I had to lug Boy 2 up the stairs in his buggy, only to bring him back down again, but a friendly member of staff have me a hand.
It turned out that we were the only ones who bothered to honour our booking, which meant a free 1-2-1 session for Boy 1. 😊

After being escorted to the back of the shop, we were introduced to Pete, who decided to tailor the session to my son’s preference.

Pete was really friendly and professional. Given that the shops aren’t really catered towards interacting with youngsters, he did a great job of speaking to Boy 1 at his level – not too patronising, but not too much bike jargon.


He talked through the ‘M check’ process used for checking a bike is roadworthy.

Start at your back wheel, checking for punctures and ensure the chain is positioned properly.

Then move up to your seat to check it is the correct height and firmly in place.

Next, the pedals, up to the handle bars and gears. Then finally the front wheel.

Rather tan just talking at us for an hour, Pete allowed Boy 1 to have a go at tightening screws, pumping tires and fixing punctures.


With a 7 year old who is obsessed with the number of gears on his new bike, Pete kindly offered to explain which setting a and combinations are best.

The verdict 

Whilst it wasn’t the most glamorous way to spend a Wednesday morning, we both found it very useful. I’d certainly recommend it for children age 6+.

Plus, we got biscuits!!

I do think they’ve missed a trick though…. Maybe giving some kind of pack with a certificate of completion, or quiz, or even some good old fashioned stickers. Kids LOVE stickers! Any kind of take-home item to remind them of the experience and what they’ve learnt would work really well.

Rating: 4/5