Review: Total Ninja (toddler session) 

I’ve noticed a few Groupon offers for a place called Total Ninja in Trafford Park. Given Boy1s obessesion with obstacle courses etc, I checked out the website. OMG a genuine Ninja Warrior style obstacle course. In Manchester (screams). 

Then through a random Facebook group I discovered they have launched weekday toddler sessions, so just had to check it out with Boy2. 

So yesterday we rocked up just before the start time of 11am and there was quite a queue, so much so that we didn’t get into the venue til 1115 – meaning I had to try and entertain an excited toddler for 15minutes – not easy. But the friendly manager did explain that on a first visit, customers need to register and they are hoping to have an online system up and running soon. So whilst it was frustrating, I let him off just for being informative and friendly. Customer service goes a long way in my book. 

Once we were registered and had our wristbands, we entered the Ninja Academy. 


Walk through and there’s a table for kids (or parents more likely) to rest their tired legs. There’s also a good number of lockers – the usual £1 style – to lock up your stuff so you don’t have to lug a massive change bag around. That’s also why I have very few pics. Sorry!! 

Dumped our stuff ready to get stuck in and OMG (yes, twice in one post) it was bloody brilliant! 

Climing walks, balance beams, rope swings, soft pits, all in miniature – perfect for kids. Boy 2 is VERY active so this was perfect for him. Being able to attempt to climb a sopping wall, without fear of breaking his neck if he fell, was just heaven for him! 


What’s great is that whilst this area is usually for over 5s the toddler sessions are strictly for under 5s, so there’s no fear of a hyperactive long limbed 8 year old bombing on to your toddler. 
They can run around freely, but you do need to walk around with them a) because the lighting is a little dark and the obstacles do block your line of sight and b) some of the pits under the obstacles are a little deep for a toddler to climb out of unaided. 

Due to the long wait times the friendly manager extended the session to 1215 so we got pretty much the full hour (again a massive tick in my book ✅). 

Once they were all ninjad out we headed upstairs to the cafe. Pleasant surprise not to see a load of deep fried beige stuff, but noodles, tempura and Asian inspired salads or soups, keeping with the Japanese theme. We went for the rice noodle chicken box £5.95.

A few snags here as they’d run out of teriyaki sauce and some of the veg, plus it was a looong wait, not great when trying to feed tired and hungry toddlers. But I’ll put this down to teething problems because when it finally arrived it was a good size portion, freshly cooked and tasted good. Like I said, a nice change from fish fingers and chips at soft play! Hopefully once they’ve got a good idea of customer numbers, they’ll have plenty of stock in and enough staff to cook it! 

There isn’t a separate children’s menu, which would have been nice, but the portion we had was fine for us to share. Not sure Boy1 or the hubster would have been happy to split though! 

All in all it was a great morning out. Definitely gets the thumbs up from me and Boy2. So much so I’ve already purchased a Groupon voucher to bring Boy1 and 3 friends at the end of the month for his birthday and the hubster is doing the adult course in a few weeks with some friends! 💪🏿 I’ll be sure to post my reviews – and some pics – then! 

For any active families in and around Manchester, I definitely see this becoming a regular haunt. 

Rating 4.5/5


We paid £2 for the toddler session at Total Ninja, currently running weekdays 11-12

To find out more visit http://www.totalninja.co.uk

Or for the latest offers check out Groupon (correct at time of publishing) 

Baby + Junk Food = OK right? 

This is our current food situation. It’s been a long day. He loves chips. He loves peas. He loves fish fingers. He can eat the same meal as his brother. So why do I feel the slightest bit of guilt?

 I don’t think Boy 1 had this classic combo til at least 18 months. Yet Boy2 is probably on his 3rd (ish) round. But it was all cooked in the oven and I didn’t give him ketchup! 

No harm in it every now and then. After all, happy baby = happy mummy and all that….

Experimenting in the kitchen….with success! 

We’ve been weaning Boy 2 for a few weeks now and I have to admit, I haven’t been quite as ‘on it’ as I was with Boy 1. No recipe books, just winging it this time. So far it’s been going quite well, but it’s time to make a bit more effort.

Boy 2 loves trying to feed himself so I really want to encourage him. Today I decided to experiment with savoury pancakes. I’ll admit, I glimpsed on a recipe for savoury muffins but couldn’t be bothered to reheat the oven and get the muffin cases out. Improvising seemed to work and these pancakes are tasty and super quick…

1. Grate equal quantities of carrot and courgette in a bowl (I’d say about a medium size each)


2. Grate a similar amount of cheddar cheese. I used mature to give it more flavour and would definitely recommend it.


3. Add one beaten medium egg and a tablespoon of plain flour then mix thoroughly. It should form quite a thick batter


4. Heat some olive oil in a pan and pour a table spoon of batter.

5. Cook for a few min on each side until slightly brown and the centre is cooked

6.remove from pan and leave to cool until they are the temperature  for your little one

7. Enjoy!


Boy 2 absolutely loves these. I break them up and leave on the highchair table so he can feed himself. He’ll usually have 2 in one sitting which means I can keep the rest for another meal.

Tip. These can stay in the fridge for a couple of days, but are great for taking out and about. No spoons or bowls needed!

I’m hoping to try a few more variations (squash, parsnip, beetroot) and even making sweet versions with apple or banana.

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