Lunch with Sistema

April 19, 2013 in Days Out, Food and Drink

Packed lunches – how do you deal with them? A carrier bag? A retro style lunchbox? (I used to have a transformers one….I seem to remember it had snakes and ladders on the back) Or do you just throw it loose into a schoolbag / workbag / handbag?

I don’t know about you but when you are looking forward to lunch and then find a squashed, sad looking sandwich at the bottom of your bag it doesn’t exactly look particularly appetising!

I don’t really spend a lot of time thinking about packed lunches…in fact hubby just normally throws his stuff in his work bag on the way out the door. However, we were recently sent a sample of Sistema’s uniquely designed lunchboxes to try out and it got me thinking.

I must admit I was pretty excited when the Slimline Quaddie lunchbox arrived. It’s so much cooler than I expected. It’s BPA free and feels good quality, nice and sturdy. This box has four compartments and a wee drinks bottle too.

Certain members of our family… not naming names… don’t like it when their food touches or gets mixed up. As soon as I saw this I knew it would be perfect for them.

The main, large compartment is large enough to fit sandwiches in, or leftovers from last night’s dinner. However when the lid comes down it’s not quite as deep as you think it’s going to be, due to the compartments in the lid. That said there’s plenty room.

Here’s my lunch today….

A prawn & avocado salad in the large compartment, medjool dates in one small compartment, some peanuts for snacking in the other and smoothie in the juice bottle.

I have to say that this box is just perfect for me. Due to my illness I can’t go making lunch and wandering about the house. My husband makes lunch for me, and leaves me with snacks and juice for the day while he is out at work. This is perfect for housing my days rations! Everything is kept hygienically in one place.

Obviously most people take their lunchboxes out and about with them and I can tell you that all the compartments are secure and stay closed so you don’t need to worry about finding a rogue egg sandwich in your bag!

I’d say this is perfect for kids lunches, all in one place with sections for fruits, treats etc. It’s dishwasher safe (top rack only) so it’s easy to clean.

Have to say I’m really impressed with this box….Liz tried to steal it when she was round recently as it really is a great design!

Sistema products are available from Asda, Cargo and John Lewis.

We received a sample Sistema lunchbox for consideration. All opinions expressed are entirely our own and completely honest.

Outdoors and Out of Season – Edinburgh Zoo in the winter?

January 25, 2013 in Competition Entry, Days Out, Kids

Liz and hubby, Mike, blog about a winter trip to Edinburgh Zoo.

Outdoors and Out of Season – Edinburgh Zoo in the winter?
Score: 7/10.
Winter. Two kids under five and a serious case of cabin fever. Someone says “how about the zoo?” and you think, “don’t be daft, it’s not even open”.
So, in January 2013 we arrive at Edinburgh Zoo. After visiting in the summer we knew where it was: Corstorphine Rd and up the wiggly road to the car park (£4). 


We’ve planned our route but can’t hope for everything because animals is animals and there are too many for one day. At this time of year we guess most will be sensible and be asleep (if I was allowed to hibernate…) so the kids are primed not to see anything at all.


On entering, a nice gent accepts our tickets (£15.50 (adult) and £11 (age 3-15) – concession, member, and family rates are available). (Remember to check for Money-off vouchers before you go).  He says that it’s free roam to see the pandas (in the summer we booked a viewing slot, stood in a big queue, then squashed in to see them) and apparently the hunting dogs are closed (maybe they ate ranger for tea). The man gives us the quickest route to the pandas, which should pass the sea-lion, but he’s not there… much like your average city centre a crane is being brought in as part of redevelopment (except this one’s a bird).

We pass the Jungle Food Court which was excellent in the summer, not because of its over-priced food, but because of the soft-play. £2 allows parents to rest their feet for 30mins whilst their own wild animals run riot (which you’ve prevented them from doing for fear of them being eaten by a zebra). It looks suspiciously closed.
Next we pass the new ‘Penguins Rock’. In the summer they said it’d open late December/early January but we found no information on the rather cumbersome website. We phoned up and a computer answered. When we eventually spoke to someone “they hadn’t been supplied with the information”. So no Penguin Rock. Also no information on display, just the sound of distant hammering (I work in construction – I recognise the ‘It’s snowing’ sounds). Ok, they need to revamp and there are still two small colonies but they are the zoo’s logo. Maybe we missed the information board, I hope so.


We digress. The pandas are both sitting up and having brunch. The zoo-keeper is excellent; doing a bit of talk, and chatting to the folk (who wish they had panda-fur jackets to keep warm). She answered ‘the boy’s’ question with a clear knowledge (apparently it’s water, the boy was hoping for hot chocolate). She even helped a man work his new camera, which we thought was really nice.


A girl on a zoo-keeper experience was feeding the meerkats (full day costs £250 (pardon?!), 30mins with the meerkats is £35 (better…)). You’d have thought they’d keep well away from snow (probably working in insurance), but it’s always someone’s turn to keep watch. A zoo-keeper was looking after her and teaching her all sorts of things. ‘The boy’ asked one of his two animal related questions and the answer was ‘bugs and worms’ which he was pleased about.



We won’t talk about every animal, but the sun-bears were play-fighting like two kids on an old sofa and at the fun-loving Gentoo Penguins the boy announced “it’s a lovely day for penguins” to a passing zoo-keeper.
Cold and thirsty, we enter the Penguin Coffee Shop, a decent place to dry out although tricky with a buggy. There’s a small selection of foodstuff with unenthusiastic ‘baristas’.

The Budongo Trail (chimpanzees) is a building with great viewing and outdoor area, cafe, interactive exhibits and a large screen info-mertial. A free tour is underway and we tag along (by which I mean I chase a child past the guide). The guide’s really good; I learnt something about bananas that really shocked me!
Lunch. The Jungle Court is confirmed as shut despite the soft-play probably being the most profitable area of the zoo today. The other option is the ‘design awarded’ Grasslands Restaurant (a cafeteria with a picture of a couple of zebras on the end wall and a few lines of ants/butterflies). We ordered hot dog, burger, and turkey schnitzel. 6/10 and not really worth the £28.
The zoo is on a steep hill so later we catch the ‘Hilltop Safari’ (a converted trailer pulled by a land-rover) to the top. 

Some of the paths are very steep and could be difficult for a wheelchair user. There was no commentary so we shivered in silence all the way up and decided to ski back down (service not available or recommended). There’s a great view from the top and there’s normally a van that sells coffee.

Time for home (exit via the shop; apron for £8.50, mug for ~£17. Didn’t stop).
Zoo info
It is a conservation zoo and therefore all animals need conserving (Visayan Warty Pig Jam anyone?). It funds projects and research across the world through donations and presumably does a great job. The upkeep of the zoo is based entirely on footfall through the gate, restaurants, and shop. This is probably why some bits are tired and prices are high. Our £82.90 for 6hrs was just worth it, despite the grumbles we had a great day.
As a winter attraction we expected shorter opening hours, less attractions, and sleepy animals although we actually saw more than expected. The seasonal nature of the zoo could be better addressed by reduced prices, a decent sit down restaurant, and some winter entertainment.

This post is an entry into a competition with Tots100. A family ticket to Edinburgh Zoo was received FOC. As always our opinions are completely our own and totally honest.

An Accessible Day Out with Durham County Cricket Club

August 12, 2011 in Accessibility, Days Out, Sport

Last month my Mum visited the Emirates Durham International Cricket Ground to see Durham Dynamos. Here is her review of the ground and its accessibility for mobility impaired cricket fans.

“My husband Iain is an avid watcher of cricket on TV but, since we live on the Isle of Mull off the west coast of Scotland, he has never been able to go to a first class cricket match – well, not until last month!  I have always wanted to arrange for him to go to a match but, as I am disabled and need to use a mobility scooter or a wheelchair to move any distance, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to join him.
I decided that we would go to the Emirates Durham International Cricket Ground to see Durham Dynamos play Warwickshire Bears and combine it with a long weekend break in the area.  The website for the ground is very informative and made it seem as though I would be able to access all areas, so when we were given the opportunity by the Club to test its accessibility it was too good a chance to miss.
On arrival at the ground with my mobility scooter in a totally accessible taxi from Aura Taxis of Washington, we were allowed access to the first parking area so that I could get out of the taxi right in front of the ticket office, shop and restaurant.  We were able to do a reconnoitre with plenty of time before the match.
arriving at the ground
Iain went to find Block 18 where we were to sit and asked about a lift to the spectator seating area of the ground.  There are two lifts which can easily take a wheelchair or mobility scooter; unfortunately one of these was not working and word of mouth suggested that this had been the case for some considerable time but two stewards came to Iain’s assistance at the other. One seemed unsure how to work the lift but the supervisor knew exactly what to do and said just to let them know when we wanted to go to our seats and a steward would help.  So, once we knew that was organised, we went off to scout around more.

the working lift

It was clear there were very accessible disabled toilets, one near the lift, and that if anyone was going upstairs for extras such as hospitality there were lifts at every access point and stewards on duty at each one.

We had booked lunch at Austin’s Bar and Bistro for 12.30 but decided to have a look inside before 12 to see how accessible it was going to be.  There was no problem going in with my scooter. As described in the website, the bar and dining area is indeed spacious, modern and comfortable with friendly staff.  We were offered the chance to change our booking and eat straight away, which we decided to do.  A table was offered which was perfect for us to park the scooter beside it and a disabled toilet was available in the restaurant.  The food was delicious by the way – and very good value!

Austin’s Bar and Bistro
Then it was time to see what we had come for – our first cricket match and in a ground in a very picturesque setting too.  Great excitement!  As soon as we went to use the lift someone was on hand to help.  There were numerous bays available were I could sit on my scooter and observe the match and Iain was able to sit beside me on an ordinary chair.  What a great vantage point we had – looking straight at the wicket and able to see everything going on as well as the huge electronic scoreboard. 

view of the ground

I required to leave the ground a couple of times to make use of the disabled toilet and there was a steward on hand immediately I was seen to be making a move.  There did seem to be a slight problem with the lift on one occasion but it was soon sorted and I was accompanied to the toilet door by the steward which made it easier to keep the door open for access.  When it was time to leave, there was once again someone available immediately to assist us.  I had noticed earlier that when another spectator using a wheelchair decided to leave with his carer, a First Aider radioed immediately to tell a steward they were on their way to the lift, thus ensuring there was no delay for them.

using the lift


We had both been a bit anxious about how the day would go but all in all, we found no problems accessing whichever part of the ground we wanted to and we would have no hesitation in returning on another occasion.
The cricket was excellent too!”
For more information about Durham County Cricket Club visit their website
Thank you to Durham County Cricket Club for providing complementary tickets. No other reward, financial or otherwise, was received in exchange for this post. All opinions expressed are entirely our own.