Whenever we travel the kids take a great interest in the local language. Even with our recent road trip to Scotland, they spent ages asking about what language they speak there, and this led to many chats (and impressions) on the difference between languages and accents. So far we have only gone as far as Germany, Spain and Italy, and thankfully in these countries I have managed to be able to teach them the odd conversational terms.

Languages are amazing, and I so wish I could grasp them better than I currently do (one day). But kids are little sponges and much more able to pick up a new language than we. On this subject I recently heard of a new initiative taking place at Heathrow airport this Easter weekend known as “Little linguists”, and with my kids fascination with languages, I thought it would be great to share.

Little Linguists – What’s it all about?

Basically they have teamed up with founder of Bilingualism Matters and Professor of Developmental Linguistics at Edinburgh University, Antonella Sorace, to help inspire children to learn new languages. And if you are one of the lucky 200,000 families expected to travel through the airport this weekend, then you and the kids will certainly be in for a treat, because Heathrow has created packs of Mr Adventure themed flashcards with various phrases in French, German and Mandarin, to help kids get to grips with a new language this Easter. The cards are available for families to download online or pick up for free at information desks across all terminals airside over the Easter holidays, and in my mind are brill.

As well as the cards, they also have experts around the airport to help kids practice their new linguistic skills! It all makes me wish we were going away this weekend, because its just a fab idea.

Whist we aren’t, we still managed to get our hands on a set of the cards and the kids have loved learning these foreign languages. It’s a fun Easter activity, and I think these cards and the “Mr Adventure” character are just a fantastic idea!

 French, German and Mandarin were identified by economic experts as the languages Britain’s children should learn for optimum success in ten years’ time, and so we decided to take the bull by the horns and jump in first with Mandarin!

Learning Mandarin:

Other than “ni hao” I learnt from a roomy from Hong Kong 10 years ago, I am completely clueless with mandarin. However it is the number one language spoken in the world and when asked what language they’d like to start with of course the kids chose mandarin!

We found the cards really easy to use, they only have 5 basic phrases on them but it’s a great start to being a little linguist and the kids did brilliantly at decoding the phrases. The bright colours were child friendly and certainly make language learning fun for kids. On one side is the word with translation, and on the other the word on it’s own to test them. There is also a card with ideas on how to teach them the new language so that it really sticks. We know we are going to have fun on car journey’s and future trips.

As well as the Little Linguists initiative, the airport has a number of family-friendly offers during the Easter holidays, including ‘kids eat free’ at restaurants, soft play areas and appearances by Mr Adventure himself. To learn more about Heathrow’s range of family friendly initiatives visit: http://www.heathrow.com/family.

If you are travelling this weekend then stay safe and have fun – get your kids excited with these language cards and who knows how fluent they will be in a few years. If not, why not download them like us and begin a new little linguist hobby – courtesy of Heathrow.

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Ever since we visited York’s Chocolate story a couple of months ago, and heard of “Wasabi KitKats” in Japan, we have been most intrigued to sample them and see the wonders of Japenese chocolate! So when Yutaka asked us this week to create some Easter Truffles using their Japenese ingredients, we were both excited and a little curious.

I would admit that I am a boarder-line chocoholic and will sample most flavours of choccies. I am also the only sushi fan in our household (at the moment), so these especially fascinated and appealed to me. The base of the truffle is rich and simple to make – the flavours are then added and left to chill. They look fantastic when finished off and the taste on the whole was lovely. With Easter on the horizon and chocolate on everyone’s minds, here’s how to make them, our verdict and some tips!

YUTAKA Easter Truffles

Before you begin, note that these are quite time consuming and very messy to make! The kids loved the process though, and they have been the perfect activity to do during the school holidays, as you keep coming back to them at each stage of the process. The kids have been helpful, very involved and loved sampling them at the end too.

Ingredients (Makes 30 – 36 truffles):

For the truffles you will need

200g dark good quality chocolate
60ml double cream
80g unsalted butter
Truffle cases

Place chocolate, butter and cream in a glass bowl over a pan of water and heat through slowly until smooth whilst whisking. Remove from heat and divide into 5 equal portions, adding the various flavourings to each individual portion as below. Place in the fridge to set – overnight if possible. (Mark each bowl so you know which flavours you are dealing with).

So for the flavourings, and whilst the chocolate was melting, we measured them out into 5 bowls. We had Yuzu, Wasabi Furikake, Sushi Ginger, Miso paste and Shaoxing Rice Wine.

Miso Caramel – think salted caramel with a twist

These take 1st place in our opinion – They were rich and tasty and the kids said “mmmmm soooooo yuuuummmyyy”!

For the caramel flavour you need to make it using:
75g sugar
25ml water
50ml double cream
1 tbs Yutaka Miso
100g dark chocolate – gently melted for coating

Put sugar and water in a heavy bottomed saucepan, stir and leave on a medium heat, stirring occasionally, until caramel in colour. Carefully add double cream (it will hiss a little) and whisk whilst off the heat, add miso paste and whisk thoroughly until smooth. Add 2 tbs of miso caramel sauce to the remaining truffle mixture. The remainder of the sauce saved and used over ice cream for a delicious dessert.

Yuzu – a hint of citrus

Our second favourite. Again the balance of the rich truffle, this time with white chocolate was so tasty. The citrus hit was very subtle, and in fact could have probably handled a little more. They were lovely.

2 tsp Yutaka Yuzu
100g white chocolate – gently melted for coating

Pickled Sushi Ginger – chocolate & ginger with the surprising tang of pickle

The kids didn’t like these, but I did. They were gorgeous, but then again the mix of dark chocolate and ginger is always a good combo. They were a powerful taste in the mouth but really nice.

2 tbs chopped Yutaka sushi ginger
Cocoa for coating

Wasabi Furikake – milder than chilli with the added crunch of sesame

Sad to say these were a no go for us. They looked great but weren’t that nice at all…I dont know if we used too much of the Wasabi Furitake, but the flavour was too over powering and we each spat it out (sorry Yutaka).

2 tbs Yutaka Wasabi Furikake
Drinking chocolate for coating

Shaoxing Rice Wine – a warm, boozy hit

In theory these looked like everything you would expect when you think truffles, but as an Lds family, and T-total, I am afraid we never sampled them so can’t say for sure if they were delish or not – perhaps if this sounds like your thing, you could start here with them? The Shaoxing Rice Wine carries a powerful alcohol scent to it!!

2 tbs Shaoxing rice wine warmed
Vermicelli for coating

In conclusion I think that these were a great idea and “experiment” to carry out with the kids. It’s a fab sensory experience, smelling each of the ingredients and then discussing how it might taste upon completion. The process of rolling the truffles was super messy, and making 5 together became very time consuming, made for lots of washing up, and at times was a little confusing. But all in all the finished product looked great and tasted good too (mostly).

I would deffs make the Yuzu, Sushi ginger and Miso ones again, and even wrap them as gifts for people. Perfect for Easter? I’d say so, yes.

*Yutaka gifted us the ingredients for the purpose of this post

 

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The glorious weather of this weekend was the perfect taster of things to come.  Walks on the beach, spontaneous BBQ’s, and days where you lose all sense of time just wandering and enjoying the ordinary moments of life in the sun.

I love to watch the kids on the beach; toying with the waves, rolling in the sand and collecting everything they deem to be precious.  They are mini beach combers, scouring the sands for treasures and filled with energy to run and play. We laughed our heads off as they dragged the bag of rocks, shells and other paraphernalia across the sand, unable to carry it now with all they had found, and unable to part with those “special” boulders either. They just loved it.

Whatever the weather, we each find joy in the beach and I am grateful for the sunny Saturday we spent there this weekend.  It is our happy place filled with moments of joy and excitement. Ordinary moments spent combing the beach and paddling. Running and digging, sitting and observing… strolling without watching the clock, and laughing together, all whilst the sun beats down…these are the things I look forward to and am grateful for having together this week.

The Ordinary Moments
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On our recent visit to Scotland we chose to use Air bnb for the first time, as it gave us flexibility and the best value for money. This is most definitely the thriftiest choice I have made this past week!

I have wanted to use Air bnb for a long time as I had heard so many positive things about it. My sister in law uses them now where ever they go away, and I love that it encourages you to live amongst the locals and can be tailored to any budget or taste. Any group size, family or couple!

Hotels just don’t work anymore

As soon as we stepped over the 3 kid threshold we kinda had to say goodbye to staying as a family in a hotel. Doing so would mean both a massive expense for an appropriate family room, or getting 2 rooms… and who wants that or the bill?? Air bnb ensures we keep in budget and we keep together as a family. We can relax as a family, eat as a family and have our own rooms for no extra cost!

Home from home

Staying in someone’s home really is home away from home.  It’s cosy, feels family friendly and has all the necessities you are used to.

We found the kids especially were way more excited than usual and loved exploring someone else’s home and making it theirs for the weekend.

We really loved the school house we stayed in as it held character, awesome views, beautiful gardens and everything you would expect for a country retreat.

Budget friendly

My most favourite thing about it… affordable as well as lovely and it worked out excellent value for money for us all. There were 2 families  (mine and my sisters) with 3 kids in each. The total cost was £195 which with the service charge was 97.50 each..or 48.75 a night… for a family of 5! Brilliant. You couldn’t even get one travel lodge near Edinburgh for that cheap (and we’d have needed 4 rooms for our tribe)!

I will definitely be using air bnb on future trips and visits as a family. It makes sense. You can have budget, luxury or just pure quirky. Apartment or houses … city centre, coastal or the middle of nowhere. It’s straightforward to use and enhances the stay for sure. I am definitely a new lover of this budget and lovely way to escape together!

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