Saturday, 31 May 2014

Chocolate Tiffin or Chocolate Refrigerator Cake

Chocolate Tiffin

A recipe for you today. When I go to Costa for a coffee I always get the Belgian Chocolate Tiffin - I just love it! So I searched for some recipes and found this one on All Recipes
  • 110g (4 oz) butter
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 4 teaspoons cocoa
  • 225g (8 oz) Rich Tea biscuits, crushed
  • 1 handful of raisins
  • 225g (8 oz) cooking chocolate - half milk & half dark

1. In a saucepan, melt the butter, sugar, syrup and cocoa. Add the biscuits and raisins when melted. Stir to combine.

2. Pour mixture into a Swiss roll size tin and press down. Melt the cooking chocolate and pour over the mixture in the tin.

3. Pop the tin into the fridge and leave for about 1 hour to set. To serve, cut into about 20 pieces.For the next attempt:

More chocolate needed for the topping as the amounts in this recipe meant that it wasn't thick enough for my liking!

It was a very easy recipe and the only skill involved was melting! I added some cherries along with the raisins and used all milk chocolate for the topping. Will definitely be making this again. (T also loved it but then I think all toddlers love chocolate!)

Friday, 30 May 2014

Web Chat with a Personal Stylist!

On Tuesday 24th June, 8 - 9pm, we have personal stylist Alex Moore coming onto Mumsnet Chelmsford for a web chat to answer all your style questions!

Alex says 'From online styling advice to a full on wardrobe overhaul, I can help women find their way with fashion, give them the confidence to wear things they didn't think they could, suggest outfits for special occasions and now to add to my list, help mummys to be rock that bump and not hide behind maternity wear that hides their figure! I will work to any budget and all I ask is that my clients come to me with an open mind and be prepared to have some fun!'

Alex has also recently added maternity styling to her list of services. So if you are pregnant she has lots of advice to take you through your pregnancy in style. 

The more information you can give in your questions, the better … i.e. what size you are, where you like to shop, an idea of your budget, etc.

So whether you have a special occasion coming up, need advice on what to wear in the office, want to jazz up your current wardrobe or have a specific question about maternity clothiers and what to wear in pregnancy come and post your question on the talk thread and Alex will be along to answer them. 

For more information about the services Alex provides see her listing here.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Being a Local Ambassador

Local Ambassadors are the team who keep Mumsnet Local running.  It’s as big or small a commitment as you’re willing and able to make, but as with many things, the more you put in, the more you get out.
Why should I be a Local Ambassador?
There are a few reasons that we can think of which we’ve listed in bullet-point form for ease.
- If you want to meet more people in your area
- If you want to benefit from free stuff – we are often asked to write reviews and our Local Ambassador team is who we turn to for honest opinions. 
- Diversify your CV, keep your CV ticking over or stop your brain from atrophying during maternity leave – there are a few aspects to being a LA and if you’re interested in getting involved in PR, social media, events management, marketing and sales then there might be a place for you to help the Local Editor with these aspects of running the site.  Or you can just organise a couple of meetups and add a review so you don’t feel like you’re spending your entire life changing nappies…
What’s involved?
There are three aspects to being a Local Ambassador:
1 – Organising and attending meet-ups – this is less scary than you may think.  We have a dedicated page that helps you set the whole thing up and you can organise the kind of meet up that you would like to attend. Fed up of coffee mornings and looking for a child-free night out at the local wine bar? Go right ahead! Think it’d be fun to meet up with other families of kids the same age to go paintballing? That sounds like fun! Want to find other single parents to attend nature rambles or speed dating? Fine by us! You may even be able to negotiate a discounted rate with the venue if you talk to them in advance.
2 – Reviewing listings – this is a quick and easy one that we ask all our members to do, but hope as a Local Ambassador you’d be more proactive about it.  Just find listings for a business that you’ve experienced and let us know what you thought of it.  This can be as simple as stating ‘great cake’ and adding a star rating, or you can write them a 3-page essay. As long as you’re honest we’re happy because this helps other users.  If you’re especially keen you might even consider adding a listing or two to our directory which will put you in the Local Editor’s good books like you wouldn’t believe!
3 – Join our reviews team – we have the happy duty of occasionally receiving sample goods or services to review for the good of mankind other users.  If you’re on our review team then we will ask you to help in return for an honest written review that will appear on this blog and our other social media.  Obviously there is a bit of work involved, but we love a bit of free stuff and the chance to air our opinions so see it as a great privilege – let us know if you’d like to get involved!
Raring to go? Email me at - we'd love to hear from you. 

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Having a Staycation or Visiting Somewhere New in the UK?

Mumsnet Chelmsford is just one of a huge network of Mumsnet Local sites, all run by editors who live and work in their areas. Lots of them also have their own blogs so if you are heading somewhere new in the UK (or you'd like to take a fresh look at somewhere you go all the time) check out these blogs. 

Colchester and Harwich
We love to hear you feedback so let us know if you think we are missing anything or if you'd like to contribute to our blogs.

Monday, 26 May 2014

May Half Term in Chelmsford

Today's blog is a round-up of everything that's going in Chelmsford this May Half Term.

Arsenal Soccer School at King Edwards Grammar School
Multi Activity Day at Danbury Outdoors Centre
May Half Term Chelmsford
Wild Wednesday at Danbury Park
Scrapbook Safari at Hylands Park
Wednesday Wonders at Chelmsford Musuem
Make a Zeppelin at Essex Police Musuem
Arsenal Soccer School at King Edwards Grammar School
Multi Activity Day at Danbury Outdoors Centre

Arsenal Soccer School at King Edwards Grammar School
Multi Activity Day at Danbury Outdoors Centre

Multi Activity Day at Danbury Outdoors Centre
May Half Term Chelmsford

All Week:
Tractor Week at Barleylands Farm Park
May Half Term Events at Hyde Hall
May Half Term Activities at Dovedale Sports Centre
Activities at Riverside Ice and Leisure
Half Term Fun at Chelmsford Sport and Athletics Centre
Activities at South Woodham Ferrers Leisure Centre
Big Bugs and Beasties at Tropical Wings
Big Fun Week at Marsh Farm

Have I missed anything out? Please let me know if I have!

Monday, 19 May 2014

Boys Toys at Hylands Park

Boys Toys, the biggest Fathers Day event in Essex returns this year to Hylands Park and I've got a family ticket to give away! 

Boys Toys

The Boys Toys event is being held at Hylands Park on 15th June 11am-8pm and there is something for everyone: 
  • The Extreme Stunt Show:  running THREE DIFFERENT shows throughout the day. Whether you’re a fan of monster trucks, motorbikes, BMX or just general mayhem, the Extreme Stunt Show has it all.
  • Helicopter flights
  • Monster truck rides
  • Live music
  • Car displays
  • archery, 
  • inflatables, 
  • giant robots
  • laser clay pigeon shooting & much more..
Boys Toys

However the highlight of the day will be the aerial display over Boys Toys by a Hawker Hurricane and a Supermarine Spitfire, both with their original engines. 

The world’s only Supermarine Spitfire MK XI is also set to land LIVE during the event. 

Event organisers from Hylands Estate, Chelmsford City Council, are thrilled to bring this unique attraction to Essex. They believe this truly is a world-wide, one-off opportunity for visitors to witness this once in a lifetime experience; to hear the engine roaring overhead, performing incredible showcasing manoeuvres before landing beside the event to join us for the day.  

Boys Toys

A spokesperson from the Hylands Estate Events Team says “This has never been attempted before and the team are incredibly excited to be making history, right here in Chelmsford.”

To win a family ticket to this event click here 

For further information:

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Little Bees Toy Competition

The newest toy shop in the city, Little Bees, is running an exciting Facebook competition this week and I thought I'd share it with you! 

The Little Bees Bake a Cake Competition

The rules are simple. Upload a picture of your cake(s) you've made with your child to The Little Bees Facebook page and you can win a Pintoy Kitchen worth £69.99. 

The closing date for entry is 1st June 2014. The voting starts at midnight 2nd June when all entries have been received and ends midnight 7th June 2014. For the greatest chance of winning, share the competition and get your friends to vote for your cake(s) or you can refer a friend to also enter this competition and you receive 1 extra point. 

To enter the competition go the Little Bees Facebook Page. Good Luck!!

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Sarah Yewman: A Guest Blog

One of the reasons I started this blog was to be able to showcase some of the best small businesses in Chelmsford. Today's post features the work of a local artist and the unique toys that she creates. 

Chelmsford based artist Sarah Yewman, has worked with different mediums, but in the last couple of years, she stumbled upon the world of DIY vinyl toys. “Each one is unique and they all have their own personalities” Sarah commented.

She received these blank canvasses with a twist, as a gift (one from each of her children) and set to work making three, very different creations. Dudebox, the UK toy manufacturer, spotted her work and she received an explosion of publicity after her first attempts.

Celebrity endorsement from Davina McCall of her customised toys, led to the creation of Sarah’s highly acclaimed ‘Davina Dudette’. Davina signed the toy and Sarah was given permission to auction it for Comic Relief.

Following Davina’s mammoth feat for Sport Relief this year, Sarah set about creating another vinyl toy to celebrate her ‘Beyond Breaking Point’ challenge, which Davina graciously agreed to sign once again.

This custom toy incorporated the 3 elements of Davina’s challenge – cycling, open water swim and the marathon run. 

Take a look at Sarah's blog to see more of her creations and how she arrives at the end result.

If you are interested in appearing on this blog please email for more details. 

Friday, 9 May 2014

Colchester Zoo

Colchester Zoo

I have always loved Colchester Zoo and seeing it again through my children’s eyes has been great. This was a bit of an impromptu visit, as we had nothing planned for the day. I had been considering getting annual passes, as they seem to work out cheaper if you plan to visit a lot, so I used this visit to make a decision. 

The Zoo opens at 9.30am everyday (apart from Christmas Day) and is only 30 minutes from us so we got there just after it opened. This worked really well as we were able to watch the red pandas getting their breakfast. The otters were also particularly lively!

Colchester Zoo

There has been so much work done at the zoo recently to give the animals in their care the very best enclosures they can that the Zoo is very different to the zoo I visited as a child. The Sun Bears have recently moved into their new enclosure and work starts soon on the new home for the chimpanzees. The newly revamped Familiar Friends area also gives you a chance to get up close to wallabies. There are also different animal encounters throughout the day, letting you see the animals interact with their trainers and giving more information about the animals. My two loved the Sealion presentation and feeding the elephants. 

The Zoo is fantastic for families. A suggested route is given for those in wheelchairs and with buggys - just follow the yellow line!. There are plenty of toilets, including areas for baby changing, and all of the food outlets have the facility to warm milk or food. There is a soft play area and a huge outside play area near to the entrance to the zoo so there are lots of opportunities for the children to let off steam if they aren’t already tired from all the walking! Food outlets are dotted round the zoo and there are numerous picnic benches. You can leave the Zoo to get your picnic from your car but just make sure that you have got a stamp so that they will let back in! 

Colchester Zoo is a fantastic day out - in fact I’ve now got the Platinum Passes which give free entry for 2 years so we will definitely be going back! 

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

The NCT Nearly New Sale

The NCT Nearly New Sale in Chelmsford takes place twice a year, in April and October, giving sellers the opportunity to sell unwanted baby and children’s items and customers the opportunity to buy high quality clothes, toys and nursery equipment at very good prices. 

At the recent sale I was a seller and a volunteer and so I thought I would give you an idea of what's involved!

NCT Nearly New Sale

Selling at the NCT Sale 
You have to apply to be a seller (see below for contact details). There are only 170 sellers places and sellers who are NCT members and/or who volunteer to help on the day are more likely to get a place. If you are offered a place you need to pay a £5 administration fee. 

Roughly a month before the sale you receive your labels 45 for clothes, 45 for toys and 15 for nursery equipment. Do NOT underestimate how long it takes to complete all of these and attach them to your items! It took me at least three evenings to gather up everything I wanted to sell, iron all the clothes (to give them the best chance to sell), write the labels and attach them all (masking tape and safety pins only). You also need to box everything up into different sections as far as possible - toys, 0-3 months clothes etc. 

Then between 8.30-9.30am on the day of the sale you take all your boxes to the sale (currently held at St John Payne School) and leave them with the volunteers. At 4.30pm you go back to collect any unsold items and a cheque is sent to you by second class post on the Monday following the sale. The NCT takes a percentage of your sales. For items priced below £25 it is 25% and for items above £25 only 15% is taken. 

NCT Nearly New Sale

Volunteering at the NCT Sale 
There are different sessions in which you can volunteer, all giving you an opportunity to shop at the sale. I helped between 8.30am and 5pm organising the clothes for sale, then in the tills area, and then back to organise all the clothes so they could be returned to the sellers. It was hard work but the day went really quickly and it was for charity. 

I would recommend volunteering as you get an opportunity to shop before the sale starts (and so get the best bits!). The sale cannot happen without volunteers and any help is always appreciated. 

The next sale is on Saturday 11th October
Fort more information about becoming a seller or a volunteer at the next sale contact the team at

Monday, 5 May 2014

The Strand Hairdressers

I paid a visit to The Strand hairdressers this week. L’s hair has been getting out of control and in need of a haircut for a while but, after my last hairdresser failed to turn up to an appointment put my hair up for my brother’s wedding, I’ve been looking for a new one. 

The Strand

A part of my job as editor for Mumsnet Chelmsford has been running our Twitter account and I’m getting to know more about businesses in Chelmsford. The Strand are a particularly active business on Twitter and got back to me straight away when I asked if they were family friendly. Within minutes I had an appointment booked for L! 

They were so good with both the children. T had a quick flick through the magazines in the reception area and then just stood next to us whilst L had her hair cut.  The hairdresser was very patient as L wriggled about a lot and wasn’t particularly keen on having a fringe cut into her hair! It only took 10 minutes and she looks lovely - just adjusting to her with a fringe as she does look different. 

The Strand offer 10% off your bill on your first visit and they kindly offered to let me use this for my first haircut so I will be going back in a couple of weeks to get my haircut!

Thank you The Strand - you are definitely a family friendly hairdressers! 

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Cake At The Lake

Cake on the Lake

This morning was another one of our Mumsnet Chelmsford Meet-ups and I chose Cake at the Lake for our venue. Most of the mums who came last month had babies and so I thought a coffee shop might be more appropriate for them than a soft play venue. 

I'd heard lots of good things about Cake at the Lake and I wasn't disappointed. It is in the middle of Central Park right next to the lake - so very easy to find! Although it isn't huge inside they haven't crammed in too many tables so it is easy enough to take a buggy in. They also have tables and chairs outside so you can enjoy the lovely view of the park and lake. 

Cake on the Lake

The usual coffee shop food and drinks are available and very reasonably priced. A cappuccino and teacake was £4 (so at the lower end of the price range for most Chelmsford coffee shops) and the service was really good. I will definitely be going back! 

(Warning: Saturday mornings are very busy at Cake at the Lake as it has become the unofficial refuel stop for the Park Run that takes place every Saturday in Central Park.)

Have you been to Cake at the Lake? What did you think?