UK Summer: Week Four

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Our fourth week back in the UK was actually spent in North Wales, just the four of us. We booked our little UK break quite a few months ago as something to look forward to and countdown to. We booked a lovely cottage near Colwyn Bay and close to all the other main tourist towns.

Our cottage was a really great size for us; 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a living room, dining room, kitchen and a garden that went right around the house – Oscar was in heaven! We also had a massive field opposite the cottage that was pretty much ours to use apart from the odd dog walker!

We travelled to Wales on the Friday afternoon and it was a really peaceful drive from Liverpool as both Oscar and Millie slept the whole time – I may of slept the whole trip too! Oops! We spent our first evening unpacking and enjoying the beautiful sunshine with our dinner in the garden.

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Day 1:

Our first day was unfortunately one the very few rainy days we’ve had whilst being in the UK. We headed into Conway and visited Conwy Castle. Oscar loved the castle and was telling anyone that would listen that he was in a cafe (or a castle to us!). He went off exploring with daddy whilst Millie and I tried to take some cover from the rain! We then walked towards the boats and got an ice cream and me and Oscar went inside the smallest house! It was VERY small!

It was really nice visiting Conway Castle as we did a day trip there when we were last in the UK and Oscar was just a little older than Millie is now. We actually took a few of the same photos, 2 years on!

In the afternoon as the sun came out we headed to Colwyn Bay. Both Oscar and millie slept in the car and were ready for some lunch when we arrived. We headed to a pub near the car park which ended up being one of the nicest, if not the nicest meal we have had since we’ve been back in the UK! We got a 2 course roast dinner with a delicious baked cheese starter – yum! We then took Oscar and Millie to the park nearby where Millie had her first go on a swing! And the little daredevil loved it! We then walked along the beach front in the afternoon sunshine. A perfect day!

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Day 2:

On our second day we visited Oscar’s favourite place – the zoo! We went to the Welsh Mountain Zoo so Oscar could see all his favourite animals. It wasn’t a long drive from our cottage but the zoo was quite busy as we were entering so Oscar began getting a little impatient waiting to see the animals, but we got in there in the end! It was a really lovely zoo – not a bad price for the size of it and the quantity of animals they have plus it was really clean and well maintained. We got some lunch at the zoo, which overlooked the tiger enclosure so Oscar got to do some tiger spotting in between waiting each mouthful of food! We easily spent the full day there, and were very lucky to have lovely weather all day!

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Day 3:

Our third day we drove to an old favourite of mine and my husbands when we were little – Rhyl. We had a day of arcades and seaside style activities in mind, but unfortunately the weather was a bit hit and miss and it was raining whilst we were driving there. We decided to go to the aquarium/sea life centre first and see how the weather was afterwards. The sea life centre was actually a huge disappointment – it was small, dated and expensive. We got round the whole thing in about 15 minutes! Would definitely NOT recommend it! After the sea life centre we walked along the ‘strip’ of arcades and played on some machines and Oscar went on a few rides. We then got some lunch in a local cafe. Sadly, Rhyl on a whole was rather disappointing and quite sad. It was really quiet, lots of places were closed, and the place on a whole was rather dated and old looking. Such a shame as I remember such good days out there when I was a child.

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Day 4:

For day four of our holiday we headed to Llandudno. We visited Llandudno for the day a couple of years ago so we knew what to expect, and Llandudno didn’t disappoint us! We had such beautiful weather – hot and sunny. When we first got to Llandudno we rode on the cable cars, which I was terrified about but the kids loved! We got such beautiful photos of the amazing views we could see on the way up. We then played in the arcades on the pier, and Daddy won Oscar a Peppa Pig teddy….we had only been trying to win one since the beginning of our holiday! We then got some lunch and looked in a few shops before heading to the beach to have a paddle and play in the sand.

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Day 5:

Day five of our holiday was the worst weather we had all week – pouring rain! We looked through the leaflets in the cottage for ideas of things to do in the nearby areas and decided to drive to Anglesey and go to Pili Palas which has small animals (farm, minibeasts etc) and lots of children’s play activities – soft play, bouncy castles, outdoor playgrounds, go karts etc). It was a great day out and very much worth the trip! The animals were well kept and the amount of different play areas that Oscar got to play in with our admission tickets was fantastic. Even Millie got chance to play in the soft play area and she loved it! Oscar loved this place, and I wouldn’t be able to say whether he enjoyed seeing the animals or playing in the play areas more!

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Day 6:

On our last day in Wales we went to Snowdonia with the plan of going up Snowdon on the train, but after seeing the ridiculous prices we decided against it. In the end we rode on a lovely steam train around the local area which was around a lovely lake and mountains. The weather was perfect again and we enjoyed a delicious lunch in a nearby pub and took the kids to a really nice park that was situated next to the lake.

A perfect end to a perfect holiday.

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UK Summer : Week Three

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Before we travel to the UK we tend to make a very organised (yet geeky!) timetable/calendar of where we are and when. It makes it easier to make sure that equal time is spent visiting both sets of parents. Plus it makes us feel like we have some sort of ‘routine’ still…albeit a very crazy routine! For our calendar for this summer we researched places to go and things to see in both Liverpool and Manchester to avoid the ‘there’s nothing to do’ days. And so far, although we haven’t stuck to what we had planned for each day, we are doing all the things we have researched, just in a different order! Plus we have been VERY lucky with the weather so far so a lot of our rainy day plans haven’t really needed to be used as we have been spending so much time outdoors which not only Oscar and Millie love, I do too!

Our third week back in the UK was spent back in Liverpool (yay!).

Day 1:

We headed back to Liverpool from the Peak District quite early morning so we could enjoy a full sunny day in Liverpool. Later in the day we headed to the beach and enjoyed playing (and eating in Millie’s case!) in the sand. Oscar made sure we had a paddle in the ridiculously cold sea and we all enjoyed a nice cream sat on the beach. Millie enjoyed Oscar’s ice cream a little too much!

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Day 2:

Our second day started really early for me and Oscar as we headed off to a carboot sale with my dad. I used to go to them a lot with my dad before I moved to Kuwait and before Oscar and Millie were born. I ended up getting lots of bargains for both me and the kids, as well as a cook book for my husband. Later in the day we took Oscar to Rice Lane Farm whilst Millie had a nap at my mum and dads. Oscar loved seeing the different animals; his favourite being a big rabbit that had been rescued from one of the streets nearby. We explored the grounds of the farm which is located in an old cemetery. Oscar loved running off in the forest whilst I was a bit spooked out! The farm was free entry but there is a donation box to add a donation if you wish. It was quite rundown and not that well looked after. But I remember reading an article a few months ago about the farm not receiving much funding, so that may be the reason why it’s quite rundown. It was a nice cheap afternoon out for the kids, but it wouldn’t be somewhere I would visit regularly.

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Day 3:

Day 3 was a visit to the doctors for my husband and I took the kids to a playground near the doctors surgery. Oscar made a couple of little friends and enjoyed having a couple of kids around his age to play with instead of his baby sister all the time! In the afternoon we took a trip to Sefton Park, which surprisingly I had never been to before! It was so big, I hadn’t realised how big it was! It was a really nice afternoon. We had a big long walk (or run for Oscar!) and played on the park.

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Day 4:

Today Millie stayed with my mum who took her out for a walk whilst we took Oscar into Liverpool City centre. We had planned on visiting Underwater Street but it was really busy so we settled for the Museum of Liverpool near the river. Oscar had just as much fun and loved the children’s area, which had a fishing game, a river Mersey water play area and lots more! We then took Oscar to Red Hot World Buffet for lunch which he found so fascinating and loved going round the buffet choosing his favourite goods to eat! We also did a bit of shopping Liverpool One and Oscar chose a bag in the Disney Shop to take to school with him in September.

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Day 5:

On day 5 me and my mum took Oscar and Millie over to Waterloo whilst Ben headed to Manchester for the night. We took the kids to a local park and Oscar loved playing football with my mum and we got some lunch from Greggs to eat in the sun. In the evening my nan and her husband came up for dinner and they enjoyed seeing Oscar explore and play in the garden, on the trampoline and on his bike.

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Day 6:

Day 6 was another trip to Waterloo so my mum could show the kids off to a couple of her friends. We also took Oscar to a nearby park to have a run around and play some more football with my mum!

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UK Summer : Week Two

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Our time back in the UK for our summer holidays is just flying by and I am really struggling to find the time to keep the blog updated with lots of days out, family time and sometimes limited internet! I have finally found some time on a rainy morning to hopefully write all about our second week back in the UK.

Our second week was spent in the Peak District with my husbands parents. We stayed in a lovely little cottage in a village called Tideswell, which is near to Buxton.

Day 1:
Our first day in Tideswell was actually spent in the lovely village that our cottage was in as there was a carnival happening on the day we arrived. And Oscar got to ride a donkey, and he wasn’t scared! We also visited a funfair that had been set up on a field in the village.

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Day 2:
For the first couple of days of our holiday, Oscar’s older cousin, Isaac and his parents, Lynn and Phil stayed at the cottage with us, and Oscar loved having someone to play with. We decided to visit a local children’s farm place that allowed us to feed the farm animals and there was also lots of playground equipment for Oscar and Isaac to play on along with a scarecrow to dress and big open fields to play football.

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Day 3:

Our third day was spent visiting Matlock Bath but the first half an hour was spent trying to find Oscar some new trousers after he had vomited during the car ride and I had only packed shorts in the nappy bag for him but it really wasn’t shorts weather! After finding some trousers in a local charity shop and cleaning Oscar up we had a look around Matlock Bath and bought Oscar an ice cream (that he kept asking and asking for!). We then took a trip to Bakewell, which was just gorgeous! A lovely little village that I would definitely return to.

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Day 4:

Day 4 we visited a little village called Ilam, it was a favourite of my husbands as he had visited when he was younger on a school trip and he was showing us all the places he remembered as well as telling us a few funny stories. Our trip ended with yet another ice cream stop! We then finished our day off by visiting Buxton.

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Day 5:

Day five was a trip to Chesterfield. But I have to say I wasn’t a massive fan of the place however we did manage to do a bit of shopping in the local shops. We also had a look at the stalls of the weekly flea markets that happens in the town centre. In the evening we took a little tour of Tideswell and had a delicious ‘British’ pie in the village pub for dinner.

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Day 6:

Our final day if our holiday was spent visiting Chatsworth House. We had actually planned on buying tickets to see inside the house, however we thought the prices were rather ridiciuslous! We ended up just buying tickets for the farm area of Chatsworth House and there was more than enough to entertain Oscar and Millie for the whole day. There was a massive woodland playground, lots of farm animals to see and feed and lots of talks about different animals. Oscars favourite bit was the guinea pig area where they could sit e guinea pigs on their lap and stroke them. Even Millie had her own guinea pig to stroke!

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We had a great week away with the grandparents and I certainly enjoyed having a couple of extra pair of hands around to help with the kids and I even got to enjoy having a few showers without having to rush to a crying baby or a restless toddler! Our next week was spent in Liverpool, my lovely hometown, which I will write about when I have chance! :) I hope everyone is having a good summer so far!

UK Summer: Week One

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Just over a week ago we started our journey back to the UK for the summer holidays. We booked our flights a while back with so have been on countdown for a while now. More so, as Millie has never been to the UK and me and Oscar haven’t been back for 2 years!

We booked our flights with Emirates (my favourite airline due to their 30kg baggage allowance) and we will be back in the UK for 2 months. Our plan is to spend a week in Wales as a family and the rest of the time will be split (equally!) between my hometown, Liverpool and my husbands hometown, Manchester.

Our travelling, after all the worrying and stressing went quite well! We had two flights (Kuwait to Dubai then Dubai to Manchester) and both flights were although long and tiring, we’re not stressful at all! I was worried about having to carry Millie through Dubai airport for 2 hours until we got the next plane but the fantastic Emirates have free prams to use so got a couple to get through the massive airport! Both our flights with Emirates were fantastic; definitely rated as one of my favourite airlines, if not my favourite! After flying with Sri Lankan Airlines in April to Sri Lanka it was nice to have comfortable seats with LOADS of leg room (we had the seats where the bassinets are) and staff who were super friendly this time. The Emirates aircrew really fussed over Oscar and Millie and brought them baby packs (bib, wipes, rattle, spoon etc) and toys and activity packs for Oscar. They are definitely a child-friendly airline. The kids meals for Oscar were great too – not only did he get a delicious Spaghetti Bolognese meal with dessert and a bread roll, he also got a snack pack with crisps, biscuits and yoghurt covered raisins in. Unlike Sri Lankan airline, Emirates provided us with a safe and comfortable bassinet for Millie to sleep in (the bassinet that Sri Lankan airline gave us fell off the wall and the aircrew didn’t fix it or apologise!).

We landed in Manchester on Sunday evening, both flights on time. My husbands parents and brother picked us up from the airport and we headed to their house for a catch up and some food before putting a very tired Oscar Andy Millie to bed many hours after their usual bedtime!
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Day 1:
We spent our first day visiting my husbands family. We took Oscar and Millie to visit my husbands nan in her care home. It was a beautiful sunny and warm day so we spent a couple of hours in the garden of the home and Oscar and Millie enjoyed playing on the grass and seeing their Great Nana and Auntie Hazel. We later spent the evening at my husbands Aunties house and Oscar loved playing with his older cousin, Isaac who has made Oscar take an interest (a rather big interest!) in football and Millie enjoyed lots of cuddles with her great auntie Lynn.

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Day 2:
Our second day we picked up our car from the car hire, Alamo for the summer and headed up to Liverpool to spend a few days with my parents. We spent a couple of hours playing with the millions of toys my mum and dad had got them both then we headed out to Waterloo for a walk and a bit of shopping. We, of course fed the ducks on the way there too! We then settled back at home to watch the ridiculous England game!

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Day 3:

Today we visited my Nan and her husband, John so they could see how much Oscar had. Grown (it had been two years since they last saw him in person) and of course, meet our Millie Moo! It was lovely seeing them and Oscar was on form singing all the songs he knows to them! After our visiting we headed to one of my favourite places, Southport with my parents. We spent the whole day there and didn’t get back until after the. Kids bedtime! We did some shopping, had a ‘pub’ lunch, visited the arcades and played in a big brand new park.

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Day 4:

Day four was spent having a check up at the dentists for me, as I had a filling fall out a couple of months ago that has been giving me a lot of grief! Turns out it has decayed quite badly and I need to go back in a few weeks to get it out unfortunately! After the dentists we took Oscar to the park and beach in Crosby whilst my mum enjoyed some time with Millie. Oscar loved having some alone with us and it turns out he is a right daredevil when it comes to exploring the adventure playground and the beach. He also loved seeing the statues of Anthony Gormley’s Another Place at the beach.

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Day 5:

Today me and the kids went into Liverpool City Centre with my mum to go shopping, my favourite thing! We took Oscar on his first ever train ride which he loved and carried his train tickets with him all day! We also had a McDonalds lunch, as it is Oscar’s favourite!

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Our next week was spent in a cottage in the Peak District with my husbands family. I will write all about our second week in the UK in my next blog post.

I hope you are all having a good summer! What are your plans? Will you be travelling? Staying put? Visiting family? I would love to hear all about it! :)

Liebster Award

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Recently my little blog got nominated for not one, but TWO Liebster Awards by the very lovely Triona from A Little Londoner and super mum Becky from 3 Princesses and 1 Dude. I love both their blogs; Becky has 4 children but still manages to do SO many arts and crafts at home with them as well cook yummy Slimming World meals AND she has a great sense of humour – which shows in her posts on 3 Princesses and 1 Dude. Triona’s blog A Little Londoner is definitely one of my favourite blogs, I love her child-friendly and adult recipes, her reviews and of course the lovely updates on beautiful Amelia! I recommend both their blogs for other mums to have a read of, they are both on my reading list each day :) And thank you both for nominating Expat Family Q8!

So what is the Liebster Award?  

The Liebster Award is basically a nomination from a fellow blogger who appreciates and enjoys your writing. It is something you should pay forward and keep it going similar to a chain letter.

The rules of the Liebster Award:

1. Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog.
2. Display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”.
3. Answer 11 questions about yourself, which will be provided to you by the person who nominated you.
4. Provide 11 random facts about yourself.
5. Nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 1000 followers.
6. Create a new list of questions for these bloggers to answer.
7. List these rules in your post (You can copy and paste from here.) Once you have written and published it, you then have to:
8. Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it (they might not have ever heard of it!)

11 facts about me:

1) I have 2 lovely children; Oscar who turned 3 a couple of weeks ago and Millie who is 9 months.

2) I have lived in Kuwait for 4 years with my husband. We are both from the UK (Liverpool and Manchester).

3) I see Kuwait as ‘home’ more than the UK now as it is the place where my children were born and the place where we have made a ‘home’ for them. Although I miss the UK massively and the little luxuries like British food, restaurants, different places to visit and of course my parents!

4) I love travelling and visiting new places. I’m hoping once the kids are a bit older we can visit a few more places on our ‘list’!

5) Before moving to Kuwait I worked as a supervisor in Iceland (the supermarket) whilst at University studying Tourism and Leisure Management.

6) My favourite food would be Chinese or Lebanese. And chocolate, obviously!

7) I started my blog almost a year ago now. It was mainly to ‘cure’ the boredom when we stayed in Kuwait last summer with Oscar was an energetic toddler and heavily pregnant with Millie. It was too hot for outdoor activities so I started to encourage myself mainly to do more stuff at home and force myself to find more things to do in Kuwait!

8) I am an only child. When I was younger I really would of liked a brother or sister, but now it doesn’t bother me so much.

9) My ideal ‘me-time’ would be spending a couple of hours on Pinterest! I am obsessed!

10) I love shopping. I could easily spend hours and hours at the malls here in Kuwait if I had endless pot of money! But I much prefer shopping in the UK as its much cheaper and there tends to be a bigger selection in my favourite shops in the UK!

11) Before moving to Kuwait the only thing I had cooked would of been some pasta and now I love cooking, especially stuff for Oscar and Millie.

My questions:

1.What is your favorite time of day/day of the week/month of the year?

Favourite time of day would be mornings or nap time ;) Day of the week would be the weekend and month of the year depends on if we are in Kuwait or not; whilst in Kuwait I love October/November time the weather is perfect. But in the UK I obviously love the summer months.

2. What’s the #1 most played song on your iPod?

I don’t listen to music often at home really but in the car it would probably be a Michael Buble CD.

3. What is one of your favorite quotes?

‘Remember the small things as they are often the big things’

4. Who would be your 5 dream guests at a dinner party?

My family :) Oh and I wouldn’t mind Michael Buble there singing to us! ;)

5. What songs are included on the soundtrack to your life?

Lots of Michael Buble, Westlife and Elton John’s I Guess Thats Why They Call It The Blues as its mine and my husbands song :)

6. What was the last movie, TV show or book that made you cry or tear up?

I think it was the last episode of Derek that we watched a couple of weeks ago.

7. What is your first memory?

Maybe something from nursery days?

8. What story does your family always tell about you?

I can’t really recall any to be honest.

9. Whats the biggest fib you have ever told?

Hmm…i’m not sure!

10. Silliest/stupidest/funniest thing you have done when tipsy drunk? Do you remember it?

I’m not a silly drunk really and I haven’t had a drink for ages now!

11. Just Where IS Wally?

I have no idea!

The bloggers I nominate for the Liebster Award:

My questions to you are:

1) What made you start blogging?

2) What is your favourite holiday destination and why?

3) Have you ever wanted to live in a different country?

4) If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?

5) What do you enjoy doing in your ‘me-time’ or free-time?

6) Whats the best thing about being a mum and the hardest?

7) What would be your ‘dream’ job?

8) What is your favourite song and why?

9) Whats behind the name of your blog?

10) Where would you like to be in five years?

11) Do you have any regrets?

Sorry if you have been nominated before! I look forward to reading your answers and seeing the award passed along to some more bloggers :)

Homemade Foam

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foam1Oscar is a big fan of messy play and sensory activities and loves nothing more than covering himself in whatever we have been playing with; homemade paint, jelly and our latest messy play ingredient; homemade foam!

The foam is really quick to make and gave Oscar loads of entertainment from playing with his under the sea animals in it to covering himself in green foam! But as its only washing up liquid, a quick shower after playing easily removed all the foam from Oscar’s body.

You can use just the foam in the sensory box as its just as much fun on its own, you could even make a variety of colours of it or you could add some plastic toys such as animals and toy people or some kitchen utensils like spoons and bowls. The possibilities are endless! Quick to make and lots of fun to play with!

What you need:

1/3 cup washing up liquid (we used Fairy Liquid)

1/3 water

1 tbsp cornstarch

food colouring

How to make it:

  • Mix 1/3 cup water with 1/3 cup washing up liquid.
  • Add your desired food colouring along with the cornstarch.
  • Mix in a blender for about 3 minutes.
  • Pour out of blender into a plastic box ready for playing.

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Potato Pancakes for Babies

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potpancakesMillie has really been enjoying the banana pancakes that I made her a few weeks back and I love that it made such a huge batch that was suitable for freezing so she tends to have the pancakes with some fruit 3 or 4 times a week. With her love of pancakes a couple of weeks ago I decided to try a new recipe for pancakes so she could have a bit of variety. I found this potato pancake recipe on New Zealand Baby and hoped that my little pancake lover would like them, and I was right! She seemed the enjoy the savoury potato pancake just as much as her banana pancakes and eat 2 of them along with some diced apple in no time! To include a bit of variety you could even top the pancakes with some savoury toppings like cheese, vegetables or some savoury spreads. Or change the salt in the recipe for some different spices. However, they are just as tasty on their own…I may of had one myself too!

Ingredients:

3 potatoes, medium sized

2 eggs

3 tbsp flour

pinch of salt

olive oil

Instructions:

  • Peel the potatoes. Then either diced or shred (we diced) the potatoes and cook them until they are just tender.
  • Drain and mash the potatoes (without any milk or butter)
  • Combine the mash with the eggs, flour and salt.
  • Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan, medium heat.
  • Drop spoonfuls of the mixture into the pan and turn once they are golden on the underside.
  • When both sides are golden, remove from the pan and drain on a paper towel.
  • Repeat with the remaining mixture, adding more oil when necessary.

* Our mixture made 6 decent sized pancakes and are suitable for freezing.