Saturday, 30 August 2014

Beginnings and Endings

How time flies - these guys grow too fast!

Today, my family is on the cusp of change.

Dave starts a new job on Monday, and while we have all lived quite happily with his regular 9 - 5 job, he works in the care sector, of which 9 - 5 jobs are thin on the ground.

However, like anyone who has to embrace change in order to progress, he has made the decision to move on and to absorb whatever the impact might be in order to improve.

Not an easy decision at all.

To leave his comfort zone, to leave a job that fits well around our family life, that doesn't eat into family time or see him spend any due amount of time away from the kids, in pursuit of something which may or may not work out to be a better fit, is a tough call.

What if it doesn't work out?
What if we never see each other?
What if we end up working opposite shift patterns?
What if it's not as challenging as he hopes it will be?
What if he's left something good, for something not so good?
What if?
What if?
What if?

Retrospect aside, change is a good thing.  Scary, but necessary.  We are no strangers to change; indeed, having moved house 6 times in the last 6 years, we are more than used to adapting to ever-developing situations.

We've dealt with a lot over the years. We ourselves have constantly adapted to survive, and have gotten quite good at knowing what works.

I don't know if it's getting any easier though.

I always think about things deeply as they end.  There are so many thing in life that we never get to say goodbye to - so when you realise that you might be doing something for the last time, I suppose it makes it more poignant. More reflective.

If I know I'm going to be doing something for the very last time, I try to say goodbye to it, no matter how insignificant it seems at the time.

It's so easy to just live your life and to have everything whipped out from under your feet very suddenly, without even being aware that it's happening.

  One day you are stressed, tired and hoping that your child will just go to sleep.  You've both been up since 5a.m and as a result the day has dragged, a grumpy child and mama in tow.  You put him to bed and he begs to hear that song that he loves as he goes to sleep - he wants you to sing it.  It's the last thing you want to do - you just want to shut off and forget the world. You begrudgingly, half-assedly sing it, angry with him for dragging out bed time when you have so many things to do with what little energy you have left.

One day you realise, that you haven't sung that song for two years - it's been so long since your baby asked you to sing him to sleep.  You never even noticed it happening.  You try to think back to the last time you sang that song, his favourite song to him.  You can't remember - you are sure you sang it with love and joy; you loved singing him to sleep...

It's always so easy to acknowledge beginnings with trepidation, hesitation, worry.  It's normal to be anxious as you spread out into the unknown, not knowing where it's going to take you. It is more difficult to acknowledge and notice the little endings - harder even to say to yourself 'this is the last time'. Don't be scared of endings - they are simply the start of another new journey.

It is good to acknowledge change when you can, and to embrace the beginnings and endings when you can.

Today i am aware of change.  I am aware of the impact it has on us all, and I am trying to hold on to the smaller changes within our lives, which although are in no way seismic, do happen sometimes without us realising it. Who knows where we will all be at this time next year? It's all very exciting.

You never know when it's going to be the last time.  But you can always try to make it a good time.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Zizzi Loving! A Great Family Meal In The Heart Of St. Andrews

Zizzi's!  Love the colour scheme!

I have been a very lucky lady lately.  Not only have I been invited to review the very yummy fare at Pizza Express,and have spent a whole day sampling goodies at The Edinburgh Foodies Festival, but I was also invited along to Zizzi's in St.Andrews to try out their amazing family-friendly menu.

I am also extremely lucky to be very good friends with the lovely Jac at Tinned Tomatoes and we were extremely fortunate to be invited along all together, our other halves and children included, to try out some of the spectacular food in this Italian delight.

Zizzi's is a deceptively large restaurant in the heart of St Andrew's and offers a spacious, atmospheric space, suitable for the whole family.  The atmosphere is fabulous - very busy and quite noisy, so I didn't feel like I had to keep the kids and their loud voices in check too much, which for me, made a more relaxing experience.

The huge mallow shaped pizza oven is situated at the rear of the space, with an open kitchen, where you can watch the extremely busy and quick chefs at work.  It was all very impressive.

The furnishings were of a very high quality; nice sturdy wooden tables, large enough to carry the weight of the food and to deal with squirming, ants-in-your-pants children (Thomas never sits still!), so I didn't have to worry about them tipping the table and soaking us all with juice. Always a bonus!

Some pretty artwork on the walls made for some lovely scenery
Zizzi's has a very nice new children's menu - The Bambini Menu - and for £6.75 your little bambini will be a very well-fed bambini indeed!

The menu is a set as 3 courses, with a chocacino to finish (a mini glass of chocolate milkshake - very cute!) and it's vegetarian friendly to boot, which is great for our kids.

There's no need to worry that the fare is going to be too fancy for wee palates either - the food is all very fresh and healthy, while catering to the somewhat plainer tastes of children. AND they provide some pretty fancy Crayola crayons while you wait!

To start, they are served with carrot, cucumber and dough sticks, which Tom absolutely loved.  It's not too filling for him and also, he loved feeling grown-up with his own wee dish, rather than picking from my own starter, as he usually does if we go out.

Ethan wasn't so keen on the carrot or the cucumber.  Trying to get that boy to eat any fruit or veg is a nightmare at the best of times, but he was happy with the dough sticks, and I ate the veg for him.  I thought he might at least have a go, as Cooper and Thomas were having theirs with gusto, but no!  He's pretty set in his ways.

For the kids, the main was a bit of a no-brainer; they were given the choice between Mini Pasta or Mini Pizza , but with all the pretty damn fine pizza smells wafting around and after sitting watching all of these gorgeous pizzas making their way from the kitchen, they opted for the Mini Marguerita.

There is a fab wee option with the mini pizza where you can order toppings in little dishes so that you can 'make your own', which is a lovely touch for the wee ones - making them feel like they are little pizza chefs, which is really cute.  I thought that was a really nice touch.

Unfortunately, my two boys have a fussy taste like their mother, (who? me?) so they simply wanted the plain Marguerita, which meant we didn't get to see this in action.  The boys really loved their pizza though, and I have to say, considering the size of them, and the fact that they had already had a starter, I was fairly surprised to see that they both ate the whole thing!

If your kids like their veg, there's an option here to add some Broccoli or Beans, but it does cost 50p extra.

After we'd visited the toilets and us adults had finished our enormous meals, we got ready for dessert.

Ethan was really chuffed with his cones!
Tom opted for the Ice Cream (2 scoops of flavoured ice cream, from a wide choice of flavours), while Ethan went for the fabulous looking Zizzi Bambini Cones, which was served as two scoops of ice cream, two mini cones and popping candy.

Ethan negated to make his own cones as suggested (ever his own man), but instead decided to do it his way, taking a bit off the end of each cone and slurping the ice cream while scooping popping candy into his mouth and laughing.

He really enjoyed this dessert!  I think Tom was a bit jealous - it did look really cool.  Plus Ethan was having a great time, shaking his head after eating the popping candy.  I asked him what he was doing and he said 'It's like maracas in my mouth, Mummy!', which did make us all laugh.  He is too cute sometimes.

The kids all had a great time, but us adults did too!

While everyone got stuck into some rather tasty Peroni Italian lager, Prosecco by the glass, cocktails and juice which were all readily on offer, I happily ordered myself a virgin cocktail, which came decorated with a fresh strawberry and was a lovely wee treat for the designated driver!

The food was amazing too.  Hot on the heels of the kids' starters, came our very own.

Dave and I ordered the Arancini breaded risotto balls, which were absolutely delicious, consisting of risotto, mozzarella and peas, fried in golden breadcrumbs.  They came with a wee tomato peperonata dip, and to be honest, I could have eaten these all night.  I reckon I'll try to recreate these at home!

Next up, Dave ordered Zizzi Spiedini Pollo, which was presented on a stand, making it extra impressive. This came with Tuscan potatoes and a white wine and lemon sauce.  It looked awesome - even if I don't eat meat.  Dave certainly enjoyed it!

Meanwhile, what did the fussy vegetarian order?

Well, I even surprised myself when I ended up with this particular main course.

Now presenting, a delicious mish-mash of awesomeness:

To the left of the pizza is mozzarella, new potato, riserva cheese, red onion and thyme.  To the right, a contrasting flavour amalgamation of half-roasted peppers, roquito chilli, mushrooms and rocket.

On the left, salty, cheesy, savoury goodness.  On the right, sweet, hot and slightly peppery.


And the best bit?  I couldn't finish it all, so they boxed it up for me and I went through the same amazing taste sensation the next day. Perfecto!

Of course, you aren't simply limited to Pizza at Zizzi's.  They also serve up a mean selection of Risottos, some amazing Calzones, some beautiful Linguines and traditional Lasagne.

There is a massive choice - and they do take-away too!

Of course, despite being very full, we had to try dessert and this did not disappoint.  I enjoyed a rather moreish Chocolate Melt pudding, which had a gooey warm middle, and some lovely vanilla ice-cream.

Dave however tried out the new and very delicious sweet pizza.  What a fab idea!  

Melting marshmallows, fresh strawberries,drizzled with warm chocolate and hazelnut sauce!  MMM!

The kids were also served with their chocacinos while we finished up, which was such a nice end to the meal and made them feel very grown up, as well as loading them with even more energy, which they then used up outside, racing up and down the street outside!

After having a wee run around St.Andrews, playing tig and chasing the kids around the street (it's okay, they were pretty much deserted!), laughing and giggling, we all piled into the car for home, just as the sun began to set.  We'd all had a really lovely time, and are sure to return soon!

The best nights end like this!

It's worth it for full, knackered children!

*Disclaimer - I was asked to attend Zizzis to try out their new menu and review the Bambini menu.  I did not pay for my meal, nor was I expected to give a positive review.  All opinions are completely my own.

Friday, 22 August 2014

The Best and Worst Political Photo Ops: How I Would Win A General Election: Guest Post

I had a wee glance at the Scotsman today (I know, it's rubbbish!) and caught a wee glimpse of Alex Salmond photo-bombing a poor lassie’s round of golf for no apparent reason.

Spending time with Alex Salmond is a good walk spoiled. 

It reminded me of the time he played football and got me thinking about how I would use the photo-op to win the heart of millions and a general election.

On the 'ead

My tactic would be to spend a day of creating the best political photo- ops ever in homage to some of my favourites of all time.
I guess I could start with the sports, but that would make me really hungry and I’d need a pasty after that and probably a pint to wash it down. Luckily for me this is a well-trodden photo-op path. All of us politicians love a pie (or a bacon roll) do we not, and so long as I’m a proper right-winger I’ll get away with having a beer.

Tosser with a pint!

Politicians love going to people’s work  don’t they? And dressing up...

I’d be sure to fit in a wee stroll along the beach. Nothing could go wrong there right?

I’d have to remember to smile of course!

I’ll spend a bit of time with my celebrity mates.

Hold a baby!

And pose for my corporate sponsors.

So that’s it. One day, many photos and then people will believe that I’m actually a person rather than a soulless and incompetent parasite who only wants to be elected cos I heard the expenses are pretty good.

Nah... Sod it I’ll just take my top off, ride a horse and shoot a gun!!!!

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Why I'm Saying Yes

With less than a month to go until the Scottish Referendum on Independence, to determine if our strong, characterful nation is strong and characterful enough to go it alone, tensions are high in and around the country.

Every newspaper, every media outlet, and most importantly, everyone at work, in the playground, on the radio, on the television, on the doorstep, on the high street are all debating the ins and outs of independence.

It's an emotive and passionate issue from a very emotive and passionate people.  Never before have I seen everyone so interested and outspoken about their own political beliefs.  It's amazing to see people who never previously bothered to look beyond the ballot paper finally getting to grips with the state of their own country; assessing it, casting a critical eye over what is actually happening in the day to day lives of the people around them.

Discussion is everywhere.

And that can only be a good thing.

Without going too hard and heavy with the political reasoning behind my decision, I will openly say, quite proudly, that I will be voting a strong YES on September 18th.

You can all read for yourselves about the various issues and arguments surrounding currency, economics, etc. etc.

My reasons for voting YES are very personal.

Ever since I was wee, I have always been very aware of my standing in life.  There has always been a class system, as far as I am concerned.  I was lucky enough to live in a well off area, among some very nice folk, who were all very well off themselves.

I was brought up in the fancy, upper/middle class area, where people lived in big fancy houses and mummy and daddy had a car each.  They all shopped at Tesco, and on their 17th birthdays, some of them even got some pretty sweet cars, or, were insured to drive their parents' cars.

Our school was one that aimed high, that presumed it's pupils would have fabulous Higher results, that they would go to University straight from a well-run sixth year, into Law degrees, Medicine degrees, or find themselves on Gap years.

Me?  Well, I was never meant to be there. Not really.

Mine was a circumstantial nice life and I never really fit into it.  I found my niche of course, I found it outside of school altogether, and into outside drama clubs and musical theatre societies, where I mixed with kids from all over the city, with whom I felt a hell of a lot more comfortable.

I was only in suburbia because of two factors; my mum was a single parent and my grandparents lived there.  We lived there to be close to them, and the schools were decent schools.  It was a good fit.  It was safe.

I still didn't fit in though.

Mum being a single parent and a carer for our grandparents meant that our family very much relied on benefits while we grew up.  My school uniform was bought with vouchers which meant we always got the cheapest and best, and these stopped when I was around 16, so after that I used my money from my job as a weekend waitress at a coffee shop, my £2.50 an hour, to buy myself some uniform so that my Mum didn't have to find the money.

The stuff I used to hear in the playground about benefits and the people on them too - things that had obviously been learned from parents and handed down statements:

'Lazy people on benefits'
'Get a fucking job'

And, well, you know the drill.
There's nothing like a dose of that now and again to make you feel like a worthless, lazy, scrounging, useless bastard, no matter how many fake Tommy Hilfiger jackets you wore to school (yuck) or how many weekends you'd lost to working since you were 13 years old pouring coffee to discerning old ladies (man, were they discerning!) for a pittance.

We shopped at Kwik Save for puffy crisps which were more air than crisp and shampoo that smelled like grapefruit, but would stain the grout of the tiles in the bathroom if you got it on them.

I had to hide the fact that I received (very, very, gratefully) my Education Maintenance Fund (EMA) which allowed me to buy shoes and stationery for school. While my peers shopped in the finest boutique stores, spending hundreds, carelessly on their Final Fling (Prom) dress, mine came from a charity shop (quite rightly too - what a waste of money that would have been!).

I was never ashamed, never really bothered, but I was quite pissed off by the comments, the wee jibes, the pokes in the ribs that weren't exactly aimed at me personally, but certainly people like me. My pals and their pals would mouth off at a moment's notice about scroungers on benefits, who were lazy and useless.  They'd see me grimace and say 'oh, but not you - you're not like that!'

I understood where they were coming from though, even if I didn't agree.

How can a 17 year old kid who has never had a job, who has never had to walk a huge distance to save the bus money, who has never had to get dry in front of the Calor gas heater, who has never had to put Polythene around the windows instead of double glazing supposed to know anything other than what they've been told by the hands that feed them?

We weren't especially well off, we were definitely the 'have-nots' in a land of 'haves' but we didn't struggle like a lot of people did.  I was very well aware of folk who had it worse.  Oh yes, there were a hell of a lot of people who couldn't afford the gas for the heater or the nice insulating plastic for the windows.  And damn, if it was cold in my house, it must have been bloody freezing in theirs.

I hope you get the relevance of what I am trying to say here - but I suppose it was no real coincidence that every time there was an election, even as a wee lassie, I noticed the politics.  I noticed them, because my family were not from these parts and my family were affronted.

We lived in an area that voted Tory.  They had their blues in their windows, proud to be 'Conservative'.  They were older, and they did not like change. My family, like the families around me handed down to me their own narrative, and yes, it was extremely anti-Tory.


The Tories vilified single parents - mothers in particular.
The Tories abhorred those on benefits.
The Tories did away with public services (in which the majority of my family worked).
The Tories like hunting.
The Tories took away things from the education system that couldn't be replaced.

Conservatism was a dirty word in our house.  No change meant no future, no equality.  It was 'jobs for the boys'. It was no higher education for people like me. It was the closure of mental health facilities where my family worked and my grandad was resident. It was the cutting of benefits which meant poor food, poor nutrition, no chances.

Yet they got in every time.  And if they didn't get in, it was the SNP.  And the SNP were viewed as a Scottish Tory in our house - the affluent folk around them, when they thought they were branching out a bit voted them in time and time again.

And I vowed, I would never vote SNP.  I owed it to my grandparents, to my mum, to my family.  We were hard working people - even if we did need a hand from time to time. We didn't deserve to be vilified.  We didn't deserve to be kept down.

I have to say here, I was wrong.  I have never been more thankful for the free education I got at University AND College due to measures created by the SNP. I am so very grateful for that.

Maybe if my grandparents were alive now they'd bear it enough to thank them for that.

A lot has changed in the last 10 years. Devolution has meant so much to us as a nation; a parliament, power, free education, the ability to offer free NHS prescriptions.

But now the opportunity has come for us to have so much more, and damn, I am all for taking it with two hands.

And, oddly, I'm feeling rather warm towards SNP for the opportunity.

Even if I will still probably never vote for them.

Nobody in this lifetime (unless comfortable throughout) will forget austerity or recession or food banks.

If you have no idea about people on welfare these days and the amount the actually get and what they actually have to do to get it, please, please educate yourselves.  It's unbelievable.

If you think that is an easy way of life, you are very much mistaken. If you don't know, you've been too damn comfortable. Lucky you.

I have my Yes sticker on my car and it fills me with joy. It's my wee middle finger to the world.  It fills me with even greater joy when I see them on other cars.  But not as much as the huge signs and the window signs and the wee lapel badges.

What I have seen more and more, is that I am not alone. Every bugger that displays a Yes is a bugger who's struggled, is someone who has rallied against the status quo and been shoved down, is someone who has felt that inequality and the sharp jab in the ribs every time they've put their head above the parapet.

I am lucky enough to work in a public service, and I see every day, first hand, the immigrants, the migrant workers, those on benefits, the drug addicts, the grannies with their grandchildren who would otherwise be in care, the budget cuts and the engineers who can't even get a job in McDonald's. They struggle like you wouldn't belive.  And they might be whatever to the media and whoever else, but they are all people and they all have a story and they all have a life, just like you and me.

Myself and my own family now - we struggle.  We are both in apparently well-paid and responsible, graduate jobs. We don't do a food shop every week because we cannot afford to.  Sometimes we can't take the car because there's no money for petrol. Sometimes our last pound in our pockets is really, genuinely all we have.  We have spent a lot of time recently gathering up our old clothes not to hand in to charity shops, but to sell for an extra £5 to get some basics. We rifle through the kids DVDs and our old jewellery to sell it off to pay a bill.  We struggle a lot. And we are not alone. And, if we  are struggling, how is everyone else on less than us coping?

There are so many people out there who feel a change in the air and want to embrace it.

What is a No?

It's a negative. It's fear.  It's war and nuclear arms that we don't want or need apart from in some kind of horrific 'end-game' scenario. It's a continuation of the same. But maybe worse. With little to no say.

Yes is brave.  Yes is fed up of struggle and fed of of being turned down.  Yes is a pride, a balance, a strong positive.  It's not a maybe. It's not a can't or a won't. It's a knowledge that things might be tough for a bit, but it's also a 'fuck it - things are already tough'. It's a 'let's struggle through together and be the best we can be.'

It's work, yes, but man, I am NOT afraid of hard work.

I have never been able to afford that.

I'll leave you with what Dave said tonight.  He said:

'If we don't get a Yes vote, Scotland won't be a country any more.  It will always just be the idea of a country.'

And you know what kids?  There's a heck of a lot of truth in that.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Playcuters, Tick Tock Frocks and Dead Time: My Favourite Mistakes

The best mispronunciations of anything have come from my own children's mouths. They keep me laughing and giggling throughout the years, and they add to the crazy, lovely, funny and rich tapestry of the lives we share together.

Of course, the kids grow, hiccups are corrected, and all too soon it's easy to forget about the small turns of phrase that really kept you going through the tumultuous early years.

Reading threads like these on Mumsnet really make me laugh, and I reckon that we've coined up enough from our two Blethering Boys to get you giggling.

Here are some of my favourites - it's good to have them all written down so I can remember them!

Thinking about Dead Time a bit too much...


Dip Dip - Tomato sauce.  Now this is what we always call it in our house - from adults right down to kids.  You can't have chips without dip dip!

Not-Nots! - Octonauts.  Borne out of a very frustrating morning when Thomas was 2 years old and really wanted to watch 'not-nots' on television and I couldn't work out what the hell it was he was screaming for.  He got very frustrated, I got really wound up and there may have been a few tears shed.  I can laugh about it now, but when your first-born is shouting so vocally for something and neither of you can communicate to each other, it's pretty stressful!

The Den End - No matter how many times we try to tell him, whenever he is doing a maze puzzle, or is actually in a real maze, he is always on the look out for 'den ends'.  DEAD end, son, DEAD end. Which leads me nicely onto...

Dead Time - Yup.  Apparently it's not bed time.  It's dead time.  No wonder they are both always so against going to bed.

Mimit - 'Back in a mimit' is something I still say to them now, usually quite seriously.  That was one of those cute things that sticks.  Tom spent an entire summer when he was just over a year old telling us that he would, or I would, or Dad would be 'back in a mimit'.

Efin - This is the way that Tom spelled Ethan's name when he first started to write.  Like my 'efin' little brother.  Thank god for grammar.

Bother - Wee Efin wasn't just a great addition to our family, but something Tom spoke about constantly to strangers and anyone who'd listen about his 'new baby bother'.  Accurate.

Missisefes - Mississippi. What Tom counts to, like in the Lego Movie, when Emmet is counting 'one missisefes, two missisefes...'

Stanleeinpurl - Stan Lee, In Peril.  Tom is obsessed with Lego computer games.  This time last year he was extra-especially obsessed with Lego Marvel Action Superheroes on the Playstation 3.  It's a great wee game and we totally recommend it for your 5 year old. (I quite enjoyed it too)
A great wee feature in the Marvel Superheroes game is that the great comic book writer, Stan Lee, is a character who is trapped.  Indeed, he is 'in peril', and you get bonus points for 'saving him'.  Tom was obsessed with Stanleeinpurl and just said it all the time, as if it was this poor Lego man's full name.

'Just softing it, Mum'


Ethan has very recently had grommets inserted, so is still learning the lingo.  While he does struggle with some stuff and we do take our time to correct him, he is very often still feeling his way around the English language.  I would just like to iterate here, I am in no way worried about his language - he has come on leaps and bounds in the last four months alone and shows us new and amazing speech every single day.  He's a clever wee bugger.

Softing - To 'soft' something is to stroke it a wee bit.  So when I say 'DON'T TOUCH in my best scary foreboding voice when he is raking around my jewellery box or touching something he shouldn't in a shop, Ethan sweetly replies 'My not touching it, my just softing it'.  And he gets away with it, adorable wee bugger.

Frissmiss - Christmas.  Cute as hell.

Frockodile/Tick Tock Frock - Ethan is a massive fan of Peter Pan and Jake and the Neverland Pirates, so he constantly talks about the 'tick tock frock'  (tick tock croc) and is always on the lookout for 'frockodiles'  I never want this to change.  I have tried to correct him, but this is one in particular that's just not budging. He's adamant!

Playcuter - Computer.  Yup, it's the computer and you play games on it, thus it is a playcuter.  I have stolen this for my own use.  It's friggin' genius.

Santa Plaws - He comes at Frissmiss.

Keeojeon Wahnd - Nickelodeon Land.  Where we went in the summer holidays!  He loves Keeojeon Wahnd!

Cunting - Cutting.  A perfect example of him using this particularly joyful mispronounciation was when he was 'cunting' his Playdough with his cutter and repeatedly shouting 'cunting! cunting! cunting! cunting!' while caught in the moment, completely oblivious while we struggled to breathe through laughing so hard.

Ah...sweet, sweet memories!

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Everyone Loves Pizza Right? Pizza Express Review

Last week I was invited, along with Jac from Tinned Tomatoes and Stuart from CakeyBoi to indulge in some Summer Fayre at Pizza Express in St. Andrews.

What a beautiful location for a restaurant - set in a little square beside a church and the library, this Pizza Express certainly fits in nicely with the local traditional surroundings.  Although nestled in a wee building, inside it's a rather impressive and bright space, and can certainly cater for a lot of people at any one time, with a small, more intimate upstairs area too, to take you away from the hubbub of downstairs.

This particular evening, although mid-week, was surprisingly busy - although St. Andrews is a very popular tourist resort, famous for it's old architecture, golf, university, scenery and traditional local shops there's definitely something for everyone in this gorgeous wee town, so I suppose it's actually unsurprising that the local restaurants were mopping up trade.

The last, and only other time I have been to a Pizza Express was when we visited Edinburgh  in the pouring rain.  After getting completely soaked and feeling really sorry for ourselves, the staff at that particular Pizza Express made Dave, the kids and I feel completely at home.  We all had a blast, so when I was asked to try out the St. Andrew's version, I was very much looking forward to it.  Pizza Express's reputation generally precedes it, plus it was nice to get the opportunity for some child-free dining this time!

We had been invited to try the special summer menu, so when we sat our table, where we could see the guys and gals making and twirling the pizza dough (what a cool thing to watch - I wish I could do that!), we focused on that.

Our waiter introduced himself as Tom (how could I forget such a great name!?  His mother was obviously very cool and clever, like me) and he made sure we were furnished with some refreshments while we perused the menu.

The three of us opted for the Hugo Cocktail, which was made up of prosecco, lemon elderflower and  fresh mint over ice and it certainly went down a treat!  I love the use of mint on drinks as a freshener and it really did make me feel all summery!  Fab!

I decided against choosing a main from the summer menu - being a vegetarian who is particularly fussy when it comes to goats' cheese and mushrooms, it didn't leave me with any room for manouvre, although I really wish I liked goats' cheese - the Emilia Romana that Staurt ordered just looked delicious!

But we did opt for starters.

We began with some amazing Polenta chips, the Bosco Salad and The Leggara Superfood Salad from the summer menu to share.

Superfood ahoy!

What I love about Pizza Express, is that you can eat the food there and not feel like you've just stuffed yourself full of rubbish.  Oh no - this is real food, and it's good for you.  The Leggara came in at under 300 calories, which as a shared starter was a nice choice.  It was the first time I'd had Polenta chips - and wowaaaweeewa!  More please!

Absolutely delicious!  They came with a wee  honey mustard-y type dip too, which was just so moreish.  There was an awkward moment where the last Polenta chip was left, due to crazy, crazy politeness, which meant that Tom nearly whipped it away, but I saved it at the last second.  I'm not shy when it comes to scooping up delicious food.

We didn't have long to wait for our main course either, despite how busy the restaurant was.  I'd gone for the Leggera Pomodoro Pesto which was ridiculously tasty - a cute wee pizza at under 500 calories with a hole in the middle for a wee salad!  It was just perfect for a light eater like me - although it is not a problem if you can't finish your munching on-site.  Our waiter was more than happy to box up Jac's Caprina Rossa, a veggie pizza with goat's cheese, beetroot, red onion and pesto, as well as Stuart's Emilia Romana, which looked delicious and came with goat's cheese, mozarella, mushrooms, garlic oil, rocket and truffle oil.

Simply delicious - my Leggera

Jac's choice

I am a very fussy eater (although I am getting a lot better in my old age) and I often struggle to find something among the vegetarian options in a menu - often restaurants like to fall back on simply goat's cheese, mushrooms and avocado - and I very often have to eat something I'm not too keen on, but I have to say, I am very impressed by Pizza Expresses menu for this.  Even for those with plainer tastes like me, they have found a way to infuse subtle flavours and edge me into new territory without me feeling like I'd left my comfort zone, which I love.

It's a safe bet as well for those with a gluten-free dietary requirement.  I was very pleased to see a lot of very nice gluten free options on the menu and I will firmly advocate for eating out here next time I'm with any of my gluten-free buddies; I know they'd truly appreciate the offerings.

Onto desserts, and despite the fact that by this point we had pretty much eaten our body weights in food, and ordered another of those scrummy Hugo cocktails, we were very keen to order some delicious sweet dishes!


Jac and I had already narrowed down what we were having before we'd even got there (funny how you always pick a dessert first, huh?) and thus had settled on the Leggara Lemon and Blueberry Glory (for Jac) which consisted of a lemon curd sorbet with blueberries, coulis and a chocolate straw, and for myself a Strawberry Cream Glory, which was made up of (you guessed it) strawberry gelato, cream, strawberries and a sugar wafer curl. Oh yes!

Stuart went for a rather sophisticated looking coffee accompanied by a Dolcetti, which is a special dessert designed to accompany coffee (I know!  What a great idea, right?  I seriously need to start drinking coffee!) and there were lots of pleased noises coming from our table as we all consumed our sweet treats.

We finished up eventually and thanked our waiter and the various staff, snapping some of the kitchen staff on the way out - it's so cool to see them at work while you eat, although I can't imagine what kind of pressure that must put them under!  It must be cool though to see all of those satisfied customers eating the food you just made for them.

The guy twirling the pizza had pretty big muscles - I wonder if that's from all the pizza dough? Hmm...must get into pizza dough twirling...

We left the restaurant in no real hurry - there was no rush to get out of the door, and we were made to feel entirely welcome throughout our experience, despite the mad rush that was going on around us.  I sincerely look forward to returning.

We had a leisurely stroll around the wee town before we left, taking in some of the sights and taking the opportunity to peek into the different shop windows.  There's so much to see here, it really is worth a cheeky wee day out with the other half if you can.

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