My tween son has reviewed Tesco toys.


We were delighted that our youngest son was chosen to take part in the Tesco Toy Team after the casting day I blogged about yesterday.




He loves to perform and always has plenty to say.  We think that is why he was selected although as he threatened to shoot one of the people auditioning for participants with  Nerf gun, we can’t be sure.






The first joy was when two toys arrived for him to test at home.  As you can see from the pictures, he was rather excited.



A week later we set off for the London studios for the filming day.

Tesco were again welcoming and provided us with refreshments.

It was so exciting to watch Ramsey and the other children doing their thing.  The set was amazing and Ramsey worked first in a pair and then on his own.

Please do check out the videos – they give a really honest account of what the children found about some of the toys available for Christmas at Tesco.

Please see the link below, this will take you on to the videos.

I have very fond memories of my late Mum’s chocolate roll cake so will be giving this recipe a try this year.








Chocolate Roll

75g caster sugar

3 happy eggs

2 happy egg yolks

75g plain flour (sieved)

25g cocoa powder (sieved)

Zest of one orange


Chocolate Filling

6 happy egg whites

30g caster sugar

120g 72% dark chocolate

20g butter


Candied Kumquats & citrus sauce

10 kumquats

150ml water

100g icing sugar




Chocolate Roll

Preheat your oven to 200⁰C/400⁰F/Gas Mark 6.

Grease a Swiss roll tin, then line it with baking parchment.

In a large bowl, whisk the sugar, happy eggs and happy egg yolks together until thick and creamy. Add the flour and cocoa powder and carefully fold into the mixture, trying to retain as much air as possible. Pour the mixture carefully into the Swiss roll tin, ensuring an even cover.

Bake for 10-12 minutes until springy to the touch.

Take a large sheet of baking parchment, dust it with caster sugar and orange zest, then turn the sponge out onto it. Trim the edges with a knife. Roll the sponge from one end leaving the paper in the middle.  Cool on a wire rack.

Chocolate Filling

Whisk the happy egg whites and caster sugar until they form soft peaks i.e. when you make a peak, the tips droop.


Break the chocolate into pieces and place in a plastic bowl with the butter. Heat in a microwave for 30 seconds, leave for 20 seconds and then beat with a whisk. If the chocolate is not completely melted, heat in the microwave for 10 second bursts until the chocolate is just melted.


Mat’s top tip: mix the chocolate between each burst to ensure even heating.


Add 1/3 of the beaten happy egg whites to the chocolate and combine using an electric beater. Do this quickly; the chocolate will begin to set and form hard lumps, so don’t worry about retaining the air in the mixture. Now combine the other 2/3 of the happy egg whites by gently folding with a spoon until the mixture is a smooth consistency. Place the whole mixture in the fridge to set.



Candied Kumquats

Clean the kumquats and pick off any stems.

Place in a saucepan with the water and icing sugar. Bring to a simmer, then turn down to just below simmering point i.e. small bubbles form on the sides of the saucepan.


Cover the water with a circle of baking paper to keep the kumquats submerged. A good way to do this is to use a large piece of baking parchment and a saucepan lid which is just too small for your pan, then they will both sit happily on the surface of the water. Heat for 2 hours.


Remove the kumquats and put to one side to cool. Bring the sugar liquor up to a rolling boil until it has reduced by 2/3.


Taste, then enhance the flavour if required by adding lemon or orange juice to make a lovely citrus sauce.


To complete the dish:

Unroll the sponge and remove the baking parchment. Spread the chocolate filling over the surface of the sponge to about ¼ inch thick, then place the kumquats at even distances across it. Roll the cake up.


Serve in slices with a drizzle of citrus sauce.


If you asked a child, what their dream role would be, I imagine Toy Tester would be right up there.

My family were asked along to try out some Tesco toys just in time for Christmas.



They had such fun looking at a huge variety of toys.

We were really impressed that after the Casting Day the toys would be donated to Great Ormond Street Hospital.




Tesco provided us with lovely refreshments and we had a great family day out.  My daughter loved the chocolate fingers.  She also was very excited by the goody bags.




As for me, with my Eighties obsession with Fame, I was thrilled that we found ourselves at RADA.

The dramatic setting must have rubbed off on my youngest son who was chosen to take part in a Tesco advertisement.


I will blog more about that experience tomorrow.

How to make mince pies is the question on our lips at Christmas.

An easy recipe for mince pies


150g butter

250g plain flour

50g ground almonds

50g caster sugar

1 orange

pinch of salt

1 happy egg

1-2 tsp cold water

280g/10oz good quality mincemeat


For the topping:

100g butter

75g plain flour

100g caster sugar

1tsp cinnamon powder

1 nutmeg



Place butter in freezer overnight.

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Put the flour into a mixing bowl. Using a cheese grater, grate the butter into the flour and add caster sugar, almonds, and salt; zest the orange and add, then gently stir with a wooden spoon to combine.

In a food processor, add the mixture, happy egg yolks and 1-2 teaspoons of water. Use a pulse action until it forms a soft dough, then place it in the fridge for 30 minutes, to chill.

Roll out the pastry to a thickness of a pound coin and with a round cookie cutter, cut out about 20 rounds.

In a non-stick tartlet baking tray, press the rounds into the tray and spoon the mincemeat evenly into the pies.

Make a crumble topping by quickly mixing the butter, flour, cinnamon and caster sugar in your food processor until it forms a crumble. Sprinkle the crumble over the pies, grate some nutmeg over the top and bake in the oven for 12 – 15 minutes until golden.

Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.







3 Little Buttons

A mum wakes in the middle of the night

Away from home

She glances around and sees her family

Husband and 3 slumbering babes

She sighs contentedly

And then it comes

She wakes up properly

Her husband dives out of bed

Two boys look bleary-eyed


A rush

A recognition that this moment has been long practised for

It needs to be seconds ideally

It takes precious minutes

Mum seizes her sleeping daughter

Throws her over her shoulder

And they run

A door is kicked down

They find themselves freezing on grass

And finally they wake up to just how precious life is

And they will remember


Linking up with Wednesday Words for the first time