How to get your Hygge on with the kids at home – #HalfTermHygge

If you haven’t heard of the term ‘Hygge’ that has been banded about everywhere recently, where have you been?!

To be fair, I have only heard of it thanks to some lovely bloggers I follow (Scandi Mum, I’m looking at you!) but I do love the sound of it and it’s sentiment.

So, what is, Hygge?

Good question. I’m not really sure of the definition, and it’s not something that can be easily defined anyway. It’s a kind of ’emotion’. A way of living. A mindset.

Hygge (pronounced hue-gah) is a Danish word that is a feeling or mood that comes taking genuine pleasure in making ordinary, every day moments more meaningful, beautiful or special. Hygge doesn’t require learning, adopting it as a lifestyle or buying anything. It simply requires being present and recognising a moment that feels so sweet, cosy, charming, special or nice that you just have to name the moment. You know, like when the kids sleep through, you’re given a bottle of Gin as a gift or your husband actually puts his sodding pants in the wash basket. Miracles do apparently happen.

Hygge is being aware of a special moment regardless of how simple it may be.


 Get your Hygge on at home with the kids!

The lovely guys from Plusnet sent me and the boys a little Hygge box so we could experience some simple pleasure together this past half term. We had a busy half term (and ours was last week, not this week) but the middle one has been a bit under the weather for a couple of days so we used our box as an opportunity to cheer him up. From Hygge with love…

In our box we had:

Some popcorn kernels to make our own popcorn

A hot chocolate with marshmallows

A recipe card for Danish Butter Biscuits

Fairy Lights

A star garland decoration

Some den building suggestions

A poster to rate our favourite film (we chose Trolls, and all gave it 5 stars!)

We made our popcorn and added icing sugar to it whilst it was still warm to make it sweet. The kids loved this and listening to it ‘pop’ in the pan was so much fun! (Though I had a slightly nervous demeanour because I thought I had burnt it. Luckily I hadn’t!)

Zak decided he wanted to make some Oat and Raisin biscuits instead of the Danish Butter ones and we had a lovely time together whipping a batch of these up.

Zak and his little brother, Ben, made their den using the sofa cushions (for once I wasn’t shouting at them for turfing them all over the living room!) and they used a large blanket as the roof of their Den. They decorated the inside of it with fairy lights and the star garland and sat in there to eat their snacks they had made, drink their hot chocolate and watch Trolls. Sadly they didn’t stay in the den long because the songs in the movie make them want to prance all over the house (it is quite a sight!) and they don’t do sitting down very well. They did however keep rebuilding their den and Zak was very proud of his cosy creation. I would quite happily have spent an afternoon in there with a Gin and Tonic getting my Hygge on!

It’s really easy for you to have your own Hygge experience at home. Just head on over to Plusnet’s #HalfTermHygge for hints and tips and details on how you can enter a competition! All you have to do is share your moments of having a go at #HalfTermHygge.


Our little Hygge experience video


 Disclosure: I was sent a Hygge Half term box by Plusnet in return for this post. All words, thoughts and opinions are my own.



The Summer that was… (2016)

So, Autumn is officially here.

The leaves are starting to change colour and fall (yay for crunchy leaf walks, nay for loads of leaves rotting in my garden that I need to pick up and really can’t be arsed with).

As a little memento of our summer, I have compiled some of our photos into a slideshow to look back on.

You don’t have to bore yourself rigid watching it (it’s like when you’re being made to look at someone else’s holidays photos and you have to pretend to be really interested when, in actual fact, you’re wishing for a power cut to make it stop and would rather have a gynecological exam than look at anymore bloody photos…) I just wanted to have a keepsake on my blog to look back on when I am old and wishing I had a toddler who still crapped on my carpet at home. What am I saying, that’ll never happen but you know what I mean. I moan about them (lots) but I do love them, I don’t always like them, but I always love them.

So here’s my Summer 2016 Montage…

It’s only 10 hours long.

Sorry.

Not sorry.

😉

Gems.x




Knutty Explorers: Thaikhun, Guildford – A review

“What the forkis for dinner?”

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A question I get asked numerous times every week, and often one which makes my eye twitch in anger.

As a mum and wife, I find it really hard staying inspired on the dinner front. The intent is there, I don’t mind cooking, I bookmark recipes I like, with every intention of one day making them, and some weeks (when the world doesn’t feel like it is conspiring against me) I even manage to meal plan!

It doesn’t help that my kids are quite fussy eaters. Don’t ask me where I went wrong, I don’t know. I tried the baby led weaning thing, I tried pouches, I tried making my own cooked and pureed food until I couldn’t fit anymore in my freezer. You name it, I tried it, but nothing seems to have made much difference with any of my 3. Thankfully, the 8 year old is coming out the other side of it now and will at least try new foods but the 6 year old and the toddler have good and (very) bad days where food is concerned. Mealtimes can often be pretty traumatic in our household but I have stopped the shouting and started the calm, “well, that’s fine but you don’t get anything else”, approach. It doesn’t seem to have changed their eating habits but the house is a lot calmer so that’s something I suppose…

We rarely get to eat out these days because the toddler is incapable of sitting still for more than 15 minutes and I go into panic mode as soon as he or one of the other kids start revving up for a tantrum. The stares from other diners, the embarrassment when the waiting staff remove the toddlers plate and all he’s done is drive one of his toy trains we’ve taken out with us through his food. It’s just not worth the hassle, expense or wastage.

So, when I was contacted by the lovely folk at Thaikhun to see if we would like to review their new kids menu, I jumped at the chance…as soon as I had checked with my mum that she could babysit the toddler 😉

Luckily for us, Nanny and Grandad came up trumps as usual and agreed to have the littlest one so myself and Mr Knutts could take the 2 older ones to experience some Thai food. This would be the first time my boys have eaten Thai food (they have had some Chinese food however in the form of Prawn crackers and breaded chicken) because of their fussy eating habits and I was a little apprehensive but you have to give these things a go don’t you.


 With the little one safely dropped off for a sleepover at Nanny and Granddad’s (he was very excited!), we set off with the older two for our local Thaikhun Restaurant in Guildford, Surrey. They also have restaurants in various locations around the country so do check their website to find your nearest one. Luckily for us, Guildford is about 15 minutes drive from where we live so it wasn’t far to travel at all.

We booked a table for 5:30 and arrived there spot on time…a miracle in itself but probably helped by the fact we didn’t have a willful toddler in tow for a change 😉

We were greeted warmly by the staff and were shown to our table in the middle of the restaurant.

The restaurant is decorated and themed in such a way so as to try and transport you to the streets of Bangkok, Thailand’s capital. I have to say, I’ve never been to Bangkok, but I certainly didn’t feel like I was sat near Guildford High street! They’ve done a pretty good job. The kids also thought it was amazing in there and I even sent them off with my camera to take some of their own photos for me. Looking around the place kept them entertained for ages…

(The photos the boys took)

 Once back from their trip around the place taking photos, the kids were given super activity sheets which had various activities on to keep them occupied, along with some colouring crayons and also some dried edible bugs which they were encouraged to try! One type was dried silk worms but I can’t recall what the other pot were – I was probably in shock and didn’t take it in. Either way, they looked maggot/worm like and I could see their little legs and faces staring at me, frozen in time. I immediately recoiled and had visions of me eating one and projectile vomiting across the table before we had even had anything to eat so politely declined, as did Luke my eldest. Daddy Knutts and the middle one however, were feeling game. They both tried a couple and then, to my utter bemusement, the middle one started scoffing the things like they were Haribo! This kid HATES vegetables and fruit to the point I have a 30 minute fight with him most mealtimes about even trying a mouthful, and yet, here he was, chomping on dried worms like they were the most amazing thing he had ever had. Kids…don’t try and apply logic to them. Ever.

Zak eating worms!

 We ordered our food and drinks and they all arrived at the table promptly. Seen as I love my cocktails, I thought it only right that I try one and I chose a Coconut Mojito, whilst Daddy Knutts plumped for a beer. It was absoloutely smashing and I could have easily had 3…or 6 of them 😉

The kids got cups of Milk, water or Juice included in their kids meal so we plumped for cups of milk which, when delivered to the table, came in cute little animal beakers with lids on. Despite my eldest being 8, he didn’t seem to be bothered by the animal cups at all and happily swigged his milk from it.

Our food arrived promptly, the kids dinners arrived with the adult starters which I thought was a fab idea and they, again to my utter amazement, tucked straight into their meals without so much as a whine! It was a miracle!

Luke opted for Grilled Chicken with plain noodles and BBQ Sauce. Zak opted for breaded chicken with sticky rice. All kids meals come with a pot of vegetable sticks in a cup too.

My fuss-pot eaters like to have their food separated at home if there is a sauce involved, so when the kids meals arrived in a tray which had compartments and separate pots to put sauce in, it was like my prayers had been answered! I think this is one of the reasons they didn’t moan and just excitedly tucked into their dinners. This made for a really nice atmosphere, as opposed to the usual mealtime carnage, so we actually all managed to sit, enjoy each others company and chat to each other which is a rare occurrence because poor Daddy Knutts often doesn’t get in from work until late and we sadly have to eat at a different time to the kids.

The meals were simple, but tasty, which is just what you want for kids. In my eyes and theirs, it was brilliant.

It was genuinely really lovely.

I went for some chicken spring rolls to start with and the hubster went for some deep fried breaded king prawns. Both dishes were really delicious and came with a dipping sauce.

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 The kids were about halfway through their dinners by the time our mains arrived which was perfect as they still had some to eat whilst doing their activity sheets and nobody was moaning or getting bored because they had to wait or were finished. It was really good, family friendly, service.

For main, I chose Breaded Chicken with Coconut Sticky rice, which also came with a chicken soup on the side, and Mr Knutts went for steak with Sticky Rice. Both meals were delicious and we would happily recommend them to anyone thinking of going. The portion sizes were very generous, but not so much that you couldn’t finish it and ended up wasting food. Spot on once again.

The waiting staff were very attentive and spied me being a clumsy plonker as I knocked my middles ones milk off the table and all over the floor. A lovely waitress was straight over with some kitchen roll, she didn’t make a fuss about it, I helped her clean it up and she popped off to get Zak a new milk. Really great service and didn’t make me feel awkward at all.

We thought it only right that we try the puddings while we were there (well, you have to don’t you?!) and I went for a Sticky Date pudding with Whisky Ice Cream. It was sooooo scrummy. Squidgy cake, chewy dates, sweet and sticky sauce with a potent whisky ice cream. It was the perfect way to finish off my meal.

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Hubster went for some Chocolate Chili Ice Cream and he really enjoyed that after a carb loaded meal.

The children got an ice lolly included in their kids meal, but sadly the freezer wasn’t working properly so these were off the menu. It didn’t matter, the kids chose from their grown up ice creams (not the whisky one, though it was tempting to see if it made them calm down at all…) and the waitress bought this out to them in a little bowl. It was just the right size for them and the Strawberry one that the kids went for had real strawberry in it. I might have had a little test of it myself… 😉

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Overall, we had a fantastic time at Thaikhun, Guildford and we would totally have no qualms in recommending it to family, friends and Life is Knutts readers!

The kids meal, inclusive of a starter, main, pudding and drink is £5.95 which I think is really good value for money given the portion sizes and the good quality ingredients used.

Even if your children are fuss-pot eaters like mine, give it a go! You never know, you might be surprised like I was!

I have to just add, that I did have a bit of a giggling fit at my eldest reading out some instructions on the kids menu at one point. It was telling the kids how to say ‘hello’ in Thai, but one of the words, well, read it for yourself but it did make me chuckle hearing my 8 year old saying it at the top of his voice!

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Thank you so much to the staff at Thaikhun, Guildford for being so kind and accommodating. We loved our evening out and will certainly be back, the kids have already asked when we can go again!

After our meal, we went for a little stroll up to Guildford Castle to help all that scrummy food digest. if you haven’t been to Guildford before, we can thoroughly recommend it. Little alleyways, places to explore, wonderful shops, a castle and much, much more.

Here are some photos from our evening stroll…

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Disclosure: We were given a complimentary meal at Thaikhun, Guildford, in return for this review. All thoughts, opinions and photos are my own.




Wales 2016: Day 1 – “The day the Sea didn’t look as deep”…

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After the crap-ness that is packing the car, we managed to set off on our journey to The campsite in Wales.
The car boot was fit to bursting, as was the roof box that our friends kindly lent us so we could manage to fit some more shit in the car (I promise I only packed essentials…like a box of fruit cider, a Margarita mixer, some tequila and copious snacks, which incidentally filled an enormous ‘bag for life’. You can never have too many snacks…)
The sun rose over the M4 (picturesque eh?!) and all was well. We were on our way to the land of Dragons and Sheep.
The car was packed, 2 out of 3 kids had gone back to sleep and the other one was happy to sit and watch the world whizz by as we drove.
I cracked open the Jelly Snake sweets about 5:45am for sustenance and with that, before we knew it, we were already heading over the Severn Bridge.
We reach the bridge toll and see it’s now £6.60 to get into Wales. £6.60!!! That’s halfway to a bottle of Bombay Sapphire!! Absolute insanity.
Still, I managed to scrabble exactly £6.60 in change, pay the nice man in the booth and whoosh our way into Wales.
“Yay!!” comes a voice from the back of the car, “we’re in Scotland!”
“No poppet, we aren’t, we’re in Wales” I reply whilst shaking my head. “I told you lots of times we are going to Wales and we’ve been there for the last 2 years…”
“But I thought we always went to Scotland camping mummy?”
“No Hun. We’ve only ever camped in Wales. That’s why you bought a Welsh dragon toy last year and cuddle it in bed every night”.
*Face palm*
We press on and pause for a much needed wee and breakfast stop in the sanctuary of the Golden Arches, where we meet up with our camping companions. We sit indoors, all bleary eyed and sleepy so we can devour a suitably crap filled breakfast of pancakes and syrup, sausage and egg muffins and greasy Hash Browns. Just what the doctor ordered.
Just as we are about to leave, a lovely older lady who works there comes over looking like a balloon seller at a funfair. In fact, you can bearly see the woman for balloons.
Oh shit, I think to myself, she is going to give these to the kids…
I hold my breath as she shuffles ever closer, the noise of the balloons squeaking together sets my teeth, and my nerves, on edge.
I glance over at my husband who has now clocked the McDonald’s balloon maniac and to say he looks less than enthused about the impending situation it is an understatement.
The kids see her and that’s it, party fecking central…

“Balloons!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” they all squeal!

They all grab one from her as they trampoline up and down on their seats.

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All us adults give each other, and the balloon lady, a wry smile and tell her thank you through gritted teeth. The kids by this point are already smacking each other over the head with said balloons and wielding them like Lightsabers. Joy of sodding joys.

So now, not only is the car going to be fully loaded with camping stuff, a husband on the edge and hyper kids after a McDonald’s breakfast, we now have 3 balloons on sticks to cram in. Beam me up Scotty…preferably to a bar where there is Gin on tap.

 We finish up, squidge our way back into the car along with the balloons and set off for the campsite. We aren’t far away now and this section of the journey is very interesting/scenic. We go past the Tata Steel factory, a random thing to note perhaps but the sheer scale and size of this place on the landscape is truly something to behold, with it’s smoke and steam bellowing out from it’s many chimneys. We then pass through Swansea, a mixture of retail outlets and seafront but it does look like a lovely place. On we then go through the countryside until we reach our destination, Port Eynon on the Gower Peninsular. A tiny old fishing village with beautiful coastal walks, a stunning beach and scenery to die for.

The campsite we stay on is called Carreglwyd and it is situated almost on the beach, just behind the sand dunes. It has a decent toilet/shower block, a small on-site shop which sells essentials like bread, milk and eggs and a pot wash area. It’s facilities are basic but clean, and nothing like reading festival… 😉

They have a van go around a few times per day selling essentials, as well as fresh fruits and veg if you don’t want to take all that yourself, and the Ice Cream lady also makes her rounds a couple of times per day. There are a couple of fish and chip shops a two minute walk away and there is also a pub and a restaurant. All bases are covered.

As we check in, my husband comes over and tells me that Keith Allen (Lily Allen’s Dad) is staying at the campsite. I can see him sat on a bench with his dog outside the reception. It takes all my willpower to not go over and disturb him to ask for a quick selfie, and it practically killed me to not start singing Vindaloo at the top of my voice…

Proud of my self restraint at not ambushing Mr Allen, we went off to find a suitable pitch and then did battle with the tents. Our friends are regular campers, we aren’t. We only go once per year and therefore, my tent putting up skills aren’t my strong point. Still, I do the dutiful wife thing and help my husband wrestle the enormous thing up and after an hour or so, with minimal swearing and toddler chasing, camp is made.

The kids excitedly put their blankets and pillows in their sleeping pods and me and my other half, naively, decide to stay in the same pod as each other because the boys want to split themselves up. No good can come of this. He hates air beds, being cramped and is quite broad. I am small, claustrophobic and hate grumpy men. You can see the problem that is looming can’t you…

We decide to head straight to the beach to stretch our legs and to make the most of the sunny afternoon we have thankfully been greeted with. We pack our numerous bags of crap up, buckets, spades, snacks, towels, swimming stuff, spare clothes for all the kids, you name it, it’s packed, and head off to the beach.

As we reach the end of the walkway, we get our first view of the sea and the kids all shout with delight. It’s a lovely moment, ultimately made even better by my eldest announcing, “Wow! The sea doesn’t look as deep today!” Truly insightful. He’s destined for greatness that one…*ahem*.

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“WOW! The sea doesn’t look so deep today guys!”

After a bit of a walk along the rocky part of the beach, we reach the sandy part. Warm, golden sand, sunshine, sea breeze, salty sea air and very happy kids. It almost feels too good to be true.

We set up camp on the beach and while away the afternoon making sand pictures, sand castles, body boarding, paddling and eating snacks. Perfect.

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We head back, shoes and bum cracks full of sand, and clean ourselves up ready for a lovely wholesome dinner of Bolognese that my friend had made and frozen ready for us to have for dinner that night. Such a good idea when you don’t want to cook on that first night when you’re all knackered from an early start. We have a beer/cider or two and a cheeky margarita (no, I wasn’t joking. I honestly did pack a Margarita mixer and some tequila!) before unanimously deciding bedtime is a good idea about 9:30pm. It rocks going away with friends who are equally as knackered as you are, no guilt about buggering off to bed early whatsoever, yippee!

We tuck the kids into bed and they’re all super excited about sleeping under canvas. I’m a little more apprehensive.

It all starts off well, until about 1am I hear the toddler crying. I try to leap out from the back of the sleep pod, having to hurdle over my half asleep husband in the process and fall out of it like a drunken teenager wearing stilettos for the first time.

#stayclassy

 I see to the toddler but he’s now fine so I leave him in with his brother and ungracefully struggle my way back into the double sleeping bag I am ‘sharing’ with my other half. I say, ‘sharing’ because while I was out seeing to the toddler, he has stolen the entire sodding thing for himself and I have no sleeping bag to climb into. What a tosser.

I wrestle it back off him and struggle back into it, but the small amount I am given isn’t doing my claustrophobia much good. I managed to drift back off to sleep only for the toddler to rev up again about 15 minutes later. Fecking hell.

I spring from the air bed again, clambering over my husband who by now is resembling an enormously annoying, and pointless, speed bump. I’m falling all over the place and decide this is a loosing battle so I shove the toddler in with my husband and I hop in with our middle one. The husband doesn’t look too pleased about the card he has been dealt but I am tired, cold and pissed off, so he can have the toddler and I will sleep next to the peaceful, angelically sleeping, middle one.

#mummyforthewin

We wake to sunshine on day 2….

(story continues tomorrow)




Cake = Happiness (Baker Days Letterbox Cake Review)

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When I was contacted recently to see if I would like to review a cake, what do you think my response was?

That’s right, I told them I hate cake and that I’ve never eaten any in my life.
Oh, who am I kidding?! Of course I said yes! I literally love cake, I can’t get enough of the stuff – unfortunately for my waistline and mum bum…
The company who asked me this most wonderful of questions was, Baker Days.
They’re an online company who are able to offer you hundreds of different cake designs, for any occasion imaginable.
Birthday cakes, thank you cakes, get well soon cakes, the list goes on.
The cakes come in a range of sizes and flavours but, the particular cake I was offered the chance to review was a letterbox cake.
As the name suggests, this is a cake which can fit through your letterbox so people don’t have to wait in for a delivery or anything if you’re sending it as a surprise.
First steps were to go onto their website and choose my design.
I didn’t have an occasion coming up for once, so (as much as I wanted to scoff a whole cake to myself) I decided to get a thank you cake for my mum to thank her for all she does for us. She is there to offer a helping hand whenever I need her to and myself and the boys love her to bits. We’d be lost without her. Well, maybe not lost, but I’d definitely have lost the last little shred of what’s left of my sanity without her about.
I chose a beautiful, colourful, design with flowers and birds on it that I thought my mum would like and I was then able to personalise it further with my own text. You can also add photos should you chose to do so, but I didn’t on this occasion. Had it been for one of the children, I am certain they would have loved the novelty of seeing their face on a cake!
I then moved on to choose the flavour sponge I would like to have. I knew mum would’ve loved a fruit cake, but I also knew she would want to share it with the kids (see, I told you she was lovely) so I went for a plain vanilla sponge. You can’t go wrong with a traditional sponge in my eyes.
I placed the order and then waited a few days for it to plop through my letterbox except, when it came, the letterbox cake was actually a little too large for my letterbox so the postman knocked to see if I was in so he could get it to me!
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The irony.
I wasn’t sure if our letterbox was a little on the small side, or if the box was just a little too large. Anyway, it did make me giggle and I think the postie was just being cautious as I tried posting it through myself out of curiosity and managed fine.
I waited for my mum to pop in after work that same day and when she arrived, me and the boys presented her with her thank you cake. She was really taken aback and loved how it was presented.
It comes in a lovely little tin, with the Bakers Days logo on it, along with some candles, balloons, a party hooter and a card you can write in should you wish to.
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It really is well packaged so it’s totally going to withstand a plop on the doormat from a height just fine.
Upon opening the box, we noted that the cake is quite small, and for obvious reasons very flat, but despite this, you still get enough for 4-6 people to accompany a tea break!
It was in perfect condition and the shove through the letterbox had done it no harm at all. The packaging is really well thought out and protects the cake as well as keeping it fresh.
The design and writing were just as I had ordered and my mum loved what I had chosen for her. It was bright, cheerful and not at all tacky in my opinion.
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We didn’t light the candles, but they have been stashed away ready for one of the kids birthday’s later in the year.
The kids did however, inflate all the balloons and had a whale of a time bashing them on each others heads and knocking them about the house.
My mum cut a little slither of cake for myself, the 3 boys and herself and there was still over half of it left so my dad and brother could try some when she got home. Aren’t we a restrained bunch?! Quite frankly, I’d have happily scoffed the entire cake in one go by myself. I do love a bit of cake!
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The texture of the cake was lovely. If I am being honest, I was expecting the cake to be a bit dry because it had been boxed and transported, but I was completely wrong! The cake was a perfect, light and fluffy texture, but still with some moisture in it. The icing was scrummy (always the best bit for me!) and we were all pleasantly surprised by it. If you’re sending one as a gift, you can rest assured that the recipient won’t be disappointed by the appearance, nor the taste and texture of the cake itself.
It’s a winner!
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The price of a Baker Day, 5 inch cake letterbox cake is £14.99 with a fee of £3.99 for 1st class postage.
I do have to be honest and say that this, in my view, is quite expensive for the size of cake you get, but if you have family dotted about the country, or you want to send a cake but with the reassurance of knowing it will be delivered hassle free through their letterbox, I really do feel like it is a lovely way to let them know you are thinking of them. The quality of the cake is also very good, as are the choice of designs.
If you require a larger cake, they can also supply these, but they obviously won’t be able to fit one of these through your letterbox!
I can safely say that if the quality of one of these larger cakes is the same as this smaller, letterbox one, the recipient won’t be disappointed!
It truly was scrumptious!
You can visit their easy to use website and design a cake here!
Thanks to Baker Days for letting us try one of your cakes! My mum absolutely loved her gift and it made her day.
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Disclosure: I was sent a Baker Days letterbox cake free of charge for the purpose of this review. All words and opinions are my own.