What's New in The M&S Food Hall This August?

As blog posts go, some of my favourites are when I get to visit the huge M&S at Sprucefield in Lisburn, and pick lots of delicious treats to fit the particular theme that time around. I've had posts with their healthy eating Count On Us and Fuller Longer ranges, BBQ inspiring blogs, and picnic ideas, but this visit I wasn't sure what the topic of my foodie haul was going to be. 

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As Michael & I perused the shelves of the colourful and fresh food ideas, I decided just to go with 'what's new this August', as there are so many new products to try in every section of the store. 

I featured their wide range of BBQ meats & fish a month ago, but these new ones caught my eye. I love their ranges like this where you get a great cut of meat in the perfect sauce. It's fool-proof to cook and always tastes amazing.  

They are all on 2 for £7, or 3 for £10. 

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M&S are well known for their exquisite smoked salmon already, but this limited edition black treacle salmon is to die for. The little seafood selection packets are great for a quick stirfry to change things up if you usually just use chicken. Go a little exotic next time with the coconut & lime dressing, or lime, mint & chilli. 

Again these are 2 for £7, or 3 for £10. 

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Some times for me the difference between a healthy snack & a packet of crisps is pure laziness at having to chop the veg for the healthier option, so the preprepared crudité selection is perfect for lazy folks like me! It's £3, but also falls under the deli range offer of 3 items for £6. 

If you're snacking in work there's actually a crunchy veg & houmous pot available in the lunch aisle for just £1.75. I also picked up the new sweetcorn, chilli and coriander dip (£1.40) and a pack of croutons to add to salads & soups (£1). 

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M&S have a fab selection of these little vegetable & salad pots all year round, which make for great sides to main meals, or a healthy snack on their own. They usually fall under the 2 for £3 offer too. 

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If you are fed up of sandwiches this summer, there are plenty of alternatives like sushi, or a protein pot. The salmon and edamame pot is £2. There are also packs of seasoned & prepared meat that simply need added to bread or a bap for a tasty lunch. The caramalised Apple ham hock was £2.60. In my previous M&S post about picnic items I had tried a roast beef sandwich which included their blacksticks blue cheese, which was delicious, so I snapped up the spreadable version for £2.50.

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We haven't had great weather this week, but it's still the summer and these two drinks will at last give you the taste of the season where our climate is falling short. The watermelon & coconut iced tea is £1.80 and the melon, pineapple & passion fruit juice is £1.50. 

The rhubarb iced buns are £1.30 for two and also come in a lemon variety. They are sort of lik a doughnut/bun mashup, filled with jam. 

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Lastly a couple of dessert options that are new this month. A healthy treat of strawberries, cream & crumble for £3, a pair of gooseberry custard crumbles in reusable glass jars for £3.80, and a trip of tiny summer traybakes for £1.20.

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The Sweet Shop Down Memory Lane, Curious Candy, Bangor. Nostalgic Delights Part One.

This is the first in a series of blog posts reminiscing about nostalgic foods, drinks and meals from the 1970s and 1980s.  

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For this post I enlisted some expert help, in Paul the owner of Bangor's classic, traditional sweet shop, Curious Candy. Michael & I had lots of fun exploring all the shelves the compact, but filed to the brim little shop in Bangor's Central Avenue holds.

As well as the nostalgic treats featured in this blog post, the shop has almost every jarred sweet you can imagine, plus a whole section of imported American Candy, like birthday cake flavoured M&Ms. If you don't live where I do, but want to buy any of the products featured, you can visit the Curious Candy online shop  . So without further ado, on to the retro sweeties, which do you remember?

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Pink shrimp, sort of foamy, remember them? 

Pink shrimp, sort of foamy, remember them? 

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The classic, "get that for you Dad' sweet

The classic, "get that for you Dad' sweet

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Peanut candy

Peanut candy

Almost too cute to eat

Almost too cute to eat

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What about this lot? Any of your favourites? Sherbet Pips, Fruit Salad, Alphabet Letters, Fish & Chips, Jazzies. 

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Bangor Rock, Midget Gems, Black Jacks, Floral Gums, Cherry Lips. 

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So, are there any I've missed that you have fond memories of munching? Let me know on Twitter @rudedoodle, or ask Curious Candy @curcansweets if he has any in stock.  You can also connect with Curious Candy on their facebook.

This was my purchase today, along with super sour Warheads for Michael, as he's watched lots of YouTube challenges featuring them. If you've seen the Bean Boozle Challenge going around vloggers, and want to get your hands on a pack, Curious Candy will be getting a supply of the totally curious candy Jelly Belly beans this weekend. 

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This Weekend's Sunflowerfest Line Up Revealed

Only a few days to go until the 6th annual Sunflowerfest, the family orientated festival here in Northern Ireland. Music will kick off from 1.45pm on Friday 31st July and from 12pm on Saturday 1st August and 12.30pm Sunday 2nd August, with exciting headline acts Dreadzone (10.45pm, Friday), Senser (10.40pm, Saturday) and Skinny Lister (9.50pm, Sunday) closing the main stage on each night of the festival.

To purchase tickets to next week’s festival or explore the full line-up of events and activities for all festival guests, visit Sunflowerfest.

This year’s confirmed music line-up is as follows and can also be accessed online right here.

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Hand Drawn Creative at Bangor's Open House Festival

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My wonderful blog logo designer and all round, mid-century loving super illustrator Neal McCullough has a free exhibition as part of both our home town's Open House Festival this August. Pop along for the opening night on Wednesday 5th, or visit his website for more beautiful illustrations, including some free classic car tablet & phone backgrounds.

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Luxury Glamping in Northern Ireland : Teepee Valley

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The past few summers I've been dying to review a glamping site, but they are few & far between in Northern Ireland. So we were terribly excited when the opportunity to stay at  

TepeeValley Campsite came around.

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The very exclusive site is just outside Markethill, near Armagh, in a rural location. If you are trying to find it, make sure you type the name of the road into your Satnav, not the postcode, or like us you'll end up in a farm's courtyard a bit lost!

The family-run campsite features some large yurts, a couple of vintage gypsy caravans, and a namesake teepee, as well as a handful of spots for Caravan Club member touring caravans. The site is open all year round, but the canvas structures are only available in spring & summer. 

There are communal campfire & game areas, as well as two locations with toilets and showers, all kept exceptionally clean.

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We stayed in the Shepherd's Hut, the ideal choice for a couple staying on the site, or a parent & child getaway weekend. The caravan has one electric socket, with a lamp, so you can still charge your phone or tablet. There is an old fashioned stove, but no running water, so it's a little bit back to nature, but glamping style! The bottom bunk is a double bed, with a single bunk above. Teepee Valley asks all guests to bring their own bedding, pillows and towels, so we brought sleeping bags & cushions. The Shepherd's Hut has pillows however, so we just had to stick pillow cases on and we were all set. 

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Given it's exclusive nature, the site is very peaceful and quiet as you'd imagine. My son quickly made friends with a little boy from the other caravan, and because of the enclosed, safe environment I was quite happy to let him run around the site & explore by himself. 

Another fun feature that sets Teepee Valley apart from any other campsite, are the rare breed animals you share the space with. In the enclosure near our hut there were goats and two adorable little black sheep, who were very friendly and loved being fed handfuls of grass. 

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The owners' daughter kindly picked us some roses, and left us three eggs from the chickens on the site, which my son loved. You are also given logs for your stove, or outside fire.

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We really enjoyed our stay in Teepee Valley, it's luxury camping in an absolutely beautiful, rural location. We hope to maybe travel down again before the end of this year and stay a night in the actual teepee.  

You can connect with Teepee Valley on their  Facebook page.

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Another Day Trip Destination: Kilbroney Park Narnia Trail

Two weeks ago I shared with you the new family forest trail at Slieve-Gullion . My friend Karen tipped us off about a similar destination, The-Narnia-Trail at Kilbroney Forest Park. We hadn't been to Kilbroney before, but we had driven past the entrance to it several times whilst staying down in that direction. It's situated right outside Rostrevor, near Warrenpoint, which means if you are Bangor or Belfast based, like us, it is a bit of a hike, but given that it's summer you can take a day and maybe fit in Slieve Gullion too. We were staying not too far away, in Teepee Valley one night and Hanna's Close the next, but I shall tell you about them shortly.

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Kilbroney Park has a large carpark which is free. The set up is a bit like Carnfunnock in that there's a good sized, free play park, and a multi-level restaurant/cafe. Plenty of free to use toilets too, and by the looks of things mountain bike trails and rentals. The day we were there there was a guy doing horse drawn carriage rides, I think it was about £3 an adult, £1 a child.

As for the Narnia Trail itself, it's great. I love any sort of sculpture walk, so these trails are right up my street. It's worth asking directions, as there are signs all over the place, but to actually get to the trail from the carpark you have to go down through the building and then down to your left, past where the outdoor gym equipment is. 

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The trail then begins with a giant wardrobe, of course, and it's well signposted throughout. It's a lot shorter in length than the Giant's Lair walk; I'd say the Narnia one is only 1/4 mile in a small loop. You do go off road so to speak, down through wooded areas & over lawns. It's definitely worth a day trip however, with the added bonus of one of the citadels looking a little like Elsa's castle! 

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This Year's Sunflowerfest Will Be Super Refreshing Thanks to Vita Coco.

 This year Sunflowerfest, the all-ages, mid-summer, Northern Irish, family festival will have a unique chill-out zone where festival-goers can kick back and escape the summer heat while rehydrating with complementary Vita Coco coconut water. Sunflowerfest’s Bliss will include a range of local music, complementary therapies and all-inclusive yoga sessions for kids and adults, offering an opportunity to refresh and unwind during the weekend-long festival 31st July – 2nd August.

I've always fancied attending Sunflowerfest, as a beginners' festival event, to let my son experience the atmosphere of an open air music event. Perhaps this year will be the year? For further information visit www.sunflowerfest.co.uk 

Yogi Helen McAleer celebrates this year’s Sunflowerfest ‘Bliss’ line-up, sponsored by Vita Coco coconut water.

Yogi Helen McAleer celebrates this year’s Sunflowerfest ‘Bliss’ line-up, sponsored by Vita Coco coconut water.