The Waterfront Bar & Restaurant in Ayr - Review

There's no doubt about it, staycation's can be expensive - especially when you have 5 mouths to feed. We like to eat out once or twice during a holiday but I begrudge paying a fortune. A bill for us can easily hit the £100 mark if we aren't careful. When staying in Ayr this October, I researched nearby restaurants and decided we would visit The Waterfront in the town centre. I was drawn towards the fact that it sat on the banks of the river Ayr and promised a home cooked lunch at the bargain price of 2 courses for £10. Parking was cheap (£1.20 for 2 hours) and located just to the rear of the restaurant.

First impressions were good with service with a smile and beautiful views across the river. I even spotted a crane on the river bank.

Children receive a warm welcome too and were given frozen colouring sheets and superhero puzzles to keep them entertained (it worked). Children's meals are priced at £6.95 for 2 courses including unlimited drinks. This was a very fair price as all of the children's food was of the same quality as the grown ups - chicken goujons that looked like they were made in house and homemade chips rather than frozen certainly get the thumbs up from us.

Children's chicken strips and chips

Children's roast chicken with mashed potato, boiled potato, carrots, green beans and gravy.

We were spoilt for choice with the 2 courses for £10 menu and took a while to decide on what to order. In the end Steve went for the Pan Fried Chicken Livers, Garlic toast, brandy and herb butter to start followed by the slow cooked pork and sage meatballs with tomato and basil spaghetti. Everything was succulent, well cooked and homemade. Such a bargain at 2 courses for £10.

I opted for the classic prawn cocktail with a paprika mayonnaise and tomato bread followed by the cajun chicken burger which was served with homemade chips and a jar of relish. All absolutely delicious and again, such good value.

Myself and Steve couldn't possibly squeeze in dessert but Heidi and Jack went for ice cream where as Harry was delighted that his favourite sticky toffee pudding was on the children's menu and promptly ordered a portion. I have to say I was rather jealous when it arrived and was a little bit put out that he wouldn't let me have a try!

If I lived closer, I would definitely visit The Waterfront again. Their steak nights and Sunday lunches (where kids eat free) caught my eye! It is a shame it was raining on the day of our visit as I would have loved to enjoy an after lunch coffee on the terrace too.


Top 10 tips when budgeting for a family holiday

When it comes to family holidays I like to get the absolute most out of our break. We don't have tons of disposable income, but I don't let our lack of funds stop us from having a fantastic holiday. With a little bit of planning and budgeting, you can make the money you have go far on holiday. Here are my top 10 tips for budgeting your family holiday:-

1. Whether we are going to a theme park for the weekend or a on a two week all inclusive holiday, we always pack a cool bag.  A cool bag is your best friend on holiday - you can save money by taking a picnic to the beach, packing it with bottles of water on an excursion or using it to keep snacks cool on the plane. Using a cool bag every day will significantly reduce your frivolous spending which all adds up.

2. If you will be cooking some of your own food during your holiday, pack essentials from your kitchen cupboard at home so you don't need to buy new in resort. Think ketchup, beans, marinades......Just make sure they aren't glass/breakable and pack bottles in a sealed sandwich bag to avoid spillage. You will save at least £20 doing this, however make sure you don't go over your luggage allowance.

3. Nobody likes coming home to a huge phone bill. To avoid unexpected costs, I always book a hotel with free wifi. Alternatively, many caf├ęs now offer wifi for free - look out for these or ask a rep for their locations.

4. It is always nice to enjoy a treat on your last day and end your holiday on a high. Whether this be a special trip, excursion or a last meal in your favourite restaurant, I always like to build this into our holiday budget. Usually, I will buy a 'holiday fund' box (or you could decorate an empty jar) and place it in a prominent place in your house. Every few days empty your change into this box and by the time your holiday comes around you should have enough money to pay for this last holiday treat.

5. Eating out on holiday can be expensive. We always try to eat where the locals eat. We have found if you follow the locals, food is likely to be good and inexpensive so you can make your budget go further.

6. Likewise, use local public transport. Children often travel free and prices can be a steal when compared to taxis. It cost us the equivalent of 40p per day to travel by bus in Mexico.

7. There is nothing worse than running short of money towards the end of your holiday. Work out a daily spending budget using this simple formula. Total spending money/number of days on holiday = maximum daily spending allowance. Don't go over your daily amount and you won't be caught short. If you don't use all of your budget in one day you can always carry it forward to the next day.

8. Help teach teenagers about spending abroad and give them their own pre-paid currency card. They are accepted almost everywhere now and are far safer than them carrying lots of cash around. Plus, if they have their own money, it will hopefully mean they aren't constantly pestering you for cash.

9. Remember 'spending time with children is more important than spending money on them'. Don't feel like you have to get into debt and splash out on theme park tickets and water park trips. In my experience, children are happiest in the pool, at the park, exploring the countryside or at the park and all of these activities are free!

10. If your children have saved their own spending money they are likely to want to spend it straight away on the first thing they see. Help them make the most of their savings and agree on a 24hr rule. If they see something they like, don't buy it straight away and if they would still like to buy it in 24 hours then you can always go back and buy it. Lead by example too and you may think twice about whether you really need a new handbag.

I hope you have enjoyed my top tips for budgeting for your family holiday. I would love to hear any other tips you may have.


Halloween nights at The Heads of Ayr Farm Park

The Heads of Ayr Farm Park is somewhere I definitely wanted to visit during our holiday at Sundrum Castle in Ayr. It is somewhere I had visited as a child and I knew my children would love it too. As we were staying in Ayr in the last week of October, the farm park was holding special halloween evenings which had to be booked in advance. Tickets were priced at £7.75 per child and £4.50 per adult so just over £30 for the 5 of us which I didn't think was too bad.

We stupidly hadn't packed our halloween costumes so picked up some inexpensive masks from Asda en-route. We were rewarded with some free glow sticks from The heads of Ayr for our efforts!

The park opened at 4pm but we decided to head over at 5pm just as the sun was setting so we could arrive when it was more or less dark to add to the scare factor!

The reception staff were lovely and handed our children their own special trick or treat bags which were filled with halloween activities and to be used to collect tricks and treats from the park throughout the evening. 

Our first stop was this fab shooting game - our children were given protective eye goggles and entered the arena where they shot foam balls at each other. This was so much fun and everyone really enjoyed it. Some grown ups were getting in on the action too! Most people were dressed up and the whole farm had been decorated for halloween.

Next, we fancied trying the trick or treat trail through the haunted forest. You walk through in family groups but there were plenty of halloween word searches and colouring sheets to keep us all entertained as we waited our turn.

Our children were actually really brave as we walked through the haunted forest.........

.......where we stumbled upon a werewolf who told us the tale of her curse and rewarded our children with some sweets for their trick or treat bags.

Next up, we were summoned into the witch's cave which was very spooky complete with scary props and green smoke. I am sure the witch was real too! She certainly looked and acted the part. Harry, Heidi and Jack perched on the stools as they gathered around the wicked witch and listened to her tale. It wasn't too scary and our three loved the experience. The witch let them pick a special trick each for listening carefully and was happy to pose for photographs.

We headed outside of the witch's cave to try our hand at a few of the scary halloween games that were dotted around.....some of us were braver than others!

Our children set their eyes upon the King Kong soft play which was home to some pretty epic slides so we let them burn off some energy whilst we enjoyed a coffee in rather spooky surroundings.

Of course our children were hungry and thirsty after soft play so we headed to the main restaurant for juice, halloween cupcakes and found the corner of the barn had been turned into a halloween themed disco. No photographs unfortunately as it was too busy for me to not capture anyone else in the shots! We loved it though.

There are set time slots where you are allowed into the creepy crawly barn. We opted for 7:15pm and it was definitely worth the wait. We held snakes, peered at tarantulas and even walked through a rat den!

We spent about 2.5 hours at The Heads of Ayr halloween event and definitely think it was good value for money. Our children managed to collect glow sticks, slime balls with brains inside, zombie brain pens, spooky hair extensions, sweets, masks, spooky glasses and skeletons. Their trick or treat bags were probably filled with around £5 worth of the halloween tat grown ups hate and begrudge buying but they love playing with so much. In fact as I type this they are still playing with the skeleton 4 hours later.......

I think there are still some tickets left for Thursday and Friday night (Saturday is sold out at time of writing). If you are looking for some spooky half term fun for halloween at The Heads of Ayr Farm Park, call 01292 441210 to buy tickets.


A mini tour around Fenwick Food Hall Newcastle

Sometimes an invite pops into my inbox that I just cannot turn down. An invitation to the Fenwick food hall relaunch was one of those events I RSVP'd to straight away and could not miss. Babysitters were arranged ASAP and as I followed social media in the lead up to the evening, I knew I was in for a treat. 

The food hall's redevelopment has been two years in the making and has been designed by those who have worked with the likes of Fortnum and Mason and Harrods. You do feel as if you are walking around Harrods food hall now although without the hefty price tag. I found that the produce actually wasn't overpriced for the quality you were buying. I love how Fenwick, like Harrods, still sell basic items such as tomatoes, banana's and potatoes - you could buy your whole weekly shop here if you needed to (although I imagine most will probably be shopping half at Fenwick and half at the nearby Grainger market).

Just look at all the artisan bread!

Fenwick food hall is interesting in that you can be walking past the clean food of local favourite the Naked Deli at one moment and then staring at an indulgent chocolate brownie and patisserie counter the next - all types of diets and tastes are catered for - I even counted at least 15 varieties of honey to choose from.

Loved the award winning Woods Brownie Company - I recommend the cherry!

Catching up with friends and exchanging photography tips - as you do.

A highlight of our evening was catching up with Sun and Stephen from Lauden Fine Chocolate. If you visit anywhere in the food hall, make sure it is this counter. The chocolates were exquisite and the finest I've ever tasted - sorry hotel chocolat but your days are gone now. Whenever I need a chocolate hit I will be heading straight to Lauden. The staff are passionate about their chocolate and will happily let you create your own bespoke chocolate box. My box of 12 chocolates was £10 which is actually around about the same I would pay anywhere. The difference is, this one is local, bespoke and made with real passion and really is the ultimate treat. 

Staying with the chocolate theme, I could not resist buying these Santa hot chocolate spoons for the children on Christmas eve from CHCO Chocolate Company. Designed to be stirred into a mug of warm milk they really will add to the magic of Christmas. There are more grown up flavours to choose from too including salty caramel, caramel bourbon and Irish Cream. At 3 for £5 I think they area a bit of a bargain too.

Delicious treats from The Naked Deli counter which are unprocessed, whole and natural.

Ah the wine hall! Fenwick now even has it's own wine room with a fancy enomatic wine dispenser which I can't wait to return and try. For now, we browsed the many, many wines, spirits and soft drinks available and I was delighted to find 5 varieties of English Sparkling Wine on the shelves - my favourite! I picked up a bottle for less than £20 which is pretty unheard of - I'll let you know what it's like.

The staff in the wine room are so lovely and down to earth - I don't know heaps about wine and sometimes stepping into a wine shop can feel daunting and the staff can be a little on the pretentious side. At Fenwick this is absolutely not the case at all. The staff are knowledgeable and friendly and not at all stuffy.

I was also delighted to see Fenwick stock favourites from the Lakes Distillery - now I don't need to pop over to the lakes to get my fix (although I would still recommend you do this if you haven't been and try their tour).

English Sparkling Wine - £19.99

I don't know why but a trip to Newcastle during the day for me always involves stopping for a coffee somewhere. It just seems to have become a habit I have formed. I am delighted to see local Ouseburn Coffee has their own area in the food hall with both a coffee bar and produce for sale - this will definitely be where I come for my caffeine hit to cope with the dreaded Christmas shopping next month.

If all of this shopping becomes too much or if you are looking for somewhere to stop for a bite to eat, Fenwick food hall now has a range of exciting eateries including a Mediterranean wine bar and restaurant Fuego. Renowned local chef Terry Laybourne from 21 hospitality has opened Asian restaurant Ko Sai with business partner Parichar Somsri-Kirby. With authentic and healthy dishes inspired from Cambodia, Vietnam, China and Korea, Ko Sai certainly offers something new and exciting to the Newcastle dining scene. The samples we tasted were packed with fresh flavours and I can't wait to return for more.

Terry Laybourne is also the man behind the Saltwater Fish Company which is already receiving rave reviews. A seafood bar that seats 40, this area is designed to give customers the best quality ingredients and experience when time is of the essence. It's also the place to satisfy your oyster craving where they are only £1 per shuck with an accompaniment. 

I walked past the deli counter with wide eyes - the cut meats on offer are probably the best in the area! Most are carved straight from the joint. We sampled a few I can vouch for how succulent and flavoursome they were - a billion times better than a packet of ham from the supermarket. I was also delighted to see the award winning Blagdon farm shop have their own counter - you must check out their sausages!

I bumped into my friend Shivani who recommended I pop over the Rafi's Spicebox. Shivani spoke so passionately about them that I knew I was in for a treat. We tried some of the lamb Phall curry they had on the go and oh my goodness it was almost as delicious as the Goan lamb Vindaloo from Haveli. We got chatting to the guys behind the counter who explained they make customers up their own spice packs there and then and can customise it to their requirements - like your madras to be hot, hot, hot? These guys can sort that out for you. Allergic to a particular spice? Not a problem they'll leave it out. I loved the experience of having a bag of spices created just for me and I just need to add liquid and lamb to create the same authentic curry at home - definitely one for the slow cooker, I'll report back how I get on!

Finally, Fenwick are offering a fantastic hamper service this Christmas. Simply choose a wicker basket or Fenwick branded food box (priced at £25-£30) and then fill your shopping basket with anything and everything from the fantastic selection from the food hall. The staff will then pack and beautifully wrap your hamper and deliver it to your home (free if you spend over £25) or you can collect by car or even just take away with you there and then. What a WONDERFUL idea for Christmas (hint hint to anyone reading) - I think you could create a gorgeous bespoke food box for around £60. I like the idea of a chocolate lover's food box, a breakfast hamper or perhaps a box of curry's with a few asian beers? The options are endless.....

I think this is probably the longest post I have written in a while! I truly fell in love with the food hall and I know I am not going to return just a few times, I think it is now going to be at the heart of where I plan our weekly grocery shop and I will definitely be popping in every few weeks to stock up and my favourite local and quality products. 

Opening Times
Monday: 9.00 am - 8.00 pm
Tuesday: 9.00 am - 8.00 pm
Wednesday: 9.00 am - 8.00 pm
Thursday: 9.00 am - 8.00 pm
Friday: 9.00 am - 8.00 pm
Saturday: 9.00 am - 7.00 pm
Sunday: 10.30 am - 5.00 pm (browsing only 10.30am to 11.00am)

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