REVIEW: Hotel Chocolat Summer

I’ve recently been trying out Hotel Chocolat – Summer Fusions Sleekster box.  The collection includes fruity flavours, caramels and nutty mixes.

The chocolates feel very indulgent, something you can savour rather than devour!  Personally I prefer them at room temperature as the choclate and flavours combine better. During the heatwave last week we had to put them in the fridge – well I didn’t want them to melt!!  Tasting them straight out of the fridge gives you a different taste experience as the chocolate cracks open to reveal the cool inner flavours!

soosie wales, hotel chocolat, summer sleekster


Some of the flavours are :

  • Summer Cooler – Apple, cucumber and mint – yeah I know weird.. This one wasn’t unpleasant but did taste rather strange.
  • Blackcurrant Bombe – WOW this one really is a bomb – the flavour explodes in your mouth.  Hubby’s favourite.
  • Burnt Caramel – I’m not a lover of caramels normally and this one was the last one in the box.. ah…. BUT it was lovely, slightly smokey soft caramel – one of favourites.
  • Pineapple and Coconut – a white chocolate coat on this one. It tasted really refreshing.
  • Peach & Hazelnut Gratin – Fruity ganache and nutty praline topped with a whole hazelnut – This one was my ultimate favourite.

The above selection is £24 – a good price for the quality that they are. They also have smaller selections if your budget won’t stretch.

Why not pop over to Hotel Chocolat Summer to see for yourself.


I received the above selection in return for an review. All words and opinions are my own. 

REVIEW: Hotter Shoes

I recently attended a Blogger Event at Hotter Shoes in Cardiff.  It was a great opportunity to meet up with some of the ladies I only know via blogging. Many thanks to TBAM of The BoyandMe for the invite. 🙂

We were welcomed by the ladies and gentlemen who work in the store – a lovely happy bunch!  Mel the PR lady told us a bit more about Hotter.

  • They started making slippers
  • Every pair of shoes have wiggle room for toes
  • The soles are filled with millions of air bubbles – one of the reasons why they are so comfy.
  • Over the past 4 years or so they’ve gone from 5 stores to 65 – not bad expansion in an age of recession!
  • They are the biggest UK sohe manufacturer – they make a pair of shoes every 20 seconds.

It was good to learn more about the company and to see and try on some of the shoes. I must admit that I have never been to Hotter shoes before and always thought that they were aimed at the ‘comfort minded’.  I was impressed by the variety of styles and why they can appeal to all ages.

After checking  their website a few days before and found several styles that took my fancy, I couldn’t wait to try them out!


soosie wales, hotter shoes,

Hotter Shoes – Hannah and Donna

I tried out some of the shoes but didn’t get that ‘these are right for me’ moment until I tried on the black Shake style.


soosie wales, hotter shoes,

Comfy Shake – Black

I’ve worn them a few times now and they are very comfortable.  They are so light you barely know you have them on. I’m really impressed with them!

Why not take a look at the website for yourself  Hotter can offer you 10% off plus free delivery you can use the following code PKCTEN and the terms and conditions are:

10% off plus FREE delivery is for first orders only. You are entitled to 10% off the total order value of any full priced items in the Hotter range (excluding shoe care products) plus FREE delivery.  This offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other promotional offer or on Sale or Factory Clearance items and gift vouchers.


You can win a Juliet Handbag or a £20 voucher. (One winner will have the option of having the bag OR a voucher)

Just pop over to my Facebook Page Or if on a mobile enter via the Rafflecopter link ( – Remember to check the T&Cs on the bottom of the Rafflecopter.

I was allowed to choose one pair of shoes for myself in exchange for an honest review. 

May Bank Holiday with #Morrisonsmum

Along with some other bloggers I became a #Morrisonsmum for the Bank Holiday weekend. This was an initiative with Morrisons and Britmums.
I was sent some vouchers to complete my Bank Holiday food shop and to take a look at the new cheaper Morrisons. I browsed their website and made a weekend menu plan and a list of some of the food I wanted to buy.  We have a reasonably new Morrisons here in Newport, it’s well set out and always inviting.

The fruit and veg area is always full of fresh produce and they pump dry ice over some of the display. I chose the usual spuds, onions, bananas, apples, tomatoes and cucumber. I also bought some prepared salads, peppers, a chinese stir fry, strawberries and pineapple especially for the weekend.

Then it was onto the meat counter – Rump steak on offer so that HAD to go into the trolley along with a rack of ribs. I also decided to buy 2 chunky steak pies as we’ve not bought them for a while.

I carried on around the store to pick up the rest of my list. They have made a real effort to drop prices on lots of products and there are lots of shelf edge tags and other signage in the store to promote the new pricing.

Morrisons, #morrisonsmum

I came home with quite a haul.  I was impressed with the lower prices, some were pennies but quite a lot were big cuts making Morrisons excellent value and more competitive.

Morrisons, #morrisonsmum The menu plan for the weekend:

Friday – Chunky steak pie  – We used to buy these whenever we visited Morrisons but stopped buying them a while ago as the filling was sparse and the pastry recipe changed – they no longer tasted like home made. Mr. Morrison please don’t do this..I’d prefer pay more than compromise on taste. The filling was still sparse but the pastry was back to how I remembered. They are good value at £1.60 for two.

Saturday – Griddled Rump Steak, tomato and sweet pepper sauce, mushrooms and baked potato. I have never been disappointed with the quality of meat at Morrisons and their rump steak is always juicy and tender.  I made the sauce to go on the side with the mushrooms.  The steak was melt in the mouth tender but please Morrisons butcher don’t tuck the fat around the back it makes it look like you’re trying to hide something – most people know and indeed expect to see a layer of fat at the top of their steak.

Sunday – Ciabatta with stir fried vegetables, spare ribs, fruit salad. I bought a large ciabatta loaf and a pre-prepared stirfry with water chestnuts and bamboo shoots. I cut the loaf into quarters and sliced through each one, place under a grill to warm through,  stirfry the veg and add a little sticky plum sauce. pile into the ciabatta and serve. We also had some spare ribs and finished off with fruit salad. It was demolished quickly by the family!

Monday – Packed a picnic – ham sandwiches, tuna sandwiches, salad, quiche and fruit. Spread it all out on a blankie in the park.


Morrisons, #morrisonsmum

I really enjoyed shopping for all the bargains and it’s good to know that Morrisons are keeping prices down. Just don’t compromise on the quality OK Morrisons!!

I’ve added some recipes that I hope you’ll try:

Tomato and Sweet Pepper Sauce to serve four the cost was a total of £1.50 (Peppers 66p, onion 5p, tin tomatoes 79p)

Spare Ribs – to serve two the cost was a total of £4.00 (ribs £3.50, onion and glaze made up another 50p)

I was sent some Morrisons vouchers to shop for the Bank Holiday. All words and opinions are my own.
The words and pictures cannot be reproduced without my permission. 


REVIEW: Baker Days Letterbox Cake

I was recently asked to review a Baker Days Letterbox Cake.  They have a huge range of cakes in various sizes available for any occasion you can think of and they can be personalised with stock designs or you can upload your own design/photo/words.

As it’s my birthday soon I chose a birthday cake – you can see more of their selection here: Baker Days Birthday Cakes.

baker days, letterbox cake

The Product: The cake comes well packaged inside a tin to stop it getting damaged, the tin is then placed inside a sturdy box along with a gift card and few balloons, candles and a party blower.
I opened the tin to find a really pretty cake. The icing not only covers the cake but also extends to the edge of the cake board. I kept it for our Bank Holiday day out.  Before we set off I cut it into portions and placed it back in the tin.

baker days, letterbox cake


The taste: The cake was a moist Madeira cake with a little butter-cream which is used to keep the cake sliding off the board. The icing was not too thick and was  nice and soft.  It was shared between Hubby, son, grandson and myself. We all liked the taste and texture.

baker days, letterbox cake

The Verdict: The idea of a Letterbox Cake is great but at £14.99 I personally think it’s too expensive.  However I can see the appeal if you want to send something a little different for a celebration.

Baker Days  sent me this letterbox cake for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own. 
All words/photos are copyright of Soosie Wales. 

REVIEW: Hotel Chocolat Easter Goodies

I was recently approached by Hotel Chocolat to try an item from this years Easter lines. Well I wasn’t going to refuse was I?  I chose to try the Easter Pick Me Up .


Easter Pick Me Up , hotel chocolat

The packaging

Inside the box are 6 bunnies – lovely thick creamy white chocolate with an intense praline filling.  These were Hubby’s favourite.

Next up 6 Egglets – thick milk chocolate filled with a liquid Salted Caramel. I’m not keen on salted caramel but this one is really very subtle.

Lastly 4 Raspberry Zinger Egglets –  Thick vanilla seed speckled  pink chocolate with a sharp/sweet raspberry filling.  I can only describe these as LUSH!! I enjoyed nibbling the chocolate and licking out the filling taking my time over them!!  Can you tell that these were MY favourite??!

Easter Pick Me Up, Hotel Chocolat

Inside the box

The Easter Pick Me Up is a good choice if you want something a little more decadent to share with the family. Bunnies for the children, Egglets for older children and the Zingers for the grown ups.  It costs £13 – good value for a treat to share.

Why not pop over and browse the Hotel Chocolat Easter Range. Great selection and you’ll be sure to find something for everyone.


REVIEW: Red Hot World Buffet Cardiff September 2013

I was recently chosen to join the #RedHotTastemakers (you can read more here).

This was my first visit as a Red Hot Tastemaker. We booked for 4th September lunchtime. I took Hubby along as he was almost as keen as me to be part of it!

We arrived at 1:30pm and was warmly welcomed. We were shown to a table in the middle of the downstairs area. Hubby prefers to sit by a window or along a wall so I asked if we could have a table along the wall. No problem,  a table was set up and we were introduced to our waitress Marketa.
I explained that I was a Tastemaker and had to show her my email confirmation. She checked with the manager and came back with a big smile and confirmed that she was now aware of what the scheme is. Bless her!!

red hot buffet,

Oriental/Curry Station, Cakes, Sushi, Pasta Station

This is what we had and our opinions:

First Drink:

  • Cosmopolitan Cocktail and Cobra Beer – Cosmo was lovely – vodka and cranberry always a good mix. Cobra went well with the main course curry.


  • Me – Sushi – very tasty and I was glad to see they had pickled ginger, wasabi and soy sauce available. I did try eating with chopsticks..but resorted to fingers and a fork.
  • Hubby – Soup – hot, tasty and quite spicy.

Salad Bar: Both of us picked bits and bobs from the selection.

  • Me – The Thai glass noodles and Tomato and mozzarella were my favourites.
  • Hubby – Liked the Tomato and mozzarella and the sprouting beans.
red hot buffet starters

Starters and Salads

Main:  There is so much to choose from, Chinese, Thai, Mexican, Pasta, Pizza, Teppanyaki but we both decided to go for Curry and we ended up choosing the same. Lamb Rogan, Chicken Korma and Pilau Rice. We also picked up some Onion Bhaji and Nan Bread.

  • Me – I preferred the Rogan, although it had a bit too much clove for my liking. I also prefer to have some onion and peppers in my Rogan.  The Pilau rice was exceptional, slightly spiced and fluffy.
  • Hubby – he preferred the Korma but was disappointed that he had to fish around for some chicken despite the pan having just been replenished on the buffet.
  • We both liked the Onion Bhaji, they had a good flavour and good crunchy crust.

Dessert: The selection is amazing. Everything is in tiny portions so you can fill your plate with lots of samples. There is also a chocolate fountain with cake and marshmallows that you can dip in.

  • Me – I liked all my selection, strawberry mouse, mango baked yogurt, chocolate brownies, my favourite were the doughy balls..served warm in a syrup – they are really scrummy..I could have had more of them!!
  • Hubby – He had apple crumble first which he thought was yummy. He then went back up as I told him there was a coconut and cherry dessert up there..he loves cherries!! He came back with a plate full of goodies, the cherry dessert, some of the doughy balls, brownies, jelly, mousse and mango yogurt. He scoffed the lot and declared that the desserts were his favourite part of the meal!
red hot buffet, curry, dessert, drink

Curry, Dessert Selection, Mojito!

2nd Drink

  • Apple Mojito and Kingfisher beer. The Mojito was delicious and I’ll definitely have it again. Mint, apple and vodka in a BIG glass..

Overall we had a great time at Red Hot. The food is well presented with plenty of choice to suit all palates and appetites.  Marketa took good care of us and was very patient waiting whilst I decided which cocktail to have.

We were both a little disappointed with the curry (hubby actually said mine were better – Sorry..) so we’ll try something else next time.  The starters and desserts were the stars of our lunch – oh along with the Apple Mojito!

The only other thing I would like to comment on is the ladies toilets. The entrance is VERY dark and inside smelt a bit (stale wee and horrid disinfectant), paper was peeling off the walls.  Could do with an overhaul!!

*Disclaimer as part of the #RedHotTastemakers we received a meal and drinks in exchange for an honest review, all thoughts pictures and content is my own and cannot be reproduced without permission.

Red Hot Tastemaker

#redhottastemakersI’m pleased to tell you that I’ve made it to the Red Hot Tastemaker Programme for 2013-2014.

I’ll admit that I nearly fell off my bean bag when I saw the email saying I’m delighted to inform you that you have been selected for the programme’.

I’ve been to the Cardiff restaurant a couple of times and really liked the food. So I’m really looking forward to my next visit and sharing some pictures and a review with you all.

Over the next year I’ll be doing Review visits,  Blogger events – where I’ll get to meet some of the lovely bloggers whose blogs I read and that I speak to online and I’ll also be involved in previews of new menus, cocktails and dishes.

Oh and I’ll get a celebratory cake for my birthday!

There will be lots of other exciting events too. I’m so excited!

To help me celebrate becoming a Red Hot Tastemaker, Red Hot would like to share their summer URL with you.
Kids aged 16 and under can eat for half price; that’s from as little as £3.99 for limitless pizza, pasta, curry, salads, desserts and ice cream (prices vary according to restaurant, day and time).
This amazing offer is only redeemable via

Watchout for the tag #redhottastemakers on Twitter, Facebook and other Social Media channels!

What’s for Dinner Tonight?

Well actually in our house it’s what’s for tea tonight?  Most of the time I make dishes from scratch using ingredients in the cupboards and fridge.
But it’s always handy to have some jars and packets as a standby for when time or inspiration is not forthcoming!

Recently Britmums were asking for members to try out the new Schwartz 2in1 seasoning range and they sent me 2 samples:

  • Mediterranean Chicken Pasta and Cheesy Crumb Topping: A blend of herbs and spices for chicken pasta with a cheesy topping.
  • Garlic & Thyme Roast Chicken + Crispy Roast Potatoes: Roast chicken seasoning, with garlic and thyme, accompanied by a special seasoning to create perfect Crispy Roast Potatoes

Тhe  2in1 range offers easy to use recipe mix sachets: one sachet flavours the main dish whilst the other contains seasoning for a complementary side dish or topping. There are 5 different varieties to choose from, and an easy recipe on the back of each pack’.

garlic and thyme 1I decided to try out the Garlic & Thyme Roast Chicken + Crispy Roast Potatoes.
The instructions said to make some cuts in the chicken, mix the top part of the sachet with some oil and brush that over the chicken. It is then covered with foil and placed in the oven to cook.
The potatoes are cut into chunks and par boiled. You heat a little oil in a separate dish, drain the potatoes, sprinkle with the potato seasoning and toss gently then transfer them to them oven dish.

garlic and herb 2

The cooked chicken:

The kitchen was filled with a delicious smell! The chicken was really tasty, the garlic and thyme is not overpowering just enough to make it tasty for everyone.
The potatoes were tasty too but not as tasty as the chicken. The seasoning contains semolina to give the potatoes a crunchy coat but I’m not keen on this. I can make crispy roasties without it!

garlic and herb 3

This is the finished dish:

Would I use it again? Not sure, the chicken was good but the potatoes disappointing. Perhaps I’ll use the chicken seasoning and give the potato seasoning to the Mother-in-Law!

“This post is an entry for BritMums ‘What’s for Dinner Tonight?’ sponsored by Schwartz. 

A lot can happen in 30 years

Ok so 30 years to some people may seem like a long old time – especially if you’re under 30 at the will seem like a lifetime!
I recently saw a post on BritMums inviting members to try out the new recipe SpecialK. Well I’m always up for a freebie so I applied and waited for my box to arrive.

I’ve eaten SpecialK on and off for years and was not sure that a change of recipe after 30 years was a good thing. However the new recipe has 3 grains in it and it’s still a flaked cereal. It is very tasty and keeps you full. So if you’re watching your weight (or not as the case may be!) it will help you to last until lunchtime! It’s not too sweet either so good for all ages!

Special K

So SpecialK has changed but what about me? Have I changed – you bet I have. It all started on 2nd February 1983, the birth of our first son.

Me Feb 1983

Thirty years ago with New born son

Argh…being a mum it was so hard – babies don’t come with a handbook and you just have to use your best judgement most of the time!  We struggled with money with only one income and even had to sell the car! But I eventually learned from a friend how to budget and we’ve never looked back. Phew!!!

So what else has changed:

Then– Soft Cell, Simple Minds, Inxs, Chris Rea
Now – Simple Minds,  Kings of Leon, Michael Buble……….oh sorry went off in my little world there…
Then – Raiders, Batman, Ferris Bueller
Now – Iron Man,  Hobbit and my most recent favourite Ruby Sparks.
Then – Auf Wiedersehen Pet, Black Adder, Just Good Friends, Top of the Pops, Postman Pat, Play Away, Dangermouse and Bananaman
Now – Doctor Who, Homeland, Suits – occasionally Peppa Pig and SpongeBob!
Then – Olympus camera with film, Commodore64,  VHS video, dial telephone,  4 tv channels
Now – Panasonic TZ8 super compact, smart phone, internet, digital tv with 100s of channels (still nothing on though!!)
Then – scared of doing things wrong, naïve, unable to say no to people, slim, dark hair.  Mother of one baby.
Now – more confident, feisty, says NO quite often, overweight, blonde (from a bottle – better than grey!), Mother of 2 grown up sons, Grandmother.

Here’s a few personal events that changed my life:

1983 – Birth of first son.
1984 – Birth of second son. Two under 2 – I must have been mad!!
1988 – loss of my Mum – she was only 51. I felt so lost.  It made me realise that you have to take chances in life before it’s too late.
1994 – House move!!   Oldest son was due to go to the comprehensive so it was a good time to move. They say you know if you like a house within the first few seconds, well I still remember coming around the bend and seeing the house for the time. I knew it was ‘the one’. It still does it to me 19 years on!!
1997 – My career took off – I applied for and got a job on an IT Service Desk with the bank I was working for. What did I know about IT??? Absolutely diddly squat but I’d learn. It was the best job I’d ever had. Seeing the expansion of the internet – which was still in it’s infancy, electronic banking and computers everywhere!! I was eventually to become a Team Leader and a Team Manager there and although there were lots of ups and downs I did enjoy it (most of the time!!)
2001 – The loss of my lovely Father-in-Law.  FIL and MIL saved for their old age and did little with their lives.. all that scrimping and he’s not about to enjoy old age. So we thought to heck with saving it’s our Silver Wedding in 2002 so we splashed out on 5* holiday to Jamaica – it was fantastic but also made us hungry for more holidays like it!
2010 – Oh big jump time-wise there!! The year of huge change! We were told the bank was moving our department ‘up north’ and if you didn’t want to move then they were showing us the door! So in July I left with my redundancy pay (oh yes thank you so much..It was a nice amount!) thinking I’d get a job pretty quickly.. after all who wouldn’t want a damn good manager to work for them.. Well as it turned out no one did!! The recession hit hard and jobs have become increasingly difficult to find.
Oldest son moved out and became a Daddy himself – shock – horror my little boy and his GF having a little boy!

Which pretty much brings us up to date. Thirty years on oldest son has just got married and youngest is in Oz looking forward to his nuptials in September.

me! grandson, Hubby Oldest Son

me! grandson, Hubby Oldest Son

Back to one income but at least this time there is no mortgage and only 2 us to feed now!

The one thing that has remained a constant is my long suffering ‘Old Man’ Hubby. He frustrates me, infuriates me but would never swop him.  (Well unless Mr. Buble or Mr Depp turned up at my door!!)

10Q: Life’s Biggest Questions – Answered By You – 2012

I can’t believe it’s a year since I first blogged about 10Q.  You read that blog post here.  So what is you ask? You join the website and each day it asks you a life question that you answer. Your replies can be public if you want them to be, I prefer to keep them to myself. You save your responses and at the end your answers are then kept in the vault for a year. Just before the next one you are emailed with your responses so you can review them.
Of course when this time comes around it takes you a little by surprise and it makes interesting reading.  You can read more about it here

So what was happening in my life a year ago? Here is a small extract! (I’m not including all questions as some of the answers were VERY personal) Continue reading