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Visiting Eureka & National Allergy Week with #aocleans & Hotpoint


Nearly 13 years ago, I had 2 new arrivals in my life. One was Millie, my beautiful baby, the other was hay fever. Not so welcome a visitor. Yep, thanks body of mine, just getting over the shell shock of a newborn to be hit with a hideous allergy every spring/summer.

I’ll be honest and tell you that I’d never really taken hay fever seriously before – My sister has always had it but seemed to cope ok. I thought it was just a sniffly nose and occasional itchy eyes. How wrong I was. I totally under estimated how exhausting it can be to sneeze constantly, how sore your eyes can be, how hard it can be to concentrate – I have no idea how kids sitting exams with hay fever cope.

Over the years, I’ve tried various medications to reduce the symptoms and learnt quite a bit more about allergies. I know that by hanging your washing out on the line, you risk attracting the pollen but I didn’t know that certain appliances can also limit the symptoms too.


Colouring in Allergens – No pressure girls, there’s only a washing machine for the best picture!

Last Wednesday, to celebrate “National Allergies Week’, the Costello family trundled off to Halifax to an event hosted by ao.com and Hotpoint. We were taught how certain washing machines can reduce the impact of allergies – We were not just looking at hay fever but also dust, pet and detergent allergens – We looked at how higher temperatures can kill allergens, increased rinse and special allergy cycles can rinse away pollen and allergens and filters on hoovers and using tumble driers can all help.

tara aocleans

Searching for Allergens

It was a great event – enough learning for us adults but not so much that the kids were bored. Plenty of chance to colour in those nasty allergens and we made some really pretty paper spring flowers – the paper kind are so much kinder to us hay fever sufferers than the real ones! There’s more information about the event over at the ao.com website


We finished off the day with a trip to Eureka just around the corner – Its been 8 years nearly since we visited Eureka. No idea why it has taken us so long to return – we had a great time. Millie wasn’t with us so we plan on visiting again very soon. For anyone unfamiliar with Eureka, it is a hands-on Children’s Discovery Museum – We especially liked the huge room about how the body works. Loads of practical things to try but nothing too deep.

Where do babies come from?

Where do babies come from?

We had great fun in the play garage and post office and pretending to be underground workmen is about a near as I will get to getting my hands dirty.

eureka national children's museum

What we really like about Eureka is that if you pay online for your entry (£11.95 for adults/children 3+) then you get an annual pass allowing you to visit as many times as you like. Car Parking is very reasonable at only £3 too.

I’m finishing this post with one of our ‘favourite’ videos from The Wiggles – Whenever we think about allergies, we think about this song which cracks us up. Tara loves it! Bet you’ll be singing it all day 🙂

Post Edit: I am happy to be able to share with you discount code for £20 certain Hotpoint large appliance – Simply insert the code HOTPOINT20 at the checkout. (Offer applies from 20th April – 3rd May 2015) The range of appliances included in the offer can be found here.

Silent Sunday

Children's University

Post Edit: HI everyone, thank for all your messages about this photo – This was taken at the Children’s University presentation earlier in the week at Hope University, Liverpool. It was a fantastic celebration when the children were awarded certificates for taking part in Extra-curricular activities. The more hours they do at After-school clubs and some outside of school activities the better. The Children’s University is a National qualification open to all schools who want to take part and runs from April to April. We are super proud of Violet that she managed to achieve a bronze awards after only joining the school in September and not even counting her out of school activities. She has settled in so well and is so happy with her classmates.

The Day we went to Sarsons’ Cookery School with Nick Coffer

Violet & vinegar at Sarsons Cookery School

I’ve been hopping on trains up and down the country like a mad woman during the past month. Most of the trips have been to take or pick up Millie from England training but a couple of weeks ago, me & Violet went on an adventure all of our own.

We had been invited by Sarsons vinegar to spend the day in their cookery school learning about different recipes that all use vinegar in them. The event was hosted by Nick Coffer, a lovely man that I met at the beginning of my blogging journey. Nick’s book, My Daddy Cooks is one of our most used – His second book, The After School Cookbook is due out at the end of this week.

There were 6 bloggers and our children altogether. We were encouraged to get our kids as hands on as possible. We made tons of food all using vinegar … and yes, we had chips too!

Oven Baked Chips with Sarsons

Oven Baked Chips with Sarsons

The pavlova – One of my favourite bakes. I tend to use white wine vinegar when I have made my pavlovas in the past but surprisingly found parsons works just as well. (you can’t actually taste the vinegar!) We were encouraged to use various fruits but this being a child friendly day, I decided to let Violet have control – We ended up with just strawberries in the shape of a V!

pavlova with strawberries

One of my favourite recipes ever were the Breaded Salmon Bites that we made – Oh my goodness, I will never buy fish fingers again. I can’t believe how easy and quick it is to make your own – I also used shop bought breadcrumbs for the first time ever too. I know, where have I been?! (Recipe at bottom of this post)

Sarsons fish bites

I’ve mentioned before how much I love making popcorn – We even made some at the cookery school – with salt ‘n’ vinegar! Try it – its gorgeous!

salt and vinegar popcorn

Cutest freckles ever on this chef!

Cutest freckles ever on this chef!


Photo courtesy of Pete Jones

We had a brilliant time – Its not often I get a complete day to spend with Violet – the curse of being a middle child. She was a joy to be with – we headed off into London after the event for an all important trip to Harrods Toy Department and went home with the most grotesque doll as a momento of our day. I love the picture below – we were really into the cooking zone – I think Violet is definitely going to be involved with food in some way, when she is older – Her idea of heaven in lying in bed, watching baking programmes on her iPad!

Sarsons_170514-158 Photo courtesy of Pete Jones

Breaded Fish Fingers

Serves 2-3
Prep time 5 minutes
Cook time 3 minutes
Total time 8 minutes
Allergy Egg, Fish, Wheat
Meal type Lunch, Main Dish, Snack
Misc Child Friendly, Serve Hot
By author Nick Coffer
Super crispy and delicious homemade breaded salmon fish bites.


  • 2-3 Salmon Fillets (Cut into 2-3cm chunks)
  • 100g Breadcrumbs or Matzo meal
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 Beaten Egg
  • 3-4 Sun-dried tomatoes (Finely Chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons Plain Flour
  • 2 tablespoons Vegetable oil


Mix together the breadcrumbs and the lemon zest in a bowl. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and mix everything together with a fork.
Place the beaten egg and the flour into 2 separate bowls
Dip the salmon first into the egg, then the flour and then the breadcrumbs mixture - make sure the whole piece is covered.
Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the salmon pieces
Cook on each side for 2-3 minutes until golden & crispy all over and cooked on the inside.
Serve immediately with lashings of Sarsons!

Linking up with the lovely Pippa from Red Rose Mummy and herWhat’s Happened linky:

What's Happened? What's Happening?