Never Fails Simple Banana Cake

Never Fails Simple Banana Cake

Call it banana bread or banana cake, this is a great recipe and one of my favourite things to make. It is a firm favourite with all the family. It is simple to make and it has never failed for me so far. My three year old likes to help by mashing the bananas. I made it for a coffee morning last year and my Tea Room owner friend was very impressed. I have presented a mix of baked cakes and buns in the past, with mixed results, but this banana cake was the most successful by a mile.

Ingredients for Banana Cake

2 or 3 ripe bananas (can be seriously black)

140g butter (ideally softened, plus a little for lining the loaf tin)

140g caster sugar

140g self-raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

2 large eggs, beaten

Sprinkle of demarara sugar (optional)


Method for Banana Cake

  1. Heat oven to 180C or 160C fan
  2. Butter a loaf tinned line it with greaseproof parchment paper
  3. Mash 2 or 3 ripe bananas
  4. Cream 140g butter and 140g caster sugar until light and fluffy
  5. Slowly add 2 beaten large eggs with a little of the self-raising flour
  6. Fold in the remaining flour, 1 tsp of baking powder and the mashed bananas
  7. Pour mixture into the loaf tin and sprinkle a little demerara sugar on top
  8. Bake for about 30 minutes
  9. Check with a skewer and once the skewer is clear, remove from the oven
  10. Cool in tin for 10 minutes then remove to a cooling rack

We love eating this straight from the oven, but it does keep well and remains moist if kept in an airtight container. It will keep for a few days.

It can also be warmed and paired with custard or ice cream for a family dessert. I also include this in my daughter’s lunch box as a treat.

If you’d like to add some crunch, you could place banana chips on the top after cooking with a little icing sugar drizzle (50g icing sugar with 2-3 tsp water to make runny icing). This cake can be frozen if desired.

Basic Geography – Countries in Alphabetical Order

Clever Clogs Family History

I come from a family of clever quizzers. My parents and my brother are pretty good at general knowledge questions. They can watch a quiz show and answer most of the questions. My grandfather won Mastermind and Brain of Britain. He also featured on a panel quiz called Ask Me Another in the 1950’s. This was a general knowledge quiz with a similar theme to Egg Heads. He was one of the ‘Egg Head’ clever people. Unfortunately, I am not in any way gifted in this field. Despite being proud of my grandfather, I don’t like to mention my family history. People naturally expect me to have inherited some skill for knowledge. My general knowledge is weak and embarrassing at times.

General Knowledge Failing

I have recently started going to a monthly pub quiz with my friend. This has highlighted my total lack of awareness of general knowledge. I have tried to read facts and remember them, but they just don’t go in. Sometimes I try to blame my kids as I think my head is so full of their routines and requirements on a weekly basis. Pre-school and after school clubs are a big part of our lives, along with the outfits, accessories and dates to remember that go along with them. I sometimes wonder if my head is full of these daily chores.

I seem to have a problem remembering basic facts. Names, dates and places simply will not stick. If I have a specific topic to learn, I can revise and remember it for a given test, however once the event has past, all that knowledge is gone.

New Year’s Resolution – Improve General Knowledge

Normally I don’t bother with New Year’s resolutions. However this year I decided I need to improve my general knowledge. I have started with a key weakness of mine – Geography. I simply don’t know where places are. We played Articulate over Christmas and I froze each time we landed on the Geography topic. I get totally confused between South American and African nations like Guyana (South America) and Guinea (Africa). I couldn’t remember whether Capon was a country or a kind of chicken.

GABON is a country along the Atlantic coast of central Africa. Interesting!

A CAPON is a cockerel that has been castrated to improve the quality of its flesh for food and in some countries fattened by force feeding. Yuck!

So, I have started making my way through countries alphabetically and finding them on the globe (or Google, which is quicker). I have decided to share some of my research here to help me remember it.

Countries Alphabetically

I know there are debates over what is classed as a country or a state. Also names of countries change from time to time. For my purposes, this is my list of 196 countries based on top hits on Google in January 2019.

Countries Starting with A






Antigua and Barbuda







Countries Starting with B

The Bahamas










Bosnia and Hertzegovina





Burkina Faso



Countries Starting with C

Cabo Verde




Central African Republic






Congo, Democratic Republic of the

Congo, Republic of the

Costa Rica

Cote d’Ivoire




Czech Republic


Countries Starting with D




Dominican Republic


Countries Starting with E

East Timor



El Salvador

Equatorial Guinea





Countries Starting with F





Countries Starting with G


The Gambia











Countries Starting with H





Countries Starting with I










Countries Starting with J





Countries Starting with K




Korea, North

Korea, South





Countries Starting with L











Countries Starting with M








Marshall Islands




Micronesia, Federal States of







Myanmar (Burma)


Countries Starting with N





New Zealand






Countries Starting with O



Countries Starting with P




Papua New Guinea







Countries Starting with Q



Countries Starting with R





Countries Starting with S

Saint Kitts and Nevis

Saint Lucia

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines


San Marino

Sao Tome and Principe

Saudi Arabia




Sierra Leone




Soloman Islands


South Africa


Sri Lanka


Sudan, South







Countries Starting with T






Trinidad and Tobago






Countries Starting with U



United Arab Emirates

United Kingdom

United States




Countries Starting with V


Vatican City




Countries Starting with Y



Countries Starting with Z



Wow, that is quite a list. Of course I could have copied and pasted the lot, but I thought typing them might help me remember them. Thanks to the site for that list. I will write a bit about each location in my next post in my own personal style. Now it’s time for a cuppa for me. 

Family Day Out in Portmeirion in North Wales

Why Visit Portmeirion?

Having visited Portmeirion when I was younger, I was keen to return with my own family. So whilst in North Wales last Autumn with my kids and extended family we made a day of it.

We all had our reasons to visit the intriguing village of Portmeirion. I wanted to bring back nice memories from my childhood. My sister in law is a photographer so wanted to capture the beautiful scenery. My parents love to see wildlife and attractive buildings and gardens. The kids are always easily sold on the promise of an ice cream parlour.

Things to do at Portmeirion

Portmeirion is a beautiful village created by an architect called Clough Williams-Ellis (1883-1978). This visitor site is a collection of striking buildings in a beautiful setting. The area appears to be a microclimate as Portmeirion hosts a wide variety of flowers, trees and wildlife. We were lucky to visit on a dry day and enjoyed the sights.

There are lovely little cafes and shops with quality items. We enjoyed browsing the children’s toys and the local Portmeirion crockery.

There is a little road train that takes visitors on a short trip around the forest. We were lucky to see the gorgeous colours of many autumnal leaves and some pretty evergreens. I loved the views of vibrant red leaves of Japanese Maple trees across the lily pond.

Overall Thoughts on Portmeirion

We all had a lovely day out here. There was limited entertainment for children during our visit, but we had three young kids that played well together. Kids could be bored wandering round if they like to be entertained. If they’re happy with a game of hide and seek then they may be happy. The coffee in the cafe/restaurant was lovely with a small selection of cakes.

One big disappointment was that the ice cream parlours ran out of many flavours of ice cream. My promise was somewhat unfulfilled when we could only get a whipped style ice cream in a basic cafe bar.

Escape Rooms at ROKT, West Yorkshire

Last night I took part in my first Escape Room and it was great fun.

I don’t want to give anything away about the actual Escape Room, so I’m just going to share a little of the general experience.

I booked the Project Breakout Escape Room at ROKT in Brighouse as a Birthday present.

The experience took place on a Thursday evening and I booked a one hour experience.

ROKT in Brighouse

We arrived early for our session and met Benn who brought us upstairs (up many stairs) to the Escape Rooms.

The building is a former flour mill and has been converted into a multi functional activity centre. This includes rock climbing, bouldering, yoga and various other activities.

ROKT Escape Rooms

Benn is the organiser of the Escape Rooms. He was very friendly and clearly enjoys his job, supporting people through the experience of Escape Rooms.

There are currently three Escape Rooms at ROKT – The Antidote, Project Z and The Doll Maker. They have been running a while and there are hundreds of photos showing the many people who have taken part at ROKT.

Escape Room Experience

Benn gave us some useful tips and advice at the beginning of the session. He also calmed any fears I had about the experience. Benn explained that he would be watching us and he would be on hand if we had any issues or problems.

We were a group of four and we did really well. Working together as a team, we managed to make our way through a variety of puzzles. We managed to complete the experience without any fall outs or raised voices, which was a pleasant surprise. Each of us contributed to the experience and we all felt that it was good fun and definitely something we would like to do again.

Prior to the Escape Room, I had worried a bit that it would be fiddly or physically demanding (think Chrystal Maze type scenario). However this was not the case. Once we had established what we needed to do, it was simply a case of working through things.

Benn said that he would intervene if we were struggling or getting way off track. He spoke to us a couple of times during the experience, but it was a gentle nudge here and there rather than big steering, which was perfect.

If you are thinking of booking an experience like this, I would definitely recommend it. It was great to do something a bit different and actually use our brains collectively.

If you are interested in finding out more about ROKT Escape Rooms or you’d like to book, check out the website at

Family Day Out at Milky Way, North Devon

Milky Way Day Out North Devon During our holiday in North Devon we had the pleasure of visiting The Milky Way. This is a family day out with a variety of attractions located near Clovelly.

Our kids (aged 3 and 7) loved it here. There were rides, indoor and outdoor play areas, a maze, a train, live sessions (owls, magic, Science), Sci-Fi memorabilia and loads more.

I was not sure what to expect from this place. Having read reviews online I was a little concerned about the fun value. However there was loads to keep our kids entertained and provide a really fun day out.

When we first arrived it did seem a bit of a small scale family run affair. This is not in any way like Alton Towers or one of the big theme parks. However this is part of the charm of the place. There is so much to do for young kids. We were constantly moving ours along to the next thing as they could have spent all day in the indoor play gym or the outdoor play area or the maze.

Milky Way Indoor Sessions/Shows

There were indoor sessions throughout the day including birds of prey, fun and educational shows.

We saw Merlin (Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalist). He did juggling, magic and illusions.

He later did a Science session, which maintained the attention of the kids. We had a chat with him after the show and he was a really nice guy.

My girls particularly enjoyed seeing the owls session. This was run by a lovely lady who welcomed lots of questions.

Milky Way Rides

The familiar Caterpillar ride is always a winner with young kids. My three year old went on several times with her grandparents.

Whilst the Cosmic Typhoon roller coaster was a real hit with our 7 year old (minimum 1.2m tall). She loved going on this larger ride and it was perfect for her.

The Clone Zone was the first thing we experienced as we entered the Milky Way. After quite a queue, we followed a guide round this alien-themed walk-through. This was finished off with a short ride and a squeeze through a tight exit. My eldest was quite scared and afraid of the unexpected alien encounters. However my youngest thought it was great and wanted to go on again. The grandparents joined in too and survived the experience! There were also some bumper cars, but we didn’t try these.

Indoor Play Gym

Our kids had a great time in here. They could have stayed all day. We all enjoyed the big slide with sacks to ride. Whilst the kids were too scared, Daddy couldn’t resist the death slide, which was quite a big drop. I didn’t see many kids try this one.

Food and Drinks

We brought some and bought some from the cafe.

Picnic areas are dotted about and the food we bought was ok, reasonably priced and as you’d expect from a day out.

Overall we all had a great day out. I thought it would be busier, but we fell lucky as there was a large agricultural show that day, which may have affected the number of visitors.

As a family of young kids, parents and grandparents we all enjoyed the day. It helped that the weather was generally pretty good. There were lots of things to do indoors and outdoors, however it would have been a shame to miss the rides and the maze.

If you are interested in Sci-Fi the Milky Way has a large area dedicated to models and memorabilia.

The gift shop is reasonably priced (refreshing) and well stocked.

If you would like to find out more about The Milky Way and book tickets, the go to the website at .

Getting Outdoors With the Kids

During the Summer holidays we spent a lot of time outdoors. We enjoyed many cheap and free days out and about close to where we live in West Yorkshire. We went to parks, we picked blackberries and we went for some short walks. We are lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the country, but most people can get outdoors to an open space within a fairly short time.

One day we went to an Art in the Park session run by the local council. We all had a lovely morning, despite the cool weather. The session involved collecting things from nature to make pretty artworks and sculptures. It was a sweet idea and all the kids seemed to really enjoy it. It was surprising how colourful the materials were that we found in the woods.

The kids created some lovely pictures and we were advised what we could and couldn’t pick from the woodland area. The session was quite inspiring and I would like to do it again sometime in our local woods. You don’t need anything at all, but we had some card, glue sticks and some charcoal. We collected blackberries, leaves and flowers (as advised by council organisers).

We also looked at some natural sculptures before creating our own. The kids were all very creative, making lovely patterns and structures. Some kids built dens and others made miniature forests and sculptures. My kids made patterns using different colours and sizes of leaves.

As Autumn approaches, I am really keen to get outdoors, as I find we need to make the most of the sunlight that we have. It is tempting to hibernate over the cooler months, but I think we will head out for some Autumnal art at some point. We can easily make sculptures with different coloured leaves or make a picture using natural materials.

Standedge Tunnel Marsden, Canal Boat Trip, West Yorkshire

During the Summer holidays we visited Standedge Tunnel and Visitor Centre in Marsden. It is a simple, inexpensive family day out and we had a lovely time.

Standedge Tunnel offers a boat trip, cafe and play areas in the beautiful West Yorkshire countryside.

There is a free car park at Marsden train station or you can get the train from Huddersfield, which is quick and inexpensive. My kids loved the adventure of the train journey. It only takes a few minutes, maybe 15 minutes and there is a train every hour. I loved the speed and lack of hassle with the train. I have previously driven and it seemed to take ages.

From the train station or car park, it is about a 15 minute walk to the tunnel entrance. It is a nice walk along the canal and you soon feel like you’re in the middle of the beautiful West Yorkshire countryside.

Things To Do at Standedge Tunnel

There is a small soft play area for little ones (up to 5 years) in the visitor centre. It is free to go into the visitor centre. There are some displays about the construction of the tunnel, mainly aimed at adults. There is also an outdoor play area with picnic benches and a trim trail.

We ate at the cafe and I enjoyed a nice hot sandwich with chips, while the kids had picnic lunches (sandwich, crisps, fruit and drink). All for a reasonable price. We later came back for ice creams, which were lovely.

There are two main types of boat trips. We did the half hour tour in and out of the tunnel, which was just right for my young kids. There is a 2 hour trip for those who are really interested and wish to get to the other side.Our tour guide was friendly and informative. You need to buy your tickets in advance and when we were there (school holidays), the boat trips departed every hour.

Standedge Tunnel is one of the longest, highest and deepest canal tunnels in Britain. Standedge is a key part of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal and it runs deep beneath the Pennines. It opened in 1811 and is 5,029 miles long, reaching 194 metres underground at its deepest point. The canal tunnel was re-opened in 2001 following a £5 million restoration project.


For me, Standedge Tunnel offered a chance to do something different with the kids. It was a nice day out and we all enjoyed it. I would recommend it for a family day out and I would allow 2-3 hours for a wander, play, boat trip and something to eat.

Go to the Standedge Tunnel website and you may wish to check the boat rides are running prior to going.

Go Ape in Dalby Forest – Fab Family Day Out

Go ape family day outWe recently visited Go Ape as a family and we had a great day out. Our 7 year old daughter and 6 year old nephew showed no fear as they leapt about and flew through the air on the zip wire. Unfortunately our 3 year old daughter was too short to join in. She is 95cm and the minimum at Dalby is 1m. She seemed happy enough watching from beneath us with Nana and Grandad.

We have previously done the main Go Ape course, but we wanted to include the kids so we did the Junior one. It was a similar experience, but just an hour, which was probably about right for our kids, especially as it was their first time and I didn’t know whether they would enjoy it or freak out. The Junior course offers two different routes and you can make your way around choosing your route for the hour’s duration. There were a couple of girls on the ropes without an adult and one of them was completely freaking out. We helped her round, holding her hand and encouraging her, but I was surprised to see young kids unsupervised.

The Junior course differs from the larger one as you do not have to keep unhooking and hooking yourself onto the course. This was a lot easier with younger ones and took away some of that fear. It always feels strange to me to be fully responsible for keeping your harness locked on.

You need to be prepared for wood chip down your pants as landing on your feet is quite tricky. We all had at least one landing where we ended up on our bum.

The staff were all lovely and very helpful. They encouraged everyone and were sympathetic towards the scared child, helping her to exit the course early.

Food and Other Facilities

We went in the cafe before going on the ropes which was nice for a light lunch. We also enjoyed a lovely ice cream afterwards whilst the kids ran about in the playground. There was plenty of space and the playground was great for the kids. Some people had brought barbecues and were enjoying these in the designated area.Standedge Tunnel Canal Boat Trip

We walked the Highway Rat trail, which was a pleasant 5Km walk through the woods. The familiar pictures on signs maintained some interest for the kids and you can buy an activity pack and get rubbings as you go round but we didn’t see the packs before we went.

There was a car parking charge of £9 which you can pay by card at a machine once in the forest.

I would recommend this day out to anyone with an adventurous side. It feels like a great achievement when you complete it.

Book your day out through the Go Ape website.

Make and Paint Salt Dough Models Craft Activity

Make and paint dough models
Salt dough models

My kids loved making and painting these salt dough models.

I thought this would be a major hassle to make, but actually it was really simple and a great way to spend a rainy day.

We only needed three basic ingredients and some cookie cutters. You just need to allow a bit of time for baking your creations before you can paint them.

My kids aged six and three enjoyed the whole process. We had fun making the dough, creating the models and painting them once they had been baked in the oven.

You can make ornaments, Christmas decorations, necklaces. The dough can be quite heavy if your dough is thick and chunky so if making Christmas tree decorations or necklaces you may want to roll the dough quite thin. Our dough models did expand a bit in the oven meaning they were a bit fatter once baked.

Salt Dough Recipe

1 quantity of plain flour; 1/2 quantity of table salt; 1/2 quantity of cold tap water

We used the following:

225g plain flour

113g table salt

100ml cold water

  1. Add salt and flour to a large bowl and mix together.
  2. Gradually stir in the water. Mix well to form a doughy consistency, not too wet.
  3. Place the doughy mix onto a board or tray (we used a plastic chopping board).
  4. Knead the dough with your hands until smooth and combined.
  5. Make your models/creations using the salt dough.
  6. Place the salt dough models onto a baking tray and place into the oven at 160C (fan assisted).
  7. Bake for about an hour. This may vary depending on the size and thickness of the models.
  8. Paint using acrylic paint or poster paint.

Salt Dough Models

We made a range of models using salt dough including fish, a Christmas tree, love hearts and gingerbread men.

You can be as creative as you like. For example, you could make letters, numbers, animals, flowers – whatever you fancy.

You can use biscuit cutters or simply mould the dough into whatever shapes you wish. If you want to make a hanging ornament or Christmas tree decoration, you can use a paperclip and stick the paperclip into the dough leaving a round hook exposed. To make a necklace or garland, you can use a skewer or a toothpick to puncture the dough and make a hole (prior to baking).

You could create a print of your child’s hand or footprint using salt dough.

Colouring Salt Dough

We painted our models after baking in the oven using normal poster paints. You can also use acrylic paint. Some people suggest sealing your creations with PVA glue or another sealant, however we didn’t and ours turned out fine.

You can use colouring in the water when making the dough if you want to colour the whole batch of dough.

You could incorporate glitter into the dough if you want to add a bit of sparkle to the mix.

Storage of Salt Dough Models

Models should be kept in an airtight container to avoid getting moisture to them.


Colourful Doodle Drawings Easy Craft With Kids

picture of child colouring in a doodle picture
Easy craft colourful doodles

I love a pretty (but easy) craft and these colourful doodle pictures simply require some paper and some colouring pens.

My kids (aged 6 and 3) enjoyed doing this and I sat with them and joined in. It was a rare calm afternoon where we all switched off and enjoyed doodling.

I was surprised how long my kids sat and coloured at the table. My 3 year old simply scribbled all over the page, but she was happy to join in.

With the Summer holidays approaching, I find it really handy to have a bunch of ideas for sitting together and doing something. This was more fun than expected and the final doodles looked great.

How To Make Colourful Doodle Pictures

Draw squiggly lines all over a piece of paper. You can do as many or as few as you like. You can draw swirly patterns or any shapes you like. We used a black felt tip pen. Colour in the shapes that you have created.

My kids enjoyed doing this and are really proud of their colourful creations.