Planning ahead: Saving for your child’s nest egg with an Orbis Access JISA

This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Orbis Access.

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Having a nest egg can only make life easier, especially when buying your first house.

It’s likely that the single biggest expense any of us will ever undertake is buying property. It costs so much we usually have to borrow the funds to do so. And even then, we still need access to a big chunk of cash to pay the deposit – 5% if you’re lucky, but more likely 10-20% of the value of the property.

We have been late getting on the property ladder, and pulling together the deposit required accessing a myriad of funds, including a forgotten foreign pension and some very generous family. It clearly would have been easier if I had a pot of cash set aside for this event.

We can’t turn back time, but we can try and set our daughter up to be in a better position than we were – by saving for her nest egg now.

A great option for building a nest egg is a Junior ISA (JISA). As well as being tax-efficient (although this depends on your individual circumstances and may change over time), the money cannot be accessed until your child turns 18. After that of course, you need to persuade them to continue saving – or at least to avoid blowing it all on a luxury holiday!

Saving for your child’s nest egg with Orbis Access

Orbis Access have a great JISA offer this tax season. Firstly, they will waive any management fees on any money invested in the first 12 months of opening an account.

In addition, if you open a JISA with them before 30 April 2017, they will match your first investment – up to £100. This promotion also includes JISA and Child Trust Fund transfers into Orbis Access accounts opened in the promo period.

Find out more about the Orbis Access Junior ISA fee-free offer and £100 matching offer here.

The old adage of turning pennies into pounds couldn’t be more true when it comes to investing for our kids future, and that includes saving for your child’s nest egg. Just bear in mind that when investing, the value of your investments can go down as well as up, so you could end up with less than you put in, which means your capital is at risk.

I just hope she doesn’t blow it on buying some limited edition LEGO! It’s the sort of thing I would do – so I really need to instil more money sense in my daughter.

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This post was produced in collaboration with Orbis Access and has been approved for issue in the United Kingdom by Orbis Access (UK) Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Find out more about the Orbis Access Junior ISA fee-free offer and £100 matching offer here.

Taking my daughter to her first comic shop (#MySundayPhoto)

An important part in any geek parent’s life – taking their kid to a comic shop for the first time. Continue reading Taking my daughter to her first comic shop (#MySundayPhoto)

Planning a family trip to Barcelona

This is a sponsored post in association with Avis Car Hire UK.

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Barcelona is a place we can’t wait to take our daughter too.

Like many Brits, I have taken our close proximity to continental Europe a bit for granted. It wasn’t until I got together with my Kiwi wife that I started to take trips there more often. New Zealand is a fairly isolated country, and Kiwis often come to live in London just to take advantage of having all these countries on their doorstep.

But Barcelona (as well as Spain) is still a place I have never been to. I don’t know why – I love the food & what I know of the culture, and I even have a soft spot for the football team. So I can’t wait for us all to head there for a family trip.

City breaks are my favoured kind of holiday. I find the beach too boring (and sandy!) – I would much rather be eating terrific food, admiring the architecture, checking out local attractions, and the like. But I guess one of the great things about Barcelona is that you can have both.

City guides are vital for a newcomer to make the most of their trip, whether it’s for a matter of weeks, days, or even hours. While helping you out with the headline attractions, the best ones will also alert you to hidden gems – to enable you to have an experience to cherish.

Avis have put together a handy & informative Barcelona Guide, and here are some of the recommendations that caught my eye.

1. Tibidabo Amusement Park

This place sounds great, a vintage theme park – over 100 years old – located on the outskirts of the city (so hiring a car probably the best option). Many of the rides are still the original ones, and it also offers great views of the city.

2. Parc de la Ciutadella

Font de la Cascada – photo by Charlie Dave (click for more)

Barcelona is blessed with many parks and open spaces. The Parc de la Ciutadella opened 140 years ago, and includes the beautiful Font de la Cascada (pictured).

3. La Monroe tapas

I couldn’t possibly imagine a trip to Spain without indulging in some Tapas. La Monroe is less rustic more hipster, but the food looks delicious.

4. Churros at Xurreria Trebol

More food, the guide recommends indulging in churros (or ‘xurros’ in Catalan) at Xurreria Trebol. These sweet treats are essentially Spain’s doughnuts that you dip into melted chocolate sauce. There are available all over the city but this is their top pick. I know, I want one right now too…!

5. Kiss of Freedom street art

Located in the heart of Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter is this vibrant piece of street art. From a distance it’s a large (8m x 4m) close up of two mouths kissing – but on closer inspection you see it’s a photomosaic mural – individual images of people enjoying a self-defined moment of freedom.

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For lots more on the above and other great Barcelona travel tips, check out the Avis  Barcelona Guide. Avis also offer car hire in Barcelona.

 

 

Taking the #DinnerTimeChallenge with HelloFresh

Since becoming a stay-at-home dad 5 years ago, I have been cooking the majority of our dinners. Generally, I’ll feed out daughter first, and after my wife comes home from work I’ll get on with our dinner, while she does bath & bedtime. We will then have our dinner (and wine) while watching TV.

This also happens in a similar fashion on weekends. So we very rarely eat together as a family.

Frankly, now our daughter is 5-years-old, there is no excuse for us not eating together as a family more often.  We can’t even blame having a fussy eater child, who we need to make another meal for, as she likes most things we do – probably even more. We’ve just gotten into this habit. One could even call it a rut.

HelloFresh asked us to undertake the #DinnerTimeChallenge – to eat as many meals together as possible. They made this a lot easier by giving us 4 family meals a week, as part of their weekly recipe box delivery service.

They also provided us with some interesting stats – some of which applied to us. We are one of those 73% of UK families who don’t get together round the table to eat meals together, and 69% of adults who eat dinner watching TV (or similar). We also feed our child first, like half the population.

This is all a great shame, as we love food in our house, and our daughter sees it as a real treat for us to eat together as a family. Having a family dinner is guaranteed to put a smile on her face.

So we undertook the challenge, with HelloFresh’s family meals for us to cook. Frankly, it is a brilliant service. You get the ingredients to create each meal, including individual portions of herbs & spices – as well as the recipes created by their team of chefs.

HelloFresh recipe cards

The meals are imaginative, healthy, straightforward to make, and most importantly (to me) delicious. It’s really reignited our own interest in trying out new dishes, and given us great kick up the behind to have more family meals.

One of our family meals was this Butternut Squash & Pancetta pie.

And it’s not just me doing the cooking. My wife has made as many as me, and our daughter is keen to help us in the kitchen – and she’s at the age when she is actually helpful (especially in washing up!)

The 5-year-old helping out in the kitchen (she really was a help!)

I’m really glad we undertook this challenge, as it’s inspired me to help us act more like the family we want to be – in this case, one that shares their love of food together.

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We have been provided with a 3 month Hello Fresh subscription for the purposes of this review. To get a £25 discount from your first Hello Fresh delivery, click here.

What to eat when enjoying a Movie Night in

This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Iceland Foods.

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This time, dad went to Iceland to pick up some party foods to compliment a movie night in.

Having the right snacks on hand when watching a movie is important, because there’s nothing worse than a) being distracted from the story because you’re hungry, and b) coveting the delicious looking food onscreen. Given this, I wanted to have food related to specific movies.

I browsed the aisles at my local Iceland store for food that inspired movie choices. I remain happily surprised how tasty their frozen food is. The #PowerOfFrozen means that we can have these foods to hand to cook straight from the freezer. There’s no compromise on flavour because of this – and as you will see many of these foods surpass their non-frozen counterparts.

Anyway, first up we start with a classic combo.

Harry Potter – with mini-Hogwarts feast of Chicken and Sausages

We’ve only just started on the Harry Potter series with the 5yo. My wife read has read her the first book at bedtime, and we have subsequently watched the first movie.

A memorable food scene is the annual Hogwarts feast. There are many dishes on display, and from Iceland’s Party Food range I chose chicken drumsticks and sausages for our chosen snacks.

The chicken drumsticks were Iceland’s southern fried chicken ones, and there are definitely lots of chicken drumsticks on offer at the feast. These ones have a really moreish peppery herby coating. My daughter and I can attest to that.

The sausages are classic cocktail ones, so perfect finger food. I’m used to buying these pre-cooked from the supermarket, so it was great to have oven fresh ones.

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E.T. – with Pizza and M&M’s

Steven Spielberg’s E.T, The Extra Terrestrial is one of those films that should be in everyone’s childhood, and is certainly in my daughter’s as we have enjoyed it together many times already.

There are two iconic food moments in E.T.

First, when Elliot first encounters the alien, it’s whilst collecting a pizza that he ends up dropping – and ruining. I always lament the demise of this pizza, so having one of your own is important so you can get over this loss quickly!

Iceland have an exclusive Pizza Express range, and I chose our favourite pepperoni & sausage one – which is the same topping choice in the movie. Iceland’s Pizza Express range is really tasty, with great toppings and a nice sourdough base. I was really surprised how much I liked this range, and they are way better than the branded Pizza Express products available in other supermarkets.

The other memorable food scene is when Elliot tempts E.T. into his home using sweets. In the movie, they are Reese’s Pieces, which are hard to come by in the UK – and frankly M&M’s are better (and were Spielberg’s first choice), so I bought those instead.

This combo is enough to stave off any food envy while watching the movie.

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Howard the Duck – with Duck!

Perhaps turkey would be a better pairing with Howard the Duck (1986), a twisted curiosity from Star Wars creator George Lucas. The Marvel comic character has been enjoying a renaissance since his cameo in Guardians of the Galaxy, but his first onscreen outing was in fact in this 80’s misfire – which is a movie I have a real soft spot for.

There’s only one choice to eat with this – Duck! Baked in the oven straight from the freezer, these duck spring rolls were nice and crisp, and the perfect accompaniment to consume while watching the misadventures of Howard – a humanoid duck from another world stranded on earth, and the somewhat intimate relationship he strikes up with a human woman (believe it or not – this is a kid’s film).

To be honest, dusting off the movie was a good excuse to try out these tasty duck rolls. With a nice dab of sweet chilli sauce, these sweet meaty treats are delicious.

If you’re in the mood for more duck (not Howard), then these duck steamed buns are also available at Iceland.

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So there you have it. These were my pairings from Iceland’s party food range. Any ones you can think of?