Victorious Festival

It’s Sunday night and we are stood on a jam packed viewing platform for the Common Stage waiting for Noel Gallagher. Before the main man appears, I take a moment to fully embrace what I am witnessing. This is Southsea Common, in the lovely little seaside island of Portsmouth, and there are thousands of people all gathered together, having the most amazing time. The lights from stage shine over this sea of people, the music starts, and I am covered in goosebumps.

Noel and his High Flying Birds are the perfect end to what has been an epic weekend. His set is full of what he does best, rock n roll, with a few Oasis classics thrown in for good measure. He tops this off with the sing along classic Don’t Look Back in Anger, which the crowd belted out at the top of their lungs… us included.

The rest of the weekend was equally great. The line up this year was Victorious Festival’s best yet. A personal favourite of mine was The Editors on the Castle Stage on Saturday night, They were clearly really up for having as much fun as we were, playing the perfect set to keep the crowd dancing.
Other stand out bands were Ash, Wolfmother, The Horrors, Raleigh Ritchie, Rat boy and of course Manic Street Preachers, who started their breathtaking set with the legendary tune 'Motorcycle Emptiness', and ended it with 'Design For Life'. Those two songs alone would have made our day complete, yet they threw in classic after classic in making this the perfect end to the first night of the festival.
Victorious Festival isn’t all about big named bands however, they are also a great supporter of local/unsigned bands.

The Mayfield Studios Real Ale Stage was in a different location this year, and had a fantastic selection of local bands play.  The Southsea Alternative Choir played two of their six shows that weekend on this stage, and others such as The Silhouettes, Hometown Show, Smiley Campbell Band, and Calaveres absolutely smashed it!

The stage with arguably the best location of the whole festival is the Casemates Seaside Stage, overlooking the coast and the soft blue peaks of the ocean. Once again, the line up was purely brilliant, but those that stood out to me were local legends Kassassin Street, and also Rhythm of the 90s playing an impressive 2 hour long set. I say set, but it was a two hour dance party! Think of a classic 90s tune, and without a doubt they will blow you away with their own lively, energetic fun version of it.

New this year was the World Music Stage, and it did exactly as advertised. The line up was an amazing diverse mix of all cultures and artists from all around the world. Learn to dance Latin, sing along with a gospel choir or join in with a Bhangra dance party. It had everything, all mixed in with some of the best artists the world has to offer.

Victorious has so much more to offer than live music, the real ale bar had some outstanding beers to choose from, and the food and markets stalls had a ridiculous amount of variation this year. From traditional pork sandwiches and toasties, to hearty meals from many local restaurants who set up stall for the weekend. Yes it is a tad pricey, expect to pay anything from £6-9 for a gourmet burger, an average of £5 for a cup of beer, and £2.50 for a soft drink. Whilst steep, the prices are comparable to most UK festivals, and there are a few cheeky bargains to be had. Sadly no picnics or food brought from home are allowed on site, but those with youngsters, or intolerances can ask to bring their own snacks.

I took a nice stroll around the kids-arena with friends and family, well I say stroll, it was more like take three steps and the little’uns would find something else fun to do. It's huge, and a marvel for the family. It has a stage that has all their favourite performers, a mini funfair, arts and crafts, and the obviously popular Happy’s Circus.

There is still so much the festival has to offer. There were loads more stages and bands, some hidden in little nooks and crannies, as well as the ever crammed Silent Disco, plus the Skate Park and so on.

All in all, once again the guys and gals that work so hard to put this festival on, deserve all the praise they are getting, it’s quite simply a fantastic, fun, amazing festival, that is a credit to the local community.

Early bird tickets for 2017 are already on sale here, my advice to you would be to go and get them while you can.
We’ll see you there!

Pics by whimbiscuit2016.

Percy Nobleman and the incredibly manly morning routine.

With thanks to Percy Nobleman, I am now a man with a routine. 

Having previously reviewed their beard oil and styling wax, I now have the pleasure of trying out their beard/stubble wash, and face/stubble moisturiser, and quite simply they are great.

With the beard wash, a little goes a very long way, so the 75ml will last you a relatively long time (less time when your wife can't find her cleanser and uses it when you're not looking). The smallest of amounts foams up and and washes your whole beard (which I have a lot of) and your face in one. It has a pleasant peppermint mixed with cucumber scent, so very refreshing, and it certainly helped to perk me up in the morning and get the day moving. 

Made with natural cleansers derived from coconut, this wash will leave your face and beard feeling soft, and smelling fantastic, and you then follow up this cleaning routine with the moisturiser. Now I can’t say I've ever used a lot of moisturiser, in fact I have never really used it no matter how much Mrs Biscuit has pestered me to. However, I am now a moisturiser convert. It is hydrating, sinks in quickly, leaves no residue, and non-greasy.

I think it’s great that it is 98% naturally derived, it contains Vitamin E, organic aloe and ginger root active, if I’m going to use something on my face daily, I want to know it’s made of the best ingredients possible. After using it for a few days, I noticed that some little white spots I’ve had where my glasses sit on my cheeks, had pretty much disappeared, and my skin felt a lot softer. Top this off with a hint of their beard oil, and you're good to go.

So if you want to smell great, have a lovely full, silky beard, and soft, clear skin, Percy Nobleman is the man to see. Check out their site here, and treat yourself, your husband, father, brother, uncle or son. You genuinely won’t be disappointed.

A cooking marvel with QuadraPan

Words cannot describe how excited I was by the prospect of this pan. For if there is a dish that I, Mr Biscuit, like more than anything, it's a decent, good quality English brekkie. Plus if theres anything I like more than that, is either having the food cooked for me, or to have minimal clean up. 
In comes the Quadra Pan.

With it's x4 specially designed cooking zones, you've got a griddle pan for meat or veg, a fish area with raised bumps to eliminate sticking, a part for the perfect fried egg, and a flat dish for general use.
It also comes with a complementary tempered glass plated lid, allowing a more steamed approach, and to make it even more useful, it can be used on the stove or in the oven, and even with induction hobs.

Although quite large at 32x32cm, its made of die cast aluminium, with a copper ceramic coating, meaning you can cook away with no oil whatsover with no sticking. It is 100% PFOA and PTFE free, and is dishwasher safe to boot. Interchangeable handles not only offer ease when moving between appliances, but also keep storage options open. It is exclusively available from HighStreet TV here.

I marvelled at the sheer variety of food that can be cooked on this. Yes, it is a pan that means you can make an entire meal with a single dish, and yes it doubles up as a baking tray, but what it also means you can do is cook different things for different people easily.

Do you hear that Mrs Biscuit? Just because you like aubergine, doesn't mean I have to eat aubergine, I can have my cake and eat it next to your aubergines!

Oooh Cake....

*Pics courtesy of HighStreet TV.

Spa break on a budget- Whittlebury Hall.

Sometimes all you need is a quick break to relax and rejuvenate, and often this is at times when you're stressed, overworked, or really really busy. It's great to book a lovely spa break and have something to look forward to, but what if you just need something a tad last-minute?

We all do it, check the comparison sites, the holiday deals, and the spa guides, all in the endeavour of getting some really great package for our budget. You look for something not too far away for a weekend break, but also somewhere unfamiliar to feel like you're actually on holiday. You also wish for something that everyone will enjoy- Whether it's for romance, for the whole family, or just the ladies, its difficult to find somewhere that will provide everything in a single place, for say, a single night.

Whittlebury hall is located in Towcester, Northampton, very near Silverstone race course. It is nearing the centre of England so very easily accessible. Driving into the venue, you are surrounded by the green of a golf course, and the atmosphere of a country setting. It sprawls across a few linked traditional buildings, giving the feeling of a resort or club. Do not be put off by the convoluted site when booking, it comes across as more of a business or conference facility rather than a spa and golf hotel. The lobby is stretched between the different aspects of the venue, from the spa building, to dining, and accommodation. It appears reminiscent of a cross between a country pub and generic hotel. It is clean and tidy, decorated with lots of motor racing memorabilia, but perhaps has a slightly dated feel. None the less, it is professional, and still maintains a comfortable ambience.

There are always several offers and promotions on the site if you search, these are especially good value, as you can technically get a full spa break with lunch, dinner, and breakfast for under £100 per person sometimes.

Check in for us was set early as we have access to the day spa, and upon arrival we were told they were not quite ready for us. We waited in the bar for a while before checking again only to be told our room was still not available. The manner of the staff is pleasant, although in the hour we waited it would have been nice to be kept in the loop rather than feel like we were consistently pestering them.

Our room is large and clean. It maintains the slightly old fashioned decor of the hotel generally, but the bed is comfortable, and the welcome tray of nibbles and drinks is much appreciated. It has all the amenities you would hope for, and includes many of the home comforts and toiletries you might forget to bring. The bathroom is meticulous in cleanliness also, and includes his and hers sinks, with a stand in bath shower.

We only have time for a quick change before heading in our bath-robes to the spa, where we have each have 25 minute back, neck and shoulder massages. When entering the spa entrance, we are told that you must either bring or buy your own flip flops, something we were not aware of, so we put them on the room tab. The waiting area for treatments is upstairs, a bright and airy space starting your relaxation journey. Our massages are wonderful, the perfect solution to soothing those aches and any weariness. Our masseuses are helpful and polite, adhering to any pressure requests, and giving helpful advice for further treatment or product options.

 The day spa is large and again divided into the pool room, and hot and cold experiences room. There are immersive hot tubs, steam rooms, saunas, and the pool is large and spacious with an area of relaxing bubbles. It is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle, and offers a wide variety of facilities. Lunch options usually are from a buffet, and the informal atmosphere where you can relax in your robe make it quite casual. The selection is modest, but caters for many tastes from seafood to soup.

Dinner, when included in the package, is usually from a set menu from their more relaxed diner 'Astons' and will allow you to buy perhaps x3 courses if you stick to the more basic options. It also does not include drinks and the service charge, so remember that even if you think you'll stick to budget, its best to bring some extra. The food choices are restaurant quality, with a good variety although lack the finesse of say AA rosette cuisine, which you can find in their other restaurant 'Murrays'. Having such a variety of dining options supplements the feel of the report style venue, and is potentially a great idea if you are staying for more than a single night. We had a slight hiccup with our dinner experience when we arrived and they said we had already checked in to eat our set menu. This caused some confusion, especially when at the bar later, it seemed that you simply had to name your room number to add items to the tab, rather than present a key. All was resolved however, with a quick reassuring chat to reception to ensure we were not being charged for other peoples meals and drinks.

In all, Whittlebury Hall might not be the encapsulation of luxury, but it certainly is wonderfully good value. Don't expect the VIP treatment, but with friendly staff and a wide variety of things to do aside from the spa, the golf course, and local attractions, it certainly is a venue to consider.

*Some pics courtesy of Whittlebury Hall.

Clean those hard to reach places with the Dirt Devil 360 Reach.

Designed to be light, quick, and equipped with a full bag of tricks, this handheld bagless vacuum is perfect for that fast clean around when you have those last-minute visitors. 

With it's relatively small scale, and 800w motor, it is a great deal for those who require a second vacuum for all the nooks and crannies that a conventional vacuum might not reach, or indeed perfect for those who have a small flat, mostly hard-floors, those who struggle with lifting, or a lack of storage room.

As a corded vaccum, it is literally plug in and go, and without a bag to replace it is very simple to use, although emptying will require a bit of fishing to pull out the compacted dust. Slightly top heavy, it's not really free-standing, but it does have a lengthy power cord and a significant 3 year warranty. 

When vacuuming a large pile of fluff or dust, as we had to when we had some laminate floor fitted, it does seem to clog the filters, which are washable, but quite tricky to put back correctly. They do seem to do very little in terms of blocking said dust and does seem to like blowing air back into your face as you clean unfortunately. It also is quite loud considering, but this might be a design choice to keep it lightweight, removing any noise softening tech.

With its numerous attachments, as a handheld, it does pack quite a punch compared to some of its weaker 'car-vacuum-esque' counterparts, and the crevice tool certainly does work in those hard to reach places. The upholstery tools fairs slightly worse, as it doesn't seem to pick everything up on the pass, but the general floor tool does do a good job all things considered. The only criticism being that when switching to the hard-floor setting, it does become more difficult to pick up dirt on the edges, and with a low front, any larger pieces of rubbish (like the odd cat biscuit in our kitchen) were pushed around for a while.

Overall, we will reserve this a great second vacuum for upstairs. Something you can get out when a light clean is needed, or indeed, if you're doing good spring clean and need to get all those curtain rails and picture rails dusted.

  • 4-in-1 Stick Vac
    Go from floors to ceilings to couches in seconds.
  • Cyclonic Filtration
    Cut through any mess with powerful suction.
  • Vac+Dust Ceiling Fan Tool with SWIPES™ Washable Microfiber Pad
    Vac and dust ceiling fan blades. Fits most fans.
  • Vac+Dust Hard Floor Tool with SWIPES™ Washable Microfiber Pad
    Pick up heavy dirt & debris while the SWIPES™ microfiber pad captures the dust.
  • Vac+Dust Above Floor Tool with SWIPES™ Washable Microfiber Pad
    Easily tackle vents, hard-to-reach corners, shelves and more.
  • Bottom Empty Dirt cup with MaxFill™ Technology
    Prevent dirt and hair from getting stuck in the dirt cup.
  • 6" Powered Stair & Upholstery Tool
    Adjust to cover every part of each step.
  • Extended Wand
    Stretch from floors to ceilings and catch everything in between.
  • 27ft. Power Cord
    Easily Clean your couch then your stairs without unplugging.
  • Reusable Quick-Rinse Filter
    Don’t bust your budget on expensive replacement filters.
  • Crevice Tool
    Get to hard-to-reach cracks and crevices.
  • Pivoting Extension Tool
    Pivot to get above the mess.
  • Storage Bag
    Easy and convenient storage.
  • 3-Year Limited Warranty
    Dependable quality. Expert customer support.
The Dirt Devil 360 Reach is available from here 

*Pics courtesy of Dirt Devil.

Rural spa break near the Capital, with Hilton London Syon Park.

Situated between Twickenham, and located right next to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the Hilton Syon Park is ideally positioned for those who wish to have a countryside retreat with access to central London.

Sat on the edge of two hundred acres of the Syon House estate- the home of the Duke of Northumberland for nearly 400 years- It features extensive gardens designed by Capability Brown, and the Great Conservatory next to a tidal meadow of the Thames. With rooms overlooking the hotel's personal gardens and pools, it is a tranquil setting indeed, with a variety of choices ranging from Queen rooms to King Deluxe. 

The lobby is grand, contemporary, and impressive, with pleasant staff who are attentive to your needs and questions. It features a variety of art pieces that set a modern scene in juxtaposition against its traditional surroundings. With a multitude of leisure areas to lounge and relax in, this hotel caters for those who get a tad stir-crazy with a mere room to recline in. From the Duke's parlour with it's pool table and playstations, to the sun trap garden terrace, you can pick and choose where to have your cocktails. Where better however, especially in the fresh spring and summer months, than the relatively new Syon Lounge, with its roof top terrace vibes, and fun sushi and shisha options.

We were in a Queen Guest room with it's floor to ceiling windows, and elegant boudoir design. It had the opulence of a boutique hotel which is so rare to achieve in such an extensive chain brand, think of it like a bonus that comes with all the amenities and service you need. An exceptionally clean bathroom, with a decadent in shower television complete the room. A few niggles, which we have no doubt would have been resolved should we have deemed them actually notable enough to discuss with the staff, include a few rips in the bed linen, and a very temperamental air conditioning unit. The bed itself is comfortable, and home comforts including a TV, hairdryer, and high quality toiletries give you ample luxury in order to get ready for the night ahead.

We had an event in central London to go to that night, so we missed the no doubt extraordinary culinary delights of the hotel's Marco Pierre White Steakhouse. The menu has a varied offering, with high quality dishes and exceptional standards. We did however, enjoy a rather lovely afternoon tea the next afternoon. Adjacent to the terrace, we indulged in lots of yummy sandwiches, warm scones with jam and cream, and a couple of rather tasty eclairs and mini-cakes. The tea selection was most impressive, and the variety makes you feel quite spoilt. It was the perfect setting to complete the stay, especially as that morning we'd worked up quite a hunger in the hotel's very own Kallima Spa.

There is a full range of beauty and wellbeing treatments available in the spa, as well as several rather tempting offers for spa days and breaks that you can choose from. Do check the special offers section of the site to keep up to date with new delights. For guests staying at the hotel however, you are welcome to relax and rejuvenate in the variety of options from the gym, to the long pool and various hot tubs and steam rooms in between. Whilst generally fine, the pool did perhaps need a bit of a clean, and the changing room lacked working lockers. We did rather enjoy getting those swim lengths in after a hearty early breakfast (delivered to our room, hot and on time, all for a modest tray charge), and reclining on the loungers.

The Hilton London Syon Hotel has extensive venue options for events, many of which we were fortunate to have a quick tour of, and these include spacious business and conference facilities, and vast ballrooms suitable for the largest and grandest of wedding parties. For a perfect special occasion, it would be absolutely ideal.

*All pics our own.

Extraordinary line-up for this year's Victorious Festival!!

You didn’t think they could top last year did you? Well, once again the guys and girls behind the scenes have truly out done themselves.
With Manic Street Preachers and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds headlining, the super cheap ticket prices of £30 per day (until the 1st July, £35 after), feels too good to be true. Not to mention the endless list of other amazing bands playing (line up here).
As with previous festivals, there is so much more than the awesome line up, there is the Market Way with a great selection of stalls, a real ale tent, more food stalls than you can shake a baguette at, a silent disco, and free entry to all of the seafront attractions such as Southsea Skatepark, Blue Reef Aquarium, D-Day Museum, AND Southsea Castle…..phew!
The festival is completely family friendly. Returning this year is the Kids-Arena, there is so much fun stuff to do here for you and your little monkeys.
Mini Fairground, face painting, bouncy castles, crafts, Jungle Buddies playbus and loads more.

So don’t miss out, get your tickets HERE before they sell out!
We’ll see you there, at the front of the crowd, dancing like no one is watching, faces painted, with a huge smile to boot!!

Roll on Victorious!!!