Drusillas Park - review

A November day pouring with rain doesn’t sound like the start of a fun and fabulous day out but I can assure it was. We headed off to Drusillas park to review it. Having taken one look at the weather forecast we shrugged our shoulders and popped on our waterproofs and headed off. Its in East Sussex about an hour away from us. It is a smallish 10 acre zoo packed with play areas, large slides, zoo animals, animal feedings, cafes and shops and attractions such as Thomas the tank engine and Hello Kitty.

We headed off to see their Halloween events and monkeys ( my youngest is rather monkey obsessed) There are tons of things to do from a spotter book to the Zoolympics challenge which the boys decided was one of the best things about the place. We had the place fairly empty because of the weather so we didn’t need to queue at any of the stops. I think the boys favourite challenge was seeing what sort of animal they had the same weight as or if they could pull as much as a horse! In each section there is an activity to try out and captured both our 4year old and 8 year old at the same time. Even Daddy joined in with most of the activities and the amount of times we tried to see if we could run faster than certain animals only to discover we were disappointingly as fast as human and never ever anything more!
The animals took up half the time we were there and would have taken up longer I think if the weather was a tad more cooperative. You can walk through certain areas and get up close with the animals like Rainbow Lorikeets. The boys watched captivated while a zoo keeper cleared the river in the beaver’s enclosure only for the beavers to dash over and start remaking their dam. They can pull incredibly long branches by the way!
After the animals we had a good long play on one of the outdoor play areas and headed over to take a trip on Thomas and then to seek out the Mummy who had escaped in the Eden’s Eye Maze. Exhausted a couple of hours later we stopped off for a well-deserved coffee (for the grownups) and ice cream for the boys. We spent a good morning and a half afternoon there and could easily have spent the whole day.

The facilities are fabulous for families, each loo seat (and it includes the men’s) come with a smaller one for children, door handles and lock are lower for children to manage by themselves and lowered sinks were at every place we visited just right for even toddlers hands.
It was a fabulous day and while slightly more than a general day out (family of four is £48) it works out a lot cheaper than other family zoos we’ve visited. We are even contemplating getting a year’s membership as we feel it would be worthwhile and used. 5 out of 5 from us all!

Penne Al Pollo Recipe #TuscanyNowCookOff

Tuscany Now Blog are giving you the chance to win a weekend away in the beautiful city of Florence over on their site. All you need to do it share your favourite Italian recipe with them.
Heres mine. I adore it and its one of our favourites at home. Just add a simple salad of Rocket lettuce,  Mozerella pearls and baby plum tomatoes drizzled with some balsamic vinegar and you have a wonderful meal full of summer sunshine! See others over at #TuscanyNowCookOff

Penne Al Pollo Della Casa

Salsa Di Funghi

10g Dried Porcini Mushrooms
3 Tablespoons Extra virgin Olive oil
30g White Onion, chopped
20g celery, diced
2 Garlic Cloves, finely chopped
A pinch of fennel seeds
100g button mushrooms, finely chopped
550ml Water
100ml chicken stock
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornflour
60ml (4 Tablespoons) milk
3 tablespoons finely chopped flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped tarragon
Freshly ground pepper

Soak the Porcini’s in 100ml of warm water for 30 mins. Strain (keep the water) & finely chop.
Heat oil in saucepan. Add onion & celery & cook over a low heat till onions are translucent (about 6 mins) Add the garlic, fennel  & porcini and half the button mushrooms. Add half the water (275ml) and simmer gently for 5 mins.

Use the Porcini water, chicken stock, sugar & cornflour and stir into remaining water.
Remove saucepan, blend till smooth & pour in to cornflour mixture. Return to saucepan and stir with a whisk back to simmering (sauce should have thickened slightly)

Add milk, herbs & remaining mushrooms. Simmer for 10 mins. Use immediately or cool and store in fridge for up to 3 days.

And the rest:

4 Tablespoons Olive oil
300g Button mushrooms, sliced
400g Raw Chicken Breast cut into thin strips
30g Butter
60ml Dry White Wine
375g Salsa di Funghi (half the above recipe)
380ml Single cream
1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
500g De Cecco or Italian Penne (I used gluten free)
40g Parmesan grated
Freshly ground salt & black pepper
2 Sprigs of fresh Thyme to decorate.

Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a medium frying pan. Add mushroom and sauté over a medium heat for 3-4mins. Remove from heat & set aside.
Toss the chicken in a bowl with remaining oil, season with salt & pepper.
Bring a large pan of salted water to a rolling boil for the pasta. Preheat oven to 200c
Melt butter in a large saucepan. When it foams add chicken pieces and turn them to brown for 3-4mins. Stir in wine & raise the heat until wine has evaporated. Add the sautéed mushrooms, mushroom sauce, cream & thyme to the pan. Stir as your bring sauce gently to boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 mins.
Cook the pasta for 2 mins less than package instructions. Drain. Turn the penne into the pan with the sauce and cook together for 1-2mins. Spoon pasta mixture into an ovenproof dish. Sprinkle with the cheese and bake for 10-15 mins. Remove from  the oven, garnish with the sprig of thyme & serve with a fresh salad.