A Dickens Inspired Christmas At Hever Castle

Last year was our first visit to Hever Castle at Christmas time and I was completely taken in with the traditional feeling they had created, and on our return trip to the press evening last week those same feeling came flooding back the minute we drove into the car park.

The entrance was filed with light covered trees and and as we walked down to the main hub the sky was filled with laser beams that were being projected across the lake.

The whole walk down to the castle was in fact a visual delight with disco balls sparking in archways and pretty lights everywhere we looked.

On of the highlights for me last year was the little area tucked behind the entrance to the toilets….yes it doesn’t sound to glamorous, but it was full of snow covers trees and peopled huddled around an open fire and it got our visit off to the perfect start.

The children didn’t know what to look at or were to go first so we had a few goes on the beautiful carousel and a run through the hall of mirrors to let off some steam!

After this we were all eager to get inside the castle and see how it had been decorated. We were greeted with hot mulled mine, sausage rolls and mince pies which made for an amazing experience but my nerves wear more than a little on edge at the though of sticky fingers and all the beautiful furniture!

We went in and out of every room or which each one was breathtaking. A castle steeped in history and full of Christmas spirit had got to be a pretty amazing sight to see.

Before we knew it it was our turn to go and visit Father Christmas. The boys exciting skipped along the candy caned lined walkway until we reached the grotto and were welcomed by Father Christmas’s friendly elves.

They lead us threw a snow covered pathway until we reached his little house that was tucked away behind the trees.

He greeted the children in such a warm manner and the children’s faces lit up as soon as he started speaking to them…even Izzy’s.

They were each given a lovely gift and we headed out to giant our evening with the ‘Christmas Carol’ trail.

The trail was themed around the Dickens classic and saw us meeting characters from the classic tail along the way. It is an interactive experience that kept us wondering what we were going to come across next!

We left the castle full of Christmas spirit and wanting to visit again before Christmas is out!

*We were asked along to the press evening for the purpose of this review and they are all my own honest opinions.

Nativity Rocks:Review

The Nativity movies have been a big hit in our house for many years now. The light hearted, feel good factor they give you is a huge attraction and always fill you with the spirt of Christmas.

A couple of weeks ago we were invited along to a screening of the fourth Nativity movie – Nativity Rocks in Leicester Square.

Kitted out in my sparkly jumper…much to the embarrassment of the kids we started the morning with some fun in the foyer making snow globes, getting glitter tattoos and eating out first mince pies of the year.

This movie had a very different feel to it then the others as the main bulk of the story was based around a young Syrian refugee called Doru and his Father who get separated in there quest to seek refuge in the UK.

Doru finds himself in the middle of Coventry in the midst of their Christmas preparations where he is found and taken to safety by the warm and friendly social worker Shelly(Helen George) who in-lists the help of the super foster mum(Merry Syal).

We were a little concerned about the absence of our favourite character, Mr Poppy bit we needed had worried as he had been replaced by his long lost brother who made an equally loveable Mr Poppy mark two!

Whilst Mr Poppy(Simon Lipkin) searching for his long lost family at St Bernadettes he bumps into Doru who has enrolled in the school and they form a bond over their similarities.

Of course there has to be some kind of musical theme to the movie and this comes in the form of the whole of Coventry competing to represent their town in The Christmas Town Of The Year.

Emmanuel Cavendish(Craig Revel Horwood) is brought in as the superstar set to put Coventry on the map with his expert knowledge of everything showbiz but the evil villain has the opposite effect and the community come together to go it alone.

Along the way there are all kinds of adventure from Doru and Mr Poppy, an unlikely friendship is but between a little boy from the rival private school.

I won’t spoil any more of the story for you and I will leave you safe in the knowledge that this thought provoking, heart warming story with have you laughing and crying in equal measure and will fill your heart with everything that Christmas should represent!

Celebrating The Small Things Week Forty Five

I can’t believe there are only going to be a few more entries into this series of ‘celebrating the small things’ for this year.

It’s certainly something I’ve struggled to keep up with due to my unorganised nature but I know it’s something I’m going to love sitting and look back over for a long time to come.

This week it sees me talking about online friends, allergy free ice cream and Nativity Rocks.

Online Friends – When I first started blogging I found the whole concept of chatting to people I had never met before a little strange. Over the years this has completely changed and I have found some firm friends through the power of the internet.

I was so grateful for these relationships and especially so the other night when I attended the ASDA Christmas party.

I walked into a room of strangers and unusually felt a little intimidated by the situation until I saw a familiar face who was Shell from Shell And The Littlies who was warm and inviting and those little online encounters we had had before lead to a fantastic night!

Allergy Free Ice Cream – Frankie’s allergies have been part of his life for the past six years and to be honest he it pretty good at taking it all in his stride, but as a mother it kicks me in the stomach every time the others are free to chose delicious treats that he just isn’t allowed.

So when we took a trip to Yorica the other day my heart literally melted when he looked up at me and exclaimed “what, I can have anything!”. It may seem a small thing to many but for me this was a fantastic moment.

Nativity Rocks – I love Christmas more than the kids and Christmas movies are a huge part of gearing up to the big day for me.

So being able to go along to the preview of the new Nativity film – Nativity Rocks the other day I was absolutely over the moon! I will be talking you all about it tomorrow.

Beaker Creatures Liquid Reactor Super Lab Review And GIVEAWAY

Frankie is a big fan of anything science related. He loves making potions and pulling things apart to see how they work. This can sometimes cause more than a little bit of mess and chaos!

So when we were asked by Learning Resources to try out there Beaker Creatures Liquid Reactor Super Lab I was more than happy to give it a go.

Beaker Creatures is a science kit for young children to be introduced to the wonders of science in a fun and educational way.

The kit took less than five minutes to put together and consists of a main tray with three chambers where the experiments take place.

The main experiment is to dissolve a pod which is pretty similar to a bath bomb inside the main chamber to extract the creature within.

To start the extraction we had to fill two syringes with water, place inside the other chambers and press down on the plungers to release the water into the main chamber. We did have a little bit of trouble getting this to work to begin with but once it got going the pod started to fizz and bubble away, allowing the creature to be released.

Frankie was super excited by the whole process and loved them trying to identify which creature he had found on the identification sheet.

Alongside this great activity there is also an instruction sheet containing another four experiments you can try out using products you can easily find around the home, including ‘alien slime’ which was of course a big hit!

Beaker Creatures was a great way to introduce simple science experiments to the children in a fun and pretty mess free way!

If this sounds like something they your little ones would like then go ahead and enter my competition below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Collaborated post

Learning More About Sustainable Food

Here in the UK we all love to eat, in fact over the year we consume tons of food that probably most of us don’t really think to much about.

We all want something that tastes good, is easy to get our hands on and quick to prepare but the back story behind how our favourite foods get to us is a pretty complex one and also something that we all need to give a little more thought and consideration.

Sustainable food is something that starts at the very beginning and over the past few years a lot of work has gone into getting the farmers, fishermen etc to change their way of working to make the detrimental impact on the environment far less.

The ethos behind sustainable food is taking into account the environment, health, social and environmental concerns.

Farmers are moving on from using conventional fertilisers and swapping over to an organic way of farming. This is one way in which this can help the environment, the animals and the workers.

There is still a lot of work to do in this area but with time and knowledge I am hopeful we will continue to see changes.

Back to use now as there are plenty of thing we can do to help in the home by following these guidelines and I have listed below:

Shop Local And Seasonally – Our high streets are sadly becoming a thing of the past with large supermarkets and internet shopping bringing us such competitive prices the pull is pretty great but taking things back to basics is what we need to do.

I also find that shopping locally and getting more hands on with your approach food is great for the children and gives them a far greater knowledge of where food comes from.

We managed to get some delicious apples from our local green grocer the other day and created some delicious deconstructed toffee apples that we all loved!

Shopping locally from the butchers and green grocers allows us to support small business and buy local and seasonal products that have a huge impact on the way we eat.

Buy Organic – Buying organic can put people off as the price tag is generally a lot heftier then ordinary produce. The benefits of the quality of the food and the impact on the environment are certainly worth those extra pennies though.

Promote Heath And Wellbeing – We are fast becoming a glutinous nation and steps need to be put into place now to educate ourselves and our children on healthy eating, balance and food waste.

Choose Fair Trade – Wherever possible try to keep an eye out for the fair trade symbol on packages. They go to great efforts to insure their producers get a good deal and put so much back into social and economic opportunities for people.

Cutting Back On Animal Origin Foods – My sister turned vegan a fair while ago now and a lot of her decisions were based on the impact on the environment eating meat and it’s byproducts have.

I don’t think this could ever be a move for me but I am certainly putting in place wats to cut down on meat a few timed a week and switch over to milk alternatives such as soya and oat milk.

We are also big fish fans in our house but we are opting to cut back on spies such as cod that are facing danger of being wiped out due to over fishing.

I hope this has given you all a little food for though…excuse the pun! I would love to know if sustainable food is something you already do something about and if you have anymore tips I could try out.

*collaborated post

Supporting World Cord Blood Day

Saving cord blood after giving birth is something that I have only heard about over the past few years and something that I wish I had known more about during my pregnancy with my last son as it is certainly something that I would have done due to it’s many benefits.

Its fantastic to know that 1 in 3 women are now aware of this option and many are adding this to their birth plans.

Although awareness of the option to save the cord blood is becoming a lot greater there still needs to be a little more knowledge out there on what it is and what it can do. I for one had limited knowledge and it was a real eye open to see what this wondererous blood can actually do. I have written a little about it here to make people more aware on World Cord Blood Day.

Cord blood stays in the placenta and umbilical cord after the birth of your baby. It is very rich in stem cells which are similar to those found in bone marrow(cord blood is however a lot easier to collect) and can be used to treat a whole array of problems such as genetic disorders, immune deficiencies and some cancers.

Stem cells are magical in the scene that they can develop in the parts of the blood that the body needs whether that be white or red blood cells or platelets which is very clever indeed. These cells found in the cord blood are more pristine than stem cells found in adults due to less exposure to environmental factors and illness.

Ordinarily after birth your placenta is thrown away with all the cord blood that is stored inside, but thanks to advanced reasrch in this field so many conditions and diseases have been treated with the stem cells found in this blood that more and more people are choosing to have it collected and stored.

The simple process that takes no time at all can help towards treating blood cancers such as leukaemia and lymphoma, blood dissuaders like sickle cell and thalassaemia,immunodeficiencies, metabolic disorders and bone marrow failure.

For me saving this blood which is a such a simple procedure is a no brainer and I hope that this has given you an insight into just what it can do.

*collaborated post

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Forty Four

It’s a bit of a eclectic mixture here today for my ‘Celebrating The Small Things’ and I hope it’s not just me who gets stupidly excited for the last one!

Lazy Days – Since moving we haven’t really had the chance to kick back and enjoy it. What with work and everything they come with having a large family we spend a huge amount of time out of the house, so it was lovely to be able to kick back, laze on the sofa and eat way to much!

Chessington World Of Adventures – As I’m sure many of you will know, I have been an ambassador for Chessington World Of Adventures for the past few years now. It’s a role I am extremely grateful for and being so close to it allows us to visit for full days or just take a couple of hours out and enjoy all the fun. We had a pretty relaxed day there on our last visit and I think these ones are always the best.

Christmas Sandwiches – Come the middle of November I am like a mad woman over Marks and Spencer Christmas sandwiches.

I love Christmas more than the children and to have an entire Christmas dinner all rolled up into one sandwich is my idea of heaven…please tell me I’m not alone!

Brightening Up Your Workspace With Flowers Of Colombia

Who doesn’t love the sight and smell off beautiful fresh flowers. As humans we are automatically drawn towards their beauty and their sheer presence immediately gives us a lift.

This is not the only thing that we need to be grateful to them for though; they can in fact be a huge benefit to people when they are housed in the work place. Believe it or not they can increase work productivity, improve memory, help concentration, reduce anxiety, relieve depression and improve negative thoughts.

My workplace being the home means that I love to have a vase of beautiful flowers on the side to look beautiful and aid my motivation.

Some of the best flowers come from the beautiful city of Bogotá in Colombia where Flowers Of Colombia produce gorgeous and hardy chrysanthemums and carnations that can last for up to four weeks if kept watered. Making it a very affordable way to create a beautiful and motivating display.

It’s not often that I think about the back story behind how these flowers make the their way into my home but it has been great to find out that the trade association Ascolflores that look after the production of all the flowers of Colombia and who do a fantastic job of taking on and making the workforce up of 65% woman who use this job to escape poverty and better themselves.

What could be better than brightening your day with a burst of colour that has somehow gone towards bringing some colour and happiness into other people’s lives.

Flowers Of Colombia actually wanted to spread their love further back in June and mixed the beauty of flowers and music to create the London Flower Tribute right here in London.

Take a look HERE at what they created by merging these two wonders.

*collaborated post

David Lloyd Know How To Party

As I’m sure most of you know by now that I only have praise for the amazing health club that is – David Lloyd.

It helped my find my mojo again and was the catalyst for my weight loss, it’s a great way to spend quality time as a family as well as keeps you fit and it has even pulled my gaming mad son away from his Xbox which is no mean feat and I will be talking more about this soon.

As well as everything I have mentioned above one of the big pulls for me is the sense of community that David Lloyd encourages. There was is always something going on from quiz nights to BBQs and the other evening we went along to experience this at the kids Halloween party.

The three hour long party was full of fun from beginning to end. The children got the chance to make slime, try their luck with the slimy lucky dip, bob for apples, get their faces painted and so much more!

The staff all got into the spirit of the event and were dressed up and full of life. They boogied away with the kids and seemed to be enjoying themselves as much as the children.

All parties need some good food and there was plenty on offer…even cheeseburgers in the shape of pumpkins!

It was the perfect way to kick off our Halloween half term and has only instilled in me more why David Lloyd is the only health club we would choose.

*We have been given a family membership for the purpose of these posts and they are all my own, honest opinions.

Celebrating The Small Things:Forty Three

This week I’m talking about our fun packed half term and some of the moments that I have loved the most.

Sunday Funday – My husband works long and erratic hours and family time is always very limited. We usually manange to spend a Sunday together, although sometimes this doesn’t even come to fruition.

We were invited along to an absolutely amazing event at Legoland by Warner Bros last weekend that was something the boys could only have dreamed of, but for me a big part of the fun was to simply spend some time together.

Pumpkin Picking – Yes I am that stereotypical blogger that loves nothing more than taking hundreds of photos in the middle of a pumpkin patch each and every October; but aside from being the perfect backdrop for some insta worthy photos I love the kids running free, getting excited by their finds and enjoying all that open space.

Baking – I used to bake a lot with the children and for some reason this had dwindled and it’s something the children have really missed, so we cooked up a batch of allergy friendly banana muffins.

Frankie loves it when we bake something that he can enjoy and to be honest I was pretty grateful that he enjoyed the making as the end results were pretty dreadful!