Family Friendly Shopping With Whitgift And Centrale Shopping Centres

I have had a love for shopping since before I can even remember. I loved trawling the shops with my Mum as a small child and spent every Saturday looking at the new clothes that were hitting the shelves as a teen.

As my family grew though my love for shopping dwindled.

The stress hits me as soon as we get in the car with the anticipation of how the children are going to behave.

They usual don’t disappoint and by the time we hit the first shop I have already had a toliet request, a need for imidiate food and the dreaded ‘how much longer’ question.

Last week we were asked along by Centrale and Whitgift shopping centres to see what they had to offer in the way of family shopping.

First port of call was Build A Bear which is always a winner with my children.

Children get the opportunity to select a bear of their choice from a huge selection, stuff them full of fluff using the super cool machine and dress them up in an outfit of choice.

This whole process is done with the help of the friendly staff that make it even more special by adding games and activities to do along the way.

Next stop was Zara which was always going to be a little trickier as it wasn’t going to be nearly as much fun as building your own bear.

Zara is my favourite high street shop as it covers something for the whole family, is bang on trend and is very reasonably priced. 

To take the boredom out of clothes shopping I let him have his own little catwalk show and have a hand in choosing an outfit for me too.

Kids need to feel included and I know how hard this can be but by giving them a little responsibility can go a long way.

The last treat was a trip to Weenies kids club in Whitgift Shopping Centre.

Right in the middle of the shopping complex was a whole area dedicated to littlies.

To join in with the activities you must be a member that is easy to subscribe to online and completly free. The sessions can then be booked within minutes by using the Centrale PLUS app.

Once they are signed up the have access to all the session that are put on during the holidays and on selected weekends throughout the year, plus discounts on a number of retail outlets for parents and children.

Frankie was able to get up close and personal with a huge array of animals from chicks to frogs, snakes to rabbits.

There were crafts to join in with, story competitions to complete and face painting fun.

I really was astounded by this event. The friendly staff keep the children engaged throughout the whole session and they got so much out of it and for absolutely no cost.

I came away from the day with a fresh new outlook on taking the kids shopping.

Whitgift and Centrale offer a complete package for families and with a little bit of forethought and planning it really doesn’t have to be the nightmare I always imagine it to be.

*collaborated post.

Chocolate Playdough Sweets For Valentine’s Day 

I am literally going stir crazy this weekend staying in with the children due to number five’s chicken pox!

The only thing for it was get crafting and with Valentine’s Day just round the corner I thought I would try something that would allow the kids to get involved in the celebrations too.

Mine always love playdough so I made an allergy friendly chocolate playdough that they could create chocolates from and wrap up to use in role play.

I used the same recipe that I use for my lavender playdough and just substituted the lavender for cocco powder.

It literally smelt good enough to eat and I had to stop the boys several times from doing so!


They had great fun rolling the balls to form the chocolates but had more fun creating poo!


When the balls were ready I popped them into the freezer for a while to harder up and then wrapped up in a square of cellophane and finished off with a piece of ribbon tied into a bow.


If this looks like something you fancy trying out yourself then take a look at this really simple recipe:

Chocolate Playdough

  • 150g gluten free plain flour
  • 50g salt
  • 2tbsps oil
  • 150g water
  • 4tbsps cocco powder
  1. Place all the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the oil and then slowly add the water until the playdough forms a ball.

Creating A Wintery Scene


The first lot of creative homework came home with number four last week and whilst some of my friends recoiled at the thought I was more than happy to get going with it!

I was never one for the academic side of things at school and have always found I took in much more information through hands on, creative projects.

I do however still find it a little hard to let the children have free reign when it comes to crafts and always go at them with a very ‘hands on’ approach!

They were set the task of a winter scene and I immediately thought of snow covered houses and glitter.

Being out of glitter I had to settle for spray snow and this is how we made our little snowy town.

You will need:


  • 6/7 toilet roll tubes
  • A hard base such as cardboard 
  • White felt to cover base
  • PVA glue
  • White paint
  • Spray snow
  • Thin white card or paper
  • Battery operated tea lights
  1. Firstly get yourself a firm base of cardboard or thin plastic and attach white felt in a rough fashion to create a bed of snow. 
  2. Get your toilet roll tubes and trim down so that they are all slightly different heights. 
  3. Take a pair of sharp scissors(adults only) and cut out small windows near the centre of the tube.
  4. At one end of the tube create small cuts all the way round and splay out to make a firm base.
  5. Paint all the tubes with the white paint and allow to dry.
  6. Whilst they are drying draw around a mug onto the card and cut out to make a circle.
  7. Make a small triangular cut from the outside of the circle to the circle. Turn the circle onto itself to create a cone for the roof of the houses.
  8. Once dry position the tubes onto the base and attach with the glue.
  9. Pop a tea light inside each tube, place on the cone roof and create a dusting of snow with the spray snow.

Making Conker Snails

Currently I have conkers in pots, conkers in pockets in fact I have conkers anywhere imaginable!

I get as excited as the kids when I spot the first lot hitting the ground and we gather them up by the bucket load.

Unfortunately playing conkers at school has been banned for many years now and I just get stuck with he little beauties gathering dust.

Last year we did some autumnal painting with them which was great fun but I wanted to try something a little different this year.

We’ve have put wiggley eyes on them to create little people which was fun, but my favourite has been these conker snails. 


All I did was to get the kids to take small amounts of plasticine and roll into a long sausage shape, place the conker near to the end of the sausage leaving a little for the tail(not sure that is the correct term). Then finally create the tentacles by splitting and moulding into shape at the top.


The children had great fun rolling out the plasticine and just needed a little help with the tentacles.


I still have hundreds left so really need some more ideas if anyone has any!

Ice Pop Paints

It’s been such a long time since I’ve posted any crafts on here and I have really missed sharing things with you that will hopefully keep little fingers busy for a while.
Mine love to get the paints out and with this good weather I thought it would be a great opportunity to make some ice pop paints and stick them in the garden stripped down to just their pants to save on cleaning up all the mess!

They are super easy to make and a great activity for the warm summer holidays.


Ice Pop Paints

  • A selection of different colour ready mixed paint.
  • Ice cube tray
  • Lolly pop sticks
  1. Take your ice cube tray and fill the sections with different coloured paints. We did individual colours and a couple with layers of different colours.
  2. Cut the lolly sticks in half and place one half into the centre of each cube.
  3. Place in the freezer until hardened. We left ours for a good few hours.
  4. Grab some paper and get creating.

Discovering Croydon’s Heritage Festival

Croydon was my Mother’s birthplace and home to my secondary school so it is an area that has been part of my life for many years. 

I have noticed huge changes to the area over time, so when we were asked to come along and join in the celebrations of the Croydon Heritage Festival I was happy to take a trip to see what was going on.  

Croydon is undergoing a huge regeneration project at the moment and events such as this help people to understand how things are moving forward to create a better future for the ever growing community whist educating people on the important and colourful days of times past.

With community spirt as a whole dwindling with people’s lives become busier and more insular as a whole,  events like this really bring people together to create some much need community spirit.

This is the fourth festival of its kind and this years focus was on ‘Undiscovered Croydon’.  From the 18th-26th June people have the opportunity to take part in a whole host of activities from looking at exhibitions, listening to talks, trying their hand at workshops and much more.

Saturday was the grand opening and the town centre was alive with people grabbing delicious food from the many stalls, kids rushing around taking part in the family themed activities that were on offer and crowds of people enjoying the music and performances put on by some extremely talented people that had taken to the main stage.


Inside the Whitgift Centre the children had great fun creating their own masterpiece on the interactive art cube. Next to this were some fantastic Victorian themed spyglasses the children could decorate, but unfortunately we didn’t have time to stop as we needed to move onto our next activity.


Feeling crafty we made our way up to Whitgift Wennies where number three and four took part in the mosaic tile workshop.


I had not come across this on my past visits to Croydon and I’m so glad we had the opportunity to try it out as it is a fantastic concept that is open to any child as the session are all complexly free.

Activity sessions are put on throughout the month which are posted to their website and are free to take part in.  Once you are a registered member you simply book your time slot and arrive with your membership card and get set to have some messy fun.

After all of their activities I had the chance to grab a little retail therapy and try out the recently launched dual branded Centrale and Whitgift gift card.  This can be used in 130 stores across the two shopping centres.


For me this would make the perfect gift as there is such a vast choice.  I’m sure is the same for many of you, birthdays have come around and you open a gift card to a store you never use and it a waste of time and money for everyone.  With this card everyone is covered from clothes and jewellery to toys or grabbing a bite to eat.

I treated myself to a couple of sale bargains in Topshop and treated the kids to a hot chocolate a huge slice of cake in House Of Fraser.

The opening of the festival may have been and gone but there are still plenty of activities to take part in.  I for one will be booking a tour of the Alms Houses as I have walked past this secret, gated area for years and have always wanted to discover what treasures are hidden behind the gates!   
* I was given a shopping centre gift card for the purpose of this review and they are all my own honest opinions.

Making Sea Creatures 

Unusually we had a Sunday in this week so it was time to get the craft box out and start creating.  We’ve been so busy the past few months we’ve not had a lot of time to sit down and create someone more than just the normal finger painting that is always requested in this house.

Numbers four’s nursery are fantastic at encouraging parents to follow on the nursery topic at home with the children; and as sea creatures is being covered for the next few weeks we couldn’t wait to think of something to create.

First up was a crab that was super easy to make.  We took a paper bowl, painted it and left it until it was dry.

  
  
Once dry we added some wobbly eyes to the top of the bowl and cut three pipe cleaners in half and stuck to the underside of the bowl to make the legs.  Lastly we made the pincers for the front by again cutting a pipe clear in half and twisting a small section onto the top to make the pincer itself.

  
 
Next we started on our octopus.  Taking a toilet roll tube we cut eight tentacles by cutting about halfway up the tube and then curling up slightly to create the tentacle. 

 
  
Number four picked bright orange to paint him.  Again we left it to dry and then added some more wobbly eyes.  I finished him off by adding a sweet smile! 
 
I think this week we will have to go out and get some blue and green tissue paper to cut into strips and give them an ocean to play in.

Do you try to follow your little ones nursery theme at home?