Capturing The Wonder Of Mayfield Lavender With Rachel Thornhill

For the past few years the Mayfield Lavender fields in Banstead have been my first glimpse that summer has arrived. The magnificent sea of purple that fills the landscape and the beautiful smell that engulfs the air is a sight to be seen and one that I never ever tire of.

Mayfield Lavender has really gone from strength to strength and not only does it offer you the chance to enjoy this natural wonder there is also the opportunity to enjoy a huge range of scrutipous food and drink from the cafe such as juicy hotdogs, delectable homemade cakes and even a lavender cream tea which is still on my wishlist to try.

The shop is also fully stocked with goodies from tolliteries to lavender flavour sweets and of course a change to take home some of your very own lavender.

My little ones love being able to just run free through the fields but if you want a little more adventure then hop onboard the tractor for a ride around the fields to get a completly different perspective.

I am always the one holding the camera on our trips which I absolutly love, but this year it was a little different as we went along to meet the lovely Rachel Thornhill who is an expert when it comes to photography…especially at Mayfield Lavender.

Rachel is in fact one of the photographers recommend by Brendan Maye – The owner of Mayfield lavender and the moment I meet her I could understand why.

Her friendly smile and calm, welcoming nature put us all at ease when we arrived and she chatted at length with the children about what our morning was going to entail and how to care for the fields and the nature living there during the shoot.

I am not a fan of posed images and much prefer a playful, natural style of picture and this is exactly what Rachel tries to create. Capturing the children at play or us all in deep conversation creates a much more natural image and one that tells a story allowing it to be a more memorable capture and something to treasure for years to come.

During our shoot that lasted a little over an hour we got the change to explore, play, chat and giggle and at no point did the children get bored or restless as Rachel worked her magic and kept them happy and engaged throughout, she even managed to keep shooting when Oscar bundled in for cuddles.

What really sets her apart from other photographers is that she creates bespoke museum quality wall art and framed prints personal to you and hand made by professional printers in both the UK and Italy that are designed to stand the test of time, and become a part of your family story. The products are not available to buy from anywhere other than professional photographers, so really quite special?

Mayfield Lavender is a truly magical place that is pretty hard to find in the UK. It is a place to make special memories to keep for a lifetime and with something like a photoshoot with Rachel these special moments can be captured and remembered for many years to come.

*collaborated post

Teaching Children To Give A Little This Christmas

With the media whirlwind that surrounds Christmas it can be very easy for children to get wrapped up in the commercialisation of it all and loose the true meaning.

It is very easy to get swept up in all the splender that surrounds Christmas and loose sight of the fact that this time of year is not a happy one for all of us.

Christmas is the perfect time to teach children the gift of giving and set them up with skills to show understanding and compassion for those less fortunate.

Something small such a helping out an elderly neighbour with odd jobs or simply a gift of their time is a simple way to give something back.

There are many ways to get the children involved and below I have listed a few charities local to me that offer a great way to do this:

  • Loveworks Christmas Appel Loveworks are a Reigate based charity that’s aim is to help the most vulnerable groups of people in the local area. Over Christmas they run a campaign where you can collect non perishable goods during November and drop off to your local Loveworks food bank in the first week of December.
  • Stripey Stork, Help Santa StorkStripey Stork is a charity created by a group of mums who wanted to make use of their unwanted baby and children’s items by giving them to people in need in the local community. Over the Christmas period they run a campaign called Help Santa’s Stork that allows you to either pick a brand new gift for a child either directly from Amazon or chosen by purchasing and dropping off at local collection points.
  • Give A Christmas Gift – Give A Christmas Gift campaign allows you but a gift from the list they have compiled and then drop your special gift off to several collection points that will then be distribute the collections amongst several local charities.

I hope this post has given you some food for thought and I would love to hear any ideas of charitable acts that you carry out with your little ones at this time of year.

Kiddie Free Evening At FEGO

A while ago now I went along to FEGO in Banstead with Frankie and Oscar to see what they had to offer in the way of family dining.

We were hugely impressed with everything they had to offer…so much so that when I was asked to come back and sample their evening menu I couldn’t wait.

I’m sure I’m not the only parent who craves a little adult time away from the daily routine of taking care of the family, in fact I think it is important to take a break from it all, give yourself a little headspace and enjoy some adult conversation.

I hadn’t had a night out with my younger sister since Christmas so we were both really looking forward to some uninterrupted chit chat over dinner.

We arrived at FEGO and were taken to our table where our super friendly waitress guided me through the drinks menu and helped to pick out a cocktail she thought would take my fancy.

I went for a pornstar martini that I sipped on whilst we perused the menu.

It was a tough decision and I flitted from burgers to salads, pizzas and steaks until I finally settled on a succulent piece of salmon coated in lemon and olive oil served with a sweet potato side salad that was covered with a whole grain mustard dressing.

My sister went with the veggie curry that was a gorgeous combination of cauliflower, spinach, sweet potato, aubergine and butternut squash in a mildly, creamy curry sauce served with fluffy basmati rice and a really different mango salsa that made a pleasant change from the usual chutney.

The desert menu was then shown to us and although every part of me wanted to opt for the fruit plater to save my waistline, my willpower was not strong enough to resist the sharing platter of mini puddings.


This was probably not the best choice for sisters who still have that childlike tendency to argue over who has had the biggest portion!

Each and every pudding was a taste sensation with something different with each mouthful.

The lemon posset gave you that bit of sharpness, the chocolate brownies and ice cream were there to satisfy the love for chocolate and the pasteis de nata filled the want for something creamy.

But my favourite had to be the peppermint crisp pudding that was a combination hard to describe so I will leave it down to you to try for yourself.

Pleasantly full we remained at the table and chatted for ages with another cheeky cocktail.


At no point did we feel pressured to leave and were more than happy taking in the great atmosphere, relaxing and making the most of some rare time out.

Never before have I visited a restaurant at serval different times of day and have been able to enjoy completly different yet equally as wonderful experiences.

FEGO really have covered every base and I have to say that evening dining has been my favourite experience and one that will be having me coming back time and time again.
*Collaborated Post

FEGO Banstead:A Eatery Perfect For All The Family

FEGO Banstead:A Eatery Perfect For All The Family

How often do you walk past a restaurant or cafe and immediately dismiss it for not being ‘child friendly’?

For me this is something I do regularly with my brood, as lets face it eating out with small children isn’t always the most enjoyable and stress free experience.

For a while now I have passed by FEGO in Banstead gazing in at their stunning decor and  scrumptious looking cakes longing for a few childfree hours to while away my time.


It looked far to pristine to take my motley crew into and the thought of them in there would bring me out in a cold sweat before my feet passed the threshold!

With these thoughts still firmly in my mind when I was asked along to visit FEGO I was more than a little apprehensive as to how they would cater for us.

We arrived at FEGO on a busy lunchtime during half term and were greeted with a smile and shown to our table near the back of the restaurant that was buzzing with a great atmosphere and full of a real eclectic group of people…including children!

The menus were brought over and I was happy to see there were a good range of different meals without the menu being large and over bearing. We were also welcome to chose from the breakfast menu even though we were there for a late lunch.

I love flexibility in restaurants as lets face it a stack of warm pancakes are welcome at anytime of day!

There is something to cater for all tastes from full english breakfasts to delicious salads, juicy burgers to pizzas and so much more.

The boys were kept amused with the colouring sheets while waiting for their burgers that they picked from a great selection that offers something a little different to the usual chip heavy childrens menu.


I opted for spicy scrambled eggs that were a tasty combination of eggs, cheese, avocado and tomatoes with a fiery kick of jalapeño and my obligatory soya latte.

Frankie’s allergies were catered for brilliantly and not a scrap of their burgers were left on either of their plates.

Crispy fresh chicken breasts served in soft rolls with plenty of salad and juicy, homemade beef burgers would be hard to resist.


It wouldn’t be a meal out without a sweet treat to finish it off. The boys went for a bowl of creamy blueberry ice cream and a sticky waffle covered in vanilla ice cream and sumptuous chocolate sauce.

All my preconceived ideas of this restaurant were quashed the minute I entered the restaurant.

The staff were all warm and welcoming, the food was beautifully presented and a delight to eat and the decor is simply stunning.



FEGO has something to offer the whole family from grabbing a quick pastry to a cosy date night with a cheeky cocktail or two.

There is so much more that I want to try such with their infamous ‘coffee in a cone’ being top of my list.

*collaborated post.

A Park Cafe Ready For Any Weather 

  

Today we thought we would make the most of the good weather and take a trip to Pistaschios In The Park, Banstead.

We have been regulars to this park for some time and love the spacious cafe with a great ajoining playground.

Today I meet with the lovely new manager Javid who showed me the fabulous new addition of a soft play area for toddlers which has made an extra bonus to an already great cafe.

  
   

They serve a selection of great hot and cold foods and fab coffee that I can vouch for.  

With the weather being so good today we couldn’t say no to a delicious ice cream and a yummy lolly that was perfect for number four’s allergies.

   
 

The only downside up until now has been the problem with water logging in the playground. I love getting out and about and covered in mud, but when it comes to puddles at the end of slides and under climbing frames it not so much fun! Thankfully this problem has now been resolved with a fabulous all weather surface covering the entire playground.

  
 
The children enjoyed climbing, swinging and slidding to their hearts content and it was only number five that managed to find and fall into the only puddle in the whole playground!

   
    

This Easter Monday they are having an Easter raffle which is being announced at 11 and some more Easter fun to join in with too!

So why not take a trip this weekend and try out the great new facilities.  As the title of this post suggests this cafe is no perfect no matter what weather is thrown at us.

I would love to know what you all think of it so please let me know.

        
 

Princes And Princesses At Monkey Bean 

  
 

Arts and crafts with the under fives can bring the best of us out in a cold sweat!

You spend ages setting up and prepping the much anticipated activity for the kids to dab a bit of paint or sprinkle a bit of glitter and walk off to find something else to do.

If you do manage to capture their imagination and they get really into their task this can then result in every spare inch of your home covered in every craft material you could think of.

I have mellowed a lot over the years and no longer worry about the mess.  Yes there is a lot of effort but as long as the children are enjoying themselves and learning something new it’s worth that bit of time.  This said to be able to go along to a session where all the prep and mess is taken care off it couldn’t be passed up.

I went along to try out Monkey Bean which is a craft based class for the under fives where the emphasis is on the children being allowed to make their master pieces in a relaxed environment where the parents can have as much or as little input as needed.

On arrival you are greated with a warm welcome by the bubbly Mum and daughter team who make the children feel at ease with a friendly song to introduce each child.  There is a cosy section with toys set up that the wanders amongst them are free to pop over and play with.

   
 

This weeks theme was princes and princesses so the boys had the choice of a Knight’s shield or a fairytale princess hat to decorate.  They opted for the shields and whist number four sat there intently decorating his shield number five was backwards and forwards like a yo yo!

   
    

There eyes lit up when a large tray of glitter was bought out to finish off their masterpieces.

   
 

To round off the session and to allow time for their artwork to dry off the children all come back to the matted area for some songs with musical instruments. 

   

Both boys had a fantastic time and will be going back next week to make some Mr Bloom themed goodies.

If you are looking for something a little different to the usual soft play type sessions that are the norm for this age group then this is the place to go.

There are sessions at both The Caterham Arms in Caterham and Pistachios In The Park in Banstead.  Both of which have good parking facilities and refreshments available. 

Give Monkey Bean a like on Facebook to see what great activities they have coming up and to have a nose at some of the creations that have already been made.

We visited Monkey Bean today to review the session and here are my own honest opinions.

My Captured Moment:Lavender Lovliness

It was infact the the name ‘Running In Lavender‘ that first got me looking at the fabulous blog written by Heledd, as the lavender fields are so close to where we live to.

We always take hundreds of photos when we visit and I am finding it hard to chose some to put up as my ‘Captured Moment’ this week!

   
                                   

  

The Captivating Lavender Fields 

  

I will apologise now for the photo spam in this post, but I took so many pictures it was hard to chose my favourites.

   
     

For the past few years I have dressed my brood up in white and taken the short trip to the stunning Mayfield Lavender fields to take in their splender whilst taking some great shots.

   
     

Even though I have driven past these fields countless times over the years I am still taken back by there beauty every year.

The children still get exited to run up and down the long pathways peeping over at each other as they go.

   
     

The fields are located just outside the town of Banstead in Surrey.  There is a small charge of a pound per person and there is ample parking; but be warned they are a real crowd puller and it gets very busy.

They have added a tractor ride this year which I should imagine is great but unfortunately we got there to early and couldn’t wait for the first trip out of the day.

  
We finished our trip off today by getting some freshly cut lavender that we are going to use in our lavender playdough making this week.

   
     

There is also a coffee shop serving a small range of hot and cold food.  Our relaxing coffee was cut short by poor number five getting a wasp sting to his face!!

   
  

We will be making a trip back soon to give the tractor ride a go!

  

Becoming A Thrifty Food Shopper

  

I like to think of myself a pretty thrifty food shopper already, although after watching the series ‘Eat Well For Less’ on BBC One a while back it has played on my mind that there are still a few changes that I could put into place to save a bit more on food which leaves more to spend on going out and having fun!

I recently took the big step of moving away from my super easy Tesco home delivery service and moved over to the increasingly popular Aldi.  For a while I had been a bit snobby about shopping in there, thinking they must be selling really poor products if they are so cheap; but I could not have been more wrong.  Don’t get me wrong my stress levels have tripled again as I had come a custom to a little man kindly bringing my neatly packed shopping right to my kitchen table and I have now reverted back to trying to control at least two little ones around the supermarket; one of my past posts will tell you how I try to make this a slightly less painful task.  It does however save me upwards of £50 a week and as a lady said to me the other week whilst I was pushing two screaming babies in the rain through the car park “think of the money you are saving”.

This was clearly my biggest and best move so far but I am now going to try and shop locally for things such as meat as it’s said that you will only pay a little more for your meat and you will get much better quality by going to a butchers.

I have also seen many friends have to close small businesses of late due to people opting to shop online or use the bigger retailers.  It is so sad and that is why the whole comunity spirit is being completly wiped out and soon High Street shopping will be a thing of the past.

Having being cooped up for the past few day feeling poorly I needed to get the boys our of the house to enjoy this lovely sunshine, so a trip to the park and a bit of food shopping were on the list to see if this was going to be another thrifty move for us.

First stop was the Bettameats butchery in Banstead High Street where I was greeted by a super friendly and helpful butcher that helped me chose what would be best for me and best value for money.  Only £27 later I walked away with some fantastic looking meats that will feed all seven of us for well over a week.

   

 

Our next stop was Banstead Fruiterers just across the road.  Again I was greeted with a smile and the offer to try before I buy which unfortunately my son took him up on the offer and would not leave the poor mans strawberries alone! 

   

  

We left there with plenty of fruit and salad to last the week and I would guess that it’s half the price I would have paid at the supermarket.

Very pleased with my savings and the warm feeling that  I had done my bit to keep the local High Street thriving we set ourselves up in the park to take in the beautiful sunshine and sample some of our goods.  This will be a new way of shopping that I will be keeping up from now on.

 

   

Bug Hunting And Shortbread Minibeast Biscuits

  

From my opinion fears are something that are instilled into children by adults.  I don’t think we have a natural fear of things such as dogs or spiders. I feel it is outside influences that affect how we feel about certain things and situations.

With this in mind today I took my youngest three on a bug hunt in a beautiful park called Oaks Park not far from where we live to search our bugs to try and stop the fear of creepy crawlies from setting in.

There is no playground at this park so it gives them a real opurtunity to just run off a load of steam and use their own imagination to play.

   
   

Once they had had a good run around we got on with our bug hunt.  They shook trees onto a large sheet of white paper to see what would fall and upturned logs and rocks to see what was hiding beneath.  I encouraged them to get close and see what they could find.

We managed to capture quite a few creepy crawlies and had fun looking at the way they moved, through the magnifiying glass on the top of their pots. 

 

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

We had a quick pitstop for icecream and then headed home to bake some minibeast shortbreads.

  
It’s probably a little unfair, but the majority of cooking we do as a family is allergy safe for number four.  It’s just easier as they can all cook together and he is not tempted to eat anything he shouldn’t!

  
I found a recipe for citrus shortbread by  Jamie Oliver and adapted it to be wheat and dairy free.  These can easily be replaced with normal butter and flour.

200g Softened butter                              125g Icing Sugar                                       Zest of half an orange                         Zest of one lemon                                 Zest of one lime                                  350g gluten free flour                               One tsp Gluten free baking powder                            

Preheat the oven to 190c/gas mark 5 and line a tin with greasepfoof paper.

Beat the butter and then cream together the sugar and zest until fluffy.  Fold in the flour and baking powder and then use your hands to form a dough.

Roll out onto a floured surface until about 1cm thick and then cut out your shapes of choice.

Put the biscuits onto the tray and chill in the fridge for 15mins.  Then bake in the oven for 12-15mins until pale and crisp.  Allow to cool for 5 mins then serve.

   
               

They went down a treat and would have been lovely with a big blob of icecream.

  

                 BakedPotato Mummy

              

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