Treating Your Mum And Giving Back To Charity At The Mother’s Day Toy Exchange

[AD] We kicked off our Mother’s Day celebrations a little earlier than usual this year with a trip to Centrale and Whitgift Shopping Centres in Croydon to take part in their Croydon toy exchange.

They set up a fantastic project which allowed families in and around Croydon to take a pre-loved toy along to the shopping centre and exchange it for a gift of goodies to give to your Mother as a treat on Mother’s Day. The pre-loved toys will them be distributed to the families of Rutherford School who help provides wrap-around services for people with disabilities in the Croydon area from age three onwards.

The boys loved dropping their toys into the big box that was already looking pretty full by the time we got there. They collected their cute pink bags they were full of goodies from shops inside the centre including House Of Fraser, Body Shop and Superdrug.

From here we took the opportunity to take a look around the shops to see what they had to offer in the way of treats for Mother’s Day…well once I prized the away from the children’s area that I have to say is a pretty cool way to give the little ones a treat whist you are there.

Centrale and Whitgift Centres have been my go to place for shopping in Croydon for pretty much as long as I can remember. I actually have fond memories of going along there as a child and selecting gifts for my own mother with my hard earned pocket money.

Spring forward a few years to say the least and I relished in the fact I could take my own little ones ones along to help me chose a gift for their much loved Nanny who deserves a medal for putting up with us lot!

There is such a great variety of shops that suit all budgets. There are plenty of the popular high street favourites such as marks and Spencer, House Of Fraser, Zara, Boots, H&M, Topshop and Superdry to name but a few.

It’s a tradition for us to buy a simple bunch of daffodils every year for my Mum as they are here favourites but you can equally find anything from gorgeous clothing, beauty products, homeware or even a voucher for treat herself to a beauty treatment or a new hairdo!

After all our hard work we stoped for a bite to eat which is also something that is pleasure in Centrale and Whitgift Shopping Centres and there is always plenty to chose from. We always opt for sushi that is set right in the middle of the Whitgift Centre so you can enjoy your food whist watching the hustle and the bustle of the shoppers going by.

We had a brilliant afternoon and if you are looking for a shopping destination with all you can look for under one roof then you really should take a look at Centrale and Whitgift Centres.

Premier League Primary Stars – One Year On Event

“Be ambitious, be inspiring, be committed and be fair”

As a Mum these are certainly four words that I hope my children go out into the world and fulfil, although sometimes as we know ourselves as adults it can sometimes be a hard task to follow.

These are in fact the words behind the Premier League Primary Stars project that is endeavouring to get primary school aged children to do just this:

Be Ambitious – Work hard and never give top on your goals.
Be inspiring – Set a great example to others.
Be committed – Work well with others and as a team.
Be fair – Treat people equally and work with others.

The other evening I was lucky enough to go along to Premier League Primary Stars – One Year On event to find out a little more about what the project is all about as it’s something I had not heard much about.

The evening kicked off with Ben Shires from CBBC giving us a little back story of the project and most importantly sharing the impact it has already had on so many children. Premier League has already reached out to over 10,000 schools across England and Wales since launching in 2017.

Its aim is to inspire young children to learn and develop important skills such as maths, english and sport through the appeal of Premier League and professional clubs.

This project may seemed aimed at children with a love of football, but it is in fact inclusive of all walks of life and children with a huge variety of different loves and passions; not just sport.

The Premier League are getting really hands on with this project and many famous faces such as Peter Crouch and Wayne Rooney have been at the forefront of this campaign and have been along to meet and inspire lots of children. I mean who wouldn’t be impressed with a top footballer coming into school and giving a maths lesson!

We next got the chance to see first hand the impact this project had made on a little boy called Gethyn who was a reluctant learner and struggled with the academic side of schooling. Through the Primary Stars program they managed to channel his love of football into his writing with him compiling his very own match report. Not only has this got him into writing it has also given him the drive to work towards a career in match reporting when he is older which is a fantastic achievement for both Gethyn and Primary Stars.

This project doesn’t finish at the school gates either, there are downloadable games that can be done at home and projects such as the ‘Writing Stars Poetry Competition’ and we had the pleasure of meeting Lauren Child and Cressida Cowell who were two of the judges of the competition; and Amelie and Sadie who were the winners with some of the most amazing poetry for children of only 6 and 11.

The brief of the competition was to create a poem around resilience and as the poems were read aloud by Lauren Child I had a lump in my throat upon hearing Sadie’s poem that was based on her Mother’s battle with cancer.

The completion had a whopping 25,000 entries and from this a new poetry book called ‘Try,Try Again’ has been published including some entries from a few famous names too and is certainly worth a read.

I came away from the evening feeling humbled and inspired at the work and love that has been poured into this worthwhile project that has already and is set to change the lives of so many young children.

I would love to know if you have children that have already taken part in this project or if you think it is something your school should be taking part in.

*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.

Getting Messy At NSPCC Messathon

Through the course of the year I always like to try and find ways a way give a little back.

Be it a cake sale at school, a sponsored silence or a jumble sale there is always a way to raise funds and I feel it is especially important to include children in this.

We can all get caught up in our own lives and forget about those in a much harder situation than ourselves and this awareness should be bought to the attention of our children in the hope that is will help them to become thoughtful and compassionate adults.

A great way to do this is to find something fun that the whole family can take part in and this is where the NSPCC Messathon is the perfect event for family fundraising.

The clever people at the NSPCC a charity who’s aim is to help neglected and abused children launched their first Messathon and we were lucky enough to be asked along to take part.

The event is aimed at families with competitors as young as four allowed to compete.

We were up early on Saturday morning with Frankie absolutely champing at the bit to get started.

Tshirts and headbands at the ready we made our way to the starting line at Frimley Park  in Surrey for the warm up that got everyone going and eager to get started.

The claxon sounded and each team set off one at a time to make their way around the 2.5km obstacle course.

My super competitive family raced ahead to get going with the fun and I have to admit I was really excited to see what the course had in store for us.

We were faced with hay bales to scale, bubbles to slide through, a water slide to plumit down, a squelchey pool of mud to wade through and so much more.

It was a welcome break from the technological world that seems to take over our life so much and brilliant to have some good messy fun.

It had us in fits of giggles and really bought is together as a family by cheering each other on and helping each other to overcome each of the obstacles.


We bounced out way across the finish line on space hoppers to collect our medals of honour for taking part.

Sufficiently covered in mud and soaking wet we stopped and grabbed a well earned bite to eat from one of the many stalls offering great refreshments.



Everything has been though of at this event to made it fun and stress free to take part as a family.

There were plenty of toilets and changing facilities to get out of your soggy clothes or capes to save your car from the mess if you are unorganised like us!

Plenty of places to keep you entertained before and after the race with face paints and tattoos and an area to educate you a little more on the good work the NSPCC do.

Or simply spend a few hours in the beautiful surroundings the event is held in.

There are still two more Messathons for you to take part in this year with the first one being in Bristol on 29th July and the second in Herts on 19th of August.

If this takes your fancy then I have the discount code BLOGM25 that will save you 25% on your entrance fee if you add it at the checkout. 

We are now champing at the bit to take part again and I would love to know of any of you decide to have a go yourselves!

Easter Egg Hunt For George And The Giant Pledge

This weekend there will be hundreds of of egg hunts going on be it something small in your own back garden or larger organised events.

This year we decided to go along to Limpsfield Chart in Surrey to join in with a hunt that has been organised by George And The Giant Pledge, a charity set up to raise funds for The Royal Marsden Hospital in aid of a very special little boy called George who is currently fighting a primitive neuro ectodermal tumour.

The hospital has been of great support to him and his family and I know through personal experience with my own Mother and Aunt the service they offer is invaluable to so many people.

We have visited the Ridland Lane National Trust area many times to seek out all of the little houses that have been lovingly  placed around the woods so I knew the children would love a visit to take part in an Easter activity.

The woods had been adorned with bunting and balloons and all the volunteers had really got into the spirit of things.

  

The hunt was £3 to take part in and it is being run on a first come, first served basis.

The children are given a map of the woods with a list of all the houses that they needed to find and stamp to say they had found each one.


They ran round at top speed filling in their sheets, hiding in dens, climbing trees and swinging on the huge swing.


Worn out and sheets completed we made our way back to claim our prizes and have their faces painted.


The hunt is running from 10-4 on the 16th and 17th April and as I said works on a first come first served basis.

If you are looking for a hunt this weekend I would highly recommend this fabulous hunt for a fantastic cause or if you would like to find out a little more about George And The Giant Pledge then take a look HERE.

Country Kids

Water:A Basic Need We All Take For Granted

If you’re thirsty you fill up a glass from the tap, if you a dirty you pop into the shower, if your little one has a fall you rinse the graze with some fresh water.

It’s a basic human right to have clean water and sanitation and thankfully in the UK it is something we all regularly have access to.

Sadly in many third world countries clean, safe water isn’t as accessible and this has a profound affect on many people’s lives, and the tragedy and suffering it can cause has dire consequences.

Illnesses such as diorreha can be fatal simply because they don’t have the ability to keep clean.

For us illnesses like this are horrible to deal with but it wouldn’t even enter or heads that it could be fatal.

Thankfully there is the help of some fantastic charities out there to try and help this horrendous situation with Frank Water being one of them.

India has the largest amount of people in the world that don’t have access to clean water so Frank has set this charity up to provide gravity-fed water systems, watershed management, waste treatment, sanitation infrastructure and education programs that have all massively improved thousands of people’s lives.

Because of their fantastic work Mahi Leather have joined up with them by donating $1.50 from the sale of each of their outstanding bags.

They take their name from the River Mahi in India where 103 million people lack the provision of safe water. For a river that is thought to be so sacred it has bought so much suffering to so many.

Through these charitable donations Mahi Leather has helped raise $7439 (up to Jan17) and wouldn’t it be great if you could help towards those statistics.

Not only do you get the good feeling of making a charitable donation to a good cause through your purchase, by cutting out the middleman and buying online you are getting a hardy canvas of premium cow leather bag at a fantastic price made to order and even personalised if you wish.

It was their wearable duffle bags that really caught my eye and would be perfect for carrying around all the paraphernalia  that come with a large family like mine and would be a great reminder each time I filled it with bits for my children of how lucky we are and how by purchasing through Mahi Leather I have done a little bit of good.

In this busy day and age it can be really hard to find the time to give to charity so by including a donation in something you can simply purchase online is a great idea that allows you to get a top quality product whilst giving back too.
*collaborated post

Giving A Little This Christmas With Oxfam Unwrapped

Giving A Little This Christmas With Oxfam Unwrapped

For anyone who know me they will know I have a huge love for Christmas!

As soon as Halloween and Bonfire Night are over I’m on with the planning of yummy food, days out and pressies.

All this extravagance is something I have thought about over the past few years and at such an indulgent time of year I think it is important to give a little something back to those who don’t have the luxury that some of us do, and for who Christmas has a completly different meaning or a time that they have never had the chance to celebrate.

We all spend way to much on unnecessary gifts that we don’t need and more often than not never use. A lot of people already have everything they need and it is a real nightmare throng to think of something different.

If you are of the same mindset as me then Oxfam have a fantastic range of Christmas charity gifts that allow you to buy a gift for someone that goes towards helping people in underprivileged countries.

The gift that stood out to me was Care For Mothers And Babies that allows communities to try and get doctors, midwives and birth attendants to mothers and babies at such a crucial time in their lives.

After having five babies with the security of our fantastic National Health Service I could not even begin to imagine what a experience it would be for these women who ultimately do it all alone with very little help.

Purchasing this gift couldn’t be simpler. All you need to do is select your gift, add your own personal message and a little extra chocolate if you fancy and then send onto your friend or family member.

I know that waking on Christmas morning with the knowledge that I have made a little impact on someone’s life will make my day that little extra special!
*collaborated post 

A Very Wet Pram Race

The Pram Race in Oxted is something we were introduced to by a good friend of mine a few years ago and is now one of the highlights of our summer.

Oxted is is quaint town down the road from us that started the fabulous Pram Race back in 1977.

The aim of the race is to complete the three quarters of a mile course, pushing a decorated pram whilst wearing fancy dress and stopping at the seven licensed premises on the  way to down a drink as quick as you can!

All of this is done to raise money through sponsorship for local causes.

Whist the prams are making their way round the course it was the spectators job to douse the competitors with water as they run past.

My friend is a pro at this and organised the most fantastic array of water bombs and guns that made the children’s eyes light up as soon as they saw it all! 


We were set up in good time to get well positioned and there were plenty of busy fingers ready to attack!


The first pram came whizzing round the corner and the water started flying in every direction.

The children were screaming and giggling with delight – well all apart from number five who found it all to much and spent the afternoon cuddled up cluching a water bomb.


The others ran back and forth to the cart to grab water bombs and refill their water pistols.


The fun continued over in Old Oxted where people were grabbing some food and drink and catching up with friends.  Unfortunately number four was soaked through so we grabbed an ice cream and made our way home.

This is a fantastic event that is fun for people of all ages and a great way to raise money for some fantastic causes.

Now to plan some more watery ammunition for next year!
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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.

Trying Out Electric Bikes In The Name Of Charity

  
When I got an email from the lovely Natalie at Cycling Made Easy asking me to pop down to try out one of their electric bikes I have to admit a little bit of fear set in!

I love to ride but only in the confines of somewhere like Center Parcs where it is traffic free and lots of wide open space.  Cycling Made Easy is in the middle of town so I having a few palpitations about riding on the road.

The trial day was to raise money for the very worth while charity The Children’s Trust  who do a fantastic job of caring for children with brain injury. Every trial that took place would mean the charity would gain £5 towards their hard work.

I bit the bullet and was put at ease by the super friendly staff in store who put my mind at ease and made number five more than welcome. We were infact going to be sticking to quiet roads and cycle paths which was a great weight off my shoulders.

   
 

I had no preconceived ideas as to how the bikes were going to work.  I couldn’t really imagine a push bike bike with added power to it.  The only way I could describe it was like your legs being given an extra boost.

We started off riding the bike as you usually would then picking up speed and ramping up the assistance.  I was really surprised at how much easier you could climb a hill.  I felt supercharged!

It would be the perfect bike to use for your commute to work or for getting the shopping as you can use the assistance to get you where you need to be without the usual strenuous ride.

I have always fancied having a bike with a trailer which is really hard going to get around with.  With the electric power you would be able to get along with much greater ease.

If you are thinking of trying out a healthier lifestyle with the addition of some cycling I would really suggest popping in and giving them a try.  I was very plesently with my ride and would defiantly consider investing when my little ones are older.