Keeping The Magic Of Christmas Alive At Lapland UK

Do you remember the wonder that each sparkling light on the christmas tree would behold, how the smell of the fresh pine needles used to fill the house and your heart with such excitement, how every sip of warm hot chocolate and each bite of your delicious mince pie would fill your tummy not only with good food but with butterflies from the anticipation of the arrival of Father Christmas each and every year.

As we get older sadly these feelings dwindle and our hopes and expectations of christmas change and the magic slowly fades away.

However once we are blessed with the gift of children this magic fills our hearts once more as we see the wonder through our children’s eyes.

I have soaked up every moment of my children’s twitchy fingers as they try to adoren the tree with the delicate decorations, looked on in wonder at each and every nativity play as the stand their fumbling through the words of those heart warming christmas carols and for me one of the most magical moments is clinging onto their wriggly bodies as they stand in line to see meet the big man himself…Father Christmas.

All these moments are precious yet sadly as fleeting as our own and each and every year I try my upmost to keep the magic alive for as long as possible.

Familiar traditions such as baking the Christmas cake and writing letters to Father Christmas all help with this but as with anything as children grow and their knowledge widens the belief in Father Christmas begins to be questioned and I can honestly say that the reality of having a non-believer has always been way harder on me than it has been for them.

If there was a place you could visit that was as magical and as mysterious as the thought of Father Christmas himself then surly this would help keep the magic alive for that little bit longer would it not?

This is what I has high hope of when we were asked along to Lapland UK last weekend. In its tenth year now I have never heard a negative comment about anyones trip and after meeting the charming husband and wife team Alison and Mike at an event last month I knew that the love and passion that came across as they spoke so fondly of their creation was going to shine trough on our trip.

I decided for my sanity to leave telling the children about our trip until the day before we left. I am completely at fault when it comes to making the children little balls of excitement as this time of year but even I couldn’t take how excited they were going to be on hearing they would be going on the trip.

The invitations get sent through the post in a beautiful presentation box with each child having a personal invitation, complete with a gorgeous wax seal.

The box itself can be placed in the freezer to make for a gust of cold air when they open it up which Frankie was absolute amazed with and went rushing over to the window to see if he could see the tail end of Father Christmas’s reindeers that must have just delivered them.

That night was like putting the children to bed on Christmas Eve, the excitment was immense and after reading The Untold Story Of Father Christmas which is written by the founders and is the perfect way to get them familiar with the lovable charters they would be meeting the next day, they finally settled.

We couldn’t believe our luck when we woke to snow the next morning and as we came off the motorway and drove a short way through snow covered woods it really couldn’t have been a more magical build up to or visit.

A short walk from the carpark we arrived at a beautiful snow covered building where we checked in with the friendly elf and enjoyed a quick snack before our tour started.

It wasn’t long before it was our turn to be guided through the huge bookcase into a magical enchanted forest where we were told the story of how each tiny pinecone turns into a elf that then helps out with making all the toys for Father Christmas to deliver.

This is also what our children had been enrolled to do and as we were about to set off to take up the challenge the huge set of doors was slowly opens to reveal a cascade of snow and a stunning snow covered walkway.

Once inside the workshop the children were all settled at work benches where they has the job of stuffing super cute polar bears ready for delivery on Christmas Eve. This could have lead to many tears and tantrums as the toys were not for them to keep, however the story had been told so well and their role for the day described perfectly so there was not one tear or moan from any of the children in the room.

After all their hard work we then made our way to meet Mother Christmas in her kitchen; the kitchen was snug and cosy and the warmth from Mother Christmas was infectious. The children carefully decorated their gingerbread trees and packed them away to hang from their own trees once they got home and then settled down to a story read by Mother Christmas herself whist the parents got the chance to snack on a delicious biscuit themselves.

When all the work was over we had free reign of the village where you could grab something good to eat and drink or like us get tempted by a few to many sweets in the sweet shop. We picked up a small gift in the shop that really was a child’s dream with a huge selection of gifts and of course not to be missed a trip to the ice rink.

Skating is really not my forte and although I braved it I stayed pretty much in one spot while the children fearlessly skated off with their Dad. Oscar was over the moon as ice skating is normally of the agenda for him as he is only three, but with the help of some super cool strap on skates and the aid of a penguin he was well away.

It was now time for the most anticipated part of the day…our trip to Father Christmas. The walk to the grotto held yet more beautifully snow covered pathways, the cutest of little elf homes and of course a stop off to visit the reindeers where we also got the chance to help out with preparing their food.

We had a very short wait until the children names were called and we were lead to his Grotto, the doors opened and the beaming smile from the big, jolly man filled the beautifully decorated room.

The children sat next to him, hanging on his every word in complete awe. The heart melting moment for me though was the look on the children’s faces when he spoke bout each one individually, letting out little snippets of their lives that they never imagined he would ever know.

Mouths aghast at what they had just experienced and me with tears in my eyes I know that there is no way that this visit could ever be topped and will certainly never be forgotten.

The attention to detail at every point is unbelievable, there wasn’t a queue in sight and the whole day ran seamlessly. But I think what stood out most for me was I didn’t hear a moan, a cross word or a cry from any child all day which is certainly a first for us and just shows that the whole experience is put together with the childs enjoyment being the top priority.

I experienced this day with children aged from fifteen to three and each and everyone felt and shared the magic of this wonderful place. Archie integrated with his younger siblings and loved every minute of watching their delight as we did and although he is way past the age of believing it was still an amazing experience for him.

The one that I most wanted to see the reaction of was Izzy though as the start of High School has already had an effect on her and her belief has been waining since last year, yet the sparkle in her eye and the smile on the face after this trip has given me at least one more year of magic with her and for that I will be forever grateful.

*we were given tickets for the purpose of this review and they are all my own, honest opinions.

Festive Fun At The London Transport Museum

The London Transport Museum is always top of the list of the places my youngest two want to visit. The museum gives the children the chance to explore the history of the London transport system in a fun and hands-on way and is the only museum I have ever visited that I have to literally drag them out of kicking and screaming!

This weekend we had a very early start to experience their festive fun event before it opened to the public.

We walked into the museum and were hit with the sound of Christmas tunes that lead us to the beautiful Santa’s grotto tucked behind a huge London bus.

Snow covered branches were delicately drapped with pretty fairy lights and the little snow covered path lead you into the scandinavian inspired grotto full of sheepskin throws, cosy cushions and plenty of toys play with.

Inside the grotto we enjoyed a story time session with one of Santa’s super friendly elves whilst outside there was a crafting session taking place where we tried our hand at making some origami tree decorations they weren’t as easy as they looked!

After doing a little exploring of the museum and learning some interesting facts about bus tickets from the very knowledgeable staff we had worked up a bit of an appetite and made our way to have a scrumptious hot chocolate and some absolutey delicious waffles they I was extremely impressed with.

It was time to get our craft on again, this time by creating a candle light holder that Frankie really went to town with the decor on!

The highlight of the morning though was just about to happen when Santa made his way into the museum to greet the children.

He had a good chat with each and every child and asked my terrors if they thought they were on the ‘good list’. I admired the confidence in their answers but a few sideways looks were thrown my way in fear of me interrupting!

After all the christmassy excitement we spent a good while enjoying the museum and as usual had a pretty hard time getting the boys to leave, especially as we passed through the gift shop that was hugely tempting…even for me.

From beautiful train sets to london buses in many different guises to pretty snow globes and the most amazing tree decorations there is something for everyone and is a far cry from your usual museum gift shop.

The whole morning was the perfect mix of festive cheer, good food and automotive fun. I loved that it wasn’t your usual structured visit to Santa and instead he was wandering around and the children were free to go and say hi whenenver they were ready.

If you are still looking for somewhere for a Santa visit this year then this comes highly recommended from us.

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

Home Of Black Friday Pop-Up Experience With Amazon

Christmas is well on the way now and for many of us the worry of being able to get everyone their much longed for gifts is something that is hard to deal with.

Christmas is a truly magical time of year but the pressures of financing everything can make this happy time dampened by the pressure.

There are however ways around this with Black Friday being one of the best ways to save a fortune in the run up to Christmas.

Amazon are streets ahead when it comes to Black Friday and have taken things a step further this year with a super quirky pop-up experience in the heart of Soho Square to celebrate.

I was lucky enough to be invited along to the launch last night where we got the chance to see what is going to be on offer and listen to the thoughts behind Black Friday from retail expert – Clare Bailey.

Claire was explaining that for most of us over the years we have realised that giving money is a better option of gifting as the January sales start the minute Christmas finishes and all those gifts we have spend our hard earned money on are dramatically reduced.

However there is no thought or love behind gifting people with cash so being able to make huge savings before christmas is a great way to allow people to enjoy giving an actual gift.

The pop-up shop is a way of showcasing over 100 curated Black Friday deals with the addition of being able to try out games in their super cool games room, take part in games for your chance to win some great prizes and partake in workshops from Amazon Handmade Artisans, YouTube stars and TV chefs.

I had a wonderful evening meeting talented sellers from Amazon Marketplace such as the lovely Lavinia the owner of Lavolio who makes delicious and beautifully packaged handmade chocolates. And the guys behind Cozy Glow candles that would certainly give that well know candle male a run for their money!

They have such passion for their brand which makes their products so much more appealing.

One room in the shop was set up like a beauty salon where I was treated to a hair makeover from GHD and tried out some fabulously vibrant Max Factor lipstick that lasts for an amazing 24 hours.

The shop is open from 12.30-7.30 from Tuesday 21st November until Friday 24th November and is certainly worth a trip for a fantastically interactive shopping experience and some fantastic bargains.

My Mini Pop Artists At Warhol Croydon

Research from the International Child Art Foundation has found that a child that is exposed to the arts acquires a special ability to think creatively, be original, discover, innovate, and create intellectual property – key attributes for individual success and social prosperity in the twentieth century.

This is why exposing my litttle ones to as much art and culture as possible is of great importance to us as a family.

By this I don’t mean sitting in front of text books flicking through endless pages of text, but actually getting out and exploring which for me is a far more interesting way of gaining knowledge.

This weekend we took a trip into Croydon to explore the Warhol Croydon exhibition that has been bought to the streets of Croydon by the award winning RISE Gallery.

The street exhibition has been inspired by the life and works of Andy Warhol who was a leading artist in the 1960’s pop art movement.

A group of extremely talented artists have come together to create twelve instillations taken from the inspiration of his work and placed across the whole town centre.

There are plenty of free guided walks that you can book online to take part in or go it alone like we did.

The tour took us from the bustling high street full of shoppers to super quiet derelict buildings, from high rise offices to beautiful gardens and the quirky streets of Surrey Street Market.

We stopped and took time to take in each piece and the children really loved telling me their thoughts…some not so complementary and some hilarious.

It’s wonderful to see what others see when looking at the same piece of art and there is nothing thing better than seeing things through a child’s eyes.

The tour took us some time as I didn’t follow the route as marked out which from experience I would suggest doing.

With the tour complete we headed off to the Whitgift and Centrale Shopping Centre to take part in the Andy Warhol themed session that allowed Oscar and Frankie to become Mini pop artists for the afternoon.

We are familiar with Whitgift Weeenies Kids Club sessions that are put on throughout the year and are completely free to take part in.

The sessions can be anything from animal handling to art sessions and are suitable for children aged 3-10.

This session saw the children trying their hand at printing by carving out a picture into a foam board, covering it  with as much and as many different colours as they like and then creating their own Pop Art style masterpiece.

The friendly staff were at hand to help out where needed yet allowing the children free reign to really bring out their creative side.
Cleaned up and art in hand we finished off our jam packed day at RISEgallery they at the moment is homing some pieces of original artwork by Andy Warhol himself.

It certainly wasn’t a stuffy gallery that didn’t want enquisitive children around, we were infact all warmly welcomed, shown around the gallery and even had a chat about the art work that the boys had created.

The exhibition is on until the end of the month and there is still time to book in for this Sunday’s Wennies Kids Club session, so get yourself booked in as it’s something not to be missed!
*collaborated post

Hunting For The Yeti At Riverhill Himalayan Gardens 

Wooded pathways, stacks of branches, and plenty of mud are just three of the things that make my lot happy and luckily enough they are plentiful at Riverhill Himalayan Gardensin Kent.

We had our first trip there last week and on the way I had a car full of bemused children trying to work out why we were off to the Himalayas by car!

Upon arrival whe picked up our maps at the kiosk and I grabbed a seat outside the cosy looking Riverhill Cafe that I had earmarked for later in the day.

I planned a rough idea of where the day was going to take us while the children took up residence in the ‘Toy Shed’ that made the perfect play area to keep the little ones amused while the adults have a sneaky piece of cake.

I had put a little to much faith in the wonderful British weather and arrived with a summer dress and flip flops which probably wasn’t the best attire.

Fortunately though they are fully prepared here for the unprepared such as myself and have a lovely little area they you can borrow a pair of wellies from.

We headed into the woods where the children all climbed to their hearts  content until we came across the fab adventure playground.
There were climbing walls, slides, tree houses and so much more to explore and they all spent a good hour here enjoying all it had to offer.

Ready to explore some more we entered the woods again with a pit stop for some den building before we made it to Little Everest Viewpoint.

The view from the top was stunning and the perfect place to stop for our picnic.


Refuelled we headed back down the hill towards the hedge maze.

I’m not a huge fan of mazes and tend to freak out a little if I can’t see an exit. Luckily enough the hedge maze is low and was easy for the children…and me  to navigate.

The rain decided to come and say hello so we decided to take cover in the activity tent where they all got the chance to make their own clay creations.

With an unusual calmness from my lot I took the chance to grab a coffee and some delightful carrot cake from the cafe whist they created their masterpieces.

Scattered throughout the grounds were lots of interesting sculptures with the huge scaffold tube sphere being a real pull for the kids.

Our final stop of the day was the stunning gardens full of wonderful flowers, an abundance of fruit and veg and hidden wrought iron gates that are always some thing I love.

Riverhill Himalayan Gardens was an absolute treat to discover and we will need another visit very soon as we didn’t manage to find the illusive yeti who is said to be hiding in the woods.  
*we were given tickets for the purpose of this review and they are all my own, honest options.

Country Kids

Getting In The Festival Spirit With BFLF And Camp Bestival On Tour

A whole year is a pretty long time to wait in between festivals so thankfully Camp Bestival and Big Fish Little Fish have got together this year to create a tour that allows everyone to experience the fun of  festival for a few hours before the summer and get ready for this years festival theme of ‘pop stars and rock stars’.

Last year we spend a lot of time next to the BFLF stage at Camp Bestival and the boys absolutely loved dancing around and jumping on and of the stage to all the great music they put on.

We were lucky enough to go along to the tour at Dreamland in Margate last week which is one of my favourite seaside attractions.

The cool, retro theme of Dreamland was the perfect setting for a children’s rave with lots of open space around the roller disco area that had been transformed into a super cool dance floor for the kids…well the adults too!


 The dance floor was packed with people dancing playing with the tents and tunnels that were set out and eagerly awaiting the bubble machine and glitter cannons to go off!

For the really tiny ones there were quieter areas set up away from the hustle and bustle of it all.

It wouldn’t have that festival feel without face painting and even though my guys weren’t interest there were some very impressive faces walking around.

The boys spent a lot of time over at the craft station getting tattoos, making superheroes masks and creating masterpieces with the play dough.

In addition to all this fun families had the opportunity to grab some ‘pop stars and rock stars’ themed props and take a photo at the booth that gave them the chance to win one of three family tickets to Camp Bestival 17 which would make for the most fantastic prize!

The next event is in Hackney on 23rd April and if is set to be another cracker if you can get along to it.

If not please take a look at everything Camp Bestival has to offer. I can’t put into words what a mind blowing experience we had last year and this years is set to top it! 

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.