Fit To Dance With Disney On Ice And Ashley Banjo

Last week I got to have a few hours on my own with Oscar to visit Danceworks in West London to take part in a ‘Fit To Dance’ workshop with some lovely performers from Disney On Ice and the dishy Ashley Banjo!

Oscar skipped his way along Oxford Street telling me how excited he was about going to sing and dance until he was confronted with a room full of strangers and his thoughts of being star of the show soon dwindled.

Luckily enough the super friendly skaters made all the children feel at ease and after warming up and a little to much participation from me he soon soon got into the swing of things and was happy to join in independently.

‘Fit To Dance’ is a way to encourage children to dance through the use of story telling which in turn helps them to use their imagination and improve their fitness levels in a fun way.

They got together in a group to chose the story they would like to recreate through dance and each picked a character at be throughout the performance.

With characters named and a story plot in place the children were running, jumping, twirling and whirling around the hall to their hearts content.

After a few practice runs they donned their fancy dress and showed the audience their work.

Oscar was extremely happy with himself and still had a pretty big treat to come.

Fed and watered the children all gathered by the door to await the arrival of two very special guests…Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

Their eyes literally lit up and such excitement filled the room.

They all got the chance to meet the cuddly pair and it was certainly a very special treat.

We couldn’t let the afternoon pass without getting a snap of Ashley Banjo too which certainly made my girls very jealous when we arrived home.

The ‘Fit To Dance’ program is available online and is certainly worth taking a look at and trying out at home for yourself.

With Disney On Ice’s Passport To Adventure currently on tour this would really be the perfect way to get yourself ready in the the run up to the show.

Helping Children To Save

Saving money had never been one of my strong points.

From the moment I got my first job at the age of fourteen the money got my sweaty hands and I was off to get that much wanted…but never needed new dress or pair of shoes.

This is something that has been a real struggle through my adult life and I want to be able to pass on better skills to my children as regards to saving with the hopes that they don’t make the same mistakes that I did.

I have listed a few ideas here they I am going to be trying out to build good foundations for those future, and hopefully there will be some here that you may want to try:

Filling A Piggy Bank – Children are very visual and having something there that they can add to and watch grow will give them the encouragement to keep saving.

Saving For A Treat – We all love to have a goal in life, something to work towards and strive for. This will then  encourage  them to save for that much longed for toy of item of clothing.

Matching Their Saving Amd Building For Thier Future – To give them a bit of encouragement we can help them reach their saving  goals a little quicker by matching what they have saved when they reach a certain amount or thinking more long term we could take out a savings account such as a Junior ISA so they know through their hard work you have created a sum of money to help out with something bigger such as their first home or uni fees for when they are older.

Earning Their Money – It’s all very well for them to be saving up their pennies but they need to realise that these have to be earned and not just given to them. Simple chores around the house such as tidying their rooms or washing the car are a great place to start.

Lead By Example – This is probably one of the most important ones for me. I want to let the children know that all the days out, holidays and treats we have come at a cost and these things need saving for. Having a jar on the side to save up spending money for a holiday or letting them know that you are forgoing that lunch out so that other important things can be paid for is a great way for them to follow in your footsteps.

I would love to know if you have any top tips for saving with your little ones.
*collaborated post 

Learning To Cook With Jamie Oliver’s Hotpoint Teaching Kitchen

How many of you cook your evening meal from scratch every night?

I would hazard a guess that it won’t be many of you and as research from Jamie’s Ministry Of Food shows this sadly the case for many of us.

In fact a huge 1 in 5 adults rely on takeaways and convenience food due to a lack of knowledge in cooking skills and a whopping 1 in 10 have never cooked from scratch.

For me one of my favourite lessons at school was home economics and was actually the only A I got at GCSE.

It was an outlet away from the more academic subjects that I never thrived in and it certainly gave me a great knowledge of food preparation and nutrition that has always stayed with me.

Sadly in many schools this is not on the timetable at all now and 7 in 10 people feel the rise in takeaways and convience food has been greatly affected by this.

This makes for a vicious cycle of parents then not having the knowledge to pass down to their children creating a nation with little knowledge on food at all.

I was shocked to find that 1 in 5 can’t boil an egg, a quarter struggle to cook rice and a third of the people asked lack the skills to correctly cut an onion.

For these reasons Jamie’s Ministry Of Food has got together with Hotpoint to create a fantastic teaching kitchen that is setting up in the towns where obesity and diet related illnesses are at a high.

I was asked along to have a lesson at the truck earlier this week in Selhurst, South London.

I arrived in the car park of Crystal Palace Football Club which seemed like a pretty strange place to be learning to cook.

The truck was nothing liked I expected and was in fact a spectacularly kitted out set up with high tech appliances from Hopoint and plenty of natural light to make for a fantastic area to learn new skills.


Although I would say I’m a pretty confident cook my repertoire has become pretty limited due to cooking for a large family with limited time.

To be honest the majority of my meals are prepared from scratch but I’m a bit of a one pot fan and I was hoping this lesson would open my eyes to creating something new for the family.

Any nerves I had about starting the session were soon quashed when the super friendly chefs introduced themselves and started the afternoon.

Our mission was to prepare a beautiful dish of salmon teriyaki from scratch which is one of my favourite meals but something I’ve not tried to create mysel.

Each step was shown to us and then as we went through the process ourselves there was plenty of experts on hand to help out at any stage.


I learned some great tips on food wastage and an entirely new way to cook rice that I will be trying out at home!



Children as young as 7 can go along to take part and I think this would be the perfect way to introduce little ones to the exciting world of cooking and sparking off something that could turn into a real passion for them.

The truck is in Selhurst until 16th June and you can book your slot HERE for free.

It is then moving onto Bristol, Middlesborough, Sunderland and Liverpool.

There is then an exciting opportunity for one community to win the chance to have the truck come to your town.

All you need to do is post a picture on social media showing members of your local community such as a youth group or scout troop holding wooden spoons.

Simply let them know the name of your town and why they are deserving and is the hashtag #cookforchange.

I would love to know if you decide to visit the truck and if you do what you think!

Keeping Kids Hydrated With Fruit Shoot Hydro

Children are like sponges, they soak up everything around them and retain every bit of information they pick up.

So for me this is why it is super important to try and let them experience as many different things as possible at a young age so that they can find things they are passionate about and hopefully take that with them into their adult life.

Robinsons Fruit Shoot are currently running a campaign called #itsmything that is encouraging real kids to celebrate what they are passionate about and through this allow them to channel their creativity and individuality.

To support this fantastic campaign I took my super individual child Izzy along to Castle Climbing in Hackney where Fruit Shoot had put on a fantastic event allowing the children to take part in a 90 minute session of climbing to get them active and try something new.


Izzy is by far my most individual child who will always buck the trend if it is something she feels passionate about is truly a free spirit.

As she approaching those akward teen years it is important for me to keep that zest for life going and hope that peer pressure doesn’t steer her away from trying new experiences.

Izzy confidently set to the challenge of the climbing wall and was happy to have meet up with a friend that she has made through the wonderful world of blogging whilst I went outside to listen to a talk from the highly knowledgable dietitian Jo Travers.


Of course all this fun and exercise is fantastic for young bodies and minds but we need to be aware that it can take a toll on their growing bodies and one of the most important things we can do to keep their bodies and mind fit and active is to keep them hydrated.

For me this a no mean feat and aside from my youngest who guzzles litres of water a day, hydrating the others…especially Izzy is a constant challenge and something as bad as it is I often forget to do!

I took away so much from Jo’s session and it is now my mission to keep us all as a family more hydrated.

Here are a few of Jo’s top tips on keeping your kids hydrated:

The choice of drinks is always a constant battle in our house, especially with the older children who are easily lured towards the unhealthy fizzy drinks as let’s be honest water doesn’t have a great appeal when there are so many other drinks with more flavour readily available.

This is where the clever people from Fruit Shoot have come up with Fruit Shoot Hydro that has all the goodness of water with a hint of flavouring making it much more appealable to youngsters.

It is a naturally flavours spring water with no sugar of artificial colours and comes in a handy sized bottle with a resealable cap, making it perfect for kids on the go.

With my mind buzzing with all this new information I was going to take home and hopefully implement with my family and Izzy warn out and super hyped after her climbing adventure there was a chance to have a delicious lunch and of course sample some of the Fruit Shoot Hydro.

My water dodging daugher was extremely impressed with the flavour and even went back for a second bottle which is pretty much unheard of.

Full up and hydrated our afternoon was bought to an end and we set off home with a fantastic goodie bag full of great stuff to keep Izzy active and a voucher to try out Go Ape which be fantastic in her bid to keep the #itsmything challenge going for that bit longer!

*collaborated post

#TeenTalk With Gaby Logan And Boots

Those foreboding teenage years sadly have to come to us all.

I remember as clear as day that awkward moment when my mum thrust an Usbourne ‘Our Bodies’ book into my hand looking decidedly more embarrassed than me, and the day my dreaded period arrived seemed much more filled with the worry of telling my Mum than the actual mechanics of it all.

This all happened for me in the early 90’s and you would have thought that by now things would have moved on  and these subjects that parents once feared and avoided would now be much easier to broach.

Sadly 68% of parents still find it difficult to approach puberty topics with their teens, a quarter of parents asked in a poll avoid these subjects all together and 33% of parents wish they could talk openly with their teen.

The other week I was invited along to the Haymarket Hotel in London to have afternoon tea with a group of lovely bloggers that was headed up by Gaby Logan and teen expert Sarah Newton.

Armed with tea and cake we chatted about the #TeenTalk campaign that Boots are running for it’s second year to try and support parents as they navigate their teens through the tough years of puberty by providing parents with much needed advice and support to talk to their teens with informed confidence.

Gaby Logan is currently hitting this phase in her life with her preteen twins and this is how she has been handling this phase with her children. 

 “As a mother of twin teens, I understand the challenges of communicating with teens all too well! They suddenly go from wanting to tell parents everything, to one word answers. But as every parent knows, you desperately want to give your children all the guidance, help and support they need and being able to communicate effectively with your teens is crucial to this. What I love about the #TeenTalk campaign is that is helps to give parents the confidence to start and maintain a strong, open and honest conversation with their child through puberty and beyond”

For me broaching the subjects of changing bodies, personal hygiene and sexual relationships is something that I have never shied away from with my own children and I have always tried to answer  questions that arise at any age instead of leaving it to a big, built up ‘chat’ as they approach their teens.

As a mother of a daughter that I have already been through it all with and a 14 year old son I do also know that as with everything no child is the same and the way you broach these subjects can’t be the same for them all, but as the teen guru Sarah Newton said we need to keep the conversation going.

My own parents were very closed shop about it all and simply giving them a list of the things that should happen and leaving it at that probably isn’t the best way to go about it.

Let their inquisitive minds be filled with all the information that you think they need to confidently go into thier teens with the ability to make informed choices on what path they are going to take when one of these hurdles come along.

Be it a boys first shave or a girl feeling ready for her first bra are all huge steps in the eyes of a teen and they still really need that help and reassurance from thier parents that the decisions they are ultimately making are right.

From the 10th May -6th June Boots will be giving away a free #TeenTalk guide with every purchase of Venus, Always, and Tampax products.

These products are perfect for helping teens through this transitional period and they are even kind enough to be giving away a free gift for anyone with teen daughters.

It was an fabulous afternoon filled with relieving memories of our own teen years and experiences some of us had already had with out own children.

By listening to all these stories on thing that has stuck in my mind is that as long as you are well informed, open and honest then you can’t go far wrong.

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.

Dinosaurs Invade London At Jurassic Kingdom

Who would have thought that tucked away in a suburban part of town there would be grand Georgian house with stunning grounds homing a whole host of dinosaurs!

Last week we went on the hunt for them and wasn’t disappointed.

After a more than a little fraught journey to from South London we made it to Osterley House in Isleworth, which a a stunning National Trust property with acres of beautiful land that is just perfect for hosting Jurassic Kingdom which is there from now until the 17th April.

It is accessible by public transport but a long walk from the train station for little legs or a short bus journey but the buses are only scheduled every 20 mins which was a long wait for my impatient children.

The car park however is huge and free to National Trust members of £7 all day.

Time slots are available to book easily on line for the event and I would suggest you allow yourself plenty of time as there is lots to see and do.

The Jurassic Park style entrance paved its way into the attraction itself which has you following a path through the grounds spotting dinosaurs as you go.


Some are static but the majority have moving limbs and sound effects which the children loved.

It is a far more interactive experience than I had imagined and there are dinosaurs that you can climb onto, a sand pit that lets the little ones try their hand at becoming an arciologist and digging out bones and an education tent where you can sit and watch a short show that explains a little more about dinosaurs.

As far as eating goes the places is perfect for picnicking as there are so many great places to pitch up. There is also a small selection of fast food stands where Izzy count resist the churros!

The children also has a great time making us of the National trust facilities which are always a winner by tree climbing, den building and swinging on the rope swings.

All in all it is the perfect day out for dino fans and even those that aren’t so keen could easy make us and enjoy everything else Jurrasic Kingdom has to offer.

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

Country Kids