Spiced Apple And Blackcurrant Cupcakes With Fruit Shoot

During the summer I was challenged by Fruit Shoot to get out and about andtake part in some foraging with the little ones.

It was a great way to get the kids active and let them see how readily available fresh food packed with goodness really is.

Fruit Shoot has really taken this on board when creating their juices which are packed with real fruit, no flavours, no colouring and plenty of added vitamins.

They are really passionate about getting kids to eat well and with this in mind they created a fantastic hamper full of goodies to grow, bake and create lots of tasty, fruity recipes at home which they kingly sent to me.

The recipe that really stood out for me was the spiced apple and blackcurrant cupcakes that was devised by recipe creator-Holly Bell.

The one minor problem that we had was that there was a distinct lack of blackcurrants here so we had a little change around and substituted them for blackberries instead which worked pretty well.

Oscar had a great time getting his hands dirty and cooking up a storm.

I love getting the little ones involved in the whole process of cooking and with the addition of the blackberries it was the perfect time to recall our foraging trip.

If you fancy having a go yourself then I have left the recipe for you below, I would love to see how you get on.

Spiced Apple And Berry Cupcakes

  • 175ml oil
  • 180g muscavado sugar
  • 170g self-raising flour
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 3 large eggs
  • 160g grated apple
  • 1/2tsp ground ginger
  • 150g of backcurrants or blackberries

Preheat the oven to 180C/has mark 4 and line a 12 hope cupcake tin with large cupcake or muffin cases.

Once the oven has preheated mix all the ingredients together with a wooden spoon until there aren’t any lumps or traces of egg yolk visible. Pay particular attention to the sugar as it can sit in lumps.

Stir through the berries carefully, spoon into cases evenly and bake for 20-25 mins until well risen and a toothpick comes out of the middle of the cupcake clean.

Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Anthony Gormley, Sea Shells And Bus Painting

Art, the sea and delectable food are one of life’s perfect combinations and for me Margate is a home to all of these.

In August the imposing cast iron sculpture from Anthony Gormley was erected on the chalk in front of the Turner Contemporary and I have been desperate to see it for myself for months.

It is one of one hundred sculptures from his ANOTHER TIME series and was as breathtaking as I imagined.

‘I wish to celebrate the still and silent nature of sculpture, ANOTHER TIME is necessarily isolated, and is an attempt to bear witness to what it is like to be alive and alone in space and time’

As I looked out to sea I thought of the words that Anthony Gormley had used to describe land work whilst listening to Oscar’s opinion on the piece.

What really stood out to me was the compassion he was showing for the man being alone. He looked on asking why he was standing alone and as we left kept looking back and worrying that he was being left alone and lonely.

It really was a sight to behold and something I’m really pleased to have shared with Oscar.

Sadly the Tuner Contemporary didn’t have a lot work on display as they were preparing to showcase the world of Tracey Emin…I think I need a trip back to see this.

We still managed to make use of the gallery though by grabbing a late breakfast and taking in the view form the beautifully light and airy cafe, and have a through the beautiful neon installation to the side of the gallery.

For the middle of October we were lucky enough to have picked a very mild day to visit and spent a good while chasing the waves, jumping over rock pools and collecting shells.

The foodie inside me was out in force and on our last visit we had passed The Bus Cafe along the sea front and I was determined to see what they had to offer on this visit.

Oscar was thrilled to climb onboard and take to the top deck to find a table.

The converted bus is run by a super friendly couple that were extremely friendly and very welcoming of little ones which is always a huge bonus for us.

The menu comprised of a selection of wraps and salads that you can mix and match to your own taste.

Fillings were plentiful and jammed packed with flavour.

Not only did Oscar enjoy the novelty of eating his lunch on a bus, he was also handed a special pen so they he could create his own masterpiece on the side of it.

He was more than about this happy to say the least!

The months of having this little one to myself during the day are passing by way to quickly and I have plans for plenty more days like this before I have to let him move onto his school life journey.

He is way more ready for this than I am!

Toddler Time At Chessington World Of Adventures

Chessington World Of Adventures main attraction for us as a family is the diversity of the theme park and its ability to cater for all ages.

With this in mind I took some time out with Oscar to see what that have to offer pre-schoolers during the week when all the others are busy working away at school…I have to add this didn’t go down to well with the others.

I don’t need to tell any of you what tricky creatures three year olds can be and days out can often be more than a little fraught.

Queuing is something that is certainly not one of Oscar’s strong points, so the relief to be able to get on every ride within minutes was a massive bonus for me as well as him!

Our first port of call was the Gruffalo River Ride Adventure that saw us following mouse on his adventures with The Gruffalo whilst floating along in our little wooden boat through spooky dark areas, over a few lumps and bumps and a good few moments of getting a little wet.

The Gruffalo theme is something that is certainly present throughout Chessington World Of Adventures now which is perfect for the little ones and Oscar was over to the moon to meet the ‘real’ Gruffalo at the meet and greet session.

From here we headed off to take in a few more rides and with such little queuing time was got so many in.

Out of the eighteen rides suitable for toddlers some of our favourites were the Sea Dragons where we wizzed and whirled around in the little boats.

The beautiful new carousel called the Adventure Tree that we tried our pretty much every animal on.

The Flying Jumbos that took us flying way into the sky, and for my little thrill seeker a trip on the front of the Scorpion Express that he was thrilled to be riding upfront on.

There is food aplenty available and all tastes are easily catered for from BBQ chicken to fish and chips or burgers to pizzas there really is something for everyone.

I grabbed a much needed coffee and refuelled ourselves with a quick sugary treat.

A ride that we had yet to try out was Zufari and I have to say after trying it out I have no idea why we had left it this long.

We hopped on board the Zufari truck that took us on a a very bumpy adventure through the wild spotting some pretty spectacular animals on the way.

I couldn’t believe how close we managed to get to the giraffes and rhinos. Oscar was hugely amused by being so close to rhinos bum!

In the mood for some more animal spotting we took a walk through the Trail Of The Kings and spotted a very sleepy lion.

The gorillas were out to play and Oscar was highly amused with their antics.

It’s not just the bigger animals that Chessington World Of Adventures homes. The petting zoo is always a big hit with mine and we spent a good while petting the sheep, looking in on the greedy pigs while they fed and trying to keep up with the cutest little goat I’ve ever seen.

From land animals we made our way into the Sealife Centre to see all the creatures of the sea.

Oscars favourite moment was getting the chance to touch a starfish and ask the poor lady a hundred and one questions on the subject that she more than happily answered for him.

It was wonderful to be able to experience Chessington World Of Adventures from the perspective of just a little one rather than having to keep my large brood all happy.

It is the perfect way to allow them to experience the excitement of the rides without the stress of the queues and get to see the animals without it being so busy which can be very stressful for tiny ones.

It really is a day that allows them to build their confidence and independence and gain knowledge of a huge variety of animals all in one place.

Oscar came away bursting to tell his brothers and sisters about his day and literally can’t wait until his next trip.

If this sounds good to you then you can get yourself an adult and pre-school pass ticket for only £21 or an annual pass that always you in on selected dates and times for only £60.

We got so much done in the few hours between school runs that it is certainly well worth a visit.

‘I am a Chessington Blogger Ambassador, I was given a Chessington Annual Pass to do this review with my family and I was not paid to do this post. If anyone would like to confirm any details in the post, please email press.office@chessington.co.uk’

Saying Hello To Autumn At Priory Farm

A chill in the wind, beautiful rich colours, Halloween and cosy afternoons snuggled up under warm blankets are just a few of the reason I absolutely love October.

The weather hasn’t yet changed to the bitterness of winter and getting out into the great outdoors is a real pleasure.

The first adventure for us is always a trip to Priory Farm to select the perfect pumpkin for carving and eating if I ever get round to trying pumpkin pie…I have been promising the children this for the past goodness knows how long!

I have written about Priory Farm countless times as it has so much to offer from fantastic play areas to a brilliant discovery walk and they always go that extra mile for special occasions such as this.

Today we climbed aboard the truck that was decked out perfectly for Halloween with missing limbs, cobwebs and huge spiders.

The short journey lead us straight to the pumpkin field which the children couldn’t wait to get to and select their favourite pumpkin, which for the first year ever wasn’t a competition to see who’s was the biggest.

A good few laps of the field and more than a few pumpkins picked and rejected we finally had our favourites and headed back to the kiosk where there was a game of ‘roll the pumpkin’ and hoopla onto creepy arms to keep the children amused while we waited for our ride back.

Prized pumpkins in hand we climbed aboard and headed off to get a well earned piece of scrummy cake and a good coffee.

There is so much going on over the next few weeks at Priory Farm as well as the pumpkin picking and a visit come highly recommend from us!

Country Kids

Baby Annabel Learns To Swim Doll Giveaway

I have always seen swimming as one of the most important skills for children to learn, it is a life skill as well as being great for exercise and obviously lots of fun.

This said taking those first steps into the pool can be a pretty daunting time and I know that for two of mine it took a lot of hard work and dedication to get them happy and relaxed with the water.

This is where the new Baby Annabel Learns To Swim Doll can come into play to help ease the transition from dry land to water.

Baby Annabel have teamed up with Olympic swimming champion Rebecca Adlington to create this brilliant doll that splashes, moves her arms and legs in water and floats on her back.

Here are a few of Rebecca’s top tips on how to get your little ones confident in the water:

Rebecca Adlington says: “Learning to swim is an important milestone, helping to instil confidence from an early age as well as being a really fun bonding experience between a parent and child. If your little one is nervous it can be a challenging process – expect plenty of tears and tantrums, however initial fears can be overcome by slowly building confidence and trust.”

Whether your child is an anxious swimmer or an excited water baby, Rebecca Adlington’s top tips will help turn your child into a little Olympian in no time –

• Children can be initially nervous of the water, baby steps and lots of praise will help them overcome a lack of confidence. Try taking them alone to just watch for the first time, then toes in next time and so on, along with lots of positive praise to help encourage them to take that first dip.

• Toys are a brilliant tool, they are such a good distraction for anyone who doesn’t normally like putting their face in the water or splashing. Toys such as the new Baby Annabell Learns to Swim doll are a great way to give children (and parents!) the courage to take those first steps towards swimming.

• Swimming is huge bonding experience. The learning process is a lot to do with trust and really builds a closer relationship between and parent and child. For this reason, try not to use your phone during lessons to avoid distractions.

• The younger you start swimming lessons the better. I took Summer from 3 weeks old. It is all about building confidence and awareness of the water from a young age. Swimming also helps with a child’s muscular development and is fantastic for understanding their physical abilities.

• Make good use of the equipment that’s there. Whether it’s armbands, noodles, or vests, use whatever your child is more comfortable with. I tend to do five minutes with floatation equipment and five without, this helps when they’re really young and still building confidence.

• Mix up who takes the child swimming. Whether its Mum, Dad, Grandparents etc. It’s good to go with someone they trust whilst getting used to swimming with different people.

If this sounds something your little ones would like them simply tell me in the comments below when Rebecca first took her daughter Summer swimming for your chance to WIN a doll of your very own.

Competition T’s and C’s –

The winner will be announced on 5th November 2017.

The prize is non refundable and is no cash alternative.

Making Snack Time Healthy With Sweetpea Pantry

We are all back into the swing of things as far as the school run goes here and all the good intentions of wholesome packed lunches and after school snacks have been wavering a little.

The kids are coming home with untouched food in their pack lunches and with the stress of trying to juggle everything after school we have been reaching for the crisps and biscuits a little to often of late.

What I need is something that takes as little time to prepare as possible, is healthy and nutritious but appealing to the kids.

This is a big wish list but luckily enough our favourite baking mixes Sweetpea Pantry have come to our rescue with their scrumptious carrot cupcake mix and their super-duper brownie mix.

We are big fans of their ginger giggles biscuit mix and the playful pizza dough mix already and were eager to try out these new additions.

For me it’s really important to get the children involved in the whole process of preparing their food as I strongly believe this goes a long way to make them more inclined to try new things and gives them a real sense of achievement.

The preparation of both these mixes was so quick and easy – in fact the whole process is complete in less than 30 mins.

There was the addition of few simple store cupboard ingredients such as oil, honey and eggs all mixed together with the packet mix that is then transferred into cake cases or tins, baked for around 15 mins and is then ready to eat.

Each mix is packed full of nutritious ingredients and yummy whole grains whilst leaving all the nasty refined sugars and artificial colours and flavourings out.

The super chocolatey brownies where a great hit after school when the kids are crying out for something sweet really quickly.

The cupcakes were moist and fruity and the perfect size for packed lunch boxes.

These mixes are so easy to tuck away in the cupboard and just grab as and when you need them so what is not to love.

*collaborated post

Get Ready For A Magical Journey With Passport To Adventure With Disney On Ice

A few weeks ago I spent a wonderful afternoon taking part in the ‘Fit To Dance’ workshop with Ashley Banjo and some of the super talented stars from Disney On Ice.

Their passion and love for all they do really shone through and the buzz of the upcoming show filled the room and you can get your chance to experience this for yourself if you are thinking of going along to the show yourself in their pre show ‘Fit To Dance’ with Zootropolis.

All of your favourite Disney characters from Minnie and Mickey to Timon and Pumba will be making their way to London from 20th to 30th December to take you on a journey through a plethora of memorable Disney destinations with the all new singing and dancing show – Passport To Adventure.

The journey will take you through the African Pride Lands with Simba, Timon and Pumba, take a trip deep under the sea to the mystical home of Ariel and then wicked off into the sky by Tinkerbell to discover Neverland. As if this wasn’t enough you will then be transported to a winter wonderland where you will of course find the all time favourites Elsa, Anna and the lovable snowman Olaf and discover that true love is the most magical power of all.

This show would make the perfect Christmas treat with its combination of familiar Disney hits, world class skating and of course the magic of Disney that can never be topped.

There are still tickets available ‘here’ so don’t miss out on your chance to witness this unforgettable experience!