Days Out With The Kids This Christmas

Yes I know we have only just put our sandals and summer dress aways but before you know it Christmas will be upon us and if you want to get those special days booked in then you really do have to start thinking about it now!

Christmas is by far my favourite time of year and I have compiled a list of a few of our favourites that I hope you might enjoy:

Lapland UK – This one just had to be top of my list as I have experienced nothing like it before. We were lucky enough to have our first trip there last year and we were absolutely blown away.

From helping the elves in Father Christmas’s toy factory, icing biscuits with Mother Christmas, taking to the ice in the most beautifully setting and finally meeting the main man himself who Frankie has named ‘the real’ Father Christmas it was sheer magic.

It brought a tear to my eye and I don’t think that day will ever be topped!

Hever Castle – For me Hever brings you everything you would imagine when you think of an English christmas celebration. The traditional fairground rides and beautiful christmas trail are perfect for the little ones, whilst the stunningly decorated castle is a sight that everyone will enjoy.

We are off there at the end of November so keep an eye out for what they have in store this year.

Chessington World Of Adventure – The Winter’s Tail event at Chessington World Of Adventure is always a fantastic day out. There is the chance to visit Santa in his grotto, ride on a few selected rides that are specially opened including our favourite – The Gruffly River Ride Adventure, decorate festive treats in the Gruffly kitchen and something new this year will be The Gruffalo Christmas Groove.

alongside all of this they are also offering sleepover packages and we can highly recommend a stay in their fantastic hotel.

Painshill Park – This one for us has the ultimate wow factor when it comes to the grotto. After a walk along a pretty lit walkway you find your way to the crystal grotto where Father Christmas is waiting to hand out his gifts.

It is certainly different from the norm and gets booked up extremely quickly so don’t leave it until the last minute.

Southbank – If you are looking for a day out with festive foods, quirky gifts and the perfect London backdrop then the christmas market at Southbank if definitey one for the list.

Hobbledown – I am so sad that I won’t be going along to the toddlers lunch with Father Christmas this year.

I have visited for many years now and it is the perfect trip for preschoolers where they decorate a biscuit, have some lunch and meet Santa in the cutest little wooden hut.

Winerville – We had our first trip here last year and it really exceeded our expectations. It is an uber cool experience in the heart of Clapham common offering a bit of everything from great food and drink to ice skating, roller skating, fairground rides, crazy golf and a whole lot more.

Disney On Ice – This has become somewhat of a tradition for us to visit a few days before christmas. The culmination of all our favourite Disney characters, the chill of the ice and the excitement of Christmas makes for a great day out.

National Trust – We have visited a fair few properties over the festive period and each one has its on unique and wonderful christmas feel. They offer visits to Father Christmas, crafts galore christmas markets and brilliant trails to wear the kids out which is always a bonus!

CBeebies Christmas Show:Thumbelina – Getting cosy in the cinema is perfect at this time of year and when its to watch a classic such as Thumbelina put on by some of your favourite Cbeebies characters then its always going to be a hit.

We are off to see this later in the year so keep an eye out for what we think!

RHS Wisley – Now the illuminated trail at Wisley is something I’ve heard so many good things about but haven’t actually got there yet. I think it will have to go on my list for this year.

Winter Wonderland – If you want Christmas on a grand scale then this is the place for you. Winter Wonderland is a huge area in Hyde Park full of fairground rides, food stalls, gifts, ice skating, shows and bucket loads more. We had our first trip there last year and had an amazing time!

Bocketts Farm – I love a farm visit over the christmas period and Bocketts offers an amazingly festive day out complete with a trip to santa in his hay barn.

The Snowman – My children laugh at how much I love The Snowman in any form. My first love was of course the illustrated character and I have loved watching how he has evolved over the years. We watched the stage show a few years ago which was absolutly spell binding and keep the attention of my younger two for over two hours which is no mean feat. This year there is also a magical exhibition at the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, an immersive experience at The Backyard Cinema, a special story telling session at Bath Pavilions by the talented author Michael Morpurgo and a the most magical showing of the animated film at the Royal Albert Hall accompanied by the Royal Philamonic Orchestra.

Priory Farm – This has been our Christmas Eve tradition for a few years now. We stop off in the cafe for a mince pie and a warm drink, get the last of our foodie bits at the fab farm shop and a trek round the discovery walk to wear out the over excited little one.

Making Arla Organic Free Range Milk Part Of Our Everyday Routine

My husband jokes that it would be cheaper and easier to buy a cow for our home due to the vast quantities of milk we go through each and every day. From breakfast to our evening meals there is rarely a meal that doesn’t include it. Milk is certainly a staple in our house that we couldn’t live without and after a trip to an Arla dairy farm last year it gave me a completly different outlook to how I view this rather amazing product!

I was certainly the kind of person that didn’t give my choice a milk more than a few seconds thought. I would simply throw a full fat for the little ones, a semi skimmed for the adults and a dairy free for Frankie into the trolley and off to the tills I would go.

All of Arla’s milk is free range and sourced only from British farms. The cows are all free range and where possible grazed on organically farmed land. The wellbeing of their cattle is of upmost importance and this is one of the many reason I choose to buy Arla Organic Milk.

I always start the day with a big bowl of porridge along with the majority of the family. There are varying topping of choice from healthier options such as blueberries and strawberries to naughtier hazelnut spread!

Arla is the perfect milk to kick off our day with and works perfectly with our porridge.

Having a large family and working from home can sometimes feel like I’m in a hamster wheel that I can’t get out of so I always try to take five minutes out of my day to switch off to everything and grab a cup of tea. This usually means a quick stop off at the supermarket after the school run in the morning (Arla Organic Milk comes in handy 2L bottles) and take solace in the garden – sometimes with a sneaky piece of cake!

One of my favourite ways to incorporate Arla Milk into our meals though is with my creamy rice pudding recipe that I have left below.

The richness of the whole milk is the prefect choice and something my whole family love:

125g pudding rice
600ml Arla organic whole milk
50ml single cream
1tsp vanilla extract
1tsp ground cinnamon
1tsp grated nutmeg
2 tbsps sugar

Place the rice into a medium sized saucepan and pour in the milk, cream and vanilla extract. Bring all this to the boil and then simmer.

Cook the rice ensuring you stir regularly for 20/25 mins. The aim is for the rice to be plump and the liquid reduced.

Add the sugar and nutmeg and wait for the sugar to dissolve. Once it is completely dissolved give it a good stir and serve covered with a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Using Arla Organic Milk allows me to know that my family are getting all the goodness they can from a milk plus I have the feel good factor that comes from knowing it is coming from happy cows and the money I am spending is going straight into the farmers pocket.

Is buying Arla Organic milk something you already do or something you would consider?

*Collaborated post

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Twenty Two

This week was a busier week than usual and a lot of it involved being grateful for the people around me.

Learning Through Play – I’m a great believer in children gaining a lot through play. As an adult I am certainly someone who learns better through practical experiences rather than gazing at a screen or someone talking parrot fashion at me.

I think this is also true for children and I love to get out and about with my lot to explore and learn about the world.

A trip to the farm with Oscar lead to us talking all things animals, building and shape naming in the construction area and answering question upon question on the runnings of the farm itself.

Finding Good People – Sometimes in life you just come across people that amaze you with their kindness and thought for others. A while ago I met a lovely lady through a couple of projects that I was working on and her warmness shone through from the moment we met.

Before we went away on our annual trip to Elderflower Fields I was looking into getting some henna put up my arm and she kindly asked me into her home, gave up her time and wanted nothing in return. In a world that can seem so selfish at times its refreshing to know there are certainly still a few good eggs.

Our Little Bit Of Peace – As I mentioned earlier we have just been on our yearly trip to Elderflower Fields that I will be telling you all about next week.

Aside from being a fabulous festival one of our favourite parts about the whole weekend is the chance to spend time together and switch off from the outside world. Its certainly a big bump back to reality once the weekend is over.

Making The Most Of My Last Few Pre-School Months At Godstone Farm

To those of you who follow my blog regularly it will be of no surprise that I’m having a mini breakdown over Oscar going to school this September. After twenty years of ‘Mums and Toddlers’ groups, countless trips to the park and library visits you would have thought that shipping my last one off to school would be a welcome break but this is far from the way I’m feeling right now.

Due to this is have declared Wednesday as mine and Oscars day of fun. A whole day to ourselves doing things we love and building memories.

We kicked our first week off with a trip to Godstone Farm. I have visited this farm since I was a child myself and have many happy memories of trips here, but over the past few years our visits have become far less frequent and I was still egar to see what they had going on now.

We did the school run and arrived at the farm around 10am and were greeted by a gaggle of geese as we made our way to our first port of call – the animal handling area.

Oscar’s face lit up as he got to meet lots of cute chicks and fluffy bunnies, one of which he got the chance to hold.

After a good while of exploring and plenty of requests to take one home we made our way round to see the bigger animals.

I fell in love with the piglets and Oscar took a liking to the cheeky goats that he had great fun feeding with the super cool pulley system.

From here we hopped on board the tractor for a quick ride around the farm. It was lovely to get another perspective and it’s always so much fun when you’re bouncy around on four wheels!

It was time to stop for a bit of lunch and at Godstone Farm there are plenty of places to stop for a picnic if you have brought your own food along or a delightful tearoom where you can get delicious hot or cold food served by the super friendly staff.

It was the perfect pit stop for use to grab a coffee and of course no day out would be complete without a yummy ice cream!

Godstone Farm has much more to offer then just a visit to see the animals and we both throughly enjoyed hunting for dinosaurs on the Dino Trail.

Oscar tried his hand at palaeontology and excavated some dinosaurs bones, spotted lots of different dinosaurs and just a few times at the sound effects that set off as you pass.

If this wasn’t enough fun we then headed to the new Wiglet’s Play Village which is an amazing indoor space for little ones that is the perfect place for role play. There is a great construction area where Oscar donned his hard hat and built a fort, baked me a cake in the kitchen and tended to his pets in the vets.

There was also a completely separate area for babies, a train track table that Oscar loved and a foam ball area where they could shoot them around to their hearts content.

He had such a great time in there that we didn’t even get a chance to visit the Play Barn that is a much larger area with huge slides, climbing areas and rides ons to enjoy.

Farms trips to me though are definitely about the outdoor play and Godstone Farm has this by the bucketload!

There are areas all over the farm where they can climb aboard bikes and tractors and rush around as much as they like and a huge play area at the top of the farm which had just about everything a child could wish for.

Oscar played in sandpit for a good while before playing ‘Ninja Warrior’ on the slides and obstacle courses and finished off the day speeding down the sledge run that I have to admit I couldn’t resist a sneaky go on.

We had an absolutely amazing day at Godstone Farm and it really did make for the perfect term time trip. The farm was relatively quiet which is great for impatient little ones and something to keep them amused whatever the weather and whatever their likes.

This has certainly been added to our list of favourites and we will be back again very soon!

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

Easter Fun At Morden Hall Park

I think this has to be the first year for as long as I can remember that we haven’t taken part in a National Trust easter egg hunt and I have to say that I’m pretty sad about that! The Easter weekend just seemed so fun that we didn’t get a chance to fit it in.

That said we couldn’t get through the holidays without a trip to one of their properties and we decided on Morden Hall Park as its been a good while since we’ve had a visit there.

After a pitstop at the cafe for coffee and cake we were greeted at the main entrance by a super friendly volunteer who set about telling us how we could join in wth the Duck Trail which allowed the children to set off around the grounds in search of different species of ducks, ticking them off on their sheet as they go and showing them some food along the way.

Morden Hall Park has had a lot of work done to it since we were last there and absolutely loved the wooden pathways and lookout points that had been added to the wetland area.

The boys spent ages dipping in sticks and trying to find the crocodiles my Dad had told them were lurking beneath!

We played Pooh Sticks on the bridges, ran through all the open spaces, climbed trees and got covered in mud…exactly what a day should be full of!

Morden Hall Park is also perfectly positioned for a short walk to Deen City Farm where the children got to feed and get up close to lots of lovely farm animals from pigs, sheep and even ferrets.

The children were filthy dirty and thoroughly worn out after a wonderful day and Morden Hall Park certainly come with a big thumbs up from us.

Country Kids

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

Opening My Eyes To Organic Living With Arla Foods

How long does it take you to get your weekly shop?

If you are anything like me my list varies very little from week to week and it’s just a grab and go, to get in and out as quickly as possible with items such as bread, eggs and milk being staples that I probably haven’t changed in years.

I’m sure that many of you are with me on this, and it wasn’t until I visited Cockhaise Farm in Sussex last week, really shifted my thoughts on the way I shop and opened my eyes up to organic, free range products.

Arriving to this beautiful farm and sitting sipping coffee on the patio could have transported you into a scene from the ‘Darling Buds Of May’ which always seemed like such an idyllic way to bring up a family although in reality I know that a farmers life is a tough one and I was here to learn exactly what goes into our everyday milk that most of us doesn’t give a second thought when buying.

Dan talked us thorough how he came to become an organic dairy farmer and his passion for his product and his herd was clear to see from the very first moment.
Dan’s dairy farm is very much a family business and the love for their animals really made it feel as if they were part of the family too.

This farm follows the ruling of organic farming by making the welfare of the animals and the environment a top priority, not using any artificial additives, preservatives or GM ingredients and fewer pesticides.

Instead the cows are allowed to graze freely as much as possible in fields full of chemical free, clover rich fields.

We got the chance to see how happy they were by going to visit the fields that honed the most adorable calves…I’m not sure what they made of a group of bloggers armed with cameras and phones galore!

From the young and happy calves we made our way to see a field full of pregnant cows and got to experience first-hand the first few fumbling steps of a calf that has literally just been born.

I was chatting to Dan’s father at the time who is also a retired organic dairy farmer who said that the birth of a calf is always special no matter how many time you experience it.

From here we made our way into the milking sheds that weren’t operational at the time but it was still amazing to see.

We had now been shown the milking process from the very beginning and it was now time to see how the beautiful product could be used and we were treated to a cookery demonstration from Ben a local chef who’s passion for organic products was just as great as Dan’s.

The demonstration was all set up in a barn with a fabulous hay barrel backdrop where Matt worked his magic on showing us how to create a Sussex smokey scotch egg that had an alternative filling of mashed potato and smoked haddock rather than the usual sausage meat, and a delectable vanilla creme brûlée that I could have sampled more than one of!

If you like the sound of these delicious recipes I have left them below for you to try yourself at home.

From the vibrancy of the colours of the egg yolks to the rich creaminess of the milk it is without a doubt there are not only benefits to the way organic food is produced but it also comes through in the product itself tenfold.

Vanilla Creme Brûlée

• 200ml Double Cream
• 100ml Arla Organic Free Range Milk
• 4 egg yolks
• 50g sugar
• 1 vanilla pod

  1. Preheat the water bath to 80C or if using the oven 140C/120 Fan.
  2. Warm the milk, cream, vanilla and sugar together in a small saucepan to 60C.
  3. In a large bowl wish together the egg yolks and sugar until thoroughly combined.
  4. Slowly whisk the warm cream and milk into the egg mixture.
  5. Pour into individual shallow jars and screw on the lids very tightly.
  6. Place the jars in the water bath to cook for 60 mins then remove from the water with tongs and cool on ice.
  7. Alternatively place in oven for 20-22 mins until just set.
  8. Once set sprinkle the surface with sugar and brûlée with a blowtorch.Allow the sugar to set for 5 mins before serving.

Sussex Smokey Scotch Eggs

• 4 medium organic eggs
• 1 tbsp vegetable oil, plus oil for deep frying
• Salt and pepper for seasoning
• 1 pint Arla Organic Free Range Milk
• 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
• 250g natural smoked haddock
• 1 bay leaf
• 200g potatoes for mashing
• 1 bunch of finely chopped dill
• 119g High Weald smoked cheddar chopped or grated
• 1 banana shallot
• 1 clove of garlic
• 1/2 leek
• 1 stick of celery
• 1/2 carrot
• 3oz butter
• 3oz plain flour
• 330g flour
• 1 organic medium egg
• 200ml Arla Organic Free Range Milk
• 300g or packet of breadcrumbs

1.Boil seasoned water and then add the eggs, turn down to a simmer for 5 mins for a soft boiled egg, chill in cold water and put aside.

2.Add the smoked haddock, nutmeg and bay leaf to the milk and place in a water bath for 25 mins at 45C – if not using a water bath place the ingredients in a saucepan and dinner for 5 mins.

3.Remove haddock and save both for later

4. Peel and chop 200g of potato and boil for 15-20 mins, once cooked gently mash.

5.Meanwhile finely dice shallots, garlic, leek, celery and carrot. Sauté in oil for 10-15 mins, season to taste.

6.Boil seasoned water and then add the eggs, turn down to a simmer for 5 mins for a soft boiled egg, chill in cold water and put aside.

7.Add the smoked haddock, nutmeg and bay leaf to the milk and place in a water bath for 25 mins at 45C – if not using a water bath place the ingredients in a saucepan and dinner for 5 mins.

8. Remove haddock and save both later.

9.Peel and chop 200g of potato and boil for 15-20 mins, once cooked gently mash.

10.Meanwhile finely dice shallots, garlic, leek, celery and carrot. Sauté in oil for 10-15 mins, season to taste.

11.Peel the boiled eggs and dust in seasoned flour.

12.When the casing mixture is cool delete the into 4 portions and wrap around wash egg enclosing it completely. Chill for at least one hour to ensure it keeps its shape.

13.In the meantime prepare your station to breadcrumb the eggs.

14.You will need three shallow trays, one for the seasoned flour, one for the beaten egg and one for the breadcrumbs.

15.Firstly take the encased eggs one. Y one and put into the seasoned flour, making sure it is well coated.

16.Shake off any access flour and pass the food into the beaten egg, again making sure it is well coated.

17.Shake off any access and finally pass the food into the breadcrumbs again making sure it’s well coated.

18.Tap the food firmly to ensure the breadcrumbs are well attached and remove the crumbs into a clean plate or tray.

19.Now deep fry the completed eggs at 160C until golden brown.

*collaborated post

Father’s Day At Flower Farm

I have to say that when it comes to Father’s Day I am a little selfish with the plans I make!

My husband doesn’t really share the love for the great outdoors as much as me, so when I announced we were heading off to pick strawberries his face didn’t exactly light up at the prospect.

The children however were hugely excited as it is certainly a highlight of the summer for them.

Sadly it seems that PYO farms are few and far between these days but we are lucky enough to have one right on our doorstep.

Flower Farm in Godstone is a small farm that has very reasonably priced PYO strawberries  and raspberries come July, with the great addition of a well stocked farm shop and lovely tea room where you can grab light bites and of course a delicious afternoon tea.

The sun was beating down on us whilst picking but this didn’t put us off, even my husband got stuck in and said he was throughly enjoying it.

I love activities like this that cost very little money and bring us all together as a family.

It actually gave me time to reflect on the fact I am incredibly lucky to have my husband who always goes out of his way to make us all happy, and maybe this should be reflected in my choice of activity next year! 

Country Kids

When The Kids Just Aren’t Feeling It

for the past couple of years my love for photography has grown massively.

I love looking at other people’s styles of photography, I love seeking out places that I think would look good to take photographs of and I always have the best props to hand…my children.

I have had no formal training when it comes to photography so I’m still very much a point and shoot kind of lady and just hope that I am going to capture the image I have in my head.

The kids apart from my 14 year old don’t have a problem with my continual photo taking and to be honest don’t notice to much as I prefer to try and get pics as the play rather than staged shots.

However from time to time I do try and get some images I have to get them to work with me for.

Today however was probably not the best day to try this as they clearly were not in the mood for it and this was captured magnificently in my photos!

I got home after standing in a field of rape flowers disappointed with them not looking how I wanted, when actually they tell a really good story.

I hadn’t asked permission to be there so I was half freaking out I was going to get attacked by the farmer whilst my children gave me their best ‘natural’ poses!

All I will say is their personalities shine through immensely in these images and now I love them more than the perfect ones I had in my head…well almost!