Capturing The Wonder Of Mayfield Lavender With Rachel Thornhill

For the past few years the Mayfield Lavender fields in Banstead have been my first glimpse that summer has arrived. The magnificent sea of purple that fills the landscape and the beautiful smell that engulfs the air is a sight to be seen and one that I never ever tire of.

Mayfield Lavender has really gone from strength to strength and not only does it offer you the chance to enjoy this natural wonder there is also the opportunity to enjoy a huge range of scrutipous food and drink from the cafe such as juicy hotdogs, delectable homemade cakes and even a lavender cream tea which is still on my wishlist to try.

The shop is also fully stocked with goodies from tolliteries to lavender flavour sweets and of course a change to take home some of your very own lavender.

My little ones love being able to just run free through the fields but if you want a little more adventure then hop onboard the tractor for a ride around the fields to get a completly different perspective.

I am always the one holding the camera on our trips which I absolutly love, but this year it was a little different as we went along to meet the lovely Rachel Thornhill who is an expert when it comes to photography…especially at Mayfield Lavender.

Rachel is in fact one of the photographers recommend by Brendan Maye – The owner of Mayfield lavender and the moment I meet her I could understand why.

Her friendly smile and calm, welcoming nature put us all at ease when we arrived and she chatted at length with the children about what our morning was going to entail and how to care for the fields and the nature living there during the shoot.

I am not a fan of posed images and much prefer a playful, natural style of picture and this is exactly what Rachel tries to create. Capturing the children at play or us all in deep conversation creates a much more natural image and one that tells a story allowing it to be a more memorable capture and something to treasure for years to come.

During our shoot that lasted a little over an hour we got the change to explore, play, chat and giggle and at no point did the children get bored or restless as Rachel worked her magic and kept them happy and engaged throughout, she even managed to keep shooting when Oscar bundled in for cuddles.

What really sets her apart from other photographers is that she creates bespoke museum quality wall art and framed prints personal to you and hand made by professional printers in both the UK and Italy that are designed to stand the test of time, and become a part of your family story. The products are not available to buy from anywhere other than professional photographers, so really quite special?

Mayfield Lavender is a truly magical place that is pretty hard to find in the UK. It is a place to make special memories to keep for a lifetime and with something like a photoshoot with Rachel these special moments can be captured and remembered for many years to come.

*collaborated post

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

Camp Bestival 2018 Family Ticket GIVEAWAY

With only a few short weeks left until the summer holidays begin I’m sure that a lot of you are already thinking about how to fill those long six weeks. We already have a few exciting things planned with one of them kicking off the holidays in the best way ever – Camp Bestival.

We are literally on countdown now as there is under five weeks to go and the line up is looking as incredible as ever!

Lulworth Castle will soon be turned into one of the most immense festivals you could wish to take your little ones too with entertainment from Mr Tumble, Dick and Dom, Mister Maker And The Shapes, Dinosaur World Live, Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures, Gruesome Nature Live and bundles more!

If it is music you are looking for then you are in for a treat as taking to the stage this year are Simple Minds, Rick Astley, Clean Bandit, Orbital, Basement Jaxx, Shed Seven, Tokyo Myers, Declan McKenna, DJ Sara Cox taking things back to the 80,s and for the teens there is YouTube sensation, HRVY.

Something that always appeals to us as a family is the huge range of food on offer and this year seems to be just as good with traders such as River Cottage and the Feast Collective, DJ BBQ and his BBQ Zoo, Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen and one I’m very much looking forward too – Rob and Josie’s Gin Festival.

There is a huge choice of accommodation to which may come as a surprise to many of you. Not only can you pitch up yourself, there is also the option to pick a more luxurious stay in one of the yurts, tipis or gypsy caravans that really would make your stay all that more special.

If this sounds like your kind of thing…and lets face it who wouldn’t then I have a family ticket up for grabs and you can enter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

T&Cs

•The prize includes weekend tickets to Camp Bestival for two adults and up to four children (under 18)

• Prize is non-transferrable

• Winners names will be added to a guest list for wristband collection onsite

• ID will be required for collection

• Full Camp Bestival T&Cs here

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Twenty Three

‘Celebrating The Small Things’ this week is taking us back to half term and finding small moments to be grateful for in a pretty amazing week!

Location, Location, Location – It will be no surprise to many of you that I have always had a strong want to live by the sea. The outdoorsy life, laid back feel and plenty for the children to do has always appealed to me, but no so much to my husband.
During half term I actually realised we are really lucky to live exactly where we do. We had a pretty hectic week of commuting into town as well as a trip to Brighton that for so many just wouldn’t be doable. So with this in mind I’m incredibly grateful we can be by the sea and central London in under an hour and have plentiful countryside right on our doorstep, so no more moaning from me…well for a while anyway!

Understanding Food Allergies – Allergies are not something that feature to much on here but are certainly something that affect us on a daily basis. Frankie is allergic to a whole host of foods and although it is something he is slowly learning to deal with there are always those occasions where its pretty hard going for him.
We attended the Num Noms Launch Party at the Good Housekeeping Institute where there was going to be pizza making going on and I had already pre warned him that he might not be able to take part in this section of the day. He was disheartened but still very much wanting to go along.
Looking at the ingredients when we arrived I could sence the disappointment that was going to set in until a lovely lady came over and asked what she could find that would make the pizzas suitable for him.
His face lit up and I was so grateful that he wouldn’t have to miss out as he doses on so many other occasions.

Keeping Friendships Alive – A while ago now my husband’s best friend and his family emigrated to New Zelend. This was a huge wrench for him as they had been good friends since school and we all had grown close as we got married and started families.
It was amazing to have them over and spend quality time together. It felt like yesterday as soon as we saw them and through the help of social media we have all been able to watch everyones adventures over the past few years, but there is nothing like actually getting together and spending precious time with special people.

Pizza Making And Doughnut Decorating At The Num Noms Series 5 Launch

We kicked off our half term in a pretty spectacular way when we headed off to the Good Housekeeping Institute to celebrate the launch of the Num Noms Series 5.

For those of you that haven yet heard of Num Noms(where have you been) they are a range of collectibles that have been made to look and smell like food. They come in a whole range of different forms from lip glosses to nail polishes and so much more.

We were introduced to these cute little characters a while ago now and all three of my youngest have been really taken with them.

As we arrived at the Good Housekeeping Institute the celebrations were already starting and the entrance was covered with pretty balloons and we were welcomed with lots of friendly faces and so much for busy fingers to do!

The kids got stuck in straight away and loved seeing the new additions to an already great range. The most popular addition for my lot is definitely the lip glosses and they spent ages creating their own flavour.

It wasn’t long before we took to our seats and the event kicked off with an introduction from Nickelodeon’s Nigel Clarke. The first part of the day was pizza making, as the ingredients were being past round a room full to the brim with children I was more than a little anxious about how this would go, but the children were thoroughly engaged and enjoyed every minute of making their very own creations.

While their pizzas were cooking away they got the chance to make up some fruit kebabs which was pretty similar to the way Num Noms can be stacked and arranged which makes them a great for keeping little fingers occupied.

It really was a day full of experiencing, making and tasting different foods in different ways and I think one of the highlights of the day was hopping on a push bike that had a smoothie maker attached and cycling away to make our very own fruit smoothies.

Izzy however was a little preoccupied by the fact that Chloe Medows and Chloe Chloe Lewis from ‘The Only Way Is Essex’ were there and took half the afternoon plucking up the courage to ask for a selfie with them!

The last activity of the day though probably brought a bigger smile to my face than it did to the kids – doughnut decorating.

The kids were presented with two huge ring doughnuts each that they were then given free reign to decorate as they wished. Covered with all kinds of sweets and fab Num Nom stickers they all looked incredible.

After such an immense day the children were knocked off their feet again by taking home a goodie bag full to the brim with Num Noms goodies that they couldn’t resist opening on the train which made for a pretty messy journey home!

I know that mine were ecstatic about the new Series 5 and if you have a lover of collectables like me then check them out ‘here‘.

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Twenty One

It has been a pretty quiet week which has made it perfect for my ‘Celebrating The Small Things’ series.

My Little Personal Shopper – Over the years clothes shopping on the High Street has become somewhat of a distant memory for me.

With the rise and ease in internet shopping and the number of children I had increasing the lure of shoppers by centres became less and less and now nearly all of my clothing purchases are done online.

The other day I had to get some last minute bits before our camping trip which ended up being a thoroughly enjoyable trip with Oscar.

We chatted over a babychino, stocked up on goodies for our trip and my most memorable moment was Oscar picking out outfits for me and giving his expert opinion on what looks good and what not so!

Daisy Chains – Sometimes the simple things in life pass us by and one thing that I hadn’t done for such a long time was to make a daisy chain. It’s such a simple task and the kids absolutely loved it.

How We Eat – The other day was actually a pretty big one as we had Mumset come into our home to film the way we eat as a family.

This was a pretty nerve wrecking experience as my kids can be pretty unpredictable at times and goodness knows what little gems they could have come out with!

Although the day was a huge thing for all of us I came away from the day extremely thankful of the fact I get to share dinner time with all my crazy loons!

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Twenty

This week has been as manic as usual and we’ve all been rushing here there and everywhere but we have had had plenty of small things to celebrate.

When Children Never Cease To Amaze – My eldest son has always been the quiet one, the one that is the hardest to work out and the one that I wish I could shove a fire cracker up his backside most of the time.
It has been the same conversation for the past few years with his teaches – “he is an extremely talented boy who needs to apply himself”. I find this so frustrating as it is so hard to get him engaged and believe me I’ve tried. So when he walked through the door the other day and announced he was putting himself forward for head boy I nearly dropped to the floor. Im really hoping something has finally clicked and he’s going to make the most of his last few years of school.

My Regained Fitness Is Paying Off – Even at my fittest running has never been something I have enjoyed. I find it boring and after suffering with terrible shin splints over the years I pretty much always avoid any kind of distance running.
This weekend I challenged this by taking part in a 5km obstacle run with Izzy and some good friends.
Although running is not my thing my competitive edge took over and I found myself running ahead and trying to complete the course in a good time, I did feel a little bad for leaving Izzy behind!
I completed the course, faced my terrible fear of heights and thoroughly enjoyed every minute.

Sushi In The Sun – After a trip to the shops with Oscar the other day I was quietly laughing to myself about his choice of sushi for lunch.
At the mere age of four it would have been a cheese sandwich and packet of crisps for me and I actually relish the fact that my children have a love of such a wide variety of different foods.

A Sneak Peek At The Land Of Tiger- Chessington World Of Adventure

On Friday we loaded up the car and set off for a very special sleepover – a stay at Chessington World Of Adventures to take a sneak peek at the new Land Of The Tiger which is open to the public on the 5th May.

Chessington is only a short drive for us but staying over at their fabulous hotel makes us feel like we are a million miles away. The children ran straight in the room and headed to the bunkbeds to stake their claim whilst I had five minutes with a coffee looking out at the monkeys playing in the park.

It wasn’t long before we headed over to get the evening started which we were all super excited about. Wild Asia was set to be our home for the night where we started the evening out with a few cocktails in the Explorer’s Outpost Restaurant and late night rides on the Kobra and the Monkey Swings.

Next up was the highlight of the evening as we all headed to the Land Of Tiger to be amongest the first few people to see everything it has to offer.

Once inside the huge wooden gateway we were greeted by the super friendly zoo keepers that spoke lovingly and passionately about the four new additions – Olga, Tsar, Kalinda and Kyra.

These majestic beauties have made themselves at home in their grand and innovative enclosure that is the first of its kind in Europe due to its overhead trails that gives you an amazing, up close view of them.

The children were amazed to see the Amur tigers passing through the walkways above their heads and then being able to get so close to them was an amazing experience.

I loved all the free space they have to roam around in and the different habits they can explore, there is even a huge pool for them to have a dip in!

The Land Of Tiger is also home to the new log flume ride – Tiger Rock that we were all itching to have a go on in the morning.

We finished off our evening back in Wild Asia enjoying good food, having a bit of a bumper car marathon due to the kids not wanting to get off and a lot of singing and dancing along to a fabulous band of child stars that absolute made the evening. It has to be said that Izzy was more than a little star stuck to be dancing alongside the likes of Sophie Ellis- Bextor and Jacqueline Jossa who plays Lauren in Eastenders.

I can honestly say it was a matter of minutes after the kids head hit the pillow before they were fast asleep in preparation for the next day.

Miracles actually happened over night as I had to wake them all up to start the day which began with an amazing breakfast with the choice of a full english, pastries, cereal, fresh fruit and so much more.

I had all good intentions of sticking to a bowl of fresh fruit, but my resolve cracked pretty quickly once I got a wiff of the bacon and saw the gooey blueberry muffins.

Full to the brim we headed back to the Land Of The Tiger to try out Tiger Rock. Oscar and Frankie were still to little to go on so Izzy and Archie raced while we waited at the bottom to watch their decent.

Seeing the glee on their faces as the boat past by let me know that it had been a hit an it was soon my turn to try it out for myself.

I clambered on board the boat and took the same familiar journey as the old Dragon Fall but I wasn’t expecting a very different surprise along the journey and I won’t spoilt the fun by letting on what it is, I will let you find out for yourselves. It was wonderful to travel along the watery pathways and spot the tigers from all different directions and it certainly takes your mind off the huge 15ft plummet at the end of the ride that sees you plunge into the huge, mist covered tigers head.

The excitement didn’t finish there as we made our way back to the entrance just in time to see comedian Romesh Ranganathan hand feeding one of the tigers that the boys would have loved to have a go at themselves.

After feasting on some ‘tiger churros’ and delicious doughnuts we whizzed around a few of our favourites like The Grufflo Ride before having to make our way home.

The Land Of The Tiger is a magnificent addition to an already amazing theme park and is something not to be missed. Sadly we didn’t get time to see the new Gruffly Grove stage show so we will be back in the next couple of weeks to see what the cuddly creature has in store and I will be letting you know all about it!

Sweets Galore For Barratt’s 170th Birthday

My hands firmly clasped around a small, white ruffled paper bag full of my favourite sweets that had taken so much time and deliberation to choose is one of my fondest memories of our family holidays to Devon as a child.

My sister and I would be taken to the local sweet shop to pick our goodies for the long journey ahead where we would enjoy singing along in car whilst sucking on sour sherbet lemons, winding lengths of liqurique round our fingers and more often then not get in trouble for covering ourselves and the car in sherbet from our favourite Sherbet Fountains.

To so many people sweets are a huge part of their childhood memories and one taste can see them transported back to a special time and place that creates such a warm feeling of nostalgia.

I know this is very true to me and something my own parents have talked about over the years, fondly recalling sweets that are no longer available and the stories that come along with them.

The other week I was lucky enough to attend a golden ticket event hosted by Barratt – the brand behind so many of our much loved and fondly remembered sweets. Barratt have been out of the lime light for the past few years but have made a very welcome return with their patented classics such as Black Jacks and Fruit Salads and some great new products that I’m sure will have the power to conger up those same memories in my own children.

After a sweet themed cocktail…or two! we were given the opportunity to make our very own Dolly Mixtures with the help of a expert in this field who was probably shuddering at our feeble attempts.

With the help of the gorgeous Rosie from Mummy and Boo we managed to create a pretty good raspberry flavoured Dolly Mixture with a lovely pretty marbled effect; and for someone who isn’t a big fan of Dolly Mixtures I have to say our efforts weren’t to bad at all.

After all our hard work we settled down to a talk from the very knowledgeable food historian – Seren Charrington-hollins. I was astounded at how long ago the love affair with all things sweet started and was very surprised to how that chewing gum was intact founded in Greece, I would definitely have had my money on America for that one.

Below I have left some more information of the fascinating history of sweets and I hope this has all got you thinking about your childhood favourites as I would love to hear your stories.

*collaborated post

Knoppers Treat Snack:Review

Chocolate is by far my biggest vice. I can walk on by a packet of crisps and pretty easily pass up the offer of a glass of wine, but when it comes to chocolate, especially that of the nutty variety I can very rarely hold back!

The same can be said for all of my children so I would say we are all pretty knowledgable about the subject. So when we were asked to try out Knoppers(I can’t help but giggle at the name) it wasn’t an offer to be passed up.

Knoppers are squares of crispy baked wafers held together with milky hazelnut wafers and topped with a chocolate coating.

The best way for me to describe the snack is a deconstructed Ferrero Rocce. It is literally all the mouthwatering components of a Ferrero Roche and formed into a handy square that makes the perfect snack for in between meal times.

The creamy, nutty layers work perfectly with the crisp wafer and is set off wonderfully with the extra chocolate layer…I mean you really can’t ever have to much chocolate can you!

We have been enjoying these treats at home with a glass of milk and on the go as they are so easy to slip inside a handbag which allows you to satisfy the moans of the little ones hunger pangs with ease.

At only 50p per snack they are super affordable and can be picked up at a whole host of convinenece and impulse stores nationwide, so keep your eye out for them and let me know what you think.

* Collaborated post.