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.

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Four

This weeks ‘celebrating the small things’ is a little self indulgent as I’m unusually pleased with what I have achieved. I’m usually full of self doubt and always see the negatives in what I do which is really counter productive and something I want to try to improve so here it goes:

Happy In My Work- I recently restarted teaching my ladies fitness kickboxing classes which I have found a whole new love for. Teaching was always a huge passion for me but the more children I had the trickier it became to fit this kind of work in and sadly it stopped a few years ago.
Thankfully the New Year has bought with it some lovely faces both old and new that have made my job an absolute pleasure once again.

Weight Loss Going Well – A New Year, restarting my classes and a big hit of self motivation has seen me finally losing some weight.
I wrote a post a while ago on how the past few years have seen me gaining a lot of weigh which has really bought me down and I’m so pleased that over the past few weeks I have seen some changes for the good.
I’ve banished the scales as these are always a source of disappointment for me and have simply used how I look and real as motivation to keep me going.

Looking Back – Last week the lovely Carrisa over at Little Likely Lads tagged me in a post on Insta Stories that needed me to scroll back through my hundreds of photos on Instagram to find my first ever post.
Of course this task had me stopping and looking over all the photos through the years and made me love this social media platform even more.
Moments captured in pictures are hugely important to me and Instagram allows me to see a whole host of my favourite moments in seconds.

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Two

This time of year is never my friend! I get depressed by the weather, long for brighter and longer days and generally spend the whole of January and February wishing away the minutes until the start of spring.

I am however hoping that this new series of ‘Celebrating The Small Things’ I started last week is going to bring a bit of joy to the next few gloomy months ahead.

This week I have picked a couple of my favourite moments that have involved things I don’t get time to enjoy as often as I would like.

One On One Time: With five children this is certainly something I don’t get the chance to do as often as I would like so I cherish them everytime I get the chance.
We took a trip to Southbank to an event where Frankie got to meet some of his favourite characters from the Cartoon Network show – We Bare Bears and we both sampled delicious coffee that had been expertly poured and topped with incredible latte art.
Aside from having to take some pics whilst I was there we spent the rest of the morning completely screen free, talking about all those radom things that run through the mind of a six year and and really just enjoying each other.

Healthy Changes On Track: For those of you that are followers of my blog you will know that the past few years have gained an ever expanding waistline with my change in career.
Its something I’ve been battling with for a long time now and this week I feel that I’ve finally broken the cycle and things have got back on track.
There have been no faddy diets, I’ve just cut out the rubbish and reduced my portion sizes, I have got back into all the exercises I love such as spinning and kickboxing and have been feeling and seeing the benefits both physically and mentally.

Getting An Insight Into School Life: When your children set off to school they spend over half their day in the care of somebody else and we have very little insight into what they get up to; and if your children are anything like mine they aren’t to free with letting you know what they do either.
At the beginning of the week I wasn’t to excited about the thought of having a meeting at the school, but was pleasantly surprised when we got the chance to join the children in the classroom to see what they get up to during their working day.
It was so lovely to see Frankie interacting with his peers, thumbing through textbooks and asking questions on things he was coming across and seeing how much he has come on during his short time at school.

Now We Are Six:Happy Birthday Frankie

When I was one, I had just begun.
When I was two, I was nearly new.
When I was three, I was hardly me.
When I was four, I was not much more.
When I was five, I was just alive.
But now I am six, I’m as clever as clever.
So I think I’ll be six now forever and ever.

A.A. Milne

This was one of my favourite poems from my childhood and now as I’ve grown and become a mother I can relate to the words with each year that passes in my little ones lives and I have to agree that six is a pretty perfect age.

On frankie’s six birthday where his birthday request has simply been, ‘Lego and mussels’ I look on in wonder at the beautiful little boy he has become in those six short years.

He is certainly my most vibrant child that has a charater and tenacity that is heartwarming and alluring and his charming personality never fails to fill a room.

He is strong willed, determined and passionate and although this obviously comes with its challenges I wouldn’t change it for the world.

In fact it was his head strong ways that saw my big birthday plans of a trip to a Lego exhibition in town for him come crashing down when he insisted on a simple day of softplay with his little brother and a lunch of mussels to finish.

Hot Chocolate Stirrers

With only a few days left until christmas I sure that most of you are all prepared and have gifts all bought and wrapped ready to go…however if you are anything like me then there are always those last few presents that you completely forget about!

My recipe for hot chocolate stirrers will make a lovely gift and is something super easy to make.

I use wooden spoons as the handle for mine but you can easily use lolly sticks or even something like cardboard straws.

The stirrers can be wrapped individually or like we did for the teachers gifts you can add a few homemade biscuits together with the stirrers and package them up in a nice Christmas mug.

If this sounds good to you then the recipe is below for you to try:

Makes 24 sticks

  • 800g mixture of dark and milk chocolate
  • 8 tbsp cocoa powder
  • hundreds and thousands, marshmallows or fudge pieces to decorate
  1. Break up the chocolate into a bowl and heat over a Bain Marie until completely melted.
  2. Slowly add the cocoa and mix thoroughly.
  3. Pour the mixture into a silicone mould(we used a round ice cube tray) and into each section place the spoon/stick into the centre.
  4. Decorate with your toppings of choice and then place in the fridge to harden for about an hour.
  5. When they are ready pop them out and gift wrap however you fancy!

Getting 2018 Off To A Swimming Start

Oh yes in only a few weeks all the jollities of Christmas will be over and it will be time to start thinking about the brand new year ahead of us.

After weeks of gorging on mince pies and mulled wine, spending hours in front of the television dipping into the christmas chocolates and feasting on three course meals with the family the first thing on my mind is going to be how to shift all of that winter weight gain!

If I’m completely honest it isn’t just Christmas that is to blame for my expanding waistline it has slowly been creeping on over the past two years and I’m finding it increasingly hard to give off that ‘I’m happy with my body at any size’ vibe!

Over my adult life I have struggled terribly with body image and still harbour a very unhealthy relationship with food that over the years has left me very poorly from under eating and over training to bringing out huge insecurities though talking things to the other end of the scale where I massively over eat and lead a very sedentary lifestyle.

Its not just what I look like on the outside that is an issue, I know I’m currently in a place when I’m not feeding my body as I should and this is leading to me feeling constantly lethargic and lacking in motivation.

My mental health is also bearing a lot of strain as my confidnce has taken a huge battering and I am finding myself avoiding social situations where I might feel intimidated by other women and am making myself feel very isolated at times.

Sitting here writing this has really brought this issue to light for me and although I’m really not a lover of setting New Years resolutions I am going to go into the New Year with a positive mind about getting myself fit and healthy so that I am happy within myself and not letting this have a detrimental effect on my family.

Through a combination of over training in my younger days, being overweight and the general effects of getting older my joints are really feeling the strain these days and I think the best way to get things back on track again is to ease myself into exercise with swimming.

Im not the strongest of swimmers but with even an easy swim burning off up too 500 calories it is certainly a great way to kick start exercise again.

The thought of donning a swimsuit however is filling me with dread but there are some great plus size swimwear options out there to ease the pain.

Once in the pool its not only calories that will be burned; it will also help to boost my metabolism and all the while keeping my joints safe.

Water is also a massive 800 times denser than air so with each push, pull and kick it will give your body a great resistance workout too.

So this new year will hopefully see me facing my fears, changing my way of life and fingers crossed getting some great results!

*collaberated post

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.

Camp Bestival-The Best Christmas Present EVER

When it comes to Christmas presents I always have a bit of a dilemma with myself. The children compile lists of plastic toys that I know will be discarded before Boxing Day, and every part of me wants to fulfil their wishes…however the sensible side of me thinks all that money would be better spent on experiences that will last a lifetime rather than faddy toys that will last for minutes.

If we look back over our year then one of the experiences that sticks in all our minds the most is certainly Camp Bestival – the family festival that has to be seen to be believed.

This year sees fantastic musical acts taking to the stage such as Rick Astley, Clean Bandit an Simple Minds. Regulars to the festival are Mr Tumble and Dick and Dom will be returning to amuse the children…well and the adults too!

One of the shows that my little ones are most excited to see though is Dinosaur World Live that looks absolutely outstanding.

This really is the kind of gift that I would love to find nestled under the tree on Christmas Day and if it sounds like something your family would love to receive to then there is a great promotion running until 11th December.

If you book your tickets before this time you will receive a whole host of fantastic stocking fillers such as nautical tattoos to go with this years ‘Sets Sail’ theme, character stickers, a hand illustrated Christmas card and a limited edition sew on patch.

If you would like to spread the cost then you can still sign up to the 30 week payment plan and still receive all your goodies!

Take a little look at just a few of the reasons we love Camp Bestival so much:

Scree Free, Quality Time: This for me has to come top of my list as it is something that is so lacking when we are at home. Its a chance to put away those phones, leave the iPads alone and just enjoy spending time together talking, laughing, playing and having fun.
My lot spend a huge time arguing and fighting when we are at home, and don’t get me wrong it is never an argument free trip but we are certainly more drawn together as a family and that bond gets a little tighter.

Good Food: As a family we are often drawn to places with our bellies and I can assure you if you are a foodie like me then Camp Bestival won’t fail to stimulate your taste buds.
From ice cream covered waffles to juicy burgers, scucculent corn on the cob to crispy chips every palate will be catered for and every belly filled.
Th little ones can also get more hands on and prepare their own food which was a big hit for mine last year.

Enjoy The Great Outdoors: The whole trip involves being outside which can seem a little daunting but there is actually nothing better.
From enjoying the hustle and bustle of the main festival to simply chilling out round the tent or hiding away in our favourite place – The Dingly Dell there is a whole host of ways to enjoy the great outdoors.

Late Nights: As a Mum of five bedtimes are pretty strict in this house for the sake of everyones sanity to be honest. Camp Bestival allows us to kick these rules aside and just let them all stay up until they drop. They love being up until way after dark, huddled up in their trailer listening to music and watching Mum and Dad’s silly dancing.
The last night has to be the favourite though with is spectacular firework display that is simply not to be missed.

Learning New Skills And Using Their Imaginations: Camp Bestival isn’t just about the music and acts on stage, it holds so much more and really allows the children how to build skills by trying things they may not have come across before such a circus skills, woodwork and cooking and bundles of activities that allow them to use their imagination and just LET KIDS BE KIDS!

I hope this has given you a little snippet of just some of the fun Camp Bestival can bring and has you wanting to experience it for yourselves next year!