Pumpkin Picking At Secretts Of Milford

I had a mini meltdown the other day as I had missed our annual day out pumpkin picking at Priory Farm. It is one of our favourite things to do at this time of year and so I went on the hunt for somewhere else we could visit.

I stumbled across Secretts Of Milford and thought that it would make the perfect place to explore this half term.

After a short drive we arrived at the garden centre to a pretty packed carpark which I was a little apprehensive about but I needn’t have worried as after a short while queuing we made our way into the event field that was full of things to do from face painting to fairground rides, tractor rides and a favourite for mine – corn blasting!

We headed straight to the tractor ride that lead us into the jam packed pumpkin fields, full of pumpkins of all different shapes, sizes and colours. The children didn’t know where to look first and spent ages racing through the fields and selecting their perfect pumpkin.

We hopped back on the tractor and grabbed a bite to eat which was very fitting with the theme with hot dogs, pumpkin soup, pumpkin curry and pumpkin cake. There was plenty on indoor and outdoor space to sit and relax while the children enjoy the freedom of the open space and even a hay fight or two!

Secretts made for an amazing day out and we will certainly be back to visit next year!

Back To School Sleeping Woes

Well we are nearly back into the whole school routine thing and I am finally coming to terms with all my babies being in full time education! We have nailed the homework, have been leaving the house in the mornings with plenty of time to spare, there have been no phone calls for forgotten books and ‘touch wood’ everything seems to be running smoothy…well aside from bedtimes!

The summer holidays made way for long bright evenings and a much more relaxed routine when it came to bedtimes. This was perfect at the time and I loved those few extra hours it gave us all to be out and about or relaxing in the garden; but this has all backfired on me with a certain little boy now that the school term routine is here.

The problems start as soon as dinner is over and the realisation that bedtime isn’t to far away. The tummy aches and headaches appear, the bedtime drink takes an eternity to get finished and then once finally in bed the real issues start.

Frankie gets so worked up about going to bed that the minute I leave the room he got foots it out of bed and is right behind me, refusing to stay in his bed and pleading to come downstairs. At the moment we seem to have two options which is to continually lead him back to his bed until he his finally to worn out to fight it anymore or spent half the evening sitting in his room until he falls asleep.

Both of these options are time consuming and hugely stressful for all of us and its really something we need to get on top of as the lack of sleep is breaking us all.

Below are a few tips that I’m going to be trying out to see if we can finally crack this before I crack myself:

Routine, Routine, Routine – This is one of the things that was always a big priority but over the years and the more children I had the relaxed and calm bedtime routine I once inforced has stacked somewhat and it is all a little manic. A definite routine of bath, book and bed are certainly going to be put in place again.

Security – A know that a big problem from Frankie is the anxiety of being left on his own at bedtime so finding a toy or a blanket to snuggle up to may help to make him feel a little more secure.

Calming Environment – I know for me I get a much better nights sleep when my room is clean and tidy and free from the clutter of the day and I’m sure that for children this is the same. Making their room a calming and inviting place make for a good starting ground for a restful night. Making sure that all the toys are put away and there is a cosy and inviting bed for them to jump into is a must.

London Bus Red Wooden Kids Theme Bunk Bed Frame - 3ft Single £364.99.jpg

Turn Off Electrics – I definitly fall down when it come to limiting electronics before bedtime and it is actually advised that anything stimulating such as TV, computers and tablets should be turned off an hour before bed.

Choose The Right Foods – Try not to give children any sugary or caffeinated foods before bedtime. They work as a stimulant and can be a good reason as to why they are still bouncing off the walls when you are trying to get them to sleep.

I am really hoping that some of these tips are going to work for us and we all finally get some much needed rest. I would love to know if you have any other top tips to help me out.

*collaborated post

The Best Of British Summertime

This years summer has without a doubt been absolutely outstanding weatherise. We have had the opportunity to have so many outdoor adventures that have been blissfully sun drenched and have allowed us to to create some fabulous sun kissed memories.

Unfortunately though due to our perpetual bad luck the weather took more than a turn for the worst for our break at Camp Bestival when it brough us gale force winds and torrential rain. And then again when we had a week away in Chichester. Although it stayed warm…ish I could count on one hand how many times we saw the sun.

We filled our week with crabbing trips, cathedral visits, plenty of shopping, eating way to many fish and chips and spending hours at the penny slot machines. Paddling in the sea searching for fossils and cosying up to watch endless reruns of Mrs Doubtfire and Karate Kid.

But the day on Wittering beach really stuck in my mind. With my jacket tied up under my chin, makeshift barriers shielding us from the wind and towels on standby to ues as makeshift blankets I had a little giggle to myself at how typically British we all were.

Not one of those families on that beach was going to let the weather defeat them. They were going to see the day out with their sand filled sandwiches and flasks of hot tea, they were going to build sandcastles and search for sea shells and yes some of them were also going to face a dip in the sea.
And do you know what, they will all be talking about that day on the beach for years to come with fond memories and proudness of their grit and determination.

I myself look back fondly of trips to Devon as a child where we would be having car picnics to shelter from the rain and chattering teeth from the chill of the swimming pool, and do you know what I wouldn’t change those memories for the world and I hope my gang feel the same.

Behind The Scenes At Sea Life

For many years now my gang have loved visiting Sea Life. They love being able the ability to wander around freely discovering all kinds of weird and wondful creatures that live under the sea…well actually a fare few that live above it too!

The other week we headed to Southbank for a trip around our favourite Sea Life and the chance to take a look behind the scenes with their behind the scenes tour.

In our usual fashion we were running late and had to rush in and get over to the behind the scenes tour. So a quick dash over the shark walkway which the boys weren’t to impressed about and a zig zag past everything else we got their just in time to be greeted by our friendly and thankfully laid back tour guide.

The doors were opened and we headed behind all the exhibits to a small area that was home to some very special creatures. I was a little apprehensive about taking this tour with Oscar as he is only four but only being 30 mins long it was the perfect timing to keep him engaged and I was so pleased to see that all three of them listening intently as we were shown round.

We got the chance to see some of the fish being feed, meet a beautiful chinese snapper turtle that had sadly been discarded by his owner, meet some super cool sea dragons that fast became my favourite of the day due to the male getting pregnant and so much more.

The children loved being shown the huge variety of food the animals were feed, thoroughly enjoyed being able to get hands on and touch things from lobster shells to egg pods, and the highlight for me was how much information they were given and were able to retain as the tour was done in such a relaxed, interactive and informative way.

Full to the brim with a whole host of knowledge on marine life we headed back out to explore the rest of Sea Life. One tip is to get there as early as you can to avoid the crowds although to be honest even though we were there in the middle of the school holidays it was really easy to navigate still and didn’t feel like we struggled to see things in any of the tanks.

The aquarium is set out in sections which include Shark Walk, Atlantic Coasts, Ray Lagoon, Rock Pool, Open Ocens, Ship Wreck, Ocean Tunnel, Nemo’s Coral Reef, Seahorse Kingdom, Creatures Of The Rainforest, Thames Walk, Penguin Point, Conservation Cove, Shark Reef and Ocean Invaders.

Each area has its own uniqueness to it and being in distinct groups means its a lot easier to for the children to understand where each creature is from.

The sharks were certainly a huge hit with the boys and we sat for ages watching them glide around the tanks in their majestic manner, they all got to touch a star fish which I think is such a wonderful experience and something you certainly can’t do everyday! For me the highlight had to be the seahorses as I am always in awe of their delicate beauty.

As we moved around each section I loved the fact it wasn’t all about gazing into tanks, We thoroughly enjoyed getting a shock from the jelly fish wall, getting a nip from a parihna and climbing on board a distressed ship that was getting battered with thunder and lightening.

For us Sea Life gets better and better on each visit and there really is something for people all ages to enjoy. We will be back very soon!

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

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Twenty Eight

Well I nearly catching my tail and I have made it to the end of the school term with my ‘Celebrating The Small Things’ series. I have to say that I’m dreading Oscar starting school but I will give me a chance to really get my working day in order and hopefully get more organised…well we will see!

This week I am taking about school awards, park trips and kids fashion.

Dot To Dot London – My blog covers such a variety of topics which I often think I should kerb to be a little more niche but then realise being a bit of everything opens up some great opportunities. One of which being kids fashion that I have a real passion for.

I have always loved kitting the kids out and to be honest their wardrobes are always way better than mine.

The other week I got the chance to go along to Dot London which is a press show for all kinds of fabulous children’s wear brands. There were some of my favourites there that I have worked with before such as Tootsa McGinty and some brand new companies that I can’t wait to see the Autumn/Winter.

Hours And Hours In The Park – One little thing I am certainly celebrating is the amazing weather we have been blessed with this year. We are huge fans of the great outdoors and it has been made so much more accessible with the sunshine on tap that we have had. I honestly don’t think we have had as many picnics and park trips as we have this year.

Feeling Proud – Izzy has just finished her first year at high school and I have to say I couldn’t be prouder of all she has achieved in her time there. She has never been naturally gifted when it comes to the academic side of life but she always gives her all and works to be best of her ability. This was recognised at the end of term when she received an award for all her efforts and I actually think I was happier than her about it!

Camp Bestival 2018 Highlights

All I can really say about Camp Bestival this year is, “you’ve done it again”.

Despite being battered by 50mph winds and torrential downpours Camp Bestival still managed to keep shinning and gave everyone a weekend to remember.

I’m not going to give you a blow by blow account of the whole weekend, as to be honest there is way to much to cram into one post, so instead I will give you the highlights of my amazing weekend and will have more posts to follow.

Food Glorious Food – When we first visited Camp Bestival three years ago now one of the biggest surprises for me was how amazing and varied the food on offer there is.

The moment we leave the car Izzy is on a mission to have her first Nutella and cream cover waffle whilst Darren finds it hard to move away from the Paella UK stall the entire weekend.

I however like to try something new each time we visit and for me it was DJ BBQ that tempted me this year with his woody flavoured pulled pork, crispy rustic chips and of course the fab tunes blasting out whilst waiting for your order. You really do get a feast for all your senses when you eat there.

Absolutely every taste is catered for from delicious maki rolls that are perfect for vegan diets, crispy breaded chicken, amazingly creamy mac ‘n’ cheese, corn on the cobs as big as your head and so much more!

Music, Singing, Dancing – One of the main attractions at Camp Bestival is the music and in the past the boys were a little young for us to really appreciate it due to the fact they got a little restless. This year however they fully embraced it all and we couldn’t be happier.

It as actually my youngest that made my weekend when we when to see YouTube star HRVY take to the stage in the big top. Izzy had left us all and weaved her way to the very front of the stage to get as close to her teenage crush as possible, while Oscar waited patiently on Darren’s shoulders for him to take to the stage.

His little face lit up and he spent the entire set transfixed on the stage, singing along to his favourite tunes. It so amazing that children so young can get the opportunity to enjoy the wonder of live music in such a safe and friendly atmosphere.

Sarah Cox wowed the crowds with an outstanding set of all our 80’s favourites that we took great pleasure in dancing along to whilst embarrassing the kids. Basement Jaxx and Clean Bandit were as awesome as I expected and we were thrilled that the boys managed to stay awake long enough for the later acts this year…with the help of a little sugar!

Doing It For The Kids – Ultimately Camp Bestival is all about the kids and this year as always there was something for them to do around every corner. This year we didn’t watch so much on the main stage although Dinosaur World Live was pretty amazing. Instead we spend a lot of time in the Kids Garden where the children got their craft on in the craft tent, turned into little einsteins in the Science Tent, wurled around on the helter skelter more times than I can remember, dug away in the sandpit and created some brilliant sandcastles.

A big hit with us was the LOL Surprise stand that was a real crowd pleaser. Izzy and the boys are all big fans of these little collectables and as you can imagine a whole area dedicated to them went down really well. They got to hunt for prizes in the ball pit, get a glittery makeover and even take to the catwalk that Izzy relished in.

All Mucking In – Camping is bundles of fun but far from easy, especially when there are a few little ones to sort out. This calls for everyone to have their own little tasks which is something they don’t really get involved with at home. I’m actually my own worst enemy and take care of all the cooking and cleaning at home for a quiet life so I love that Camp Bestival allows me to relax a little and hand the meal prep baton over to Darren, the washing up and water runs to Izzy and the tent cleaning to the little ones.
A bit of responsibility is certainly good for them and something I love to see.

Good Friends – Over the past few years Camp Bestival has been a brilliant place to make new and meet up with good friends. The blogging world is a funny one with a lot of friendships being built online and I love that Camp Bestival gives me the opportinity to meet with them at least once a year and have a good catch up over a cocktail or two! Aby from You Baby Me Mummy and Caro from The Twinkle Diaries being two of the lovelies I can’t wait to see each year.

Back To Basics – Every year I say the same thing but it always has and probably always will be the most import thing about Camp Bestival for me – family time.
We all spend way to much of our live lost in our own little words and rushing around worry about the next thing, tied to our smart phones and computer screens and forget about the things in life that are really import.
The ability to really get back to basics and forget about everything else for a few days is the perfect way to draw closer as a family and just enjoy each other.

If this sounds like the kind of place for you, and lets face it why wouldnt it! take a look HERE and get yourselves booked in for more fun next year.

*I went along as an ambassador for Camp Bestival and here are all my own honest opinions.

Keeping The Kids Busy This Summer With David Lloyd

For some of us the long school summer holidays are already upon us or they are only a few days away and I’m sure that many of you are the same as me and having mixed feelings about it.

I absolutely adore having mine at home with me but it can also be a real struggle to keep them entertained and also work around them when all they want to do is have your attention.

This is where David Lloyd Health Clubs are an absolute godsend and offer anything from a fulfilled day with all the family, a few hours in a club or two to keep them occupied, full days of childcare and so much more.

With Oscar set to start school this September and Frankie needing a little extra extra push with swimming we are booking onto the intense course to really make sure they get their water wings ready!

It is not only swimming that All Stars at David Lloyd offer. They can learn skills in tennis and gymnastics too with the clubs expert coaches who make learning lots of fun!

As well as keeping fit as a family by swimming together, have a game of tennis or taking part in one of the family friendly circuit or spin classes the children can join in one of the many clubs that DL Kids offer. If sport isn’t their thing then there are plenty of other ways to keep them entertained such as film club, arts and crafts or Nintendo Wii sessions.

These clubs are a great way to keep them entertained and make new friends while you can take part in a class, head to the gym or even enjoy a treatment in the spa.

The holidays can be a really tricky time for working parents and finding childcare that the children will enjoy can be a real challenge. At David Lloyd you have the option of half or full days in their very resonantly priced holiday camps where the children can enjoy all the fun of DL Kids plus a yummy lunch…what could they possibly not enjoy about this!

My younger ones are pretty easy to please and are happy to give anything a go. My eldest son however is pretty hard to drag away from the Xbox but by some kind of miracle David Lloyd has managed to do that! He has loved coming to win as a family and of course fill his belly in the DLicious Cafe which is always a hit with us all for its deliiocs coffees, creamy smoothies and vast choice of healthy hot and cold meals. All of which can be enjoyed in the cafe itself or in the dedicated children’s area where the kids can left of steam in the soft play or spend some time on the built-in iPads.

Some thing he is yet to try is are the special 11+ gym, swimming and tennis sessions which he has his sights set on the summer.

With this wonderful weather we are having at the moment we also want to spend as much time as we can outside and David Lloyd has a large number of clubs with outdoor pools which we are itching to try out. Outdoor swimming in the UK is pretty limited these days so this really is a fantastic addition.

I’m sure there are things that I haven’t covered as the fun at David Lloyd is so expense you really need to see it to belive it. Why not nip along to your local club and see for yourself what a membership could offer you and your family this summer.

*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

Disney On Ice Is Back With Worlds Of Enchantment

A few weeks ago Izzy and I took to the ice with Frankie Bridge and some of the stars from Disney On Ice to practice some moves whilst they were getting ready for the new show – Worlds Of Enchantment.

It is set to be yet another jaw dropping show with Ariel and her undersea kingdom, Lightning McQueen and his friends racing round the rink, the timeless classics from Toy Story that I know will be the favourite of my boys and of course there couldn’t be a show set on ice without an appearance from Anna, Elsa, Olaf and Kristoff.

Take a look below at just a snippet of what there is to see and keep an eye out of what we thought when we visit the show at the SSE Arena next week. It really would make the perfect day out this Easter!

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Seven

Well I am really playing catch up with myself this week and I am really behind with my “celebrating the small things” posts, however I promised myself I wouldn’t miss a week and I’m going to stick to it.

This week I’m going to be looking back over half term which was a pretty horrendous one for us to be honest!

All of the children were ill until the end of the week and to say I was getting cabin fever would be an understatement, but we still managed to get a few good moments to record.

Feeling Grateful For My Job: School holidays can be a real issue when it comes to thinking of things to occupy the children and this is where I am extremely grateful for my work as it brings such amazing opportunities for the children and allows their time off to be filled with amazing memories.

This half term we were asked if we would like to become Chessington World Of Adventure ambassadors again this year so it would have been rude to not have a trip to celebrate wouldn’t it. We also had a wonderful afternoon at a Little Miss And Mr Men Tea Party where the children were treated to an afternoon of food, fun and personalised pictures from Adam Hargreaves.

Growing Up Fast: I received an email from Oscar’s nursery to let me know that they would be changing things a little at nursery to get the older ones ready for their big move to reception this coming September.

If I’m honest it gave me a big lump in my throat to think that my last little one would be moving on and I won’t have a little one around the house during the day anymore.

We spent a good while that afternoon practicing writing his name and learning his numbers and I was immensely proud of how far he has come…even if I’m not quite ready for it!

Feeling Proud Of My ‘Middlish’ Child: I say ‘middlish’ as when you have five children there isn’t really a middle child is there!

The one I am referring to however is Izzy. I often underestimate how much she does for me and when I sit back and think about it I would be pretty lost without her.

I always told myself that it was my decision to have a large family and putting on the older children was something I wouldn’t do as it has never been their choice.

In reality though a huge part of my day involves try to solo parent whilst working and this is no mean feat at times and I have to call in some help which 9 times out of 10 falls on Izzy.

Don’t get me wrong she loves to have a moan and a groan about it at times but is always there to help wether I ask or not and I really need to show her my gratitude for this more often.