The Cutty Sark:A Day Out For All The Family

[AD] I am ashamed to say that although the Cutty Sark is less than an hour away from us I have never visited, either alone or with the children. It’s one of those places that is so close I’ve simply overlooked it and never made the trip.

However during the half term holidays we were invited along and I was as excited as the children to have our first visit.

After a short journey that was made extra special with a trip on the Docklands Light Railway – another first that I highly recommend if you have little ones we arrived and were immediately taken aback with the sheer beauty and splendour of the ship.

There was no queue at all to get on which is always a bonus when you have children as hyperactive as mine. There is the option to take in the sights of a ship with an interactive guide that talks you though each and every step; but the boys are a little more hands on and decided they just wanted to go ahead and get exploring.

A big worry for me was that the whole set up would be more aimed at adults but this couldn’t be further from the truth. All three of the magnificent decks have been geared up for inquisitive little fingers which certainly placated my nerves.

The lower deck was the first to be explored and it gave you the first insights into the history behind the tea clipper and how and where it carried its precious cargo. It also allowed you to witness the skeleton of the ship and just how much detailed is in the inner workings. The boys were absolutely amazed by the length and the thickness of the huge chains that would have anchored the ship down all those years ago.

Next up was the middle deck which was definitely the area my boys enjoyed the most. There was a special bench that mimicked the movement of the ship, lots of wooden toys for tiny ones to get their fingers on, a chance to sail your very own ship and a whole host of interactive displays to explain what everyday life would have been like onboard.

For me it had to be the top deck that was most impressive. The beautiful glossy wood and brass fittings along with the masses of ropes the seemed to fill the sky really was an amazing sight to see.

The boys ran up and down the decking and exclaimed, “we feel like a Goonie”. They loved being able to get inside the sleeping quarters to try out the bunk beds, peep through the port holes and take a look at the grand dinning area and see where all the food would have been prepared.

The last port of call was to take a look under the boat. I was just expecting an area to take a look at the ship itself but it was in fact a really laid back, peaceful area where you can grab a bite to eat, sit down and take in the beauty on the boat or indeed the stunning views of London from the viewing gallery or take part in one of the many activities on offer for the children.

Whist we were there there was a big group of children all playing a game to help them understand a little more about the ship in a really fun way(you can check out the highlights on my instastories to see a little more).

My preconceived ideas of what the day was going to hold we’re completely smashed after our visit. I took on a whole host of knowledge from the trip as well as the boys and it is definitely well worth a visit.

There is so much for the children to see and do and if you check out Royal Museums Greenwich they will keep you updated on all the fun things on offer for the family such as toddler time, meet the captain and Cutty Sark characters and lots more.

Creating Your Own Pizza With Pizza Express

[AD] During half term we had the pleasure of heading along to the Pizza Express test kitchen in West London for a very special pizza making party.

In usual fashion we arrived once the party had started to a room filled with plums of flour and happy little faces; the boys couldn’t wait to get stuck in!

The dough was kneaded and spun like true professionals and they were then given a whole host of toppings to fill their base with.

A smiling face seemed to be a running theme amongst a lot of the children and it was lovely to see their creative minds at work; this leads me on to letting you know about a fab competition that allows the little ones to use their brilliant imaginations to create their own pizza that if selected could end up on Pizza Express’s very own Piccolo menu.

All you need to do is head over to the Pizza Express Site and select four toppings from a choice of 20 for your very own pizza and then give your creation a super special name to make it stand out from the crowd!

I know that my little ones would be over the moon to be able to visit any of their restaurants and order their very own creation.

The competition is open until Monday 17th June 19 and is open to all children up to the age of 13.

Once the children had finished their pizzas they were popped into the oven to cook whilst they took part in a game of pin the moustache on the waiter which proved to be very popular.

With the smell of pizza in their air everyone got scrubbed up and ready to eat. The meal obviously started with their infamous dough balls, followed closely by their very own pizzas.

For me Pizza Express is the only restaurant we visit that Frankie and his allergies are completely catered for. He doesn’t have to put up with a completely separate/bland menu but instead he can indulge in exactly the same food that the rest of his family and friends enjoy without any worry. From the soft and squashy dough balls to pretty much any pizza he fancies and to finish it’s not just a bowl of fruit or a boring lolly; he can have a ice cream…well sorbet that he never notices the difference with and even a gooey chocolate brownie!

It’s has been one of our top restaurants for family dining for a while now and after our pizza making extravaganza it will remain there for a long time to come I’m sure.

Room On The Broom – A Magical Journey At Chessington World Of Adventures

[Press Event] For a long time now the most loved ride at Chessington World Of Adventures for us has been the Gruffalo River Ride. The familiar characters from the Julia Donaldson classic has been bought to life and even the cynical teens of the family love to ride on the former ‘Bubble Works’ which we never thought could be replaced.

Fast forward a few years and I was over the moon to learn that another Julia Donaldson classic – Room On The Broom was going to be brought to life again and we would be one of the lucky few to see it first.

As always I was as excited as the kids as we set off to Chessington World Of Adventures. It was a pretty early start and we were over the moon to be greeted with a Room On The Broom themed breakfast of wand shaped fruit skewers, star shaped biscuits and mini caldron of sweets(bring on the sugar rush!).

Full up and eager to get to the ride we made our way over to the old Hocus Pocus Hall which was now home to the brand new Room On The Broom – A Magical Journey.

As we entered the familiar large doors we soon realised it had, had a real transformation and was now a library that was home to a bubbling witches caldron. We even got to see Julia Donaldson herself before we entered!

From the start I could tell this was going to be a very interactive experience which is always a hit with the boys.

A stormy wind gust in, blowing away the witches treasured possessions and from there we were sent on a mission to try and find them.

We weaved through woods and we’re challenged to release her hat from the trees, search through haystacks to find her bow and bash the fireflies to reclaim her wand; not forgetting to dodge the dragon who was looking out for a diner of ‘Witch and Chips’.

The boys were pleased to see that a couple of the original features of the house still remain and I will league it down to you to visit and find out for yourselves.

As well as this amazing new attraction there has been two new themed rooms added to the Safari Hotel they would make for an amazing addition to any trip.

This really is a must for all those Julia Donaldson fans out there and had made the perfect partner to the Gruffalo River Ride.

Lapland UK – Creating Traditions

The moment the boys clapped eyes on the familiar little box from the end of the hallway they immediately knew that it was a gift from Father Christmas inviting them to Lapland UK. The mere sight of it had filled them with joy and they hurriedly opened the box that had been pre chilled by me as it had come from the cold climbs of Lapland UK. The pretty wax seals were delicately opened and I was over the moon that Frankie could read his invite this year which really added to the magic.

For me when it comes to Christmas there is nothing as special as having traditions that you can create year after year and through the familiarity bring something a little bit special to this magical time of year. For instance a trip to the farm with a pit stop at the pub has been something we have done on Christmas Eve for many years and making our own mince pies to leave for Father Christmas is a lovely thing to do each and every year and I hope that these little things will be passed down to my grandchildren.

I’m sure that a visit to Father Christmas is always on the list for most people and after speaking to friends this can also be the point in which a lot of children begin to question the authenticity of Father Christmas.

‘Why did he have blue eyes this year Mummy?’, ‘Why does his house look different this year?’. These are all little questions that come into inquisitive little minds and if  like me you want to keep the magic alive for as long as possible then visit that brings you the same wonder, with familiar surroundings and of course the most authentic Father Christmas you are ever going to see then Lapland UK will never be topped.

After last years visit where I was brought to tears and Frankie left exclaiming he had seen ‘the real’ Father Christmas I knew that this was an experience that would never be topped and one that would keep the magic alive for years to come.

Last year we visited in the daytime and I thought it would be good to see Lapland UK in all its glory when it was dark and the christmas lights were at their best. We pulled into the carpark and there were squeals of delight from the back of the car – even from Izzy who is a non believer now.

We headed towards the entrance and picked up our passports and Jingles (Lapland UK currency). Its these little touches that really make you feel you have been transported to somewhere else.

It wasn’t long before we were greeted by the friendly elves and their special ‘elf wave’ that the children had remembered from last year and before we new it we had started out journey. We all loved listening to the story of Lapland UK and hearing what was going to be expected from us all on our adventure.

We then headed off in our teams which are either team reindeer or team husky through the huge wooden doors that unveiled a snowy winer wonderland that really is something to behold.

The children hurried onto the Toy Factory while I took it at a slower pace to enjoy the amazing detail that goes into everything. No stone is left unturned when it come to detail here, they really do get everything just right. When we arrived at the Toy Factory the small folk, as the children are referred to at Lapland UK head in through the super cute little door and take to their seats, whilst the big folk later around the sides leaving the children to feel extra special by stating the task on their own. Ordinarily in situations like this Frankie is terrible and clinging to me and nine times out of ten will refuse to join in. It is however a completely different story here and he is more than happy to get stuck in and they all throughly enjoyed stuffing their toy penguin that is then left at the factory to give to little girls and boys on Christmas Eve.

From here we headed to Mother Christmas’s Kitchen where we were treated to a story from Mother Christmas who is as warm and loving as you would imagine and then they set to decoding their gingerbread men that Oscar and Izzy demolished in seconds, whilst Frankie packed his away to give to Father Christmas on Christmas Eve.

The small folks work was now done and we were given some time to explore the village which was even more spectacular in the dark. The snow cover trees and colourful lights set the most amazing atmosphere for us to take to the ice, grab a bite to eat and dose shopping.

I am not a fan of ice skating at all and the fact that they offer special attachments for the little ones shoes makes me so happy. The can then skate with ease so I can concentrate on keeping myself up right! All of that skating calls for something to warm you up and I have it from my little babychinno expect that Lapland UK offer the best babychinno he has ever had.

The bauble shop is always one of my favourite places and somewhere you can get a lovely momento of your trip. The children adore the toy shop which had changed around slightly this year and to me offered some amazing toys that were very reminiscent of Santa Claus The Movie and brought back some lovely memories for me.

The children love to select some goodies from the sweet shop where there is just to much to choose from and again a lovely place to pick up a little treat…or two!

It was now time to see the main attraction – Father Christmas, so we made our way along the snow cover path looking at the little eves homes and stopping to greet the reindeer on our way. One of the highlights for the boys last year was definitely making some reindeer food to take home and they were very excited to do this again whilst also keeping an eye out for all their favourite reindeers.

Our last stop was nearly upon us and after a very short wait we were taken by a very excitable elf to see Father Christmas. The children sat on the little bench outside full of excitement and anticipation and butterflies filled my tummy at the thought of seeing their little faces one we were inside.

Father Christmas was exactly as we had remembered him, the children were grinning from ear to ear and yet again aa tear came to my eye as he spoke about thing the children had been up to and wether or not they had made it onto the good list this year.

All as pleased as punch they had made it onto the list they received a gorgeous golden bell and cuddly husky, but I think above anything that little bit of time spent with the ‘real’ Father Christmas again is what made our trip.

Yet again Lapland UK gave us an afternoon of magic and winer that we will never forget and something that doesn’t easily get forgotten about once you get back home. The love they have for their huskies is there all year and they come on many a day out with us and being able to scatter the reindeer food and putting the gingerbread man out for Father Christmas on Christmas Eve means that a trip to Lapland UK really is a gift that keeps on giving and one we will never forget.

* We were invited along to Lapland UK for the purpose of this review and they are all my own honest opinions.

The Snowman Experience:Review

We are huge fans of the Backyard Cinema and the themed cinematic experiences they offer.

Over the past few year we have swung through the jungle to see the jungle book and walked through a winter night garden to watch Elf, but this year when we were asked to come go along to Winter Wonderland to The Snowman Experience it was even more amazing than I had imagined and they have certainly built in their fantastic idea and gone all out to create the mot spectacular experience.

Inside the hustle and bustle of Winter Wonderland is a huge cinema offering much more than just a screening.

This year the iconic book – The Snowman by Raymond Briggs is celebrating it’s 40th with this extra special showing.

As I’m sure you will all agree, The Snowman is the epitome of Christmas. The charming tale of a small boy and his adventures with his snowman friend fill my heart with the joy of Christmas and I will never tire of this story. However I didn’t expect it to be transformed as it was for us this weekend.

We stepped inside a wooded area and weaved our away into the cinema, stopping for a photo first. As we took to our seats we saw the screen surrounded by brilliant props that made the illusion we were inside the story. As the film began we were treated to a few surprises from the stage that the kids were amazed by.

After a short while we were unexpectedly whisked through to another room where the huge curved screen allowed us to feel that we had taken flight with the snowman himself.

The last room was set up ready for the grand finale where everyone was ready to party. With flashing lights and familiar tunes the boys loved dancing along whilst watching the big screen. But the biggest surprise of all was The Snowman himself making an appearance to a crowd of excited children all eager to meet him.

The Backyard Cinema really have excelled themselves this time and have given us a experience to remember for many years to come.

The experience is running from 10am – 10pm up until 6th January 2019 and it’s not to be missed!

* We were given tickets for the purpose of this review and they are all my own, honest opinions.

A Laid Back Trip To Santa At The London Transport Museum

A trip to the London Transport Museum always goes down well with my lot, especially at Christmas. I mean being in the heart of Covent Garden which is always brimming with festive cheer has to be one of the most perfect settings; and last weekend as we caught sight of the beautiful red and blue christmas tree standing proud outside the museum we were filled with excitement and anticipation of what the day would hold.

We made our way inside where the boys immediately jumped on board the buses letting their imaginations run wild, asking where we wanted to travel to and recalling all the London landmarks they could think of.

When they had finished we made our way to the magical forest to see if we could find Santa. Unlike last year where you went inside a cabin to meet Santa as a family things have been changed around a little and the whole experience is less formal and has a lovely laid back feel to it.

We sat on cosy cushions whilst the boys played with wooden toys and read books until the big man himself arrived. He sat amongst and chatted to us all, asking how far we had come and what the childrens wishes were for christmas. He gave each child a special badge and was more than happy for you to take photos with him.

There were lots of tiny tots there which for me seemed like the perfect introduction to meeting Santa without the long queues and hefty price tags. Santa will be there until the 23rd December from eleven to three so keep an eye out for him throughout the museum.

The festive fun doesn’t stop there as there is the opportunity to sit amongst the magical forest for the story time sessions that run everyday at 11.30 and 1.30 and use an array of different props and instruments.

The boys also took a chance to get crafty by making glittery, sparkly christmas decoration with all manner of glitter glues and pretty pom poms.

All the sessions are completely free of charge and come in with the entry price which at £17.50 per adult and children going free is amazing value. This entry price also gives you admittion for 12 months so you can enjoy the museum time and time again.

We headed around the rest of the museum where the boys got to play at being train drivers, took me for a ride in a taxi and played for ages in the play area which is always a big hit.

One area of the museum which seems to have eluded us until now is the Upper Deck cafe where we had an amazing lunch. On previous visits we had eaten inside the hub of the museum which was a great way to grab a quick bite whilst the kids play, but the Upper Deck gave us a much vaster menu and an amazing view of Covent Garden whilst we ate.

We were all super hungry and we filled our bellies with delicious juicy sausages, oozing burgers and crispy chips. There was a great choice from salads and sandwiches to coffees and cakes and the cake were certainly the piece de resistance for us with a super cool London underground icing top.

To finish our day we headed back down to the museum shop which is probably within the minority of attraction shops I don’t wizz the kids through.  They have a gorgorgous range of eclectic gifts, stunning christmas decorations and pocket money toys that are a far cry from the usual brittle plastic rubbish you usually come across.

I really can’t stop singing praises for the London Transport Museum and it really is a brilliant place to visit at this time of year.

* We were gifted this day out plus gifts for the purpose of this review and they are all my own honest opinions.

An Uber Cool Christmas At Winterville

Last year we had our first visit to Winterville on Clapham Common. We didn’t really know what to expect and we were pleasantly surprised with its calm, cool, festive vibe.

When we were asked to visit again this year we jumped at the chance and as soon as we got there we knew it was going to be just as much fun. The neon sign shone out across the park and welcomed us in with its pretty christmas lights, catchy christmas tunes and the smell of wonderful food.

I would actually sat that if you are  bit of a foodie then Winterville will be right up your street.  There is so much on offer with the Truck Stop and Street Feast areas homing the majority of the stalls. From crispy chips to sticky ribs, Baileys hot chocolates and warm cookie dough puddings.

Of course its not just food and drink on offer at Winterville. There is a whole plethora of amazing activities to join in with and the kids didn’t know where to start first!

The gleaming lights of the fairground rides were calling us and while Izzy headed to the bigger rides I stayed with the boys and took a ride on the train, span around in the tea cups and watched them as they bounced as high as they could on the trampolines.

It was now a bit of time for Mum so I grabbed a mulled wine and took a look around the Solo Craft Fair that had some amazing gifts for some amazing independent business which makes a very welcome change to some Christmas markets that are full of  mass produced items you can get anywhere.

Crazy golf is always something my lot love and the the UV – powered Plonk Golf course at Winterville was great fun.

Anything that involves being on wheels or blades draws my children in but is my worst nightmare! Winerville have both a beautiful ice rink and a roller disco on offer and i managed to persuade the kids to only try out the ice skating as I don’t think my nerves could take both.

All of the children could take to the ice and there are penguins to help the round the rink. We all did really well until the very end where Oscar took a tumble just as he was putting his penguin back. We ended up with a split lip and a very sad little boy and I have to say that in this moment of need we were confrunted by a surly and very unhelpful member of staff which was a real shock after having such an amazing experience with everyone we had come across.

We literally scrapped the surface of everything on offer at Winterviile. There are live DJ sets, cocktail bars, wrestling, Backyard Cinema, Big Fish Little Fish family rave, family shows on a double decker bus and so much more.

So if your looking for somewhere to kick off that festive spirit then this is the place to be!

*we were given tickets to Winterville for the purpose of this review and they are all my own, honest opinions.

A Dickens Inspired Christmas At Hever Castle

Last year was our first visit to Hever Castle at Christmas time and I was completely taken in with the traditional feeling they had created, and on our return trip to the press evening last week those same feeling came flooding back the minute we drove into the car park.

The entrance was filed with light covered trees and and as we walked down to the main hub the sky was filled with laser beams that were being projected across the lake.

The whole walk down to the castle was in fact a visual delight with disco balls sparking in archways and pretty lights everywhere we looked.

On of the highlights for me last year was the little area tucked behind the entrance to the toilets….yes it doesn’t sound to glamorous, but it was full of snow covers trees and peopled huddled around an open fire and it got our visit off to the perfect start.

The children didn’t know what to look at or were to go first so we had a few goes on the beautiful carousel and a run through the hall of mirrors to let off some steam!

After this we were all eager to get inside the castle and see how it had been decorated. We were greeted with hot mulled mine, sausage rolls and mince pies which made for an amazing experience but my nerves wear more than a little on edge at the though of sticky fingers and all the beautiful furniture!

We went in and out of every room or which each one was breathtaking. A castle steeped in history and full of Christmas spirit had got to be a pretty amazing sight to see.

Before we knew it it was our turn to go and visit Father Christmas. The boys exciting skipped along the candy caned lined walkway until we reached the grotto and were welcomed by Father Christmas’s friendly elves.

They lead us threw a snow covered pathway until we reached his little house that was tucked away behind the trees.

He greeted the children in such a warm manner and the children’s faces lit up as soon as he started speaking to them…even Izzy’s.

They were each given a lovely gift and we headed out to giant our evening with the ‘Christmas Carol’ trail.

The trail was themed around the Dickens classic and saw us meeting characters from the classic tail along the way. It is an interactive experience that kept us wondering what we were going to come across next!

We left the castle full of Christmas spirit and wanting to visit again before Christmas is out!

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

Nativity Rocks:Review

The Nativity movies have been a big hit in our house for many years now. The light hearted, feel good factor they give you is a huge attraction and always fill you with the spirt of Christmas.

A couple of weeks ago we were invited along to a screening of the fourth Nativity movie – Nativity Rocks in Leicester Square.

Kitted out in my sparkly jumper…much to the embarrassment of the kids we started the morning with some fun in the foyer making snow globes, getting glitter tattoos and eating out first mince pies of the year.

This movie had a very different feel to it then the others as the main bulk of the story was based around a young Syrian refugee called Doru and his Father who get separated in there quest to seek refuge in the UK.

Doru finds himself in the middle of Coventry in the midst of their Christmas preparations where he is found and taken to safety by the warm and friendly social worker Shelly(Helen George) who in-lists the help of the super foster mum(Merry Syal).

We were a little concerned about the absence of our favourite character, Mr Poppy bit we needed had worried as he had been replaced by his long lost brother who made an equally loveable Mr Poppy mark two!

Whilst Mr Poppy(Simon Lipkin) searching for his long lost family at St Bernadettes he bumps into Doru who has enrolled in the school and they form a bond over their similarities.

Of course there has to be some kind of musical theme to the movie and this comes in the form of the whole of Coventry competing to represent their town in The Christmas Town Of The Year.

Emmanuel Cavendish(Craig Revel Horwood) is brought in as the superstar set to put Coventry on the map with his expert knowledge of everything showbiz but the evil villain has the opposite effect and the community come together to go it alone.

Along the way there are all kinds of adventure from Doru and Mr Poppy, an unlikely friendship is but between a little boy from the rival private school.

I won’t spoil any more of the story for you and I will leave you safe in the knowledge that this thought provoking, heart warming story with have you laughing and crying in equal measure and will fill your heart with everything that Christmas should represent!

David Lloyd Know How To Party

As I’m sure most of you know by now that I only have praise for the amazing health club that is – David Lloyd.

It helped my find my mojo again and was the catalyst for my weight loss, it’s a great way to spend quality time as a family as well as keeps you fit and it has even pulled my gaming mad son away from his Xbox which is no mean feat and I will be talking more about this soon.

As well as everything I have mentioned above one of the big pulls for me is the sense of community that David Lloyd encourages. There was is always something going on from quiz nights to BBQs and the other evening we went along to experience this at the kids Halloween party.

The three hour long party was full of fun from beginning to end. The children got the chance to make slime, try their luck with the slimy lucky dip, bob for apples, get their faces painted and so much more!

The staff all got into the spirit of the event and were dressed up and full of life. They boogied away with the kids and seemed to be enjoying themselves as much as the children.

All parties need some good food and there was plenty on offer…even cheeseburgers in the shape of pumpkins!

It was the perfect way to kick off our Halloween half term and has only instilled in me more why David Lloyd is the only health club we would choose.

*We have been given a family membership for the purpose of these posts and they are all my own, honest opinions.