My Top Ten Cheap Summer Holiday Activities

I love having the kids home for the summer…well most of the time, but my purse certainly feels the strain so I always try to find as many cheap activities to get us out of the house as I can I have have listed my top ten here for you to take a look at.

  • IKEA – This Is my saviour at least a couple of times during the holidays. We head over there early to grab their cheap breakfast and avoid the queues and then the kids absolutely love walking around and playing house in all the different room set ups. As long as I can resist popping candles and pot plants into my trolley then it makes for a really cheap day out.
  • Swimming – Over the summer months a lot of council run pools offer free or heavily subsidised swimming for kids. This is perfect to keep my teens busy for free as well as the little ones. Check out Croydon Pools or Donyings, Redhill if you are a Surrey local.
  • The Library– Most libraries run a reading scheme over summer that gives the children a chance to use the library and gain merits of different kinds once they complete different stages.
  • Fruit Picking – This is something I love as much as the children to be honest. They get the chance to see where the fruit is grown and then can go home and enjoy the fruits of their labour.
  • Soft Play – To be honest soft play is never my first choice of activity but the kids absolutely love it and many independent soft play facilities such as Little Lambs Soft Play have some great offers running over this period.
  • National Trust – We have had a National Trust card for a few years now and it really is so worth the money. A couple of trips and you will have covered the years membership and it gives you a whole hosts of homes and gardens to discover and lots of activities to take part in once you’re there.
  • Play Dates – A change is as good as a rest so they say. Sharing play dates is a great way to get out of the house, see friends and save on having a big day out.
  • The Park – For us a trip to the park is good wherever the weather. There is puddle jumping when the rain shows it’s face or bug hunting and picnicking when the sun comes out to play.
  • Hit The Beach – A trip to the beach is great whatever the weather too. For the price of a packet of chips or an ice cream you can have a whole day of exploring.
  • Food Shopping – Now this one is a little random but all my children have loved to help with the food shop. They can read items off the list and find them on the shelves and even get all the ingredients to then get home and help out with dinner. For me it’s an essential thing to do that can be made fun!

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.

Our March…

March seems to have come and gone in the blink of an eye and as I still here going over what we have been up to I think it’s probably the fact we have been so busy it has just flown by.

Archie started off the month with landing himself his first real part time job. It is on a church retreat and he had the job of cooking, cleaning and serving the guests. He seems to be thoroughly enjoying the more tasks he is set and meeting new people who all seem to have sixth amazing stories to tell.

I have to admit when he first told me about where it was(down a load of country lanes with no public transport) I was moaning like made as I knew this was going to fall back on me to get him there and back. But it wasn’t until someone said instead of moaning you should be proud of him for taking the time to find himself work and apply himself that I realise I should suck it up and praise him for his drive and want for independence.

Frankie has one of his routine trips to the hospital for an eye check and the good news is he is nearly done with patching. There has been a huge improvement in this sight and they have got it to a leave that is now remaining stable, so the daily battles with the patch I’m am happy to say are now over!

I fast forwarded the year and stepped straight into summer at the Next Happy Hotel event where I got to look at a whole host of products from homeware, clothing and beauty that are set to make for a pretty great summer. There were some fantastic pieces in each and every section but I think I was most surprised by the amount of other beauty brands that are available through next. I had no idea they stocked Benefit…did you?

From a event on my own to one with all the family at Chessington World Of Adventures. For those of you that regularly read my blog you will know that I have been an ambassador for them for the past few years now and absolutely love watching the changes each and every year. This year the have a new interactive attraction based on the much loved book – Room On The Broom. The children loved it and it’s a must see for any fans of the story.

I have been up and down with my exercise but Jemma’s Health Hub has kept things pretty constant for me so I’m hoping to feel a lot healthier and less self continuous this summer.

Whist we are in the subject of health I had a little bit of a scare with some chest pains that I was referred to the hospital for. My blood pressure isn’t really what it should be and I am waiting on a scan just to check that everything is ok and it’s actually given me more of a push to shift these pounds and get my exercise back to being an everyday routine rather than a chore.

Peppa Pig is still very much a favourite in this house with the boys…even though Frankie wouldn’t let on to anyone; so we were very excited to go along to Leicester Square to see the new film that is put this Easter. The boys absolved it and I’m sure it’s going to be another big hit.

From this screening we went straight to the Royal Opera House to take a look at one of their family fun Sunday events. I was more than a little apprehensive about taking the youngest two as they don’t really scream Royal Opera house! I needn’t have worried though as it was such a relaxed atmosphere where they got to enjoy lots of crafts, storytelling sessions and witness the most amazing ballet and modern performances. It really would come highly recommend from us.

With Mother’s Day on everyone’s minds I was invited along for afternoon tea with Paperchase. We got to chat to lots of lovey mummies and take a look at all the amazing products Paperchase had to offer this year.

A highlight for me probably more than the children this month though was a screening of the new Dumbo movie. It is most definitely a childhood favourite for me and I was so pleased that Disney had worked their magic and managed to recreate a different but equally as thought provoking and heart warming movie as the last.

Spring definitely seems to have been making an appearance and we have been enjoying this with some time in the garden, plenty of hot cross buns and some spring flowers. I really do love this time of year.

The last few days of March will always be ones to remember as the day we were celebrating Izzy’s 13th birthday party my eldest daughter Alice decided to give birth to my beautiful second grandchild. We don’t like to do things by halves in this family and it was a whirlwind 24 hours but I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.

After all the chaos it was time to celebrate Mother’s Day and this is traditionally a nightmare day and this year didn’t disappoint.

I think I have this ridiculous expectations that my children are going to turn into angels for one day and the arguing and bad behaviour are all going to disappear! Sadly of course this doesn’t happen and we started the day with two of them devouring my chocolates before I even sat down to breakfast, one then decided to throw the said breakfast as their sisters head and so the day started.

Next year I’m going to lower the expectations in the hope that this will help!

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.

Little Tikes First Slide:Review

[AD] I don’t think there is a child on the planet that doesn’t enjoy playing on a slide and as well as being great fun there are a whole host of reasons why it is a fantastic piece of equipment for your child.

Helps With Balance And Coordination – Having to navigate the steps, positioning themselves at the top and finally letting themselves go down the slide all help to build their balance and coordination skills.

Grow Their Spacial Awareness – Not getting to close to the person in front and waiting until their path is clear when using a slide is a great way to get children to become aware of the space around them and how to use it.

Building Their Confidence – For some climbing those first steps and letting themselves go down the slide can be a little daunting so it is a great way to build their confidence.

Slides have always been the first choice for all my children when it comes to play equipment and being able to have a slide that is so versatile it can be used inside and outside the home is a real winner and exactly what you get with the Little Tikes First Slide. Its easy to assemble, rigid plastic is the perfect slide for children from 18 months to 5 years.

We put the slide together in a matter of minutes and due to the ease of this the slide can be moved around and stored away without any problems at all. Oscar loves being outside but not on his own, so for those times when he wants to play with the slide and I’ve got stuff to do it comes into the dining room and he can pay away whist I get on.

Little Tikes will always have our hearts as their toys are always faultless and we have found exactly the same with this slide.

Tots To Teens Gift Guide

This year I have decided to bundle all the kids gifts into one as lets face it no one child likes something just because it is aimed at their age or gender so here are a few of my top pics for this christmas from tots to teens and everyone in between.

Matchstick Monkey – These super cute teethers are made of super soft material that has been made into an ergonomically designed teether suitable for each and every teething stage. Matchstick Monkey are the perfect size for little hands to grip and can easily be taken anywhere you wish.

Johnson’s Baby Bedtime Giftset – The gift of sleep is as enjoyable for us as it is the babies and this gorgeous set from Johnson’s comprising of a baby bath, baby wash, baby lotion and baby oil makes for a lovely gift.

Jo Jo Maman Bebe Christmas Dinner Set – This gorgeous set first caught my eye at an event in the summer and I real in love. The wooden set is a complete christmas dinner with a full turkey, pigs in blankets, roast potatoes, broccoli, brussel sprouts, carrots and a delicious looking christmas pudding. I can’t wait for the boys to serve me my own christmas this year!

Robo Chameleon – I think this is going to be my favourite toy this year never mind the kids! This cute portable robot has an illuminated, colour changing body and a tongue that shoots out to catch its food. The remote control allows the chameleon to move in four different directions as well as moves his tail and eyes. He moves around with ease collecting his food and storing in his mouth ready for the next game.

Dash – Coding is a big thing for kids at the moment and Dash the robot is a great way to get kids interested in a super fun way.  This interactive, educational and customisable robot who is able to sense his environment, moves, glows, makes sounds and can even interact with other robots. All of these activities are easy to program for children aged 6+.

Ready2Robot – Ready2Robot is an brilliant battle set offering 10 hidden chambers, 40 battle weapons and 100’s of ways to customise your battles. This is going to keep my boys busy for more than a while this Christmas.

The Original Den Kit – I love being outdoors with the kids and anything that makes them want to explore the great outdoors is a big hit in my book. This brilliant Den Kit from Muddy Puddles provides them with everything they need for a brilliant outdoor adventure.

Inside the green haversack there is everything you need to build the perfect den anywhere you like including a camouflage tarpaulin, waterproof groundsheet, wooden mallet, a mug, a tube of super cool faceprint, a rope, 8 tent pegs and institutions to help you along the way. This really is a present that will keep on giving!

Kids Kanteen Sippy Bottle – If you have children like mine then being asked for a drink is continuous. Having a super cool bottle for themselves is a great way to get them to take charge of their own drink. The Kid Kanteen is designed for children from 6 months and the the stainless steel and sippy lid is the perfect way to get your little ones to start thinking about reusable drinks bottles.

Bundle Beds – In my eyes Bundle Beds are one of the best inventions I have come across for a long time! Instead of pulling out your old sleeping bag and trying to get comfy on the hard floor a Bundle Bed offers a fully self-contained bed complete with a self inflating mattress, built in luxury duvet and pillow in a slimline and easy to store design.

Never before have I had such a good nights sleep in a ‘put up’ bed and it makes for the perfect extra sleeping space for sleepovers, camping or just cosying up in front of the TV.

A Few Minutes Of Design – I love something a little different to the norm and this pack of colourful cards is sure to get those creative juices flowing , allowing you to grow skills in creativity, invention and design.

On each card you will find an activity that lasts for around 15 mins and can be anything from how to name a project to how to say it without words. It is a very different gift that will certainly challenge the little ones and keep the away from the screen this Christmas.

Venom Mini BMX  – Going with our love of the outdoors, this mini BMX from Skates.co.uk is just the thing to get them out and about and exploring. This Venom bike to only looks super cool but also offers high pressure tyres, tappered treadless forks, upgraded CNC dropouts an  brand new colour-way.

It the perfect BMX to get there passion for riding flowing.

Knitty Critters – Crochet is something that has certainly come back into the spotlight over the past few years and I love anything that opens up ways for the children to learn new skills. Geoffrey The Giraffe is perfect for those with intermediate skills and will give your child a real sense of accomplishment once they have finished.

LushLush products have made it into my kid and adult guide this year as I think they span absolute every age. I know they each and everyone of us in this house loves there products and Izzy especially loves to receive one of their gorgeous gift boxes at this time of year.

MiPac Rucksack – A new bag always goes down well in our house for Christmas and you can’t go wrong with one from MiPac. A favourite of mine this year has to be the Tatty Devine collaboration and I know they there are a lot of teens out there that would love to receive this.

Crate Creature Basher Figures And Moj Moj – Two little stocking fillers that come top of my list this year are the Moj Moj cute and squishy collectibles and the mini crate creatures basher figures that come in a little box that can be used as a target.

* I was gifted this products for the purpose of this guide.

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.

Premier League Writing Stars Competition

Earlier in the year a few of you may remember that I was lucky enough to attend the Premier League Primary Stars One Year On event which introduced me to the fabulous community project that has been set up to help develop literary skills amongst primary aged children.

After hearing the children recite the winning entries I was absolutely astounded at the time, thought and love that had gone into these entries and the look of pride that beamed from the children’s faces was a clear indicator of what an amazing initiative this is.

Last year the project reached out to over 25000 schools and brought a fun and different way to engage the children in learning, opening up a different world to so many of them who ordinarily may not have had an interest in the written word before.

This year they are back with another poetry competition that has the theme of diversity. This is a great way to get the children thinking about and celebrating everyones differences as well as similarities and why these are so important.

This subject is close to my heart as since starting school the differences and segregation that comes with Frankie’s food allergies have been hightened and I think that getting his feelings written down about this could be really cathartic for him; and reading through other entries may open his eyes to all the differences in the world and how each and everyone of these makes that person special, individual and just as important and anyone else.

They have inslisted the help of poet Joseph Coelho who has written a poem entitled ‘Beautifly Different, Wonderfully The Same’ which I’m sure you will agree is just perfect to get the childrens imaginations and creativity flowing.

Again this year they have a star studded panel comprising of former Premier Leaugefootballer – Rio Ferdinand, author – Lauren Child,  singer/songwriter – Olly Murs and Joseph Coelho himself who will have the tough job of picking winners based on a whole range of different criteria. The lucky winner will get their poem published in a limited edition book whilst there are other great prizes such a Premier League trophy school visits and author-ledwriting workshops up for grabs.

I’m sure that after reading this many of you will see just how much this project could enrich your children’s own school and if they are not already signed up to Premier League Primary Stars then all they need to do is sign up HERE.

The competition is running until 21st December 2018 so there is still plenty of time to get those creative juices flowing.

*collaborated post

Beaker Creatures Liquid Reactor Super Lab Review And GIVEAWAY

Frankie is a big fan of anything science related. He loves making potions and pulling things apart to see how they work. This can sometimes cause more than a little bit of mess and chaos!

So when we were asked by Learning Resources to try out there Beaker Creatures Liquid Reactor Super Lab I was more than happy to give it a go.

Beaker Creatures is a science kit for young children to be introduced to the wonders of science in a fun and educational way.

The kit took less than five minutes to put together and consists of a main tray with three chambers where the experiments take place.

The main experiment is to dissolve a pod which is pretty similar to a bath bomb inside the main chamber to extract the creature within.

To start the extraction we had to fill two syringes with water, place inside the other chambers and press down on the plungers to release the water into the main chamber. We did have a little bit of trouble getting this to work to begin with but once it got going the pod started to fizz and bubble away, allowing the creature to be released.

Frankie was super excited by the whole process and loved them trying to identify which creature he had found on the identification sheet.

Alongside this great activity there is also an instruction sheet containing another four experiments you can try out using products you can easily find around the home, including ‘alien slime’ which was of course a big hit!

Beaker Creatures was a great way to introduce simple science experiments to the children in a fun and pretty mess free way!

If this sounds like something they your little ones would like then go ahead and enter my competition below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Collaborated post

Learning More About Sustainable Food

Here in the UK we all love to eat, in fact over the year we consume tons of food that probably most of us don’t really think to much about.

We all want something that tastes good, is easy to get our hands on and quick to prepare but the back story behind how our favourite foods get to us is a pretty complex one and also something that we all need to give a little more thought and consideration.

Sustainable food is something that starts at the very beginning and over the past few years a lot of work has gone into getting the farmers, fishermen etc to change their way of working to make the detrimental impact on the environment far less.

The ethos behind sustainable food is taking into account the environment, health, social and environmental concerns.

Farmers are moving on from using conventional fertilisers and swapping over to an organic way of farming. This is one way in which this can help the environment, the animals and the workers.

There is still a lot of work to do in this area but with time and knowledge I am hopeful we will continue to see changes.

Back to use now as there are plenty of thing we can do to help in the home by following these guidelines and I have listed below:

Shop Local And Seasonally – Our high streets are sadly becoming a thing of the past with large supermarkets and internet shopping bringing us such competitive prices the pull is pretty great but taking things back to basics is what we need to do.

I also find that shopping locally and getting more hands on with your approach food is great for the children and gives them a far greater knowledge of where food comes from.

We managed to get some delicious apples from our local green grocer the other day and created some delicious deconstructed toffee apples that we all loved!

Shopping locally from the butchers and green grocers allows us to support small business and buy local and seasonal products that have a huge impact on the way we eat.

Buy Organic – Buying organic can put people off as the price tag is generally a lot heftier then ordinary produce. The benefits of the quality of the food and the impact on the environment are certainly worth those extra pennies though.

Promote Heath And Wellbeing – We are fast becoming a glutinous nation and steps need to be put into place now to educate ourselves and our children on healthy eating, balance and food waste.

Choose Fair Trade – Wherever possible try to keep an eye out for the fair trade symbol on packages. They go to great efforts to insure their producers get a good deal and put so much back into social and economic opportunities for people.

Cutting Back On Animal Origin Foods – My sister turned vegan a fair while ago now and a lot of her decisions were based on the impact on the environment eating meat and it’s byproducts have.

I don’t think this could ever be a move for me but I am certainly putting in place wats to cut down on meat a few timed a week and switch over to milk alternatives such as soya and oat milk.

We are also big fish fans in our house but we are opting to cut back on spies such as cod that are facing danger of being wiped out due to over fishing.

I hope this has given you all a little food for though…excuse the pun! I would love to know if sustainable food is something you already do something about and if you have anymore tips I could try out.

*collaborated post