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.

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!

Brightening Up Your Workspace With Flowers Of Colombia

Who doesn’t love the sight and smell off beautiful fresh flowers. As humans we are automatically drawn towards their beauty and their sheer presence immediately gives us a lift.

This is not the only thing that we need to be grateful to them for though; they can in fact be a huge benefit to people when they are housed in the work place. Believe it or not they can increase work productivity, improve memory, help concentration, reduce anxiety, relieve depression and improve negative thoughts.

My workplace being the home means that I love to have a vase of beautiful flowers on the side to look beautiful and aid my motivation.

Some of the best flowers come from the beautiful city of Bogotá in Colombia where Flowers Of Colombia produce gorgeous and hardy chrysanthemums and carnations that can last for up to four weeks if kept watered. Making it a very affordable way to create a beautiful and motivating display.

It’s not often that I think about the back story behind how these flowers make the their way into my home but it has been great to find out that the trade association Ascolflores that look after the production of all the flowers of Colombia and who do a fantastic job of taking on and making the workforce up of 65% woman who use this job to escape poverty and better themselves.

What could be better than brightening your day with a burst of colour that has somehow gone towards bringing some colour and happiness into other people’s lives.

Flowers Of Colombia actually wanted to spread their love further back in June and mixed the beauty of flowers and music to create the London Flower Tribute right here in London.

Take a look HERE at what they created by merging these two wonders.

*collaborated post

A Spooky Morning With Goosebumps 2

Over the years my love for all things spooky has grown and grown. As I child I never really got into the whole Halloween thing, but as I’ve had my own children and Halloween has become more popular in the UK it’s one of the things I love about autumn.

We spend the weeks in the lead up picking pumpkins and decorating the house but spooky movies are something I’ve never got into – mainly due to the fear of scaring the life out of the children and me getting no sleep for months!

So when we were asked along to the screening of Goosbumps 2 I was a little apprehensive about who to take.

Izzy had already seen and loved the first film and after watching the trailer the boys begged me to come along ensuring me they were brave enough to go along!

We arrived to the cinema foyer decked out in with all things spooky. There were magic acts, photo booths, face paint stands and food galore. The children really were spoilt for choice.

Full of sugar and eager to see what the film had to offer we made our way to our seats.

Minutes into the film came out first jumpy moment and I questioned wether I should have taken the boys or not, but the didn’t seem fazed and continued to sit with their eyes glued to the screen.

The film sees mum Kathy the heart of the Quinn family trying to juggle raising two children alongside working in a nursing home which is not for the faint hearted.

Some of the child care duties are passed down to her eldest daughter Sarah who’s eyes and heart are taken away from her duties by her love interest which leaves plenty of time for her brother Sammy and his friend to get up to lots of mischief whilst trying to make a few pennies with their house clearance business.

Whilst out on one of their collections they unearth some seemingly harmless treasure in the form of a locked book and a ventriloquist dummy, but they had no idea what problems these finds were going to bring.

The unfinished work of R.L Stine(Jack Black) and ‘Snappy’ the ventriloquist dummy in fact bring a whole host of problems to the Quinn family and give the entire town of Wardenclyffe a Halloween to remember!

Goosebumps 2 gave us the perfect introduction to horror and although it had plenty of heart in mouth moments, ghosts, ghouls and monsters galore and the fear factor of not knowing what was going to come next; it was perfect viewing for the younger ones whilst still giving the teens a movie to enjoy.

The film also had a great comedy element to it in the form of the mad neighbour Mr Chu who helps the kids on the mission to save their mother from the grips of Snappy with his huge knowledge of all things Goodebumps related and his quick eye for fashion!

Goosebumps is definitely one to watch and for me I will never look at a gummy bear in the same light again!

Getting Christmas Ready With Pines And Needles

For the past two years now I have been lucky enough to celebrate Christmas round one of Pines and Needles beautiful Nordmann Fir Christmas trees.

Pines and Needles offer a completely unique service that allows you to choose your tree from the comfort of your own home or go along to one of those many stores and select your own which they can then deliver to you or you can take home with you there and then.

If you want a little more than just a tree they also offer decoration service ranging from a fully decorated tree or simply threading of the lights which I know is a job that I always hate doing!

Something else that is always a pain is the disposal of the tree after Christmas but Pines and Needles have this covered too. They can simply pick up and dispose of your tree after you have stored away all your precious decorations or even come into your home to remove and carefully wrap your decorations as well as removing the tree and tidying up all the mess.

We have been over the moon with our tree each year and can’t wait for this year and if this sounds something that you would be interested in in then there is a summer offer that is still running until the end of this month which gives you 10% off your order. Just add the code SUMMER10 when placing your order and enjoy all that Pines and Needles have to offer.

ZSL London Zoo:Our Best Bits

I am ashamed to say that although ZSL London Zoo is probably to closest Zoo to us I have not had a visit in probably over ten years. Considering we absolutely love an outdoor adventure and one with animals even more so I am not entirely sure why I have left it so long.

We did however rectify this the other week when we took a trip there to check out what they had to offer.

It was a scorching hot day and as we approached the entrance I was dreading the queues I had already envisaged in my head to get in, so I was pleasantly surprised when we were greeted by a super happy member of staff who showed us in and wished us a good day.

I was a little shocked as to quite how vast the zoo was and we were all eagar to get exploring as soon as possible.

After seeing a little about the Superhero Academy this was our first port of call. The boys were so excited to get started by colouring in their own superhero mask and getting hands on with all there was on offer.

My children certainly learn most from being hands on so being able to race against the cheetahs to see how fast they can actually go and climb like geckos in search of food. Seeing what superpowers the animals possess was a great way to keep the boys engaged and learning at the same time.

As well as this they got to learn a great deal about plastic waste and what an awful effect it is having on their world. It was great for them to be able to realise this destruction is going on and to then relate it to different animals as we explored the zoo.

Just outside was the perfect setting for a picnic which can all to often be missing from places such as this. We opted to take a picnic along to make the most of the good weather but there were plenty of options when it came to eating from ice-cream and candy floss, a delicious smelling BBQ stand and a cafe serving anything from coffees to full main meals and even a cheeky glass of wine if you fancied it!

I think for us the biggest pull of the zoo was how close you could get to all the animals. For the bigger animals such as the gorillas there were huge glassed walls that allowed everyone a good view without being bundled on top of each other which is fantastic. But for us getting even closer in the butterfly house and the lemur walk through was such an amazing experience.

Oscars face completely lit up when he saw the adorable lemurs casually walking around taking everybody in. The boys normally can’t sit still for more than five minutes but they were more than happy to listen to some very interesting facts while watching the lemurs explore their territory. I mean who knew that their beautiful black and white stripped tails are in fact used as a balancing aid?

Another highlight for us was Penguin Beach. The Humboldt Penguins who are lucky enough to be homed on this great sized beach have plenty of room to waddle around and dive into the water for a quick dip which the boys found amazing to watch through the many viewing areas available.

Into Africa also came high on our list of best bits with the giraffe viewing area which enabled us to get really close to these super tall, majestic beasts.

I have barely scratched the surface when it comes to the animals that we saw, but these were certainly our highlights from the trip.

Not having visited for a number of years now I didn’t know what to expect from our visit and I came away pleasantly surprised by all the changes that had been made. All of which were in the favour of the animals happens and welfare which is all you can ask for. We had a wonderful day and will be back soon for some more fun, especially as the annual membership is such great value for money if you are going to be making multiple visits…which I’m sure you will!

*collaborated post

Days Out With The Kids This Christmas

Yes I know we have only just put our sandals and summer dress aways but before you know it Christmas will be upon us and if you want to get those special days booked in then you really do have to start thinking about it now!

Christmas is by far my favourite time of year and I have compiled a list of a few of our favourites that I hope you might enjoy:

Lapland UK – This one just had to be top of my list as I have experienced nothing like it before. We were lucky enough to have our first trip there last year and we were absolutely blown away.

From helping the elves in Father Christmas’s toy factory, icing biscuits with Mother Christmas, taking to the ice in the most beautifully setting and finally meeting the main man himself who Frankie has named ‘the real’ Father Christmas it was sheer magic.

It brought a tear to my eye and I don’t think that day will ever be topped!

Hever Castle – For me Hever brings you everything you would imagine when you think of an English christmas celebration. The traditional fairground rides and beautiful christmas trail are perfect for the little ones, whilst the stunningly decorated castle is a sight that everyone will enjoy.

We are off there at the end of November so keep an eye out for what they have in store this year.

Chessington World Of Adventure – The Winter’s Tail event at Chessington World Of Adventure is always a fantastic day out. There is the chance to visit Santa in his grotto, ride on a few selected rides that are specially opened including our favourite – The Gruffly River Ride Adventure, decorate festive treats in the Gruffly kitchen and something new this year will be The Gruffalo Christmas Groove.

alongside all of this they are also offering sleepover packages and we can highly recommend a stay in their fantastic hotel.

Painshill Park – This one for us has the ultimate wow factor when it comes to the grotto. After a walk along a pretty lit walkway you find your way to the crystal grotto where Father Christmas is waiting to hand out his gifts.

It is certainly different from the norm and gets booked up extremely quickly so don’t leave it until the last minute.

Southbank – If you are looking for a day out with festive foods, quirky gifts and the perfect London backdrop then the christmas market at Southbank if definitey one for the list.

Hobbledown – I am so sad that I won’t be going along to the toddlers lunch with Father Christmas this year.

I have visited for many years now and it is the perfect trip for preschoolers where they decorate a biscuit, have some lunch and meet Santa in the cutest little wooden hut.

Winerville – We had our first trip here last year and it really exceeded our expectations. It is an uber cool experience in the heart of Clapham common offering a bit of everything from great food and drink to ice skating, roller skating, fairground rides, crazy golf and a whole lot more.

Disney On Ice – This has become somewhat of a tradition for us to visit a few days before christmas. The culmination of all our favourite Disney characters, the chill of the ice and the excitement of Christmas makes for a great day out.

National Trust – We have visited a fair few properties over the festive period and each one has its on unique and wonderful christmas feel. They offer visits to Father Christmas, crafts galore christmas markets and brilliant trails to wear the kids out which is always a bonus!

CBeebies Christmas Show:Thumbelina – Getting cosy in the cinema is perfect at this time of year and when its to watch a classic such as Thumbelina put on by some of your favourite Cbeebies characters then its always going to be a hit.

We are off to see this later in the year so keep an eye out for what we think!

RHS Wisley – Now the illuminated trail at Wisley is something I’ve heard so many good things about but haven’t actually got there yet. I think it will have to go on my list for this year.

Winter Wonderland – If you want Christmas on a grand scale then this is the place for you. Winter Wonderland is a huge area in Hyde Park full of fairground rides, food stalls, gifts, ice skating, shows and bucket loads more. We had our first trip there last year and had an amazing time!

Bocketts Farm – I love a farm visit over the christmas period and Bocketts offers an amazingly festive day out complete with a trip to santa in his hay barn.

The Snowman – My children laugh at how much I love The Snowman in any form. My first love was of course the illustrated character and I have loved watching how he has evolved over the years. We watched the stage show a few years ago which was absolutly spell binding and keep the attention of my younger two for over two hours which is no mean feat. This year there is also a magical exhibition at the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, an immersive experience at The Backyard Cinema, a special story telling session at Bath Pavilions by the talented author Michael Morpurgo and a the most magical showing of the animated film at the Royal Albert Hall accompanied by the Royal Philamonic Orchestra.

Priory Farm – This has been our Christmas Eve tradition for a few years now. We stop off in the cafe for a mince pie and a warm drink, get the last of our foodie bits at the fab farm shop and a trek round the discovery walk to wear out the over excited little one.

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Thirty One

This week on ‘Celebrating The Small Things’ I am talking about my love of kickboxing, travelling into town and candles!

Kickboxing – My love of kickboxing started many years ago now and was actually one of the reasons me and Darren got together. It was a shared passion and something we always enjoyed together. Over the years teaching the skill became a job for me and in between having the kids I have always loved getting back to it.

Since having Oscar though I had really stepped away from it and its only been the past few months that I have fallen back in love with it and have enjoyed every moment of it…well maybe not at the time!

Candles – I’ve had a thing for scented candles for years now, one that unfortunately my husband doesn’t share. I would fill every room with a different scent if I could but he would be one step behind me blowing them all out.

My passion was filled for a day however when I went along to the Yankee Candle Christmas event where I walked into a room filled with beautiful scents and gorgeous christmas displays. I have so many new candles on my wishlist now and the only thing I have to do is encourage Darren to like them too.

I Love London – One of the many things that blogging has brought me is the opportunity to visit central London so much more than I ever have done before. Pre blogging I would probably only venture in a couple of times a year and usually to the same old places.

I am now in time several times a month exploring new areas, seeing new things and loving every moment of it.