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!

‘Bumbelinda’ Secret Garden Book Launch

Tucked away in hustle and bustle of South London is a beautiful little secret garden that I was lucky enough to visit the other day for the launch of he lovely new book ‘Bumbelinda‘ that has just been published by the lovely Kate Bodell.

I arrived at the launch to be greeted by a beautifully decorated garden within a local primary school and a group of friendly faces that welcomed me and pulled me into the group that exuded the excitement and passion they had for the launch of Kate’s first childrens book.

Kate is a writer and illustrator based in South London who is a teaching Mum of two that has used all her experiences with children to put together the amazing picture book – Bumbelinda.

We were treated to a reading of the book by Kate herself and with an audience of little ones it was going to be a tough nut to crack!

We all settle in the sunshine whilst Kate introduced us to Bumbelinda, the fairy that has turned all those preconceived pink and fluffy images of fairies on their head with her scruffy appearance and toilet humour.

Bumbelinda being different to your stereotypical fairy means that this cute tale also appeals to little boys that might sometimes overlook the magic of believing in faries can bring!

When a very excited little girl stumbles across Bumbelinda she soon finds the task of getting her two wishes grated a pretty tricky one and I will let you all find out if she manages to convince Bumbelinda to make them come true!

Kate has poured so much love and effort into this wonderful book and this shines though in each and every detail.

The book is full of fun and as you turn each colourful page there is a cleverly hidden message about friendship and following your dreams.

I actually see Izzy very much in this story and this is probably why she was so taken with the story, along with the boys who love her cheeky character and her love of the word ‘poo’.

*collaborated post

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Twenty Three

‘Celebrating The Small Things’ this week is taking us back to half term and finding small moments to be grateful for in a pretty amazing week!

Location, Location, Location – It will be no surprise to many of you that I have always had a strong want to live by the sea. The outdoorsy life, laid back feel and plenty for the children to do has always appealed to me, but no so much to my husband.
During half term I actually realised we are really lucky to live exactly where we do. We had a pretty hectic week of commuting into town as well as a trip to Brighton that for so many just wouldn’t be doable. So with this in mind I’m incredibly grateful we can be by the sea and central London in under an hour and have plentiful countryside right on our doorstep, so no more moaning from me…well for a while anyway!

Understanding Food Allergies – Allergies are not something that feature to much on here but are certainly something that affect us on a daily basis. Frankie is allergic to a whole host of foods and although it is something he is slowly learning to deal with there are always those occasions where its pretty hard going for him.
We attended the Num Noms Launch Party at the Good Housekeeping Institute where there was going to be pizza making going on and I had already pre warned him that he might not be able to take part in this section of the day. He was disheartened but still very much wanting to go along.
Looking at the ingredients when we arrived I could sence the disappointment that was going to set in until a lovely lady came over and asked what she could find that would make the pizzas suitable for him.
His face lit up and I was so grateful that he wouldn’t have to miss out as he doses on so many other occasions.

Keeping Friendships Alive – A while ago now my husband’s best friend and his family emigrated to New Zelend. This was a huge wrench for him as they had been good friends since school and we all had grown close as we got married and started families.
It was amazing to have them over and spend quality time together. It felt like yesterday as soon as we saw them and through the help of social media we have all been able to watch everyones adventures over the past few years, but there is nothing like actually getting together and spending precious time with special people.

Win A Family Ticket To This Summer’s Wild Child Festival

For the past three years we have been huge fans of family festivals and I am so excited to be adding another one to our list this year as I become an ambassador for the Wild Child Festival in the leafy grounds of the Dulwich Estate in South London.

This brand new festival is going to be focusing on children’s entertainment and workshops for children aged 0-11 and runs over a three day period from Friday 17th August to Sunday 19th August 2018 and has been kept to only 500 families per day which makes for an intimate and less stressful experience…as lets face it children and queues never mix well!

For me festivals offer time together as a family away from the distractions of day to day life, time away from screens to really connect with each other, try new skills and experience new firsts.

The brain child behind this festival is Hayley Byfield who as a Mum and art producer who has worked on events at several large festivals over the past 20 years is the perfect person to create a festival that will be enjoyable for both the children as well as the adults.

I know all to well that festivals with little ones can be a daunting prospect so having the option to go along for the day to enjoy the festival vibes without the pressure of the camping element is a great way to go.

With over 11 art inspired zones there really is something to cater for all tastes. The Giggly Grove is set to be a giggle a minute with comedy acts aimed at children. The Magic Hollow is the place to go for all those aspiring magicians. The Wordy Wood will allows the children to slip away into a literary world. The Little Top is the place to perform all those circus skills. The Bop Along Ballroom is the perfect place to get those dancing shoes ready and practice those groovy moves. For any coding fans The Imagination Lab is the place to be. If funk, soul and jazz are more your thing then you need to make your way to the Harmony Hideout. For those of you with little ones the Babes In The Burrow with be a lovely little hideaway from the hustle and bustle of it all. I know a hit with us is going to be the Crafy Den where the children can take part in all kinds of crafts from festival crowns and dream catcher to water pistol painting and wacky weaving. Finally is the Play House where the kids can explore a dinosaur world, play games in the unicorn meadow an so much more!

We literally can’t wait to get along and experience this for ourselves and if you fancy coming along to join in the fun then take a look HERE to book your tickets or I am very pleased to say I have a competition running to win a family ticket that you can enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Giveaway Terms and Conditions

1. Giveaway is open to entrants worldwide. 2. No purchase necessary. 3. Ages 18 and over only.

4. Prize is a family ticket to Wild Child Festival in Dulwich.

5. A family ticket refers to 2 adults and 2 children or 1 adult and 3 children.

6. Tickets are for any day of the festival that the winners wish to attend. 7. Winner will be notified within 7 days of the random draw.

8. We will make all reasonable attempts to contact the winner; if after 3 attempts the winner still hasn’t claimed their prize, the promoter reserves the right to redraw.

9. Winner will need to confirm their festival attendance date with the promoter, within 72 hours of claiming their win.**

10. No last minute changes for number of guests or attendance date, unless authorised by the promoter. 11. No cash alternative, exchange, refund or resale.

12. Promoter reserves the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater value should circumstances make this necessary.

*collaborated post

What The Ladybird Heard Is Coming to The Rose Theatre

Im sure that most of you with little ones will be all to familiar with the wonderful book – What The Ladybird Heard by the talented author Julia Donaldson.

What The Ladybird Heard is the first in a series of three picture books that sees Hefty Hugh and Lanky Len come together to counter up a plan to steal the famers prize winning cow; but the ladybird has a plan of her very own!

From the 29th May – 3rd June this much loved tale is being brought to life on the stage go the Rose Theatre, Kingston with tickets starting from as little as £10.

The 55 minute performance will bring recognisable songs, live music, puppetry, plenty of audience participation and of course lots of fun and laugher.

This would make the perfect treat for any little one who loves these stories and a great way to introduce them to the wonderful world of theatre.

To really get them in the spirit of things Fenwick in the Bentalls, Kingston have put on a whole host of activities from a What The Ladybird Heard trial around their third floor, colouring sheets and crafting workshops and a delicious sounding themed lunch in their restaurant.

We will be going along soon to see for ourselves what the show has to offer and if it is something of interest to you then click HERE to book your tickets.

Premier League Primary Stars – One Year On Event

“Be ambitious, be inspiring, be committed and be fair”

As a Mum these are certainly four words that I hope my children go out into the world and fulfil, although sometimes as we know ourselves as adults it can sometimes be a hard task to follow.

These are in fact the words behind the Premier League Primary Stars project that is endeavouring to get primary school aged children to do just this:

Be Ambitious – Work hard and never give top on your goals.
Be inspiring – Set a great example to others.
Be committed – Work well with others and as a team.
Be fair – Treat people equally and work with others.

The other evening I was lucky enough to go along to Premier League Primary Stars – One Year On event to find out a little more about what the project is all about as it’s something I had not heard much about.

The evening kicked off with Ben Shires from CBBC giving us a little back story of the project and most importantly sharing the impact it has already had on so many children. Premier League has already reached out to over 10,000 schools across England and Wales since launching in 2017.

Its aim is to inspire young children to learn and develop important skills such as maths, english and sport through the appeal of Premier League and professional clubs.

This project may seemed aimed at children with a love of football, but it is in fact inclusive of all walks of life and children with a huge variety of different loves and passions; not just sport.

The Premier League are getting really hands on with this project and many famous faces such as Peter Crouch and Wayne Rooney have been at the forefront of this campaign and have been along to meet and inspire lots of children. I mean who wouldn’t be impressed with a top footballer coming into school and giving a maths lesson!

We next got the chance to see first hand the impact this project had made on a little boy called Gethyn who was a reluctant learner and struggled with the academic side of schooling. Through the Primary Stars program they managed to channel his love of football into his writing with him compiling his very own match report. Not only has this got him into writing it has also given him the drive to work towards a career in match reporting when he is older which is a fantastic achievement for both Gethyn and Primary Stars.

This project doesn’t finish at the school gates either, there are downloadable games that can be done at home and projects such as the ‘Writing Stars Poetry Competition’ and we had the pleasure of meeting Lauren Child and Cressida Cowell who were two of the judges of the competition; and Amelie and Sadie who were the winners with some of the most amazing poetry for children of only 6 and 11.

The brief of the competition was to create a poem around resilience and as the poems were read aloud by Lauren Child I had a lump in my throat upon hearing Sadie’s poem that was based on her Mother’s battle with cancer.

The completion had a whopping 25,000 entries and from this a new poetry book called ‘Try,Try Again’ has been published including some entries from a few famous names too and is certainly worth a read.

I came away from the evening feeling humbled and inspired at the work and love that has been poured into this worthwhile project that has already and is set to change the lives of so many young children.

I would love to know if you have children that have already taken part in this project or if you think it is something your school should be taking part in.

*collaborated post

Bringing Back The Outdoors With Little Tikes

I am a big believer in the benefits of getting the kids outdoors. In this technology driven day and age a huge percentage of children have very little…if any time spent on outdoor play.

According to a government study more than one in nine children haven’t set foot in a park, woodland or beach in the past 12 months and a whopping 74% of children spend less than an hour outside in the fresh air.

The benefits to outdoor play are endless from increasing a child’s self confidence, building their fine and gross motor skills, boosting those all important serotonin levels to give them that feel good boost and so, so much more.

Little Tikes understand all to well the importance of this too and held an event at The Lookout in the centre of Hyde Park to show just how easy it is to get children excited and engaged about getting outside and having fun.

Luckily for us the sun was on our side for this event and I arrived with two super excited little boys who’s eyes lit up the moment they saw the huge array of brightly coloured, beautiful toys that Little tikes are so famous for.

For us Little Tikes have been a part of our family of the past twenty years. My eldest was bought a kitchen from them for her first birthday and since that moment we loved their hardy, eye catching toys that are certainly built to last and allow childrens imaginations to run wild through play which is so important.

The boys headed straight for the Cozy Coupes as they do whenever we come across one and were really pleased to see the truck version which is a little bigger than the original and has plenty of space in the back for them to carry around anything they wish.

From here they moved onto the playhouses and we were all really taken with the Build-A-House which allowed them to customise their own home with interchanging panels that can be attached with easy to use tools. Oscar was also pretty taken with the BBQ to and loved cooking up a storm for everyone.

After a break for lunch and a spot of face painting they got stuck into the water and sand play. I hadn’t realised that Little Tikes had such a extensive range when it came to this and the boys were literally spoilt for choice.

A big hit with both of them was the Turtle Sandbox that they happily sat in building sandcastles and creating forts with the Monster Dirt Digger. Frankie loved looking on at the Fun Zone Splash Face which was like a tug of war that ends with a splash of water in the face if you loose! Int believe that Mr confident – Frankie was to scared to give it a go.

I spent a good part of the day dodging the bucket full of water that fills and drops without warning in the Fun Zone Drop Zone. This great toy can actually be filled with balls instead of water and used for indoor play as well.

The boys love anything involving wheels and spent a good while winding round the beautiful pathways of The Lookout on the Fold’n Go 5 in 1 trike which has a a fabulous parent handle that allows you control of the steering for a super smooth ride and the Lean To Turn Scooters that give them a super easy ride allowing them to really build their confidence.

As the day drew to an end and I struggled to get the boys to leave it came to my attention that my boys who usually have the shortest concentration span ever had spent half a day through engaged, every muscle in their body used and their imaginations stretched to their limits; we certainly give the Little Tikes outdoor range a big huge thumbs up from us!

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Thirteen

Writing these posts has certainly brought me to the realisation that my plans of being more organised this year have not been going to well as I am a fair few weeks behind with these posts!

I have however been good at noting down all my special moments and hope to get caught up very soon as I currently stuck in Easter!

Easter Egg Competition – Normally Frankie isn’t overly into crafts and it has to be something he is really interested in to keep him engaged, so it was lovely to see such enthusiasm when preparing his ‘Eggtopus’ for the school Easter competition.
He sadly wasn’t a winner this year but he had an amazing time taking part.

Family Fun At The Seaside – This year Izzy’s birthday fell on our trip to Dreamland for the Big Fish Little fish event which was an amazing day but a real highlight for me was watching the children’s excitement looking for shells and crabs in the rock pools is one of life’s simple pleasures that you can’t beat.

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New Experiences For Me – As I get older my want and need to discover and enjoy new things has been growing immensely and I love any opportunity to try something different.
Over the past few years the blog has certainly made this possible and the other week I got the chance to made very own Dolly Mixtures which is something I’m not sure I would ever have done if it wasn’t for my work.

Sweets Galore For Barratt’s 170th Birthday

My hands firmly clasped around a small, white ruffled paper bag full of my favourite sweets that had taken so much time and deliberation to choose is one of my fondest memories of our family holidays to Devon as a child.

My sister and I would be taken to the local sweet shop to pick our goodies for the long journey ahead where we would enjoy singing along in car whilst sucking on sour sherbet lemons, winding lengths of liqurique round our fingers and more often then not get in trouble for covering ourselves and the car in sherbet from our favourite Sherbet Fountains.

To so many people sweets are a huge part of their childhood memories and one taste can see them transported back to a special time and place that creates such a warm feeling of nostalgia.

I know this is very true to me and something my own parents have talked about over the years, fondly recalling sweets that are no longer available and the stories that come along with them.

The other week I was lucky enough to attend a golden ticket event hosted by Barratt – the brand behind so many of our much loved and fondly remembered sweets. Barratt have been out of the lime light for the past few years but have made a very welcome return with their patented classics such as Black Jacks and Fruit Salads and some great new products that I’m sure will have the power to conger up those same memories in my own children.

After a sweet themed cocktail…or two! we were given the opportunity to make our very own Dolly Mixtures with the help of a expert in this field who was probably shuddering at our feeble attempts.

With the help of the gorgeous Rosie from Mummy and Boo we managed to create a pretty good raspberry flavoured Dolly Mixture with a lovely pretty marbled effect; and for someone who isn’t a big fan of Dolly Mixtures I have to say our efforts weren’t to bad at all.

After all our hard work we settled down to a talk from the very knowledgeable food historian – Seren Charrington-hollins. I was astounded at how long ago the love affair with all things sweet started and was very surprised to how that chewing gum was intact founded in Greece, I would definitely have had my money on America for that one.

Below I have left some more information of the fascinating history of sweets and I hope this has all got you thinking about your childhood favourites as I would love to hear your stories.

*collaborated post