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.

Easter Fun At Morden Hall Park

I think this has to be the first year for as long as I can remember that we haven’t taken part in a National Trust easter egg hunt and I have to say that I’m pretty sad about that! The Easter weekend just seemed so fun that we didn’t get a chance to fit it in.

That said we couldn’t get through the holidays without a trip to one of their properties and we decided on Morden Hall Park as its been a good while since we’ve had a visit there.

After a pitstop at the cafe for coffee and cake we were greeted at the main entrance by a super friendly volunteer who set about telling us how we could join in wth the Duck Trail which allowed the children to set off around the grounds in search of different species of ducks, ticking them off on their sheet as they go and showing them some food along the way.

Morden Hall Park has had a lot of work done to it since we were last there and absolutely loved the wooden pathways and lookout points that had been added to the wetland area.

The boys spent ages dipping in sticks and trying to find the crocodiles my Dad had told them were lurking beneath!

We played Pooh Sticks on the bridges, ran through all the open spaces, climbed trees and got covered in mud…exactly what a day should be full of!

Morden Hall Park is also perfectly positioned for a short walk to Deen City Farm where the children got to feed and get up close to lots of lovely farm animals from pigs, sheep and even ferrets.

The children were filthy dirty and thoroughly worn out after a wonderful day and Morden Hall Park certainly come with a big thumbs up from us.

Country Kids

Top Five Reasons To Visit Elderflower Fields

Elderflower Fields was the festival that broke our family festival and camping virginity! Our happy place that is probably one of the only times of the year in which we can really switch off from the world.

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We are getting set to visit for the third time this year and couldn’t be more excited. There is still time for you to join in the fun, so take a look at my top five reasons for visiting if a family festival is something you have been considering this year.

Peace And Quiet – Of course a festival is lively, music filled and full of the hustle and bustle of the crowds; but it is equally a place you can sneak off into the woods for a secluded walk, plot up in the middle of a field and watch the fun from afar and of course the peace and quiet of sleeping under the stars.

Family Time – With the fast pace lives we all lead in this day and age getting away for the weekend with little internet connection and phone connection allows you to spend real quality time together without ant distractions.

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Food – If you are a foodie then this is definity the right festival for you. The amount of top quality, locally sourced vendors at the festival is unbelievable. Each and every one serving the most sumptuous food using top quality, ingredients made with love by the passionate owners.
Another bonus for us is the fact that Frankie’s multiple allergies are always catered for without any problems.

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Learning New Skills – Aside from a few all the activities at Elderflower Fields are included in the price making it fantastic value for money and allows the children to take part in a things they wouldn’t ordinarily do.
Over the past few years mine have learned a whole host of circus skills, trapeze tricks, kayaking and so much more.

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Building Independence – The festival isn’t as big as some and at no time have I felt worried about the safety of the children which is great for allowing them to build their confidence by independently moving to and from different activities and getting stuck into tasks on their own.

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I really could go on and on with reasons to visit Elderflower Fields, but really the best way to see exactly what I’m talking about is to visit yourself. There is still time to grab tickets ‘here’ so don’t miss out.

FaceTime Savvy Tigers At Chessington World Of Adventures

Over the winter we have been avid visitors of the Zoo Days at Chessington World Of Adventures. Its a great way to explore the quieter side of the theme park whist all the thrills and spills of the rides are having a well earned rest.

However it won’t be long before the whole park is open again and as always they have some new and exciting things for everyone to enjoy.

Something I’m really looking forward to is the brand new Tiger Rock ride in early May that will see you climbing aboard the log fume ride, desending into a misty waterfall drop through a giant tiger’s head.

The Zoo will also be welcoming a family of four endangered Amur tigers with an innovative big cat enclosure with Europe’s first overhead rails.

The Tigers are currently homed in Sweden and to make their move to Surrey a smooth one the keepers from Chessington World Of Adventutres have been trialling the new digital enrichment program – ‘Face Tiger’ that allows the keepers to keep in touch in a similar way to how we would FaceTime each other. This allows the keepers to see how they play and interact with others so they can make them feel as at home as possible when they make their big move next month.

Olga, Tsar, Kalinka and Kyra will make a welcome addition to an already fantastic zoo and I for one can’t wait to meet them!

‘I am a Chessington Blogger. If anyone would like to confirm any details in the post, please email press.office@chessington.co.uk’

Making Boredom Fun

Today I woke up to a miserable, grey day with no plans and no intentions to leave the house at all. This of course an absolute bombshell drop on my children!

With their eyes out on stalks they looked at me in sheer disbelief and repeatedly chanted, “what we’re doing nothing at all”.

I take full responsibility for this as I feel the need to continually occupy the children and fill their days as much as possible. A weekend rarely goes by where I haven’t tried to arrange something exciting and the times there is not much on I always feel the need to get out of the house and do something, no matter how small.

This has certainly had a detrimental effect on us and I feel I have taken away the children’s ability to amuse themselves and be happy in their own home with their own time and space.

I remember as a child making shops with my sister, playing fashion shows and thoroughly enjoying simple things such as colouring or dancing around my room; yes of course I remember those times where I moaned to my parents about being bored but there was never that expectation to be occupied every waking minute, it was down to me to make my own entertainment.

Being bored allows children to explore their own imaginations, to be creative and inventive and to find activities that they have a real passion for.

Society has made us feel that we should be continually stimulate our children, to make their weekends as jam packed as possible and to be enrolling them on every activity possible where their entertainment is already structured for them and limits the chance for them to use their own imaginations.

After the day from hell with the children continually craving my attention, demanding to be amused and begging to be taken out they finally found their own entertainment and settled down to word games and books that they wouldn’t ordinarily pick without being promoted, they made up their own workout routine and the youngest two baked a cake together with little intervention from me.

To them this has obviously become learnt behaviour and so I have come up with a list of things I am going to stick to the fridge to help then get started with enjoying their own free time:

Read a book
Do a puzzle
Dress up
Paint
Draw
Play with playdoh
Make a cake
Make a Lego creation
Have a puppet show
Have a teddy bear’s tea party
Play football
Skip
Bug hunt
Jump in puddles
Make an exercise circuit
Make up a dance
Make a show
Practice magic tricks
Climb a tree
Write a story
Build a cardboard car/house
Junk modeling
Make paper aeroplanes

I would love to add to this list and know how your little ones spend their free time.

Camp Bestival-The Best Christmas Present EVER

When it comes to Christmas presents I always have a bit of a dilemma with myself. The children compile lists of plastic toys that I know will be discarded before Boxing Day, and every part of me wants to fulfil their wishes…however the sensible side of me thinks all that money would be better spent on experiences that will last a lifetime rather than faddy toys that will last for minutes.

If we look back over our year then one of the experiences that sticks in all our minds the most is certainly Camp Bestival – the family festival that has to be seen to be believed.

This year sees fantastic musical acts taking to the stage such as Rick Astley, Clean Bandit an Simple Minds. Regulars to the festival are Mr Tumble and Dick and Dom will be returning to amuse the children…well and the adults too!

One of the shows that my little ones are most excited to see though is Dinosaur World Live that looks absolutely outstanding.

This really is the kind of gift that I would love to find nestled under the tree on Christmas Day and if it sounds like something your family would love to receive to then there is a great promotion running until 11th December.

If you book your tickets before this time you will receive a whole host of fantastic stocking fillers such as nautical tattoos to go with this years ‘Sets Sail’ theme, character stickers, a hand illustrated Christmas card and a limited edition sew on patch.

If you would like to spread the cost then you can still sign up to the 30 week payment plan and still receive all your goodies!

Take a little look at just a few of the reasons we love Camp Bestival so much:

Scree Free, Quality Time: This for me has to come top of my list as it is something that is so lacking when we are at home. Its a chance to put away those phones, leave the iPads alone and just enjoy spending time together talking, laughing, playing and having fun.
My lot spend a huge time arguing and fighting when we are at home, and don’t get me wrong it is never an argument free trip but we are certainly more drawn together as a family and that bond gets a little tighter.

Good Food: As a family we are often drawn to places with our bellies and I can assure you if you are a foodie like me then Camp Bestival won’t fail to stimulate your taste buds.
From ice cream covered waffles to juicy burgers, scucculent corn on the cob to crispy chips every palate will be catered for and every belly filled.
Th little ones can also get more hands on and prepare their own food which was a big hit for mine last year.

Enjoy The Great Outdoors: The whole trip involves being outside which can seem a little daunting but there is actually nothing better.
From enjoying the hustle and bustle of the main festival to simply chilling out round the tent or hiding away in our favourite place – The Dingly Dell there is a whole host of ways to enjoy the great outdoors.

Late Nights: As a Mum of five bedtimes are pretty strict in this house for the sake of everyones sanity to be honest. Camp Bestival allows us to kick these rules aside and just let them all stay up until they drop. They love being up until way after dark, huddled up in their trailer listening to music and watching Mum and Dad’s silly dancing.
The last night has to be the favourite though with is spectacular firework display that is simply not to be missed.

Learning New Skills And Using Their Imaginations: Camp Bestival isn’t just about the music and acts on stage, it holds so much more and really allows the children how to build skills by trying things they may not have come across before such a circus skills, woodwork and cooking and bundles of activities that allow them to use their imagination and just LET KIDS BE KIDS!

I hope this has given you a little snippet of just some of the fun Camp Bestival can bring and has you wanting to experience it for yourselves next year!

A Truly Traditional Christmas At Hever Castle

Hever Castle is a pretty spectacular place to visit at any time of year; from its stunning gardens to the grand castle itself it really is an immensely beautiful place.

This said we have never visited at Christmas and it was something I had heard such good things about that I couldn’t wait to explore what they had to offer this weekend.

We arrived to a tree lined walkway covered with sparkling lights and from this moment the Christmassy feeling kicked in and we were all super excited to get inside.

We headed straight to the castle where the centre courtyard held a crib that the children gazed at whist getting the most wonderful surprise of falling snow from the air.

The castle itself held countless trees that were all adored beautifully with a magnificent surprise of a whole grand hall lined with delicate white trees that were simply amazing.

From here the children climbed aboard the carousel, tried their hand at the coconut shy and spent a good while at the hook-a-duck stall that had some pretty impressive prizes.

Next stop was the Husky Hideout that Izzy had been itching to get to all day. It was so lovey that the children had a chance to get up so close to so many of the beautiful dogs who’s owners were all on hand to answer any…well lots of questions from my lot.

We then couldn’t walk past the cafe without popping in for a bite to eat. As usual I found it impossible to pass on a mince pie and when they come in the form of a tienesse swirl that makes them even more tempting.

I washed this down with a creamy gingerbread latte while the children sampled some very cute Christmas pudding shaped cookies.

A quick stop at the toilets gave us the unexpected surprise of snow covered trees that surround the small area by the gift shop. It was a wonderful surprise and really felt like a little winter wonderland.

We still had the Twelve Days Of Christmas trial to complete and this really exceeded my expectations.

The trail wound round the gardens and had pitstops at each of the sections from the familiar Christmas carol. It was decorated beautifully and a certain points you were greeted with riddles and activities to complete that the children revealed in.

This is also home to Santa’s Grotto that we didn’t visit this year but I must say looked amazing!

Our last port of call was the craft workshop where the children set to creating their very own christmas angel from all sorts of bits and pieces. There was sparkle and shine everywhere so Izzy was in her element.

I really could have spent the entire day here just taking in everything they had to offer. From surprise flurries of snow to the excitement of the fairground rides there was something for everyone to enjoy and we thoroughly did.

It was the epitome of a traditional christmas for me and a day that will have us coming back agin next year for sure.

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

Anthony Gormley, Sea Shells And Bus Painting

Art, the sea and delectable food are one of life’s perfect combinations and for me Margate is a home to all of these.

In August the imposing cast iron sculpture from Anthony Gormley was erected on the chalk in front of the Turner Contemporary and I have been desperate to see it for myself for months.

It is one of one hundred sculptures from his ANOTHER TIME series and was as breathtaking as I imagined.

‘I wish to celebrate the still and silent nature of sculpture, ANOTHER TIME is necessarily isolated, and is an attempt to bear witness to what it is like to be alive and alone in space and time’

As I looked out to sea I thought of the words that Anthony Gormley had used to describe land work whilst listening to Oscar’s opinion on the piece.

What really stood out to me was the compassion he was showing for the man being alone. He looked on asking why he was standing alone and as we left kept looking back and worrying that he was being left alone and lonely.

It really was a sight to behold and something I’m really pleased to have shared with Oscar.

Sadly the Tuner Contemporary didn’t have a lot work on display as they were preparing to showcase the world of Tracey Emin…I think I need a trip back to see this.

We still managed to make use of the gallery though by grabbing a late breakfast and taking in the view form the beautifully light and airy cafe, and have a through the beautiful neon installation to the side of the gallery.

For the middle of October we were lucky enough to have picked a very mild day to visit and spent a good while chasing the waves, jumping over rock pools and collecting shells.

The foodie inside me was out in force and on our last visit we had passed The Bus Cafe along the sea front and I was determined to see what they had to offer on this visit.

Oscar was thrilled to climb onboard and take to the top deck to find a table.

The converted bus is run by a super friendly couple that were extremely friendly and very welcoming of little ones which is always a huge bonus for us.

The menu comprised of a selection of wraps and salads that you can mix and match to your own taste.

Fillings were plentiful and jammed packed with flavour.

Not only did Oscar enjoy the novelty of eating his lunch on a bus, he was also handed a special pen so they he could create his own masterpiece on the side of it.

He was more than about this happy to say the least!

The months of having this little one to myself during the day are passing by way to quickly and I have plans for plenty more days like this before I have to let him move onto his school life journey.

He is way more ready for this than I am!

Saying Hello To Autumn At Priory Farm

A chill in the wind, beautiful rich colours, Halloween and cosy afternoons snuggled up under warm blankets are just a few of the reason I absolutely love October.

The weather hasn’t yet changed to the bitterness of winter and getting out into the great outdoors is a real pleasure.

The first adventure for us is always a trip to Priory Farm to select the perfect pumpkin for carving and eating if I ever get round to trying pumpkin pie…I have been promising the children this for the past goodness knows how long!

I have written about Priory Farm countless times as it has so much to offer from fantastic play areas to a brilliant discovery walk and they always go that extra mile for special occasions such as this.

Today we climbed aboard the truck that was decked out perfectly for Halloween with missing limbs, cobwebs and huge spiders.

The short journey lead us straight to the pumpkin field which the children couldn’t wait to get to and select their favourite pumpkin, which for the first year ever wasn’t a competition to see who’s was the biggest.

A good few laps of the field and more than a few pumpkins picked and rejected we finally had our favourites and headed back to the kiosk where there was a game of ‘roll the pumpkin’ and hoopla onto creepy arms to keep the children amused while we waited for our ride back.

Prized pumpkins in hand we climbed aboard and headed off to get a well earned piece of scrummy cake and a good coffee.

There is so much going on over the next few weeks at Priory Farm as well as the pumpkin picking and a visit come highly recommend from us!

Country Kids

Dinosaurs Invade London At Jurassic Kingdom

Who would have thought that tucked away in a suburban part of town there would be grand Georgian house with stunning grounds homing a whole host of dinosaurs!

Last week we went on the hunt for them and wasn’t disappointed.

After a more than a little fraught journey to from South London we made it to Osterley House in Isleworth, which a a stunning National Trust property with acres of beautiful land that is just perfect for hosting Jurassic Kingdom which is there from now until the 17th April.

It is accessible by public transport but a long walk from the train station for little legs or a short bus journey but the buses are only scheduled every 20 mins which was a long wait for my impatient children.

The car park however is huge and free to National Trust members of £7 all day.

Time slots are available to book easily on line for the event and I would suggest you allow yourself plenty of time as there is lots to see and do.

The Jurassic Park style entrance paved its way into the attraction itself which has you following a path through the grounds spotting dinosaurs as you go.


Some are static but the majority have moving limbs and sound effects which the children loved.

It is a far more interactive experience than I had imagined and there are dinosaurs that you can climb onto, a sand pit that lets the little ones try their hand at becoming an arciologist and digging out bones and an education tent where you can sit and watch a short show that explains a little more about dinosaurs.

As far as eating goes the places is perfect for picnicking as there are so many great places to pitch up. There is also a small selection of fast food stands where Izzy count resist the churros!

The children also has a great time making us of the National trust facilities which are always a winner by tree climbing, den building and swinging on the rope swings.

All in all it is the perfect day out for dino fans and even those that aren’t so keen could easy make us and enjoy everything else Jurrasic Kingdom has to offer.

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

Country Kids