Exploring Stories With Pizza Express And Puffin Books

If a poll was taken with my family on which was their favourite restaurant I know that Pizza Express would win hands down!

The children love the delicious food that is served quickly to quash those all to familiar ‘I’m starving’ moans and as a parent I love the family friendly vibe that you get in each and every restaurant. The hustle and bustle means I don’t feel I need to be continually asking the kids to be quiet and with the great activities that are always on offer there is actually not much chance for fidgety bums and fingers to get restless.

It was in fact an exciting new activity pack and competition that Puffin Books have created for Pizza Express that saw us making our way to one of their Brighton branches last week.

We were taken to our seats by our super friendly waiter that handed the children their activities packs and they got started on them straight away. The Story Explorers Adventure Journal was full to the brim with activities and games inspired by different books and it really got the children’s creative juices flowing.

After trying to create their own Grey Huffley from their favourite series РDiary Of A Wimpy Kid they feasted on a starter of dough balls and vegetable crudit̩s while I indulged in some delicately battered calamari that I had to keep Izzy away from!

Actually if you are a fans of Diary Of The Wimpy Kid too then there is a brilliant competition you can enter where you can design your own book cover and submit it online for your chance to win a family portrait down for you by Jeff Kinney, the author of Diary Of A Wimpy Kid himself.

As we waited on our mains we were treated to a visit from caricaturist Sean Savage who created a fantastic portrait of us all. The kids absolutely loved it and found the size of my teeth hilarious!

With our special memento safely tucked away we ate a delicious selection of pizza and pasta that didn’t fail to disappoint.

Aside from being so family friendly another highlight of Pizza Express for us is the way they cater for Frankie and his multiple allergies. The kids menu can be adapted perfectly which always makes him feel inclusive rather than having to have something completely different which can happen in so many other restaurants.

We had a quick break between courses where it was Izzy’s job to make up the chatter boxes that came in the activity packs. These are always a hit with us and they played for ages asking each other questions to unveil the final answer.

A meal out isn’t complete without desert and at Pizza Express you really are spoilt for choice. The children dived into ice cream sundaes and brownies whilst I went for the mini biscoff cheesecake dolcetti which I told myself was a lighter option!

Full to the brim and bursting with ideas on stories they were going to create and illustrate when they got home really meant that Pizza Express has been a feast for our minds as well as our bellies and we highly reccomend a trip there soon so you don’t miss out on all the fun!

*Collaborated post

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

Everlasting Memories With Little Tikes

The whole ethos behind my blog is creating memories with my family and documenting them all to look back over in years to come so nothing is ever forgotten.

However our minds are wonderful things that can store and recall so many precious memories and this is where I really want the children to keep those all important moments and first in their lives.

I’m sure that we all remember the first time we tentatively learnt to ride a bike, the first time we nervously got behind the wheel of a car and the first time we gained the confidence to swim.

A few weeks ago Little Tikes invited us along to Silverstone Race Circuit where I was set to experience a first along with my youngest two – a helicopter ride.

It really was a ‘pinch me’ moment and something I don’t know whether we would have had the chance to experience if it wasn’t for my work and I am extremely grateful for that.

We arrived at the vast Silverstone Race Circuit and we had to pick the boys jaws up from the floor as they gazed out at the super cars and motorbikes racing around the track.

Their eyes then lit up even more when they walked into a room full of Little Tikes toys that kept them happy whilst they awaited their adventure.

The Little Tikes Wheels And Fylerz Range was perfect for my little thrill seekers as the remote controls are designed for little fingers to get to grips with and drive and fly to their hearts content.

With all the hype of their impending helicopter flight they headed straight for the My First Flyer which comes as a red air ambulance and a blue police helicopter. Using the one touch controls the helicopter can take to the air with it’s spinning propeller and wings and the boys played for ages seeing who could get it the highest and the furthest.

From here they moved onto the Tyre Twister Lights which is an amazing remote control police car with lights and sirens that can run around inside or outside the huge tyre.

I think a real favourite of the day though were the Remote Control Bumper Cars. Anything that involves crashing is a hit with my boys…including my husband, so with the aim of the game to get your competitor to fly out of their car this was a very popular.

After a lot of play and a spot of lunch it was time to go for a tour of the Silverstone Circuit. It was amazing to be allowed behind the scenes of this magnificent racetrack that was first used over 70 years ago!

We got to see the Race Control Centre which really is the hub for everything going on around the circuit, we visited the commentators box which was amazing to think off the amount of amazing races that have been witnessed from that very place, we got to go down into the pits which was an amazing experience for me and finally we took to the podium with the classic Little Tikes Cosy Coupe which is always a winner in our eyes!

As if the day hadn’t been full enough we were now going to have an experience like no other and one I was so happy to be able to share with the boys. We were driven to the helipad where we were given our briefing and kitted out with ear defenders in preparation for our flight.

Frankie who is certainly ‘all mouth and no trousers’ had a little wobble but I hurried him along before the nerves really set in! All buckled in the helicopter started up and their was absolute silence from the boys, which if you know them is a rarity! The helicopter started to ascended and we were able to enjoy the stunning views of the circuit and surrounding areas. We spent the flight spotting cars and areas that we had explored whist on the ground and the look on their little faces will be something to treasure for a lifetime.

Back on terraferma it was time to make our way home with a some amazing memories of an amazing day. The boys were also lucky enough to take home a My First Flight helicopter as a memento of the day. I hope that every time they lift that control it will bring back thoughts of their own helicopter trip and they can relive that very moment time and time again.

What The Ladybird Heard At Rose Theatre Kingston:Review

We all have a favourite books from our childhood; one that brings back memories and even into our adult life can evoke feelings from times and places around that very story.

The beauty of finding your favourite book in this day and age is the fact that many of the classics are adapted for the big screen or stage, allowing you to enjoy the story in a completely different way.

A favourite in our house at the moment, especially with Frankie is What The Ladybird Heard by Julia Donaldson. Frankie first came across this fantastic book whilst covering it at school and was lucky enough to play a part in the school assembly that we all loved watching.

You can imagine his excitement when I told him we would be going to see the show on stage at the Rose Theatre in Kingston.

The Rose Theatre is a new discovery for us and we were pleasantly surprised when we arrived to the super friendly staff in a lovely bright and spacious reception that lead onto a cafe full of scrummy treats and a small play area that was perfect to keep restless fingers busy.

After a quick look around we made our way to our seats inside the theatre. It had a really laid back feel to it and the children were invited to grab a cushion and take a seat right in front of the stage or settle in their seats if they wanted. Actually as sad as this may seem the seats were a pretty big highlight for me as they were the usual retractable kind but came in a double seat which saved the continual chair banging throughout the show!

The colourful set had the whole audience of little people gazing at the stage with anticipation of the start. It wasn’t long before the lights dimmed and the charters took to the stage. The tale of the two cheeky robbers who were out to steal the farmers prized cow started to unfold and with the use of extremely clear props…my favourite was the goose made from a watering can, catchy tunes and bundles of audience participation the children were keeped engaged for the whole 55 mins which is no mean feat when there is such a young audience.

During the show the children were encouraged to join in with animal noises, sing and mimic the actions to songs and try to spot the elusive ladybird which seemed a favourite with them all. There was also plenty of slapstick style comedy thrown in which is always a hit with my lot!

The characters were warm and friendly and really drew the children in and made a great connection with them. Frankie took a real liking to the naughty robbers whilst Oscar was pretty taken with the jolly farmer.

At the end of the show we were lucky enough to be able to take to the stage for a chat with the characters and the children got to try their hand at using some of the amazing props.

Frankie was over the moon the meet his favourite character ‘Lanky Len’ and Izzy was in her element to get five minutes on stage as this is her absolute dream.

We had a fantastic afternoon and highly recommend this show as a half term treat for all the family.

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Twenty

This week has been as manic as usual and we’ve all been rushing here there and everywhere but we have had had plenty of small things to celebrate.

When Children Never Cease To Amaze – My eldest son has always been the quiet one, the one that is the hardest to work out and the one that I wish I could shove a fire cracker up his backside most of the time.
It has been the same conversation for the past few years with his teaches – “he is an extremely talented boy who needs to apply himself”. I find this so frustrating as it is so hard to get him engaged and believe me I’ve tried. So when he walked through the door the other day and announced he was putting himself forward for head boy I nearly dropped to the floor. Im really hoping something has finally clicked and he’s going to make the most of his last few years of school.

My Regained Fitness Is Paying Off – Even at my fittest running has never been something I have enjoyed. I find it boring and after suffering with terrible shin splints over the years I pretty much always avoid any kind of distance running.
This weekend I challenged this by taking part in a 5km obstacle run with Izzy and some good friends.
Although running is not my thing my competitive edge took over and I found myself running ahead and trying to complete the course in a good time, I did feel a little bad for leaving Izzy behind!
I completed the course, faced my terrible fear of heights and thoroughly enjoyed every minute.

Sushi In The Sun – After a trip to the shops with Oscar the other day I was quietly laughing to myself about his choice of sushi for lunch.
At the mere age of four it would have been a cheese sandwich and packet of crisps for me and I actually relish the fact that my children have a love of such a wide variety of different foods.

Cake Smash Time With Layrish Photography

I actually can’t believe its been a year since we welcomed Isla into the world and I became a Grandmother. I have to say that this time has passed even quicker than it did with my own children and because of that capturing and celebrating milestones is something of great importance to me.

When I was asked by Layrish Photography if we would like to take Isla along to a cake smash photoshoot to celebrate her first birthday both Alice and myself were extremely happy to go along.

Layrish Photography offer a whole range of photography sessions from weddings to birthday parties, cake smashes to family photoshoots and so much more. They take place at locations of your choice or for from the comfort of your own home.

Cake smashes are a relatively new concept to me and certainly something I was very happy to experience with Isla as a first for us both.

We were all made to feel at ease as soon as the session began and Isla was eased into the whole process by playing with some toys and chatting before the photography started.

With pretty balloons, bunting and bubbles to distract her attention the first few photos in her pretty dress were taken effortlessly before she became a little restless.
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What better distraction could there be though than a quick change of clothes and the most beautiful cake being placed in front of you!

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A little hesitant a first she poked and prodded around for a while and then dived in…face first!

Isla (27)

I wasn’t long before she got a real taste and was well away digging in with her hands and trusty wooden spoon.

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Once she was sufficiently covered head to toe in cake it was time to wrap up the session and of course sample some of the cake ourselves…I mean it would be rude not to!

If you like the look of this session then I couldn’t recommend it enough for an experience that will stick in our mind for years to come and amazing image to look back over time and time again.

In fact the whole package is finished off beautifully as Layrish Photography send over a stunning case that comes with a handful of images all ready and printed out for you that are tied together with a pretty bow and covered with confetti along with the memory stick continuing all your photos that you can do exactly what you want with.

This was also accompanied with a slideshow that includes live footage of the cake smash that actually bought a tear to my eye when we received it, it was certainly a really lovely and unexpected addition.

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It will certainly be a day to remember for us and I couldn’t recommend it more.

*we were given this session in exchange for this review and they are all my own, honest opinions.

A Sneak Peek At The Land Of Tiger- Chessington World Of Adventure

On Friday we loaded up the car and set off for a very special sleepover – a stay at Chessington World Of Adventures to take a sneak peek at the new Land Of The Tiger which is open to the public on the 5th May.

Chessington is only a short drive for us but staying over at their fabulous hotel makes us feel like we are a million miles away. The children ran straight in the room and headed to the bunkbeds to stake their claim whilst I had five minutes with a coffee looking out at the monkeys playing in the park.

It wasn’t long before we headed over to get the evening started which we were all super excited about. Wild Asia was set to be our home for the night where we started the evening out with a few cocktails in the Explorer’s Outpost Restaurant and late night rides on the Kobra and the Monkey Swings.

Next up was the highlight of the evening as we all headed to the Land Of Tiger to be amongest the first few people to see everything it has to offer.

Once inside the huge wooden gateway we were greeted by the super friendly zoo keepers that spoke lovingly and passionately about the four new additions – Olga, Tsar, Kalinda and Kyra.

These majestic beauties have made themselves at home in their grand and innovative enclosure that is the first of its kind in Europe due to its overhead trails that gives you an amazing, up close view of them.

The children were amazed to see the Amur tigers passing through the walkways above their heads and then being able to get so close to them was an amazing experience.

I loved all the free space they have to roam around in and the different habits they can explore, there is even a huge pool for them to have a dip in!

The Land Of Tiger is also home to the new log flume ride – Tiger Rock that we were all itching to have a go on in the morning.

We finished off our evening back in Wild Asia enjoying good food, having a bit of a bumper car marathon due to the kids not wanting to get off and a lot of singing and dancing along to a fabulous band of child stars that absolute made the evening. It has to be said that Izzy was more than a little star stuck to be dancing alongside the likes of Sophie Ellis- Bextor and Jacqueline Jossa who plays Lauren in Eastenders.

I can honestly say it was a matter of minutes after the kids head hit the pillow before they were fast asleep in preparation for the next day.

Miracles actually happened over night as I had to wake them all up to start the day which began with an amazing breakfast with the choice of a full english, pastries, cereal, fresh fruit and so much more.

I had all good intentions of sticking to a bowl of fresh fruit, but my resolve cracked pretty quickly once I got a wiff of the bacon and saw the gooey blueberry muffins.

Full to the brim we headed back to the Land Of The Tiger to try out Tiger Rock. Oscar and Frankie were still to little to go on so Izzy and Archie raced while we waited at the bottom to watch their decent.

Seeing the glee on their faces as the boat past by let me know that it had been a hit an it was soon my turn to try it out for myself.

I clambered on board the boat and took the same familiar journey as the old Dragon Fall but I wasn’t expecting a very different surprise along the journey and I won’t spoilt the fun by letting on what it is, I will let you find out for yourselves. It was wonderful to travel along the watery pathways and spot the tigers from all different directions and it certainly takes your mind off the huge 15ft plummet at the end of the ride that sees you plunge into the huge, mist covered tigers head.

The excitement didn’t finish there as we made our way back to the entrance just in time to see comedian Romesh Ranganathan hand feeding one of the tigers that the boys would have loved to have a go at themselves.

After feasting on some ‘tiger churros’ and delicious doughnuts we whizzed around a few of our favourites like The Grufflo Ride before having to make our way home.

The Land Of The Tiger is a magnificent addition to an already amazing theme park and is something not to be missed. Sadly we didn’t get time to see the new Gruffly Grove stage show so we will be back in the next couple of weeks to see what the cuddly creature has in store and I will be letting you know all about it!

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.

Talking To Teens About Vaping

Parenting is hard work at every single stage. You start with the sleepless nights and endless feeds, move onto the temper tantrums of the toddlers years, hit those awkward in-betweens years until you finally get to the dreaded teens!

For me I think the transition of no longer being the person they always turn to for advice and the person they confide it the hardest part of them growing up. There as so many other people in their lives now that they hold of great importance that Mum is often pushed down the pecking order and certainly for me my opinion on pretty much everything isn’t really valid.

When it comes to subjects such as what they are wearing or eating for their lunch then it not really to much of a problem but when it comes to more worrying subjects such as drug taking and smoking then this is something I find important they can feel comfortable approaching me to talk about and not just take for gospel the facts they come across on the internet or chat about with friends.

Both of these things can have a huge impact on their lives and being an inquisitive teen very tempting to try for themselves. For me as long as they are armed with all the information possible about how these decisions can affect every aspect of their life and I have given them the physical and emotional side to it then I am happy that they can go onto making an informed decision about what path they take when these temptations come their way.

However something that is pretty new to the UK and something I have very little knowledge about is vaping. It has taken off in a huge way and has been labelled the ‘safer’ alternative to smoking but there are mixed views on how safe it actually is.

Vaping – inhaling and exhaling vapour through an aerosol type device is being dubbed the ‘safer’ alternative to smoking. With this label and the fact the vapours come in appealing flavours such as strawberry, mango and even salted caramel the pull to teens is very strong.

I know that I have had several heated debates with my teen regarding their safety and being such a new product there is certainly a lot of conflicting advice out there, but below are a couple of the things I feel it is important to talk through with your teens about:

Unknown Chemicals – Different brands use different chemicals in their vape pens that could potentially cause harm to growing lungs and mouth.

Can Lead To Smoking down The Line – In several studies it has been proven that people who start by vaping then move onto smoking itself. Although they may think they are harmlessly experimenting with a safe alternative they could infect be putting themselves on a slippery slope.

Don’t Follow The Crowd – As I said before vaping has been dubbed the new and cool thing to do and is becoming increasingly popular. Peer pressure will be extremelly strong when there is temptation like this all around and I hope that my teens can make informed decisions on wether they really want to follow the crowd or not.

My biggest tip though is the same for any tricky and worrying subject…just keep those lines of communication open. Allow them to be inquisitive, be as honest and you can and hope that by this they will choose the right path.

*collaborated post

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Twelve

This week has been a bit of an emotional one with the realisation my youngest isn’t so little anymore and how all Frankie’s hard work has been paying off for him.

Frankie’s Eyesight Improves – Its been nearly a year now since Frankie first started wearing glasses and it has been more than a struggle at times. He isn’t to bad at keeping his glasses on but since he had to start wearing a patch on his left eye we have had nothing but problems.
There have been so many bribes and ultimatums to get him to wear it and it has actually cost us a small fortune in the money he has earned for keeping it on.
It has however been worth the pain as on this visit to the hospital his sight has made a huge improvement and I couldn’t be happier.

Home Styling Tips From The Experts – I was lucky enough to attend a fabulous event hosted by the lovely people at Amara. When it comes to home styling I tend to buy pieces that I like without much thought about how and were they are going to fit into the house.
A day of tips and tricks has helped me no end and I will be showcasing this next week with a post on everything I’ve learnt.

Oscar’s Last Dance Show – Realisation is setting in that my youngest will soon be starting primary school and I will no longer have a little ankle bitter nipping at my toes.
I sat and watched his final dance performance with a lump in my throat and a funny feeling in my tummy that in a few short months this stage of both our lives will be coming to an end.