Christmas Hits Clapham With Winterville

It’s not often my children consider me a cool Mum but they were pretty impressed with me the other day when we had a mad dash after the school run to attend the launch night at Winterville on Clapham Common.

Winterville has been billed as London’s alternative festival and it certainly lived up to its name.

As we entered through the neon lit walkway we were greeted with the smell of roasted chestnuts, the sound of familiar christmas hits and a mixture of traditional decorated trees and super cool lighting from the many food stands.

The kids didn’t take long to spot the rides and headed straight off for an adrenaline rush.

The older two headed for the bigger rides of which there were plenty, the good old fashion Waltzer was the favourite while the younger two stuck to the smaller rides…not that they were happy about it!

After the thrills and spills of all the rides we headed over to take to the ice. I took a sigh of relief when they told me Oscar was to young to join in as ice skating is not my forte to say the least.

We sat on the sidelines enjoying a delicious hot chocolate and a gorgeously gooey chocolate brownie while the others thoroughly enjoyed skating around with the beautiful backdrop of the hustle and bustle of Winterville.

By now they had all worked up an appetite and we headed over to Street Feast where there was an amazing selection of street food from juicy burgers to crispy breaded chicken, sumptuous wood-fired pizzas to sticky ribs and so much more.

It is a great place to get out of the cold as well as filling your bellies!

We only scrapped the surface of what Winterville has to offer and I would love to go back to have a round of golf with Plonk golf, see if my skills are better on four wheels in the roller disco, and maybe take in a show.

It would also make a fantastic child free night out as sampling the delicious looking mulled wine and tipsy hot chocolates in the Spiegeltent.

I loved the urban vibe mixed with the traditional Christmas and I wholeheartedly agree that Winterville brings an alternative edge to your usual Christmas festival type attractions and is definitly worth checking out for yourself.

* We were asked along to the launch night for the purpose of this review and they are all my own, honest opinions.

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

Pumpkin Carving And Crafts Galore 

This is our final dayout before the big night of parties and trick and or treat.  As I’ve said before I really love all the fun that Halloween brings and we always have a trip to Morden Hall in Surrey in the lead up to get us in the mood.

You all know that National Trust activities are always a favourite with me as there is always a mixture of exploring the great outdoors with plenty of fun things to make and do.

Today we set off armed with the pumpkins we picked the other day ready to see what was in store for us today.

   
 

There were plenty of tables set up with buckets of utensils to help you carve out your masterpieces.  It’s always great fun to do and saves all the mess at home!

Next up we made our way to all the crafts that had been set up.  Number four had his eye on making a spider headpiece and they all took a turn at making some toliet roll mummies.  There was also a beautiful hanging paper pumpkin but number five got restless so we had to move on.

  
They were all a little peckish so we picked up a pulled pork burger from the Swine ‘n’ Dine stall that was there along with a few other stalls selling lots of yummy food.  The food was outstanding and they even managed to sort something sutiable for my little allergy boy.

  
  
Our final activity of the day was the nature trail which took us through the pretty rose gardens and over the stunning white bridge to play Pooh Sticks.

   
   

We came to the end of the trail which was rounded off wonderfully with a creepy bug hut.  Mine alway love digging around in the dirt to see what minibeasts they can capture and have a good look at.  Number four was a little disappointment he could take the worm home that he had found.

   
       

We had one last look around at the watermill and picked out our favourite scarecrow, all of which were fantastic.  Number five took a particular liking to one!

   
 

If you are looking for something to do over the weekend I can highly recommend a trip along to Morden Hall to see everything it has on offer, Halloween related or not.
  

  

Making Autumn Colourful

We may be having some fantastic weather for this time of year but Autumn is in full swing and the parks are littered with all sorts of natural materials that are perfect to take home and use to make some masterpieces with your little ones.

   
   

After spending a good while at the park tonight foraging around and making the most of the sunshine we went home and got together a selection of twigs, leaves, pine cones, acorns and conkers and took a large sheet of paper which we used to create a colourful Autumn pattern.

   
     

Next up we picked the roundest conkers we could find, painted them in different colours then placed a sheet of paper inside a baking tray and rolled them around and around to create a really pretty pattern.

   
   

Being late in the day I couldn’t stand the mess of number five joining in with the painting so a made a tray up for him containing all the items we collected plus some play dough which he happily sat poking and pushing around while the others got on with painting.

  

This is a great activity to get the children interested in their surroundings and using art to explore different colours and textures.

  

  

  

  

Sunny Sunday At Godstone Farm

  
With such a hit and miss Summer weather wise this year we took the opportunity to visit Godstone Farm in Surrey on this wonderfully sunny day. 

We are lucky enough to have this fabulous farm only twenty minutes drive from home; but it is well worth a drive out to as you can have a full day here as there is so much on offer.

Our first port of call is always the petting area as mine love nothing more than getting hands on and getting to know the animals.  They had a great time holding the chicks and stroking the rabbits.  It took a good while to prize number five away from the chickens.

   
 

From here we moved onto the bigger animals and the boys loved shooting the feed down the tubes to feed the sheep and goats.

   
 

In between visiting the animals there are several small play areas that the children can hop on and ride toy tractors, wizz down slides and clamber into big wooden cars. 

  

 

Soft play is always a big hit with all mine and they are never disappointed with the large area that Godstone has to offer.  They had a great time climbing and sliding whist we grabbed a coffee.

A relatively new attraction to the farm is the Dino Trail.  Number five is a massive dinosaur fan so this is a very welcome addition for us.  We walked through the trail where the huge dinosaurs are nestled amongst the undergrowth for you to spot, there are lots of fun facts to read on the way round and some big bones to excavate. 


  

We only had the youngest two with us today but the huge playground area is always the biggest draw for my brood. There is a massive sandpit that we build sandcastle and burried number four in, a brilliant climbing wall that leads to a super steep slide and so much more than I can mention.

   
     

We only had a limited amount of time here today as we had the others to collect but we could have happy stayed and eaten at the lovely cafe which serves a good selection of hot and cold food and yummy cakes and taken a ride on the tractor to take in the sights on four wheels.

We will be visiting again very soon and hope to get along in the half term holiday to join in with their spooky Halloween events. 

   
  

Our Last Summer Fete Of The Year

For anyone that knows me they will know that one of my top summer activities is visiting village fairs.  I love the feeling of stepping back in time and the simple fun of things like the coconut shy, lucky dips and tombolas.

With the last Bank Holiday upon us we set off to visit the Donkey Derby in Godstone, Surrey.  It was everything I love about a village fair, lots of stalls to browse, cream tea tents, Punch and Judy and the added bonus of the donkey races.

   
   

The children loved picking a donkey to cheer long and watched them race over the finish line.  They sat mesmerised at the Punch and Judy show and had a couple of rides on the monkey swings.

We had our obligatory cream tea under canvas while the children tried their hand at hand spinning and now  know where the song ‘wind the bobbin up’ comes from.

   
   

The highlight of number five’s day was the ornate wooden organ that he stood by for ages dancing to and popping pennies into the pot.

   

It was a lovely way to round off the summer holidays and now roll on the Christmas markets. 
  

Center Parcs:The Perfect Family Holiday

I first visited Center Parcs twenty one years ago when Longleat was opened and have been there nearly every year since.

It is the kind of place you simply can’t tire of and had something to offer if you are 1 or 101!!

If you were to ask any of my children what their favourite hoilday is they will always pick Center Parcs as the top of their list, well baring Disney (sorry)!

Over the years we had had trips where we have taken part in lots of activities and others where we have relaxed more and made use of exploring the wonderful surroundings Longleat is set in.

  
We always hire bikes when we go as it is the easiest way to travel from place to place, and much more fun than walking.  It’s a great place to practice your cycling as the roads are car free once everyone has checked in and there is not the worry that you would get riding a bike at home.  If cycling is not your your thing then there is a land train that you can hop onboard.

We always get a trailer for the youngest ones which doubles up perfectly as a shopping cart!

 
  
We usually grab our bikes and head off to our favourite resturant, The Pancake House.  This year was made extra special by an allergy free pancake being put on the menu so number four was not left out.

   

  

  

  

Tummies now full we made our way to our lodge to get settled in.  This year we were greeted with the usual open plan, cosy lodge nestled in the woodland with all the things you need from any self catering accommodation.  To our delight our lodge was set right onto a beautiful large pond which was perfect for on tap duck feeding.

   
     

     

The children were now champing at the bit to get to the pool which is a favourite for everyone.  They have a well set out area for babies and toddlers, a large pool area that has a wave machine on the hour that leads into a great lazy river, several water slides, jacuzzis to relax in; but our firm favourite is the Rapids.  It is an outdoor slide adventure that I love more than the children!

  
This year the children picked one activity each and we filled the rest of our time with bike riding, swimming, playing on the beach and making use of all the playgrounds on offer.

   
  

         

Number four had his first outdoor activity this year which was the Mini Trek.  He had a fantastic time and thought he was on ‘Ninja Warrior’.

   
    

 

‘Super Grandad’, hubby, number two and number three all took part in the High Ropes Challange.  This was a two hour activity and they loved every minute of it.

   
       

Last of the activities was the Arieal Adventure. This has changed slightly this year but was still the firm favourite.

   
       

As far as eating goes at Center Parcs we have always found the restaurants really good value for money and there is plenty of choice.

   

We usually eat in a lot as it is easier with a large family with young children and ours love to make use of the barbecue area at the lodge.  There is a supermarket on site with mini trollies which are always a highlight.  The supermarket has everything you could want but is very pricy so I would suggest bringing your own good if you were trying to save money by making use of the self catering.

   
 

   
 

We always have tears when we have to end of trip and I can hand on heart say that Center Parcs can’t be faulted.  It is the perfect family holiday and the fact we have visisted for over twenty years should just show you what a truly fabulous place it is.