An Uber Cool Christmas At Winterville

Last year we had our first visit to Winterville on Clapham Common. We didn’t really know what to expect and we were pleasantly surprised with its calm, cool, festive vibe.

When we were asked to visit again this year we jumped at the chance and as soon as we got there we knew it was going to be just as much fun. The neon sign shone out across the park and welcomed us in with its pretty christmas lights, catchy christmas tunes and the smell of wonderful food.

I would actually sat that if you are  bit of a foodie then Winterville will be right up your street.  There is so much on offer with the Truck Stop and Street Feast areas homing the majority of the stalls. From crispy chips to sticky ribs, Baileys hot chocolates and warm cookie dough puddings.

Of course its not just food and drink on offer at Winterville. There is a whole plethora of amazing activities to join in with and the kids didn’t know where to start first!

The gleaming lights of the fairground rides were calling us and while Izzy headed to the bigger rides I stayed with the boys and took a ride on the train, span around in the tea cups and watched them as they bounced as high as they could on the trampolines.

It was now a bit of time for Mum so I grabbed a mulled wine and took a look around the Solo Craft Fair that had some amazing gifts for some amazing independent business which makes a very welcome change to some Christmas markets that are full of  mass produced items you can get anywhere.

Crazy golf is always something my lot love and the the UV – powered Plonk Golf course at Winterville was great fun.

Anything that involves being on wheels or blades draws my children in but is my worst nightmare! Winerville have both a beautiful ice rink and a roller disco on offer and i managed to persuade the kids to only try out the ice skating as I don’t think my nerves could take both.

All of the children could take to the ice and there are penguins to help the round the rink. We all did really well until the very end where Oscar took a tumble just as he was putting his penguin back. We ended up with a split lip and a very sad little boy and I have to say that in this moment of need we were confrunted by a surly and very unhelpful member of staff which was a real shock after having such an amazing experience with everyone we had come across.

We literally scrapped the surface of everything on offer at Winterviile. There are live DJ sets, cocktail bars, wrestling, Backyard Cinema, Big Fish Little Fish family rave, family shows on a double decker bus and so much more.

So if your looking for somewhere to kick off that festive spirit then this is the place to be!

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

Making Bedtime A Breeze With Moonlite

Bedtimes in my house are an absolute battle ground. Each child has been very different and I have had to use a whole array of different strategies to get them to bed over the years. However when it comes to Frankie all of my attempts at getting him into bed have failed at the first hurdle and six years on this is beginning to take its toll.

For some children going to bed can be a very stressful experience and lead to a lot of anxiety and this is certainly something that is behind Frankie’s sleep problems.  He worries about not being able to see whats going on in the dark of the night, he worries about people getting into the house when he’s asleep, in fact you name it he will worry about it.

One thing that seems to calm him down is a bedtime story, although even this he can struggle to engage with and whilst I’m reading his brain will still flit back and forth between all of the worries he has.

When we were asked to try to try out the Moonlite story projector I had high hope that this would be something to help with our bedtime woes.

Moonlite takes traditional storybooks and mixes them with modern technology through the use of HD projections, sound effects and read-a-long features.

The kit comes with with a projector that you simply slip one of the four story wheels into and attach to your phone. Using the projector and a downloadable app the phones flashlight brings the story to life on any surface. The Moonlite app contains the full story for you to read along to whist the pictures are projected for you to follow along with.

The app was super easy to download as was fitting the projector to the phone. Frankie absolutely loved following the words of the story and waiting for the different Mr Men characters to appear on the ceiling. The fact that its a more interactive experience than reading a book in the traditional way allowed Frankie to be more focussed on the story. It took his full concentration and didn’t allow his mind to wander onto all those anxious thoughts he normal gets and he actually settled down so much better than he had for such a long time.

Moonlite has a great variety of stories to choose from such as Spot Loves Bedtime, The Tale Of Peter Rabbit, Dinosaur Roar and lots more. They are going to make for great stocking fillers .

The Gift Pack sells for £39.99 and includes 5 stories and 1 projector. The starter pack which contains 2 stories and a projector sells for £19.99 and you can buy additional story reels for about £8 each.

This has been a great way for us to make bedtime a calmer and more enjoyable experience and has opened up a whole new meaning to our bedtime story routine.

*collaborated post

A Dickens Inspired Christmas At Hever Castle

Last year was our first visit to Hever Castle at Christmas time and I was completely taken in with the traditional feeling they had created, and on our return trip to the press evening last week those same feeling came flooding back the minute we drove into the car park.

The entrance was filed with light covered trees and and as we walked down to the main hub the sky was filled with laser beams that were being projected across the lake.

The whole walk down to the castle was in fact a visual delight with disco balls sparking in archways and pretty lights everywhere we looked.

On of the highlights for me last year was the little area tucked behind the entrance to the toilets….yes it doesn’t sound to glamorous, but it was full of snow covers trees and peopled huddled around an open fire and it got our visit off to the perfect start.

The children didn’t know what to look at or were to go first so we had a few goes on the beautiful carousel and a run through the hall of mirrors to let off some steam!

After this we were all eager to get inside the castle and see how it had been decorated. We were greeted with hot mulled mine, sausage rolls and mince pies which made for an amazing experience but my nerves wear more than a little on edge at the though of sticky fingers and all the beautiful furniture!

We went in and out of every room or which each one was breathtaking. A castle steeped in history and full of Christmas spirit had got to be a pretty amazing sight to see.

Before we knew it it was our turn to go and visit Father Christmas. The boys exciting skipped along the candy caned lined walkway until we reached the grotto and were welcomed by Father Christmas’s friendly elves.

They lead us threw a snow covered pathway until we reached his little house that was tucked away behind the trees.

He greeted the children in such a warm manner and the children’s faces lit up as soon as he started speaking to them…even Izzy’s.

They were each given a lovely gift and we headed out to giant our evening with the ‘Christmas Carol’ trail.

The trail was themed around the Dickens classic and saw us meeting characters from the classic tail along the way. It is an interactive experience that kept us wondering what we were going to come across next!

We left the castle full of Christmas spirit and wanting to visit again before Christmas is out!

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

Nativity Rocks:Review

The Nativity movies have been a big hit in our house for many years now. The light hearted, feel good factor they give you is a huge attraction and always fill you with the spirt of Christmas.

A couple of weeks ago we were invited along to a screening of the fourth Nativity movie – Nativity Rocks in Leicester Square.

Kitted out in my sparkly jumper…much to the embarrassment of the kids we started the morning with some fun in the foyer making snow globes, getting glitter tattoos and eating out first mince pies of the year.

This movie had a very different feel to it then the others as the main bulk of the story was based around a young Syrian refugee called Doru and his Father who get separated in there quest to seek refuge in the UK.

Doru finds himself in the middle of Coventry in the midst of their Christmas preparations where he is found and taken to safety by the warm and friendly social worker Shelly(Helen George) who in-lists the help of the super foster mum(Merry Syal).

We were a little concerned about the absence of our favourite character, Mr Poppy bit we needed had worried as he had been replaced by his long lost brother who made an equally loveable Mr Poppy mark two!

Whilst Mr Poppy(Simon Lipkin) searching for his long lost family at St Bernadettes he bumps into Doru who has enrolled in the school and they form a bond over their similarities.

Of course there has to be some kind of musical theme to the movie and this comes in the form of the whole of Coventry competing to represent their town in The Christmas Town Of The Year.

Emmanuel Cavendish(Craig Revel Horwood) is brought in as the superstar set to put Coventry on the map with his expert knowledge of everything showbiz but the evil villain has the opposite effect and the community come together to go it alone.

Along the way there are all kinds of adventure from Doru and Mr Poppy, an unlikely friendship is but between a little boy from the rival private school.

I won’t spoil any more of the story for you and I will leave you safe in the knowledge that this thought provoking, heart warming story with have you laughing and crying in equal measure and will fill your heart with everything that Christmas should represent!

Beaker Creatures Liquid Reactor Super Lab Review And GIVEAWAY

Frankie is a big fan of anything science related. He loves making potions and pulling things apart to see how they work. This can sometimes cause more than a little bit of mess and chaos!

So when we were asked by Learning Resources to try out there Beaker Creatures Liquid Reactor Super Lab I was more than happy to give it a go.

Beaker Creatures is a science kit for young children to be introduced to the wonders of science in a fun and educational way.

The kit took less than five minutes to put together and consists of a main tray with three chambers where the experiments take place.

The main experiment is to dissolve a pod which is pretty similar to a bath bomb inside the main chamber to extract the creature within.

To start the extraction we had to fill two syringes with water, place inside the other chambers and press down on the plungers to release the water into the main chamber. We did have a little bit of trouble getting this to work to begin with but once it got going the pod started to fizz and bubble away, allowing the creature to be released.

Frankie was super excited by the whole process and loved them trying to identify which creature he had found on the identification sheet.

Alongside this great activity there is also an instruction sheet containing another four experiments you can try out using products you can easily find around the home, including ‘alien slime’ which was of course a big hit!

Beaker Creatures was a great way to introduce simple science experiments to the children in a fun and pretty mess free way!

If this sounds like something they your little ones would like then go ahead and enter my competition below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Collaborated post

David Lloyd Know How To Party

As I’m sure most of you know by now that I only have praise for the amazing health club that is – David Lloyd.

It helped my find my mojo again and was the catalyst for my weight loss, it’s a great way to spend quality time as a family as well as keeps you fit and it has even pulled my gaming mad son away from his Xbox which is no mean feat and I will be talking more about this soon.

As well as everything I have mentioned above one of the big pulls for me is the sense of community that David Lloyd encourages. There was is always something going on from quiz nights to BBQs and the other evening we went along to experience this at the kids Halloween party.

The three hour long party was full of fun from beginning to end. The children got the chance to make slime, try their luck with the slimy lucky dip, bob for apples, get their faces painted and so much more!

The staff all got into the spirit of the event and were dressed up and full of life. They boogied away with the kids and seemed to be enjoying themselves as much as the children.

All parties need some good food and there was plenty on offer…even cheeseburgers in the shape of pumpkins!

It was the perfect way to kick off our Halloween half term and has only instilled in me more why David Lloyd is the only health club we would choose.

*We have been given a family membership for the purpose of these posts and they are all my own, honest opinions.

A Spooky Morning With Goosebumps 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Having A Spooktacular Time At Chessington World Of Adventures

Chessington World Of Adventures don’t do things by halves and this years Howl ‘O’ Ween celebrations were as fantastic as always when we visited yesterday.

As soon as you hit the entrance the park is festooned with all kinds of pumpkins and skeletons to get you into the spooky mood.

We usually head to Chessington for the fast rides and thrill and spills they have to offer, but this time we decided on a calmer day where we would just go to enjoy the smaller rides, the animals, the shoes and of course everything they had to offer for Halloween.

Trick Or Treat Wood is always a favourite with all the family as it allows for the element of surprise and is jumpy without being too scary.

We weaved our way through the woods where we were confronted with all kinds of creepy, cute and funny creatures that took us on an adventure to make it through the woods and claim our special treat at the end.

From here Izzy braved the Creepy Caves that saw her escorted through a creepy quarantined area which was extra scary as due to nobody knowing the whereabouts of the missing zoo keeper!

More scares were to come with the Curse Of The Tomb where you need to find your way through the scary maze in search of Genghis Khan’s lost tomb.

This one certainly wasn’t for the faint hearted and I got the wits scare out of me by one of the actors simply popping his head out of the caves!

It was an absolutely freezing day and we were very grateful to be able to warm up for a while in the Sealife Centre that the children all love.

We then made our way to some of the smaller rides such as the flying jumbos, the carousel, adventure tree, tiny truckers and of course Hocus Pocus Hall has to be done at this time of year!

We took a little bit of time out to watch the brilliant Room On A Broom story time they brings the much loved book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler to life which the children were captivated by and then loved getting the opportunity to meet the witch herself.

Another place we love to visit is the Dragon’s Placehouse where the boys have a whale of a time jumping through the soft play while I get the chance to have five minutes peace and a cheeky muffin in the cafe next door.

We were a little pushed for time and gutted we didn’t get the chance to see the brand new Haunted Howl ‘O’ Ween show which looked like great fun.

There was also a competition running for the best dressed Halloween adventurer.

All the fun is going on until 4th November so don’t miss out!

‘I am a Chessington Blogger Ambassador, I was given a Chessington Annual Pass to do this review with my family and I was not paid to do this post. If anyone would like to confirm any details in the post, please email press.office@chessington.co.uk’

The Tree, The Key And Me:Personalised Book Review

Personalised books have always been a huge favourite with all of my children. They love the ability it gives them to transport themselves into the heart of the story and really connect with the tale.

Personalised books are a great way to get reluctant readers to engage in a story and open up their minds to the potential rewards they can reap from reading. In turn this passion can help greatly with their speech and vocabulary and who knows might even help them to become a little book worm.

For me though I think it takes a special type of personalised book with a good story and beautiful illustrations that keeps you wanting to turn the pages and discover more, allowing them to get excited about finding themselves at the heart of the narrative.

All my children have been reluctant readers and it takes a lot to get them engaged in reading. My biggest challenge however has been Frankie who resists reading for different reasons to the other others. He has in fact struggled with his reading and is currently being kept an eye on as he is showing signs of dyslexia.

For him the written world is a scary place and so anything to make his reading journey easier is a bonus for us. So when we were asked by Librio to review their personalised book – The Tree, The Key and Me I had high hope this would be something Frankie could fall in love with.

I am sometimes overwhelmed by creating personalised items online and can often be disheartened that the character I am creating doesn’t look as I want. Libro however have created a configurator with over 8000 possible combinations so you can get an incredible likeness – glasses and wavy hair included for Frankie. They have everything covered so your character can be created using their own gender, skin tone, eye colour, hair colour and even hairstyle.

Something that I have also never come across before to is the ability to have the book written in 18 different languages and dialects, including UK and US English, French, German, Swiss, Italian, Spanish an Welsh.

As well as creating your own little person there is also the opportunity to add a special message at the beginning of the book which is yet another fantastic personal touch.

The personalisation took very little time and our book arrived in a matter of days. We went for the paperback version that is made from high quality, 100% recycled paper from the award winning printers Pureprint Group. This offers a top quality finish to the beautiful book which came with stunning illustrations and a story of a little boy who finds a key whilst digging for treasure which opens up a door to a very special forest which is home to all kinds of adorable animals that need help to save their home from losing its colour.

Frankie’s eyes lit up the moment he saw the picture on the front cover and realised before even opening the first page that this was him. It was an absolute pleasure to see him try and read this story and find out with each turn of the page where his was going to be off to next and what kind of adventures he would be getting up to.

If you are looking for a story to is going to be a keep sake for many years to come then this is the book for you. Librio also give back a huge amount by planting a tree with Trees For The Future for every book sold and on top of that for each book sold they donate £1 to literacy charities who do some amazing work to encourage children to find a love of books.

I now have to create one for Oscar who is keen to be part of the magic trees adventures too and if you order two or more books you can get a 15% discount by entering the code YAY15 which is perfect for the run up to Christmas.

*collaborated post

Geomag Mechanics Gravity Review And GIVEAWAY

When I was younger one of my favourite toys was technic LEGO. I would spend hours creating vechiles and absuolty loved how they could be transformed into a moving object in front of my eyes.

I often got questioned why I was playing with a ‘boys’ toy which to be honest never bothered me and when I look back now there were probably a lot of girls that missed out on a lot of fun due to toys like this being given a label as being unsuitable for girls.

I am so pleased that over the years this stereotypes are slowing being quashed and allowing girls to take more of an interested in the STEM subjects.

A while ago we were introduced to Geomag which is a magnetic construction toy formed of magnetic rods and spheres that you to build all kinds of structures with. It allows children to use their minds and imaginations whilst building their skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

We have been trying out the next stage to Geomag with their Mechanics Gravity range. This range now allows you to move your creations with the use of your hand or a mechanical knob which Izzy loved using.

The set compromises of  243 pieces and is aimed at age 7+ although Frankie and Oscar who are 4 and 6 still had good fun trying to get to grips with it all. They all loved trying different combinations and watching how the pull of gravity makes everything work.

If this sounds like something your little ones would enjoy which I’m sure they would then enter my competition below for your chance to win a Geotag Mechanics Gravity set of your own.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*collaborated post