Getting Away From The Screens At Hever Castle

This half term Frankie seemed to hit the age where the only thing that was interesting him was screen time. The dreaded Xbox had firmly taken hold and anything I suggested doing was brushed aside.

However the mini dictator wasn’t going to get his own way and we headed out for some fresh air and to see what the Living With Nature event at Hever Castle was all about.

After a lot of complaining about having to leave the house, the minute the children left the car they made a run for it and bounded across the fields, making the most of all the beautiful open areas Hever has to offer.

The huge play area is always a favourite for us and we spent a good few hours picnicking, letting off steam and drinking delicious coffee and hot chocolates to keep us warm.

Frankie was especially snug in his cosy sweatshirt from T.J.Maxx.

Next up it was time to take a look at what was on offer at their Living With Nature week.

Hever is fabulous for children and they always manage to put on something exciting for them during the holidays and this half term they didn’t disappoint. The children got to watch an array of different birds of prey in the falconry display, meet a hedgehog and talked about bee keeping in the wildlife charity tent, make a super cute ladybird and bumble bee in the craft tent and explored the grounds whilst answering lots of questions in nature trail quiz.

We even managed to fit in a snowdrop walk which was so pretty and highly recommend.

Of course we couldn’t have a visit without a trip inside the castle. I always love looking at the grandness of all the rooms whilst the boys love to see the suits of armour and discussing how the poo would make it’s way from the toilet into the moat!

We managed to squeeze in an ice cream before the heavens opened and got us drenched…but that’s all part of the fun isn’t it!

For me Hever is a place where the adults can take in the beauty whilst the kids can just be kids and you can ask for much more than that can you.

The Light Bar:From Brunch To Cocktails

[GIFTED] Nestled away just on the outskirts of Coulsdon town centre is The Light Bar – a cafe by day and bar by night.

I had passed by so many times since it’s recent opening and never had a chance to stop until the other day when I popped along for breakfast with a friend.

The decor is cool and edgy and something a little different to what you usually find in Coulsdon which makes for a very refreshing change.

We were greeted with a warm smile and given a menu to peruse. Breakfast was well catered for and you could have something as simple as a pastry to a full English breakfast, tasty treats on sourdough bread, gorgeous bagels and lots more.

For those of you that have followed me for a while will know I have a bit of a thing for pancakes and The Light Bar didn’t disappoint. The fluffy and light pancakes were served with yogurt and berries and I could have easily gone back for more; whilst my friend opted for the avocado on sourdough which was presented beautifully and I was told it tasted as good as it looked!

We sat for a while chatting over great coffee and taking a look at everything else they had to offer, and there really is a vast choice of things to do.

The Light Bar has an equally good lunch menu and I think aside from the quality of the food what really stood out for me was the great prices, which isn’t always easy to find these days.

They run special events such as afternoon teas and bottomless brunches(which we are already planning on coming back for).

In the evenings they offer a huge range of cocktails, a resident DJ on a Saturday night and even the option of private hire and I can assure you it would be the perfect venue for a party.

I was super impressed with my first visit and will certainly be back very soon…probably to try out that bottomless brunch!

Frankie’s Lego Inspired Birthday With The Hip Hooray Co.

[GIFTED] ‘All I want for my birthday is a party with my friends’ – this was a kick to the stomach after realising Frankie had reached the grand age of eight without having a party with his friends.

I think due to the combination of his birthday being so close to Christmas and getting into a routine of doing a special day out with the older ones rather than a party, it has always just passed by without me getting anything arranged.

I was eager to resolve this and after discussions of a sleepover I sought the help of the lovely Tasha from The Hip Hooray Company.

I have followed her beautiful feed over on Instagram for a long time now and had high hopes that she was going to be able to create something special for Frankie and she certainly didn’t disappoint.

After a few emails to figure out what Frankie and myself were looking for and what his likes and loves were, Tasha soon came up with a Lego inspired theme that I fell in love with as soon as I saw it. It was the perfect idea for Frankie and gave me lots of ideas of what I was going to do to work around it.

The Hip Hooray Company specialise in sleepovers and luxe picnics for children and adults alike. There are teepees that are perfect for indoor sleepovers and even the option of bell tent hire for the warmer months.

We went for a teepee and picnic table package where every little detail was thought of and we couldn’t have been happier.

Tasha and her equally lovely Mum came along on the afternoon of the sleepover and set everything up for us, I didn’t have to lift a finger whilst Frankie stayed in the front room so he could have a grand reveal!

We had six teepees set up which come with a mattress, pillows, duvet and decorative cushions. To this bedside tables are added with little glass bottles for their drinks and nightlights and the teepees were given a finishing touch by being draped with bunting and fairy lights…I found the addition of lighting not only very pretty but good for those that aren’t keen on the dark.

As I said we also had the addition of a picnic table which I’m extremely glad we did as it was a great way to get them all seated to eat and doubled up as the perfect place for games that we played during the evening.

The table comes complete with tableware, lunch boxes that I used as the children’s goodie bags and of course popcorn boxes for the all important sleepover movie.

All set up and Frankie over the moon with what had been done the guests arrived and the fun began. Gaming was set to be a big part of the evening, but I made sure we had plenty of games to keep them amused too.

I went with the Lego theme and had a design your own mini figure area, a game to see who could break their mini figure out of ice the quickest, guess how much Lego was in the jar and plenty of games of who could build the biggest Lego tower in the shortest amount of time.

Take away pizza was on the menu but I also created a grazing section for them so they could go back and forth as and when they wanted too.

All played out it we time for a movie and popcorn maker from the Lekue microwave popcorn maker. It was so lovely to be able to be enjoyed in the cosy set up of the teepees and the fairy light lit room.

As expected bedtime took a while with six over excited eight year olds, but upon getting up in the morning they all said what a great nights sleep they had had in the teepees.

Before we knew it the party was over and the team were back to take down and put away after all the fun.

The party was noisy and not much sleep was had and this is exactly what I was expecting – but what I do know is that each and everyone of them had a wonderful and unique experience that they will remember for years to come and I couldn’t have hope for more.

Hi-Fu Face At Re Nue London:Review

[AD] My big 4 0 is fast approaching and my usual routine of soap and water isn’t quite doing it anymore.

Over the past few years I have started to look after my skin a little more as the fine lines have certainly been setting in and the youthful glow has been diminishing.

I’m still pretty clueless when it comes to what I should and shouldn’t be doing and I was in need of a little professional help!

When I was approached by the lovely Gulden at Re NUE London a gorgeous new salon in Banstead, Surrey I knew I was in safe hands.

I opted to try the Hi-Fu Face treatment that is said to be the closest thing to a facelift without surgery. This sounded to good to be true and although Gulden said my skin wasn’t in bad shape this was certainly a treatment I was excited to try.

The minute you walk into Re Nue London you are made to feel at home in their super stylish yet comfortable salon.

After relaxing with a beetroot latte – yes you heard me right, and it is way tastier than I sounds! I gave Gulden a little bit of background knowledge on myself and she set to explaining what the treatment would involve.

The treatment would last a little under two hours and was a painless and non invasive procedure using high intensity focused ultrasound – hence the name!

The ultra sound heats the cells under your skin which are then flushed away naturally by your body over the next three months.

First my skin was mapped out to target the areas that were going to be worked on. My double chin and yowls were areas I was most self conscious about and I was assured there would be immediate results in these areas.

All mapped out the ultrasound treatment started which I found a little uncomfortable but not painful and Gulden checked in on me regularly to check I was comfortable and coping with the treatment.

It took nearly two hours and to be honest this wizzed by and I was over the moon to see definition appear in my jaw area straightaway.

This treatment had really spurred me on to make changes to my diet and water consumption so that I can get the best results from my treatment, so keep an eye out for my final results soon!

Our March…

March seems to have come and gone in the blink of an eye and as I still here going over what we have been up to I think it’s probably the fact we have been so busy it has just flown by.

Archie started off the month with landing himself his first real part time job. It is on a church retreat and he had the job of cooking, cleaning and serving the guests. He seems to be thoroughly enjoying the more tasks he is set and meeting new people who all seem to have sixth amazing stories to tell.

I have to admit when he first told me about where it was(down a load of country lanes with no public transport) I was moaning like made as I knew this was going to fall back on me to get him there and back. But it wasn’t until someone said instead of moaning you should be proud of him for taking the time to find himself work and apply himself that I realise I should suck it up and praise him for his drive and want for independence.

Frankie has one of his routine trips to the hospital for an eye check and the good news is he is nearly done with patching. There has been a huge improvement in this sight and they have got it to a leave that is now remaining stable, so the daily battles with the patch I’m am happy to say are now over!

I fast forwarded the year and stepped straight into summer at the Next Happy Hotel event where I got to look at a whole host of products from homeware, clothing and beauty that are set to make for a pretty great summer. There were some fantastic pieces in each and every section but I think I was most surprised by the amount of other beauty brands that are available through next. I had no idea they stocked Benefit…did you?

From a event on my own to one with all the family at Chessington World Of Adventures. For those of you that regularly read my blog you will know that I have been an ambassador for them for the past few years now and absolutely love watching the changes each and every year. This year the have a new interactive attraction based on the much loved book – Room On The Broom. The children loved it and it’s a must see for any fans of the story.

I have been up and down with my exercise but Jemma’s Health Hub has kept things pretty constant for me so I’m hoping to feel a lot healthier and less self continuous this summer.

Whist we are in the subject of health I had a little bit of a scare with some chest pains that I was referred to the hospital for. My blood pressure isn’t really what it should be and I am waiting on a scan just to check that everything is ok and it’s actually given me more of a push to shift these pounds and get my exercise back to being an everyday routine rather than a chore.

Peppa Pig is still very much a favourite in this house with the boys…even though Frankie wouldn’t let on to anyone; so we were very excited to go along to Leicester Square to see the new film that is put this Easter. The boys absolved it and I’m sure it’s going to be another big hit.

From this screening we went straight to the Royal Opera House to take a look at one of their family fun Sunday events. I was more than a little apprehensive about taking the youngest two as they don’t really scream Royal Opera house! I needn’t have worried though as it was such a relaxed atmosphere where they got to enjoy lots of crafts, storytelling sessions and witness the most amazing ballet and modern performances. It really would come highly recommend from us.

With Mother’s Day on everyone’s minds I was invited along for afternoon tea with Paperchase. We got to chat to lots of lovey mummies and take a look at all the amazing products Paperchase had to offer this year.

A highlight for me probably more than the children this month though was a screening of the new Dumbo movie. It is most definitely a childhood favourite for me and I was so pleased that Disney had worked their magic and managed to recreate a different but equally as thought provoking and heart warming movie as the last.

Spring definitely seems to have been making an appearance and we have been enjoying this with some time in the garden, plenty of hot cross buns and some spring flowers. I really do love this time of year.

The last few days of March will always be ones to remember as the day we were celebrating Izzy’s 13th birthday party my eldest daughter Alice decided to give birth to my beautiful second grandchild. We don’t like to do things by halves in this family and it was a whirlwind 24 hours but I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.

After all the chaos it was time to celebrate Mother’s Day and this is traditionally a nightmare day and this year didn’t disappoint.

I think I have this ridiculous expectations that my children are going to turn into angels for one day and the arguing and bad behaviour are all going to disappear! Sadly of course this doesn’t happen and we started the day with two of them devouring my chocolates before I even sat down to breakfast, one then decided to throw the said breakfast as their sisters head and so the day started.

Next year I’m going to lower the expectations in the hope that this will help!

Treating Your Mum And Giving Back To Charity At The Mother’s Day Toy Exchange

[AD] We kicked off our Mother’s Day celebrations a little earlier than usual this year with a trip to Centrale and Whitgift Shopping Centres in Croydon to take part in their Croydon toy exchange.

They set up a fantastic project which allowed families in and around Croydon to take a pre-loved toy along to the shopping centre and exchange it for a gift of goodies to give to your Mother as a treat on Mother’s Day. The pre-loved toys will them be distributed to the families of Rutherford School who help provides wrap-around services for people with disabilities in the Croydon area from age three onwards.

The boys loved dropping their toys into the big box that was already looking pretty full by the time we got there. They collected their cute pink bags they were full of goodies from shops inside the centre including House Of Fraser, Body Shop and Superdrug.

From here we took the opportunity to take a look around the shops to see what they had to offer in the way of treats for Mother’s Day…well once I prized the away from the children’s area that I have to say is a pretty cool way to give the little ones a treat whist you are there.

Centrale and Whitgift Centres have been my go to place for shopping in Croydon for pretty much as long as I can remember. I actually have fond memories of going along there as a child and selecting gifts for my own mother with my hard earned pocket money.

Spring forward a few years to say the least and I relished in the fact I could take my own little ones ones along to help me chose a gift for their much loved Nanny who deserves a medal for putting up with us lot!

There is such a great variety of shops that suit all budgets. There are plenty of the popular high street favourites such as marks and Spencer, House Of Fraser, Zara, Boots, H&M, Topshop and Superdry to name but a few.

It’s a tradition for us to buy a simple bunch of daffodils every year for my Mum as they are here favourites but you can equally find anything from gorgeous clothing, beauty products, homeware or even a voucher for treat herself to a beauty treatment or a new hairdo!

After all our hard work we stoped for a bite to eat which is also something that is pleasure in Centrale and Whitgift Shopping Centres and there is always plenty to chose from. We always opt for sushi that is set right in the middle of the Whitgift Centre so you can enjoy your food whist watching the hustle and the bustle of the shoppers going by.

We had a brilliant afternoon and if you are looking for a shopping destination with all you can look for under one roof then you really should take a look at Centrale and Whitgift Centres.

Room On The Broom – A Magical Journey At Chessington World Of Adventures

[Press Event] For a long time now the most loved ride at Chessington World Of Adventures for us has been the Gruffalo River Ride. The familiar characters from the Julia Donaldson classic has been bought to life and even the cynical teens of the family love to ride on the former ‘Bubble Works’ which we never thought could be replaced.

Fast forward a few years and I was over the moon to learn that another Julia Donaldson classic – Room On The Broom was going to be brought to life again and we would be one of the lucky few to see it first.

As always I was as excited as the kids as we set off to Chessington World Of Adventures. It was a pretty early start and we were over the moon to be greeted with a Room On The Broom themed breakfast of wand shaped fruit skewers, star shaped biscuits and mini caldron of sweets(bring on the sugar rush!).

Full up and eager to get to the ride we made our way over to the old Hocus Pocus Hall which was now home to the brand new Room On The Broom – A Magical Journey.

As we entered the familiar large doors we soon realised it had, had a real transformation and was now a library that was home to a bubbling witches caldron. We even got to see Julia Donaldson herself before we entered!

From the start I could tell this was going to be a very interactive experience which is always a hit with the boys.

A stormy wind gust in, blowing away the witches treasured possessions and from there we were sent on a mission to try and find them.

We weaved through woods and we’re challenged to release her hat from the trees, search through haystacks to find her bow and bash the fireflies to reclaim her wand; not forgetting to dodge the dragon who was looking out for a diner of ‘Witch and Chips’.

The boys were pleased to see that a couple of the original features of the house still remain and I will league it down to you to visit and find out for yourselves.

As well as this amazing new attraction there has been two new themed rooms added to the Safari Hotel they would make for an amazing addition to any trip.

This really is a must for all those Julia Donaldson fans out there and had made the perfect partner to the Gruffalo River Ride.

Our February…

Well February has been a pretty funny one weather wise hasn’t it. We spent the beginning of the month with everything crossed that the snow flurries were going to settle and give us a couple of ‘snow days’ and then the end of the month stripping back to T-shirts and eating ice cream in the park.

The beginning of the month was actually a cause for celebration in our house as we celebrated granddaughter number two’s imminent arrival with a baby shower for Alice. I haven’t quite got my head around being a nanny to Isla yet and we already have another one on the way to add to the madness of the family.

We also spend a good few hours in the garden getting it ready for the warmer weather. The boys have been really lucky to have a new playhouse, slide and sandpit and we can’t wait to find the perfect paddling pool to make us completely summer ready!

It’s not to often that I socialise in the evenings anymore and I decided this new year that I was going to stop being such a misery and get out with my friends more.

I had a lovely evening with the mums from Oscar’s class. Ate to much a drank more than I should which made for an all round great evening.

Getting back into my fitness has been a great success this month thanks to Jemma’s Heath Hub. Jemma and I had found each other though the wonderful world of Instagram and she asked me to trial her online fitness program which had seen me out of bed super early three times a week to take part in an online exercise session with a whole load of other likeminded women. Go and check her out if you are looking to get back into fitness and want something to do in your own home.

My husband is the romantic one in our relationship and my lack of romantic is something that really gets to him. So this Valentine’s Day we both took a few hours out of our day to grab some lunch and randomly walk around a local museum…not really his idea of a good day out!

One of my first real jobs was working in the food hall at Marks and Spencer. I still have fond memories of this and they were an amazing company to work for. So fast forward a good few years my new job has landed me back at Marks and Spencer…but behind the scenes at head office.

It really is moments like this that make me realise all the hours I put in are most definitely worth it and it was so amazing to be behind the scenes of a place that is so close to my heart.

The boys were gifted scooters from the wonderful Micro Scooters this month and they literally haven’t got off them since. They have always been my first choice for scooters as they are so easy to use and look amazing. They came with use on a trip to the park the other day where we all enjoyed our first ice cream of the year.

We get to explore many parts of London with my job but Battersea is someone I don’t I have ever been and the children certainly haven’t. We had a more than pleasant surprise when we went along to the power station during half term and got to witness what an amazing job they are doing there.

They have some great shops and restaurants and lots of bits and pieces to keep the children occupied along the waterfront. We were actually there to try out a class at the über cool Boom Cycle whist the kids were kept occupied at the lovely ladies from Kids Table. It is definitely one to put on your list.

We actually did a lot of eating in town this half term with a trip to Yo Sushi and Las Iguanas who both offer great deals during the school holidays so keep this in mind for Easter.

Half term was actually a pretty packed one for us and aside from duties of dog sitting at mum and dads we got to enjoy some great events, including a trip to Neville’s in Belgravia for the launch of the new range of hair care from Child’s Farm.

The boys thought they were super models and spent the morning requesting exactly how they wanted their hair styled whilst me and Izzy were treated to some braids and of course a bit of glitter.

The end of month saw an event just for me which is always a welcome change and I attended the launch of the Emma Willis Collection from Next.

It was an amazing evening where I got to see the whole range which was a stylish and gorgeous as Emma herself.

I spent the evening catching up with friends, drinking way to much Prosecco and fan girling Emma for most of the night!

Lapland UK – Creating Traditions

The moment the boys clapped eyes on the familiar little box from the end of the hallway they immediately knew that it was a gift from Father Christmas inviting them to Lapland UK. The mere sight of it had filled them with joy and they hurriedly opened the box that had been pre chilled by me as it had come from the cold climbs of Lapland UK. The pretty wax seals were delicately opened and I was over the moon that Frankie could read his invite this year which really added to the magic.

For me when it comes to Christmas there is nothing as special as having traditions that you can create year after year and through the familiarity bring something a little bit special to this magical time of year. For instance a trip to the farm with a pit stop at the pub has been something we have done on Christmas Eve for many years and making our own mince pies to leave for Father Christmas is a lovely thing to do each and every year and I hope that these little things will be passed down to my grandchildren.

I’m sure that a visit to Father Christmas is always on the list for most people and after speaking to friends this can also be the point in which a lot of children begin to question the authenticity of Father Christmas.

‘Why did he have blue eyes this year Mummy?’, ‘Why does his house look different this year?’. These are all little questions that come into inquisitive little minds and if  like me you want to keep the magic alive for as long as possible then visit that brings you the same wonder, with familiar surroundings and of course the most authentic Father Christmas you are ever going to see then Lapland UK will never be topped.

After last years visit where I was brought to tears and Frankie left exclaiming he had seen ‘the real’ Father Christmas I knew that this was an experience that would never be topped and one that would keep the magic alive for years to come.

Last year we visited in the daytime and I thought it would be good to see Lapland UK in all its glory when it was dark and the christmas lights were at their best. We pulled into the carpark and there were squeals of delight from the back of the car – even from Izzy who is a non believer now.

We headed towards the entrance and picked up our passports and Jingles (Lapland UK currency). Its these little touches that really make you feel you have been transported to somewhere else.

It wasn’t long before we were greeted by the friendly elves and their special ‘elf wave’ that the children had remembered from last year and before we new it we had started out journey. We all loved listening to the story of Lapland UK and hearing what was going to be expected from us all on our adventure.

We then headed off in our teams which are either team reindeer or team husky through the huge wooden doors that unveiled a snowy winer wonderland that really is something to behold.

The children hurried onto the Toy Factory while I took it at a slower pace to enjoy the amazing detail that goes into everything. No stone is left unturned when it come to detail here, they really do get everything just right. When we arrived at the Toy Factory the small folk, as the children are referred to at Lapland UK head in through the super cute little door and take to their seats, whilst the big folk later around the sides leaving the children to feel extra special by stating the task on their own. Ordinarily in situations like this Frankie is terrible and clinging to me and nine times out of ten will refuse to join in. It is however a completely different story here and he is more than happy to get stuck in and they all throughly enjoyed stuffing their toy penguin that is then left at the factory to give to little girls and boys on Christmas Eve.

From here we headed to Mother Christmas’s Kitchen where we were treated to a story from Mother Christmas who is as warm and loving as you would imagine and then they set to decoding their gingerbread men that Oscar and Izzy demolished in seconds, whilst Frankie packed his away to give to Father Christmas on Christmas Eve.

The small folks work was now done and we were given some time to explore the village which was even more spectacular in the dark. The snow cover trees and colourful lights set the most amazing atmosphere for us to take to the ice, grab a bite to eat and dose shopping.

I am not a fan of ice skating at all and the fact that they offer special attachments for the little ones shoes makes me so happy. The can then skate with ease so I can concentrate on keeping myself up right! All of that skating calls for something to warm you up and I have it from my little babychinno expect that Lapland UK offer the best babychinno he has ever had.

The bauble shop is always one of my favourite places and somewhere you can get a lovely momento of your trip. The children adore the toy shop which had changed around slightly this year and to me offered some amazing toys that were very reminiscent of Santa Claus The Movie and brought back some lovely memories for me.

The children love to select some goodies from the sweet shop where there is just to much to choose from and again a lovely place to pick up a little treat…or two!

It was now time to see the main attraction – Father Christmas, so we made our way along the snow cover path looking at the little eves homes and stopping to greet the reindeer on our way. One of the highlights for the boys last year was definitely making some reindeer food to take home and they were very excited to do this again whilst also keeping an eye out for all their favourite reindeers.

Our last stop was nearly upon us and after a very short wait we were taken by a very excitable elf to see Father Christmas. The children sat on the little bench outside full of excitement and anticipation and butterflies filled my tummy at the thought of seeing their little faces one we were inside.

Father Christmas was exactly as we had remembered him, the children were grinning from ear to ear and yet again aa tear came to my eye as he spoke about thing the children had been up to and wether or not they had made it onto the good list this year.

All as pleased as punch they had made it onto the list they received a gorgeous golden bell and cuddly husky, but I think above anything that little bit of time spent with the ‘real’ Father Christmas again is what made our trip.

Yet again Lapland UK gave us an afternoon of magic and winer that we will never forget and something that doesn’t easily get forgotten about once you get back home. The love they have for their huskies is there all year and they come on many a day out with us and being able to scatter the reindeer food and putting the gingerbread man out for Father Christmas on Christmas Eve means that a trip to Lapland UK really is a gift that keeps on giving and one we will never forget.

* We were invited along to Lapland UK for the purpose of this review and they are all my own honest opinions.

Back On Track With David Lloyd Purley

Today hurt, it pushed me to my limits, it made me want to just give up but I didn’t. Today was my first day back in to David Lloyd – Purley since before Christmas and although each and every minute in that spin class pushed me to breaking point I got through it, enjoyed it and it has given me that much needed motivation to keep going.

I know at the moment their is a huge buzz around accepting our bodies for the way they are but this is something that doesn’t sit well with me. I have always been taught to strive to be the best I can when it comes to things such as work and parenting so why shouldn’t this be the same for the way my body looks and feels. Yes my body has carried five babies and age is no longer on my side but that is no excuse to neglect the body that has done so much for me and why shouldn’t I strive to get it looking and feeling the best way it possibly can. I know its not going to be easy and since I first started back on my fitness journey last year I have both good and bad moments but I have learnt from both.

Over the last few months I was utillising the gyms fantastic kids clubs and cafe area to catch up on work rather than for looking after myself and my own well being and although it was fantastic for allowing me to hit targets with work it meant that my fitness and weightloss were suffering. Im using this New Year to get things back on track, manage my time better and smash those goals and I hope you will join me on my journey!

  • We have been given a family membership for the purpose of these posts.