Keeping The Magic Of Christmas Alive At Lapland UK

Do you remember the wonder that each sparkling light on the christmas tree would behold, how the smell of the fresh pine needles used to fill the house and your heart with such excitement, how every sip of warm hot chocolate and each bite of your delicious mince pie would fill your tummy not only with good food but with butterflies from the anticipation of the arrival of Father Christmas each and every year.

As we get older sadly these feelings dwindle and our hopes and expectations of christmas change and the magic slowly fades away.

However once we are blessed with the gift of children this magic fills our hearts once more as we see the wonder through our children’s eyes.

I have soaked up every moment of my children’s twitchy fingers as they try to adoren the tree with the delicate decorations, looked on in wonder at each and every nativity play as the stand their fumbling through the words of those heart warming christmas carols and for me one of the most magical moments is clinging onto their wriggly bodies as they stand in line to see meet the big man himself…Father Christmas.

All these moments are precious yet sadly as fleeting as our own and each and every year I try my upmost to keep the magic alive for as long as possible.

Familiar traditions such as baking the Christmas cake and writing letters to Father Christmas all help with this but as with anything as children grow and their knowledge widens the belief in Father Christmas begins to be questioned and I can honestly say that the reality of having a non-believer has always been way harder on me than it has been for them.

If there was a place you could visit that was as magical and as mysterious as the thought of Father Christmas himself then surly this would help keep the magic alive for that little bit longer would it not?

This is what I has high hope of when we were asked along to Lapland UK last weekend. In its tenth year now I have never heard a negative comment about anyones trip and after meeting the charming husband and wife team Alison and Mike at an event last month I knew that the love and passion that came across as they spoke so fondly of their creation was going to shine trough on our trip.

I decided for my sanity to leave telling the children about our trip until the day before we left. I am completely at fault when it comes to making the children little balls of excitement as this time of year but even I couldn’t take how excited they were going to be on hearing they would be going on the trip.

The invitations get sent through the post in a beautiful presentation box with each child having a personal invitation, complete with a gorgeous wax seal.

The box itself can be placed in the freezer to make for a gust of cold air when they open it up which Frankie was absolute amazed with and went rushing over to the window to see if he could see the tail end of Father Christmas’s reindeers that must have just delivered them.

That night was like putting the children to bed on Christmas Eve, the excitment was immense and after reading The Untold Story Of Father Christmas which is written by the founders and is the perfect way to get them familiar with the lovable charters they would be meeting the next day, they finally settled.

We couldn’t believe our luck when we woke to snow the next morning and as we came off the motorway and drove a short way through snow covered woods it really couldn’t have been a more magical build up to or visit.

A short walk from the carpark we arrived at a beautiful snow covered building where we checked in with the friendly elf and enjoyed a quick snack before our tour started.

It wasn’t long before it was our turn to be guided through the huge bookcase into a magical enchanted forest where we were told the story of how each tiny pinecone turns into a elf that then helps out with making all the toys for Father Christmas to deliver.

This is also what our children had been enrolled to do and as we were about to set off to take up the challenge the huge set of doors was slowly opens to reveal a cascade of snow and a stunning snow covered walkway.

Once inside the workshop the children were all settled at work benches where they has the job of stuffing super cute polar bears ready for delivery on Christmas Eve. This could have lead to many tears and tantrums as the toys were not for them to keep, however the story had been told so well and their role for the day described perfectly so there was not one tear or moan from any of the children in the room.

After all their hard work we then made our way to meet Mother Christmas in her kitchen; the kitchen was snug and cosy and the warmth from Mother Christmas was infectious. The children carefully decorated their gingerbread trees and packed them away to hang from their own trees once they got home and then settled down to a story read by Mother Christmas herself whist the parents got the chance to snack on a delicious biscuit themselves.

When all the work was over we had free reign of the village where you could grab something good to eat and drink or like us get tempted by a few to many sweets in the sweet shop. We picked up a small gift in the shop that really was a child’s dream with a huge selection of gifts and of course not to be missed a trip to the ice rink.

Skating is really not my forte and although I braved it I stayed pretty much in one spot while the children fearlessly skated off with their Dad. Oscar was over the moon as ice skating is normally of the agenda for him as he is only three, but with the help of some super cool strap on skates and the aid of a penguin he was well away.

It was now time for the most anticipated part of the day…our trip to Father Christmas. The walk to the grotto held yet more beautifully snow covered pathways, the cutest of little elf homes and of course a stop off to visit the reindeers where we also got the chance to help out with preparing their food.

We had a very short wait until the children names were called and we were lead to his Grotto, the doors opened and the beaming smile from the big, jolly man filled the beautifully decorated room.

The children sat next to him, hanging on his every word in complete awe. The heart melting moment for me though was the look on the children’s faces when he spoke bout each one individually, letting out little snippets of their lives that they never imagined he would ever know.

Mouths aghast at what they had just experienced and me with tears in my eyes I know that there is no way that this visit could ever be topped and will certainly never be forgotten.

The attention to detail at every point is unbelievable, there wasn’t a queue in sight and the whole day ran seamlessly. But I think what stood out most for me was I didn’t hear a moan, a cross word or a cry from any child all day which is certainly a first for us and just shows that the whole experience is put together with the childs enjoyment being the top priority.

I experienced this day with children aged from fifteen to three and each and everyone felt and shared the magic of this wonderful place. Archie integrated with his younger siblings and loved every minute of watching their delight as we did and although he is way past the age of believing it was still an amazing experience for him.

The one that I most wanted to see the reaction of was Izzy though as the start of High School has already had an effect on her and her belief has been waining since last year, yet the sparkle in her eye and the smile on the face after this trip has given me at least one more year of magic with her and for that I will be forever grateful.

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

Anthony Gormley, Sea Shells And Bus Painting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fillings were plentiful and jammed packed with flavour.

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

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

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

He is way more ready for this than I am!

Mr Tumble Spotty Bag And Interactive Toy Review


There is not a child I know that hasn’t at some point had a love for Mr Tumble.

His bright, engaging character has had all of mine glued to the TV screen and is currently number five’s absolute favourite.

When we were asked to try out a couple of toys from the new collection I knew he would be more than happy to give them a try.

One of the things that Mr Tumble is notorious for is his spotty bag.

This scaled down bag with adjustable straps is perfect to sit on little shoulders and with its bright colours and different textured materials it works perfectly to stimulate their senses.

Inside there are five cards with Makaton signs that he has loved to try and create himself.


The next toy we tried out was the Mr Tumble with fun tumble tap.


This cuddly, soft Mr Tumble has the tumble tap to hand at all times which comes with five different icons that show some of his favourite phrases.

Number five’s face lit up each time he came across a new phrase and soon started to mimick the familiar words.


As well as this he sings two songs which we all ended up joining in with whilst he cute red nose lit up.


Both of these toys were a real hit and I love that as well as being a familiar face from the TV they help with building his knowledge of touch, sound recognition and dexterity.

We are now looking to see what else we can add from the range.

Are your little ones fans of Mr Tumble?

Dancing Along At In The Night Garden Live

In The Night Garden has been a part of the bedtime routine in our house for over  eighteen years!

The cute characters and catchy songs find it a show that is hard not to like so when we were asked to come along and take a look at In The Night Garden Live I knew there would be some happy faces.

The show in running until the 21st of August and is moving around London, Birmingham and Manchester.

We chose to go and see an early performance in Richmond Park and there are still a few tickets to grab if you are lucky enough.

Upon arriving we were greeted at the huge purpose built show done by a host of super happy ushers that took our tickets and explained to us what would be going on.

We were pointed in the direction of the massive buggy park which I normally find a nightmare to navigate, but there was ample space to get buggies in and out.

We were fashionably late and the dome was almost full as we entered.  There are only thirteen rows of seating set out in a bench style format.  This makes for an intimate setting that if perfect for little ones.  The benches allow the children to move freely without annoying anyone else to much.

As soon as the characters such as Iggle Piggle and Upsy Daisy took to the stage there were screams of fun and laugher from the children – well and a few adults too!

Number four who is the ripe old age of four had told me the he wasn’t really wanting to go as it would be to babyish for him.  Strangely enough though he was singing, dancing and clapping along to the whole show.


The mixture of puppetry, costumes and panoramic projection were perfect, and keep tiny eyes and minds glued to the stage for nearly a whole hour.


We have been to many theatre shows as a family and this is by far the best equipped for children.  Every little thing has been thought of down to little steps and seats in the toilets to microwaves for bottle and food warning.

Sadly I didn’t realise that you could pre ok to meet one of the characters as a family which sounded like a great experience and something we will add if we visit again next year.

If you are looking to introduce your children to the wonders of the stage this is the perfect place to start.

I have come away with a fuzzy feeling in my tummy from the brilliant performance and the magic in every child’s eyes.


*we were gifted tickets to this show and they are all my own, honest opinions.

My Size Potty Review

For me potty training is one of the worst stages of parenting.  The endless trips back and forth to the potty, the accidents and the stress of being out and about when they scream for the toilet at the most inopportune moment!

Number five had been showing a lot of interest and had been using the potty sporadically for a while but I was yet to take the leap and go for it.

When I was asked by Summer Infant UK to try out their new My Size potty I realised this would be the perfect time to take the plunge.

When the parcel arrived all the children were so excited to see a potty that was just like a miniature toilet.  To be honest I was even really taken with how lifelike it was.

The package came in several parts and was really easy to assemble.

There is a liftable lid which can also have a splash guard attached to save any accidents from little boys.  We haven’t tried this out as being the youngest of three boys he had taken to standing already!

Under the lid is a removable bowl that is really easy to remove and clean as it is a lot smaller than a traditional potty.


In the top of the potty there is a little compartment to store wipes and if the top is removed you can place a few books or toys to keep them amused.  This has come in really handy as number five had a tendency to jump up from the toilet before he is ready so something to keep him occupied that is close to hand is perfect.


The selling point for us though was definitely the toilet flush they when pulled gives a great flush and giggle sound which makes for the perfect reward for doing a good job.

For me anything that make such a tricky task fun and as easy as possible is a hit in my book.  It is the perfect potty to make the transition from potty to toilet go smoothly as they look so alike.

The My Size Potty was a huge hit with number four and it is a shame that this great potty was not around through the struggles of my other four!
*we were gifted this potty for the purpose of this review and they are all my own, honest opinions.

Toddler Christmas Lunch At Hobbledown

For the first time last year we took a visit to Hobbledown in Epsom, Surrey for their wonderful Toddler Lunch With Santa.

After a terrible journey due to horrendous traffic I arrived with two very miserable toddlers!  I booked in through the screaming and made our way to the play barn, found a table and thankfully peace was restored.


  
After a good run around in the brilliant soft play area that also has a cafe to serve a much needed coffee a friendly elf came to lead us into the cosy hut where we would be meeting Santa.

The children all sat at the table while cute gingerbread men were handed out for the children to decorate.



Following this a yummy packed lunch was served whist Santa made his grand appearance to sit with us whist we ate.


  
The children were then called up one at a time to have a chat and collect a present from Santa.


  
Nice and full we waved goodbye and went to have a look at Santa’s reindeer and a couple of very cute donkeys, and then finally had a run about in the huge sandpit before heading home.



This is such a wonderful day out for toddlers with a real mix of things to do.  You also have the option of paying for entry to the rest of Hobbledown which is a really good day out with plenty to explore.

The only issue I had is that it is listed as simply a craft activity on the internet so number five couldn’t actually take part due to his allergies.  If I had known in advance this is something I could have provided my self so that he didn’t feel left out.

Christmas Tree Craft For Toddlers

Christmas is on its way and one of my favourite parts of the celebrations is the decorating of the tree.  Something I now allow the children to help with and then rearrange once they are in bed!!

An easier way to solve this problem is to create their own little tree from paper.

 

All you need to do is to find some green paper which you need to fold into half and draw half a tree along the folded side.  Once this is cut out you will have a tree with perfectly even branches.

From there you need to pick some colours and paint baubles onto the tree.

   
 

Once they have covered the tree with the coloured baubles you can then cut lengths of coloured pipe cleaners to glue across the tree as tinsel.

  
This is a really simple craft which is great introduce little ones to the magic of Christmas.