Diary Of A Wimpy Kid The Getaway:Review

All of my older children have been fans of the Diary Of A Wimpy Kid series and there is always great excitement when a new book is released. The realistic, comedy fiction books that are aimed at older children and teens have been capturing the imagination of children since 2007 and have gone from strength to strength.

We have all loved watching the trials and tribulations of Greg Heffley and his family and friends as he struggles with life in and outside school.

His chaotic life with his lovable family and quirky friends draws you in and really allows you to bond with the characters.

There is always great excitement with each new book release so you can imagine the excitement when we were sent a copy of Diary Of A Wimpy Kid The Getaway to preview before its release.

This time we see Greg and his family setting off to warmer climbs to avoid the stress and strain of the Christmas holidays.

As you have probably guessed the visions of a relaxing few days soaking up the sun turns into a disater even before they arrive at the airport.

Flight delays, stomach problems, sunstroke and venomous spiders are just a few of the problems the family encounter on their suposide relaxing getaway.

I will now leave you to find out if the whole of Christmas is ruined of if they manage to grab some kind of good from the usual disastrous situation.

This book has not failed to live up to the other editions and would make a for a great present under the tree this year.

Kicking Off Christmas At Winter Wonderland

The sparkling lights of the christmas trees, hot mulled wine and creamy hot chocolates, thrilling fairground rides and captivating shows are just a few of the attractions that bring people to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, London in droves year after year.

Although this attraction has been running since 2007 its somewhere I have never visited before; so when I was asked along to a preview day last weekend I was just as excited as the children.

We arrived early on Sunday morning to minimal crowds which gave us the opportunity to get check things out and stroll round the Christmas Market before we headed to the Megadome to see the Sooty Christmas Show.

This was a real blast from the past for me and I was surprised that my lot had absoulty no idea who these super cute hand puppets were! This however had no bearing on their enjoyment of the show and I looked on with such delight as the whole audience of little faces squealed and giggled with delight at the slap stick comedy going on before their eyes.

From near the mark jokes to keep the adults entertained to soaking the audience with water pistols there was a laugh a minute and my children didn’t take their eyes off the fun for the entire show.

We had a short break to grab some refreshments before heading back to watch the amazing Zippo’s Circus Christmas Show.

I am ashamed to say that I don’t think in my twenty years of being a mother I have taken any of my children to a circus. I have no idea why this is and after watching the show last week I have really missed out.

Zippo’s is a family run circus and I was lucky enough to meet Zippo’s wife the lovely Julie who’s love and passion for her work really shone through.

We were treated to a whole host of wonderful acts from singing, dancing and comedy to escapology and the most spectacular acrobat who took to the air in a huge metal structure that was absolutely breathtaking.

Zippo’s circus is pure family entertainment and would make the perfect Christmas treat.

From here we had the rest of the day to explore Winter Wonderland and all it has to offer.

The site itself is free to get into and then there are pre-booked attractions to enjoy such as ice skating, the Magical Ice Kingdom, Cinderella On Ice, Cirque Berserk and the giant observation wheel.

If rides are more your thing then there are hundreds on offer from huge roller coasters for the thrill seekers like Izzy or plenty of tamer rides that I stuck to with the boys that can be used by purchasing tokens.

The rides vary in price and there are limited stalls that accept card so taking cash is the best move.

Our favourite ride of the day was the observation tower that takes you to a nerve wracking 80 metres to give you a breathtaking 360 view of London’s skyline.

I not the biggest fan of heights, but once we were up there I couldn’t help but wonder at the view.

It was now time to find ourself some much needed food and it was pretty hard to decide upon what we wanted as the choice is so vast and absolutely everything was massively tempting.

From succulent meat sticks to chunky chips to sticky waffles and crispy churros there was something to tempt any palette and I could have easily eaten my way round each and every stall.

As the sun began to set and the crowds began to grow we started to make our way home after a truly fabulous day that filled our heads full of memories and hearts full of the magic of Christmas.

Winter Wonderland was everything I expected and more and it is firmly on my list for next year.

*we were invited along to this preview for the purpose of this review and they are all my own, honest opinions.

Pines And Needles:The Only Way To Pick Your Christmas Tree

I have always had an artificial tree until last year when Pines And Needles changed my way of thinking and now I am real trees all the way.

The colour, the smell and the chance to make the whole process a real family tradition has me hooked and Pines And Needles make this such a fun and easy experience that I would challenge anyone to go back to an artificial tree once they have bought from them.

They offer a huge range of services from going along to one of their pop up stores that cover many areas of London and taking it home yourself to the complete package of having your tree selected for you, delivered to your door and even decorated for you.

We are off to one of their Treetorial events in Wimbledon next week that are taking place all over London where we can spend the afternoon getting into the festive spirit and choosing our perfect tree.

If this sounds like something that would interest you then take a look at their dates ‘here’.

I also have a special code that will give you 5% off any tree purchase when you mention JOYOF5.

Little Lambs Softplay – New Location And Better Than Ever

Setting up a business whilst being a busy Mum is something that is no mean feat and something many of us would shy away from for many reasons.

It takes drive, determination and passion to keep going and I am in awe of anybody that bites the bullet and makes their hopes and dreams a reality.

This is exactly what Sophie the owner of Little Lambs Softplay in Coulson has done and I have absolutely loved watching her journey and how far she has come in a few short years.

From a small area in a cricket clubhouse Sophie then moved her business onto a bigger and better premise inside a very popular shopping centre in Sutton that was a huge success, so much so that she then had the opportunity to grow even more allowing her to open the new premise she is in today in Coulsdon town centre.

I went along with Oscar to check out everything that is now on offer and we were both more than pleasantly surprised.

The softplay area is extremely spacious with slides, ball pits, ride-ons and lots more to keep little ones up to the age of 6 occupied.

On the same level there is plentiful seating from tabled areas to a cosy corner away from the noise that would be perfect to fed babies or simply pick up a book a relax if it all gets a little to much.

One thing that has always drawn me to Little Lambs is the food. Softplay areas are not usually renowned for the best food but they have really got this down to a tee here.

From indulgent waffles covered with cream and all sorts of goodies to at the healthier options of jacket potatoes that follow Slimming World guidelines, there is something for everyone.

I settled down with a warm croissant and a creamy coffee while Oscar opted for the fully loaded hot chocolate.

My head was turned more than a few time though with the scrummy looking Oreo milkshake and festive late complete with a mini mince pie.

Full up and worn out from all the running around we made our way upstairs to the role play area that I absolutely fell in love with.

The children can get dressed up in a huge variety of different costumes, take to the stage and become a mini popstar, get cooking in the kitchen area or do a spot of shopping in the supermarket or finally become a builder in the construction area complete with a cement mixer, bricks and safety equipment.

Little Lambs really do have everything you could want and more from a Softplay and more.The usual equipment to allow the children to build confidence, agility and let of some steam; good food to keep you all fuelled and an interactive area to allow you to really engage with your little ones whilst growing their imaginations.

This has certainly gone on our list of favourite places to visit and we will definitely be regulars from here on in.

*collaborated post

Great Christmas Days Out In And Around Surrey

For those of you that know me you will know my huge love for Christmas, but it’s not actually the day itself that gives me the most pleasure but more the weeks leading up to the main festivities.

It can be a little overwhelming with so many things to see and do so I have compiled a list of my favourites, plus a few that are on my wishlist.

Lapland UK: This to me has to be the ultimate christmas experience and one that we are lucky enough to be experiencing this year.

Lapland UK is based in Ascot and is a complete snow covered village that allows you to spend time with the elves baking, writing letters to Father Christmas, ice skating and of course meeting the big man himself.

Chessington World Of Adventure: With a trip to Chessington World Of Adventure Winters Tale not only will you get the chance to visit Santa his magical grotto you can also have fun with the Grufflo on his fabulous river ride, decorate festive treats in the Gruffalo Kitchen and enjoy a wintery tale with The Gruffalo’s Child.

There will also be selected family friendly rides open and of course the Zoo and Sea Life Centre to explore while you are there.

Painshill Park: This is one of our favourite place to visit Father Christmas and due to its popularity gets booked up extremely quickly.

At Painshill Park children get to meet Father Christmas in his magical crystal grotto to receive a gift whilst the parents can eat a warm minced pie and sip a glass of mulled wine.

National Trust Properties: Our favourite National Trust properties to visit are Polsden Lacey, Chartwell and Morden Hall over the christmas period.

They offer Father Christmas visits, crafts, trails and christmas markets all at really reasonable prices and incorporate the great outdoors which is always a bonus.

Kew Gardens: The after dark festive trail at Kew is absolutely magical. Thousands of lights cover the grounds and buildings and put on a truly magical show.

There is the chance to visit Santa, have a ride on some of the vintage fairground rides and sample some amazing street eats.

Hever Castle: I have only heard great things about Hever’s Christmas event and we are going along to visit in a few weeks time.

The castle comes alive with beautiful decoration, there is a trail to follow, Father Christmas drop-ins, craft workshops, hug a husky, and a vintage fairground.

Disney On Ice: This is one that I am really looking forward to this year. With all the magic that comes with Disney brought together in a combination of all your favourites on ice.

Winter Wonderland: From 1-100 there is something for the whole family at Winter Wonderland. Ice skating, christmas markets, Santa Land, Cinderella On Ice, a giant big wheel, the Sooty christmas show and Zippos Circus are just a few of the attractions on offer at Hyde Park this year and it is well worth a visit.

Bocketts Farm: Bocketts is my favourite farm at any time of year and Christmas makes it all that more special.

With a visit to Father Christmas in a traditional hay barn workshop this is a really lovely experience.

RHS Garden Wisley: Wisley has been on my radar for a long time now as it sounds like they do Christmas pretty well.

Their ‘Christmas Glow’ illuminated trail brings the gardens to life with illuminated trees and dramatic installations.

There is also the chance to visit Santa, sing with Mrs Claus and decorate gingerbread.

The Snowman: This wonderful adaptation of the famous Raymond Briggs classic The Snowman brought a tear to my eye and was the absolute epitome of Christmas to me.

The stage comes to life with story telling, dancing and the most wonderful sets and the two hour show managed to keep even my wriggly bottomed little ones captivated.

Winterville: Winterville is an event new to Clapham this year and is billed as London’s alternative festive experience.

They are bringing all the fun to South London with activities such as plonk golf, ice skating, roller disco, Backyard Cinema and much, much more.

Southbank: Warm spiced cider, festive bites and gifts galore will all be on offer at Southbank this year.

Its a lovely way to spend a few hours walking along the river and taking in all the sights that London has to offer.

Knights Garden Centre, Woldingham: Breakfast with Santa at Knights is always one of the highlights of my little ones Christmas and something my husband and I love too as it allows us to sit and have a delicious cooked breakfast whilst Santa comes round and greets the children with a special gift. There is also a sneaky visit from his reindeers too!

Tulleys Farm:Tulleys know how to put on an event and Christmas is by no means an exemption.

Reindeer food making, an elves magical forest, build a bear, sleigh rides, puppet shows are just a few of the activities they have on offer.

Hobbledown: Hobbledown has brought us back year after year for their toddler lunch with Santa.

The children get a chance to let of some steam in the soft play area before decorating biscuits, eating lunch and meeting the big man himself in a super cute barn that is just the perfect location.

I hope this list has given you a little inspiration for this years celebrations and I would love to know if you have any other places that would be good for me to add.

PJ Masks Halloween Party

Could there be a more perfect start to half term then a combination of super heroes and halloween all rolled into one big party.

This is exactly what we were lucky enough to experience when we went along to the Picturehouse Central last week for the PJ Masks halloween party.

Balloons, banners and just about everything you could think of related to PJ Masks filled the room and hoards of excited children dressed as their favourite characters played with the super new PJ Masks products, crafted and danced along to a fantastic session put on by Diddi Dance.

Diddi Dance are in-fact hosting a week long ‘PJ Masks Super Dance Party’ from 30th October-5th November throughout all their branches in aid of the Youth Sports Trust.

As if this wasn’t enough excitement we were then surprised by the arrival of all the ‘real’ PJ Masks’ Oscar was absolutely over the moon!

They then all joined us for for a yummy lunch before we headed off to the screening of the brand new episodes that are set to hit our screens in the spring.

The action packed episodes will still see the same familiar characters with the addition of some new and exciting characters to bring even more fun to the hugely popular shows!

The boys exclaimed the they had had the best day ever and came away with the goody bag of dreams that they are still working their way through now.

PJ Masks really are going from strength to strength and with some great products that have just been launched in time for christmas and some brilliant new episodes coming in the new year their is so much for fans to look forward too.

Spooky Preview Evening With Howl’O’Ween At Chessington World Of Adventures

Chessington World Of Adventures knows how to do Halloween and they haven’t failed to disappoint this year with yet another spectacular Howl’O’Ween.

Last week we were invited along to a special preview evening to find out exactly what they have in store for everyone this year.

The evening kicked off with some scrummy nibbles and lots of Grufflo punch whilst the children got the chance to get up close to some super cute animals that put a smile to Izzy’s face.

All fed and watered we headed out to the park to see all the new halloween attractions and get to try out a selection of the rides in the dark that the older two were extremely excited about.

First up was Creepy Caves Unearthed which didn’t really go to plan for us! We were warned that this attraction held a three bat rating which meant it wouldn’t be suitable for the youngest two which didn’t go down well at all and they kicked up stink about any of going in if they couldn’t!

The caves take you through the quarantined zoo area in which zoo keepers have mysteriously gone missing and some very strange things are happing. With strobe lights, smoke machines, dark spaces and loud noises this one is certainly not for the faint hearted and certainly one I would have tried if I hadn’t have been solo parenting.

To sweeten the little ones up we took a walk through the Trick or Treat Wood. This has been a favourite for us in past years and it didn’t disappoint this time round.

You are taken to the beginning of the wood where you have the chance to choose the trick or the treat pathway. Each pathway is dotted with ghostly goblins and cute fairies that get you to answers all kinds of tricks and riddles on your journey.

We went for the trick pathway this year and got more than a couple of frights along the way.

Another familiar attraction is the Curse Of The Lost Tomb that draws you in to find out the mystery of the maze inside if you are brave enough to give it a go.

All spooked out we had to have a ride around on our favourite attraction in the park – The Gruffalo. Oscar was over the moon to be able to have not one, but three rides in concession without leaving the boat. It is honestly such a magical ride that completely captives my youngest two and although he wouldn’t admit it is loved by my teen.

Next up was the Vampire which was made extra special by being riden in the dark. Oscar and Frankie loved watching it fly through the sky in the dark of night while Izzy and Archie were thrilled and claimed it was ‘one hundred time cooler in the dark.’

It was now time for something a little tamer and the attraction I had been looking forward to all night…Room On The Broom Spooky Story Time.

We grabbed a scrumptious hot chocolate and some delectable warm doughnuts and took to our seats on the little wooden benches in front of the outdoor stage.
Being outside really added to the fun and was the perfect setting for a spooky story.

The familiar story of Room On The Broom from the talented Julia Donaldson an Alex Scheffler was bought to life in front of our eyes with the vivacious characters that interacted with the children and made sure there was plenty of audience participation throughout.

The evening was rounded off with a meet and greet with the witch herself which absolutely made Oscar’s evening.

Chessington World Of Adventures have done it again and created a halloween event that will please anyone from 1-100 which is something that is lacking at so many other attractions.

From the thrills and spills of riding in the dark and heart in mouth comments to super sweet story sessions and the softer side of halloween we enjoyed every moment and its certainly somewhere to put on your list this half term.

‘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’