Pumpkin Picking At Secretts Of Milford

I had a mini meltdown the other day as I had missed our annual day out pumpkin picking at Priory Farm. It is one of our favourite things to do at this time of year and so I went on the hunt for somewhere else we could visit.

I stumbled across Secretts Of Milford and thought that it would make the perfect place to explore this half term.

After a short drive we arrived at the garden centre to a pretty packed carpark which I was a little apprehensive about but I needn’t have worried as after a short while queuing we made our way into the event field that was full of things to do from face painting to fairground rides, tractor rides and a favourite for mine – corn blasting!

We headed straight to the tractor ride that lead us into the jam packed pumpkin fields, full of pumpkins of all different shapes, sizes and colours. The children didn’t know where to look first and spent ages racing through the fields and selecting their perfect pumpkin.

We hopped back on the tractor and grabbed a bite to eat which was very fitting with the theme with hot dogs, pumpkin soup, pumpkin curry and pumpkin cake. There was plenty on indoor and outdoor space to sit and relax while the children enjoy the freedom of the open space and even a hay fight or two!

Secretts made for an amazing day out and we will certainly be back to visit next year!

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

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Forty One

Well I nearly made it to a year without messing up in this series, but I got so far behind over the summer that it seems a little strange to be talking about swimming in the sea when we are approaching winter so I’ve skipped a few weeks and hope to stay on track until the end of the year.

So here we go with this weeks entry:

Apple Crumble – For me the start of autumn signifies comfort food – especially thongs such as casseroles and crumbles.

This Sunday was grey, wet and miserable but it was certainly brightened up by our first crumble of the year.

Charity Shops – I’ve not put a lot in here but last week we moved house and life has been a little chaotic to say the least. The shear logistics of moving a big family are pretty hard but now we are getting settled my attentions have been on furnishing the house.

I have a huge love of mid century furniture and I have been scouring eBay and traipsing round charity shops and have been loving every minute of it. It’s just a shame my passion is not shared with my husband!

Mrs Hinch – Those of you that are fans of Instagram will not have been able to escape all things Mrs Hinch.

Mrs Hinch has gone viral through sharing stories of cleaning her home. At first I told myself I wasn’t going to get sucked into this ridiculous cult like following she has but it’s happened and I’m loving it!

I’ve always been terrible at keeping on top of the house work and this lady has turned things around for me so what’s not to love about Mrs Hinch and her Army.

Getting Christmas Ready With Pines And Needles

For the past two years now I have been lucky enough to celebrate Christmas round one of Pines and Needles beautiful Nordmann Fir Christmas trees.

Pines and Needles offer a completely unique service that allows you to choose your tree from the comfort of your own home or go along to one of those many stores and select your own which they can then deliver to you or you can take home with you there and then.

If you want a little more than just a tree they also offer decoration service ranging from a fully decorated tree or simply threading of the lights which I know is a job that I always hate doing!

Something else that is always a pain is the disposal of the tree after Christmas but Pines and Needles have this covered too. They can simply pick up and dispose of your tree after you have stored away all your precious decorations or even come into your home to remove and carefully wrap your decorations as well as removing the tree and tidying up all the mess.

We have been over the moon with our tree each year and can’t wait for this year and if this sounds something that you would be interested in in then there is a summer offer that is still running until the end of this month which gives you 10% off your order. Just add the code SUMMER10 when placing your order and enjoy all that Pines and Needles have to offer.

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

ZSL London Zoo:Our Best Bits

I am ashamed to say that although ZSL London Zoo is probably to closest Zoo to us I have not had a visit in probably over ten years. Considering we absolutely love an outdoor adventure and one with animals even more so I am not entirely sure why I have left it so long.

We did however rectify this the other week when we took a trip there to check out what they had to offer.

It was a scorching hot day and as we approached the entrance I was dreading the queues I had already envisaged in my head to get in, so I was pleasantly surprised when we were greeted by a super happy member of staff who showed us in and wished us a good day.

I was a little shocked as to quite how vast the zoo was and we were all eagar to get exploring as soon as possible.

After seeing a little about the Superhero Academy this was our first port of call. The boys were so excited to get started by colouring in their own superhero mask and getting hands on with all there was on offer.

My children certainly learn most from being hands on so being able to race against the cheetahs to see how fast they can actually go and climb like geckos in search of food. Seeing what superpowers the animals possess was a great way to keep the boys engaged and learning at the same time.

As well as this they got to learn a great deal about plastic waste and what an awful effect it is having on their world. It was great for them to be able to realise this destruction is going on and to then relate it to different animals as we explored the zoo.

Just outside was the perfect setting for a picnic which can all to often be missing from places such as this. We opted to take a picnic along to make the most of the good weather but there were plenty of options when it came to eating from ice-cream and candy floss, a delicious smelling BBQ stand and a cafe serving anything from coffees to full main meals and even a cheeky glass of wine if you fancied it!

I think for us the biggest pull of the zoo was how close you could get to all the animals. For the bigger animals such as the gorillas there were huge glassed walls that allowed everyone a good view without being bundled on top of each other which is fantastic. But for us getting even closer in the butterfly house and the lemur walk through was such an amazing experience.

Oscars face completely lit up when he saw the adorable lemurs casually walking around taking everybody in. The boys normally can’t sit still for more than five minutes but they were more than happy to listen to some very interesting facts while watching the lemurs explore their territory. I mean who knew that their beautiful black and white stripped tails are in fact used as a balancing aid?

Another highlight for us was Penguin Beach. The Humboldt Penguins who are lucky enough to be homed on this great sized beach have plenty of room to waddle around and dive into the water for a quick dip which the boys found amazing to watch through the many viewing areas available.

Into Africa also came high on our list of best bits with the giraffe viewing area which enabled us to get really close to these super tall, majestic beasts.

I have barely scratched the surface when it comes to the animals that we saw, but these were certainly our highlights from the trip.

Not having visited for a number of years now I didn’t know what to expect from our visit and I came away pleasantly surprised by all the changes that had been made. All of which were in the favour of the animals happens and welfare which is all you can ask for. We had a wonderful day and will be back soon for some more fun, especially as the annual membership is such great value for money if you are going to be making multiple visits…which I’m sure you will!

*collaborated post

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Thirty Two

This week one ‘celebrating the small things’ I really am talking about very little things that bring me lots of joy.

Tea – I think growing up with a father as a builder who drank ‘builders’s tea’ by the gallon it was instilled in me to become a tea drinker. Whilst I was out the other day have a delicious cream tea it made me realise just how much I love a good strong cup of tea and how it really is a cure for everything!

Stationary – Since I was little I have had a love for pretty stationary and I certainly share this love with Izzy. We love nothing more than walking round stationary stores, selecting our favourite shinny new pens and fresh pages in new note books. The only problem is I tend to hord notepads in fear of messy them up with my terrible handwriting!

Why, Why, Why – I have a love hate relationship with the relentless ‘why’ questions I still get from the youngest two. It can be massively draining when they are in full swing but equally as indering that they have such a thirst for knowledge and what to know about absolutey everything that is going on around them.

Letting Your Children See You Cry

Parenting is a challenge on a daily basis, it comes with bundles of rewards but these are without a doubt entangled with countless hurdles that have to be navigated everyday. This coupled with challenges in your work, marital and personal life can be all consuming sometimes and things can just get to much.

As parents we are expected to be a rock to our children. Someone that is there for them wherever they need you and shoulder to cry on, a fount of knowledge to gain information from and and a fountain of love to pour over them whenever needed.

In reality though no one person can be a solid rock at all times and we all have cracks that appear that need to be delbt with from time to time.

I was earwigging in a coffee shop this week…a speciality of mine, and overheard a couple of mums chatting over what a hard time that were having with their terrible twos. They were recalling being brought to tears and how they had gone to hide away in the bedroom to shield their children from seeing them cry.

It made me stop to think about how I deal with these situations and for a moment I questioned how I showed my emotions in front of my own children. Over the years I have experienced plenty of situations that have brought me to tears and have cried in front of my children on many occasions. It made me think that should I have been letting my guard down in front of then, should I have let them see that I am not invisable or should I have keep these feeling to myself to save their own feelings.

Whilst feeling like I had been a terrible mother for allowing my children to see me like this. I then thought a little harder about it and acutally is it really such a bad thing?

As I have already said life throws us all kinds of curve balls that we have to deal with and sometimes things can all get a little to much and having a good cry about this releases all kinds of emotions and makes us feel better about the bad situation we are dealing with at the time and why shouldn’t I show my children that this is a good thing. Doesn’t it do them good to show them that it’s ok to express their emotions rather than keeping everything bottled up, doesn’t it show them that nobody is invincible and its ok to feel bad from time to time and dosen’t it give them a chance to be caring and compassionate towards someone that they love?

I don’t think that showing my vulnerable side has had a detrimental effect on my children and will continue to show them its ok to shed a tear from time to time and that I will always be there for them to hug it out and talk it over whenever they need me too and I hope that as they grow they will build a loving and compassionate side that will be used to comfort family and friends in the same situation when they are older.

Days Out With The Kids This Christmas

Yes I know we have only just put our sandals and summer dress aways but before you know it Christmas will be upon us and if you want to get those special days booked in then you really do have to start thinking about it now!

Christmas is by far my favourite time of year and I have compiled a list of a few of our favourites that I hope you might enjoy:

Lapland UK – This one just had to be top of my list as I have experienced nothing like it before. We were lucky enough to have our first trip there last year and we were absolutely blown away.

From helping the elves in Father Christmas’s toy factory, icing biscuits with Mother Christmas, taking to the ice in the most beautifully setting and finally meeting the main man himself who Frankie has named ‘the real’ Father Christmas it was sheer magic.

It brought a tear to my eye and I don’t think that day will ever be topped!

Hever Castle – For me Hever brings you everything you would imagine when you think of an English christmas celebration. The traditional fairground rides and beautiful christmas trail are perfect for the little ones, whilst the stunningly decorated castle is a sight that everyone will enjoy.

We are off there at the end of November so keep an eye out for what they have in store this year.

Chessington World Of Adventure – The Winter’s Tail event at Chessington World Of Adventure is always a fantastic day out. There is the chance to visit Santa in his grotto, ride on a few selected rides that are specially opened including our favourite – The Gruffly River Ride Adventure, decorate festive treats in the Gruffly kitchen and something new this year will be The Gruffalo Christmas Groove.

alongside all of this they are also offering sleepover packages and we can highly recommend a stay in their fantastic hotel.

Painshill Park – This one for us has the ultimate wow factor when it comes to the grotto. After a walk along a pretty lit walkway you find your way to the crystal grotto where Father Christmas is waiting to hand out his gifts.

It is certainly different from the norm and gets booked up extremely quickly so don’t leave it until the last minute.

Southbank – If you are looking for a day out with festive foods, quirky gifts and the perfect London backdrop then the christmas market at Southbank if definitey one for the list.

Hobbledown – I am so sad that I won’t be going along to the toddlers lunch with Father Christmas this year.

I have visited for many years now and it is the perfect trip for preschoolers where they decorate a biscuit, have some lunch and meet Santa in the cutest little wooden hut.

Winerville – We had our first trip here last year and it really exceeded our expectations. It is an uber cool experience in the heart of Clapham common offering a bit of everything from great food and drink to ice skating, roller skating, fairground rides, crazy golf and a whole lot more.

Disney On Ice – This has become somewhat of a tradition for us to visit a few days before christmas. The culmination of all our favourite Disney characters, the chill of the ice and the excitement of Christmas makes for a great day out.

National Trust – We have visited a fair few properties over the festive period and each one has its on unique and wonderful christmas feel. They offer visits to Father Christmas, crafts galore christmas markets and brilliant trails to wear the kids out which is always a bonus!

CBeebies Christmas Show:Thumbelina – Getting cosy in the cinema is perfect at this time of year and when its to watch a classic such as Thumbelina put on by some of your favourite Cbeebies characters then its always going to be a hit.

We are off to see this later in the year so keep an eye out for what we think!

RHS Wisley – Now the illuminated trail at Wisley is something I’ve heard so many good things about but haven’t actually got there yet. I think it will have to go on my list for this year.

Winter Wonderland – If you want Christmas on a grand scale then this is the place for you. Winter Wonderland is a huge area in Hyde Park full of fairground rides, food stalls, gifts, ice skating, shows and bucket loads more. We had our first trip there last year and had an amazing time!

Bocketts Farm – I love a farm visit over the christmas period and Bocketts offers an amazingly festive day out complete with a trip to santa in his hay barn.

The Snowman – My children laugh at how much I love The Snowman in any form. My first love was of course the illustrated character and I have loved watching how he has evolved over the years. We watched the stage show a few years ago which was absolutly spell binding and keep the attention of my younger two for over two hours which is no mean feat. This year there is also a magical exhibition at the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, an immersive experience at The Backyard Cinema, a special story telling session at Bath Pavilions by the talented author Michael Morpurgo and a the most magical showing of the animated film at the Royal Albert Hall accompanied by the Royal Philamonic Orchestra.

Priory Farm – This has been our Christmas Eve tradition for a few years now. We stop off in the cafe for a mince pie and a warm drink, get the last of our foodie bits at the fab farm shop and a trek round the discovery walk to wear out the over excited little one.

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Thirty One

This week on ‘Celebrating The Small Things’ I am talking about my love of kickboxing, travelling into town and candles!

Kickboxing – My love of kickboxing started many years ago now and was actually one of the reasons me and Darren got together. It was a shared passion and something we always enjoyed together. Over the years teaching the skill became a job for me and in between having the kids I have always loved getting back to it.

Since having Oscar though I had really stepped away from it and its only been the past few months that I have fallen back in love with it and have enjoyed every moment of it…well maybe not at the time!

Candles – I’ve had a thing for scented candles for years now, one that unfortunately my husband doesn’t share. I would fill every room with a different scent if I could but he would be one step behind me blowing them all out.

My passion was filled for a day however when I went along to the Yankee Candle Christmas event where I walked into a room filled with beautiful scents and gorgeous christmas displays. I have so many new candles on my wishlist now and the only thing I have to do is encourage Darren to like them too.

I Love London – One of the many things that blogging has brought me is the opportunity to visit central London so much more than I ever have done before. Pre blogging I would probably only venture in a couple of times a year and usually to the same old places.

I am now in time several times a month exploring new areas, seeing new things and loving every moment of it.