Turning 13 With A Bang At Project B

[AD] It wasn’t until this year I realised that 13th birthdays were such a big thing now. I happily breezed through this age with the other two having a simple day out…however it seemed this wasn’t going to be the case with Izzy!

Every weekend has been filled with ferrying her back and fourth to different parties and the planning started for her own months and months before the actual big day.

The brief for me was that she wanted somewhere ‘cool’. This is a dangerously brief description when it come to teenagers as it has the ability to go terribly wrong!

I took a look through the internet and with the help of Google I came across Project B in Croydon which looked like it would fit the bill perfectly.

I went along to meet one of the owners who was warm, welcoming and more than happy to cater for a room full of hyper teens!

They have home a huge variety of different events and parties and really want to make your event work as well as it can. I mean with hours fun I g all through the day until 4am they really do cover a whole host of angles.

The venue is split into two floors of which you can hire both or separately. We opted for the upper floor that has a huge open space, cosy sofas and tables, an area to home a DJ or bring along your own music and and an amazingly Instagramable wall which was a big selling point for me.

As well as the main room there is a smaller bar area to the side which would be perfect for adult parties and worked wonderfully for us as it gave the children their own space without us being to far away.

Izzy didn’t want a particular theme so we just went for lots of props to use while they were taking photos, a sweet table which went down a treat and as she didn’t want a birthday cake a popped some bottle sparked onto nonalcoholic fizz that went down a treat with a room full of screaming teens.

To be honest the decor is super cool and quirky so it all really speaks for itself and is a world away from having to try and make a dingy hall something special.

A few parents were a little apprehensive about the party being in the centre of Croydon but I can honestly say that the set up made it perfectly safe and there was no way they could venture out and do their own thing, and to be honest they didn’t even feel the need to as they were all to busy dancing the night away!

Project B made Izzy’s 13th one to remember and if you are looking for a children’s party then I highly recommend you get in touch as it was the perfect venue for us and could be for you too.

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.

My Mini Pop Artists At Warhol Croydon

Research from the International Child Art Foundation has found that a child that is exposed to the arts acquires a special ability to think creatively, be original, discover, innovate, and create intellectual property – key attributes for individual success and social prosperity in the twentieth century.

This is why exposing my litttle ones to as much art and culture as possible is of great importance to us as a family.

By this I don’t mean sitting in front of text books flicking through endless pages of text, but actually getting out and exploring which for me is a far more interesting way of gaining knowledge.

This weekend we took a trip into Croydon to explore the Warhol Croydon exhibition that has been bought to the streets of Croydon by the award winning RISE Gallery.

The street exhibition has been inspired by the life and works of Andy Warhol who was a leading artist in the 1960’s pop art movement.

A group of extremely talented artists have come together to create twelve instillations taken from the inspiration of his work and placed across the whole town centre.

There are plenty of free guided walks that you can book online to take part in or go it alone like we did.

The tour took us from the bustling high street full of shoppers to super quiet derelict buildings, from high rise offices to beautiful gardens and the quirky streets of Surrey Street Market.

We stopped and took time to take in each piece and the children really loved telling me their thoughts…some not so complementary and some hilarious.

It’s wonderful to see what others see when looking at the same piece of art and there is nothing thing better than seeing things through a child’s eyes.

The tour took us some time as I didn’t follow the route as marked out which from experience I would suggest doing.

With the tour complete we headed off to the Whitgift and Centrale Shopping Centre to take part in the Andy Warhol themed session that allowed Oscar and Frankie to become Mini pop artists for the afternoon.

We are familiar with Whitgift Weeenies Kids Club sessions that are put on throughout the year and are completely free to take part in.

The sessions can be anything from animal handling to art sessions and are suitable for children aged 3-10.

This session saw the children trying their hand at printing by carving out a picture into a foam board, covering it  with as much and as many different colours as they like and then creating their own Pop Art style masterpiece.

The friendly staff were at hand to help out where needed yet allowing the children free reign to really bring out their creative side.
Cleaned up and art in hand we finished off our jam packed day at RISEgallery they at the moment is homing some pieces of original artwork by Andy Warhol himself.

It certainly wasn’t a stuffy gallery that didn’t want enquisitive children around, we were infact all warmly welcomed, shown around the gallery and even had a chat about the art work that the boys had created.

The exhibition is on until the end of the month and there is still time to book in for this Sunday’s Wennies Kids Club session, so get yourself booked in as it’s something not to be missed!
*collaborated post

Design A Purfume Bottle Competition With Whitgift And Centrale Shopping Centre

I am ashamed to say that I haven’t yet had the chance to get myself into Croydon to see all the fabulous events they are going on this month to celebrate the works of the great Andy Warhol with Warhol Croydon 2017.

From guided walks to kids crafting sessions there is so much to see and do it certainly has to be on my list this week.

Croydon biggest shopping centre couldn’t miss out on all the fun and as they are currently housing a huge canvas of the iconic Andy Warhol inspired Chanel purfume bottle they have come up with a great competition to run in conjunction with this.

You have until the 21st September to get creative and come up with your own, original idea of a design for a Chanel purfume bottle.

This is open to any age and simply needs to be assessed into the comments section of their Facebook page ‘HERE’ for your chance to be a winner.

The winner will then be announced on Facebook  on the 22nd September.

Good luck and I look forward to checking out all your designs!

Mini Ninja At Yo Sushi – Boxpark

I am very lucky that all of my children bar one are open to try pretty much any food that they are introduced to.

This has opened them up to experiencing a wide variety of different cuisines with sushi coming pretty high up on their list of loves.

Trying to make it for ourselves though is something even I haven’t attempted so when we were asked along to Yo Sushi at Boxpark, Croydon I was as excited as the children!

On a Tuesday and Wednesday at 11am during the summer holidays Yo Sushi is running their Mini Ninja Sushi making masterclass aimed at children aged 5-12.

Being as unorganised as always I hadn’t looked at the recommended age range and in fact went along with Oscar(3) and Frankie(5) and Izzy(11).

Our super friendly Sushi maestro sat the children down and got them kitted out in their hats and gloves in preparation to get creating.

They were all given instructions sheets on how to make Maki, Salmon Nigi and Crab Handrolls.

These weren’t neeeded as the children were shown step by step how to make each piece and there was plenty of hands on help if neeeded.

Usually the attention span of my children is limited to cupcakes but amazingly they sat through the whole hour without a fidget or a moan.

Once their boxes were filled with yummy sushi made by their own fair hands there was a quick game of who could move the edamame beans the quickest which was great to burn off a bit of energy.

At the end of the session they were awarded a certificate for all their hard word and given a bag to take home their sushi and the rolling mats they used so they could have a go again at home.

My lot however couldn’t wait to get home to eat so we sat for a while eating there creations whilst I sampled some delightful pork buns that I will certainly be returning again for.

There is still time to get you litttle ones booked in at several different locations around the country and it has certainly come highly recommended from us!
 *Collaborated post 

PJ Masks Have Landed At Oxygen

Oxygen in Croydon has become a bit of a regular haunt for me and my youngest since its recent opening, with us regularly  taking part in the toddler sessions that are aimed at little ones aged five and under.

I mean what could be better than an hour of running and jumping around a huge trampoline park when you are three years old, and of course for us parents tiring them out for an hour is always a huge bonus.

When I was asked along to try out their new PJ Masks Jumping Adventures I knew it was going to be a huge hit with my youngest two.

We arrived and the boys were handed costumes which they happily doned to transform themselves into thier favourite PJ Mask characters Gekko and Catboy.


Trampoline socks on and safely briefing done we made our way into the main area where the boys bounced, dived and lept to their hearts content.


What set this session apart from the usual toddler sessions though was the addition of lots of games put on by the super friendly staff that have really got into the spirit of things by dressing as the characters too.

The boys joined in with groups leaping across the trampolines and loved rushing to see how quickly they could move the balls from one trampoline to the other.

Extremely warn out they made their way to the cafe area where I enjoyed a much needed coffee while they made masks and coloured in PJ Mask themed sheets.

If this sounds like something that your little ones would enjoy then these sessions are running until the 5th September and by using the code PJMASKS at the checkout you can save yourself 20%.

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

The Lost Format Society:Movies In A Carpark

For years Centrale carpark had been the place I park my car when I’m off to the shops in central Croydon.

For me it is what it is, simply a place to leave my car and return to when I’m laden down with bags. So when I was asked along to a showing of Dirty Dancing in this very carpark I was pretty unsure as to how they were going to carry this off!

When I think of open air cinemas parks are normally the venue that springs to mind so I was intrigued to try out a more urban setting and I was extremely expressed at what I was greeted with.

The top level of the carpark had been sectioned off and behind the barriers homed a huge cinema screen and rows of super cool deckchairs to sit in and watch the film.

It isn’t just a cinema area though, there is also a heated lounge area that is under cover perfect for the temprimemtal English weather and a fab courtyard garden that you can sit and relax in whilst sipping on one of many alcoholic or soft drinks they have available or even grab a bite to eat from the grill.

Music was pumping from the DJ booth and there was a really relaxed friendly vibe filling the whole area.

One thing I didn’t expect to see was a fantastic pop up nail bar where you can get a free manicure from Nails By Mets who works her magic with a huge range of colours and nail art from MeeBox while you are waiting for your film to start.

I was lucky enough to go along on a special event evening where they were not only showing the cult classic Dirty Dancing but they were also giving a dance lesson before the start of the film.

For anyone that knows me you will be all to aware that I own two left feet and it normally takes me a few to many gins before I would ever consider taking to the dance floor!

The professionals took to the stage and I was in awe of how they effortlessly reenacted the famous final dance scene.

I was super nervous to join in but once I got started with my husband being equally as useless as me I thoroughly enjoyed every minute.

Dance class over we took to our seats with popcorn in hand and snuggled in the blankets provided whilst the sun set over the colourful Croydon skyline.

There are plenty more showing over the summer including Pretty Woman, The Full Monty, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Bridesmaids and many more.

It would be great to hear what you think of you decide to go along for yourself.
*we were given tickets for the purpose of this review and they are all my own, honest options.

Little O’s At Oxygen

Any of you that read my blog regularly will know that I am not a huge fan of soft play.

It’s sometimes needs must as a parent but spending time there…especially with my youngest two brings me out in a cold sweat!

I’m always looking for alternative indoor activities that the children will enjoy, keep them entertained and most of allows them to let off some steam.

Recently Oxygen Freejumping Trampolining Park has come to Croydon and unlike most trampolining parks we have visited there is a session dedicated to five and unders.

The other week we doned our yellow grippy socks and went along to see if it was something Oscar would enjoy.

After a quick health and safety video we were given free run of the trampolining park from the free jumping zones, airbag runway, huge foam pit, soft play area and so much more.

Oscar was kept amused for the full hour and loved being able to move freely to and from whichever area happened to take his fancy…with the airbag runway being his favourite section.

As well as being bags of fun it helps to improve their motor skills and flexibility, helps them gain confidence and most of all is a brilliant workout in disguise!

The sessions last an hour which is the perfect amount of time the keep this age group entertained and a good coffee area to grab a well deserved treat after all their hard work.

We went along specifically for the Little O’s sessions but they also offer great activities for older children and adults too.

I was particularly interested in coming back to try out the Bear Grylls obstical course that is a great alternative to most fitness sessions.

Please let me know if you decide to try any of the activity sessions out as I would love to know how you get on.

 

Family Friendly Shopping With Whitgift And Centrale Shopping Centres

I have had a love for shopping since before I can even remember. I loved trawling the shops with my Mum as a small child and spent every Saturday looking at the new clothes that were hitting the shelves as a teen.

As my family grew though my love for shopping dwindled.

The stress hits me as soon as we get in the car with the anticipation of how the children are going to behave.

They usual don’t disappoint and by the time we hit the first shop I have already had a toliet request, a need for imidiate food and the dreaded ‘how much longer’ question.

Last week we were asked along by Centrale and Whitgift shopping centres to see what they had to offer in the way of family shopping.

First port of call was Build A Bear which is always a winner with my children.

Children get the opportunity to select a bear of their choice from a huge selection, stuff them full of fluff using the super cool machine and dress them up in an outfit of choice.

This whole process is done with the help of the friendly staff that make it even more special by adding games and activities to do along the way.

Next stop was Zara which was always going to be a little trickier as it wasn’t going to be nearly as much fun as building your own bear.

Zara is my favourite high street shop as it covers something for the whole family, is bang on trend and is very reasonably priced. 

To take the boredom out of clothes shopping I let him have his own little catwalk show and have a hand in choosing an outfit for me too.

Kids need to feel included and I know how hard this can be but by giving them a little responsibility can go a long way.

The last treat was a trip to Weenies kids club in Whitgift Shopping Centre.

Right in the middle of the shopping complex was a whole area dedicated to littlies.

To join in with the activities you must be a member that is easy to subscribe to online and completly free. The sessions can then be booked within minutes by using the Centrale PLUS app.

Once they are signed up the have access to all the session that are put on during the holidays and on selected weekends throughout the year, plus discounts on a number of retail outlets for parents and children.

Frankie was able to get up close and personal with a huge array of animals from chicks to frogs, snakes to rabbits.

There were crafts to join in with, story competitions to complete and face painting fun.

I really was astounded by this event. The friendly staff keep the children engaged throughout the whole session and they got so much out of it and for absolutely no cost.

I came away from the day with a fresh new outlook on taking the kids shopping.

Whitgift and Centrale offer a complete package for families and with a little bit of forethought and planning it really doesn’t have to be the nightmare I always imagine it to be.

*collaborated post.

Discovering Croydon’s Heritage Festival

Croydon was my Mother’s birthplace and home to my secondary school so it is an area that has been part of my life for many years. 

I have noticed huge changes to the area over time, so when we were asked to come along and join in the celebrations of the Croydon Heritage Festival I was happy to take a trip to see what was going on.  

Croydon is undergoing a huge regeneration project at the moment and events such as this help people to understand how things are moving forward to create a better future for the ever growing community whist educating people on the important and colourful days of times past.

With community spirt as a whole dwindling with people’s lives become busier and more insular as a whole,  events like this really bring people together to create some much need community spirit.

This is the fourth festival of its kind and this years focus was on ‘Undiscovered Croydon’.  From the 18th-26th June people have the opportunity to take part in a whole host of activities from looking at exhibitions, listening to talks, trying their hand at workshops and much more.

Saturday was the grand opening and the town centre was alive with people grabbing delicious food from the many stalls, kids rushing around taking part in the family themed activities that were on offer and crowds of people enjoying the music and performances put on by some extremely talented people that had taken to the main stage.


Inside the Whitgift Centre the children had great fun creating their own masterpiece on the interactive art cube. Next to this were some fantastic Victorian themed spyglasses the children could decorate, but unfortunately we didn’t have time to stop as we needed to move onto our next activity.


Feeling crafty we made our way up to Whitgift Wennies where number three and four took part in the mosaic tile workshop.


I had not come across this on my past visits to Croydon and I’m so glad we had the opportunity to try it out as it is a fantastic concept that is open to any child as the session are all complexly free.

Activity sessions are put on throughout the month which are posted to their website and are free to take part in.  Once you are a registered member you simply book your time slot and arrive with your membership card and get set to have some messy fun.

After all of their activities I had the chance to grab a little retail therapy and try out the recently launched dual branded Centrale and Whitgift gift card.  This can be used in 130 stores across the two shopping centres.


For me this would make the perfect gift as there is such a vast choice.  I’m sure is the same for many of you, birthdays have come around and you open a gift card to a store you never use and it a waste of time and money for everyone.  With this card everyone is covered from clothes and jewellery to toys or grabbing a bite to eat.

I treated myself to a couple of sale bargains in Topshop and treated the kids to a hot chocolate a huge slice of cake in House Of Fraser.

The opening of the festival may have been and gone but there are still plenty of activities to take part in.  I for one will be booking a tour of the Alms Houses as I have walked past this secret, gated area for years and have always wanted to discover what treasures are hidden behind the gates!   
* I was given a shopping centre gift card for the purpose of this review and they are all my own honest opinions.