Celebrating The Small Things:Week Twenty Two

This week was a busier week than usual and a lot of it involved being grateful for the people around me.

Learning Through Play – I’m a great believer in children gaining a lot through play. As an adult I am certainly someone who learns better through practical experiences rather than gazing at a screen or someone talking parrot fashion at me.

I think this is also true for children and I love to get out and about with my lot to explore and learn about the world.

A trip to the farm with Oscar lead to us talking all things animals, building and shape naming in the construction area and answering question upon question on the runnings of the farm itself.

Finding Good People – Sometimes in life you just come across people that amaze you with their kindness and thought for others. A while ago I met a lovely lady through a couple of projects that I was working on and her warmness shone through from the moment we met.

Before we went away on our annual trip to Elderflower Fields I was looking into getting some henna put up my arm and she kindly asked me into her home, gave up her time and wanted nothing in return. In a world that can seem so selfish at times its refreshing to know there are certainly still a few good eggs.

Our Little Bit Of Peace – As I mentioned earlier we have just been on our yearly trip to Elderflower Fields that I will be telling you all about next week.

Aside from being a fabulous festival one of our favourite parts about the whole weekend is the chance to spend time together and switch off from the outside world. Its certainly a big bump back to reality once the weekend is over.

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.

Christmas Hits Clapham With Winterville

It’s not often my children consider me a cool Mum but they were pretty impressed with me the other day when we had a mad dash after the school run to attend the launch night at Winterville on Clapham Common.

Winterville has been billed as London’s alternative festival and it certainly lived up to its name.

As we entered through the neon lit walkway we were greeted with the smell of roasted chestnuts, the sound of familiar christmas hits and a mixture of traditional decorated trees and super cool lighting from the many food stands.

The kids didn’t take long to spot the rides and headed straight off for an adrenaline rush.

The older two headed for the bigger rides of which there were plenty, the good old fashion Waltzer was the favourite while the younger two stuck to the smaller rides…not that they were happy about it!

After the thrills and spills of all the rides we headed over to take to the ice. I took a sigh of relief when they told me Oscar was to young to join in as ice skating is not my forte to say the least.

We sat on the sidelines enjoying a delicious hot chocolate and a gorgeously gooey chocolate brownie while the others thoroughly enjoyed skating around with the beautiful backdrop of the hustle and bustle of Winterville.

By now they had all worked up an appetite and we headed over to Street Feast where there was an amazing selection of street food from juicy burgers to crispy breaded chicken, sumptuous wood-fired pizzas to sticky ribs and so much more.

It is a great place to get out of the cold as well as filling your bellies!

We only scrapped the surface of what Winterville has to offer and I would love to go back to have a round of golf with Plonk golf, see if my skills are better on four wheels in the roller disco, and maybe take in a show.

It would also make a fantastic child free night out as sampling the delicious looking mulled wine and tipsy hot chocolates in the Spiegeltent.

I loved the urban vibe mixed with the traditional Christmas and I wholeheartedly agree that Winterville brings an alternative edge to your usual Christmas festival type attractions and is definitly worth checking out for yourself.

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

PlayStation Family Showcase

Gaming is something that has never really grabbed my attention for any length of time and aside from playing Packman and Tetris when I was younger I have never really given it a lot of thought.

This however is the complete opposite for my eldest son who is an avid gamer and in fact has been trying to convince me for the last two years that gaming is a viable career and a path that he really wants to follow.

With this in mind when I got the invitation to Playstation’s Family Showcase I was hoping that they would open my eyes to something I know very little about.

Walking into the event at the cool and quirky Perseverance Works in East London the boys eyes lit up and neither of them new where to start first.

The whole area was set out into different sections with a huge variety of games to try your hand at, plenty of refreshments to keep you refulled and if you fancied a bit of a break from the screen time then there were lots of crafts to keep you busy and some yummy cupcakes to decorate with lovely Cookie Girl.

The boys quickly found the NBA 2K17 basketball game and sat together playing whist I grabbed a coffee and chatted to the hilarious Ellie from ‘Scummy Mummies’ who was there to host the event.

Archie seemed to quickly find his favourite games FIFA17 and the super cool Gran Truismo and settled down to challenge the experts that were walking round to help out with any tech questions…there were more than a few from me!

Frankie however was overwhelmed with the choice and flitted backwards and forwards between games such a the fabulous new Lego Ninago Movie game that really bought one of his favourite movies alive in front of his eyes, Marvel Superheroes that went down a treat as he got to play some of his favourite superheroes and Crash Bandicoot which was in fact one of the first games I ever bought Archie.

There were even two fantastic games – That’s You and Knowledge Of Powergames that allow the whole family play together with the use your smart phones or tablets to answer questions and really interact together that would make the perfect alternative to the usual board games this christmas!

Watching the boys play together and make new friends by joining up and using the two player option on the games really made me see gaming in a different light. I had always seen it as a solitary pastime that kept them very isolated when in fact games can help team building skills, make healthy competition and create social skills. All of these things I had never really considered before.

I think the boys christmas lists have certainly grown since this event and I would definitely advise any of you to check out some of the games I’ve mentioned as they would make super gifts for any gamers out there.

Ain’t No Party Like A Num Noms Party

Last Sunday we were up bright and early to catch the train into Shoreditch to celebrate the launch of Num Noms Series 4 at All Stars Lanes in Brick Lane.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with Num Noms, they are basically a collection of super cool collectables that come in the shape of scented characters, lip glosses, nail varnishes and light up characters that can be stacked, raced and traded to your hearts content.

After trying out a collection of Series 3 Num Noms my guys were super excited to see what the new collection would have to offer!

We walked into the most spectacular party where there were literally Num Noms galore, from a whole play area dedicated to them, images of them all over the big screens and a creative area where the boys loved trying out the new nail polish maker.

This fab new toy allows you to make your own individual nail polish with scents such as strawberry and banana with a sprinkling of glitter if you fancy.

Im sure this is going to be on the top of many Christmas lists this year!

The fun didn’t stop there and we had after a game of bowling that was made pretty competitive by Izzy they tried their hand at icing some Num Nom inspired biscuits with the lovely people from Biscuitiers.

I was more than impressed with the level of concentration that was kept by my extremely active children and the results were pretty tasty too.

They then all headed off to get their faces painted while I got treated to a much needed manicure at the nail bar.

Suitabaly worn to from all the fun it was time for some lunch and a chat about what they had thought of the day.

They were on an absolute high from such a fantastic afternoon…probably a little to do with the pic’n’mix and yummy milkshakes too.

What I really love about Num Noms is the fact that even though they are branded more towards girls, my boys absolutely love playing with them alongside their sister who even after hitting high school this year is still very much a fan and has loved building her collection at home.

Do you have any Num Noms fans at home?

Last Chance To Grab Elderflower Fields Tickets

This year will be the third year that we have visited the fantastic Elderflower Fields festival in the heart of Pippingford Park, Sussex.

The first year we went along for the day and fell in love with it so much that we couldn’t wait to book ready for the following year where we wanted to imerse ourselves in the whole experience by camping for the whole weekend.

For me this is the perfect starter festival as its on a slightly smaller scale than most which allows you to really kick back, relax and enjoy everything it has to offer.

Your weekend can be as chilled or as full as you want to make it and with all activities included in the ticket price the children won’t be bored for a minute.

The tickets are selling out fast for this years event and you only have until the 7th May to purchase yours.

If you fancy dipping your toe into the family festival scene and coming along as a day guest or if you want to try out the whole experience under canvas I can whole heartily recommend you start here!

Click on the ‘link’ to find out a little more and get your hands on the last remaining tickets!

Dinosaurs Invade London At Jurassic Kingdom

Who would have thought that tucked away in a suburban part of town there would be grand Georgian house with stunning grounds homing a whole host of dinosaurs!

Last week we went on the hunt for them and wasn’t disappointed.

After a more than a little fraught journey to from South London we made it to Osterley House in Isleworth, which a a stunning National Trust property with acres of beautiful land that is just perfect for hosting Jurassic Kingdom which is there from now until the 17th April.

It is accessible by public transport but a long walk from the train station for little legs or a short bus journey but the buses are only scheduled every 20 mins which was a long wait for my impatient children.

The car park however is huge and free to National Trust members of £7 all day.

Time slots are available to book easily on line for the event and I would suggest you allow yourself plenty of time as there is lots to see and do.

The Jurassic Park style entrance paved its way into the attraction itself which has you following a path through the grounds spotting dinosaurs as you go.


Some are static but the majority have moving limbs and sound effects which the children loved.

It is a far more interactive experience than I had imagined and there are dinosaurs that you can climb onto, a sand pit that lets the little ones try their hand at becoming an arciologist and digging out bones and an education tent where you can sit and watch a short show that explains a little more about dinosaurs.

As far as eating goes the places is perfect for picnicking as there are so many great places to pitch up. There is also a small selection of fast food stands where Izzy count resist the churros!

The children also has a great time making us of the National trust facilities which are always a winner by tree climbing, den building and swinging on the rope swings.

All in all it is the perfect day out for dino fans and even those that aren’t so keen could easy make us and enjoy everything else Jurrasic Kingdom has to offer.

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

Country Kids

Sunday Night Games With Yeti In My Spaghetti 

Every year it gets to Christmas, all the board games come out, we have a fantastic time playing with them together as a family and they are then packed away again not to be seen for another year.

This year however I made a pact with myself that we would dedicate one night a week to all get together as a family and take a few hours to connect through the fun of board games.

We are so preoccupied with ourselves all week and get lost to the world of social media most evenings that I felt it really important to have some screen free time and just concentrate on each other.

Sadly I think the days of relaxing Sunday afternoons filled with roast dinners and quality family time are dwindling due to the fast pace of today’s world and it is something I would like to try to keep hold of in our family.

The only problem we have is our family spans such a large age group that it can be tricky to find something that everyone has fun playing and is going to keep everyone engaged.

University Games kindly sent us a game called Yeti In My Spaghetti that seemed a perfect way to kick off our games evening.


This game is aimed at over 4’s and is for two or more players. We had over eight of us all ready to get involved.

The game is set up really quickly by laying the strands of spaghetti over the top of the bowl and then balancing the yeti on top.

We then took it in turns to try and remove the stands of spaghetti one at a time without letting the yeti fall into the bowl.


It was such a simple game but kept the whole family entertained, even down to number five who has only just turned three.

The only issue we had was the youngest two got a little excited when the yeti fell and decided that that the person to make it fall the quickest was a much better way to play!

This was a real all rounder that would be great to play as a family or so easy to follow that it could be set up and played by the little ones on their own.

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

My Sunday Photo:Lazy Sunday

I’ve been trying really hard since the summer holidays have finished to make sure we have one day at the weekend where we don’t do very much at all.

I’m inclined to try and fill our weekends up with mad rushing around and trying to cram every minute with activities. What I really need to do is sit back and allow us all some much needed downtime.

Today we had a bad start with a trip to a less than impressive car boot sale, but then spent the rest of the day eating delicious cakes, having water fights in this glorious autumn sunshine and filling ourselves to the brim with a tasty roast dinner.

Today was good and I’m looking forward to many more lazy days just like this!

Photalife

Are you Holiday Ready?

For the majority of people the phrase “are you holiday ready?”means only one thing.  That worry of of how you are going to look when you hit the beach!

 Europa Pharmacy have gatheredsome  staggering statistics that show only 31% of women get excited when they are packing for their holiday and 1 in 3 worry about their bodies everyday they are away.

I for one am one of these statistics and have spent years crash dieting, crying over how I look in bikinis and miss out on  quality family time when I’m away  because I’m to busy stressing about my body image for the entire holiday.

This year I am going to turn things around and focus on all the the wonderful things you have to look forward to when you planning a trip away.

  • A New Wardrobe Who doesn’t love going out and shopping for some beautiful new items to stash away in your case ready for your trip.  I’m going to chose pieces that are bright, flattering and the kind of thing you only get the chance to wear while your abroad due to the lack of good weather you get in the UK.  Plus those all important beauty essentials to get you ready before you go and to emphasise that brilliant tan while your away! 
  • Planning Places To Explore There is nothing more exciting than going to a country that you’ve never been to before and exploring all the exciting new places there are to investigate.  Why waste time fretting in front of the mirror about how you are looking when you can discover new places you may never have the opportunity to see again.
  • Quality Family Time with the hustle and bustle of life at home with work and school, quality time is something that often gets pushed asside.  A holiday is the most perfect time to push all the worries of everyday life to one side and just enjoy each other’s company.

I urge you all this year to banish those negative body images and instead concentrate on all the things they are really important when you go away.

Make the run up to it exciting and hopeful for the fun time you have to come rather than wasting all that energy on focussing on all the things you don’t like about your body. 

Let’s face it do you come back from a week away remembing what all those strangers looked liked on the beach? I’m sure the answer to this is no and nobody else will be worrying about your wobbly bits either!

Enjoy yourself, enjoy your family and create all those every lasting memories to think back to fondly for years to come.

*Collaberated post