David Lloyd Know How To Party

As I’m sure most of you know by now that I only have praise for the amazing health club that is – David Lloyd.

It helped my find my mojo again and was the catalyst for my weight loss, it’s a great way to spend quality time as a family as well as keeps you fit and it has even pulled my gaming mad son away from his Xbox which is no mean feat and I will be talking more about this soon.

As well as everything I have mentioned above one of the big pulls for me is the sense of community that David Lloyd encourages. There was is always something going on from quiz nights to BBQs and the other evening we went along to experience this at the kids Halloween party.

The three hour long party was full of fun from beginning to end. The children got the chance to make slime, try their luck with the slimy lucky dip, bob for apples, get their faces painted and so much more!

The staff all got into the spirit of the event and were dressed up and full of life. They boogied away with the kids and seemed to be enjoying themselves as much as the children.

All parties need some good food and there was plenty on offer…even cheeseburgers in the shape of pumpkins!

It was the perfect way to kick off our Halloween half term and has only instilled in me more why David Lloyd is the only health club we would choose.

*We have been given a family membership for the purpose of these posts and they are all my own, honest opinions.

Celebrating The Small Things:Forty Three

This week I’m talking about our fun packed half term and some of the moments that I have loved the most.

Sunday Funday – My husband works long and erratic hours and family time is always very limited. We usually manange to spend a Sunday together, although sometimes this doesn’t even come to fruition.

We were invited along to an absolutely amazing event at Legoland by Warner Bros last weekend that was something the boys could only have dreamed of, but for me a big part of the fun was to simply spend some time together.

Pumpkin Picking – Yes I am that stereotypical blogger that loves nothing more than taking hundreds of photos in the middle of a pumpkin patch each and every October; but aside from being the perfect backdrop for some insta worthy photos I love the kids running free, getting excited by their finds and enjoying all that open space.

Baking – I used to bake a lot with the children and for some reason this had dwindled and it’s something the children have really missed, so we cooked up a batch of allergy friendly banana muffins.

Frankie loves it when we bake something that he can enjoy and to be honest I was pretty grateful that he enjoyed the making as the end results were pretty dreadful!

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.

A Sleepover At Alton Towers

A few weeks ago now we took the long journey to Alton Towers. I had not visited this theme park since I was sixteen and I was eager to see the changes and introduce the children to all the fun.

After a five hour drive we were more than happy to arrive at the Splash Landings Hotel. Its bright and cheery decor made for a warm welcome and once inside our family room we were pleasantly surprised by how spacious it was.

There were facilities to make a much needed cup of tea and before long beds had been claimed and we rested our heads in anticipation for a big day ahead. The room offered everything we need from cosy beds, a good shower and entertainment packs to keep the little ones amused. The only problem we encountered were our nightmare neighbours that keep us awake for half the night!

We headed down for breakfast and had a little bit more time to explore the hotel in the light of day where the children stood amazing by the huge waterpark that was housed in the centre of the hotel. Sadly we just didn’t have the time to try it out but it really did look absolutely amazing.

Time to fuel for the day we made our way to the restaurant to have our breakfast where there was a huge variety of food to choose from. From cereal and fruit to a full english breakfast.

The children loved being able to go an help themselves to cereal from the special machine and chose from the vast selection at the hot buffet. It was also a really refreshing change to have so much choice for Frankie and all his allergies.

Full to the brim it was time to head off to the park for a day of fun. There is a shuttle bus that you can catch to take you directly to the park but we chose to take the short walk.

Once inside we spilt up with Archie and Izzy heading off to the thrill seeking rides whist we stayed with the younger two and headed off to CBeebies Land.

CBeebies Land had been on our list of places to visit for a while now and as soon as I saw the boys faces light up as soon as they saw the huge, rainbow coloured welcome sign I knew that they were going to love every minute. They dashed back and forth for sometime before they finally decided on their first ride which as the In The Night Garden Magical Boat Ride that saw us winding through a little stream spotting all our favourite characters as we went, next up we took to the sky with the Go Jetters, played at being Postman Pat in the bright red van, took in the sights of the whole of Cbeebies Land with the ‘Get Set Go’ Tree Top Adventure.

We took a little break from the rides and took a walk around the much calmer Something Special Sensory Garden and found some familiar names in the walk of fame.

There was so much to see and do and so resfeshing to have such a huge area dedicated to preschoolers in a theme park as this is something that is so often missing.

A quick pitstop with our adrenaline junkies who came back buzzing from the excitement of the amazing Wicker Man and Oblivion. I think I was actually most exited that the two children they get on the least had spent some quality time together and enjoy each and every minute of it. Hot doughnuts are a must on a day out like this and we plotted up on the huge grassy area that was perfect to take in the pretty surrounds Alton Towers has to offer.

I was a little concerned that Frankie was going to be a bit left out when it came to the bigger rides but I needn’t have worried as there was a huge variety of family friendly rides that were a good middle ground for those that couldn’t enjoy the thrill seeking rides but still wanted something a little faster.

I loved that we could all take to the water in the River Rapids, Swing high and low in the Heave Ho and battle with our competitors on the Battle Galleons.

Fit to fall after a day full of fun and adventure we headed back on the monorail to the Crooked Spoon restaurant to fill our hungry bellies and rest our weary feet.

When we arrived I was really surprised at the laid-back, outdoorsy feel to it which was right up my street. The little play area directly outside meant that the children could happy play whist waiting on their food.

When in came to the food there was a great choose for both adults and children from juicy burgers and mouth water steaks to roasted summer vegetable carbonara and spicy Sri Lankan curry.

I opted for a classic prawn cocktail to start followed by a creamy chicken carbonara which came served with a beautifully crispy chuck of garlic bread. The larger men of the family dived into a huge bowl of loaded nachos that i couldn’t help but try followed by a mixed grill that definitely came with their seal of approval.

The little ones had a mixture of dishes such as soup and crusty rolls, fresh melon and delicious sausage and mash that they all devoured with not one complaint which is a rarity.

Im not sure how we managed but I couldn’t resist desert – especially cheesecake, and Izzy defintiy wasn’t going to turn down a gooey chocolate browniw with a side of ice-cream now was she!

The friendly, attentive staff who didn’t batter an eyelid when they had to clean up an entire glass of squash that was poured over the table minutes after we sat down and didn’t moan once about having to navigate the huge cuddly toys they had won earlier was a real bonus to a fantastic meal.

If I was to round up our experience of Alton Towers I would say it was a bundle of fun from beginning to end, thoroughly exausting and definitely worth a trip.

* We were invited to Alton Towers for the weekend for the purpose of this review and they are all my own, honest opinions.

Taking A Look At Where We Came From

Parenting comes with a long list of questions on a daily basis. From “where do babies come from” to “why is the sky blue”. It sometimes seems pretty relentless but how else are they going to learn about the world and everything else that goes on around them.

One thing that all have mine have got in a bit of a muddle with is family and who comes from where. I know that it wasn’t that long ago that my youngest was astounded that his Nanny was in fact my Mum!

As they grow so do their inquisitive natures and this is actually something I really love and try to encourage as much as I can.

Izzy came home the other day full of excitement that Ellen DeGeneres and Kate Middleton are in fact 15th cousins! I don’t know how much truth there is to that but it certainly got her thinking about the possibly there might be royal blood running through our veins and she was extremely excited by this prospect.

Over the holidays I have decided that we are going to do a little digging around and take a look at our family tree with some of the ideas I have left below:

Digging Out The Albums – We have piles an piles of photos packed away that sadly never see the light of day and going back through old albums is the perfect was to show the children faces of days gone by that they may of meet and forgotten about or never meet at all.

Stories – There is nothing better than getting stories from days gone by from other members of the family. Is lovely to let the children hear about what family and friends got up to all those years ago and also lovely for the family to relive these very special moments.

Ancestry Sites – Unlike when I was at school and the only real way to find out your family tree was by looking into records and censuses thee are now some fantastic ancestry sites that you can sign up to that collate all kinds of information and even delve as far as taking DNA samples to get a real in-depth look into your family history. Head over to get the Ancestry.co.uk discount which is on at the moment and will make your search even better!

There is so much to look into and it looks set to keep us pretty busy this summer so keep an eye out as who knows I could be revealing the secret I am in fact the distant cousin of Prince Harry!

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Twenty One

It has been a pretty quiet week which has made it perfect for my ‘Celebrating The Small Things’ series.

My Little Personal Shopper – Over the years clothes shopping on the High Street has become somewhat of a distant memory for me.

With the rise and ease in internet shopping and the number of children I had increasing the lure of shoppers by centres became less and less and now nearly all of my clothing purchases are done online.

The other day I had to get some last minute bits before our camping trip which ended up being a thoroughly enjoyable trip with Oscar.

We chatted over a babychino, stocked up on goodies for our trip and my most memorable moment was Oscar picking out outfits for me and giving his expert opinion on what looks good and what not so!

Daisy Chains – Sometimes the simple things in life pass us by and one thing that I hadn’t done for such a long time was to make a daisy chain. It’s such a simple task and the kids absolutely loved it.

How We Eat – The other day was actually a pretty big one as we had Mumset come into our home to film the way we eat as a family.

This was a pretty nerve wrecking experience as my kids can be pretty unpredictable at times and goodness knows what little gems they could have come out with!

Although the day was a huge thing for all of us I came away from the day extremely thankful of the fact I get to share dinner time with all my crazy loons!

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Eighteen

At the beginning of the year I wrote a post as to why I wasn’t making any resolutions this year and my ‘celebrating the small things’ series seems to be a testiment to the fact I never seem to be able to keep anything up and my organisation skills leave a lot to be desired!

I have decided to forget about a few weeks of this year and get back on track and fingers crossed more organised as I do love recording and looking back on all these moments.

Anyhow that is enough procrastinating, here are this weeks small but special moments.

Blossom Fights – This wonderful weather has meant we managed to get out and about a lot last week and we managed to spend a wonderful day with friends taking in the sunshine whist BBQing in their beautiful garden.
They are lucky enough to have to most wonderful blossom tree over hanging their decking that I sat and admired for most of the day.
As the evening drew to a close the kids…well actually the big kids decided to shake bucket loads of petals from the tree allowing them to have the roar amazing blossom fight.
They spent ages trying to catch handfuls as it fell from the trees, bundled it all up into piles and of course covered each other in it.
The giggles of excitement were an absolute delight to hear.

Finally Friends – On Sunday we attended the most amazing event with Little Tikes where Frankie and Oscar got to go on a behind the scenes tour of Silverstone Racktrack and a once in a lifetime helicopter trip. This in no way counts towards a ‘small thing’ but one thing that really stood out for me amongst all the excitement was the fact that the boys have finally started to build a lovely bond with each other and played, whispered and giggled their way through the day which after a long few years is so refreshing to see.

A Fab Parents Evening – Last week was parents evening for Izzy. She’s not naturally gifted when it come to anything academic and has always struggled at school. However since starting secondary school she has really found her feet and is blossoming. Each and every teacher said she was a delight to teach and always gives her all which is all I have ever wanted.

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Thirteen

Writing these posts has certainly brought me to the realisation that my plans of being more organised this year have not been going to well as I am a fair few weeks behind with these posts!

I have however been good at noting down all my special moments and hope to get caught up very soon as I currently stuck in Easter!

Easter Egg Competition – Normally Frankie isn’t overly into crafts and it has to be something he is really interested in to keep him engaged, so it was lovely to see such enthusiasm when preparing his ‘Eggtopus’ for the school Easter competition.
He sadly wasn’t a winner this year but he had an amazing time taking part.

Family Fun At The Seaside – This year Izzy’s birthday fell on our trip to Dreamland for the Big Fish Little fish event which was an amazing day but a real highlight for me was watching the children’s excitement looking for shells and crabs in the rock pools is one of life’s simple pleasures that you can’t beat.

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New Experiences For Me – As I get older my want and need to discover and enjoy new things has been growing immensely and I love any opportunity to try something different.
Over the past few years the blog has certainly made this possible and the other week I got the chance to made very own Dolly Mixtures which is something I’m not sure I would ever have done if it wasn’t for my work.

Getting Teens Into Board Games With Staccups:Review

A while ago we decided to dedicate a Sunday evening to games night. With life being so hectic and a lot of down time spend online I think it is important to take a bit of time out and connect with the family and playing games together is the perfect way to do just that.

The younger ones are easy to please and are more than happy to join in but the older ones are harder to please and it takes a lot more to prize them away from their phones and gadgets.

There are a huge number of reasons why they are good for you and I have listed a few below:

Leaving The Digital World For A While – Our whole family spend way to much time on social media and the like, and taking time away from the screen allows you to pull yourself out of the digital world and contact with real time for a while which can’t be bad for anyone.

Reducess Stress – Life can be stressful for everyone, especially teens. To break away from everything for a few hours and immerse yourself into something fun and engaging can be a great stress reliever.

Increases Brain Function – Board games allow you to stimulate the brains areas that are responsible for thought and memory forming as well as improving decision making and cognitive skills.

Brings People Closer Together – I think playing a board game together is probably one of the rare times that we really engage with each other. It gives us the chance to chat, laugh and play and simply just enjoy each others company.

We had been getting a little board of the same board games we have at home so I was really please when we were asked to try out a new game from University Games called Staccups.

It is a two player games which is ideally suited to children over 8 years old. The aim of the game is to be the first player to stack all their cups. Cups must be stacked so that the colour of the top of the cup matches the colour of the cup below which means a pretty high amount of concentration is needed as well as speed.

We are a pretty competitive family so this was absolutly perfect for us.

It saw plenty of tense moments, lots and laughter and a few arguments over people putting the cups in the wrong order!

It was a great game for the teens and adults alike and I’m sure its going to be a favourite from now on.

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

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Seven

Well I am really playing catch up with myself this week and I am really behind with my “celebrating the small things” posts, however I promised myself I wouldn’t miss a week and I’m going to stick to it.

This week I’m going to be looking back over half term which was a pretty horrendous one for us to be honest!

All of the children were ill until the end of the week and to say I was getting cabin fever would be an understatement, but we still managed to get a few good moments to record.

Feeling Grateful For My Job: School holidays can be a real issue when it comes to thinking of things to occupy the children and this is where I am extremely grateful for my work as it brings such amazing opportunities for the children and allows their time off to be filled with amazing memories.

This half term we were asked if we would like to become Chessington World Of Adventure ambassadors again this year so it would have been rude to not have a trip to celebrate wouldn’t it. We also had a wonderful afternoon at a Little Miss And Mr Men Tea Party where the children were treated to an afternoon of food, fun and personalised pictures from Adam Hargreaves.

Growing Up Fast: I received an email from Oscar’s nursery to let me know that they would be changing things a little at nursery to get the older ones ready for their big move to reception this coming September.

If I’m honest it gave me a big lump in my throat to think that my last little one would be moving on and I won’t have a little one around the house during the day anymore.

We spent a good while that afternoon practicing writing his name and learning his numbers and I was immensely proud of how far he has come…even if I’m not quite ready for it!

Feeling Proud Of My ‘Middlish’ Child: I say ‘middlish’ as when you have five children there isn’t really a middle child is there!

The one I am referring to however is Izzy. I often underestimate how much she does for me and when I sit back and think about it I would be pretty lost without her.

I always told myself that it was my decision to have a large family and putting on the older children was something I wouldn’t do as it has never been their choice.

In reality though a huge part of my day involves try to solo parent whilst working and this is no mean feat at times and I have to call in some help which 9 times out of 10 falls on Izzy.

Don’t get me wrong she loves to have a moan and a groan about it at times but is always there to help wether I ask or not and I really need to show her my gratitude for this more often.