Exploring Stories With Pizza Express And Puffin Books

If a poll was taken with my family on which was their favourite restaurant I know that Pizza Express would win hands down!

The children love the delicious food that is served quickly to quash those all to familiar ‘I’m starving’ moans and as a parent I love the family friendly vibe that you get in each and every restaurant. The hustle and bustle means I don’t feel I need to be continually asking the kids to be quiet and with the great activities that are always on offer there is actually not much chance for fidgety bums and fingers to get restless.

It was in fact an exciting new activity pack and competition that Puffin Books have created for Pizza Express that saw us making our way to one of their Brighton branches last week.

We were taken to our seats by our super friendly waiter that handed the children their activities packs and they got started on them straight away. The Story Explorers Adventure Journal was full to the brim with activities and games inspired by different books and it really got the children’s creative juices flowing.

After trying to create their own Grey Huffley from their favourite series – Diary Of A Wimpy Kid they feasted on a starter of dough balls and vegetable crudités while I indulged in some delicately battered calamari that I had to keep Izzy away from!

Actually if you are a fans of Diary Of The Wimpy Kid too then there is a brilliant competition you can enter where you can design your own book cover and submit it online for your chance to win a family portrait down for you by Jeff Kinney, the author of Diary Of A Wimpy Kid himself.

As we waited on our mains we were treated to a visit from caricaturist Sean Savage who created a fantastic portrait of us all. The kids absolutely loved it and found the size of my teeth hilarious!

With our special memento safely tucked away we ate a delicious selection of pizza and pasta that didn’t fail to disappoint.

Aside from being so family friendly another highlight of Pizza Express for us is the way they cater for Frankie and his multiple allergies. The kids menu can be adapted perfectly which always makes him feel inclusive rather than having to have something completely different which can happen in so many other restaurants.

We had a quick break between courses where it was Izzy’s job to make up the chatter boxes that came in the activity packs. These are always a hit with us and they played for ages asking each other questions to unveil the final answer.

A meal out isn’t complete without desert and at Pizza Express you really are spoilt for choice. The children dived into ice cream sundaes and brownies whilst I went for the mini biscoff cheesecake dolcetti which I told myself was a lighter option!

Full to the brim and bursting with ideas on stories they were going to create and illustrate when they got home really meant that Pizza Express has been a feast for our minds as well as our bellies and we highly reccomend a trip there soon so you don’t miss out on all the fun!

*Collaborated post

What The Ladybird Heard At Rose Theatre Kingston:Review

We all have a favourite books from our childhood; one that brings back memories and even into our adult life can evoke feelings from times and places around that very story.

The beauty of finding your favourite book in this day and age is the fact that many of the classics are adapted for the big screen or stage, allowing you to enjoy the story in a completely different way.

A favourite in our house at the moment, especially with Frankie is What The Ladybird Heard by Julia Donaldson. Frankie first came across this fantastic book whilst covering it at school and was lucky enough to play a part in the school assembly that we all loved watching.

You can imagine his excitement when I told him we would be going to see the show on stage at the Rose Theatre in Kingston.

The Rose Theatre is a new discovery for us and we were pleasantly surprised when we arrived to the super friendly staff in a lovely bright and spacious reception that lead onto a cafe full of scrummy treats and a small play area that was perfect to keep restless fingers busy.

After a quick look around we made our way to our seats inside the theatre. It had a really laid back feel to it and the children were invited to grab a cushion and take a seat right in front of the stage or settle in their seats if they wanted. Actually as sad as this may seem the seats were a pretty big highlight for me as they were the usual retractable kind but came in a double seat which saved the continual chair banging throughout the show!

The colourful set had the whole audience of little people gazing at the stage with anticipation of the start. It wasn’t long before the lights dimmed and the charters took to the stage. The tale of the two cheeky robbers who were out to steal the farmers prized cow started to unfold and with the use of extremely clear props…my favourite was the goose made from a watering can, catchy tunes and bundles of audience participation the children were keeped engaged for the whole 55 mins which is no mean feat when there is such a young audience.

During the show the children were encouraged to join in with animal noises, sing and mimic the actions to songs and try to spot the elusive ladybird which seemed a favourite with them all. There was also plenty of slapstick style comedy thrown in which is always a hit with my lot!

The characters were warm and friendly and really drew the children in and made a great connection with them. Frankie took a real liking to the naughty robbers whilst Oscar was pretty taken with the jolly farmer.

At the end of the show we were lucky enough to be able to take to the stage for a chat with the characters and the children got to try their hand at using some of the amazing props.

Frankie was over the moon the meet his favourite character ‘Lanky Len’ and Izzy was in her element to get five minutes on stage as this is her absolute dream.

We had a fantastic afternoon and highly recommend this show as a half term treat for all the family.

Making The Most Of My Last Few Pre-School Months At Godstone Farm

To those of you who follow my blog regularly it will be of no surprise that I’m having a mini breakdown over Oscar going to school this September. After twenty years of ‘Mums and Toddlers’ groups, countless trips to the park and library visits you would have thought that shipping my last one off to school would be a welcome break but this is far from the way I’m feeling right now.

Due to this is have declared Wednesday as mine and Oscars day of fun. A whole day to ourselves doing things we love and building memories.

We kicked our first week off with a trip to Godstone Farm. I have visited this farm since I was a child myself and have many happy memories of trips here, but over the past few years our visits have become far less frequent and I was still egar to see what they had going on now.

We did the school run and arrived at the farm around 10am and were greeted by a gaggle of geese as we made our way to our first port of call – the animal handling area.

Oscar’s face lit up as he got to meet lots of cute chicks and fluffy bunnies, one of which he got the chance to hold.

After a good while of exploring and plenty of requests to take one home we made our way round to see the bigger animals.

I fell in love with the piglets and Oscar took a liking to the cheeky goats that he had great fun feeding with the super cool pulley system.

From here we hopped on board the tractor for a quick ride around the farm. It was lovely to get another perspective and it’s always so much fun when you’re bouncy around on four wheels!

It was time to stop for a bit of lunch and at Godstone Farm there are plenty of places to stop for a picnic if you have brought your own food along or a delightful tearoom where you can get delicious hot or cold food served by the super friendly staff.

It was the perfect pit stop for use to grab a coffee and of course no day out would be complete without a yummy ice cream!

Godstone Farm has much more to offer then just a visit to see the animals and we both throughly enjoyed hunting for dinosaurs on the Dino Trail.

Oscar tried his hand at palaeontology and excavated some dinosaurs bones, spotted lots of different dinosaurs and just a few times at the sound effects that set off as you pass.

If this wasn’t enough fun we then headed to the new Wiglet’s Play Village which is an amazing indoor space for little ones that is the perfect place for role play. There is a great construction area where Oscar donned his hard hat and built a fort, baked me a cake in the kitchen and tended to his pets in the vets.

There was also a completely separate area for babies, a train track table that Oscar loved and a foam ball area where they could shoot them around to their hearts content.

He had such a great time in there that we didn’t even get a chance to visit the Play Barn that is a much larger area with huge slides, climbing areas and rides ons to enjoy.

Farms trips to me though are definitely about the outdoor play and Godstone Farm has this by the bucketload!

There are areas all over the farm where they can climb aboard bikes and tractors and rush around as much as they like and a huge play area at the top of the farm which had just about everything a child could wish for.

Oscar played in sandpit for a good while before playing ‘Ninja Warrior’ on the slides and obstacle courses and finished off the day speeding down the sledge run that I have to admit I couldn’t resist a sneaky go on.

We had an absolutely amazing day at Godstone Farm and it really did make for the perfect term time trip. The farm was relatively quiet which is great for impatient little ones and something to keep them amused whatever the weather and whatever their likes.

This has certainly been added to our list of favourites and we will be back again very soon!

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

Dinosaurs In The Wild:Review

Sunday got off to a fraught start as usual with me dragging children through central London at 100 miles per hour due to the fact we were running ridiculously late on our way to the Greenwich Peninsula to experience the new immersive walk through experience – Dinosaurs In The Wild.

After a quick dash to get our tickets wee headed straight to the start of the experience where we were handed 3D glasses and prepared to get ourselves ready to transport back in time to the Chronotex research station.

The time machine saw us encounter all sorts of hurdles on its mission, but we arrived safe and well and in perfect time to explore the labs.

We stayed in each lab for around 10 mins which was the perfect time for inquisitive hands and minds to stay occupied without getting bored and distracted. Each section had the children transfixed to everything that was going on and i didn’t hear a moan or a groan from my own or any of the other children at all.

They got to see a huge beating heart of a Alamosauraus, get really hands on by touching ‘real’ dinosaur poo and teeth, watching baby dinosaurs hatching and the feeding time of lot of bigger dinosaurs too.

Oscar was really taken with a baby dinosaur that was brought out for them to see and got pretty upset that he couldn’t the one home!

The climax of the event took pace in the Lookout at the very top of the research station and I don’t want to spoil the experience by letting you know what goes on. All I will say is that its not for the faint hearted and although the age rating is 5+ I would say if your little ones are sensitive souls then this is something to consider.

Oscar who is 4 went through pretty unfazed but bolshy Frankie was soon put in his place by the whole experience.

I loved every minute of our trip and the set up left nothing uncovered. The charaters stayed in role fabulously throughout and keep the children involved and engaged for the entire 70 mins. The set and models were so lifelike that the children at not point doubted we have travelled back thousands of years through time and completely believed each and every moment.

The experience is running until the end of July 2018 and whether you are a dinosaur fan or not this is one not to be missed!

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

Disney On Ice Is Back With Worlds Of Enchantment

A few weeks ago Izzy and I took to the ice with Frankie Bridge and some of the stars from Disney On Ice to practice some moves whilst they were getting ready for the new show – Worlds Of Enchantment.

It is set to be yet another jaw dropping show with Ariel and her undersea kingdom, Lightning McQueen and his friends racing round the rink, the timeless classics from Toy Story that I know will be the favourite of my boys and of course there couldn’t be a show set on ice without an appearance from Anna, Elsa, Olaf and Kristoff.

Take a look below at just a snippet of what there is to see and keep an eye out of what we thought when we visit the show at the SSE Arena next week. It really would make the perfect day out this Easter!

Around The World In 18 Raves:Camp Bestival Warm Up Tour With Big Fish Little Fish

As I am writing this the sun is shining through the window and I have to say I’m getting a little bit excited for the spring and summer to finally arrive.

The warmer weather for me is the que for me to start dusting off the sequins (well actually mine don’t really get put away)in preparation for festival season.

Last year we got into the spirit of things by attending the Big Fish Little Fish event at Dreamland in Margate and we are looking forward to returning again to get into the festival mood!

Big fish Little Fish put on amazing events that allow little ones to get their groove on along with their parents. Think glitter, sparkle, bubbles, lights and great music all wrapped up into a fantastic few hours that the whole family will love.

This year the tour will be travelling to 18 cities and will be based around Camp Bestivals theme this year which is celebrating all things nautical.

There will be a nautical themed craft area, baby chill out zone, a dance floor filled with bubbles, balloons and glitter and a very special parachute dance.

There will also be a chance for the whole family to have some fun in the photo booth whist trying to win a family ticket to Camp Bestival.

If this sounds up your street then take a look HERE at the differnt locations the tour will be visiting and get those tickets booked!

In The Night Garden Live 2018:Family Ticket Giveaway

It is around this time of year when all the fun of Christmas is over, the weather is rubbish and there is nothing exciting planned that I start to think about the warmer weather ahead and the exciting things we are going to get up to.

One of the highlights for us for the past few years has been the fantastic on stage performance – In The Night Garden Live.

The musical theatre show brings to life all the familiar characters from the popular TV show through magical puppetry, breathtaking projection, enchanting music and life-sized characters.

Tickets go on sale from 26th January 2018 and there is also an exclusive resale on 23rd January.

The O2, London

Thursday 24 May – Saturday 9 June

Performances at 10am, 12pm, 2pm, 4pm

No performances on Tue 29 May & Tue 5 Jun

Richmond Old Deer Park, London

Saturday 16 June – Sunday 1 July

Performances at 10am, 12pm, 2pm, 4pm

No performances on Tue 19 Jun & Tue 26 Jun

Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham

Saturday 7 July – Sunday 22 July

Performances at 10am, 12pm, 2pm, 4pm

No performances on Tue 10 Jul & Tue 17 Jul

intu Trafford Centre, Manchester

Saturday 28 July – Sunday 19 August

Performances at 10am, 12pm, 2pm, 4pm

No performances on Tue 31 July, Tue 7 & Tue 14 Au

If this sounds like something you and your little ones would be interested in then or if you are feeling lucky then I have a fantastic competition for you to enter below for the chance to win a family ticket for four(minimum 1 adult) at a venue and performance of your choice.

powered by Typeform

The competition closes at 23:59 on 14th January 2018. Good Luck!

Little Lambs Softplay – New Location And Better Than Ever

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*collaborated post

Winterville 2017 Is Coming To Clapham

Winterville is moving south of the river after a break last year and will be hitting Clapham Common from 23rd November until 1st January.

Winterville is an alternative Festive experience that brings something a little different to the Christmas celebrations. With so many different attractions across town it is hard to know where to chose – but Winterville has something to offer the whole family.

You can take a ride on the big wheel and take in all there is to offer from high in the sky, try out your putting skills on the UV-powered plonk golf course or get cosy and take in a screening of on of the christmas classics in the Backyard Cinema’s Winter Garden.

If like me food is your thing then you won’t be disappointed with what Winterville has to offer. From burgers to fried chicken or sweets treats and cocktails there is something to suit all tastes.

When it comes to things to entertain the kids you will be spoilt for choice. They can take to the ice on Clapham’s first ever ice rink, get onto four wheels and try out their roller skating skills, they can get their dancing shoes on for a very special tea dance, watch the wonderful World Beyond The Wardrobe show they is a Narnia inspired interactive experience, and of course a festive outing wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Santa.

There are also some ticketed events on offer such as Cirque de Caberet, The Twisted Wheels Roller Disco, Stevie Wonderland and the All Abba Disco.

I really have just touched on a little of what they have to offer and we will be heading there ourselves at the end of November so keep an eye out for how we get on!

Toddler Time At Chessington World Of Adventures

Chessington World Of Adventures main attraction for us as a family is the diversity of the theme park and its ability to cater for all ages.

With this in mind I took some time out with Oscar to see what that have to offer pre-schoolers during the week when all the others are busy working away at school…I have to add this didn’t go down to well with the others.

I don’t need to tell any of you what tricky creatures three year olds can be and days out can often be more than a little fraught.

Queuing is something that is certainly not one of Oscar’s strong points, so the relief to be able to get on every ride within minutes was a massive bonus for me as well as him!

Our first port of call was the Gruffalo River Ride Adventure that saw us following mouse on his adventures with The Gruffalo whilst floating along in our little wooden boat through spooky dark areas, over a few lumps and bumps and a good few moments of getting a little wet.

The Gruffalo theme is something that is certainly present throughout Chessington World Of Adventures now which is perfect for the little ones and Oscar was over to the moon to meet the ‘real’ Gruffalo at the meet and greet session.

From here we headed off to take in a few more rides and with such little queuing time was got so many in.

Out of the eighteen rides suitable for toddlers some of our favourites were the Sea Dragons where we wizzed and whirled around in the little boats.

The beautiful new carousel called the Adventure Tree that we tried our pretty much every animal on.

The Flying Jumbos that took us flying way into the sky, and for my little thrill seeker a trip on the front of the Scorpion Express that he was thrilled to be riding upfront on.

There is food aplenty available and all tastes are easily catered for from BBQ chicken to fish and chips or burgers to pizzas there really is something for everyone.

I grabbed a much needed coffee and refuelled ourselves with a quick sugary treat.

A ride that we had yet to try out was Zufari and I have to say after trying it out I have no idea why we had left it this long.

We hopped on board the Zufari truck that took us on a a very bumpy adventure through the wild spotting some pretty spectacular animals on the way.

I couldn’t believe how close we managed to get to the giraffes and rhinos. Oscar was hugely amused by being so close to rhinos bum!

In the mood for some more animal spotting we took a walk through the Trail Of The Kings and spotted a very sleepy lion.

The gorillas were out to play and Oscar was highly amused with their antics.

It’s not just the bigger animals that Chessington World Of Adventures homes. The petting zoo is always a big hit with mine and we spent a good while petting the sheep, looking in on the greedy pigs while they fed and trying to keep up with the cutest little goat I’ve ever seen.

From land animals we made our way into the Sealife Centre to see all the creatures of the sea.

Oscars favourite moment was getting the chance to touch a starfish and ask the poor lady a hundred and one questions on the subject that she more than happily answered for him.

It was wonderful to be able to experience Chessington World Of Adventures from the perspective of just a little one rather than having to keep my large brood all happy.

It is the perfect way to allow them to experience the excitement of the rides without the stress of the queues and get to see the animals without it being so busy which can be very stressful for tiny ones.

It really is a day that allows them to build their confidence and independence and gain knowledge of a huge variety of animals all in one place.

Oscar came away bursting to tell his brothers and sisters about his day and literally can’t wait until his next trip.

If this sounds good to you then you can get yourself an adult and pre-school pass ticket for only £21 or an annual pass that always you in on selected dates and times for only £60.

We got so much done in the few hours between school runs that it is certainly well worth a visit.

‘I am a Chessington Blogger Ambassador, I was given a Chessington Annual Pass to do this review with my family and I was not paid to do this post. If anyone would like to confirm any details in the post, please email press.office@chessington.co.uk’