Days Out With The Kids This Christmas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Behind The Scenes At Sea Life

For many years now my gang have loved visiting Sea Life. They love being able the ability to wander around freely discovering all kinds of weird and wondful creatures that live under the sea…well actually a fare few that live above it too!

The other week we headed to Southbank for a trip around our favourite Sea Life and the chance to take a look behind the scenes with their behind the scenes tour.

In our usual fashion we were running late and had to rush in and get over to the behind the scenes tour. So a quick dash over the shark walkway which the boys weren’t to impressed about and a zig zag past everything else we got their just in time to be greeted by our friendly and thankfully laid back tour guide.

The doors were opened and we headed behind all the exhibits to a small area that was home to some very special creatures. I was a little apprehensive about taking this tour with Oscar as he is only four but only being 30 mins long it was the perfect timing to keep him engaged and I was so pleased to see that all three of them listening intently as we were shown round.

We got the chance to see some of the fish being feed, meet a beautiful chinese snapper turtle that had sadly been discarded by his owner, meet some super cool sea dragons that fast became my favourite of the day due to the male getting pregnant and so much more.

The children loved being shown the huge variety of food the animals were feed, thoroughly enjoyed being able to get hands on and touch things from lobster shells to egg pods, and the highlight for me was how much information they were given and were able to retain as the tour was done in such a relaxed, interactive and informative way.

Full to the brim with a whole host of knowledge on marine life we headed back out to explore the rest of Sea Life. One tip is to get there as early as you can to avoid the crowds although to be honest even though we were there in the middle of the school holidays it was really easy to navigate still and didn’t feel like we struggled to see things in any of the tanks.

The aquarium is set out in sections which include Shark Walk, Atlantic Coasts, Ray Lagoon, Rock Pool, Open Ocens, Ship Wreck, Ocean Tunnel, Nemo’s Coral Reef, Seahorse Kingdom, Creatures Of The Rainforest, Thames Walk, Penguin Point, Conservation Cove, Shark Reef and Ocean Invaders.

Each area has its own uniqueness to it and being in distinct groups means its a lot easier to for the children to understand where each creature is from.

The sharks were certainly a huge hit with the boys and we sat for ages watching them glide around the tanks in their majestic manner, they all got to touch a star fish which I think is such a wonderful experience and something you certainly can’t do everyday! For me the highlight had to be the seahorses as I am always in awe of their delicate beauty.

As we moved around each section I loved the fact it wasn’t all about gazing into tanks, We thoroughly enjoyed getting a shock from the jelly fish wall, getting a nip from a parihna and climbing on board a distressed ship that was getting battered with thunder and lightening.

For us Sea Life gets better and better on each visit and there really is something for people all ages to enjoy. We will be back very soon!

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

Ocean Invaders At Sealife Southbank

The Southbank is one…if not my favourite place in London.

Street entertainers, a huge choice of food, and some of the most famous landmarks in London are just a few of the attractions that draw so many visitors to this area along with a whole host of fantastic attractions that are just perfect to keep the little ones amused.

A few weeks ago we were invited along by AttractionTix to have a sneak peek at the new jellyfish attraction called Ocean Invaders at the Sealife centre.

We were lucky enough to arrive before the general public which allowed us to get up close to the exhibits and have a spot of breakfast behind the scenes too!

The colours immediately caught my attention as we entered and the children’s eyes lit up as soon as we saw the huge tanks full of beautiful jelly fish.

  

There are three sections to explore that enables the children to see the jelly fish in all their beauty, learn all about them and their environments and an interactive zone that my youngest two and their lack of concentration gained a lot from. 

As everything is so hands on even my three year old was kept engaged throughout. It really offers something for everyone and even my husband and I came away having learnt something new about the world of jelly fish.

The fun doesn’t stop here though as the Sealife Centre has so much to offer and we spent a good few hours exploring the numerous exhibits.

The children loved to be able to acually touch a starfish in the rock pool area.  

They loved gazing above them and peeping through the holes in the Ocean Tunnel.

The Shark Walk was a huge hit with the boys, as was having the opportunity to get up so close to the magnificent stingrays. 

The favourite though was probably Penguin Point where they happy watched the Penguins play in their very own polar experience. 

Our day didn’t finish here as AttractionTix had a full day of fun set up for us with a trip on a river boat and a visit to Shrek’s Adventure still on our list.

They really are the place to go for hugely discounted tickets on endless amounts of attractions.

They offer such great discounts that combining more than one attraction in a day can become a lot more affordable than you would think, and Southbank is the perfect place to get the most out of your day in this way as there are so many great places less than a stones throw away from each other.

The streets of London as you all know are massively over crowded and it can sometimes be hard to take in the beauty it holds, so one way to get a fantastic look at some of Londons biggest landmarks is a boat trip down the Thames.

The children were all really excited to sit on the top deck of the London Eye River Cruise boat and look out across the water.


They spotted all the landmarks they knew such as the Shard and the Houses of Parliament and some lesser known ones were pointed out to us by the super friendly guide that talked us through our trip.


It was a relaxing and informative 40 minute trip that also gave me some fabulous photo opportunities.

The last port of call for the day was Shrek’s Adventure that we visited last year and absolutely loved.

It was the first time for my husband and he was a little sceptical about how they would managed to fit something based around a film into an entire attraction.

He was in fact proved wrong and so taken back what a great experience it was.

You are taken on a journey through the Kingdom of Far, Far Away encountering all sorts of exciting places on the way from a trip on a 4D bus to mixing potions in the very special bakery.

This interactive show sucks you in from the beginning due to the fantastic set up and highly skilled actors and actresses.

It is a place the children ask to go back to time and time again and I really don’t blame them.


We had the most fantastic day and managed to pack more in then I could have ever imagined.

There was something for the whole family to enjoy and I’m sure you have seen a least one thing here that would take your fancy.

Please let me know if you decide to visit  any of these attractions as I would love to know what you think!
*This event was put on for us by AttractionTix and this are all my own, honest opinions.

The Art Of Brick:DC Super Heroes

Lego is a toy that from my experience all children love. It allows them to be creative, use their imagination and helps heaps with their fine motor skills.

For my youngest two mixing Lego with superheroes would be the perfect combination and that is exactly what has been done with The Art Of Brick:DC Super Heroes.

The extremely clever artist Sawaya has teamed up with DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. to recreate DC characters, vehicles and the environments they are found in out of over 2 million Lego bricks. 


We were all astounded with the intricacy of each and every sculpture that the boys found very hard to keep their hands off of. In fact only my youngest two could have a kerfuffle in the middle of the exhibition…coming close to taking out a huge container filled with carefully sorted bricks!


Sticky fingers are however allowed to wander at the end of the exhibition where there is the chance to create your own masterpieces, grab a snack or play on some Lego themed video games.

I’ve not spoiled the exhibition by including lots of pics in this post as it lovely to see them first hand.

Tickets are easily purchased online and there is the option to by on the door but I wouldn’t leave it to chance.

We were there for about an hour in total so the entry price is a little high in my opinion, but it really is a sight worth seeing.

The Teletubbies Turn 20!

Teletubbies
It must have been around this time of year twenty years ago when I was going in elbows first to get my hands on the sell out Teletubbies soft toy at my local Woolworths store for my newborn, that had absolutely no idea when an impact these four cute and cuddly characters were having on a nation of preschoolers.

It’s hard to believe that they have graced our screen for such a long time and although they have had a few changes over the years they have kept the ability to capture the hearts of over a billion children spanning over a hundred countries.

All of my children have fallen for their charms and you can imagine the delight on my youngest ones faces when I told them we were going along to celebrate their twentieth birthday and take a sneak peek at the new series that is set to hit our screens on the 13th March, with a special birthday show on the 31st March.

I arrived at The Riverfront on The Southbank on the Sunday morning with two super excited boys just itching to meet their favourites!

Before the screening we were treated to a yummy brunch whist the children ran wild in the soft play area, created masterpieces, got their faces painted and watched in awe as a magician covered children in a humongous bubble.

Teletubbies Teletubbies The Riverfront, Southbank   

Sufficiently full and a little worn out we headed to the cinema where a hub of excited children were donning their party hats in anticipation of the arrival of the ‘real’ Teletubbies!

Teletubbies Teletubbies  

Chris from Cebebbies took to the stage to introduce the larger than I expected characters and there were gasps and cheers from the entire crowd.

Teletubbies
After joining in with the new ‘Big Hugs’ song that includes a lot of bottom bumping…a big hit with my potty minded children the Teletubbies left the stage for a rest and we were treated to a viewing of the new series.

David Walliams and Rohelle Humes have been addded to the already star studded cast and it’s not just the voiceovers that have had new additions.

The Teletubbies have been treated to a brand new play area called the Hidey Hub that homes the Tubby Bounce, Tubby Slidey, Tubby Uppy Downy and Tubby Spinny.

It’s a great new area that was a big hit with my two, especially the Tubby Slidey which is a seemingly never ending slide…what child wouldn’t love that!

The changes don’t stop there as we can also welcome the Tubby Car that sees them all driving around in their super sweet car that cleverly has a steering wheel for each of them.

The Tiddly Tubbies also play a big part in the new series and I have to say I love them as much as the children do.

Unbelievable a cinema packed with under five’s was left in silence.

This is a hard audience to crack and the Teletubbies did it with no problem at all which just goes to show that the magic that was created with them twenty years ago is a winning combination and is a real testament to the writers they Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa Laa and Po are still going strong today.

I would love for you to tune in on Monday 13th and let me know what you think.

Teletubbies

Shrek’s Adventure and Sea Life London Aquarium Review

What child wouldn’t love going on and adventure to find Shrek and Dory in the same day!

This is what we were lucky enough to do at the beginning of the holiday when we took a trip to Shrek’s Adventure and the Sea Life London Aquarium that are directly next to each other housed the stunning buildings along the Southbank.

Shrek was our first port of call and after a bit of a faff with a queuing system that didn’t seem to be working to well we set off on our adventure to find Shrek.

We were whisked off by Donkey on the magical 4D bus that tossed and turned us through the sky, giving us a few surprises on the way. 

 Next came several different rooms where we were met by wonderfully vivacious characters that helped us to piece together the mystery to where Shrek was with lots of twists, turns and eye-openers as we entered each new door, with the anticipation of finding Shrek the whole way round.

The whole experience kept my three youngest engaged throughout but it may be a little scary at times for little ones with sections of darkness and some very realistic acting, and as buggies are not permitted on the tour if you have one that doesn’t like walking asI did it can be a bit much on your arms. But this is why they state it is best suited for age 6+.

If you are a Shrek fan or not you will find something to love on this adventure that was filled with wonder and surprise the whole way round.  I would challenge anyone to not feel the same.

After we had completed our adventure we popped straight next door to the Sea Life London Aquarium where you immediately felt you had been submerged many miles under the ocean as you wind your way round looking at the majestic stingrays skimming the sand, pretty seahorses dancing in the reeds and voracious sharks owning the water.
Each tank brings you something different allowing your to take in the vast array of sealife that makes up the underwater world.

With the release of Disney Pixars Finding Dory there is a great quiz sheet available as you enter which kept mine amused as we walked around by filling in the questions and searching for the lovable character with your chance to get a special reward at the end.

We really enjoyed walking through the open tunnel and having the change to see everything so close up and from so many different angles.  The children loved climbing into the portholes to get a closer look.

Something I wasn’t expecting to see was the Gentoo penguins from the Antarctic. Although they were super cute to look at I’m not sure if I felt this type of enclosure was the best place for these wonderful creatures.

My little ones love the opportunity to get hands on with anything and were really excited when they got to touch a starfish which is something they have never done before.

The Sea Life London Aquarium offers children the experience to learn so much about sealife in an interesting, fun and hands-on way that it is well worth a trip.

Southbank really is a hive of entertainment and has so much to offer in one place.  There is the choice of Shrek’s Adventure, Sea Life London Aquarium, The London Eye and London Dungeon to chose from and some great deals when you book attractions together.

London Dungeon is certainly on my list of things to do with my teens as it looks like a real thrill seeking day out.

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

 

 

Birthday Celebrations At Southbank 

  
 

I have done a fair bit of travelling over the years, but London always holds a special place in my heart.

I love the hustle and bustle, the eclectic range of people and the wonderful architecture the city has to offer.

   
     

We are only about a 30min train ride from central London but don’t visit that often as squeezing on and off the trains with all the children is no mean feat!  For us Southbank is always the perfect place as it is only two overground trains away and directly outside Waterloo station.

   
     

We went to celebrate my eldest turning 18 and we knew there would be plenty of things for us all to do once we got there.

We we not disappointed as we got there and after a short walk came across a super cool exhibition that offered free badge making and colouring for the children.

  
As always mine were starving so we had a quick coffee and cake stop before walking along the river.

Once we were refuelled we went exploring and found some cool brightly coloured plastic strips that they had great fun running in and out of, a great sandpit that they had a great time digging in, and our usual trip to the park.

   
     

  
We stood for a while looking at the street entertainers who scared the life out of number four to start with!

   
   

Number two loves scooting and skate boarding so we spent a good while by the skatepark watching all the tricks.

   
 

After lunch we spent our last bit of time there taking in the sights whilst number one had her first ‘legal’ drink!

   
   

A wonderful day was had by all and we will be coming back very soon to check out the Carston Holler exhibition at the Hayward Gallery which looks  fantastic.