Pumpkin Picking At Secretts Of Milford

I had a mini meltdown the other day as I had missed our annual day out pumpkin picking at Priory Farm. It is one of our favourite things to do at this time of year and so I went on the hunt for somewhere else we could visit.

I stumbled across Secretts Of Milford and thought that it would make the perfect place to explore this half term.

After a short drive we arrived at the garden centre to a pretty packed carpark which I was a little apprehensive about but I needn’t have worried as after a short while queuing we made our way into the event field that was full of things to do from face painting to fairground rides, tractor rides and a favourite for mine – corn blasting!

We headed straight to the tractor ride that lead us into the jam packed pumpkin fields, full of pumpkins of all different shapes, sizes and colours. The children didn’t know where to look first and spent ages racing through the fields and selecting their perfect pumpkin.

We hopped back on the tractor and grabbed a bite to eat which was very fitting with the theme with hot dogs, pumpkin soup, pumpkin curry and pumpkin cake. There was plenty on indoor and outdoor space to sit and relax while the children enjoy the freedom of the open space and even a hay fight or two!

Secretts made for an amazing day out and we will certainly be back to visit next year!

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.

A Rainy Day At Chessington World Of Adventures

I’m sure you are all going to think I have completely lost my mind when I say this, but I absolutely love visiting Chessington World Of Adventures on a rainy day! Don’t get me wrong torrential rain and thunderstorms might make me think twice but a bit of rain never hurt anyone!

In fact for me I find there are a whole heap of benefits to visiting on a rainy day. I mean there are a fair few water rides in the park anyway so why not just embrace it as once you’re wet you’re wet!

We arrived on Friday and within minutes the heavens opened and we took shelter in the Smokehouse BBQ which was a great way to fill our bellies before we started the day.

They offer a great range of BBQ style food such as pulled pork, chicken and hot dogs served with crunchy chips, sweet potato fries and the best creamed sweetcorn I’ve tasted.

Full up and ready to face the showers we made our way to our first ride of the day which is always the Gruffalo River Ride, a favourite of the boys as well as mine. With the majority of the queuing done undercover and the ride itself inside we stayed pretty dry.

From here we moved onto the the Scorpion Express that my little adrenaline junkies love and I have to say speeding around the track whilst getting a face full of rain just added to the excitement.

Zufari was next on the list and I thought the animals might have been talking shelter so we were more than happy to see the giraffes and rhinos up close to the jeep in all their majestic glory.

Due to everyone being scared off by the weather the queue times were incredibly short for the summer holidays and we managed to get on all of our favourite rides within a few hours which allowed me some time to put my feet up in the cafe while the kids dried off in the Dragon’s Playhouse soft play area.

I feel like I’ve let you into a precious secret here but if you are not scared of getting a little wet then the short queue time, space inside restaurants and the calmer pace of things are definitely a huge bonus.

‘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’

Capturing The Wonder Of Mayfield Lavender With Rachel Thornhill

For the past few years the Mayfield Lavender fields in Banstead have been my first glimpse that summer has arrived. The magnificent sea of purple that fills the landscape and the beautiful smell that engulfs the air is a sight to be seen and one that I never ever tire of.

Mayfield Lavender has really gone from strength to strength and not only does it offer you the chance to enjoy this natural wonder there is also the opportunity to enjoy a huge range of scrutipous food and drink from the cafe such as juicy hotdogs, delectable homemade cakes and even a lavender cream tea which is still on my wishlist to try.

The shop is also fully stocked with goodies from tolliteries to lavender flavour sweets and of course a change to take home some of your very own lavender.

My little ones love being able to just run free through the fields but if you want a little more adventure then hop onboard the tractor for a ride around the fields to get a completly different perspective.

I am always the one holding the camera on our trips which I absolutly love, but this year it was a little different as we went along to meet the lovely Rachel Thornhill who is an expert when it comes to photography…especially at Mayfield Lavender.

Rachel is in fact one of the photographers recommend by Brendan Maye – The owner of Mayfield lavender and the moment I meet her I could understand why.

Her friendly smile and calm, welcoming nature put us all at ease when we arrived and she chatted at length with the children about what our morning was going to entail and how to care for the fields and the nature living there during the shoot.

I am not a fan of posed images and much prefer a playful, natural style of picture and this is exactly what Rachel tries to create. Capturing the children at play or us all in deep conversation creates a much more natural image and one that tells a story allowing it to be a more memorable capture and something to treasure for years to come.

During our shoot that lasted a little over an hour we got the change to explore, play, chat and giggle and at no point did the children get bored or restless as Rachel worked her magic and kept them happy and engaged throughout, she even managed to keep shooting when Oscar bundled in for cuddles.

What really sets her apart from other photographers is that she creates bespoke museum quality wall art and framed prints personal to you and hand made by professional printers in both the UK and Italy that are designed to stand the test of time, and become a part of your family story. The products are not available to buy from anywhere other than professional photographers, so really quite special?

Mayfield Lavender is a truly magical place that is pretty hard to find in the UK. It is a place to make special memories to keep for a lifetime and with something like a photoshoot with Rachel these special moments can be captured and remembered for many years to come.

*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.

Finding My Confidence With Laura Shaw Photography

This year was the year I had set goals to challenge myself, push boundaries and try new things.

Over the past few years so many people have asked why I don’t appear more on my blog and the simple answer to this was always that I was way to critical of myself.

I would take endless selfies and delete them all or get one of the children to try and get a picture that I would be remotely happy with and to be honest this very rarely happened.

I hated myself for how shallow this made me feel but due to a culmination of different insecurities I just couldn’t bring myself to be on screen.

A while ago now I won a competition to have a photo shoot with Laura from Laura Shaw Photography and I knew from the very first moment I met here she was going to be the lady to put my mind at ease when it came to getting in front of the camera.

The session was booked and cancelled endless times and finally a few weeks ago all the pieces fell into place and the session went ahead.

I probably didn’t pick the easiest of locations for my nerves as a high street packed with people would never be a place you could naturally relax, but Laura worked her magic and after shots that felt terribly uncomfortable I finally relaxed and started to being to thoroughly enjoy the whole experience.

It was actually a few crude words from Laura that set me off into fits of giggles and I will never look at her without thinking of these worlds again!

The hours flew by as we flitted around the town borrowing changing rooms and handbags from the lovely Nancy of Gerrards and stopping to use the beautiful surroundings off Willows florist.

I have have to say a big thank you to guys at Stone House Vinyl as we plotted up there on a few occasions during the day!

This really was an experience I never thought I would have the courage to do and I can’t thank Laura enough for finding my confidence, giving me an amazing afternoon of fun whilst capturing the most amazing images.

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.

David Lloyd Clubs:The Start Of Our Family Fitness Journey

All the start of the year I wrote a post on the reasons that I wouldn’t be making any resolutions this year and was going to aim for longer term goals so there was no pressure to getting a huge long list of unobtainable goals completed by the end of the year.

Plenty of changes have sprung to mind with being more organised and procrastinating less…I can safely say this one is very much still a work in progress. One of my lifestyle changes however was to rekindle my love for fitness along with the rest of the family.

Going back three years…pre blog! I was an absolute gym bunny and nothing would get in the way of my daily training. This was all well and good but at times the Mum guilt would set in and I would feel bad for prioritising this time just for myself. This alongside trying to work hard to build my blog meant that sadly my exercise was the thing that I let go.

So with a pretty substantial weight gain and the pressure of spending quality time with the family I wanted a facility that could entertain, motivate and bring pleasure to us all through exercise and I knew this was going to be no mean feat.

The majority of gyms are solely for over eighteens and if the do have crèche facilities the hours tend to be limited and due to this very hard to book into. Then comes the teens and preteens who are often not allowed to use the gym equipment or join in with classes because of their age so get left out completely.

Thankfully David Lloyd Clubs have come to my rescue and asked me to try out their very family mined facilities for the next few months to see if it is possible to enjoy fitness as a family.

David Lloyd – Purley has recently undergone a huge makeover and no stone has been left unturned when planning this club which in one of the largest in the area.

There is something for everyone from a game of tennis on the numerous indoor and outdoor courts, the chance to take a dip in one of there two pools or just relax in the hot tub or sauna. There are workouts galore from a huge variety of group fitness classes to doing your own thing in the state of the art gym area.

If relaxation is what you are after then they have a fabulous cafe bar offering a huge variety of hot and cold meals, giving you the opportunity to grab a quick coffee or sit down with the family to have a tasty meal.

Your meals can even been served in the dedicated children’s area that has its own soft play area.

But for me the real attraction is their DL Kids facilities that allow the children to be cared for in the creche, older children have a huge variety of activies to take part in allowing them to have fun and meet new friends.

There are even specific classes put on for the family to take part in together such as family circuits and family spin they we can’t wait to try.

I really have only scratched the surface of what they have to offer here so please keep an eye on my Instastories to see what we are getting up to and I will be back on here very soon to let you know how we are getting on with this new and exciting journey.

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

FaceTime Savvy Tigers At Chessington World Of Adventures

Over the winter we have been avid visitors of the Zoo Days at Chessington World Of Adventures. Its a great way to explore the quieter side of the theme park whist all the thrills and spills of the rides are having a well earned rest.

However it won’t be long before the whole park is open again and as always they have some new and exciting things for everyone to enjoy.

Something I’m really looking forward to is the brand new Tiger Rock ride in early May that will see you climbing aboard the log fume ride, desending into a misty waterfall drop through a giant tiger’s head.

The Zoo will also be welcoming a family of four endangered Amur tigers with an innovative big cat enclosure with Europe’s first overhead rails.

The Tigers are currently homed in Sweden and to make their move to Surrey a smooth one the keepers from Chessington World Of Adventutres have been trialling the new digital enrichment program – ‘Face Tiger’ that allows the keepers to keep in touch in a similar way to how we would FaceTime each other. This allows the keepers to see how they play and interact with others so they can make them feel as at home as possible when they make their big move next month.

Olga, Tsar, Kalinka and Kyra will make a welcome addition to an already fantastic zoo and I for one can’t wait to meet them!

‘I am a Chessington Blogger. If anyone would like to confirm any details in the post, please email press.office@chessington.co.uk’

Teaching Children To Give A Little This Christmas

With the media whirlwind that surrounds Christmas it can be very easy for children to get wrapped up in the commercialisation of it all and loose the true meaning.

It is very easy to get swept up in all the splender that surrounds Christmas and loose sight of the fact that this time of year is not a happy one for all of us.

Christmas is the perfect time to teach children the gift of giving and set them up with skills to show understanding and compassion for those less fortunate.

Something small such a helping out an elderly neighbour with odd jobs or simply a gift of their time is a simple way to give something back.

There are many ways to get the children involved and below I have listed a few charities local to me that offer a great way to do this:

  • Loveworks Christmas Appel Loveworks are a Reigate based charity that’s aim is to help the most vulnerable groups of people in the local area. Over Christmas they run a campaign where you can collect non perishable goods during November and drop off to your local Loveworks food bank in the first week of December.
  • Stripey Stork, Help Santa StorkStripey Stork is a charity created by a group of mums who wanted to make use of their unwanted baby and children’s items by giving them to people in need in the local community. Over the Christmas period they run a campaign called Help Santa’s Stork that allows you to either pick a brand new gift for a child either directly from Amazon or chosen by purchasing and dropping off at local collection points.
  • Give A Christmas Gift – Give A Christmas Gift campaign allows you but a gift from the list they have compiled and then drop your special gift off to several collection points that will then be distribute the collections amongst several local charities.

I hope this post has given you some food for thought and I would love to hear any ideas of charitable acts that you carry out with your little ones at this time of year.