It’s Christmas! The Christmas Tag!

Any self respecting blogger is bombarding their readers with copious amounts of posts, piccies and present ideas relating to Christmas. Me? Not so much. Maybe next year. I have 14 nieces and nephews to buy presents for so that has more than kept me busy. Chuck in the Georgeous getting chickenpox and my blog has more the  fallen by the wayside.

That was until a fellow blogger and local mama friend Kate from The Less-Refined mind tagged me in the Christmas tag. A chance for me to answer questions on my Christmas loves and habits. A chance I couldn’t turn down. You can check out Kate’s answers at It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! The Christmas tag! 

Enjoy!

1. What’s your favourite Christmas movie? 

Santa Claus the Movie (1985) with Dudley Moore was always my favourite growing up. I loved that and The Snowman. George loves the snowman now and we even have a twinkly Christmas pic in the living room.

Christmas

These days I love Elf but a tradition is for me and hubs to laugh our heads of at The Griswold family in National Lampoons Christmas Vacation.

2. Have you ever had a white Christmas?

I can’t vividly remember one but I do remember there being some mild panic that people wouldn’t be able to get to us if it snowed when I was younger. These days our families are so widespread that travel is a must so a white Christmas is no longer the dream

3. Where do you usually spend your holiday?

We alternate between my family one year and in recent years have been visiting my in laws the other year. On the years my family don’t get together because my sisters and I are all with our in laws, we all get together and repeat Christmas on Boxing Day round my sister’s.

4. What’s your favourite Christmas song?

I have a few with stories behind them.

Feliz Navidad (the Michael Bublé and Thalia) – Hubs has always sung  this and I honestly believed he made it up. So when I bought the Michael Bublé Christmas album and this song came on I was literally stunned and let’s just say we enjoy laughing at my stupidity when this comes on.

Last Christmas by Wham – This was always my song to wander round the dancefloor towards the end of the night, hands on chest, drunk and merry singing away and pointing to each of my girlie friends when  I say someone special. Those days are gone and sadly so is George Michael so this song now only makes me feel like welling up.

Merry Christmas Everybody by Slade -It’s an absolute classic. Every age knows it and it has brought with it a classic punch catchphrase of just yelling at the top of your voice “It’s Christmaaaaaaasssss!!!!”

5. Do you open any presents on Christmas Eve?

Yep. We always were allowed to open one small present on Xmas eve as kids so I’ve carried that tradition on with hubs and now with George. You open it in the evening.

6. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer?

Erm, without cheating with google probably not. How many are there? 7? 8? Rudolph, Donner, Dasher, Dancer, Blitzen, Comet, Cupid? Let’s give up there shall we!

7. What holiday traditions are you looking forward to this year?

The big FC coming round on his mighty sleigh, speakers blaring, pulled by his trusty Ford Mondeo. It’s a beautiful tradition that brings me and my neighbours together in our town. With thanks to the Rotary CLub for organising this year after year.

We always try to take George to Santa’s grotto (only one mind you). We are cutting it fine this year though with the intrusive chicken pox making an appearance.

8. Is your Christmas tree real or fake

Fake. I would adore a real tree so so much but I’m a cat lady. We have three cats and I know the wally’s would eat the flaming needles and end up in the emergency vets over Christmas. It’s so fab that you can now get little scented sticks to put in your fake tree to make it smell real.

9. What’s your favourite holiday food/sweet/treat?

I don’t like mince pies, egg nog, mulled wine or gingerbread men. I don’t like christmas pudding. So that just leaves turkey and chocolate. I never tire of turkey. Turkey curry, turkey dinner, turkey sandwich. As long as it’s warm I love it. Warm leftover turkey sandwich with cranberry and stuffing, mm mmm.

10. Be honest, do you prefer the giving or receiving of gifts?

It’s always been about the giving for me. These days I have so many niece and nephews we only buy for the kids in our families. I still get a few pressies off parents and hubs but quite often me and hubs are so skint this time of year that we agree to not buy each other much. My list of wants is always long, but I live without them. I just love seeing people open their gifts from me/us.

11. What’s the best Christmas present you ever received?

It has to be my bike I got from my mum and stepdad when I was 13. Me and my step sis J (who’s only 18 days older than me) were each given a different coloured sweet wrapper and told to find something that colour in the house Christmas morning. When we did we could keep it. We had a brand new bike each. I still have mine now. Me, sis and hubs have cycled so far on that bike. It holds so many memories.

12. What’s your dream place to visit for the holiday season?

Lapland. The whole caboodle. Sleigh ride, so much snow. As soon as George is old enough to remember (say 5 years+) I’d love to go.

13. Are you a pro present wrapper or do you fail miserably?

I like to think I’m pretty decent. Using ribbons and bows and suchlike although I don’t always bother with the ribbon anymore because of the aforementioned cats. It’s like drawing a moth to a flame and those presents end up with holes torn in them before I even get them to the recipient.

I used to be a proper annoying so and so and put people’s presents in a box wrapped inside a box and so on.

14. Most memorable Christmas memory?

When I was younger and all the Nans and Grandads were alive. All of us, my uncle, cousins, 3 sisters round the table. Usually around 15 of us. It’s how Christmas should be in my book. Now we make a toast to the never forgotten grandparents but still the 15 of us with the addition of our own children and partners.

15. What made you realise the truth about Santa?

My sisters are 8 and 10 years older than me ( and as mentioned previous J is the same age as me). One year, I think I was maybe about 7 years old, it fell to one of my sister’s to deliver the stocking to the end of mine and my step sis’s beds. I can’t remember which one of them it was but they made too much noise and I saw them. Silently. I didn’t make a big deal. I knew from then.

16. What makes the holidays special for you?

Time spent with family, guilt free eating and drinking, making magical memories with George and going out of my way to make people feel special. I love the way everyone comes together to try and create that spirit.

Have a wonderful Christmas all. And if you know anyone alone at Christmas. Try and encourage them not to be.

This is my Christmas tag. What did you think? Do you share any of my Christmas loves?

Here are my tags;

Tracey over at One Frazzled Mum

Franca over at A Moment With Franca

Susie over at So Happy In Town

Here are your questions.

  1. What’s your favourite Christmas movie?
  2. Have you ever had a white Christmas?
  3. Where do you usually spend your holiday?
  4. What’s your favourite Christmas song?
  5. Do you open any presents on Christmas Eve?
  6. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer?
  7. What holiday traditions are you looking forward to this year?
  8. Is your Christmas tree real or fake
  9. What’s your favourite holiday food/sweet/treat?
  10. Be honest, do you prefer the giving or receiving of gifts?
  11. What’s the best Christmas present you ever received?
  12. What’s your dream place to visit for the holiday season?
  13. Are you a pro present wrapper or do you fail miserably?
  14. Most memorable Christmas memory?
  15. What made you realise the truth about Santa?
  16. What makes the holidays special for you?
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

The year of the alternative advent calendar.

For me, 2017 will be remembered as the year that advent calendars went mad. They stepped into a whole new level. Some smart Alec (where the heck does this phrase come from?) decided that chocolate advent calendars were not enough. Cover my ears! You can now get an advent calendar containing almost anything.

Of course there have been “fill your own” advents for a while now. Mainly focused on children and adopted by parents who don’t want their precious munchkins having chocolate or because they suffer with allergies. All fab reasons.

But now our little munchkins are being indulged by the supermarkets. A couple of pound (if that, thank you Poundland) on a chocolate advent calendar will no longer suffice. You can now be nagged into buying advents anywhere from £15 upwards to £10,000 (yes really, the feature gift being a £300 Dyson hairdryer) containing Cars, Lego, Playmobil, Frozen characters. The list is endless. I know this isn’t that new but it’s got bigger and more varied this year. Everyone is in on the act.

As for the adults? Well this is where the fun really starts. Counting down to Christmas? For many this is still a celebration of the birth of Christ. So why not count down with a sex toy a day (enter monkey that sees no evil emoji here)! I’m not religious myself but I’m sure this has gone down fabulously amongst those who still hold sacred the true meaning of Christmas.

Sex toys not your thing? We’ve got wine, gin, Yankee candles, bath bombs, makeup, some YouTube girl that everyone has gone bonkers over her charging £50 for bits you can find for a quarter of the price. I just can’t even imagine how next year can top this! Will people be hitting self storage. 25 lockup’s, each containing a new Range Rover a day for the missus. Our consumerist minds have gone mad!

So this year I’ve treated myself and hubs to a little more upmarket calendar in the form of Lindt Chocolate. £5 each in Asda if you don’t mind (not an ad).  Next year I may well demand a nail varnish or bath bomb advent calendar who knows but for now I’ll sit back and enjoy my first love, milk chocolate. Mm mmm. And this little festive rhyme for your reading pleasure.

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me

12 Yankee candles

11 Star Wars Lego’s

10 sample scents

9 gins for drinking

8 Peppa Pig toys

7 fizzy bath bombs

6 tins of Pringles

5 wines for swigging

4 Clarins skincare

3 toot toot cars

2 nipple pasties

And a box full of stinky cheese.

I hope you enjoyed that. Hands up if your are now googling nipple pasties?

Advent

Have you and your family opted for an alternative advent calendar this year? Please share them with us. Seasons Greetings to you all.

Much love until next time.

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Our visit to Kidtropolis 2017 kids event – October half term

** Disclosure – I was provided with tickets to attend this event in return for a pre-event post ( See here). We had such a fab time, I wanted to share our day with you all. All opinions expressed are my own.**

October was pretty cool and memorable. Having started preschool in September, we had our first official school holidays in October half term. George previously went to a private nursery where they remained open all year long. Having joined the preschool attached to his (hopefully) future school, they break up when the rest of the school does.

I wanted to have some fun activities to do together for our first half term. A quick search on google and I came across an event called Kidtropolis. You may have read my pre-event post here. I contacted them requesting tickets to the event in return for a review and I am proud to say they were the first event to accept a pitch from myself.

As a gal and a mama who loves a schedule (never go on holiday with me if you hate schedules), I love that the entire Kidtropolis week is scheduled from start to finish, slot by slot. In order to help you choose which day to attend, you decide which days have the activities and shows which would most interest you and book from there. The sessions are 4.5hours and booking includes two live shows.

kids

We chose to attend the Monday am. The first day of the event. We booked car parking at London’s ExCel centre in advance as this worked out cheaper than us paying rail fare from outside of London. There is more than ample parking available. The directions from the car park to the dedicated hall for the event could have been a little better and more organised but as it was day one we may have been the guinea pigs. Entry was quick and hassle free and we were in before we knew it.

There were ample food outlets accessible within the ExCel as well as food and drink within the event. We chose to get an ice cream and bottled drinks from the ice cream van within the venue. The ice cream was really unique. Like a whippy but soooooo delectably creamy. Best whippy ever!After the event we went for burger and chips at The Bridge Burgers and Dogs. Toilets were easily accessible too.

Back to the event, we had a map to guide us around the event but to be honest it wasn’t ridiculously huge. It wasn’t overly busy either so we able to flit from stall to stall briefly and then return to the things that interested us and that I had marked on my schedule. A schedule is fine in principle but obviously nowadays it has to pass the toddler look and judge test. If George doesn’t like the look of it and there’s not persuading him then we have to move on. Thankfully we managed to do everything we had intended, once George had relaxed and warmed to his surroundings.

kids

Our opening show of Peppa Pig live was really disappointing. They were running late and to be honest it was some random guy called david reading two stories from a book whilst a dressed up Peppa and George character stood on the stage. They didn’t even play the credit music until the end of the show. Thankfully things got much, much better. It was literally the first show, at the start of the first day, I’ll allow the organisers one blip.

The second show we had booked for the end of the 4.5 hour session was Marvin’s magic and it was truly wonderful The kids and adults all loved it and we picked up a prop for sale to start George on his quest as a magician. Watch out Dynamo.

kids

The rest of the day was so much fun. Genuinely! Having read reviews of previous years Kidtropolis events, there were many, many complaints of long queues and unhappy children. I saw nothing of the sort this year. Obviously I can only comment for the Monday am but we had a fab experience and I fully intend to return again and again. I think the biggest and possibly only queue I saw all day was for the inflatable assault course which George wasn’t interested in.

There were quite a few activities, shows and bits and pieces that are much more suited for the older kids. Learning how to be a vlogger from the child pro vloggers, Flawless dance zone, Kids fun radio, Tomy lightseekers which I’ve heard is very up and coming.

There were also many areas which George and ourselves don’t have much interest in yet. There really was something for everyone. Lorax, Minions, Star Wars, Drone flying, Minecraft GWR record attempt, springless trampolines and so much more.

George loved the Tomy games area where he was plied with free biscuits and enjoyed trying out some more classic board games with one of the stallholders who was dressed as a character from the game.

Kids

I’d promised him an air walker balloon. Having embarrassingly surprised hubs with one of these being delivered to his work one valentines I felt it was time to introduce the wonders of Balloon walkers to the Georgeous. We were so impressed with the dinosaur we purchased at £5 with a free helium balloon thrown in.

kids

Crazy golf is always a winner and George was more interested in making sure we did this over anything else.

Kids

He really enjoyed the Geomag stall playing with a variety of magnetic building parts. As did we and we bought something similar for his birthday.

Kids

He was a little shy to meet Chase from Paw Patrol but I know he would have regretted it if he didn’t.

kids

But George’s  favourite activity without a doubt was riding the balance bikes and ramps at the Bikertots stall. Followed by watching the professional Bike stunt show which left him in awe. We have since become visitors of the local skate/bike park. We have a little BMX dude on our hands I feel and this event was probably the first time I have seen him confidently go off and do an activity without one of us by his side. He still wanted Daddy close on occasions as it was a noisy venue but this is definitely up his street. They are a great franchise club, helping children learn to ride a bike.

Kids

George was also really, really taken (much to Mummy’s dismay as she heard her purse getting emptier) by Sylvanian families. He was besotted. Just look at the admiration for this well made classic childrens toy. He also enjoyed looking at the Aquabeads selection, including this epic bridge sculpture. Despite declaring “I want that” every time he sees it on the tele (who else’s kids does this a million times a week!)  up close he in fact did NOT “want that”.

Kids

The highlight of my day was meeting my own childhood idols, the characters from Rainbow. Bungle was there but as I said to Zippy,

“Nobody liked Bungle anyway.”

Speaking to Zippy, the guy behind the puppet had been in charge of him since 1973! I was completely starstruck. I even introduced George to how my mornings as a three year old used to be by getting up some episodes on You tube. Classic!

Kids

Did you attend Kidtropolis this year or previous years? What were your thoughts? Would you go back?

Huge thanks to Emily who organised the tickets for us.

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

The truth about pregnancy

The truth about pregnancy is obviously my truth. I know every pregnancy for every person is different. I’m hoping some women or indeed men will read and relate to this as I like to think I’m being open about the parts people really don’t go into detail about on a daily basis. Let me know what you think. Did you experience anything similar during your pregnancy. Feel free to laugh. I did! Blimey when something less than always pleasant is happening to you for 9/10 months you’ve got to laugh or end up seriously peeved. So here goes.

Anyone else feel like announcing you are having a baby is a bit like telling your parents you lost your virginity. The slightly awkward realisation that everyone is congratulating you on having sex. Like we all know one another is doing it. But to say to the world “hey (little wave), we’ve had sex over here! I mean let’s get a high five for the sex yeah!”

For 9 months I feel like a walking advert for sex. Reasons to have it. Reasons to not have it. I don’t even get paid for advertising space, for the walking advert of magical crap that I’ve become.

Pregnancy

My pregnancy with George could’ve been worse but then if you had seen the state of me! I’ll still tell you now, as magical as it is and I loved feeling bubba move, pregnancy really wasn’t all it cracked up to be. It fucked my body in so many ways. Ways that will never be fixed. Have I come to terms with it? As much as I can. I look at the kid and he was totally worth it. But still.

I think some bodies were made for making and carrying babies and some weren’t. I was the latter. It took us a bit longer than average to conceive and I ended up not being able to feel or use my hands, with a nose even wurzel gummidge would struggle to contend with. Amongst the rest of the swollen crap. Elephants feet, grapes for a bum hole and the purple veiny things taking over my thighs of all places!

But otherwise yeah it was fab. Thankfully I didn’t experience morning sickness. I once vomited at 8 months pregnant and let’s say THAT took me by surprise. I had nausea in the first trimester and migraines but nothing a few fruity polos didn’t sort out.

Pregnancy
Photo courtesy of Little Smilers studio

Then there’s your poo. Everyone knows I love talking about poo. My sis actually feel pregnant 5 months before me so she was able to prep me on the stages of poo your pregnant self goes though. Starting with the “cow pat” phase and ending so elegantly with the constipated haemorrhoids phase. Honestly it’s so hard to poo when you have a ginormous belly in front of you and you ant adequately lean forward.

And don’t think you’ll be done with panty pads either. Oh no. There’s various levels of discharge stages you must experience on top of all the other uncomfortable magicalness. I must’ve wanted to escape my body at least once every 24 hours.

Then there’s the insomnia! Like what the actual fuck! It’s like your body says “hey! You wanna have a baby? Let’s get you used to this sleep deprivation thingy now”! Why! I won’t be growing a human once the baby arrives will I! Let me sleep!

Pregnancy

As glamorous as it sounds, it was. Snuggling into bed with at least 5 pillows behind me to prevent the reflux and heartburn whilst ensuring the Rennie’s could be found in the dark on my bedside table. Then more pillows between my legs and behind my back because oh my gosh your hips and back really like to let you know they are carrying a baby. Then win my hands strapped up in wrist splints for the carpel tunnel syndrome I would just start to snooze and relax. 20 minutes later and a swift lean on my bladder from my wonderful bundle of magic and I needed the loo. This would happen at least 12 times a night.

I often just stayed up because my hands hurt too much if I fell asleep. I’d wake up and have to pull my fingers and rubs and shake my hands in an effort to regain the feeling and remove the pain. Not forgetting the restless legs. Trying to relax and all my legs want to do is kick out and flip around. How hubs didn’t move out is beyond me. And sadly for him there was no spare bedroom. Thankfully I had. A family of foxes living in our garden that kept me entertained in the early hours. Not to mention some epic lightening shows.

But there was MANY positives to being pregnant. Playing with my bubba inside my tummy using a torch or music provided me with hours of joy. Watching and feeling him move inside me and being able to share that with family and friends. Feeling like a superhero being able to grow this amazing human being. Knowing I was their source of everything and taking the responsibility of motherhood the moment I conceived. Feeling so grateful that I had this opportunity that so many women don’t.

Pregnancy

My hair. Oh my hair. I mean it was rather unfair that at a time when my bikini line was about to become like a challenge on the krypton factor to shave, it also started to grow out of control. The boundaries stretched and suddenly my bikini line became a “let’s-venture-down-her-let’s-So there you have it. We had sex! And this is what happened. I’ll save the shit storm that was my labour for another post.
**Edit** I’ve since thought of more delightfulness experienced whilst pregnant. This wouldn’t be the truth, my truth if it wasn’t the whole truth.

  • The weird spotting you get during implantation that makes you think you are about to come on and then you do a test before a night out on the piss only to find you are going to be on the lemonade all night.
  • The way your mouth always tastes like you’ve been sucking on a metal pole for hours.
  • Your superhero sense of smell. You can smell any smell a mile off. I had lots of fun guessing what people were cooking in the next room at lunch break at work.
  • The way you think all your baggy pre pregnancy tops will fit you when your pregnant because it’s just a fatter belly right? Wrong! Under your bra thickens and widens as your ribs expand, sending your organs god knows where and you end up looking like a sausage in a skin that’s too small. And that’s why maternity wear is big business lol.
  • Hot flushes that appear out of nowhere and make you wonder if you are dying of flu whilst you stand there dripping with sweat looking like you’ve got the plague.
  • Your nipples getting strangely darker. Who the heck knows why.
  • The surprise you get when you have your first scan (12 weeks) and you expect them to be al over your belly like they are on the tele and in films and they actually do it under your belly button because surprisingly that’s where the baby is until it grows bigger.
  • The feeling of bubba move and thinking it couldn’t have been further from the “butterflies” people told me I’d feel. It was actually more like bubbles popping.
  • Wondering why my throat was burning of a night and finding out that’s reflux for you.
  • Having hubs have to cut my dinner up towards the end because the carpel tunnel syndrome meant I couldn’t grip properly or feel my damn hands through the pins and needles.

Oh the joys. Until next time…..

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
Rhyming with Wine

Afternoon tea and cocktails at The Royal Hotel Southend – A review

Image photo taken by Kate at The Less-Refined Mind

** I’d like to disclose that I was plied with copious amounts of delicious food and alcohol in return for this honest review. This neither affects the integrity of the post or the honest opinions held within it**

Recently, as you may have seen if you follow me on social media, I attended my first ever bloggers event. An Essex bloggers event no less. As bloggers events go, I’d say the bar has been set pretty high with this one. The event consisted of welcome drinks, followed by afternoon tea, finished up with cocktails in the secret Dr Legba’s downstairs bar.

I’ll explain each part of the afternoon in more detail shortly, but first, let’s kick this review off in my typical fashion with a poem. An ode to the Royal Hotel, which by the way is no longer a hotel. Enjoy!

Once upon a time there was a Southend Hotel,

Frequented by Lady Hamilton and her Admiral Nelson as well

No stranger to a noble figure or two

This Royal Hotel soon became unused. 

 

Then along came two brothers

Called Matt and Dave

This run down Hotel

They wanted to save

 

So along with their Dad they set to work. 

To make this old hotel a restaurant and bar with quirk. 

Prepared for hard work they rolled up their sleeves

Making the Royal Hotel a place you never want to leave.

 

Their vision achieved they opened their doors

To a place that is to be truly adored. 

The food is divine, the cocktails unique

The flaming absinthe on tap is a fascinating treat

I hope you enjoyed that and it has got you wanting to know more, so here goes. Despite the name, The Royal Hotel is now a restaurant and bar contained within a grade 2 listed building and for that reason the name cannot be changed. On arrival, I was welcomed warmly and greeted by Matthew, the director of The Royal Hotel. The surroundings felt comfortable, clean, plush, but not poncey. Ornaments and lamps from Debenhams make the place feel homely and welcoming as do the staff.

royal hotel

I was offered a glass of The Bees Knees sparkling pink rose wine. This is alcohol free fermented grape juice with a green tea infusion. It’s a fab alternative to wine. I’ve since found this can be purchased at Ocado and Morrisons so I shall be treating myself often as this stuff was delicious.

Soon we were escorted by the fabulously entertaining and thoroughly informative Jonathan. He made sure our glasses were filled with prosecco whilst informing us all about the history of The Royal Hotel. Built in 1791, it became a regular haunt for Lady Hamilton. The mistress of Admiral Horatio Nelson, who had a dinner party and ball in the very grand hall in which we sat. Months after the supper, he was killed during the battle of Trafalgar. The building hasn’t been used as a hotel since 1974.

Royal hotel

The building still bears the original chandeliers, dance floor and coving which have been lovingly restored. The rest of the building has been refurbished and is unrecognisable from how brothers Matt and Dave and their Dad found it when they took over.

The food was truly amazing. My personal preference would be the Gentleman’s afternoon tea. My favourites being the mini beef burger, ham hock and welsh rarebit croque monsieur, miniature cider jelly, and the millionaires shortbread was just incredible.

A list of the menu’s can be found on their website here https://www.royalhotelsouthend.com/

Royal hotel

Completely stuffed and feeling guilty for all the food I couldn’t fit in my belly, I then proceeded downstairs to the secret Dr Legba’s cocktail bar. I’m a huge fan of a cocktail but I was such a cocktail chav before Dr Legba’s. Woo woo’s, Cosmopolitan’s blah blah blah. Dr Legba’s will introduce you to flavours and tastes you never thought you would experience in a drink.

There are over 50 cocktails on the menu, a third of which have been created by Dave, who is a former head bar trainer at The London Cocktail club. One of my absolute favs, one of his own creations, is the Pork and Apple martini, served with a flaming absinthe caramelised bacon.

Royal hotel
Image courtesy of Lynsey Garrick at http://ladygogo84.blogspot.co.uk/?m=0

Dave created this using sour apple liqueur, Absolut vodka, pressed apple juice and fresh lime. It was truly so sweet and to coin one of my favourite phrases

It was like sex in a martini glass! Yum!

You have to visit just to try this, and I might add the flaming absinthe caramelised bacon is not just for show. You will have never tasted bacon like it! Although the menu varies from night to night, they are all to happy to make cocktails at your request should they not be on the menu the night you visit.

Royal Hotel
Image courtesy of Hannah Cornish at www.hannatalks.com

Dave has put so much work into making this bar a unique and magical place. Using as many reclaimed materials as possible, he created his own absinthe dispenser as well as painstakingly gluing over £170 worth of 2 pence pieces to the vertical bar front. He still has much in the pipeline, including a commissioned piece of art depicting the absinthe fairy. The artwork will shortly be adorned to the hidden door leading to the loos. He also has plans to have circus style mirrors in the toilets and to eventually make the bar buzzer entry only, with the buzzer being hidden under a secret fairy door. You’ll be pleased to hear Dr Legba’s can also be hired for private functions.

I could literally rave about The Royal Hotel for many hundreds more words but I’ll tell you about one last special feature. Both The Royal Hotel and Dr Legba’s stock Dalmore whiskey. The gentleman’s afternoon teas can be complemented with a whisky platter of Dalmore 12 year whisky, 15 year whisky and cigar malt reserve. Dalmore are rather particular about who stock their whisky and they personally place the sale at venues chosen themselves.

Royal hotel

Huge thanks to Matt, Dave, Jonathan and everyone that made my afternoon wonderful. I look forward to visiting again very soon and bringing family and friends.

Shoutout to a few fellow bloggers who helped with some of the images featured in this post. Also shoutout to the lovely fellow bloggers I met and had fun with at this event.

The Diary of New Freedom by Lynsey Garrick

The Less-Refined Mind – By Kate Tunstall

Hanna Talks by Hanna Cornish

and to these  fellow blogging ladies for helping me

Danielle at Escaping Essex

Laura at Life by Laura

Sam at Beautifie

And finally thank you for organising Penny at A Penny for Them

Until next time……

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Kidtropolis kids event – October half term – London ExCel

** I have been provided with Kidtropolis tickets in return for this blog post. All opinions are my own. Tickets can be purchased via www.kidtropolis.co.uk**

Kidtropolis is coming this October half term to London’s ExCel centre. Between 23rd and the 26th October 2017, Kidtropolis will be running a variety of activities and live shows to entertain your children age 12 and under, although older children are welcome.

I am always on the lookout for great events to attend with George. It was by chance that I stumbled across the Kidtropolis event on Twitter. Those of you that may of heard or seen negative reviews after last years event will be pleased to know I asked the organisers if improvements have been made for this years event and they have taken the feedback on board. To quote;

I just wanted to reassure you that Kidtropolis 2017 offers a new format, bigger and better than last year, with lots more brands and entertainment on the stages. Plus, with all tickets bought, families are guaranteed two shows each – these are selected upon booking.

George will be just under two weeks shy of turning three years old when Kidtropolis runs next week. They have a range of toddler friendly activities on during the week, including live shows from;

  • Peppa Pig
  • Postman Pat
  • PJ Masks
  • Sooty
  • Basil Brush
  • Fireman Sam
  • Naomi’s Wild and Scary
  • Octonauts
  • Captain Calamity Pie and Bubble Spectacular
  • And many more, including many dance acts from Britain’s Got Talent

There’s also a huge range of free activities all included in the price of your entry ticket. Some of these won’t be relevant to your child’s interests or age so I’ll leave you to checkout their website to see exactly what’s on offer. www.kidtropolis.co.uk .  Being mum of a toddler, the activities that stand out to me are;

  • WOW – where learning begins. Mini Professors (aged 2-5), Reading Fairy (Aged 1-5), or Toddler sense session (aged 13 months – 4 years). On Tuesday
  • Kids Out – featuring the famous galleon from Peter Pan, meeting a real life pirate and the chance to get a pic with a 7metre crocodile!
  • Balloon Besties – where you have the chance to purchase a walking balloon.
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show Meet and Greet. On Thursday
  • The creation station featuring making things with Playdoh or allowing your 1-11 year old to make their mark on canvas. Protective clothing provided
  • Meet the Paw Patrol pups, with different characters appearing at varying intervals each day. Checkout the website for which characters are appearing which days.
  • Auntie JoJo and Magic Martin performing magic shows for all the family and balloon modelling.
  • Geomag and Smartmax magnetic discovery as these are on George’s birthday wish list and we have played with these at playgroups and nursery and they are fab.
  • Biker tots (18 months – 4 years). Teaching balance bike skills using a 12” balance bike in a strider zone.

There really is so much more to do there. These are just some of the activities we like the look of. The ticket allows us a 4.5 hour entry slot so I don’t want to be too ambitious and add too much to our to do list. That said, I have a personal agenda, that is to make sure we see the cast of my own childhood favourite, Rainbow. Zippy, George and Bungle will be there celebrating the shows 45 years anniversary! I’m not that old!

You can access London’s ExCel centre via the super cool Emirates airline cable car so we are hoping to catch a ride. I hope George will be massively impressed. It’s so hard to predict this child’s behaviour. Which in one way I love but it can planning days out tricky.

If you haven’t already, head to the website www.kidtropolis.co.uk and book your tickets now. Your ticket entitles you to entry on a day of your choosing, during either the 4.5 hour morning or afternoon session.

Checkout our social media next week to see what we get up to at the event.

Twitter ,Facebook ,Instagram

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Drowning emotionally

After feeling on top of the world Monday, this morning has just drained me. Having to justify George’s personality and behaviour to the swim teacher and all the other mums listening. 
I dunno. 
George has been doing marvellously at his swimming lessons and his teacher has taught us so many ways to get him familiar and content with the water. She did tell me weeks ago to expect him to have a relapse at some point but not to be concerned. 

Well that relapse happened. And why did it happen? Well it happened because she raised the pool floor to allow him to touch the bottom which he thought was wonderful and it was a development until the following week when he expected to be able to touch the floor. When he realised he couldn’t he went into fear mode and began clinging to me again, despite the fact he was wearing armbands and even with the aid of a rubber ring or pool noodle. 

Add to this the week following the floor raising his usual teacher was off. George is a stickler for familiarity and a new teacher was just not what he had in mind. 

All this taken into account, today’s resolve boiled down to the fact that I allow him to be to clingy to me. I’m not firm enough. And for someone I need to leave him with family and friends more. This all sounds idyllic but if he doesn’t want to stay with someone I’m not going to just leave him him there crying. But I should. Completely forgetting we had this relapse on the expected horizon and how did we even get onto the subject of who I leave him with? 

So feeling confused and embarrassed that my clingy child is in the class below his age group, he’s scared to let go whilst in the water. I now feel like the child I have given up my career to look after is supposedly playing me because I should be dumping him at everyone else’s house and be doing I don’t know what? Reading books on how to teach him to swim? 

Cut to the changing rooms and mine is the only child screaming about not liking the shower whilst everyone looks on like we are a pair of weirdos. He then needs a wee and when we get to the toilet the towel must’ve put him off because he couldn’t control the direction and the wee all went up the wall. I cleaned it all with tissue and left it pleasant. It was clear anyways. It was only the swimming pool water he drank. 

Teacher appears as we are are washing our hands and he’s screaming because the tap is so fast. She must’ve heard all the events so I tell her what just happened in the cubicle and she asks me which one and says she’ll get it washed down. An extremely helpful gesture. I recognise that but another way that I felt crap. As far as I was concerned I had cleaned it up. Now I felt inadequate for not thinking I should ask for it to be washed down. 

I’m really not laying the blame at this woman’s door. Her intention is to make my life easier and help us both. My perception is that I’m doing everything wrong and people can’t believe what a mess I’m making of this child. 

How can you feel like you are doing such a wonderful job of raising your child one day, and feel like a complete failure the next

The pathetic thing is I don’t even stand up for myself or my parenting choices. I just go along with agreeing that he should be the way this stranger says he should be 🙄😔 whilst everyone looks on thinking god knows what. 

Aside from being a bit clingy he’s doing amazingly well for his age. I know that. So what the fuck! Why am leaving the swimming pool holding back the tears and getting home as quick as I can to just cry so hard? 

It’s not even her fault. And I’ve always said I agree that the reason swimming teachers get such fab results is their tough love strategy. 

Pathetic. It’s not even like I take him to other swimming lessons because I can’t drive out of this stupid town due to ongoing vertigo. Ongoing for the last 4 years before you start chucking all your solutions at me. I’m under a neurology consultant but that’s another story. 

You know those days where you question everything. 

Tomorrow is another day. Although it’s quite scary not knowing what kind of day it will be. 

Tips to encourage your child to wash and brush their teeth

We are all looking for ways to maintain our sanity  make parenting easier. Three years into parenting, myself and Gorgeous George’s Daddy are still devising ways to encourage George to wash and brush his teeth.

George was two weeks old before hubs and I plucked up the courage to give him his first full bath. Scared of him being a slippery bugger and flying out of hands, thus causing himself  us to have hurt him, we waited until it was really necessary. We quickly realised this was going to be something George needed convincing was a fun and relaxing habit.

“wash”

We have since devised many ways to encourage our child that the essential act of getting washed and brushing your teeth can be fun. I’d like to add that George has pretty much always loved bathtimes and teeth brushing. His main issue is either that he is too tired or the desire to want to play with his toys is too strong.

Here’s are my top tips to encourage your child to wash and brush their teeth twice a day;

  1. Explain what’s expected. I’ve always explained what is ahead of us. I think it helps to make tasks or trips seem less daunting.
  2. Get them involved. Yes it might take longer but let them have some control. George is almost three and can
  • Fill the sink
  • Wash his hands and face with soap and a flannel
  • Dry them on a towel
  • Load his toothbrush with the right amount of toothpaste
  • Clean his own teeth
  • Spit (Rinsing is not actually recommended by dentists)

I don’t know if this is typical for a child his age and although I still supervise him to help him remain focused, he is more than independently able to complete these tasks. I do assist him when I feel he’s missed a bit. I also try to clean his teeth myself a few times a week to ensure they are getting properly cleaned. I have taught him the proper brushing technique

3. Get a chart. Ask your dentist for a teeth brushing chart or download one like the one here Teeth brushing chart . A fun toothbrush with a character on also helps. Getting your child to choose their own toothbrush in the shop is good encouragement. Just make sure they are age appropriate.

4. Make up songs. Back in the day where I was forever wet wiping George’s face clean of food from weaning etc, we made up a song. To the tune of E I Adio;

We’re cleaning George’s face/arms/bum

We’re cleaning George’s face

We’re making George all gorgeous

We’re cleaning George’s face

This also worked for brushing teeth, brushing hair, putting on socks, coat and so on.

5. Challenge your child to a “teeth race”.

Teeth brushing is important and needs to be done properly for it to be sufficient.

The teeth race in short is you cleaning your teeth at the same time your child cleans theirs. If your child doesn’t clean their own teeth yet you can do this in conjunction with your partner. They clean their own teeth whilst you clean your child’s.

This should also help to get your child from anywhere in the house to the bathroom in a matter of minutes. You can also use this for handwashing etc.

6. Get the toys involved. George’s favourite toy changes almost weekly. Over the years we have tried to suggest that “rabbit” or his “Lightning McQueen” would love to watch him getting washed and cleaning his teeth.

Show them Mr Monkey how you wash your hands

If the toy is waterproof it goes in, or even simpler, use a favourite bath toy, or the toy can sit on a ledge from a safe distance to the water and “watch”.

This method can often mean that wash time takes up to 10 minutes or more but I often leave him to get on with having fun whilst I sneakily get a face wash in. I am then free to do my makeup or get dressed, empty the litter tray, or even have a quick clean up.

7. Following on from the “bring a toy” idea, suggest that mr car is all dirty and needs a wash. Before you know it your child will be elbow deep in bubbles and foam and getting clean without even realising it. Let’s face it, if they are that grubby then the bath is an easier option.

8. Songs, songs, songs. I had a tiny turtle, row row row the boat, I jumped aboard a pirate ship, any songs or nursery rhymes, preferably water related to distract your little one whilst you wash them.

9. Bribery! I insist that we cannot go downstairs in the morning until we have washed and cleaned our teeth. The bathroom in our house is upstairs, playing with toys happens downstairs. If like mine, your little one is eager to get up and play with the toys, then insist that they can’t until they have had their wash and cleaned their teeth. Works for me.

10. Buy fun soap. Here are a few of our favs. George enjoys mixing different colours and textures so we often have several different soaps on the sink edge at a time.

  • Johnsons easy rinse foaming shampoo
  • Lush Rainbow fun soap
  • Carex handwash in Bubblegum/Love Hearts or Strawberry Laces (Even my visiting nephew complimented me on the epicness of this soap)

So what do you think of our top tips? Do you have any to add? Obviously I’m always on the lookout for new ideas and means of encouragement.

 

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

The scrupulous word

Thursday 28th September 2017 is National Poetry Day with the theme this year being;

Freedom

I may be a little late to the party but I’ve been living it up in sunny Caister, Norfolk. However, now holiday mode is officially over I’m not going to let the opportunity of a poem pass me by.
I wrote these words with the aim to inspire, provoke thought and contemplation, promote compassion and encourage positivity and love. Enjoy.

The Scrupulous Word

Talk to me nicely
Earn my respect
I’ll always be kind to you
But with cause and effect
I’ll be brutally honest
Without holding back
If I feel the respect is on a one way track.

Don’t take me for granted
My chances are rationed
I expect good manners
Call me old fashioned
Apologies, thanks, they are all worth their weight
Excuses and ignorance are behaviours I hate.

Be accountable for the actions you make
The words that you spit and lies that you fake
Stand up
Own the words that you speak
The thoughts that you feel
Let strength beat the meek

Take me as I come
I’ve got nothing to hide
My remarks are to help
Not to hinder or snide
I’ll say what I feel if I think it’s of use
A promoter of kindness against the abuse

 

I’m here for anyone that would like to talk anytime. Much love.

If you would like to read more about compassion, check out this fab website I stumbled upon by Sharon Bull A compassionate voice .

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Hair care review Frezyderm UK – finding a child friendly styling gel

So our dude is nearly three in a couple of months. He’s always had floppy long hair. Not ponytail long, but long enough to run your fingers through. I’m reluctant to shave it as  it retains his baby quality. Although I’m not the type to go on about how I wish they would stop growing up so fast.

So dudes latest hair cut was actually at the barbers and he had a little shave at the sides. They kept the top long and floppy and styled it with a slick of gel. This looked cool. He felt like a big grown up boy which is all important now he has started preschool.

I wasn’t sure though. I loved the look but it felt too harsh using such products. He’s still only two. Plus as soon as he got a bit sweaty the gel just made him look like a greasy mess.

I made it my mission to find a child friendly hair gel. Well I didn’t get very far if I’m completely honest. I found a few detangling sprays but that’s not what I wanted. Then my sister in law pointed out Frezyderm to me.

Frezyderm UK  is a family owned and trusted dermocosmetic brand. Their motto being;

Inspired by you

Established in 1986 in Greece, they offer premium skincare and hair care solutions for all ages and skin types. Their products strive to meet strict pharmaceutical standards and they are fast becoming the go to brand for dermatologists across the globe. Living in the society that we do where by allergies and sensitivities are more prevalent than ever, Frezyderm will no doubt be a such a life changer for so many. You can find more on their products here https://www.frezyderm.co.uk/

Although George doesn’t suffer with any allergies or sensitive skin, Frezyderm fitted perfectly with my desire for a gentle hair styling range. I contacted them and asked to kindly try some of their kids haircare range in return for a review post on my blog. (There’s the disclosure right there, wink). As always I promise my review is completely my own honest opinion and my integrity has remained.

Although none of our family suffer with allergies or sensitive skin so I cannot comment on that aspect of whether the products caused any less irritation than others.

The price of these products is a little higher than a lot of brands, however they are very specialised and I know that the free from allergens ranges very often tend to cost more than brands which contain “nasties”.

I have always assumed you are paying for the research and dedication that has gone into ensuring the product won’t cause you or your child unnecessary irritation or harm. Obviously everyone’s skin is different so there’s no guarantee of anything but I’d recommend you try them yourself if you or a member of your household does suffer. Frezyderm could be your saviour.

Something I felt was worth highlighting is the branding. Frezyderm subtlety brand their kids haircare range boys with a star and girls with a flower. I know that gender stereotyping and branding is a hot topic right now. I feel, as I said, that their branding is very subtle but I did feel the need to ask Frezyderm what the difference is. This was their response;

“The two sensitive kids shampoo boys and girls have an equivalent structure of composition having as a first priority the safety and the effectiveness. But, the shampoo for girls offers an enhanced detangling effect because of the girls’ long hair.”

This seems completely logical and I think it mirrors other brands that produce different haircare products for men and women.

Hair

So that’s my take on the shampoo and styling gel we tried from Frezyderm. In true Gorgeous George’s Mama fashion I felt it apt to write a poem about this fab find. I know mama’s of children with sensitive skin and I really hope this leads them to finding some fab and friendly products for their daily routine.

Our children’s skin is delicate

Some more than the rest

When it comes to keeping them clean

We only want the best

No nasties to make them scratch or wince

Frezyderm is their friend

To make your child all clean and fresh 

You’ll love this stuff no end

They may not have a perfumed smell

No soap or silicones

No allergens as well

If gluten doesn’t like you too

Then these products are definitely for you 

So why Frezyderm I hear you think

Look no further than your child at the sink

Next time they need to get themselves clean

Frezyderm will work a dream

The shampoo creates a wonderful lather

It won’t sting their eyes if some slips in after

The hair gel really does the trick

On mama’s hair too and it doesn’t stick. 

It holds just how you’d like it to

Without making your fingers feel like glue. 

I’ll stop the gushing and just say

In return for some products I’ll send people Frezyderm’s way

But only because I truly like

The way their gel helps dudes hair to spike

My search for child friendly hair gel ends right here. 

And I’ve also found a way for you to bathe your child without fear. 

Fear of flare ups and discomfort may now come to an end

If you give Frezyderm a try and maybe recommend a friend. 

Until next time………………

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Life through the overactive imagination of one ordinary lady turned mama.