It occured to me that much of this blogging malarkey is focused around writing about your life. Should anyone actually be interested. But much of what us bloggers write are now well thought out, controversial, educational pieces. That’s when we are not writing reviews. But what about the mundane, everyday realities of life?
“Who wants to read about your life!” I hear you cry.
Well, you for starters otherwise how did you find yourself here eh (winks slyly whilst dodging a virtual slap). So I’ve always had a knack for making my seemingly normal and pretty average life seem a little more entertaining. I don’t know if it’s my ability to see the positive in everything that allows me to give my everyday situation a lighthearted edge. But nonetheless I often feel like if I was starring in my own episode of “Friends” that I may get a few titters if anyone was watching in.
Today has been a fine example. After conquering this mornings toddler meltdown before 6am, I dropped the Georgeous off at preschool. There are some great mums at the preschool and we often have a little chat. We got to talking about my mornings childfree plans.
I’ve got a bit of a crazy week trying to organise the house in prep for going away. We also have a friend coming to fit us a new fence and gate tomorrow. Checkout Bored Monkey UK for your Essex craft and handyman needs.
So I was explaining to my fellow mamas the need to move bits away from the fence in prep. My reluctance being, that I knew a huge spider was living in that vicinity with who knows how many of his mates. One of the mama’s amusingly named him Fred and then off I went home to tackle Fred and his temporary eviction.
Fred was the least of my worries. On the way home I stopped in town to collect hubs meds from the chemist. As I was walking along I noticed a bank note on the floor. With no one close by and it being right in the middle of the path, I picked it up, wondering who could have dropped it. The owner nowhere obvious in sight. On closer inspection it was a Nigerian bank note for 500 Naira. I popped it in my bag and decided to Google its value whilst I was walking along. I wanted to know how much I was dealing with here before deciding how best to find its owner. As much as you can with an abandoned note.
Shit! It came up it’s worth £1,030 great british pounds! I suddenly felt like I was in too deep! Who carries a grand’s worth of note on them. It was fresh, not damp so it’s obviously been dropped recently. Shall I hang around and see if anyone comes wandering back looking for it?
I check for CCTV camera’s thinking the person could maybe find it that way using local shops. I couldn’t see any. I called hubs and he told me if it’s unclaimed after 30 days it’s effectively finders keepers. We have a local Facebook page I could post it to, but how best to word it so I don’t just get a chancer claiming it. After all it’s a currency note. It’s not easy to prove the owner.
Then my little devil kicked in. Of course I would feel absolutely terrible keeping it secret and spending it but we are all guilty of thinking a little naughty sometimes. But that poor person. What did they draw it out for? What was they going to spend it on? But George would love a trampoline and a fancy wooden playset in the garden. Hmmm.
I called hubby back. He’d now pulled over on his way to work as his cogs were turning. The GBP is usually worth more than foreign notes. It doesn’t quite add up. With him on speaker I opened my Google and there it was. In my tired state and not fully concentrating as I was trying not to trip over loose slabs in flip flops I had entered 500,000. My discovery was actually worth just over £1. Not even enough to buy George an ice cream. Laughing at my stupidity, hubs hung up whilst I went home to tackle Fred.
Back home in the garden and Fred is happy to run off once he sees me with the broom. He’s also clearly been taking part in the Healthy Mummy UK eating plan I’ve been following (not an ad, it’s just fab) as he’s now half the size I thought he first was. CHECK IT OUT! Healthy Mummy UK
Fred and his mates had no worries. Whilst I’m not a fan of spiders, I don’t like the idea of killing them if it can be helped. I once missed my train because I was moving a worm out of harm’s way off the pavement. I accidentally squashed a woodlouse and could almost hear the echoes of his (or her) screaming family. I instantly feel dreadful that I’ve killed someones Mum, Dad, brother, sister uncle. The world of woodlouse under my paving slab is mourning his loss this evening.
Jobs done it’s time to bring the child free period to an end. My three hours are up! I’ve achieved what I had hoped, minus making myself look foolish about the note. But before I dash off to pick the Georgeous up I see a large bumble bee scrambling around in the dirt with a thick cobweb caught on his back leg. I try to help him get it off but he keeps buzzing it me.
“Calm it mate, I’m trying to help you, you stupid fuck” Lord knows what the neighbours are thinking.
After a good few minutes I decide that turning up late to the preschool pick up because I was trying to free a pissed off Bee isn’t going to cut it. My time is well and truly over. Not before I notice a pair of ladybirds shagging on a pallet. Literally never witnessed it in my 34 years. Can cross that off the bucket list now can’t I! And just in case you were wondering…
** Disclosure – I was sent an electronic copy of the fabulous compilation of parenting stories in return for my honest review. This does not detract from the fact that this book is fucking hilarious and I can’t lie about it!**
I was recently fortunate to be sent a digital copy of the wonderful, “We Need To Talk About The Conditions Of My Imprisonment : …and other funny parenting stories”. This compilation of rib tickling parenting stories was sent to me by the fabulous Susie.
Susie is one of my favourite bloggers over atSo Happy In Town . Mrs S.H.I.T as she is known under her blog persona, is a part of this fabulous book along with many other fantastic bloggers from across the U.K, USA and Australia.
With a glass of some yummy cloudy lemonade in hand (it was the middle of the day!), I set about reading some of the most truthfully hilarious 186 pages of my parenting life! When I became pregnant and as the pregnancy progressed, I became rather angry with the world.
Despite researching my heart out over what to expect, this pregnancy malarkey was total BS! Don’t get me wrong, it had its magical and wondrous moments, but my word was it tough! In ways I never thought were possible, my body punished me hourly for making it endure the supposed magic of growing a child.
Cut to once the Georgeous was born and that wondrous magicalness again returned until reality hit. As hubs returned to work after his 2 weeks paternity leave, the shit storm that was now my life hit me. And yes I loved it BUT it wasn’t as other mums had led me to believe.
It was tougher than my spinal surgery which I endured as a teen and spent a year recovering from. Tougher than climbing one of the more difficult paths of Mount Snowdon in Wales as I had done in previous years. Often relentless, overwhelming,intense and sometimes depressing.
I so wish I had a book like this brought to my attention prior to becoming a mama. Now mama to a 3 year old George, it’s easy to relate to. Whilst non parenting types reading it may think you can’t possibly live like this, trust me…you can’t make this stuff up!
This collection of hilarious parenting stories has been compiled by the amazing Michelle Tan.
“Michelle is the absurdist comic writer behind the Facebook persona,Ms. Awesome, Mother Extraordinaire, where she dispenses unsolicited funny advice about surviving parenthood.”
It’ll make you feel human, restore your confidence that you aren’t actually insane and this is in fact life for many parents across the globe even! Most of all it will leave a big, fat smile calorie free on your face. Better than any glass of wine or bar of chocolate.
The book will be launched at a public event on Saturday 21st April 2018 at XSCAPE, Yorkshire. There will be activities for children and many of the writers. Families will find solidarity and humour on offer throughout the day. People will be invited to share their experiences of the absurd, surreal and downright funny things about parenting. We want to spread the message that eating their chocolate in hiding is perfectly normal because some things in life should not be shared.
**Disclosure – We were gifted a signed copy of “The Jamymee Rescues – A Daisy Doo and Holly Boo Adventure” Written by Dan Cooper and Illustrated by Richard Birch. In return we are providing our honest review of the book, all opinions are our own. **
George is an absolute bookworm of late. He’s always loved stories but just lately he is insistent that you read up to a dozen a day. At his preschool sessions he often sits in the story corner and justs ask the preschool assistants to read book after book. On the subject of preschool, two of his fellow classmates happen to have a very talented Daddy. He’s recently published a children’s book called “The Jamymee Rescues – A Daisy Doo and Holly Boo Adventure”.
Here’s the blurb:-
“Daisy Doo and Holly boo are sisters. Not just any old sisters. But best friends who do everything together…even when they are asleep.
You see Daisy Doo and Holly Boo have a secret, a very special secret. Can you keep a secret? Ok then, I’ll tell you what it is. You see when Daisy Doo and Holly Boo get ready for bed they put on their ‘special’ pyjamas called Jamymees! ”
So when all is said and done, our verdict of this book comes down to whether George enjoyed it. The answer to that is…he LOVES it! At 25+ A4 pages, it’s a little longer than our usual stories. Although the book is typically aimed at 4-8 year olds, the story was compelling enough to make George at 3 years old want to know more.
We typically read 3 or 4 pages a night and try and leave it at an appropriate place to continue the following night. This also encourages George to want to go to bed as he is eager to find out what happens next.
The book is full of imagination and wonderment, as the two sisters, along with the help of their talking dogs, transport to Dreamland to rescue a pup in need. The characters are all based upon real life family members of the author Dan, including their rescue dogs. He shares pictures of their real life counterparts on The Jamymee Rescues Facebook page .
We haven’t read many older children’s books so I’m unsure what the standard quota is for pictures vs words ratio. The books we read usually contain a few more pictures but George didn’t seem to mind.
It’s worth looking out for the special fading light button illustrated on the picture pages. The light indicates how long the girls have left before they wake up, and the mission can no longer be completed. A dreamland timer if you will. This made George interact with the book as his suspense of whether the girls would make it in time grew.
Overall this is an engaging read and whilst it is by no means perfect to the trained eye, it is a book your little ones will get excited about again and again.
If you would like to purchase a copy of the book, please message the author Dan via the books facebook page Buy your copy here!
You can commission your own piece from illustrator Richard ‘Woody’ Birch via his page Woody Illustration.
SNOWDAY!!! Are you bored of the word snow yet? I’m not. The beast from the east (as they say) has arrived and we have a full on snow day here in Essex. Let me tell you there’s more to snow than simply getting cold and building a snowman. Here are some ideas I’ve seen throughout the internet or gathered from friends.
You simply can’t have a snow day without building a snowman! It’s standard snow protocol! I’m yet to master a decent Snowman. True to my crazy cat lady form, I do make a pretty mean snow cat (checkout the featured image) but my snowmen always end up looking like giant smiling dildo’s!?
Sledding! A snow day pastime which I’ve never actually done! I’ve never committed to the purchase of a sledge as we can go some years and have no snow. Plus I’ve always been at work when it snows. Now I have a child I really need to invest in one as we have a town famous hill near us, perfect for sledding that just looks epic!
Even the best snow day can get tiring and cold. If you don’t want to waste all that precious, rare white stuff then bring the snow indoors! Taking messy play to a whole new level, this activity can surprisingly entertain your child for a decent amount of time. Simply fill a bowl, bucket, tuff spot, whatever your container of choice with lush snow and place inside. Add a selection of toys suitable for playing in the snow eh voila. When the snow melts (which takes longer than you would imagine) just get some more. My little George chose octonauts, go jetters and dinosaurs to use in his snow bowl. I suggested digging with a spoon.
Snow days seem to be very creative driven, (when you aren’t just lobbing snowballs at each other). So why not extend this further with some snow painting. Fill some squirty bottles with food colouring and water and let the children have great fun making coloured patterns in the snow. Or as my friend once did, get the paint and brushes out and paint the snowman. Checkout her fab page for more ideas on activities to do with toddlers and preschoolers; Entertaining Ava – Ideas for Toddler and Preschooler Play
Snow day taffy. Now this is one of those things I just happened to see pop up on twitter in amongst the trending snow posts. I have to admit that this seemed as bizarre to me as the idea that most Americans don’t own an electric kettle. But apparently this is standard behaviour in Canada. I found this fab how to here; How to make Maple Syrup Snow Taffy .
Send a special message to someone. It just so happened to be hubs birthday one year when it snowed. I used the shingle we had in our garden to create a message but you could use the squirty bottle idea previously mentioned. Your message doens’t have to be for a birthday, it could be a marriage proposal, disney announcement, baby announcement or just to brighten someone’s day.
Snowball fights don’t have to be the only thing to use snowballs for. Grab a bucket or draw a line or circle in the snow and see who can get their snowballs in the circle/bucket. That way no one ends up sad because they have snow down their back or in their eye.
If you have a willing cat or dog, let them out in the snow and just sit back and enjoy. Cats and Dogs can be so funny in the snow and if you film them and send them into You’ve been Framed you might get £250 for your efforts.
So there are just a few ideas to keep you going for a snow day. I shall be investing in a pair of waterproof gloves in prep for the next snow.
Have you tried any of these? Do you have any ideas to share? I love new ideas. I am becoming a bit of a pinterestaholic.
**This post has sat in my drafts for a while, forgotten and lonely. My toddler model is now over three years old and still thriving. But before I tell you all about how “the model” has evolved, let me take you back to a year ago when I was living with a two year old. Continuing on from one of my more popular postsLife with a toddler – the 2014 model.Enjoy!**
As the parent of a toddler, I’m finding myself under the dictatorship of a two year old. In a similar fashion to a communist regime, I’m regularly told where to sit, who to talk to, how to play certain “games”. To be honest it doesn’t feel like playing when I’m being ordered what car I can and can’t play with, and exactly where to drive it.
Mainstream music is limited to anything on the CBeebies or nursery rhyme playlist. Disney films and CBeebies get the seal of approval but otherwise the only other programme to frequent our screens are Paw Patrol and Blaze and the Monster Machines.
Our day begins at a semi reasonable hour but orders to “go downstairs” ring out on on the toddler tannoy before I have time to even open my eyes. His lordship dictates specific rules such as;
The bath must be completely empty of water before exiting.
Face washing will only commence once there are at least three toys in the sink of water.
Drinks will only be drunk if provided in a container to Sir’s satisfaction.
You may be familiar with the term “terrible twos”. It’s a widely used phrase that many people now know and use. Closely followed by the supposéd “threenager” phase. As my parenting journey began as a follower of the gentle parenting regime, I was led to believe these were not ideal terms to label a your toddler with.
However, being a good few years into this parenting shizzle I can confirm that these are inevitable stages that your mini dictator will go through. At two years old you will have days that you will swear this model truly can be terrible to be in the company of. My own experiences are teaching me that patience and calmness help.
When your mini dictator goes into terrible mode whilst in a public setting, a huge dose of trying to ignore what’s happening goes a long way. People may stare because they either don’t have this model or they haven’t for a long time and they have forgotten what it’s like to take it out. Remain calm, composed and patient and this will help settle your mini dictator back to it’s usual lovely self whilst showing the world that “you’ve got this shit”.
So if you’ve recently installed a future mini dictator into your fine self and you are reading this, never fear, we’ve all pretty much dealt with this in year two. For anyone going through year two with their model I hope my tips help. I’m learning that the cuteness mode is ever increasing and the fun mode has now been upgraded. This upgrade allows you to enjoy their marvel at everything and days out feel a lot more worthwhile. Gone are the days where you take your early model out, waving it at fish tanks in an aquarium hoping for a reaction.
If you have read all of this and have no idea what I am going on about, please rest assured that this is a tongue in cheek account of living with a two year old. The good, the bad and the ugly.
I’ve been pondering, as I do most things, whether as a nation of Brits, whether we are pushing our own fears onto our children?
George is now three and we’ve attended many a baby and toddler class, read many a children’s book and watched many a program aimed at children his age. He’s a child who is learning all about his surroundings, feelings and emotions and how the world works.
The most recent thing we watched that actually sparked this post was a program on a well known British children’s channel. In the show, the children were practicing their nativity play. Two of the girls got up on a stage and acted out the role of Mary and the Angel. After the girls had said their lines, the teacher asked the girls if acting on a stage had made them nervous. They both said no. “Did it make you excited?” she asked. A weak yes response came from both. Fair do’s for asking if it incited varying emotions but what the teacher said next irritated me.
The teacher then turned to the rest of the class and said;
“It’s very hard to get up on stage in front of everyone. “Girl A” usually has a lot of confidence in class but it doesn’t mean it’s easy to get up here, she did really well”.
I get what she’s attempting to do. Praise and credit the girls achievements, but can you see the point I am trying to highlight here?
She has just told a class full of impressionable children that it is a difficult thing to stand up and talk in front of others. And so (to my mind) a potential class of nervous and shy children have been created. You tell a child something, they believe it (typically) For many you have just planted a seed of negativity right there.
And before you think I’m one of those 2017, gets offended by everything types, I so couldn;t be further from it. What I am is someone who says things as I see. We all know that if I tell you long enough the sky is green that eventually, if you are impressionable (as children are) you will start to believe it.
I’ve also on countless times heard the mention of “scary spiders”. Yes, agreed, arachnophobia is a big thing in the world but we are never going to stop it by teaching children that spiders are scary. It’s a never ending cycle of fear being programmed into one generation after the next. Children don’t come out being scared of spiders. We teach it to them. I know the end moral of stories like the one I’ve seen on Peppa pig is that you needn’t be scared of spiders like Mr Skinny Legs but by then it’s too late. You’ve planted the seed. Where are the programs about scary sheep, scary balls or scary paintbrushes? There aren’t many you can name are there!
Then there’s rain. Think about it. As a British nation, specifically in England, the majority of us believe that rain is a negative thing. Admittedly this mentality is changing but there are countless posts about what to do on a rainy day at home. But why does a rainy day have to mean you stay home? And so I draw your attention to a well known nursery rhyme.
“Rain, rain go away, come again another day”
Don’t even get me started on;
“It’s raining, it pouring, the old man is snoring, he went to bed and bumped his head and couldn’t get up in the morning”
I’m sure you are thinking that children don’t over analyse these things. But you have to admit that we could be planting seeds in our children’s minds that suggest rain is negative. You can’t go out in the rain, it needs to go away, no one likes it. Why!?
It’s hard for me as a mother who grew up scared of almost everything. The dark, spiders, going fast, swimming, the wind, loud noise, heights, going upstairs by myself, ghosts, dead people, being shy. I’m not saying it’s anyone’s fault I was that way. I can almost pinpoint a life event that caused each of those fears but I bet I’ve forgotten about the episode of a programme that first instilled that idea into me, or a lady saying something to me on the bus, or a book that was read to me at the library.
As an adult I now try my hardest to not be fearful of anything. Using willpower, hypnotherapy and just a basic “couldn’t give a shit” attitude I’ve managed to conquer most of those fears. Post natal depression will do that for you as well I found. Once you’ve seen the lowest parts of yourself you aren’t scared of much else your daily life has to offer. But for George I’ve always wanted different. If I can avoid him gaining a fear of things I will.
He has already developed several fears that affect him in fits and starts and to be honest I can only think they are things he has seen on television as he certainly hasn’t witnessed them from me or his dad. We greet spiders like they are long lost friends, we poo poo suggestions we hear on tele of people saying they are scared of the dark etc. We encourage him to discover, explore and push himself, safe in the knowledge that we will be there if he feels he needs us to support him.
Once he starts full time school I know this will become harder. Perhaps we all need a little fear to make us rounded individuals. I personally feel fear holds you back and you miss out on areas of life because of it. Shyness for example. Would I have taken part in so much more, been part of so many groups had I not been shy. I wouldn’t have taken so much bullshit and I may, possibly, have been happier for it instead of feeling bitter about a lot of my school years.
What do you think? Do you think this is a British thing? I can’t help wondering if children raised in other countries/cultures/environments have different fears because of different exposures. For example in countries where they don’t a lot of television, if any, do children have these fears? Or as Brits are we creating the next anxious and fearful generation?
**Disclosure – I was invited to Bluestone Wales for a midweek break in return for this honest review. All opinions are my own. This does not affect the integrity of this post.**
This post is about the magical, chilled, friendly, chilled, welcoming, adventurous, did I mention chilled? 5 days we spent at Bluestone National Park Resort .
We arrived around 2:30pm on the Monday and checked in whilst still in our car. A traffic light style system calls you up to the check in window where the staff handed us a welcome pack with our entry key cards and premium wifi code that hubby had purchased, along with a copy of the Village Voice. We parked up and headed straight to the golf buggy hire as this was also the nearest loo’s and nature was a’calling. I’ll talk more about the golf buggies later.
Before I could finish in the loo, hubs had completed the gold buggy pickup so we thought we’d take it for a test spin on a mini tour of the site. We located our lodge which we would be able to access at 4:30pm (or 3pm for other lodge types). You are allowed to bring your car onsite to unload and load up on check in and checkout day but otherwise it must be stored in the car park.
George was loving the golf buggy but we felt after the long journey he needed to stretch his legs in the treehouse play area. The treehouses are fab for children of all ages to explore and overlook the newly refurbished adventure playground which was colourful, clean and great quality. It was lovely to see families congregate here whilst the little ones ran round dizzily deciding what to play on next.
We were staying in a Caldey Lodge in Bartholomew rise not far from the lake. Our two bedroom lodge came complete with an open plan kitchen, diner, lounge with tall ceilings to add to the feel of space. There were french doors which opened onto a patio area with picnic table and bike rack. Off of this lounge area was the twin and master double side by side with the bathroom with shower and large heated towel rail.
The lodge was comfy, cosy and the heating worked a treat. What struck me most was the high quality of everything. Heavy, solid wood furniture in the bedroom and dining area. Strong and decent cooking and kitchen utensils which were all well kept and sparkling clean. It felt like a home from home. (It was actually better than my home!)
Having had spinal surgery when I was a teen, I’m pretty fussy about the beds I sleep in. Don’t get me wrong, I can sleep anytime anywhere,but if I don’t sleep in the right bed then my body can suffer for days. At home we have a half sprung/half memory foam mattress with a feather down topper. It’s my ideal bed and sadly I always miss it when we are on holiday. Bluestone’s mattresses however were absolute bliss. Due to having a toddler that likes me to be near, I spent time in both the twin bed and the double and both were equally comfortable. I literally could have stayed in their beds all day ( if I wasn’t being dragged out at 6am by George every morning)
A unique perk of Bluestone is the ability to be able to hire a golf buggy for either a day or the duration of your stay.The golf buggy is a great novelty and it helps a lot with a toddler in tow. Our trusty steed for the week was number 77 Lili-Mai and we had great fun taking it in turns to whizz round on her.
A warmer time of year we might be tempted to walk more or hire bicycles and trailers but we are so glad that we had the golf buggy as a semi refuge from the rain. It meant we could get from A to B quicker without turning up drenched. Little tip: take extra towels/tea towels for wiping the seat dry which (thanks to Welsh weather) you may find yourself doing half a dozen times a day.
You can also take your own bikes and there’s also guest transport to help you get around the resort with designated bus stops. If I am honest though, the site was not as vast as I’d expected. It’s easily walkable and only marginally hilly in some places. The paths are continually being maintained, with staff filling in puddles and holes with gravel on a regular basis.
Top tip – if you aren’t from Wales, make your peace with the weather before you visit. We went expecting nothing but rain so that anything else would be a bonus. Plus, Rainbows!
Food and Drink
This is mine and hubs favourite part of holidays. We love eating out and trying different eating establishments so we wanted to ensure we tried as many of the onsite restaurants and cafes as possible.
In the end the only places we did NOT try were:-
The Knight’s Tavern which I popped in to use the toilets and the atmosphere was pleasant and very similar to that of a pub that serves food. It’s the lower end of the budget of the restaurants onsite.
The Oaktree restaurant which is a pizza / pasta restaurant but on the first night George wanted to be in the lodge so we got takeaway chip shop food from…..
The Chippy which was nice but I have had better and the staff there lacked a welcoming persona. The fried halloumi is worth a try.
Farmhouse grill – The second time we planned on visiting the Oaktree we actually changed our minds as we couldn’t resist returning to the Farmhouse Grill for the second night in a row. I’d recommend booking a table here to ensure you get seated. You can tell it’s freshly made using top notch ingredients. To quote their menu;
“Using quality local ingredients to instil a sense a place“
Staff are so attentive. Hubs was massively impressed on our second night when someone accidentally smashed a glass at their table and before you barely heard the smash there were already two members of staff dashing to the table with a mop and broom.
Checkout piccies of what we had below.
The children’s menu is fab and is a world away from the typical chicken nuggets and chips but still appealing to children. The ‘kids platter’ was such a perfect dinner for him with so many of his favourites.
We also ate twice in the Ty Coffi cafe. Once for a breakfast, (they do a mean beans on toast which went down a storm with George) and their panini’s are great too. There was so much more we could have tried. It was often very busy in there so they definitely could do with a few more staff as the ones there seemed rushed off their feet which meant they didn’t really have time for ‘service with a smile’. t didn’t prevent us from returning though. Their hot chocolates and sausage sandwich are the best way to warm up after a hike through the vast forest.
Bluestone also have a cafe, Caffi Môr, within the spa which I sadly didn’t try, along with a camp style rustic woodland diner which wasn’t open for the season of our stay.
Things to do
There’s such a vast timetable of activities to do at Bluestone, from shadow puppet shows to baby yoga and massage, 4×4 safari driver experience round a track or a host of tree top activities at the steep ravine.
Explore the forest
We chose to check out the Winter lights enchanted walk in daylight and continue on into the forest where we squelched through mud and then washed our boots in the stream. The forest towards the steep ravine is full of really tall, narrow trees, which when the wind blows creates a creaking noise as the trees all knock together. We enjoyed standing still for a while and listening to this noise, before pretending the trees were going to come crashing down and racing up the hill. George loved this game and natures own sound effects added to the feel.
We also spent a fair amount of time playing at the playground which we nicknamed the Teletubbies playground due to the green hill feature.
We tried the shadow puppet show which was great and the village hall decor is magical. It involved participation and dancing from the kiddies rather than a sit and watch puppet show.
If booking via the website you can find a brief description for each activity but I didn’t use this, preferring to book at the booking office after we got a feel for our surroundings. The show was great and top marks for the effort put in by the staff.
When we had enough of being outside we visited the Blue Lagoon swimming pool. They have something for everyone. Slides, wave machine, pirate ship spray area, lazy river taking you outside and an enclosed baby and toddler splash zone where balls float on the water, they can explore walking round an artificial rock pool, squirting gadgets and basketball. This area has a lockable gate to prevent little ones wandering off towards danger.
The Blue lagoon is also open to the public but it wasn’t overly busy when we went mid morning (residents only) and there was room for everyone. There are also designated photo points where you can use your camera without capturing unknowing suspects in your shot.
The adventure has something for all ages and brings the fun inside. The under 5’s circus zone is completely in another area of the building and features a bright, clean and colourful soft play area. It has a fab mini ride on car on a track. As well as giant building blocks, and baby gym and balance equipment.
The large main area of the adventure centre downstairs contains masses of wooden climbing frames in a tree house style. Some reaching up the ceiling easily 20 feet in the air. There are free ride on trikes available and a bouncy castle. You can help yourself to a game of mini golf or play some games at the amusement arcade. There’s also a mechanical digger to dig a large pit of sandy stones. For the bigger kids inner child in us all there’s bookable indoor wall climbing. A mezzanine platform allows you to grab a coffee from the Wildwood cafe whilst the madness ensues downstairs.
Seasonal dinner show
On our final night there we’d booked ourselves into Merlin’s Magical Dinner show. This was in the Wildwood Cafe situated in the adventure centre. Here we had a set menu of roast dinner and desert. This was brought up on a big serving plate to our table where we helped ourselves. Meanwhile the staff were extremely attentive, asking if we needed any more potatoes, gravy etc.
Before and after dinner the staff entertained us by putting on a show in the areas around our tables. There was magic, music, comedy and some audience participation from the children too. This really was an unforgettable dinner experience.
Winter lights parade
The dinner experience over, we all wrapped up warm ready to march in the parade through the site. The parade was led by a 12 foot Merlin wizard. A member of staff accompanied Merlin whilst banging a drum. He encouraged us through the cold, night with chanting and singing. The children ran and flashed torches and various items they had made at bookable groups that week.
We gathered in the courtyard at the Knights tavern where the staff and Merlin took to the balcony. They guided us as we watched the light show featured in my video below. They then sang into the evening whilst the crowd sang and danced along. It felt like such a wonderful community vibe and no one was in a hurry to be anywhere.
Check Out my youtube video to see more of the light show
People tried to warn me I would be cold in Wales but I didn’t anticipate HOW cold. I lived in 3 layers all week. I’d defo buy thermal undies if visiting in Winter again.
Having said that, our stay has totally changed my outlook on going out in bad weather. As a football supporter and follower, bad weather has never really bothered me. But Bluestone has really cemented the ideal that whatever the weather, fun can be had.
Hubs and I have already said we would love to return in the summer, maybe with friends or family. Travelling from Essex is a long way for a mid week break. In future I’d opt for a 7 day break. I’d love to checkout the local sites and beaches too as we didn’t leave the resort this stay.
This is a place where you can return again and again and never tire as every activity differs. I’d also love to try one of the upside living lodges, offering fab views of the Welsh countryside.
This post gives you the opportunity to WIN tickets to the live show of In The Night Garden.
** Disclosure- In return for bringing you this competition, I myself have been provided with tickets to the show**
If you haven’t heard of the In The Night Garden Live show then checkout their website here for more details.
The shows are live this Summer (2018). There is a choice of two live shows, lasting just under an hour each, giving you the opportunity to see Igglepiggle, Upsy Daisy and Makka Pakka brought to life. The shows are a mix of projections, puppets and characters in costume and take place in a specially designed dome.
Image courtesy of the team at https://www.nightgardenlive.com
Taken from the In The Night Garden Live website ;-
In the Ninky Nonk show, Igglepiggle loses his blanket and all his friends help him find it.
In the Pinky Ponk show, Makka Pakka washes everyone’s faces, until his sponge gets stuck in Upsy Daisy’s megaphone!
All the characters appear in both shows, and both are equally popular. The stories are not linked. So you don’t need to see both, and you can see them in any order.
The dome is designed with tiered seating so that everyone gets the same fab view.
If you would like to enter the competition and you are using a smartphone or tablet, checkout the link at the bottom of the page.
Otherwise, desktop users can enter using the link to the right of the screen →
Entries must be submitted before January 21st 2018 so you haven’t got long!
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?
Have you and your family opted for an alternative advent calendar this year? Please share them with us. Seasons Greetings to you all.
** 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Crazy golf is always a winner and George was more interested in making sure we did this over anything else.
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.
He was a little shy to meet Chase from Paw Patrol but I know he would have regretted it if he didn’t.
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.
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”.
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!
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.