The Joy of Reading

I’m not a bookworm. Never have been. I went through a phase of reading when I was at college. Trashy books like Jackie Collins and Sidney Sheldon! I liked the glitzy Hollywood escapism and reading about those filthy rich, gossipy characters’ lives! (They were fab weren’t they?! ha) I also used to pick up a book on holiday before I had my son. There weren’t THAT many holidays though as I had my eldest quite young and we all know once you have a kid there’s no lying on a sunbed reading a good book on holiday. Oh no…. you can forget that!

But fast forward 18 years and 4 kids later, I have started reading again and I am LOVING it!

I’m not sure how I’ve arrived here, but I think it may be a mixture of my kids being older and the fact that I’d become fed up of picking up my phone constantly throughout the day and scrolling for England, looking at any old rubbish! Scrolling through mind numbing stuff mostly, once I’d caught up with friends and blogging/work related matters! It had started to do my head in, all that screen time!

So when a friend at work who had brought in The Girl on The Train for a colleague to borrow, I asked if I could read it after. It was a hardback book with big, easy to read writing and I enjoyed the act of picking up a physical (not on a Kindle!) book and settling down to read. I found it relaxing and it felt good to be reading properly rather than reading rubbish on my phone!

the girl on the train book

I made time to read. Usually at night but at weekends too with a cup of coffee when the kids were busy. Maybe it helped that this book was a real page turner but I found myself looking forward to settling down with it!

Straight after I’d read The Girl on the Train, which didn’t take me long to finish, I started to read The Lovely Bones. My sister in law has given me some books to read and now I’m working my way through them!

the lovely bones book

This was a small book with tiny writing which put me off slightly, but I still thoroughly enjoyed reading it! Unusual story, fascinating, from the perspective of a dead person, but wanted a bit more to happen at the end.

Now I’m reading Gone Girl. I know I know, mega late to the party with this one but looking forward to finding out what all the fuss is about! Someone told me I might be reading it too close to having read The Girl on the Train as they’re quite similar….. but we shall see. I’ve only just started it.

gone girl book

It actually feels alien for me to be enjoying reading. It’s something lots of other people do and I’ve always wanted to be part of that gang because, well, we all know it’s supposed to be really good for you! It makes you more intelligent for a start doesn’t it? Boosts brain power, helps you to relax etc etc…. I mean, as parents we drum it into our kids all the time!

My eldest has never been into books though, and my daughter will read sometimes, actually she’s reading the most she’s ever read right now which is great but I do have to suggest it at times. I’m still working on the twins. I would love nothing more than seeing their little heads in a book, being totally engrossed.

Hopefully now that my children are seeing me reading and enjoying books, I’m hoping it will encourage them too!

Top Places for a Doggie Holiday

If you are looking for a real family holiday where you can take your dog along and have a fantastic time then it can be hard to find dog-friendly hotels and other types of accommodation. Luckily there are lots of people out there that understand how important it is to bring your dog with you so it doesn’t miss out on the fun.

dog on holiday beach

There are various sites where you can find dog-friendly accommodation and helpfully The Telegraph published an article recently to name the best pet-friendly hotels in Britain. The list comprises of some fairly expensive, top quality options including:

Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire 

If you want to mix great quality with pet-friendly facilities then try the Four Seasons at Hampshire. At £275 per night as a minimum, you certainly won’t be keeping costs down but if your budget stretches to this hotel then the whole family should be happy.

Hotel Endsleigh, Devon 

A more reasonable offering from this Devonshire hotel, from around £165 per night plus £20 per night for any furry friends. The area has great surroundings making it an ideal place to go out walking.

The Milestone Hotel, London 

At around £300 per night, you need to have deep pockets to stay at this place. Whilst the quality is top-class (even has a Pet Concierge!), I’m not sure how much dogs will appreciate traipsing around the paved streets of London and I’d hate to see the scenes at Trafalgar Square when they catch sight of all of those pigeons!

Now for those people who haven’t won the lottery, what are the more realistically priced options for dog lovers? 

The Lake District 

The Lakes in the north of England provides some of the best trails in Britain and is the ideal place for walking. You will find plenty of dog-friendly pubs, restaurants and hotels including:

  • Ouse Bridge Guest House
  • Fellside Holiday Cottages
  • The Old Vicarage
  • Lane Head Farm Country Guest House

Dogs simply love the Lake District, with its numerous lakes and gorgeous green surroundings. You can pick walks as difficult or easy as you like, from hikes up the selection of peaks or a flatter option of walking around one of the lakes. Windermere is hugely popular and if you go in the warmer months you will be able to find a lovely traditional pub to sit outside and enjoy the weather.

Travelling to the lakes is fairly simple as it is close to the M6 motorway and getting around the place is pretty easy by car. If you want to have a few drinks and leave the car, then you can always look up local taxi services and car sharing services like Ridester.com.

If you want to treat all of the family, including the dog to a great holiday this year head to the stunning Lake District and take in the fresh air in the quaint countryside. As well as being doggie friendly, you can easily keep the kids entertained with a range of watersports and adventure activities.

*Collaborative post

My First Ballet – Cinderella

My First Ballet Cinderella English National Ballet

The English National Ballet and English National Ballet School are back this year with their ever so popular My First Ballet shows! I took my daughter along last year to their production of Sleeping Beauty and it was absolutely brilliant, we loved it.

The idea behind the My First Ballet shows are that they are performed by second year students of the English National Ballet school, and they are aimed and a younger audience, i.e children. Adapted to an hour in length and with a narrator to help their young audiences follow the story, it’s the perfect way to introduce children as young as three to the magic of ballet.

This year the My First Ballet will be of classic fairy tale Cinderella and will kick off it’s UK tour next month in Dartford, before finishing in Manchester in July.

This production tells the story of Cinderella, who is tormented by her stepsisters and not allowed to attend the Prince’s ball. Left behind to an evening of chores, she is visited by her Fairy Godmother who transforms her into a Princess who shall go to the ball.

Choreographed by George Williamson, award-winning former student of English National Ballet School, My First Ballet: Cinderella is part of the My First Ballet series which enters its sixth year in 2017. Since its inception in 2012, over 200,000 people have enjoyed the series which has included the hugely successful My First Ballet: Swan Lake, Coppélia and Sleeping Beauty. George Williamson, said: “Cinderella was the first production I created in the series, and I’m thrilled to be revisiting the choreography and reworking it for a brand new audience. I’m proud to be working with English National Ballet and the School to lead the way in creating tailor made productions for children, offering what for many will be their first experience of a ballet performance.”

My First Ballet Cinderella

my fist ballet cinderella

English National Ballet School's: My First Cinderella promotional images

English National Ballet School's: My First Cinderella promotional images

My First Ballet: Cinderella will be amazing if it’s anything like the one we watched last year and we absolutely can’t wait to see it in London. It will be at The Peacock Theatre twice… first in April then back again in July!

If you want to catch one of the shows in an area near you, here are the tour listings…

Orchard Theatre, Dartford – 6 – 8 April 2017
Box Office: 01322 220000. Tickets: £15 – £20

The Peacock, London – 11 April – 22 April 2017
Box Office: 020 7863 8000. Tickets: £10 – £25

New Theatre, Oxford – 28 April – 29 April 2017
Box Office: 0844 871 3020. Tickets: £11.50 – £29.40

Liverpool Empire – 5 May – 6 May 2017
Box Office: 0844 871 3017. Tickets: £11.50 – £29.40

New Wimbledon Theatre – 13 May – 14 May 2017
Box Office: 0844 871 7646. Tickets: £11.50 – £29.40

The Bristol Hippodrome – 20 – 21 May 2017
Box Office: 0844 871 3012. Tickets: £11.50 – £29.40

New Victoria Theatre, Woking – 26 – 27 May 2017
Box Office: 0844 871 7645. Tickets: £11.50 – £29.40

The Peacock, London – 18 – 23 July 2017
Box Office: 020 7863 8000. Tickets: £10 – £25

Manchester Opera House – 26 – 30 July 2017

All tickets on sale now!

As an extra bonus I’m giving away a pair of tickets to a show of your choosing right here on Mummy Endeavours! Please enter my competition by filling in the widget below… it’s very easy, and the more sections you complete, the better your chance of winning!

Good luck x

Mummy Endeavours WIN Two Tickets to My First Ballet: Cinderella

For more information and book tickets see: www.ballet.org.uk/myfirstballet

Please note performance details are subject to change.

The Girl On The Train

I recently received a fab delivery containing a copy of newly released box office smash The Girl On The Train DVD… along with some of my favourite choccies and a box of popcorn!

Girl on the Train DVD film review

It was a coincidence being asked to review this movie because at the time of receiving the email, I’d just started reading the best selling book by Paula Hawkins, which I’d borrowed from a friend at work. I’d heard it was really good so it was something I’d wanted to read for ages. Then the film came out and I was like Nooooo, I have to read the book first!

Anyway, the book (a psychological thriller) was certainly a page turner and I did manage to finish it in super quick time so I could watch the DVD! I couldn’t wait to find out how the film compared to the book. I’d heard that some people thought the film was actually better, which is unusual as it’s normally the other way round!

So, in case you’ve neither read the book OR watched the film, it’s about a young woman (The Girl) Rachel (Emily Blunt in the film), who has lost her way after her divorce and lives in a bit of a fantasy world. She drinks too much and interferes somewhat with her ex husband Tom (Justin Theroux – pic below with Emily) and his new wife! She finds herself watching the world go by every day on her commute to work and sees the same people in the same houses along the railway lines. It’s some of these lives she unwittingly gets involved in when she sees something from the train one day. The story then takes you on a dark, mysterious journey as Rachel tries to uncover the truth.

The Girls on the train film review Barry Wetcher/Universal

So, my honest opinion having seen the film now, was that I think I watched it too close to reading the book, where every single detail was still etched in my mind. Films can’t cover every single detail so of course, bits are always missed out. If you haven’t read the book or at least not so recently, it would be a million times better!

I think it’s probably a difficult book to portray on the big screen because of the diary style writing and the jumping back and forth between lives and times but I enjoyed it nevertheless.

The book is set in London with the commuters travelling to Euston. This is the route I take to London as I live only 15 minutes away from Euston on the train, and although the other stations are fictional, I could really relate to the Victorian houses and views from the train. In the film, the commute is into New York and the houses are quite substantial so it didn’t quite capture me in the same way!

Emily Blunt is brilliant. I think she captures perfectly the desperate, pathetic character of Rachel. She’s a complex, mixed up character who hasn’t got a clue what she’s doing half the time because she’s always either drunk or hungover! But you find yourself willing her on in the hope that she can either do something right or sort herself out! Emily Blunt definitely carries the film as she is such a huge part of it.

The film definitely draws you in from the start and like the book (even though I knew the end, let’s pretend I didn’t!) you find yourself eager to know what’s going to happen next and where it’s going to take you. There are some great twists and turns in the story which is what makes it so good and the film didn’t lose any of the suspense. The cinematography was instrumental in keeping the tone of the film dark and rather grim at times. I would’ve liked to have seen a bit more from the character of Anna, as I don’t think her nastier traits came across too well and the ending seemed a little rushed but does keep you guessing right up until those final scenes!

I thought the film moved along at a very fast pace. It seemed to have finished as soon as it started, which is obviously a very good sign!

I really enjoyed The Girl on the Train and would highly recommend. I have lots of friends who have seen it and not one said they didn’t enjoy it.

I will certainly be watching it again… that’s if I get the chance because a couple of relatives and work colleagues have all asked if they could borrow my DVD first!

You can buy the DVD and Blu-ray now from all good retailers.

#LOLSurprise Launch Party

On Monday we headed into Westfield, London for the L.O.L Surprise Launch Party!

Popular young YouTuber Toys AndMe was there, who was going to do the big reveal and ‘unboxing’ of these these fun new collectibles.

LOL Surprise launch Westfield London

We then got to meet her afterwards inside The Entertainer toy shop which was lovely because all three of my younger kids have watched her You Tube channel!

The L.O.L Surprise Dolls are set to be massive!

You get seven layers of fun with every L.O.L. Surprise doll! Inside there is a secret message sticker, a collectible sticker sheet, a water bottle charm, a pair of shoes, an outfit, an accessory and a L.O.L. Surprise!
The event was open to the public and caused quite a big stir. Hoards of children queued up to get their hands on the toys, which I can’t blame them for… they DO look so enticing with their ball shape and gorgeous colour!

Inside The Entertainer, the kids all sat down unwrapping the L.O.L Surprise Dolls, eager to see which combination of goodies they had inside!

LolSurprise dolls

DSC_1062[1]

The L.O.L. Surprise doll itself is the best layer of the surprise! Dress her in all of the accessories you’ve revealed. Each character is completely different and there are over 45 dolls to collect in Series 1!

We were at the event some of our blogger friends including Ruth from Rocknrollerbaby, Katy from Modern Mummy, Emma from Joy of Five and Karen from N4 Mummy, which made the day even more fun! We all plotted up in the food courts of Westfields and plonked all the kids together on this long table, where they proceeded to unwrap their many L.O.L Surprise Dolls! So exciting are these… uncovering all the little secret hiding places for the bit and bobs inside that they appealed to the boys in the group just as much as the girls!
LOLSurprise Dolls Westfield Bloggers
Even though my daughter is a bit older (she’s 11), and not particularly into dolls anymore (sob!), she LOVED these little collectibles! She has since messed around with them quite a lot at home which is wonderful!
We had a great time at the event and finding out about the L.O.L Surprises. They retail at around £8 which I think is reasonable, considering you’d pay almost £5 for a small packet of trading cards! You get a lot more for you money with these and a lot more play factor too!
You can pick them up at most good toy retailers.

Peculiar Happenings at Ripley’s London

ripleys london

Right now there’s a new exhibition showing at ‘Ripley’s Believe it or Not‘ in London’s Piccadilly.

To celebrate the launch of the Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children movie to Blu-ray and DVD, a collection of props and costumes from the film will be on display until 5th March. Some of which include a dress for Eva Green, who played Miss Peregrine, as well the peculiarly incredible Perpetual Calendar, Miss Peregrine’s Birdcage, Enoch’s Heart in a Jar and Barron’s (Samuel L. Jackson’s) snack of choice…. eyeballs!

“It’s a privilege to bring to life some of the fantastical world of mystery, power and peculiarity of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” says Luke Reilly, Head of Sales and Marketing at Ripley’s!

I took my daughter to the cinema to see the film on one of her inset says at school, just her and I. She’d been wanting to see it for a while. It’s probably the most grown up film we’ve seen together at the cinema, even though it’s centred around children, parts of the film are very dark and rather creepy. But she loved it so I knew I just HAD to bring her to this exhibition! We also love Ripley’s so it’s a win win!

Her favourite thing to see was this costume of the character Claire Densmore!

ripleys miss peregrines

Miss Peregrine’s suit…..

And her birdcage..

birdcage ripleys exhibition miss peregrines

We had a great time! The exhibition is a must for any fans of the Miss Peregrine’s books/films. But best of all, having seen it, you can then explore the rest of Ripley’s which is truly amazing! We’ve been a couple of times now and there is literally so much to see.

There are five floors of unbelievable artifacts which will appeal to the biggest and littlest of kids (and adults) – from the sublime to the ridiculous. Completely fascinating!

So even if you don’t make it this half term… never fear… Ripley’s London is open every day of the year and tickets booked more than 14 days in advance receive a 40% discount – including school holidays! Visit the Ripley’s London ticket offers page for more information and to book tickets!

WIN Tickets to The Baby Show

This March, get ready to enjoy a fantastic shopping experience at the UK’s leading pregnancy and parenting event of the year!

the baby show london 2017

 The Baby Show with MadeForMums will be taking place on the new date of Friday 3rd to Sunday 5th March, at the ExCeL London. Find everything you need for bump, baby and you – with amazing offers all in one place, for three days only!

There will be over 200 exhibitors showcasing a huge array of essential baby products from trusted brands as well as the latest innovations. All the major baby retailers will be there, alongside market leading brands such as, iCandy, Stokke, UppaBaby, Philips Avent, Chicco, MAM, Nuby and high end Italian brand Peg Perego who will be launching in the UK at the show!  There will also be independent brands that you won’t find on the high street.

There will be a wonderful line up of speakers on The Baby Show Stage with MadeForMums including experts from the world of breastfeeding, sleep and nutrition as well as real parents giving their first-hand stories and advice including authors Giovanna Fletcher and Clemmie Hooper.

If you are looking for more personal and tailored advice, you can benefit from private 15 minute appointments with The Baby Show Experts at the One To One With The Experts Area – you just need to book your appointment on the day. And once you’ve shopped until you’ve dropped, don’t worry about all the carrying as you can take advantage of the free Emma’s Diary Collect-By-Car service where you can drop off all your purchases and continue until you’ve got a carful!

the baby show london 2017 mummy endeavours

It really is a must-attend show for mums and dads to be, parents, friends and family members.

Here at Mummy Endeavours, I’ve teamed up with The Baby Show to give away a pair of tickets worth £20 each!

Please enter via the Gleam widget below filling out as many of the options as possible to give you a better chance of winning!

Best of luck x

Mummy Endeavours – Win a Pair of Tickets to The Baby Show London

The Baby Show is taking place on Friday 3rd March – Sunday 5th March inclusive, open from 9.30am to 5.30pm each day.  Standard on the door tickets are £20.  For more information please visit www.thebabyshow.co.uk.

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