Roald Dahl Happy Readers at McDonald’s

A few years ago McDonald’s introduced books for the first time into their Happy Meals instead of toys. This pleased plenty of parents who, if they’re anything like me, have an abundance of plastic and furry McDonald’s toys filling up toy boxes at home.. thought it was good to get something different AND educational as well. My children enjoyed the books just as much as the toys I have to say.

Then along came the Roald Dahl collection of books which proved incredibly popular so now, to celebrate what would’ve been Roald Dahls 101st birthday, McDonald’s have introduced an exclusive series of his stories in books featuring his fantastical characters!

mcdonalds roald dahl books

Instead of the major stories like last time, the emphasis here is on one of the characters from the stories instead, like ‘Marvellous Miss Honey’ from Matilda, or ‘Lucky Charlie Bucket’ from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory! I think it’s so creative and gives the popular stories, which most children are familiar with anyway, a whole new twist!

There’s an excerpt from the original story which children can read but as well as this, and here’s the exciting bit, the books also have lots of fun little activity sections and stickers too, as well as a handy book mark that can be taken out and used to keep their places when reading!

There are eight books in total and my boys have already got started on some of them, which they are loving!

roald dahl books at mcdonalds

Mcdonalds happy readers

Peter Andre launched the campaign and can be seen in this cute Facebook video talking about the books with his children Princess and Junior, who are big Roald Dahl fans…

https://www.facebook.com/PJAndre/videos/1432272750220085/

Having the books in mini format, small enough for the littlest hands, can really reignite your child’s interest in reading again. Sitting down with them and showing some enthusiasm as a parent, we could get even the most reluctant reader excited!

The books can be found at all McDonald’s restaurants with a Happy Meal, in a brand new fun box, for the next few weeks so be sure to try and grab them all!

roald dahl books mcdonalds campaign

McDonald’s Happy Readers is a partnership between them and Penguin Random House Children’s UK, the Roald Dahl Literary Estate and the National Literacy Trust.

Collaborative Post

6 Ways to Improve a Renovation Time

A home renovation project can be time consuming. Homeowners will therefore want to speed up the process so they can quickly enjoy their new design. However, a project can often range from a few weeks to a few years. We’re therefore offering six ways to improve a renovation time.

Provide Clear Instruction

The speed of the process can often be determined by a homeowner’s decisiveness, as well as how a renovation pro interprets your chosen brief. It’s therefore vital to provide clear instruction, so you’ll achieve a desired result in the fastest possible time. You must therefore provide as much detail as possible, so a designer, builder or architect will have a greater understanding of your vision.

Gain Planning Permission

A lack of planning permission can slow or shut down your home renovation project. It’s therefore essential to identify if your project will require planning permission as soon as possible. You must then apply to the relevant local planning authority, and it could take up to three months to receive permission.

Consider Your Neighbours

It only takes one disgruntled neighbour to slow down your home renovation project. They may also make an objection during the planning process, which could mark the end of the project before it has even started. Speak to a builder, architect or designer before you get started, as they will have experience anticipating potential problems. You can also prevent friction down the road by simply informing your neighbours of your renovation plans, which will allow you both to discuss any objections and possibly come to an agreement that suits everyone.

Set a Realistic Budget

A spiralling budget can often halt a home renovation project. We therefore recommend setting a realistic budget to keep a tight grasp on your finances from start to finish. Provide a builder, designer or architect with details on how much money you have available to spend, and provide an amount you feel comfortable spending on the project. You may think, ‘I’ll never finding an affordable builder near me’, but it’s easier than you’d think if use the internet, and it could help you make great savings. A builder will also have the knowledge and experience to advise you how to invest your money for the best result for your home.

Understand When Key Decisions Need to be Made

It’s not a builder’s responsibility to source a kitchen, flooring, bathroom fitting or tiling. It’s therefore advisable to speak to a contractor about the critical dates for decision making. The interior design materials will need to be selected by you in advance and ready for installation upon the builder’s request.

Add Time in the Schedule for Bespoke Items

Custom-made items will take a longer lead time in comparison to standard items. We encourage you to order bespoke items, such as full height doors, in advance to ensure they arrive on schedule. So, order the items as soon as possible to provide extra time for delivery.

Are you set to embark on a home renovation project? Share your plans by writing a comment below

Bring Your Holiday Home with James Villas

james villas holidays

Last week I was asked along to a special Mallorcan themed event in London with James Villas Holidays, for a day of Mediterranean crafting! It was to celebrate the real essence of holidays and what makes them so memorable… be it the weather, the food, the culture, the simply getting away from it all…. and how you can capture some of that special magic and bring it home!

Held in the back room of lively cafe Drink Shop Do in the heart of bustling King’s Cross, it was the perfect location for an intimate gathering of some wonderful Bloggers, all ready to get their craft on! I couldn’t have been happier to see the lovely faces of what I consider to be some of the ‘original’ bloggers that I remember from when I started… especially Marianne from Maris World who I haven’t seen in such a long time.. absolutely wonderful to see her! There was also Penny who writes Parentshaped, Joy from Pink Oddy, Penny from Being Mrs C, super craft blogger extraordinaire Maggie from Red Ted Art and last but not least, my lovely friend Ruth from Rocknrollerbaby!

I couldn’t make the first session of the day which was weaving, as I was working, but that looked fab and everyone made some gorgeous creations! You can’t help but think of rustic little Mediterranean streets and local people sat spending hazy days making these very same products! Beautiful!

I manged to get there for the second session.. taking my daughter with me after the school run because she absolutely loves coming to events and I knew she would like this one a LOT! I arrived just at the right moment because everyone was tucking into some wonderful Mediterranean food, which was delicious…. and let’s not forget, food is a major part of being on holiday and can even influence where we go. It’s also one of the best ways to bring that holiday feeling back home! We all like to hunt out that special little eatery while we’re away, a place to return to time and time again that cooks up the most amazing dishes… then recreate those same dishes back home…. instantly taking you back there. The smell, the tastes…. you could even buy some traditional cookware and serving dishes to make it even more authentic!

For OUR crafting session, we were making Espadrilles! I was actually very excited about this! I’m not a crafter in any way so this was something completely out of my comfort zone but hello? Making a pair of actual SHOES that I could wear? How cool is that? I couldn’t wait to get started!

james villas crafting espidrilles

All the vibrantly coloured fabrics were laid out on the table and we rummaged around for our correct shoe sizes, hoping they came with our preferred fabric choice! But really, I wouldn’t have cared which pattern I had as they were all equally fabulous! I chose the yellow and blue ones (below), picked out my thread, then it was time to get started!

Making espadrilles is a lot harder than it looks… Getting the fabric in the right place around the toe section was tricky and had to be pinned first. The needle and thread was quite stiff to push in and pull through the sole of the espadrille, making way for very sore fingers! Luckily we had a teacher on hand… we definitely needed one let me tell you, and she came in the form of Ota, from sewing and craft shop Luchi & Ota in EdgwareShe was great fun! Full of encouragement as she swept around the room like a bubbly whirlwind, sharing entertaining stories and helping us get our stitching right! She was such a jolly character and great company, I hope to take my daughter and twins along to her shop at some point in the future as it isn’t that far from me!

james villas espadrilles making craft

red ted art

As well as us bloggers, a few members of the James Villas team joined in with the crafting and they were super lovely! The atmosphere was relaxed and easy, we laughed and talked and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We sniggered at some of the sewing skills around the table, especially mine… although they weren’t as bad as Gary’s from James Villas… his were terrible ;) For the most part, everyone did a grand job. It’s a pity we ran out of time…. it really did fly by… so we didn’t manage to finish our creations but we vowed to complete them at home, which I will, just haven’t got round to it yet! My daughter’s espadrilles, meanwhile, were beautiful! I couldn’t believe how lovely and neat they were, considering she’s only just turned 12, she certainly put mine to shame!

james villas espadrilles summer holidays

James Villas were the perfect hosts and this event was perfectly timed… the end of the summer when everyone is trying to come to terms with Autumn drawing in but at the same time, not willing to put away that holiday feeling just yet. With that in mind, making the effort to do things like our Mallorcan crafting is another way we can really bring the holiday home… reminding us of those special times. As can things like souvenirs. I don’t know if it’s just me but people don’t seem to buy souvenirs as much anymore do they? I remember when it was the done thing to visit the local shops when on holiday, even if it was in the UK, to buy little gifts for family and friends… but now I think we just buy the occasional thing for our own homes. Something authentic is best, like a hand sewn cushion or some beautifully painted ceramics. James Villas has a lovely post on their blog with some great ideas… They also suggest making a Smash Book to keep all those awesome holiday memories alive. A cross between a travel journal and a scrapbook, making one of these is an activity the whole family can get involved in.

Lastly, I think talking about our holidays, reminiscing with family and looking through photo’s, is probably the nicest way to remember holidays. I love to do this and it always puts a huge smile on my face. Or brings a tear to my eye, depending on how I’m feeling… a reminder of how much the kids have grown. We haven’t had a proper holiday for a few years now so I’m a bit fed up of looking at old photo’s, however wonderful they are. I want some new ones. Some new memories. I’m craving some sunshine, some fun and some relaxation. I want to hear my children squealing with delight as they jump in and splash around in a swimming pool all day. I want to explore somewhere brand new and lay on a beach feeling the hot sun on my skin… without a care in the world.

I NEED a holiday!

Ever since the event I’ve been browsing the James Villas website and flicking through their free magazine, wishing I could jump into the pages. I’ve always imagined they were expensive, don’t know why because I’ve haven’t looked but there are so many options for every taste and budget. It’s impossible not to find something you love. I’m wondering why we haven’t considered them before. We usually stay in hotels… with the all inclusive option, believing that to be best so we don’t need to worry about food and cooking and constantly buying drinks for the kids. But actually, staying in a hotel like that can be incredibly restricting and can become quite tedious. I haven’t stayed in a villa before, EVER… But I’m coming round the idea. I rather fancy the idea now of the seclusion that only a villa can give. Having my own little kitchen to prepare food and eat when we feel like it. Not having to worry about other people or timings. Enjoying that outdoor space and pool! Sounds idyllic doesn’t it?

I need to book something now, for next Summer so I have something to look forward to! If it’s booked, we’re going. No way I’m leaving it to the last minute like we did this year, then end up not going anywhere!

We need to create some brand new holiday memories to bring back home!

A big thank you to James Villas for a wonderful, inspiring day.

Teenager’s First Holiday with Friends & being Grateful for Social Media

teenagers first holiday

So the time has come. My 18 year old son has gone off on his first holiday abroad.

When children are small, you can’t imagine them doing something like this. Nor can you imagine EVER allowing them to… the thought of it is just too much.. so scary and worrying and it’s like they’ll never be old enough to even consider it anyway….. Our babies being in a foreign land without us to look after them and make sure they’re safe? No way!

I know we’ve heard it before but feelings don’t change just because children grow up. I still see my gorgeous, precious baby boy when I look at Teen. I still worry about him every waking moment… now more than ever! At least when they’re small we know where they are all the time! When they’re out there in the big wide world it’s scary for us parents!

But we have to let go. Unfortunately.

Teen is an actual adult now. Not that he acts like one you understand. He’s still incredibly stupid at times and does silly things.. I could write a post as long as my arm listing daft things he’s done and situations he’s got himself into…. he drives me nuts!

The day before his holiday he bleached his hair! It turned a lovely (not) shade of yellow which made him look like a right weirdo but he thought it was brilliant, and of course he’s right when he says it’ll grow out in a matter of weeks! He likes to push boundaries in all aspects of life and I guess when we were young, we all did crazy things too… it’s all part of growing up!

Eminem springs to mind!

At the same time though, Teen can be sensible when he needs to be and can certainly look after himself, as well as anyone else. So I’m hoping he has this sensible hat on most of the time (hmmm) he’s away and keeps his wits about him because being on holiday with a load of mates, drinking and most likely going a bit crazy… I do worry, a LOT!

He’s gone to Outlook Festival in Croatia. Not just a holiday then, A FESTIVAL!!! There’s been boat parties booked and DJ’s lined up that he can’t wait to see… there are loads of people going that he knows, girls and boys, not just his little group, which makes me feel a bit better… safety in numbers and all that… but it DOES sound like it’s going to be one long, alcohol fuelled, insane week of paryting! (I’m a bit jealous, ha!).

He’s been so excited about it! He wanted to go to this particular festival last year but he wasn’t old enough. Had to be eighteen. Not sure I would’ve been comfortable with that though, he seemed so much younger last year…. but he didn’t go so that’s ok! This week I spent my time making sure he had everything he needed, all his clothes were washed and ironed (I spoil him), and he’d packed everything. I’d made lists for him so he didn’t forget stuff and generally fussed around, feeling anxious.

His flight was very early in the morning and he was staying at a friends house the night before as they were all getting a taxi from there. I have to admit to not sleeping a wink, worrying that he’d forgotten something, but, and this is certainly a plus side to having social media…. I was checking his SnapChat continuously and could see he’d got to the airport, checked in and was eating the obligatory airport fry up for breakfast! Phew!

He messaged me from the plane when he got on to let me know they were taking off and then when they landed, bless him. I was glad of this. How parents coped in the past with no mobile phones is beyond me!

I’ve been keeping up with everything so far via his SnapChat and Instagram. I’ve seen inside their villa, the beach, the DJ’s, the amazing looking festival at night and the drunk friends haha! Feeling thankful for social media right now…. it’s such a godsend in times like these. When teenagers start going out and about, no matter where it’s to, just being able to see some kind of update somewhere means that they’re ok. Peace of mind. We’ve also been messaging here and there and I can confirm he’s having a great time!

Of course he ran out of money fairly early on…. I’m annoyed that he hadn’t budgeted at all but I’m not surprised one bit. I received lots of nice phone calls and Face-times that day, buttering me up so he could ask me to transfer him some money!! Teenagers are REALLY good at this! I got the ‘But I can’t buy any food and I’m starving’ spiel and the ‘I’ll pay you back I promise’ line that I hear more times than literally any other sentence known to man! Again, technology comes to the rescue in the shape of banking apps on our mobile phones, so I was able to transfer some money to him instantly and he could immediately see it in his account. A friend of mine used to work in a travel agency years ago and she said the most common thing that happened in her store was parents coming in to send money to their teenagers who were on holiday!!!! At least I didn’t have to leave the house! He WILL be paying me back though ;) Famous last words!

Anyway, he’s due back soon. Thank goodness! Not sure I could afford for him to stay out there any longer hehe! I’ve been keeping up with Outlook Festival hashtag itself on Insta, Snapchat and Twitter… it’s funny seeing lots of random people who I know will be there with, or least in the same vicinity as my boy, giving me some great insight. I just wish I had all his mate’s Snapchat accounts so I could nosey at those, ha… a bit stalkery I know but that’s what you need to resort to as a parent of a Teen….  I used to insist on knowing his passwords when he was a younger teen but they get to a certain age and you obviously can’t do this any longer… they do need their privacy, much to my dismay! Of course I would never add his mates on social media…. they would laugh in my face and probably think I was creepy!

I can’t wait to see him upon his return and give him a big squeeze and kiss! He’ll be so happy to be back home but will probably need to sleep for a week… meanwhile I’ll be ploughing through his washing! I don’t care though, we’ve all missed him so much and all I want is for him to be home safe and sound.

I know we’ve heard it before but feelings don’t change just because children grow up. I still see my gorgeous, precious baby boy when I look at Teen. I still worry about him every waking moment… now more than ever! At least when they’re small we know where they are all the time!

Another milestone reached and passed in my son’s life!

#StudentScreams at Thorpe Park

So September has arrived which means kids are all back to school and university… but never fear, all is not bad for students…. this September, the lovely guys at Thorpe Park are offering some fantastic discounts for University students!

Thorpe Park students

Is it your first year at Uni or maybe you’re returning to your studies? Before it all gets too heavy, grab your mates for an epic day out at THORPE PARK Resort! From 1st September – 28th September (on selected dates**), save a whopping 60% off entry tickets simply by showing your student ID*.

Student deals

Save too in the Thorpe Park store… half price Stealth shot glasses, now £1 each (available in The Island Shop and The Megastore only) and any poster for £5 (normally £8) – more in our shops when you show your student ID!

Sounds amazing to me… then don’t forget in October… the popular Fright Nights will be back! Exciting times!

*This ticket/offer is valid for students in further or higher education, or in an approved apprenticeship scheme only. Each ticket holder must be able to present a student photo ID from a university / college / apprenticeship scheme with a valid expiry date upon request of THORPE PARK Resort staff. Without student ID, you will be required to pay the cost of a full walk up adult ticket of £52.50 / £54.50.

** ~Thorpe Park is closed on 26th and 27th September 2017

 

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