Spending Christmas Away With The Children Without Hassle

Christmas is just around the corner, and whether we like it or not it’s time to begin thinking about plans for Christmas. We’re sure that you’re already aware that going anywhere with children is no simple task, so if you’re invited to spend Christmas at a family member or friends home, it’s likely that you’re dreading how you’re going to pull this off without any drama. Luckily, I’ve compiled a little guide on how you can spend Christmas away with the children, without any hassle and still enjoy yourself! 

christmas reading child

Pack the car to the brim

When you’re staying away overnight in a strange place, you can never predict how your children are going to react to their surroundings. That’s why it’s important to ensure that you’re armed with everything they could ever need to help keep them calm and happy. Packing the car with their favourite teddies, comfort blankets, snacks, drinks, clothes, and anything else that you think could help your children settle easier will make your Christmas run much smoother. You don’t necessarily have to bring everything into your accommodation with you, but knowing that it’s there if you need it will certainly help you rest with ease.

Make nap time easier

If you’ve got young children, the thought of putting them down for naps might be playing on your mind. Perhaps your friends and family don’t have anywhere that you’d like to safely leave your child to have a nap, or maybe you’re worried your child won’t nap with ease? You can buy kids travel systems that can help make sure your baby gets the nap they need without any worry on your behalf! Again, making sure they’ve got their favourite teddy or blanket will make the world of difference!

Keep them busy

There’s nothing worse than bored children, and as you’re probably already aware, when children are bored, the adults will suffer too. Before you even think about travelling, prearrange activities for your children to keep them busy and entertained. Perhaps you could get them a portable DVD player or some board games to keep them occupied? Alternatively, check to see if there are going to be any other children there for them to play with!

Baby proof everything!

Finally, children can get into pretty much anything if they put their mind to it, and when you’re in a strange environment you never know where dangers might be lurking! Ask your family members and friends to baby/child proof their homes so that not only will your children be able to safely roam around, but you will have one less worry on your hands!

Travelling away with children doesn’t have to be as stressful as you may think, so follow these tips and have a wonderful Christmas!

Afternoon Tea Week 2018

This week.. 13th to 19th August 2018 is Afternoon Tea Week!

afternoon tea week 2018

Celebrating the great British tradition of Afternoon Tea week 2018 is set to be the biggest celebration of British style and elegant eccentricity ever. The tradition dating back to Victorian times was started by the seventh Duchess of Bedford. It’s claimed she created high tea while visiting the fifth Duke of Rutland at Belvoir Castle. Could she ever have imagined that her solution to afternoon hunger would not only turn into a British custom, but a week-long celebration?

Hotels, tea rooms and restaurants will be running one-off events and offering exclusive discounts, up and down the country.

Online experience gift retailer, Buyagift are offering 20% off their Afternoon Tea gifts with their special discount code to use on their website! And to make it more fun, they’ve come up with their very own hashtag #AfternoonteawithyourBFF to encourage you to enjoy one of their wonderful gifts with that special friend. Buyagift offer some of the best Afternoon Tea days around… from 5 star, posh hotels to fun themed affairs.. there’s something for everyone!

So if you’re looking for something lovely to do this week or this weekend…. be sure to grab the discount while it’s still on and join in with this wonderful national event!

 

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt – Live

Last weekend we made a little trip to London to see We’re Going on a Bear Hunt – Live at the Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue.

We're going on a bear hunt live theatre london

Considering we are big theatre fans, we haven’t been for a while and I was missing it, so this was a welcome break in the theatre drought!

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt is a childrens’ story book by Michael Rosen and is favourite of ours. Actually it’s probably in most young childrens’ bookcases all over the Country as it’s become a bit of a classic now!

I first came across it when a friend bought it for my first son when he was little. He’s now nineteen! It was also bought for my daughter in a different cardboard book format, with a little teddy bear included! In fact, we have a few copies in our collection now!

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve read this story to my children. My eight year old twins still like to listen to it at bedtime occasionally so I’m still going strong with it! It’s one they will pick up and read themselves too.

We read it time and time again and it never tires… it’s one of those books that really captures the imagination.

The text has an almost lyrical feel as the Dad in the story and his young children go off on a little, fun adventure across the countryside, through all kinds of weather and terrains, looking for a bear! So children like to join in with the story as the words are repetitive, shouting out their favourite parts with you as you read along!

When I asked my children if I should get tickets for We’re Going on Bear Hunt they literally bit my head off! “Yes” they said without any hesitation at all… even my daughter who has just turned 13! Such is the special relationship with this story.

We were all very excited arriving at the theatre and couldn’t wait for the show to start!

We're going on a bear hunt live theatre

I had a feeling that it would be adults playing the parts of the children, as we’ve seen numerous books brought to life this way and it honestly works really well.

There were only four actors in the production… the Dad, played by Thos Wainwright, his two children played by Joey Hickman and Rebecca Newman, a puppet baby and the family dog, played by Benjamin Hills!

we're going on a bear hunt live theatre

Straight from the off, we were drawn in by the characters we love and know so well. The lights in the auditorium were still on as the show began…. which took us by surprise. We hadn’t realised it had started for a couple of seconds! I thought this was very clever as the audience is made up of some very young children and this gentle introduction without the need for everyone to be quiet first was genius!

The actors came to the stage through the audience too which immediately connected us to them. The ‘Dog’ was  comical.. he was interacting with some of the kids, playing up to his doggy character! He also doubles up as a musician for the show!

The story was brought to life with fun songs and music.. really capturing those repetitive rhythms of the text in the book so perfectly. The places the family walk through in the story were each given their own special song and production!

There was the swishy swashy grass which was accompanied by the Lazy Nice Day song… loved this! The children in the audience were invited to make butterflies with their hands.

We're going on a bear hunt live

The splish splashing through the river came next… a groovy sounding song brought that to life… as did buckets of real water which the actors splashed in! This scene also saw them pulling out huge water pistols! I’ll let you imagine what happens there……

To create the mud scene they had paper and easels on the stage with paint used for the mud! This was very funny as they all got super messy… my children laughed their heads off at this part!

We're going on a bear hunt live

The forest scene was very funny too according to my children…. because this contained the word Poo! My twin boys’ favourite word! Some one stood in it and Dog rolled in it!

The snowstorm was quite mesmerising with the lights down and the simple but effective stage props. There was even some fake snow that fell into the audience from up high which was quite magical.

We're going on a bear hunt live

Anticipation and excitement rose as the journey took the family to the ‘dark, gloomy cave’! We wondered what the bear would look like once he came out! This was the only part where I wondered if children might be a little scared, but it was done perfectly. The bear, I’m happy to report, was more cute than scary!

we're going on a gear hunt live

The last part of the show whipped us up into a frenzy as the bear chases them back through all the scenes and heads back to their house! The main song ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ was sung and we, the audience were encouraged to join in and singalong!

We can absolutely, without hesitation, say we loved this show! My children didn’t want it to be over. For very young children it was the perfect length in terms of running time and left everyone wanting more!

Like the much loved Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenburys picture book, the show managed to capture the imagination and propel audiences into the world of this fun-filled adventure, making it the ideal theatrical experience for first time theatregoers.

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt is showing now at the Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue until the beginning of September, you can book online with tickets starting at £15.00.

Ferdinand at The Shard

This Easter holidays there’s a great event happening at The Shard in London.

Ferdinand, the kids movie, is due to be released on Blu-ray and DVD on 16th April and to celebrate, Twentieth Century Fox have teamed up with The Shard to bring some fun for families these holidays!

We were invited to breakfast at The View from The Shard to have a look at what the event is offering! We were very excited indeed!

It was an early start…. we needed to be in London for 9am… but the kids didn’t mind! We braved the rush hour London tubes to arrive on time and as soon as we entered, evidence of Ferdinand was all around!

Ferdinand The shard

We’ve been lucky enough to visit The Shard before, a few years ago, so of course we know how un-bullieveable the panoramic views across London are, but sometimes kids need a bit more to keep them interested! This Ferdinand special event has created a fun activity sheet where one of the games is a treasure hunt to look for Ferdinand’s favourite flowers and to spot some of London’s most iconic landmarks!

the shard

the shard

the shard

the shard flower hunt

the shard the tower of london

There’s a ‘fiesta’ up on the open air top level of The Shard called The Sky Desk, where children can join in with dancing if they so wish… prizes can be won, as well as being entered into the main prize draw of winning a trip to the fiesta capital itself, Barcelona! There’s also fabulous face painting on hand too!

If that’s not enough, you can take a ride on the brand new virtual reality slide that goes 100mph down the outside of The Shard! Yikes! I have to mention I wasn’t brave enough to do this and the recommended age is 12+ but I saw lots of younger kids than that having a go!

the shard virtual reality slide

The Ferdinand flower display was a favourite of mine, it’s gorgeous… great for a photo opportunity! My children noticed that the model of Ferdinand was actually made out of feathers which fascinated them!

the shard flowers ferdinand

For the adults, there’s the champagne bar for you to enjoy in Western Europe’s highest building, plus there’s plenty of snacks on offer for everyone.

Your family experience ticket, to be purchased between 30th March and 15th April and costs only £64.95 if you book in advance or £79.95 on the day, allows you to stay as long as you like and includes all the fun activities I’ve mentioned!

There’s also a free goody bag for the kids to take home filled with ador-a-bull treats!

We had a wonderful morning… it really is such a spectacular attraction for everyone.

the shard

 

Mr Todd’s Lair at Willows Farm

willows farm rocknrollerbaby mummy endeavours

I’ve written about Willows Activity Farm loads of times here on my blog as it’s somewhere we absolutely LOVE to go and luckily for us, it’s local too!

Situated just off the M25 at St Albans, it’s easily accessible from London and for everyone else to visit as well, no matter which direction you’re coming from!

And I know that visitors do come from far afield because my very good friend Ruth who writes the blog Rocknrollerbaby drives from Norwich to enjoy the delights of Willows Farm! In fact we meet there regularly and already plan more visits this year!

We were there together on this day and it’s like our very own special place to meet! Neither of us likes to be there without the other now and our children, all pictured above, adore each other and always, ALWAYS have the best time at Willows!

This time we were there for a very special event… the grand opening of brand new play area for 2018…Mr. Todd’s Lair. The large, amazing, Peter Rabbit playground has been a favourite at Willows for a few years now and it truly is a brilliant feature, so they wanted to add to it!

It was an early start for the launch, and very cold, but with a lovely breakfast laid on for the press, bloggers and a few celebs it was worth it!

After breakfast there was a meet and greet with the main Fox himself…. Mr Todd! The kids loved seeing him, he was very happy to pose for photo’s and looked very dapper indeed!

willows farm mr todd peter rabbit

Peter Rabbit was in attendance too of course, who was in a particularly mischievous mood… covering my twins’ faces when I was trying to take a photo! Very funny…. NOT… naughty Peter Rabbit!

willows farm peter rabbit

That’s better!

willows farm peter rabbit

Then it was time to be taken to Mr. Todd’s lair and the kids couldn’t wait! There were two entrances…. either going down the slide at the top here, or wandering down the hill to the bottom where you can enter via the doorway!

willows farm mr todds lair peter rabbit

willows farm mr todds lair peter rabbit

willows farm mr todds lair

It looked amazing! As with every other feature at Willows, the attention to detail is second to none. All the kids were completely in a frenzy as they raced to explore all around and inside this new play area! There’s a glimpse into how Mr. Todd lives with a full size dining table and chairs in the kitchen that kids can sit at, a cooking pot that they can look inside or even climb into if they so wish and lots of little drawers and fiddly bits to faff around with! There’s also the slides and hidden entrances.

willows farm mr todds lair rocknrollerbabyRuth and I with the stars of the show Peter Rabbit and Mr. Todd!

willows farm hertfordshire peter rabbit mr todd todds lairMine and Ruth’s gorgeous girls!

Outside the old tree house has been included in the new Mr. Todds area and it’s been given a spruce up, as has the zip wire! There’s also a little Squirrel Nutkin agility course and a fab new kiosk selling hot doughnuts…. we definitely made the most of this, they were super delicious!

willows farm mr todds lair peter rabbit

willows farm mr todds lair peter rabbit

willows farm mr todds lair peter rabbit

willows farm mr todds lair peter rabbit

willows farm mr todds lair peter rabbit

We can wholeheartedly say that this new addition to Willows was a massive hit and everyone enjoyed it. It fits right in with everything else, like it’s always been there. I can’t believe how Willows manages to add something new and exciting every single year. Changing things up so there’s always fresh excitement every time you visit!

Our kids wanted to go down to the bouncy castles afterwards!

I have to mention that everything, once you’ve paid the entrance fee to get in, is included! That means all the bouncy castles, the fairground rides, the outdoor shows, the seasonal events, the indoor play areas, the animals… EVERYTHING! The only thing you have to pay for is food…. and you don’t even need to pay for that! The food IS great at Willows and very reasonably priced, but you are very welcome to bring a packed lunch and there is even a designated area to eat it, which is covered in Winter to keep the cold out and all open in the Summer to enjoy the weather!

Ruth and I are always at Willows till closing time! They are literally throwing us out we stay so long and this happens every single time! We love it and never want to leave… honestly!

The bouncy castles were soaked. It had been raining early in the morning but do you think this stopped our kids from running straight onto them? Oh no!

willows farm

Wet trousers and socks were the result so after this we headed to the indoor play barn, Woolly Jumpers! Luckily they sell socks for £1 a pair so I bought some for my twins whose own socks were drenched! There’s two indoor play areas… the main one, Woolly Jumpers, is set inside the cafe where we love to hang out especially when it’s cold! There’s a full climbing play frame including slides and our children spend hours in here!

willows farm

willows farm

The other one is Toddler Town which is perfect for younger kids that has all sorts of play houses in, like a kitchen, pet shop, train station, hospital and lots more… it’s role play heaven!

A big event that’s happening at Willows right now is their Easter Eggstravaganza! This is really lovely. There’s a designated, delightfully pretty Easter Egg hunt garden where children can pick a basket and run around hunting for hidden wooden eggs (which are easy to find!) then exchange them for REAL chocolate eggs afterwards! Again, you don’t pay extra for any of this, it’s all included in the entry price! That’s right… yummy chocolate for free!

willows farm easter

willows farm easter

willows farm easter

From here we headed down to Tractor Tristan! We love this… it’s a cute ride on the back of a Tractor which takes you on a little seasonal tour… this time it was through an Easter scene! There’s also a large pond to go through as well as seeing lots of animals! A visit to Willows really isn’t the same without a ride on Tristan!

willows farm

willows farm

After this we headed inside again, into the Farmyard to see some more animals. It’s Spring so lots of babies to see including piglets and adorable chicks! There were also some lambs being hand fed by some of the farmers!

willows farm piglets

willows farm feeding lambs spring 2018

willows farm animals guinea pigs

Petting some of the smaller animals is a highlight for most children! All they need to do is take a seat and one of the helpers will come around and hand them a guinea pig to hold. So cute!

Lastly, we headed round to the Peter Rabbit play area! It cost over £1 million to create and it’s easy to see why… it’s incredible! There’s so much in this one space and all dedicated to the CBeebies version of the much loved character. There’s Mr McGregors garden where you can run around and collect giant vegetables, Jeremy Fisher’s music pond where there all sorts of instruments to make noises, Benjamin Button’s amazing treehouse with adventure play area, Mrs Tiggy Winkles kitchen, Lily Bobtails nature discovery and Peter Rabbit’s secret treehouse and adventure playground!

willows farm peter rabbit

willows farm peter rabbit

It’s easy to understand how we can stay at Willows till closing time isn’t it?

Don’t just take our word for it either… whenever we visit we quite often spy a famous face or two.. oh yes, it’s a favourite haunt for celebrity kiddo’s too! Samantha Faiers is a frequent visitor at the moment with her baby Paul but I quite often spot pop stars, actors, sports stars and tv presenters mingling with the crowds enjoying their day out at Willows with their children!

For the launch of Mr. Todd’s Lair we spotted Alex Jones from The One Show and Michelle Heaton from Liberty X amongst others… including DIY SOS’s Nick Knowles, who very kindly posed for a photo with me… I just wanted to show my other half as he’s a fan! Any excuse!

willows farm nick knowles

Willows Farm Easter Eggstravaganza is on until 15th April.. if you can make it, be sure to pay a visit over the holidays! Otherwise it’s open every single day for you to enjoy. Keep an eye on their website for upcoming events too!

I’m a Merlin Annual Pass Ambassador for 2018!

Finding out that I’d been chosen to be a Merlin Annual Pass Ambassador for 2018 will probably be THE best news I hear regarding my blog this year!

Merlin annual pass ambassador

Excited just wasn’t the word! Being an Ambassador for Merlin Entertainment means I’ll be able to take my family… my four wonderful children, to ANY of the Merlin attractions ALL year with our complimentary Premium Annual Passes… then come back here and share all our adventures with you!

What an amazing opportunity and SUCH an honour!

Right now there is a massive Sale on for The Merlin Annual Passes which ends on 12th February! Owning one gives you 52 weeks of family fun to enjoy from only £109 per person!

A  Merlin Annual Pass opens the door to 32 magical worlds across the UK, so wherever you live, you’re guaranteed to have the ultimate passport to fun!

Merlin Entertainments own some of the UK’s biggest and best attractions, including some of our favourites that I’ve written about before, like to fabulous Thorpe Park, who’ve I’ve been an Ambassador for for the last couple of years!  It boasts some of the best rollercoasters all in one place in my opinion and is brilliant for older kids and adults looking for those extreme thrills! It also has the best Halloween event in Fright Nights…. a must visit for me and Teen every year!

stealth thorpe park roller coasters

Blackpool Tower is another favourite after we visited in 2016! Definitely going to go back this year… from the amazing view from the top of the Tower, to Afternoon Tea in the famous Ballroom, it has so many venues within a venue! I want to include Sea Life this year when we go as we ran out of time last time!

blackpool tower

In Spring last year we visited Sea Life London and Shrek’s Adventure. Sea Life I hadn’t visited for years and we’d been invited to check out their new Jellyfish exhibition which was amazing! We hadn’t been to Shrek before as it’s a relatively new attraction so it was great to experience that! It’s completely interactive and lots of fun! If you’re a Shrek fan you’ll LOVE it…. be prepared to get involved! 😉

Sealife london ocean invaders jellyfish

LegoLand is top of our hit list this year! It isn’t too far from us, yet we haven’t been anywhere near enough times. No reason really apart from maybe fact that my Twins haven’t been too keen on rides and theme parks until the last year or so. We visited last Summer for the first time with them and they loved it! I used to go all the time when Teen was younger and I couldn’t believe how much it’s grown in size since then! There’s so much to pack into a visit that we’re so happy we’ll be able to go lots this year!

legoland

That’s the beauty of the Annual Pass! Even if you don’t manage to get one in the sale, they are still so worth having! It means you can leisurely stroll around one of the attractions, taking your time and not rushing around trying to cram everything in, knowing you can always go back whenever you want with your Pass.

The Annual Pass gives you access to special benefits and discounts too and the Premium Pass even offers you discounted rates on the resort Hotels with their Holiday Club!

A couple of Merlin Attractions we haven’t got around to visiting before but always say we will, are Warwick CastleThe London Eye (can you believe that?!) and The London Dungeons. Definitely going to be visiting these this year and hopefully book some overnight stays too!

We stayed at Chessington World of Adventures a few years ago and the attention to details in the rooms is totally unreal! My children absolutely loved it! There’s a new addition at Chessington this year in the shape on Tiger Rock which opens on the 5th May… an exhilarating log flume ride, featuring a new innovative big cat enclosure with Europe’s first overhead trails!

tiger rock chessington new 2018

If you want to purchase your Merlin Annual Pass for 2018 in the sale, you’ve got until the 12th February to grab that bargain! Don’t miss out! But don’t worry if you miss it, they’re available to buy all year round at any of the Merlin attractions or online.

Visit the Merlin Annual Pass Website now!

*Disclosure I have been gifted Annual Passes this year to visit some Merlin attractions and share my experiences. I have not been paid to write this post. All words and opinions my own and honest.

Cocktail Masterclasses to combat Dry January!

cocktail masterclass k west hotel

With so many people taking part in Dry January and trying to detox the Christmas over indulgence, The Studio Bar at the K West Hotel & Spa in London’s Shepherd’s Bush has decided to start the year 2018 with a healthy dose of boozy debauchery instead!

What a great antidote to all the ‘New Year New Me’ resolutions! Move over green smoothies, let’s just start as we mean to go on!

The K West Hotel & Spa’s West London Celebrity hangout is inviting guests and visitors to take part in a 1.5 hour masterclass, led by the expert mixologists of Studio Bar. You can learn how to mix two of the most popular cocktails around… the Cosmopolitan and the Mojito!

How do you fancy playing bartender, getting to grips with the mixing and shaking and even pouring like a pro? Taste tests will also be required….. well, it would be rude not ti! By the end of the cocktail masterclass, guests will have stirred up a storm and be ready to impress with savvy mixology knowledge!

If you fancy giving this a go, and it DOES sounds like an incredibly fun event to have with your mates, The Cocktail Masterclass can be booked between 4pm and 7pm from Monday to Sunday. The classes take place in the understated surroundings of Studio Bar, which transforms from a laidback lounge in the day into a buzzing bar after nightfall, with top DJs playing sets from 10pm until 2am on Friday and Saturday nights.

Priced at £30 per person, the masterclass can be booked for groups of between 4 and 8 people. The package includes the 1.5 hour session and appetizing bar nibbles.

studio bar k west hotel

K West Hotel & Spa’s fun and vibrant ambience is fused with ultimate relaxation in a prime location. Situated in Shepherds Bush, the hotel is on the doorstep of Westfield shopping centre, the largest urban retail destination in Europe with over 240 outlets.  Fashionable areas such as Notting Hill, Portobello Road and Kensington are also just a short walk away.

 

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