Hogwarts In The Snow

Last week we were invited to the preview of Hogwarts In The Snow! We have been to the studio tour before and Oscar loved it so I was so excited to visit and feel the magic of Christmas. We didn’t tell Oscar where we were going and he was so surprised and excited when we arrived.

When we walked in we were greeted by the most enormous and beautiful Christmas tree I have ever seen. We had a look around the gift shop then headed in to the tour. When we walked through the giant doors of the Great Hall I was taken aback at how beautiful it was. Christmas trees, a Turkey feast and flaming Christmas puddings were the first things we saw. It is amazing how realistic the food is! It looks good enough to eat.

We walked around the rest of the tour looking at all of the amazing props from the film, even if you haven’t read the books or seen any of the films it is just so magical and amazing to see just how much work went into making the films. The Gryffindor common room was decorated for Christmas too.

We then had a photo of us in the flying car. You can also choose to have a video or photo of you flying on a broomstick but we got this last time we visited. They a great momento of an amazing day out.

Afterwards we took a ride on the Hogwarts express, grabbed a butter beer in the cafe and then went outside to see the larger set pieces like the bridge, Harry’s house and the triple decker bus. As soon as we walked outside we were met by snow, Oscar’s face was a picture. It was magical!


We then saw how they make ghost footprints in the snow which took a few goes for Oscar to understand it wasn’t real. The most magical thing of all was when we walked into the room with the huge Howarts model covered in snow. It smashes any Christmas decorations out of the water, it is truly amazing!

It is well worth a trip to the Warner Bros studio tour and even more so with the extra Christmas magic. It doesn’t matter how many times you visit, it is just as magical as the first.

Disclaimer: We visited the Warner Bros studio tour to preview and review the Hogwarts In The Snow experience. All opinions are my own.

I’m A Lady Mary… Who Are You? Daz Competition

As the final episode of Downton draws near, Sunday nights filled with the shenanigans of our favourite landed gentry and their staff will sadly be a thing of the past. If you’re lamenting the end of the series, fear not, Daz is here to “lighten the load”. Taking a light hearted look at which characters the nation most resembles, it seems that Lady Mary’s personality double is probably only an armchair away.

Daz, has revealed that a whopping two thirds of us display the characteristics of Lady Mary, which means that as a nation we’re a progressive bunch who believe in tradition but are all for change if it improves the situation.

Lady Mary types embrace innovation and are always looking for new ways to use technology, but do believe in maintaining a work, life balance. They generally look for quick and easy solutions to everyday tasks, like laundry. Believing themselves to be loyal, elegant and passionate, having clean, perfectly pressed underwear that looks and smells good, is a top priority.

I am defiantly a Lady Mary and believe in tradition. I am a stay at home Mummy to Oscar and Archie and the housework and laundry is down to me. Having two boys my washing machine is constantly on and with the muddy Winter weather setting in, it will only get worse. Don’t fear though… Daz has got it covered!

Aside from Lady Mary, 15% of us share characteristics of the Earl of Grantham being stable, dependable and intelligent and liking a crisp white shirt to wear every day… this is defiantly my other half. Only a mere 10% see ourselves at the heart of the home like Mrs Patmore; satisfied with where we are, needing clean tea towels every day and using technology only when necessary.

Which one do you identify with?

  • Lady Mary: 64%
  1.  Loyal, elegant and passionate the Lady Mary’s are the next generation redefining tradition.
  2.  Great smelling, perfectly pressed underwear makes them happiest.
  • Earl of Grantham: 15%
  1. Stable, dependable and intelligent, they think of themselves as the head of the family.
  2.  Crisp, white, wrinkle free shirts are their laundry priority.
  • Mrs Patmore: 10%
  1. Down to earth, caring and forgiving, Mrs Patmore’s are the carers of the family and run the household.
  2. Clean tea towels with no stains in sight are key
  • Branson: 4%
  1. Moral, reserved and sceptical. They are traditional through and through.
  2. Vests and shirts make up the bulk of their laundry, to keep them looking sharply dressed.
  • Dowager Countess of Grantham: 3% 
  1. Proper, traditional and practical they prefer not to work unless they have to.
  2. They don’t do the laundry. Ever.
  • Thomas: 3%
  1. Ambitious, driven and successful they will do whatever it takes to help family get ahead.
  2. Most likely suited and booted, they prefer to do washing as little as possible.

Let Daz lighten your load and enter my competition for the chance to win a great Daz prize! I have 3 x Daz Regular Washing Powder and 3 x Daz go Pods to giveaway. So enter below and good luck!

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Find out more about how Daz is lightening the load for the residents of Cleaner Close:

For those missing the maids…

Easy Daz it in the log shed…


Disclaimer: Daz statistics are not official ‘Downton Abbey’ or ITV statistics. Daz is not endorsed, sanctioned or in any other way supported by ‘Downton Abbey’ or ITV.


Love2read Personalised Memories of 2015 Photo Book & Competition

Love2read is a lovely website where you can design and make your very own personalised photo books with so many themes, from memory books to gift books for family and friends. We made our first Love2read book for Daddy for Father’s Day this year and he loved it and Oscar enjoyed being able to read the words to Archie. They really are a great idea! So as you can imagine I was over the moon when we were asked a few weeks ago to make a memory book for 2015 and have also been given the chance for one of my readers to win and make one of their very own.

So firstly I went onto the Love2read website and choose the book I wanted to make then scrolled through all of the photos I have taken this year so far (there are thousands) and picked out some wonderful memories for our special book. It was lovely to look back on the photos and it reminds me of what an amazing year we have had. Archie was born at the very end of December last year so we have made so many memories this year as a new family of four.

We have had some amazing holidays over the Summer we went to Tenerife for two weeks for Archie’s first holiday which was amazing then went to Toronto in Canada for 11 days to see friends too. We went up the CN Tower, visited Niagara Falls plus so much more.

We have had some fantastic days outs in the UK too. We hired a boat in Windsor and took a ride down the river, visited Lego Land, went to Harry Potter World, took the boys to the Elvis exhibition at the O2, took day trips into London to see the sights are just a few examples of where we have made special memories.

Oscar started in Year 1 in September and I can’t believe he is almost six. The years have flown by that is why it is a fantastic idea to make a memory book to look back on. I am going to do this every year as a tradition. At the end of each book are the high frequency words that have been picked out from your personalised text which are great for early readers too.

I absolutely love the Love2read books, they are so special and easy to make and would make a wonderful surprise gift for a family member or friend this Christmas!

You can enter below to win a personalised Love2read book of your own. Good Luck!

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Disclaimer: We were sent our Love2read book for the purpose of this review, however all opinions are completely honest and my own.


Ideas To Make Your Baby’s First Christmas Extra Special!

This Christmas will be Archie’s first Christmas and I want to make it as special as possible. I absolutely love Christmas and love to make it as special and magical as possible for the boys. I have started little traditions to keep the magic alive. On the 1st December the fairies bring our Christmas decorations and I decorate Oscar’s room and put out Christmas books for him to read. A elf door also appears downstairs and the elf comes to visit and reports back to Father Christmas about how well Oscar is behaving. Every year we always go to visit Father Christmas at Harrods and I can’t wait to take both the boys this year for their first Christmas photo together.

I have started collecting ‘My First Christmas’ tree decorations ready to put on the tree next month and did the same when it was Oscar’s first Christmas. I have brought two from Harrods, a 2015 first Christmas bauble and the 2015 Harrods bear as I have collected everyone since Oscar was born. I ordered these online.

Harrods My First Christmas 2015 Bauble          4717825 -

Christmas My First...I had a look on ebay for cute decoration ideas and came across a seller that made personalised decorations for under £10 each. I chose a blue parcel with a baby popping out of it and personalised for Archie and the year 2015. I think its really sweet and am really pleased with it!

On the John Lewis website I found the Wedgewood 2015 edition of the baby’s first Christmas carousel. I wish I had seen these before and am now on the hunt for a 2010 version on ebay to keep for Oscar too. The carousel decoration comes in a lovely box and is much bigger then I thought it was from the photos on the internet. You can get it in cream, pink or blue and they are only £30. This will be something to cherish for the future as they are a collectors item. It is a beautiful, traditional decoration!

We went to a preview of the beautiful Christmas collection from who have a lovely range for your baby’s first Christmas. They have everything from personalised stockings and decorations to plush toys and baby gift sets.  I love the My 1st Years website and have actually brought Archie’s special Christmas present from them with personalised ribbon.

Baby's 1st Christmas Stocking      Baby's 1st Christmas Set

Mamas and Papas also have some sweet bits for baby’s first Christmas. Back in 2010 when it was Oscar’s first Christmas I brought a dinner set with a melamine plate, bowl and cup all with ‘My First Christmas written’ on them and still have them in the decorations case in the loft so will use again for Archie’s Christmas dinner. My Mum and Dad brought a 2010 bauble from Mamas and Papas that came in a gift box and have brought the 2015 one for Archie. Mamas and Papas also have bibs, outfits, snow globes and photo albums.

My First Christmas Snow Globe  My First Christmas Santa Set  My First Christmas 2015 Bauble - Blue

Mothercare have something really different that I haven’t seen before…. A Father Christmas breakfast set which is absolutely gorgeous! It stacks up to make Santa and comes with a plate, bowl, mug and egg cup and is topped with a felt santa hat for your boiled egg. I have ordered a set each for Oscar and Archie.                                          

Through Facebook I found a page where you can get different gifts that can be personalised. I saw a wooden personalised nativity set and loved it. I ordered one for the boys and as well as being a nice decoration as it is wooden they can play with it together too.


I hope you find some of these ideas useful!

Merry Christmas



We Were Born To Socialise……

I read some interesting articles this weekend from Vtech who have been working with leading family psychologist and development expert Dr. Angharad Rudkin in line with the launch of their new Toot-Toot Friends range which includes the Busy Sounds Discovery Home which I saw myself at Dream Toys and it featured in the Dream Toys top 12. I wasn’t surprised!One of life’s most important skills for children which develops early on is to socialise and make friends. Something that is so important and key to everyday life and a skill that will stay with you and be needed throughout your whole life. From the moment of birth baby’s prefer human faces rather than drawings of faces and they turn towards their mother’s voice, suggesting that they are innately wired to be with other people. As children become toddlers they use this innate sociability to make connections with others. Learning how to make friends is one of life’s most important skills and it is one that develops very early on. This was so interesting for me to watch as Oscar started school as he chose who he wanted to play with instead of before he would just play with our friends children. I found it fascinating how two little children were drawn together to play and be ‘best friends’.

There are some important things we can do as parents to help our pre-schoolers have a positive experience of making friends.  Firstly, we have to understand that pre-school children do not think in the way that older children do. Their brains are still rapidly developing and so they see things differently. For example, pre-school children will find it very hard to take on another person’s perspective. This is called ‘egocentrism’ and it means that it can be hard for little children to understand why other children don’t want to play a game their way or play with a certain toy right now. Because of this, pre-schoolchildren often spend a lot of time playing on their own or engaged in ‘parallel play’ (where they areplaying alongside, but not with, their friend). This does not mean that your child is unsociable or has some difficulties in socialising. Even when they are playing alone, children can still learn about socialising. For example, play sets such as the VTech Toot-Toot friends allow children to learn about social skills such as turn taking and communicating. They are just being small children who can only take short bursts of playing together before needing some time alone.

Oscar playing with his friend 

Children are born with different temperaments. Often, these temperaments are reflections of their parents. So, for example a confident, chatty mum is more likely to have a confident, chatty child. When this is the case, it is relatively straightforward for a mum to support their child in making friends, because they do it in a similar way. It can be less straightforward however when a confident, chatty mum has a quiet, shy child. It is harder for the mum to know how to guide their child, as the strategies they use will not be the same as the ones their child will benefit from. It is particularly important in this case to for mums to accept their child for who they are (even if they do feel quite frustrated by their child’s shyness) and to get support and advice from the other parent, other family members and friends.

If your child is quiet and observant, you will need to take particular care in how you introduce them into new social settings. Expect them to want to sit on your knee and hold on to you for the first few times. Stay positive and encourage them to join in. If they don’t want to join in, chat to them about what the other children are doing so that your child remains interested. As your child “warms up” they will be happier to move away from you and play with other children, and once they have built up some friendships in that setting, they will feel far more comfortable. Regular and predictable play sessions are important. Quiet children are often attracted to more confident louder children, as they can be taken charge of, and these children find it easier to join a game in a passive role initially.

Confident children who are natural leaders can play with other confident leaders, but expect quite a few power struggles during these games, as both children try to take the dominant position. The majority of learning at this age occurs through watching and imitation. So, it is very important that you model positive friendships to your child from the very start. If you are someone who finds it hard to make friends, it can be difficult to build up a strong network of mum friends around you. This gets easier with practice though and not only does it mean that you have a supportive network but it also means that your child is learning a very valuable lesson. Children who grow up seeing their parents have positive friendships that – even if they are going through a rough patch – involve time together, having fun and caring are more likely to build up those positive friendships themselves.

When it comes to arranging time for your child to spend with their friends, remember to keep it short. Small children get tired very quickly, and it is much nicer to end a playdate on a high than wait until both children have melted into sobbing heaps. Finally, don’t expect the path towards friendship to run smoothly. There are a lot of mistakes to be made, and these are necessary for children to grow into adults who know what to do and what not to do when it comes to making friends. Even very good pre-school friends will frequently squabble and fight. Your refereeing will help your child to learn the essential skills of turn taking and negotiating.

As Oscar is 5 now how he plays with children has changed massively in the last two years. He now has best friends and instead of playing with lots of different groups of children he stays with his little group and his ‘best friends’. ‘Best friends’ mean different things to different people. It can be the person that you turn to as soon as something bad happens, or it can be the person that you do fun things with. Whatever it means to you as an adult there’s a good chance your child will have a very different idea! A best friend to a toddler may be someone who plays the same games that they do, or someone who they see twice a week, or someone who they look like. They will talk about their best friend a lot, want to say goodnight to them as they go to sleep, or want to have things that their best friend does.

As every adult knows, even best friends can be annoying or bewildering. However, a best friend is someone who is there through thick and thin, and who doesn’t hold a grudge. The same is true for little children. They won’t always get on with their best friends, and in fact may squabble with them quite a bit. However, their connection means that they make up easily and are quick to forget what made them cross. Children can also rehearse how to make up with friends by playing with dolls or figures such as the VTech Toot-Toot friends. Children, for example, can pretend that the Toot-Toot friends have had a disagreement before helping them to make up. Such imaginary play helps children to build up their confidence in making and keeping friends.

Another thing I have learnt is that Oscar mimics our behaviour and sometimes you forget this but they learn most of what they know in the home and showing children positive behaviour in the home is so important!  Pre-school children learn through watching and imitating. They will repeat what they have heard from home and will adopt their parents views very quickly. That’s why it is so important that parents act in the way they would like their child to. If you are a tolerant, curious and open minded person then your child is more likely to be too. Pre-school children are full of “why?” questions. Often these questions will be about why someone looks different or does something different. Answer these questions honestly and if you don’t know the answer or you’re a bit flummoxed then it’s absolutely fine to say “you know what, I don’t know. I’ll have a think about it and then we can chat about it more, later on this afternoon”.

Children are being brought up in increasingly multi-cultural societies. The globalisation of family life means that, more than any other time, children are being exposed to people from different countries, cultures, religions, ethnicities and abilities. Helping your child to tolerate and accept difference is an important part of parenting in the 21st century.  Being the same as someone is comforting to a little child. Help your child to understand that although someone might look different, talk differently, dress differently or just do things differently, there are still a lot of similarities. Encourage your child to spend time with a wide variety of people so that they can build up their confidence. Children can also learn about difference by playing with a variety of toys. The VTech Toot-Toot friends for example are a mix of boys and girls, all of whom have different strengths. While playing with all of these characters, children learn what it feels like to be each one and empathise with them. Children will then transfer this experience into their day to day interactions with others. As children’s brains grow, they become more aware that others can have different views and ideas about things and this can be quite frightening for a child. Most children will naturally steer their way through these feelings by experiencing situations where they learn to negotiate, take turns, compromise and communicate. All of these skills are essential for forming friendships throughout life and they also contribute to a child’s sense of belief in themselves and their abilities.

Children have a strong need to fit in, to be a part of a peer group and to be accepted. This need increases throughout childhood and reaches its peak in adolescence. When they are young, children try to fit in by being like other children, they may want to dress like them, talk like them or do the same things as them. As a parent you need to acknowledge this need to be like others in order to fit in, but also help your child to understand that they are loved and accepted for who they are, as someone unique. Use story books or TV programmes to start conversations with your child about differences and similarities and how it is important to accept yourself. Embrace your child’s individuality – just because you think pink spots and red stripes don’t go together, it doesn’t mean your child does. Let them explore and experiment – then they will grow up to be more in tune and more accepting of who they really are.

I hope you found this as interesting as I did and it gives you some hints and tips to help your little ones to socialize and make friends.


Forever Friends Bedtime Light Show & Musical Softie Bears

A few months ago we went to the preview event for the gorgeous new Forever Friends range from Golden Bear Toys. I absolutely loved all of the bears and listened to a speech by Sarah Ockwell-Smith who is a highly respected parenting and sleep expert as she explained to us all about the intricate development of the new Forever Friends toys and how Golden Bear have produced great plush toys for baby’s that actually help to send your baby to sleep and how the sensory and musical bears help with your baby’s development. At the event we were given two bears, Archie was given the snuggle blankie and the chime bear. He loves them both so when we were asked to review the new Bedtime Light Show bear and the Musical Softie bear I couldn’t wait to try them out!

When they arrived they looked great and felt as soft as I remembered when I saw them a few months ago. Archie isn’t the best sleeper, most nights he wakes between 3 and 7 times so we thought it would be interesting to see whether the bedtime light show made any difference. He is a big bear at 25cm and is lovely and soft and has a baby-safe photo holder which can be personalised with baby’s favourite faces. I have put Daddy in the photo holder and when I show Archie the photo he smiles. The light show glows warm shades of red, orange and gold create a calming night time light show. The colours are proven to encourage your baby’s brain to go to sleep. Since using it Archie drifts off in well under 5 minutes. Brilliantly the light show doesn’t just turn itself off so through the night when Archie stirs he can still see his bear glowing and the stars and moon projected onto the ceiling. The stars and moon are projected onto the ceiling and fade out and change colour every 5 seconds or so. As Archie is still in our room I have quite liked the stars on the ceiling, it is very relaxing!

The bear also plays lovely soothing music whilst magical starry light show  is on and you simply choose the song by pressing the heart buttons. It plays two different lullabies; Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Brahms Lullaby. The lullabies also have a volume control option which is fantastic as I have found most musical toys are either way to loud or you can hardly hear a thing. Archie’s bedtime light show has pride of place at the end of his cot and has really made a difference as I think he finds the warm glow reassuring when he stirs in the night and the light allows him to see around the his cot too. The Forever Friends Bedtime Light Show is suitable from birth and has an RRP of £29.99.

The other bear we were kindly sent is the Forever Friends Musical Softie. The bear is super soft and cuddly and is smaller than the bedtime light show at 21cm. He is lovely and squidgy and is full of features. It has multi-sensory features, soothing sounds and warm glowing lights in his cheeks. When you press the bear’s hand it activates 2 gentle lullabies and his cheeks softly glow. The glowing lights offer your baby reassurance and the lullabies will help them drift off to sleep. As he is smaller we can take him out and about with us and he can cuddle him in his car seat too.

He also has a little blankie in his hand which Archie likes to rub on his ears when he is getting sleepy and has a good chew on it too when he is awake and playing with him. Like the rest of the larger bears in the new Forever Friends collection from Golden Bear Toys it has the baby-safe photo holder and I have put a photo of Oscar in it which is on the bears tummy. The Musical Softie is suitable from birth and has an RRP of £19.99.

There are lots of gorgeous bears in the collection and they would make great new baby/baby shower gifts.

Disclaimer: We were sent both of the above mentioned bears for the purpose of this review, however all opinions are honest and my own.

A Good Night’s Sleep Starts With A Good Night’s Heat

Every parent knows how important it is to ensure that your children are happy, comfortable and well-rested, and a large part of this is making sure that your home and specifically their bedroom is kept at a suitable temperature. For babies it is recommended that rooms are kept between 18-22 degrees Celsius throughout the night, with higher temperatures linked to disturbed sleep patterns, existing skin conditions being exacerbated and in extreme scenarios, even Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Conversely cold temperatures can lead to disturbed sleep patterns and respiratory issues, so this really is an issue worth keeping an eye on.

Obviously a basic room thermometer will help you to monitor this, but another handy instrument to give you peace of mind might be a portable radiator from Verismart, which come in a range of styles and designs. With a portable option that can be wheeled in and out of your child’s room as required, the strong, lightweight body also boasts a digital control unit, which is programmable to keep the temperature in each individual room exactly as you would like it to be.
Automatically switching on and off to within a 0.1 degree accuracy, it also delivers peace of mind to parents who might be concerned about their energy bills come the end of each month – and as a bonus, Verismart’s range of stylish designs means that it will compliment any lay-out, or can be wheeled away and hidden if not being used.

Other tips to keep your little ones at the optimum temperature over the winter months include making use of lightweight, child-size sleeping bags (without the hood of course) or use cellular blankets and sheets, adding and removing layers as required. It’s well-known that you should never place hot water bottles or electric blankets in your baby’s cot,but as it’s also advised that their beds should be kept well away from radiators and heaters, making an easily-moveable model perfect for any size of room.

Other easily-affordable options to keep your kids warm this winter include placing tin foil on the back of existing radiators in order to reflect the heat rather than letting it be slowly absorbed by the inner walls of your home; employing thick curtains to trap warmth inside the room when the sun goes down and employing the use of a chimney balloon, which stops heat (and money) escaping where Santa should be coming down.

It’s amazing how little changes like these can save you money on your utilities and ensure that your kids are getting the best possible chance in life, starting with a good night’s sleep and from there, the sky’s the limit.

Review: JCB My First Fun Farm Tractor Tim

Last week Archie received a JCB My First Fun Farm Tractor Tim toy for him to play with. When I got it out of the box the bright colours instantly grabbed his attention and we sat down with Oscar to play with it. Oscar being ‘the big brother’ ended up trying to play with it himself but now Oscar is back at school Archie actually gets to play with his own toys without them being pinched.

I have tried to teach him how to push Tractor Tim backwards and forwards and place little balls in the trailer. The tractor itself is nice and light so is easy for Archie to move around and when he pushes it to far away he wriggles until he is laying down and rolls across the floor to it. Without even realising it is a great toy to encourage movement and crawling. Although I bet as soon as I put the Christmas tree up next month he will start crawling and pull the bloomin thing over!

The JCB My First Fun Farm Tractor Tim would make a great Christmas present and is aimed at babies aged 1 years + although Archie is ten months old and plays with it fine. It is ideal for a first birthday or first Christmas present. I have got a couple more for Archie for Christmas to go with Tractor Tim;  My 1st JCB Build & Go Digger and My 1st JCB Big Wheeler Freddie Fastrac Toy. Starting at only £9.99 they are great value too. As I said above Oscar has been playing with it too so that shows me even though they are for babies of 1 years + it is certainly a toy that will last for years and both the boys will get lots of play out of.

The JCB My First Fun Farm Tractor Tim has an RRP of £14.95. It also has a drop down tail gate for attach the trailer and can also be detached from the tractor too. The tractor has big chunky wheels making him great for indoor or outdoor play. He will be great in the sand pit next Summer! It is made really well too which is exactly what you want from a toy so you can use it outdoor too.

Both the boys have had really good fun playing with Tractor Tim and like I said above I think it is so good I have brought more for Archie. I can see this being a Christmas favourite!

Disclaimer: We were sent the JCB My First Fun Farm Tractor Tim for the purpose of this review, however all opinions are honest and my own.