Category Archives: Blog

Blogmas Day 9: Our Annual Visit To Harrod’s Christmas Grotto

Yesterday we drove into London to visit Father Christmas on our annual grotto visit to Harrods. It has become a tradition for us to go to the Harrods Grotto and we have been going since 2012. I booked our slot back in September. You have to have a Harrods reward card and depending on what you spend in store throughout the year you are then given a tier and the higher your tier, the earlier the email you get to book your slot. This year I had to pay £20 per child to book and every year previously it had been £10 per child and then you got the money back on your Harrods reward card to spend in store. We would usually let the Oscar and Archie pick a decoration each. This year though I asked when we arrived about the £40 going back on the card and I was told they had changed it and you didn’t get it back anymore. This surprised me but I thought maybe the gift would be different and maybe that is why you now have to pay double the amount per child and not get it back to spend in store anymore.

When we arrived we checked in and waited and then we were greeted by Robin the Elf who did a few magic tricks and jokes and then we went into the Fairy and Elf airport. The Elf’s taught the children some sign language which was nice, asked them what they wanted for Christmas and then all the children had to hunt for envelopes around the room and post them for them. Then we walked into a room with three giant swans in them. Each family sat in a swan and we watched a video on the walls of the room and time travelled to Christmas day and then back to December the 8th. The boys were then given a Fantastica grotto time pilot licence.

We then went in to see Father Christmas. The room didn’t look as Christmassy as usual but the boys didn’t notice. Father Christmas was really nice and chatty, asking the boys what they would like for Christmas and congratulating Oscar on learning to ride his bike this year and asked Archie about starting nursery. He then gave them a Harrods grotto gift bag with a 2018 teddy bear inside and a giant chocolate coin. We then had our photo taken with him. We went outside and chose our photo which cost £14.50 for a large photo and you get a download code so you can have it on your phone too.

To be honest I am not to sure why they decided to charge more as the gift was the same size as last year and the grotto itself was a lot smaller. Afterwards we headed to the toy department to have a look around then went for lunch at our favourite, Honest Burger. Overall Oscar and Archie had a lovely day and really enjoyed it. I thought it wasn’t as good as last year and over priced really. Would we go again, of course its a tradition for us now and I will book again next year so we can get our annual photo.

Blogmas Day 7: Swizzels Stocking Fillers & Festive Sweet Tub Give Away

I cannot believe it is only 18 days until Christmas, December is flying by. I have started preparing the boys stockings that they hang on the end of their beds on Christmas Eve. As well as filling it with books, games and little toys I always add a sweet treat. Swizzels have a huge range of amazing Christmas gifts and stocking fillers to make your little ones jump for joy on Christmas morning. From sweet shop favourites to bumper bags of your favourite sweets, there is something for everyone.

There are also fantastic retro sweet hampers that you can personalise which would make the perfect gift for my Dad. He loves sweets, retro ones in particular and the hampers are a bargain at £16.99! There are also vegetarian and vegan gifts available, so there really is something for everyone.

My absolute favourites are Love Hearts, Drumsticks and Refreshers, they just take me right back to being a child when my Grandad would give us a fifty pence piece every Thursday and my Brother and I would go to the local newsagent and spend it on them. Even now when Oscar gets given them at parties and especially on Halloween I always eat the drumsticks!

Online on the Swizzels website throughout the whole of December you can get 15% off everything using the code DEC2018. After looking through the website I also ordered our whole family a packet of personalised Love Hearts each to put on the Christmas table. I will share a photo with you when they arrive.

On the Swizzels website they also have fun Christmas recipes, quizzes, jokes, cracker making tutorials and Christmas crafts. Perfect to keep your little ones entertained up until Christmas. Oscar and Archie love doing Christmas crafts and baking so we will be making the Drumstick Squashies Rocky Road and printing off the colouring sheets.

So here’s something to set your jingle bells ringing! Thanks to the lovely people at Swizzels, to celebrate Christmas, I have two scrumptious Swizzels 5kg Party Sweet Tubs (RRP £24.99) to give away. They are filled to the brim with the finest Swizzels sweeties and each tub is enough to satisfy even the sweetest of tooth right through Christmas and into the New Year! They are perfect for sharing, filling multiple stockings, or even as a staff room treat, these tubs have been packed with all your childhood (and adulthood!) Swizzels favourites: Refreshers, Parma Violets, Mr Chews, Love Hearts, Fizzers, Fruity
Pops, Drumsticks, Double Lollies and more… It’s enough to make your mouth water!

To enter this fabulously mouth-watering competition all you need to do is enter below! Merry Christmas and Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This post is in collaboration with Swizzels.

Blogmas Day 4: Making A Family Christmas Dinner Easy!

Some people dread preparing and cooking Christmas Lunch but I always really enjoy it and over the years have mastered different tips to make it as easy as possible. After all its only a giant roast dinner! I make my shopping lists well in advance so that nothing gets forgotten.

  • Turkey for 12 – M&S
  • Maris piper potatoes
  • Goose fat
  • Parsnips – M&S
  • Mash – M&S
  • carrot and swede mash – M&S
  • brussel sprouts
  • carrots
  • peas
  • cauliflower
  • stuffing – M&S
  • pigs in blanket – M&S
  • sausage meat – M&S
  • stuffing – M&S
  • yorkshire puddings – M&S
  • turkey gravy
  • bread sauce
  • cranberry sauce

I always lay the table on Christmas eve and just have to add the sauces on the day out of the fridge.

Our Christmas lunch is always for a minimum of twelve people and I start organising it a few weeks before. I went online last week and booked my Turkey on the Marks & Spencer entertaining website and picked a date and time slot for when I will pick it up. This makes it so easy and you can pick your size of bird when ordering so you know you will always get one as big as you require, I ordered a 12-14 person British Organic Free Range Pembrokeshire Bronze Turkey. I also ordered two portions of their outdoor bred garnish selection which consists of stuffing balls and pigs in blankets. When I go and collect the Turkey I will also grab the M&S carrot and swede mash, Yorkshire puddings and parsnips. The parsnips I buy already prepared and they just go straight in the oven in foil trays.

I have also already booked a Tesco delivery slot for the 23rd of December where I have brought all the drinks, nibbles, vegetables, sauces and goose fat for the potatoes. I also buy Bacofoil roasting trays and cook the Turkey, potatoes, Yorkshire puddings and parsnips in and then they can go straight in the bin without any washing up.

I work out my cooking schedule the day before and stick to that and everything then runs smoothly. I use a Jamie Oliver recipe I found years ago for the Turkey and that goes in early in the morning. I remove the giblets, place a large orange, a lemon and a cooking apple inside the Turkey and cover the outside of the bird with unsmoked streaky bacon. The Turkey always stays moist and tastes amazing.

I also cook a piece of ham as well and that only takes 60 mins and has a honey glaze on it. Oscar and Archie prefer it to Turkey.

The Turkey comes out of the oven 30 minutes before serving and I cover it in tea towels to keep it warm. We have two ovens so everything fits in to cook, but this is a great way of making room to cook everything else by leaving your turkey out to rest.

Greg always carves the Turkey and starts doing this about ten minutes before we serve so that everything is cooked and all on the plates at the same time and kept nice and hot. I also make the gravy whilst the turkey is being carved so its ready to go. At the same time I warm the bread sauce and cook the Yorkshire puddings.

My Mother In Law always part cooks the Christmas pudding so we leave that to finish cooking whilst were eating our lunch. I also bake a chocolate cake on Christmas Eve ready and we have mince pies as well. Along with cream, custard and brandy butter.

  • brandy butter
  • cream
  • custard
  • mince pies
  • Christmas pudding
  • chocolate cake
  • ice cream

With all the throw away cooking trays in the bin, I wash up the cutlery and the plates and dishes go into the dishwasher straight away as I cannot stand a cluttered kitchen.

And that’s it, Christmas Lunch cooked for another year!

Blogmas Day 3: Christmas Dining Table Inspiration

I cannot wait for Christmas this year! Oscar is so excited and Archie understands all about Father Christmas this year properly for the first time, so its really magical. This Christmas as usual we have both sides of the family for lunch, there are 12 of us around the table for lunch. Christmas is my favourite time of the year and I love adding personal touches to make it as fabulous and as special as possible for everyone.

I have been searching on Google for Christmas table ideas over the last few months and found so many great ideas. I have decided to stick with my usual Gold colour theme to match our fabulous Pines and Needles Christmas Tree. This is our second year of having our gorgeous tree delivered and dressed and its a show stopper! I’ve picked up lots of little bits from Christmas fairs and garden centres and online as well and thought I would share a few ideas with you. We also went to the Ideal Home Show at Christmas where I brought some new decorations.

For the last few years I have used Gold chargers on the table that I brought from Next. This year I wanted to get some gold place mats instead and again brought them from Next, one side is a shimmered gold and the other is glitter gold. I prefer the shimmer but you could alternate each mat to jazz it up a bit. They come in a pack of four with the coasters for £20.

I also follow a lot of independent sellers on Instagram and Facebook and ordered some lovely personalised wooden Christmas tree place setters from Pretty Personalised who sell lots of personalised gifts.

Last year I had a beautiful centrepiece made by Love Flowers in Rickmansworth and it looked amazing and smelt divine! I think it was about £100 and I will definitely be getting another one this year.

Last year I also found these cute wooden personalised napkin rings and brought thick disposable napkins from Marks and Spencer to put inside them. They have similar ones available from Not On The High Street, a set of 12 is £48.

To go with my Gold theme I also have Gold Cutlery from Viners. The sets come in lovely display boxes and are £135 a set for four people. The only annoying thing is I can’t put them in the dishwasher so have to wash them up by hand.

I hope I have given you a few ideas. I would love to see your Christmas Dining tables and any great ideas you have, so make sure you share them with me!

Blogmas Day 2: Room On The Broom Live Review

On Friday we took the train into London with our friends as we had been invited to the Lyric Theatre to watch Room On The Broom Live. Archie loves the book and we reread it again on Thursday evening in bed so it was fresh. We arrived at the Theatre and got our tickets and in the foyer they have snacks and ‘Room On The Broom’ merchandise for sale. We got each of the boys a Witch soft toy which was only £8. We then made our way to our seats.

We had great seats, not to far from the stage and used the theatre booster seats provided so the boys had the perfect view. The show started at 11am and runs for one hour, which is perfect for little ones.

We were really impressed with the show and how only four people managed to pull off such a great production. The show itself is recommended for children aged 3 and above and started on the 23 November 2018 and is running until the 13 of January 2019. Then the show will be at the Hertford Theatre on the 22nd and 23rd of March 2019.

From start to finish I loved the added humour for the parents in it which made us giggle. The story of Room On The Broom is a lovely book written by Julia Donaldson and is about A Witch and her cat flies through the wind and loses her hat and comes across a dog who wants to know “if there is any room on the broom for me?” The Witch, the cat and the dog fly on but the Witch loses her hair bow in the wind and a birds finds it. Bird then wants to then know “if there is any room on the broom for me?”. The Witch flies on with her cat, the dog and the bird but let go of her wand. A frog then finds it and wants to know “if there is any room on the broom for me?”. The Witch flies on with her cat, the dog, the bird and the frog but the broom is overloaded and snaps in two. The Witches half broomstick flew on with the others falling out of the sky and the Witch gets chased by a Dragon who wants Witch and Chips for tea. But just as the Dragon was about to eat, out of a ditch rose a horrible beast. The beast was really the cat, dog, frog and the bird who covered themselves in mud to save their Witch from the Dragon. They then all do a spell together to get back home. “Iggety, ziggety, zaggety, ZOOM!” Out of the cauldron rose the most magnificent broomstick and they all flew home together.

After the show we were kindly invited to a Room On The Broom tea party where we had a lovely lunch and then got to meet the talented cast members of the show.

Room On The Broom is such a fun and captivating story for little boys and girls and the stage show compliments it perfectly. We really had a wonderful time. You can book tickets online with tickets costing only £15 with both morning and matinee performances available.

We were gifted the tickets to watch Room On The Broom. 

Zoggs DC Super Heroes Range & Our Trip To Coral Reef

Last week we went on an exciting trip after school to Coral Reef Waterworld in Bracknell. We were kindly invited by Zoggs to celebrate the launch of their new DC Super Heroes range. The range comprises of swimwear for the whole family, a surf rider, goggles, water wings, swim toys, armbands, kickboards and swim hats.

When we arrived at Coral Reef the boys were so excited and couldn’t wait to get into the pool. It is only half an hours drive from us, I couldn’t believe we hadn’t visited before. We got changed into our new swimwear from Zoggs in the changing village which was huge and very clean and then headed into the pool. I fell in love with my swimming costume which not only looks great but is from the Ecolast range. The swimming costume is made from eco-friendly chlorine resistant fabric that is made from plastic waste material recycled from the ocean, I absolutely love this range from Zoggs!

Within Coral Reef Waterworld there are four interactive water slides, an erupting volcano, a pirate ship, toddler area, rapids, jacuzzi and an adults only spa so there’s something for everyone. Archie loved the pirate ship and spent most of the time here going up and down the slide. He also really enjoyed the toddler area with the little slides and activities.

We all went on the water slides which were fantastic! At the top you can pick which theme you like and the slide then lights up the colours of the theme you have picked. Archie was tall enough to go on a couple of the slides too which was great. On one of the slides you have to hit the lights on the way down and your time is recorded on the board at the bottom of the slides. Oscar loved this!

The erupting volcano is great fun too. An alarm sounds and then the volcano erupts spraying water out of it at some pace I might add, it pushed me right across the pool much to the boys amusement. Oscar rode the Batman surf rider around the rapids which he loved and he flew around them.

The new Zoggs DC Heroes Range is being stocked on the Zoggs website and in Everyone Active Leisure Centres. Luckily Archie swims twice a week at an Everyone Active leisure centre nearby, so I will be picking up some of the swim toys there for fun stocking fillers for the boys. Oscar loves the splash balls and when we are on holiday we always take one with us, who knew such a small ball could provide so many hours of fun! The justice league Superhero Soakers would make great gifts too!

Both the boys love swimming and between them spend three hours a week swimming. Archie loves his new Superman shorts and couldn’t wait to show all his friends at his lessons.

Thank you so much to Zoggs and Coral Reef for a wonderful evening and to Warner Brothers for the boys amazing goodie bag!

 

We were gifted all of the Zoggs products and entry into Coral Reef.

Christmas TV Wrapped Up With 50% Off A Year’s TVPlayer Subscription

Since Cyber Monday and for a limited time only you can get a year’s subscription to the amazing TVPlayer from as little as £41.90 saving nearly £42 as it is usually £83.88! I myself have it already through my Amazon Fire Stick Premium subscription which allows me to stream 19 channels that are not available on Freeview, plus 61 other channels to enjoy through Fire TV. On the Premium + subscription you can have access to 31 channels not available on Freeview plus the 61 extra channels.

Premium+ Channels

Over the Christmas period we love to sit in the lounge, cosy by the fire and watch TV together. From Keeping up with the Kardashian’s on E! to laugh out loud comedy on Comedy Central, the TV Player has something for everyone in the whole family. Greg loves The Discovery channel, catching up on programmes like Diesel Brothers and Fast ‘N’ Loud which are car related programmes. My all time favourite has to be Friends over on Comedy Central, without a doubt I could

A firm favourite channel over the Christmas period will be Movie24, which from the 20th October has become Christmas24 that is playing a vast array of Christmas films back to back for the whole family to enjoy and we watch as many as possible over the Christmas holidays. From Christmas Classics to kids Christmas films it has them all!

As well as having all of these great channels there are 100’s of hours of catch up TV, you can record live TV and stream on loads of devices including TV, tablet, smartphones and computers. We have a TV monitor in the bathroom and I have a fire stick plugged in to it and I always use the TVPlayer when I am in the bath to watch my favourite programmes and relax.

The premium channels include MTV, Comedy Central, FOX, National Geographic, CI, History, H2, Lifetime, Discovery, Animal Planet, Discovery Turbo, Investigation Discovery, TLC, Eurosport 1, Eurosport 2, E!, Syfy, Universal, Movies 24, Alibi, Eden, Gold, Good Food, W, Nat Geo Wild, Comedy Central Extra, GINX eSports TV, News 18 India, Colors, Rishtey and Vice.

This fantastic deal ends on the 5th of December and as well as for yourself it would make the perfect Christmas gift. So quick don’t miss out!

 

This post is in collaboration with TVPlayer.

Poopsie Unicorn Slime Surprise Review

Last week we were kindly sent the Poopsie Unicorn Slime Surprise to review and as Archie loves making slime with Oscar I knew he would find it fun. When it arrived I absolutely loved the packaging and the whole surprise element of it.

Archie unwrapped it and as you peel back the outer cardboard all of Poopsie’s accessories are attached to the card. She comes with over 20 surprises; 4 Unicorn Food slime packets, 4 Unicorn Magic packets and 1 packet of Unicorn Sparkle, a Poopsie key chain where you can store your slime, an exclusive bottle, a unicorn shirt & nappy, a spoon, a hair brush, a cleaning tool and a measuring cup. Everything you need to make your unicorn slime poo and to also keep her clean so you can use her as a doll as well.

Inside the box is then your surprise Poopsie Unicorn. There are four different Unicorn’s to collect. Archie got Rainbow Brightstar.

We laid everything out ready and then followed the step by step instructions provided. They are easy to follow and Archie enjoyed mixing the unicorn food and drink and feeding it to her. He managed to help me mix everything and be involved in the whole process which made it much more fun and engaging for him. It is for children over 3 years old.

He then found it hilarious as he shook her and then placed her on the potty and he watched her poop! The slime is then made in the potty, you leave it for 10-15 minutes to set and then you can play with it.

Cleaning Poopsie was easy and I flushed her through with warm water and used the cleaning brush. I had read before hand not to leave it and wash her straight away otherwise it is harder to clean.

Archie really enjoyed getting creative and making his unicorn slime, he found it great fun. It is a great toy and is easy and fun to use.

The Poopsie Unicorn Slime Surprise has an RRP of £49.99 and is available at Smyths, The Entertainer and Argos. It was recently ranked in the Dream Toys Top 12 Toys for Christmas this year so grab yours before they sell out!

You get enough packets to feed and make more slime and when you run out you can purchase more when needed. I also noticed Poopsie Pooey Puitton bag which you can purchase which is full of unicorn magic, unicorn crunch, glitter and colouring to make the ultimate slime!

 

We were gifted the Poopsie Unicorn Slime Surprise for the purpose of this review.

My Top 5 Places to Visit At Christmas With Kids In The UK

I love Christmas and over the last couple of years we have been to some fantastic places with the boys over the Christmas period. Some are our family Christmas traditions and others places we just love to go to as they are so magical. Here are my top 5 places we have been to so far….

1. Lapland UK

Lapland UK is so amazing! We went two Christmases ago and I was blown away. It is magical from start to finish and other then real snow I imagine it’s just as magical as Lapland itself. It’s quite pricey but in my opinion I would pay it time and time again. We had the most magical family day out and the boys, especially Oscar as he was 7 couldn’t believe it. You come away full of Christmas spirit!

2. Harrod’s Christmas Grotto.

We have been visiting Harrod’s Christmas Grotto since Oscar’s first Christmas. I eagerly await my booking email every year and book up straight away. It’s a Christmas tradition in our house as it’s the same Grotto I visited as a child too. Each year is so different with a different theme and decorations and the boys love it! We always buy the Harrod’s Christmas bear for our tree afterwards then have dinner together. It’s nice to have a special Christmas tradition as a family. You have to pay a deposit (this year was £20 a child) when booking the Grotto but get it straight back on your Harrod’s reward card afterwards to spend in store, we use it to buy more Christmas decorations. I booked our slot last month and can’t wait to go!

3. Santa Spectacular – Willow’s Activity Farm, London Colney, St Albans

Willows Activity Farm is such a great day out in general with so much to see and do. But at Christmas it’s amazing! The Grotto is fantastic and when you visit Father Christmas you get a key to his toy shop where you can choose whatever toy you like. There is also ice skating and you can meet their husky dog. Here’s my post from our visit to the farm last Christmas. It runs from 21st November – 24th December 2018 and costs from £30 a child, £19.50 Under 2s, £14 an Adult, £13.15 Seniors, £25 Disabled child & free carer and £12.50 Disabled adult + free carer. It really is a fantastic day out for everyone!

4. Santa’s Sleepover At Alton Towers

We love Alton Tower’s and had a weekend away there staying in the enchanted village back in April. At Christmas Alton Tower’s put on their Santa’s Sleepover. Within the package you get an overnight stay in our amazing accommodation, a unique visit to Santa (experience dependent on accommodation), their fun-filled Pantomime, Alice in Wonderland , A festive evening meal, a delicious buffet breakfast, One day Waterpark tickets, One day Theme Park tickets with selected rides and attractions including CBeebies Land, evening entertainment including character meet & greets, shows, a Christmas cinema and a farewell from Santa Claus! Plus 9 holes of crazy Extraordinary Golf.

5. Warner Bros Studio Tour, Hogwarts In The Snow

I love the Warner Bros Studio Tour and luckily for us its only ten minutes down the road from us. We have been four or five times now but no time is as magical as Hogwarts In The Snow. The Great Hall is set up for a Christmas Feast, snow falls as you walk outside and we usually go in November and it really gets you into the Christmas spirit. This year it is running from the 17th of November through to the 27th of January 2019. For any Harry Potter fan this is not to be missed! It is beyond magical!

Another fun event to go to with the kids is visiting the #holidaysarecoming Coca Cola Christmas Truck. Every year they realise tour dates and we went and saw it at a local supermarket. The staff make it a really fun event for the kids and we got a free downloadable photo.

Bassetts Omega 3+ Multivitamins

Every morning without fail Oscar and Archie have always had vitamins with their breakfast. As soon as they turned three they have had the chewy multivitamins. Giving them one that tastes good is always key as then they will willingly eat it.

Bassetts Vitamins have just launched new Omega 3 + Multivitamins Orange Flavour Pastilles for 3-6 year olds. I gave them to Archie and he ate it straight away and said they were yummy. Each pastille is soft and chewy, so easy for little ones to eat and they smell so fruity too.

Each pastille contains Vitamin B6 which supports normal psychological function and Vitamin B5 which contributes to mental performance, which is so important when Archie is constantly on the go all of the time and learning new things all the time.

One of the best things about the Bassetts Vitamins Omega 3 + Multivitamins Orange Flavour Pastilles for me is that they have no added sugar! Knowing Archie is getting a smart start to the day without any added sugar is great. They are made from natural flavours and colours and taste so orange and fruity.

We have been trying the new Bassetts Vitamins Omega 3 + Multivitamins Orange Flavour Pastilles for a couple of weeks now and they are just part of our daily routine. I would highly recommend these multivitamins to help support a smart start to the day which also taste good.

We have had great fun getting creative as Archie could demonstrate how he think the multivitamin tastes. After all, being healthy should be a way of life for children which enables them to have fun and make the most out of each and every day.

A packet of thirty multivitamins is only RRP £5.50 which is a small amount to pay to support Archies. There is a next stage that Oscar takes which is for children age 7-11. 

*Just a reminder, food supplements should not be used as a substitute for a healthy and balanced diet.

 

This post is in collaboration with Bassetts Vitamins.