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Our Magical Trip To Lapland, Rovaniemi With Thomas Cook

Last Christmas we had looked into taking Oscar and Archie on a Family Trip To Lapland, Rovaniemi in Finland as we had read so many amazing reviews but were advised as Archie would have only been two at the time (two weeks off three) to leave it another year as A. He would enjoy it so much more and B. He would hold his heat better in the very cold temperatures. There are lots of companies that sell Lapland experiences whether it be a day trip or a slightly longer break.

After looking at several different websites we decided to book and travel with Thomas Cook. The booking process was quick and easy online and at the time they even had an online discount code like they do at the moment which gives you £150 off any booking over £1500. If you can use the code BOOKIT at the checkout you can claim this saving. Thomas Cook offer three different Lapland packages; The Santa Sleigh Day, The Sleigh Bell Sleepover which is for one night and Santa’s Festive Adventure which is for three nights.

After speaking with friends who had either been for the day or for a few days we picked The Santa Sleigh Day. For a family of four (two adults and two children) the total cost of the trip is £2,134. It works out to be £533 per person. This includes

  • Meet Santa (each child aged 2-12yrs receives a gift)
  • Meet Rudolph and friends
  • Sled dog/husky sled ride
  • Explore Santa’s Village and cross the Arctic Circle
  • Free time for family fun and sledging
  • Lunch with soft drinks, plus inflight meals
  • Thermal suits and boots

After the trip being booked back in January we managed to keep the secret from Oscar and Archie until the night before. I had packed in secret and then when we arrived at Gatwick Oscar did start to wonder where we were going. Once we got to our hotel room we gave the boys each a special ticket and a beautiful card that we had made by The Fox & The Paintbox with all the details inside. They were both so excited as was I!

The next morning we got up at 4.30am and went over to the terminal, checked in and got something to eat. At the check-in we were greeted by two Thomas Cook reps who were then with us throughout the whole trip. When we got on the plane everyone on board was excited and in a festive mood and throughout the flight the reps put on a Christmas quiz, we sang Christmas songs and watched the Snowman.

When we arrived at Rovaniemi airport which is tiny we were greeted by lots of elves who directed us to our coach. (I also asked the customs officer to stamp Oscar & Archie’s passport which they kindly did.) Once on board we drove to the changing area where you are given your thermal suit and boots. We brought our own coats, boots, thermal socks and under layer thermals, ski gloves and hats with us and got all the boys essentials from AlexAndAlexa.com who have a vast range of amazing ski wear. You are also given a bag with your family name labelled on it to put anything you don’t need to carry around with you and this stays under the coach as you stay with the same coach for the entirety on the trip. This was really handy and meant I just carried around the essentials in my backpack for the rest of the day.

We then drove on to the activity place where we were each given a lanyard with the four activities on them to get marked off as we did them so we didn’t miss anything out. As we walked in to the woodland area I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was. Snow everywhere, a dimly lit sky and trees everywhere, it was breathtaking. Firstly we went inside Father Christmas’ house and he looked absolutely fantastic. He chatted to the boys and then gave them each a present (for children aged 2-12 years) which was a lovely plush husky dog. We then had a photo taken with him.

We then explored and wherever you walked were little teepee tents where you could sit inside next to a warm fire. There was also an area where you could get a cup of warm berry juice and some gingerbread biscuits. There is nowhere to purchase food and drink here so I could recommend bringing lots of snacks and water as it is quite a long time between breakfast on the plane until you go for your lunch.

We were then greeted by the Reindeer. Here you could meet and stroke them as well as go on an amazing Reindeer ride. Each family has a sleigh to themselves and we were pulled through what looked like Narnia, it was so beautiful. The boys absolutely loved the ride and stroked the Reindeer afterwards. I am sure it is something they will remember forever.

We then spent some time having snow ball fights and sledging which was great fun and the Thomas Cook reps also put on games and kept the children entertained.

We walked to where the Husky rides were and every family has an individual ride. I underestimated how fast the Husky ran. It was a great ride and the boys loved being pulled through the snow at such speed! By this time it was about 4.30pm and was already dark here in Finland. The sky is beautiful but sadly it wasn’t cold enough to see the Northern Lights. We were told that the best time to see them is in October so that’s a trip we definitely want to take Oscar and Archie on.

We had some more free time and enjoyed a warm berry juice around the fire and then went back on the coach on a short ride to where we were having lunch. Lunch was at a traditional Finish restaurant and I had a lovely soup and warm bread and Greg had a chicken and rice dish. To be honest the boys weren’t to impressed with the food options, they tried the soup but mostly ate the bread. There could have been a couple of simpler options for the kids I thought. But the food we did have was delicious.

We then took a two-minute drive on the coach to Santa’s Village. This is a much more touristy place with more people around as at the activity place it wasn’t busy at all which felt nice and relaxed. Firstly as a group we all crossed the Arctic Circle together which was a fun experience.

I took about €200 with us and in Santa’s Village there are shops, places to eat and other things to spend money on. I went to Santa’s official post office and sent the boys a hard each back home as you get a Santa’s official post office and Arctic circle stamp on the card when it reaches home. I also brought a couple of souvenirs and Greg and the boys brought bags of chocolate in the chocolate shop. There are also mini snowmobiles for the kids to ride on which Oscar went on which was €20 each for ten laps. He really enjoyed this.

Once we had explored the village we headed back to the coach which took us back to the changing village where we got back into our coats and gave the thermal suits back and then headed back to the airport. The airport is tiny but had a little cafe and a shop and the Thomas Cook reps also gave all the kids a Snowman activity pack as we got off the coach which kept them entertained whilst we waited for our flight home.

The flight home included dinner and the boys slept most of the way back as they were exhausted from such a fun filled magical day.

We had the most amazing trip and if we do it again in a couple of years I would book the Santa’s Festive Adventure three night trip so we have more time to relax in Finland and explore a bit more and hopefully see the Northern Lights. If you are looking to book a similar trip I hope you have found this post useful. Also a big thank you to Thomas Cook who made our trip really special.

Our 2018 Adventures

January

January always starts slow, after all we are recovering from a hectic Christmas, Archie’s birthday and the New Year! Oscar went back to school on the 8th and straight away had Rugby and Cross-Country fixtures. At school he was learning about Egyptians so we took a trip into London to visit the British Museum.

February

Oscar took part in a lovely concert at the O2 called Young Voices. He spent the day there rehearsing and then we went up in the evening to watch him, it was great! We went to Woburn the following weekend as the boys love it there, driving through the animals. As a surprise for Oscar’s birthday we took him into London to see the Lion King. It was one of the best shows I have ever seen and can’t wait to go and see it again with Archie when he gets a bit older. Oscar had a great 8th Birthday, we had family around on his birthday to celebrate and he had a bowling party with his friends as well.

March

This month I turned 30! We celebrated in style with a lovely meal with my family at the Grove, A Willy Wonka themed afternoon tea at One Aldwych with my lovely friends and the little ones, a fabulous night out at MNKY HSE with even more birthday cake with the girls and a lovely dinner at our friends house. I was thoroughly spoilt and had the best birthday!

We also took another trip to Woburn with my friend Georgina who had never been before. Archie had lots of fun!

April

April was a seriously busy month. We did so much! We visited Willows Farm as they had their Easter programme running with our friends. The Easter holidays were in full swing and we went into London to the Shrek’s adventure which was great fun and then spent the rest of the day in town.

We had a lovely Easter surrounded by family and friends and the boys ate way to much chocolate!

We stayed a night at Alton Towers in the enchanted village and spent two days in the park. Archie loved Cbeebies land and the park was pretty quiet so we went on loads of the rides.

We visited Zippo’s Circus which was in London and we had never taken the boys to the circus before. They were so excited and loved all of the acts.

Paradise Wildlife park opened their new World of Dinosaurs feature. We went on quite a rainy day but that was fine as the park was quiet and we got to see all of the animals up close. Oscar loved the new Dinosaur park.

May

Oscar had his first ever one night residential with the school this month. To say I was anxious is an understatement but he had the best time and enjoyed himself so much!

We took the boys to Cardiff to watch Monster Jam which is a great show that comes over once a year from America and the Monster Trucks have races and do tricks. It was SO noisy!

Oscar went to Twickenham for the first time to watch the Rugby with his Godfather and his two boys. As he had started playing it at school he really enjoyed it and had a really special day out with Uncle Matt.

We went away for a few days to Lulworth Cove in Dorset. We went to Durdledoor beach was is beautiful and then to Monkey World as well. Greg and I went to Monkey World years ago but had never been with the boys. It is such a lovely place and we got to see all of the Monkey’s so close up.

June

In June we went to Go Ape with some friends and Greg went up with Oscar. Archie and I stayed firmly on the ground! We visited the Warner Bros Studio Tour with my friend Claire and her son. We are so lucky to have this only ten minutes from us. Oscar had sports day and won the high jump, relay and the 50m.

We took Daddy to Bond In Motion in London. Oscar loves the Bond films and seeing all of the cars, boats and bikes used in the films was great fun! Its such a great exhibition and if you are a Bond fan you must visit.

July

Schools out! Oscar broke up from school at the beginning of July. We went on holiday for a couple of weeks to Rhodes. We stayed at the brand new Sensatori hotel which was lovely. We have stayed at a few of these now and always have a lovely time.

We went to Westfield, London to KidZania with my friend Claire and her son. I couldn’t get over how big it was and it must be so magical being a kid going to somewhere like that. It is a fantastic day out.

On the last weekend of July my Brother got married. Oscar and Archie were both page boys and it was a lovely day.

August

We went back to Woburn safari park again with the boys Great Auntie Liz. They love it here, I think this is our 3rd trip this year so far.

We went to Regents Park open air theatre to watch the stage show ‘Dinosaur World Live’. Oscar and Archie love Dinosaurs and really enjoyed the show.

Oscar learnt to finally ride his bike this month. He briefly learnt last year but wasn’t very interested but gave it his all and picked it up in no time at all. We are so proud of him!

We went away for the night to Southampton and stayed at the Grand Harbour hotel and on the second day we went to Peppa Pig World/Paulton’s Park. We went a few years ago when Oscar was younger but as Archie loves Peppa Pig we knew he would love it. Oscar went on the bigger rides in Paulton’s Park and we had a great day.

We went to Henley-On-Thames with Oscar’s friends from school for a night glamping in a bell tent. Just Oscar and I went, Archie stayed at home with Daddy. The kids all had so much fun as did the Mummy’s.

To end off the Summer break we went to the London Aquarium with my parents. We went on a behind the scenes tour of the aquarium which was really educational and we all had a great day. Finishing off with our favourite restaurant for lunch; Honest Burger. I have lost count of how many times we have been to one of these over the last year!

September

Oscar went back to school into year 4 and Archie started Nursery at the same school. It was so emotional for me and my anxiety went through the roof. Archie only goes three mornings a week but settled in straight away and absolutely loves it!

We were invited by Subway to an amazing NFL event on Piccadilly. Oscar ended up in the NFL live show and we had such a fun day out. The NFL is such a fun, family based sport and the atmosphere was fantastic.

We spent the day at London Zoo where we hadn’t visited for a while. There were new attractions in the zoo which was nice for us to see and the Zoo is always a winner with the boys as they both love animals so much!

Oscar and Greg also took on Liquid Leisure which is a giant inflatable park on a lake near Windsor. It looked like great fun and I am going to have a go next time.

October

My Mum turned 60 and we had a lovely family get together at my Nanny’s house and then a meal out too.

I had booked Greg a car driving experience at Christmas so we headed to Loughborough where he got to drive a 1970’s Transam which is Oscar’s favourite car and a Mustang.

During half term we went to Go Ape Nets Kingdom which was fun and Archie could join in too. We went to Greenwich where we went on the Cutty Sark which is a really fun yet educational day out. We went to the theatre to see Baby Bum Live for Archie and went to the new Rock Up climbing place in Watford.

November

In November Oscar took part in a big Taekwondo competition which he did really well in. We went to a great event with Zoggs to Coral Reef in Bracknell where we had the pool and water slides to ourselves with some other bloggers. It is the best pool in the UK we’ve been to by far.

Excitingly for me I managed to get Spice Girl tickets for next year! I literally sat online with every device running until we managed to get four. I cannot wait! That afternoon we met our friends in St Albans and went to Prime for lunch and then to the theatre to watch Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It was a fantastic show and the kids loved the flying car.

We went to the Warner Bros Studio Tour to its annual Hogwarts In The Snow event. It is such  magical experience and really kicked off the Christmas period for us.

I took Archie and my friend her little boy who is Archie’s bestie into London to see the Room On The Broom stage show which they both loved and we headed into Oxford Street and got our own personalised family Quality Street tin.

December

December was by far my favourite and most hectic month this year! The boys woke up on the 1st to their naughty elves returning with their advent calendars and the decorations up in the house.

Oscar took part in the annual TKD Taekwondo championships and got a silver medal in his patterns and a gold in sparring. He was over the moon!

Archie had his first little Christmas performance in his nursery class and I had fun wreath making with my friends.

We went into London for our annual Christmas tradition to visit Father Christmas at Harrods. We have done this for seven years now and I love getting our annual photograph. It shows how quickly the boys are growing up when you look back at the previous years.

We went to the Watersmeet Theatre In Rickmansworth to watch the pantomime; Snow White and we had never been before as Oscar had always gone with his school. Archie loved it and danced in the aisle from start to finish. It was a great production and something we will do every Christmas with them now.

I went to Willow’s Farm with Archie and my friend and her children to their Santa Spectacular. Willow’s is always a fantastic day out and they put so much on at Christmas!

The Coca-Cola Christmas lorry was touring the UK and was at an ASDA nearby so I took the boys after school to see it. The Coca-Cola Christmas lorry always reminds me of being a child and when you heard the advent on TV you knew it was Christmas time.

Oscar and Archie broke up from school on the 14th after a lovely carol service at the local Church.

On the Saturday we drove to Gatwick and the boys had no idea where we were going. That evening we told them we were flying to Lapland in Finland the next day to see Father Christmas. I have never seen them both so excited, they couldn’t believe it. It was the most magical trip ever! We went on a reindeer and a husky sledge ride, met the big man himself, went sledging and played in the snow, went on a snowmobile, crossed the arctic circle and visited Santa’s Village. It was a trip I am sure they will remember forever!

Last week we also drove over to Bruges on the Eurotunnel which was a lovely couple of days exploring such a beautiful city especially at Christmas time and eating way to much chocolate!

Then we came home to a wonderful Christmas with our family and friends and the boys had a fantastic time.

Last but not least Archie turned 4 on the 29th. We had a fun filled day with bowling, Prezzo’s and a Paddington bear tea party with family and friends.

It’s been a fantastic year and a big thank you to all of you who come back and read my blog posts! Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2019! Happy New Year!

Get Ski Season Ready At AlexAndAlexa.com

Last week we took Oscar and Archie on a surprise trip to Rovaniemi in Finland to visit Father Christmas in Lapland. The trip had been booked for about 9 months but we managed to keep it a secret and then told them the night before at the hotel at Gatwick before we flew. I had seen from my weather app that it was going to be about -5 and could go as low as -12 so made sure we had everything we needed to stay warm. And with so many people going off skiing after Christmas and in the February half term AlexAndAlexa.com have everything you need to keep your children warm and stylish on the slopes. Thanks to AlexAndAlexa.com it was so easy to pick the perfect pieces for the boys, so we didn’t have to worry about them feeling the cold.

Firstly I picked their base layers, which without a doubt for any cold trip is a number one priority for any outfit. I picked them matching pairs from Tenson who sell a huge range of fantastic ski wear at affordable prices. Oscar and Archie’s came as a set and the Tenson base layers are currently in the AlexAndAlexa sale and you can use the code SHOP20 for an extra 20% off all sale items! I also chose Oscar some Tenson Moss Boots which come in either black or blue and they kept his feet lovely and warm. The boots are made from a warm and water-resistant material, which was perfect in the deep snow and the velcro closure made it easy to get them on and off. I was advised to get a size up to make sure they fitted in thick socks and this was great advice as they fitted perfectly!

For Archie I picked the Adidas Performance Blue Terrex Snow Boots. I loved the way they looked and knew Archie would love them as he loves anything blue. The boots have a waterproof climaproof® protection, PrimaLoft® insulation for maximum warmth for little feet and the adjustable strap over the laces gives a secure fit, while the grippy outsole offers added traction on snowy trails or sidewalks. Archie played in the snow for hours and the boots kept his feet warm the whole time. Under his boots he wore some Bart’s Snake Merino ski socks which not only looked great, kept the cold anyway and kept his little feet lovely and snug. AlexAndAlexa have a great range of ski socks in lots of fun designs.

When playing in the snow or skiing your hands can get so cold. When I put my hands in the snow last week stupidly without gloves on to make a snowball my lands literally throbbed, they were frozen. The last thing as a parent with your children in cold climates is them to get upset because they are cold. I knew we would be sledging and that Oscar and Archie would want to play in the snow so I picked some fantastic gloves for them from Molo. Oscar has the Molo Very Black Mackenzie Pro Gloves. Inside the gloves the lining is super soft and keeps your hands lovely and warm and on the outside there is a PU leather non-slip palm. They were easy for Oscar to put on and off on his own and I had packed hand warmers to use but we didn’t need them as these gloves are so good. I also picked a Molo pair for Archie, the Black Active Mack Gloves which again like Oscar’s were perfect and kept Archie’s hands warm whilst he played in the snow. Archie also wore his Molo Evening Blue Kate Hat which kept him so warm when we had to wear the snowsuits that were provided in Lapland.

On top of his base layers Oscar wore a long-sleeved t-shirt and then his AI Riders On The Storm Navy tracksuit. Oscar gets so many comments on how cool he looks when he wears this tracksuit, it is his absolute favourite. The AI Riders range is just so cool and with the goggles in the hood which are protective eye patches everyone asked where it was from. The tracksuit comes as two separate pieces; the sweatpants and the hooded sweatshirt. The tracksuit is super soft and is made from soft cotton and kept Oscar warm the whole trip. The top has added details as well as the goggles, a yellow pom-pom on the top and breathable hole designs for when your hood is fully zipped up. The sweatshirt is £119 and the sweatpants are £89. Loving the AI Riders range as much as I do I also got Archie a Winter coat too. We picked the AI Riders On The Storm Blue Down Navy Lining Goggle Hood Coat. Archie absolutely loves it and finds it so funny when we are out to zip it right up and show everybody. Again it has the removable protective goggles and the yellow pom-pom and has two zip up pockets as well. All of the AI Riders items come with a protective bag to store your goggles in when they are not in use. The coat is lovely and padded and wherever Archie wears it whether its in the snow or watching Oscar play football in the wind in the rain he is always kept warm and protects himself from the wind and rain with his zip up hood.

Under his coat, on top of his base layers, Archie wore the most adorable long sleeved top and jumper from the Moschino Christmas collection. These are all in the AlexAndAlexa sale at the moment and I have even brought it in the next size up all ready for next Christmas. The jumper and top are so festive and he has worn them to see Father Christmas at Harrods and to the panto and will be wearing them tomorrow on Christmas Day. He loves them!

Oscar wanted to chose his own coat so sat on their website for ages and in the end decided to be matching with me and picked a Moncler Black Bady Down Hooded Coat. It is SO warm with thick, cosy padding and a detachable hood. It looks great with a tracksuit underneath or when your off out smart in jeans or chinos. On the arm it has the Moncler badge on top of a small pocket and has two zip up pockets as well. This seasons Moncler ski range is to die for. I love the new Abeville coats and matching Salopettes, they will look great on the slopes! Oscar also has the Moncler Grey Maglia Lupetto Fleece which he wears all the time with Jeans and it is a smart jumper but keeps him lovely and warm too.

If you are going Skiing or venturing off to somewhere cold AlexAndAlexa.com will make kitting your kids out so easy. With their amazing sale on at the moment you can pick up some stylish steals! And don’t forget to use the code SALE20 to get an extra 20% off all sale pieces, but be quick before the sale ends!

 

This post is in collaboration with AlexandAlexa.com

 

Blogmas Day 13: Willows Activity Farm Santa Spectacular

On Tuesday morning we went to Willows Activity Farm in London Colney, St Albans as they are running their annual Santa Spectacular. If you have read my blog before you will know that we absolutely love Willows Activity farm and it is somewhere we have been visiting since Oscar was little. We are so lucky that we only live 15 minutes from the farm and visit at least five or six times a year.

Their Santa Spectacular is always amazing and a real fun filled magical day out for the whole family. What I love about Willows is the ticket price is what you pay, there are no hidden extras. Every activity, ride and experience is included in your entry fee. Archie always gets so excited when I say we are going to Willows, he absolutely loves it. We met my friend and her daughter at the farm at 10am when it opened and got our Santa Spectacular visitor guide, our Elf passport, animal feed, and three tokens. One for meeting Father Christmas, one for decorating a gingerbread man and one for making a cuddly toy. You also get given a free child return visit voucher to use in the new year between 5th of January to 15th February and the 25th March to the 29th March. We will making use of that for sure.

We decided to go and visit Father Christmas first before the farm got really busy. You walk through lots of decorations; from the Polar Express to Santa’s Sleigh, the decorations are beautiful. There is also a lovely spot on a log under lots of lights which is perfect for a photo. We went in to see Father Christmas, he was really lovely chatting to the children and in exchange for their token he gave them each a magic key to get into Santa’s toy shop. I love this idea so much, so instead of Father Christmas giving them a gift, the children can pick anything they want from his toy shop. It was absolutely full of toys, there were so many to choose from. Eventually Archie picked a Doctor’s kit. You can then also purchase your photo that you had taken with Father Christmas.

We then went to watch the 3D movie which was great. The gingerbread decorating was also in the same barn so we did that as well. It was nice to sit down and enjoy a hot cup of tea whilst the children iced and decorated their gingerbread men. You can also purchase snacks in the barn as well.

We walked back to the Farmyard and fed all of the animals and got to see the Reindeer. Archie always loves the Farmyard and last time we were there the piglets had been born and he couldn’t believe how much they had grown.

Next to the Farmyard is the Create-A-Cuddle Worskshop where you exchange your token and are given a empty bear, stuffing, pick a coloured heart, a birth certificate and a lovely bag for your bear to go in. We stuffed our teddy and put in the heart and then zipped him up. Archie has taken him to bed ever since, its a really lovely teddy.

We walked across the farm to where Tristan the Tractor is as he was ready to take us on a Festive Wood Ride. As we got on the tractor each child can choose some bells and throughout the ride he plays Christmas songs and Archie sang along and shook the bells. On the ride you can see the sheep, cows and pigs as well as festive scenes set around the route.

We headed to the Peter Rabbit adventure playground as the kids always love it. It is such a fantastic play area and Archie loves all of the interactive games and musical instruments. Mr Tod’s Lair is another great Peter Rabbit attraction that opened at Easter and for any little Peter Rabbit fan is great fun.

We went into Woolly Jumpers and got some lunch and a drink and then Archie and his friend played in the soft play. The soft play at the farm is huge and has different areas for different ages. I often come here in the Winter months, even on a rainy day as you can use the soft play and the Farmyard is covered too in the barn.

We went to go on the ice-skating but missed the time slot whilst we were having lunch. I think on the weekend it is open longer. We finished our day by going on the rides and then headed home to get Oscar from school.

We had a lovely day and you really do get so much for your entry price as well as picking a great gift from Santa’s toy shop. The prices for  the 15th-24th December 2018 is £22 for an adult, £38 per child, senior £21, under 2 paying (so they can take part in all the activities) £22.50 and disabled child with free carer £25 and a disabled adult is £12.50. You can save £2 off of those prices by booking online beforehand. It really is such an amazing Christmassy day out for the whole family to enjoy!

We were gifted the tickets to Willows Activity Farm Santa Spectacular event and had a wonderful time!

Blogmas Day 10: Rickmansworth Panto ‘Snow White’ Review

Yesterday afternoon we went to Watersmeet Theatre in Rickmansworth to watch ‘Snow White’ their pantomime this year. Oscar has been a few times before to watch the panto at Watersmeet with his school over the years but this was Archie’s first time to watch a pantomime. We picked to go to the 5.30pm show as there are loads of shows running from now until the 31st of December to choose from; morning, afternoon and evening performances.

I had seen lots of posters up around the town centre and knew that they had a fabulous cast this year. EastEnders and Dancing on Ice star Sam Attwater plays Prince Simon, the Prince from far far far away that comes to look for his perfect princess. Marvyn Dickinsonas Hector the Wicked Queen’s Henchman, who isn’t very hench at all and in the second half prefers to be a goodie instead. Snow White is played by Emma who plays the damsel in distress and falls in love with Prince Simon. Natasha Gray from Emmerdale plays the Wicked Queen who wants to prevent any Prince falling in love with Snow White and will go to any length and plans to end her life by tricking Snow White to bite into a magical apple. Dave Bibby has returned by popular demand as Herby the Huntsman. Oscar recognised him from last year and he brought laughter throughout the whole show and got the audience and the children all involved. Andrew Fettes plays the hilarious Dame Dolly who had the adults in stitches and all together the cast were fantastic. The wonderful Len Goodman also made an appearance as he was the person in the magic mirror.

Archie literally danced in the aisle the whole way through the performance and had so much fun. My favourite part was the rendition of the 12 days of Christmas from Prince Simon, Dame Dolly, Hector the henchman and Herby the Huntsman. It was so funny and everyone sang along and then at the last day it was 12 pints of water and yes you guessed it, the audience got soaked by the cast with water guns. You could see throughout the show that the cast were having great fun.

Oscar loved all of Herbie’s jokes and has been telling them to his friends all day at school. At the end of the show before Snow White and Prince Simon’s wedding Herbie got the whole audience involved as we all sang the Baby Shark song. He had two children on the stage as baby and Mummy shark and then got a grandma up on the stage to sing her part. All the kids loved it!

The seven friendly dwarfs were played by local children which was lovely and they did a great job!

From start to finish the pantomime was so much fun and we really had a fantastic time. The show runs for 2 hours 40 minutes including the interval where you can grab a drink, snack or an ice cream, which were all really reasonably priced. This panto is not to be missed, so book your tickets now and have a fun filled family treat at the theatre. Tickets for adults are £20, children are £18 or you can book a family ticket for four for £72. I can see this being a new family tradition for us to visit the pantomime at Watersmeet every Christmas.

We were gifted the tickets to the pantomime and we loved it!

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.