Category Archives: Family

AD. Willows Activity Farm Easter Eggstravaganza

On Friday the boys ans I along with their Great-Auntie went along to Willows Activity Farm in London Colney, near St Albans. If you have read my blog before you will know that we absolutely love our trips to Willows as we live locally to it. For the Easter holidays, well on all school holidays really,Willows always put on amazing events to keep your little ones entertained. This Easter is no different with their exciting Easter Eggstravaganza!

From the 6th until the 22nd of April the Easter Eggstravaganza programme is running and is jam packed full of family fun. All day long there are arts and crafts running along with the usual farmyard, indoor and outdoor play areas, pat a pet, panning for gold, woodland trails and the Peter Rabbit attractions.

On entry you are given the programme so you know where to be and what is on at various times during the day so you don’t miss out on anything. You are also given a hunt challenge where you have to find the answers to the given questions around the farm. At the end in the shop you hand in the completed form in exchange for chocolate. We arrived at 11.30 and it was perfect timing as we went straight to meet Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny. The children can cuddle their favourite bunny’s and have a photo taken with them.

We then headed straight to the farmyard to feed all of the animals. There are lots of baby lambs and goats and a baby calf too. The boys we fascinated by ‘Milktray’ the cow who is due her baby calf any day. The staff and vet were checking on her as she was showing signs her baby could be born soon. Oscar so wanted to see the calf being born and we literally had to come back and keep checking on her every half an hour or so. By the time we left the baby calf still hadn’t been born, but we keep checking daily on Willow’s social media to see if it has been born yet. This is one of the amazing things about Willows, you get to see everything and last year the boys got to see lambs being born. It’s an amazing experience for them.

We then went on a ride on Tristan The Tractor who drives you through the animals out in the fields and the trees are decorated in Easter decorations and for the duration of the ride the children can sing along to their favourite farm songs.

We then headed back to the farmyard to check on Milktray and watched the baby lambs being bottle fed. Oscar and Archie each held a guinea pig in the Pat A Pet section in the farmyard and Auntie Liz loved cuddling the guinea pig too, she didn’t want to give him back.

The boys were feeling peckish so we walked up to the light bites cafe as the main Peter Rabbit burrow cafe is closed for its refurbishment. In the light bites cafe you can get sandwiches, baguette’s, panini’s, pizza and jacket potatoes along with drinks and crisps. Oscar and Archie had a kids deal where you can pick 5 items and a drink and Liz and I had a sandwich. The food was really nice and good value too.

We walked across the farm to where the Easter egg hunt is located. of course checking on Milktray on the way. Each child is given a basket and then there are five different coloured eggs hidden in the activity acre. They always decorate it so nicely and all the children have great fun racing around trying to find the eggs. When you have found one of each colour you take your basket to the egg exchange and each child gets five chocolate eggs.

By the activity acre is the fantastic Peter Rabbit adventure playground. Every time we come here I am always amazed and how great this is. For the children it must be like being in an episode of Peter Rabbit. You can play in Peter’s tree house, Mrs Tiggywinkle’s house, Mr McGregor’s garden and Mr Tod’s Lair which is near to the bouncy castles and outdoor adventure play area.

A few people have said to me that Willow’s Activity Farm is a bit on the pricey side but when I explain that absolutely everything apart from food inside the farm is included in your entry ticket price, they then see what good value it is. Willow’s is a full day out with so much to do and see. We had such a lovely day out on Friday and it was great fun doing something Easter themed.

You can save money by purchasing your tickets online before your visit. On the day an adult ticket for the Easter Eggstravaganza is £22, children over 2 are £23, adults over 60 £21 and a disabled adult or child is £13. You book tickets HERE.

Disclaimer: We were given complimentary tickets to attend the Willows Activity Farm Easter Eggstravaganza in exchange for a review.

 

AD. The New Captain Marvel At Madame Tussauds, London

Last weekend we were kindly invited to Madame Tussauds, London to see the brand new Captain Marvel figure and interactive experience. We had never visited Madame Tussauds before and were really excited to see what it has to offer. We got the train to Baker Street which is a one minute walk from the attraction itself.

We had a lovely breakfast that was put on for us and then got to see Captain Marvel herself. Both Oscar and Archie love superheroes and were so excited seeing their favourite ones and having photos taken with them. The Captain Marvel figure is so life-like and the experience was great fun on the interactive screen.

We then started the main tour in the Party Zone and I had seriously underestimated how many figures there would be. From movie stars, World leaders, sports people, musicians to the Royal Family, they have figures of everyone! We started by having a photo with Harry and Megan. You can buy a photo pass or keep your tickets and purchase at various points around the attraction. There is also a new Dua Lipa, Glow Room experience where you can perform with your favourite singer, Archie enjoyed the dancing!

We then walked through the film zone which Oscar loved as he had his photo taken with James Bond. Archie liked ET and Shrek.

Next was the sport zone and Oscar got to hold the ‘World Cup’, posed with Mo Farah and Usain Bolt. Greg’s favourite was definitely Mohammed Ali. The fashion zone is by the sport and has a fun catwalk you can strut your stuff down for London Fashion week and the famous model Kendall Jenner.

My favourite was the Royal Family where you can pay for a photo with them and there are also Historical royals like Queen Victoria and Henry VIII.

There is a section for World Leaders/Politicians and the culture zone. Oscar has just been learning about Vincent Van Gogh in art so had a photo with him to take into school after the Easter break.

In the Music Zone there are famous musicians from all over. The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Kanye West, Michael Jackson, Will-I-am, Lady Gaga, One Direction and Amy Winehouse and many more.

Also in this zone is the Royal Afternoon tea experience which looks great. You can sit at a garden party and have a delicious afternoon tea with her Majesty the Queen. If you book your Standard Ticket entry ticket with full “Royal Tea” afternoon tea you can save 20%, (adults £44, children £39.50).

We then took part in the Sherlock Holmes Experience where we all turned into London’s finest detectives to help Dr Watson solve the mystery to find Sherlock himself. Oscar really loved participating and answering questions and found the whole experience really exciting.

In the ‘behind the scenes zone’ I found it fascinating to see how each wax figure was made and how much work goes into each one. Developing and making each figure is a long process.

The ‘Spirit of London’ ride was really good. In pairs you sit in a London Taxi and go on an  exciting journey through the London’s history. You will journey through all the historical and cultural events that have shaped London into one of the greatest cities in the world. It is very educational and a fantastic ride. Over lunch later on Oscar had lots of questions about London, he had done a project on the Fire of London a couple of years ago and visited St Paul’s and now we are going to make our way around all of the historical landmarks over the Summer so he can learn all the history of London.

We made our way back into the Marvel Zone which all the children love! Children around us were so excited to see their favourite Super Heroes. You can have a photo with the brand new Captain Marvel and have ago on her interactive experience, Spiderman, Hulk, Nick Fury, Wolverine, Iron Man, Hawkeye and Captain America. On the way out of the Marvel Zone is the Marvel 4D cinema. The cinema is a huge 360 degrees screen and throughout the short film based right here in London, there are amazing special effects.

You exit the 4D cinema into the Star Wars Zone. My Brother was a huge fan if Star Wars when we were children and watched the films over and over again. Oscar has only just started watching the films but knows who all the characters are from his Star Wars Lego sets.

As you exit Madame Tussauds they have a huge shop with lots of London, Marvel, Star Wars and other goodies to purchase. The new Captain Marvel section seemed very popular!

We had a fantastic day out at Madame Tussauds and its a perfect day out for a family. Greg and I enjoyed looking at the figures just as much as the boys! I cannot believe we haven’t been before but will definitely be going back soon.

 

Disclaimer: We were given complimentary entry to the Madame Tussauds attraction.

 

 

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!

A Trip To Bruges At Christmas With The Kids

A few months ago it was Greg’s birthday and I just had no idea what to get him so in the end I ended up booking a hotel in Bruges and the Eurotunnel for us to go over to see all the Christmassy bits and the market. Booking the Eurotunnel was so easy and such a cheap way of getting there. As I booked a few months in advance it was only £130 return for the car. Before your journey you enter your API information and your number plate and that’s it. We turned up at the Folkestone Eurotunnel terminal 50 minutes before the time slot I had picked when booking, drove up to the booth which picked up my pre booked number plate, printed us out a ticket to hang on the mirror in the car. We stopped off quickly for a toilet break and a cup of tea and then drove through customs and straight on to the train. I honestly couldn’t believe how quick and easy the whole process was. Within 35 minutes we were in Calais.

When we arrived in Calais you literally drive straight off of the train onto the A16 which we then stayed on all the way through the Belgium border to Bruges. It only took one and a half hours (it is 74 miles). I had booked the Radisson Blu hotel in Bruges which is a beautiful new hotel and only a ten minute walk into the city. It also has a car park out of the front of the hotel which is only €3.50 a day. We parked the car and checked in and took our luggage to the room then headed into the town.

Bruges is just such a beautiful city. Straight away when you walk into the city it is full of small cobbled streets, beautiful buildings and the canals. Instantly the smell of chocolate and beer hits you when you are walking down the main streets. There are so many chocolate shops with the most amazing Belgium chocolates everywhere. When we got to the main market square we took a horse and carriage ride which was a lovely way to see the city and learn all about its history, it was a bit pricey, €50 for about 20 minutes and then you had to tip the man and his horse as well. Afterwards we looked around the market and headed back to our hotel to get ready for dinner.

The Radisson Blu Hotel is brand new and the family rooms (for 4 people) are lovely. We had two double beds, a lounge area and lovely bathroom. We had already booked Ellis Gourmet burger during the day so we went there for dinner. I would highly recommend as the burgers were great. It was roughly €70 for 2 adults and 2 children. It is lovely to walk around Bruges in the evenings at Christmas time as all the buildings are lit up and look so festive.

Breakfast at the hotel the next morning was lovely and then we walked back into the city. I didn’t rate the Christmas market, there wasn’t many stalls but there are some lovely Christmas shops around the city which sell beautiful decorations. We ended up buying a nativity scene as it is something we can keep forever.

Oscar and Archie really wanted to go on a boat ride around the canals which we found near to the Church of our Lady. We also went into the church which was beautiful! The boat ride cost €20 for the four of us and lasted half an hour and I am so pleased we did at as its a beautiful way to see the city.

We then had lunch at Otomat heavenly pizza which was really nice and again about €70 for four of us to eat and then we walked around the shops one last time and then headed back to our hotel to get the car. I had booked the 5.50pm slot back from Calais on the Eurotunnel but we were a bit early so they let us go on the train before for no extra charge.

I absolutely loved our couple of days in Bruges, we all really enjoyed ourselves and it is very Christmassy. It is such an easy city to travel to and with the kids as well was smooth and easy. It has defiantly made me think that travelling to different cities in the World for mini breaks is a lovely way for us and the boys to see some amazing places. Where next?

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 6: Deck The Halls

As you will have seen on my Instagram our beautiful Nordmann Fir Christmas Tree arrived last Thursday from Pines and Needles and kicked off Christmas in our house. Traditionally for us the cheeky Elf On a Shelf’s Eddie and Ernie arrive on the 1st of December and bring the boys advent calendars and at the same time the Christmas fairies bring the rest of the decorations for the boys to wake up to.

We always have a artificial tree in the lounge, we’ve had this 7ft one for a few years now and it is so easy and quick to put up. I just need to get a new star as our usual one broke. On this tree as well as normal baubles are the ones the boys have chosen over the years from the Disney store as well as my collection of Harrods Bears. I have every bear from the year Greg and I met in 2006. I also had a decoration made of their joint school photo on Snapfish.

Under the tree we have our new light up presents which we brought a couple of weeks ago at the Ideal Home Show at Christmas. We also brought the light up snowman which is by the fireplace as well.

Our plush Father Christmas we brought in 2007 for our first Christmas at our last house. We got him from Ayletts nursery. They also have a lovely Christmas display each year and we used to visit there when I was a child with my parents and grandparents and always got to choose a new decoration for the tree.

Last Christmas I brought the NOEL nice and the Father Christmas Christmas countdown. The little silver candle holders and the berry candles were from a Christmas market in Prague that Greg brought me a few years ago.

Last Christmas I also brought the garland over the fireplace from John Lewis, four pine cone stocking holders from Amazon and our personalised stockings from Mr Mole Blankets. I absolutely love our fireplace!

In the hallway along with our Pines and Needles tree is my Santa in his rocking chair that I got from Van Hage last year and our giant snowman that lights up and sings from Costco. (Oscar and Archie chose this!!)

I always decorate the boys rooms and they wake up on the 1st with their Christmas sheets on, snow globes on the side and their stockings ready for Christmas Eve. I also have a selection of Christmas books in Archie’s room that we can read at bedtime.

Downstairs in the dining room where we will eat Christmas lunch I have a few decorations on the sideboard from Tilly B Handmade and am having a centrepiece made by Love Flowers like I did last year. At the moment my ball of pine cones is in the middle of the table that I brought last week. The wooden stars I brought back from Canada a few years ago.

I always love looking for new decorations or bits to add to the tree. If you have any websites you use let me know. And last but not least we have the Elves door that stays there until they go home with Father Christmas on Christmas Eve.

Outside the front door I have little light up trees that we brought from Waitrose.

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.