Category Archives: Home and Lifestyle

Designing A Practical And Stylish Family Kitchen

When we built our house two years ago we put so much thought into the design process of each room. We always knew that the kitchen would be the main hub of the house for entertaining family and friends. We put the kitchen central at the back of the house with large bifold doors that go out on to the patio. I wanted it so that in the Summer we could have indoor/outdoor living yet still be nice and cosy in the Winter time. We always host the whole family at Christmas and Easter time so I also wanted a kitchen that I could easily prepare a large meal in.

Our friend Gemma from Vault Design sat with us and showed us lots of different kitchen designs. I was conscious that with building a brand new house I wanted a kitchen that wasn’t super modern. We knew we wanted a grey kitchen and ended up having the cupboards in Farrow and Ball ‘Elephant’s Breath’ and the Island in ‘Mole’s Breath’. Gemma had a fantastic piece of software that could bring our design to life before we ordered it.

A lot of kitchens we looked at had the hobs or sinks on them but I wanted a clear, clean white island that I could serve up the meals on and I didn’t want it to look to busy. I also decided against having stalls and a breakfast bar on one side as we had space in the kitchen for a table anyway. The only thing we added on the island was a EVOline plug tower which is great for a carving knife and I also charge my laptop using this too. It neatly goes back into the island when not in use. I also had a few of the plug sockets changed so they had a USB connection too which made charging a phone easier and kept the actual mains plug bit free for other things like the nutribullet and coffee machine.

With the island we chose three huge draws on one side for cutlery, plates and sandwich boxes and a bin draw which we actually just keep carrier bags in and on the other we have two mirrored back display cupboards and a Fisher and Paykel wine fridge. I also had every draw in the kitchen lined with a protective non slip grey matting to protect the painted woodwork.

We opted for Neff appliances in the kitchen and utility room bar the Fisher and Paykel fridges. I wanted a big fridge freezer that would fit everything in perfectly without having to play fridge jenga after our weekly shop. I also loved the design of the Fisher and Paykel ones.

We made a feature of where the ovens would go with plate warming draws underneath them and made everything completely symmetrical. I love the way they look and have so much cooking space when cooking a large meal for a dinner party or family occasion.

The sink area has the main large sink and a smaller one next to it with the waste disposal in it which we didn’t have in our old house but I now couldn’t live without it! We also opted for a Quooker hot water mixer tap which is amazing and also has a child safety system on it as I was worried about having boiling hot water on tap in a family kitchen. This makes my tea in the morning instant! We also had a little spray gun put in the corner of the sink which makes it easy to clean around both of the sinks.

Behind the sink and hob area we went for a grey glass splash back. On reflection I wish we had put it all the way around the worktop to protect the painted walls. We also opted for an induction hob as well as one gas hob which makes cooking with a wok easier and if there ever is a power cut I can still cook on the gas hob.

I really wanted a pantry cupboard but with taking so much space up making a feature of the ovens we out in a pull out pantry cupboard instead with two shelves to store everything neatly.

I wanted everything in the kitchen to have a place and went for as much storage space as possible so everything looks neat and tidy and not crammed into a cupboard space. I also utilised the corner space by making it into a smaller bowl cupboard. Every flows too with the large draws under the hobs being just for utensils and cooking equipment.

Having the dishwasher by the sink and across from the cutlery and plate draw is great as it makes it a quick and easy job to unload the dishwasher each morning. I didn’t realise before our dishwasher was fitted but I love how it has a light that shines onto the floor that lets you know how long the wash cycle has left.

On the wall in the kitchen we have a TV as the kitchen table is where we eat the most, to be honest the dining room table only gets used on special occasions. The TV itself is on a great bracket so it is flush against the wall during the day but when we want to watch something whilst sitting at the table you can pull it into your chosen position.

Our kitchen table is one we brought about 11 years ago at the Ideal Home Exhibition. When we moved to this house we just brought some new chairs from John Lewis that went better with the colour of the kitchen. Buying the new chairs meant the table wasn’t actually tall enough so I asked the carpenter to build some little blocks and he stained them the same colour as the table which lifted it up and they just look part of the table. Saved buying a whole new table! The boys each have a personalised Stokke Tripp Trapp which they use at the table to save getting any food stains on the chairs. You can use these up to adult and also make a great extra chair at a large dinner party.

Having the large bifold doors is great. They actually open in two halves or the whole thing. Last Summer when we had a get together with our friends it was great to just have them open and it made bringing all the food outside easy and its just perfect for entertaining.

On the walls in the kitchen they are painted in shade ‘Elephant’s Breath’ and I have three lovely art deco tiles around the room that my in laws brought for me over the years on my birthday. We had these at our old house too and I absolutely love them!

The utility room is off of the kitchen with a door to the side of the house that we use during the Winter if the boys want to play in the garden. Again we went with the same colour scheme and plenty of storage idea. I chose a large butler sink as I knew this would be wear the muddy football boots would end up being cleaned. The washing machine and tumble dryer are also in here and a large ironing board cupboard. At the end of the utility room is a boot room area where you can sit and take off your muddy shoes before coming into the house. I also have a weekly organisation board on the wall.

Off of the utility room we also put a coat and shoe cupboard in that has a motion activated light and helps to keep everything stored neatly but in easy reach.

I think we really achieved everything that we both wanted in a kitchen, somewhere social, light and bright, stylish, practical and comfortable. I absolutely love my kitchen!

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!

Blogmas Day 8: Making My Own Christmas Wreath

On Thursday morning I was kindly invited along with a few other Mum’s from school to go to our friends house for a wreath making workshop. I have never done anything like this before and have wanted to take part for a couple of years but now Archie is in nursery on a Thursday morning it meant I was child free and could join in.

We arrived to pastries, fresh juice and hot drinks and then picked between a round or heart-shaped wreath. I picked a round one as I was aiming to use it as a table centrepiece with a handle in the middle as I can’t attach a wreath to our front door as we don’t have a knocker and the door is too thick for a hanging hook. Annoying!

My friend had asked Emily from who is a local florist and she brought along Nordmann fir pieces from a local Christmas tree farm along with other exotic pieces, decorations and lights. She started as off by showing us how to attach the hanging hook and then how to place your pieces on and which way to go around the wreath using your copper wire to secure everything as you go. To be honest at the beginning mine looked shocking and I wasn’t very impressed with it but as I got further around it suddenly all came together. In the end I used the fir-tree pieces and gypsophila and few pieces of eucalyptus.

At the end my wreath was huge and I did ask Emily to secure the last bit of wire and trim it down for me. I then added little sticks of cinnamon, wooden decorative hearts and fairy lights. I am really pleased with the finished result and it looks great on my dining room table. It smells absolutely amazing!

This is a great Christmas activity to do at home with the girls and it was nice to do something at Christmas time that is more for the adults.

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 1: Our Pines & Needles Christmas Tree

On Thursday this years Christmas Tree was delivered and dressed from Pines and Needles. I have been super excited about it as we had a tree from them last year and it was a complete show stopper, so beautiful. We have it in our hallway and even when the postman delivers a parcel he comments on how amazing it looks.

Pines and Needles offer the most amazing service where you can reserve and collect your tree from one of their stores or order online and have it delivered straight to your door. When you shop online you can pick the size of your tree and then add lights, decorations and a stand if you need too.

They also offer a service where two of their delivery men or women, dressed in their kilts will decorate the tree to perfection for you. As we had this last year I already have the stand, lights and decorations so you can just purchase the decorating service along with your tree.

I always pick a gold theme and for our 7ft Nordmann Fir I already have the Deluxe Gold decoration set from last year which is £345.95. I also have two sets of ice white lights and the tree stand, so I got everything out and ready for when they arrived.  The 7ft tree costs £75.95 and last year it lasted from the last week in November until the end of December and didn’t drop at all. Our house smells amazing too, you just can’t beat the smell of a real Christmas Tree!

If you live in London there are a range of convenient services to choose from to make the installation of your Christmas Tree as easy as possible, ranging from a drop off to door right through to the full Decoration Service.

  • Budget Deliver Tree to Door: Drop off to door from £16.95
  • Deliver Tree to Room : Drop off to room of choice from £20.95
  • Premium Delivery: As above, and installation into stand from £29.95
  • Premium Delivery & Lights Installation: As above, and lighting of tree from £65.95
  • Decoration Service: As above, and Decorating tree with decorations Price dependent on tree size.

Our driver updated us throughout the day to let us know when they would be arriving. They arrived and immediately got to work. Our tree was up and dressed in just over an hour and they cleaned up afterwards as well. I did buy a dust sheet this year to make it easier and quicker to clean up afterwards.

This years tree is absolutely huge and a lot bushier than last years and I absolutely love it!

I am so happy with our tree and the boys were so excited to come home from school and see it as soon as I opened the front door. Christmas has well and truly begun in our household!

This post is in collaboration with Pines and Needles. We were gifted our tree but all views are honest and my own.

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

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

Premium+ Channels

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

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

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

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

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

 

This post is in collaboration with TVPlayer.

Warner Bros Studio Tour London, Hogwarts In The Snow Review

Last night we were kindly invited to the press preview for the ‘Hogwarts In The Snow’ event that is running over the Christmas period at the Warner Bros Studio Tour London. For any Harry Potter fan the studio tour is absolutely mind blowing and amazing but when it undergoes its make over each Christmas for Hogwarts In The Snow it becomes even more magical!

We are so lucky that we only live ten minutes away from the studio, so we picked Oscar up from school and headed straight there. The boys were so excited, especially Archie who hasn’t been since he was a baby so it was all new for him. Oscar is so lucky and has been a few times now. When we arrived we were greeted by a giant Christmas tree outside and in the entrance hall is a beautiful tree. It gets you really in a Christmassy mood. We had welcome drinks and then entered the tour.

At the beginning you watch two short videos about how the books were made into the amazing Worldwide famous films that they became. We then gathered around the giant doors of the Great Hall and Oscar was lucky enough to be asked to open the doors. The doors opened to the Great Hall which was dressed ready for a Christmas feast. It is amazing to think that they really filmed in there. The food props looked so real but were made from resin and then we were shown the special effects of the Christmas puddings on fire.

The stage in the Great Hall is set up for the iconic Yule ball from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire which is the celebration of the Triwizard tournament. Decorated with beautiful trees and the orchestra.

Other sets around the studio were also decorated for Christmas, such as the Gryffindor common room and Harry’s dormitory. Opposite these rooms was also a great wind and fire kiosk and a lovely member off staff explained to Oscar all of the materials they used in the films to make snow and fire. He found this really interesting and spotted all of the lit fireplaces around the tour which were made by using a combination of water vapour and lighting effects. I must say all the staff throughout the tour are so lovely and enthusiastic and full of Harry Potter facts and were more than happy to answer all of Oscar’s questions.

Oscar and Archie had photos on the green screens where they were transformed into Wizard’s. They also tried out the other interactive activities around the tour, like learning wand combinations and getting a broomstick to rise up and down.

We then walked through one of the newest attractions, the Forbidden Forest where you can see some of the creatures from the films and play around with the special effects and make a thunderstorm or wind.

You then walk through a small gift shop and onto Platform 9 ¾. Archie’s little face when he saw the Hogwarts Express was a picture. I have seen it a few times now but each time you are taken aback as it’s just an amazing sight. You can walk through the train and then sit in a carriage and have your photo taken and then watch a video of a short train journey.

We then had dinner in the backlot cafe, we had burgers followed by Butterbeer ice cream which was delicious. The Warner Bros Studio Tour London is one of only four places in the World that serves Butterbeer. You then walk outside and can have photos by the Knight Bus, the covered bridge of Hogwarts Castle, the flying car and in Sirius Black’s motorbike. You can also go in side the iconic house that is number 4 Privet Drive.

Back inside you can see lots of props and costumes and then walk through Diagon Alley which is the cobble stoned street shown in the films. There is also a display set up here where you can see how they magically make footprints appear in the snow when nobody is there.

This leads you to all the detailed plans and drawings off the sets within the films, its amazing to see just how much work goes into every last detail of the films. Last but not least you walk into the room which takes my breath away each time, where you see the most amazing statue of the Hogwarts Castle and during the Hogwarts In The Snow event the whole Castle is covered in snow. It really is the most magical sight and for me, with only 34 sleeps until Christmas coming to the Hogwarts In The Snow event has been the most amazing start to this years Christmas festivities.

In the huge gift shop there are lots of Harry Potter themed Christmas decorations and it is full to the brim of gift ideas for any Harry Potter Fan. With the launch recently of the Harry Potter Lego, Oscar has four of these sets on his Christmas list all which they stock in their store here.

We had the most magical evening and the Hogwarts In The Snow event is not to be missed! The event is running now until the 27th January 2019 and all tickets must be pre-booked online at www.wbstudiotour.co.uk

This post is in collaboration with Warner Bros Studio Tour. We were gifted the entry tickets but all opinions are honest and my own. We loved it!

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

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

1. Lapland UK

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

2. Harrod’s Christmas Grotto.

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

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

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

4. Santa’s Sleepover At Alton Towers

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

5. Warner Bros Studio Tour, Hogwarts In The Snow

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

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

My Top Christmas Advent Calendars For Kids 2018

With less than one hundred days until Christmas (95 to be precise) and the shops filling up with all their Christmas decorations, I have already started my planning for the festive season. Next week I can book our annual trip to Harrod’s Christmas Grotto and slots are already open with Pines and Needles to book your Christmas Tree delivery, so the planning starts now!

I have been looking at Advent Calendars for both Oscar and Archie. They both get a chocolate calendar and a toy advent calendar. Last year they had a Playmobil one and a Lego one, which they loved!

This year there are so many great advent calendars on the market to choose from but here are my favourites;

This one we will be getting for Oscar as he is Smiggle obsessed. It is £25 and has £40+ worth of goodies inside. If you find one of the 25 lucky tickets hidden inside the Calendars you can win a £500 Smiggle shopping spree! These flew off the shelves last year so your best to buy it now and hide it away.

For Archie this Christmas we have got the Schleich 97702 – Wild Life Advent Calendar 2018. He loves animals and whenever we go to the toy shop he always chooses another Schleich animal to add to his growing collection. It is £24.99 And features 24 compartments containing gifts of Schleich Wildlife toys and accessories. He will love it!

LEGO 60155 City Advent Calendar 2017 Construction Toy. Lego sell a variety of different advent calendars all with 24 gifts inside. We had a Lego one last Christmas and Oscar loved it! They start at around £20.

For the creative children Play-Doh and Crayola have a fantastic advent calendar this year. The Crayola 04-6808-U-000 Christmas Advent Calendar Kit is Packed with craft projects, homemade gifts, finger puppets, and colouring activities, this set helps kids get into the spirit of Christmas. It is £19.99. The  Play-Doh Advent Calendar is £15 and features 24 hidden surprises. The calendar comes with several small pots of Play-Doh including two glittering colours for a festive touch, with a new addition/accessory to discover every day.

Playmobil Advent Calendar Santas Workshop. Playmobil also sell a variety of advent calendars.Oscar has had this one before and over the 24 days you build up a Santa’s workshop play scene. It’s a really lovely calendar! It is £19.99 and has 106 pieces inside.

This advent calendar would have been my dream as a child! The Barbie advent calendar is £35.00. In the Barbie Advent Calendar as well as Barbie herself over the 24 days it includes everything she needs to be a ballerina, baker, ice skater, pet vet and professional skier. It helps kids to understand different careers while living the magic of opening a present each day! I love this one!

This is the perfect advent calendar for your little car lover! It is around £19.99 and Contains 8 different Hot Wheels vehicles, plus stickers and surprise accessories.  Hot Wheels Advent Calendar with Mini Cars Toy Mattel

The Happyland advent calendar is perfect for the younger children from 18 months. It is £25 and as you can see comes with lots of toys inside to make up the Christmas play set. It’s very cute!

So these are my advent favourites for Christmas 2018! I hope you enjoyed the post and maybe have got some inspiration for your little one’s calendar this year. Expect lot’s of Christmas posts coming your way soon!

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