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How To Train Your Dragon – The Hidden World

Yesterday we were so lucky to be invited into Islington, London to watch a special immersive screening of  How To Train Your Dragon – The Hidden World which is in cinemas next Friday, the 1st of February 2019.

Oscar and Archie were both really excited when I told them last week that we had been invited and recapped by watching the first and second films back to back. Rewinding back to 2015, Oscar was five years old and absolutely obsessed with How To Train Your Dragon. He had all of the toys, dress up costume and his 5th Birthday was themed around it complete with his very own Toothless cake. I even remember when he was 4 and I was pregnant with Archie, Oscar wanted to call the baby Hiccup.

So yesterday morning we drove into Islington, to the most amazing venue, Collins Music Hall which had been completely transformed into the Isle Of Berk. Firstly Oscar and Archie had to complete their Dragon training which they found great fun! Afterwards they were awarded with their certificates graduating them from the Dragon Training Academy. (They now now officially own a Dragon!)

We then continued on our adventure through Berk where Oscar had his face painted and both the boys had a go at the Sheep Dunk game where they had to throw the Sheep through the Dragon holes to win their very on Viking hat and poster.

We got out snacks and drinks ready for the film and then the Viking horn sounded and we made our way down the stairs to the Hidden World. When we reached the bottom and took our seats the whole room was decorated as the Hidden World. The film was introduced by the Film’s Director, Dean DeBlois and the producer Brad Lewis who have been a part of all three of the movies.

In the film The Hidden World, Hiccup and his fellow Vikings are under great threat of loosing their Dragons as their enemies task Grimmel the infamous Dragon killer and killer of all other Night Fury’s to capture Toothless, the Dragon’s Alpha and then all the other Dragons would follow him to their land so they can have them as their own Dragon army. Grimmel uses the Light Fury to distract Toothless.

Hiccup decides to follow his Father’s dream of finding the Hidden World, which is the place at the end of the World where Dragon’s can live in peace. After Berk is attacked by Grimmel and his men everyone from Berk decides to go off on a quest to find The Hidden World. They stop off on an island to rest and set up camp but Grimmel is not far behind them.

Toothless falls in love with the Light Fury and follows her to the Hidden World. Hiccup follows and can’t believe that the place that his Father dreamed of not only really existed but they had finally found it, a place where their beloved Dragon’s would be safe. Toothless brings Hiccup and Astrid back from The Hidden World as they were in danger but on their return Toothless and the Light Fury are captured by Grimmel and all of the other Dragons follow them. With only Viking power left, Hiccup feels defeated but Astrid reminds him of what a great leader he is and using their gliding suits they rescue all of the Dragon’s and defeat Grimmel.

Eventually Hiccup can see that it is best for the Dragons to go and live in The Hidden World. It is a heart wrenching moment when your see the Vikings say goodbye to all of their Dragon’s as they fly off into the distance. It teaches Hiccup he can be just as strong as a leader with or without his Dragon and his best friend.

The film ends on a lovely moment where Hiccup and Astrid get married to rule the Isle of Berk together and go onto have children of their own. A few years later you see them on a longboat as a family and they see Toothless, the light fury and their children and all fly together. Its a lovely end to the film and the story of Hiccup and Toothless and their journey together.

It is another fantastic 5* DreamWorks Animation from Universal Pictures and we are so grateful for the invite to this amazing Immersive film experience. We had such a fantastic time!

Oscar and Archie were also given a lovely gift bag each with a book, DVD’s and one of the new Mystery Dragon toys which are available at Smyths Toys Superstores. Smyths have a huge range of How To Train Your Dragon Toys and computer games available. Oscar’s birthday list has now got most of it on it!

 

This post is in collaboration with Universal Pictures UK.

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 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 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 5: A Fun Filled Christmassy December

If you haven’t guessed already, I blooming love Christmas! I am literally like a big kid and love to make it as special as possible for Oscar and Archie whilst they are both still young. Christmas in our house started last week with the arrival of our beautiful Pines and Needles Christmas tree. Then on the 1st of December our cheeky little elves, Eric and Ernie arrive and bring the boys advent calendars and stay with us until they fly home on Santa’s sleigh on Christmas eve. When the boys wake up on the 1st of December the Christmas fairies have also put the rest of our decorations up and our other Christmas tree in the lounge. The excitement was off the scale, they both woke up and their bed sheets had been changed to Christmas ones over the night then they ran downstairs to see if the elves had arrived!

This year our December is jam packed full of Christmas fun. We always visit Father Christmas at Harrods. This is something I did as a child so we are carrying on the tradition. I booked it back in September and we are going this week and every year it is so amazing! They have a different theme each time, the staff are so enthusiastic and the boys always choose a new decoration each and then we go out for something to eat afterwards. I can’t wait! This is where the boys put their letters to Father Christmas in the post box at the grotto and then they get a reply a couple of weeks later.

We are also going to the Pantomime this weekend to see Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs. It is such a great day out at Christmas and fun for all the family. We are going to The Watersmeet Theatre in Rickmansworth and this year it is running from the 7th to the 31st of December and has EastEnders and Dancing on Ice star Sam Attwater playing Prince Simon. Come back on Monday to read my full review.

We also have Oscar’s carol service and Archie’s nursery concert to look forward to over the next week which I absolutely love. It is so sweet to watch them perform amongst their class mates. Then the boys both finish next Friday for Christmas for three and a half weeks which will be great fun!

The Coca Cola Truck is touring the UK like it has for the last few Christmas’ so nest week I am going to take the boys to our local ASDA store to see it in the flesh for a bit of fun. You can see all the dates and locations HERE. You queue up and have your photo with the iconic Christmas truck. In the afternoon when its darker and iuts all lit up it looks really good!

Before Christmas we are also going to Bruges to visit the Christmas market. Oscar is so excited to go on a little road trip and go on the Euro Tunnel. The photos people have posted online before of the markets are amazing and its something I have wanted to do for a few years but now Archie is old enough to enjoy it too. We have booked a hotel near to the main market square with parking to make it as easy as possible to get around.

Image result for bruges christmas market

We also have another trip planned before Christmas, but it is under wraps at the moment.

On Christmas Eve we always go to our close friends and the boys Godparents house for the most amazing pork baps and Christmas carols around the piano. The children are always so excited as its not long until Father Christmas’ arrival. Oscar is learning a Christmas carol on the piano and a few of the children who can play each do a little solo piece. Then the children sit down around our friends Dad in the chair who reads them all ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas’ story. Its always a lovely afternoon/evening and then we leave there and come home and leave the milk, carrots and cookies out for Father Christmas.

I would love to hear what you have planned and how you make your family Christmas as magical as possible?

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!

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.