Thursday, 18 August 2016

Scooby-Doo Live!

Scooby-Doo Live! Musical Mysteries

Summer holidays so far have been very busy, we've been lucky enough to have some great days out so far and there's still more to come. I'm pretty certain that today will be the highlight of the summer especially for the children because today we were invited to the press event for Scooby-Doo Live! Musical Mysteries at the London Palladium and who doesn't love Scooby-Doo? Having been around for about 40 years, it's a show all generations of the family will want to see. It was our first ever visit to London Palladium and my first ever time travelling into London with both children alone without another adult to 'help'... actually it went ok! And what a beautiful venue?
 
 As soon as our invite arrived the Scooby-Doo excitement started. I've loved Scooby-Doo for as long as I can remember, Oliver was a toddler when he became obsessed with it after uncle James gave him a Scooby doo hamburger cushion from his trip to LA... Isabelle has often played with Oliver's Scooby-Doo toys but has only recently watched it on tv... she loves it too! The invite arrived in a super cool box of goodies, all Scooby related of-course.
 
A brand new family musical Scooby-Doo and the Mystery inc. gang kept us entertained the entire time, no toddler getting up and wandering away (please note - this often will happen as she loses interest in things quickly). There's a few new characters as well as the well known and loved; Shaggy, Fred, Velma, Daphne and ofcourse Scooby-Doo. In this show they are disguised as a rock band called 'missing link' when they're called upon to help solve the case of Mr Warner's haunted theatre and they need your help too! The show is very interactive with the characters often asking the audience questions!

The length of the show was perfect for us lasting around approximately 80 minutes (two 30-minute acts with 20-min intermission).

Age wise - it says kids as young as 4 or 5 will love it.... Isabelle is 2 years old and she had a fantastic time! She joined in when prompted to, she got excited when she saw Scooby-Doo and shouted "ghost" when she spotted the ghost - just incase other's around us had missed it!

 The actors were amazing, their dances, singing and acting were all brilliant.


Both children had an amazing afternoon watching Scooby-Doo Live! Oliver has asked if we could go again tomorrow whilst Isabelle now adores Daphne

If you want to see it too, you need to be quick! It's only on for a short time at the London Palladium 18th-21st August with 3 shows a day. You can find out more and buy tickets at www.scoobydoolive.co.uk

 

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Awesome Archaeology at Wrest Park

School summer holidays - it can be difficult to find enough exciting things to do with the children that are also within your budget. Well, we have definitely found an amazing place which we loved so much that we will be returning again this summer holidays for another event. We were invited to review Wrest Park which is an English Heritage property in Bedfordshire, they've got some summer activities for children on weekdays and the event that we went to was absolutely fantastic.

Upon arrival we needed a toilet trip and whilst in there I knew I needed to mention this... you know when you're on a family day out and you need to take a little person to the toilet with you? There's hardly any space in some of them and you're really cramped, well not here! English Heritage must understand the need for a good sized toilet haha.. can't believe I've started this post talking about toilets. It had to be said though! Toilet trips can be stressful. I'll also mention it has a great baby change area - no bad smell at all!

Before you enter through admissions there is a play area and also a maize, the café too is outside the entrance. You enter through the gift shop - you exit here too, we had a look around the gift shop on the way out and Oliver was eyeing up a wooden shield and sword to which I said no - not because it was too expensive but it's his birthday on Sunday so he doesn't get gifts randomly before as a rule. The gift shop was really reasonably priced actually and have a section which I'll call pocket money toys meaning you didn't have to spend a small fortune and it was nice cute bits too.

We went to Awesome Archaeology at Wrest Park, on the English Heritage website it says "Get your hands dirty as you become a daring archaeologist on our mini dig for the day. Discover hidden treasures and fantastic finds as you excavate the secrets of Wrest Park." From that, I thought we would be doing some digging in sand for a bit learning about the history of Wrest Park which as a family thought sounded really fun but there was so much more than that.

Had we of arrived earlier at the area for Awesome Archaeology (we decided to walk around for a bit first as it was so pretty there and we also needed to get some lunch... I will talk about lunch soon!) - we would of been in time to do some digging in one of two sand tables they had but unfortunately I didn't realise this finished at about 1:30pm. What was after was great fun too so if you do miss the digging - don't worry! There is other things to keep children entertained and learning too.

There were two really enthusiastic guys at Awesome Archaeology, with a queue of children waiting to see what it was all about.... my children however were not in the line *argh* You know when they just don't want to wait for something? So we left poor Grandma in the line and we went to explore inside the bowling green house which is very pretty... they can use some foam blocks in here to build their own versions of buildings they've seen around Wrest Park which we thought was a lovely little touch, children learn through playing and it was great to see them trying to create a building like the ones they've seen.
Soon enough it was our turn [thanks grandma!] and Oliver went first... he had no idea what to expect.

I discovered that the two men didn't actually work for English Heritage but were professionals at what they do, touring the country offering their expertise in certain things and English Heritage had got them in to run the sessions - wow (Time Capsule Productions). Usually things we have been to similar to this in the past, it'll be people who usually work at the venue just playing a different role for a few hours. We thought it was fantastic that English Heritage have actually gone to the effort to find someone to hold this work shops at their venue! It kinda makes you feel like you're getting more for your entrance money too - as you don't pay any extra to take part in Awesome Archaeology!

There were two options
1) metal detector
2) geofizz kit

Oliver went with the geofizz kit first and he was pretty amazed.
Each child gets a 5 minute slot with the machine and when the time has run out, the screen on the machine will 'lock' until it's reset for the next person. Oliver had no idea how to use it to begin with but picked it up so quickly when it was perfectly explained to him... I took a while to understand what it was all about.

Meanwhile Isabelle got distracted by these lovelies...
Oliver says "Geofizz kit, it will help you to discover ruins under the ground that have been there for a long long time". Basically, it's a really cool game because it has a tablet connected to it [children love technology don't they?!], the game itself is looking for remains of a building and by moving around more of it appears on the screen as you discover it. He absolutely loved this but the first attempt didn't get as much as he wanted to so he was desperate for another go. Remember I said that little boy wouldn't wait in a line to have a go at this? Well he did, twice more! Very patiently.

He loved this so much and on his second turn he got to have a go with the metal detector! Ahh. My Dad was big metal detector fan and would loved this day out. It kinda made me think about time team too - anyone remember time team? Can't of been the only one that was made to watch it when they were younger?!



The metal detector also had a tablet connected to it, meaning yes another game! This time the aim of the game was to find the lost treasure, it will beep when it gets close to something and then make a loud noise when you've found it - both children got excited at the Eiffel tower keyring.
Isabelle wanted to get involved and she done really well actually, finding 11 things in 5 minutes and getting very excited each discovery.
I love how she stood here really proud of herself with her arms crossed saying thank you to the man for letting her have a go. He was great with her, asked her how old she was to which she replied "I two". He told her that she was the youngest to do it this week and that she did really well - obviously she walked away with a big smile on her face like she had made a huge achievement. English Heritage have employed people who have very good people skills and are good at interacting with children - every single child got talked through what they had found, each time the men got down to the child's level to talk to them.
Oliver's favourite was the geofizz kit so he lined up to have another go! Couldn't believe it as this boy really doesn't like waiting for anything but he really desperately wanted to stay there all day.

It was time to move on and see what the other activity offered was all about... Facial reconstruction with play doh! As an allergy mum, I always notice is when there's signs about allergies and I was very impressed to see this dotted around the café, the shop and also on the back of this sign at the facial reconstruction, it's lovely to see allergies being taken seriously and allowing us allergy parents to be a little more relaxed.

The children both absolutely loved creating a face with play dough and spent a fair amount of time doing it. Oliver wanted to get back to the geofizz but Isabelle was very happy slowly creating a face.

Lunch wise, there is only one café here which is at the entrance.... I guess it could be a little annoying if you're at the other side of the park and wanted a cup of tea. They don't offer chips or jacket potato - I felt this was a shame as it's something simple that would cater for people who are gluten free. The menu is very good though and the sausage roll was absolutely delicious. I was pleasantly surprised at the prices, often it's a lot more for certain things in cafes on days out which can add the cost up and up... These prices are reasonable meaning you could visit again and again without spending a small fortune. They have an offer of a childrens lunch box for £4.95 and with it the child gets to chose a small toy out of a tub.... Oliver picked a bouncy ball and Isabelle got a cute bracelet (which she went on to purchase the matching necklace for it before we left - obviously). The selection of cakes were fab, coffee and walnut cake, lemon cake, brownie, millionaire shortbread, pastries just to name a few. They do have some Dairy Free and Gluten Free cakes. The crisps were allergen free too. The tea was reasonably priced and tasted good. The sausage rolls - have one! Absolutely delicious. I'll return for one of those!

There's so much there we weren't able to see it all with children but if you were alone without the children it would also be a wonderful place to go.


There was so much open space to let the children run around in or pretend to be a tree in.
We love how this day out has catered for both aged children as well as myself and grandma too - it's an ideal family day out as it's somewhere every generation will love! There's plenty of space to put a picnic blanket down and have a relaxing visit. If you go inside the house, you can learn even more about the history and it's very beautiful inside. The Wrest Park guidebook is a perfect buy if you want to learn more about it's history.

As a family, we love days outdoors exploring and learning about new places - this now automatically is in my top 5 that we've been to.

Thank you English Heritage for a fantastic day out - please hold awesome archaeology again next summer! You can find out more about what other events they've got planned this summer by going to their website - http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/ 
You can also find their entry prices online too which we thought were reasonable.





Mary-Kate, x

*I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity. [I have received a voucher in return for writing this post]*
www.mumsnet.com/bloggers-network

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Be happy in your skin - have I left it too late?

You know those new years resolutions that each and every year we make, knowing that year after year they don't work? Well. Mine didn't go to plan - again. What a shocker huh?!

My plan was to be healthier, to exercise more, to eat less and in general try to be a healthier/fitter person. I failed. I haven't eaten better, I've not been to the gym in about a month and I am just the same as I was before. This needs to change. Michael had a little chat with me the other day, not in a horrible way [he's lovely]. But what he said really made me think, "if two years after our wedding you've lost weight, will you look back at the photo and regret it?" ...my answer was obviously YES. I would regret not putting more effort in now to get the results that my heart wants. [my head, wants food! I have a fat brain] I really don't have very long to get to a size that I would be happy with on my wedding day. We get married in March and obviously I need to get a dress sorted before then! Eeek. Have I left it too late?

So here we go, I've just booked a session for Inspired personal health and fitness tomorrow, another booked for Saturday morning. I haven't pigged out on a treat this evening and I am determined to try harder, to be happier in my skin because that's something I can't change isn't it.


At the beach on Sunday, West Wittering is lovely by the way, I told Michael that I had never actually worn a bikini (I can't even swim) and it was something that bugged me (the bikini not the swimming - I don't want to learn to swim). I don't want to be the only person ever to not wear a bikini because of how I felt inside. I hope that one day I'll be confident enough to wear a bikini - even if it's go a kaftan over the top of it sat on a chilly beach in the UK or just a tankini that'll do.

I'm going to try to be better by updating here about my weight loss journey, I hope that the way Inspired is going to inspire me that I can inspire others that it's not too late.

It's never too late to change your bad habits.
It's never too late to try to be a healthier you.

Mary-Kate, x

West Wittering Beach

Randomly we decided to drive 2 hours to West Wittering on Sunday, I really wanted the children to have atleast one day at the beach this year and for Isabelle to have a chance to play with the sand, to put her toys in the sea and just have a little seaside experience. We had a lovely day!

We arrived just after 9am which meant that there were not many other people on the beach! The car park had lots of spaces still so we got literally the best we could of hoped for right next to the beach! It costs £8 to park there for the day which we thought was pretty reasonable considering we were literally next to the beach should we need anything from the car - we did return to the car a lot.


It was so clean, it has really been looked after! It was lovely to see the presence of lots of lifeguards too and it made it extra safe by the fact they have paper wrist bands you can put on your children with your phone number in case you lose them.

The section of the beach we were in didn't allow dogs, which we really liked. There was a section further up that did allow dogs.


We decided to get chips there - they were not great to be honest and at £3.50 I wouldn't buy them again.

Here's some photos from our time at the beach.
 








We would definitely suggest West Wittering beach if you were looking for a lovely day at a sandy beach without going too far from Hertfordshire/London area!

Mary-Kate, x 

Friday, 29 July 2016

Bed news!

Well, it seems like five minutes ago we were packing Isabelle's shnuggle basket away and setting up this cot. It felt like she was getting so big. Then suddenly we were moving it down a level so she couldn't fall out... getting so big, and now, it's been taken down because she's move to a big girl bed. oh. my. word. Where is the time going?

So on Friday 22nd July 2016 a delivery arrived and with the help of Grandad her bed was put together. For about a week before, she barely slept! Screaming in her cot that she didn't like it, she wanted bed like lala (Oliver) and that she not sleep. I literally hate leaving her crying but what do you do? Can't stay up there chatting all night and she needed sleep so I cried. Yep.. cried. Then I grabbed the bank card and the laptop and ordered her a big girl bed - even paid for next day delivery!

We decided to get her the same bed as Oliver from John Lewis. Also the same mattress from John Lewis - it's comfy and we've been pleased with it so decided to have them matching, which is a good idea because they share a bedroom so it would probably look weird if it didn't match.




Isabelle was delighted and she's slept perfectly every night since - nap times have even gone really well too!

We decided to go straight to a single bed and miss out the toddler bed stage, she's 28 months now and thought a toddler bed would be a waste of money. We decided upon the Wilton child compliant bed frame in pine colour with the essentials collection response 920 comfort open spring mattress totally together £344. The next day delivery was £19.99.

We decided to also stick with John Lewis for the fitted bed sheet, in a cute pale pink colour. Also the essential mattress protector because well lets face it, we're potty training so it's going to get a few accidents isn't it?! eeek.


Luckily I'd already got a girly duvet cover set which was in the sale in Tesco AGES ago. It is a really cute Disney Cinderella one which was a bargain for £3.50! It's lovely and soft and so far she seems pleased with it.

Her duvet cover was from amazon - I needed it next day! I decided to get a 4.5 tog because she seems so tiny and it's summer...plus she's got to 28 months with no duvet so I wanted something light. We went with a silent night anti allergy one - it was on offer. & we decided to get silent night pillows too -it was a two pack so Oliver got a new one and Isabelle had one.

We also got a bed guard - thought that was a good idea to stop her falling out. We've kept the mattress from the cot too, put it under the bed to pull out so if she falls, she'll fall onto it.


Bye bye baby days... hello big girl bed!

Thursday, 28 July 2016

One about weeds

In my first garden related blog post which you can see here!, I spoke about my battle with ground elder in my own garden and earlier I was having the same battle in my customers garden so I thought I'd share some thoughts.

Firstly here's a photo of a plant that I dug up.
You can see the long root which makes ground elder the pest it is. There's no good just pulling it out because all of the roots need to be removed and there's an awful lot of them! You'll never get 100% of it the first time no ones perfect but if you can get 90% the first time a 90% of what left the second time and so on in a reasonably short period of time the problem can be managed if not completely eradicated.
I wouldn't bother with weed killer it will kill the leaves but the plant will simply retreat to its roots.

The second weed I encountered is not really a 'weed' I'm sure some consider it a plant but I find it a nuisance. It is a large grass plant with sharp leaves. It will become very large and seed prolifically around the garden meaning before long you will be overrun with it.

So my advice get is to get rid when they are small because if they are big you'll need a pick axe. If you like grass plants well I've got a few suggestions that will look nicer and not take over. Firstly if you have a large garden go for stipa gigantea or m&s anthias zebrinus (the stripey one) interestingly [I hope] the stripes are caused by a virus, don't worry it doesn't damage the plant or spread.

If you have a smaller garden try hakonechloa aurea or stipa tenuissima which is very tactile.

But most importantly dig them both out before they take over.

Michael

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Bed time routine featuring Denman

Just before we moved house we were sent two hair brushes for the children, they've been using them ever since they arrived and still love them. I just have been rubbish at blogging so it's taken me a while to get around to telling anyone we have them! [sorry]... The whole house move thing was a bit of a shock and I'm rubbish at coping with change. Moving on...

It's a little embarrassing that in 6 years of having Oliver I had just used my hair brush for him when/if needed.... to be fair to me, he never really had much hair! Now he doesn't need to share mine because he has his very own super cool one which has fitted into our bedtime routine perfectly. Gone are the days he woke up with terrible bed hair because it's been beautifully brushed the night before. Both my children hate hair dryers so we rub their hair dry with a towel and then brush it through. His little sister was sent one too which was very handy because they always want what the other one has, don't they? luckily they're blue and pink so there's no fighting over he's got my one!


So when they arrived we were just on our way out but the children were so excited they wanted to take them with us and they brushed their hair for probably, the entire car journey. Which kept them entertained.
 
We were sent two different designs - one is blue with cars on called Vroom Vroom and one is pink with a fairy/castle which is called fairytale. Both brushes retail for £8.50 each - at first I thought this was a lot (please remember that I've never actually purchased one so had no idea on prices apart from my own hairbrush which is rubbish and I think cost me about £3....!) But having looked around at different hair brushes after and using one that Isabelle was giving as a present in a little set, to which she screamed at because it hurt her... I've realised that the price is £8.50 because it does exactly what it's name says! They're called the tangle tamer brushes and they really do work without upsetting the child = easier life = happier parent. Neither child has moaned that they hurt whilst sorting out those irritating tangles.

Oliver also had a really sore scalp when we started using this, he has special shampoo from the doctor which has now cleared it up beautifully but I was a little worried that this tangle tamer would hurt his scalp - it didn't it was absolutely fine.

I'd recommend this brush to any children probably age 1 upwards, when they really get some hair.

It's very useful for those pig tails that Isabelle now wants to have and without it, I hold my hands up and admit that she would look very silly with her hair everywhere!


I've also put their hair brushes to the test on my own hair and I love them! My hair is long and if I didn't brush it straight away it would be a little difficult to get a brush all the way through it easily. I definitely want to get a Denman brush of my own so I'll put that on my 'to get' list - do all mums have those?
Our bedtime routine has had to change a bit since we moved as now we have both children sharing a bedroom but denman brushes have fitted in perfectly and made life easier.
Thank you Denman they're very happy with their beautifully brushed hair before bedtime.

you can find denman range of brushes here - www.denmanbrush.com
Mary-Kate, x

*Please note that we were sent these brushes for the purpose of this review.