The Snowman – Thank you Mumsnet and Save the Children

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It’s been so lovely to see all of the fab photos of you and your little ones in their Christmas jumpers, all in support of Save the Children’s ‘Make the a World better with a Sweater’ day. Yesterday, the annual event saw many people, businesses, workplaces and schools, donate to the fantastic charity by wearing their Christmas jumpers for the day. You can read my blog post about it here, and see me and mine in our festive sweaters.

I was delighted to be contacted by Mumsnet and Save the Children to say that I had won 4 tickets to see the gala performance of ‘The Snowman’ in London! Readers of my latest post The Christmas Tag, will know that one of my all time favourite Christmas movies is ‘The Snowman’ and I watched it with Harley last week; it was magical to watch him be in awe throughout the film, just as I was when I was little.

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So I was absolutely over the moon, to hear that we had the opportunity to see it, live on stage. Regretfully, the performance started a little too early for us to drive up from the South Coast after work. But I was so pleased to be able to pass on the tickets to a friend and her boys. She sent me some photos of the evening which I’m delighted to be able to share with you.

When they arrived, the boys decorated gingerbread men with Save the Children before the show started, which they thoroughly enjoyed.

Look at that fab Xmas Jumper

Look at that fab Xmas Jumper

They were even treated to a visit from the Snowman himself.

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The boys absolutely loved the show and didn’t want it to end. They had a fab view from the stalls:

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and their favourite part was the iconic scene when the snowman started flying!

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On the opinion of a lovely friend, if you’re looking for a firm, festive, family favourite (what about that for some alliteration!) we can thoroughly recommend the spectacle and magic of The Snowman; expertly brought to life through spectacular lighting, super choreography and performed by a live band. The Times are quoted as saying, “Sheer theatrical magic. Go see the Snowman and melt,” I love that.

The Snowman is currently showing at The Peacock theatre, Holborn, London, until 4th January 2015. You can book tickets if you click here.

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So on behalf of my friend and her gorgeous boys, I have to send a big, big thank you to Mumsnet and Save the Children for your generosity. What a lovely Christmas treat.

Disclaimer: I was gifted complimentary tickets for the show and was not asked to promote the show or theatre, Save the Children or Mumsnet.

Did you join in with the Christmas Jumper day? Have you seen ‘The Snowman’ live?

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Our visit to Paultons Park Christmas Wonderland

For me, the most special time of year is nearly upon us so my family and I were so excited to visit the Christmas Wonderland at Paultons Park. Our favourite family theme park, coupled with Father Christmas… it exceeded all of our expectations.

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Our tickets were for 11am and we were told to be at the entrance quarter of an hour before. Santa’s elves greeted us and had a little chat with Harley and Lola before we went in. There is space to leave the buggy at the beginning, if you wanted to but we chose to keep Lola in hers before she started getting fidgety. As you enter the Wonderland, there is immediately a gorgeous bedroom scene, all set up for Christmas Eve. There is even a sleeping child in the bed, where the covers respond to the child’s breathing; it was very realistic. You then walk through a tunnel of glittery stars overhead and into the most magical set up of Christmas scenes.

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At every point along the path, there is something beautiful to look at and enjoy, whilst eagerly waiting to meet Santa. All of the animals and creatures are part of some spectacular scenes; most of which have moving parts and even sing along to the Christmas songs. The penguins, polar bears, snowmen and baby seals to name but a few, all create a snowy spectacle as you follow the signs towards the North Pole.

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As you edge ever closer, you see Rudolph and the animated reindeers in their stables. Then you enter Santa’s Toy Workshop. A whole host of busy elves are making and wrapping the toys and collecting the children’s letters for Santa. Harley loved watching the teddy bears move along the conveyor belt and stood in awe, gazing at the large pile of wrapped presents at the end.

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As we had a buggy with us, we saw Santa in the larger room (there are 2 rooms for children to meet Santa, which I thought was a brilliant idea as it helped the queue to move quicker.) The elf on the door was really good with the children as we waited our turn to enter the room. She chatted to them about what they wanted for Christmas and asked about whether they were excited to meet Santa.

I didn’t know how Lola would react to seeing Father Christmas. At only 9 months, I thought there might be some tears. But I was so wrong, she loved him and he was brilliant with her. After a quick chat, Santa gave Harley and Lola a present, each labelled with their age bracket and girl or boy, which you state when purchasing your tickets.

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We unwrapped the presents at home and were unbelievably impressed with the high quality gifts both children received. Harley was given a Monster truck set and Lola, a snuggly comforter and toy. Both gifts were perfect for their age and very well received.

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After the Christmas Wonderland we went into the 4d cinema to watch the Christmas film, Sleigh Ride. This was such fun. The chairs move in time with Santa’s sleigh and there is even a hair raising moment when it feels like there are spider legs around your feet as you see the animated spider appear on screen.

Harley kept yelping in joy and saying he was getting wet! I wondered what on earth he was talking about until the 3rd time of him saying it, I realised that it always coincided with a water scene in the film and sure enough a quick spray of water really did take you into the film. (I think my lucky seat must have missed the water spray!) The film ends with a snow scene and foam is sprayed out from the side of the cinema. It made me laugh so much as I thought it was just the 3d effect in the film until the lights went up and I saw foam snow everywhere.

As if all of this excitement wasn’t enough for one day, the entry ticket into the Christmas Wonderland also gives you entry into the whole of Paultons Park and the fantastic Peppa Pig World. Some of the rides are closed for Winter maintenance but it was super to see the spectacular Christmas tree and magical illuminations throughout the park, which all year round, is a firm family favourite of ours. Peppa and George are dressed up in their winter gear which is a lovely touch and we enjoyed the park for the rest of the day.

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Theme Park rides; Peppa Pig; meeting Father Christmas; a beautiful, magical Wonderland and Christmas trees a plenty…. I’m not sure if you can get anything better than that for a family day out at Christmas time.

Click here to book tickets for Paultons Park Christmas Wonderland.

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Disclaimer: My family and I were lucky enough to receive complimentary tickets from Paultons Park for their Christmas Wonderland event, however all words and opinions are very much my own.

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Family Fever
Me add three
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Can you really have a child friendly, luxury Spa hotel? Yes you can!

Long before my beautiful children came along, I used to frequent many a top class hotel where luxury and quality were at the forefront of its name. As much as I love my children dearly, it is with regret that that part of my life has somewhat diminished.

I only have to cringe at the thought of taking them into a posh restaurant, let alone a hotel!

It’s such a shame that many top hotels out there, do not cater for families, in fact, I have felt somewhat uncomfortable being in these places with my children. I get that people don’t want screaming children running around whilst they are eating their 7 course menu of griddled red mullet, red wine jus, seared foie gras with turnip and prune (see, I can be posh!) but families can have well behaved children and like to enjoy a bit of luxury too, amidst the sandwich picnics on the floor, chicken nuggets and fish fingers to which we have become accustomed.

So imagine my delight when my family and I arrived at the Cottons Hotel and Spa, in Knutsford, Cheshire.

The sheer fact that I want to share this fantastic hotel with you all, speaks volumes.

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I’ll be honest though … we arrived in the evening and as we drove into the carpark, the fountain and stunning sparkly trees which front the hotel where lit up to create an idyllic entrance. Although this fairytale welcome, met all of my ideal, that inner anxiety that we were arriving with an 11 year old, a 4 year old and heaven forbid a 9 month old baby, started to rear it’s ugly head. I remember my words “…behave you lot… you have to be on your best behaviour… don’t touch anything.. etc etc”

From the minute we met the night porter and checked in, I was blown away by this gorgeous hotel. Our bags were carried to our room for us, on the 3rd floor and the sight of a 4 poster bed was more than a welcome surprise.

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The room was extremely spacious, even for all of us. There was a lounge area with a double sofa bed and I was delighted to see that the hotel had put up a travel cot for Lola. The 2 Tvs made the boys very excited. Teas, coffees, Horlicks and delicious biscuits were provided. There was also a fridge with complimentary chilled water and milk. I thought it was lovely that the boys were each provided with a bottle of juice and a packet of raisins, on arrival. And this photo, well, it speaks for itself ….

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… what a brilliant idea: a dish for your ghds!

We were staying 2 nights at the Cottons Hotel, so made the most of the huge breakfast they had on offer, each morning. Guests can enjoy a cooked breakfast buffet, croissants, cereal, toast, yogurt and fresh fruit. All of us were full to the brim.

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The staff were so attentive. It was during the morning of our first breakfast that I realised how unbelievably family friendly this hotel is. We were given a comfy high chair for Lola, child cutlery and the staff were so good at clearing up the odd bits of toast that she kept flinging onto the floor!

We also made the most of the gorgeous spa that the hotel has to offer, visiting both days.

Again, this photo speaks for itself. How adorable that the children are provided with their own ‘VI little P’ white fluffy robes. What a brilliant touch:

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The spa houses a great size pool with a shallow baby pool attached. It was perfect for us as we could all be together.

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The spa also had a relaxing Turkish Steam Room giving off a deliciously inhalant Eucalyptus scent (one of my most favourite smells) with ambient red spotlights on the ceiling and also a Sauna. There is a large jacuzzi pool which Ethan loved as he was old enough to use it.

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Outdoors, there is another jacuzzi overlooking the tennis courts. How about this to wake up to in the morning or relax in at the end of the day?

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Saturday evening we popped into Knutsford. What a gorgeous, quaint, little town. I wish we had visited in the day so that we could have made the most of all of the wonderful little shops. I have to say that I found my ultimate dream kitchen in the kitchen shop there!

This beautiful hotel had already done more than enough to sell itself to me but it totally outdid itself when room service knocked on the door. We were a little confused at first as we hadn’t ordered anything but to the children’s sheer delight, the hotel had sent them up a cookie and a glass of milk before bed, with their names written in chocolate.

My goodness, how many hotels do that? Not many, I’m pretty sure.

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From the minute we arrived, to the minute we checked out, we felt truly spoilt and well looked after. From the hotel itself, to its staff, to the food, to the spa, even the complimentary toiletries in the bathroom, all exceeded our expectations.

For a short break in idyllic countryside, yet only a short distance from the M6 and M56, I can’t recommend this Shire hotel enough. The Cotton’s Hotel and Spa, is a haven of class and relaxation. It took me back to those days when I could enjoy a top notch hotel, only this time, my children were able to be with me and I’m not sure there’s anything better than that.

Disclaimer: I received a 2 nights stay at the hotel with breakfast thanks to Baby “N” Mums Best, a super website that offers advice and support for all things mums and babies. However all words and opinions are my own; I was not expected to write a review of the hotel but felt compelled to do so, as I was so impressed. Baby “N” Mums Best are currently running a competition to win a 2 nights stay at the Cottons Hotel and Spa if you click here. So be quick and good luck! I’m certain you’ll love it as much as I did.

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Christmas Wonderland at Paultons Park

Friends and family know that I’m a sucker for Christmas. Who isn’t? The sheer thought and perhaps realisation that December is really not that far away, fills me so much warmth and excitement. I won’t dwell on the fact that, yes, another year seems to have flown by! I’ve already started a bit of my Christmas shopping but I do like to visit the shops when full Christmas atmosphere is upon us. Getting wrapped up in a warm coat and browsing the local Christmas outdoor market whilst stopping for a warm glass of mulled wine, is my idea of shopping heaven. I love driving home from work and seeing the huge Christmas tree on the roundabout, beautifully lit up. I love decorating our home; letting the kids decorate the tree then secretly moving a few baubles that I can’t just bring myself to leave!  Seeing the cosy lights, the holly, the wreath on the door and then of course, the Christmas movies.

Christmas to me is all about the children. There is nothing more magical than leaving out a plate of mince pie and wine for Father Christmas and a carrot for Rudolph on Christmas Eve. Their little faces, Christmas morning when they first set eyes on their stocking filled with goodies, I would freeze that moment in time, if I could.

This Christmas is going to be made even more magical because we are going to be taking Harley and Lola to the Christmas Wonderland at Paultons Park. Excited doesn’t seem to do justice to how we all feel at the thought of meeting Santa in his Winter Wonderland.

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The park and Peppa Pig World are transformed at Christmas and take you on a magical festive journey with animated characters, singing reindeer, giant Christmas trees and illuminations.

The Christmas Wonderland will run from Saturday 15th November until Tuesday 23rd December 2014. Tickets must be pre-booked in advance and include entry to the Wonderland; the rides at Paultons Park and Peppa Pig World; the 4d film at the Show Street Cinema and of course, all good boys and girls, get to receive a present from Santa. The Wildwood’s restaurant will be open with a delicious festive menu if you need a pit stop to refuel.

You can pre-book your tickets by clicking here.

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We are beyond excited to visit the Christmas Wonderland this year. You can find out more about this spectacular event if you head over to the Paultons Park website by clicking here.

Take a little peak at the trailer for the 4d film below, it will be sure to get you feeling all warm and Christmassy:

What gets you all excited about Christmas? Have you ever been to the Christmas Wonderland at Paultons Park? I’m so excited, we are counting down the days!

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Diggerland

Sometimes, you can visit somewhere and memories of that place will stay with you for a long time. We were so impressed with Diggerland; ‘impressed’ doesn’t even begin to describe how my 4 year old digger loving son, felt.

Harley has always loved diggers. It’s always been his ‘thing’! He now has quite a collection of diggers in his digger themed bedroom. So to kindly receive tickets to Diggerland for his birthday from a very generous friend, took his excitement to another level.

There are 4 sites in the UK to choose from, in Yorkshire, Kent, Devon and Durham. We visited Devon. We really didn’t know what to expect but it was fantastic.

Children and adults can ride and drive real diggers. How cool is that?!

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We thoroughly enjoyed digging up the dirt in a 6 ton digger. The controls are clearly explained by the staff manning each attraction:

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Here, you have to manoeuvre the ball attached to the end of the digger to knock down the skittles:

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We loved this roundabout made out of digger seats:

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One of the rides, ‘Spin Dizzy’ is not for the feint hearted. Riders sit in the seats that are built into the digger’s bucket and then raised into the air, tipped forwards and backwards and then spun around at a fair old speed. Most of the excited screams could be heard coming from this side of the park!

If you’re not afraid of heights, ‘Sky Shuttle’ raises you high up into the air, giving you a fantastic view over all of the park and the surrounding area:

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Harley and I rode the ‘Ground Shuttle’. There was me thinking “this looks nice and tame….” hmmm, I was wrong! The rows of seats are at the front of this digger and face outwards. You are lifted a little way off the ground and then travel over the bumpy ground at some speed but I found myself holding on tight when we turned each corner, thinking we were going to hit the boulders beneath us! This ride definitely feels more daring when you’re on it than when you’re watching it!

I loved watching Luke drive Harley around in a large JCB. Harley’s face was beaming. I should mention that there was a member of staff who stayed in the digger whilst Luke drove it around!

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What we really loved about Diggerland was that it is so family friendly. There are height restrictions of 90cm for some rides but there were so many different things that Harley could do independently from us. He loved driving this little car around the graveled track among the trees. He only had to keep his foot pressed down on the pedal but we were so impressed with his steering skills!

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He also loved driving these little pay-as-you-go cars. The miniature road was so life like with it’s road markings, traffic lights and road signs:

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There is also a fab Go Cart racetrack and again, it was lovely that Harley could drive it himself to race daddy. As you can see from the photo, daddy is no where to be seen; Harley well and truly won that one!

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There is also a super play area for when you are all diggered out! Slides, rope walls, bridges, even bumper cars can all be found here.

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When you are feeling peckish, you can head over to the cafe where hot food, snacks and drinks can be purchased. Children can enjoy playing in the ball pit and bouncy castle while parents can relax in one of the sofas after all of that dirt digging. Bliss.

We were lucky enough to receive a gift voucher for entry into the park but you can see the entry price and online booking prices if you click here.

I must admit that we visited the first weekend in September after the School Holidays. The park was lovely and quiet which meant that we didn’t have to queue for any of the rides which obviously added to our experience. If you visit on a wet day, I’d recommend wearing your wellies!

We drove tractors, diggers, cars and jeeps. It really was every digger loving child’s dream. At one point I didn’t know who was having more fun, daddy or Harley!

And I feel compelled to say that all the staff were the happiest staff I have ever met, anywhere. It must be such a fun place to work and that clearly showed by how happy and friendly all the staff were.

Thank you, Sarah and Colin for Harley’s fab birthday present and thank you Diggerland for such a brilliant family day out. He hasn’t stopped talking about it since we got home and we have most definitely promised a return visit.

Have you ever visited Diggerland? Did your children enjoy it and more importantly, were you brave enough to ride Spin Dizzy? I wasn’t!

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Our day at Cadbury World

 

 

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Last month the kiddies and I entered a fab competition hosted by Laura at Tired Mummy of Two. We had to get all creative with a scrummy bag, or 2, of Cadbury’s Marvellous Mix Ups. This was our entry and we won a fab, family day out at Cadbury World!

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Our Summer Fireworks Scrapbook

A new month brings a new Centre Parcs and Tots 100 blogger challenge and this time it’s to record one of the fun things that our family has been up to this Summer.

We were inspired by Centre Parcs’ Community Manager Steph Tilley’s tip of ‘creating a scrapbook by sticking in different mementos of our Summer’. So here is our digital scrapbook of special memories of our favourite night of the Summer holidays…so far.

‘Summer Breeze on the Quay’  runs every Thursday night for 6 weeks during July and August. It’s a fantastic evening of live music, street entertainment, family fun and a spectacular firework finale over the waters of Poole Quay.

We had toyed with the idea of taking Harley for a few weeks but weren’t sure whether he would be able to stay awake for it! We knew Lola would just sleep her way through it. But we decided to bite the proverbial bullet and make a night of it. I’m so pleased we did; it was fantastic.

Harley was so unbelievably excited as it started to get dark. The atmosphere walking down to the quay through the hive of people had already started building.

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Guest Post for Paultons Park ~ 3

I’m chuffed to bits that my 3rd guest post for Paultons Park has been published on their website.

It’s all about the fab photo opportunities in Peppa Pig World. We had some lovely photos taken and they are proudly sat on Harley’s shelf in his bedroom. Our favourite was Peppa’s Magic Photo Studio. Never did I think that I would see Harley and Lola in a space rocket with Daddy Pig and Peppa or that my lovely niece Mia would have a bath with George but with the fab green screen studio, anything is possible!

You can read my blog post on the Paulton’s website if you click here.

My thanks go to Paultons Park and Peppa Pig World for giving me the opportunity to write for them. The boys now love seeing themselves on the website!

If you missed my first guest post about our favourite memories at Paultons, you can click here or my second post about the world’s largest Peppa Pig Toy Shop can be found here.

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If you’re looking for a super family day out, we can’t recommend Paultons Park highly enough. One entry ticket will give you access to the whole of the park, Peppa Pig World and the splash park.

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Bus. Ferry. Beach.

Today we decided to let Harley choose his ultimate day of fun. We were preparing ourselves for a day that cost the Earth, but we were totally enthused by his modest choice of a bus ride.

We do travel everywhere by car unless we walk to the shops or over the Heath so he was jumping up and down with delight when we said he could go on the bus. It was so sweet. He wanted to go on a bus ride to the beach and have a picnic. Fine by us, son! Continue reading

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Guest Post for Paultons Park ~ 2

You may remember me saying that I had the fantastic opportunity of writing for Paulton’s Park.

My second guest post is now live on the Paultons Park website so if you would like to hear all about the fab Peppa Pig’s Toy Shop, click here.

Harley loved the bag that his Uncle Brian kindly bought for him, it’s gone everywhere with his teddy in it since we got it home!

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We all had such an amazing day at Paultons. It is a family day out which never fails to produce endless smiles. This time around, Harley was just tall enough to go on some of the bigger rides and I will cherish forever the look on his face when he was on The Dragon Ride. I love these selfies that Luke managed to take during the ride. Harley’s face encapsulates sheer enjoyment and thrill.

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You can catch my first post for Paultons Park if you missed it, by clicking here where I share my most memorable parts of the day, including The Dragon Ride.

If you fancy a super, family day out, I can’t recommend Paultons Park and Peppa Pig World enough. It really does have something for everyone.

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Guest Posts for Paultons Park

 

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I’ve been a little quiet on here for the last few days because I have been busy writing for Paultons Park. I was so excited to have the opportunity to write three guest posts for a theme park which I enjoyed as a child and now where my own children enjoy. Paultons Park has always been one of our favourite family days out so to share our experiences on the Paultons website is a real pleasure.

You can read my first post for Paultons Park, if you click here.

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I’ll share the links for the following posts when they have been published. I hope that you are all enjoying the Summer.

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Quomps Splashpark

 

 

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Sometimes we are spoilt for choice, living in such a beautiful part of the South Coast. Today, we fancied a change from the beach and headed to Christchurch Quay. With views of the 11th century Priory in the background, the quay and riverside promenade, the setting for this park is simply stunning. The large grassy area overlooking the quay is known as the Quomps and it is here where  many a contented child and happy parent can be found.

The Splashpark is open daily (9am-7pm) from May to October.

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Family Bike Ride

Most of you will know by now that all my 3 year old wants to do is be outside on his bike. It’s pretty much daily that he’s peddling somewhere, whether it be in the garden, in the cul-de-sac, over the Heath or along the beach. Sometimes, I have to drag myself out when I’m so tired from doing the night feeds just so that Harley can enjoy riding his bike. I don’t want to suppress his enjoyment for it and of course the opportunity for us all to get a bit of exercise.

So when I saw this month’s Tots100 and Centreparcs challenge of enjoying a family bike ride, it really was made just for us because we didn’t need an excuse to dust off our brakes and don the saddle!

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A Perfect Spot in the New Forest ~ Wilverley Plain

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When I was little, I used to love nothing more than going for a picnic in the forest and playing games with my mum and dad and sister. It’s a memory which makes me smile and I hope my children will grow up and look back with fondness at doing similar activities.

This weekend, was one of my favourites. On Sunday, we all went into the New Forest to have a picnic and play some games. My mum did a bit of ‘Googling’ to find a good spot, because although we have always lived locally, there aren’t many large open spaces in the forest that could cater for my boys’ competitive Rounders match! Continue reading

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Outdoor Fun ~The Matchbox Challenge

With three lovely boys who always want to be outside, sometimes a bit of creativity is needed to inject a bit of variety into the inevitable football. So I’m going to be sharing some of the ideas that we have enjoyed, from a truly wonderful book ‘101 Things For kids to do Outside’ by Dawn Issac.

So, with Half Term upon us and the kids at home, why not have a go at one of Dawn’s ideas, The Matchbox Challenge? Continue reading

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Sand Dune Jumping

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It’s very apt that I write this post today, on National Children’s Day, when the focus is to enjoy spending time together outdoors. When we want a family day out, there are certain places that the kids always want to go to and then there are the places where Luke and I always fancy going. But there is one place that both us as the parents and them as the kids always agree on… the beach.

But with the weather not quite warm enough for sitting on the beach, soaking up the rays, we love going over to Studland Bay for some sand dune jumping fun!   Continue reading

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