BeWILDerwood – a magical adventure

We’ve had another glorious day at BeWILDerwood, nestled in the Norfolk countryside.
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I’m always harping on about it but I just can’t recommend it enough! It’s a glorious,magical playground of adventure all set against the back drop of the BeWILDerwood books by Tom Blofeld.

We arrived and hopped straight on the boat where one of the fantastic staff takes you on a little journey and you first hear about Swampy, the Boggles, Twiggles and get to meet Mildred the friendly Crocclebog.

Then it’s off into the world of tiny tree houses and boggle villages. I love the attention to detail with miniature brooms outside the tiny homes, washing lines hanging between the trees and a sense that the magical moments of childhood are really here to discover.
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Arthur just loves the climbing and exploring through the Tricky Tunnels and the wonderful Sky Maze. So brilliantly made amoung the trees.

We also love the stories where staff tell the stories of all the BeWILDerwood characters and the children can join in mixing marsh mallows and dressing up in costumes. It holds their attention and I love the fact it is innocent and doesn’t rely on fast rides, computers or anything other than play, trees, and an ample sprinkling of magic!

Magical Twiggle houses

Magical Twiggle houses


There’s a great toddler area too for the real little ones and I know a fair few adults enjoy the huge slides – me included until a rather nasty bottom injury called time on that! My fault, not BeWILDerwood’s I might add.

It was quiet when we went this time as it was out of the holidays and we got to meander around and really take it all in. I was impressed they were offering free face paints – something many other places charge extra for.

It always has been one of my favourite days out because the children just love it! Oh and there are always loads of places to take a rest too! Lovely clean loos and even a nursing room for breast feeding mums. I would recommend a picnic and there’s plenty of space and you are quite limited with what to buy once you get there.

BeWILDerwood we love you and long may this rather magical love affair last!

Father’s Day dilemmas

It’s that time of year again. Comedy socks, mugs with ‘Best Dad’ and a whole host of novelty ‘stuff’ to buy the dads in your life. It’s a minefield of wrong moves and potentially rubbish presents. Of course Arthur will create something cute and meaningful at nursery but I still have to pull it out of the bag with something he’ll actually be able to use.

But as Father’s Day draws ever closer I’ve been struggling to find something. Apart from drills, wood and anything you can build something with, I’m not sure what my own dad will appreciate. And apart from tents, sleeping bags and all things climbing, I’m not sure what Jonathan would like either!

I’m always happy to spend a little but I’m not in going to be shelling out hundreds. Although I am aware this would set a rather handy precedent for Mother’s Day. But that’s not in the spirit of the day. Is it?

Then I had a bit of an epiphany! I realised that both of the lovely men in my life enjoy a drink! My dad’s a bit of a wine lover and Jonathan enjoys a real ale. So for dad I’ve gone for a lovely rich Malbec and for Jonathan I’ve tracked down a beer we had when on holiday in the Lake District – he harped on about it for weeks so at least it will keep him quiet for a while.

So I’m sorted with a few days to spare and it was all online alcohol so I didn’t even leave the house! What with Arthur’s magnificent cress head creation – Jonathan’s in for a real treat. It’s a first for me not to be running around frantically on Saturday afternoon…that said I still have to get a card. Hope there are some left!

Making the most of summer

With the summer months fast approaching, everyone wants to get out and enjoy the sunshine while it lasts. Get creative this summer by doing some fun outdoor crafts in the garden. It’s a great opportunity to add a splash of colour to your days, save some cash on expensive days out and even get the children involved.
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1. Fairy Homes
A magical trend has been looming around gardens and homes across the country lately and it looks as though the fairy home creation trend is here to stay. Get your fairy craft supplies from Craft Superstore and have fun transforming an area of your garden into the perfect fairy-tale home. Make washing lines for the fairies to hang their washing with sticks and a long piece of cord. You can use a tiny bird house as the main home for these little creatures and let your kids decorate the front door with outside acrylic paint. This is a great way to bring some magic to your garden this summer.

2. Bird Shelter Decoration
Wildlife and nature seems to blossom into life during the summer months and there is no reason why you can’t bring the wonders of nature into your back garden. Consider decorating a bird house and hanging it up so that little winged friends will begin visiting your garden more often. You could even put up a few signs about the garden that say things like ‘Hedgehogs and Rabbits Welcome’ and leave food out to make the kids excited about the prospect of meeting new fluffy friends.

3. Seed Starters
If you love planting then making your own seed starters will definitely be of interest to you. Kids enjoy this craft as well because it is simple and they can get their hands messy, which all children seem to love. According to www.parentmap.com the best way to make a seed starter is to use shredded paper and tissue paper mixed with a small amount of water until the solution is soft to the touch. Place this mix into a decorative cookie cutter and add seeds to the wet paper once the shape has taken. After it has dried you can go ahead and plant your gorgeous summer flowers.

4. Paint Rocks
Every garden has rocks but they are usually pretty boring and uneventful which is why it could be a great idea to add a touch of colour and life to them. Grab some paints, pipe cleaners, sequins and googly eyes to decorate your rock. Kids will enjoy turning them into little creatures to display in their room or on the windowsill as a little summer ornament.

5. Flower Pot Fun
Another great idea for the planting fans out there is to paint and decorate the flowerpot. You could add a splash of colour to a once ordinary flowerpot or make it even more original by following this simple idea from Martha Stewart. She advises that painting the collars of clay pots with ‘stripes of chalkboard paint’ is a great way to add a touch of personalization to your plants. It also gives you the opportunity to identify your home-grown kitchen herbs as you can write their names on the chalkboard collar of the pots.

Keeping an eye on your health

Since the age of 17 I’ve worn glasses for long distance. Well, that should be I’ve ‘had’ glasses for long distance. The truth is I rarely wore them.

But for the last few weeks  people have been asking me why I look so miserable. My mum said:” you look like the bottom of the world has just fallen out”. How rude I thought as I squinted at my laptop screen and reread the last paragraph of the article I was writing – again.

It slowly dawned on me, my miserable, squinty face was all due to a well overdue eye test! My latest set of glasses were well over ten years old and years of computer work was creeping up on me. I used to rub my eyes all the time and Arthur would say: “Why do you keep squashing your eyes mummy.”

Basically Arthur, because I couldnt see properly and it was about time I looked after my eyes. If we have a bad tooth we go to the dentist. But the slow creeping of my changing eye sight meant I didn’t bother to give them the same time or concern. God, I can live easily without a tooth, even have it replaced. Let my eyes down and the world becomes a very different place and there’s very often, no going back.

 

So I went and got them tested at Optical Express,it was quick, simple and painless. I also found a little more about laser eye surgery, once I’ve finished paying for small people, I’m definitely going to think about it.

But for now, peering into new lenses was like wiping the sludge of several years of neglect away. I’ve also booked Arthur one as you can never start too soon. The eyes may well be the window to the soul, but, more importantly, they are the window into my little boy’s eyes. I can see sadness, wipe tears, see the crinkle of a giggle and enjoy life in all its technicolor glory. I can also proof my articles a lot more quickly and spend hours trawling paint charts for the right hint of grey in my white ( that might be just me but it’s important!).

I also got a clean bill of health for my eyes and no more squinty headaches. From now own my eyes are going to get the attention they deserve…now for that niggling tooth at the back.

Shopping for tat – my pound shop addiction

I am overwhelmed by life sometimes. Like it’s a separate entity happening around me, not of my doing but there, untouchable by any plans I have.

Enough of my jaunty small talk, I guess what I’m trying to say is sometimes things hurtle along faster than you can manage and there’s little you can do about it. One such thing seems to be my unending ability to buy stuff I don’t need. I’m usually quite disciplined with money – I don’t spend loads, I’m careful. But, oh and it’s a beautiful but, if I turn the corner, and walk into the arms of a Poundland, or if I’m running round the supermarket and something bright catches my eye. That’s it, that’s when I know life is happening and I’m just a passenger in this long ole race to the finish.

It’s the thought of missing out on something which brings me back again and again into the pound shops. Granted, there are only so many 25 packs of coloured dishclothes and foreign bleach that I need (I’m sure foreign bleach is every inch as good as British bleach but you catch my drift). What if there’s an amazing snack food in there Arthur will love and I’ve walked past it. How can I not need another packet of coloured paper to shove in his desk.

I have so much Easter shizzle from there I could possibly become a seasonal competitor in my own right. Sometimes I go in and challenge myself not to buy anything but, like any addict, even though it’s not right, I’ll still walk out having purchased at least a packet of European biscuits and some toothpaste – it’s £1 for Christ’s sake, a bloody pound!

But it’s those pounds which become a mountain of guilt. Pound apon pound of endless ‘stuff’ shoe-horned into cupboards that can barely take the strain. Packets of slightly acceptable’snacks’ spilling over in the kitchen. The logic of buying one decent thing for a tenner rather than ten pieces of crap, is not lost on me. It’s just tucked away in the queue behind my insatiable need to buy something for a pound.

I’m going to spend tomorrow lunch time in John Lewis – I love John Lewis and it’s middle-class loveliness doesn’t induce the same intensive ‘urges’ as the more abrupt and outrageously flirty pound shops. Maybe I just love a bit of rough, maybe my tat collection is just a little comfort blanket. Or, more worryingly, maybe I’ll be that mad lady in 30 year’s time with smeared red lips, and a well used shopping trolley, roaming the city looking for my next fix.

I’ve heard Poundland has gone online now – I hope they still have those dishclothes, I’ve only got a few left.

Win a family ticket to Barclaycard’s Family Day in Hyde Park

What better way to build some special family memories than with a day out at Barclaycard’s British Summer Time Family Day in Hyde. park on June 28th.
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There’s something for everyone with SpongeBob SquarePants, Bart & Homer Simpson, Horrible Histories, Brainiac Live!, Chickenshed Theatre, Cook & Line – CBeebies Swashbuckling Pirates, The Cuban Brothers, Shaun The Sheep and much more.

New for this year is the Urban Arena with BMX, mountain biking & Parkour displays, I know one little boy who’ll be so excited about this!

You can get in on the action and be in with a chance to win a family ticket for June 28th – just enter my competition below.

The family day is the final day of Barclaycard presents British Summer Time Hyde Park and this year will be filled with musical acts, comedy and good old fashioned family entertainment, plus award winning street food.

Itwill be headlined by boyband favourites Union J and include everyone from Britain‘s Got Talent winners Collabro to king of kids TV Justin Fletcher and more CBeebies stars, right up to teen YouTube sensations – no other day out packs more into one park.

A big hit with every member of the family, suitable for all ages, Family Day has proved an annual hit in the capital since the start of Barclaycard presents British Summer Time Hyde Park in 2013. For the equivalent price of a family cinema ticket, Britain’s Biggest Family Event in Hyde Park is fine value for money. The little ones will never want to leave and even the bigger kids will not be able to wipe the smiles off their faces, or the selfies from their phones after grabbing a chat with all their YouTube faves.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 
*The prize is for a family ticket, two adults, two children, and is for June 28th. Travel and refreshment costs are not included and there is no alternative prize.

Our Bluestone adventure – part one

I’d never been to Wales so when we were given the chance to spend some time at Bluestone Resort, Pembrokeshire – it seemed like an adventure too good to turn down.It was a long drive from Norfolk, about six hours, but as we hit Wales and the sun broke through the murk of the motorway, it suddenly didn’t seem that long at all.

We stayed in a Ramsey Lodge, which Arthur names the ‘topsy turvy’ house as the two spacious bedrooms were downstairs and a large open planned sitting room and kitchen diner were upstairs. Our little home for the week was perched at the top of the hill and we had a fab view of all the other wooden lodges sitting prettily among Bluestone. It’s so well done and the lodges just feel part of the landscape.

Our lodge had everything you need – well almost everything. It would have been handy to have a small freezer compartment, especially coming into summer for some ice lollies and ice for a cheeky G&T. The kitchen was so well equipped it had things I don’t even have at home! There were loads of decent quality glasses, plates, cutlery and cups. A microwave, decent sized oven and good quality pots and pans too.

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It all means life as a family is a little easier, you can do a decent food shop before you come and cook easily so it saves some pennies. There’s also a decent little village store on site and a bakery where we stocked up on basics and a few treats.

Once we’d explored our lovely topsy turvy house we went out and about to find our way around Bluestone. Once you’ve unloaded, Bluestone becomes a car-free zone, which is great for families and especially for us as Arthur loves to whiz around on his scooter. You can hire a buggy to get about and we saw lots trundling around the site, and there’s also a free mini bus which goes around and the bus stops are clearly marked out. Of course, lots of people hired bikes too, as it’s a great way of exploring and Bluestone has loads of bike trails in and around the resort.

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The site is a little hilly but it didn’t pose a problem for us and wandering round was a great way to see the place properly. First stop was the indoor adventure centre – wow! Bouncy castles, huge wooden treehouses and rope ladders, even a little crazy golf. All this is free once you’re in and was a great hit with Arthur, I was pretty fond of the crazy golf too!

The outside Treehouse play arena is equally as well done and I love the fact everything tied in with the land, there is nothing false or plastic about any of it. Even the heart of the village has been created in such as way that the cottages and shops feel as if they could have been here years ago.

The other big pull is the swimming pool. The Blue Lagoon, owned by Bluestone but open to the public is also included in the price you pay. It’s fantastic and we went everyday! A lovely warm pool which has a huge shallow area which gently gets deeper. The water squirters were loved by young and old and I must admit a slight addiction to the wave machine!

There are four waterslides, which Jonathan reliably informed me, are as good as any others, and some great kids areas, including the pirate ship and a very shallow water play areas for real tinies. We spent so many lovely hours in there.

One the first day we had lunch at Camp Smokey, a barbeque place nestled in the woodlands – complete with open fires and yankee doodle music, it’s a real family adventure! You walk along the winding paths into a valley until Camp Smokey emerges. The food was simple but tasty. Arthur had a hotdog and corn on the cob, Jonathan had a lamb burger and I had the chilli dog. All the food is cooked on the barbeque in front of you.bluestone4

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We had so much fun I’m going to bring you the rest of our adventure next week, where we explored the beautiful Pembrokshire coastline, experienced Woody’s Dinner and Arthur went on a hunt for a forgotten fairy village.

In 7Heaven!

Everyone loves a burger – don’t they?
Well in our house we love them, although they are classed as ‘treat’ food so when we do have one, it has to be good.We went along to 7Heaven in Norwich last week to sample theirs and to see whether a menu of just 7 burgers and 7 waffles really could hit the mark.

I like the fact it’s an independant restaurant using local ingredients and making it clear they want to concentrate on doing a few things really well – my pet hate is a 50 page manual instead of a menu where each and every food group is repeatedly pounded and roasted and fried into a million dishes. 7Heaven did not disapoint. I ordered a delicious burger topped with their own slow-cooked pork, cheese and salad. Jonathan had the burger with portabello mushrooms and truffle oil – very fancy!

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Children eat free – always a bonus but what was even better was that Arthur’s food wasn’t an after thought, it had an equally delicious burger, served in brioche, just a smaller version. So often ‘kid’s menus’ are rubbish apologies for food, especially if there is a deal on, but this great quality all round.
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I may be easily pleased but I loved that the burgers came wrapped in paper – a nice touch. The fries, you could have sweet potato or normal, were served with skins on so they just had more flavour. There’s also a ‘pickle station’, where you can go and help yourself to their homemade pickles. I had gherkins and Jonathan tried the sweetcorn relish. None of your gloopy, from a jar stuff here, this was lush!
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Jonathan was also impressed that he got more than one mushroom! I hate the things so he’s always like a child in a sweetshop when he finds them! The burgers were great quality, juicy, thick and tasty, in fact so big I couldn’t quite finish mine.

But, as always I found room for a waffle – eton mess to be precise and what a choice. Lushious buttery pancake topped with a rhubarb sauce (tasted proper homemade) and lots of creamy fruit topping. Jonathan went for the banoffee which looked like a fluffy pillow of heaven. Arthur had strawberry icecream which actually tasted of real strawberries!
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The place has a great laid-back feel and all the staff were happy to help but not too attentive that you felt they were in the way! All in all a great meal, using fresh local ingredients where possible and delivering on taste.

Making magic moments

Last Friday we went to London, on a little trip, with Arthur and his buddy Leo.

There were museums, the London Eye and lots of standing and watching street entertainers. It was a fab but exhausting day. The week before we’d been boating, skating, on 15 mile bike rides and all sorts of brilliant but tiring fun was had.

So this week I took it down a level and we found our magic moments at home. I took a breath and we just played. We dug in the garden, we played dominoes and scooted and skateboarded round the corner.

Sometimes, time at home is underrated and underused so Arthur and I had some down time and our own play dates, because I wanted it to be just me and the boy. Life is busy and time flies and stopping and spending time with him is the most important thing in the world.Nothing is better than watching your child create ‘cyclone swimming pools and motorbikes’ out of junk. Or watching original episodes of Spider-Man and Scooby-Doo.
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A special lunch is always a winner when you’re at home so we had carpet picnics and lots of things Arthur loves. We included the new Petits Filous Magic Squares. Both flavours went down well with the Strawberry and vanilla coming out top.
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They are a little novelty but still full of good stuff with calcium and importantly, vitamin D.i managed to snaffle one too – delicious!
They felt a little more like an indulgent dessert than just a yoghurt and what four year old doesn’t love mixing up the pots and creating their own magic?!

This post is an entry for BritMums #MagicSquaresPlaydates Linky Challenge, sponsored by Petits Filous.

Voting – I just can’t be arsed.

I’ve walked away from the ballot box with a sadness and it’s not just about those who will be running this country for the next five years. It may be a little to do with the fact I’ll miss my little gaggle of eager 7pm visitors to whom I pledge my support – it was all rather Machiavellian. But more than missing Terry’s feigned interest in my one-woman mission to rid the streets of dog poo, it’s about apathy.

It’s about the endless Facebook posts I’ve read from women and mothers saying they were not going to vote because, it put it brutally, they couldn’t be arsed. I get it when you’re 18 full of deluded ideals but with little clue. But how can you get to your 30s and not see the significance of using your vote.

When did we become so detached from the immense responsibility of running this country. That’s rhetorical, I totally get the sense of detachment from Whitehall, but I see past that to connect to the everyday world in which I live. For example, if you moan about your bins not being emptied, or your school place, then you are very much attached to running this country.

How is it right that I’ve seen these same women online arguing for hours about parking in child spaces in supermarkets, being on the line for hours trying to reach the child tax people. Even arguing about working v stay at home mums. Yes so may have told me, outright, they weren’t going to vote. They didn’t have time, didn’t understand it. Ignorance is no excuse, bloody hell, Google it! Read the odd paper in the run up, discuss it with friends and family.

Central to the vote is a sense of freedom, a voice which means we are part of a democracy. We might not like the outcome but as a collective we have spoken. And guess what, if you’d all got off your arses and nipped to the polling stations it could have been different.

I wonder why politics is not taught in schools. As a whole, not shoe-horned into history or sociology lessons. Why do we not arm children with knowledge early, Christ surely it is as important as geography? Of course all this applied to men as well but lately I’ve been overwhelmed by women not voting.

I have so much more respect for those who voted for opposing parties to me. The impact of a voice, even one in disagreement with me, is a legacy we all share. We all leave a legacy for our children, one routed in the infrastructure, we as voting adults have been involved in choosing.

Christ our voice is limited enough – don’t smother it further with ignorance. Don’t  take from society without taking responsibility. We all know there are millions of women worldwide who can only dream of the chance to debate politics, to argue with passion and to do so in the light of day, without fear or prejudice.

Next time women, please get your bums to the polling booth. This time our voices have seen a profound shift in power – just imagine what we can do next time.