My favourite Christmas things

A few of my favourite Christmas things

1.My mum. Plain and simple this woman cooks up a storm. Not only was there full on Turkey deliciousness but dark chocolate infused Christmas pudding, Merry Berry’s White choc and ginger cheesecake. Love her.

2.Boxing Day morning, still a generous sprinkling of Magic but it’s shed the manic blur of wrapping paper. It’s the more thoughtful sibling, allowing play and contemplation and, perhaps most importantly, Christmas dinner tastes better the next day!

3.Undercover chocolate annihilation. This may just be me, but refers to the overwhelming urge to steal chocolates from all available pots, boxes and trays. The real key is to achieve this state of chocolatelyness when no one else sees. Melting a whole Lindor ball in your mouth with no one suspecting a thing is not to be underestimated.

4.The freedom a little light bad parenting brings. Want chocolate for breakfast? No problem, it’s Christmas. More tV? Of course please pick from the 6000 films I’ve recorded for you. In fact I’m writing this while Arthur watches Horrid a Henry again.

4.The anticipation of the new slim fit me that will begin to emerge from mid January. It’s something I hold dear every year.

Happy New Year to all, may your knees last you a lifetime and your resolutions at least past lunchtime.

Center Parcs – a fantastic winter wonderland

In the height of summer I decided to book us a little Christmas family weekend to Center Parcs.

Fast forward a few months and we arrived at Elveden Forest laden down with food and boots and coats and a sense that Christmas was about to start. Center Parcs, Eleveden is nestled in the woods, and as soon as you arrived I could feel the festive levels ramping up!

The car park had a huge snow-covered tree and in the distance a while sleigh sat driverless among the trees. “Where’s Santa?” Arthur asked. “ He’s here, but he’s waiting for you in his workshop.” Oh my god I was ridiculously excited and so far so

Arriving was an easy process, I had been warned there could be big queues and long waits once the barriers were open for people to get to their lodges. But we cruised through – I have a sneaking suspicion Jonathan drove down a one-way road – but hey ho.chrimbo5

Our little log cabin was hugely impressive – it’s not cheap but inside it’s everything you could wish for. We booked the Woodland Lodge but there are loads of options. It has two good sized bedrooms, a bathroom with toilet and separate toilet plus a spacious living area and fully equipped kitchen. Our first afternoon was spent wandering around and finding our feet, we had an early dinner in Huck’s American Diner and then headed back for a cosy night in front of our real fire.

The rest of the time was filled with swimming in the fantastic pools, riding bikes through the forests, spotting deer and squirrels from our huge windows in our little cabin and basically having a fantastic time.

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On Sunday Arthur met Santa in his workshop and they’d done a great job with a magical post office, wonderful scenes with elves and a real sense of wonder – the present was good quality too. We booked in advance and for £11, I think it was good value. There were also some reindeer waiting outside to say hello and you could feed them and find out all about where they lived and what they liked to do.
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The pool area is faultless, despite being very busy it was spotlessly clean and really easy to navigate. In my excitement I managed to take Arthur down a, slightly faster than planned, water side. This resulted in a momentarily upset little boy who spent much of the day saying: “Mummy why did you make me go on the slide and push me under water?”
The children’s area is amazing with loads of slides, water squirters , splash areas and fun stuff for little people. I loved the lazy river and the secret pools around the edges which offered a chance to warm up before heading back in for more fun.

Jonathan tried out the Cyclone water slide which apparently was ‘very fast, quite quick and at one point left me free-falling in the air’. Earlier that day I’d queued up behind a woman who told me she’s been on and it was the worst five minutes of her life – I quickly decided it wasn’t for me. We cooked in our lodge two nights and on the Sunday there was a brilliant free fireworks display early evening so all the little people could enjoy it too.

I loved it and can’t wait to go back. Yes the activities can be expensive and I’d recommend planning to take at least some food with you – although to be fair their supermarket was well stocked and about the same prices as a normal supermarket.
But it’s perfect for families, there was a real sense of Christmas and the decorations were fab. Our accommodation was faultless and we enjoyed three great days together as a family – what more can you ask.

Pop Goes Your Name CD review

Arthur loves music – in fact one f his favourite pastimes is to spend hours breakdancing!

So when we were asked to review a personalised CD from Pop Goes Your Name, it seemed like a great idea. The CD, it comes with twelve songs, all personalised with your child’s name.

There are 800 names to choose from so it’s really flexible and I was pleasantly surprised with how good it sounded. You have to confirm pronunciation as well so you’re happy with how your child’s name will sound. Obviously the names are just dropped into the song but it flows really well and Arthur so was chuffed.

“Mummy,are they all singing about me?”
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Let’s face it, most pre-schoolers are the centre of their own world, so to have a whole twelve songs dedicated to him was a win/win situation! He loves the Rockstar song and the blues-inspired song about being hungry. I’ve got a soft spot for The Wiggle song – purely because he looks so cute when he dances to it! He’s already requested the Happy Birthday song for his party in March. The songs are very catchy and I can often be found wandering around the house singing “Arthur.. this is your special day…let’s celebrate.”

On the first day we had it, we took it on a long journey and Arthur insisted on playing it over and over again and when we get home from nursery he goes to the shelf and gets it himself. It’s become a bit of a night time ritual to have the Wiggle song before bed!

The CD looks great and all the songs are nice and short so perfect for little attention spans. At £12.95 I think it’s a really affordable way to give your child a personal present.

Enhance your space this Christmas

It’s official. The 1st of December and I’ve decided to have a declutter.I still absolutely believe that when I go to sleep Arthur’s toys multiply, like some subversive force of nature I wake to find piles more crowding my sitting room!

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Well no more. In anticipation of the Christmas toy overload I’m taking a firm hand to my house and getting organised. Firstly I’ve taken everything out from behind the sofa where it lives in higgledy piggleydy boxes and organised them into toys he no longer plays with, toys he loves and toys I have no idea where they came from. I’m being tough – I’m not asking him because this will lead to a meltdown. I’ve managed to see some of them on Gumtree so making a few pennies for Christmas too – one man’s junk is another man’s treasure and there’s usually someone looking for what you’re selling so definitely worth a try – and it’s free.

It’s good for the soul to have a clear out. If my house feels organised then my head somehow follows and in turn I’m just a bit nicer all round – especially this time of year when space is of a premium. I want to get to Christmas with a house that feels ready, no one groaning at the seams in anticipation of yet more ‘stuff’.

I’ve spied some fantastic children’s toy boxes and storage in trusty Ikea so I’m going to make a brave pre-Christmas trip there next week. I like the stacking boxes and it means the evening tidy is so much quicker.

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Next on my list is a trip to B&Q for a new bathroom cabinet because, along with Arthur’s toys multiplying, it seems my bottles and jars of dubiously potent beauty products have also been doing the same! I’ve been trying to cram them into one wicker basket but I need something with a lid. In fact that’s my ultimate top tip – storage with lids! Out of sight out of mind is so true when it comes to decluttering.

We have a massive loft which has been converted but it’s still a dumping ground and because it feels so far away I never really go up there. Yesterday, as part of my epic declutter, I braved the stairs and wow – we certainly know how to hoard! Now if I had storage options from somewhere like http://www.warehousestoragesolutions.com It would have saved me loads of time and meant I could shift all the clutter into their storage until I needed it – if ever! Then I have the whole loft to  store all the camping gear, climbing gear (other half’s) and generally remind myself what the carpet looks like while keeping everything neat and tidy. It would be perfect for the big bulky items we have up there.

 I’m on a roll and by 15 December when my decks go up I’ll have a decluttered haven – that is unless Arthur discovered the toys are missing then it could be a very different story!