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.

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*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.

An amazing day on The Norfolk Broads

Last weekend we decided to go messing about on the water.

The Norfolk Broads are some of the most beautiful waterways in the country and I’ve always wanted to hire a boat and take Arthur out and about. So when Herbert Woods gave us the opportunity to come along and review one of their picnic boats –  I said a very quick and excited Yes!

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I wasn’t holding out much hope for the weather so when the sun peeked enticingly out from the clouds on Saturday morning it was the icing on the cake.

boat1   We arrived about 9.30am and after a quick tour of the boat and a rundown of dos and don’t from the lovely staff we set sail – well, actually we started the engine but you get the point. Jonathan had already assigned himself as captain so my friend and I happily let him take the helm while we organised the boat and four children.

It was genuinely one of the loveliest days I’ve had in a long time. The boat had everything we needed, including a small fridge, gas hob, hot and cold running water – even cutlery, plates and glasses. There was something rather enjoyable about boiling the old-fashioned whistling kettle while bobbing along the broads – a little home from home.

The boat is designed to take 10 people but I found three adults and four very active children was plenty. The children had a fantastic time, the sun dancing on the water, the windmills they’d only really seen from the roads and the sailing boats passing swiftly and silently by which, in our imagination, we turned into pirate ships.boat3

There are so many wonderful places to stop and we chose first to stop at Thurne, a little village which took just under an hour to get to. We had a wander around and the children found a playgroud to run off some steam. They bought postcards in the village shop and we wandered back to our boat. The relaxed sense of freedom and discovery was just perfect.

I loved watching the riverside cabins and houses and deciding which one I’d like to stay in – you really do get a difference perspective on the water and it was a chance to take in sights I’d never seen, or only seen from afar. There were a few boats out and about but with a five-mile-an-our speed limit, it never felt frantic or rushed.

Next we headed to Ranworth Broad where we stopped for a picnic and had another lovely walk. The children played in the grass, collected sticks and basically reverted back to the kind of childhood moments straight from the pages of Swallows and Amazons.  It was busy on the Broad and we spent a long time just watching the boats and enjoying the atmosphere. I went to the local shop to buy some drinks and found out the new princess had been born – it was all happening that day!boat4

On board Arthur and his buddy Leo loved sitting with Jonathan and helping him drive while the girls where happy to draw and play and watch the watery world from the windows. They also loved taking it in turns to sit on the back of the boat where the sun was warm and we could get close to the water. There was also endless fun waving at passing boats and everyone waved back too – now you wouldn’t get that in a car!

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We didn’t need it but the boat also had heating and the windows opened fully and closed easily if you felt the chill.

We headed up to Horning where it was very busy as there was a boat show on, we trundled along taking in the atmosphere then turned around to see what else we could discover. Our last stop was Benet Abbey ruins which I’d never even heard of before. More adventures and discoveries as the children all ran around, climbing hills and discovering new places to hide. We even came across a hen party hauled up in part of the old ruins – The Norfolk Broads really do appeal to everyone!

We got back just before 5 (you get the boat 9-5) and after a quick check by staff we were back at the car. Herbert Woods also give you parking permits for the carpark which is literally next door to the boats. It really was a glorious day, relaxing, interesting, exciting and something I’d do again in a heartbeat. The children loved the adventure and, while it’s not cheap, I would whole-heartedly recommend this for a special family day out.

Slimming World update

Shirley, a long term SW member (I’ve changed her name to maintain comedic values) has continued to gain weight for the last three weeks, just a half here and a pound there but each time she comes back, like a embattled boxer facing retirement but refusing to give in.

Her gain this week produced my favourite ever line from our esteemed leader Jean: ” The scales may be going up but you’re still loosing Shirely. You’ve got a more fitted top on this week and I can see your shape.” Yes it’s more fitted because she’s putting the lard back on!

But mine is not to wonder why, I’ve not spent weeks training at SW headquarters among the elite of the slimming fraternity, so what do I know.
But Shirley, I’m going to be honest, if only behind the fortress of my blog. You’re eating too much and you’re NOT still loosing and if you continue to believe that, you’ll be paying a whole lotta money to chase that dream.

Back to me, this week was a rather pathetic half off. Jean seemed pleased, just enough to keep me but not enough to make me cocky. While she talked I pondered why I hold my stomach in when I step on the scales, I guess at the very least it might dispel any excess air in my lungs.

Syed, the now lithe and motorcycle riding, ‘at target’ Frenchman, was not there this week. I hope he gets complacent and returns in his Renault Clio unable to stradle his bike and desperate to join us again.

So onwards and upwards this week, it’s Bank Holiday so it’s a tough one. I’ll be buying a couple of fitted tops and having a hormonal week.