Friday, 18 August 2017

The reality of the summer holiday...

A few weeks back as schools were winding down for the summer, parents everywhere were panicking. Scouring Pinterest and Facebook groups for things to keep our children entertained for the entire summer holidays, all 6 weeks long of it!

Now its not that I don't enjoy spending time with the kids, I actually love spending time with them and getting to see them playing together. Its also great fun being able to go out and about and not being tied down to the regime of the school run times. However 6 weeks is a long time and I don't know about you but I find it incredibly different to find activities to fill the whole time!

"But Mummmm I'm bored" seems to be the favourite phrase in our house this summer.

The problem is James has been at school for 3 years now and is used to having his day planned for him for 6 hours a day. With lots of friends to play with, activities to discover and tasks to keep his brain ticking. So when the holidays roll around and we are suddenly faced with a rainy day stuck indoors he's clawing at the walls by 8am!

We all seem to start the summer holidays with this great expectation that we are prepared (and I never learn that I'm not despite doing this for several years now!). With days out planned and the craft box filled to the brim. Whilst we have had some lovely adventures, some loves pieces of art crafted and to top it all a fantastic family holiday which filled a week of the summer holiday, these don't seem to ever fill the whole holidays. Then I'm left with days to fill and no idea's!

The reality is the activities that you have lined up rarely go to plan and the crafting I had planned to get out for the Monday afternoon was actually finished in 30 minutes. I then had to scurry around to find something else to keep them entertained! The walks and adventures we have planned either result in rain, someone injuring themselves or Evelyn declaring she can no longer walk... miles from the car. Although I do always feel a little better knowing we have had a bit of exercise and some fresh air.

Then comes the mum guilt, well for me anyway. I often spend lots of the summer holidays feeling guilty that we don't do enough or worrying that the kids are bored or fed up. I know how hard James works at school and so, I of course want to make the summer holidays as fun as I can for him. The problem is lots of the days out and activities cost lots of money and that's something we just don't have.

Of course I'm sure I over think this and he's probably just glad to be off school and not doing homework, but I think that's what us mums to best isn't it... worry! The reality is the summer holidays is a really bloody long time and its hard to fill it and we shouldn't feel guilty about that!

The amount of times we have been down at the park by 8.30am, in the rain with the whole park to ourselves just to get out of the house as the kids have been up since 6am is unreal. But I'm doing my best and my best will have to do. For me the idea of filling our days with activities and days out is unrealistic (especially at around £40 for a day out around here)! and I know that we will all enjoy the few days out we do have even more. In between that we will try to fill our days with free days out, crafts, dvds and perhaps the odd visit the library to name a few. Learning to enjoy our time together rather than focusing on the things we are doing.

So I'm off to top up our craft box and enjoy another precious day with my little ones before they head off to school and pre-school and I look back and wonder where the time went that I had with them.

What have you all been up to for the summer holidays?


Monday, 14 August 2017

Our Family Holiday at Butlins Minehead!

You may have noticed things have been a little quiet around here, well that's because we have spent the last week having lots of fun and making some precious family memories at the fabulous Butlin's in Minehead!

From the moment our car turned the corner and we all saw the trade mark white points of the Butlins pavilion both the kids could barely contain their excitement at getting out the car and exploring. As you pull up to the main entrance you are greeted by the super friendly red coats and music to get you even more in the holiday spirit.

Check in was super easy with the red coats and security team at the entrance directing you where to check in and park. It was then just a case of arriving at your designated check in point with your confirmation letter at the right time and a few minutes later we had our keys. Finding our accommodation was also super easy as we were handed a site map with our accommodation circled and directions on how to find it.


We stayed in the Seaside Apartments which are central to all the amenities at Butlins as well as being just a short stroll from the Beach which is opposite the entrance to the site. The d├ęcor of the Seaside Apartments is bright and fun which we loved. It had lots of lovely little touches which made it extra special such as the pin the tail on the donkey game in the kitchen and the candy floss cloud night light in the kids bedroom (you can see this in action on my Facebook live video here). The living space was bright and airy with an open plan kitchen area behind it and huge patio doors with a patio space in front. The kitchen has everything you needed including kettle, toaster, microwave, oven and fridge. There was also a dining room table in the kitchen which provided a lovely space to eat together (well when the kids weren't out on the patio table eating!).

The bedrooms had loads of storage space and even included a hair dryer, safe and TV in the main bedroom. The mattresses were a little hard for us but still comfortable and of course this is down to personal preference. Here are some pictures of our Seaside Apartment.

What To Do.

There is so much to do at Butlin's that if you chose to, you really wouldn't even need to leave site the whole week if you didn't want to! Make sure to keep an eye on your emails a few days before your break as Butlin's will send you a handy "what's on" guide for your break. This will show you all the daytime activities and evening entertainment that will be on during your stay. It means you can check out what's on and plan your days ahead of your visit. I would definitely suggest booking up some of the day time kids activities as soon as possible as especially during the summer holidays these get booked up fast.

All the day time activities we took part in were run by the red coats who were fantastic! They were great with the kids, chatting to them and getting them involved before the activities has even started. Both James and Evelyn loved the arts and crafts session which was free and the pottery painting session which was £5 each but definitely worth it. Most of the activities are free but still need to be booked and there are lots of points where you can book these (these can be found on your what's on guide).

There are also lots of sporty activities too if that's more your kids thing with football, archery and even mini fencing available!

If getting out and exploring is more your thing Butlin's have these super fun pedal carts that you can hire for 30 minutes at a time (the family carts are priced at £9.50 for 30 minutes) and pedal around the site to explore. There are a variety of carts to hire we chose the family fun cart (pictured below) but there were also family dino carts with no roof, single carts and double carts (the single and double carts are a little cheaper to hire). They are so much fun but after pedalling around 30 minutes is definitely long enough!

The Funfair!

The funfair was definitely a highlight of our stay for both James and Evelyn with lots of traditional rides to go on all included in the price of your break so you can ride as many times as you like! There are a few stalls and rides around the funfair which are not included in your break but these were fairly priced and had clear signs outside stating the price. We even found some donkey's on the green just outside the funfair which Evelyn loved.

As well as the main funfair area there is also a smaller ride section perfect for younger children with rides such as tea cups and a cute train ride which takes kids on a small loop outside the building and back. Evelyn is 3 and these were perfect for her, although she is a bit of a thrill seeker and loved the rides outside too! Most of the rides in the main funfair have a 1m minimum height restriction (to ride accompanied) or 1.4m to ride solo.

Evening entertainment and B-Line Passes.

There are 2 main venue;s for evening entertainment, Reds and Centre Stage. Both had a variety of entertainment on every night to suit all ages. Reds seemed to be tailored more for younger children with the tots disco and tots just sing and dance show (featuring Justin Fletcher on screen!) on during early evening. Centre Stage seemed to be the main venue with the big acts such as Paul Zerdin, Diversity and Stephen Mulhern all appearing at Centre Stage. We got to see all the main acts and they were all amazing, hilariously funny and fantastic at getting the crowd involved, the atmosphere awesome every single night.

Both James and Evelyn loved the kids shows too and were so excited to see the Butlin's mascots Billy and Bonnie bear appearing on stage. The shows were great for getting the kids involved, dancing and actually sitting still intently listening and watching which is something unheard of in our house!

Butlins now offer something called a B-Line pass which is a wristband pass you can purchase on top of the cost of your holiday. These enable you access to Reds and Centre stage 15 minutes before everyone else and since there is a limited number of these passes sold, having one of these passes means you are sure to get a great seat every time! The cost of the passes can add up with 4 nights during the summer costing £26.50 per person and 7 nights during the summer costing £46.50 per person however if you are planning on seeing the most popular acts during your stay I would 100% recommend thinking about getting them. The queue for the popular acts were huge with people queuing several hours before the doors opened, but with B-Line passes you wait in a separate and much shorter queue as well as getting in to the venue 15 minutes earlier.


Like most kids James and Evelyn love the swimming pool so this was of course top of their to do list on Saturday morning (our first full day on site). They were not disappointed! The swimming pool at Butlins Minehead is amazing, with 4 slides 2 pools, a wave machine, lazy river and even a separate section with a mini slide for the smaller kids. There are no photo's of the pool from me as camera's and photos are prohibited for obvious reasons however you can check out the pool on Butlins website.

If you do get nice weather like us on your break then be sure to check out the outdoor fun pool area too! The outdoor fun pool is huge with several small slides and decorations inside perfect for kids to enjoy the sun whilst keeping cool. There are also sun beds, deck chairs and benches for the grown ups to relax on whilst the kids have fun. This too is included in the price of your holiday.

The Food

Butlins have plenty of options when it comes to food! We tried out the premium dining option for some of our stay and the array of food was amazing. For premium dining there are to restaurants to choose from, The Deck or The Yacht club. You don't have to pick just one though as you are free to move between the 2 even taking dishes from one restaurant into the other and enjoy something from both! Both served similar dishes but always some difference within the menu, we favoured The Yacht club personally as the kids loved the pancake station at breakfast and hubby loved the grill station at dinner (especially the freshly cooked chicken wings!).

There is also the option of standard dining which is similar to above but has a few less options and does not have the pancake/omelette station at breakfast or the wok/grill station at dinner. There are set times if you choose to take out a dining plan with breakfast served between 8.30am and 10.30am and dinner served between 4.30pm and 6.30pm. If a dining plan doesn't suit you there are plenty of other options on site though! They of course have the takeaway/fast food options such as burger king and a very delicious traditional fish and chip shop but there is also an Italian offering eat and and takeaway!

If restaurant dining is more your thing though Butlin's have this covered too! From tradition pub grub at the Sun and Moon to the classic America diner feel at The Diner. We tried out The Diner on our visit and were thoroughly impressed! You are instantly transported to an American Diner once you walk though the doors and the menu is packed with American style burgers, hotdogs and the most delicious fresh milkshakes. The price here is really great too!

Our final thoughts...

During our stay at Butlins Minehead we totally fell in love with the whole place. Not just one thing but everything it has to offer and every single person who makes it the place it is, the atmosphere that exudes from ever corner of the site and the magic it brings alive in kids and adults alike. Everyone is so friendly, so helpful and so caring that it really made our holiday extra special. From the check in staff to the security and of course the beloved red coats everyone was ready with a smile and high five for the kids, making every moment of their holiday extra special. You never felt rushed or pressured in to buying or doing anything and when the time came to leave we were already talking about returning.

I know that in years to come when the kids have grown and I think back to all the memories we made, the memories we have from Butlin's will be up there with the best and the most special. I hope that in years to come when my babies have their own babies and they book their own family holidays they remember all the special times we had here and can recreate them with their own families with their own precious times to remember just like we have from our family holiday at Butlin's!

Thanks for being so amazing Butlin's!

Thinking of booking a family break? Why not check out the Butlins website and get booking your break for next year and get a great deal! You can enquire and book via the Butlins website.


** We were invited along for a complimentary weekend for the purpose of this review, however we then decided to book our own paid for break to extend our time on site. All words, opinions and images are my own.**

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Peppa Pig Family Home Playset **REVIEW**

Peppa pig is practically a celebrity in our house! Evelyn is a huge fan and so when we were recently offered the chance to review the Peppa Pig Family Playset from Character online I knew this would be something she would love.

The house arrived and she loved it the playset was instantly recognisable from the TV show with the same bright colours and fun simple furnishings/characters.

The set has functioning opening doors and the six rooms included in the home are furnished with 4 chairs, table, bunk bed, toy basket, computer table with computer, mirror, bath, chair, trike. The set also included 1 articulated Peppa Pig figure.

When we first opened the set it appeared that the set came with a mummy pig, daddy pig and George pig figure too however these were in fact cardboard figures and Peppa pig was in fact the only plastic articulated figure included. We were a little disappointed at this at it is called the "family home" playset and so I would thought it could have at least included the basic family members of the Peppa Pig family. However we do already have some of these characters and you can purchase them separately if like Evelyn your child likes more characters too.

Perfect for encouraging imaginative play this playset is aimed at children aged 3+ and Evelyn who is 3 has had so much fun playing with it since it arrived. She has been making up lots of stories and recreating some of her favourite Peppa Pig episodes with it which is so cute to see. The size of the house and all the accessories are perfect for her smaller hands too meaning she can easily play and move them around as she pleases.

The playset is made from plastic and it feels pretty sturdy/ strong which is always something I look for with kids toys as Evelyn can be quite heavy handed sometimes. It also has points which enable it to connect to other Peppa Pig play sets from the various ranges out there, perfect for building up a collection or making your very own Peppa Pig town!

Peppa Pigs Family Home playset is available to purchase from Character Online and is currently priced at £39.99. You can also check out the full Peppa Pig range which is available on Amazon too!

Do you have any little Peppa Pig fans in your house? Do you think this is a set they would love too?


*We received this playset free of charge for the purpose of this review. However all words, opinions and images are my own**

Thursday, 10 August 2017

5 things I have learnt since becoming a mum.

Being a parent is one of the most magical experiences but its certainly no fairy-tale story either. I has this perfect image in my head when I was pregnant about how life would be and what kind of parent I would be once baby came along. Lets just say we left that fairy-tale at the hospital. My heart has never been so full of love and my home full of laughter until the kids came along but here are some of the things I have learnt since having children...

#1 - Kids are unpredictable like seriously just give up trying to predict them now, its a losing game! They particularly like to prove this in front of other people just to make you look like an idiot. "Oh yes Evelyn can now count to 10, show our friend Evelyn.... um 2,7,9, 1 **cue clapping from Evelyn**. The same unpredictability applies for sleep and just when you think you have a good routine going along comes a growth spurt to screw that up. So yea my best advice would be to expect nothing but be prepared for anything!

#2 - Days out will never been the same again, they will be fun but never the same! Gone are the days when you can go to the zoo and admire the animals, read the facts or sit down for a picnic lunch and plan the rest of your day. Nope expect to pay over the odds to get in only for your child to find their inner Usain Bolt and dart it around the zoo as if its closing time in 30 minutes. Days out are no longer days out, well unless you count soft plays and parks as days out!? They will be completed in record time and your child will then want to spend the rest of the day in the park that they find so basically you spend £50+ to see a glimpse of a monkey and sit in a park.

#3 - It suddenly becomes acceptable to take about poo to your friends and nobody will bat an eyelid! Honestly its practically a conversation starter nowadays and we ask what's normal or not so normal (includes discussing the colour of poo!) without a care in the world. It also becomes a contest to compare eye bags and the amount of sleep you've had the night before "No seriously, I've had about 2 hours sleep and my eye bags are practically taking over my face, you can't of had a worse night that me"! Oh how meeting with our friends for a grown up coffee and chat has changed, these days its more a sip of your cold coffee and 30 laps of costa to catch a toddler.

#4 - Even when you say you have no money you will always find money for cute kids clothes! My child has more clothes right now that I think I have ever owned in my life but heck I just can't resist that glittery unicorn top or kitty cat cardigan. We kid ourselves by convincing ourselves it was a bargain in the sale even though we know the likely hood is it will be worn once and either stained outgrown before the next appearance of it. But still we buy the clothes, there must be some sort of lure to for us mums to cute kids clothes (well that's my story and I'm sticking to it!).

#5 - If you thought you and your best mate could chat for England then you are yet to meet a toddler! Evelyn can talk and talk and talk yet listening is definitely not something she has mastered yet. Sometimes she chats to me so much the words all merge together to form a buzzing noise in my ear I can't quite decipher but I stop listening and she knows. Yet I ask her to do something and suddenly listening doesn't really matter. I often wonder when she's going to come up for air when she really gets chatting and the questions ohh the questions they are the same questions on repeat but she has no recollection of asking me them before!

Even when our kids drive us up the wall, refuse to use the toilet (one word poo-nami!), get covered in dirt, sometimes even make us cry and definitely make us poor.... we still love them! Their cheeky charm, sleep cuddles and wild antics and all.

I asked some other bloggers what they had learnt since becoming a parent and here is what they said -

- Kerry - that going to the toilet will never be the same again.

- Kirsty - you can learn to drink cold tea or cold coffee, in fact, you'll even learn to appreciate it.

- Laura - that she could answer the same questions hundreds of times a day!

- Georgina - College all fighter's will seem like a lie in when compared to the 4 month sleep regression.

- Kati - The many awesome uses of baby wipes. How did I ever clean up spillages, surface clean the house, remove stains from carpets or make-up from my face?

Can you relate to any of these?? I would love to hear all about the things you have learnt since becoming a parent in the comments below.


Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Top summer parenting tips and hacks!

School’s out for Summer! With so many months of kiddie time in front of you, you’re going to need all the help you can get.
Luckily, Stephanie from Expert Home Tips is on hand to help. She’s sharing 10 of her most valued parenting tips to make this Summer as fun for you as it is the kids.

1. Remove sand with talcum powder

If you’re lucky enough to be heading to the beach this Summer, this tip will definitely come in handy.

Soft sand is lovely and comforting when you’re on the beach, but wet sand is a different story. Sand between toes, legs and under arms can cause irritation and discomfort, especially for children.

A great trick for dusting sand from the body is talcum powder. When you leave the beach, rub it over sandy areas and the sand will dry and fall from the skin.

2. Prevent lollipop drips with a cupcake holder

Prepare to have one of those ‘why didn’t I think of that’ moments.

We all know how much kids love lollipops, but their vibrant colours and stickiness make them a nightmare for parents.

The easiest way to remove lollipop stains is to prevent them! You can do this by cutting a small slit into the base of the cupcake holder then piercing the lollipop stick through.

It will catch all those drips and keep Summer whites bright.

3. Make them work for the Wi-Fi code

Tablets, laptops, mobiles - getting the kids to be active in the digital age is no easy feat!

If you want your kids to take some time away from the screen, consider changing the Wi-Fi code. Set them a task or activity to complete, and reward them with the code.

Although they may hate you for it initially, they’ll soon come around when they remember there’s fun to be had in the real world too.

4. Make a portable colouring kit from an old DVD case

It can be tricky to keep the kids entertained on long Summer journeys.

If your little ones are into their doodling, I have the perfect solution. A DVD case colouring kit makes art on-the-go easy. Not only is there a hard surface to draw on, but a simple elasticated ribbon will also enable kids to keep pencils organised.

If you’re travelling this Summer, this one is a must! They’re also really practical to have on hand at restaurants and at other boring, ‘adult’ occasions.

5. Toothpaste provides quick relief for painful bites

Argh – if only we were born with insect-repelling skin!

If your little one, or even you, do happen to get bitten this Summer, there’s a household item that can provide quick and effective relief.

Dab a small amount of toothpaste over the bite, and the mint will help to soothe and calm the skin. It’s a great way to ease pain and prevent scratching which will only make matters worse.

6. A muffin tray is the perfect picnic accessory

British Summer time is picnic season.

Don’t let your gorgeous patterned blanket suffer from stains – keep your drinks upright with a muffin tray.

The muffin compartments are the perfect size for holding plastic cups and cans too. Be sure to pack one in the car next time you picnic to avoid any sticky-drink disasters.

7. Keep dummies clean on the go with this trick

The outdoors is more attractive than ever during Summer, but the lack of facilities can understandably put a lot of new parents off.

A great way to keep dummies clean wherever you are is to place them inside of takeaway condiment containers. They’re airtight so you can rest assured no germs will get inside.

Sit back, relax, and take the chance to enjoy the outdoors with your bundle of joy before the weather changes.

8. Keep car cup holders clean

Here’s another fab tip for those long journeys - or any journey, in fact.

Have you ever looked inside your car cup holders and been disgusted at the sight of them? The resulting sticky, dark substance of many a drink spillage, melted chocolate mess and who knows what else.

If you’ve ever tried to clean this gunky mess, you’ll know it’s a real effort! In future, prevent sticky cup holder messes by placing a silicone cupcake holder inside each one.

Visit for more home hacks: Follow Expert Home Tips on Twitter: @experthometips.


**This is a guest post**

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Its Blackberry Season!

**This is a guest post from the lovely Marc and Laura from Living Unplugged. You can find out a little more about them and their blog at the bottom of this post! **

I’ve got a confession. I can’t resist free food. It’s a nightmare at work when there are leftover sandwiches from a meeting. Well, nightmare is probably a bit strong - but you know what I mean.

Sandwiches aside, this time of year is great for free food, and it’s great for getting the kids out and into nature.

I’m so proud of my both my boys (3 & 12 years old). Even though they complain when I drag them out the door on a Saturday morning, it’s not long before they’re running ahead in the woods and shouting out when they’ve found an interesting mushroom. I should say they’re under strict instructions not to pick it unless I’ve identified it!

Blackberries are even better, because my boys just need to understand the difference between ripe and unripe berries. Then it’s just matter of giving them plastic bowls and trying not to get stressed about the mess.
I have always had fond memories of blackberry picking. As with so many other people, it was my first experience of foraging wild food. For me, this passion for seasonal free food has gradually grown to the point where I now hunt mushrooms and pick nettles (and other foraged greens) to add to our late summer diet.

It doesn't matter whether you live in a town or in the country, there are places to go blackberrying. (When I lived in London I found that victorian cemeteries provided the best crops - check out Highgate or Honor Oak). This year the crop seems especially good. It must be something to do with the right mix of warmth and rain, but the blackberries near me are huge great juicy things.
The most wonderful thing about foraging is exploring the different recipes and ways to preserve the fruits of your labour. Jam making and pudding baking is a definite must and this year I want to make a jelly rather than jam, since the seeds in blackberries can be a nuisance. My go-to person for blackberry recipes (jams, crumbles etc) is Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. His Preserves book is brilliant, however if you don't have any of his recipe books, this Guardian page has a good selection.
If however, like my wife, you want to try something in more of the alcoholic beverage area I would absolutely recommend a very simple blackberry gin! 

900g of the fattest, free blackberries you can find 450g of caster sugar  400ml gin
(You will also need some sterilised bottles)

1. On a low heat put the blackberries and sugar in a pan and cook down slowly and gently. Stir often until the fruit has become pulpy and soft and the sugar has dissolved.
2. Pour the gin into a jug and strain the fruit mixture into it. Give it a good stir and then pour the mixture into the sterilised bottles.
3. Distribute to your favourite people as gifts. This gin will last a month so make sure you enjoy it with a classic tonic or with sparkling wine. 

So make sure you get out there this weekend with some gardening gloves and a couple of big Tupperware containers and pick as many as you can. Remember, you can always freeze what you don't use. The memories you will give to you kids will last a lot longer than the scars. 
And t-shirts can always be bleached.

About Living Unplugged.

" Living Unplugged is about providing you with the tools and the confidence to take back your love of food, without the guilt of dieting. To take pleasure in activity without the soul sapping feeling that exercise is punishment. To experience the sense of accomplishment in creating or mending something rather than clicking ‘add to basket’. We want to inspire you to live a more intentional life. "


Saturday, 5 August 2017

Roald Dahl has taken over Mr Kipling!

The delicious cakes over at Mr Kipling have had a makeover with a little help from the Roald Dahl characters!

Don't worry they are still the same great tasting Mr Kipling treats but the packaging has had a makeover which is exclusive to Tesco. The range now includes some pretty funky named treats too including Dory-Hunky Angel Slices, Scrumptious Mini Battenburgs and Gloriumptious Cherry Bakewells.

Mr Kipling and Roald Dahl both understand the importance of family, keeping the kids happy and having a splendiferous summer so the pairing is such a fun idea that has had my 2 little ones chucking every time they reach for these snacks.

The angel slices and the chocolate cake slices are individually wrapped and are perfect for picnics or popping into your bag for a yummy snack later on. However really with a big of wrapping all of these would be perfect for your picnic basket or down on the beach for a lunch time break. They would also make the perfect party snacks, it would be a really fun idea to keep the packaging next to each cake if you were using them for a kids party too!

All the treats were a huge hit with both James and Evelyn (and me!) and the Roald Dahl packing just make them even more appealing to the kids especially James who is already a huge Roald Dahl fan so could recognise the characters on all the packaging.

As I mentioned above these limited edition packets are exclusive to Tesco and what's more every time you purchase a limited edition pack with the Roald Dahl packing you have a chance to win some "splendiferous" prizes! Just follow this competition link and enter the unique code found on your packaging to see if your a winner. Check out all the prizes available too!

**We received some packs of the Mr Kipling range for free for the purpose of this review. However all words and opinions are my own.**