Loft room Organisation, parent-child bonding and reminiscing old favourites with Playmobil

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I’ll tell you what, the weather being pants overall this month hasn’t half meant that I’ve got some house re-arranging and organisation done. Usually this would all be abandoned with glee in favour of the great outdoors, but even with the best will in the world we’ve been stuck indoors at times.

The other day, Freddie was downstairs watching his favourite train programme on the telly, and little madam S came upstairs to ‘help’ me tidy and sort a few bits and pieces in our new loft room. This idea of ‘help’ was quickly forgotten in favour of 2 new boxes of Playmobil that we were lucky enough to have been sent by House of Fraser to review (who knew they did toys? I had no idea!).

Coming at the perfect time on a rainy day, I soon ditched my sorting in order to help my little lady set up the fabulous ‘Summer Fun’ camping set, and ‘Country’ gypsy caravan and horse set– chosen to remind the children of our camping trip to WOWO in Sussex last month. You see, when I was a child, Playmobil was one of my absolute favourite things to play with (I had the stable set, natch), and it’s probably the only ‘toy collection’ that I clung on to right up until toys were discarded in favour of dubious Rimmel make up (Heather Shimmer, anyone?), Kappa Jackets and UK Garage.

So putting this together for S (and shortly after, F, who pootled on upstairs), took me right back on a trip down memory lane. In the rush of day-to-day life, you sometimes forget how nice it is to just with your child and chat, whilst setting up a toy/game.  We had amusing little chats on our new squishy carpet, about all sorts of random things that 3 year olds like to chat about (Frozen, what’s for tea later? why don’t I have a willy? etc etc). You really can’t beat hanging with a 3 year old!

I’ve always liked Playmobil for the fact that it’s such a ‘classic’ toy, and the different sets are just so detailed- it really tickled me to see mini maps, electric plug in points and tinned food in our camping set! Adam and I, with a little help from Granny, had been more than happy to start their Playmobil collections off last Christmas, as we know that they will get so much play value out of them over the coming years, and hopefully enjoy them for as long as I did. 

So after a good 20 minutes of detailed play, and acting out scenarios with the figures and my gorgeous twosome, I got back to work, and watched them play with their new toys.

“We’re so lucky, Mummy”, Freddie said.

Yes you are, my boy, but I’M the luckier one, being able to watch you play so well together, and really enjoy being the fabulous, imaginative little people you are.

Long live Playmobil!

 

A huge thank you to House of Fraser for sending Freddie and Sasha these Playmobil sets to review and enjoy- they love them!

 

WIN! Spongebob Squarepants Goodies and DVD Giveaway with the London Designer Outlet

In the Freeman household there is one particular member of the family who hugely hearts a little, yellow square man, in a pair of brown shorts.

Step forward, Sasha, and her never-ending love for Spongebob Squarepants!

We were particularly excited to hear then that this bank holiday, The London Designer Outlet (based in London’s Wembley Park), is hosting a Spongebob and Dora-themed family fun weekend! On the 30th and 31st August, there will be free screenings of Nickelodeon episodes for all ages, between 11 and 5pm, so grab your family, hot-foot it to Wembley and let them kick back and relax whilst you shop ’til you drop! 

New playground opening at the London Designer Outlet, Wembley, London. Photo: Chris Winter

New playground opening at the London Designer Outlet, Wembley, London.
Photo: Chris Winter

There will be hours of entertainment for little ones and big kids alike, with face painting and a special Nickelodeon colouring activity station. With also giveaways across the weekend, and meet-and-greet photo opportunities with the square dude himself, what’s not to love if you have your very own Spongebob addict?! 

I know I would be shopping whilst Adam supervised the kids here, but shhhh, don’t tell anyone that πŸ˜‰ 

As well as this brilliant event, the London Designer Outlet offers up to 70% off RRP year-round, a 9 screen Cineworld cinema, a children’s playpark and 20 restaurants and coffee shops – something for everyone!

Keep an eye out for more information on the event by following London Designer Outlet on Facebook or Twitter, or by checking the LDO website which showcases upcoming events: www.londondesigneroutlet.com.

Nearest Tube: Wembley Park. Nearest station: Wembley Stadium. Easy access by bus and plenty of car parking on-site. ο‚· Parental supervision is required at all times whilst children are participating in the LDO summer.

To celebrate this fabulous event, I have 3 Spongebob-themed prize packs to giveaway:

  1. SpongeBob Bubble Tea Set and the SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water DVD
  2. SpongeBob Travel Art Easel and the SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water DVD
  3. SpongeBob Super Pinball mini-game and the SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water DVD

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

Terms and Conditions: Competition closes at 12.00am (midnight) GMT on Friday 4th September 2015. Entries received after this time and date will not be valid. UK residents only. Entrants must be 18 and over. Winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter after the closing date and will be notified within 3 days of competition end. Only entrants received via the Rafflecopter widget will be considered valid.

Stuff, life, summer catch up etc!

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Hello, how are you? It feels ages since I wrote a proper ‘catch up’ post. I don’t know why, but I feel a bit like I’ve lost my writing mojo, my online voice. Maybe it’s because I’ve had a few months off doing all but the bare bones of blogging, what with the wedding, the loft conversion, and then the summer holidays and having small children pretty much full time, it doesn’t leave a huge amount of head space, you know? I also think that the less you write, the more ‘out of practice’ you get, and the harder it seems to ‘get going’ again. Well, I’m hopping back on that proverbial writing horse once more! Whilst I’m more than happy taking a breather whilst the children are around most of the time, it will be nice to know I’ll have a bit more time to crack on again come September. 

I’ve discovered that I’m a much better Mother/workhorse/human being if I compartmentalise stuff in my life. Trying to make a work-related phone call, or send an important email whilst I have a small child making a perfectly reasonable request, makes me irrationally ratty, and it’s just not fair on F&S. So emails are done first thing right now, usually between 8.30-9am, when the children are watching their morning telly quota (those who don’t let their kids watch any telly WHAT DO YOU DO??!!!!), and then phone calls saved for post-lunch chill out time if we’re in the house. Everyone is much happier as a result.

So what’s new?

Well, overall we’re enjoying the summer holidays, and have had some lovely days, and trips out, although I’m unashamed to say I still think we all get on much better when we have 2 days a week apart. Roll on summer camps next year… πŸ˜‰ Seriously, I adore spending time with my crazy twosome, but I’m certainly someone who benefits from a bit of breathing space to recharge my batteries and have room to think. Does this make me an introvert, or maybe I just have introvert tendencies? I do wonder these days, as although I’m pretty outgoing and always thought I was an extrovert, I find I more and more often crave ‘alone time’ and am quite happy in my own company and QUIET. Maybe it’s just part and parcel of having little ones around all the time (which is never quiet and tbh I wouldn’t really want it to be!). 

Adam and I are settling into married life, although not much outwardly has changed, inwardly i’m surprised at how good it feels. I don’t know why, but I feel more part of a team now, and that surname thang does make a difference to me (although no one tells you how much of a ballache it is to change all of your official documents, not to mention expensive!). Our loft conversion if pretty much done, with just a few finishing touches to do/furniture left to buy, and Sasha moved into her brand new room last weekend. I’m so glad it was moved forward and finished earlier than expected, otherwise we’d be dealing with stuff in the run up to Christmas. I feel very, very lucky right now that we have such a lovely home. Expect to be bored with an onslaught of room-related posts on here soon! 

Freddie is excited about starting school and the home visit from his new teacher in a couple of weeks (no pressure to have a spotless home and well-behaved children then!), and whilst I really will miss him being away for 5 days a week, I’m also excited for this new chapter in his little life. He is SO ready for it, and hopefully he will fly. :-) 

Sasha has well and truly hit the ‘threenager’ phase, and everything is a drama/crisis/histronics right now which can be very draining. I think she must have been a wrestler in a past life, because the bundling/head locks/jumping on that she inflicts on her poor, very tolerant brother, is getting out of hand. However, aside from this, she really is the sweetest, funniest little lady, and is great company 1-2-1, very sharp, very funny (she crosses her eyes to make you laugh all the time right now, very hard to tell someone off seriously when this is happening). Like Freddie starting school, I think going back to preschool solo will be good for her. Despite the bolshiness and attitude, I know that underneath this is a lack of confidence at times, so not being able to rely on her brother at all times will help this develop. 

And with all this, I must be losing my tiny mind, as I’ve gone back to thinking I might like a third child! Adam will take more convincing, but there’s just a little something that is stopping me cracking on with making the 4th bedroom into that office… tell me that I’m mad! 

All in all (and touch wood) we are all happy and healthy right now. I’m glad the summer has been a slower one as the rest of the year has been pretty hectic, so the kicking back, and taking a breath has been really good for us. We’ve pottered around at home, baked, cooked, picked the tomatoes and raspberries in our garden, bounced A LOT on our trampoline, hung out with friends, read books (all of us- I finished a new book in record time of one week the other day, amazing since it usually takes me 3 months to get through one these days), drank wine (me), ran (also me, training for Oct 10K), S has finally learnt to scoot without screaming in terror as soon as you let go, painted LOTS (aaargh!) and we’ve laughed lots too. 

Life is good right now!

How’s your summer been?

Interiors Insider: Introducing, SofaSofa

As an interiors nut, I am always on the hunt for items, or companies that have that something special to offer, or who have a great background story. It really adds to the whole buying ‘experience’, and when a visitor is eyeing up an item in your home, it’s lovely to be able to tell them a little bit about where it’s come from, or the history of the piece.

Step forward, SofaSofa.

Family-run SofaSofa has been making sofas and chairs since 1981, when according to their website “hair was big and sofas were floral”. (Gotta love a furniture company with a sense of humour!). The business began life making leather Chesterfields in the Rhondda Valley, selling them in Cardiff, just across the road from the old Arms Park Rugby ground. They quickly expanded the range and added two more retail stores in South Wales.

SofaSofa remains a family business to this day and they believe passionately in the skills of our British workforce. Unlike the majority of furniture retailers in the UK, they continue to supply only UK made furniture, by making a conscious decision in the late nineties not to follow their competitors and start importing cheaper goods from the Far East, and latterly, Eastern Europe. They did this because they know that by manufacturing in the UK they can guarantee a level of quality and service beyond any cheap import. 

So a homegrown brand to be proud of.

Jumping into the 21st century design-wise, SofaSofa now stocks an impressive range of accessories, along with their sofas (I have my eye on THIS Chesterfield). Their cushions come in over 50 different fabric designs, and 100’s of colours (wowsers!)

Ideal for subtly complimenting both plainer sofas, as well as more ‘lairy’ ones, here are my picks of their current scatter cushion range:

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1. Barolo – Β£15

2. Jessica – Β£30

3. Tetbury – Β£40

4. Montrose – Β£35

5. Dorchester – Β£30

6. Tuscany – Β£15

7. Woburn – Β£25

 

Thank you to SofaSofa for partnering with The Spirited Puddle Jumper!

 

 

 

Our Visit to Liverpool with Virgin Trains

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Last Thursday Freddie and I were lucky enough to experience a whistle-stop tour of Liverpool, courtesy of Virgin Trains. Leaving Sasha with Nanny, we hopped on the train up to London Euston, excited by the prospect of travelling in first class and spending some 1-2-1 time with my boy (me), and journeying on a rather swish Virgin train (Freddie- he’s a massive train geek!). 

Liverpool isn’t somewhere I’d visited before, yet had been on my ‘UK must-see’ list for a while. I knew that the city had been vastly regenerated, especially since it had become the European capital of culture back in 2008, and is widely thought of to be the cultural capital of the North-West, and beyond. Home of The Beatles, Cilla, and with more buskers than anywhere else in the country, who am I to argue?!

We were also to be partaking in the nationwide ‘Where’s Wally’ hunt, an endeavour by Virgin to encourage families to get out and about this summer. 100 replicas of the much-loved character have been hidden across the UK and are waiting to be found near famous landmarks, cities and stations up and down the Virgin Trains West Coast route (London, Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh are cities where eagle-eyed travellers can get wally-hunting!). 

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After arriving in the first class lounge early, we made the most of the facilities available to us (hello, free tea and coffee after an early start!). I wasn’t sure what to expect from the lounge, as first class travel is not something we get to experience that often, but I was quietly impressed. The area was spacious, with enough room for Freddie not to annoy other passengers when playing with his trains, whilst I kicked back and sipped on my coffee whilst watching the news on the big screen tellies. 

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One very excited little train traveller! When I received the email from Virgin, inviting us on this trip, I jumped for joy, as I KNEW Freddie would be beside himself with excitement. He is a huge train fan, and has watched videos of different trains on You Tube, including Virgin ones, and it is something he’s mentioned frequently that he would like to do, to travel on one, so this trip really couldn’t have been more perfect for him!

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After being introduced to our travel companions (the lovely Charlotte from Berice Baby, her partner Rovi and little Hayden, and Bianca from Little Scandinavian and her girls, Beatrice and Amelie), we went on our first ‘Wally Hunt’ of the day en-route to the train. The hunt is running until the end of the summer holidays, and to join in, families can snap themselves with a Wally, and tweet the total number of Wallys they’ve found to @VirginTrains using the hashtag #FoundWally or enter via the Virgin Trains Facebook page by August 31st. The family who finds the most wallys will win a luxury Virgin Trains Escape Weekend in London, courtesy of Superbreak. 

Our first hunt in Euston was a great ice-breaker, with Freddie and Hayden having a chat and trying to find some of the Wallys together. 

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After we were settled on the 10.07 to Liverpool (which only takes just over 2 hours, a very ‘doable’ length of time for a 4 year old which I was surprised about), we enjoyed the fantastically friendly table service. F and I tucked into bacon rolls and juice, with a perfectly brewed cuppa on the side for me.  

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Freddie and Hayden were kept occupied with their Virgin Trains activity packs and a couple of ‘Where’s Wally?’ books that reminded me of my own childhood! I have to say, I think first class when you have young children is a godsend and something I wish I could do all the time. You don’t have to trek to a buffet car with bags/a small person or two in tow, and there is a different (impressively varied) menu for all hours of the day, meaning no one would ever go hungry.

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Two of our lovely bloggy travel companions! It was lovely to have a natter with Charlotte.

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We arrived! Liverpool Lime Street Station is right in the heart of the city centre, and it was only a few minutes walk before we landed at the swanky ‘Liverpool One’ complex, home of some rather glam shops, entertainment and great family dining. 

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Liverpool ONE has been built on the site of an old park that was a hub of anti-social behaviour, and this brilliant development has completely changed the area and given it a new lease of family-friendly life.

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We were guests of Liverpool ONE, and enjoyed a tasty lunch at Pizza Express, which is our go-to family meal out back home. What made this visit extra special was that Freddie and Hayden got to sit and make their own dough ‘pizzas’ using rolling pins and cutters  whilst waiting for our food order. I hadn’t seen this anywhere else before, and thought what a great idea it was! 

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After lunch we took a stroll to the Albert Docks (only a 10 minute walk away from Liverpool ONE). There are lots of cafes/pubs/bars round here, and I made a mental note of a couple, should I ever come back here sans-children for a night out! The area is so attractive and steeped in history- an attractive mix of old cobbled streets and sympathetically restored buildings with modern twists. 

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I was looking forward to our visit to the Liverpool Tate. In London we sometimes visit the Tate Modern on The Southbank, so I was eager to see how here compared. I wasn’t disappointed.

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The children were loaned special rocket ‘explorer’ backpacks to take around with them containing an array of ‘explorer stuff’ (yes, I know, descriptive πŸ˜‰ ).

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We headed up to the Action Stations drop-in paint lab for children where Freddie and co got stuck in (and rather messy!) with the paints.

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Stepping inside the lab room, I was seriously impressed with what was on offer for the children art-wise, and thought how lovely it was that they were given the opportunity to try new things with paint and be creative in a way you just couldn’t be at home (archery painting anyone?!). 

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Freddie couldn’t get enough of painting using an old plug chain and straws… 

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…and I was pretty impressed with the finished result!

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Some of the other young artists’ work on display!

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Post-Tate and after a very busy and exciting day, we went Wally Hunting on the way back to the station. Fred was super-chuffed to spot a couple, and is now officially hooked on his ‘Where’s Wally?’ books 5 days on!

We had a brilliant day in Liverpool, and I’m keen to come back for a weekend with the whole family, and take our time to explore even more. It appears to be a city constantly ‘on the up’, and from a Mum’s perspective, there is lots to do with young children, and most importantly all is easily accessible (as a city, Liverpool is very compact, great for little legs!). 

We can’t wait to return!

For more information about the ‘Where’s Wally?’ hunt and family tickets, please visit Virgin Trains Facebook and Twitter pages, or their website. 

A HUGE thank you to Virgin Trains and Liverpool ONE for looking after us so well. We were treated to this day out, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Freddie at 4 and a half

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Our beautiful boy is now 4 and a half. The preschool years are officially over, and he is on the cusp of starting ‘big school’ with all the exciting new adventures, routines and friendships in front of him. I am actually really excited for him, this whole starting school malarkey. Whilst he has adored his preschool, I think he’s SO ready for school. He’s lucky that he’s going to a brilliant primary school a short drive away, where a great many friends of his from preschool are going too, and I think it will definitely suit his personality to know a few familiar faces.

So what can I say about our amazing little chap right now?

  • His language and sense of the world have evolved so much since even 6 months ago. He says phrases like “only joking, Mummy” when he says things he apparently doesn’t mean (even if they’re not always in context!), and I love it when he uses new words that make him sound incredibly grown up. Talking of joking, we’ve reached the stage where he tells us ‘jokes’, even if they make no sense at all, and I feel I have to give him a little laugh at least- definitely time to add a few age-appropriate jokes to his repertoire! 
  • In the mornings now Freddie will often wake up and head downstairs without waking us. Which in theory should be AMAZING, bearing in mind the usual pre-6am wake up calls we’re so used to having. However, whilst we are impressed at his new-found independence (he likes to draw the living room curtains and get his toys set up) it’s a little unsettling when your 4 year old shouts upstairs “I can’t pull the bowl from the dishwasher!”. He has suddenly discovered he can open our fridge, so has made several attempts to make him and Sasha breakfast, and we have come down to milk and Cheerios everywhere :-) Which we don’t mind too much- a boy’s gotta start somewhere, right?
  • We received his leavers report from preschool, which will be sent to his new teacher at big school. I’m not embarrassed to say that I welled up when reading it, it really was a delight. He’s done so well over the past couple of years, and what preschool was most pleased about is how his self-confidence has improved in leaps and bounds. As a naturally cautious child, he often needs reassurance to give something new a go, but now is much more willing to try, and more often than not is extremely capable. I have no worries whatsover that he’ll do well at his new school.
  • I’ve discovered through eavesdropping on a few meet ups with other children, or through having them round to play, that our boy is actually quite bossy and very much likes things to go his way, which I guess is fairly common at this age! 
  • Has become much more interested in animals and asked us the other week if we could get a pet (we’re thinking of a couple of kittens soon anyway). I think this interest also stemmed from a conversation in Tesco’s the other week and a weird fascination with the pet food aisle!
  • Has developed a slightly morbid interest in death, and dying, and asking more and more questions about it, which again, I guess is fairly normal at this age, although I still don’t think he really knows what it means. I wrote about this a little while ago, about what happened when our butterflies we were hatching didn’t make it.
  • Absolutely loves to learn (which will stand him in good stead at school). He is starting to want to read, and will sit with me and sound out words from books that we look at together, along with asking me what every word on a street sign, poster etc says if he can’t work it out himself. I hope he carries on enjoying his books, and I’m looking forward to the day when he can take himself off and read for hours, just like I used to do as a child!

And finally…

  • he is such great company, and so much fun to be around! We love taking them both out, but F is at an age where he’s much easier to travel with and is no trouble at all. He’s a delight, and whilst I’m excited for these primary years to begin, I will miss spending time with my little buddy. 5 days a week seems a lot compared to 2.5! 

Mini Hallway Makeover with ‘Place in Print’

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Despite living these past few months in relative chaos, what with our loft extension and subsequent room juggling, a really good thing to come of it is the fact that it’s given me a kick up the bum and some extra ‘oomph’ to sort previously neglected areas of our home. 

Step, forward, the hallway! 

I guess this is one part of the house that hasn’t had much love and attention, bar having the grim old wallpaper stripped and repainted white. I’m not sure why, as I’m always one for making a good ‘first impression’, and whenever I’ve come home, it’s been a rather bland welcome, despite many other areas of our house looking lovely. 

When you walked in the front door, to the right we have all of our coats, shoes, bags etc, all hung/stored away on nice hooks/a shoe bench. To the left, well there was nothing much at all. Our white radiator with a useful white shelf running along it, with white walls. Aside from that, nadda. Diddly squat.

BORING.

It has 100% been crying out for some love and attention, and it was time to give it what it clearly wanted and needed.

I recently received an email from an online print company, appropriately named ‘Place in Print’, asking if I wanted to review a few of their prints for our home. I nearly bit their hand off! I’m fortunate now that I get sent quite a few emails asking if I’d like to review products/homeware, and I’m lucky that I can be quite selective, but I couldn’t WAIT to say a massive ‘YES’ to these guys! For their prints are rather fabulous, and I thought especially suited for a family like ours living, working and playing in London, (the company specialises in celebrating neighbourhood through locally-themed art and design).

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I got particularly exciting about their ‘Neighbourhood Puns’ by Pate collection, and decided that these were just the thing to cheer up our dreary hallway. There are so many options to choose from, but I eventually went for ‘Crystal Palace’, ‘Canary Wharf’ and ‘Brick Lane’, as all have particular meaning to Adam and I in one way or another. 

I could have chosen loads though!

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I also added a few succulents for a pop more colour on the white shelf, purchased from my trip to Ikea last Monday. In fact, I’m going to go back and get some more for other areas of the house, as I’m pleased with the effect they’ve had and I like having plants and living things about even if I’m prone to killing them. It’ll be a JUNGLE in here.

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I’ve been so pleased with these prints, and had so many positive comments about them, both from real-life visitors to our gaff, and from followers on Instagram, that I plan to buy some more, slightly different prints for other walls in our home. 

Horniman Museum Walrus Landmark Art Poster Print White Frame

I’m currently eyeing up this Horniman Museum print, as it’s somewhere we visit regularly….

Place in Print Crystal Palace Transmitter Antenna Art Poster Print White Frame

…this print of the looming Crystal Palace Transmitter that we can see from our house…

Crystal Palace Street Typography Map Art Poster Print White Frame

…and this map print of Crystal Palace.

I also think they’d make ace Christmas/birthday presents for my London-dwelling friends.

What do you think? Do any of these catch your eye?

I love ’em!

Thanks so much to Place in Print for sending us these gorgeous prints in return for this review, we are IN LOVE! 

www.placeinprint.com

My Home Style – Edition 9

Morning all! I am so excited to be back with this My Home Style series after a short break, and I’ve been ever so happy to see yet again, so many awesome and home and interiors-themed snaps on Instagram. Which are much needed right now, as I am in real need of some housey-inspiration, as we are in the fortunate (or unfortunate, depending on how you look at it πŸ˜‰ ) position in that we currently have 4 new rooms that are in need of filling and styling: Sasha’s new bedroom, the new office space, our loft bedroom, plus the en-suite that comes with it.

So lots to play with!

To join in with this on Instagram, simply tag your house and home pictures with the hashtag #myhomestyle, and Emma from ‘Life at the Little Wood’ and I will keep an eye out and feature our picks on our respective blogs every fortnight. 

I am keeping it short and sweet today, purely featuring some of my faves and which IG account they come from.

Do any of these float your boat? Let me know!

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Our Break to Butlins Minehead Part 3: More fun with our little ones!

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Earlier this week I wrote about the fun we had as a family in Butlins Minehead, but there were of course far too many photos for just the one post- cue Part 3 of our adventure to the sunny(ish) South West! 

I talked before about the fabulous time both Freddie and Sasha had at the dedicated under 5’s fairground, but we also really enjoyed our time at the main fairground- both adults and children alike! Here are some snaps of our lovely Wednesday evening there (Wednesday is later night opening until 8pm, so loads of post-dinner fun to be had):

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As I mentioned previously, going on an inter-generational family holiday is great from the perspective that you can all have a go on some rides, whilst taking it in turns to mind the children (or go on some rides with them!). F really surprised us all by being a right daredevil, and having a go on the adult swing ride (above) on a double seat with one of us adults, and also an umbrella ride that went round and round, and up high in the sky (I can’t think of a good name for it). For a usually fairly cautious child this was a bit of a revelation, and we were delighted at how much fun he was having!

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On the umbrella ride with Nanny as the sun was setting (they are far right of the photo). I’m not sure Nanny was quite so keen on this ride as Freddie was, but he insisted she ride with him!

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A snap of them again in the blue carriage!

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In the fairground there was still plenty for Sasha to do, and she ended up loving the mini trampolines, as well the horse carousel that she bravely rode on her own for the first time.142177

Adam and Grandad took competitiveness to new heights, and enjoyed a couple of sessions on the go-karts, Grandad coming up trumps in the first race, only for Ad to beat him the next day in the re-match! 

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During our stay I have to give kudos for the troopers that are our little ones (and my husband!). Poor F was poorly with a temperature at the start of our stay, with only Calpol pepping him up, and then Sasha and Ad got sick towards the end, again, with the purple stuff and Neurofen keeping them going. We actually still managed to do almost everything we wanted to do, which is amazing really, all things considering. Thank goodness for buggies where naps can be taken when needed, and thank the lord for Calpol!

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On one of the mornings Adam and I took the children to Soccer Tots, an activity they’d both previously enjoyed in Bognor Butlins last October. 

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Again, the staff were great, and Freddie, now that bit older, is starting to get ‘into’ football and really enjoyed himself. I love this shot of my little budding Beckham! 

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Madam decided that she wasn’t quite as keen this time, and chose to hang out with me on the sidelines and watch her brother. I love her little thoughtful face here!

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Someone else was really chuffed to get their second medal at the end of the session though! These classes are great, and because they take place almost every morning, are never overcrowded. I would definitely recommend them for burning off some energy at the start of the day!

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I touched on briefly in my last post about the fact that we had a Premium Meal plan for our stay, and that I think it’s worth every penny. The choice at breakfast was AMAZING (cooked, fresh omelettes, fresh fruit, pastries, BLTs cooked to order, cereal, yoghurts, pancakes cooked to order… I could go on!). For dinner there was a huge variety of meals to choose from that changed daily, plus a pasta bar, Chinese food station, salad bar, a roast dinner station, and the most tempting array of desserts going. I wouldn’t hesitate to go Premium again. Sasha here is enjoying her beans on toast breakfast, a favourite meal of hers at any time of day! Despite the gorgeous cuisine on offer, some 3 year olds are just easily pleased πŸ˜‰

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Even though we had a premium meal plan that was top-notch, we decided to forgo our last evening meal in favour of The Diner. Having eaten in the Bognor restaurant before, we knew the burgers, and even more so, the milkshakes, were INCREDIBLE! 

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We let both children have a few slurps of ours, as honestly, they are HUGE and very rich. They went down a treat!186

I was very proud of how well our little lady did- it was at this meal that she started to feel unwell, and ended up eating most of her meal in a tray in her buggy :-(

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Me and my boy! <3 (Can’t beat the shiny, make up free look πŸ˜‰ )

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The menu at The Diner is vast, and portions are very generous, so our tip is to sample a bit of everything between you all, but don’t over order! 

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…and after you’ve eaten, there’s nothing like running it all off with a trip to one of the many playgrounds in the resort! 

During our stay we also made the most of other facilities, such as the Splash Waterworld and The Outdoor Paddling Pool, which the children (and us) loved, but I obviously couldn’t film at these. 

So what was my opinion of Butlins Minehead overall?

I can honestly say that whilst I enjoyed my time at Bognor, and the facilities and eateries are practically identical, I feel Minehead has now really won us over, predominately because of the BRILLIANT new chalet accommodation that actually made staying in with little ones on an evening a pleasure. They really are the business (and you can read what we thought of them HERE). 

The resort is spotlessly clean, and yet again, the staff were all so helpful and friendly, which is something that Butlins really gets right when it comes to nurturing its brand. Everyone who works there genuinely seems like they want to be there and do the best job they can. 

I can hand on heart say that any snobbery and bad preconceptions I had about Butlins have gone, and it really is a fantastic place to bring children, both young and older ones. I can see why so many loyal families come again year after year!

So I just want to say a MASSIVE thank you to Butlins for making us ambassadors for 2014-2015, we’ve had the BEST time.

Whoever takes over the reins will be a lucky blogger indeed!

 

As Ambassadors for Butlins we were given a 4 night, term time stay and premium dining plan in return for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions my own.

 

 

 

 

 

Our Break to Butlins Minehead Resort Part 2: The Preschooler Edition

One of the things I love now about being a Mum is seeing the wonder of new adventures and holidays through the eyes of your little ones. There is still a place (very occasionally!) for an adult weekend away and the lie ins and late nights that come with it, but there is also something really fabulous about seeing your children enjoy themselves on a holiday that is well-suited to their needs and interests. 

In Part One of our trip to Butlins Minehead, I talked about how great the accommodation was, and just how chuffed we were with the new chalets in the West Lakes Village. Now it’s time to talk about what we got up to during our 5 days away with Freddie and Sasha, as well as Adam’s parents. I can honestly recommend a 3 generational family holiday if you all get on (luckily we do!), as it gives everyone a chance to relax as there are is a high child:adult ratio! πŸ˜‰ 

This is a very photo-heavy post with a gazillion snaps, but I couldn’t not capture all the fun we had, both within the resort, and on the beach next to it.

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After arriving and unpacking on the Monday afternoon, we all went for a little explore around the resort. Like Bognor, the Pavilion is the heart of the complex, housing a great many cafes and restaurants, shops, as well as the main stage where the family shows take place, plus snooker, bowling, soft play and the amusements. Freddie in particular remembered that the Pavilion at Bognor was similar, and got very excited when we first went in, explaining everything to Nanny and Grandad!  We spent a fair bit of time at the soft play whilst the grown ups had a coffee! Ideal when the weather was less then perfect on a our first full day. If the children are happy and relaxed, then so are we!

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We caught the Thomas the Tank Engine show one morning, which was a big hit with both Freddie and Sasha, and helped keep them both amused whilst S had her face painted. There were loads of other shows we could have seen, such as Fireman Sam and Angelina Ballerina (who appeared at a character meet and greet before dinner outside our allocated restaurant one night, much to Sasha’s conflicting feelings of delight/terror!)

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One of the great things about the Pavilion is that there is so much for little ones to do, especially when the weather isn’t great. The joys of a Great British holiday! Face painting like Sasha had done (Spiderman, natch), above, was only a fiver, and we found like Bognor, that the 2p machines were great fun for both adults and children alike!

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A definite bit of nostalgia for our own childhoods at English holiday resorts!

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My smiling, happy boy, super-excited at the under-5s indoor fairground, just next to the Pavilion! I loved the fact that this was separate from the main fairground, and meant that little ones could enjoy the rides without the possibility of bigger children being intimidating. 

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Weeeeeeeeee!

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Both children loved this mini ladybird rollercoaster, but they each wanted their own ladybird! The under 5s fairground is open 10 until 5, and until 8pm on Wednesdays. 

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Being train mad, Freddie had several go’s on the mini railway, and roped Grandad in on this occasion! 

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We must have spent a good half an hour watch the children go down this giant slide again and again. We didn’t mind though, as like I said before, we get so much pleasure seeing them both have a good time :-) What was great about the little fairground (and in fact, the big one), is that we hardly had to queue at all, and if we did it wasn’t for very long. 

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Literally opposite the resort across the road was the beautiful Minehead beach. There’s what seems to be miles of golden, sandy beach, and safe waters, perfect for little ones to paddle in. 

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We just had to get some new buckets and spades from one of the shops on site (Butlins has a great, very reasonably priced selection so you don’t have to take your own) and build a few sandcastles! 

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It was a bit windy on the beach but our family enjoyed a good couple of hours there on the Tuesday afternoon before the rain came. Both Sasha and Freddie are big ‘sand lovers’ and would spend hours playing with the stuff! Unlike their sand-phobic Mum

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So happy to be at the beach! It really is fab that the beach is so close to the complex, as you can just nip across for a short amount of time, before heading back for a rest, to see a show or join in an activity. 

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This is how close we were!

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You can’t beat teeny pairs of Crocs in the sand :-)

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My little lady, who practically had to have her white sunglasses surgically removed each bedtime whilst we were away!

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Me and my boy (and me looking a bit wind-swept!)107

A family snap of us at the end of our second day, before heading out to dinner. We were allocated a Premium dining plan, which meant we had breakfast and dinner included in one of the Premium restaurants within the resort. I can’t recommend spending that extra bit of money enough, but I’ll talk more about that in Part 3 of my write up, coming later this week!

There is still so much more to talk about, and more pics to show you about our final 3 days and what we got up to with our little ones. 

Stay tuned!

 

If you want to read Part 1 of our trip to Butlins Minehead and find out all about the wonderful Lakeview Chalets, click HERE.

If you’re interested in our previous Butlins break to Bognor Regis with preschoolers, then click HERE and HERE.

As Butlins Ambassadors we stayed at their Minehead resort for 5 days, 4 nights, mid-week term time free of charge, with a Premium meal plan for 6 people included. All thoughts and opinions my own though!