Thursday, 5 July 2018

Our Sunny Days - June 2018

I'm probably going to jinx the weather now by talking about the glorious sunshine....but wasn't June lovely!! I'm sure June is normally wet and dreary so it's been amazing to have so many sunny days in a row. We definitely feel like we're getting lots of wear out of our summer clothes! 

Beach Days

Living on the south coast, we have an abundance of beaches on our doorstep. I have to admit, I'm not really a lover of sitting on a beach in the boiling sunshine with hundreds of other people jostling for a spot but we have enjoyed finding some smaller beaches recently which are much nicer! 

Erin loves the beach - she loves nothing more than pottering around with a bucket and spade. She also loves a paddle too but she's a little monkey - on several occasions (like today for instance!) she has waded in fully clothed! 


We also have a really nice park where the above beach pic was taken and there is a massive paddling pool - needless to say the kids love going in there! 


Garden Fun


We treated the kids to some new garden toys and a cool new paddling pool so they have been having lots of fun outside. Last year I made the mistake of getting a giant paddling pool that took forever to blow up, and then forever to fill up so this year we scaled down and got something fun that they could both use! 


Elliot's a bit big (and heavy) for the little slide, but there's always a solution...

Erin didn't realise she was directly in the splash zone!

We have also been having lots of bbq's recently - and doesn't food taste so much nicer when you're sat outside in the sunshine! As part of his Father's Day presents, we gave my husband a set of personalised BBQ tools (from www.personallypresented.com) which he has been getting lots of use out of. One of the reasons I like BBQ's is the fact I don't have to cook so it was only right he had his own tools!



Days Out

A few weeks back we decided to book tickets for Paultons Park (home of Peppa Pig world!) as a treat for the children. Elliot loves it there but it was Erin's first time and she was so excited to see all the Peppa rides! It was such a hot day though, it genuinely felt like we were back in Florida at the theme parks. 

melting...


Paultons Park is great for children, there is so much to do and you could easily spend two days there. I love that different age groups are catered for - Elliot was in his element in the Lost Kingdom with all the dinosaur attractions, while Erin loved the smaller rides in Peppa Pig World. And they both loved cooling off in the amazing splash park! 



Days out don't have to be expensive though. We have recently started doing a bit of geocaching - if you've not heard of it, it's basically like a giant treasure hunt. There are geocaches hidden all over the world and you use an app to find them. It's a great way of getting children outdoors! 

We visited a place called Holten Lee which is literally a 5 minute drive from our house but there were lots of geocaches there to be found. It's a brilliant way to explore new areas too - we've never visited Holten Lee before, despite living so close but we had a lovely walk in the sunshine and I'm sure we will go back. 


I heard on the news that this weather is here to stay until September so I'm hoping and praying that's true. The Summer Holidays start in a couple of weeks and it would be amazing to have 6 weeks of sunshine! 

Just chilling....



Thursday, 21 June 2018

A Half Term Break at Butlins Minehead

Our first family holiday to Butlins was back in 2014 - Elliot was a cheeky, wobbly toddler and the Just for Tots break was a perfect introduction to the quintessential British caravan holiday!


We've been a few times since then but recently we returned for the May half term holiday - it was our first time visiting in the school holidays and I was interested to see how it would differ from the term time breaks. (Aside from the price which was a very obvious difference!!)

Here's what we got up to...

Day 1

After packing what feels like 1,456 bags into the car, we leave Poole just after 10am in glorious sunshine and are on our way to Minehead. It's a clear run down and we arrive in Blue Anchor just in time for lunch. It's a bit of a tradition, we always stop at the Driftwood Cafe for lunch on our way down but it wasn't to be today - everyone else had the same idea so the cafe was packed! They were so busy that they'd actually stopped taking orders so we headed back up the coast to The Blue Anchor pub which had amazing views across the beach. It wasn't the best meal - we had to wait over an hour for our food and they got the order wrong about 4 times but they got there in the end! 

If you can't wear matching t-shirts on holiday, when can you?!
After a quick stop at Morrisons for some supplies, we picked up our welcome pack at Butlins and found our accommodation for the next 4 nights. Usually we stay in a private caravan but our usual one was booked so instead we opted for one of the log cabins next to the lake - so glad we did, it was lovely! We find it's much quieter staying here rather than at the hustle and bustle of the Butlins chalets and apartments. (Details of the private caravans and cabins can be found here

The view from our cabin - the french doors opened out onto this decking, what a lovely view!
After a quick unpack and change we headed back out and up to the entertainment complex. The weather was so hot, it actually felt like we were abroad and not in Somerset! 

Elliot couldn't wait to hit the arcade - he loves the grabber machines! My Dad had given him 5 bags of 2ps (one for each day) so he was itching to spend these in the 2p machines. Erin was just excited to be out of her buggy - and funnily enough she made a beeline to the puppet show which is exactly what Elliot did when he was that age! 


We spent the rest of the evening in one of the clubs. There was a Justin Fletcher disco thing with the redcoats so the kids had a whale of a time on the dance floor. Erin didn't sit still - she was chasing the lights on the floor! 

We stopped for a quick photo at the giant deckchair on the way back to the cabin and even at almost 10pm, it was so warm still. The kids certainly slept well that night :) 



Day 2


Today was all about having fun and not making plans! I'd like to say the kids had a lie in but they were up at the crack of dawn ready to go...thank god for CBeebies is all I can say ;) 

We headed up to the main complex and that's pretty much where we stayed for the rest of the day! What I love about Butlins is there is so much to do for the kids and you don't even need to spend any money if you're on a tight budget. We started off at a children's fencing lesson which was also included in the price of the holiday. Elliot's never done fencing before but he loved it! 



From there we headed to the fairground which is brilliant fun  -Elliot's favourite is the helter skelter and he made a beeline for this. All the rides are free too so the children can go on again and again. We also spent some time in the little ones fairground which is located inside. All the rides are suitable for smaller children, even Erin was able to go on. Not that she enjoyed it - her face is a picture in all the photos!


Soon our tummies were rumbling so we decided to eat at The Diner. Last time we ate there, the servers would get up and sing but unfortunately it looks like they don't do that anymore - a pity because it made for an entertaining lunch! Still, the food was really nice and Erin devoured a kids meal - I swear she eats more than her brother! 

The afternoon was spent playing in the parks, eating amazing ice creams from the ice-cream parlour, attempting to win on the grabber machines, meeting Teletubbies, watching puppet shows, more fairground fun and generally just having a lovely time. 

Scoops do THE nicest ice cream!
We rounded off the day by watching Dick and Dom's Circus Showdown which was pretty good - Elliot kept calling them Dick and Dong though haha!



Day 3


We woke up to rain - boo! So what do you do on holiday when it rains? You head to the indoor pool! Along with hundreds of other families all doing the same thing! The queue for the pool was ginormous so we spent a bit of time inside entertaining the kids until we were able to swim. The pool at Butlins is fantastic and it's something we always look forward to. There's a lazy river, wave machine, slides, toddler pool and loads more to suit all ages.

Elliot went off with Paul to go on the water slides while me and Erin bounced around the lazy river - she loved it! She has been swimming since she was a few months old so is very used to the water - the waves and splashing didn't seem to phase her a bit. She was absolutely zonked after going crazy in the water so we got out to dry off while the boys had a bit more fun on the slides. Erin was asleep as soon as her bum touched down in the buggy! 


We stopped off for a late lunch in the Firehouse Grill which is very similar to Nandos - we always eat here and it's always really nice! We like to get one of the family platters so we can have a bit of everything - Elliot surprised us by taking a liking to the ribs. Erin was just happy with a plate of chips as per normal! 

We spent a couple of hours back at the cabin to shower/get changed/let the kids recharge their batteries and we headed back up to the main area for that evenings entertainment.....which was only our mates Andy and the Odd Socks!! As you can probably guess, Elliot was bouncing off the walls with excitement - and even more so when we ran into Andy and the band literally as we walked into the Skyline Pavilion!

I have to say a big thank you to Andy and his team who are always so lovely to us. Elliot was invited backstage to say hello to Andy and the band and it absolutely made his day when Andy agreed to record a little video for him to show his school! (I wish I could say the same for Erin but she started screaming the minute Andy walked around the corner...sorry Andy!)


The show was great as always, we know the songs like the back of our hands now! Erin was mega tired but she was bouncing up and down to the music. One of our faves is the Dinosaur Football Legend Megamatch song and the kids love seeing the T-Rex running around the stage kicking the giant footballs! One of the balls came towards us - my husband was so busy trying to get it back in the air that he spilt his wine, oops!


Day 4


We decided to head away from Butlins today and went for a walk towards the harbour, stopping off at the train station to spot the steam trains.


If you're visiting Minehead then I'd definitely recommend going for a ride on a steam train - there's some lovely little villages along the route such as Wachet and it's a really great day out. We did just this on our last visit! We decided not to go on the train today but instead followed the coastal path which took us up to a lovely pub called The Ship Aground. It was lunchtime so it would have been rude not to stop for some fish and chips!



And what a lunch it was! Amazing food, friendly staff and really welcoming to the kids which is so important. I'm sure we'll be back at Butlins next year so this is somewhere we'll definitely be visiting again. Especially we were too full to try the puddings!

We walked a little further and found a large pebbly beach which Elliot and Paul went to explore - thousands and thousands of smooth rocks, I wanted to bring a bag of them home with me to paint!


After a quick play in the nearby park, we thought we'd better make a move as the sky was looking ominous and we kept feeling spots of rain....which turned into a torrential downpour! Silly me hadn't packed any raincoats so we did get a bit wet - the good old British Summer eh!?

On our way back we went via the town centre - there are the usual array of tacky gift shops, arcades and pubs so it's nothing special but I did stumble across a Rolys Fudge shop. Rolys do THE BEST FUDGE so of course we had to stop and buy some!! We also stopped at a really nice little ice cream shop called Scrumdiddlyumptious that did all kinds of wacky ice creams - Elliot chose the "George Pig" but was adamant it was a rat and even asked for the "blue rat cone please!"


It was a particularly wet walk back to Butlins with the rain pelting down again - next time I really must remember to pack rain coats! Fortunately I had spare clothes for the children so I was able to get them changed once we were back at Butlins but Paul and I were very soggy. We made a group decision to head back to the cabin and call it a (wet) day. It may have been out last night but everyone was feeling a bit tired...and the suitcases weren't going to pack themselves :-/

Zonked!
Day 5

Check out time for us was 10am but Butlins let you use the facilities for a few hours after so it's not a big rush to leave. We packed the car and headed up to the indoor fun fair to let the kids have a play - it was a good time to go because it was very quiet and Elliot was able to go on the giant slide again and again without queuing!

We had one last go in the arcade to use up our coppers and then we were on our way. Everytime we visit Minehead we try and visit Dunster Castle and today was no exception! It's a lovely National Trust property with some beautiful walks around the castle grounds. It's not massively big either so it's quite handy for a quick stop off on the way home.


We had a late lunch in Dunster (I won't tag the cafe as it was very disappointing!) and then started the journey back to Poole. Unfortuantely we hit really bad traffic near Yeovil and what should have taken us 2 hours took almost 5!

We had a wonderful 5 days away and Butlins was fantastic as always. It was a lot busier going in the school holidays but we expected this and it wasn't really an issue. The only thing I would say is be prepared to arrive at the clubs a little earlier if you want decent seats near the stages for the shows - the Dick and Dom show was absolutely packed out at Centrestage and people were struggling to find seats!

I'd always recommend Butlins as a family holiday - I'm sure we will be back next year! 





Run Jump Scrap

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Fantastic Family Days Out in Bristol

With the Summer Holidays looming on the horizon I've started looking at new places for us to explore and one place that keeps being recommended to me is Bristol. Just a 2 hour drive from us in Dorset, we have visited a couple of times before - including a day out at the Festival of Nature back in 2015.

There seems to be festivals on every weekend and so much to see and do for families - I definitely think Bristol will be on our itinerary this Summer! Groupon is a site I always check out before going anywhere and I was pleased to see that they have lots of exciting things to do in Bristol - https://www.groupon.co.uk/vouchers/bristol/things-to-do .  The Summer holidays can get a bit expensive with children so Groupon is a great way of saving money on days out - it's also a fab place to get inspiration for new places to visit!

With this in mind, here are just a selection of some of the fantastic places you can visit in Bristol - with a little help from some fellow bloggers!

WE ARE THE CURIOUS (Formerly @Bristol)


This fantastic science centre is located in the heart of Millenium Square and is a must for anyone visiting Bristol. A state of the art visitors attraction, it features over 300 exhibits including an exclusive Aardman exhibition where you can become an animator.

It even has it's own planetarium which is housed in the amazing giant mirror ball. In her review, Lucy from Momma Mack talks about the space explorers show her family saw at the planetarium when they visited on a wet and soggy bank holiday Monday!



Bristol Aquarium

Chantele at Two Hearts One Roof visited the Aquarium with her family and it sounds like a brilliant place to visit with small children. I love the sound of the talks throughout the day - it's always interesting to learn about the creatures you are seeing on display!

Photo credit - Chantele Cross-Jones


Bristol Zoo Gardens


Bristol Zoo Gardens is the 5th oldest zoo in the world , and home to over 50 types of mammals and a brand new Goodfellows tree kangaroos enclosure. Sara- Jayne from Keeping Up With the Jones Family visited on a particularly wet day and it sounds like they had a brilliant day despite the weather!

Photo credit - Sara-Jayne Jones
I love the sound of Twilight World where night and day are reversed and you can meet animals such as the very cute Slow Loris and the fascinating blind naked mole rat.

Brunel's SS Great Britain


I didn't know too much about this attraction before writing this post but turns out it's one of the top places to visit in Bristol! Once the longest passenger ship in the world from 1845 - 1854, she now resides in Bristol Harbour and is a museum.

Photo - Kate Hackworth
Kate from Veggie Desserts has a great review from when she visited with her family. I was interested to hear how child friendly it would be but it sounds like her children had a brilliant day - really useful to hear that it's accessible for buggies too!

 M Shed


Days out don't always have to be expensive - there are lots of free events and attractions that won't cost you a penny!

Situated on the historic Harbourside, M Shed is a free musuem which tells the story of the city and it's unique place in the world. There are three galleries to explore; Places, People and Life. There are also working exhibits which are some of the largest in the museum - or outside in some cases!

photo Credit - Bristol Museums
I wondered how suitable this museum would be for families but it looks like there are some great interactive exhibits that the children would love and I think it's great that there are exhibits outside to look at too.

Is Bristol on your bucket list? Or do you live in Bristol and have any hidden gems to share?!

*Disclaimer - This post is in collaboration with Groupon

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

In the Night Garden Stacking Blocks - Review

We are big fans of CBeebies and it was inevitable that Erin would follow in this fashion too. Currently one of her favourites is In The Night Garden which I think is perfect for her age group (16 months). She's too young to know what's going on - and to be honest, none of us know what's going on there so it's perfect! She loves all the bright colours and the characters - she will sit through an episode clapping her hands and giggling to herself.

We were recently sent a set of gorgeous In the Night Garden stacking blocks from Hacche. When they arrived Erin couldn't wait to get them open and start playing!


Suitable from 12 months +, the five stacking blocks are made of sturdy cardboard and are lovely and colourful. Featuring bright and eye catching images of numbers and letters, the blocks are a fab introduction to counting and colours. One of the sides features the famous characters from the show and if you line the blocks up carefully they will create a larger image.



Erin really enjoyed playing with these - her favourite thing is to let someone stack them up for her, and then she takes great pleasure in knocking them down! The blocks also fit nicely inside each other so she spends a great deal of time putting them in and taking them out again.


Elliot has also had lots of fun with these - although sometimes he can't get them built up quick enough with demolition Erin around!


The only negative thing I'd say about the blocks is that they are made of cardboard and not plastic. Although the cardboard is nice and sturdy, Erin has had a chew on some of the corners and they are starting to look a little ragged. At this age, everything goes in the mouth so it would have been easier to have them made from something a)wipe clean and b)not chewable!

Aside from the material, I love the colours and patterns on these and they would make a lovely gift for a toddler. We have had ours a few weeks now and Erin has had lots of play out of them. I'm sure they will continue to be a favourite!

*Disclaimer: We received this product in exchange for an honest review. All views are my own

Thursday, 3 May 2018

The Importance of Learning to Swim

When I was at middle school, we were really lucky to have a swimming pool and so we had weekly lessons. Everyone could pretty much swim, some better than others but we all had that skill from an early age. At the time the lessons felt like a bit of a chore, especially as our swimming teacher was a bit of a dragon! But looking back now I'm so pleased we were given the chance to learn.

When Elliot was born I signed him up to swimming lessons with Turtle Tots who do brilliant baby swimming classes. I remember his first lesson and he looked so cute in his little neoprene nappy!



We swam with Turtle Tots until Elliot was around 3 years old and then switched to a different lesson at our local sports centre. He was put in a class with children a couple of years older than him (I think by accident, I think they thought he was older than he was as he was really big!). This did him the world of good and his swimming came on in leaps and bounds as he was constantly swimming at an older level. He might have been the youngest but he certainly kept up!

It was at this point that we had a holiday in Florida. We stayed in a villa which had a private pool and Elliot swam every day at every opportunity! It was great for him to be able to jump in as many times as he liked and we saw a massive difference just after these two weeks. He loved it - even if the water was so cold at first!


I think that having swimming lessons from an early age really helped his confidence in the water. Obviously the skills are vital but the confidence is just as important. Even when Elliot was a toddler he had no fear in the water and very confident - something that was commented on alot when we were on holiday in Cyprus and Elliot was hurtling down the water slides!!



Erin seems to be taking after her brother and has morphed into a bit of a water baby! Just like Elliot, she began swimming with Turtle Tots when she was around 3 months old and absolutely loves her lessons. She has recently started jumping in from the side and she loves doing this!


Erin Elliot underwater swim
I LOVE the underwater shoot we did with Turtle Tots Dorset! 
Elliot wears goggles in his swimming lessons now as a lot of the time is spent swimming under water. He wasn't a fan of goggles at first but we've recently found the perfect pair, what 5 year wouldn't want a Superman pair?! The Simply Swim website features a whole host of goggles, from childrens, beginners and right through to those serious about swimming. I have my eye on the Vorgee goggles - the rainbow mirror ones are very cool!

loves the goggles...not so keen on the hat!
Here in Dorset we live a few miles from the beach so dips in the sea make up a big part of our Summer. We usually just paddle (it's never quite warm enough to swim!) but I know that should he ever get in trouble in the water he has the skills and the confidence to get himself out of trouble.



We have a couple of holidays booked for this year and I know that the swimming pool will be the number one draw for the children!

Do your children do swimming lessons? What age did they start?


*Disclaimer - this is a sponsored post

Thursday, 19 April 2018

DEAR ZOO LIVE - LIGHTHOUSE POOLE

There aren't many children's books that are still as popular today as they were back in the day. But Dear Zoo is one of those classics that everyone has read! First released in 1982, this book has been a massive hit with children over the years and has sold more than 8 million copies worldwide.

Dear Zoo has now been transformed into a colourful stage show and we were lucky enough to see it when it came to the Lighthouse, Poole.


If you're not familiar with the book, it tells the story of Ben (played by Harrison Spiers in the show) who writes to the zoo requesting a pet. Lots of animals are sent..but not all of them are suitable! It is such a simple book and perfect for little ones and I was quite intrigued to see how it would work on the stage.

As we entered the theatre, the stage was set out as a brightly covered garden. With a brief introduction from Sam the Zookeeper (Aaron Spendelow), we were introduced to Ben and his friend Sally (Molly Waters). Bounding around with the stage with lots of enthusiasm, they were engaging and very believable as their characters!


Soon, the zoo animals started arriving with Sam the Zookeeper. Following the illustrations in the book, the props/animal crates were all immediately recognisable and the children were very keen to see what was inside. With some animal songs and lots of audience interaction, the children in the audience were entralled.

Most of the animals were puppets but the naughty monkey and the frog were hopping around the stage causing mayhem!


If you know the story then you'll know that eventually, Sam brings an animal which is a bit more suitable but I won't give away too much ;)

This is a lovely stage show and perfect for an introduction to theatre for children. The recommended age range is 2-6 but I think younger audiences would enjoy it too, Erin certainly did and she's only 15 months old. The show is 50 minutes long which is just the right length of time to hold their attention. It helps that audience participation is encouraged so you don't feel so bad if your child gets a bit fidgety!

The Dear Zoo Live show is currently touring the UK, for more information on dates and how to book tickets, take a look at their website http://www.dearzooandfriends.com/dear-zoo-live



*Disclaimer - We were provided these tickets in exchange for an honest review but I think the big smile in the photo above says alot about how much he enjoyed it! :)
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