Monday, 14 January 2019

Canvas Prints with Tesco Photo - Review

I love taking photos and I don't go far without my phone or my digital camera. I do try and get a big batch printed a few times year so we have physical copies rather than lots of folders online but I am guilty of putting these away and soon forgetting all about them! 

This year one of my resolutions is to display more of our photos - the children grow so fast and we have so many lovely trips so it seems silly not to document this in our home. 

Tesco Photo contacted me to see if I would like to review a personalised gift or canvas and I immediately opted for canvas based on my resolution! There are some brilliant gift options though so this is something I will bear in mind for next time, you can have photos printed on mugs, phone cases, bags, placemats and coasters, toys and even on engraved gifts. 

Ordering


The Tesco website is really simple to use and the Canvas Prints page features 6 different styles of canvas to choose from. There is the traditional gallery print, plus collage prints, panoramic prints, template prints, word cloud prints and even retro style prints. 

There are 12 different sizes too so you shouldn't have any issues finding one that is suitable for your needs. 

I decided to go for a standard gallery canvas in size 20x16" - I think this is a really great size for displaying those extra special photos. The hardest part was choosing a photo! We have so many lovely ones that would have looked brilliant as a canvas but in the end I decided on something for Elliot. We have a really nice photo of him and his favourite band, Andy and the Odd Socks and I thought it would look fab up in his bedroom! 

Delivery


Some of the canvas prints can be collected directly from instore, but larger ones and ones shipped to home take approximately 8 days. I opted for home delivery and I was pleasantly surprised when the canvas arrived less than a week later. It was well wrapped with an abundance of bubble wrap. 

Thoughts


The canvas was great quality and I am really happy with how it looks. The frame is well made and the colours on the print are sharp and bright. Would I order again and recommend? Yes definitely, the fast delivery was a big plus point and the prices are very comparable. 


For more information on the canvas prints, check out the Tesco Photo Website

**Disclaimer - We were offered credit on the Tesco Photo website in return for an honest review of the canvas prints - all views are my own

Monday, 17 December 2018

Dick Whittington Pantomime - Lighthouse Poole - Review


We have been taking the children to the local pantomime at the Lighthouse for the last few years and always had a really fun time. The productions seem to get better and better and this year was no exception!

Dick Whittington was written and directed by Peter Duncan and Chris Jarvis - Chris also plays the role of Dick. Parents with kids a certain age will no doubt be very familiar with Chris from his CBeebies shows! He's definitely one of our favourite CBeebies stars and we knew we'd be in for a treat with him involved.

I have to admit I wasn't familiar with the story of Dick Whittington - we all know that he goes to London in search of fame and fortune but that was about the limit of my knowledge! I was looking forward to seeing how the story would come to life...and were the streets really paved with gold?


The story of Dick Whittington begins with Fairy Bow Bells and a bang and the energy, laughter and entertainment didn't let up through out the whole show! Chris Jarvis makes a brilliant Dick, he is instantly likable and the crowd really get on his side. His sidekick Tommy the cat was fantastically played by Sammy Phillips - she might not have had a speaking part but she certainly captivated the audience with her facial expressions and movement!

Allo Allo favourite Richard Gibson is back on stage playing the lovable, but dippy Alderman Fitzwarren while his daughter Alice, and future Mrs Whittington is played very well by Katie Arundell.

Panto wouldn't be panto without a dame to bring the comedy and this year Dame Dolly Donuts (played by Dereck Walker) had the audience in fits of laughter with her cheeky innuendos and dazzling outfits!

The stars of the show for me though were the rats. We know there are lots of rats in London but I have never seen one in a leather jacket until now!! Led by King Rat (and expertly played by Craig Rhys-Barlow), they were brilliant villains and had Elliot booing and hissing at the stage!


It was a fantastic production and the cast and crew worked their socks off to entertain us. From the sets, to the costumes, to the music, to the local jokes, even the Baby Shark underwater scene, there was something for everyone! My favourite part was the 12 Days of Christmas musical number - it was fast, bonkers and I will never be able hear the original in the same way ;)

The panto finished with a big old singalong to Abba which had the audience on their feet and it's safe to say, we were thoroughly entertained!

You can catch Dick Whittington at the Lighthouse until 31st December - for more info and to book tickets click HERE

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Santa & The Elves Christmas Experience - Winchester Science Centre

If you're looking for a slightly different Father Christmas experience, then the Winchester Science Centre might be the place for you. Mixing a classic children's story with crazy science experiments, an elf led craft activity, a Christmas planetarium show plus a chance to meet Santa himself, this is a festive day out like no other!


We've not been to the science centre before so when we were invited down for the day, it was a big "yes please!" from all the family. We arrived just after 10.30 and as soon as the children saw all the exhibits, they were off! The brilliant thing about the science centre is that everything is interactive and children are actively encouraged to take part!



Elliot, at 6 is the perfect age and understood most of the exhibits with a little help from Daddy. He was very interested in the colon cafe exhibit where we picked a food and then found out how it worked through our body. Typical 6 year old, anything to do with farts and poo and he's happy!

Even Erin enjoyed taking part and exploring the exhibits - she may not have understood the science behind things but she certainly had fun pressing buttons and watching her big brother.

The Science of Sport zone was a big hit - you could test your reaction time, your flexability and your ability to balance. The family enjoyed racing against each other on the track!


The Christmas experience is split into two events - the first of these for us was a science show led by elves followed by a meeting with Father Christmas. I wasn't really sure what to expect having never experienced science with elves before! After our names had been ticked off the Elf list, we were led into a darkened room and the children were instructed to sit at the front on benches while the adults could take the seats behind.

The science show was inspired by Jack and the Beanstalk and the elves tested out different forces to see how Jack could reach the top of the beanstalk. The elves were very enthusiastic and really captured the attention of the children in the audience. It was also really interesting and I definitely learnt a few things!

We were then led into a room that had been decorated like the giants castle with a big seat at the end next to a huge Christmas tree. There were rows of tables and benches and everyone was invited to sit down. The children were all given a little present which was something they could open and do there and then.



Whilst this was happening, Father Christmas arrived and each family could go up and meet him. The children were then given another little present, these ones were age appropriate - Erin got a little book and Elliot a mini wooden jenga game. The adults also got a mince pie!


I thought this Father Christmas experience made a nice change from the usual ones where you go into a grotto etc. Erin is really wary of Father Christmas and because this was more relaxed and not in a small dark room/grotto, she didn't seem quite as scared! (She still wouldn't go near him but she didn't cry so that was a start!)


After meeting Santa we were free to leave the giant's castle. We had a bit of time before our next Christmas event in the Planetarium so we decided to have some lunch in the Hub Cafe. It did seem quite busy but there was plenty of tables and lots of staff working on the tills so we didn't have to queue for long. There were plenty of options for lunch including sandwiches, paninis and jacket potatos and the prices weren't too bad.

After lunch we headed over to the Planetarium where we were about to watch Reindeer Round-Up which is included in the price of the Santa and the Elves Christmas Experience. The children have never been in a planetarium before and Elliot was fascinated by the seats which were off course quite flat so you can enjoy the show above you!


The show takes the audience on a journey through the solar system in search of Rudolph and his furry friends to help save Christmas. I would say it is more aimed at younger children but it only lasts for 30 minutes so older ones shouldn't be too bored. We did enjoy the show however I was a bit confused how it was linked with Jack and The Beanstalk. The presenter told us she was Jack's Mum but it didn't really flow very well and I think it would have been better off as a separate show of it's own. I did read that last year's was presented by an elf and I think this might have been a better option!


After the show we spent some time exploring the lower level of the centre which features even more hands on exhibits including one where we could create a tornado.The children were fascinated with the little big room and could have spent all after in there!


Also located in the lower level is the brand new immersive zone, Explorer:Space. Featuring 20 fantastic modular exhibits, you can learn about meteorites, stardust, robots, atmospheric pressure and even human space flight! Elliot and his Dad are big fans of Kennedy Space Center in Florida so this area was an instant hit with them!


After dragging Elliot away from the space suit, Erin decided it was naptime! My husband sat with her in the cafe whilst Elliot and I did some festive themed crafts on the upper level. There appeared to be several crafts to choose from but it was a bit chaotic with glitter and pompoms everywhere! Elliot wanted to make a snowglobe so he was quite happy mixing the colours to make his unique. I did warn him that mixing the colours might make it look a bit like wee but he seemed quite happy with the colour!


After a quick look in the gift shop we decided to head back to Poole but we had a fantastic day out. The science centre is such a brilliant place and I'm ashamed it's taken us this long to visit!

There is lots going on at the centre throughout December including Storytime with Santa. Aimed at younger visitors, Preschoolers and their families are invited to join Santa and Magnificent (Santa's Master Elf) for a Christmas story read by Santa himself and a live science demonstration from the elves. This lasts for 45 minutes and includes a gift for the child.

Visitors can also experience their favourite Christmas films in the planetarium - these can be enjoyed from as little as £2 per person with General Admission or film-only tickets cost £5.

Santa and the Elves Christmas Experience tickets are £14 per person and must be purchased alongside General Admission - although if you book online at least 3 days in advance you will save 25% on admission.

For more information on tickets, timings or any of the above, please visit:
www.winchestersciencecentre.org


*Disclaimer - We were invited to Winchester Science Centre in order to conduct an honest review of their Christmas Experience.

Monday, 3 December 2018

Meeting Father Christmas at Weymouth SEA LIFE Adventure Park

This weekend we were lucky enough to be one of the very first families to meet Father Christmas at Weymouth Sea Life Adventure Park. We have been visiting the park for many years (I remember going as a child!) but we have never been at Christmas so I was very much looking forward to this! 

Our slot with the big man himself was 4.15pm so we travelled down to Weymouth after lunch so we could spend a bit of time exploring the park. Upon arrival Elliot was given a golden ticket which was a lovely little touch and really added to the magic! 


The park was really quiet when we arrived so it was lovely to be able to take our time seeing the sea creatures. Of course Elliot made a bee line for the rock pools first - he loves this section and spent ages looking into the water and seeing what he could spot. The tide washing in never fails to entertain either! 


After checking out all the creature zones and burning some energy off in the amazing play area, it was time for us to head over to the reindeer stable which is located in the wetlands area. Decked out with hay bales, blankets and twinkly lights, it certainly got us in a festive mood as we waited patiently for the elves. 

We didn't have to wait long, and a friendly elf called Jingle McTinsel came to greet us. There was just time for a quick dance (Elliot asked the elf if he could floss!) and we were then led down the boardwalk towards Father Christmas' cabin in the woods. Along the way we even spotted his reindeers across the wetlands! 


As we made our way through the festive forest, Jingle stopped us by the lantern and told the children to close their eyes and make a christmas wish. And with the help of some elf magic, they had a snowy surprise!! 

Notice Erin making a hasty retreat!
We were then taken inside the cabin where Father Christmas was waiting - and wow, what a Father Christmas he was! Not only did he look the part with his smart red suit and (real!) beard but the way he chatted to Elliot was so lovely. He even sounded like Father Christmas should! 

He invited Elliot to sit down next to him and he spent a great deal of time talking to him about the different time zones and how he manages to get across the world in one night. He asked him if he had a chimney and when Elliot said no, they talked about the magic key and that Elliot needs to leave it out on Christmas Eve (Note to self - order magic key on Amazon!!)



We didn't feel rushed and I think Elliot could have quite happily stayed there for longer talking to him! He even promised to leave Father Christmas a beer on Christmas Eve! 


You may be wondering where Erin was when all this was happening. Well, unfortunately she really isn't a fan of Santa and refused to go near him, or even look at him! I think she did give him a cursory wave as we left but there was no way she was going to sit on his lap ;)

The children were given a special SEA LIFE present from Father Christmas - I won't say what it is as we don't want to ruin the surprise but the presents were age appropriate and got the thumbs up from my two! 

We left the the park wondering if we'd just met the real Father Christmas. I guess we'll never know!

We had a lovely time visiting Father Christmas and his Elves at Weymouth Sea Life Park and it has definitely kicked off our festive season with a smile and a sprinkle of Elf Magic! 

For more information, please visit the Weymouth Sea Life Park website . You can meet Father Christmas from Saturday 8th - Sunday 23rd December and pre-booking is advisable. There will also be a Christmas craft zone and festive drinks available from Caribbean Coffee! 


*Disclaimer - We were invited along to preview Father Christmas in exchange for an honest review. 

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Tears, Tantrums and Tiredness - Coping With Sleep Deprivation As A First-Time Mum

Being tired is par for the course when it comes to having a baby, but you probably didn’t realise just how tired you would be. Babies can be
unpredictable, and despite your best efforts, their routine will not run like clockwork. When you’re tired, you can find it difficult to function,
leaving you irritable and miserable. When extreme tiredness sets in, it’s time to reevaluate your routine and make some changes to help you
get some precious sleep.


Elliot at 4 weeks old 
Take a look at some tips for getting more sleep as a first-time mum.

Sleep when your baby sleeps

This is often said to new mums, and while you’ve probably got a million things on your to-do list to tackle when baby is asleep - it’s good to
be selfish and take the time to get those zs. You’ll feel much more energised if you sleep, leaving you better able to juggle looking after the
baby and yourself.

Not my best look but you have to take a nap when you can!
Ask for some relief
It’s not a weakness to ask for some help. Having someone watch the baby for a few hours while you get some much-needed shut-eye
can really help you out. Tell a friend or relative that you're struggling and ask them to come over - make sure you thank them and
ensure that there’s plenty of tea and biscuits in the house!

Share the night feeds

If you can, sharing the night feeds with your partner could make a big difference. This is trickier when you’re breastfeeding, but feeding
from a bottle with Bubbahood can allow both you and your partner to split the work. You’ll get a longer sleep at night and your partner
will get the chance to bond with the baby.

Get an early night

Once baby’s gone to bed for the night, you could be tempted to stay up catching up on your favourite box sets and watching late night telly.
However, doing the sensible thing and having an early night now and then will do you the world of good. If you find it difficult to switch off,
there are some great tips for getting to bed earlier at night that will help you. Even going to bed early a couple of nights a week will make a
difference, leaving you feel like a new woman.

Try sleep training

Sleep training is something you could try from around the 4 - 4.5 months mark, and is an excellent way to help your baby sleep through the
night. It’s not for everyone, but it is something worth considering to help you and your partner get a better night’s sleep. You can read
sleep training stories to see how other mums coped with it, and it might inspire you to give it a try.

Get to know your baby’s sleeping patterns

Babies can adapt to a routine pretty quickly, and once you work out what their sleeping pattern is, you’ll be better able to plan your own
routine around it. Want to know how much sleep your baby should be getting? The NHS Choices website has some excellent resources to
help you get your baby to sleep and other useful tips for parents. Remember that your baby will become a better sleeper over time, sleeping
for longer stretches and waking up far less during the night.

Relax

Even if you’re not always able to nap or get to bed on time, doing some relaxing activities can help you to restore your energy, and prepare
you for sleep. Taking a nice warm bath will easily help to relax you, while a bit of yoga or meditation can also help relax your mind. Try chilling
out in a dimly-lit room with some calming fragrances and simply take a step back for a bit. This is a good chance for you to relax with your
partner while baby’s asleep.

Get active

While exercise might be the furthest thing from your mind, it can be something that helps you get to sleep, as well as helping you to stay
healthy. When you’ve got a baby in tow, walking is a fantastic exercise. Wrap the baby up and take all of the essentials with you so that
you can enjoy a nice long walk and up that step count. It will do you good to get out of the house and can form an enjoyable part of your
daily routine.



The lack of sleep can be one of the least enjoyable parts of being a new mum - but it’s something that most mothers go through. As much
as people can be annoying when you’re pregnant or have just had a baby, it’s worth listening to what they have to say - you never
know when a nugget of information could help! Always do what’s best for you and your baby and try to get those precious moments
of sleep when you can - you’ll feel better for it.

*Collaborative post

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Dinosaur World Live at Lighthouse Poole - Review


If you are a regular reader of this blog then you might have guessed that Elliot likes dinosaurs a bit. Well, not just a bit - he is dinosaur crazy and has been since he was a toddler!

Recently, a show called Dinosaur World Live roared into our local theatre and I just knew we had to go!

Suitable for all the family (3+), this interactive show introduces us to Miranda, who grew up on a remote island off the coast of South America where dinosaurs still roamed. Miranda was very bubbly and engaging and chatted to the audience about her parents who were palaeontologists and how she looks after the dinosaurs.


Throughout the show, the audience are introduced to 6 different dinosaurs, from little baby ones to big ginormous ones! You're probably wondering how on earth they got dinosaurs to go on tour but they are actually puppets. And very very clever puppets! Even though you can obviously see the cast controlling the puppets (complete with noises!), they are so realistic and by the end of the show you almost don't see them as puppets.



Children from the audience were invited to come up on stage and help look after the dinosaurs - feeding them, and even brushing them. Miranda did a great job at putting the kids to ease in what could have been an intimidating encounter!

Our favourite moment was when Titus the  T-Rex came out on stage - the lights dimmed, there was smoke...and a deafening roar! Elliot did jump out of skin at this part so I think it could be a bit scary for little ones - although our friends were sat nearer to the front of the stage and their baby thought it was hilarious!


At the end of the show, the audience were invited to queue up along the stage for a special meet and greet with one of the dinosaurs. This could have been chaotic but actually everyone queued quite nicely and we didn't have to wait too long to get up close to the Segnosaurus! You could also meet the baby triceratops in the foyer which proved very popular.



Overall we really enjoyed the show. At just under an hour it was the perfect length to keep children entertained and the perfect mix of facts and fun!

Dinosaur World Live is currently touring the UK so check out the website for more info and tickets

*A big thank you to my friends Liska and Andy for letting me use their photos - my phone died 2 minutes before the show began!

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Best Advent Calenders 2018 - plus WIN a Lindt Bear Advent Calender!

Now Halloween and Bonfire Night are out the way, we can mention the C word. Yep, Christmas is on it's way and we can't wait!

Ever since I was a little girl, I always had an advent calender and me and my sisters used to try and be sneaky and eat the chocolate without our parents noticing! I think one year one of my sisters even managed to eat her entire advent calender by the 2nd of December!

These days advent calenders are no longer just the bog standard cadburys ones Mum used to get us (although I still love these ones!), you can beauty ones, vegan ones, gin ones - the list is endless.

Here's my round up of some of our favourite ones this year:

Happyland Advent Calender - £20

My children adore playing with Happyland figures (even Elliot who is almost 6!) and this one is one of the cutest on the market. Featuring 24 festive themed characters and accessories, this is a lovely alternative to the traditional calender. Currently on offer at £20, this is actually quite good value as you would normally pay around £8-10 for a pack of 5 characters.

Lindt Bear Advent Calender - £10
I absolutely love LIndt chocolate and this advent calender is perfect for any chocolate lovers like me! Featuring 3 bears, 3 gold reindeer, 6 Lindor mini truffles, 6 snowballs and 6 Christmas napolitans, it even has a full size 100g chocolate shaped novelty behind door 24. Yummy!

If you'd like the chance to win one of these, WOW Free Stuff are currently running a giveaway. To enter, simply head over to their website before the 24th November.

Melissa & Doug Wooden Advent Calender - £14.25
This one, available from Amazon is a lovely alternative to the chocolate variety and is of course reusable year after year. Featuring 24 magnetic ornaments and a shining star for the top of the tree, they all neatly fit into the attached box at the base of the tree. Kids will love rearranging the pieces to customise their own tree!

LEGO Star Wars Advent Calender - around £20

LEGO calenders seem to be getting more and more popular each year and they seem to have a variety of different options to suit each taste, such as Star Wars, City and LEGO friends. It's worth shopping around because the prices can vary alot - the best prices seem to be on Amazon.

Yankee Candle Holiday Sparkle Fold Out Advent Calender - £39.95


I love a Christmas candle this time of year and this advent calender captures the very best of the festive season. Featuring 12 votive candles and 12 tea light candles, it also comes with a lovely glass votive holder.

Matalan Fabric Reindeer Advent Calender - £11.25


If you prefer to provide your own treats, this fun fabric advent calender from Matalan features a reindeer silhouette and is finished with festive coloured pom poms.

Aldi Wine Advent Calender - £50


It wouldn't be a list without an alcoholic advent calender and this one from Aldi is ticking all the boxes! Featuring mini bottles of rose, white, red and fizz, this advent calender is one of the better value ones on the market. Even the box looks stylish!

Cheese Advent Calender - by So Wrong It's Nom

I have to say, I'd never heard of a cheese advent calender before researching this post but how amazing is this? For me, cheese is a big part of Christmas and who wouldn't want to open a tasty cheesy treat every morning in December!!

Reeces Peanut Butter Cups Advent Calenders - £5


I actually had this one last year and it was really tasty, featuring the iconic peanut butter cups.So tasty in fact that the whole family got a bit jealous and we ended up taking it turns to open a window!

Japenese Whisky Advent Calender - Master of Malt - £194.95 

Personally I think almost £200 is a bit much to spend on an advent calender but I included this on the list because it would be my husband's dream to have one of these! Featuring 24 drams of single malt, your December would certainly be merry ;)

*Collaborative post
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