Sunday, 13 August 2017

Camp Bestival 2017 - Our First lots of MUD!

You might have heard of Camp Bestival - it's one of the biggest family festivals in the UK and happens right here in Dorset. I've always fancied going but the thought of camping with 2 small children frightens the life out of me! This year I discovered that day tickets were available so I took the plunge and booked tickets for the Sunday. The line up was pretty good on all days (the festival runs all over the weekend) but we found out that Andy Day from CBeebies would be appearing with his band, The Odd Socks on the Sunday so that made up our minds really!

Usually Camp Bestival has glorious sunshine for the entire weekend but typically, this year the weather was terrible! Saturday was just torrential rain and unfortunately a lot of people struggled with camping and left early. Luckily, Sunday morning was bright and sunny but the rain had turned the festival into a bit of a mudbath. We arrived onsite nice and early at 8am armed with wellies, raincoats, black binliners and our biggest buggy with the all-terrain wheels!

Just look at that me flashbacks to Glastonbury!
First stop was breakfast so we headed straight for the Dorset Farmer's Market - the smell of bacon baps was just too nice to resist! As the name suggests there were lots of local producers selling local food and drink - we also picked up a wild boar scotch egg which wouldn't have been my first choice for breakfast but it was very tasty.

After brekkie we explored the Magic Meadow area and there was just so much to see including the Love-Bot (an interactive art installation), inflatable church, Bollywood area. the world's largest disco ball and much much more. More on the disco ball later....!

We headed down to the Big Top where Andy and the Odd Socks were due to play and managed to get a front row spot much to Elliot's excitement!

Andy's Number One Fan! 
Andy & The Odd Socks did not disappoint! There was high energy from the start and the crowd (mostly children!) were having the best time singing and dancing along to the songs - all of which are SO catchy! Here's what Elliot had to say:

"I had a really good time and my favourite bit was singing to the Dinosaur Football Legend Mega Match. I loved the giant football that kept bouncing around near our heads!"

We've been singing the songs for the last couple of years since we got the album  but this is the first time we've heard it live and I think Andy and the band have done a great job. Unfortunately the show was over far too soon and Elliot did get a bit upset when he realised it was the last song! 

We were really lucky to be able to meet Andy after the show and he was so nice to Elliot. Elliot actually smiled in the photos too which makes a change from the last two times we met him when he looked like a deer caught in the headlights! 

After that bit of excitement, we headed in the direction of the kids gardens - Elliot said his legs were tired so we decided to have a little break. Paul got himself a pint and Elliot and I got ourselves a Mr Whippy and we sat down to enjoy the sunshine. We found ourselves sitting on a catwalk so rather than resting his "tired" legs, Elliot spent the next half an hour leaping on and off the catwalk and chasing the bubbles that I got talked into buying! I spotted Brummy Mummy of 2 - one of my favourite bloggers. Had to say hello, what a lovely lady! 

The next few hours were spent in the lower kids garden where there were tons of things to see and do. We watched a bit of the Insect Circus, we designed t-shirts in the Family Traveller tent, we made Go Jetters masks in the CBeebies tent and then met Duggie and Ubercorn, we watched the Science demonstrations in the science tent, we bumped into lots of friends, we danced to some crazy live music at Oberon's Observatory, we did lots of people watching and we had some amazing burgers and fries for lunch! We also really wanted to go on the World's Largest Bouncy Castle but the queues were just crazy long so we decided to give that a miss. 

Heading back towards the Castle Field we managed to catch Right Said Fred on the main stage who drew a massive crowd and had everyone singing along to Too Sexy! Despite the muddy conditions it wasn't actually that bad in front of the stage and we were able to put our blanket down without worrying about getting too submerged. 

We headed back to the Magic Meadow and we found ourselves in an area called Caravanserai - it's built entirely from vintage caravans and fairground rides and it was certainly an experience sitting in an old waltzer chair watching the world go by! 

Paul fancied another drink so he went off to get himself a beer while me and the kids went back to the Disco Ball - they were blasting out some absolute gems like Britney - Stronger and S Club 7's Reach , we couldn't resist having a quick dance!! 

note the front wheel absolutely caked in mud! 
We did consider calling it a day at this point as it was gone 6pm and Elliot was starting to flag but we decided to head back to the Upper Kids Garden as we didn't really get a chance to see much of it earlier as it was so busy. Elliot made a bee line for the Big Top Mania Kids Theatre and Circus and he had loads of fun trying to balance on a tight rope! There were lots of things for the children to do such as bikes and unicycles to ride on, big inflatables, hula hoops and more. 

After a quick look in the Feast Collective (the smell of the amazing food lured us in), we headed back to the Lower Kids Garden as Elliot wanted a go on the Carousel. By this point the crowds had really thinned out and it was raining so it was a good time to go on with no queues. We also stopped off to get some yummy Pad Thai and Corn on the Cobs which we ate under an umbrella while the rain got heavier! (Typical brits enjoying the "British Summer"!)

After a slow walk back past the Castle and having a quick singalong to Brian Wilson, we decided it was probably time to go home. It was a pity to not experience the festival after dark and to miss the fireworks but Elliot was walking slower than a snail and I knew he'd be asleep as soon as the car started! (He was). We were a bit worried about getting out of the car park due to the mud and hearing about other cars getting stuck but we had no issues and were back on the road to Poole relatively quickly. 

Good job we packed the waterproofs! Here's Elliot modelling his new jacket from :)
We had a brilliant day at Camp Bestival despite the mud and it definitely hasn't put us off going again. There were so many things that we missed seeing so next year I would ensure we actually had a map rather than just wandering! Highlights of the day were meeting Andy, dancing to Britney at the disco and bumping into lots of blogger friends :) 

Roll on next year!  

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Deep Sea Adventures with the Octonauts at SEA LIFE Weymouth

This Summer, CBeebies favourites The Octonauts are coming to a Sealife Adventure Park near you, ready to take you on a brand new deep sea adventure.

The much anticipated Octo-Glow Explorers event will offer children and their families the chance to
join CBeebies’ most intrepid ocean explorers on a special mission to uncover the secret world of
glow in the dark sea creatures.

Elliot loves the Sealife Centre and is constantly nagging us to take him there - he was quite excited to hear we would be visiting and checking out the new Octonauts event!

On arrival in Weymouth the centre and carpark are well signposted and located within Lodmoor Country Park. Car parking is plentiful although you do have to pay for it.

Once inside we headed over to the Octonauts area where we were able to take part in the interactive acitivities to discover how creatures of the deep use light to hide from predators , attract their prey and communicate with each other. Other features included puzzles, morse code cracking and even a chance to appear on screen with the Octonauts via the magic of the green screen and a photobooth!

Newly recruited sea scientists will also be invited to share their findings in the Octo-Glow Lab with
Octonauts, Kwazii and Peso, during an Octo-Glow Explorer character meet and greet. Elliot met Kwazii and he said this was his favourite bit of the whole day!

After meeting Kwazii we went off to explore the rest of the park including the much talked about Carribean Cove play area which opened earlier this year. It's a fantastic outdoor play area featuring slides, tunnels and all manner of play equipment. Unfortunately weather wasn't on our side and it was a bit wet to play for too long but this just means we will have to return another day to explore it properly!

photo credit - Kara Guppy
The park is home to over 1000 creatures and they are separated into different creature zones including rainforest, rockpool and ocean tunnel. You can see fish of all shapes and colours (you might even spot Nemo and Dory!), otters, penguins, turtles, octopus, seahorses and many more.

Elliot enjoyed looking at the tiny seahorses and amazing Weedy Seadragons in the nursery but my favourite was the Rockpool area where we learnt all about creatures native to the UK. Children (and adults) can learn so much on a visit to the Sealife Centre with information and facts scattered around each exhibit. Did you know that starfish eat by turning their stomach inside out?!

The penguins are always fun to watch - one of them took a shine to Elliot.  Everytime Elliot moved his arm, the penguin followed him up and down the tank!

Sealife Weymouth has three food/drink outlets if you get peckish. We had lunch at the Adventurer's Grill cafe for lunch and everything was reasonably priced. It does get very busy in there although, especially at peak times and rainy days!

The entire park is buggy accessible which is brilliant for families but there are plenty of parking stations around the park where you can leave your buggy if you want a closer look at the creatures. There are also locker facilities located at Crocodile Creek if you need to store your belongings.

For ticket information, visit the SEA LIFE Weymouth website - usual admission tickets will cover entry to the Octonauts Octo-Glow Event which is running from 29th July - 28th August 2017. You can also find out more about the amazing marine conservation work  that SEA LIFE does.

We had a brilliant day out at SEA LIFE Weymouth and can't wait to return! 

*Disclaimer - We were given free entry in exchange for an honest review and coverage of the #Octoglow event

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Arthur Price Despicable Me Cutlery & Crockery Sets - Review

Elliot is a huge Minion's fan and I have lost count of how many times we have watched the films and all the extra clips that can be found on YouTube.  I took him to watch Despicable Me 3 when it came out a few weeks ago and he was so excited, I'm surprised he didn't burst!

Arthur Price have recently launched a brand new Despicable Me range and we were sent a selection of homeware to try out. You can imagine how pleased a certain little boy was ;)

There are two four piece cutlery sets available, both at £24.95 featuring 'Sea of Minions' and 'Expressions' collections. They are made from the finest stainless steel and have an amazing 15-year guarantee. The bone china Minions collection includes a mug, plate and bowl. These items are available separately, or as a two or three piece set with prices starting from £8.95.

We were sent a three piece bone china set from the Sea of Minions collection and Expressions cutlery set to try out. My first impressions were how brilliant the quality was - even the presentation boxes were sturdy and thick!

The cutlery features the words 'I don't share', 'Powered by Minions', 'One in a Minion' and 'Blumock' and they are all a perfect size for a child getting to grips with a knife and fork. They are heavier than I expected and a great quality.

The 3 piece set is lovely and would please any Minions fan. The plate is a great size for a child and is a perfect step up for a little one who has outgrown the plastic toddler plates but not quite ready for an adult sized plate. It might also have been a coincidence but Elliot was extra keen to eat his dinner when he saw that it was on a Minions plate!

The entire set is dishwasher safe however I have found the writing has slightly faded on our cutlery. It might be a good idea to handwash these to keep them in pristine condition!

I hadn't heard of Arthur Price prior to this review but I've since found out that they are a family owned business who have supplied royal families and heads of state - pretty impressive. As well as the fab Minions range, they do some lovely 'grown up' items so the website is definitely worth a look.

I am giving the Arthur Price Minions range a big thumbs up - amazing quality items which little ones (and big ones) will love using!

*Disclaimer - We were sent these items in return for an honest review. All views are my own

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Disney Pixar's Cars 3 - Soft Toys Review

One of the biggest films to hit the cinemas this summer is Cars 3 - Elliot has been watching the trailers on You tube for months and he's really excited to go to the cinema and see it!

Posh Paws, the UK's leading plush toy manufacturer, have recently launched a brand new range of Cars 3 soft toys which will sure to appeal to the younger fans.

At 4, Elliot still loves soft toys - infact his entire top bunk is full of them and he seems to take a different one to bed with him each night! Posh Paws sent us a selection of the brand new Cars soft toys and he was rather pleased to open the package ;)

Characters available are Lightning McQueen, Mater, Cruz Ramirez, Jackson Storm, Guido and Mack. There is a selection of sizes including 8", 10" and 20" and you can even get bag clips which feature in the pocket money range.

We were sent a large Cruz, smaller Cruz and two of the bag clips; Lightning McQueen and Mack. The first thing I noticed was the quality of the toys - they are lovely and soft and don't feel scratchy like some cheaper soft toys. They have great detail, even the smaller ones and I love how colourful they are.

Elliot has had loads of fun playing with his cars - big Cruz has been racing against little Cruz! It's nice that Erin can get involved too - the little Cruz is just the right size for her little hands.

Elliot is really taken with the bag clips and is going to be clipping one on his new school bag in September!

The toys were a big hit and I'm pretty sure at least one of them will be coming along to the cinema when we finally get to see Cars 3!

The Posh Paws plush range is priced between £5.99-£19.99 and available from Debenhams, Sainsbury's, Shop Direct Gamestop, Next Retail and Independent retailers.

*Disclaimer: We received these products in exchange for an honest review. All views are my (Elliot's!) own

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Weaning Time with Babease - Review and Giveaway

credit -
I don't know how it happened but my squidgy little newborn baby turned into a gurgling, smiling 6 month old overnight! Well perhaps not overnight, but it certainly feels like it's gone that fast!

Erin has been showing lots of signs of being ready for weaning in the last couple of weeks - for instance I can't eat anything with her on my lap because she tries to make a grab for it!

I tried to remember what we did with Elliot in regards to weaning - he's a brilliant eater so I'm hopeful if we follow the same pattern, Erin will follow her big brother. With him we started off with a mixture of purees and abit of finger food and then went fully into baby led weaning. I know people have different ways and ideas of weaning, this worked for us so I'm going to be following the same route this time round too.

I'd love to say that I will be making all the purees from scratch but we all know that life is busy, and sometimes you need to pick up a ready made baby food pouch on the go. This is where Babease come in! They contacted me to see if Erin would like to test out their organic baby food and we are now :)

Babease say that their food is for babies, not baby food and looking at the range of pouches available you'd definitely agree with this. Created by experts (including Mums!), the food focuses on vegetable based recipes and no fruit fillers. They promise:

- 100% Organic
- No added salt
- No added sugar
- Dairy-free
- Gluten-free
- Suitable for vegetarians

At Babease they understand how important it is for parents to know what goes into food so all ingredients are clearly listed alongside an informative ingredients wheel which shows an exact breakdown.

Credit -
There are two stages of food to choose from - stage 1 is smoother and a perfect introduction to first flavours. Stage 2 has more texture and a wider range of ingredients to expand your baby's palate.

We started off with Sweet Potato & Pear with Coconut Water, Brown rice and Quinoa - what a fantastic combo. Erin made some pretty funny facial expressions but she was quite keen to get the food in her mouth! (But I'd forgotten how messy weaning is...!)

The lovely white Babease bib stayed clean for about 3 seconds!
This isn't milk!!?
I'm looking forward to testing out the other flavours over the next few days with Erin and I'm sure it won't be long before we can move into stage 2. I also plan on trying out some of the recipes on the Babease website - the savoury mini muffins sound perfect for lunchboxes!

The Babease pouches can be found in Tesco and Boots and here but if you'd like to get your hands on some for your little one to try, take a look at the Rafflecopter giveaway below...

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Florida Holiday 2017 ~ Day 5 - When plans go astray!

We awoke to the sunshine peeking through our curtains at Pier House 60 and were faced with glorious sunshine upon the white sandy shores of Clearwater. It certainly was a room with a view!

We headed down for our breakfast (which was included in our stay) and were greeted with more stunning views, this time of the marina. Breakfast was great with loads to choose from including sausage and eggs, bagels, fruit, pastries etc. I had some amazing whipped strawberry mousse stuff on my bagel - certainly beats a bowl of cornflakes!!

The plan today was explore the coast and we were aiming to get to Weeki Wachee Springs to see the mermaids. We never made it that far in the end but had a great day regardless! We first headed up to the town of Dunedin which is a short drive from Clearwater. I'd heard it was a pretty little town to stop at but we were on the hunt for one thing....the splash park! We'd spotted it on the website and it was right up Elliot's street. We eventually found the park and it was brilliant, loads of undercover seating, a big play park, swimming pool and of course the splash park. Elliot couldn't wait to get his swimmers on and get stuck in!

Unfortunately, about 60 seconds after he started playing we heard an alarm which turned out to be a lightning detection and they had to close the splash park as a precaution! Elliot was gutted and of course there were tears but he soon cheered up once he spotted the shaved ice truck. I've only ever seen shaved ice on telly and it's not something we get in the UK (or am I missing out on something?!). Basically you get a cup of ice flakes and you can add flavoured's pretty similar to a slush puppy. Yummy! We went a bit mad with the flavours and ours both ended up a murky purple colour but they were delicious!!

After a quick play on the slides, the splash park reopened so we hot footed it over to get a seat in the shade and Elliot went mad in the water. A little while later the heavens opened and it absolutely poured down - I've never seen rain like it! The park stayed open but we were getting so wet that we decided to call it a day and had to make a mad dash to the undercover area to dry off. Not sure who was wetter, Elliot in his trunks or us holding the towels!

Our next visit was New Port Richey to call in on a bakery (That Little Bakery on Grand) owned by a friend of ours who moved back to the US from Dorset a little while ago. It was great to catch up and a good excuse to stop for a cake!!

Time just flew by today and it was almost 3pm by this point - we did think about driving onto Weeki Wachee Springs but we were already 2 hours from Kissimmee and the kids were getting a bit grumpy about being in the car so we made a quick stop at Walmart for snacks and then started the drive back....which seemed to take forever! Back in Kissimmee and we headed down to the Old Town to check out the car show.

We've not visited the Old Town before and I have no idea why because it was good fun! A bit tacky but I enjoyed the atmosphere - there were lots of cool cars parked up and lots of people out enjoying the live music. We stopped for a drink and some nachos in Southern Breeze and although he'd been complaining he was tired, Elliot was full of beans and dancing around all over the place! (I think it was the sugar in the slushies!)

We watched the cars do a lap of the Old Town and decided to call it a day as it was way past bedtime for the little ones. Paul had had some beers so it was my turn to get behind the wheel - gulp, my first time driving this holiday. Luckily I didn't have to drive far but it wasn't too bad!

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Florida Holiday 2017 ~ Day 4 - Roadtrip to Clearwater

We have fond memories of Clearwater Beach after visiting back in 2005 and really wanted to take the kids this time around. As we aren't doing Disney we had quite a few free days so we decided to book a hotel there so we didn't have to rush around!

We were aiming to leave Kissimmee nice and early but that didn't go quite to plan. Having small children can do that! It was about 11am by the time we left - doh! The drive to Clearwater should only take about an hour and a half but we decided to stop en route at a place called Sawgrass Lake Park which was near Tampa. My husband didn't really sell it very well, he said it was a giant swamp we could walk! But actually it was lovely there and so glad we stopped. After a quick bum change for Erin on a bench (she always seem to poo when we're in the car and always the worse kind that leak!!), we followed the wooden boardwalk into the maple swamps. Oh my god it was HOT!!! Lovely walk though, we spotted loads of wildlife including alligators, turtles, birds, dragonflies and the biggest cricket I've ever seen. We also spotted a rather speedy tortoise by our car - who knew they could move so fast?!

Onto Clearwater and Elliot spent the majority of the journey complaining he needed a wee...seems to be a reoccurring theme of the holiday! Our hotel, Pier House 60 was right on the marina and perfectly located for us to explore the shops and beach. Lovely hotel too - they had upgraded our booking to a studio room which was massive and had the best view of the beach!

Wow, what a view from our room!
We were all pretty hungry by this point as we hadn't had lunch (just lots of beef jerky in the car!) so we ventured out in hunt of something good to eat. We didn't get very far because located just by the Marina is Crabby's - Paul was enticed in by the lure of happy hour but I was just looking forward to the air-con!! The food was nice - alligator bites to start (first time trying alligator and it tasted a bit like chicken) and then coconut shrimp and fries for my main. The portions were pretty big too so we were all stuffed and didn't have room for pudding much to Elliot's disgust ;)

We spent the next couple of hours having a wander round the shops and dodging the rain - the sky went ominously black so we knew a shower might be on the way. Luckily we were under cover when it hit!

After a quick look in the Hulk Hogan shop (had to explain to Elliot who he was - made us feel a bit old), we headed over to the beach just in time for sun down. Unfortunately there were a lot of clouds in the sky so the sunset wasn't as spectacular as it could have been but it still made for some pretty stunning pictures. Especially after the sun had set and the sky changed to a gorgeous pinky colour.

Elliot was having so much fun jumping in and out of the water - needless to say, his clothes didn't stay dry for long! Even Erin had a paddle in the sea - it was so warm but she didn't really know what to make of it. Especially as her little feet kept sinking!

Once we'd managed to tear Elliot away from the sea, we wandered up to Pier 60 where there were loads of stalls selling homemade arts and crafts. Not my cup of tea but it was a lovely atmosphere just being there. And it was SO warm still, even at 9pm!

We decided to call it a night as the kids were tired so we headed back to the hotel. Elliot was out like a light after all that splashing!

You can check out my previous holiday posts here

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