Monday 29 April 2024

Making YouTube Safer for Your Kids

 If you're like everybody who's in their 30s or 40s right now, the chances are high that you wasted a lot of your childhood on Saturday morning cartoons. When you come home from school, you'd settle down to the afternoon cartoons available on the TV. But kids today are different. Instead of being glued to the cartoons on regular mainstream TV with advertising, they are glued to YouTube. 

Mostly it's innocent. They're looking for cartoons or obscure anime that they can't find in their own country, but sometimes things are a little bit sketchier than that. There is so much on YouTube that has been manipulated, and even though you may choose to learn how to unblock YouTube videos so that you can view them, your kids need boundaries. It doesn't matter how good your kid is, they will always need boundaries when it comes to YouTube because of the largely unknown amount of content that's on there. So with that in mind, here's how you can make YouTube safer for your children.

Image source: Pexels

  1. Only allow YouTube under a family account. When you set up a shared Google account, you'll be able to keep an eye on the videos that your kids watch, as well as what they upload. If you don't allow your children to upload in the 1st place, that's fantastic because whatever goes on the Internet stays on the Internet. But having a family account allows you some monitoring without them feeling like they're being watched all of the time.

  2. Turn on safety mode. It's a hidden button, but YouTube has a safety mode that can block most, but not all, of objectionable content. Of course, you have to scroll all the way down to the bottom of the homepage to find it, but once you've found it, you'll be able to be sign in, scroll down and click on the safety button, then choose o’n’ from the choices to make sure that your children don't change the setting. You can then lock that safety mode in by going to the browser and adding your login data. When prompted to turn it off, click the link again and enter your login a second time.

  3. Create specific playlists.The safety mode is not as foolproof as it likes to be, but if the person who uploaded a nasty video hasn't selected Enable age restriction then YouTube filter won't block it. So you need to take some additional steps. It's a good idea to create a playlist of videos that you approve of and all you have to do then is click add link. You can also subscribe to family friendly channels so that the algorithm only pops up family friendly things.

  4. Be wise with it. Be sure to watch the videos that your children watch all the way through before you add them to a list. The last thing that you want is for your children to be watching Peppa Pig one minute and then watching a live dissection of a pig the next. Be wary of gaming videos too, because voice over narration usually comes with vulgarity and profanity that you would like your children to avoid listening to.

  5. Monitor it as you go. Children outgrow playlists pretty quickly, so make sure that you're installing web filtering software such as the Family Premier or McAfee Security Safe Eyes. These don't cost very much, but these programs will notify you whenever your kids watch your video and or block the objectionable ones. It's not hovering to stay on top of your family's Internet security.In fact, it's a must.

  6. Turn off YouTube entirely.If it's too much to police the content that your children are watching, you can block it entirely using a web filter. You can then redirect your kids to family friendly websites such as Netflix for kids or Disney. There are also things such as SprogTube which curates YouTube videos for kids safe content, although these do skew towards preschoolers rather than towards middle-aged kids.

Most of the time, younger children won't be watching YouTube because they'll be watching cartoons that you choose for them. But as they get older and have a little bit more free rein with controllers, you can allow them to watch YouTube as long as it's safe. Following the tips above is going to help you to make sure that the content your children are watching is age appropriate and isn't going to cause them any particular mental harm. 

Thursday 14 March 2024


 We love taking our kids to festivals and we usually try and book one in every Summer. Over the years, our favourites have been Camp Bestival, Gone Wild and Lamer Tree Festival but this year we wanted to try something different. 

Step forward...Carfest! Billed as the UK's biggest family fundraising festival, Carfest successfully blends motor shows with live music and entertainment for the whole family. It was founded by radio DJ Chris Evans and has raised millions of pounds for children's charities. It ticked all our boxes - lots of fast cars for Elliot to see, a huge kids area for Erin, plenty of yummy food and drink for my husband and an amazing line up of live music for me. We were excited to experience it all! 

Day 1 - Saturday

We had weekend tickets but decided to stay in a local hotel rather than camp. It just meant having to take way less stuff and who doesn't love a comfy bed after a busy day at a festival! We left bright and early from Poole and arrived at the festival site around 9am. We found it nice and straightforward to find the carpark and it was well sign posted from the main roads into Overton. Unlike Camp Bestival, the walk from the carpark wasn't too bad and it probably only took us around 10-15 minutes. 

We were soon picking up our weekend wristbands and deciding where to explore first. The festival is split into different areas including Starfest, Spafest, Adventurefest, Kidsfest, Foodfest, Retrofest and then of course the card and music! 

Our first port of call was the Costa area - Costa are one of Carfest's sponsors and we had heard great things about the giveaways! Paul was happy - coffee for him whilst the kids tried their luck on the digital spin the wheel. We didn't win the Nintendo switch but we did come away with bubbles, lots of coffee, brownies, biscuits and even a really nice travel mug. I'd definitely recommend visiting this bit with kids! 

One thing about the music/stage area at Carfest that we quickly realised was people pitch up in the morning with their chairs/wagons/flags etc and just leave their stuff for the day. This seemed to be a bit of a contentious subject on the Carfest Buddies FB group but for us, it made sense to leave our festival wagon. It gave us a central base to return to throughout the day if we needed to and saved lugging everything around! It also meant we were guaranteed a good spot for the evening music. 

We spent the next few hours exploring the cars and there was so much to see. We caught some fantastic displays and the roar of the engines and being up close to the race track was something else! Elliot is car mad so he was in his element. We even bumped into Richard Hammond at the Smallest Cog workshop which was exciting although Elliot got confused and thought it was Ricky Gervais 😁

Richard Hammond - The Smallest Cog Workshop

When we're at a festival we don't like to be too strict about timings and prefer to explore and see what we stumble upon but one of our must sees was kids favourite Andy and The Odd Socks in the Kidsfest area. We've been fans of Andy's since Elliot was a toddler and it's always great to see his band and their live show. And of course we had to get some selfies after the show 😎 

Andy and The Odd Socks - Carfest

The Kidsfest area was home to Pudsey's Spot and there were lots of chances to meet some familiar faces there over the weekend. We met Bluey and Bingo and I'm not sure who was more excited, me or Erin!

The rest of the afternoon was spent exploring the food festival area and there was something for every taste bud at the Farmers Market. Packed full of stalls selling everything from gourmet brownies to spicy sauces, we managed to pick up lots of yummy treats including some amazing scotch eggs. We also caught a few demos by Candice and Bryony from GBBO which was really interesting. There seemed to be a lot going on in this area such as foodie workshops, book signings, chef talks, cocktail making - even a pop up pub with live music. We could have spent lots more time here and feel like we only scratched the surface but there was so much more to see...

We spent some time checking out the cars - there are regular track shows through out the day and it's nice and easy to find a good viewing spot along the side. Even for a non car-fanatic like me, it was exciting seeing some gorgeous cars up close and the kids loved the theatrics of the skids and hand brake 360s! There are lots of car brands at the festival and many opportunies to pick up freebies...which, lets face it, who doesn't love a freebie. The kids were buzzing to win hats, air freshners, tote bags, mints and even a few pens along the way. 

Soon it was time to head back to the main stage for the evenings musical entertainment. There are plenty of food stalls near the stage for when you get hungry and although it was busy, we never really had to spend long queueing. Prices were quite steep however (think it was almost £30 for two lots of burger and chips) but it's a festival and you do expect this. We shared a couple of meals between us, plus I took lots of snacks to keep the kids happy. I did get talked into a very expensive milkshake though! 

The music for the evening was brilliant, kicking off with the Bootleg Beatles. I loved hearing the crowd singalong to Hey Jude! The star of the evening for us though was undoubtedly Rick Astley. Never realised just how talented he is - he doesn't just sing but plays a multitude of instruments. Elliot really likes his songs so he was so excited to see him live and Rick didn't disappoint! It was such a great atmosphere with the lit up funfair behind us, and families of all ages singing along. 

We headed back to the car after a long day of festival fun but couldn't wait to do it all again in the morning. 

Day 2 - Sunday

After a quick charge of the car and a Mcdonalds brekkie at nearby services, we were heading back to Overton and looking forward to seeing what was in store for the day. We had no set plans but did want to explore the areas that we didn't visit yesterday. 

Our first port of call was to set up our chairs and area in front of the main stage. We then spent a bit of time exploring the Retrofest area. You can find all sorts here, like retro clothing stalls, cars, games and we even stumbled upon some energetic aerobics displays featuring lots of lycra! Some of the highlights of Retrofest included an area set up with old war vehicles and weapons. The kids were allowed to sit in the landrovers and even hold the guns, Elliot was living his best Fortnite life! We also found The Deloreon which was pretty impressive - the owner was so knowledgeable and we loved all the little bits of memorabilia inside such as a hoverboard and hologram photo.

We caught a few car displays and especially loved seeing the Ghostbusters car doing the laps! The track winds throughout the festival so it's not hard to find a spot to watch the live shows. 

We found ourselves in the Adventurefest field and this was probably one of our favourite areas. There was a large scouting section run by Hampshire scouts and the kids made a bee line for the climbing wall - rather than than me! We had a go at archery, and the kids added their Beaver/Scout troop to the Scouting map. 

We were also very fortunate to catch Tim Peake who was chatting to the scouts - Elliot managed to say hello and shake his hand which made his day! My husband was rather envious that he missed him but he did get to watch a Q&A with Tim later on in the afternoon at the Discovery Hub stage. 

Meeting Tim Peake at Carfest

Adventurefest was also home to Bugfest which as the name suggests, was a great place to get up and close to lots of creepy crawlies. This was one of the few paid for activities we did, and I think it was £5 per person to enter the Bugfest tent but the kids loved it and it was money well spent. There was no time limit and they were able to hold a tarantula, millipede, stick insect and many more. 


We dipped back into the Kidsfest for a quick bounce on the giant bouncy castle and we made sure to pick up some freebies from the Capri Sun and Pip Organic stalls. We also headed back to the farmers market where we couldn't resist another scotch egg! 

With the afternoon almost over, we decided to spend some time exploring the Motorsport Paddock where Elliot was in his absolute element! It was a chance to get up close to some of his favourite cars and he thoroughly enjoyed spotting lots of Aston Martins. Aside from seeing Rick Astley, I think this was probably his favourite part of the weekend. 

Back at the main stage, we grabbed some food and settled in for the evening. There was a real variety of acts including Alex Horne's Horne section, Ricky Wilson from Kaiser Chiefs, The Feeling and The Village People. Unsure of how many of the original Village People line up were left but it was entertaining nonetheless! (Even if they did take an awful long time to start their performance)

The Village People - Carfest

Texas were the headliner for the Sunday night and I would have loved to have stayed to see their entire set but we decided to call it a night a few songs in with some very tired children in tow. We did  however stumble across a silent disco at the Bp Pulse tent so of course we had to stop and have a little boogie! 

We had such a brilliant weekend at Carfest and there were so many memories made - too many to mention in this blog. Highlights included meeting Tim Peake, dancing to Rick Astley, and hearing the roar of the engines on the track. 

Carfest certainly lived up to it's reputation and I feel like we only scratched the surface of the activities on offer. The kids are already asking if we're going again this year. We might even be brave enough to camp 😃

Ticket are already on sale for Carfest 2024 and can be found here

*Disclaimer - We were gifted weekend tickets for Carfest but all thoughts and opinions are honest and we genuinely had a fantastic time! 

Friday 29 December 2023

Winter Family Activities To Enjoy During The Christmas Holidays

 Winter Family Activities To Enjoy During The Christmas Holidays

Winter can feel like a drag, forcing everyone to snuggle indoors for what may seem like an eternity. Unfortunately, staying indoors for too long has some mental health consequences. Thankfully, the cold and snowy months also present an opportunity to bond with your family, with work and school responsibilities temporarily out of the way. There’s plenty you can do with your loved ones to make the cold holiday season fun and memorable instead of locking yourselves up. So, start retrieving those winter boots, scarves, coats, and socks to enjoy these fun winter activities with your family during the holidays.

  1. Catch a Christmas show

Image credit 

The holiday period is a season for pantos and parades. From the Manchester Christmas Parade to other yuletide events, these fun activities have become a part of the holiday tradition in most places. These dazzling and spirited events are usually characterised by colourful displays, jingles, outdoor festive decor, Christmas carols, melodies from marching bands, large-size mascots, floats, balloons on bicycles, and so much more. The cherry on the top is always an appearance from the special character of the moment, Father Christmas (or Santa Claus, depending on where you are). But it’s not just about the sights and sounds, as there’s usually so much to eat and drink. This is something your little ones will truly love - an excellent break from being indoors for too long. 

  1. Go ice skating or figure skating if you prefer

Whether ice skating or figure skating, they essentially mean the same thing - skating on ice. For clarity purposes, the activity of ice skating has given rise to figure skating and speed skating as two distinctive sports. But you can enjoy any of them during winter. Depending on your location, you can find several centres open for ice skating activities with free entry. All you and your loved ones need are pairs of high-quality figure skates and some basic manoeuvering skills on the ice, and you’ll have a blast. 

  1. Take the family sledging

Image credit 

If you want something a bit more inexpensive, consider sledging. All you need to have an amazing experience is a sizable hill covered in snow; no need to travel too far. A little bit of courage is also crucial, especially when going downhill at top speed. You can use a flat-bottom plastic saucer or a traditional wooden sledge with runners, but the experience will almost be the same. It’s fun and exhilarating, particularly for kids, but please make sure they stay within sight. It’s also best to avoid taking unnecessary risks to minimise the risk of injuries. 

  1. Take a winter hike

Understandably, bundling up for a winter hike in the snow is not what many will consider a fun way to spend the holidays. While winter hiking might seem like more trouble than it’s worth, nature can look breathtakingly beautiful in the snow - something worth seeing and experiencing. Plus, studies have uncovered many health benefits of going for a winter hike, including building muscles and helping burn calories and fat. Winter hike locations are also less crowded, so you’ll enjoy some serenity. Alternatively, you can go for shorter walks in the snow around your neighbourhood. This option is less physically draining if you have little kids. 

Sunday 17 December 2023

Cinderella at the Tivoli Wimborne - Pantomime Review

 Wimborne, a quaint town nestled in the heart of Dorset, has once again transported its residents and visitors to a world of enchantment and magic with its annual pantomime. The Tivoli Theatre, with its historic charm and intimate ambiance, served as the perfect stage for Cinderella's enchanting tale.

Cinderella at the Tivoli, Wimborne

We were excited to be invited along to opening night of Cinderella and knew we were in for a treat from the very beginning. Regulars to the Wimborne panto will recognise lots of faces from previous shows and I was excited to hear that Courtney Jackson was returning, this time playing the the role of Fairy Godmother. Also returning to the Tivoli are Luke Attwood and Brandon Nicholson - we saw these two as the ugly sisters back in 2018 and they were very funny.

Courtney Jackson and his pumpkins

The auditorium was full of families and large groups of beavers and cubs (including my children!) and there was a real buzz in the air as the lights dimmed and the panto began.

The show was full of high energy singing and dancing, and plenty of jokes that sailed right over the children's heads! The set design was vibrant and each scene moved flawlessly into the next. The carriage scene was absolutely magical and children will gasp in wonder! The costumes were fantastic, and a special nod must go to the Ugly Sisters who had quite the wardrobe and wig collection!

Ugly Sisters and Cinderella

Cinderella's cast were all so talented and leading lady Lucia-Jade Barker had great chemistry with Prince Charming. Buttons, played by Lee Redwood (who also writes and directs the panto) was a joy to watch. From his hilarious DVD gag, to his emotional solo (which the kids loved!), he had the audience rooting for him from the start.

I love the bits in the panto that go wrong, although you're never quite sure whether the calamity is actually meant to be happening or not! One such moment involved a sock, an ugly sister and a wig and we were in absolute stitches. My kids said this part was the highlight for them!

This is our 5th Wimborne panto that we have seen and my son Elliot said this was the best yet. We had a fantastic night and left feeling full of cheer. Thank you for having us!

You can catch Cinderella the Tivoli right up until 2nd January, so don't delay, go and book those tickets!

*Disclaimer - We were invited along to the panto in exchange for an honest review

Wednesday 13 December 2023

Sail with Santa with City Experiences - Poole Quay, Dorset

 We love to book a Santa experience every year and we've tried out various different ones in the local area and further afield. This year we booked to Sail with Santa from Poole Quay and were excited to try something different! 

Sail with Santa is run by City Experiences and the Solent Scene boat can be found moored on Poole Quay. Once aboard you will be taken on a cruise around Poole Harbour, passing by the famous Brownsea Island, Studland Bay and more. 

Children will receive a snack and a drink, and there is mulled wine and mince pies for the grown ups. 

Although it's a busy time of year, Santa takes a break from his busy schedule to stop by and all children will receive an age appropriate gift.

Our Experience

On the day of our cruise, it was crisp and cold and feeling very Christmassy. However the weather wasn't on our side and the sea mist was coming in fast. This meant that the boat wasn't allowed to leave the Quayside and even Rudolf couldn't help us, it was just too foggy!

Ready to board the Solent Scene, Poole Quay

This meant our Sail with Santa experience wasn't quite what we were expecting but what we lacked in views, the staff on board more than made up for with their enthusiasm! Led by Santa's best Elf, there were games and Christmas music and lots of laughs. Soon it was time for the children to meet Santa, and fortunately he had made his way through the fog and found us ok. 

Each child was presented with a certificate and a lovely gift. My son is 11 and at that awkward stage with gifts where he's getting too old for toys but he was thrilled to bits with his present. At the booking stage you are able to put what your child is into so the elves can find a suitable present and they did well! 

The whole experience was lovely and I liked the fact that we didn't feel rushed. Erin and her friends (who were also onboard) spent quite some time chewing Santa's ear off and he was more than happy to answer their millions of questions. 

To Book:

Sail with Santa is running daily from Saturday 16th December (different time slots available on certain days) but if you want to book, be quick as this is sure to sell out. If the weather conditions are too rough, the experience will run alongside the Quay (like ours did) but you will be offered a complimentary Harbour Cruise at a later date so you can still enjoy the stunning views. 

For more information and to book, visit here.

*Disclaimer - City Experiences kindly gifted us a family ticket in exchange for an honest review 

Friday 20 October 2023

Fun Ways To Spend More Quality Time With Your Kids



Being a busy and working parent is a tough job to have. You likely have a lot of important to-dos on your schedule on any given day.

Even though you may be a busy person, you also should make sure you set aside family time. You and your children will look forward to these moments where you can grow a deeper bond. If you’re searching for some ideas then you’ve come to the right place. Here you can review some fun ways to spend more quality time with your kids.

Traveling & Sightseeing

One idea is to get out of the house and travel and go sightseeing with your kids. There are many options for doing so such as taking a road trip or getting on an airplane and going somewhere new and exciting. You may also discover that you and your loved ones enjoy camping and being outdoors. No matter what you choose to do it’ll feel good to go exploring together and to switch up your normal routine. Make sure that no matter where you go you bring your camera to capture all the memories you’ll be making as a family. 

Cooking & Baking

You may also want to get busy in the kitchen with your kids and spouse. Be glad to know there are many ways to get your children involved in cooking. There are simple and tasty options for what you can cook or bake. For example, if you all are beginners in the kitchen, then you may want to try making this no bake cheesecake recipe. It will be a great starting point for you all to try and you’ll have a delicious treat to enjoy when you are all finished. You can try more challenging recipes and foods as you gain more experience together. 

At the Playground & Getting Exercise

One healthy habit you can teach your kids is to move more and exercise. Set a good example by working out together such as doing yoga at home. You can also spend more quality time with your kids by playing at the playground. It will feel good to run around and burn off some steam and energy. Playing at the park with your loved ones will be a good time and you’ll all sleep better at night after getting some fresh air outdoors. 

Doing Arts & Crafts

If you want to spend more quality time with your kids then pull out the arts and crafts. There are many different types of projects you can do when you get creative. This is a fun way to be with your children and it gives you a chance to deepen your connection with each other as you work as a team. Be sure to hang their projects on the refrigerator when you’re done to show them how much you appreciate their hard work. 


It can be difficult to balance being a working parent and your home life. However, it’s vital that you make time for one another. These ideas will give you a starting point as to what you can be doing when you have the free time to spend with your kids.

Tuesday 17 October 2023

Coastal Cruising with City Experiences - Poole/Swanage Sightseeing Cruise

 I might be a bit biased but I think Dorset is one of the prettiest places in the UK - I've lived here all my life and can't imagine living anywhere else. I adore living by the sea and one of our favourite things to do in the Summer is hop on a boat and see Dorset from a different perspective.

One company who offer these trips is City Experiences who have a wide range of cruises departing from Poole Quay. Last weekend I was invited to take the family on the Poole/Swanage Sightseeing Cruise

Throughout the Summer months there are three different departure times from Poole Quay - 10:30, 13:00 and 15:45. It takes around an hour to cruise over to Swanage and you can just stay on the boat for the return trip or you can get off and catch a later boat back. Departure times from Swanage Pier are 11:45, 14:30 and 16:45. 

Swanage Bay, Dorset

We wanted to spend a few hours in Swanage so we decided to catch the 10:30 boat from Poole. Check in was easy - our tickets were scanned and there were plenty of areas to sit, both inside/outside and under cover. You can also move freely around the boat which is handy if you want to try a different view! The boat also has toilets and a bar. 

Luckily for us, the weather was glorious and we couldn't have picked a better day to travel by sea! Leaving Poole Quay we headed out into the Harbour and past Brownsea Island. Owned by the National Trust, Brownsea is a lovely place to visit and one of the very few places you can spot Red Squirrels in the UK. 

Brownsea Island, Poole

Past the golden sands of Studland Beach (did you know part of the beach is strictly for nudists?!), we sailed by the famous white stacks of Old Harry Rocks. This is the start of the Jurassic Coast - a 95 mile stretch of coastline which is the only place on Earth where you can see rocks from the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous Periods in one place - pretty impressive if you ask me! 

Old Harry Rocks, Dorset

Soon we were heading for Swanage Pier and time to disembark the boat. Our return boat was 14:30 which gave us 2.5 hours to explore. We love Swanage, it's such a lovely little seaside town and definitely worth a visit if you are coming to Dorset. We had a nice stroll up to Peveril Point which gives you a fantastic view over Swanage Bay followed by fish and chips on the seafront. You can't come to Swanage and not get fish and chips! 

Walking towards Peveril Point, Swanage

We had time for a quick trip to the arcade (again, another essential Swanage must do if you're my kids!) and then as the weather was so lovely we sat on the beach for a bit and enjoyed the Autumn sunshine. It was so warm that the kids decided to have a little swim! 

Soon it was time to head back to the Pier and catch our boat back to Poole Quay. We had a lovely day out and it felt like the perfect way to round off our Summer. 

Thank you City Experiences for inviting us - for more information regarding all their trips from Poole and further afield, check out their website here

*Disclaimer - City Experiences kindly gifted us a family ticket in exchange for an honest review

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