Motown has hit Bristol town well city actually. Motown the Musical has recently started a 4-week long run at Bristol Hippodrome. The hit musical has been running since 2013 when it premiered in New York. Then it hit the West End in London in 2016 […]
Now it is December I need to get myself in the Christmas spirit. The kids certainly are singing Christmas songs at every opportunity possible. Last weekend we were lucky enough to be invited to visit to see Father Christmas at Sealife Centre Weymouth. It was the kid’s first surprise of the Christmas season, the kids thought we were just going to the seaside for a winter wall along the beach. As we travelled down to Weymouth it was a really dreary day with heavy rain. Luckily once we parked the rain eased off. Still playing along with the surprise grabbed some lunch then headed to the beach for a little walk.
After our brief walk, Aliza asked if we could go to her favourite sealife centre. She fondly remembers it from past visits, so as not to disappoint a 5-year-old I agreed. Knowing that they were all in for a real treat. We had access to the centre before our allocated time, so the kids raced to see their favourite’s. Nemo and Dory, of course, closely followed by the Turtles.
This visit was the first time we had seen the newest addition to the sealife centre, the fairy penguins. The kids loved them, so cute I could take it home my 9-year-old say. The penguins are only about 25cm. The keepers were very informative and shared lots of interesting facts with the kids. They are native to Australia and New Zealand, this group travelled all the way from a sanctuary in Manly, Australia when it closed down. We could have watched them for hours.
Our visit to Father Christmas was scheduled in for after the park closed. We sat and waited in the cafe until it was time. By this time it was dark and we followed the lights through the park to the Reindeer’s Stable. Where the jolly elf greeted us, chatting with the kids, who were already mesmerised. We followed the elf through the festive forest. Stopping to see the reindeers and the parked sleigh across the water. Then zigzagged through the real Christmas tree forest to the lamp post. At the lamp post, the kids made a wish and then it snowed!
Then onto the main event, once we were at outside the cabin the kids knocked and waited for Father Christmas to allow them to enter. We all entered and the kids were beaming by this point. So lovely for us to watch, Grandma, joined us for our festive family afternoon. Father Christmas was magical and the kids chatted at ease with him. They talked about where he would visit first and his route around the world. And of course, they told him what they wanted for Christmas.
We had time to take some memorable pictures and then it was pressie time. The kids even got a Christmas pop badge to take home too.
It was a lovely afternoon and a great start to the festive season. Father Christmas officially arrives Saturday 8th December 2018, he will be visiting Sealife throughout weekends until 17th – 23rd December. Then he will be there daily and every child meeting Father Christmas will receive a special SEA LIFE gift.
Disclaimer – We received a preview VIP invite to Weymouth Sealife Centre to review and share our honest views on the experience.
If you regularly read my blog you will know how important spending time with each of the kids on there own is to me. Well last night was Mum Daughter Date Night with the baby of the family. Myself and Aliza, 5 headed to Bristol Hippodrome to watch Madagascar The Musical.
We were both very excited and having watched the films many times, we had high hopes for the stage production. The set was bright and warm, as soon as we took our seats Aliza’s eyes were beaming with excitement.
Once the show started I found myself tapping my feet along to the beat. The opening scene in the Central Park Zoo showcased the key characters personalities. The seamless movement of the staging was extremely clever too.
Alex the Lion played by Brandon Gale, interpreted ‘The King of The Zoo’ well, his singing voice was incredible. Marty the Zebra’s moved were great. And the comedy from Gloria the Hippo and Melman the Giraffe had me chuckling along.
I would say that the show was great for the whole family, however, Aliza is a bit of a sensitive soul so was unsure of the roars. As she thought Alex the lion was real, so I think she gives the costumes her seal of approval.
The second half of the show was a laugh a minute with the ‘King Julian’ bringing such charisma to his performance. Shuffling around the stage and mispronouncing words. Then came the cast’s rendition of ‘Like to Move It’, well let’s face it it was the moment the whole audience was waiting for. And it sure didn’t disappoint. It was actually awesome and left a huge smile on Aliza’s face.
Madagascar the Musical had a real feel good factor to it. It would be hard to leave the theatre not smiling and humming ‘I like to move it, move it’.
BLOC Productions flew into Bristol this week, with their production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at Bristol Hippodrome. Jolie and I were excited to see the show. I have lost count of how many times I have watched the film. It is a real feel-good […]
There are not many Thursday evenings that are spent watching men dressed as green ogres talking about farting….but last night was one of them. Yes, my 5 year old daughter and I went to watch ‘Shrek The Musical’ at Bristol Hippodrome. I can categorically confirm that we loved every single minute of it. Shrek The Musical has been touring the country since December 2017 and this month is hitting the stage at Bristol Hippodrome. It opened on Thursday 9th August and runs to Sunday 19th August.
Well, I say every minute, the show starts with Shrek jumping out of the storybook and letting out a huge ‘ROOOAAAAARRRR’! At which point she hopped up on to my lap and asked to go home! She soon warmed to him though and watched the rest of the show in awe. Shrek is a favourite in our house at the moment (all of the films, of which there are a few!). So Mila was delighted to be able to see the characters ‘in real life’.
Shrek’s makeup and costume are fabulous and Mila kept whispering in my ear ‘is that a real ogre Mum?’ However the outfits for Lord Farquad were without a doubt, amazing! So sassy!!! I have to say, my personal favourite characters were by far Lord Farquad. He threw in a few jokes for the grown ups (and stole the show with a rousing song about his absent father). The fantastic dragon had just the most powerful singing voice too!
I loved the way the stage hands made her move around and Mila was absolutely amazed by the fact a real dragon was in front of her! An act involving tap dancing rats also had the audience dancing along in their seats. The closing song ‘I’m a Believer’ was a great way to end on a high. All in all, this was a great evening out for all ages and a wonderfully creative stage adaptation of an awesome family film.
Disclaimer: We were given tickets for press night in return for an honest review.
This is a guest post by Stacey, Mum to Mila, 5
Later this week we are heading to the Lake District, with Grandma, on holiday. Looking at the forecast the weather looks like a real mixed bag. So I have been researching family days out in the Lake District and as sharing is caring here are my […]
An Officer and a Gentleman is currently on stage at Bristol Hippodrome. Last night I went to watch it, being an 80’s baby I never knew all the hype around the film. However, when I have spoken to people about it they have raved about Richard […]
This summer I will be travelling solo with 4 children on a single parent holiday to Majorca. As T is 17 she no longer always wants to holiday with us. I have started thinking ahead to our adventure. I am slightly nervous but also very excited for the adventure ahead. We are flying to Alcudia, Majorca in August this will be the first holiday on a plane for the 2 youngest members of our family. J who is now 9 was only 1 the last time we went on a ‘package’ holiday so she can’t remember it. I have left the holiday a surprise, for now, so trying to plan a reveal too.
I grew up in a family where our once yearly trip on a plane to the med or further afield was the norm. Don’t get me wrong we always knew we were very blessed to have parents that worked their socks off to give us such great experiences. And definitely didn’t take our family holidays for granted. So naturally, since I have had children I have wanted to travel with them. To explore new places near and far with them too. However, until now, we have mostly adventured in the UK. As being a single parent can make it harder to imagine going abroad. We have been given the opportunity to go on a whole new adventure with Melon Holidays this summer. Myself and the 4 youngest children 12, 9, 7 and 5 are jetting off to Majorca.
Holidaying alone with 4 kids can be lonely. I know this seems mad to write as you would think with 4 kids there would be no chance to be lonely. Yet in the evenings when they are playing I can be left sitting alone. When they are playing on the beach and they do something funny and I have no one to laugh along with. Or when they are asleep I have no one to reflect on the day with! However, Melon Holidays have come up with the answer. Their holidays are designed to support single parents on their well earned holidays.
After I have survived the flight I can look forward to a friendly face greeting us at the airport. We will then transfer to our hotel and explore. Once we have settled in it will be nice to meet fellow single parents. Hopefully, the kids will make some new friends too. You never know I might get to share a few glasses of vino with the other parents.
I have a few other little worries about holidaying alone with the kids, but I am going to look on the positive side. I will be embracing our first holiday abroad in years. Especially the fact it is Half board so I get a break from cooking. The flight is the biggest hurdle at the moment. Hoping and praying that Little Miss A, 5, doesn’t perform one of her spectacular tantrums!
I am planning on preparing flight bags to keep the kids entertained. I am to pack as light as possible, as I know I will end up lugging it all around myself. I’m keeping my eye out for some cool flight bags for the kids that they really want to carry/pull along themselves.
If you want to follow us on our adventure pop over to Instagram.
Melon Holidays are a company founded by Melissa Mountford, that specialise in single parent holidays in the UK and abroad. This New Year coming they will be launching Skiing Holidays too
We are excited to be working with Melon Holidays, I will be sharing my honest views and all words are my own.
This week Bristol Hippodrome welcome The Play that Goes Wrong. It is a hilarious light-hearted comedy. The Play That Goes Wrong has been a huge hit in the West End since it’s launch in 2013. It has also been played worldwide on every continent except Antarctica. […]
Thriller Live has hit the stage at Bristol Hippodrome. When T and I were invited along to review it, I was a bit excited. Our whole family are Michael Jackson fans. I have pretty much grown up on his music. With my first ever live music experience being at Wembley stadium for Michael’s incredible Dangerous tour. I have such fond memories of that day. Over the years when I hear his tracks I can’t help but sing along. Now I have children myself, I have passed on the love of his music to my tribe. My playlist of all time favourite songs includes many of MJ’s.
Thriller Live is now in its 10th year running. The show celebrates the life and achievements of Michael Jackson. An impressive 4 MILLION people across 30 countries have seen Thriller live. The playlist included tracks from the beginning with The Jackson Five. Then massive hits from Off The Wall, Thriller, Bad, Dangerous albums plus more.
T, my eldest daughter and I used it as an opportunity to turn off from technology and enjoy an evening of feel-good entertainment. Before the show started she browsed the programme, looking at the songs and recalling her favourites.
The whole cast delivered a great production. Making it difficult not to sing and dance along. Ina Seidon shone throughout the whole show, hitting the high notes with ease. The other singers including Britt, Squilla and Rory, took it in turns to entertain the audience with so many Michael Jackson tracks.
My all-time favourite Michael Jackson song is Man in The Mirror. Earth Song lyrics really strikes a bell with the state of our current world. Michael knew we need to look after the planet 23 years ago when this was released.
And not forgetting the dancers, no show about Michael Jackson would be complete without the moonwalk. The smooth criminal anti-gravity lean generated a huge cheer throughout the audience. at the end there a was the opportunity to get up and dance along, everyone left feeling good.
We had a lovely Mother and Daughter night. And would love to return to see the show with the rest of the family.
Disclaimer: We were offered free press tickets in return of an honest review, all words are my own.
When you are a single parent you get into your groove. I have got used to the daily routine of parenting solo. But changes from the norm can sometimes bring chaos. Planning a single parent holiday can be daunting and stressful. But I like most single parents still want my children to travel and explore new places.
Holidaying alone with children can be nerve-racking and lonely. Yes, I hear you say how can it be lonely when you have the kids in tow. But in the evenings when they are off playing and in bed, it can lonely sitting on your own feeling like a spare part. Recently we came across a fantastic new business specialising in single parent holidays. Melon Holidays organise single-parent families in the UK and Overseas.
Also, another headache for single parents is time! I always short of it as being the only adult in a very busy house with 5 children, I’m always busy being mum, working, being housekeeper and taxi driver. So I don’t have hours on end to trawl the internet to find the perfect place for our family holidays. So with the lazy side of me coming out, I love the fact that someone else has researched the location and negotiated the 1 adult occupancy and so on.
This Easter we tested out their new glamping holiday in Lancashire. I have only camped once before with the kids but that was with my extended family. So hadn’t thought about camping with the kids alone. Glamping had crossed my mind because it wouldn’t mean me having to single-handedly put up a tent. This single parent holiday was based at The Hamlet in the grounds of Samlesbury Hall. The Hamlet is made up of brightly coloured shepherds huts. It is like a mini village as the kids called it. The huts are well equipped with en-suite shower and toilet. They had very comfort oak double bunk beds which easily slept 4 of us. the old two slept in a pod just yards away. Meaning they could have their own time.
The way the huts are set out means that you can get you know your melon neighbours without being on under each other’s feet. The whole site is very safe and secure meaning the kids have some freedom to explore. There is also crazy golf, a bee centre and mini farm on site.
The site was lovely and relaxed. Melon holidays help single parents to meet new families on their holidays. But as they are not fully escorted holidays it is up to you as an individual to dip in and out as you please. Our family spend some time alone doing our own thing and other times we joined in with other families. This meant that the parents could chat while the kids play together.
There is so much do to locally from visiting the Discovery Centre at Fairhaven to heading to Blackpool for a lively few hours. When we stayed the weather was a little wet but we still found lots to do. We spend a good few hours exploring Samlesbury Hall and learning about its history. There is also a fab adventure playground for the kids to run off some energy in.
As well as UK glamping breaks, Melon Holidays also organiser overseas trips. I am loving the look for their October break to Alcudia, who doesn’t need a bit of sun before winter sets in.
Disclaimer : We were offered a glamping trip with Melon Holidays in return for an honest review. All views, words and pictures are my own.
Recently the kids checked out the Mardles – The Egg Who Couldn’t Wait book and Mardles Cutie Stickers. Mardles bring characters to life with their augmented app. The app is quick and easy to download on Apple Store, Google Play and Amazon Apps. Once you have […]
I work for myself and I have to say that I love it. For years I have found the flexibility to work around the kids a godsend. Before all of them went to school fulltime in September. I managed to work with a preschooler buzzing around the house. Always looking forward to the other children being off on school holidays. Meaning we could enjoy being together and the lack of routine. But since they have all been in school full time, the school holidays are getting harder. I feel terrible for writing this but surely I’m not the only one finding it a challenge.
I love spending time with the kids, but life gets in the way. The bigger they get the more inquisitive they get constantly asking questions. This is essential for them to learn so I don’t want to put a dampener on that one. but how many whys can you answer in one day?
Then there’s the mess, 4 lots of toys out at once, no one owns up to who made what mess. Meaning a trail of devastation that no one wants to clear up as it wasn’t them. With the mess, we might as well pair up the arguing. Seriously I have to watch them like hawks to see who causes each argument. When I am in another room, it is usually about 10 minutes before someone storms off, something goes flying or someone is screaming out.
I try my hardest to keep the kids entertained with days out and breaks away. But with all the best intentions we can’t can’t be out all the time. Even when we are out at least one child wants to be home. I understand that the 16 yo doesn’t want to trail along with us all the time and that is fine. However, the 11yo seems to think as her older sister stays how she can too. She feels hard done by having to trail along. This holiday we have had a glamping trip away and several days out with friends. So you would think on they could nicely watch a film and chill for a few hours on the days I need to work, but no!
The work thing also now stresses me as I used to be able to catch up in the evenings when the kids went to bed during the holidays. Nowadays I am so blooming exhausted once they all go to bed due to later bedtimes now they are old. I usually collapse in a heap on the sofa.
I really want to focus on the good times with them as they are growing too quickly and before I know it they will have all flown the nest. So for the future half terms, I am going to make a decent plan. Meaning we can all enjoy it. I will be looking into holiday clubs and Grandma Daycare for a few days. So they are happy and entertained whilst I work. And make sure I plan ahead with work, not leaving me trying to meet deadline whilst they are requiring my attention. As they are now away from me at school a good chunk of their time. Then throw in all the afterschool clubs and other stress.
This has ultimately reminded me of the most important lesson in parenting. Which is never think you have it nailed as there is always a curveball on the horizon. Forever a learner!
Our Favourite Merlin Days Out
If you follow our family on Instagram you will see we love our Merlin Annual Passes. Brought on a whim in their sale in 2016 I wasn’t sure how much we would use them but we have got our monies worth. We have had lots of fantastic days out so I’m sharing the paces we will definitely be returning to.
- Chessington World of Adventures – I have very fond childhood memories of visiting Chessington Zoo with my family, there was only a few rides then and lots of animals. So the park has certainly changed over the years with many more rides but also plenty of animals too. As the kids range so widely in age 4 years to 16 years. It is sometimes difficult to keep them all happy. But Chessington has something for every one of them. And lots of things we all love, last year they have added the Gruffalo Ride to replace the famous Bubbleworks. I wasn’t so sure and the Gruffalo seems to have been overdone, but our family verdict was we loved it. A few of my thrill seekers love to ride the Vampire Ride, whilst the less brave of the family can have a merrier time on the Adventure Tree.
- Warwick Castle – last year when we first visited Warwick Castle we weren’t sure what to expect, but it was great fun with the Horrible Histories Maze, exploring the Castle itself, the younger girls loved meeting the Princess in her tower. But in 2016 the highlight of the day was the jousting. Then last year they have upped their game with War of the Roses Live, a fast-paced live show with horse and knights.
- Alton Towers – October 2016 we hired a cottage near Alton Towers so we could go for a few days. Then explore other places locally. Well there was so much to do we spent 5 out of our 7 days in the park. CbeebiesLand is great and all the kids loved it. Even the teen well she is a first generation Cbeebies baby. When she was little we only got an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon. Very different from nowadays when the kids get to have a permanent fix of Cbeebies. There is the big thrill seeker rides that T wanted to go on but The Smiler was probably my least favourite experience of the day. We also spent a whole day at the Waterpark, which was great too.
- Weymouth Sealife Centre – Is a great day out if the weather is good. It has a fab splash park, so the kids always have a blast in that. Last year they added a new adventure playground too, Carribean Cove. It’s location is a winner too, more or less on Weymouth seafront. So once we finish at the Sealife centre we can head across the road for a paddle and even fish and chips on the beach.
Bluestone – Kingdom of The Elves
This year I have not been able to get into the Christmas spirit at all. With less than 2 weeks to go and a house full of kids, I really needed to get my head in the game. So when the opportunity arose to visit Bluestone for a Christmas break, it was time to get festive. As I decided the kids needed a treat after a tricky few months.
I had heard great things about the Christmas activities at Bluestone for the last couple of years, especially Kingdom of The Elves. So couldn’t wait to experience it with the kids for myself. We were booked onto our flight to Elftopia in the middle of our break. Meaning we had plenty of time to explore everything else on offer at Bluestone. We loved the Blue Lagoon and its waves, lazy river and flumes. The Adventure Centre where the Kingdom of the Elves was based also houses lots more. Including the massive wooden adventure playground, crazy golf, climbing wall, sky trail and younger kids soft play area. So we had hours of fun in the there.
Bluestone has a village of its very own with a convenience shop, gift shop, a couple of restaurants, coffee shop and outdoor playground. Plus the Well Spa Retreat, not that I could visit this time as I alone with the 5 kids. Afterall it would have been kind of cheeky to leave my 16-year-old in charge of the smaller kids while I pampered myself.
Kingdom of The Elves
We picked up the 3 littlest kids elf suits the day before our flight. They didn’t have any suits to fit the older 2 girls, but to tell you the truth I don’t think they would have worn them. However, they were given a large plush elf cuddly toy each.
I made sure we arrived at the Adventure Centre about half an hour before our time slot, to ensure we were all ready. Rosy Cheeks and all. We had to head to the departure lounge where we left all our worries behind and security checked we were all believers!
Then we boarded the plane to Elftopia, the journey was comical, bumpy and snowy too. The Elf Pilot was full of jokes and cheeky antics, that kept smiles firmly on the kids and adults faces throughout the flight.
The kids then went to the stardust workshop, where they met Seren the Elf who was full of glittery, starry fun. Then onto The Funhouse, yes plenty of parents including me can remember our weekly dose of the Funhouse. Elf ‘Pat Sharp’, we loved this interactive part of the Kingdom. There was full parent and child participation in games against the kids and adults. I bet you can guess who won!
After the funhouse, it was the final part of the Kingdom of The Elves was pretty icy. We got to meet the Snow Queen there. And had great fun dancing and singing. Plus a full-on snowball fight too.
The whole Kingdom of The Elves experience lasted about an hour and 20 minutes. We went it the kingdom with a group of around 20, so a pretty personal experience. Not too crowded, so all of the kids got a look in. I find it really hard to find Christmas activities that suit all of the kids. They are aged from 4 years up to 16 years. But we all smiled laughed and joined in, definitely one for the memory jar!
Disclaimer: We were offered a Midweek visit to Bluestone Wales and Tickets to The Kingdom of The Elves in return for an honest review.
This week it would have been my Daddy’s and my little tribes Grandpa’s 71st Birthday. On his heavenly birthday, we take time out of our busy schedule to reflect. On his life and all the happy memories, we have of him. Remembering Grandpa enables our precious […]
Parenting is a constant learning curve and I am not sure I will ever get it sussed. So this is a post I thought I would never be writing about why my 4-year-old co-sleeps with me.
Ok, when all my babies were small they didn’t co-sleep with me. A couple of reasons I fed completely on demand so never clock-watched. When they woke they had a little top up. Then dozed off and I transferred them to the cot. All of 5 of them were pretty settled accept my middle daughter. After pacing the floor with her for awhile while she woke the whole street up. She would give in and fell back to sleep and then settled down in her cot.
And as a teen mum with my first 16 years ago I had been advised not to and wanted to be the best possible mum I could be and stuck to the rules. Yes, you don’t hear that often but you did read that correctly I stuck to the rules!!! The more children I had the rules regarding co-sleeping seemed to change every time and it seemed like a minefield. So I stuck to what I knew and popped my little sleep depriving bundles back in their cot.
So fast forward many years and my youngest bundle is now a school goer at the ripe old age of 4. And she wants her Mum more than ever at bedtime. She goes to sleep absolutely fine, but more nights than not when I go up to bed she’s in my bed. Do I move her back no, would I have done so with the others, yes! Sorry kids that doesn’t mean I love you any less, in case you’re reading this. It just means I’ve caved and become a softy. But subconsciously I know I’m holding on to my final baby.
But the reality of it all is she now spends 5 days a week away from me, more than ever before. Her little brain has adjusted to some big changes, with starting school. So I’m not going to cause a fuss about it.
How long will it last, I have no idea but I’m sure she won’t still be creeping in when she’s a teenager. So as winter’s coming and the nights are getting colder. I’ll allow her to warm the bed up and save me to effort of filling up a hot water bottle!
What does the Summer Holidays mean to our family? Lazy days, adventures, sunshine, rainy days and most important of all no routine. The holidays seem to have been way too short and flown by. Looking back on my 10,000s of pictures I thought I would share our highlights of our summer holidays.
Camp Bestival –
The weather in early July was pretty glorious, So we were very much looking forward to our first ever festival and first ever camping trip. Then the weather decided to take a turn for the worst with heavy rain and wind forecast. To say it was making me slightly dreading the weekend, would be pretty spot on. When we arrived it was sunny and my positivity returned. We stayed in Pitch Village so our tents were already up and ready to go. The Pitch Village also had nice and clean facilities, with lovely friendly staff too, we will definitely choose this option again.
By the next morning the rain was pretty heavy and endless, so we got kitted out in our wellies and waterproofs and headed to the main site. Yes, we got absolutely soaked for the majority of the weekend but we made some truly magical memories watching and dancing to Mark Ronson was a once in a lifetime thing. The final day was sunny and we enjoyed lounging around in the sun enjoying the variety of acts. The kids are desperate to go again next year and I’m coming around to the idea too.
Avebury Manor –
If you follow me on Instagram you will see we love a good National Trust day out. So we returned to Avebury Manor for a family day out, the kids absolutely love it there, great for just a walk or for the kids to dress up and get hands-on in the house.
Cracking GCSE Results –
I was slightly worried about the new grading system for the GCSE’s. Plus it was a completely new thing for me to experience as a mum. T and I both lost sleep in the run-up to results day. But I am not sure what we were worried about as the blooming superstar did absolutely incredibly. I am one proud mama and T is now the proud owner of 9 A-C. Meaning she is now off to college to do her preferred course. We did celebrate with a family lunch at Frankie and Benny’s
Victorious Festival –
I wanted to end the holiday with a surprise day out. I spotted that Olly Murs was at The Victorious Festival in Portsmouth so thought that would be the perfect treat. The eldest 3 girls and I went to The O2 to see Olly Murs in the spring. But F was pretty annoyed he didn’t get to come too. On the morning of the festival, once F and A knew where we were going and that Olly was going to be there, they were beside themselves with excitement.
The weather was very hot, so we spent most of the day chilling out in the Children’s Arena. A’s complete highlight of the day was seeing the real Mr Bloom on the stage, singing and dancing. I went with all 5 of the kids on my own, but they were really well behaved, phew! Olly wasn’t on until 9.30pm, but my kids love a late night, so weren’t phased. They all sang and danced the night away. Even if T and I needed to keep swapping the little ones so they could see. When we got back to the car F said it ‘Was the Best Day of His Life’, so a definite parenting win.
The weather was very hot, so we spent most of the day chilling out in the Children’s Arena. A’s complete highlight of the day was seeing the real Mr Bloom on the stage, singing and dancing. I went with all 5 of the kids on my own, but they were really well behaved, phew! Olly wasn’t on until 9.30pm, but my kids love a late night, so weren’t phased. They all sang and danced the night away, even if T and I needed to keep swapping the little ones so they could see. When we got back to the car F said it ‘Was the Best Day of His Life’, so a definite parenting win.
Beach Days –
We love to be beside the seaside and me and the 4 youngest kids headed to Weymouth Sealife Park for a very sunny day out. We spent a long time in the Park and then once we had finished we headed over to the beach to have a little paddle and chill.
Then later in August, I needed to head to Bournemouth to do a bit of work. So I and 4 of the kids tied it in with a visit to the beach. Firstly we visited Sandbanks, but it was a bit rainy so just stayed for a few hours. I hadn’t been for years and had totally forgotten what a beautiful beach it was. The kids built sand castles and did gymnastics on the sand. We then headed back to the main Bournemouth beach, wow was it busy, but we walked further up from the pier. It was quieter there and I treated the kids to an Ice Cream. We then headed for a paddle, but of course, F turned that into a full-on swim, that boy is water crazy.
Wow, when I thought because we hadn’t been on a ‘proper’ holiday we hadn’t done much. But now I can see that we did tons and made some awesome memories along the way.
The summer has flown by and it’s almost GCSE results day. A first for our family and a new learning curve in my parenting journey. Check out my thoughts.
The last few nights I have had sleepless nights. Not because of restless toddlers or unsettled babies but because results day is less than a week away. When it comes to being a worrying mother that is just not my style. Yes I care and adore my children but I am a real believer that they need to find their own desired path in life. With a little bit of help and guidance from me. I’m really not sure what I’m worrying about what’s done is done and whatever the results on 24th August, I will be immensely proud of my 16 year old.
Daily I read (I mean skim) articles of how unbelievably hard the new style graded GCSE are this year. How they are having to adjust the grade boundaries accordingly to prevent a plummet in this year’s results. T worked her little socks off for an unclear target that neither the school or education board could seem to clearly translate for their students.
As a parent, I feel she has been in a year of trail Guinea pigs. I know sometimes things need to change but selfishly I just prefer if it hadn’t been this year. The old A-G system seemed to work with a clear indication of top marks. Bringing in a numbers system immediately suggests to people that 1 would be top. Well, we’ve all seen those No.1 mum/daughter/son cards. But no number one is in fact the lower grade with 9 being the highest a double A** I believe, oops see what I’ve done there converted the new grading back to the old workable one. As everyone is bound to ask what’s does that 7 mean then!
Oh dear, I seem to have gone off on a tangent. The reason for this post is just to say whatever the outcome on Thursday 24th August. The results are meant to be and will shape you for the future. Those grades you need for your preferred course were insight, but if something else gets in the way we will adjust accordingly. Life is all about twists and turns, I mean who really know what they want to do with the rest of their lives at 16?
T you are a clever kid and will go far in life.
So as the day comes we will drop you off and await your results. Once you are home we will go celebrate you being you with tons loads of pizza. Well that’s not if you don’t ditch us to go and spend time with your friends.
Our Favourite National Trust Family Days Out
Last year I decided that we needed to get out for more family days. So I spotted an offer in a magazine for a reduced rate National Trust membership. What was better was that with a 1 adult family member, I am able to take upto 10 children in for free with me. Not that I would be that nuts to take 10 kids out with me!!! We had lots of fun days out, last year and Jolie, my little historian learnt heaps. The other kids gained a real interest as well. I also learnt some new stuff too. The kids love running around the grounds of the different houses and pretending they are in the olden days.
We have renewed our passes for this year too now, so lots more adventure ahead of us. But for now, I thought we would share our favourite days out so far.
- Lacock Abbey and Village – this has to be top of our list as it is only 5 minutes down the road. Our family has visited it numerous times through the year. We pop there for a quick walk, a spring picnic or a whole day catching up with friends. My little historian and Harry Potter geek will tell you how some of the Harry Potter filmings has taken place in the abbey. Plus many other period dramas have been filmed in the picturesque village.
- Kingston Lacy – This is a bit of a drive for us, but as a birthday day out for Jolie, we ventured to Dorset. The house is grand and very pretty, I spend a good hour or so sat on the lawns in front of the house. Whilst the kids played tag. There is a trail through the woodland. Where we found bluebells and the kids were even quiet enough to hear the birds chorus. We explored the Japenese Garden and loved seeing all the Egyptian artefacts in the house. When we visited on Easter Sunday and as the Cadbury’s Egg Hunt was on it was pretty busy. We will look forward to visiting again when it is quieter.
- Stourhead – every time we visit we find other areas we haven’t explored before. The scenery is beautiful (seriously how old do I sound) and so changeable with the seasons. On our last visit without a pushchair for the first time, the kids had great fun exploring the caves. We have yet to go into the house so we will look forward to that next time hopefully.
- Kynance Cove – Recently on our holiday to Cornwall, we found a little bit of paradise, they cover is stunning and the weather was beautiful, it was like being transported to another world. We now have some beautiful memories from that day and hopefully, we will be able to return when we go back to Cornwall one day.
- Avebury – is also pretty local to us, so somewhere we can pop to for an afternoon adventure. Avebury is a huge stone circle, so makes for a fun walk. The kids love the Avebury Manor as it is more hands on that some of the National Trust houses. They can lie on a bed, dress up in costumes and even cook up a storm in the kitchen.
We have lots of other places to visit on this year’s to go list, so we will keep you up dated on those adventures too.
New year always brings a refreshed hope and ignites all those dreams of a better life. So while the ideas are still at the forefront of my mind and seem achievable, I thought I would share our 2017 plans before the stress of everyday life dulls them and they fall by the wayside.
Here’s Our List
- Firstly to make the most of the last 6 months of our Merlin Annual Passes. We brought them on a whim last June and have had fab days out in Weymouth, at Chessington, Blackpool and Alton Towers. But there is still so much to explore we will be visiting London a couple of times. Where we will visit all of the attractions included there especially The Shrek Adventure and The London Eye. The teen also wants a grown up day out to Thorpe Park to enjoy the rollercoasters, not sure how keen I am but heyho best keep the eldest happy.
- A personal one for me would be to grow my blog following and regularly post weekly or more and also gain confidence in vlogging too
- Our first and maybe one and only camping adventure. The eldest it 16 this year and asked to go to a festival for her birthday special treat, so we have booked for the whole family to go to Camp Bestival in July. I’m really not sure where to start, so any camping tips gratefully received. Some of the line up has been announced and looks like so much fun.
- It is GCSE year so a biggy, so we are all hoping that the pressure of exams doesn’t make the house a too dull place. She will shine I’m sure, good luck gorgeous.
- My business goals have been set and they will be achieved (positive thinking at it’s best). I will keep to them this year and see some growth enabling (us) me as the only adult in the house to not worry so much about making ends meet each month.
- We absolutely loved getting away to Disneyland Paris just before Christmas this year. A getaway was much needed after the long school term, but as completely amazing as it was it was bloody knackering too. So it got me thinking, dreaming and wishing for another holiday next Christmas, but I would love for us to chill in the sunshine and let the kids swim/splash about it a pool (as I would love to see the benefit in heavy investment into swimming lessons). So I will be in contacting my travel agent soon to pick her brains for ideas of where to go
- Our house is busy and very well used by our big family. I’m first to admit it isn’t as tidy as I would like but seriously I can’t keep up with it and running a business and looking after the kids. So a cleaner would be a dream but until I can afford one, I think it’s time for a freshen up, so we plan to get the paint out!
- I’m sure we will add tons more adventures along the way this year but this gives up a good start. What have you got planned?
Warwick Castle – Knights and Castles not just for boys.
Our final Merlin trip out for the summer holidays was to Warwick Castle. I have to admit it wasn’t first on our list when we got our Merlin Annual Passes earlier in the year. But chatting to the tribe they all agreed that the boy of the family would love a day out full of Knights and Castles. It sure isn’t just for boys the girls were hooked and loved every second, well apart from the odd squabble and toddler meltdown, but no family day out would be complete without those!
It is just under a 2 hour drive from us so as we usually do we packed a picnic and set off early for a full on day out. We were at the castle just before they opened so bagged a space close by in the stables car park, definitely worth the extra pennies as it was right at the castle entrance so no trek across town.
As we arrived the kids spotted a Knight on horseback add were instantly buzzing, then we all saw the size of the castle and couldn’t wait to explore.
We checked out the maze and completed all of the stamps on our card before finally stepping inside the castle walls, then stopping for a snack on the lawn in the middle whilst planning where we were going to head next.
There was a full schedule of shows and events to fill the day.
Having researched Warwick Castle on Instagram, the jousting was definitely a firm favourite with many so we needed to take a look, we got down to the field in plenty of time to get our ringside or should that be arena side view pitch. We certainly weren’t disappointed, it was amazing balls as one of the kids said. High pace, energetic, audience engaging with an added bit of sense of humour.
We then headed into the castle, wow wow the kids loved it. Then it was picnic time followed by a visit to the Princess Tower to help her solve the mystery.
The kingmaker display was very interesting but a little too dark for the baby of the family so couldn’t explore as much as we would have liked because she was desperate to escape.
Birds aren’t my thing so missed that one out (selfish Mummy!), plus the thought of trekking (carrying little ones up) up the tower didn’t appeal either so will do that on another visit when the kids are a bit bigger.
We finished the day off watching the Horrible Histories show and the fire catapult. The horrible histories show was very funny from start to finish, I had heard of Horrible Histories but never watched a programme or shared one of their books with the tribe, so I was amazed how informative and educational it was whilst being so light hearted. We will definitely be looking out for more HH stuff. We sat on the hillside waiting for the real fire to be launched by the man powered catapult. A good end to a memorable day.
We will definitely be returning, have you visited Warwick Castle? What was your favourite thing.
After a fab third week I was looking forward to spending more time with the kids during week four of the summer holidays. It was a very different week and my patience have been tested to the max.
Monday friends popped over to continue sorting the garden, that is a never ending job.
Tuesday we headed back to Winchester to see an old friend, it is always good to go back and catch up with old friends, it is pretty unbelievable that we relocated to Wiltshire 5 years ago. Even though it was the best decision we made we still miss friends. The weather was lovely and warm so we chilled and chatted in the garden all afternoon prefect.
Wednesday was the start of a pretty rubbish few days, the kids were tired and grumpy and seriously uncooperative, so there isn’t much positive to say, but the babies and I did manage to enjoy half an hour of calm grabbing a Milkshake at a lovely local cafe whilst the 3 older girls swam with one of my friends. The milkshake was so off plan., but seriously struggling with keeping on the Slimming World plan with the kids home. Then the middle one ticked off one of her summer wishes by learning to ride her bike hurray, so proud to see her excited face as she achieved her goal.
Thursday was the day the boy got his arms back, hurrah. After just under 4 weeks he had his plaster removed and now is in splints for the next few weeks to ensure his wrists heal well. So the first thing we did once we got home was the bath him, as his hands were minging. The messiness in the house has reach a new high and I have an army of 5 undoing everything I try to do.
The baby of the family seems to have picked up a bug too, bring on the extra washing and clinginess, oh and don’t forget the sleeplessness. By this point in the week I was pretty tired and didn’t need any extra stress but someone had other plans for me. Friday I was clung to by the baby all day so nothing amazing happened. Both the middle girls picked up certificates at Gymnastics and Swimming this week, love to see my money isn’t going to waste!!!
At the weekend Grandma returned from holiday yay, that means I might get 10 minutes peace or at least a chance to try and catch up with my never ending to do list. So we just spent time catching up over the weekend.
Putting pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, it doesn’t seem like we did much but, the week seemed pretty hectic, but that’s our life hey!
So the first week of the school summer holidays flew by, so it was full steam ahead into Summer holiday’s – week two. But where’s my energy gone? I was feeling shattered from the start so it was an exhausting week.
On Monday we returned from our trip to Wales, then I managed to dump (drop off) most of the tribe at Grandma’s so I could head to Aldi to restock my cupboards with triple the amount of food than we usually consume on the average term time week, because children like to constantly eat when they aren’t in routine. So cupboards stacked with more than the average amount of treats so that I can bribe my way through the week, the kids had a choice for dinner instead of the odd couple of fish fingers, a pizza, some pasta and cocktail sausages.
Kids fed I headed to SW as I skipped it last week due to the the boy’s wrist trauma, I was dreading it as I has well and truly fallen of the SW wagon. The result wasn’t good bloody 2.5lb on FFS, I was only 1lb away from target and now I’m now needing to shift 3.5lb to get my next shiny. The gain was totally deserved, so I will be on salad all week!
Tuesday and Wednesday I worked and the 4 smallest went to Grandma’s so I finally got to tick some tasks off my never ending work list.
They baked cakes and flapjacks, which they loved as we never bake at home.
Wednesday I had an ultra exciting meeting about the future and am still buzzing from that, all will be revealed very soon, eek!
As my meeting ran over I was later than expected to collect the kids, so swung by the golden arches to get tea, which instantly put me in the kids good books, because there is nothing better than a tea that comes with a toy and you can eat out of a cupboard box, sod the crap nutritional food content. Dish the kids boxes out for one of them to ask where are my chips and then realise none of them had chips, so I rang and they said they would have new meals ready with the added bonus of McFlurry’s that I was too tight to buy. So even though I had to drive all the way back across town, my brownie points had now doubled with the kids.
The day was then topped off with the lovely gesture from the boy, he picked me a beautiful rose from Grandma’s garden, it’s the small things hey!
Thursday was new cast day for Faryl and he was super excited to be getting coloured casts. I was early for the hospital, which is pretty rare for me to be early anywhere. But a good job I was as there is no parking at the hospital due to building works so we had to drive around and around!! The doctor was running 90 minutes late, thank god I took the iPad with us otherwise the boy would have been climbing the walls. Then once we had seen the doctor we had a 45 minute wait for him to be replastered, yawn!
So that was fair chunk of the day gone, Grandma had the other 3 little ones, so we met her in the local park where there were free kids activities. But it was like torture for Faryl who has recently developed no fear and still wants to scale the highest climbing frames even though he has both hands in casts, so moaned continuously that it wasn’t far, so we will be avoiding parks for the next 2 weeks until he has his arms back in full working order, hopefully! Then came the leaving the park fiasco, running away, wanting to stay longer, wanting to go home with one of the other mums we were out with, yes the usual parenting jazz. Which if similar ever happens to you, you will sympathise with my thoughts of why the hell did we ever come to the park and continuously give the kids an open threat that we will never go out for the day again!! But finally I bribed them into the car with chocolate brownies, so Monday’s food shop wasn’t all in vain.
Swimming lessons aka ‘Mum’s Weekly Sweat Session’ carries on so I headed to the pool with the two middle girls, even though it was as hot and sticky in there as ever. Today’s proud Mummy moment came with one of the girls doing the final task need to complete the level, so will soon be swimming in stage 2, not bad work when she only started lessons at the end of May. The other tried really hard and completed loads of tasks to rocket her from 29% to 78% of her way through the stage. Good work girlies xx
Friday, we had plans to head to Countryfile Live but hearing about the nightmare traffic stories from the day before we decided to give it a miss. The thought of being stuck for hours in traffic which a screechy, whiny load of kids in the car filled me with dread. And we were going to do something locally, but the firstborn had a reaction to a sting/bite so need to see the doc right in the middle of the day, so I was given no choice but to stay home and tidy the tip that is our house. Why o why during the holidays can they not all play with one thing and put it away then move onto the next, oops I forgot they are kids!!!
Grandma is now away for 2 weeks so I have no childcare and a little extra work so wish me luck.
Saturday we headed out with friends, the weather was lush, when it’s hot and sunny, it always make me want to emigrate somewhere sunny, as I always feel so much more positive and have energy when the sun shines. Oh well maybe one day hey!
Sunday I had grand plans to do some gardening, but it was raining when we got up, so that was enough of an excuse to not bother. So did a few bits around the house, but I was feeling pretty knackered, so lounge around a bit. The kids were expecting a visitor but they didn’t show and could see them clock watching, so as the weather brightened up I decided to get them ready and headed out after lunch. As National Trust members (not I’m not old before my time) we have some great houses and gardens locally, so chose to go to Avebury Stone Circle and Manor as t had been recommended to us by friends. The kids had a whirl and we blew away the cobwebs. It was a lush end to week two and we only finished the day with 2 major meltdowns, result!
School holidays are completely exhausting, but I do go to bed remembering the kids laughs and smiles through the day, call me mushy but that’s what parenting I all about right!
Week one of the summer holidays are now over and done with, I survived. Our week started with the confirmation the The Boy had fractured both his wrists after a fall off a climbing frame at the weekend. So bring on the emotions, when they told […]
Our Alternative Family Holiday
As a family we love a holiday, it’s something to work/save towards all year and a very welcome reward and break from the general pressures of life.
I had originally planned our holiday to Eurocamp in Brittany, France. Having had two fantastic holidays in the past two years in Vendee at Eurocamp site, we were very excited. But the difference this time it would be me flying (driving) solo with all 5 kids. I thought that as they’d aged the lengthy time in the car last year they would be better this year. But earlier this spring after some stressful not particularly long journeys in the car, I realised that it would be an enormous pressure to drive to France. This would lead to a stressful start to the holiday, and the kids or myself wouldn’t enjoy it.
So I CANCELLED!!!! A big decision and lost several hundreds of pounds but hopeful saved some of my sanity.
Next decision was what to do now, as much as the kids love holiday camps like Haven, I find I’m constantly saying no, no I can’t manage to take you all swimming alone, no your sisters doesn’t want to go and see Sid & Lizzie, let’s have an early night and not go to the disco tonight, no you can’t have that overpriced tacky merchandise from the shop, no you can’t have endless fizzy pop from the bar!
So I wanted to be able to say yes, so decided to try something new to us all, a quiet cottage in the country, so I spend a couple of evenings searching cottage websites and on Hoseasons found a suitable cottage near Glastonbury, Somerset.
It was close by just over an hour so no lengthy car journey ✔️
It had 4 bedrooms, a luxury as we only have 3 at home ✔️
It had a garden, to eat outside, one of the kids requests ✔️
It was in a new area we hadn’t explored before ✔️
So I was very excited about switching off from work and spending some quality time with the tribe.
Our online food shop arrived first thing Monday morning, we packed the car and set off.
On arrival we were impressed with the cottage, it was clean and very well equipped, they even left us chocolate biscuits (well that was the kids converted).
We had lots of fun days out and one day just exploring our surrounds, with a family random trek.
The holiday was fab and the kids were very well behave the majority of the time, only the odd meltdown. We made some precious memories which will stay with us all forever. The sun shone lots. I proved that you can take 5 kids on holiday with 1 parent, with not too much pressure.
So I’m so glad that we changed our plans to an alternative destination. We will be heading back to France again maybe next year or the year after but think we will be taking Grandma too.
Mum Under Pressure xx