This week Bristol Hippodrome hosts Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake. I was lucky enough to go along to my first ever ballet on Tuesday. I wasn’t sure what you expect as it was all new to me. My friend that I watched with had last seen […]
It’s time to share our magical winter adventure. For Christmas 2018 we did something we have never done before as a family. We went skiing! I love to give the kids new experiences and 20 years ago I went to on a school skiing trip and loved every minute. So always vowed I would return, but due to life getting in the way, it took a bit longer than expected.
Each Christmas I feel an enormous pressure to buy, buy for the kids. However a few years ago I broke the cycle by taking the kids on a trip to Disneyland Paris and minimal
I booked on a whim and didn’t think about the logistics of skiing with 5 kids on my own. As the year passed by and the holiday neared, I told myself I should get fit and visit the gym. That never happened, so i must be fitter than I think! We awaited Aldi Ski Special Buys, as I’m forever on a budget. Even had a last-minute worry if the renewed passports would arrive but it all panned out in the end.
We headed to Bulgaria on 22nd December and stayed the week. As soon as we landed the enormity of the snow wowed the kids and I fought back a tear. They were in Winter Wonderland. Once we arrived at the hotel and settled into our picture perfect villa, we headed to the centre of the resort. I lost count of how many times the first day the kids said this is amazing Mummy, no amount of money can buy that feeling as a parent. We had our ski kit fitted ready for classes the following morning.
The morning came and I think we were all a little bit apprehensive. I was worried about dropping Aliza, 5 off at kindergarten for a few hours while we had lessons. Little did I realise that it would infact be all day as our ski lessons were 4 hours long plus a lunch break in the middle. Once she settled in was a bit of an ‘argh’ moment when it hit home I needed to ski for 4 hours, when I never made it to the gym to prepare myself! The first morning of skiing was hard going on us all, I think all 4 of the older kids had a little moment of ‘I don’t want to do this’.
Once lessons were finished and we all reunited with Aliza, we all felt a bit fragile. Day 2 for the Lex, 12, Jojo, 9 and Faz, 7 was tough they were tired and emotional. A bit of
T, 17 and I were together in a class, we laughed until we cried some days. And I realised I hadn’t forgotten how to ski and didn’t fall over all week, hurrah! She had a couple of spectacular falls, but dusted herself off and carried on like a real trooper.
It was the most magical Christmas was made even more idyllic when it started to snow heavily on Christmas Eve. Then continued to snow all day on Christmas Day. There was no mention of presents from the kids. Santa did deliver them a stocking each, with some token gifts.
The whole experience was out of this world they kids all left Bulgaria being able to ski. And with memories, that I’m sure will last them a lifetime. We now plan to ski again in a couple of years I need to save up first. And whatever
2019 is a massive year for The Lion King. Not only is it going to hit the cinema screens with a Live action version. But the UK stage production celebrates it’s 20th year. So it is fantastic news that Disney’s The Lion King is coming […]
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 and is currently on a national tour. The tour continues across the country until October 2019 and visits many great theatres.
Motown the Musical shares the story of the incredible Motown generation that transformed the music industry throughout the 60s, 70s and 80s. The story follows Motown founder Berry Gordy’s journey from jobless ‘bum’ to leading a musical empire.
The $800 loan from his family was enough to help to start his big dream. Gordy was fantastically played by Edward Baruwa, his voice was strong and vibrant. The songs chosen helped to set the scene, the were catchy and I couldn’t help humming along.
Before I watched the show, I was excited to see how many songs I would know. Due to my parents love for Motown music and years growing up with classic artists like Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and Diana Ross. I knew a lot, much like the whole audience, whose ages varied. I had heard my parents talk about Motown changing the world when I was young, but I don’t think I quite grasped the enormity of it. But during the production seeing the scene in the Deep South and hearing that the blacks and whites were segregated and not allowed to dance together almost seems alien to the integration we have today.
There were moments in the production when I had a lump in my throat. Watching the
The whole cast portrayed some music legends very well and the costumes, were just amazing, so many sparkly sequined numbers.
The Musical told the story throughout the Motown years and the ups and downs. Major ups being Motown’s first ever No.1, the growth of The Supremes, finding the child stars Stevie wonder and The Jackson 5. Then seeing their careers soar, until the lows came. Many acts left the Motown label for deals Gordy couldn’t compete with rival record labels.
Will Berry Gordy attend the 25th Anniversary concert, set in 1983, the year I was born. All his big artist returned to play? But will the main man be there? Well you’ll have to watch the production to find out!
My overall verdict is that Motown The Musical is a high energy and gripping production.
Disclaimer – I was given press tickets in return for an honest review of the show.
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 […]
We have been fans of Benidorm the TV series for years. For a good few years, Tegan my 17 year old has joined me once the other children are in bed to laugh along. Now the popular comedy TV show has hit the stage. Earlier this week we headed to Bristol Hippodrome where Benidorm Live was on stage.
As we were taking our seats I noticed the massive age range of the viewers. Spotting 3 generations of some families attending. When we settled into our seats, the set was bright and colourful, making the stage look massive. We arrived early for a change so enjoyed the buzz and cheesy tunes playing before the production started.
The prodution started in the reception area of the Solana Hotel annd straight away the laughs came. Joyce Temple-Savage the hotel manager played by the fantastic Sherrie Hewson, was just a good as in the TV show. The tounge in cheek saucy comedy rolled on throughout the show.
It is hard to believe that the TV show has been running over 10 years. Benidorm Live had a very strong cast with Tony Maudsley played Kenneth complete with his tight tshirt and hot pants. Jacqueline’s character is pretty well know for her sexual inuendo’s in the TV show and Janine Duvitski delivered these seamlessly during Benidorm Live. The production wouldn’t have been complete with heartthrob barman Mateo played by Jake Canuso. The scene wirth him in his speedo’s definitley provoked a reaction. Also Liam (Adam Gillen) and holiday rep Sam (Shelley Longworth) brought some comedy moments to the show.
The Benidorm’s writer Darren Litten said he wanted to bring Benidorm to the stage as he wanted to hear the audience’s laughter. Which definitely could be heard throughout the production. Myselff and Tegan where crying with laughter at some points. We definitley left in a really happy mood.
Disclaimer: Bristol Hippodrome gave us tickets for press night in return for an honest review.
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 […]
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 family favourite. So we had high hopes that the theatre production would be as good as the film.
As soon as the orchestra started to play we knew we were in for a treat. And before long the audience were clapping along. The opening scenes saw Jemima and Jeremy playing in the dilapidated car and dreaming of it running again one day. When they found out Mr Coggins was going to sell the car, they begged their inventor father, Caractacus Potts, to buy it. He racked his brains to come up with a plan to raise the money. Including accidentally inventing a musical sweet that he took to the Sweet Factory where he bumped into Truly Scrumptious. He finally raised the money by inventing a haircutting machine.
Once Caractacus had brought the car he set about transforming it. Before we knew it he was unveiling a shiny and very impressive Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Then the four of them headed to the beach for a picnic singing along to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Jolie was mesmerised throughout the productions, spotting small details on the set. the costumes were fantastic too.
I think most people are aware of the Child Catcher in the iconic film. I left the younger children at home and only took Jolie, 9, as they are easily scared. She had seen the film in the past so was prepared for.
Our favourite parts of the show were Truly Scrumptious performing her clockwork dance, it was amazing to watch. Also seeing Chitty Chitty Bang Bang fly whilst clapping along. And not forgetting the comical Vulgarian spies, who certainly provided many a laugh.
BLOC Productions are an amateur theatre group based in Bristol. They were formed in 1933 and since 1956 they have been performing an annual show at Bristol Hippodrome. the production was seamless and it is amazing to think their actors are amateurs as they could certainly pass as professionals.
I can officially say that BLOC Productions cast, definitely topped the film and we loved every minute of the show.
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 […]
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 findings:-
- Hilltop – J aged 9, my bookworm, has read every single Beatrix Potter book. Meaning there would be no way we could visit the Lake District without going to the home of Potter herself. Hilltop is the first memory I had of a National Trust day out as a child. When I visited many moons ago, it was lovely to see the actual veg garden where Peter Rabbit caused his fictional mischief. It’ll be lovely to relive this with my kids.
- Mirehouse – We are actually staying in Keswick so Mirehouse is very close. It looks like there is loads to do, with lovely gardens to explore, including a Bee garden and the playground looks cool (that is such a Mum phrase!). Mirehouse is a family run house and winner of Cumbria Tourism Awards 2017 – Visitor Attraction so definitely worth a visit.
- The World of Beatrix Potter – Unless you have had your head buried in the sand, I am sure your kids have raved about the recent Peter Rabbit film or the CBeebies TV series. So The World of Beatrix Potter will be great for all the Peter Rabbit fans in our family. It looks like a fun back day out. I have also stumbled across a great offer from PicNiq for up to 16% off. The offer includes a steam-train ride on a Victorian carriage and a lake cruise. Plus admission into the award-winning World of Beatrix Potter.
- Carlisle Castle – I’m sure it’s not just my kids that love to play knights. Carlisle Castle looks like it has loads to explore. Families can even explore the turret where Mary Queen of Scots was held captive. Also, there is the Cumbria Museum of Military Life on site.
- National Trust – Allan Bank and Grasmere – Allan Mere is home to many red squirrels. So I am sure the kids will love to spot them. It is set in woodland perfect for a family picnic, plus indoors they have an art room with drawing and painting supplies.
- And of course the many Lakes – you wouldn’t head to the Lake District without visiting a lake or two. There are so many to chose from across the 912 square miles. The largest lakes include Windermere, Derwentwater and Coniston Water. Not only are they beautiful to look at they are also full of fun, many offering cruises and watersports.
- Not forgetting the Mountains too – so you never know if we are feeling energetic we may head up Scafall or Skiddaw.
I’m sure we will find many more places to explore while we are away. This is just for starters so if you have any other recommendations please share with us.
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 […]
Later this month we will be returning to Camp Bestival for our second year running. Whilst the kids are still at school it has got me trying to be super organised. So I’m working out what we need to pack. We are kind of
cheating, I prefer to making the camping experience more relaxed, by opting for a pre-setup tent. We had a great experience with Pitch Village last year, so we are staying with them again. Meaning we don’t need to lug the tent and sleeping bags to our pitch.
Clothing – Last year, I did over pack as it was our first ever camping experience, this year we will be lightening the load slightly.
- Shorts – last year we all wore shorts the whole time even though it rained most of the weekend.
- Layers – being in England some days it is possible to have all seasons in one day. Even if the daytime is nice and warm the evenings and nights can be chilly. So a vest top, shirt and then hoody works a treat.
- Wellies – even if rain isn’t forecast after last years washout I wouldn’t risk not taking them. Plus fluffy super comfy socks to wear with them are essential as the Camp Bestival site is massive.
- PJs – last year the nights were a bit chilly, I opted for trackies and hoody to sleep in as I hate being cold. But the kids were fine in their PJs inside their sleeping bags.
- Sunhats – if the weather is hot the kids will be outside for hours on end so hats are essential.
- Trainers – if it is nice and sunny, even though flip-flops keep your feet ultra cool, the amount of walking calls for trainers.
- Flip-flops – these are great for the morning/night runs to the shower/toilet blocks. also whilst pottering around by the tent.
- Raincoats – whats the scout saying, always be prepared. Make sure you have properly waterproof coats for the whole family.
- Fancy Dress – Camp Bestival is known for having a yearly theme and this year it is Nautical. The Saturday is fancy dress day, so it’ll be time to pull out the stripes. some families go all out, but I’ve run out of time to get my creative flare going.
Food and Drink – We plan to take food for breakfast and lunch. But treat ourselves from the scrummy food vendors for dinner.
- Water bottles – great to have on hand to keep the kids hydrated especially if it is hot. We have a couple of large collapsable bottles to save us heading to the water sources constantly. Using reusable ones is doing our little bit for the environment too. I also take the mini squash bottle to add a few drops to my fussy none water drinkers!
- Cool box – before I go I freeze items for the first 24 hours, that should hopefully stay fresh for that time. But past then it’s not much use unless you have an electric one and an electricity source.
- Snacks galore – my gosh these kids can eat and unless I want to spend a fortune on snacks, I take tons. With the weather hopefully being hot, crisps and biscuits mean no melted mess. We also try to keep it healthy so lots of fruit too, but mostly apples and satsumas, as berries and bananas don’t travel well.
- Wraps – they don’t get squished like bread. However, the kids have pretty weird fillings as they are things that are ok to be left out of the fridge, like chocolate spread, marmite and jam. Or tinned tuna if they fancy it.
- Cockery – plastic plates, bowls and cutlery
- Plastic tubs – to store food in
- Pans – to warm up beans or spaghetti
- Camping stove – to have a warm lunch
Other Kit – things to make life easier
- The Trolley – not only great for when we arrive and have to unload the car but for the whole weekend. F’s, 7 and A’s, 5 little legs get pretty tired so the love the occasional ride in the trolley. It is also fab to load up with drinks and snacks for the whole day. This saves us coming back and forth to the tent.
- Cash – It is hand to have
- Phone charger – an essential bit of kit of course!
- Phone power pack – the battery can drain quickly especially if you are taking lots of photos and video
- Picnic blankets – we plan to spend most of our time chilling and a it’s nice to have picnic rug sit on.
- A chair – ok I know I’m not that old but itis nice to sit on a chair instead of the floor. so we always take a camping chair for me.
- Toliet roll – portaloos, enough said.
- Hand Sanitiser – same as above!
- Baby Wipes – a mum’s best friend, essential to keep those faces clean and to give the kids a quick wash.
- Mini Fans – if it is a hot one then these are handy to help keep
- Torches – when walking back to the tent late at night, even though the whole site it lit it can help to have a torch or two. Plus remember spare batteries as the kids love to play in the dark tent with them and we still need power for the night toilet runs!
- Toiletries – deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, hairbrush, hair ties, shampoo, conditioner and my styling stuff otherwise I’ll look like a frizz ball.
- Glitter – the kids love getting into the festival spirit and plastering glitter all over their faces/hair. If you can biodegradable glitter even better.
- Washing Up Liquid – to clean water bottles and plates etc.
The What If’s –
- Sun Cream – if the kids are out all day, it will need to be reapplied throughout the day.
- First Aid Kit – plasters, savlon, calpol, antihistamine, paracetamol, aloe vera
That is our mighty packing list, just need to pick up a guide of all the timings when we arrive and we will be set for a cracking weekend.
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. […]
For the last 8 years, I have run my own business. It has come with some challenges but also some massive WOW moments. Being self-employed it now a way of life for me and our family. It is what we know and I know that I don’t think I would ever manage to not be my own boss. So as a reminder for myself on the tough days, I thought I’d share my pros. But there is a couple of cons so we better get those out of the way too. Read on for my pros and cons of being self-employed.
Before I start though a bit of a disclaimer, I an not saying anything is wrong with being a Mum and employed. Afterall we are all different and therefore different things work for each family.
- Being in charge of my own hours – with all of the children in full-time school, I have the flexibility to work around school runs.
- Getting to see the kids special times – whenever they have an assembly at school I don’t have to ask my boss if I can go.
- Helping Families – my business is about saving local families money. So I get a real buzz from helping families.
- School holidays – I don’t have to worry about childcare in the school holidays. There aren’t many jobs that allow you
- Being in control of your income – there is no cap on my income, so the harder I work the more I can earn.
- Do what you love – I love meeting new people, I love chatting and getting to know team members and regular customers.
- You get to chose who you work with – our events bring loads of people from all walks of life. But my lovely team is built up of some great people I have chosen to grow my business with. Oops I have just realised that sounds like a line from one of those MLM businesses. I can assure you that’s not my cup of tea.
- Work wherever you like – during the week I can work in my office, in a cafe, in the garden or even in the car.
- Setting your own targets – no grumpy boss telling me to reach a certain target etc. It is all up to me to decide on my current target.
- No day is ever the same – Variety is key for me. I get bored by routine, so love the fact that the different roles I carry out means every day is different. Which in turn keeps me on my toes and always learning.
- To feel proud of myself – often us humans don’t congratulate our own successes. However I am very proud of what I have achieved in my 8 years of being a businesswoman, even picked up an odd award or two!
- Keeping Focus – This is my biggest weakness, getting distracted. If it is a sunny day, I think that I’ll work in the garden, then I see the lawn needs cutting etc. And before I know it my working day has gone.
- School holidays – Being around for the children in the holidays is a massive pro, but it can also be challenging. I need to keep the business active over the school holidays, meaning I need to dip in and out. This means that I either need to get up early or stay up late to get my to-do list done.
- Irregular Income – Being self-employed doesn’t mean you earn an hourly wage, so you never exactly know how much you will earn. Also, you sometimes need too but in the work well before you get the reward (wonga)
- Weekend working – My business is focussed around weekend events which has worked will for 8 years, so this won’t change. However now the kids are all at school, I sometimes don’t want to leave them. They know and understand Mummy need to go to work to keep a roof over their heads. And the positive of the weekend working means that I get the school holidays at home. Even if I need to do a bit of work here and there.
- No sick pay – if I feel rubbish I just need to power on through, as there is no such thing as sick pay if your self-employed.
- Working hours – with all of the children now at school technically I should have more working hours. However in reality that doesn’t seem to be true. The school days are only 6 hours long, factoring school run time, I only have about 5 hours sat at my desk. So this means I sometimes have to work in the evenings to catch up.
So there’s my list, wow thank you if you are still reading. As you can see there is more pros than cons of working for yourself. I absolutely love it and I can’t ever imagine now being my own boss.
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 […]
Last week, it was my eldest daughter’s 17th birthday. As well as being an exciting celebration for her, as she is desperate to learn to drive. Also, she is edging even closer to officially being an adult in a years time. But for me, it is a reflection and celebration of 17 years of motherhood.
17 years ago, I started the most daunting phase of my life. Even though I pretty darn excited too. Initially at the age of 17 myself I don’t think I took on the bigger picture. Actually, I think my naivety did me some favours as I have never been an overthinker and just jump in and learn to swim! That bigger picture involved another human being would be solely reliant on me for the next 18 years. Scrub that for the rest of her life as I would be lost without my own Mum.
I learnt quickly that I came second to this little human being and rightly so! Some people actually many people said I was too young to become a mother. Well, I like a bit of a challenge and I set out to prove all those doubters wrong. Yes, I had never really adulted before so everything was new. Within weeks I learnt to cook, clean, budget (ok that one took me a little while to master) and care for a newborn baby. I realised very quickly that motherhood was for me and the sense of achievement and proudness as I watched her hit milestones and learn new things was euphoric.
I have so many stories of the early days when my maternal side kicked in and I trusted my gut. Her entry into the world was long and pretty exhausting after she had already kept me waiting 10 days past her due date. Labour and the yucky bits that followed it kind of shocked me, as I don’t think anyone is fully prepared for it. But quite quickly after the birth, I realised that I had brought new life into the world. Which surely means that I was one strong person that was capable to deal with whatever life throws at me. A motto that I have always lived but ‘Not Why Me But Try Me’.
The gorgeous little blonde bombshell has taught me so much in the last 17 years and for that, I can’t thank her enough. Life has been far from smooth, involving 3 house moves, separation, 4 new siblings, a marriage. Then relocation to a new county, a divorce and too many beloved family members taking their last breathes on planet earth leaving us for whatever is on the other side! But through all that s**t there has been us an unbreakable mother and daughter team. I will honestly say she has made me the person I am today. And yes I was young but that means I get to love her even longer.
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 […]
When I was growing up, I can’t really remember being given pocket money. But I do remember many treat days out. Plus the odd packet of sweeties or cake on a shopping trip. Lately, however, I have been thinking about it as I think it is time to start set pocket money now my tribe are all bigger.
Why is it the right time for our family? In our home, there is just one adult. Who seems to be in a battle with the 5 other occupants of the house to keep it tidy. So it’s time to give them some tasks to help out. I have been trying to work out how much pocket money I should be giving. It will, of course, vary for the kids as they range from young adult to 4 years old.
It doesn’t matter how hard I try I can’t keep everything the same for them all, as their ages vary widely. I believe that earning pocket money will also make the tribe realise that if they want things in life they have to work for them.
A, 4yo – She will be happy with the odd treat here and there so £1 a week for her completing her weekly tasks. Clearing the toys on her bedroom floor, putting school bag and shoes away is where we will start.
F, 6yo – He will be harder to encourage so need to think harder about this one. When it comes to birthday money and other money he is in no rush to spend it, at the moment money doesn’t seem to be encouraging him. I think for him I will continue to let him earn iPad time in return for straightening his bed, putting his clothes in the washing basket and making sure his bedroom is tidy.
J, 8yo – This one if the most laid-back member of the family when it comes to cleaning and tidying. When I announce it is tidy up time she instantly vanishes or sticks her head in a book. She shares a bedroom with her 11yo sister. But no one ever makes the mess so from now on they will both be responsible for keeping it tidy. J’s thing is books and she loves to collect more and more.
Her reward for tidying her room and emptying her school bag daily. Plus the odd task like hoovering and helping put the clothes away. £2.50 a week and a bi-weekly visit to the local library will be here reward. She has a long and neverending list of books she wants to read. So every couple of weeks she gets to bring a bundle home from the library. Then when she has saved her pocket money for awhile she can buy some books for keeps.
L, 11yo – She has a phone and bus fare that I pay for as they are essential. L seems to have the best social life out of all of us. So is often out with friends and their families. I hate to send her empty handed so am often dishing out the odd tenner here and there. She does help out around the house whenever asked. From packing/emptying the dishwasher, bringing washing down to put in the machine. Plus she is nifty with a duster and a hoover. So £5 a week for these tasks is fair, plus not forgetting the daily change from her bus fare that I never get back.
T, 16yo – She is at college so need to have her bus fare, so I pay that. She has a job so she has money of her own. But I also give her extra money for essential clothes and the odd treat. She has a mobile phone that I pay the bill for, we have agreed that she will take responsibility once she has left education to pay this bill herself. She already helps out around the house. When she does bigger tasks like decluttering her sibling’s bedrooms, we agree on a fee before she starts. Once she has finished I check to see if it is all ok and then she receives her cash, last time she earned £20 for a task like this.
Do you give pocket money? If you do how much do you give your kids?
I have never overly been a New Year’s Eve party-er. All my adult years I have been a parent. So I can count on one hand the nights I have had out partying for New Years Eve. Over the past 10 years or so I have always opted for a party with the kids. So thought I would share my tips for a family New Year celebration.
- Food – Ok, ok I know most of you might be sick of the site of food after overeating during Christmas. But it is way too early to knuckle down to the New Year diet. So we tend to opt for a buffet-style dinner. So no mad stress to get everything ready and perfect. Just need to raid the freezers at Iceland and whack it all in the oven and hey presto. I usually take a one or two kids with me to choose what we have. Having a buffet also means that you can keep picking throughout the evening. Plus it’s a good idea to get paper plates, to cut out the washing up too.
- Time – We aren’t routine crazy on our family, so the kids will party on through to the New Year chimes of Big Ben. So we countdown through the evening and once we are close to midnight we turn on BBC to watch Jools Holland’s Hootenanny. Then the fireworks in London, with the kids hoping one day they will actually be there in person to watch. But I know some people that have smaller ones and like to still get their kids to bed at a reasonable time. Have found Australia’s new year countdown on YouTube and done a fake midnight so the kids can then go to bed.
- Music – Who doesn’t love a spotify playlist? This is a great activity to kill some time during the Christmas and New Year lull, to compile a family playlist. On ours, there are loads of recent Disney soundtracks and party dances. Plus some classics from my teenage years. I also love to share memories of the songs I used to dance along to as a child with my parents. Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Take That and Craig David, of course, feature alongside, Moana’s ‘Your Welcome’ and Lego’s ‘Everything is Awesome’. Also nothing like a dance floor, we have a glitter ball. So turn the lights down and dance the night away.
- Games galore – Every year at Christmas we always add to our board game collection. So New Years’s Eve is the perfect opportunity to enjoy these with all of the family. I find playing games is a great way for the kids to have my undivided attention. As games time means no phone time in our house. This year we have found a love of UNO even the 4-year-old love to have a go.
- Look back a the past year – Time to reflect last year we decided to start our Family Memory Jar. So New Year’s Eve is the perfect chance to empty the and remember everything that has happened in the past year.
But most of all enjoy yourself, if you have any tips please share with us
As a mum to a larger than average brood, I’m often asked how I afford it. My kids don’t go without as they are in a bigger family. I just assess where I can cut costs on everyday living so that we can afford the bigger treats. So I thought I would share my family money saving tips with you all.
- Food shop wisely – the weekly food shop is often most families biggest expense after mortgage/rent repayments. Well, it’s essential we eat so we have to spend it. Over the last few years, things have crept up in price, plus my kid’s appetites have soared. So my food bills were often hitting £120 plus weekly plus top up shops between £20-£30. I made the change to Aldi and saw my food bills drop pretty drastically to around £70-£80 per week. Plus I now send one of the older kids into the local shop to get that loaf of bread we might need midweek. I find then I don’t get distracted by the end of the aisles deals. And leave the co-op with bags full instead of just the loaf needed.
- Annual Memberships – we love days out but they can be really expensive. So look into annual memberships. If it is a local attraction that you know you would be likely to visit 3 times plus (Easter, Summer Holidays and Christmas) then it is worth the investment. It can be a big initial outlay, so it might be worth giving it to your children as part of their Christmas or Birthday presents. Last year we had Merlin Annual Passes, which were a real treat. We used these loads. Gate prices for Chessington and Legoland are around £45 a day, but the passes cost just over £100. So this was recouped in less than 3 trips. The passes also included Sealife Centres and Alton Towers. We made a holiday around Alton Towers by hiring a cottage over October half term to enjoy daily visits to the park. If you are looking for more low-key days out, we have had National Trust memberships for several years now. These are so reasonable, and within a couple of visits, they have also been covered. We often just pack a picnic and head out for an afternoon and the kids get to run off steam in the picturesque gardens. And learn lots of historical facts, whilst we explore the houses.
- Cashback on your shopping – we are a generation of online shoppers, I love the ease of shopping whilst I lounge on the sofa. I always shop through the Quidco gateway, which is great to earn cash back on my purchases. I let my cashback collect up through the year, to withdraw and use towards treats.
- Buy second hand – the kids grow quicker than I can keep up with. So I seem to forever have a shopping list of what is needed. Even though I have 4 girls the hand me downs don’t always last through all of them. Yes, the older girls get to an age that they know what they want, so I do buy new for them. But whilst the little ones aren’t overly demanding (with regards to their fashion anyway) I head to local nearly new sales, pop into charity shops and watch the Facebook selling sites for bargains.
- Have a goal – I find it harder to save and then decide what to spend the money on. So if I have an aim, we love holidays but often miss having one as I think yeah I’ll book that somewhen. But before I know it is July and I can’t spare the cash. But if I book it and calculate how much I’m going to pay towards it each week/month then I will pay for it and we get away.
I hope these few tips help, please share your money saving tips too.
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 […]
Disneyland Paris at Christmas – A Memory to Last a Lifetime
Last Christmas after thinking of what to buy the kids for Christmas. Dreading the thought of just buying lots of toys just for the sake of buying toys. We certainly didn’t need more toys in our house as it was already bursting at the seams. I racked my brains, scrub that I quickly came up with the idea of creating a magical Christmas forever memory for the whole family. The obvious choice was Disneyland Paris, we had been several times before but not at Christmas. I thought that it would totally be out of my budget but still had a little online search. Once I saw that it wasn’t as expensive I dropped my trusty personal travel agent a message. She came up with a very reasonable price that couldn’t be missed. I made a snap decision and booked!!
The kids had absolutely no idea and as Christmas approached they gave me there lists. To which I replied with I’m not sure what I’m getting you yet. But whilst they were out of my hair at school and nursery, I head to Primark for the odd Disney clothes shop. And picked up thermals and warm clothes in the Aldi ski super buys.
The run-up to Christmas flew as it always does with endless school Christmas plays and activities. We were booked to go on the Monday before Christmas and return on Friday the day before Christmas Eve. On Saturday morning came the big reveal, the girls were dead excited. The boy or should I say Home Boy was less so as he makes out he would prefer to stay home and watch Ninjago on repeat.
Travelling with 5 children on my own can sometimes be a little full on but they are pretty good kids and realise when they need to help. My eldest, was fab being in-car entertainment when she wasn’t catching 40 winks! I opted to drive as I prefer that the kids are contained in the car rather than dealing with airports and hoping they behave on a flight or on the Eurostar.
We started our journey from Wiltshire at about 3am on the Monday, with the kids in their PJs. We arrived in Folkestone in good time and were on the train under the sea around 7am. The weather was good to us and we arrived as Davy Crockett mid-afternoon. We quickly decamped grabbed a snack and heading to the park.
The moment we entered those gates and the kids eyes lighted up, I knew that this certainly would live on in the minds forever. Disneyland Paris at Christmas was truly magical and everything that we had expected and more.
It was busy but we expected that so we didn’t go on some of the rides as there was no way we were queuing for anything an hour plus. We saw all the parades, some more than once as you spot things you didn’t the first time. One of our favourite things was to meet the characters and Aliza was no longer scared of large characters either.
We had a hectic busy, pretty exhausting 5 days but WOW we loved it. When we returned home we had a very low-key Christmas with minimal pressies. Not once was anything that wasn’t brought off of those long Christmas lists mentioned.
Now where are we off to this year, no pressure to top that then!!!!
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 […]
Well, where did the summer holidays go? The start of the Autumn school term means it is time for a new routine in our family. Lots of changes happening throughout the family, only the boy, F, will remain at his school that he was at at the end of the summer term. Having 5 children and running my own business you might have guessed that I am a bit of routine rebel and it bores me. But we need to get back to it, with the start of the new school year.
If you follow my blog you will know that my eldest daughter, T has just received some pretty awesome GCSE results (seriously proud mum here). She has decided not to say at her secondary school sixth form and head off to college to do a vocational course instead of A levels. This means that she will need to to get her bum up ultra early and head into town to jump on the bus to Bath.
Daughter no. 2, L, is heading to secondary school. We decided that our local secondary school wasn’t the right fit for L so she is going to the next town. This means she will also be heading to school on the bus, so a very early start for her too. This is a pretty exciting but also very nerve-racking time for her and we will all need to adjust slightly.
Daughter no.3, J, is just going into year 4 and will be moving schools. The reason is that 2 years ago the local council made the decision that my son didn’t need to attend the same primary school as his older siblings. So I had been dropping off to 2 different primary schools. By Easter this year it had finally started to take its toll. I felt for him being schooled elsewhere, the different TD days, multiple letters, rushing between pickup was crazy. We had waited patiently for F’s name to come to the top of the waiting list for a place. But the opposite happened he was getting pushed further and further down the list. Then I was pretty certain my youngest, A, wouldn’t get in either, I was right. So I decided that J would need to move school, she was added to the waiting list, but her wait was much shorter. The day I found out she had a space, I was ecstatic. The thought of my 3 babies being at school together was like winning the lottery (ok a little exaggeration but you get the gist it would be much easier).
It is a big deal with J obviously but as she does several extra curricular clubs, she already knows some children that will be in her class. She has also had a few summer play dates with a lovely girl she will be classmates with. We have talked about it lots. Plus J had a trial morning and she seems happy with the change now, So fingers crossed everything goes smoothly.
The baby of the family, A, is 4 so is starting school. She is excited and seems happy to be wearing the same uniform as her siblings. Which will include a shirt and tie (give me an ahh). She will have the same teacher as her brother, so I feel happy about that. But I am obviously pretty emotional about her being my last baby to start school.
Once A has had all her settling in sessions and starts full time, I will potentially have time to myself. Yeah I know that is never going to happen as work and the housework will get in the way I’m sure.
My school run will be done and dusted by 8.55am in the morning. Then I won’t need to pick anyone up until 3pm. I will be working 4 days a week and 1 day a week will be spent running the family aka doing the boring stuff like cleaning, form filling, food shopping etc.
We are hoping that this will all slot into place nicely and I won’t be as run ragged as before. I can dream I suppose.
Being a parent to big brood means that is can sometimes be tricky to spend time with the older girls. Without the younger ones fighting for my attention. But awhile ago, we managed to grab a ‘grown up’ day out in London, as Grandma offered to babysit. So check out what we did on our girl’s day out in London
We had an early start and headed to Chippenham station to hop on the train to Paddington. It always amazes me that we can be in London in an hour and 15 minutes from the Wiltshire countryside. We chatted and took in the scenery on route and as it had been a surprise for the girls we planned what we were going to see and do.
Once we arrived at Paddington, we headed down into the Tube to The London Eye. When we arrived at the Waterloo tube station we took a walk along The Thames to the Eye. I must admit I was slightly nervous as I am not one for heights. The queue was smaller than I expected on a Saturday, so we were on board within 30 minutes. It was a special thing to do the celebrate T’s 16th birthday. It lasted longer than I had thought but it was great to look out for all the landmarks across central London, definitely one for the memory jar.
Right next-door to the London Eye is the London Dungeons, Shrek Adventure and Sealife Centre. We took a miss on the Dungeons as we are all pretty much scaredy cats. So nipped into Dreamworks Shrek Adventure as there was no queue and we walked straight in. Shrek wasn’t quite what we were expecting but we all laughed and enjoyed ourselves. There were bits that made us jump and I was glad we hadn’t brought the little ones along as they would have been pretty spooked.
As we left Shrek Adventure we went on into the Sealife Centre. As a family we have been to plenty of Sealife centres over the years, so have seen pretty much every fish imaginable. But it was cool (see what I have done there) to see Penguins. As we left Sealife, the world had descended on The Queen’s Walk, so the girls got to sense the real hustle and bustle of city life.
Then we decided to do our own little sightseeing tour. Hopping on Red Buses, to see The Houses of Parliament, Trafalgar Square, Green Park, Buckingham Palace and Oxford Street. We timed our visit to Buckingham Palace perfectly to see the Changing of The Guard. This meant that The Mall was closed to traffic too so could take a leisurely walk along it, grabbing a selfie or two.
We finished our day off hitting a few shops. Of course, the girls wanted to go to Primark on Oxford Street and a Little visit to Hamley’s too. More for me than them as I fondly remember visiting it at Christmas as a child, but not sure I was ever allowed anything!!
All shopped, walked and explored out, we headed home on the train to find our little people. As even though we love a day away from them we miss them too.
10 tips for a stress-free day out at Legoland
We love family days out and now we have Merlin Annual Passes we are forever darting off along the motorway for an adventurous day. Recently we visited Legoland and I must say it was a much more relaxed experience than in the past because we have got to know the park a bit better and learnt how to get the most out of our day. So, I thought I would share some of our tips with you.
- Arrive before opening – we left the house at 7.30 am as it is about 1.5 hours drive from our home. We arrived at around 9.20am after a loo stop, giving us time to head to the toilets before heading into the park and get down to Miniland ready for the gates to open. The stage in Miniland saw a little show from Emmett, Olly the Dragon, The Magician and Batman to officially open the gates at 10 am. We found it worked to head to the further side of the park and work our way back to the entrance through the day.
- Priority Parking – The Priority Parking is £12 but it was so handy to be parked so close to the entrance and not have to try and find our car in the massive main car park after a long day. Also if you need to pop back to the car for anything it isn’t too much of a trek.
- Head to your favourite ride first – before you go research the map and decided what your kids are desperate to do, then head straight there when the park opens to avoid the mega queues.
- Take a Picnic – Not only will taking a picnic save you a packet but it gives you the option to have snacks whilst waiting in the queues. Also when your kids are in need of food you don’t have to research and think where to go and then queue.
- Leave before the rush – In the past, we have wanted to get every minute of fun out of our day at Legoland by not leaving until the park closes but this has resulted in large queues and taking forever to get out of the car park, before even starting our trek home
- As the summer arrives and Duplo Valley Splash Area becomes popular on the sunny days, it is a good idea to pack the kids swimwear, so they can get water and change back into their clothes afterwards.
- Always take raincoats – hopefully, you will have a rain-free day, but some of the rides, The Viking River Splash, and Pirate Splash
- Get to shows early – The Pirate Bay is where the very popular for show time so get there early, so take you can get a seat, this also gives you the opportunity to tuck into your picnic if you time it right.
- Check ride suitability – check your child’s height before you go or by the entrance, there is a display with which rides can be used over each high limit. Also as a larger than average family 1 adult to 5 children if I am visiting on my own the adult to child ratio is very important as there is no point in heading for a ride that we can’t all enjoy together. Now my eldest has turned 16 this has been eased a little but some rides have to be left for days out with Grandma.
- Take a Pushchair for as long as you can – the Legoland Winsor site has a steep hill, so little legs can get tired, plus it is always good to carry the picnic, coats and jumpers on.
Trump – What the actual F*#k
So I had set aside some time this morning to blog about some great days out and experiences the children and I have had recently. But my head is not in the game as news broke this morning that Donald Trump has been elected as the New American President. Last night when I went to bed after a lovely evening with a group over exciting, unique and individual women, I was inspired to learn more about each and everyone, as everyone’s differences should be celebrated. This morning as I turned BBC news on my heart sank, the words plastered over the screen Donald Trump had won.
My first thought as a mother was what kind of world have I brought my children into, I thought we lived in a generation that was accepting of differences, now I have to answer my children’s questions why has a racist, xenophobic, homophobic, sexist has just won the presidential battle. My answer is quite simply I don’t know what to say to my darlings.
The USA has voted and maybe I should just hush up and accept it but I just can’t get my head around it. I have beautiful afro-caribbean family living in the US, who my heart breaks for, what is next for them?
Also I have 4 girls, so even though there was some floors with Hilary Clinton, it would have been groundbreaking and taught my girls that anything is possible as a woman. Now in complete contrast there is a man in charge that is an out and out sexual predator that belittles woman!
My eldest daughter is due to go to New York on a school trip in spring, she is beyond excited and I was for her too. But now more than before I fear for her safety as I feel there will be some very uncertain times ahead. But I needn’t worry about her getting in as she’s blonde and very beautiful just how Trump likes women to be!!!!
I do now fear for the general stability of peace across the world, what will happen next? I am just hoping that he is just all mouth with no trousers and the dust will settle and no walls will be built.
Great to know my sister is on the same wavelength as me too, we just feel the world is going backwards.
Right rant over for today, off to do some work
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 […]
Back to School they go!
I love the lack of routine and one of my aims as a Mum has always been to let the kids amuse themselves and enjoy spending time with each other. Plus getting out for lots of adventures, sometimes life doesn’t go quite to plan like that. So when it comes to the kids going back to school, a slight bit of me thinks yes, I can work in peace but more of me thinks oh no back to the boring routine.
If I didn’t have to earn a living I would home educated my primary aged children without a second thought as there is so much adventure and learning potential to be had outside the classroom. So as this will never be a reality, it’s back to school they go! The middle girls love their school and I’m very happy with the rounded education they receive and the boy seems to have settled well into school but now has come the realisation that it is forever, well until he is 18. He will continue into year 1 at a different school to his 2 older sisters, this is just the way it is now but still a bit of a pain in the arse, but as long as he is happy, settled and learning that’s all that matters.
We have a slight change with the baby of the family starting a new pre-school, so hopefully she will settle and flourish soon, as I seriously don’t have time and the emotional strength for a 3 year old to be peeled off me 4 mornings a week, so wish me luck.
It is a big year for the firstborn, GCSE year, man how did that happen? Until now I have taken the slightly softly softly approach to Tegan’s studies, but now realise she needs to knuckle down to achieve the results she needs to go on to the college she want’s to. Our home is very busy and hectic, so we will need to sort out some stress free study space for her to revise, whether that’s the dining room or maybe a couple of visits to Grandma’s each week, we will work it out.
The holiday’s has flown like they always do, you start off with a long list of what we wanted to do but don’t often get it all done. Also with the return to school in September means that Christmas is just around the corner and winter, I blooming hate being cold (off I wander to dream of emigrating somewhere hot, click click back in the room, it’s never going to happen anytime soon).
So this week they all return, no huge celebrations of freedom for me, but I will enjoy a massive bar of chocolate (ooh wait I’m desperately trying to lose the few pounds I gain, with too much picnic food lately) to celebrate surviving the holidays, we will forget about the boy’s broken wrists on the first day!
And I start my countdown to the October half term and we can make more memories. But for now bring on the routine, zzzzz!
Week three came around so quickly and we had plans to catch up with loads of friends we don’t get to see during term time much.
Monday was a funny day, I woke up raring to go, we had a workman due to come in and do a repair so couldn’t go out. So I decided to do that job I should have done a year ago when Aliza went into a bed, take down the cot. It is a funny one as we have had a cot in the house for the last 10 years, I get a little bit emotional knowing that I won’t have a baby again. Even though I have my hands and heart more than filled, there is nothing more adorable than a ickle newborn. But now it’s gone, I can actually move around my bedroom hurrah!
Then I headed to the dump clearing the pile of rubbish in the front garden including the firstborn’s bed dismantled last week plus all the broken garden toys, so the neighbours will be happy I’m no longer making the road look like a junk yard.
Then the food shop, yawn, same junk as last week purchased.
Tuesday we headed south to catch up with friends, the kids loved Moors Valley Country Park when we visited a while back so we’re happy to return. We were seriously late, how can I possible get the tribe to school for 8.30 in the mornings but in the holidays struggle to get out of the house before 10. All in the name of relaxing and de-stressing, can you use de-stressing in the same sentence as school holidays???? The weather was good and they walked miles, which meant a good night’s sleep and lay in, result! They girls played on the play trail whilst the boy caught Pokemon. Picnic lunch and ice cream too, perfect! Oh and no real meltdowns, I must be doing something right with this parenting malarkey, who am I trying to kid it will all be crashing down around me in a day or two. Our journey home took forever, after about a hundred toilet stops, thank heavens for My Carry Potty.
Wednesday and Thursday were all about friends too, we headed to Heaven’s Gate, near Longleat on Wednesday. Wow what a lovely place, not far from home and totally free. The view overlooking Longleat house is fab, the weather was clear so we could see for miles. I chilled and caught up with a friend whilst the kids found a rope swing and ran up and down the hill like loons and getting filthy, but that’s what childhood is all about, they say! Thursday we headed to a secret park, with another tribe of friends, there was only us there and the kids could run and roam around know they were safe, well apart from climbing the skateboard ramp, but we all survived without injury so that’s a result.
So far the week had been pretty calm and relax, I feel like I have this parenting malarkey under control, but no fear there’s weeks to go yet!
Friday a home day, blooming gardening, seriously I need to work harder so I can get someone in the sort my garden (my mind wanders off to that young good looking gardener on Desperate Housewives, click click back in the room and back to reality). We also just pottered around the garden and did some jobs in the house on Saturday.
Sunday was by far our highlight of week three, I set the alarm for the crack of dawn, got up made a pack lunch, lifted the smaller kids out of bed in their PJs and left the house just after 5am to head to the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta.
But it was so worth it, we had a picnic breakfast as the balloon went up for their mass morning accent. It was definitely a morning that will last in the kids memories forever and that’s what parenting is about right! After a little wander around once the balloons had all taken flight we headed home via Dyrham Park and made use of our National Trust passes whilst I made sure the kids were totally exhausted.
Week Three done and half the holidays gone. The kids were stars this week and I have really enjoyed being Mum, good work kids.
Pop over to Instagram and follow our family for regular updates
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 me I burst into tears like some loony overprotective mum, jeezz that is so not my style. Why the tears, I think it was a mixture of how the hell am I going to manage to help Faryl eat, drink, go to the loo and just about everything else he can’t do for 6 weeks while still having to entertain the other 4. Then I think I was proud of how well Faryl had coped with the pain, he’s usually such a whinger but had just been wincing when anyone touched his arms.
The following day the kids had a visit from their father the first in months and he left just before bedtime, cheers for that, but exhausted as I was I mustered up the energy to get then to bed and plan for an exciting adventure the following day. Oh but there was a huge plus to the day me and the brainy one went to see The BFG at the cinema, she loved having some one to one time with Mummy, plus after being unprepared and not smuggling pound land drinks and popcorn in I forked out a fortune on a oversized fizzy pop and enormous bucket of popcorn. Yes I did enjoy it too, the diet wasn’t on the agenda, eek!
Wednesday we headed to Chessington World of Adventures, now we are lucky enough to be Merlin Annual Passholders we plan to make the most of them. The day started with me being a tad bit stressed, well I had experienced a roller coaster of emotions in the last few days, but after realising that it was going to ruin the day otherwise, I took myself away from the kids for a few minutes (no worries they were left with Grandma, I didn’t desert them in a public place!). And came back calm and ready to enjoy the day and that’s what we did, check out more about our day here.
Thursday, I had plans to sort the garden aka wild place and do some dump runs, yes my house is bursting with crap and during a normal week running around town like a blue arse fly I don’t get the chance to do these things. But the sodding weather decided to save me from that and peed down most of the day. So instead The firstborn decided she wanted to take her bed down and order a new one, I had been promising her forever and as she’s now 15 a high sleeper with desk and wardrobe underneath and no ladder to get up isn’t really suitable. So that is now also waiting at the side of the house to go to the dump, ah well maybe next week.
Thanks to Argos next day delivery, the firstborn’s bed arrived, so another box in the hallway to trip over. I had other things on my mind like the bloody root canal I was having Friday morning, it wasn’t actually as bad as I expected, but still made me feel ill. I came home to find the firstborn was halfway through putting her new bed together, what a star. She completed all by herself and it looks very grown up in the big girls room. A big tick off of her Summer wish list.
For the weekend we headed to Wales to stay with my sister and nieces. We visited The Big Chesse in Caerphilly, but not the best place to go with only 2 adults and 7 children, it was a constant headcount as it was really busy. They however loved a couple of fairground rides each, well at £2.50 each ride what do they expect, gone the days when you got 3 tokens for £1, yes that was years ago I know.
We finished our weekend off visiting Margam Park near Port Talbot, a great place to take the kids to run off steam, ok try to wear them out it never really works that way they are usually just grumpy and still resist bedtime.
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 […]