O5rcB_NXbIeHbJV7JFNcdfqL-vY Mummy From The Heart...

Friday, 18 April 2014

Making Easter memories with your children

As Christian's Easter is a really important time for us. So much fuss and preparation is made about Christmas and really it has gotten a bit out of sync. As whilst it is incredibly important that we mark the birth of Jesus, it is even more important (in my opinion) that we remember what He did for us. God allowed his only son to be crucified and suffer this horrendous death so that all our sins may be forgiven.  It is massive stuff and yes I realise it is hard to understand or to believe if this is not your faith. But for us as Christians it is awe inspiring and one of the cornerstones of our faith.

It would be all too easy to allow Easter to pass as just another bank holiday and especially this year as dh is working much of it but I was determined that the children stay connected to our faith and yesterday we had a day of making Easter memories. Claire at Clarina's contemplations reminded me recently with her delightful post that I love the little traditions that families repeat year after year and last year we made Easter (or resurrection) gardens for the first time and when I mentioned to the girls about making some they were up for it.

We had a lot of fun yesterday as we walked round the lake to collect all we needed to make our little gardens (dirt, sticks, moss, wild flowers, stones) and then we headed over to the gardeners stores to borrow a couple of seed trays and plastic post and finally back home to put them together. As we went we talked through the Easter story and the girls recounted what they knew and I filled in the gaps. It is really important for us reflect on the importance of Easter and remember what happened.


We also then made hot cross buns from scratch, not something I've done before but it was OK and the kids managed to do two batches argument free, which was fabulous. It was then nice to be able to butter them while they were still warm and take them up to the main house and offer my husband and a few of his staff one.

We used the BBC good food easy hot cross bun recipe here.


The girls also painted some cheap pottery bunnies I picked up in Hobbycraft and we painted faces too, it was a day of togetherness and for me it finished perfectly when I went to a Maundy Thursday service in the evening and had some adult time to pray and reflect.

From our family to yours we wish you a very happy Easter.

Be blessed, Mich xxx
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Thursday, 17 April 2014

What's new at Legoland, Windsor for 2014?


I think it's pretty well documented on both my blogs how much my family enjoys a day out to Legoland, Windsor. It really is the ultimate theme park experience for those with primary school aged kids, I don't have mega thrill seekers and this makes Legoland just perfect for our children - near 7 year old twin girls and our boy aged 10.5 years.

We always have a fun day when we visit and there is so much there that we are kept busy from the moment we arrive to when we leave. In fact there is so much to do that you can easily spend a couple of days in a row there. We have not had the pleasure of staying at the Legoland Hotel yet but that is the next thing on my hit list as the inside pool looks amazing and you often get two days entry to the park as part of your deal.


Legoland enjoys a beautiful position set into the hillside in Berkshire and the views of Windsor Castle are superb, the park is really green and well maintained and a pleasure to spend time in. As it is set in a hill there is a fair amount of walking and climbing to do but they have made ramps, wide walkways, tram trains and slides for the kids to enjoy the decline into all the different lands.

One of the things I love best about Legoland is that they do not rest on their laurels, each year something is updated, modernised or added and this means that the park always feels fresh when you arrive. I think the only area that now needs a freshen up is the original Miniland with all the Lego buildings, some of those are starting to look a bit worn now, although if you don't look closely the overall effect is still pretty spectacular, just look -


I think one of the things our family really likes about Legoland is the mix of entertainment. Yes there are some spectacular rides which make you scream with excitement and of course these come with queues during the busy periods (you can purchase a q-bot to help you skip the queues if that is your thing) but there are also excellent no-queue activities such as the Brickville play park, Duplo Drench Towers area, Puppet theatre and Pirates of Skeleton Bay stunt show. The imagination centre is also pretty amazing if you have Lego fans as they can explore Lego related science activities and make Lego kits until their heart is content, followed by a visit to the 4D imagination theatre.

Pirate Shores
This year Legoland have also given one of the areas a new identity for 2014 and Pirate Shores has opened. The pinnacle of this will be Castaway Camp which is a opening in May 2014, it will be a fabulous play area with high rope-walks, play nets, slides, a forgotten fortress and battleships to play on. We will definitely be heading back there when we next visit again. As well as the Castaway Camp Pirate Shores includes Pirate Falls, a steep drop log flume ride surrounded by some fabulous new Lego models, the Jolly Rocker, which is a 'too scary for me' boat ride and a refurbished Burger Kitchen restaurant as well as a couple of smaller attractions.


The Burger kitchen
Two of the existing eateries have been refurbished and the menu upgraded this year and we were very impressed with the offering in the Burger Kitchen, despite what you might think the food was very tasty and the price was as we would expect at a large theme park. We paid £6.50 for a premium chicken burger meal, £6.35 for a hamburger meal and £4.95 for a kids meal.


I have to be honest and say some of the kids best fun of our day there last week came from the Legoland badge that comes free with the kids meal. Little did we know that you can ask staff if they have spares and if not you can swap your badges for theirs and build up a nice little collection. This became a great source of competition between my three and they were all searching for the elusive golden badge.


Thank you very much Legoland for such an amazing day with you trying out your new facilities for 2014. We had a wonderful day and I'm happy to recommend you to anyone who asks.

I can't resist, I'll leave you with a few more taster photos of the fun you can have if you visit Legoland, Windsor.


Other Legoland posts I have written that you might enjoy -

Fathers Day at Legoland, Windsor 2013

Lego Duplo Valley, 2013

Extensive review of Legoland, Windsor, 2012


Disclosure: We received entry to Legoland, fast passes and some Lego loot to use during our day out as part of their press day. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.
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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

How does your garden grow - April 2014

Last week I had the most joyous walk around the grounds here. JJ and dh had gone to the beach for a bike ride and the girls were away at their grandparents and I had time to myself, lots of time. It was bliss and I took full advantage of it by watching the sun go down over one of our lakes and taking a prayerful walk.

I thought I'd share what I saw -

I sneaked into the gardeners greenhouse, I love to see all the work that has gone on in here. The tiny seedlings are now becoming proper plants and they are getting ready for planting and sale.

Azaleas have to be my flower of the moment, we have them in all shades of pink and they are divine. I love all those little coloured spots inside making them so much more interesting tan you first think.

I can't help but love fungi as well, there is not so much of it about at the moment, it was rife last summer and early autumn but this is the first good picture I have got of it this year, growing on a stack of firewood

I'd not been in the walled garden for a couple of weeks and all this wonderful blossom on the pear trees shows just how quick things change. The apple orchard is just starting to blossom too, I'll capture that next.

I know it is not the garden but I love the lakes and isn't that green reflection is the meadow just wonderful?

And yes another good reflection that tickled my fancy.

Yet again I reflect on just what a privilege it is to live here and be amongst all this beauty.

Wishing you a fabulous week, Mich x

Thanks for hosting Annie, I'm happy to link up with How does your garden grow?


Mammasaurus and How Does Your Garden Grow?
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Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Blog your heart out



I have to be honest and say I'm not a big fan of meme's. I don't get tagged in them much any more, probably because most people have figured out I'm an old grump and forget to do them. They mostly seem to be in the same vein, wanting to know what food I could eat for a month or what's in my handbag and with only a limited amount of time and so many posts I want to publish I often just think, no thanks or intend to write them and never get round to it.

When I got tagged by Claire at Clarinas contemplations I had a realisation, that although I have typed all the answers to these kind of questions before perhaps my current readership have never read it. I can't expect every new readers to go through my back catalogue of over 1400 posts, can I? So here I am being a good girls and joining in and but I'm also being a bit naughty as I'm afraid I won't be tagging anyone as I know there are a lot of bloggers out there like me who are not fussed to be tagged in memes.

Who/ what encouraged you to start blogging?
I'd never even heard of a blog until a friend at my bible study group showed me hers in 2008. She kept it for family as a way to remember all the changes her children were going through. I thought this sounded fabulous and as my parents were not too local I knew they would like to see and read more, so my blog was born in February 2008. It soon went into hibernation when I realised that 7 month old twins and a four year old were hard work.

How did you choose what topics to blog about?
Once my blog came back to life in early 2009 I found it easy to write and a regular pattern of posting emerged. The topics just flowed and I used my blog as if I was having a conversation with someone, sometimes myself and sometimes my mum. It all focused around my life - the kids, being a Christian, trying to develop a more positive and grateful stance on life and also my journey of being a compulsive overeater.

For the first year or so my blog was closed and only read by about five people and then in January 2010 I got brave and opened it up and became part of the parenting blogger community.In the last four and a bit years my writing has taken some twists and turns but I can honestly say I have always been true to myself and my Christian values.

What is something most people don't know about you?
I struggled with this questions at first as I'm pretty much an open book. I have blogged about most things that have happened in my life as a way of working through issues and reaching out to others and the things I have not blogged about, let's be honest I'm not going to reveal them now.

Probably the thing that comes to mind is that most people who know me through blogging or don't know me very well might not realise I'm not half as confident as I first come across as. I over think things, I worry (although this is much improved), I stress, I assume and I doubt. These are the reasons for so many positive posts on here as it is the best way I know to change.

What three words describe your style?
I assume this is in regards to my blog, so I'll go for - positive, honest and  encouraging.

What do you love to do when you are not blogging?
What, you mean there is a life outside of blogging? This can get very addictive and I've struggled at times over the years but I think now I have a good balance and I'm happy to let the blog sit for a few days if need be. As I just work freelance nowadays and volunteer I have more time to do more things and I think my life is very rich now with all the different activities I can enjoy. Since September last year I've been taking sewing classes at night school and I'm really enjoying that. I also love getting out and exploring the countryside with my family and taking photos, that will be my next evening class, to improve my skills.

Reading always features highly on any to-do list and I'll normally have two or three books on the go as well as my daily bible and devotionals. I'm loving making some new friends here in East Sussex and it is fun and scary all at once to be leading church services, youth groups and volunteer training on occasions.

And there ends the meme, I've waffled a bit about me and who I am.  If you want to join in with this meme then consider yourself tagged and just go for it.

Have a great week, Mich x



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Monday, 14 April 2014

Staying at Butlins, Minehead in a Gold Apartment

Last week we were lucky to attend Spring Harvest at Butlins in Minehead. I've mentioned numerous times before how much we all love this holiday that we take every year and this year was no exception. It was a week of fun, family, faith and food - a perfect combination in my mind. I have to be honest and say that I went home totally worn out, it was not a restful holiday as we stayed active the whole time.

As it was Spring Harvest when we stayed at Minehead this means that things are a little different to a regular Butlins stay, so we did not have any of the excellent entertainment that is normally provided. I've blogged about that before though in my capacity as a Butlins Ambassador so you can read all about that over here.

I've stayed in various grades of accommodation over the years at all three Butlins sites and what I can honestly say is that every year there is an improvement. Butlins never seem to rest on their laurels, they keep doing more and more and freshening things up.

This year we stayed in a gold apartment and this was a first for us. I have to be honest and say when I saw the outside I was disappointed, they look quite old fashioned. There are newer blocks of gold accommodation right by us and I really wanted one of those, so I went for a nose around and do you know what I found? Yes the outside looks smarter and the new ones have outside space, a decked area or balcony but in truth as it was April did I want to sit outside? What I found inside is that there is no difference at all. They are set up and furnished in completely the same way. The block we stayed in which I felt looked dated on the outside was actually newly decorated and in a really good state of repair.


Once inside my gold apartment I was super pleased, we had a two bedroom apartment which slept four of us. There was one double and one twin room.

There was great attention to detail, like the towel elephant on our bed when we arrived and the complimentary toiletries and kitchen pack.

I've not stayed in an apartment which had a dishwasher before, so this was a total luxury for us. I can confirm the kitchen was well equipped and had full inventory, inside the cupboards where spotless, the bin smelt good. It felt modern and there was easily enough space for the four of us to move around freely and not get on top of each other.
As we had booked for dinner, bed and breakfast we had a daily housekeeper come in and make the beds, empty bins and refill our loo paper etc. Again it was so so nice to not have to take my own bin bag out or have to rush tot he shop as I had forgotten to pack enough loo roll.

The lounge had a flatscreen TV and DVD player and we made use of this one night so the girls could have a chilled evening to refresh themselves for the busy days ahead. D did not fancy the kids dog movie so he headed off into our bedroom and watched the small TV in there.

The apartment felt as if it had most everything we needed - a safe, hairdryer, iron and board, dustpan and brush and toaster.

Improvements
If I was to make any recommendations to Butlins of improvement they could make I'd probably get them to choose some new coat hooks for in the hall, the ones we had were too small to hang cost on that did not have a loop. Also I'd love a dish drainer for next to the sink for when you do the odd bit of washing up. Oh and Butlins if one thing let you down in this apartment it was your pillows, they were flat as a pancake.

We would definitely stay in a gold apartment again.

Other Butlins post you might enjoy -

Entertainment and Activities at Bognor Regis

The Wave Hotel at Bognor Regis

Day in the life of a 5 year old at Butlins

Butlins - fantastic family holiday or dodgy old camp?

Minehead Silver Bungalow Review

Disclosure: I am a Butlins Ambassador and I am being offered a break in May to review the Bognor Regis site. My family paid for this holiday but Butlins kindly upgraded us to Gold. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.
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Sunday, 13 April 2014

Dublin - a breath of fresh air

Image Credit: Canadian Pacific on flickr


No break in the Irish capital is complete without sampling the craic in its numerous pubs and bars and the abundance of cheap hotels in Dublin means you can easily do this. But when you feel you’ve had too much of a good thing, it’s lovely to escape the hustle and bustle of the city centre and get back to nature. Luckily Dublin has many natural beauty spots well worth making a short trip for during your stay.

Howth Harbour
Easy to get to by bus or the DART, Howth is a picturesque fishing village that’s perfect for a bracing walk when you feel like blowing off a few cobwebs. Enjoy the scenery and make sure you stop at one of the many cafes or pubs to recharge your batteries. If you’re lucky you’ll see the resident seals – but this is no longer guaranteed as feeding them on the pier is now banned, as they were getting too fat!

Dalkey
Situated to the South of Dublin, Dalkey is where city meets sea in style.  Enjoy a bracing walk on the beach and an ice-cream, then take a stroll through the village and check out all the lovely boutiques and cafes that the well-heeled residents of this affluent area enjoy.

Powerscourt Estate
This vast country estate is the perfect place to spend a lazy Sunday. The main draw is the stunning waterfall  - the highest in Ireland. There’s also a great play area and wonderful opportunities to shop and eat in scrumptious style at AVOCA. If the weather’s nice, make sure you grab a table on the terrace.

These are just a few ideas for seeing a greener side to Dublin but if time is short there’s always St Stephen’s Green in the city centre, which is just beautiful too.


Image Credit: Michal Osmenda on flickr

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A year in photos - week 15 (Spring Harvest)

What a fabulous first week of the Easter holiday it has been. We headed straight off from school Friday, dropping JJ at his Grandparents and the four f us went to Butlins to experience Spring Harvest. On the way back we swapped kids and I got a couple of alone days with just my boys and time to feel refreshed. I was really reminded how exhausting two six year old's are!

Fabulous views from Dunster castle in Minehead

All the fun of the new Butlins fairground


A good old selfie, it has to be said that I take the best photos of me! lol

Two little chaps that took my fancy

Nothing really there that I'm super proud of photography wise but sometimes you just have to document the fun of everyday life!

Love All Blogs Better Photos Project
TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

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Saturday, 12 April 2014

National Trust - Dunster Castle, Minehead

On the way to our holiday at Butlins we stopped off at the National Trust Dunster Castle just about a 5 minute drive from the Butlins Resort.  What a nice way to spend a couple of hours getting some culture before we hit Butlins!

Dunster Castle is really well maintained and sits is a majestic position on the hill. It is such a contrast to the ruins of Bodium Castle that we visited a few weeks back. I see that during the school holidays they offer lots of family friendly activities, such as Easter egg hunts, falconry and Victorian games.

I'd say this National Trust site is worth a visit by any families passing by or living locally.  We didn't make it down to the subtropical gardens but these are supposed to have a nice children's play area there and we did see plenty of grassy space for the kids to run free and picnic areas too.

In he absence of JJ Miss M took control and wanted to pan out our visit and let us know where we should go.



There are so many great areas to explore, it is a really big and varied National trust site.


The stately home is very well preserved and there are guides for both adults and children with age-appropriate text and activities.
 Miss M liked the fact there were were a few seats she could try out for herself.


There were also quite a few children friendly activities and the girls had a fab time napkin folding and laying place settings.




Joining in with Fiona for her Country Kids linky this week -

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall
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