Saturday, 18 August 2018

Visit Parliament: Family Tours - Educational, Interesting and Free for Kids!

Visit parliament header

Last September as part of the BritMums Live conference I went over to the Palace of Westminster, or UK Parliament as you may know it and experienced what a family tour is like. We had Richard for a guide and he was awesome. I could just imagine my kids loving him; wanting to chat and asking all sorts of questions.

With this in mind I booked for our whole family to attend one of the family tours this summer. I knew this was a bit of a risky move, as the tours are aimed at children aged 7 - 12 years and my son is nearly 15.  He's also the kind of kid who loves information and thus is pretty knowledgeable about what goes on in our UK parliamentary system. I was therefore keen to see if the family tour could engage him.

The tour is free for children aged 15 and under and costs £18 per adult, or £16 for concessions. There has to be at least one adult with a child, and groups of adults without children, cannot attend the family tour.  There are all sorts of tours available and you'll be able to find something to suit you, but this particular one is perfect for children of Key stage 2 age.

Parliament Guide Richard
This is Tour Guide Richard, who I had last September

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Happy Birthday to Me #R2BC

It was my birthday on Wednesday and I turned 45, I can't believe how quickly those years are adding on to my age, but I have to be honest, I'm not worried.

My family and I headed up to London on Wednesday morning and where there for 36 hours, we had a thoroughly lovely time, although as always, I am pleased to be home, as it is far too busy, muggy and smoggy in London (now I sound my age)! lol.

Here's a few photos to show you what we got up to -

Super yummy burger lunch at Byron Burgers in Covent Garden. Using my Tastecard we got 50% off and to be frank, that's the only way we could afford it!

We spent some time in Covent Garden browsing, and watching the street artists.

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

A Day in the Life of Archie, the Golden Lab

I've got something a little different for you today. I'm pleased to welcome Archie to take the reins for this post. Archie is my parents' beloved golden Labrador, who is eight and best friends with my Miss M.


I can't believe it, we are really here. Hey, hey it's holiday! I love coming away on holiday with Mum and Dad, but the very best holidays are when their grand-kids come as well, as that means I get to play with JJ, Miss M and Miss E.

JJ used to be my best friend, but he only wants to play with me every now and then nowadays, he seems more interested in that black box that he's always tapping away at. Mum calls it his laptop, I call it a pest!

Miss E and Miss M are twins and they are both fun, but I have to be honest, Miss M is my favourite. She is the one who gets up early to walk me with Dad each day and she is the one who always plays ball and tug of war with me. 

It can't be long now as the sun is up and I can hear Dad moving about in his bedroom, so Miss M will knock on the door soon and it will be time for us to go walking and running in the forest. It's very nice here in the New Forest where we are staying, but boy does it get hot in the caravan, it's lucky that Dad won't leave me here alone, so I am getting loads of great day trips out. I wonder where we will go today?

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Back to School with STABILO

As a child we went on holiday every year in August and it would always be around my birthday. Some kids might have been upset at this, as it meant I never had parties but I loved being away on my birthday, as it resulted in a beach day, ice cream, the penny arcade and shopping.

I've loved to shop since quite a young age and when I was a kid the summer sales always happened around my birthday, so it was a joy to take my birthday money and buy myself a few treats. One of the things I always bought each summer was new stationary to take with me back to school in September.

It's always been a bit of a ritual for me to choose all the new things I needed for school - bag, pencil case, rubber, calculator, maths set, sharpener, pens, pencils and the like. I truly loved it and its a love I seemed to have passed on to my girls as well.

When I told them that STABILO wanted to help them get ready for going back to school, they were both very excited. The reason being, that they both received a pack of STABILO Pen 68 felt-tip colouring pens for Christmas three years ago and some of them are still working. When else, have you ever heard of well-used pens lasting for that amount of time?

STABILO is a name we know and trust as creators of cult writing instruments for more than 160 years and the company is still family owned which always says a lot about a company, so we were excited to see what they sent though to us to try out.

Friday, 10 August 2018

Knockhatch Adventure Park, Hailsham, East Sussex - Review

knockhatch header

Recently my girls were lucky enough to have a Monday inset day and we used this as the perfect opportunity to visit Knockhatch without it being too busy. I would say that Knockhatch Adventure Park is a perfect (and really reasonably priced) day out if your child is aged between about 2 - 12 years. My twins are just about to turn 11 and they’re on the cusp of being a bit big for some of the attractions.

As we were visiting with many friends with kids of varying ages it worked well as they were able to help the little ones in the Pirates Cove splash area and on things like the soft play and Quadapillar ride without feeling too big. I have to admit to being really pleasantly surprised by the whole park. We had briefly visited about five years ago and not been that impressed but this visit was enough to make us want to go back a good few times before the girls really outgrow it.

High Season, Term Time
We visited on an Orange day, which is high season but within term time, so everything was open but we had timed sessions for them all and there was at least three or four sessions (spread throughout the day) for each activity/attraction in the day so you could do most everything. I have to be honest though, we found it hard to fit everything in during the five hours we were there. We were given a leaflet with the times as we arrived so it was easy to be able to plan.

quadapillar ride

Monday, 6 August 2018

10 Simple Tips for Energy Saving and play the British Gas Smart Meter Maze Game #BritishGasSmarterLiving

None of us are immune to the rising cost of energy and its not just any one supplier who's put up their prices in recent years. It's a fact of life that we now use far more technology than in the past and as such our energy bills are rising. We don't have to just accept the cost increases and be passive though, there are of course energy saving measures that we can take to help both our pockets and the bigger environmental world picture.

mother and child
Image thanks to British Gas

Energy Smart Meters
I'm really pleased to be working with British Gas, which serves around 11 million homes and provides energy to several hundred thousand UK businesses. As well as offering gas, electricity and boiler care services to the nation’s homes for over 200 years, British Gas is committed to making a difference. They are part of a Government initiative to improve energy efficiency in Great Britain and as such are offering smart meters to all customers by 2020. You'd receive one for your gas and one for your electricity.

I suspect you've probably heard people talking about smart meters but you might not yet be aware of what they do and just how much of a benefit they will be to your home and energy spending. The installation of smart meters will improve the accuracy of your bill by communicating your usage directly to British Gas and will allow you to view your energy use in currency as you use it, thus encouraging you to turn appliances off and use less energy. It's simple and that's the beauty of it. Nothing complex, just straightforward information you can take steps from and thus save energy and ultimately money.

A Fun Game to Play
Most people know the basics of energy saving and more of us are now double or triple glazing our windows, timing our heating and insulating our roofs but there are so many small and simple ways to help you actively manage your energy consumption and British Gas have designed a fun game to play, which will help you learn as you go.

I rarely play online games and as such I am a bit useless, so when I tried the Smart Meter Maze Game I totally failed on level one but that kicked in my competitive streak and I didn't want the game to beat me so I did fairly well on levels 2 (3000 points) and 3 (4000 points) and by level 4 I was feeling a bit rubbish again (1250 points). I've played a few times now and I'm pleased to say that I can fly through the five levels. I got 10750 on the final level. Go Mich!

Saturday, 4 August 2018

5 Reasons we Loved our Stay at Shorefield - Oakdene Forest Park,

Oakdene forest park header

We were away on holiday last week and what an amazing time we had. It was the week when it was 28 or 30 degrees heat every day and I know we are supposed to be grateful for the hot weather but come on, have you ever stayed in a caravan in that kind of heat?

Luckily for us it was a fabulous caravan and that made the world of difference. We were staying in Dorset on the edge of the Hurn and Avon forest at a Shorefield holidays park called Oakdene Forest Park. My parents had stayed there when I was at Uni in the area over twenty years ago but they said it is unrecognisable from the park of those days.

Every year for the first week of the school summer holiday the kids and I go away with my parents, brother and their dog. Normally we stay in a house in Poole but we were all gutted to find out late last year that the landlord we rent from, had sold the property and thus we weren't at all sure what to do as houses for 7 people and a dog can be so expensive. As I browsed the internet in early January I came across some great deals for Shorefield parks and because of their January sale I managed to secure a really decent price for the two caravans. I paid £374.25 for each caravan plus £28.00 for the dog.

I'd booked for a Monday to Friday short break and we all agreed that we needed longer, so next time it will be a full week for us. Officially you can't access your caravan until 4pm on the day or arrival and then have to be out of it by 10am, so that only gives three full days which didn't feel long enough. I had called in advance and asked about early arrival and whilst there was no guarantees, I'd say it is worth doing this as both of our caravans were available for us at 2pm. This meant we were unpacked and in the pool by 3pm!

Friday, 3 August 2018

Outdoor Theatre - Alice in Wonderland at Kew and Wakehurst this Summer

Years back I went to an outdoor concert, it was at a big fancy house in London, but I'm not sure where. I recall being really excited and my friend and I had packed a luxury picnic and some bubbly. Despite the torrential rain that fell on us that night we had the best time, sat on our outdoor chairs with big umbrellas over our heads! The atmosphere at outdoor events - concerts, theatre, festivals and the like - is just infectious.

Since that time I've wanted to find an event that I could take my children to, so they could experience the magic of watching something phenomenal whilst feeling the sun or cool breeze on their skin. With this in mind I was so excited to hear that the Australian Shakespeare Company is presenting exciting outdoor adaptations of classical texts in botanical gardens and other beautiful locations around the world.

Specifically they have bought Alice in Wonderland to life and will perform it at The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew from 21st July through to 27th August 2018 and then head down to Wakehurst in West Sussex for performances from 30th August - 2nd September 2018.

Performance Details

  • Kew - Tuesday - Sunday 10.30am and additional 2pm performance on each Friday/ Saturday
  • Wakehurst - 2.30pm performance each day and 11am on Friday, Saturday and Sunday
  • Run Time - 1 hour, 15 minutes
  • Tickets cost - Kew - Adult £22.90, Child £17.90 and group of 4 is £70.00. 
  • Tickets cost - Wakehurst - Adult £16.00, Child £12.90 and a group of 4 is £54.00.
  • The cost of your ticket for Wakehurst includes the cost of parking.
  • Kew members get a discount when they provide their membership number when booking for either venue. 
If you wish to book tickets for either venue, you can do so by clicking here