Friday, 21 October 2016

National Trust: Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Kent

A couple of weeks ago when my parents were visiting we decided to take a drive over to Kent and visit a new National Trust site. Regular readers know that I absolutely love a day out at a National Trust site. That combination of history, stunning buildings, well kept gardens, space for the kids to run, the chance to really use my camera and a decent cream tea certainly do entice me.

I've known quite a few friends come to visit Sissinghurst Castle Gardens before but to be honest I've resisted as it isn't the biggest NT site and it is mostly outdoors but I was just being silly as it is a lovely site and generally the kids enjoy the outdoors part far more than the houses anyway.

We didn't arrive until about 2pm on a Sunday afternoon and then needed to head off about 5pm and this felt the perfect place for a three hour visit including a cuppa. There were still plenty of parts of the site that we didn't get to see in that time but that really is the beauty of NT membership, you know you can come back again another day so you don't have to rush or worry.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

12 Signs You're Doing OK as a Parent of a Teenager

My JJ is now 13 and as tall as many kids 2 or 3 years older than him. He is also very intelligent, quite wise and great fun to be around. Yes there are the odd 'Kevin' (of Kevin and Perry fame) moments but generally he is a sound lad and will do what is asked of him.

Who knows if we have all the troublesome years ahead of us, maybe we are just getting away with it easy now and the future will be a nightmare but I won't start worrying about that just yet.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Review: Ibis London Excel Docklands Hotel

I'm now the proud parent of a teenager as JJ turned 13 just over a week ago. When I asked him what he wanted for his birthday he said money or Steam (online gaming) vouchers from all the family but from Dad and I he'd like an experience rather than a present.

A couple of years ago for Christmas he was stuck for what he wanted as a gift and I booked him and my husband to have a weekend in London together. They had so much fun that JJ wanted to do the same again. So I approached Ibis to see if they might like to host my two boys for a night and they were fantastic and the Manager of the Ibis, London Excel Docklands said he would love to offer them a nights stay and breakfast the next morning.

We already had plans to spend the day as a family at Kidzania on the Saturday but I suggested to JJ that the girls and I could then get the train home and he and my husband could stay on and have some fun. They chose to stay in the Westfield Centre, Shepherds Bush and go for a gourmet burger and to see the movie Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, which they both said was really good.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

950th Anniversary Celebrations for the Battle of Hastings

We've had such a fun family afternoon and the best thing about it was that it was pretty impromptu. We've obviously known that it would be the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings this weekend and that the reenactment was happening at Battle Abbey and battleground this weekend but we hadn't really planned to join in as we've been to the reenactment before and we knew that Battle town would just be crazy busy with tourists.

Then on Monday the girls school sent home a letter saying they they would approve leave for this afternoon if the children wanted to be part of the town festivities and of course they did. At 2.15pm this afternoon this was a parade of more than 600 local school children (including many from my kids school) led by a military band, activities in the library and crafts in the memorial hall. So we planned to spend the afternoon in Battle town and it is close enough for JJ to walk and meet us after he finished school.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Kidzania - A Kids Paradise in London's Westfield Centre

I've been dealing with a very tired 9 year old today, she didn't get to sleep until gone 11pm last night and now she is jumpy and hyper-sensitive. Thank the Lord that our 1pm arrival time has come around for entry into Kidzania as she may now finally calm down a little and settle in to her afternoon of fun!

At the beginning of the year my 9 year old twin girls came to Kidzania with their school class and loved it. It was all they talked about for a couple of weeks. So when it got close to JJ's 13th birthday and he said he fancied a visit too, I jumped at Kidzania's offer to host our family on a date of our choice. We visited on Saturday 8th October for the 4 hour slot commencing at 1pm and I expected it to be heaving but thankfully I was wrong (although the girls tell me it was busier than the school day they had last visited).

As our tickets had been booked in advance for us we had printed tickets and this meant we could head straight inside Kidzania and go up the three floor to the British Airways departure lounge. Check-in was easy and the member of staff very smiley and friendly, he certainly knew how to relate to kids. He checked if the kids had any allergies or additional needs and fitted us all with a security bracelet. This meant the kids couldn't leave without my husband or myself and it also acts as a location tracker.

They were handed 50 kidZos each (money just available for the children to earn and spend in Kidzania) and the girls explained to their brother how he earns or spent them. Miss E had saved some KidZos from her previous visit and thus had enough to open a bank account if she wanted. This was the cause of great excitement.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Miss E's Dream Horse from Petplan Equine

Anyone who regularly reads my blog will know that Miss E is very crafty and loves to make things and Miss M is animal crazy. It is hard to walk along the street without her constantly stopping to pet every dog she sees and it is lucky for me that we can't have pets where we live or I'd never hear the end of it. Miss M has only ridden a horse a couple of times but she has really enjoyed it and I'm sure if we had the means she would be asking for lessons like her friend Lucy.

When Petplan Equine got in touch and asked if the girls would like to draw their dream horse and then have it made into a real toy they were both excited to be part of it. We got ready with loads of crafty items and they sat down together and started to design their horse but low and behold true to form Miss M was bored within the a short time and asked Miss E to finish the horse off alone.

This is the horse that Miss E came up with, his name is Valentine and I think he is a bit of a dandy horse with his silver cowboy boots and bowler hat. He also has brown and gold wings for those times when his legs just won't carry him any further.

Have a watch of the video and Miss E will introduce you to Valentine, the horse she drew and also the unique Valentine toy that Petplan Equine had made for her to keep.

Friday, 7 October 2016

8 Great Places to Visit as a Family from Bournemouth/ Poole

As a little girl my family often took me on holiday to Dorset, to Bournemouth and Boscombe to be more precise and through those visits my love for the area grew. So much so that I then lived there for three years whilst at University and boy what fun did I have. Again my love to the area heightened and it was naturally the place that I then took my kids to recreate all those fabulous childhood memories.

It's been quite nice for the last three years as my parents and more recently my brother have joined us for a weeks holiday in Poole and thus we really do create some of the old memories. I thought it was high time that I shared some of our favourite places to visit as a family when we are staying in the Bournemouth/ Poole area of Dorset.

1.  Blue flag beaches
This really is the obvious place to start as Bournemouth and Poole (particularly Sandbanks) are renowned for their glorious sandy beaches. Numerous awards have been won and many areas have lifeguards during the summer months so you can enjoy them safely with your family. A personal favourite of ours is Alum Chine as it is never too crowded, there is a lovely play park right close to the sand and you can catch the land train along the promenade to Bournemouth town centre. Parking is limited so we tend to park on street for free and walk through the beautiful chine to get to the beach. Sandbanks is also amazing but can get much busier and the parking is more expensive too.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Good News - I've Been Keeping a Secret!

Hey all,

I think some of you know already but many of you probably don't.

I've been keeping a bit of a secret since the beginning of this year.

You might of seen me mention at the time that some nasty comments on my practically retired review blog shook me right up and I even considered throwing the towel in and blogging no longer but I couldn't do it. For many reasons, first I felt God prod me to keep on, second it is my outlet, it's how I'm creative and clear my head and third I wasn't giving in to one horrid person who thought indecent comments were appropriate.

So what I had to do was create myself a new space, a space where I felt safer and that meant a new blog. Back in January the fabulous Stacey Corrin designed me a new blog using a blog title that had been going round my head for years and I have endeavoured to create a place that is true to me and it is probably what I'd call my faith blog.

I give you my new blog - Progress not Perfection

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