Saturday, 31 May 2014

Six great places to visit for a free family day out in London

A day out in London with your children can be so much fun and does not have to cost the earth. Before our move south last summer our family had always lived in Hertfordshire and this meant just a 20 minute train ride into London. We therefore took a lot of trips into the capital for family days out and I thought I’d share with you some of our favourite places to visit for free.  Yes, that’s right, all the ones I am sharing 
here do not have any entrance cost associated with them.

There are lots of super places in London that are completely free and you will have a great time, especially if the weather is good. Now we live a couple of hours away from London it is even more important that we have thrifty days out in London as it means we can spend our money on staying the night in a hotel and making the most of our time in London.

Coram Fields –
This hidden park close to Kings Cross is loads of fun for primary school aged children, there is loads of play equipment including an aerial slide, a grass area, a paddling pool and sandpit and for the adults a super café. Toilets are on site too for your convenience. This seven acre haven can get busy in the very hot months but it is a fabulous few hours fun.

This museum appeals to children of all ages from toddlers to teens as there are so many areas to explore and the hands on exhibits are particularly good. In the basement you have garden for the younger kids and upstairs is the Launchpad where you can educate and laugh all in one go. Don't forget that if you get bored the National History museum is just next door and entry is free there too.


St James Park & Buckingham Palace –
If you want fun on a bigger scale then head to St James Park and let the kids play ball and run around all the green grassland. or why not scoot through the park and follow the Princess Diana memorial walk. We also like to see the Pelicans and go in the children’s play area, it is a lot of fun with play equipment and sand. We then like to take a walk past Buckingham Palace from here too and the kids wave to the queen. If you have a smart phone just use the maps app to plan out your walking routes, no need to spend money on the tube or buses unnecessarily.


Now obviously you can only visit this one on New Year’s Day but I cannot recommend it more highly.  This parade is a wonderful sight and a full day’s entertainment. The American marching bands and super large balloons are a spectacular sight.


Walk along the South Bank –
There are lots of attractions that you can spend money on along here but our family rarely feel the need. The kids like to take their cameras and cross the bridges and see what they can capture. You can view the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, The London Eye, St Pauls Catherdral and so much more. There are always street performers which are fun to watch the many market stalls and street food traders selling fab trinkets and delicious treats. Check out the Royal Festival Hall too as there are often free small concerts and exhibitions.


This is great in the summer when there are 55 dancing fountains in the front courtyard.  The kids love this on a warm day and it is good to explore the free exhibitions/ family workshops and of course you can take the 45 minute free guided tour if your children are older.

I hope you enjoy.....
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A year in photos - Beautiful flowers and Butlins (week 22)

We started off with a quiet weekend knowing that once Monday came and we arrived at Butlins it would be full on. JJ was away at camp and the girls had a late night as there was a nice fireworks display where we live.  I discovered it is pretty hard to catch good firework photos.


Sunday I took a quiet walk by myself to see how things are changing with the season -


I spotted the gorgeous flowers being arranged for a friends wedding in the week.




Then Monday we headed off to Butlins and it was a great week. I have written about our stay a number of times and we met the fab Clare from Seasider in the City there with her family and some friends.

The 2p arcade machines are a big hit with Miss E.



JJ's highlight was meeting Dick and Dom and having his book signed.


I used Pic Monkey to try out a new effect on this photo and I think it works quite well, it has made it fun and you can still see all their expressions. The girls loved spending time with Clare's son.


Big and Little J are the joint winners of the crazy golf.  Looks at their winners stance!


And sharing a few photos from this weeks Instagram feed too -




We have had a super week and now I'm ready for a nice quiet weekend again and getting back to normal life......

Wishing you a blessed week ahead, Mich x



TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky
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Friday, 30 May 2014

Review of Deluxe Suite, Butlins Bognor Regis


We have stayed at Butlins loads of times now but the last time we stayed in Deluxe accommodation was when my twins were 6 weeks old, they are now nearly 7.  I can promise you quite a lot has changed in that time but not everything!

Deluxe is the highest (and most expensive) grade of accommodation at Butlins with the exception of the hotels at Bognor Regis and Blue Skies at Minehead.

For our holiday this time we were staying with a premium dining plan so as half-board guests you would normally just book a room (or rooms if there are many of you) but this means that if you want to relax and watch some TV in the evening you have to do it in your bedroom. This is where the Deluxe Suite is fantastic as it has a separate lounge.

I'll walk you through what you get for your money in a Deluxe suite -

These are situated in Atlantic Bay and this basically means they are on the side of the main entrance, sadly they are across the car park away from the rest of the resort. It is not far to walk but this of course does not provide for a good view to the front, which is a shame as you do get a private patio area and some chairs for sitting out.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Butlins through the eyes of a 6 year old

At the moment we are at Butlins Bognor Regis, staying as part of their Butlins Ambassadors scheme, we arrived yesterday, so this has been our first full day and boy am I tired!

I have only just tucked up my 6 year old twins into bed and they were still protesting that they wanted to do more.  I'll show you exactly what they have been up to today and you will see why I need my bed...

Monday, 26 May 2014

Netflix for animal lovers

You might have read last month that I'm a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam and each month I'll be bringing you an update on what Netflix has to offer.

First off I'll start by saying that I am still seriously in love with Netflix, which I generally watch on the big screen via my Apple TV but I also stream on my iPad and laptop. I mentioned last time that despite my slow Internet speeds I have not had any issues streaming Netflix and in the main this is still the same. There has not been one occasion when I could not watch a Netflix show, I've probably had it buffer a handful of times but when I watch it every day I am very happy with this and feel it is performing fabulously.

I have to tell you that I am a bit sad at the moment though, over the last month I've become very addicted to the TV show Suits and I have already watched all the episodes in season 1 and 2 that are on Netflix. I'm now wanting to know when season 3 will be on there! I've had to move onto White Collar and Gossip Girl but they are not quite cutting it, I want my fix of Harvey Spector and Mike Ross!

To take my mind off it I am joining Netflix this month by celebrating our animal friends. Miss M is desperate for a pet but we can not have one here and to be frank, I'm not interested in having any pets, so she has to make do with Nanny's dog, our friends guinea pigs and at our house it is about watching them on TV.

When I come down in the morning I often find Miss M and Miss E watching Cliffords Puppy Days and over the last month we have watched a ton of pet inspired films to satisfy Miss M's appetitue for all things canine. Here are three of our favourites so far -


The great thing with Netflix is that there is always something new to discover, so we won't be running out of dog films any time soon and they have suggested a fun activity for us as well. How do you fancy making a dog sandwich to go with your film?

You will need 
2 x slices of wholemeal bread
1 x wholemeal pita or 1 x slice of wholemeal crust
Your favourite sandwich filling
Cucumber Cheese
Cream cheese (optional)

Method 
1. Make a sandwich using two slices of wholemeal bread and your favourite filling
 2. Using a sharp knife, cut out a shape that resembles a pear or light bulb (wide and round at one end and narrower and rounded at the other)
 3. Using either pitta bread or the slice of a crust, cut two teardrop shapes and then tuck these inside the sandwich so that the rounded section is at the top and the point is downwards
 4. To make the nose, cut a slice of cucumber skin and then shape it into a round edged triangle and put it in place
 5. For the eyes, take a slice of cheese and using a circular cutter (small cookie cutter), cut two oval eye shapes. Cut some more cucumber skin and using an apple corer or very small circle cutter, make two pupils from the cucumber skin and place on top of the cheese ovals
 6. To finish, cut some small curves of cucumber skin using a round cutter and place above the eyes. To give the eyes and nose a more lifelike appearance, use a tiny dot of cream cheese to highlight these


Disclosure: I have received a years free membership to Netflix and a free device to become part of the #Streamteam. They have not instructed me what to write and I remain honest, as always. 
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Saturday, 24 May 2014

A year in photos - week 21

I forgot to share a couple of good photos I took last week when we visited Bodium castle, so here they are, better late than never!



Ohh and a couple from Bexhill too, it makes me want to drive back there right now -




I've been quite content this week and I feel as if I have achieved a lot but I suppose that is the funny thing of doing a weekly post like this, I now realise that not a lot has gone on in the last week but that is OK.  Life is not always about the big stuff.

Dh worked all last weekend, it was a busy one for him and Sunday afternoon we took the opportunity to meet up with a blogger friend and her sons.  It was super to catch up with Older Single Mum and her boys sure hit it off with my kids. Our feisty ones had a few words but in the main it was all good fun.


This week was Sports day at school and none of the kids were looking forward to it but actually it turned out well as it was pretty non-competitive and everyone did activity at the same time so for a shy one like Miss E there was not the unwanted glares of the whole school watching as you take your turn. I was pleased to catch a shot of Miss E and JJ together, sadly I can't share any of Miss M as there was always other kids in the shots.


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Butlins - exciting new changes at Bognor Regis

For the last few weeks I've been receiving a steady stream of emails giving me all the information I need to know before we arrive for our Butlins holiday next week. I have to say that I often just gloss past them as I figure I know most things, having been to Butlins well over a dozen times in the last decade but tonight I decided that I'd follow one of the links and take a browse round the website and see what we could look forward to activities and entertainment wise.

Well, what a wake-up call that was, I'd obviously forgotten that nothing stands still with Butlins. Every season there is something new, an area redeveloped, a new taste sensation and the latest shows for both adults and kids. Talking of shows an Ambassador friend of ours went recently and she has recommended the Cirque de Hilarious as something we have to see. This apparently combines daredevil acts with comedy and will have us all busting our guts! JJ can't wait to see it.

Here is what else we are looking forward to; things that will be a new experience for us at Butlins, Bognor Regis -

*  Dick and Dom will be at Butlins. Can I confess that I am almost as excited about this as the kids are. 



*  I let Miss E have a look around the site and see what she fancies and of course her eye was caught by Mister Maker straight away. This is her favourite show as she loves to draw and create. Sadly I now see that it is not on until the summer holiday but great news for those of you going in the summer.

*  We have not visited the Discovery studio yet at Bognor Regis but Miss M has already pointed this out as an experience she wants to be part of.  3D and animals all in one show are a hit for her. There is a cost of 5.00 per person for this but there is so little that you need to pay extra for that I'm happy to make some payments.



*  I've just pointed out to dh that there is a new evening show called Freddie and it is based on the music of Freddie Mercury and Queen, so now I've been informed we will definitely be going to that!

*  On the food front I spot there is a new diner which just opened this month, my friend Jenny has already been along and reviewed it and now I want to go more than ever. I've also nicked this photo from her, check it out!


*  Then for another day we can try out the new ice cream parlour, Scoop. Another friend of mine Laura, has already tried this out and she says it is good! (Thanks also to her for the image)


As you can see there are so many new things for us to see, do and eat and this is only at Bognor, every site changes regularly. When we were at Minehead in April the funfair had been completely refurbished and was looking fabulous.

If you have any out-of-date or preconceived ideas (hi-de-hi) of what Butlins is like nowadays I can bet you have got it wrong. Nowadays it is many things - full-on, exhilarating, glossy, well maintained and fun but there is still the care and traditional charm that Billy Butlin set our to create all those years ago.

Only 3 more sleeps to go!!  Yippee



Disclosure: I am a Butlins Ambassador this year and as such we were provided with a 4 night break for 5 people for the purpose of undertaking a review. I have not been told what to write and I remain honest.
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Thursday, 22 May 2014

Family visit to Batemans - National Trust

Back in February we bought family membership to the National Trust and we have been enjoying some days out together exploring our local area. This time we headed to Batemans, which was the home of the Jungle Book author Rudyard Kipling. We went there purely on location as it is pretty close to our home and we only had about 3 or 4 hours all in, I have to be honest and say we did not expect it to thrill the children as looking at the National Trust web pages it appeared to have less on offer for children than many of the national trust properties, no child specific activity/ trail or play area available.

I'm pleased to say though that even on a regular day our 6 and 10 year old kids had a good time. I really love that all these kind of places we are visiting are not only teaching our kids some valuable history but also giving them precious lessons in making their own fun, finding the beauty in nature and being quiet, calm and respectful in historic places.

I do think that pictures speak a thousand words, so take a look at this stunning property, gardens and mill -



The staff in the mill were really good at chatting to the kids and explaining the processes and how things would have worked in years gone by.


So much space to walk, run and explore. I just loved all the greenery -



I often think it is when you allow children time to just be that they have the most fun, whilst we sat and had coffee and I photographed some birds the kids ran off to play a type of charades games and it was so nice to watch them together giggling.


and also to witness their companionable silence as they watched the fish jumping out the water -


We had a super family day at Batemans and I'm sure we will be back again in the summer to take one of the many country walks.
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Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Ghoulish Glasgow

Image Credit: PrawnFm 05 on Flickr

With such an interesting and varied history, Glasgow is of course home to many a story of ghosts and ghoulish goings on. Even the local bus tour operators are getting in on the act and organising bespoke ghost tours starring two of Glasgow's very own ghosts as they give you a tour of the grislier side of Glasgow. So who, or what, is said to haunt Glasgow?

The Tron Theatre
 If you go to watch a film at the Tron Theatre, you’d better check who's sitting beside you before the lights go down. This Glasgow landmark has had many incarnations over the years including a church, a place of execution, a meeting hall, a market, a store, a police station and now a theatre. With such a past, it's not surprising that it is full of ghost stories, with members of staff reporting a threatening male presence in the boiler room, objects being moved, doors being opened, children whimpering and various mysterious presences felt and even sighted in the auditorium itself.

The Museum of Transport
 So much more than just a museum it seems, a security guard working here has reported seeing blue balls of light, a headless woman and has heard the screams of children. Others have heard the screams and seen people walking along the streets that have been recreated inside the museum, before vanishing into thin air. One paranormal investigation picked up lots of orbs and even captured the shadow of a man inside one of the trams in the exhibit on camera. Will you brave that tram? You never know who might sit next to you, after all.

Glasgow Royal Infirmary
 You certainly don't want to end up in hospital at the best of times, but this one is so haunted even the doctors see ghosts. Imagine seeing a ward sister walking towards you - completely normal you might think - until you look down and realise she has no legs below her knees! You might also see an elderly old man who talks to the dying, or the ghost of a man who was seen by a nurse, just two days after he died, which distressed her greatly, as you might imagine! Another ghostly tale is that of the doctor running to a patient who was in cardiac arrest, who was asked directions to the exit by a man he recognised moments later as the man who's bed he'd just rushed towards!

The Scotia
Glasgow's oldest bar is home to spirits of more than just the liquid kind it seems. Paranormal investigators have seen the shadow of a man moving across the bar towards the locked cellar, and minutes later rattling noises from the cellar were heard. The investigator went on to state that the man had hanged himself in the cellar, which the present bar manager confirmed. Two other ghosts also haunt the bar. An old man from the 1930's was found sitting in one of the bar’s snug rooms and a prostitute responded to questions by moving a glass on a table, then when asked to do something to confirm her presence seemed to ring the telephone twice. Do you dare brave a drink in this historic Glasgow watering hole?

Glasgow is home to many ghosts, including that of a vampire who haunts a churchyard. It even lays claim to the ghostly apparition of Princess Diana in the stained glass windows of a little church in Govan. It really is alive with the dead, so if ghost hunting is on your agenda you should book a room in Glasgow's Travelodge, right in the heart of this haunted city and see what goes bump in the night!



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