Saturday, August 30

Review & Giveaway: Ripley's Believe it or Not! London

I mentioned a few weekends ago I had an AMAZING day out in London courtesy of Ripley's Believe it or Not! London.
I've not actually had a proper chance to sit down and tell you about that yet though, the school holidays are proving rather difficult to get anything done on time, that's no excuse though.  So finally I am about to tell you of what has so far been the BEST bloggers event I have attended (and there have been a few over the past 3 years - including that private lunch I had with Tamzin Outhwaite).
We started our day off at Hamleys toy store, I'm not even going to tell you how amazing that place is as I'm sure you already know - it's a place I've been to many times and somewhere I avoid taking the children, not because I'm mean, it's because my purse couldn't cope!  I want everything let alone the children, but this visit was different - it was closed.  We had a private tour of a closed toy store, for 2 whole hours. 

The children could play with the toys, they had a go on the Nerf wall, chased around the ring master, watched a puppet show and even tried to juggle.  We learnt of some of the stores history and the toy history too.  Kids let loose in a closed and empty toy store - it was like a dream come true for all - including the parents!  They were then let loose on the pick n mix (and the adults too) before leaving.

From there we went to Planet Hollywood for lunch.  A section had been allocated for us all and we had a dedicated menu for our party.  We all settled very quickly and ordered our meals - the children could choose from the kids menus (their menus had colouring pages to entertain them - Emmy was pleased as she loves to colour) and Emmy decided she wanted a Burger and Chips.  I'm always very vary when she does this as although she does like Burgers, she only really eats the thin and over processed ones from a certain take away, she is a rather fussy eater, preferring plain foods such as plain spaghetti or plain pasta with cheese.  For this reason I ordered myself a pasta dish - Blackened Chicken Penne Pasta, my thoughts were that Emmy could eat the pasta if she changed her mind.
Considering the size of our party our party, our food was served pretty quickly.  Mine arrived before Emmy's and she started digging into the pasta - I had to pick the sweet red peppers, mushrooms and chicken off of the bits she wanted to eat but she really enjoyed it and for once didn't seem to mind there was a cream sauce on it.  When her Burger arrived she wasn't keen to try it - it just goes to prove Mummy knows best.

We were entertained during the meal by the onscreen messages and music and at one point the CCTV was hijacked and aimed our way so we could all wave and be silly and see ourselves on the TV screen - the kids loved this much more than the adults who were seen adjusting our clothing and sorting our hair after being caught in a down pour!
After lunch we headed off to Ripley's Believe it or Not! - en-route the heavens opened and we were all drenched though but what's a little (A LOT) of rain amongst friends?   
I had no expectations before we went and wasn't sure what Emmy would make of it (she is 4 and a half) -  We had a guide who talked to us about some of the displays and unexpected artefacts. 
Ripley's is a place to find the weird, wonderful and bizarre in all its forms under one roof from the worlds tallest man and the worlds heaviest man, there is a full sized Ferrari which has been knitted using 12 miles of yarn, and even a scale model of Tower Bridge made entirely from matchsticks - 264345 matchsticks were used!
There is a canvas picture of Katherine -the Dutchess of Cambridge which has been painted in one of the most unique ways I've ever heard of - the artist wore lipstick and then kissed the canvas, repeating this process over and over again until an amazing piece of artwork had been created.
Emmy wasn't keen on the Amazonian Shrunken Heads and wasn't too keen on me trying to tell her about some of the displays - however she toured in her own way - probably the best way for someone of her age - she went up to all the displays which interested her, all the colourful ones, ones she could touch, feel and interact with.
She LOVED the interactive graffiti wall - this is a huge computer screen which the children could spray paint on with a spray can - the spray can acts like the mouse would on a computer which you use to direct your graffiti onto the wall.  All the children loved this and it's the stillest and most patient I have seen a group of children as they queued for there 1 minute with the spray can.

The Marvellous Mirror Maze was both wonderful and scary at the same time - for this you wear disposable gloves and head into the darkened maze full of mirrors - the mirrors are floor to ceiling in length and the whole maze is dark except for strips of red lights on the floor - this obviously makes finding your way through the maze very hard.  There are twists and turns everywhere, dead ends and false turns hindering your path.  I have never been in a maze of mirrors and had thought how hard can it be to find your way out - well the answer to that is very hard!  I'm slightly claustrophobic so after more than 10 minutes of Emmy leading the way, feeling our way by touching the mirrors we both started to panic a little - she wasn't too keen from the off and firmly held my hand.  We made it out with a huge sigh of relief and when a staff member asked Emmy if she wanted to go again she legged it in the opposite direction, and I can't say I blame her.  It was fun but once was enough.
The sights inside Ripley's are amazing - the hours and hours spent making and creating some of the art work is immense - there are pictures make entirely from flattened bottle caps, and others from gob stoppers.  
It is well worth a visit if you are heading into London, I NEED to head back again as Emmy was tired by the end of the day and we didn't manage to see everything we wanted to.  You are however very lucky as I have a family ticket to Ripley's to giveaway.
Giveaway Time
For your chance to win a family ticket to Ripley's Believe it or Not! London just fill in the Rafflecopter form below.
This giveaway will end at midnight on 19th September - the ticket is valid until 14/08/2015
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclaimer: We were treated to this awesome day out courtesy of Ripley's Believe it or Not!  We have not been compensated in any other way to write this post. All thoughts and opinions are our own
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Friday, August 29

5 Top Tips for Keeping the Kids Entertained On a Long Car Journey

Having kids ask "Are we there yet?" every so often during a long journey can drive any parent crazy, so how to keep children entertained should be on your list of things to prepare for. Impatient and noisy kids can be a distraction, especially if you need to concentrate on driving so as not to miss an important turn in the road. With these top tips, you can make every journey an enjoyable adventure for your kids, and you can focus on getting your family to your vacation spot without the least bit of hair-pulling involved. Let’s get started!

Travel Games and Toys

There are many travel games you and your children can play during the ride, such as spotting games and mind games. For instance, you can tell your kids that every time they spot an umbrella, they should say "Rain, rain, go away!"
You can also tell them to be on the lookout for a particular colour of a vehicle or a building. Uncommon colours are best—for example, you can tell your children to look for purple buildings or orange cars. Another game you can play involves music. Before your trip, save popular tunes in your MP3 player and play a guessing game during your journey. Let your kids name the title of the song, and sing along.
Toys can also keep children entertained. You can bring favourite toys or surprise your kids with new ones such as small dolls, action figures, and model cars and planes. Even everyday household items such as pipe cleaners can become toys that children can sculpt into various shapes!

Art Kits

Many children love creating things with their hands, and with just a few basic materials, you can make art kits that your children can enjoy. Get some blank sheets of paper, a small clipboard, and a box of washable markers, coloured pencils, or crayons, and give a set to each child. You can task them to draw different scenes and objects: what they think your destination looks like, or what they see out the window, their pet or favourite toy, or portraits of family members.

Portable DVD Players

You can also invest in a portable DVD player so you can bring along cartoons and movies that your kids can watch during the trip. When your children get bored of looking out the window, having something to watch will surely keep them entertained.


Tablets and Gaming Consoles

Portable gaming consoles and tablets with interactive games and apps can keep children busy and quiet during a long trip. There are thousands of games and apps available for children of all ages, and many of them are also educational. These devices are also capable of playing music and videos, taking photos, and providing users with endless hours of entertainment. Just be sure to bring extra batteries and a car charger along!



You can’t go on a long journey without snacks! Children will happily munch on treats while looking out the window or listening to their favourite tunes. Pack a variety of snack options such as fruit snacks, animal crackers, vegetable chips, and gummy bears. Prepare sippy cups or water bottles for each child, and have wet wipes and travel tissues handy in case of spills.
With these travel tips, you will surely be able to keep your children entertained and therefore keep your sanity while driving your family to your destination. Have a safe and happy trip ahead!

"This is a collaborative post"
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Not your usual bank holiday weekend start!

I love a Bank Holiday - it's like a Sunday for me and I was especially looking forward to the one just gone.
We have been so busy for the past few weeks that I had planned NOTHING!!
It was to be a pyjama day - we have a few new DVD's which have been sent for review to watch and that was my only plans for the day.
Monday started earlier than I had hoped, with Harry waking before 6am - this is never good when I've been up working until around 1.30am the night before.
Emmy woke around 7.30am and was feeling sleepy and cuddly.
With milk and cookies we took to the sofa with blankets and pillows and snuggled - all 3 of us at one end of the sofa.
What happened next is, well...... I still actually don't have the words for it if I'm honest which is unusual so I will just show you instead.

A lorry driver reversed into it and knocked it through my fence and into my front room doors.
It actually fell touching the glass of the door - I've paint from the shade on my door where is came to a stop.
We were all very lucky
YES it is bad BUT it could have been 100% worse
We are still dealing with the aftermath of the damaged caused, it can all be replaced in time - the fence, the green house, the kids play house and the rabbit hutch were all damaged in one way or another and of course the lamppost.
The police arrived very quickly and National Grid despite being a bank holiday were here within 2 hours to remove the lamppost from our garden.  It took them all day to make the outside safe as they needed to drill down into the ground to get to the rest of the post and to the wires.
Emmy has effected most by this.
She has been having nightmares and has spent every night since it happened in my bed, we've also discovered she is scared of the dark - something I was unaware of as he had a street light shining outside here window every night.
I just thank our lucky stars that it was raining as the kids and I would have been in the garden otherwise.
I hope your bank holiday was better than mine.
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Hobbies: The Importance Of Having Time To Yourself

It is easier to make time for hobbies when we are younger, but that doesn’t mean that you have to let go of your passion as you grow older. With all your time devoted to your work or family, it is sometimes hard to find time for yourself and for your hobbies. However, having a hobby is important, as it is a form of stress relief from all the work that you have to do. It doesn’t matter what you are interested in. You can learn new things and enroll in karate classes for adults, or you can also develop an old hobby of yours that you haven’t done in a while such as knitting. Whatever you decide to do, make sure that you have time to yourself.
Here are some of the reasons why having time to yourself and having a hobby is important:
Stress Relief – Hobbies are not just a reason to do something else other than work. It is also a stress relief for many. There is a difference between doing what you love to do and doing something because you need to do it. By doing something you love, you can rest for a while and forget all the other things that you have to accomplish. For a little while, all you have to do is focus on doing what you enjoy.

Meet New People – If you find time to develop your hobby, you will meet new people who have the same interests as you. This widens your network and you get to spend time with other people doing the thing you love. Check local organizations or groups that you can join to meet people with the same interests.

Reboot Your Brain – Having a hobby and time for yourself also means rebooting your brain. After a long week at work, all we want to do is kick back and relax. This gives the brain a chance to replenish itself and rest. By forgetting all the stress at work and doing something you love on your spare time, you will feel refreshed and ready for new challenges that you have to take.

Get Rid Of Boredom – Have you ever experienced feeling like there’s nothing left to do? If you are often bored, maybe it’s time to take up a hobby. Determine what you are interested in doing, or learn new things. By doing this, you will always have an activity to do on your spare time. Learning new things will also keep you excited about life.

Helps You Grow – Getting a new hobby will allow you to have a richer perspective in life. The more you learn new things and develop new skills, the more you grow. You might even gain new skills that you can apply to your work by engaging in a new hobby.

These are some of the advantages of having time for yourself and getting a hobby. It’s always nice to learn something new, whether you are still young or even if you are old. Take time to get away from the stress and spend time doing what you love in order to live a more fulfilling life.
"This is a collaborative post"

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Thursday, August 28

Review: Barbie and the Secret Door - Princess Alexa Doll

Emmy is such a girlie girl.  She loves dolls, hair accessories, dressing up and make up.
Her favourite thing to watch currently on TV is Barbie - this stems from when we went to see the Barbie movie at a premiere screening at the London Aquarium.  This of course is much to Daddy's dismay as he isn't keen but what would he know?  Emmy and I love watching it.
Recently Emmy was sent a new Barbie which is from the new movie 'Barbie and the Secret Door' - this is released on DVD on the 1st September however the dolls were released and launched last month.

Emmy received the lead doll - Princess Alexa (Barbie).  Alexa is a shy princess who discovers a whole new fairy-tale world in the movie.
"Straight from the movie, the Princess Alexa doll captures all the magic of the character and story. Wave her wand and she sings two songs from the movie and her dress flashes with lights."

This doll retails at £24.99.

Alexa comes wearing her finale dress which fans will recognise from the movie.  The bottom of the dress features flowers and sparkles and the top has a one shoulder design which also has flowers on.

To make Princess Alexa sing you need to pull down on her arm with the wand in and she will sing 2 songs from the movie, while her body lights up. She also has a removable tiara on.

The songs aren't very long - only 2 lines so I find Emmy has then playing constantly which I admit I have found very annoying but they are actually quite catchy.

A huge plus with this toy is that the batteries are already included!  Always a bonus for parents.

Emmy is very taken with this and can't wait for the movie to come out on DVD.
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