Sunday, 31 March 2013

Easter Egg Trail at National Trust Polesden Lacey

This weekend has been a bit, how can I put it? Rubbish. Noah has been a bit poorly for a few days (as in constant calpol and really not his usual fun self) and the OH also seems to have a milder version of what Noah has. We also had a situation with the car which has now been resolved. We had lots of plans for this weekend which included a big family get together at our house and seeing loads of friends that have had to be cancelled. So today I decided that there was no reason why Isla and I couldn't get out and have some fun, so we headed over to my parents first for a bit of lunch, a few puzzles for Isla with Nanny and car advice for me from my Dad and then we went to National Trust Polesden Lacey for a Cadbury Easter Egg Trail. It was great. We've done one for the past 2 years and the weather has been blazing, so this year was a slight let down on that front but no less fun as the lure of a chocolate egg had Isla running round the whole trail. It was great to see her really running and balancing on logs, collecting sticks and having a go at climbing trees. She also loved the binoculars that you can borrow:

The idea with the trail isn't that you collect eggs all the way round (as obviously there would be none left within an hour of the trail opening!), instead you spot letters of the alphabet on your way round, note them down, then unravel them to make a word and collect a Cadbury's egg at the end. What I liked this year was that the letters were on papier mache eggs that were hanging in the trees and if I read rightly the eggs were made by local school children (couldn't stop to read it properly as Isla was already running off to find the next one! Previously it was just a letter pinned on a tree or a clue. 

Isla literally ran the whole way round. I mostly had this view:

There is a cool little woodland playground in the middle of the trail which she loved:

We noted down all the letters, great alphabet practise for her and then we climbed a couple of trees:

After that we collected our egg and queued up for the face painting. And I think that was my only gripe. We waited half and hour for face painting. She was really good at waiting but it did feel like a long time. It is included in the price of the trail though (£2.50) so I wouldn't complain at all. There were 3 face painters and think if this had been doubled it would have been better but the queue did became outraged when an adult emerged from the tent with his face painted as it was felt that he had taken up time that could have been given to one of the kids and I can't help agreeing really. However - that is a really small thing and Isla loved the result of her face painting:

All in all, we really needed that time in the fresh air today and when we got home it seemed that Noah and Daddy were on the road to recovery, far less Calpol and Nurofen had been administered today and more food had been eaten. So here's hoping that everyone is on the road to recovery!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

How to Make the 'Alternative' Easter Bonnet!

Now I have two children in nursery I have to make two Easter Bonnets! I was really prepared with Isla's one - we started it weeks ago and finished it at the weekend, she did all the painting and I just did all the putting together. I love crafting with her - she gets so into it. However I wasn't as prepared with Noah's but when my work colleague Tim showed me what he'd made for his son, I just knew I wanted to do the same for Noah and share this really simple but fun idea with you. I said it was an 'alternative' Easter Bonnet and what I mean by that is it's a HOT CROSS BUN! Which is really appropriate for Noah at the moment as he won't stop eating the things! Here's how I made it:

You will need

Ideally Brown wrapping paper or I used 2 large brown envelopes stuck together 
White Card
Black Card
Stuffing to pad out the 'hot cross bun' - I used a load of carrier bags/ you could use bubble wrap
Glue/ Sellotape
Card to make the hat go round your child's head - I used card from a cereal box

How to make your Hot Cross Bun Easter Hat

Take the envelopes and make them into a square.

Stuff with carrier bags to pad out your bun

Fold the corners of your 'square' shape so that you make a more rounded bun shape.

Cut two lengths of white card and stick these to your 'bun' in a cross

Cut a few circles from your black card and stick these on to your 'bun' - these are your currants

Obviously this has to sit on your child's head so I cut the top off a cereal box and sized it to Noah's head and stuck it on to the bottom of the bun and voila you have your Hot Cross Bun Easter Hat! 

Isla also had to give it a try:

Happy Easter Everyone!

Monday, 25 March 2013

Below Freezing Birthday Farm Fun!

Yesterday was FREEZING. Literally -1 all day. However we had a birthday party to go to at Godstone Farm so off we went wrapped up warm with hats, gloves, scarves and wellies. No sooner had we got out of the car there was a casualty of the mud - Isla fell over on the way in and her Sheepy got the brunt of it and was covered in mud. Cleaned up as best we could we then headed to the play barn for some birthday soft play for the kids and hot drinks for the adults. Fortunately the play barn is quite cosy and the kids had a great time. Following that there was a ride on the tractor round the farm which the kids loved!

Next up birthday lunch and cake in the barn which was a bit parky and then a walk around to see the new additions to the farm - piglets, lambs and ducklings! I particularly liked being in the warm near the baby ducklings...... My favourite bit was watching Noah stroking the rabbit and getting right up close to it's face and saying "Hello Rabbit!". Not sure the rabbit was as happy as Noah was!

A lot of fun was had despite the cold and the kids snoozed for a good 90 minutes on returning home. I on the other hand suffered from a terrible cold weather induced headache and took a good 2 hours to thaw out, helped by lots of tea and biscuits!

I've linked up this post to the Coombe Mill Country Kids Linky for the first time. For more outdoor adventures and ideas click the badge below:

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Thursday, 21 March 2013

The Perfect Night In - Date Night!

When was the last time you and your partner spent some quality time together? I don't mean time spent sat next to each other glued to the goggle box not talking every night. Or all the time you spend together while shepherding the kids around. I mean actually talking to each other, making an effort and getting out of those 'around the house' jogging bottoms that have seen better days, reconnecting and having a laugh and being the 'old you'?

We NEVER do this. And so when I was asked "What is your idea of the perfect night in?", I came up with this: Cocktails, delicious food and an Oscar winning movie!

It was agreed between us that naturally after your perfect night in you would want your perfect lie-in and so the kids happily went off to be looked after by their Grandparents for the night. Once they were dispatched I made a start on preparing for a great night. This evening was made possible by Swinton Insurance, who gave me £100 to have the following truly fabulous night.

Step 1: Prep Dinner
I decided on something simple to make and figured that a recipe from Jamie's 30 minute meals would be just the ticket as it wouldn't take me all night. I went for Satay Chicken and Fiery Noodle Salad as it could be prepped before i got changed and then took no time to cook while we had a cocktail!

Step 2: Dress Up!
I got out of my usual 'mumiform' and put a nice dress on, did a quick makeover and tamed my unruly hair. Once ready I persuaded the OH to do the same, minus the dress of course!

Step 3: Make Cocktails!

To make a Granddaddy Mimosa 

2 measures of Havana Club 3-year-old rum
2 measures of Orange Juice
2 tablespoons of Lemon Juice
Ice cubes
Chilled Champagne to top up (or replace with Prosecco as we did!)
2 dashes of grenadine

Method: Put the rum, orange and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker with ice cubes and shake. Pour into glass, top up with champagne. Pour a couple of dashes of grenadine and you've got a pretty delicious cocktail!

Shake it Like a Polaroid Picture.....

Step 4: Eat! We swiftly followed these up with Raspberry 'Champagne' Cocktails and had our delicious dinner!! 

Step 5: Watched the rather brilliant Argo. 
What a bloody excellent film this is. I haven't watched the other Best Film Oscar contenders but I can see why it won. The styling is brilliant. The story is fantastic - made even more so because it is true. I'm not going to deny either that although my main focus that evening was on my OH, I was also rather taken with Ben Affleck.....he's improved with age!

Step 6: Night Night. That's all folks :)

What would your perfect night in be? Who would it be with? I'd love to know!

If you are looking for Competitive Home Insurance Quotes Online then definitely give Swinton a try.

Chiquito - Restaurant Review

Last week my two best girlfriends and I took up Chiquito on their lovely offer of £50 towards a meal from their new menu. Originally this was going to be a date night with the hubby but we didn't want to ask our parents for babysitting as in April they are doing us a massive favour and having the kids for 3 nights when we go to France.We don't like to put upon them too much as they child mind for us every week while we work. So my besties stepped up to the mark to have a free meal - hard life isn't it! It was so nice to catch up and talk without interruption!

What did we order?

Fully Loaded Nachos to share

Southern Fried Chicken and BBQ Pulled Pork
Chicken and Ribs

Both of the above dishes came with fries, corn on the cob, onion rings, coleslaw and BBQ sauce

Chicken Fajitas

Nachos were delicious, but probably were partly to blame for us not finishing our main courses! Not to mention the little bowl of (free) popcorn we got while we chose our food - nice touch!

All in all we liked the main courses - our only real negative comment was that the portion sizes were too big - however for some people this would be a positive! Also when we chose the first two mains we did actually love the fact that there was so much included in the dish - so this isn't a bad point really! Only small bug bears - the chips weren't hot and the wraps for the fajitas were a bit on the crispy side. We were so full from the main course that we couldn't even cast our eyes over the dessert menu.

The menu really is so extensive that I challenge anyone not to find something that they would like. And as is always the case with us, even though we weren't out with the children we checked out the kids menu and it looked like a great place to bring them for well priced lunch - the restaurant itself is on a retail park with a cinema and bowling alley so would be good for a meal after.

Other points worth making

We had a couple of cocktails which weren't all that, and unfortunately we seemed to choose wine that was also not that great, but we were there to review the food not the drinks, so I won't dwell on that. 

The furnishings in the restaurant could maybe do with a little overhaul - the seat in our booth had a bit of a rip. However it isn't a new restaurant and of course it didn't spoil our enjoyment of the evening!

The waiting staff were great, friendly and attentive - particularly the male waiter who saw me hand a couple of samples of the Knackered Mother's Wine Club book out and thought they said 'Naked Mother's Wine Club' - cue much laughter from us and embarrassment from him!

Our bill came to around £80 which I would say isn't all bad for what we had. We had a really nice evening at Chiquito and we'd just like to say thank you for inviting us to try out the new menu. If you want to find out where there is a local Chiquito restaurant close to you click here Chiquito 'Angels' are visiting restaurants currently - if you're lucky they could come by your table and make your bill disappear!

As already mentioned I was given a £50 voucher to use to review Chiquito. I've given an honest account of our meal - views are those of my friends and I.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Birth Made Easy by Paola Bagnall

It’s quite understandable that any pregnant woman might feel apprehensive about the impending birth. I know I did first time round and now it's becoming increasingly common for the mum-to-be to use a technique called hypno-birthing to overcome this fear and take control of the birth process.

To meet this increasing demand, a hypnotherapist by the name of Paola Bagnall has produced a combined book and audio-package called Birth Made Easy. Using the self-hypnosis, breathing and visualisation techniques in the book, combined with the CD/MP3, Paola believes women can have a natural and enjoyable birth with minimal pain.

“Publishing this book was a dream of mine,” said Paola, “I’ve helped many women with my approach, which I call Inner Power Hypno Birthing and I now want to share it with the world.
“The body is designed to give birth. By unlocking the power of the unconscious with self-hypnosis, your baby’s arrival into the world can be the truly magical experience it should be.”
Paola was a biology teacher for 35 years before training to become a hypnotherapist. She therefore has a thorough understanding of the human body as well of the workings of the mind and this is clear from reading Birth made Easy.

The book explains techniques that should be followed during the pregnancy, labour and birth and also afterwards. It also covers some of the common complications such as having a breech baby or worries about post-birth bonding. Crucially, partners are encouraged to be involved so they can be a part of the whole process.

If I was going for a third baby (which I'm not!) then I would definitely hypno birthing. During my pregnancy with Noah I practised pregnancy yoga which helped me considerably with controlled breathing and with visualisation during the birth so I know that Paola's book would be an excellent resource for promoting an easier birth.

The book is available on Kindle and as an iBook. For more information or to buy a paper copy go to

Monday, 18 March 2013

Under Siege from Chicken Pox

So for the past month our household has been held to ransom by Chicken Pox. Isla got it first and apart from the spots there was nothing wrong with her. No raised temperatures, no sleepless nights, no actual illness to speak of. I thought to myself “what is the big deal about chicken pox? It’s a breeze” She had spots develop for 2 days and then it was just a case of them drying out and scabbing up. I could count the number she had and she hardly had any on her face. They were all fairly small as well. She missed nursery on a Friday, but was back there by the following Wednesday. Easy peasy.

However we knew that it stood to reason that Noah would get it and it was just a matter of sitting and waiting. It got to the middle of the following week after Isla was better and I thought it a bit weird that he still didn’t have it and then BAM, the next evening, a Thursday, there were the spots. And the spots didn’t stop appearing until the following Tuesday – so 5 whole days of new spots popping up. He had loads and they were big and sore looking. And so many on his little face. He missed nursery last week but will be back there on Wednesday as they have all scabbed. Whereas Isla was very easy to deal with, he has been extra clingy, prior to the spots appearing he had a few little temperatures here and there. It just goes to show that the same virus will have differing effects.
We didn’t do anything special to deal with the spots – although with Noah we used Piriton as there were so many spots that he was a bit more aggravated by them. We also used the usual Calamine Lotion (the smell of that stuff brings back memories of my childhood!), a gel called Virasoothe and baths with baking soda. But in all honesty, both kids haven’t been particularly itchy and scratchy and when told to stop scratching they have, so I’m hoping that scarring has been limited. My only concern is that with Isla having it so mildly she could get it again and the thought of being confined to the house for another weekend doesn’t thrill me but hey that’s being kids and illness for you!