Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Me and Mine - A Family Portrait

We don't have the opportunity for family photos very often but on our recent trip to Kenley Common I made us all do a self portrait. It's not the best as persuading everyone to look at the same time and not pull funny faces is pretty tricky but that's what makes these kinds of shots so natural. We're in moment!

Check out the badge below for other fab family portraits!
dear beautiful

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Photo When I Feel Like It

Feeling so much love for these two. Isla aged 3 years & 9 months, Noah aged 1 year & 9 months.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

London Community Gospel Choir - 30 Choir Festival

Next weekend The London Community Gospel Choir will be having a 30th Birthday Bash at The Southbank Centre in London. As part of this I'm going along with a few other bloggers and will join in the attempt to break the Guinness World record for the greatest number of people in a gospel choir singing together in concert conditions. The current number is 1138 and at least 1200 voices are expected to participate. The songs chosen for the challenge are ‘O Happy Day’ and LCGC’s Anniversary single ‘Keep Moving’.

For further information to take part in the festival sign up now at www.30choirfestival.com
All relevant forms and booking information are available online.

The concert will take place at Royal Festival Hall on Sunday 5th May. To take part in the Guinness World Record attempt you must be available to attend the rehearsal the same afternoon.

Check out this video of some of the members of the LCGC singing to tube passengers for a flavour of their sound. They are amazing vocalists (also with the help of X Factor's Jahmene Douglas)! 

Ticket Office: 0844 847 9910
Online booking: www.southbankcentre.co.uk
Ticket prices: £35, £25, £10

Learning to Fly a Kite on Kenley Common

This weekend myself and my Other Half took a 3 night trip away to the Cognac region in France for a good friend's wedding. We had an amazing time hanging out with friends, talking uninterrupted, eating, drinking and laughing ALL THE TIME. Here we are on the day of the wedding. 

It was wonderful but we did miss the kids a lot and so when we got back we were really grateful for the extra day we had booked off work so that we could spend the day with them. They had been well looked after by their Grandparents for the weekend but I know that they were so happy to see us. So happy in fact that Isla was awake at 5.30am the first morning back - I'm not going to deny that I did wish I was back in France getting a lie in at that time!

The weather must have known we had the day off as it decided to play ball and the temperatures hit around 20 degrees. It was blue skies all day long and I decided that we would check out some local woods that we have never visited even though they are on our doorstep. I got the heads up for the Visitwoods site when I was sent a Poppy Cat Mystery Trail Pack. Visitwoods is partnering with Poppy Cat this month to launch an outdoor campaign to get families out this Spring in the woods and connecting with nature. 

As a gift from France we bought the kids a kite. So we packed up some stuff and headed to Kenley Common. It was lovely. We had a steep climb up the steps to the common. First of all Isla did some bark rubbing, she really got into that. 

Then she was desperate to balance on some tree trunks that had recently been felled. 

We also saw a few gliders, some of which felt like they were swooping quite low. 

Then we got the kite out and this caused much excitement. Isla and Noah were running around like mad things. Mainly trying to get the OH to hand over the controls - he was determined to keep it up in the air and didn't want to hand them over that easily! It was great fun and I'm ashamed to say the first time I have ever properly tried flying a kite.

Next we headed off into the woods and played hide and seek - a game that Isla and Noah both love. We also spotted the tracks of horses - big horseshoe prints in the ground, and the tell tale signs of horse manure...The woods were lovely, loads of yellow butterflies flitting about. Some really great hiding places with logs covered in moss - as thick as a carpet. 

We came across another grassy field where there were some more felled trees, we picked the leaves off them and used them to practise counting. Isla said she wanted to make a skirt like Tinkerbell's with them. We spotted a tractor and a big truck carrying more logs, but Noah didn't like those, because he said they were too noisy! So once we'd had a snack and drink it was time to go home and have some fun in the garden. We'll definitely be back to explore Kenley Common again as there is still so much more to check out, with grazing cattle and the aerodrome close by too.

All in all we had such a good day and I'm really enjoying the age that my two are now. They are starting to have lots of fun together (arguments too) especially more so when we're out of the house.
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Monday, 22 April 2013


LolliBop. The Big Bash for Little People, is returning for 2013 to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London – and will take place on August 16-18. 

Event Manager, Jenny Kane said: “We are really excited to be taking LolliBop to the iconic Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. This is the first children’s event to take place in what looks set to become one of the premier event locations in the UK. It has so many benefits for our visitors, including great transport links and family friendly tube stations.

“LolliBop has gone from strength to strength since our first event in 2011 and Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park gives us the opportunity to create an even more exciting and dynamic family day out. It’s an amazing opportunity for LolliBop to be part of such an important legacy ”

Dennis Hone, Chief Executive, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park said: “This summer at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park there will be something for everyone. We are delighted to be welcoming LolliBop to join this year’s line-up. LolliBop encompasses some of the best loved names in children’s entertainment, as well as quality theatre, crafts and activities. Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park begins to open from July 2013 and will be fully open from spring 2014. We are on track to deliver a fantastic summer events series and a great legacy for east London.”

Returning LolliBoppers will see old favourites mixed with new attractions for 2013, including:

LolliBop Live – playing host to some of the biggest names in kids entertainment, with live music and performances from stars of stage and screen. Headliners coming soon…!

Lollipalladiam - is a live theatre tent showcasing performances from pioneering and internationally renowned companies and artists.

The LolliBop Kitchen where creative little cooks will have the chance to learn new skills from live demonstrations and interactive workshops.

Tween Town will host a number of activities including street dance, hula-hoop, and beat-box workshops.

Imagination Stations - A hub of creativity with lots of mess and mayhem thrown in! From clay modelling, puppet making, customised fashion workshops, balloon modelling, graffiti painting, face painting and much more

Science Zone - Make a rocket, hold a dry ice cube, or get messy with gooey slime in the LolliBop lab - brimming with exploding experiments for pint sized guests to try!

Run wild and have fun in the LolliSports area. With activities including retro favourites like swingball, hula-hoop and Frisbee to football tournaments and sports day style races.

The pre-school 3ft & Under area is also returning, along with the Enchanted Forest and The Village Green with live music, craft stalls and street theatre, making it an ideal spot for a picnic.

Extensive covered buggy parks, baby changing and breast-feeding areas will be available.

For more tickets and more information: http://www.lollibopfestival.co.uk

Thursday, 18 April 2013


The UK’s leading woodland conservation charity, the Woodland Trust, is partnering with the popular Nick Jr. series, Poppy Cat, to launch an outdoor campaign for pre-schoolers with an ‘adventure’ platform for its VisitWoods website for one month from 19th April 2013.

VisitWoods.org.uk hosts information on over 11,000 UK woods that are open to the public. Poppy Cat content has been created for the site with downloadable activity materials focusing on ‘Mystery Trail Adventures’ - available for children aged 2-6 years to engage them during family outings to the woods.

Simone Ashley-Norman, Woodland Trust, says, “You are never too young to visit a wood and our partnership with Poppy Cat will enable families across the country to get outdoors this spring and make the most of our beautiful native woodlands. VisitWoods.org.uk makes finding and visiting woods as straightforward as possible, for all ages and abilities, so there’s no excuse to stay indoors!”

Michael Dee, Director of Content at Coolabi, the producers of Poppy Cat, adds, “Poppy Cat is an adventurer who is often embarking on journeys to the woods with her friends. This provides a natural link to VisitWoods and we are pleased to partner with the Woodland Trust to provide exciting content for children and families to make their everyday adventures extraordinary!”

To support the Woodland Trust partnership and allow Poppy Cat fans to continue the adventure at home, Nick Jr. will air nature-themed Poppy Cat episodes every day from the 18th April at 7.15pm for two weeks. There will also be campaign content at nickjr.co.uk alongside Poppy Cat clips, games and activities.

Poppy Cat, starring the voice of Joanna Page (Gavin & Stacey), is based on the award-winning books created by Lara Jones. Poppy Cat's heroic gusto and unquenchable curiosity propel each experience often leading to unexpected discoveries. For more information on the Nick Jr pre-school series or the Woodland Trust Poppy Cat campaign, please visit www.poppycat.com / www.visitwoods.org.uk, or become a fan of Poppy Cat’s on Facebook (www.facebook.com/officialpoppycat) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/PoppyCat_).

Older brothers and sisters can also discover more age appropriate activities via the Woodland Trust’s Nature Detectives initiative – naturedetectives.org.uk.

Stay posted for some of our adventures to the woods over the coming weeks. We will be using some of the downloadable activity materials to aid us in our nature trails!

Dancing on the Edge - Review

I didn't catch the series when it was on television, so I was happy when I was asked to review Dancing on the Edge in my own time. I really liked this series. Being a period drama fan I found that it helped give me that fix that I don't get from Downton Abbey now it's off our screens. I found it slightly less gripping than Downton and I didn't become as attached the characters in Dancing the Edge as much, that said I did enjoy it. The acting is excellent, particularly from Chiwetel Ejiofor and Matthew Goode. 

I'm not going to go into the plot here - I'll leave you to read the publicity info below but there are things about the series that weren't related to the storyline or characters that I absolutely LOVED. These were the sumptuous filming locations, in particular, Fenton House and Garden which was used as the home of Mr Donaldson. It is now going on my National Trust wish list of places to visit. We will also be checking out the Bluebell Railway, they have special 'kids for a quid' days that are worth checking out to keep the cost down. Noah and Isla will love that experience! And if we ever venture to the Midlands then Ragley Hall (the home of Lady Cremone in the series) will be worth the trip; an absolutely beautiful stately home.

The costumes in Dancing on the Edge are the other stars of the show - what I wouldn't do to wear some of those glittering, shimmering 1930's dresses that Pamela and Sarah wore! That period in time really was one of style and glamour if you lived in high society. 

And finally you couldn't fail to enjoy the music in the show, there were particular songs that were heard throughout the series that I grew to really like. I have found myself humming 'Dancing on the Moon' many a time. I'm not a massive jazz fan but this was easy on the ear and was a massive part of the storyline and the personalities in the show. 

So that's my personal take on Dancing on the Edge, now for a bit more about the actors and the storyline.....

Give it the old soft shoe and shake away the blues as you experience all the jazz and razzmatazz of swinging 1930s London in a brand new British drama with a twist. Experience a story of love, music and ambition first hand, set to a sensational soundtrack in the toe-tapping debut of DANCING ON THE EDGE - out on DVD on 11 March 2013, courtesy of ITV Studios Global Entertainment.

With an outstanding cast line-up including; three-time Golden Globe® nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor, (Dirty Pretty Things, Children of Men) as Louis, the leader of the Louis Lester Band; Matthew Goode, (Watchmen, A Single Man) as Stanley, the ­­­­­­­music critic who looks to change the music scene of London; Golden Globe® winner John Goodman, (The Artist, The Big Lebowski) as Masterson, the richest man in the world with a dark secret; four-time Golden Globe® nominee Jacqueline Bisset, (Joan of Arc, Under the Volcano) as the reclusive and mysterious Lady Cremone and Jane Montgomery, (Black Swan, Entourage) as designer and jazz enthusiast Sarah.

Stand-out performances also come from Anthony Head, (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Merlin) as the band’s patron and backer, Donaldson; Angel Coulby, (Merlin, The Jacket) as smooth lead vocalist Jessie; Joanna Vanderham, (The Paradise, The Runaway) as Pamela, a socialite with a love for music, and finally with support from the great Mel Smith, (The Princess Bride, Hustle) as Shlesinger.

Directed by Stephen Poliakoff C.B.E (The Lost Prince, Glorious 39) and reverberating with an exceptional retro score with music and lyrics by Adrian Johnston (Accused, Above Suspicion, Brideshead Revisited), DANCING ON THE EDGE is sure to put a spring in your step.

In the aftermath of the Great Depression, just before the dawn of the Second World War, the UK’s capital city found itself within a time of extraordinary change. Bubbling beneath the once austere surface of London’s streets, an underground movement was taking the city by storm; the birth of jazz music. The Louis Lester Band is at the forefront of the emerging jazz scene and rise to fame despite being black musicians in a time of racial discrimination. 
The sensational new musicians are treated to a world of decadence they have never known before. Requested in the arena of the most stylist and fashionable clubs of the era... as long as they remember to enter and exit via the back door.

These eager entertainers are caught between two worlds; on the one hand being honoured by the elusive invitation to perform at venues in the company of high class individuals and royals, whilst the consistent threat of their ‘inferior’ social station lies behind every corner. The sudden success begins to go to their heads they start to become entangled in the shadowy and seductive world of high society, until a tragic murder of one of their band members places them at the top of the suspect list.  This dark and unexpected turn of events make Louis and his band members re-consider their life plans as they prepare to sacrifice everything they hold dear in the struggle for survival.

This spectacular new period drama, set between 1931 and 1933, transports the viewer to a time where music seems to transcend the divisions of class and race, until fear and hate once again threatens to upset this temporary equilibrium. 

Watch the five-part explosive drama series; DANCING ON THE EDGE as it swings onto DVD on 11 March 2013 from ITV Studios Global Entertainment. Can be purchased from Amazon here.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Holidays from Heaven

In our past life as a pre-family couple we loved a good holiday and no expense was spared. We went wherever the mood took us and on one occasion that meant a fabulous 4 week trip to Thailand whereby we spent long sun drenched days on the beach, reading, swimming, listening to Cafe Del Mar on a loop and eating the best cuisine the world has to offer - Thai food really is my favourite. That holiday does go down as one of the best ever - apart from the bit where I totally assumed I was going to get proposed to on a trip to a pier for sunset. I'll never let my OH forget where he actually laughed and said 'what you thought I was going to propose?!' Um, yes actually I did (even though the mood wasn't quite right with the tuk tuk driver lingering right behind us the whole time), but never mind...... Sangsom bucket anyone? We had the time of our lives, visited idyllic islands, met interesting people and planned where we were going as we went along.

Another of our adventures was to Brazil for Rio Carnival. One word. Amazing. Anything you've ever seen on TV or in magazines just does not compare to the reality of being in the carnival capital of the world. The samba beat really does pulse through your body. The costumes and the floats are awesome and I will never forget the experience as long as I live. Apart from that, Rio has so much more to offer, a visit to Christ the Redeemer is a must and if you're OK with cable cars then Sugar Loaf Mountain as well. But I had another mission for that holiday and it was to drive my OH mad buying every single pair of Havaiana flip flops I could lay my hands on. It was tough going, but I managed to furnish myself with enough flip flops for the following 10 years!

These days it's a different story. We have kids and with that it follows that we don't have lots of spare cash. So whenever we're thinking about holidays now we always make sure we look for the best cheap holiday deals, we live to a tight budget so it follows that we're cash conscious about travel. We also don't travel too far as the thought of a flight with the kids any longer than 3-4 hours terrifies me, so we tend to stick to Europe these days. That doesn't make it any less interesting, just getting away from home for a bit and perhaps including a bit of sunshine into the equation is nice. Our family holidays are great and just because we're not drinking our body weight in Caipirinhas' and dancing until the sun comes up it doesn't make them any less fun. What are your holidays like now there are children involved? Any tips for making them a bit more relaxing and how do you find holidays on a budget? I'd love to know!

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Fun Filled Day at Priory Park, Reigate

Today was like the first day of summer in our neck of the woods. It was absolutely beautiful, blue skies with a bit of hazy white cloud, a bit of a breeze but nothing to take the edge of the warmth too much. So we went off to the park with our best friends and their kids who are all 4 and under. We love Priory Park, it has THE best playground with safe surfaces to run around on, a big pirate ship, aerial slide and sandpits galore (the only draw back is that most parents in the surrounding 20 towns probably agree with that label too, so it does get busy). It has fantastic wide open spaces, a great cafe, a lake with ducks, geese and swans. Today there was also a bouncy castle and a massive inflatable slide set up - yes this did cost and there was no way of saying no - but the fun they had was priceless to watch.

We took a picnic so that we didn't end up spending a fortune on food, but as usual all the playing and running around took the attention away from the food and the picnic was eaten on the way home in the car. Of course as it was the hottest day of the year so far there had to be ice cream involved, I indulged in the most delicious Magnum too. 

The kids had races, played football, played hide and seek - this was particularly funny as there weren't any really good trees to hide behind in the area we were in, so hiding was impossible. 

We fed the ducks although they looked like they had been fed by about 150 people before us, so they weren't particularly interested in our stale wholemeal rolls. We checked out what wildlife we could spot:

They picked daisies and gave them to us which was sweet

Getting them to sit still for a photo altogether is 'interesting', here are my attempts.

You know that a trip outdoors to the park has been a success if you have two sleepers in the back seat of the car on the way home with mud all over their knees! Now time for my nap I reckon. I'm dreaming obviously......
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

The Gallery - Together

There is so much about this photo that I like (apart from it being a bit blurry!). Together these two are becoming a real force to be reckoned with. They can play together so nicely for all of 20 seconds, then they start pushing and shoving, taking one another's toys and generally annoying the hell out of each other. But then these flashes of togetherness happen. What do they look like?! I can tell you that I'm going to love getting this photo out to show their girlfriend/ boyfriend in 20 years time. Noah LOVES Isla's princess shoes and he is partial to wearing her sunnies too, so he's a kind of cross between a wrestler and a drag queen. And Isla looks like some kind of showgirl. Very Funny Indeed!

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