Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Santa Claus and the Magical Christmas Journey - Review

Last Thursday we popped along to the Fairfield Halls in Croydon to see a special little Christmas production they have going on in the run up to the big day. It's called Santa Claus and the Magical Christmas Journey and it's a short, sweet festive show that's brilliant for pre-schooler age and upwards. 

When we arrived we were directed to the little studio theatre where a small stage is set up. It's a great intimate space where the kids can get up close to the action and right from the start the actors did come out into the audience, engaged the kids and encouraged them to call out. Mine love a bit of shouting out and joining in! It's also only 50 minutes long and so restlessness doesn't really happen, making it a pleasurable experience for parents too.

Both my kids were enchanted by the play and really warmed to both of the elves, Charlie & Kara who are a bit naughty! There was also Muffin the bear who Isla loved and felt very sorry for him when he lost his job navigating Santa's sleigh. There was also a familiar voice in the show, Russell Grant! He was the voice of the computer on Santa's sleigh. 

The story goes like this: 

It’s Christmas Eve, and Santa Claus is flying high above the clouds delivering presents to all the good boys and girls around the world. Hiding in the back are two naughty elves, Charlie and Kara, who have snuck on board for the ride!

All is well until suddenly, just as Santa Claus flies high above Croydon, the Sat Nav goes haywire and breaks leaving him stranded without his list of postcodes to deliver presents to! With the clock ticking and morning fast approaching it’s down to Charlie, Kara and Muffin the bear to come up with a clever plan to save Christmas!

Our favourite part was when Isla got chosen to go up on the stage to sing Twinkle Twinkle. She was a star! She loved every minute of it and actually may have been slightly put out if she hadn't been picked! And the next best bit in her book was getting to sit in Santa's sleigh and meet the big guy himself and they were both given a colouring book. There was also a lovely moment when snowflakes fell down all around us, Noah loved that bit. 

Check out http://santaclausonstage.com/christmas-journey/tour_dates_info for information and tickets. It runs until Wednesday 24th December. Tickets are priced at £12.50 & £14.50 for adults and £10 & £12.50 for children. Family tickets are £40 & £49. £1.50 booking fee applies. 

This is one Christmas delight you won’t want to miss!

We were given free tickets to see Santa Claus and the Magical Journey. All opinions are my own. 

Sunday, 30 November 2014

New Digital Screen at Croydon Fairfield Halls

We were lucky enough to be invited to the Fairfield Halls in Croydon recently for a gala screening of Frozen Sing-a-long. I obviously haven’t grown tired of Frozen yet because I was as excited as Isla. I think it was the thought of being able to sing a long without people sshhing me or telling me to stop singing (Noah does this). It was promised to be lots of fun, with Elsa, Anna and Olaf in attendance and it really was. Isla donned her Elsa dress and not one to be left out Noah dressed as Spiderman (you mean you didn’t catch Spidey in Frozen?).

I’ve always loved The Fairfield Halls – it is an institution in my area. As a child I went there fairly often and feel sure that my first cinema experience was there for a showing of Disney’s Fantasia with my parents and for many years all the females in my family would go to The Salvation Army Carol Concert – where I also got to sing my lungs out to all the Christmas Carols. I also got to meet high calibre celebrities, Bob Holness, June Brown (Dot Cotton) etc., I know I’m stretching the celeb factor there….

The event was organised to showcase the new digital cinema screen and sound system. The new set up now means that they can screen live events, such as ballet and opera. Pretty cool and we got to experience it! Prior to the film starting the kids were treated to some face painting and goodie bags and LOADS of sweets. I say loads in bold because it was clearly too many as the kids demonstrated later on that day (I’ll leave you to work out what that means). Then came the sing-a-long and it was great. Isla was in fine voice and we were joined by blogger friend DadblogUK and his family. This was great as the girls know one another but hadn’t been together for a while, so excitement was taken to another level.

We had a great time that morning and it’s definitely reminded me of what a fantastic place Fairfield is and how I’d love my kids to also make some memories of their own there.

 Check up the upcoming programme of events and shows at Fairfield Halls here

We were given free tickets to this screening of the Frozen Sing-a-Long.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Barbie Malibu House - Review

Our house feels like Barbie HQ at the moment! Along with all the other Barbie stuff Isla already owned she was very happy with the addition of a Barbie Malibu House, which is derived from the web programme, Barbie, Life in the Dreamhouse, something Isla has watched on YouTube a fair bit recently. 

Even Thomas and Friends were welcome at Barbie's pad....
As I was on my own with the kids when the house arrived I was charged with putting it all together. I'm not really a natural at doing that kind of thing but with very little stress and maybe only a couple of bad words muttered quietly, I did it in just under an hour - including getting all the stickers on and asking the kids to stop moving the pieces untold number of times..... 

The house has 6 rooms for Barbie and comes with some fixed furniture and other pieces of furniture that can be moved from room to room. The main bedroom also doubles up as a shower room with the clever use of a bed that you can stand up to become a shower and wardrobe. There are lots of small pieces in the set, food, drinks, items for the fridge as well as a tiny iPad and remote control. I would say if you have any really small children in the house, be wary of these pieces. Fortunately this isn't a problem for us. 

The staircase section of the house has an aquarium pillar going through the middle to which you attach your Barbie. Using the pulley system, Barbie can take the staircase to access the upstairs areas. I have found this a bit tricky to use, it needs to be a smoother ride for Barbie and seems to take a bit of effort for Isla to work and she is 5.

(Doll not included)
One of the upstairs rooms is equipped with a holder that you can hang on the wall to put your iPhone in so Barbie can watch herself in episode of Life in the Dreamhouse!

From a parents perspective I like that it folds up quite compactly. We live in a two up two down and with the kids toys gradually taking over the house, it was good to know that we can tidy this away quite easily. 

There has been some great imaginative play going on since the Barbie Malibu house arrived and the Barbie dolls have been played with a lot more than they did before we had it! I have to say I don't know many girls who wouldn't love this for Christmas, just maybe get Father Christmas to deliver it already constructed, otherwise you'll have one impatient recipient on the big day.....

Recommended for children aged 3+
RRP £99.99

We were sent the Barbie Malibu House free of charge for the purposes of this review.

Chelsea Flippin' Pup Pool Playset - Review

For a few months before we were sent this playset Isla had seen it on TV adverts and had mentioned it repeatedly when asked what she'd like for Christmas, so I know that it's something that will appeal to many girls in her age group. What's not to love? Puppies - tick. Waterplay - tick. Barbie related - tick! Look at her face when it arrived....

The set comprises of a pool, diving board, slide, Chelsea doll, 3 puppies, a dog bed and little towel. One of the pups is designed to flick over and do a somersault at the end of the slide. This is so simple but looks effective. The slide has a catch at the bottom and the puppy hits it and flips over, catapulting her into the pool! The other two puppies are squeezy and squirt water from their mouths so they can have a water fight with Chelsea who also has a dolphin water feature to squirt water from!

Isla, Noah and Cousin M all enjoyed some time at my parents last Sunday playing with this toy. Water play in the house can be a bit tricky but with a few towels down there wasn't too much mess and in the summer it will be perfect for the outdoors and will go nicely with the Barbie swimming pool we already own.  

This set really would make a fantastic Christmas present for any fans of Barbie and also any little brothers who particularly like to stick their Disney Cars in the pool for swim too! 

Recommended for Children aged 3+
RRP £22.99

We were sent the Chelsea Flippin' Pup Pool Playset free of charge for the purposes of this review. 

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Camp Bestival - Our Highlights!

When you approach the site and you see the Big Top and the Soul Park it feels really magical. It's plainly obvious how much effort and work has gone into the planning of it all and what I loved about the Friday at Camp Bestival was the vast amounts of space available. This was different on Saturday and Sunday where it was a lot busier. Here are our favourite things from the festival:

Meeting an owl!
As soon as we got on site on the first day we were drawn towards the birds of prey brought to CB by Haven Falconry. Isla was desperate to handle one, so I donated £3 and she got to hold a Little Owl. It was gorgeous. I'm a big owl fan and I would have liked to have gone back and seen one of the the daily displays that they held.

Lulworth Castle itself:
Isla had a good look around the outside of the entire castle every day that we went on to the festival site - she loved looking through all the windows, pointing things out that she could see and making up her own little stories about who lived there. It really is a stunning building. 

Making Friends & Trying New Things
Kids have a knack of making friends instantly. They are best friends for the weekend and there's no sadness that they won't see each other ever again at my kids age, they accept it was temporary and move on. I loved seeing them engage with other children. The other thing I was so happy about was seeing Isla become so brave and want to join in with everything. She was first to put her hand up to participate and she had no fear. I loved that.

Save The Children:
Near to the castle were some charitable organisations and we spent a really long time at the Save the Children tent where Isla made a loom band (aargh!) and had some glitter tattoos done, Noah also had one. The team at Save the Children were lovely and we had a brief conversation about Gaza as I'd signed the petition a couple of days previous. There is a real charity presence at Camp Bestival which makes it feel less commercial.

The Flying Seagulls:
Now, The Flying Seagulls were a real highlight of our Friday at Camp Bestival. They were brilliant. Isla was totally captivated by them from the minute the juggling show started with Billy Bang leading the team of performers in a very funny show. She sat amongst all the other children giggling and following all the instructions that Billy gave out. And when it came to audience participation she was first with her hand up and desperate to stand at the front and try to juggle. It was so lovely to see my girl showing the extrovert in her and I know she is braver than I was at her age. Noah was also quite taken with the Flying Seagulls but he chose to take more of a backseat sitting on my lap to observe what was going on. We must have been part of it for at least an hour and then they came round for donations to the causes they support. They work mainly in Romania, Albania and UK and their aim is to make arts accessible for all including those with disabilities and children in hospital.

BigtopMania Kids Big Top:
Another place where we spent a lot of time. There were opportunities for the kids to show off their talents (we narrowly escaped Isla getting picked to sing 'Let It Go'!), theatre shows that involved the kids from the Treehouse Theatre Company  - (personal favourite moment was when they asked a tent full of kids how should someone die in the next part of the play and a kid shouts in a pool of acid!?! Nice.). This is also where Isla tried out the trapeze. I could have burst with pride over the weekend with everything she had a go at.

Making Stuff!
There were so many opportunities to make things and Isla loves crafting. So we made a brilliant pom pom using strips of mesh fabric, a flower headdress (my favourite make) and an elephant. The flower headdress was the only thing that cost money - £3 but it looked gorgeous and was worth that for keeping Isla occupied. 

The Food:
We ate some delicious food while we were there, some really tasty burgers and pulled pork but my most favourite lunch were the naan wraps from Rola WalaThey were absolutely scrumptious and I'd love to know where we can taste those again!

The Helter Skelter and Merry Go Round:
These both needed to be paid for but it was so cool to see Isla go off on her own up such a high structure. The Helter Skelter is something that she previously would have refused to try or insist I come on with her and I have to be honest seeing how big it was I did nearly say we had to do it together but parenting is as much about letting go so I encouraged her and she loved every second! Noah thought the merry go round was amazing fun too and we rode that together saying Giddy Up all the way round.

The Bandstand:
Some fabulous folk music to be heard here. We sat and enjoyed a cup of Yorkshire tea and listened to the music while Noah slept in the trolley. We particularly enjoyed The Jimmy Hillbillies and we ended up seeing them again when we went into The Travelling Barn Tavern where Isla struck up a 10 minute friendship with a little girl and I couldn't help but smile watching them as they danced and span each other round. 

The Insect Circus:
This was so cool, a travelling 'insect circus', all capable of amazing physical feats! Amongst them jugglers, trapeze artists and tight rope walkers. Isla and Noah were both captivated.

Final things that we loved about Camp Bestival were all the impromptu stuff you would just come across. Random pianos to play, hula hooping competitions, brass bands. Ice creams every day were a must to celebrate the blue skies. 

Things I'm sad we missed are: Dingly Dell - we're big fans of being outdoors and the National Trust so it's a shame that we didn't make it there. The Wall of Death! Really wish we'd seen that, definitely on my list for next year. I'd also like to have spent more time in the Bollywood tent and in the Caravanserai Bar - particularly sitting in one of those Waltzer cars having a drink.

So as you can see there are just too many highlights to Camp Bestival and we will DEFINITELY be going again!

If you want to check out how other people experienced Camp Bestival then have a look at the following blog reviews, each and everyone had a very different experience and I think that in itself speaks volumes for how much there is to do and experience at Camp Bestival


Munchies & Munchkins 
76 Sunflowers 
Chelsea Mamma 
RocknRoll Mum 
Vicki Brown Designs 
Parent Shaped 
Purple Mum 

We paid for our tickets to Camp Bestival. This post is purely driven by a need to share our experience with you. 

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Camp Bestival - A Family First!

This weekend was a first for us. We went camping as a family. But even better than that we camped as a family at Camp Bestival!! 

I love festivals. I've not been to loads but I have great memories of the few that I have been to. So I felt a bit like I was starting to reclaim back little pieces of me this weekend by going to Camp Bestival. 

We bought our tickets months and months ago and I thought the time would drag in anticipation of the event. I'm not going to pretend it's cheap, because it isn't, however Camp Bestival offer a really nifty payment plan where you can pay a chunk and then pay a small amount weekly. It made the expense feel more palatable and go unnoticed. 

In preparation we got all our camping gear, including a brilliant Outwell tent from eBay - a 6 man beast, which when up made all the difference to our camping experience, so much room and complete with it's own carpet! New sleeping bags, camping chairs, festival bunting made by my sister (v important), glow sticks, kettle and all manner of other camping equipment was acquired. We talked about our camping trip to the kids non stop until the event was suddenly here!

On Thursday we set off from home to East Lulworth in Dorset with much excitement and our car bulging! We purposely bought tickets for early Thursday entry so we had maximum time to set up and get settled. The road was long and everyone was a bit restless by the time we arrived but with the aid of Mr Trolley we got all our stuff from the car to the campsite.

As we were Camp Bestival Newbies we didn't think too carefully about where to camp apart from to pitch within about 5 minutes walk of where we entered the site. This had it's pros and cons. Pros were that we were in a fairly quiet spot, meaning less noise and it wasn't crowded. Cons were that it was a real trek to the festival site, there were no showers in our campsite and toilets weren't plentiful. However I'm not going to complain about this. We didn't suffer for not having a shower (and boy was that shower on my return the best one I'd ever had). The kids loved breaking out of the normal routine and dry hair shampoo isn't bad really.

Once we'd set up (which took hours!), we cooked a nutritious meal (supernoodles), got to know our neighbours and their kids (thanks to them for helping us set up the tent and child minding while we did so!) and then went for a walk to get the festival vibe started. This is where we saw how hilly Camp Bestival is....!

The kids loved sleeping in the tent, they slept well all 3 nights we stayed (should have been 4 but we skipped the last one). Me and the OH on the other hand felt rather worse for wear after a night on the air beds and random car alarms going off, but that wasn't going to spoil our fun. After breakfast off we went for our first day in the festival.

Come back for the next instalment..... :-)

Wow, I've broken my blog silence, Camp Bestival must have ignited more than a passion for festivals. 

We bought our own tickets for Camp Bestival. These posts come from the pure delight that we experienced there and a need for me to get back to documenting our family fun.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Tinker Bell and the Pirate Fairy - New Release!

Last month Isla and I were lucky enough to be guests at Disney HQ in London to see a pre-screening of Tinker Bell and the Pirate Fairy. It was to be a secret for a while as the film wasn't 100% complete, but not in any way that we could possibly tell, and it meant that we were the first in the UK to see it. What a treat!

We went along with one of my friends and her little girl, another Tinker Bell fan, and they had fun in the foyer before we went in the special cinema. There was a pirate balloon modeller making all manor of pirate and fairy themed balloons. Naturally Isla chose something else, a dog! The girls also had their photo taken in front a green screen and then came away with a great photo of themselves with Zarina, the main character in this new film. 

This new film centres around Zarina, a dust-keeper fairy, who after her frustration at not being allowed to experiment with pixie dust, steals Pixie Hollow's all-important Blue Pixie Dust, and flies away to join forces with the pirates of Skull Rock. Of course Tinker Bell and her fairy friends decide to pursue Zarina and the pirates to try and get the pixie dust back. Along the way there are twists and turns. Zarina uses the pixie dust to change all the fairies respective talents, something they have to get used to quickly or their mission will fail. They also have to use their magic to get around the dastardly pirates! 

What did we think of the film?

We all loved it, mums included. It's a real action packed adventure. The inclusion of pirates in this one really gave a feel for Tinker Bell's roots in Peter Pan. The usual themes of friendship and loyalty feature as they do in all the Tinker Bell series so far, which I love, as it gives a bit of moral fibre. There are some great funny moments as well, Rosetta being the fairy that makes Isla and I laugh the most with her preciousness over the way she looks and her reaction to when her talent is switched and she becomes an animal fairy. In Zarina, we loved seeing a fairy who had a bit of a wild side for a change and seeing how the fairies band together to overcome adversity reminded me a lot of The Secret of the Wings. 

The film is released this coming Friday, and we think this is a must see for all Tinker Bell and fairy fans. Here's a taster:

For more Tinker Bell and the Pirate Fairy information check out the Official Website
or follow Disney on Twitter: @Disney_UK

We were invited to this screening free of charge.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Trying out the Britax KidFix XP SICT Car Seat - Review

Ever since we reviewed the Britax B-Agile 3 I've been thoroughly impressed with Britax. I feel like they are at the forefront of innovation and safety when it comes to travel products for children. Not only are their products safety conscious they are also design conscious. I didn't think twice about accepting the Britax Kidfix XP SICT Car Seat and as Noah was getting too big for his car seat the timing was good. Now I know that you'll all think hold on a minute, Noah is only 2 years old and typically this seat is for 4 - 12 year olds/ children who weigh 15 - 36kg but he is the size, and weight at 19kg of a lot of 4 year olds! Big boy I know! So he fits perfectly in this seat and it isn't any the less safe for him being younger, it is the child's weight that you should consider most when changing up to new Group 2/3 car seats.

It's a forward facing seat and comes in black fabric and has washable covers - which is a good thing when your kids like to snack on longer journeys! But far more important than what it looks like is how it performs and this is where I was really impressed. 

It has advanced side impact cushion technology (SICT) which helps to protect children in the event of a side on collision. On each side of the seat there are two round white disks that you can unscrew. You unscrew the disk closest to the window in order to give more side impact protection. Then the other nifty thing is the XP chest pad that diverts 30% more crash energy away from the child's chest compared to a normal seatbelt. 

The seat uses our car's ISOFIX connections so it means that the seat is fixed firmly in place and doesn't slip about (unlike Isla's seat that we really need to replace!). The seat uses the existing back seat belt in the car, so no more 5 point harness for Noah (see my point about that below). Everything is geared towards total safety and touch wood we never have a serious accident but if we do I know this seat will keep Noah the safest possible.

One thing I will mention, just for the purposes of people who have rather large 2 year olds like I do - mentally they don't quite understand the need to not 'pop' the seat belt, which they are able to do when they use the back seat belts that come with the car. This happened on a couple of occasions. For us this actually happened when Noah was having a tantrum and this was always before we'd started the journey. My way to deal with it was simply to let him finish the tantrum (imagine a bucking bronco in the back of the car), calm down (him and me) and then belt up and get on the way. Thankfully tantrums are few and far between now and he understands the need to be belted up - "I won't undo my seatbelt Mummy" said on many occasions when getting in the car! 

You can find more information on the product here: http://www.britax.co.uk/car-seats/car-seats/kidfix-xp-sict

We were sent this car seat for purposes of review. All opinons are my own.