Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Kids Go Free at Merlin Attractions With cBeebies Magazine this Summer

This Summer cBeebies Magazine have teamed up with Merlin Entertainments to offer savings on some of the biggest family days out this Summer. The Summer long campaign will offer parents the opportunity to save up to £355 on top childrens' attractions across the UK.

cBeebies Magazine Cover 16th July 2014

From 16th July each issue of CBeebies Magazine will include two vouchers for kids to go free to a different attraction every issue with some of the most popular kids’ attractions in the country including Legoland, Chessington World of Adventures and Sealife Centres.

Stephanie Cooper, Editor Pre-schoo, says: 
“Keeping kids entertained during the long summer months can often be a challenge and we want to do our bit to help. We are delighted to team up with Merlin Entertainment on this fabulous offer. For a magazine priced under £3 for each issue parents can bring two kids for free to some of the countries’ best venues."
The current issue (dated 16th July 2014) features vouchers for the Sea Life Centre alongside some boredom busting makes from Mister Maker and the Octonauts, Andy's Dinosaurs colouring, Sarah & Duck seasons sticker picture, Timmy Time reward charts, a story about Mr Bloom visiting the seaside and a fun ice cream sundae toy. We're lucky enough to be subscribers and this issue was fab!

cBeebies Magazine Sea Life Centre Page 16th July 2014

The full list of attractions and dates included in this fantastic offer are: 

• Issue 409 (16th  July) - Sealife Centres and Seal sanctuaries – Save £39 (£19.50 per ticket)

• Issue 410 (30th  July) - Chessington World of Adventures – Save £68 (£34 per ticket)

• Issue 411 (13th Aug) – Alton Towers Resort inc. CBeebies Land – Save £86.40 (£43.20 per ticket)

• Issue 412 (27th  Aug) - Warwick Castle – Save £39.60 (£19.80 per ticket)

• Issue 413 (10th Sept) - Legoland and Legoland Discovery Centre – Save £82.80 (£41.40 per ticket)

• Issue 414 (24th Sep t) – Sealife Centres and Seal sanctuaries – Save £39 (£19.50 per ticket)

Please see the magazine for voucher terms and conditions.

I can guarantee that the vouchers will represent a fantastic way to save on Summer days out, with the added bonus of buying a cBeebies magazine to keep your little ones entertained!

Win a Family Ticket to Tractor Ted's Big Machines Weekend at Bowood House

Our friend Tractor Ted has announced his next big event. You might remember that we gave away tickets to his Farm Show which took place at Bowood House in Wiltshire in June, well this time Tractor Ted's Big Machines Weekend will be staged in the same location on 16th and 17th August 2014 from 12pm - 4pm.

Win a Family Ticket to Tractor Ted's Big Machines Weekend at Bowood House

There will be over a million pounds worth of new farm machinery on show and a display ring of harvest related machinery will give demonstrations throughout the day. There will be one of the biggest New Holland combine harvesters plus a New Holland square baler, round baler, plough and muck spreader. There will also be working displays by JCB diggers and forestry equipment.

Tractor and trailer rides will take visitors around the estate for £2 per person over two years old, to include an ‘eye spy farming’ game to play onboard. Children will also be able to enjoy various young animals at the Little Farm together with lots of fun farm play including a mini tractor track, mechanical diggers and bouncy animals as well as the brand new giant Tractor Ted bouncy castle and slide.

Win a Family Ticket to Tractor Ted's Big Machines Weekend at Bowood House

For any tractor fan, of any age, this will be an exciting day out. Entry to Tractor Ted’s Big Machines Weekend is included in tickets to Bowood House & Garden. £10.75 for adults (13 years and above), £9.25 for Senior Citizens, £8.25 for children 5-12 years and £6.25 for children 2-4 years. A family ticket (for two adults and two children or one adult and three children) costs £32.50. To avoid the queues book your ticket online here.

I've teamed up with Tractor Ted to give away one family ticket to Tractor Ted's Big Machines Weekend (valid for one day). To enter simply complete the Gleam widget below, the blog post comment is compulsory and will unlock a range of additional entries. Please read the terms and conditions.

Tractor Ted Big Machines Weekend

Win competitions at

50 Days of Summer Picnic Fun with Roberts Bakery

Last month Bud, Little Miss and I headed off with our friends from The Brick Castle to a picnic in Delamere Forest with Roberts Bakery. We were there to find out all about Roberts Bakery's 50 Days of Summer campaign and to introduce us to some of their new products which we would use to make sandwiches!

Roberts Bakery 50 Days of Summer Picnic in Delamere Forest

First up was the White & Wholemeal Thick Sliced loaf and the staff from Roberts Bakery had lots of interesting facts for us in their presentation:
1. Roberts 50% White 50% Wholemeal bread contains protein, complex carbohydrates, calcium, iron and the B vitamins - thiamin, niacin and a little riboflavin.
2. Bread provides more protein, iron, B vitamins and complex carbohydrates per penny than any other food.
3. It is the major source of fibre in our diet, providing a quarter of our daily intake.
4. All white bread in the UK is fortified with calcium because of mandatory flour fortification laws.
5. It contains very little fat and virtually no sugar.

The new White and Wholemeal mix sliced loaf is designed to help parents get the benefits of wholemeal into those fussy children (I'm looking at Bud here) who 'don't like the brown bread Mummy!' We had a preview of their forthcoming muffins from the range too.

Roberts Bakery bread is bought regularly in our house as it is sold in Aldi locally so I'm sure we will be adding the White and Wholemeal to our shopping list soon.

The team from Roberts Bakery - nutritionist Catriona and demonstrators Anetter, Mags and Karol - were on hand to show us four brand new sandwiches which we made with their help ready to eat at our picnic later.

While us mums and dad donned aprons and got ready to create our picnic feast the children headed off with Ian Douglas, Storyteller who had them tramping through the forest and preparing a special surprise for us to be seen later. I was so happy with how readily Bud headed off with Ian and the other children, it made me realise how far my formerly clingy boy has come in his year of Nursery School.

Anyway, back to sandwiches. First up was The SLT. Based on the classic BLT this used the new Roberts Bakery muffins with sausages, fresh sliced tomato, lettuce and black pepper placed on the muffins which were spread with a mixture of Greek yoghurt and low-fat mayonnnaise. 

Roberts Bakery 50 Days of Summer Picnic in Delamere Forest SLT

Next up was the Sunshine Sandwich which aimed to get children eating a bit more fruit and veg. This used the new White and Wholemeal bread to make a traffic light sandwich. The bread was spread with low fat spread and then filled with a mixture of grated carrot, cheese, raisins and sunflower seeds. The three traffic light holes were then filled to make a solid colour 'light'. 

Roberts Bakery 50 Days of Summer Picnic in Delamere Forest Sunshine Sandwich

The third sandwich was Strawberries and Cream and my favourite one to create, with heart shapes cut from sliced bread, spread with cream cheese and layered with strawberries and fresh rocket, finished with a sprinkle of black pepper. A really classic combination carried out in a fun way.

Roberts Bakery 50 Days of Summer Picnic in Delamere Forest Sunshine Sandwich Strawberries and Cream

Finally we made Nutty Nana monkey shaped sandwiches. This was something of a challenge for me as it used bread spread with peanut butter (love!) then layered with sliced banana. I hate banana so touching them and making the sandwich was a personal challenge to overcome! The monkey's expression was made with drizzled honey which wasn't the most precise tool to work with!

Roberts Bakery 50 Days of Summer Picnic in Delamere Forest Sunshine Sandwich Nutty Nana

Sandwiches made it was time to enjoy our picnic, we headed down to a covered area to hear a great story from Ian Douglas and see the show that the children had prepared. It was so lovely to see them all making the shapes to act out the story and Bud joined in with gusto. The sandwiches went down a treat and I was surprised at how many my children would try. Bud's favourite was the SLT while Little Miss enjoyed tucking into the Nutty Nana.

Roberts Bakery 50 Days of Summer Picnic in Delamere Forest Sunshine Sandwich Ian Douglas Storyteller

We had a really lovely time with Roberts Bakery and I've been using their sandwich inspiration with my children since. The cookie cutters are getting a good use and Bud, especially has been enjoying dinosaur sandwiches recently. Thanks so much to Roberts Bakery for inviting us.

Disclosure: We attended this event as the guests of Roberts Bakery

Monday, 21 July 2014

A Break at Bluestone Wales

Last month we had the pleasure of an invitation to go and stay at Bluestone Wales in Pembrokeshire. I love Pembrokeshire and it's somewhere I have been keen to take my children to so we were very excited to go. Bluestone Wales is situated near Narberth in Pembrokeshire, around 12 miles inland from Tenby and in the  national park. Bluestone prides itself on offering 'free-range family fun' and this sounded perfect for my outdoors-loving family. We're a family of four and our children were four and twenty-one months when we visited Bluestone.

Welcome to Bluestone Wales

On arrival at Bluestone you pick up the keys to your accommodation from a 'drive through' reception. We were staying in a Caldey Lodge, which sleeps 4. This is a chalet style wooden lodge with a large, open plan living space incorporating kitchen, dining room and lounge, a double bedroom, twin bedroom and wet room. It has patio doors which open out onto a small patio with a picnic table on it. You can arrange to have a welcome hamper delivered prior to your arrival, with all the essentials for your stay but we decided to go shopping instead. The Caldey Lodge was situated close to the large lake and was semi-detached. We didn't hear our neighbours but I did find it a little strange how close together the picnic tables outside each lodge were. Our neighbours' table was less than six feet from ours so it felt a bit strange sitting out at the same time as them, and with a curious toddler trying to see what the inside of next door looked like, it meant that I was very conscious of their proximity at those times. Our neighbours were really pleasant and didn't mind our nosy LM but I'm sure other people would have.  In addition to this the sitting area was at the front of the lodge, with people walking past so we didn't really feel like it was 'our' space. The only other issue with the accommodation was the wet room. I'm used to showering my children as we don't have a bath but we do have a shower cubicle. Using a wet room to try and wash slippery pre-schoolers was difficult as there is no way to enclose them in a 'safe' space to get them showered and clean. LM was especially difficult. It isn't the best bathroom style for young children at all. A bath or shower cubicle would make life much easier. These two issues aside, the accommodation was great, really clean, in excellent condition and the kitchen was well equipped, making it easy to cook a range of family meals there, If you don't fancy cooking you can use the resort takeaway service or eat at one of the restaurants on site.

Here's a video tour of our accommodation:

Bluestone Wales is a car-free resort. They ask all guests to return their cars to the long-stay car park by midnight on the first day of their stay, until their final day when they can bring their car down to load up and travel home. This makes the site much more relaxed and children can play without fear of cars approaching. The alternatives to car travel are to hire a golf buggy, bicycles or to simply walk. We chose the latter option. There is a little road train that travels around the resort during the day and we made good use of this - The Hail and Ride does a loop of the whole site and it was an easy way for us to get up to the car park or the Blue Lagoon. We generally got this in the morning and walked back to our accommodation in the evening.

Our accommodation was situated a short walk from the Village Centre where you will find restaurants, shops, the information centre and a children's play area. We visited this several times, whether it was for elevenses at the Bluestone Bakery, dinner at the Knights Tafarn, to stock up on supplies at the shop or to let the children burn off some energy in the play park. The Knights Tafarn was the only restaurant we used on site and we found their food excellent, the prices were reasonable and we all really enjoyed our meal with a good choice for both adults and children, excellent presentation and great tasting food. The outdoor seating area here was lovely although we decided to enjoy the indoor area for our meal. The Knights Tafarn has a range of evening activities too but sadly bedtime beckoned so we passed on those.

Meal at the Knights Tafarn Bluestone Wales

The Bluestone Bakery is the perfect spot for a daytime pit stop. We enjoyed coffee and cakes there one morning and found the food and drink excellent, especially the coffee (and I have high standards). It was a lovely day and it really was the perfect spot to sit outside at one of their tables and watch the rest of the park go about their day. I'd definitely recommend taking the time to visit if you go to Bluestone. We visited the grocery store a couple of times to stock up on essentials like bread and milk, it's worth mentioning that it closes at 7 and, if you are arriving late the chances are that they will run out of the essential fresh items. There is a handy dairy vending machine though so fresh milk should always be available. Often shops on holiday sites have vastly inflated prices but I didn't find that here, we were able to pick up some essentials on our first night at a reasonable price.

Elevenses at Bluestone Bakery,Bluestone Wales

The Village is also home to 'Tree Tots', this was one of my children's favourite places at Bluestone. The park allows younger children to challenge themselves with chain bridges, cargo nets and tunnels, while the tiny ones can play on the playground attached. My two spent well over an hour on two separate occasions chasing all over this park accompanied by Ian and I. We all had a ball. Bud found it incredibly amusing when I nearly got stuck in one of the tunnel pipes! I avoided them after that! Seriously though, it's brilliant, with just enough to physically challenge my four year old and give him a massive sense of achievement at completing certain elements of it.

Fun at Tree Tots, Bluestone Wales

Our other most visited place at Bluestone was the Blue Lagoon Waterpark. Entry to this is included for all guests of the resort and it is open to the public too. We all loved the pool and went almost every day during our stay. There are a mixture of flumes and activities to keep older children (and big kids like Ian) entertained, alongside waves and a lazy river which Bud adored. This took you outside into the open air and back into the main pool again. The changing areas were great with plenty of family sized cubicles and there is also a well stocked shop, great for if you forget those essential arm bands or swim nappies. We encountered the Free Rangers here - dressed as pirates and engaging the children with lots of water fun and pirate behaviour - Bud was delighted with them. They are Bluestone's in-house entertainers who can be found at the Adventure Centre too, we didn't make it there, we just didn't find the time but find out what my friend Anna's boys made of it at In the Playroom. I wish we'd had more time as Bud would have loved the unlimited Crazy Golf there! Anna also writes about the Gold Panning Experience which is one of the bookable, paid activities available. There is a huge range of these available but we didn't really find one that worked for both of our children and we didn't want to split up the family to take part with just one child. I'm sure families without a young toddler like LM would find something for them to enjoy and there was a wide range that Bud would have liked I think.

Blue Lagoon WaterPark, Bluestone Wales

Bluestone is very handily situated as a base for exploring Pembrokeshire and we had a few trips out to Tenby, Folly Farm, Pembroke and Saundersfoot. The area is quite compact and you shouldn't find anywhere more than a half an hour drive away. I'll be posting about Folly Farm soon.

We loved our time at Bluestone Wales, from the tiny frogs who swarmed the road in front of our accommodation every day, delighting the children, to the peace and quiet and amazing star filled skies in the evenings, it was wonderful. I'd recommend it for families who like to be outdoors and take advantage of all of the range of activities offered by Bluestone. If you're a family who wants to use accommodation as a base for exploring an area you might want to consider somewhere else, more inexpensive, as, to get the full benefits of your Bluestone stay I think you need to spend a significant amount of time on site. We would definitely return and I'd love to bring more of the family next time and stay in one of the larger properties I think. There is something for all of the family to enjoy at Bluestone Wales, it's a fantastic place to holiday.

If you would like more information, or to book a break visit Bluestone Wales, or follow them on Twitter or Facebook.

Disclosure: We stayed for four nights as the guests of Bluestone Wales and our accommodation was complimentary. All opinions are unbiased and honest.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

#MySundayPhoto 20/7/2014 Bud Runs Ironkids

Ironman  UK takes place annually in our hometown, Bolton. As part of the weekend of sport the organisers stage Ironkids, a fun run for children aged 3-14 the day before the main event. We first heard about it last year but too late to register Bud. This year we were in time.

Yesterday he ran 500 metres in the rain with his Uncle. He didn't complain about getting wet and loved every second of the run. He was then presented with his medal, which he is delighted with. I'm so proud of him and he definitely wants to do it again next year.

Bun Runs Ironkids UK Bolton


Expressions photos