5 Christmas Holiday Options

Have you ever considered spending Christmas on holiday? It's something I tend to think about every now and again and I have different ideas that I always find myself dreaming of when the hectic run up to Christmas gets a little bit too much! Whether abroad or at home, there's a range of different options for families with the freedom to travel over the festive season.

The first one I often think about is Lapland. I'm not sure I'd actually enjoy sledging through the snow too much. I really hate being cold so much! It's one of those real bucket list trips though and friends who have visited the big man at 'the North Pole' talk about how much it really made Christmas magical for them and their children.
Photo by Rucksack Magazine on Unsplash

My second option would be somewhere hot! Somewhere like Dubai sounds like a pretty amazing place to visit over the Christmas holidays. Two weeks or so of sunbathing, all you can eat buffets and luxurious hotels where you don't have to lift a finger would be a very relaxing place to spend the festive period. I've been checking out the range of destinations available over on the Destination2 website and they have a long list of tropical Christmas holidays available which have really got me thinking!

Third up is Australia. Ian spent Christmas Down Under when he went travelling there in his early 20s. He often talks to the children about his Christmas on the beach and New Year celebrations in Sydney. We'd love to take the whole family to Australia and Christmas seems like it would be an amazing time to be there.

My fourth choice would be a European city. This isn't really one for over Christmas itself but I'd love to go and visit the Christmas markets in a city like Hamburg or Frankfurt. It would be wonderful to book a long weekend and fly off for a couple of nights (child free of course) to celebrate Christmas in the European markets.

In reality it's unlikely that we will ever spend Christmas away from home. We're part of a very close extended family and I don't think any of us would want to miss out on the opportunity to be with Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and Cousins on the big day. That brings me to my fifth option and this really is a 'money no object' one. I'd love to rent a big Country House somewhere out in North Yorkshire or Derbyshire and take the whole family off for a magical Christmas together. We'd need somewhere to sleep around 25 people and to hire staff I think so this is really a 'money is no object' option. We can all dream!

Where would you spend your dream Christmas? Is your ideal destination on my list?

Collaborative Post

Disney on Ice presents Passport to Adventure at Manchester Arena - Review

Disney on Ice presents Passport to Adventure has arrived at Manchester Arena this week and we were lucky enough to be invited along to see the show on Wednesday evening. LM, especially, is a huge Disney fan so was so excited to put on her Belle dress and head down to the Arena.

We were greeted before the show with the chance to meet the stars of Zootropolis, Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde, who are this tour's Fit to Dance stars. The children were so excited to meet two of their recent heroes, and then have the opportunity to have a photo with the main man himself - Mickey Mouse before we took our seats close to the ice.
Disney on Ice presents Passport to Adventure at Manchester Arena - Review Judy Hopps Nick Wilde Fit to Dance

The Fit to Dance team took to the ice first, getting all the children hopping alongside Nick and Judy and a few of the skaters who were flying crazy helicopter boomerang hybrids around the ice. Make sure you take your seats on time to see these in action.

As usual Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy and Goody are your comperes for the evening and the show proper soon took to the ice with a wonderful introduction from 'It's a Small World'. The skaters' costumes took us on a world tour and there were snippets of traditional music from a  range of countries with the skaters in the relevant costumes having their chance to shine.
Disney on Ice presents Passport to Adventure at Manchester Arena - Review mickey Minnie Donald Daisy Goofy

From there we flew off to Africa and joined The Lion King. This is a real favourite in our house and the children loved seeing Simba and friends performing some of the biggest numbers from the movie. LM is currently dancing to 'I Just Can't Wait to be King' at school so was showing us some of her moves during that number. Bud and LM declared this section to be their favourite part of the show.
Disney on Ice presents Passport to Adventure at Manchester Arena - Review Lion King Simba Nala Rafiki

Next up we travelled to London and joined Peter Pan. This was a real spectacle with Peter, Tinkerbell and the Darling children flying at some height above the arena and Captain Hook, Smee and the rest of the pirates getting the typical boos from the audience. I think this was my favourite part of the whole evening, having not seen the film for some time it was a lovely reminder of the story and songs.
Disney on Ice presents Passport to Adventure at Manchester Arena - Review Peter Pan Wendy John Michael Darling Flying

After the interval we headed 'Under the Sea' to meet Ariel, Flounder and Sebastian. The Little Mermaid is a DVD on general rotation in our house so we were all singing along. LM had to hide her face in my shoulder when a certain Sea Witch arrived on the ice. She really doesn't like Ursula!
Disney on Ice presents Passport to Adventure at Manchester Arena - Review Little Mermaid Ariel Prince Eric

Our next destination was somewhere we've visited on every Disney on Ice show we've seen - Arendelle. There's something about Elsa and Anna which really lends itself to the ice and the spectacle was the best I think we've seen. There was a real snow storm on the ice which made it really atmospheric. Ian and I commented that we really enjoyed the songs now we aren't watching the DVD every day!
Disney on Ice presents Passport to Adventure at Manchester Arena - Review Frozen Elsa

The finale affords the opportunity to see all of the characters on the ice together and is a great chance to applaud the whole cast as the main characters and ensemble appear. 

We had a fabulous night at Disney on Ice as always, Little E really enjoyed the experience this time and it's the first show he's stayed awake all the way through. He was especially delighted by Sebastian and Flounder from The Little Mermaid, pointing and saying 'fish' whenever they skated by. 

There's a really nice mix of old and new in this show, and an effective blend of movies which will appeal to every Disney fan I think. It is really worth seeing if you can.


Disney On Ice presents Passport To Adventure runs in Manchester until Sunday 15th October and tickets are still available, with prices starting at around £30 per person.

If you can't see it in Manchester then check out the rest of the tour dates:

Arena Birmingham - 18th -29th October
SSE Arena, Belfast - 3rd - 5th November
Citywest Hotel, Dublin  - 10th - 12th November
FlyDSA Arena, Sheffield 15th - 19th November
The O2, London - 20th - 30th December

For more information, and to book tickets visit disneyonice.com.

We were invited to see Disney on Ice Presents Passport to Adventure as guests of the show.

A Family Day Out at Bolton Food and Drink Festival 2017

Living in Bolton, it's clear that one of the jewels in the town's year is the annual Food and Drink Festival but we've often managed to miss it. This year I was determined that would be different and, having booked tickets for an event today at Bolton Library, we planned a day at the festival in the calendar a few weeks ago.
Hot dogs at Bolton Food Festival 2017

The Food and Drink Festival takes over the streets of Bolton completely, with all kinds of street food and artisan food and drink vendors available. We arrived just before lunch and decided to take a pit stop to try out some of the wares on offer. Bud chose a hot dog which he thought was hilarious as the sausage and ketchup were placed in a hollowed out bun and it was presented to him with just the end of the hot dog poking out! A real pig in a blanket. Ian and I shared some Spanish potatoes with chicken and peppers, which were very tasty, while LM and Little E were enthralled by a Tornado Potato. All of these were available within a few metres of each other on Deansgate and Market Street, with a very handy seating area too.
Tornado Potatoes at Bolton Food Festival 2017

From here we headed to Victoria Square and Le Mans Crescent which are the heart of the Festival. Aldi, the main Festival sponsors this year, had a wine pavillion showing many of their award winning bottles and there are two stages featuring live music, with the opportunity to grab a glass of wine or pint of organic cider too.

We had tickets for the Peter Rabbit Experience at Bolton Library so we headed over there next. The library foyer had a smoothie bike available and Bud decided he was going to blend his own smoothie. The staff were lovely, helping him to choose his fruit and explaining that the smoothie needed banana to make it thick. He enjoyed pedalling the bike to make the blender work although neither he nor LM were overly keen on the smoothie result, Bud isn't a fan of banana so I wasn't surprised by this.
Smoothie bike at Bolton Library Food Festival 2017

The Peter Rabbit Experience took place in the lecture hall in the basement of the building and we were treated to the story of Peter Rabbit in Mr McGregor's garden, a singalong and the chance to try some of the fruit and vegetables that he might have found there. Our singing brought about the arrival of a very special visitor and the children were delighted to have the chance to meet up with the bunny himself. This event was the basis for us planning a day at the Festival and we thoroughly enjoyed it. A free event, although pre-booking was required, it was well attended and a great way for children to experience the Peter Rabbit story.
Peter Rabbit Experience Bolton Food Festival 2017

Our next stop was the Octagon Theatre across the road. This is one of my favourite places in Bolton and I'm a regular visitor to watch plays there, although the Food and Drink Festival offers the opportunity to experience the main auditorium and studio theatre in a completely new way.
Octagon Theatre Platform 50 Bolton Food and Drink Festival 2017

The main theatre is The Railway Children themed, with a visit to Platform 50 on offer. Instead of a stage a big wooden train snakes across the floor of the auditorium on a trip to the beach. All of the seats had stripy deckchair covers and there were traditional games like 'pin the tail on the donkey' and Hoopla available. LM was delighted to see glitter tattoos on offer and took the opportunity to have a butterfly on her hand (for an optional donation) and Bud loved the photo booth with actual costumes from the Octagon stores to try on.
Octagon Theatre Platform 50 Photo Booth with Costumes Bolton Food and Drink Festival 2017

Next door, in the Octagon Studio, Little E found his happy place. Bolton Library and Museum Services staged an Egypt themed room which was a huge sand pit and water play channel. Children were invited to make sandcastles, take part in an archaeology dig or just splash in the water. Let's just say that I was very pleased I'd bought Little E a new t-shirt earlier in the day as his was drenched by the time we left. He loved it so much he cried when we had to come away!
Octagon Theatre Studio Egypt Bolton Food and Drink Festival 2017

We had a really excellent day at the Bolton Food and Drink Festival today. It's lovely to see the town centre taken over by something so vibrant and fun. There is so much going on including exhibitions by some of the country's top chefs (we didn't even begin to explore these with three children in tow) and there's definitely something for everyone.

To find out more about the festival visit www.boltonfoodanddrinkfestival.com or check out  #BoltonFoodFest on social media.

Lalaloopsy Storm E Sky - Review

LM has loved the Lalaloopsy range for some time and now owns a few of the large dolls, however, one of her only issues with these pretty girls is that their hair is plastic. Imagine her delight when she was recently sent out a brand new Storm E Sky doll with real purple hair to play with!
Lalaloopsy Storm E Sky - Review Real hair doll

Storm E Sky is a recent addition to the Lalaloopsy kingdom. She joined last year and loves music and is a real rock chick, this is echoed in her funky purple hair and edgy leather jacket and tutu! LM was also sent some festival essentials to enjoy with her dolly - a beautiful rainbow tutu, some glitter gel, a flower headband and inflatable guitar! She was sewn on July 29th, LM loves knowing when her doll's birthdays are so she can sing to them.
Lalaloopsy Storm E Sky - Review real hair doll

The doll arrives with her own pet cat, ribbon and hairbrush - perfect for little ones to get styling the hair. Storm E Sky's hair arrives in two purple nets which are exactly the same colour as her hair. LM decided to leave these on so she can have matching hair with Storm.
Lalaloopsy Storm E Sky - Review real hair doll sewn on date

Cool Cat is Storm's pet cat and she's a cute little addition to the doll, she's made from purple vinyl and has a yellow lightning bolt tag and a black lightning bolt tail too. The perfect cat for little rock chicks like Storm and LM.
Lalaloopsy Storm E Sky - Review Cool Cat and hairbrush

Both LM and I really lilked Storm E Sky. It's quite refreshing to have a colour scheme which isn't mainly pink, in fact only Storm's pink tutu, tights and boots has this colour. The black, silver and purple add a real coolness and a little something to the Lalaloopsy range which is great to see.

Last week we all went camping with LM's grandparents and cousin and they loved playing with Storm E Sky on our own mini rock festival (even if the tunes were provided by Radio 2 rather a live band), LM already has the tutu which arrived with Storm so she passed this on to her cousin and both girls loved dancing around our camping field!
Lalaloopsy Storm E Sky - Review Festival Music Dancing Tutu

Storm E Sky has been played with everyday since she arrived in our house. She's a lovely addition to LM's Lalaloopsy collection and we think she'd make and Lalaloopsy fan very happy.
Lalaloopsy Storm E Sky - Review Dancing music festival tutus

Doll supplied for evaluation purposes. 

Num Noms Series 4 and Num Noms Lights Series 2.1 - Review

LM loves Num Noms. For those not in the know, they're a series of cute little characters which look a little like scoops of ice cream. They are all individually decorated and have their own sweet, or sometimes suprising, fragrance!

Num Noms Series 4 and Num Noms Lights Series 2.1 - Review Sweet Sampler Magazine

Series 4 sees the addition of nail varnish and glitter lip gloss to the range and LM was delighted to be sent some to try out recently. She received the Num Noms Series 4 Deluxe Lunchbox Sweets Sampler (RRP £16:99), two Num Noms Lights Season 2.1 mystery packs (RRP £4:99) and a copy of the brand new Num Noms magazine (£3:90).

Num Noms Series 4 and Num Noms Lights Series 2.1 - Review Sweet Sampler

The Num Noms Series 4 Deluxe Lunchbox Sweets Sampler contains 12 Num Noms from the Sweets  theme. One of these is secret and two are from the brand new sparkly lip gloss range! These are fancy cake and macaron themed and LM loved identifying each Num Nom from the included collectors menu.

Num Noms Series 4 and Num Noms Lights Series 2.1 - Review Opening mystery packs

I think our favourite was Confetti Cookie, she's so pretty and she smells lovely! Our secret Num Nom was Lemon Pinkfill. She looks so cute with her little bunny ears.

Num Noms Series 4 and Num Noms Lights Series 2.1 - Review Sweets Sampler

LM loves the cute little lipglosses included in the Sweets Sampler. She received Mint Swirl Gloss-Up and Lemon Drop Gloss-Up. Both smell lovely and offer a tiny hint of colour and a lot of sparkle. Perfect for every little girl to stash in her bag for days out.

Num Noms Series 4 and Num Noms Lights Series 2.1 - Review Sweet Sampler lip gloss

The Num Noms Lights Series 2.1 are the first that LM has owned. She received two mystery packs which are shaped like little milk cartons. Inside each is a Num, a light up Nom and a ring so you can wear them!

Num Noms Series 4 and Num Noms Lights Series 2.1 - Review Rings lights

LM opened them to find Bridget Banana and Clara Candy, with light up Cherry Gem and Bubble Gem. These are so cute and LM loved wearing the rings when she put the Num Nom together.

Num Noms Series 4 and Num Noms Lights Series 2.1 - Review Ring Light

The Num Noms magazine was a real treat. LM, like most little girls, loves seeing her favourite characters in magazines, and seeing the treats that come bundled with them. This mag had so many free gifts including a click camera which shows a different Num Nom every time you look through the viewfinder and press the button, invitations to a Num Noms party, stickers for the new Num Noms collectible sticker album and some scented holographic Cherry stickers (LM's favourite scent), a keyring and a magnetic photo frame!

Num Noms Series 4 and Num Noms Lights Series 2.1 - Review Magazine free gifts

At £3:90 cover price this is a real bargain and the monthly magazine will make a great pocket money treat for Num Noms fans. In addition the mag features giveaways, puzzles and lots of features. LM wants to stick the full colour central poster on her bedroom wall.

Num Noms Series 4 and Num Noms Lights Series 2.1 - Review Magazine

In addition to the items we have featured Series 4 will also see the launch of a Num Noms Collectors Case (a must have for us as we're constantly finding them around the house, it will be great to be able to keep all of LM's favourite Num Noms in one place), Num Noms Surprise in a Jar and a nail polish maker! Look out for the full range of Series 4 Num Noms and Series 2.1 Num Noms Lights in all usual stockists.

Num Noms Series 4 and Num Noms Lights Series 2.1 - Review Opening mystery packs

To find out more about Num Noms visit Num Noms from MGA Entertainment.

Product supplied for evaluation purposes.

L.O.L. Surprise Dolls Lil' Sisters - Review

LM has had her eye on the range of L.O.L. dolls for some time now so, when the opportunity came along to take a look at one of the new Lil' Sisters range from MGA Entertainment, I knew she would love to try them.
L.O.L. Surprise Dolls Lil' Sisters - Review MGA Entertainment

Blind bags are all the rage in our house. Both Bud and LM love the opportunity to have a surprise and add to a favourite collection. Lil' Sisters (and their big sisters the L.O.L. Surprise dolls) take blind bags to the next level though! Instead of one item the Lil' Sisters have five layers of surprise inside and LM was keen to take me through every single one of them!
Unwrapping L.O.L. Surprise Dolls Lil' Sisters - Review Blind bag MGA Entertainment

The Lil' Sisters arrive in their own green ball which your gradually unwrap to reveal each surprise. The first layer sees the outer wrapper removed to give you a sticker which provides you with a clue to the contents. Our's said 'Smarty Pants' and showed a pair of blue jeans and a lightbulb. The next layer is a pink wrapper which revealed another sticker. This is collectible and gives you a hint to the secret your Lil' Sister holds (ours said 'changes colour'). Once this layer is removed you are presented with a hot pink capsule which holds the three remaining surprises.
L.O.L. Surprise Dolls Lil' Sisters - Review MGA Entertainment Blind Bag

Our capsule pops open to reveal four little packets with the remaining suprises inside. Three are spotty to show that they are accessories while the larger striped one contains the Lil' Sister doll herself. LM opened the accessories first. The first bag contained the keyring attachment to pop onto the ball-shaped capsule to clip your Lil' Sister on to your bag to take with you wherever you go (LM did this but soon got frustrated as the capsule pops open on it's own, scattering the contents quite readily). The next bag contained a red mobile phone which is for the L.O.L Surprise big sister to use. The last one contains an accessory or outfit for the big sister, in this case LM got a hat with a big feather plume on it, this looks perfect for if the L.O.L Surprise doll wants to join the majorettes.
L.O.L. Surprise Dolls Lil' Sisters - Review MGA Entertainment Blind Bag Contents

The Lil' Sister herself was in the final bag. LM got the cutest little baby girl, with red nappy and cute wink. Her collectors guide tells us that she is Lil' Majorette and she's from the Spirit Club. Going back to her sticker, we knew that she would reveal a surprise when we got her wet so we immersed her in a cup of iced water and she showed us!
L.O.L. Surprise Dolls Lil' Sisters - Review MGA Entertainment Blind Bag Colour Change

LM adores these dolls and I can see them being an occasional treat for her going forwards. We're lucky in that she has a cousin we can pass swaps on to but, if she didn't, I think I would be less keen to buy as they are being bought blind and duplicates aren't easy to avoid. They are more expensive than other blind bags, with an RRP of £4:99 so I'd love a secret way for parents to identify who is inside, even if the children can't work it out. They are a really lovely companion to the L.O.L Surprise dolls and I know LM will be adding some to her forthcoming birthday list.
L.O.L. Surprise Dolls Lil' Sisters - Review Blind Bag MGA Entertainment

To find out more about Lil' Sisters and L.O.L Surprise dolls visit L.O.L. Surprise' online home.

Doll supplied for evaluation purposes.

Warner Bros Christmas DVD Wishlist

Grab the mistletoe and get ready to find the perfect gift for that special someone this Christmas.

Warner Bros. has the ultimate selection, whether you’re looking for him, for her, or for festive favourites to get the whole family in the Christmas spirit. 

I've been looking at a few of the Warner Bros. DVDs on offer this Christmas and I've decided on my favourite to share with you all.

Warner Bros Christmas DVD Wishlist Middle Earth Hobbit Lord of the Rings Box Set

I'm a huge fan of the Lord of the Rings universe and have been since I discovered the world by reading the books as a teenager. In my pre-children days I used to re-read the books every year and I was first in line to see each of the movies on their release. I was keen to see The Hobbit films but cinema trips are few and far between for us these days so I've caught up on them on DVD and On Demand services.

The idea of having all six of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings films on DVD in one place is brilliant and this box set brings the six theatrical releases together. As a busy mum I don't have the time for all the DVD extras I used to enjoy so this is perfect! 

There are a range of fantastic Warner Bros.  titles available at HMV.com, which will make perfect gifts. Will you be buying any DVDs to give to your loved ones this Christmas?