My Sunday Photo - 30/11/14

23:29 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

We're just back from a wonderful, festive weekend in Snowdonia. Much more on that to come but I thought I would share this photo that I took at the very beautiful Bodnant Garden yesterday. I love the autumn colours and the tranquility of this shot.

Bodnant Garden Snowdonia


Win 1 of 5 Spirograph Optical 3D Studio Sets

22:03 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

I have fond memories of Spirograph from my childhood and I remember getting exactly the set I wanted at one distant Christmas. I loved the creative designs I could produce and it was great to use lots of different colours in my works of art.

Now I'm delighted to see that Spirograph is still going strong for a new generation. Spirograph Optical 3D Studio includes 3D glasses to make the colours in their designs pop in 3D!

The set includes:
12 Drawing Wheels and 4 Templates.
3D Effect Dual Colour Pen, 2 Florescent Markers, 3 Colour Pens and a Rainbow Pencil..
Optical 3D Glasses - includes 3 LR44 Batteries
Spirograph Design Book.
10 Drawing Papers and 1 Spirograph Sticker.
Sealable Storage Bag.

For ages 5 years and over.

Win 1 of Spirograph Optical 3D Studio Sets

I've teamed up with Spirograph to offer five of my readers the opportunity to win a Spirograph Optical 3D Studio Set.

To enter the giveaway please complete the Gleam widget below. The blog post comment is compulsory and will unlock a range of additional entry options. Please read the terms and conditions.

Spirograph Giveaway

What's Happened? What's Happening? - November Fun

09:54 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

#WHWH is back after a little break. Baby #3 hasn't been kind to me this month and blogging has been hard, seriously, sickness is meant to abate in the second trimester, not worsen! I miss my little linky though, and I've had a few requests for it's return so it's back this week, hopefully permanently.

I''m seeing lots of festive events starting to fill my blog reader and I'm loving all of the excited little faces waiting to see Father Christmas or meeting reindeer. I know that this time of year is a prime time for events and we've been lucky enough to have some lovely invitations in the past few weeks. On Friday we're off to Snowdonia and I can't wait to share our adventures with you!

So whether it's a grand formal event or just a trip to your local grotto to see Father Christmas I definitely want to see your posts! If you've had any Autumnal November events or days out please add those to. Of course, What's Happening is always here if you're writing previews of events or plans.

What have you been up to? What are you planning?

I'd love you to link up your blog posts to What's Happened? - featuring events, days out, holidays, film, theatre and restaurant reviews and any other 'happeneds'. What's Happening? is the place for you to link your event previews, holiday or days out plans, ongoing events and ticket giveaways.

I read and comment on every one and share on Twitter, Facebook. Google+, Pinterest and StumbleUpon.

I've created a Pinterest board where I pin all of your posts, feel free to follow it.

As always, I would love it if you would add the linky badge to your post to direct your readers here

What's Happened? What's Happening?

Britain's Most Mischievous Toddler

12:07 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Look at this beautiful girl. Time and time again I am told that she 'looks like butter wouldn't melt in her mouth' or like a 'little angel'. She does, she absolutely does but... as we all know... appearances can be deceptive!

Mischievous LM

LM has been something of a shock to the system compared with her big brother's toddler years. He's generally quite a cautious and quiet child whereas she is completely the opposite. She's a little daredevil and climbed even before she could properly walk! You can guarantee if there's something up high and a way to reach it she will be spotted climbing to her goal very quickly! This leaves me with my heart in my mouth rushing to rescue her from whichever unlikely spot she has arrived in.

During the Summer we had a few dramas with LM. We have a front garden with a gate and she continuously worked out how to get through the gate and 'escape'. On a couple of occasions neighbours brought her back! Luckily local children play outside and returned her very quickly. We tried a bungee, cord, various other methods to keep the gate shut, until we realised she wasn't opening the gate. She was walking through the space at the side of it! I couldn't see how she managed it until I spotted her in the act one day, squeezing through the bars of the gate support! We had another gate-related drama with her when she was playing in the back garden with her brother. I popped into the kitchen and suddenly heard tears. Thinking that there had been a fight between them or similar I dashed out to see what was the matter and found LM with her head stuck between the bars of our large side gate! Panic ensued as I couldn't shift her from it and she and Bud were getting more and more upset. Thankfully I realised that I had to lift her up to where there was more give in the bars so I could pull them apart and free her. I was very pleased not to need the fire brigade! Ian has filled all of the LM height gaps in both of our gates now, to avert further drama!

LM doesn't talk much but that absolutely doesn't stop her getting things done. She has a great pointing finger which makes everyone giggle when it gets used against them. She also has a way of being told to do, or not do something, then doing exactly the opposite with a big grin! 

I think LM is very mischievous, she brings laughter and fun to our lives every day, whether emptying a bag of demerera sugar all over the kitchen floor (last week's fun) or stealing all the best bits from her brother's plate while he isn't looking, life with her is a non-stop adventure. She definitely keeps us on our toes!

Time4Sleep have launched a competition to find Britain's Most Mischievous toddler with a prize of a £200 family day out for the lucky winner. To enter head on over to the Search for Britain's Most Mischievous Toddler entry page and share your little monkey's photo. You can check out the other entries at the Time4Sleep Facebook Page.

Meet Santa at the Chill Factore Manchester

13:59 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

On Saturday we headed off to the Chill Factore - Manchester's huge, indoor snow venue - for something that is rapidly becoming something of a family tradition for us. We were booked in to see Santa and play in the snow!

Ready to go Snow Park at Chill Factore Christmas 2014

Bud was extremely excited as he remembered our trip to see Santa last year (you can read my post here - Snow Play and Santa at the Chill Factore) when we had some special one on one time as LM was too small to play in the snow. Another reason for the high excitement levels was that Bud was going to be playing in the Snow Park with Ian for the first time on this visit. He loved the idea of sledging, tubing and luging with his Daddy! LM and I were booked in for Snow Play in Mini Moose Land (read what I thought of it last time here - Mini Moose Land at Chill Factore).

Snow Park at Chill Factore Christmas 2014

We arrived just in time for our 12noon booking and were able to pick up our clothing hire very quickly (additional charge applies). I was really pleased to see that Chill Factore have added toddler snow suits to their range for hire, it was great to make sure that we could dress LM up in a padded Dare2Be snow suit instead of her usual all in one. Previously the smallest hire clothes available were age 3-4 so having snow suits from 12-18 months upwards is a great addition.

Toddler Snow Suits Chill Factore Christmas 2014

Bud and Ian then headed off to sledge while LM and I headed for a coffee. We did take some time to watch their fun from the balcony which looks out over the snow but my heart was in my mouth evey time Bud came down the hill on his own so we left them to it! Bud had the time of his life and pronounced it 'the most fun ever'. He had red, rosy cheeks from all the fun and his enjoyment was clear.

Waiting to see Santa Chill Factore Christmas 2014

We then queued up to see Santa. Our booking was for 1pm and we were there just before. It was very busy and we ended up queuing for around fifty minutes. This wasn't too bad as there were plenty of toys and activities out for the children to enjoy and Bud and Little Miss enjoyed colouring and playing in the Wendy House.

Waiting to see Santa Chill Factore Christmas 2014

The actual Santa experience was quite similar to last year, you walk through a beautifully lit tree arch, escorted by one of Santa's Elves and then head out into the grotto in Mini Moose Land. A special knock, taught by the elves, admits you in to see Santa. Bud enjoyed seeing Santa and telling him about his list but I felt that last year's was better, this one didn't find it as easy to talk to the children as in previous years. Both children received a gift and there was a photo opportunity and then time for LM and I to play in the snow. The gifts were an animal art set for Bud and a bath toy for LM. Both of them were very pleased.

Mini Moose Land Chill Factore Christmas 2014

You can't take your own photos with Santa and, as I said last year, I do find it difficult to justify a minimum cost of £11 for a photo of your children with Santa on top of the charge to visit in the first place. This year, as last, I wasn't taken by the quality of the photo so we didn't buy.

Mini Moose Land was lots of fun as usual, I did find the snow to be much deeper this time, presumably it's the snow that was displaced by the grotto's location in there. LM struggled at times to walk in it though, as her legs are so little! All of the usual soft play toys, the little sledging/tubing hill and slides are available too.

We had a lovely time at Chill Factore, as always and I'm sure we will be back for more snow fun soon. The children were really delighted to see a very special guest making an appearance this weekend and we couldn't resist grabbing a photo with Peppa Pig.

Peppa Pig at Chill Factore Christmas 2014

To visit Santa at Chill Factore please check out their Christmas page. Prices start at 2 for £15. Children aged 4 and over have an hour in the Snow Park included in their visit, while the under 4s have thirty minutes in Mini Moose Land.

We visited Santa as the guests of Chill Factore.

Red Rose Mummy Christmas

What's Happened? What's Happening?

Red Rose Baby - The First Trimester

12:50 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Today I'm fourteen weeks pregnant with Baby #3 so the first trimester is behind me, not that the last two weeks have felt any different to the weeks prior to them. In all of my pregnancies I've always found those early symptoms to last well into month four or five and Baby #3 is no different. In fact, if anything, the nausea appears to be worsening at the moment. Oh well!

I wanted to take some time to write about my first trimester, not telling my readers until twelve weeks means that I haven't really written about it yet.

I think Baby #3 has seen me very relaxed, a little too relaxed as far as ensuring all of my appointments were met. I booked in with my GP at what I thought was 9 weeks (although it was more like 7.5) to expect the usual process - a scan date and my booking in appointment at my local hospital, followed by my first Community Midwife (CMW) appointment in my local Children's Centre at around sixteen weeks. My GP did briefly mention booking a midwife's appointment but I filed that as 'to do later' as that was the cans during my pregnancy with LM. This led to quite a large amount of confuusion! I received two letters asking me to book a CMW appointment which I then duly did, I then received my scan appointment... the day before I was due to attend it. This was to take place at a healthcare centre, not the hospital and the letter said 'you must see your CMW before this appointment'. My CMW appointment was booked for ten days later than my scan. Oh dear.

In the end I had my scan and my due date was around ten days later than I was anticipating and I had to return, this time to the hospital, for the nuchal fold test the next week. Still before I had seen my CMW. In the end all was well. I saw my lovely CMW two days after my second scan. We have a group of CMWs in our area so I may not see her again for a little while but I know the other CMWs from previous pregnancies so I'm hoping for no-one else new. I won't see her again until 18 weeks now when, apparently, they won't listen for baby's heartbeat. Again, in previous pregnancies I've seen the CMW at 16 weeks and she's listened in then so that's new too.

I can't help thinking that all of this would have been made a little easier if GPs actually took the time to explain the next step following the 'I'm Pregnant' appointment. The system locally had changed completely in my area since LM's birth and I fell in to the trap of thinking it would be exactly the same as previous pregnancies, which led to masses of confusion.

In myself I've been feeling very tired, as can be expected with two little ones to run around after. I've had the usual nausea, as mentioned earlier, and the accompanying loss of appetite familiar from Bud's pregnancy. I'm pleased to have escaped the physical sickness of LM's pregnancy, in fact I've actually only been sick once this time, it's been close many others though. Based on this I'm wondering if bump might be a boy. I've always struggled to eat well during pregnancy, I simply don't want food, and this time I'm finding cheese, tonic water and rice to be foods that always hit the mark. Citrus fruits are a usual favourite that make the list too.

I've been struggling a little with my back and pelvis pain and I'm starting to think about ways to address that. My SPD was severe in LM's pregnancy and I'd hate to repeat it. I know it's not a given that I will get it again so any ideas to avoid it would be gratefully received!

I've been really pleased with the reception from friends and family. I think there's been a clear split between surprise and a complete lack of surprise! People do say the funniest things when you tell them and I've had more than  few people say 'well, it doesn't matter what this baby is as you've got one of each already' and 'I'd have stopped at two as you have a boy and a girl already'. Thanks for that!

All in all I'm very excited about Baby #3 and really pleased to share this pregnancy with my readers. Here's hoping for a smooth, easy six months!

Christmas DVD Gifts for Kids

12:50 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Regular readers will know what a huge fan of certain shows Bud is and today I'm going to share his top picks for Christmas DVD gifts, if you have children who enjoy the same programmes he does. We've been lucky to receive three of his top picks for Christmas this year and these would make great stocking fillers to bring a smile on Christmas morning.

Thomas & Friends: Tale of the Brave

The new DVD from the Island of Sodor was released this Summer. We caught it at the cinema then and Bud loved every second of it. The new adventure sees a huge storm hit Sodor and Thomas uncover something rather unusual when he is working in the stone quarry. This discovery leads to Percy and Thomas being forced to confront their fears, which engine's bravery is this the tale of? Which engine will learn a valuable lesson? And what mystery is lurking in the quarry?

There are a few new characters introduced in Tale of the Brave which include Marion, a self-propelled steam shovel, Timothy, an oil-powered engine and Gator (Bud's favourite) an unusually shaped engine, visiting from the mainland.

This is a really welcome addition to Bud's Thomas collection and it's been a real hit since it arrived on DVD last week. He's loved having the chance to watch the film again and re-familiarise himself with some of the new characters who might be arriving in Take n Play form from Father Christmas next month.

Thomas & Friends: Tale of the Brave has an RRP of £12:99 and is available from all usual stockists. It's currently on sale for just £7:00 at Amazon.

Mike the Knight: Journey to Dragon Mountain

We were really lucky to be invited to visit Warwick Castle in September to see the launch of Mike the Knight: Journey to Dragon Mountain, meet Mike the Knight himself and enjoy lots of fun themed knight activities.

The film is Mike the Knight's first feature length DVD and sees Mike, Evie and their Dad the King team up as 'Team Family Glendragon' to return a stolen crystal to it's dragon guardian. With appearances from many of the Glendragon favourites, including Galahad, Squirt, Sparkie, the Vikings and Gargoyle. The adventure kept Bud on the edge of his seat and some of the songs were very catchy.

There is a really lovely story thread featuring Squirt and his family that we particularly enjoyed and it was great to see the characters develop more fully in an hour long adventure. We've had it on regular rotation on the DVD player in our house and I can guarantee you will find yourself humming the 'Team Family Glendragon' song too.

The RRP for Mike the Knight: Journey to Glendragon is £12:99 but you will find it at Amazon for just £5:00 at the moment.

Fireman Sam: Ocean Rescue

This one isn't a feature length adventure, instead it brings together six of the ocean themed episodes from the most recent series of Fireman Sam. There have been some new additions to Pontypandy in this series - the Ocean Rescue Centre, a new coastguard - Ben - and two new vehicles - Juno the Jet Ski and Titan the Rescue Boat and they all feature strongly in this DVD. Of course, all of your child's favourite Fireman Sam characters are back too.

Our full review of the DVD can be seen here - Fireman Sam: Ocean Rescue DVD - as well as our review of the Ocean Rescue Centre Playset. The two would make a fabulous Christmas gift for any little Fireman Sam fan.

Fireman Sam: Ocean Rescue is available from all usual stockists and Amazon.

Which DVDs do your children have on their Christmas lists?

Chocolate: The ultimate Christmas gift

11:02 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Whether it’s the coin variety hung from a Christmas tree or a luxury box­ full given as a gift there's no doubt that chocolate is ubiquitous during the festive season. Christmas and chocolate go together like the proverbial holly and ivy, and there’s a reason why this is such an appreciated gift.

Chocolate Yule Log

Image by Cross Duck, shared under a Creative Commons Licence
The Feel-­good Christmas Gift

Dark chocolate has the ability to improve your mood and help your body to combat disease. It contains an antioxidant called resveratrol, which increases the brain’s endorphin and serotonin levels giving us a slight mood boost and it can also raise the serotonin levels in your stomach, thus helping your immune system. So if you’re giving some chocolate to a loved one this year you’re also helping to keep them healthy and free from Winter bugs; as long as they don’t overdo their daily one ounce intake that is!

A Gift for Everyone

There’s not many people who don’t enjoy a piece of chocolate now and again, even if it’s only on special occasions. But Christmas is, of course, a time to indulge your sweet tooth no matter what
age you are. Children love receiving selection boxes and chocolate figures of snowmen or Santa,
while opening that advent calendar to reveal a sweet treat in the run up to Christmas is a long-
standing tradition. The great thing about chocolate is everyone has their favourite, which means that you can splash out on chocolate personalised gifts this Christmas for that extra wow factor.

The Luxury Option
Those luxury boxes of chocolates made by the experts in countries such as Switzerland and Belgium may cost a little extra but it will be reflected in the taste. Most of the major stores will stock luxury brands; gift sets including a bottle of champagne are a nice touch as a thoughtful present. Try out a nice glass of wine with some of those fruit­ infused cocoa treats to bring out the flavour, especially those fortified sweet wines and ports.

Make Your Own Festive Treats
Chocolate is also the perfect ingredient when baking cakes, brownies or desserts. The cooking variety is inexpensive and can be used to make popular cakes such as spiced chocolate cake and  fruit cakes as well as puddings with syrup, home­made truffles and delicious white chocolate chip fudge. You can even buy gluten ­free cooking chocolate with no added sugar, which is ideal for making cakes for people with special dietary requirements.

Sales of chocolate soar over the festive period and it’s not hard to see why. This inexpensive but delicious foodstuff is a staple of the Christmas holidays, that is, until those pesky New Year’s resolutions start knocking at the door.

Partnered Post

Three is the Magic Number - An Announcement

12:00 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

We have a little announcement to reveal. If you go back through my archive you'll see lots of posts talking about how our little family was complete and that LM would be our final baby. Well, over the Summer Ian and I started to talk about... maybe... not being done.

So, it seems that fate definitely agreed with us as, within a couple of weeks of deciding that we might like to have a third baby, this happened.

Baby #3 Scan Photo

Baby #3 is due in May. We're very excited.  We haven't told Bud and LM yet. Bud because he'll ask endless questions and expect 'today to be the day' for the next seven months. LM is still too little to understand although we will be breaking the news, probably after Christmas and sharing lots of books and stories about the new baby being on the way. 

I'm now almost thirteen weeks pregnant. The first trimester was hard with constant nausea although I managed to escape the sickness that was so debilitating during LM's pregnancy.  The tiredness has been overwhelming this time and I've had to slow down a little. 

The problems I had following LM's birth mean that I'm deemed 'high risk' for this delivery and I won't get the water births I have had for my previous two children. I have a meeting with my consultant in January.

I stopped blogging when I was pregnant with LM but that won't be happening this time. I'm really looking forward to recording and sharing this pregnancy with all of you. It's and exciting time!

Christmas Shopping with Tesco Clubcard Boost and Win

22:30 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

If you're a regular Tesco shopper you'll have noticed that Clubcard Boost is currently underway. For those not in the know, this is a way of doubling up on your Clubcard vouchers to make them go further and get more for your money in the run up to Christmas. 

Clubcard Boost

The departments taking part this year are:

  • Toys and Bikes
  • Christmas trees, Lights and Decorations
  • Gaming
  • Clothing
  • Health and Beauty Gift Sets
  • Phones and Accessories
  • Electricals
  • Cook, Dine and Home
  • Opticians
  • hudl2 Tablets and hudl Accessories
With more departments across the store involved this year it's very easy to use your Clubcard vouchers to get that Christmas shopping off to a great start..

Tesco have asked me to look at the Clubcard Boost departments and choose a gift for an 'awkward to buy for' person on my shopping list this Christmas. So I've chosen my oldest nephew. He's in his early 20s and we generally just give him money and chocolate but I thought I'd use the Tesco Clubcard Boost to see if I could track down something more interesting this year!

He's a big gamer so I took a look at the Gaming section of Tesco Direct and I'm thinking a game like The Elder Scrolls Online might be a game for him to keep him interested for a while. It's currently reduced to £37. Clubcard Boost means that you can exchange £5 of vouchers for £10 for use on the featured departments so I could use £20 of Clubcard Vouchers to buy the game which would leave me with £3 left to buy him these funky Food Socks.

What do you think?


I've teamed up with Tesco to give one of my readers the chance for a Clubcard Boost of their very own! One lucky winner will receive a nice little new year bonus of 500 Clubcard Points.

To enter the giveaway simply complete the Glean widget below. The blog post comment is compulsory and will unlock a range of additional options. Please read the terms and conditions.

Clubcard Boost

Win competitions at

Fireman Sam: Ocean Rescue DVD

13:35 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Bud loves Fireman Sam and the adventures of the Welsh fireman with his friends in Pontypandy are very familiar to us. He has quite a collection of toys and DVDs but was very excited to see that a brand new Fireman Sam DVD focusing on a new area for the team is now available. Fireman Sam: Ocean Rescue focuses on the new Pontypandy Ocean Rescue Centre and introduces a brand new character - Ben the Coastguard and two new vehicles - Titan the Rescue Boat and Juno the Jet Ski.

The new DVD features six water themed episodes:
  • All at Sea
  • Whale Watch
  • The Pontypandy Cup
  • Turtle Hunt
  • The Treasure Trap
  • Stage Fright
The full DVD is just over an hour long and you can choose to watch an episode at a time or 'play all'. Having any little fans of the show you might struggle to go for the single episode option! 

Featuring all of the usual Fireman Sam characters you will see Norman get up to his usual tricks in Turtle Hunt when he and Mandy go in search of a rare turtle. In All at Sea Mike goes out alone to set some fireworks, they accidentally go off all at once What could possibly go wrong?

Bud was quite familiar with the Ocean Rescue Centre and Juno as we reviewed the Character Toys Ocean Rescue Centre Playset recently. We haven't caught any of the episodes featuring it yet so the DVD was the perfect 'on screen' introduction to it for him.

Fireman Sam: Ocean Rescue is available from all usual stockists with an RRP. Currently Amazon have it for the bargain price of £5:99 which makes it the perfect stocking filler for any little Fireman Sam fan this Christmas. It comes highly recommended from Bud!

Disclosure: We received the DVD in exchange for this post. Affiliate link included.

Murder Mystery Whodunnit?

14:19 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Last month I headed out with some of my favourite local bloggers to attend a fantastic Murder Mystery Evening at the Renaissance Hotel, Manchester, with Joe Bloggs Blogger Network and BGO. It was a great opportunity to spend some time with some good friends and do a little sleuthing and mystery solving at the same time.

I've never attended a big Murder Mystery Evening before, although I used to have a friend who hosted them at dinner parties back in the day so I knew roughly how it would work. We were greeted with Prosecco and invited to take our seats at three round tables and, no sooner had we done so, then we were witness to a dramatic scene in which Lord John passed away (rather noisily) and the investigation began.

Murder Mystery Evening

From there onwards we were treated to a really lovely three course meal with some of the nicest beef I've eaten in a long time. The Murder Mystery storyline was maintained through the introduction of a detective and police officer and we were supplied with a range of investigative techniques and suspects, in order to identify the person responsible for Lord John's demise. It all got a little raucous on our table and I'm afraid to say that our investigative techniques left a little to be desired! We got through all the evidence, background checks and witness statements and managed to reach a satisfactory conclusion. I'm pleased to say that we managed to identify the correct suspect but, sadly, couldn't quite work out why they did it. One of the other tables managed to solve the mystery completely so they were declared the winners.

The entire evening was thoroughly enjoyable. The Murder Mystery element was entertaining, even if our table did lose focus a little. The food was lovely and the company was great. It was a much needed evening with some great friends.

Murder Mystery Evening

Thanks to Joe Bloggs and BGO for inviting us all.