As winter has now turned into Spring the year is already whizzing away. If you are already looking forward to the longer days and lighter evening s you might be planning ahead for the bank holiday weekends. I might just be able to help with settling some plans. I have been given the chance to offer a fantastic competition prize for one lucky family to Geronimo 2017. The prizes consists of one family day pass to either Sunday 28th May or Monday 29th May.
Headliners at this years festival Geronimo 2017 include Justin Fletcher, Katy Ashworth, Mr Bloom, Andy Day, Cook and Line, Amazing Arabella and Alex Winters. TIf you haven’t been to Geronimo before then you’ll be surprised at how many live shows and spectacles there are to see. Expect hands on activities including a live circus tent, donkey rides, mobile caving and archery.
Geronimo Festival 2017 moves this year to a new home at Arley Hall. As well as a new home there are also opportunites for onsite camping.
If you fancy winning a family day pass then enter the competition below and keep your fingers crossed! a Rafflecopter giveaway
But don’t worry if you don’t win you can still buy tickets from the Geronimo website here so you don’t miss out on the fun.
Ticket Prices: Day tickets start for £25pp/ A two day pass is £39pp/ A three-day pass is £55pp/ A weekend camping pass with ticket to the festival is £60pp
T&C’s: The competition closes on 19/04/17. We have one family one day pass to giveaway. Each pass admits 4 people, one person in the group must be aged over 18 (NB children under the age of 2 years do not require a ticket). The winning family can attend either 28th May or 29th May. Travel and accommodation are not included. The prize is non-refundable and no cash alternative will be offered. The prize is non transferable and ID will be required at time of collecting the ticket wristband upon arrival. Prize includes all events included with a standard ticket at Geronimo but not food and drink from any stalls or bar. Winner chosen at random using rafflecopter and contacted within 48 hours of competition close via email. If winner does not contact myself within 72 hours of winning email being sent then the competition will be redrawn and new winner identified.
Now you might be wondering why Legoland Discovery Centre is having a launch. If you live in the Northwest area you’ll probably realise that Legoland Discovery Centre has been there for many years already. Even a fantastic place like Legoland Discovery Centre needs a facelift every so often!
This week we were kindly invited down to a VIP launch night for Legoland Discovery Centre. Keen showcase it fabulous attractions including the new Lego Ninjago City adventure.
As existing Merlin Annual Pass holders, we have been regulars visitors to the Legoland Discovery Centre. We live quite close so are lucky that we can pop in frequently. The Legoland Discovery Centre can be found at Barton Square (part of the Trafford Centre).
You may think that the attraction being based at a shopping centre wouldn’t be that big but you’d be wrong. You initially enter via the ground floor but are quickly directed upstairs and through the Lego factory tour where Professor Brick explains all about how lego is made. This is possibly my eldest favourite part, he knows it word for word he’s been through that many times. He still always wants to watch though. I won’t describe the whole process as I don’t want to spoil it for your first visit!
Once through the factory the first thing you will come across is the Lego Ride. It’s a good idea to ride it at this point. Although you can go back once inside the main area the children probably won’t want to leave!
This is the first time we’ve been back to Legoland Discovery Centre since the fantastic refurb and the boys were impressed. A whole new soft play area. The previous one was looking tired and a change is always great. It’s now Ninjago themed with a great ballpool area.
We were also surprised to see a moving climbing wall has been installed too, this looks like great fun.
The other thing thats been updated is the cafe. Previously the cafe offered a range of sandwiches, sweet treats and drinks. With an eating area just adjacent to the cafe.
Theres a new seating area too which looks much nicer than the older picnic bench style seating.
We were very glad to see that old favourites were still there, the go kart ride and the wizard ride as well as the build and race area.
And one of the boys favourite the 4D cinema!
New attractions alongside the new play area also include a Creative Workshop and a Circus area. We didn’t get chance to do either on the launch night as we ran out of time. The play area really did keep their attention for quite a while!
Of course any day out wouldn’t be complete with a visit to the gift shop and as you’d expect the Legoland Discovery Centre shop is floor to ceiling lego. With something for every budget you’re sure to find so the right thing to come home with to remember your trip.
Thanks to Legoland Discovery Centre for inviting us down to see the new attractions, we’ll be back soon!
The Legoland Discovery Centre does get busy at weekends and school holidays so I’d advise you to book online to guarantee entry. Prices start from just £11 per child and £15 per adult when purchased in advance online. For more information and to buy tickets, please visit the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre website.
This weekend the boy and I were invited to an event hosted by Online Golf promoting children to play golf.
Now golf is not something I’d ever thought was a children sport. I suppose for one reason is that I don’t know anyone that plays golf in our close family. The other reason I hadn’t really considered golf was that I presumed it was an expensive sport.Due to this I also thought that golf would be a difficult sport for children to play.
Well I was wrong on all counts!
Didn’t even realise that you could buy golf bags and clubs in so many different sizes!
The smallest one there was for 3-4 year olds. I wanted it just to display but then I love miniature versions of normal sized things!
Clearly I had preformed ideas about golf that were just wrong.
We had an afternoon of fun with some pro coaches trying out all sorts of different shots.
In small groups we got to rotate around the different practice areas. The pictures can do the talking for most of the post. Therefore I don’t want to do golf a disservice and use the wrong words to explain what Thomas was taught to do.
To me there was hitting hard, medium and gently. To a pro golfer I’m sure they all have names!
He really did enjoy taking part in a sport he’d not tried before. I’ve leave you with a short vlog.
Thanks to Online Golf for inviting us for the afternoon of fun. Golf has clearly made a good impression, this is how I found him not long after we got home!
I think I’d better start looking for a golf club locally that offers child lessons!
The official video from the day can be viewed here also!
My picture this week, isn’t a beautiful shot. It isn’t something stunning. It’s not something you’d put on the wall. But it’s a picture I just want to savour. A napping 2 year old after a busy day. In just a few short years he will have grown. In just a few short years theres no way he’d do this anymore. Fast asleep. Totally zonked out. This was only yesterday. After a busy day travelling on steam trains he fell asleep on the way home. He woke briefly as he came into the house, only to fall back asleep again. I left him for a little while but it was almost bedtime.
Every parents dilemma, a nap near bedtime. I tried to wake him by putting on his pyjamas. He wasn’t for waking. I carried him upstairs and put him to bed. He still asleep now. Fingers tightly crossed he stays that way all night. A sleeping baby (well he’s a toddler I suppose) is just so innocent. I just want to kiss his face and feel his breath on my face. I love him so dearly.
Unless I’m working on a project in the house I’m not happy. Recently I decided I’d like a chalkboard wall to write and draw on. Something I can constantly change to suit the season or celebration. First though I had to find the right wall to paint. Now this project made me more nervous than most. After all I was about to paint a wall black! What if I didn’t like it?
I needed to pick a wall that wasn’t too big, but big enough to fit all my doodles on. Somewhere I could see it everyday. Somewhere that was quite well lit. A black wall is going to be pretty dark so needs good lighting to work.
I chose a wall immediately facing the front door in the hall. I’ve only just painted the hall white, so to paint this wall black seemed a little daunting!
It took a while to chose the right chalk paint too. I looked at lots of different brands and the reviews of them. I ended up deciding on using this one from Amazon. You can find it here.
After the paint arrived I had to decide exactly how far to extend the paint, I umm’d and ahh’d about painting above the door. I eventually decided not to and used some masking tape to mark off the areas I didn’t want to paint.
Step by Step Guide
One masked off I started work on the painting, I used a brush rather than a roller as the paint was quite thin. Not like usual wall paint. A dollar would simply splash it everywhere. With a brush I could better control the flow and direction to. The chalkboard paint is also very fast drying so you can’t go over the area many times, you have to move on quickly.
I also covered the stairs with a sheet taped to the wall. The white square on the wall is where the Hive thermostat clips on. I clipped it off to paint, which is a great feature. After the first coat I decided that some areas looked a little patchy so I gave it a second coat. Left it to fully dry then carefully removed the masking tape. This is what it looked like when all that was done.
At this point I needed to use a tiny paint brush and touch up the very edges by the stairs. I carefully masked over the carpet and touched up the edges. Once all that was done I had to prime the surface. You do this by taking a regular white chalk and rubbing it sideways onto the chalkboard surface. Once it is all covered you will need a soft cloth to gently rub it all in. This part can be messy and I had to vacuum up all the dust from the bottom of the wall after I was finished priming the surface.
Now it was time for the creative fun to really begin!
The Fun Part
I started at the top of the wall. Taking inspiration from the internet, my bullet journal and of course Pinterest!
Anyone who knows us ,will know hat we are big Disney fans in our home. So we defiantly had to incorporate disney on our wall.
Slowly but surely I spent the next couple of days adding doodles here and there as I thought of them.
The coffee sign is pointing to the kitchen and a nod to hubby’s love of coffee and his very own coffee station!
The Finished Project
A few days later I was happy with the effort I’d put in. I know it will change seasonally and whenever I want to update it but for now I’m saying project complete!
Finally after a year and a half countdown! Neither of us could believe it the day had arrived, we were off to board our first ever Thomas Cook flight. We were going to Walt Disney World!
As a family we have been to Florida lots of times but have only ever flown Virgin Atlantic. We have also flown to the east coast of America with Virgin Atlantic. In addition I have flown to New York with BA. So this was our first time flying Thomas Cook airlines. I had read lots and lots of reviews of Thomas Cook, some good some bad but as the flight was cheaper than Virgin Atlantic we wanted to make up our own minds. Thats the thing with the internet, people tend to only take the time to put up bad reviews rather than good ones so when you do research things bare that in mind.
We booked the flight direct with Thomas Cook website. The prices were good for travel to Orlando but not so great for the return leg so we booked each leg separately. Knowing we had an out flight booked was important to us. We also upgraded to the Premium Class cabin. The upgrade included a larger luggage allowance, more legroom, larger cabin luggage and premium menu.
Just a few months after we had booked I had an email to say the time of the flight had changed. I wasn’t best pleased with this as we been persuaded to fly Thomas Cook by the fact the time pretty much matched that of Virgin Atlantic. We like to arrive in Orlando with enough time not to rush off to bed once checked in to the hotel. There was nothing I could do about it now, we just had to accept that we were now flying at 12:55 instead of 10am.
So on the morning of our travel day we packed up the car and headed to Manchester Airport. We had booked parking at the airport where you pretty much park at the terminal (or just a short walk) and the company move your car whilst your gone. The massive advantage to this as parents of young children is that there is no transfer to contend with. So no bus to board, literally just unload the car onto an airport trolley and walk into the terminal.
We seemed to have lots of luggage but we were taking carseats as well as a double buggy.With loaded luggage trolley we headed to the check in desk. As we were flying in the premium cabin there were dedicated check in desks with shorter queues (a massive plus when with young children!) So with little delay we checked in and were directed to the special assistance lane for wheelchair as we had a double buggy. I couldn’t see what the other security lanes were like but the one we used was minimal.
I would never ever complain about the size of a security lane anyway, so long as everyone is being kept safe I’d rather just wait our turn.
Unfortunately we were stopped for a bag search as the security people couldn’t identify a strange shape in our suitcases, it turned out to be the Dobble game (which by the way is a great family fun game!) The guy who did the search was really nice and soon we were on our way through to the shops and restaurants. We’d decided ahead of time we wanted to get bruch in Giraffe. Giraffe is only available in terminal 1 at Manchester airport so we were lucky that it was our terminal!
We were quickly seated by the window with no wait, the boys loved it as they got to watch the aeroplanes whilst eating breakfast!
The babychinnos went down well!
Hubby had the Huevos Rancheros which he said was really good and I had the pancake stack. We were after all heading to the land of pancake breakfasts! The pancakes were ok, I just kinda thought there might be more too them. The boys had some porridge.
Thomas Cook Flight
After breakfast we had a wander around the shops in the terminal until our gate was announced. At boarding time we went to find our gate and get settled into our seats. As we were in premium economy we were offered arrival drinks as we sat down. The boys had some orange juice.
They were also impressed with the little children’s amenity pack that was on their seats too.
Settling In – Thomas Cook
Everyone settled into the flight and I tried to engage the smallest with some entertainment. I was impressed with the drinks service, we were on our holidays after all!
I can’t remember how far into the flight it was that the meals came. The children were served first which bought me enough time before my meal to open theirs.
He had meatballs and pasta, which came with cheese and crackers and a dessert.
The fig compete with the cheese was so nice (it came with my meal too, I didn’t steal his!)
I don’t really like meat so I didn’t try the meatballs but the eldest said they were yummy!
The meals in Premium class Thomas Cook airlines are designed by James Martin. James Martin is a celebrity chef famous for amongst other things Saturday kitchen. For my meal I chose the vegetarian option of Roasted Sussex Charmer Gnocchi with Lemon and Caper cream. It was by far the nicest airline meal I have every eaten. Now I need to mention at this point I’ve eaten lots of airline food and this far exceeded my expectations, which was a pleasant surprise!
I enjoyed it so much I forgot to take a photograph of it open! I actually want to eat it again now that I’m writing about it.
The flight from Manchester to Orlando is usually around 9 hours long. Which is a long time for little people. Thankfully the mix of entertainment on board, and toys I had brought with me was enough to keep them going (mostly!). One of my top tips for long flights with children is to go to a local pound shop and spend £5-£10 on toys. That way you can open a new toy every hour (cars, colouring etc) and just get rid of them before you leave the plane. It certainly keep my two entertained. They love getting something new every hour to play with!
Sometime later we were served an ice cream to enjoy with the film. This again was amazing, really really creamy ice cream. Far exceeding my expectations for airline food. It was Raspberry ripple and Devonshire cream.
The views from an aeroplane window still astound me. It is simply stunning to be able to see the clouds from above. The world really is an amazing place.
A few hours again had passed and we really were getting excited to be getting closer to Orlando. So far Flixster hadn’t had a sleep. I could tell he was getting tired but is not one for napping! Just as he was starting to get restless the afternoon tea appeared! There were little sandwich rolls, a scone, some jam and cream. We weren’t particularly that hungry but we enjoyed it and knew that we may not eat again today so it was a welcome break in the flight. Again Thomas cook premium really was living up to its name.
Just before landing we spotted this awesome thunder cloud, which I know isn’t unusual in the hot and humid climate of Florida, but it was great to see from the air!
I have a love hate relationship with the sky maps on aeroplanes. On one hand I love seeing where we are in the world but on a long flight it reminds you there are sill hours to go!
It was fun for the boy to be able to see how big America is though, and where we were in the world.
Sure enough true to predictions as the seat belt signs were switched on for landing, this one crashed out. An early morning followed by a 9 hour flight had really taken it out of him. He slept all the way through landing and clearing customs. Thank goodness I’d brought a carrier so I wore him on my front all the way through the airport. I don’t know what I would have done without the carrier it was a god send.
The only thing I would say about Thomas Cook was that when the plane had landed and the airbridge was connected there was no organisation about how to get off the plane. As there was only one door the premium and economy passengers were all pushing and shoving to get off. I don’t mind when I get off but it was like a crush to get through the door and families were getting separated. Then stopping by the other side of the door to catchup which was causing more delays. Perhaps there could be a little better organisation at exit. My experience of other airlines is that first class and premium exit first then the economy class so that people aren’t causing a crush at the door.
We made our way smoothly through customs (you are not allowed to take pictures there) and waited for our baggage. The wait was quite long but it finally all our bags were there.
Disney’s Magical Express
As we were staying on Disney property we made full use of the Disney Magical Express service to get to our hotel. It meant we could just head straight to our bus without having to pick up a hire car or drive ourselves. You do have to prebook the Disney Magical Express but it is a free service!
Once on the Magical express we could truly relax. We knew from that point onwards we were in the care of Disney and we were on our holidays!
My eldest watches quite a few different youtube videos and enjoys them. When we were recently sent some Num Noms to play with he wanted to do his own version of an unboxing video. So here it is his first official youtube debut for my blog!
I think he was a bit nervous to begin with but he soon settled into it!
Spring is on the way! Ok well it might not feel like it but if the daffodils are anything to go by and they usually know their stuff then it’s only around the corner. With spring brings the promise of bank holiday weekends too.
If you are starting to think about family time and weekend getaways then look no further than the fabulous Geronimo family festival! This year it takes place on the late May bank holiday. The dates are 27th-29th May.
This year its in a new home at Arley Hall estate in Northwich, Cheshire. With a great opportunity to spend the weekend together enjoying the spirit of family time.
Last year was our first time at Geronimo and we came away wanting more. You can read about our adventures here. This year for the first time Geronimo is also offering the option to camp! With a whole host of options families can either bring their own tent, caravan or motor home or book one of Geronimos’ range of accommodation. These include Bedouin tents and Tangerine tents available to suit families no matter what their size!
The theme of this year’s event is Princesses, Knights and Dragons families are welcome to dress up and join in the fun.
If you’ve got preschoolers then they are bound to love watching the stars of CBeebies on stage, famous faces such as Justin Fletcher, Mr Bloom (one for the mums!) and the stars of swashbuckle will all be there. Geronimo family festival caters for children of all ages!
For families that love music the music offering is second to none and includes the Voodoo Love Orchestra, Manière des Bohémiens an energetic and improvised Django Reinhardt, Stephane Grappelli influenced Gypsy Jazz and Eastern European swing and Mr Wilson Second Liners – a New Orleans meets 90s club classics…a rave funeral without the body!
There is just so much going on this year at Geronimo you would be mad not to book while the second tier pricing is still available! Head to the official Geronimo website found here to book tickets and get the date in the diary!
HOMELESS BOOTH CENTRE ARTISTS LAUNCH POP UP ART EXHIBITION
This week, the Renaissance Manchester City Centre Hotel has handed over their Discovery shelves to the art group from the Booth Centre. The group of artists who are currently homeless, or who have recently experienced homelessness, have created some amazing pieces to share their view of ‘Travel’ through a new pop up art exhibition.
Each artist contributing to the exhibition, is working with the Booth Centre whose core aim it is to bring about positive change in the lives of people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and helps them plan for and realise a better future.
They do this by providing advice to find accommodation, education, training and help to secure employment, free healthy meals, support in tackling issues with health and addiction, and creative activities to boost confidence and self-esteem.
Danny Collins, a former homeless artist exhibiting this week, added: “Rough sleeping is tough, I was on the streets for four years after suffering from post-traumatic stress having left the army. I just couldn’t settle once I left which eventually resulted in my homelessness. I’d first tried the art class when I joined the Booth Centre. I had never painted before. I find it relaxing and enjoy getting involved. It really helped to build my confidence.”
For the exhibition, Danny decided to paint a bridge he used to sleep under when he was homeless. Danny adds; “It seemed fitting to go back to the start of my journey and my corner of Manchester that for four years was home as a rough sleeper.”
Amy Hinks, Development Manager at the Booth Centre, added; “Danny is now in his own accommodation which he’s in the process of decorating. Our regular art workshops help people with experience of homelessness to develop their skills and confidence, and to make steps towards embracing new opportunities like getting their own flat or moving on to employment. Working in partnership with the Renaissance Hotel has enabled our artists to showcase their work in a very public space which they’re all really proud of.”
Anyone interested in seeing the art can find the pop up exhibition at the Renaissance Manchester City Centre Hotel (Blackfriars Street, Manchester, England, M3 2EQ) this week from 6th to 12th Feb, 2017.
Marriott and Renaissance hotels have an ongoing programme to support its local communities. In 2016 this included projects to develop local play areas, training and skills sharing projects for those in search of a job; as well as events and partnerships with variety of charities and organisations supporting the homeless around Manchester.
Cameron Mcneillie, General Manager at Renaissance Manchester City Centre Hotel said; “The hotel has always been such a big part of Manchester’s identity and we feel it’s important to keep giving back to charities and projects such as the Booth Centre which help the most vulnerable communities across Manchester.”
Amy Hinks from the Booth Centre adds; “This month the official statistics were released highlighting that the number of rough sleepers in Greater Manchester has increased by 41%, and this is only a snap shot of the real figure. Without the support from companies like the Manchester Renaissance hotel, we wouldn’t be able to help as many people as we have this year. It is vital that we all work together to support the growing number of homeless people in our community, especially during the cold winter months. We’d like to thank the Renaissance Hotel for their commitment and support.”
This Saturday just gone it was preview weekend for the Lego Batman Movie. So we headed out to our local cinema to treat the boys to a morning out! We went for a morning showing , hoping that we won’t ruin any adults who may also what to watch (the Flixster doesn’t always sit still or quietly!)
We needn’t have worried though he was great throughout the film. He’s still only 2 but will mostly sit though a film. Especially when its something he likes.
The combination of Lego and Batman had both of the boys captivated. I say both I should say all, since hubby liked it too!
If you like action (in the form of lego action) then this is most definitely a film you will enjoy. I laughed quite a lot too. Given that I don’t normally go for action films I have to say it was a good watch! There are quite a few adult jokes, I’m not talking rude panto style innuendo , I mean jokes that adults will laugh along with.
Thomas most defiantly enjoyed it. Having not spoken all the way through he was sucked into the whole movie. It is quite long for a lego film (at almost 2 hours – 110 minutes I think) however the plot line moves quickly along and in no time it was already the credits so you’re not sat there hoping it would end soon.
I think it will be one the boys want to buy on blu-ray when it comes out, just like the original lego movie they loved it!
In short if you like lego and batman go watch the film. Its out on general release from this Friday 10th February.