This past weekend we were invited to an event run by TheHut.com in Manchester at Artisan kitchen and bar in Spinningfields which is one of my favourite areas of Manchester. This is a link to the hut’s website.

TheHut.com Summer Fun

As we are so fond of Spinningfields and the weather was so nice, we arrived early so we could have a nice walk around and enjoy the sunshine. Theres always something to look at in that area of Manchester and even the boys love exploring to see whats changed and whats new.

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I wasn’t sure what to expect as I’d not shopped with thehut.com before. I had heard of the company but I am not familiar with what they sell. The invitation was extended to family’s so I was hoping the boys would be kept entertained while I got a chance to look at the products.

On arrival we were greeted by this site, which was very welcome on such a hot day.

the hut

The boys enjoyed some soft drinks whilst I indulged in a glass of prosecco, it’s not often I get to drink whilst we are out as I’m usually driving so I jumped at the chance to have a small glass since I wouldn’t be driving home!

The juices looked so refreshing!

The boy made a beeline for the games and spotted a Disney version of Monopoly. He loves monopoly although his attention span isn’t very long so he plays his own made up version most of the time.

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Being a Disney mad family this is perfect for us and is on our ‘wish list’ now. I loved the details of the game, the playing pieces were just so lovely and intricate. Daddy tried to explain the rules again to him but often it’s just best to go with the flow and try to follow his own made up rules!

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While he was busy with the game Flixster spotted the Ninky Nonk (if you haven’t got young children this is a vehicle from a television show called In the Night Garden) and was very happy to spend a long time just pushing it around and playing with it.

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Perfect conditions for Mummy to indulge in a little browsing. The tables were set out with various different items and my first call had to be to the shoes, a little passion of mine although I haven’t been able to indulge in a while.

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I love the Vivenne Westwood ladies shoes, shame they weren’t my size but a fellow blogger did try them on and exclaim how comfortable they were (jealous!) We are already converse fans in our house so I was interested in the Superga shoes as I think they’d be much easier than laces for the boys whilst we are on holiday. If only I had a girl for the pink converse too!

Homeware from thehut.com

The other things I spotted were some lovely housewares (yes I know I should like an old person when in my head I’m still an 18 year old running wild!) These Calvin Klein towels would defiantly be kept for best and not rolled out with the regular pile the kids are ill! (yes everyone has those don’t they!) They are just so soft, if only I could have an adult only (no make that women only) bathroom.

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The clothes too looked lovely, in particular I had my eye on this Boss top, so floaty and summery it has to be on the wish list from thehut.com, I can see it being worn with some lovely skinny jeans and heels and a statement necklace.

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I was genuinely surprised at the range that thehut.com stock, I’ve since had a look at the website and there’s loads more choice on there too. They currently have a voucher on the website for 15% off for new customers so I’ll be making use of that myself. If you spend over £20 p&p is free and if the total is over £50 then next day delivery is included at no additional cost (I’m an impatient person so this is a nice bonus for me!)

I was genuinely surprised at the diverse amount of products that thehut.com sell and have enjoyed browsing through the website, there’s definitely a fair few things added to our family wish list.

My favourite thing though about thehut.com event apart from the chance to get my hands on some fabulous products was the chance to have a little family time together in a lovely surrounding on a sunny day and being able to chat to other lovely blog writers and hopefully make some new friends!

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We can not wait to attend Geronimo this year, having never been before every time I read a new announcement it makes me more excited!

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This week Geronimo have announced that as well as all the children’s favourite already announced you will also be able to look out for Luke & Emma, Clangers and My Little Pony who will be joining in the fun at the festival. This is alongside children favourites Mr Bloom, Andy Day, Alex Winters and Cook & Line from Swashbuckle! Geronimo is shaping up to be a fabulous family even aimed at children aged under 12 and tickets are on sale now priced £25.  Children under the age of two go free!

To find out further information and buy tickets visit the Geronimo website by clicking here but if you want to enter to win a family ticket for Tatton Park on 30th May enter below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

T&C’s: The competition closes on 29/04/16. We have one family 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 May 30th (Tatton Park). 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. The prize includes all events and activities at Geronimo but not food and drink from any stalls or bar. Winner chosen at random.

I’m so excited that we’ve been invited to be an ambassador for Geronimo Festival 2016. If you haven’t heard of Geronimo and you’ve got children aged 12 years old or under then you need to keep reading! Geronimo Festival is back this year bigger and better than before and the best news is that it’s now has two different venues. Geronimo Festival 2016 is a family event focused on quality family time, something I’m always trying to create more of, so our boys can have some wonderful childhood memories to carry with them for the rest of their lives.

First Time at Geronimo Festival

This year will be our first time at Geronimo and after hearing and reading so much about last years event I honestly can’t wait to attend and take the boys for some family fun. The two venues this year are Harewood House, just outside Leeds on May 1st and 2nd, and Tatton Park in Cheshire on May 29th and 30th. Both venues are home to two of England’s fantastic visitor attractions and have wonderful woodland areas which will be the backdrop to Geronimo Festival. The festival itself will be an exciting array of acts, amazing experiences and wonderful adventures. Our boys will be 2 and 4 years old when we attend Geronimo and from the line up I think my 4-year-old may just explode with excitement! I’m not telling him until nearer the time that we’re going as I can’t face weeks and weeks of ‘Is it Geronimo yet? Is it Geronimo yet?’ (repeat!)

I think one of the things he’ll be most excited about is Cook and Line from Swashbuckle. He absolutely loves watching Swashbuckle on Cbeebies and is always asking me if he can go on the show (I can’t break his heart and tell him no so I usually just say ‘maybe one day’) His other favourites will be at Geronimo too, Mr Bloom is going to be appearing at the Geronostage Zone so that ‘tiddlers’ can pop along and listen to some veggie stories or play gardening games. Andy Day (from Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures) will be performing his Dino Rap show and Alex Winters (from CBeebies) will be hosting the main stage each day.

When I looked at the information on the Geronimo website I did wonder how they could possibly make the Library Zone exciting but it might not be as dull as I thought, it’s actually going to have dance classes with Bollywood, Zumba as well as a gigantic drumming session. I know a certain 2-year-old who loves dancing! We’ll defiantly be joining in there.

There’s just so much to look forward to at Geronimo this year that I’m going to be writing a series of posts in the build up to the festival as more and more of the exciting line up is announced.

Tickets for Geronimo

Tickets for the festival start at just £18.50 and can be bought on the Geronimo website, it seems like a fantastic price for a full days entertainment and fun and if you’re taking under 2’s along they get in free! I was gutted after last years to have missed it, so I’m really looking forward to it this year and can’t wait to blog about it in the build up to the Geronimo Festival!

 

Geronimo Festival 2016

Last night we were invited to the opening of Winter Wonderland Manchester 2015! It is in the huge exhibition space at Eventcity next to the Trafford Centre. I had been last year for a nosey around to see what it was like but didn’t take the children, so I knew what to expect and knew the boy would love it. I certainly wasn’t wrong!

The entrance built the excitement for the rest of the evening, the pretend snow was a hit with both boys and the grand sign certainly looked the part!

Winter Wonderland Manchester

 

 

Winter Wonderland Manchester

The boy was practically dragging us over the entrance to get inside. It is advertised as the UK’s largest indoor theme park and it certainly is big. I believe there are over 40 rides. I’d say about 75% of the rides at Winter Wonderland Manchester are for younger children between about 4 and 12. There are some for the older ones but not too many. The boys seemed the perfect age to get the most out of the evening.

Winter Wonderland Manchester – The Rides

Winter Wonderland Manchester

Winter Wonderland Manchester

His first ride was teacups which we already know he loves, this one like many of the rides was children only. We enjoyed watching his face light up on each ride, it really was lovely to see!

Winter Wonderland Manchester

Winter Wonderland Manchester

Winter Wonderland Manchester

I have to admit my heart was in my mouth a little when he asked to go on a ginormous inflatable slide. He’s not been on one before and I had imagined I’d be clambering up after him to bring him down when he got to the top and chickened out. I explained that once he was at the top he’d have to come down the slide and he seemed completely up for it. I needn’t have worried, he flew away from us at speed, up the ladder and down the massive slide many times. Way too fast for me to capture a decent photo!

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There were a lot of inflatable attractions, which was great as it meant none of them were crowded and you could usually just get straight on. Some of them were timed so that everyone got a set amount of time but it never seemed too long before he was on for a play.

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Refreshments

As it was an evening session and past the boys bedtime (all be it a Friday night) we didn’t want to stay too long as tears had already happened a couple of times, so we decided to stop for a quick refreshment before finishing the evening with the sooty show and a couple of rides. There is quite a lot of choice, from the usual fairground fare to the more unusual things that you wouldn’t expect like noodles. We had already had dinner earlier in the evening so we just looked for a snack. The boy choose a snowman muffin which I asked to but cut in half for them to share, at £2.50 it certainly wasn’t a cheap snack but I had a nibble and it was pretty tasty. The sugar hit kept him going long enough to have a good end to the evening.

Sooty Show

There were quite a few different shows advertised for the entertainment but the one the boy didn’t want to miss was Sooty, such a classic! It had him laughing out loud with the usual slapstick comedy style. There were lots of children at the front dancing and joining in but it’s not my boys style, he’d much prefer to sit and watch, so that’s exactly what we did.

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Once the show was over I put a limit of two more rides before it was time to leave. He picked a flying balloon ride and one that goes round quite quickly ( I have no other way to describe it!)

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By now it was way past bedtime for both of the boys (Flixster had spent the evening enjoying the lights sounds and attractions from his buggy…oh and half a muffin!!) so tired and happy we headed back home for bed. On the way home the boy asked if we could go again next year. I think that was a resounding hit with him then!

Winter Wonderland is open from now until 3rd January at Eventcity next to the Trafford Centre Manchester. Being at the Trafford Centre theres loads of free parking. The day is split into a morning session and an afternoon session.Each session lasts 4 hours and include all rides, The Sooty Show, the Christmas Circus, a Magic Show and a Meet & Greet with Santa!

Tickets & Prices – Winter Wonderland Manchester EventCity

Adult £19.50
Child (3 – 16) £19.50
Family £64.00
OAP £14.00
Child (Under 3s) Free – Ticket not required

Tickets  to Winter Wonderland Manchester can be booked online here or bought on the door.

 

Dear Boys,

Everything Changes and the world keeps on moving…..

This letter is mainly aimed at you my dear sweet boy, on the eve of your 4th birthday on this wonderful world. So much has come before this day, so many mountains you’ve had to climb and the fun we’ve had sliding down the other side to face the next challenge together. In some ways the last 4 years have been so long but in many and most other ways they have been so very, very short. I cannot remember a time without you in the world, yet just 4 years ago I had not set eyes upon your face yet or smelled the sweetness of your breath of the familiar softness of your touch and the fluffiness of your young hair. I had carried you inside me for 10 months yet didn’t even know you.

Here we are 4 years later and you’ve changed our world for the better. I hope that tomorrow and everyday you realise how loved you are not just by myself and daddy but by the extended wider family too. I hope you realise how your touch the lives of those that you meet with your funny comments and sweet little ways. Each day I can’t wait for you to wake up so you will give me a hug and a kiss so I can tell you how much I love you. The next few months will see changes in all aspects of your little life and I hope that you can easily adapt to everything. I will be by your side each step of the way and together I will guide you through. Next month you start school. Having only just turned 4 you’re still my baby yet are expected to be in school 5 days a week. I hope that you face the challenge head on and settle in quickly, making new friends along the way. I am trying so very hard to keep mentioning how exciting school will be for you but I’m not sure you’ve grasped the concept that it’s everyday for many years to come. I’ll miss you on Mondays and Tuesdays (my days off), I’ll miss your company and how funny you are. I’ll miss how sweet you are with Flixster and how entertained you can keep him while I try to get on with a few housework jobs. He’ll miss you too. His face lights up when you enter the room.

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As we prepare to leave nursery behind and move on to pastures new I hope that your enthusiasts for new things and excitement don’t get lost in a classroom full of your peers. I will however make sure that our weekends really do count; we’ll have family time and do lovely things together even if it’s just picnics in the park and feeding the ducks. I’m looking forward to seeing how you learn and grow at school and will be as involved as I can with your school journey.

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There is another change on the horizon for us as a family too. We are going to be moving house in the next few months. When I explained it to you I wrongly assumed you would understand what that meant but from our conversations since, you were clearly worried about it and didn’t grasp that when you move house you take all your belongings and furniture with you to the next house. One morning you said to me first thing that you didn’t want to move because you loved playing with the ‘Toot toot’ drivers toys with your brother. I felt sad that you’d been worried about it and we had a proper chat about what moving house means. I explained that when you move house you take all your belongings with you as well as the furniture. At random times you now keep questioning me on things that we will be taking.

‘Even Mummy will we take the films?’

‘Yes, we’ll defiantly take the films’

‘Even Mummy will we take the bubble machine, because I really like it?’

‘Oh yes I’ll make sure I pack that’

‘Even Mummy will we take the doors, because I like them?’

‘Errrmm………’

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I’m excited about moving too because the home we are moving too (providing all goes through ok, touch wood, fingers crossed, please universe!) will give you and Flixster much more room to spread out, play and be silly together. The house has everything we ever wanted on our wish list and I can already see that we’ll be very happy there. I can’t wait to make it our home and make many many years of happy memories for you both to carry with you through life once you’ve grown and flown the nest.

As I put you to bed tonight you told me that you’d decided what you’d like for your birthday, I enthusiastically listened, hoping it was something we could source this evening…….you said a parachute. So I’m sorry to let you down and not provide a parachute but you will be getting lots of lovely presents and so much love from us both.

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So’ Happy Birthday’ little man, another year older, another year together, another year of memories have been made.

Please always remember I love you both unconditionally….forever.
Mummy xxxxxx

This past weekend we decided to take a trip as a threesome to Blackpool Pleasure Beach (BPB). As Flixster is still so small my mum kindly looked after him while we went to have some fun with just the boy. The boy rarely gets any mummy and daddy alone time so we thought’s he’d enjoy the attention.
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I subscribe to the BPB newsletter and spotted an offer on tickets so I booked the day before we planned to visit. I booked unlimited ride wristbands for the 3 of us and it came to £51.   I was a little nervous about the weather but as it was the only day we had free this month and rain wasn’t forecast for all the day we wrapped up and took our chances with the weather.

I haven’t been to BPB in a long time, I have fond memories of days out there during my years growing up. I vaguely remember as a small child going in the fun house that was there with my brother and dad. It lately sadly burnt down.

When we arrived we were directed by one of the many staff outside to the ticket office where we could collect our prepaid tickets. We were attended to very quickly and back outside the main entrance within minutes with a map and ticket receipts in hand ready for a day full of fun!

Once through the turnstiles we headed over to the classic Alice in Wonderland ride. I have many pictures on this very bench over the years and this was my first with my own children! I think its a lovely reminder of the day you go to BPB!
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As it was already 11:45 by the time we had been on the Alice ride we made the decision to find some lunch. We are early risers in our house (4:50am in the usual time…yawn!) so an early lunch is normal for us!

A quick look at the map to see what was available and we made our choice to dine at Burger King. The boy has never been to Burger King but just a couple of weeks ago we drove past one and he very reasonably piped up

“Mummy do you have to be a king to eat at Burger King?” I’ve never told him what its called so he read the sign himself. I was so amused by his question that we promised to take him one day and today seemed like the perfect opportunity.
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He was thrilled with his cheese burger ,chips and milk, it came with and I spy book so that pleased him as well. We don’t do fast food often so it was a nice treat.

After fuelling up we were back on our way to the intended destination of Nickelodeon Land! The first ride we came across was The Backyardigans Pirate Treasure. Its a boat ride that spins quite quickly forwards then backwards. The boats go up and down on a track. We hadn’t watched the ride before we jumped on so I told the boy it was slow (he says he doesn’t like fast rides). In all honesty I though it would be quite slow……it wasn’t.

He loved it.

All was fine! He even went straight back on with Daddy!

 

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The next ride we tried was Diego’s Rainforest Rescue. It was little hot air balloons that spin (by hand) and go up in the air. I’m not sure why I don’t have any pictures of that ride. It was fun but made us quite dizzy! So what do you do when you’re already dizzy? Thats right go on another spinning ride……!

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It was the boys choice to go on the Fairy World Taxi Spin next. It had a button which he loved that made the taxi go up and down. After it finshed we were well and truly dizzy and a bit fed up of spinning rides.
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So I took a chance and asked the boy if he fancied the Krusty Krab Order up, its a mini free fall ride. He said he did want to try it. I explained it went up and down quickly about 6 times and it might make his tummy go funny. He was keen to give it a try. I was nervous with this one as he’d been on the frog hopper at Alton Towers last year and didn’t like it. We sat down and got strapped in. He seemed to be fine. The ride started and he was looking the other way, I couldn’t work out how he was so I kept laughing to reassure him it was fun. It turned out he loved it and wanted to go straight back on with Daddy! It was a roaring success!IMG_4073 IMG_4081

The next thing we tried was Dora’s World Voyage, I stayed off this one as I’m not keen on the round boat type rides. Daddy took him on. Daddy came off saying it was a bit boring but the boy seemed to enjoy it.

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As we had done most of the rides that we could now in that area we chatted about getting a snack as it had been some time since lunch and we wanted coffee too! What better snack to have at an amusement park than some doughnuts. We went for a wander and on the way stopped to ride the Wonderpets Big Circus Bounce. The boy was giggling away on this because of the way it bounced up and down. I’m not sure daddy was that thrilled but he smiled all the same!
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On our quest to find doughnuts we can across the big guy himself and his best pal Patrick, we had to stop for photos!IMG_0189_2 IMG_0198_2

After hunting down some coffee and doughnuts to share (the doughnuts not the coffee!) we set out to explore some more of the park. Since I hadn’t been in a very long time (prob over 10 years ago) there have been some changes. There is now a new (well to me anyway) Wallace and Gromit ride. This proved to be a big hit with the boy. The ride vehicles are designed like slippers and you go through various scenes from the Wallace and Gromit shorts and films. It does feel a little disjointed as its not telling a story but the models are well done and theres a few surprises on the way.
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The boy absolutely loved this ride and we ended up going on quite a few times, we even had our picture taken with Gromit outside. He’s not seen most of the Wallace and Gromit films but is familiar with Shaun the Sheep (this has since changed and we’ve watched them all now thanks to Amazon Prime!)

 

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After convincing him to move on, the boys went off to try the cars. The queue seemed short but took ages to get a car as there were only 8 out on the track. I wandered around for a little bit waiting for them to get their turn and returned to watch when they were nearer the front. IMG_4119 IMG_4135

It was nice to watch them out driving together but the boy came back unhappy as there had been some discussion about the pedals or something, that I couldn’t understand! So we quickly moved on to another classic ride the river caves. I remember this from when I used to come in my teenage years. The sign says it was originally built in 1904. It predates the pirates of the caribbean ride in Disney thats for sure!!

IMG_4152Another hit with the boy and again we went on twice!

By now the day was getting colder again and the park was closing. We went back to see if I could have a ride on the new red arrows ride but it had already closed which was a shame as I wanted to try it but maybe some other time!

There was just time to ride the carousel and make our way back to the car. We’d had a ball and the boys hasn’t stopped talking about it since Sunday. He loved it. Anyone who will listen is told about the rides in minute detail. It always surprises me how much he takes on board.

The boy fell asleep in the car on the way home and was pretty much un-wakeable upon arriving home. I had to get him changed and clean his teeth while he was asleep. That is the ultimate sign of a great day out!

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Last weekend was Easter. Four glorious days to spend as a family together. We tried to make the most of the sunshine as well and get out and about. On Easter Sunday itself I went to church with the boys in the morning while hubby stayed at home to get started on a roast dinner for the family. The weather was glorious so we were able to sit outside under the sunsail and eat our yummy lunch. The boy took great delight in serving out to everyone. His portions were questionable with the three peas he put on my plate but he had fun doing it so we let him try! He needs to work on his presentation though, but one thing at a time!

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On the Monday morning I went out with just the boy to the cinema to watch Big Hero 6, I’m not sure what I was expecting but I guess it wasn’t that. The film was ok, not a Disney classic by any means but watchable and he seemed to like it. Not sure I’d want to buy it to add to our collection but we’ll see when it comes out if the boys asks to see it again.

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Cinema Selfie!

In the afternoon we headed out to the Lowry and media city. This area has seen massive redevelopment in the last few years. The Lowry outlet shopping centre itself never used to be a busy place with many empty units but it’s great to see its rise in popularity. Even more so since media city took residence. We had a little wander in the shops before heading outdoors to soak in some sun. We popped over to the Lowry gallery for a quick look at the request of the boy and found a very interesting exhibition by Rafael Gómezbarros called Casa Tomada. It’s a swarm of giant ants, on first glance it did give me a bit of an itch but after being there a little while longer I got used to it. I love it when an exhibition has already been around the world and this one certainly has. Well worth a look.

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Media city was busy with people just enjoying the weather, a bite to eat or a drink. It’s a lovely area and the only thing it was lacking on such a glorious day was an ice cream van selling lovely home made farm ice cream. I would have joined a queue if there had been on there for sure!

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Media city itself there’s not much to see unless you want to look at the Blue Peter garden or watch the giant screen. Although sometimes they do hold special events which are worth a visit on the plaza area. Just inside one of the BBC buildings is a small display of children’s characters, including a seat that makes sounds when you sit on it and a mock up of the Furchester Hotel desk which the boy loved as its one of his favourite shows at the moment on CBeebies.

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We stayed a little while in the garden area to let the boy have a run around and get Flixster out for a bit.

IMG_3453 IMG_3465I forgot the selfie stick so this was the best family shot I got!

I love family time and even when its doing not very much at all it’s still lovely to be together, the sun makes everything seem all that more exciting.

 

As its half term this week all my baby groups and regular activities are off so instead of spending the week cooped up indoors which is hard work with children, today I arranged to meet a friend who has a similar age baby to Flixster at a garden centre local to me. The garden centre is called Bents and is well-known in the north-west area. I haven’t been for a few months and was surprised when I arrived to see that its undergoing a massive transformation and expansion. I’m not sure when the expected completion date is but it’s looking great so far. Bents is well-known for its fabulous must see Christmas displays and I know that the countdown to Christmas has really started once Bents put out their displays.
As I arrived at Bents I also noticed that they have put in a new large roundabout to improve access to the car park. It’s made it far easier to get in and out of the newly expanded car park. Although its half term and extremely busy I headed towards the back of the car park and easily found somewhere to park. We’d arranged to meet for lunch at the cafe as it has a fab reputation locally as great place to eat. The queue was quite large but moved at a steady pace, we skipped the sandwiches and hot food in favour of the ‘Cream Tea for Two’ which was £12.50. You got a large scone each, four strawberries, two pots of jam, two pots of clotted cream and a large pot of tea to share.

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The scones were lovely, although I did have to keep them out of reach of Flixster as he kept trying to grab for them. We’ve just started baby led weaning as he is now 28 weeks. I gave him some of the strawberry instead which he seemed to love, I’m not sure how well the red stains will come out of his vest but that’s part of the fun! After we’d eaten and drank our tea Flixster was getting tired so we had a little wander. My friend had an appointment so had to leave, we said our goodbyes and I gently rocked Flixster for a few minutes whilst he nodded off in the pram. This gave me a chance to have a proper look around.
I love Christmas time, its my favourite holiday season. I’ve always loved this time of year and the magical build up. Since having Children its become even more special.I love the decorations and making my home feel magical inside and out. I love getting the decorations out each year, remembering where and when we bought each one. We always buy one or two special tree decorations each year to add to our collections so I have already begun the hunt for just the right one. The Christmas displays at Bents are amazing. There are lots of room displays with enormous amount of attention to detail.

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There are lots of dressed trees to look at and the floor space given over to Christmas is amazing. There is everything you could ever need to make your home feel Christmassy and fantastic. I looked around the undressed trees as we are looking to buy a new tree this year. Normally I have an artificial 6ft tree and we place it on a small table so that it touches the ceiling. As a child I always remember the Christmas tree being taller than I was, these days being 6ft myself its pretty hard to find trees taller than I am. This year we have changed our living room furniture so have even less room for a tree so I am looking to buy a slim or pencil tree. The artificial trees in Bents where plentiful and I really liked that they were all clearly labelled with height, base diameter and price. It really helped anyone who was looking to easily identify something suitable.

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After looking at the trees I went to look at the miniature village display. I like to look each year at all the little models, people must spend years collecting them. I wouldn’t have room for them in my house but I do like to look each year at the fabulous displays Bents put together.

Bents garden centre

 

As the weather is so nice still I took the opportunity to go outside to look at the plants. I don’t have a large garden and I barely get time these days with the boys to do any gardening but I really enjoy looking at the various plants. The displays were lovely to look at and I enjoyed a walk over to have a look at the children’s play area. From the plans it looks like they are also going to be making a conservation area at the back of the centre that people will be able to walk around. I’ll look forward to that next year.

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The new outdoor play area looks great for children and I can’t wait to take the boy, I hope we have some more nice days this year so we can go back during term time and have a play. The cafe has also been extended outside onto a raised area which I imagine in the summer is a beautiful place to sit and look over the lake.

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Flixster had begun to wake up so I headed back inside and made my way to the parents room which is located at the back of the cafe. I have used the room before so knew which way to go. I went in and had a quick look at the food area, from the plans I noticed that this is going to be extended to incorporate local producers which is going to be great. Since I was last here the displays have altered and instead of high shelving the produce is now displayed on pallets which look great. I didn’t have a good chance to look at all the food as Flixster was starting to tell me he was hungry. Hopefully I can have a proper look next time I visit.

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I found the parents room and thankfully they have provided two seats for feeding babies. I’m happy to breastfeed anywhere but as I’d already used the cafe I thought I’d feed in the parents room as Flixster gets easily distracted these days when feeding so a quiet calm environment is ideal. The room was lovely and clean with two nappy changing beds. There is a small toilet cubicle and another cubicle with a chair and lockable door, ideal if you are a mum not comfortable with feeding in public. There’s also another chair available in the main changing room. I fed Flixster and then changed him. There are two sink areas which were also very clean and had lovely toiletries provided. It is a big thumbs up from me for the services they provide to parents. Very clean, comfortable and spacious, just what mummies and daddies need!

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Once Flixster was settled back into the pram I took him for a look at the Christmas lights. He’s at an age where he’s fascinated by lights, especially ones that flash or change. There are plenty to look at in Bents. I loved watching his face as he marvelled at the different colours and displays.

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I love having lights up at Christmas. Last year was the first time I put some up outside and the boy loved coming home from nursery to see the lights. I found some battery-powered ones that only came on at night-time which were powered by two AA batteries that claimed to last for 30 days, in reality I did have to change the batteries after about 20 days but still I was impressed that I didn’t have to plug them into the mains. I can’t wait to get them out again this year! Once we’d finished being wowed by the light displays we headed out via the new craft shop. I love having a go at new crafts and enjoying myself just losing an hour or two in making something so I was thrilled to see the new shop had opened within the ongoing extension work. I didn’t have much time but did try to survey what they are going to be selling. I think they are still setting up as some of the shelves looked a little empty. What I did see though made me want to return soon to take a closer look, perhaps when I have someone else with me to watch the boys for a few minutes!

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Time was marching on so we exited the shop to start making our way home. I’m very much looking forward to going back again soon (although perhaps during term time when its a little quieter) to have another good nosey around. The new extension is looking promising and once it’s fully open will make a great addition to an already lovely place to visit. I’ve always found the staff to be visible and as always today was no exception, if I had needed any help then I’m confident I would have found someone quickly and easily. Even on such a busy day I noticed lots of staff out and about helping other people. Bents certainly know how to treat their customers well, a key to it’s already great reputation.

If you’re ever in the north-west then it’s a highly recommended day out and I can’t wait to go back soon with both boys and hubby!

 

www.bents.co.uk

Daddy decided he wanted in on the blogging action so I asked if he’d like to do a guest post here and there. He agreed and set about writing his first post, which is below! Thanks Daddy!

The Cbeebies fun day at MediaCity, Salford Quays… Pffft, it was alright I suppose.

What? Are you still here? Do I need to pad this blog post out a bit? Well, here goes…

So, it was a Daddy day for The Boy, previous Daddy days had taken the form of Kids Club cinema visits, trips to Ikea and train journeys into Wigan and Manchester but today we decided to try something special.

We had applied for CBeebies Pantomime tickets when they were advertised, we were sadly unsuccessful but we did make a note of the fun day and events planned taking place in MediaCity for the weekend of the pantomime, and when Mummy and Flixster had made plans for Saturday, I knew that this would make a memorable Daddy day for The Boy.

After chasing The Boy around the house with his clothes for a little while until he finally agreed to get dressed, we got in the car and set off. As there were a few events on at the Quays and we were late setting off, we parked at Ladywell and took the tram to MediaCity.

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After a short journey and a good press of the button to open the tram doors, we got off the tram in MediaCity and followed the stream of parents and children who were heading into the CBeebies Fun Day.

The first thing that caught our eye was the pirate ship where they were giving tours and reading stories.

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We had a look in the tents which offered a variety of activities and then headed towards the stage where Dr. Ranj from ‘Get Well Soon’ was on stage.

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We watched for a little while before The Boy took us into the Lowry Theatre and up the escalator where we looked at Andy Gott’s brilliant BAFTA portraits exhibition (well, I looked, The Boy ran around and looked out of the window).

The Boy then wanted to go for a walk, so we went over the bridge before ‘tiredy’ legs struck and The Boy wanted picking up, carrying and while I was at it, could I get him some lunch too.

We went into the Lowry Outlet Mall and went up to the food court for lunch, then once we’d finished we had a quick look around the Mall and spotted Great British Bake Off runner up Richard Burr having a coffee with his family.

Once we’d finished in the Mall, we had a look for the famous Blue Peter Garden (it’s smaller than I thought it would be) and explored a couple of the BBC buildings, mainly the ones with automatic or revolving doors, as he loves doors!

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After a little more running around, we got back onto the tram and headed to the car, after a couple of minutes driving, The Boy’s conversation faded and when I turned around to look at him, he was fast asleep……

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Monday, as a day, is my least favourite of the week, everyone is back to work the lovely weekend with hubby/daddy is over and I’m facing a day with two little ones to look after by myself. I love my children with all my heart but with Flixster being 5 months and the boy just turning 3 it’s hard to keep them both happy all day long…alone! So over the last few months on Mondays I’ve either been visiting my mum or she has been to visit us. My mum and dad live near Lytham which is about a 50 minute drive from my house on a good day with no traffic. Where they live is lovely and only a few minutes from the seaside which is ideal for the boy, there are lots of lovely parks nearby too which have been fully explored by us all over the summer this year.

I’ve definitely become closer to my mum since having my babies, I was always close to her but much more so after realising how much she has dedicated her life to bringing up myself and my brother. I now realise how much hard work having young children really is! So seeing her regularly has really strengthened our bond as mother and daughter. I now call Mondays ‘Mummy Mondays’ not only do I get to spend time with my mummy but the boys get to spend quality time with their mummy too….me. Having an extra pair of hands with the boys is fantastic, I get to spend lovely one on one time with the boy whilst my mum gets to spend time with Flixster. When I’m on my own with the boys Flixster takes up a lot of my time as he’s so young still and needs a lot of attention. He’ll only nap on me in the sling so even when he’s asleep during the day I find it difficult to play properly with the boy and I certainly couldn’t spend time on the trampoline or run around with him.

Today it was our turn to travel up to my mums house. I try to time the journey to coincide with Flixster’s nap, if I can get it right he’ll have a little moan in the car then fall asleep for most of the journey. If I don’t get it right he’ll scream in the car which I can’t bare so I have to keep stopping to cuddle him. The boy doesn’t like it when he cries either, he covers his ears, so when I know we are going to be travelling for a while I let him have the iPad and headphones to play with in the back of the car, it saves him from getting upset at his brothers distress. This morning after another bad night sleep wise Flixster was getting ready for a nap around 8:45am, the signs were begining to show, the moaning had begun and I needed to leave quickly to get in the car before the screaming started! I left the house in a hurry forgetting coats for both the boy and I and also forgetting my glasses. Thankfully the weather turned out to be nice and warm, so we didn’t need coats in the park and I was able to wear my prescriptions sunglasses to drive in. We arrived at mum and dads by 10am and soon settled into some coffee, toast and playing with the toys (this is almost always the first thing we do, raid the cupboards, isn’t it what all children do when visiting parents?)

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As the weather had turned out to be so nice we made plans to go to a local park called Lowther Gardens, one the boys and I hadn’t been to before. It is only 10 minutes up the road by car so we all travelled together in one car. At the gardens we parked up and I asked mum if she fancied wearing Flixster in the sling as he was due another nap, something she’s not done before. I wear Flixster all the time in a sling so he’s very used to being all wrapped up and close to people. I never thought I’d prefer baby wearing to pushchairs being a big pushchair fan (I have had many and currently have 3 on the go!) but I do prefer him being close and me having my hands free to deal with the boy. Mum couldn’t wait to get him snuggled up and he was asleep within minutes, giving me chance to play with the boy on the play area.

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IMG_3442The boy adores being with his grandparents and particularly enjoys time with Grandad, true on both sides of the family. After time spent running around the playground, climbing, swinging and crawling we went for a walk around the gardens, I tried to take in their sheer beauty, even in late September the flowers are blooming and the gardens looks beautiful.

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We decided to have lunch in the cafe within the park and as it was so sunny we sat outside enjoying the weather. The boy was desperate for ice-cream and had to be persuaded to eat his lunch before we treated him to one.The cafe had a wonderful old cash register, the kind where the number go round, it as fantastic and made a fab noise.IMG_3469IMG_3475

Before heading home we had another play in the playground and I fed Flixster sitting on the park bench, something I would never have done with confidence when the boy was small. Breastfeeding Flixster has been a totally different journey than the one I took with the boy.IMG_3486 IMG_3491 IMG_3497

We headed back to mums before heading home ourselves, thankfully Flixster slept most of the way home, I thought the boy would have fallen asleep as well but he was so engrossed in his Cbeebies game on the iPad that he stayed awake. I don’t know why Flixster doesn’t like the car, but if he’s awake in there he’s usually screaming, if anyone has an ideas how I could stop this I’d be very grateful!

Lyric x