Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Life is a Rollercoaster - a birthday trip to Alton Towers

This weekend it was my 47th birthday and I was delighted to have my girls come down from Manchester to spend a few days at home to help me celebrate. We took a trip to Alton Towers on the Sunday, which was enjoyed by us all. The girls went on Galactica, the new ride for this year, and loved the fusion of a rollercoaster ride with space age virtual reality. Oblivion, The Smiler, Duel and Thirteen were all revisited on our first Alton Towers trip of the year.

CBeebies land

Freddy had his first big coaster experience on Thirteen, as he has now exceeded 1.2m tall. He was so brave and proudly announced that he only screamed twice! Although he is growing up fast, he still loves the rides and shows for little ones in CBeebies Land too. He's at that perfect age where everything is wonderful and exciting and there is so much to discover and learn. I love sharing all of this with him.

The weather wasn't great, but we had a lovely day together. Who needs sunshine when you've got family and love? A box of freshly made donuts doubled up as the perfect birthday cake to accompany an impromptu chorus of "Happy Birthday to You", while we warmed ourselves up in the Corner Cafe.

CBeebies land

We had a lovely weekend and for a short while we were able to put our worries to one side and just enjoy living in the moment. Sadly though, life has a way of knocking you back down to reality with a bump, and on Monday it did just that.

Despite our attempt at being optimistic, some bad news was confirmed. But as usual, I scraped myself off the floor and popped my brave face back on. As a mum, you need to stay strong for everyone and that is exactly what I intend to do. I will protect my family with every breath in my body. But with the bad news, also came knowledge. Knowledge is empowering and gives us an opportunity to name our demons and face them full on. Knowing what you are up against helps you to fight back. So we are now forearmed and along with the strength and love we have as a family, plus the support of dear friends and loved ones, we are ready to ride this rollercoaster of life together. Powering through the ups and downs, taking pleasure from the thrills and taking comfort in the knowledge that the lows are always temporary.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Geronimo Festival - food for vegetarian families

We're really excited to be attending Geronimo Festival at Tatton Park on May 29th! As a family of vegetarians, attending events can sometimes pose a problem when it comes to eating. All too often vegetarians and vegans aren't catered for, but I'm pleased to say Geronimo has got it covered.

Returning to Tatton Park over the weekend of 29th – 30th May and debuting at Harewood House from 1st – 2nd May, the Geronimo Festival features a great range of food sellers to suit every taste.

Duke’s Pizzas are made on site straight out of a 1972 Dodge Tradesman – and cooked to perfection in a traditional wood fired oven in under 2 minutes.

Poffertjesking is an authentic Dutch company who bake Dutch mini pancakes, Belgian waffles and crazy milkshakes. With toppings including Oreo, Cadbury fudge, Nutella and the classic lemon and sugar, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Nourish aims to provide both adults and children with a nutritious alternative to traditional fast food. With meals made fresh every day from locally sourced ingredients, Nourish’s menu lists every ingredient included in each dish, and no salt or sugar is added to any of their food. Nourish will be serving food from their brand new children’s menu at Geronimo, including  sweet potato mash with homemade chipotle beans and mozzarella, wholewheat flatbreads, fresh fruit smoothies and more.

Mezani Grill will be offering something a little different – bringing a taste of Kenyan street food to Geronimo.  This includes a lentil curry with biryani rice.

Castaway Kitchen will be serving the best in Mediterranean street food – with flatbreads filled with a range of vegetarian and vegan delights combined with a salad of tomatoes, red onion, lettuce and Tzatziki, all locally sourced.

Sno Fro is the home of authentic Hawaiian shave ice – perfect for sunny afternoons. Unlike a slushie, Sno Fro is made of finely shaved ice with an exotic choice of flavours and collected in a pretty flower cup.

Smoothie Mania will be offering a wide range of juices and smoothies with no added sugar, no syrups and 100% fruit.  Gluten free and diary free, all smoothies are made in front of you, great for your five a day.

 Not having to worry about what we're going to eat, means we'll have more time for quality family fun as we share in the exciting activities that Geronimo has on offer.

Geronimo is aimed at families with children aged between 2 and 12 years old.  Tickets are priced at £25.00 p.p. for a one-day ticket with under 2’s going free. Visit for more information.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Dark clouds, sunshine and birthday wishes

The past few months have been a rollercoaster of emotions with some of the most heart crushing lows I have ever experienced. I have felt tested to my limits, but know that going through these tough times is only making us stronger and closer as a family. When life is this hard, it opens your eyes to the people who really care about you. The people who have rallied round providing emotional and physical support have been amazing. The people who have shown a genuine concern in our situation have made me appreciate the kindness of fellow humans. The love that has been extended has made a world of difference to us as a family and I shall be forever thankful. The past few months have changed me as a person and as a mother.

Through all our recent trials, one thing has been a constant. The love of my children and my absolutely unconditional, neverending love for them. My children really are everything to me. Being their mother defines me. Their pain is my pain. When they hurt, I hurt. I know this for a fact. They bring so much love, pride and joy into my life. They give me strength and give me reason. Five rocks in the sea of my life, anchoring me when I fear being swept away.

But life carries on even when you feel that reality is crashing down around you. There are still special days that beg and deserve to be celebrated. We have so much to look forward to. Wonderful times lie just ahead on the horizon like beacons of hope. I know we are getting closer, just a little bit farther to go and we'll be there. Smiling. Happy. We just need to stay strong.

This weekend we will be celebrating my daughter Ella's and my birthdays. Ella is turning twenty but she is still my baby girl. It's unbelievable to think that my tiny, beautiful little girl is getting so grown up. She is an incredible young woman. She is thriving at university and is using her natural empathy and desire to make a difference to help people, through volunteering and mentoring. I am so proud of her achievements and the direction her life is going in. She is so kind, loving and thoughtful. She gives me so many reasons to feel proud.

So today, I say Happy Birthday to my gorgeous girl. You are a shining light. You give me so many reasons to smile and I adore you for it. You've also wept with me, and I adore you for that too. You care so much about your family and give so much love and joy to us all, even in our darkest hours. I love you to the moon and back.


For my birthday this year, I am wishing that we get through these crazy times to a place where we can look back and laugh. I know that as a family, we can get through anything. We've got each others' backs and we will power through together. Because together we are stronger.

Things will get better and I know we will get closure on this dark chapter in our lives. But I shall be taking all the lessons learned with me, making me a better person, mum, wife, nana and daughter. I won't forget the way I have felt. I won't forget the people who have cared. I won't ever take my family for granted. I promise that I will appreciate every single day that I am blessed with these wonderful people who I love so much.

Even when bad times cast a shadow over us, I know we will be stepping out into the sunlight again soon.

A birthday cake fit for the Queen

To celebrate Her Majesty the Queen turning 90, Stork has re-imagined Britain’s best loved birthday treat: the iconic caterpillar cake, to honour one of the Queen’s much loved pet dogs. The Candy the Corgi cake has been created by baking brand Stork and the Great British Bake Off’s Edd Kimber using ingredients the Queen is rumoured to love such as vanilla bean, whipped cream, apple compote, and honey frosting. The quirky design features the corgi's face, tail and paws on a cream coated Swiss roll. 

You can find the recipe and instructions at

Stork, birthday cake

Stork challenged me to have a go at making my own cake based on the Candy the Corgi design for Her Majesty’s birthday. It seemed like a fun idea for me to try out!

Now, I don't think I could ever match up to Edd Kimber when it comes to cake baking, so I have made my own cake design featuring Candy the Corgi.  I chose a chocolate tray bake made using Stork, topped with a chocolate frosting and a chocolate plaque featuring Candy himself! (I did my best attempt at chocolate ended up looking more like a weird looking rabbit than a corgi, but I managed to impress 6 year old Freddy so I was happy!)

Stork, birthday cake

Chocolate Traybake Recipe

8 oz Stork margarine
8 oz sugar
4 free range eggs
8 oz self raising flour
4 tablspns of milk
3 tblspns cocoa powder

Cream the Stork marg and sugar together.
Beat in eggs.
Sieve in flour and cocoa and fold together with milk.
Pour into a traybake tin. (I use disposable foil traybake tins.)
Cook in oven pre-heated to 180 degrees for about 30 minutes.

Stork, birthday cake

Once the cake is cool, top with a chocolate buttercream and decorate with a chocolate plaque (I made mine using the Chocolate Picture Maker from ZimpliKids) and chocolate hearts. Traybakes are a really simple way to make a great cake for any occasion - even for a Royal birthday party!

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Gelli Baff and Slime Baff Review

For a fun bath time, an exciting paddling pool activity or for some wonderfully tactile sensory play, kids will love Gelli Baff or Slime Baff. 

Gelli Baff turns water into a colourful, thick gelatinous goo for some gooey adventures. Slime Baff makes water into an oozy slime for some squishy, slimy play. Freddy received some to try out and had a great time in the garden playing with it. 

Gelli Baff, Slime Baff

Gelli Baff and Slime Bath come as sachets of powder that dissolve into warm water. Once mixed into a bath, bowl or paddling pool, the water takes on the new gooey properties of the product. Gelli Baff has the texture similar to wallpaper paste whereas the Slime Baff is more like slime. There are a variety of colours to choose from. 

Gelli Baff  comes with a dissolver sachet to reverse the gel effect. Slime Baff can be thinned down using more water to dilute it. Both end up as coloured water that can be safely disposed of down the plug hole or into a drain.

You can let it run through your fingers, swish your hands around and experiment with the textures of the gooey solutions. Most kids love messy play, and the beauty of this is that it is a 'clean mess' that won't stain skin or clothing and can be easily washed away afterwards.

Gelli Baff, Slime Baff

With a bit of imagination, children can pretend they are in a prehistoric swamp, under the ocean or in a land of slimy monsters. Freddy pretended the green Slime Baff was giant's snot! 

Although it is perfect for playing with in the bath, I love Gelli Baff and Slime Baff for playing with in the garden. It adds an extra dimension to water play during the warmer weather. Whether you are playing with a bucketful of goo or jumping into a paddling pool filled with coloured slime, it is a great way for children to play outdoors.

Gelli Baff, Slime Baff

Both products are 100% safe on skin, non-staining, non-toxic and environmentally friendly. They can be drained away and disposed of safely and easily. They are manufactured in the UK.

Prices start at just £4.99 for a one use pack. 

Monday, 18 April 2016

Our Interactive Film Experience with Pee-wee Herman

Being part of the Netflix Stream Team is always a whole lot of fun! Not only do we get to watch all the great Netflix movies and shows, but we also get to take part in some pretty cool activities. This weekend, we enjoyed an interactive film experience while watching the Netflix Original film "Pee-wee 's Big Holiday"! We all sat down together to watch the movie with a little added Netflix magic.

We had previously received a parcel in the post filled with some sealed, numbered boxes and a movie road map with details on when to open each box during the film. So we excitedly started by opening up the first box, which contained two Pee-wee Herman t-shirts for Kezia and Freddy and then began watching the movie.

Pee-wee's Big Holiday on Netflix

Pee-wee Herman is an iconic American comedy classic from almost 30 years ago, set in the surreal, alternate reality 1950's town of Fairville. Big Holiday has resurrected the character for a whole new audience to enjoy. Pee-wee's zany, child-like view of the world makes his experiences seem bigger and more exciting than those of an average man, resulting in some classic comedy moments and quirky encounters.

Pee-wee's Big Holiday tells the story of his epic trek across the country to get to New York for the birthday party of Joe Manganiello (the actor from magic Mike and True Blood who plays himself in the film) following a chance encounter in Pee-wee's dad's diner when the super cool, manly Joe comes in for a milkshake. The pair share a strangely intense and more than slightly camp bromance that sees Pee-wee challenged to push himself out of his comfort zone. Pee-wee's sheltered and idyllic life in Fairville is turned upside down on his journey as he finds himself in a series of bizarre situations including being kidnapped by female bank robbers, almost getting married off to a farmer's daughter, getting caught up in the Amish community and falling down a well! Will he make it to Joe's birthday bash in time?!

Throughout the film we got to open our boxes and absolutely loved each activity. We shared milkshakes with Joe and Pee-wee in the diner, we chomped on root beer barrel sweets and Ruffles potato chips whenever the characters did. We played with squeaky balloons, waved a Fairville banner and wore Pee-wee friendship bracelets as we joined in with Pee-wee's journey to Joe's party.

Pee-wee's Big Holiday on Netflix

Pee-wee is a man-child and an innocent, who takes on the world in this movie that is all about friendship, destiny and self-discovery. The humour is silly and a bit bonkers, with an added quirky charm and a sense of wonder.  The cartoonish quality of the visuals appeals to kids and there are many crazy, off the wall moments that will get them giggling throughout. Fans of Pee-wee Herman will enjoy seeing the role reprised by actor Paul Reubens and will also be able to spot some familiar faces from Pee-wee's last movie the 1985 Big Adventure.

I love the idea of the interactive viewing experience, and it is something I am going to try to do again myself to make family film nights extra fun. You can watch Pee-wee's Big Holiday now on Netflix.

Pee-wee's Big Holiday on Netflix

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Lalaloopsy Minis Style 'n' Swap Review

The cute little Lalaloopsy mini dolls are ready to mix and match their fashions in the new Lalaloopsy Minis Style 'n' Swap range from MGA Entertainment. With over ten pieces of fashion accessories including wigs, hats, shoes and outfits, there are plenty of ways to customise the little dolls, creating lots of exciting looks.

Lalaloopsy Minis

We received a Mittens Fluff 'n' Stuff Style 'n' Swap pack, which came with a mini doll, blue wig, a woolly hat with ears, a snowflake onesie, three cute dresses, handbag, shoes and ice skates. The clothes are made of rubber with splits down the back which let the doll's arms, legs and body fit in. Mittens is ready for some ice skating, sledding, skating or snowball fighting in her winter sports themed outfits. There are sixteen possible combinations to switch up her style.

Lalaloopsy Minis

The mini doll stands just under 3" tall and has articulated legs and head. Dressing the dolls was a little bit fiddly for my six year old, but no problem for me. The outfits pull off easily when you want to change the doll's look. The doll is really tactile and nice to play with. I love the detailing with her button eyes and rosy cheeks.

Mittens fluff n stuff

Other Lalaloopsy Mini dolls in the sets include Peanut Big Top, Crumbs Sugar Cookie and Spot Splatter Splash. They all come with outfits inspired by their personalities and the clothes can be mixed and matched across the range for more creative combinations.

Lalaloopsy Minis

Each Style 'n' Swap set costs £9.99 and comes in a blister pack with all the contents on show and with a cute, colourful signature handle. They make a lovely gift for anyone aged 4 and up. There are Style 'n' Swap two doll multipacks, a carry along house and playsets also available in the range.

For more information, visit

Like on Facebook /lalaloopsyuk and follow on twitter @lalaloopsyuk.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...