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Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Grandad...I Love You!

Sometimes you take a photograph that simply sums up a relationship between two people.  I took this photograph of Freddy with his Grandad and it epitomizes what they mean to each other.  Freddy adores his Grandad and wanted to walk alongside him, helping him with his stick.  He looks so proud with his Grandad who was chatting to him as they walked.  I'm sure it wasn't easy for my dad to have a toddler 'helping', but these moments are priceless to him.  They have a wonderful relationship filled with warmth, laughter and fun. I hope that my future grandchildren love me as much as my children love my parents!


relationships, grandparents
Grandad and Grandson x
This is my entry into the Hello Canvas competition over at All Baby Advice.  Follow the link to find out how you can win a 28" canvas of your favourite photograph.


Blingles Bling Studio Review

Sparkly, bejewelled bling  is something that never fails to impress Kizzy.  So when she was sent a Blingles Bling Studio by Character she was immediately planning which of her possessions could receive the bling treatment and get personalised with a sparkling, funky diamante design of her own making.

The Blingles Bling Studio contains everything needed to create twinkling designs using some of the 320 gems that are included in the box, and then make them into impressively, sparkling stickers.

blingles, crafts

The studio is easily put together and is quite compact.  The instructions are fully illustrated and with a bit of practice the process of making the gem stickers is quite straightforward.  It is a bit fiddly picking out the gems and getting them in the right place, but the little Gem Pen is a very handy little tool that makes the process a lot simpler!

blingles

Gem designs are made according to one of the templates.  The gems are then pressed onto the sticky transfer slide then on to the sticker glue roll before being transferred onto whatever you want to 'bling to life!'

The studio is suitable for ages six and up, but Kizzy at nine still found it a little bit fiddly getting the gems in place and aligning the transfer sheets,  and needed a lot of patience to get her bling stickers just right.  She did enjoy it though and said that she is looking forward to getting better and making lots more gem stickers to bling up her possessions!

Already both mine and Kizzy's laptops have been blinged!  The effect is pretty good!!

blingles, laptops, bling

The amount of transfer sheets, glue roll and gems included will be exhausted pretty quickly if used up at the rate that Kizzy has been blinging!  Refill packs, accessory and theme packs are available separately so the blinging can continue after the included materials are used up.  The Blingles Bling Studio itself will fit onto a shelf and is very compact and contained which is a great feature of an arts and crafts set.  The RRP is £19.99.

Find out more here:  www.myblingles.com/

Monday, 30 July 2012

Bandai Toys for Girls and Boys

Keeping the kids entertained over the summer holidays can sometimes be difficult as the long weeks stretch ahead.  Bandai have a range of top branded toys that can provide hours of fun for youngsters, with prices starting at just £1.99!
  
Ben 10, Harumika, Power Rangers Samurai

My children received a bundle of Bandai toys to try out.

Ben 10

Ben 10 continues to be one of Cartoon Networks best performing shows.  With the original series, Ultimate Alien and the CGI movie Ben 10: Destroy all Aliens!  Ben 10 continues to be hugely popular and has spawned a huge range of merchandise including the toys which are suitable for ages 4 and up.

Ben 10 Mini Figures come in individually packed bags so you don't know exactly who you'll be getting. Series 2 of these collectible mini figures has just been released!  Collect them or swap with your friends to create the ultimate Ben 10 collection.  Just £1.99 each they are great pocket money toys.  The little characters are quite detailed and will definitely be a hit with Ben 10 fans.  There are sixteen to collect so there is a risk of getting doubles (which is when swapping comes into its own!)  We ended up with two Kevins!


Bandai



Power Rangers Samurai

Power rangers Samurai master the mystical and ancient Samurai symbols of power to fight evil.   They are the latest generation of Power Ranger in this popular franchise.

The Samurai Morpher (£11.99) is used by the Power Rangers to call up the Zords.  The mobile phone style toy makes fab sound effects as seen in the TV show.  Freddy loved it!  He pressed the buttons to listen to the cool voice and sounds.  The sound level is muted so it won't damage the ears.

The 10cm Action Figures come with a Samurai Sword or power weapon ready to battle evil!  The Power Rangers unite against the sinister forces of the Netherworld and fans can re-enact their favourite moments with these toys.  (£6.99)  Action figures are always a favourite.  These are quite detailed with good articulation allowing imaginative play based on the Power Rangers Samurai TV show, which is the number one boys' show on Nickleodeon.  

Bandai

Harumika

One for future fashion designers, Harumika is a unique craft toy that allows budding fashionistas to create their own looks by using a special mannequin with a silicone strip in its back.  By folding, tucking and layering the material, funky fashions can be created over and over again.

The Accessory Puppy Pack allows you to create a bespoke look for a poodle to match your dress designs.  Containing a small puppy model, three different coats, a bow, a lead, a basket and a tool shaped like a bone, you can create a pampered pooch outfit with ease.  For £8.99 it adds to your Harumika collection, providing the perfect canine accessory!  It is quite small and simple to do so does not really stand alone, so definitely one for Harumika fans who want to add a fashionable puppy to their collection!

Stockists include Asda, Toys R Us, Argos, Sainsburys, Tesco and other good toy retailers.
Check out the full ranges on www.bandai.co.uk, visit the Facebook page for even more fun at http://www.facebook.com/BandaiUK, or follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/BandaiToysUK

Get Creative Paper FX

The Upcycling Craft Set for Young Fashionistas

Paper FX from Flair is a fun set that is perfect for tweens who are into fashion and crafts.  Paper can be woven and crafted to create accessories, handbags, pencil cases and belts.  It is a great way of upcycling old magazines, wrapping paper and glossy paper into a unique and fashionable accessory to glam up an outfit or spruce up a bedroom shelf.

The look created depends on the paper used.  You can go for glitzy and glam, soothing pastels or paintbox bright, to create items that match your personality and your mood.  New accessories can always be made from old mags so a new handbag is only a weave away!

Kizzy received one to try out.  The idea was really appealing to her and she was keen to grab her back catalogue of Girl Talk magazines to upcycle into something funky!


The set included a weaving machine, some tools and an instruction booklet plus a tube of paper glue.  All you need is an old magazine to get started.  A special device allows you to easily tear pages into strips which are then put into a scoring machine which makes it easy to fold and glue the strips ready for weaving.


The weaving machine itself allows you to fix the vertical strips to hold them securely under a plastic cover.  A dial allows you to lift alternate strips to feed in the horizontal strips.  A dab of glue secures the strips in place. The process is repeated to create the woven rectangle.


Kizzy enjoyed weaving the strips to create a colourful woven rectangle made from her magazine.  The effect was quite good with all the bits of the magazine worked together into an artistic creation that we decided would be a coaster.  With the edges trimmed, tucked in and glued it looked quite good.


The Paper FX set certainly kept Kizzy very entertained.  It wasn't overly complicated to make the woven rectangles.  There are instructions for creating all manner of fancy items such as pencil cases and purses, but to be honest I cannot imagine being able to make them out of the paper strips using paper glue.  I'm sure that if you put your mind to it and used PVA glue to stick and strengthen the structure it would be possible, but it would take a lot of skill and dedication.

Kizzy is more than happy making these coasters for everyone and she is loving getting creative with her old magazines. It's proving a good way to keep her busy.  She said  "It is really fun but a bit tricky and fiddly at times.  On the whole though I think it is really good to make things from my old magazines!"


Paper FX is available from good retailers with an RRP of £19.99.  It is suitable for girls aged 8 and up.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Friday, 27 July 2012

The Ethics of The Circus

While we were enjoying our fantastic holiday in Normandy, we decided to partake in some local entertainment and attended a very well advertised travelling zoo that was moving from town to town across the Normandy coastline.  We were told it was worth visiting.

circus, France

We were not sure what to expect, but the use of wild animals on the poster made us wonder just how far France's animal rights were behind England's.  In 2012, could animals really still be exploited for this kind of entertainment?

The big top appeared overnight in a green in front of the local church.  Grazing on the grass beside the tent prior to showtime was a zebra, two camels, a donkey, a bison, a llama, a horse and a pony.  We were amazed that we could approach these animals, touch them and stand next to them without any restrictions.  In the UK we got shouted at by a zookeeper at West Mids Safari Park for trying to stroke a zebra because they bite!


zoo, church

In addition to these animals, there was a series of small cages on wheels in which  a family of lions were housed.  They were a real draw for the crowds who gathered around to see them.   A spectacular male lion was in a very small cage next to a beautiful lioness and her two young cubs.  There was nothing more than a small metal barrier between us and them.  I could literally touch the nose of the young cub who was snoozing with his face pressed against the bars.

zoo , france

They let out the occasional guttural roar, but mostly just looked bored, unable to do anything other than sit and stare at the bars that enclosed them.  It was quite heartbreaking.  These lions were not used in the show itself so I doubt if they often get to leave their travelling prisons on wheels.

The circus itself was a strange affair.  The French locals were enthralled with it all, whilst we sat there with horrified looks on our faces.  The basic premise of the show was that animals were brought into the small circular ring and made to run round and round.  The finale of each section involved a box being brought into the centre of the ring, and the animal being made to put its front feet on it and cross its legs in what looked like an unnatural movement.  Seeing a zebra made to 'entertain' the audience in this demeaning manner was really upsetting.

zoo, France

At one point, two camels were made to gallop around the ring together.  The clumsy gait of the two beasts caused their legs to entangle and both animals fell over.  A swift whipping from the ringmaster had them clamber back onto their feet, that were more suited to running on sand than damp grass.

Three huge snakes were brought out into the ring. One was wrapped around a woman who then walked around encouraging children to stroke the snake.  I could see its skin was rough and sloughing off in irregular clumps from over exuberant petting by excitable young children.

A magic act saw a magician pull rabbits from circular boxes.  Terrified, half crushed, trembling and bedraggled bunnies were wrenched from secret compartments in tubes to the delight of the French crowd.  I could not believe that they still used animals in such a way.  I can only imagine how many rabbits were injured during this act over the year.

We were all really shocked at how far the French are behind the UK's policy on animal rights.  The animals were all clearly well loved by the circus folk, and this is after all their livelihood.  But the conditions that these animals were forced to live in, travelling from town to town and being made to perform demeaning tricks, is just something that should not be allowed.  The animals were magnificent and it was so sad to know that they will never know freedom of any kind.  After the shows the animals are bundled back into their tiny cages ready to move onto the next town.  A llama, a donkey and a pony all shared one cramped small cage.  The horse had to stand diagonally just to fit into its living area.  The sight of the beautiful exotic zebra in its tatty old cage upset me the most.

zoo, France

Coming away from this 'experience' made me glad that this isn't something that occurs in England anymore.  I do still remember the days of Billy Smart's Circus, where animals such as elephants were used to perform for the entertainment of the circus crowd.  I also remember the spider monkeys wearing baby clothes that we were photographed with on holiday as children.  I recall the PG chimps who dressed and acted like humans for their advertising campaign.  It wasn't that long ago.  I just hope that the countries who still use wild animals in demeaning ways will soon come to realise that there is no place for this in the 21st century.  We need to respect animals and strive to protect them, conserve them and prevent their exploitation.

Freakyforms Deluxe For the Nintendo 3DS

Our Nintendo 3DS is proving to be a really popular addition to the technology in our household.   Freddy has recently discovered the joys of the Pokedex and the audio recording function of our 3DS and he has some serious fun with both.

However, there is a new game that has taken over as current 3DS favourite, ever since we were sent Freakyforms Deluxe Your Creations, Alive! to try out.

Nintendo 3DS

This unique and eccentric game allows players to use their imagination to create their own funky and freaky creatures called 'formees' and bring them to life.  Freakyforms is an expansion of a popular downloadable software title and brings a host of new features to the game.

Formees are created on a drawing board where many shapes, body parts and colours can be picked and the creations can be customised with wings or wheels.  This was quite easy to do and Freddy loved making quirky characters with numerous limbs and embellishments!

Nintendo, 3DS

Once created, the formee transfers into a side-scrolling platform game to explore the customisable planet and  complete quests.  On your travels you get to eat fruit, collect coins and explore dungeons where perilous tasks lead to hidden jewels.  New abilities called 'special actions' can be unlocked giving your formee more scope for personalisation.  You have to fight other formees along the way and defeat the final boss.

Nintendo, 3DS

The full touch screen controls let you get as creative as you like and allows your imagination to run wild!  Freddy and Ella really enjoyed designing the formees and playing with their crazy character.  It is really nice to have the control over the designs of the game making it a really personalised experience.  It really does provide hours of fun for all ages!  Even though Freddy can't play the platform element of the game independently, he can create a three legged, four eyed wing formee to be proud of!!




***
For the first time, you can now also showcase your formees with other Nintendo 3DS users in multiplayer mode, in addition to sharing them over StreetPass, or via QR Codes which can also be used to import a formee into the game. If you fancy getting even closer to the little creatures, watch them come to life in front of your very own eyes using the “?” AR Card. Freakyforms Deluxe Your Creations, Alive! also comes with the option of utilising Download Play so if you wish to play with a friend who doesn’t own the game then they will be able to join in with the creative fun.


The game launches on the same day as the Nintendo 3DS XL which has a 90% bigger screen, which is July 28th 2012!  Priced at £19.99 it is a great buy which will provide a lot of fun for all the family.  Whether you prefer the designing or the gaming, there is something to keep everyone amused!











Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Orbeez Soothing Spa

If they are anything like my 9 year old daughter, tweens and teens love to be pampered!  Character Option have a range of products in their Orbeez range that are sure to delight girls who want to enjoy a unique spa experience in the comfort of their own home.

Kizzy received an Orbeez Soothing Spa to test out and she was very excited to plan a pamper session in order to try it.  The Soothing Spa includes removable hand bowls and a luxuriating foot tub giving relaxation a whole new element of fun.  It features a cascading waterfall of soft scented Orbeez plus ambient lighting.  It's definitely a spa treat for a pampered girl's feet!

Character Options

The spa assembles easily.  It comes with two 750 bags of Orbeez.  The Orbeez are small, squishy, silky balls that you can warm up by soaking in warm water and draining.  These are put into the tub and the mechanism picks them up and cascades them out onto your feet.  A small bottle of Jasmine Perfume is included to drop over the balls to add a pleasant scent.  The Orbeez can also be put into the little bowls to pamper the hands.  They are very soothing and feel like "jelly" according to Kizzy.  A red glow gives an ambient mood light to enhance the experience.  The Orbeez Soothing Spa takes two C batteries that are not included.  The spa hums when in use and isn't too noisy.

Kizzy really enjoyed her pamper session and Freddy and Ella got in on the act as well.  They all agreed that the spa was fun and an original way to pamper your feet and hands.  Kizzy loved the Jasmine perfume which she liberally sprinkled on the Orbeez.  It was a nice way for her to unwind and relax and discover the joys of 'me time'!

The Orbeez are very squishy and lots of them burst during use.  The ones that are left after use can be rinsed, stored in the included sealable bags and then reused.   Refill bags are available to order to replace those damaged by feet or the mechanism.  One normal use of the spa burst about 10% of the 750 balls we used.  The balls do turn into sticky mush so you have to be careful to clean them up properly after use or they'll get everywhere.  I don't know how long the 1500 Orbeez that come with the spa will last before you need to purchase more at £7 a bag, but the future cost of this should be taken into account when buying a Soothing Spa.

We have had a spa mishap where Freddy lent on the tub catapulting 750 incredibly slippery balls over the laminate.  Trying to pick them up with adult fingers caused lots of bursting and left the floor slippy!  It was a big mess.   We also had quite a few individual escapees during the pampering session...I'll be finding them under the sofa for weeks.  

Orbeez

  
The Orbeez Soothing Spa really is quite unique offering a fun, colourful introduction to pampering spa treatments for young girls.  They will love it.   It is however much more of a novelty item than a serious foot spa and the cost of replacing the balls is a consideration for long term use.

The Orbeez range also includes a Mood Lamp, a Globe and a Light Up Star or Heart.  The Spa retails for £29.99 and is suitable for ages 5 and up.  (Not suitable for children under 36 months because of the small parts.)

McCain's Summer of Sharing Tapas Recipe

Spanish Patatas Bravas, Tortilla and Almond Green Beans Recipe



McCain have launched their Summer of Sharing website where you can find recipes, party tips, games and a calendar of events for this summer as well as the chance to win one of 100 party packs, that McCain are  giving away each day, as well as the opportunity to win the ultimate party to share with your friends and family.


I was given the chance to have a go at one of the Summer of Sharing recipes and McCain kindly provided the ingredients for a tasty Spanish Tapas meal...perfect for sharing with friends and family!!


We made Spanish Patatas Bravas, Tortilla and Almond Green Beans which we served up as a Tapas inspired meal rather than as the Spanish do in little bite sized pieces in bowls!




Tapas Recipes


For the Patatas Bravas


300g McCain Lightly Spiced Wedges
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion chopped
1 clove garlic chopped
1 small red chilli chopped
225g can chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree
a pinch of sugar
1/2 tsp paprika

Method

Cook wedges as per instructions.
Make sauce by frying onion for 3-4 minutes, add chilli and garlic and cook for a further minute.
Add chopped tomatoes, puree and paprika and cook for 5 minutes.
Simmer for 10 minutes until sauce is thickened.

Serve over the wedges.

For the Tortilla


300g McCain Lightly Spiced Wedges
1 onion sliced
50ml virgin olive oil
6 eggs
3 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley

Method

Cook wedges as per instructions.
Heat oil in heavy based 20cm frying pan. Add onion and cook for 20 minutes until caramelized.
Beat eggs in jug and add chopped parsley and season.  
Add cooked potatoes to the onion.
Pour over egg and cook for about 20 minutes.
Finish off under grill.


For Almond Green Beans


150g green beans
100g unsalted butter
75g blanched almonds
Juice of one lemon

Method

Cook green beans in boiling salted water.
Put butter in pan with almonds.  
Heat up gently.
Toss in green beans and heat until butter goes golden brown and foams.
Remove from heat and add lemon juice to stop the cooking process.

The meal took about 20 minutes to prepare and 25 minutes to cook and served five of us with leftovers to spare for Ian's lunch the next day.  We improvised slightly by topping the tortilla with grated hard goat's cheese before finishing off under the grill.

Kizzy enjoyed helping me out in the kitchen preparing the dishes!



There are lots more recipes that include McCain Wedges on the Summer of Sharing website, plus ideas for throwing a summer party.





Tuesday, 24 July 2012

The Next Mummy Blogger Event

Next have just launched their Childenswear Collection for Autumn/Winter 2012


So today me and my three youngest attended their Mummy Blogger Event at Crockwell Farm in Banbury to take a look at the range.

Next's children's clothing is suitable from newborn to age sixteen (although most stores do not stock the larger sizes so check online for older kids).  The new AW12 season's range consists of perfectly practical clothing featuring some great designs.  I love the colour palette of the collection which includes rich autumnal tones alongside monochrome pieces.

childrenswear

The Arthouse collection features abstract prints, intriguing textures and flashes of metallic.  The bold zebra prints and ochre tones appearing through the patterns are absolutely gorgeous.  We fell in love with the zebra print dress and cardigan for baby girls.  The Wild Bunch offers girls adorably kooky, easy to wear vintage-look denim with oversized knits and jersey tops in toffee and soft pinks.  Leopard print, stars and glitter threads add a pretty twist.  The Evening Post collection channels 1940s nostalgia with heritage fabrics, tweeds, cordrouy and cable-knits.  The Explorer and Little Explorer ranges gives boys a colourful selection of all-terrain wear to layer for an adventurous look and includes some funky Aztec prints.  A retro look comprising of jackets, peacoats and preppy chinos alongside braces and bowties creates the Rookie range for little Hipsters. The Gentleman's Club reworks country classics...think elbow patched cord blazers!  50s Revival recalls Mods with the smart casual range of skinny fit polos and cardigans.  There really is something for every taste and one of the best seasonal collections I have seen in years.  I have ear marked many key pieces for the kids and future grandbaby!

Next generously sent us a voucher to kit the kids out for the day and we really enjoyed choosing outfits.  Kizzy's soft pink skinny jeans and metallic lace top looked gorgeous.  Fred chose a rock star combo of skinny jeans and retro Union Jack t-shirt.  Ella went for the vintage Olympic tee which will be perfect for our Olympic trip in August!!

Next, AW12


As well as seeing the clothes we were treated to some fantastic entertainment.  For the grown-ups there was a Beauty Room where a team of very talented and friendly therapists gave us massages, manicures, pedicures, reflexology and threading.  Ella and I thoroughly enjoyed being pampered by the team from Beauty With Inn while the little ones were looked after and kept busy with lots of fun activities of their own.

next, treatments, reflexology, massage

So while we were enjoying our beauty treatments, Kizzy and Freddy raided the cake table for mini donuts, had their faces painted, watched a magic show, danced at the disco, played on the bouncy castle and enjoyed having fun with the on hand child minders with their lovely selection of toys and books.

next, event, face paint

There was a photographer who took photos of the little ones which I look forward to seeing!  I snapped Fred during his session!

facepaint, Next

It was brilliant to meet and catch up with so many other lovely bloggers, look at the new Autumn/Winter collection and chat to the wonderful team behind the event.  We were thoroughly spoiled and had an amazing day!

Thanks to Next for such a wonderful and generous event that was enjoyed by us all!

View the Autumn Winter collection at next.co.uk


Our Al Fresco Holiday Review

When my blog post won the Tots 100  Al Fresco holiday competition, I was absolutely delighted to have the opportunity of trying out a luxury holiday park in France for a week.  The experience started when I booked our break in a six berth luxury mobile home in the Yelloh! Village Cote de Nacre in Normandy.  The lady who dealt with our booking was just so helpful finding us the best dates, accommodation and the most suitable ferry crossings.  She even gave me some sea sickness advice!

Once all the details were finalised, we just had to wait for the day of our holiday to arrive.  I prepared myself with buying sea-sickness tablets and Sea-Bands, prepped the Sat Nav with European maps and got our pounds exchanged into Euros.

On the morning of the 14th July we made the long trek down to Portsmouth docks in order to catch the 2.45pm Brittany Ferries slow ferry to Caen.  I was actually filled with trepidation about this part of the journey as I am really sea sick and I was worried that Fred would be bored.  We had a cabin booked so we had a private area should I have needed to collapse in a heap somewhere.  However, thanks to the combination of Sea Bands and travel sickness tablets, I was nowhere near as bad as I have been before.  Also the Mont St Michel ferry was less a boat and more a resort at sea.  Plus, once we lost sight of England, we had blue skies and sunshine all the way meaning that the deck became a glorious sun drenched setting for relaxation.  Fred was kept entertained by a play area, a dance floor and a magician which made the crossing really fun for him.  The onboard cafe was really well priced and served a good veggie pizza!

Brittany Ferries


We arrived in France at 9.45pm to a gorgeous balmy evening.  The Yelloh! Resort was just half an hour away from the port and the Al Fresco Holidays rep (who was English) was ready for our arrival.  Our Vivaldi mobile home was spotlessly clean and well equipped.  We had ordered the bed packs giving us fresh, crisp linen and towels.  We made up our beds which were surprisingly comfy (although having sheets and blankets caused the kids to tie themselves in knots overnight!)  There was a double bedded room and two twin rooms in the mobile home, each room having storage and shelves.  The open plan kitchen, dining and living area was very homely.  We also had a separate shower room and (real) toilet.

Thomson

The mobile home was comfy and cosy, but was a bit of a squeeze with four adults and two children in.  Thankfully though, the kids all get on really well and had a lot of fun together in their little house!  Their consensus was that it was a really "cute", "comfy and cosy", "homely" and "fun" place to stay.

Everything was very well equipped with everything from a bottle opener to saucepans, crockery, cutlery and even a BBQ outside.  The oven and fridge-freezer were both full size and their was adequate storage for food.  There is an Environmentally Friendly ethic to the park and you are encouraged to use water and electricity responsibly, recycle your waste (including glass, paper, cans, cartons, plastic and cardboard) and to walk and cycle where possible.  They even provided a recycling basket to carry your recyclables to the bin area.

The site itself is really impressive.  There is a tropical water park with an indoor area, slides, flume, lazy river and sunbeds.  (Just make sure the men don't wear swim shorts...it's tight little speedos all the way in France or they won't let you in the pool!) The shop sells a variety of essentials including freshly baked baguettes which we bought every morning.  A play area boasted a massive selection of climbing frames, bouncers, swings, roundabouts and bouncy castles!  There was a take-away, a launderette, a restaurant, a bar area (with free wi-fi!!), an outdoor stage where entertainment took place and also a spa.  A shower block provided some very impressive shower cubicles with plentiful hot water which the girls used to avoid having to queue for the bathroom in the mobile home!

Thomson, France
The pitches were landscaped with palm trees, bamboo and other greenery.  A mix of mobile homes from various tour operators sat alongside campers in tents.  The atmosphere on site was very friendly and felt safe and secure. It was also very peaceful at night.

The swimming pool was a real hit with the kids and we spent many an hour lounging by the pool and swimming.  I have to admit that the outdoor pools were far too cold for me to get into, but the covered pool was great!  Meg and Kizzy were brave enough for the colder pools and enjoyed the slides and flume.  Freddy really enjoyed the water and Kizzy became a more competent swimmer during the week.

Thomson Al Fresco

There are a lot of sunbeds and we had no trouble finding space for us all to sit by the poolside.  It really was lovely in the sunshine.  Reps from the resort organised Aquafit and water polo games to keep the younger campers busy and entertained.

There was other scheduled entertainment laid on but we were too busy in the pool or exploring Normandy to really take part.  We were just so busy enjoying the sun and the local attractions!  The Al Fresco rep was on hand with advice with regards to places to go to (or not go to!) which was helpful.

Cote de Nacre is a resort where lots of French people go to, which implies to me that it is a well regarded place.  Many Dutch and German families were also enjoying holidaying there.  We didn't see too many other British families during our week.

The area of Normandy was absolutely wonderful.  We visited Bayeux and the D-Day Beaches, we went to a traditional (if not rather alarming) French circus, visited a fabulous Safari Park and explored the Calvados countryside and Operation Overlord coastline of the area.  It is an area steeped in history and very unspoilt.  We loved it!  It was also lovely to see the British flag flying proudly alongside other flags throughout the area, showing respect for other countries involved in WW2.

D-Day


I would highly recommend both the resort and the area as a great holiday destination for families.  Getting there was certainly easy enough despite my reservations, and staying in a mobile home was comfortable and quirky!  We would definitely visit again!!  We would recommend the slow ferry if you have kids as the fast ferry (3 and a half hours) had no entertainment on board for them.  There were lots of bored and crying tots on board.

France

Al Fresco Holidays have luxury accommodation available at 56 of the best holiday parcs across Europe.  These self-catering holidays are ideal for families offering a great range of amenities, facilities and attractions.  Holidays Al Fresco style can be as lively or as relaxed as you want them to be.  Take a look at the website for details on the parcs and facilities available and to book your own Al Fresco holiday.

www.thomsonalfresco.co.uk

Huge thanks to Tots 100 and  Al Fresco Holidays for this amazing holiday!

*We were meant to review the independent spa but unfortunately due to illness, the lady who runs the spa was unable to open it during the week we were there.  I did however peep through the window and it looked really nice and new inside.  It offers various treatments, hamman and sauna, which would provide a lovely relaxing escape for the grown-ups.  It was a shame that we couldn't experience it for ourselves.

spa, Thomson


Monday, 23 July 2012

Colour Me In with Kelloggs #ColourMeInRK

When Britmums were looking for children to have a go at colouring in the special boxes of Kellogg's Rice Krispies, I knew that my 9 year old Kizzy would love to get involved.  She was overjoyed when she received a brand, spanking new case of felt tips and a big box of Kellogg's Rice Krispies to decorate in order to personalise her breakfast!

Kelloggs

She loved the selection of colouring pens which included colour change markers and stampers and sparkly tubes of glitter....perfect for getting crafty with her colour-in cereal box!

Kelloggs

Kizzy thoroughly enjoyed colouring in, stamping and glittering the box and the end result was quite impressive!  It is a great idea of Kellogg's to incorporate a craft activity into their packaging. The Kellogg's Rice Krispies website has loads more fun craft ideas and downloadable activity sheets, so if the weather is grim you can keep the kids entertained!

Kelloggs


We will enjoy eating our Rice Krispies from Kizzy's customised box that now has added artistic Snap, Crackle and Pop!!

kelloggs, Rice Krispies

This is our entry is for the BritMums #ColourMeInRK competition, sponsored by Kellogg’s.


Moving Out and Looking Forward

I'm finally back on my laptop after my week long break away in Normandy (thanks to Thomson Al Fresco and Tots 100).  We had a glorious week filled with French cider, cheese, laughs, beaches and sunshine.  It was perfect (blog post review to follow!)

sun, holiday, France

Our week away was especially wonderful as Megan was able to come away with us before being thrust into the real world with her new flat and new job.  It was a lovely way for us to enjoy her company for an uninterrupted time in a beautiful place before she sets off on her new life adventure.

We returned on Saturday night with the prospect of having to move Megan into her new home in Manchester's Green Quarter on the Sunday.  I was worried that we would be exhausted and totally frazzled, however, it turned out to be a lovely day.  We managed to squeeze all her stuff into the car with us and get her all moved in one go.  The Green Quarter is a really lovely area of the city with ultra modern appartment blocks made from glass and metal, each with its own balcony.  Lots of young executive types were milling around and enjoying the sunshine (that we clearly brought back from France!)  in the communal area where there were trees and a water feature.  I can imagine Megan being really happy and getting on really well in her new life as a working woman.

Megan's flatmate Abi has been embraced into our family.  Freddy absolutely adored her and by virtue of this fact she is now officially an honorary member of Team McD!

I remember like it was only yesterday, when we first dropped Megan off at university three years ago.  We both cried and I felt so terrible and bereft  leaving her alone.  This time couldn't have been more different.  We are so excited for her!  Everything has happened so quickly...graduating with a 2:1 finding a job and getting a flat all in the same month!  We will miss her being able to spend summer at home with us, but know that this is the best thing for her.  She deserves to be in a vibrant city filled with opportunities and excitement!  A sleepy market town in Shropshire is not enough for my daughter.

degree, graduation

I'm so looking forward to this summer.  I've got lots of plans for myself, for the home and for the family.  I intend to make the most of these six weeks.  I know all to well how quickly time passes...I am going to fully appreciate the time spent with my loved ones this summer.  Not only has Megan left home but, come September, Ella is off to full-time college and Fred starts nursery.  Things are constantly changing and evolving.  I'm going to be sure I don't miss a thing!!

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