Wednesday, 6 June 2018

How to Survive Half Term Like a Pro

It's THAT time again, that time every six weeks where the kids take over the house, the food cupboards remain empty (even though you're sure they were full yesterday!) and the kids wrestling could put John Cena to shame. 

Follow my guide on how to survive half term, stress-free...


half term, survive half term, children, family, days out

Plan in advance. 

If you're going to be at home with the kids this half term, get planning. 
Google activities happening in your local area. 
Check the weather and plan around it. 


Visit somewhere new.

Go on an adventure! Go exploring!
Get out and about, visit a new park, a woodland area or a trip to somewhere you haven't been before. Best of all, it's FREE.
A few years ago we did something we nicknamed 'Magical Mystery Day' where we wrote down the names of all the towns in our region, picked one out of a hat, jumped into the car and headed for an adventure! It was such good fun and you can never run out of options, the World is a BIG place!

half term, survive half term, children, family, days out
credit
Have a Theme Day

Let the kids take over!
Allow them to choose a theme for the day, whether it be a Pirate Day, a Pink Day, Under the Sea Day, a Superhero Day... it's a great idea for the kids to feel in control, and a good excuse for the whole family to get involved, communicate together and for everyone to have input.


Get Messy!

After working and training in child development for 16 years, I'm a big advocate for messy play!!
Young children learn best through unstructured, exploratory play. Experimenting with different materials and textures promotes curiosity, knowledge and builds on their senses. 
Take a roll of old wallpaper and make paint footprints.
Go hunting in the cupboards and make a small world village; shaving foam, porridge oats, lentils? 
If the weather allows, chalking on the pavement or water painting on the fences is great fun for little ones. 

Go crazy. Get messy!


half term, survive half term, children, family, messy play

Explore Local Events

Check out your local shopping centres to see if they have any fun events planned to keep the kids entertained. 

Last week, Taylor and I visited our local shopping and leisure centre Highcross Leicester where hands-on science workshops were being held. Little Labs held a number of FREE interactive workshops and demonstrations involving an expert team of scientists who led the children on a journey of creation and discovery, allowing them to learn about science in an educating and entertaining way.

half term, survive half term, children, family, days out, Highcross, Leicester, Little Labs
half term, survive half term, children, family, days out, Highcross, Leicester, Little Labs

Taylor put on his lab coat & goggles and took part in some bubble popping, sherbet making, dry ice blowing fun!

We took part in two different shows; an interactive workshop and then a demonstration. Both were fantastic, really interesting and children orientated. Taylor got to make some sherbert, enjoyed attempting to make some giant bubbles and watched some really entertaining 'tricks'. 


half term, survive half term, children, family, days out, Highcross, Leicester, Little Labs
half term, survive half term, children, family, days out, Highcross, Leicester, Little Labs


In between the shows, we took a walk around the shopping centre, stopped for a drink and a yummy doughnut at Krispy Kreme (well Taylor did, Mummy was good as she was Shredding!!), did a bit of shopping; choosing a new t-shirt in FootAsylum for Bradley, a Father's Day card for Daddy in Clintons Cards and of course, we had to go on every single coin-operated ride on we came across in the centre!! (just my child??)

And after the shows, we headed to Frankie & Benny's for some lunch. 
Highcross has a huge range of delicious places to eat, perfect to finish off a family day out. Frankie & Benny's has a fantastic children's menu offering a main, 2 sides, a dessert and a drink for just £4.99. Although very busy with it being Half Term, we were well looked after, we didn't have a wait very long for food and the food was perfect!! 

The Highcross PLUS app has some fantastic offers on at the moment, we'd planned on treating ourselves to the 'Buy 2 Pretzels Get 2 Free offer' at Auntie Anne's but we were far too stuffed after the meal!! 


half term, survive half term, children, family, days out, Highcross, Frankie & Benny's, food

half term, survive half term, children, family, days out, Highcross, Frankie & Benny's, food


Parents, you've totally got this. 

It's totally acceptable to snuggle up with some popcorn and watch The Greatest Showman at least twice ;) And don't forget to take some time out for you too, Mama!! 

half term, survive half term, children, family, days out, Highcross,









*We were invited along to watch the Little Labs workshops 
& offered complimentary meals at Frankie & Benny's 
for the purpose of this post.

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Thursday, 10 May 2018

Family Film Time with Sherlock Gnomes

family, cinema, Sherlock Gnomes, film, Showcase Cinema


As a single Mum of a pre-schooler and a teenager, it can often be difficult to find things to do as a family, that both boys will enjoy. But one thing we do enjoy is film time.

Paramount Pictures' Sherlock Gnomes hit the cinemas at the end of last month. 
The boys and I were invited along to an Exclusive Screening of the family friendly sequel to Gnomeo and Juliet. 


family, cinema, Sherlock Gnomes, film, Showcase Cinema

family, cinema, Sherlock Gnomes, film, Showcase Cinema


So we headed down to our local Showcase Cinema de Lux for a Mummy / Son date. 

Armed with our snacks, chocolate coated popcorn (Yes really!!) and Tango Ice Blasts (have you even been to the cinema if you didnt have an Ice Blast?!) we got comfy in our seats ready for the film. 

We love Showcase; the seats are huge and super comfy, lots of leg room and there's a touch of luxury in every theatre. 

family, cinema, Sherlock Gnomes, film, Showcase Cinema

family, cinema, Sherlock Gnomes, film, Showcase Cinema


Sherlock Gnomes is the perfect family film to entertain all ages! 

James McAvoy and Emily Blunt return to their roles of Gnomeo and Juliet, joined by a few new voices; Mary J Blige, Micheal Caine and Ozzy Osbourne, with Johnny Depp taking the reins of Sherlock himself.

The gnomes are back for a whole new adventure in London.

Whilst getting their new city garden ready for Spring, they discover that garden gnomes all over London are going missing. 
After returning home to their garden one day, to find their family and friends have been kidnapped, Gnomeo and Juliet set out on a comedy filled adventure, alongside famous detective and sworn protector of London's garden gnomes; Sherlock Gnomes and his sidekick Watson who lead the investigation to solve the mystery of the missing gnomes.
With lots of life lessons within the film, such as not taking people for granted, the film was a fantastic all-rounder for all ages to enjoy. 


Sherlock Gnomes is currently being shown at Showcase Cinemas





family, cinema, Sherlock Gnomes, film, Showcase Cinema




Exclusive Screening tickets gifted to us for the purpose of this review
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Tuesday, 1 May 2018

5 Tips for your Child's First Trip to the Theatre

tips, children, family, theatre


It can be a daunting experience, introducing young children to the theatre for the first time. 
Will they enjoy it? Will they get bored? Will they sit still? 

I recently took my three-year-old to the theatre for the first time. 
I'll be honest, I was a little nervous. I wasn't sure how he'd behave or if he'd sit still throughout the show.
So after our first experience, I've put together my top five tips to help make your first trip to the theatre with young children run smoothly! 


Choose a Suitable Show

Go for something age-appropriate. Don't be too ambitious! 
Something fun, colourful and full of catchy music is perfect for keeping young children's attention. Choose something that isn't too long, or something with a well-timed break to stop them getting restless.

We went to see 'What The Ladybird Heard'; a stage adaptation of Julia Donaldson & Lydia Monk's farmyard fun tale. 
The story follows two crafty robbers Hefty Hugh and Lanky Len on their cunning plan to steal the farmer's fine prize cow. But the tiny little ladybird saves the day!

The story really came alive on the stage, with the bright and colourful backdrops which looked as though they were taken straight from the book itself. 
The show captured Taylor's attention straight away with it's fun, easy to follow songs, the audience participation and we loved how they created the farmyard animals using everyday items found around the farm, yet perfectly captured the illustrations from the book. He loved shouting out when he spotted the ladybird and was soon singing along to the repetitive rhymes. 

At an hour long, with the perfect mixture of singing, dancing, puppetry, storytelling and humour, it was a fantastic choice for a toddler's first theatre visit. 


tips, children, family, theatre, what the ladybird heard, Julia Donaldson
tips, children, family, theatre, what the ladybird heard, Julia Donaldson


Prepare Them

It's a good idea to chat to them about the upcoming visit, so they know what to expect. 
Look at pictures online together, read the book if based on a children's story and maybe chat about the characters they might see. 

Also talk about what is expected of them. Talk about where they'll be sitting, explain that they have to sit nicely, speak quietly and use their listening ears. Of course, children can be noisy, and if you're at a child-centred show, it's likely that other children will be doing the same. But it's never too early to teach them a little theatre etiquette.  


tips, children, family, theatre, what the ladybird heard, Julia Donaldson, Curve, Leicester


Make It a New, Fun Adventure

A new experience is always exciting, but some young children can often be a bit wary of new places.
I made a huge deal out of Taylor's first visit to the theatre. We were going on an adventure!! 

First we had to find the theatre. Curve is situated in the heart of Leicester's Cultural Quarter. 
We had to follow the winding 'magic line' as Taylor nicknamed it through the Cultural Quarter which led us to the theatre. He LOVED this! We then had a look around the theatre; which is a beautiful building! 


tips, children, family, theatre, Curvetips, children, family, theatre, what the ladybird heard, Julia Donaldson, Curve


Arm Yourself With Snacks & Drinks

If your child is anything like mine, they'll get hungry, or thirsty after the first 10 minutes!
(...just mine?)
Making sure you have something to drink, and a few healthy snacks in case they get peckish.

Or treat them to something yummy from the cafe!
The apple juice and popcorn definitely kept this one occupied during the show!


tips, children, family, theatre, Curve, snacks


Relax and Enjoy Yourself!

Finally, and probably most importantly, enjoy it!! 
After the whole, 'Ooh front row balcony seats, I hope he doesn't attempt to climb this barrier...' 'Is he going to mess about on this bumper seat the whole way through?' and 'A whole hour without a break, can he manage that? Is he gonna need a wee halfway through?' moments, I sat back and I enjoyed it.  

Enjoy the show!
Enjoy the experience! 
Enjoy making memories with your children!


tips, children, family, theatre, what the ladybird heard, Julia Donaldson, Curve


tips, children, family, theatre, what the ladybird heard, Julia Donaldson


'What the Ladybird Heard' is a glittering treat for all the family and on at a theatre near you until the end of August 2018. Book tickets here

And if you're local to Leicester, check out future family fun shows at the Curve.



tips, children, family, theatre, what the ladybird heard, Julia Donaldson, Curve




Theatre tickets gifted to us by the Curve for the purpose of this review
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Friday, 20 April 2018

What do you look for in the perfect 'GIRLS DATE' venue?



What do you look for in the perfect 'GIRLS DATE' venue?




Ladies. We lead busy lives; work, children, relationships, homes. 
All of which can take its toll. We can often feel like we're on a treadmill, balancing plates.
So it's so important to have that time out, with the girls; to let your hair down, catch up on each other's lives, spend time in the company of those you trust, that love you, empower you and will entertain your stories, listen to your vents and worries, build you up and keep you grounded. 

It's actually good for your health! ;) 

So, after being invited to the press night of a recently opened bar / restaurant in Leicester Town Centre, it got me wondering; what kind of environment do you look for, for the perfect girls catch up?


Head of Steam, Leicester, Girls night out, eating out



I asked this question on social media recently. 

My favourite reply has to be: 
'Good lighting for too many pics, good WiFi for uploading said pics, well-presented food for #instafood pics, pretty cocktails (also for pics), some kind of feature that's good for taking pics against... Basically, as long as everything is well thought out for good pics. Think that covers the criteria these days right?' 

That is why she's my best friend. ;) 

So, judging by your answers, the things of most importance to you when it comes to the perfect venue for a girly catch up are...


Head of Steam, Leicester, Girls night out, eating out


A Relaxing, Inviting Atmosphere

We want somewhere cute.
We want somewhere quirky.
We want good lighting.
We want good music, but at a volume where we can still talk to each other. It's never ideal to have to shout over loud music while Daisy is trying to talk about her aunties best mates' neighbours cat dying. 
We want the perfect table; a booth or a round table so we can all chat. I've been to many meals out with friends and not even spoke to half the people there all evening as they were at the other end of a long table!

I really loved the set up of the new Head of Steam bar, recently opened on Market Street, Leicester. A really spacious, stylish venue. They have lots of different seating areas dependant on your mood. Comfy armchairs, simple bar stools and tables (the nearer to the bar, the better?), a relaxed dining experience downstairs, with cute booths or different sized tables. And a waiter service upstairs, again with different areas and table areas to suit everyone. We were sat upstairs at a table perfect for two, in the corner, which was nice for a quiet catch up out of the way of the hustle and bustle. And after dinner, we headed downstairs for cocktails.
The decor was fab; really quirky with caged beer on display, beer and brewery themed artwork and an amazing beer bottle chandelier. You're sensing a theme, right? Head of Steam champions local breweries and specialises in craft beers.

They also offer live entertainment on certain evenings if you fancy that too.


Head of Steam, Leicester, Girls night out, eating out

Head of Steam, Leicester, Girls night out, eating out


An Extensive Cocktail Menu

Us girls love a cocktail. Personally, I'm not really a drinker, I don't really like the taste of alcohol. So cocktails are perfect as they almost taste like pop. Disclaimer: It's not pop. Drink responsibly guys! ;)
Is it because they're pretty? Is it because they taste amazing? Whatever it is, we love them. And we love splashing them all over our Insta! ;)

Have you even had a cocktail if you didn't boomerang it? 

The cocktail menu at Head of Steam, Leicester has a good variety; from the usual classics to their speciality beer cocktails; the Pink Elephant was going down a storm on Press Night.

I went for a Raspberry Chew (pictured below) which was rather lovely!!



Head of Steam, Leicester, Girls night out, eating out

Head of Steam, Leicester, Girls night out, eating out


Great Tasting, Insta Worthy Food

My friends, even my kids, know me well enough to know that they're not allowed to start eating until I've at least updated my Insta Stories with a quick snap! 
Us ladies like a good menu with lots of options. Me, I like good hearty English food; presented well, perfectly sized portions and of course, it must taste no less than AMAZING!! 

HOS had a great menu inc. light bites, sandwiches, stone-baked pizzas (next on my list!), their special recipe burgers and hotdogs, and then their World Flavours menu; each of which has been carefully matched with the perfect beer to partner with your meal. I chose 'Road Crew & Sage Sausages' served with creamy mash, buttered greens and gravy and it was delicious!! 

My friend devoured the '21 Day Aged Yorkshire Sirloin Steak' complete with fries, sun blushed tomatoes, peppercorn sauce and a side salad in which she commented was the best side salad she'd ever tasted!! Other than the steak being slightly more well done than she'd asked, she really enjoyed it!


Head of Steam, Leicester, Girls night out, eating out

Head of Steam, Leicester, Girls night out, eating out

Head of Steam, Leicester, Girls night out, eating out


To-Die-For Desserts

Life is short, eat the cake! ;) 
Everyone that knows me knows I have a bit of a sweet tooth!
For me, dessert is THE most important part! ;) so you gotta be getting this bit right!! 

There needs to be a good selection of desserts on the menu. 
Us girls want more than chocolate brownie, apple pie or ice cream to choose from. We want variety. We want sharing options. We want light options (sometimes, a refreshing sorbet is perfect after a big meal!) They need to satisy us, taste wonderful and finish us off perfectly!!

My friend and I decided on a Trio Sharing Board, which for just £9.95 we could choose three full-size desserts from the menu, to share. We went with the Knickerbocker Glory, the Strawberry & Rhubarb Cheesecake and the Profiteroles with Butterscotch Syrup. 

Well, where do I start? The cheesecake tasted SO GOOD, the rhubarb complemented the cheesecake just beautifully. Other than the berries being a little too sour, the ice cream was lovely and creamy and then the butterscotch profiteroles finished it off perfectly. Definitely one of the best desserts I'd ever had. Well done, Head of Steam Leicester ;) I'm definitely going back if only for dessert!!  



Head of Steam, Leicester, Girls night out, eating out, desserts

Head of Steam, Leicester, Girls night out, eating out


So what about you?
What do you look for in the perfect place
 for a girls night out?







*Many thanks to Head of Steam Leicester for the invite to the Pre-Launch Press Night.
We received complimentary meals and drinks in attendance of the Press Night.


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