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Entertain the kids this Halloween half term!

Halloween Half Term week

Halloween Half Term Days Out

Looking for ideas for Halloween Half Term? Here is a list of some of our favourite spooky and unusual days out over Halloween Half term in and around Essex.

Farms

Barleylands Farm Park are running Pumpkinfest during the Halloween Half term week. Halloween themed activities and a free pumpkin for each child. They have two spooky evenings Friday 27th & Saturday 28th October packed with thrills, spills and chills for tots to young teens.  With family friendly activities including Huge Fairground Ghost Train, Haunted Fairground House, Boo Barn, Witches Walk, Haze Maze, Spooky Toddler Story Time, Creepy Reptile Cave, Halloween Disco and spooky games. Book tickets online.

Hopefield Halloween at Hopefield Animal Sanctury on 29th October 11:00-16:00.  Halloween event with Fancy Dress Competition, Haunted Bus, Halloween arts and crafts and mask making fun, Halloween themed Love On The Rocks and fantastic face painting. Entrance: Adults: £6, Kids: £5, Under 3s are FREE.

 

 

 

Pick your own pumpkins

Cammas Hall Farm at Hatfield Broad Oak  you can pick your own pumpkin, enjoy a tractor and trailor ride, get lost in their Maize Maze, face painting or maybe make your own Halloween mask. Don’t forget to stop off for a Halloween treat in their Tea Barn.

The Pumpkin Patch at Basildon or Colchester. Free entry and open every weekend during October 10-4pm.

 

Pumpkin Patch Halloween Half TermThe Pumpkin Patch Halloween Half Term

 

Take a ride on a Halloween Train

Audley End Miniature Railway

Ride the spooky train deep into the woods to visit the witches. Every ticket includes craft making, face painting, story telling, a visit to the dance tent and a gift for every child. Book online.

Epping Ongar Railway, Ongar

Are running 3 spooky ghost train events during Halloween Half term. Saturday 28th October 2017 (day + evening), Sunday 29th October 2017 (day only), and Tuesday 31st October 2017 (evening only). Don’f forget to visit the Halloween marquee at North Weird, where there is magic shows throughout the day, face painting, a silent disco and, for the grown ups, a bar. Each child receives a gift. Book online.

Audley End at Halloween Half Term

 

Essex Police Museum

Essex Police Museum in Chelmsford are offering Halloween crafts, make your own scary mask and trick or treat bag. Fancy dress welcome and free entry to the museum. £2 per child. 21st, 25th and 28th October 10:00 – 16:00.

Check their Facebook page for further details.

 

Essex Wildlife Trust

Essex Wildlife Trust have many Halloween Half Term activities across all of their centres, here are some of our favourites.

Hanningfield Resevoir have plenty of activities running through the Halloween half term, check their website for further details. Spooktastic Family Trail. Solve the spooky clues and track down the creepy creatures of Hanningfield Nature Reserve? Trail sheets £2.50 per child. Sun, 22/10/2017 – 10:00am – 3:00pm. No need to book.

Haunted Hanningfield on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th October 10-3pm. Follow the spooky trail through the woods to the spooky House, dare you go in? Halloween treat for the brave. Bug hunting, Pumpkin carving and Halloween crafts in the Visitor Centre. Donation £8 per child. No booking necessary.

Belfairs Woodland Centre have Horrible Halloween crafts, drop in for some Halloween crafts on Saturday 28th October 10am -2pm.

Haunting Halloween at Langdon Nature ReserveSat, 28/10/2017 – 6:00pm – 9:00pm aimed at children 6yrs+. Follow the self-guided trail but beware of things that go bump in the night! Finish with stories and marshmallows at the camp fire. Three sessions available starting at 6pm, 6.30 or 7pm (younger children are advised to attend the earlier sessions) Family event aimed at children 6yrs+, must be accompanied by an adult at all times. £7 per person, booking essential.

 

Haunted Hanningfield Halloween Half TermHaunted Hanningfield Cabin Halloween Half Term

 

Halloween Book Reading

Free Book reading event of ‘The Seven Sisters’ by Sibel Beadle, local author of children’s book series ‘Witchy Travel Tales’. With craft activity and book signing at Barleylands function room on Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd October and Saturday 28th and 29th October at the following times each day: 11-11:45am, 12-12:45pm and 1-1:45pm.

Broomstick Making

Make your own broomstick at Norsey Wood. Tuesday 24th October. 1pm – 2:30pm. £2.50 per child. Prebooking required.

 

Spooky Fest Wat Tyler Country Park

Spooky Fest running Monday 23rd October 2017 until Sunday 29th October 2017, 11am until 3pm. Three halloween themed mazes with live characters. Step back in time and walk around the haunted house, looking out for ghosts, ghouls and all things that fright. Meet the 2017 freaky clowns in the extra large Circus. Hook a duck, have your fortune read and see if you can escape the never ending corridors. Introducing the new vampire village. See the vampires hide out, rotting corpses, and spooky effects. Book tickets online. Children 4+ £5 each includes a sweet treat.

 

Lullingstone Castle & World Gardens

Lullingstone Castle just over in Kent is hosting some Halloween magic on the last day of the season. Pumpkin carving, spooky house and garden tours – perfect for all the family. Tom will give garden tours at 1pm and dusk tour at 5pm, learn about the origins of pumpkins, colours and varieties and children can spot the Halloween tricks in eerie torchlight! Fancy dress is welcome. 29th October 12-8pm.

Hedingham Castle

Halloween Weirdness and Wondercraft at Hedingham Castle. 10  Halloween themed workshops, creepy creatures, bash the rat or smash the skull, gooey cauldron of ghastly gunk, slithering reptiles, gory face painting, scary stories in the castle dungeon and a spectacular fiery finale! 10% discount when booking online.

 

Magic Shows

Monday Mayhem at Orsett Hall. Halloween Children’s Party with AJ Entertainers. 10.00am – 1.00pm and 2.00pm – 5.00pm. Entertainers, Balloon Modelling, Face Painting, Arts & Crafts, Mini Disco. Tickets £8.50, book online.

The Magic Frostie Halloween Show on 23 October at 14:00–15:30 at Wickford Community Centre. A Halloween themed show filled with music, Puppets, Balloons, Mind-Blowing Magic. Book online.

 

Thank you for reading ‘Entertain the kids this Halloween half term!’

Pumpkins Halloween Half Term

 

 

Castles/Houses, Days Out, Home, Museums, Outdoors, Unusual

Ingatestone Hall

Ingatestone Hall

We visited Ingatestone Hall one Sunday and had such a lovely time. A wonderful old house to explore with gardens and a tea room.

The house was built in the 1500’s and has been passed through fifteen generations of the Petre Family. The house is still occupied by the family until this day. Situated in the countryside just 1 mile from Ingatestone in Essex. It’s a splendid Tudor Mansion which retains its original Tudor form and appearance. Inside you will find oak-panelled rooms adorned with furniture and objects gathered over time from many different periods.

Ingatestone Hall - the front

The House

As you enter the house into the Inner Court there is a small shop selling gifts and souvenirs and a restaurant situated in The Summer Parlour. They serve light lunches, sandwiches, delicious cakes, and cream teas. Full afternoon teas can also be prebooked. There are lots of paintings on the walls and Eden sat happily drawing her own versions of them!

Ingatestone Hall, the summer parlour

Ingatestone Hall the cakes

Exploring the rooms

You start your self guided tour in The Stone Hall, a beautiful large oak panelled room. Each room is adorned with various pieces of furniture and objects collected over the years. There are also lots of personal photos and articles belonging to the family. Eden found looking around the house so interesting, looking at the paintings, tapestries, stuffed animals and various artifacts. She was amazed to find the priests hiding place hidden in the Study and found it fascinating that this was a hiding place for someone once upon a time. The secretive chamber is hidden within a cupboard, entry via a small alcove. At the opposite end there was once an opening where food might have been passed to the priest. Eden insisted on having a photo next to the Priests hiding place.

Ingatestone Hall  The Stone Hall

Ingatestone Hall Inside the Stone Hall

Ingatestone Hall The priests hole

 

There is also a second Priests hiding place on the main stair case. It had been lost for many years and was uncovered in 1855 when a child lost its toy through the floorboards in the room above.

There are many rooms to visit within Ingatestone Hall. The Dining Room was particularly impressive, the table laid out in fine silverware ready for entertaining. Upstairs in The Gallery there are lots of glass display cabinets filled with lace, coins and documents. There are so many interesting things to see, you won’t be disappointed.

 

Ingatestone Hall The Dining Hall

Ingatestone Hall The silverware

Ingatestone Hall  The Gallery

The Gardens

Ingatestone Hall is surrounded by ten acres of enclosed gardens comprising extensive lawns, walled garden and stew pond. In the garden there are several routes to take around the garden, whether it’s The Lime Walk lined with trees, The Nut walk named as it is lined with Hazel trees and The Wild Walk, an area to encourage wild life. Each one makes an interesting and exciting adventure for little ones. We spent lots of time exploring the gardens, Eden was so excited to explore. For her she found it magical, her imagination ran wild.

Ingatestone Hall Gardens

Ingatestone Hall Stew Pond

Ingatestone Hall the garden walks

Ingatestone Hall Eden and I

Visitor Information

The house and grounds are open from noon to 5 p.m.  (last entry 4 p.m.) on Wednesday, Sunday & Bank Holiday Monday afternoons from Easter until the end of September.

The house is now closed for public visits until Easter 2018 but open for special events.

There is free parking available in the Meadow Car Park.

Adults are £7 each

Pensioners £6

Children 5-16 £3

And under 5s are free.

The house is also open to other events and available to hire for weddings and parties. Please see their website for more information.

Thank you for reading Ingatestone Hall – A Review.

 

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Days Out, Home, Outdoors, Parks, Shows, Unusual

The Halloween Train – Audley End Miniature Railway

Halloween Train

Halloween Tradition

So Autumn is almost upon us and it’s time to start planning for one of our most favourite holidays… Halloween! It’s become part of our Halloween tradition to visit Audley End Miniature Railway and ride the Halloween Train. This will be our third year and Eden loves it so much she talks about it all year round!

If you haven’t visited Audley End Miniature Railway before, it’s definitely one to add to the list. It’s a wonderful train ride through the forest spotting Teddies with an enchanted fairy walk and fairy & elf festival! It’s such a lovely day out with the kids. You can read our previous post about it here.

The Halloween Train

Come Halloween time… Everywhere is decorated and themed in a spooky Halloween theme, even inside The Signal Box Cafe! It always looks so amazing! All the staff are dressed up too, it’s a wonderful sight. Every year so far the Halloween Train at Audley End has not disappointed.

 

Halloween Train Entrance

Halloween Train inside Signal box cafe

 

You are able to book the time of the train and then you can play and explore the rest of the facilities at your own leisure. At the platform you board the train and are waved off by the creepy conductor on a journey through the spooky forest. On your travels be sure to look out for all the spooky goings on! There are lots of fun Halloween things to spot whilst on your train ride but all aimed at children so nothing too scary. Halfway round you stop to visit the Witches who dance and cook up a witchy spell… if you’re lucky they may even give out a sweet treat too! Or as Eden would say ‘candy’!

 

Halloween Train Platform sign

Halloween Train

Halloween Train Conductor

Halloween Train

Halloween Train Deep Forest Halt

Halloween Train ghosts

Halloween Train Witch

Halloween Activities

After you return back to the station you are free to explore the rest of the Halloween fun. It’s got better every year adding more fun things for the kids to do. This year they are promising: A Train Ride through the woods to visit the witches, craft making, face painting, story telling, a visit to the dance tent and a gift for every child.

 

Halloween Train Sign

Halloween Train Eden the witch

Tickets are now on sale on their website! We can’t wait to get dressed up and go again this year!

Thank you for reading ‘The Halloween Train – Audley End Miniature Railway’

Castles/Houses, Days Out, Home, Outdoors, Unusual

Rayleigh Windmill – A Review

Rayleigh windmill

Rayleigh Windmill

I previously listed Rayleigh Windmill in my top local free/cheap days out in Essex. You can see that list here.

Rayleigh Windmill is situated next to Rayleigh Mount and is a great place to visit with or without kids. There is a car park right outside and it is free to park on Sundays. You can also hire the Windmill for Weddings and other celebrations.

The Mill

Rayleigh Windmill is a 200 year old Grade II listed building where you can learn how the Windmill worked, try the quiz in the museum, and dress up in traditional costumes. An interesting and unusual day out for the kids.

We popped along one Sunday to have a look around. We found the volunteers that run the Windmill were very friendly and knowledgeable. They were happy to answer any questions we had and told us some of the history of the Windmill and The Mount, where Rayleigh Castle once stood.

Rayleigh windmill on the stairs
Rayleigh windmill climbing the windmill

 

Ground Floor and First Floors

On the ground floor was information about the Windmill and some children’s arts and crafts. We climbed up the narrow stairs to the first floor where we found a small museum. It housed lots of interesting historic pieces and there is a quiz that you can take part in. It was simply finding items on a list so even our 5 year old could manage it with a little help. Eden was fascinated to learn about the gas masks for used during the war and in particular one used for babies.

 

Rayleigh windmill pieces of history in the museum

Rayleigh windmill quiz

Rayleigh windmill adult gas mask

 

Second Floor

On the 2nd floor they regularly hold exhibitions and on this occasion there was an artist displaying her paintings for sale. Eden was also able to paint a picture which she was very happy about. She loves to draw and paint. Whilst we let her painting dry we climbed up to the top floor.

 

Rayleigh windmill painting exhibition

Rayleigh windmill Eden painting

 

Top Floor

The stairs do get much narrower and steeper as you climb, so bear this in mind before visiting. Eden managed the steps absolutely fine though. On the top floor was an amazing model of The Mount and how the castle would of once looked. We spent some time hunting for a tiny little brown rabbit. See if you can spot him! There is also some dressing up available and a large board with characters from the castle. Eden happily played with that whilst we had a look at the views from the top of the Windmill. They have some pocket money toys for sale on the top floor.

After climbing to the top of the Windmill, children are awarded with their very own certificate!

 

Rayleigh windmill Castle model

Rayleigh windmill on the top floor, castle display board
Rayleigh windmill Eden outside the windmill

Visit the Windmill

Entry is free for Rayleigh Windmill but a donation of £1 per person is suggested.

Opening times:

Wednesday 10:00am – 1:00pm

Saturday 1:00 – 4:00pm

Sunday 1:00 – 4:00pm

Please check their website before visiting for a full list of closures due to private functions.

There are no toilets at the mill but you can use the facilities in The Mill Arts Centre next door.

Parking is at Mill Hall Car Park which is a paid for car park but free after 1pm on Saturday and free all day Sunday.

For more information please visit their website.

After looking around Rayleigh Windmill we took a short walk around Rayleigh Mount. Climbing to the top of the steps to reach the top where the Castle once stood. We then walked around the outside. It only took about 15-20 mins so not too far for little legs.

Rayleigh mount

Rayleigh mount

Rayleigh windmill climbing rayleigh mount

Rayleigh windmill view from top of rayleigh mount

Eden is wearing a floral dress from Next, lemon leggings and Gold Converse High tops.

Thank you for reading ‘Rayleigh Windmill – A Review’.

Books, Home, Lifestyle

‘Kevin’ by Rob Biddulph – A Review & Giveaway

Kevin by Rob Biddulph

‘Kevin’ by Rob Biddulph

We were thrilled to receive a copy of ‘Kevin’ the newest book from the bestselling, award-winning author of Blown Away and GRRRRR! ‘Kevin’ by Rob Biddulph published on 10th August 2017 is a story about a boy, his imaginary friend and a beautiful friendship.

Kevin by Rob Biddulph Front Cover

 

The Story

Eden immediately liked the front cover. She was drawn to Kevin’s big friendly face staring back at her, she couldn’t wait to see more.  In the story we are introduced to Sid, a cheeky and sometimes naughty character. He get’s in to trouble with his mum and thinking fast blames it on his imaginary friend Kevin. Much to Sid’s surprise he discovers that Kevin isn’t as imaginary as first thought. In fact he is quite real and Sid is transported into Kevin’s bright and colourful land. During Sid’s time with his imaginary friend he discovers that Kevin’s feelings are very real and being honest and truthful is very important. Sid realises his faults, learns how to take responsibility and to make amends.

‘Suddenly Sidney did not feel so clever. He actually felt like the least best-friend ever. He went up the stairs full of sorrow and guilt. To where he found Kevin tucked under his quilt’

‘Kevin’ by Rob Biddulph is an enchanting storybook. Every parents dream, the rhyming tale is a pleasure to read and the pages are filled with beautiful illustrations. Starting in a dull grey world you are transported into Kevin’s bright and colourful world where Sid learns a valuable lesson.

Kevin by Rob Biddulph Eden reading

Kevin by Rob Biddulph review Kevins land

Kevin by Rob Biddulph review Eden enjoying the book

 

Eden’s Imaginary Friend

Eden really enjoyed the story. Although only 5 she understood the story was about Friendship. Eden loved the characters in the book and really liked the bright and busy pages. I asked Eden if she had an imaginary friend and what they might be like. You can see her response and her thoughts on ‘Kevin’ in our short video here:

‘Kevin’ By Rob Biddulph is out now and hard back copies are £12.99.

The Giveaway

You can enter to win a full set of Rob’s 5 children’s books, Blown Away, Grrrrr, Odd Dog Out, Sunk! & Kevin.

We are giving away 5 sets of the books to 5 very lucky readers. All you have to do to enter is fill in the rafflecopter form below. This giveaway is running until midnight on 23rd September 2017. Open to UK entries only. Good luck to all!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you for reading ‘Kevin’ by Rob Biddulph – A Children’s Book Review.

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Kevin by Rob Biddulph review

Crafts, Home, Lifestyle, Memories

Tips for an awesome Trolls Party

trolls party

Trolls Party

So it seems that we have all fallen in love with those gorgeous, bright, colourful characters from Trolls. In particular Poppy has found her way into many of our children’s hearts (even the adults)! This year we took Eden to see a Trolls in the cinema and she was instantly hooked. All the singing, dancing, bright colours and glitter made it an infectious mix. So I wasn’t surprised she opted for Trolls party for her 5th birthday this year.

 

Trolls Party Eden and Poppy

 

Here’s how we made our party Trolltastic:

 

The Entertainer

We had Poppy the Troll come and visit us from Fizz & Giggle Parties. Poppy was so much fun, she sung and danced and played so many games with the children. The kids were up and dancing the whole time both girls and boys. They played with a parachute, did the limbo, pass the parcel and musical statues. The kids all had a truly amazing time! Poppy even did glitter tattoos whilst the children ate their lunch.

 

Trolls Party Eden and Poppy the entertainer

The Decor

I think with Trolls definitely ‘more is more’. So plenty of colour, lots of detail and making it very busy. The cake table with rainbow tissue paper flower backdrop makes a great photo background for taking pictures on the day. The table was layered with a tutu skirt to the front and coloured foam flowers scattered on the top. You can buy tissue paper flowers quite cheaply and they make such a pretty and bright decoration. You can buy similar tissue paper flowers here. I also made a rainbow balloon tower with Poppy sprouting out the top. I’d never made one before and watched a video on YouTube. It wasn’t too bad to make but it involved ‘a lot’ of balloon tying!!!

Finally we bought some rainbow bunting from a local pound shop and hung it around the hall and some cheap personalised banners from eBay, around £4 for 2.

The food, cake table and backdrop was set up by The Party Kitchen. They did such an amazing job and we were thrilled with how it all looked.

 

Trolls Party cake display table

Trolls Party cake display table

 

The Cake

So the cake had 4 different colour sponges inside and was covered in multicoloured buttercream that I blended to make a kind of marble effect. Trolls is set in the forest with wonderful flowers and mushrooms so I added lots of brightly coloured flowers and mushrooms to my cake. I made them all different colours, I tried it keep it quite random. I rolled long strips of coloured sugar paste to create a rainbow and white balls for clouds. Green grass was piped around the bottom of the cake. To finished it off and I bought Poppy rather than struggle to make my own. I think she looked great on top of there.

 

Trolls Party Poppy princess cakeTrolls Party rainbow cake layers

 

The Food

There are so many options to make your food bright and colourful. Fruit platters always make a wonderful bright display.

We had flower shaped sandwiches, brightly coloured cupcakes and chocolate dipped biscuits with sprinkles at our Trolls party.

 

Trolls Party food flower sandwiches

 

The Party Favours

I knew I wanted to include a Trolls Pez in the party favours. Eden absolutely loves Pez and collects the different characters. I bought a mixture of 3 characters, Poppy, Branch & Glitter Guy. I made wands by filling skinny cello bags with skittles as they are such wonderful bright colours. I topped the skinny cello bags with multicoloured stars with a personalised sticker to match in with the rainbow theme. You can buy the skinny bags and toppers on The Candy Bag Shop’s Facebook page.

I found these rainbow popcorn style boxes and instantly knew they would be perfect as our favours.

I also popped in some bubble wands I found in a local pound shop, a Trolls keyring I bought on eBay and some chewy sweets. The kids were thrilled with them.

 

Trolls Party Party favour trolls pez and rainbow boxTrolls Party Rainbow party favour boxesTrolls Party sweet wands

 

The Outfit

I found this brilliant unicorn costume online which was brightly coloured with sequin lined skirt and rainbow arm and leg warmers! So much fun. Although Eden didn’t wear the unicorn headband. We opted for a rainbow colour bow instead.

 

Trolls Party Edens unicorn outfit

 

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Trolls Party

Crafts, Family Life, Home, Lifestyle, Memories

How to – Scrapbooking for kids

scrapbooking for kids

Why Scrapbook?

I absolutely love taking photos of my daughter. I’m the first to admit that I do go a little mad taking hundreds of photos, I just don’t want to miss a thing. I want to capture every milestone, every trip, day out or funny moment. It’s surprising how much you do actually forget. This is why I want to talk about Scrapbooking for kids. It’s not only a great way to document your adventures but it is a brilliant way of getting your little ones involved too.

Photos

So once the photos have been taken, they are no good to anyone stuck on your phone or a portable hard drive! I actually want my daughter to see and look back on all those wonderful moments too. So each month I go through my photos and print a bunch of my favourites. I use two mobile apps that print your pics for free and you just pay for delivery. Each month you get a renewable allowance. I’m sure there are others on the market but these are the ones I use:

FreePrints – you get 45 free 6×4 free prints to use each month. Delivery is £3.99.

Snapfish –  you get 50 free 6×4 free prints each month. Delivery is £2.99.

Using your prints

So once you’ve got packets of photos arriving through the door, what next? I really wanted to involve my daughter so thought Scrapbooking would be perfect. Rather than display them in a boring photo album, I thought a scrapbook decorated by her own fair hand would be so much more personal.

Where to buy

I used to scrap book myself years ago and if there’s one thing I remember, it was super ‘expensive’! We didn’t really have many options to purchase decorations and supplies so it meant the majority of the products were from the USA making it an expensive hobby to have. The shops that stocked Scrapbooking products were also few and far between. Great news is, it’s now cheap as chips to scrapbook! We have an abundance of shops that stock really cheap craft items. Most supermarkets have a craft aisle now and pound shops have a great range of craft and Scrapbooking products. Every time I pop into a pound shop I buy a couple of packs of stickers or embellishments. That means I can add to our ‘stash’ without paying out huge amounts in one go.

Scrapbooking for kids stickers
What you need

Well, when you’re Scrapbooking for kids it’s best not to make it too complicated for the younger ones. We started Eden’s scrapbook when she was just two years old. We kept to using just stickers so she could stick them in by herself quite easily, rather than making a gluey mess!

First off you need a scrapbook album, anything between 8 to 12 inches is perfect. Thicker card pages are recommend rather than paper, but it’s your scrap book so your choice. The one we use was £1 from a pound shop and about 10 inches square. It also has a nice ribbon to tie the book close.

You’ll also need a pen to write what the page is about, a glue stick to glue in your photos and then some packs of stickers or embellishments to decorate the pages. I often save tickets and stickers from our days out and stick them in too.

Scrapbooking for kids what you need
Decorating your pages

Initially the control freak in me wanted to step in, takeover and make it ‘perfect’, especially when Eden was so small! I had to fight against my instincts and just let Eden be creative, in the end this is what makes them perfect. On each page, Eden selects which photos she wants to use, sticks them in and chooses her decorations. I normally just help out with writing the labels for her page, but I’m sure she will be doing this herself very soon.

Scrapbooking for kids Eden sticking

Scrapbooking for kids Eden creating page

Scrapbooking for kids

Scrapbooking for kids Eden with finished page

Some pages are of course more beautiful than others but each one is created with love. I treasure Eden’s scrapbooks and it’s something that Eden loves to do, she regularly asks ‘Mummy can we do some Scrapbooking today?’. I’m only too happy to oblige, I look forward to looking through them all in years to come and treasuring every captured moment together.

Here are some of Eden’s wonderful creations:

Scrapbooking for kids selection of pages
Scrapbooking for kids scrapbook page

Thank you for reading ‘How to – Scrapbooking for kids’.

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How to -Scrapbooking for kids
Em x

Days Out, Home, Outdoors, Theme Parks

Making the most of our Annual Merlin Passes!

Merlin Passes - Eden on a ride

The Merlin Passes

So this year I’ve saved up all of my Tesco clubcard points to get Annual Merlin Passes. We also paid the £50 extra to upgrade them to premium passes! You can also purchase them direct from their website and occasionally have discounts throughout the year. This means we can visit 32 attractions in the UK free for a year!

These include:

Alton Towers Resort

Chessington World of Adventures Resort

LEGOLAND® Windsor Resort

THORPE PARK Resort

The London Eye

Dream world Tours – Shrek Adventure London to name but a few!

Perks

You also get 20% off food and purchases at the parks and 50% off friends and family tickets! Which is a brilliant saving in itself. With the premium pass we can also use them across all dates in the six weeks holidays and we get free parking at some of the attractions!

I feel like I am now on a mission to make the most from the passes and pack in as much as we can.

Legoland

Our first trip using our Merlin Passes was to Legoland! I’ve always wanted to take Eden. Every time it’s advertised on the telly Eden has asked to go, so this was our priority.

We went on a weekend so did expect it to be busy. It was also a Star Wars themed day so I imagine busier than usual. This didn’t seem to be much of a problem though. Many of the queues had Lego to play with while you waited, so even though there were queues, Eden was entertained. If she wasn’t playing with Lego she was meeting new friends to play with.

Merlin Passes - Eden with lego family characters
By far our favourite rides were The Dragon, a super fun (but not too scary) roller coaster and Fairy Tale Brook. A lovely little river ride with Lego characters bringing the fairytales to life. Eden loved spotting all the characters she recognised.

Merlin Passes eden on boat ride with seven dwarves

Merlin Passes eden on boat ride with seven dwarves

Merlin Passes Eden on a ride
We also really enjoyed walking around seeing the Lego model village, exploring all of the different countries. It was a nice relaxing downtime, rather than going on ride after ride.

Merlin Passes view Lego model villageMerlin Passes  Lego model villageMerlin Passes Model of London in Lego
We found plenty of options to eat and snack around the park. Most importantly a good Costa coffee to keep our energy supplies up! In all we had a great day at Legoland and are actually going back again this weekend.

Merlin Passes  Lego book What Secrets awaitMerlin Passes  Eden and Lego friends
Chessington World of Adventures

Next we popped along to Chessington World of Adventures at the end of the kids half term. I was so excited to introduce Eden to the Vampire Ride. I prayed that she would be tall enough to go on it! She is quite a dare devil and doesn’t seem to be the least bit afraid of any rides.

Unfortunately due to an accident en route we arrived a bit later than expected around 11.45am. We were hoping that as the majority of schools had returned to school that day that it would be quiet. Sadly not! Queue times for the more popular rides were 65-75mins.

It’s a real shame they don’t offer time based tickets like they do at somewhere like Disneyland Paris. You go take a ticket and return when it’s your time slot and enter via fastrack queue. In the end we decided to bite the bullet and purchase fastrack passes. It cost an additional £36 for 3 of us to go on just two rides. If you had already paid park entry, it can work out quite expensive.

Fast Track Passes

We bought a fast track pass for the new Gruffalo ride which worked really well and we passed the 60 minute queue and were on the ride within about 10-15 mins, absolutely worth it. Unfortunately even with the fastrack pass we still queued for 30mins for the Vampire ride. Totally worth the wait though. Eden absolutely loved it. It was actually so much faster than I remembered it being, although it was maybe 15 years ago!

Merlin Passes Gruffalo river ride

Merlin Passes Gruffalo river ride

Merlin Passes Vampire ride at ChessingtonMerlin Passes Chessington world of adventures vampire ride
We did find that some of the queue times estimated were a little way off and were longer than anticipated. So we didn’t get to go on as many rides as we would have liked. Those we did go on, we enjoyed tremendously.

Food

We ate a great restaurant in the park, a BBQ Smokehouse. The food was BBQ meats and they even had Sweet Potato fries as a side. So eating Low carb wasn’t a problem here. I normally struggle to find LCHF friendly foods on days out. The meal was amazing, served in a basket but tasted delicious! We all really enjoyed it!

Merlin Passes BBQ food

Merlin Passes chessington snake
The park has really changed over the years and it is really well themed throughout. We did find the map really confusing and quite difficult to read but we loved the app that gave you directions and up to the minute queue times!

We also enjoyed visiting all the animals, especially at the petting farm and seeing them on Zafari!

Merlin Passes rhino on zafari
The next adventure

Next up on our Merlin Pass adventure will be Shrek Adventure in London, a blog post will follow. We also have a hotel booked for the Summer holidays so we can visit Alton Towers. Very exciting and so far the Merlin Passes have been a great investment!

Eden is wearing at Legoland a Zigzag coat by Mimpi, yellow top and cardigan from Mothercare, jean dress from Primark and Teal sparkle Converse trainers.

Eden is wearing at Chessington Mini ZZZ rainbow anorak from TK Maxx, top and leggings from Next and Teal Sparkle Trainers from Converse.

Thank you for reading ‘Making the most of our Annual Merlin Passes!’.

Em x

Days Out, Home, Unusual

Alice in Wonderland – Nevendon Manor Events

Unusual themed day out for Alice fans

Sometimes it’s nice to disappear down the rabbit hole and away from reality. What better way than getting away from it all by having a morning with Alice in wonderland. Nevendon Manor Events in Wickford, Essex organise really amazing events. They normally have them running during the school holidays and are themed. You can purchase time slot tickets several months in advance. Tickets cost on this occasion £14.30 per person.

This was actually my third time attending one of their events. We have previously attended both Willy Wonka and the Wizard of Oz themed events. Both were so good that I knew the Alice In Wonderland themed ‘Hatter’s Wonderland’ wouldn’t disappoint!

I can only describe the events as emersing yourself in a live action theatre production. For Eden, being 4 years old, this is truly a magical experience. Like the most amazing role play game where everyone is dressed up and playing along with her. During the 1 hour duration it takes to walk round the grounds, Eden is transported into a fantasy world that she really believes is real.

Morning in Wonderland Alice in wonderland
The Characters

The grounds are always decorated so beautifully, truly theming it to the event. Today the garden was dotted with toadstools and flowers as you walked between the areas. We were lead around the grounds by Alice as we followed her on her adventure through Wonderland. Each area had a new character to meet from the story, the white rabbit, the Cheshire Cat, the Caterpillar, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, the Mad Hatter and my personal favourite, the Red Queen! She accused me of eating her jam tarts and ordered the executioner to chop off my head, luckily Alice and the children saved me. It was all so much fun!

Morning in Wonderland with Alice
Morning in Wonderland walking with Alice
Morning in Wonderland Tweedle Dee and Tweedle DumMorning in Wonderland Caterpillar Morning in Wonderland red queenMorning in Wonderland mad hatter
The actors and actresses are all really professional, never breaking character and interacting so well with the children. Many of them children themselves.

Morning in Wonderland mad hatter close upMorning in Wonderland Mad Hatters Tea PartyMorning in Wonderland Eden as Alice
It was such a magical experience. We look forward to going to more events with them! Would recommend popping it on your list of things to do, especially if you’re a fan of Alice!

Morning in Wonderland Door KnobMorning in Wonderland
Morning in Wonderland Eden as Alice
Thank you for reading A Morning in Wonderland, for more information pop over to Nevendon Manor Events!

Pin for later, Emma x

Pinable image of Alice in wonderland event at Nevendon Manor

Days Out, Home, Unusual

Is Comic Con for kids? A review.

Comic Con for kids

So is Comic Con for kids?

I never would have thought Comic Con was for kids before actually attending one myself. The idea of ushering my child around in huge crowds in London actually made me shudder. I never would have thought it was a particularly child-friendly place but in reality…. it absolutely is and I’ll tell you why!

We attended the London MCM Comic Con at the Excel London on Sunday 28th May. We were part of the 131000 strong crowd that attended over the space of 3 days. For those of you who don’t know, it is the ‘biggest and best celebration of modern pop culture’, covering film, sci-fi, gaming, anime, manga, online video, comic books and cosplay.

The event normally runs Friday to Sunday. During the weekend they have special guests attending for meet and greets and various shows and competitions running. To be honest we rarely go for either of those but purely for the great buzz of Comic Con.

Comic Con for kids MCM Comic con

I have to admit both myself and my husband are a bit geeky. We love browsing the many stalls for cool merchandise and seeing everyone dressed up in costume. Eden thinks it’s like Disneyland, she gets to walk around, have pictures and chat to all her favourite characters! Don’t get me wrong, some costumes are a little more ‘crafted’ than others but people put so much effort in, it adds to the charm. Some costumes are so lifelike, they are incredible! It doesn’t matter if you’re wearing your favourite Batman Tee or a full blown costume, everyone is welcome. It is such a relaxed environment, everyone there for a shared interest and to have a good time.

Getting there

If you drive you can park there in the car parks below the centre! Super easy! If going by Train then go to Prince Regent or Custom House station on the DLR line.

Even though there are thousands attending, it is really well organised and appears to be improving and evolving each year. You can pre order your tickets online. The queuing system to collect your wristbands and go through security was very quick considering the number of people there. We were moving the whole time, there was no standing still for ages with a fidgety child, so that was good. The staff were all clearly labelled and helpful.

Comic Con for kids venue
Food

This year there were more food options. The usual venue eateries in the centre of the Excel can get quite busy but they also had brought in more food stalls inside the actual comic convention and they had a large catering area with chairs and tables. They had a few food options from noodle bars, deli sandwiches, coffee shop with salads and sandwiches, to ice cream vans and my particular favourite, a stall with chocolate fountains!!! Milk or white chocolate!!! One happy mummy right there and Eden!!! I don’t know how she managed to avoid her dress, I was quite impressed… it was everywhere else though!

Comic Con for kids eating waffle
Child friendly

This year there was also a very nice addition of a child friendly area, making sure Comic Con is for kids. They added a chill out spot with bean bags, books and toys. This was a really nice clean area and it was really calm surprisingly. A nice little spot to rest those tired legs. They were also offering kids tattoos and face painting for a small fee.

Comic Con for kids Kidzone

Comic Con for kids kidzone beanbags

Comic Con for kids reading
Facilities

There were plenty of toilet stops available and we didn’t need to queue. We walked straight in, I did also see signs for baby changing too, however I had no need to use these.

The Costumes

Eden loved spotting all the characters we knew and she wasn’t shy about asking for her photo with them. It was so lovely seeing her excitement getting to meet them all. Both myself and hubby were quite excited about meeting some of our own heroes! Such Geeks! Some of Eden’s favourite characters she met were Smurfette, Snow White, Wonder Woman and Groot, plus we met lots more.

Comic Con for kids smurfetteComic Con for kids Guardians of the Galaxy
Comic Con for kids character meets
Shopping

Eden enjoyed walking about and looking at the various stalls, there were plenty of Funko Pop vinyl figures there and lots of cute things for her to look at. She did beg me for a giant hamster rucksack the whole way round, the thing was bigger than her and would have needed an extension to live in our house! I managed to distract her with a little pack of sweets! Sometimes it’s the lesser of the two evils! Giant £20 hamster that will take up 1/5th of my house or a little pack of sweets?!! We went with the sweets!

Comic Con for kids sweetsComic Con for kids funko vinyl pops stall
Doug was super happy with his ‘Keyblade’ purchase, a piece of memorabilia from one of our favourite PlayStation games Kingdom hearts. Eden was equally happy with her Nightmare before Christmas and Harry Potter figures!

My 16 year old nephew came along with us too, he had a great time, even met one of his YouTube heroes Tonska and got his horse mask signed. One very happy boy!

Comic Con for kids Funko pop vinyl stall
We all had such a great time, we walked 6 miles and my legs were killing me after but definitely worth it and we will be going to the next one! Now I just need to get Eden’s outfit sorted!

If your kids (or you) like film, games, cartoon characters it’s a great place to visit for an unusual day out! Pop it on your list!

Thank you for reading Is Comic Con for kids? A review.