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Hever Castle – Days out for kids!

Hever Castle

We had the pleasure of visiting Hever Castle in Kent recently. We absolutely love cultural days out for kids. Eden really enjoys visiting castles even at 5 years old. There is so much to explore and there is always an exciting adventure to be had for a young and imaginative mind. Hever Castle did not disappoint, a fascinating and truly charming place to visit, we had a wonderful time.

Hever Castle is the childhood home of Anne Boleyn so a very interesting visit for any King Henry VIII fans out there. Plenty of interesting facts to discover and sights to see.

Front view of Hever Castle

The Grounds

Hever Castle is located just outside Edenbridge in Kent. It is set within 125 acres of beautiful grounds and gardens. There is a boating lake, a yew tree maze, a water maze and brand new children’s adventure park Tudor Towers with a new play area currently being developed for the under 5s.

The gardens are simply stunning and were so much fun to explore with surprises around each corner. There are waterfalls, hidden gardens, a Pompeiian wall dotted with statues, a lake walk, a Japanese Tea House and then there are the mazes. We had so much fun chasing Eden as she led the way around the Yew tree maze. It’s a good sized maze, it wasn’t too large to get lost in and was fairly simple to solve. The water maze was unfortunately closed during our visit but is opening at Easter. You can also hire a boat on the lake or try your hand at archery during your visit.

Pompeiian Wall Sculptures in the grounds at Hever Castle

Children’s Adventure Playground

The new addition of the Tudor Towers adventure park is fantastic for kids. A huge wooden castle to explore with slides, tunnels, firemen’s poles to slide down and stairs and nets to climb. We had great fun in the play area, with so much to discover and plenty to keep the kids amused. The zip wire and tyre swing were great fun.

There was also the added bonus of a coffee kiosk at the playground so adults could relax with a hot drink whilst the children could play and let off some steam. The play area was spacious and very well designed. Most of all it inspired kids to use their imaginations, even becoming rulers of their own castle!

Tudor Towers Adventure Playground at Hever CastleEden playing at the Adventure Playground at Hever Castle

The Castle

From the outside you wouldn’t believe how large Hever Castle is. It may not look like the largest of castles initially but once you step inside there are so many rooms to explore, it just keeps going we were pleasantly surprised. The walls are adorned with paintings and beautiful wood panelling and each room is filled with interesting things to see.

As we entered the castle Eden was given an explorer trail with a quest for things to look out for in each room. This was a great way to make the visit to the castle more interactive for children. Eden was excited exploring each room looking for items on her list but also taking interest in the displays and paintings. I think she particularly enjoyed looking for the hidden door in The Drawing Room and finding all the hidden faces within the woodwork in The Astor Suite.

The Castle is simply beautiful, from the detailed walnut panelling and columns in The Inner Hall to the impressively detailed fireplace in The Dining Room. You get to visit what was once Anne Boleyn’s bedroom, The Queens Chamber with its fine collection of portraits of Henry VIII and his six wives and King Henry VIII’s bedchamber where it is thought he stayed during his courtship with Anne Boleyn. There is also a permanent exhibition in The Long Gallery with costumed figures that help bring the story to life.

 

The drawing room at Hever CastleEden doing the explorer trail at Hever Castle in Anne boleyns bedroomKind Henry VIII’s bedroom at Hever Castle Costumes models at Hever Castle

Facilities

There are a selection of restaurants and shops at Hever Castle. Whether you want to treat yourself to an ice cream, a bbq, a spot of lunch or an Afternoon Tea, there are options for everyone. Within the Hever Shop you will find the Miniature Model House exhibition. The 1/12 scale model houses are amazing, they are decorated beautifully and the attention to detail is incredible. We really enjoyed our time looking around the model houses, peering inside at the beautiful contents. They were simply breathtaking and I think inspired Eden to once own her own dolls house.

Hever Castle hold many events throughout the year, please check their website for further details. They hold themed activities and craft workshops, so be sure not to miss those. We visited on Mother’s Day and enjoyed making a Mother’s Day keyring, decorated a cupcake and there was even face painting for a small extra charge.

We had such a wonderful time at Hever Castle, we can’t wait to visit again some time very soon!

A view across the moat at Hever Castle

Thank you for reading ‘Hever Castle – Days out for kids!’ If you have enjoyed this review, please see our reviews of other cultural days out,  Leeds Castle, Lullingstone Castle and Ingatestone Hall.

Written in collaboration with Hever Castle but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

CulturedKids
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Home, Shows, Unusual

Princess and the frog, a perfect first ballet

Eden’s first ballet

I have wanted to take Eden to a ballet for a while now. I saw tickets for The Princess and the Frog ballet come up on the Little Bird website during February half term. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to experience our first ballet together. If you haven’t discovered Little Bird yet they offer discounted tickets for all kinds of kids days out, it’s worth a look!

The Princess and the Frog ballet

The Princess and the Frog ballet was showing at Leicester Square Theatre in London. A 30 minute long show, narrated and made suitable for children of all ages but in particular children aged between 2-9.

We arrived 30 mins before our show time and found our seats within the theatre. Eden was very excited about seeing her first ballet, as was I.

First ballet, Eden standing with The Princess and the frog sign outside the theatreThe princess and the frog first ballet

The stage was simply dressed with a sparkly lit tree by a pond. As soon as the beautiful ballerina stepped onto the stage, Eden’s face lit up. The ballerina dressed in a gorgeous pink tutu with gold embroidery and tiara on her head looked very part the princess. She danced to the music so gracefully, it was so enchanting, almost hypnotic to watch. It’s safe to say Eden did not move an inch during the show.

The story of the princess and the frog was narrated and the princess ballerina and the joyful frog brought the story to life. The frog was fun and playful and wanted to be friends with the princess but the princess was not so keen. As the story progressed the pair became wonderful friends! The children loved watching the pair play hide and seek on stage and thought it hilarious when frog came down to the audience. To see the princess and the frog dance together at the end was truly beautiful and the children were transfixed. It lasted 30 minutes which was perfect timing for smaller ones, however I could of stayed for hours. Both myself and Eden found the show so enchanting and thoroughly enjoyed it.

 

Eden with the princess and the frog on stage at her first ballet

Photo opportunity

After the show, all the children had the opportunity to meet the characters on stage for a photo. This was a really nice touch and the queue moved very quickly. Eden was thrilled to meet the characters from The Princess and the Frog ballet. The ballet was produced by a company called Lets All Dance. They specialise in shows for children and families. For more information on their next show visit their website.

We also went to see Alice in Wonderland ballet, it was amazing, see our review here.

 

Eden with the princess and the frog

Thank you for reading ‘The Princess and the Frog ballet, a perfect first ballet’.

CulturedKids
Afternoon Tea, Eating Out, Food, Home

A Wizard’s Afternoon Tea in Essex

wizards afternoon tea

A Wizards Afternoon Tea

Cardamon Tea Lounge in Colchester, Essex has brought back the ‘Wizards Afternoon Tea’ for the month of November 2018 and it is bigger, better and even more amazing than before! Any Witch, Wizard, Muggle or true Harry Potter fan would be delighted by this ‘Wizard’s Themed Afternoon Tea’.

 

wizards afternoon tea

The Savouries

As always the sandwiches were freshly made and simply delicious, we enjoyed Turkey and Cranberry and Houmous and Vegetables sandwiches. We also received a bowl of warm French Onion Soup with lashings of grated cheese and our very own magical dragon eggs! The soup was really good and a lovely addition for the colder winter months!

french onion soup and cheese wizards afternoon tea

Vegetables and scones from wizards afternoon tea

The Sweet Stuff

Our Wizard’s afternoon tea was filled with so many magical and exciting delights. We were treated to our very own multicoloured potions (which tasted amazing), popcorn served in a cauldron, and we even had our own mandrake cakes!  Each tiny mandrake is carefully moulded in fudge! The scones were freshly baked and pumpkin spiced. We enjoyed a butterscotch and raspberry tart and a spell book brownie, there was so much to take in. Alongside the Wizards afternoon tea you can choose from over 50 variations of tea. We opted for the Karak Chai tea and it is sweet and mildly spiced, really complemented the Afternoon Tea perfectly.

Mandrake harry potter cakes

Brownie spell book monster cake wizards afternoon tea

Spell book cakes on cake stand wizards afternoon tea

 

 

Children’s Afternoon Tea Platter

The Cardamon Tea Lounge offers lots of wonderfully themed platters for children and the Wizard’s platter is no exception. The sandwiches were accompanied by many magical treats, a broomstick, a spellbook, a cauldron of popcorn, veggie sticks, sweets and a drink.  Any little witch or wizard would have a truly magical and enchanting time working their way through this Wizards feast!

Wizards afternoon tea childrens platter

 

The Cardamon Tea Lounge

A couple of years ago we found The Cardamon Tea Lounge in Colchester, Essex. We happened to be walking by and spotted this quaint little tea room and decided to give it a try. Since then it has been one of our firm favourite tea rooms. We aren’t the only ones that like it, it won the Essex Life Food and Drink Awards 2017 for Best Coffee/Tea Shop. Now its quickly becoming a popular spot for wonderful and imaginative Themed Afternoon Teas in Essex.

My daughter fell in love with this place right away and refers to it as the ‘Alice Cafe’. As you step inside there are so many wonderful trinkets and handmade crafts, many Alice in Wonderland themed and available to buy. There are teapots and cups as lampshades hanging from the ceiling and spoons as door handles. Every time I visit I see something new. My daughters favourite part is the little cupboard under the stairs, a cosy spot for the little ones to play.

Shop front of The Cardamon Tea Lounge in Colchester. Themed Afternoon Tea in EssexSome Alice in wonderland crafts and decorations Themed Afternoon Tea in Essex.

The Wizards Afternoon Tea is £20 per head.  All afternoon tea’s should be prebooked, please get in touch with The Cardamon Tea Lounge, 44 St John’s Street, Colchester, Essex CO2 7AD. Telephone number: 01206 504180.

 

OTHER THEMED AFTERNOON TEAS

To read our reviews of Cardamon Tea Lounge’s other fantastic themed afternoon teas in Essex. Please see below:

Wizards themed Afternoon Tea, for any Harry Potter fan.

A Tale of Peter Rabbit Themed Afternoon Tea.

Mary Poppins Themed Afternoon Tea, Practically Perfect in every way.

Sherlock Holmes Themed Afternoon Tea.

Charlie & The Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea.

Silly Old Bear Afternoon Tea.

Be Our Guest Afternoon Tea for any Beauty and the Beast fan.

The Cardamon Tea Lounge features in our list of the Best Afternoon Teas in Essex, please see here.

 

Top view of wizards afternoon tea

 

Thank you for reading ‘A Wizard’s Afternoon Tea’.

Written in collaboration with The Cardamon Tea Lounge, we were invited along to review their afternoon tea. Please note that all views and opinions are strictly my own.

Family Life, fitness, Home, Lifestyle

New Year’s Resolution, how to succeed!

New Year, New You!

I think most of us are guilty of setting a New Year’s Resolution to eat healthier, maybe lose some weight. Quite often forgotten about within just a few weeks.

After the Christmas celebrations I think most of us are wearing a few extra pounds (or stones!!!). Each year in January, I’m on a mission to lose some of that extra weight… ‘I would just like to lose this extra stone’ (sound familiar?)!

Last January I wanted to lose that extra bit of weight and set myself a super strict low carb diet, not only that I started at the gym too. After just a couple of months of such a restrictive diet I started to cheat more and more. Over the course of the past year, I never lost that extra stone but I did work hard at the gym and tried half heartedly with eating right. My downfall is that I like to eat socially… a lot! I love nothing more than an afternoon tea with my family or a huge yummy roast at the weekend!

Scrambled eggs and smoked salmon on a plate

My weight

My weight stayed the same over the course of the year, fluctuated by a few pounds but on the whole remained pretty level. What did happen was my body shape completely changed. I developed muscle and toned and shaped my body. With muscle weighing more than fat, there was no surprise there was no change on the scales, so I tried not to get disheartened by the scales and kept going. I actually started to like what I saw in the mirror and stopped giving myself such a hard time.

What I discovered during this time was much more important… I finally realised after all these years, it wasn’t losing that stone that would make me happy… it was about finding my confidence again. No I didn’t weigh what I did when I was 25 but I was working hard at the gym and getting happier and falling back in love with my body. The number on the scales stopped mattering and instead I took photos to see my progress. This time last year I carried more weight around my bottom, waist, upper thighs and back. This year however I weigh the same but I now have a waist, a really strong core, my bottom has lifted and I’ve shed a load of back fat… I also stopped judging myself so harshly and started concentrating on what actually makes me happy.

I’ve come to realise that no one actually cares what you weigh, it’s actually all down to how you see your self. Quite often that pressure comes from you. You have to learn to not only like but love yourself and actually the only opinion that should matter about how you look should be yours, not that of a family member or old school friend! You need to stop judging yourself so harshly and be kinder to yourself.

My feet with gym in the background and kettlebell

Fitness balls and weight bags at david lloyd gym

My New Year’s Resolution

This year I’m continuing with all my hard work at the gym, building my confidence and trying to target those areas I’m still less than happy with… for me it’s my arms. I go to a David Lloyd gym and find there are a huge range of classes which means I can be flexible with my training. I like to challenge myself and try new classes and keep things fresh. I also take my daughter and she absolutely loves going to the DL kids club there. The children’s timetable is brilliant with so much for them to do and keep them active. To read more about why we love training as a family see here.

Mental Health

Over the last year I also discovered that I need to put at lot more effort not into my physical health but also my mental health. People can be so busy with their lives that their own mental health can be way down on their list of priorities. I had a particularly stressful time last year and I neglected my own mental health. The stresses of daily life took their toll. It made me realise just how important it is to look after yourself mentally as well as physically. At the gym I now book classes that are just as great for your mind as they are your body. David Lloyd recognise this and offer so many great holistic classes. I always look forward to relaxing on a matt at the end of a Body Balance class, lying in the dimly lit studio concentrating on my breathing and forgetting about whether I’ve loaded the dishwasher or if Eden has clean uniform for the following day. I’ve really found classes like that are helping me to deal with my stress and anxiety.

 

Setting up for Pilates class with ball, matt and water bottle

Declutter

As part of my New Year’s resolution for 2018 I need to tackle my clutter! I think it’s important to break down big tasks into more manageable chunks to avoid being overwhelmed. My desk at home is almost always a mess and I constantly mean to go through and declutter my wardrobe… each time I look at them my heart sinks as it seems such a huge task. I’ve now started to take the pressure off and set myself a target of 30 mins a day. I set myself a timer and tackle a bit at a time instead of spending a whole day doing it. This gives me peace of mind, I feel like I can ‘cope’ and don’t feel so overwhelmed by it all. I really wish (and so does my husband) that I were a ‘super tidy neat freak’ and that it came more naturally to me… but sadly not!

This year… I will succeed!

So this year, I’m not setting myself an unrealistic challenge of losing a stone in a month. I’m eating healthy but if I want a cake at the weekend or ice cream at the cinema I’m going to allow myself that treat. I’m concentrating on working hard on the inside as well as the outside. I want to be strong and healthy not skinny. This year I’m going to do what makes me happy and going to the gym really does (I never ever thought I would say that!!!). I’m going to tackle my house and declutter where I need to and I’m going to make time for me! Most importantly I am going to continue making happy memories with what is most important to me… my family.

Look after yourselves… get healthy but in a safe way, make good food swaps, don’t deny yourself something you truly love, forget unrealistic goals, ditch the fad diets, try out a new class and learn to love yourself in 2018!!!

A girl smiling, me, flexing her muscle jokingly

 

Thank you for reading ‘New Year’s Resolution, how to succeed!’

 

Working in collaboration with David Lloyd Gyms. All thoughts and opinions are completely my own.

Books, Crafts, Family Life, Food, Home, My weekly round up

My little loves December

My Little Loves for December

So it’s mid December and things are about to get crazy! It’s time to reflect on all my favourite parts of the month so far!

Read

We were kindly send a copy of Binx the Jinx to review. A rhyming story about Binx, an incredibly cute black cat looking for friendship! At first Binx struggles to make new friends and gets bullied by the other cats because he is different. Then he meets Gin who proves that Binx isn’t a Jinx at all but in fact the luckiest cat around! The book is written and illustrated by Michelle Hird, it is beautiful, bright and colourful. Eden really enjoyed the pictures and it was enjoyable to read. We have loved reading this book and have read it several times already!

My little loves December Binx the Jinx

Binx the Jinx by michelle Hird

Watched

We have watched just about every Christmas film this month. Our favourite Christmas films have to be:

Elf, The Polar Express, The Snowman and the Snowdog, The Elf Story & Arthur Christmas.

Heard

Eden told me the sweetest thing, she told me ‘Mummy do you know you’re my best friend? You are my BFF’.

Sometimes that girl is just too cute for words!

Made

This week I finally made time to make my Christmas rag wreath! Using a wire wreath frame and lots of torn pieces of fabric (about 1 inch x 5 inch in size). You simply tie each piece on to the frame. It didn’t take very long, was very simple to make and I think you’ll agree looks very festive.

My little loves Christmas rag wreath handmade

Wore

Well this week we got lots of snow! This was Eden’s first proper snow that she can remember. The last time we had heavy snowfall was back in 2012 and Eden was just a few months old. So we wore… lots of layers! Unfortunately all of the gloves I’ve bought Eden are knitted and woolly, she doesn’t actually own a waterproof pair. I improvised, popping in one pair of gloves, a plastic bag to stop her hands getting wet and another pair of gloves on top! Sadly they slipped off her hand every time she threw a snowball so a bit of epic fail, lol!My little loves December Eden in the snowjEden making snow angels in the snowEden and I in the snowEden hugging her first ever snowman

Ate

This week, I discovered a delightful little tea room in Brentwood Essex called Merrymeade Tea Room situated in Merrymeade House. We enjoyed a scrumptious afternoon tea and because we’re in December it had featured some yummy festive treats. It was brilliant value at £11.99 a head and Eden even had a kids one all to herself. One of my favourite parts of an afternoon tea has to be the sandwiches. The bread was so soft and fresh and had a good selection of fillings. The carrot cake and mini brownie Christmas puddings really were delicious. We can’t wait to visit again soon, we definitely recommend!

Visit their Facebook page for further details here.

My little loves December Merrymeade Tea RoomAfternoon tea at Merrymeade Tea RoomsMerrymeade Tea Rooms picture from outside

And lastly

I have been busy every day coming up with new elf on the shelf ideas. I’ve been trying to use new ideas as Eden would remember if I repeated many of them from last year so the pressure has been on. Here are some of my favourites I’ve used for 2017 so far. They certainly are cheeky elves, Eden is so excited each morning to see what they have been up too!

Elf on the shelf ideas wrapped in Christmas paperElf on the shelf ideas mini gingerbread house Elf’s knitting Elves playing snowball target practiceThe elves leaving the elf story movie to watch

Linking up with

Christmas, Home, Unusual

An Elf’s Wish at Nevendon Manor – Christmas experience

An Elf's Wish at Nevendon Manor Santa

An Elf’s Wish at Nevendon Manor

We visited the Christmas experience ‘An Elf’s Wish’ at Nevendon Manor in Wickford. An Elf’s Wish’ is an original adaptation of the Father Christmas story & his whimsical elves. We have visited Nevendon Manor Events for several of their previous events and have always had a truly magical time. This is their first year hosting a Christmas event and we were excited to try it out. The events are an immersive outdoor theatre production. You can read about one of our previous visits to see Alice in Wonderland here.

On Arrival

As you arrive you collect your tickets and are given the option of purchasing a token for reindeer food for later on during the visit. There are a number stalls offering drinks, snacks and face painting for an additional charge. We opted for a hot chocolate, it was a nice cup of hot chocolate but a tad expensive at £3.20 each. Face painting was quite reasonable at £3.50 a head.

An Elf's Wish at Nevendon Manor sign

Hot Chocolate Stand at An Elf's Wish at Nevendon Manor

 

After a short wait we set off in our group on our exciting journey around Nevendon.  Our Christmas adventure started off at the Elf school! The characters were great fun, we were taught the elf welcome, our elf names and the children were able to write their Christmas wishes to give to Santa. Shortly after we met our guide Brumble the elf.

 

Elf school at An Elf's Wish at Nevendon Manor

Eden writing her christmas wishes An Elf's Wish at Nevendon Manor

Brumble the elf An Elf's Wish at Nevendon Manor

The Story

Brumble the elf took us on our Christmas adventure on the quest to earn her jingle bell! During our journey we met many friendly characters! We walked through the wintry wood and met The Snow Queen, we helped her to make it snow again! The children posted their Christmas wishes and helped raise Christmas cheer! We got to decorate Christmas trees with a funny pair of lumberjacks who are responsible for growing the Christmas trees! We met Mother Christmas and some charming elves busy making toys ready for Christmas. We met some beautiful real reindeer and as we bought a token earlier had the opportunity to feed them too. We got a song and dance from the mechanic elves fixing Santa’s sleigh before meeting the big man himself Father Christmas. Each child and adult were given a gift and had the opportunity for a photo with Santa. Professional photos were also available for purchase.

 

Eden and brumble the elf An Elf's Wish at Nevendon Manor

The Snow Queen An Elf's Wish at Nevendon Manor

Eden hugging a tree to help the snow queen An Elf's Wish at Nevendon Manor

Winter cabins An Elf's Wish at Nevendon Manor

The lumberjack elves and Brumble elf An Elf's Wish at Nevendon Manor

Candy Canes An Elf's Wish at Nevendon Manor

The Reindeer at An Elf's Wish at Nevendon Manor

 

The Experience

The whole experience is such great fun for kids (and the adults). The children are made to feel like part of the production and to see their reaction is just magical. The characters really bring the story to life. The grounds are dressed beautifully and there is so much attention to detail.

I would of really liked to take some more time to walk through and appreciate the wintry wood and maybe  had a few more photo opportunities as it did move quite quickly but we really enjoyed our Christmas experience. An Elf’s Wish at Nevendon Manor wasn’t your usual Santa’s Grotto or Christmas Experience. It wasn’t all about Santa and his presents, it was more about the simple magic of Christmas and the characters that make it special. It was a complete pleasure to visit! Eden had a magical time and it made a lovely change from the usual Christmas experience!

You do need to book tickets in advance, please visit Nevendon Manor Event’s website for further details.

 

Santas cabin An Elf's Wish at Nevendon Manor

Santa at An Elf's Wish at Nevendon Manor

Eden and father christmas An Elf's Wish at Nevendon Manor

Meeting Santa An Elf's Wish at Nevendon Manor

Thank you for reading ‘An Elf’s Wish at Nevendon Manor – Christmas experience’.

Christmas, Days Out, Home, Lifestyle, Shopping, Unusual

A German Christmas Market in Essex

German Christmas Market in Essex

Every year I always promise myself a visit to a Christmas Market in Europe. Yet, every year life gets in the way and it just doesn’t happen. This year however the Christmas Market came to me! Meadowcroft Garden Centre in Battlesbridge plays host to a German Christmas Market in Essex.

Christmas German Market in Essex - A view of the stalls and seating area

On arrival

Outside you are greeted with festive baubles, reindeer and Christmas Trees inviting you inside. As you step through the doors you are transported into the festive atmosphere of a German market. Inside there are 20 traditional wooden market stalls. They are filled with many delights from Nutcrackers to Cuckoo clocks, along with lots of wonderful Yuletide gifts. Its a great opportunity to get some unique Christmas presents this year. We particularly liked the handmade Russian dolls. Eden picked one of these as her reward for receiving the Head Teachers Award this week! It was difficult to choose just one, there were so many beautifully designed dolls of various sizes.

Christmas German Market in Essex - elves

Christmas German Market in Essex - festive market stall with dried orange arrangements

 German Market in Essex - dried orange gifts

Christmas German Market in Essex - close picture of a cuckoo clock

Christmas German Market in Essex - Brightly lit up candle holders

Christmas German Market in Essex - A selection of brightly coloured russian dolls

Treat yourself

Whilst shopping you can treat yourself to some German beer or hot Gluhwein or maybe something to eat. They serve Bratwurst and Sauerkraut, Belgian waffles, along with lots of sweet treats. We really enjoyed our Bratwurst sausage in a bun with lots of mustard. There are plenty of seats in the middle to sit and soak in the festive atmosphere of the German Christmas Market. We also bought some of the Schokokuss chocolates they came in a variety of flavours and are filled with sweet whipped egg whites and are not too dissimilar to marshmallow.

Christmas German Market in Essex Food stall

Christmas German Market in Essex - Trays of chocolate treats

Christmas German Market in Essex - German beer bottle lined up

Gift Shop

Aswell as the German market, there is a lovely gift shopped stocked with lots of gorgeous Christmas decorations and gifts. There is also a really nice cafe there, we enjoyed a delicious cream tea after our Bratwurst!

The Christmas German Market in Essex is FREE OF CHARGE to enter. It is open from 10th November to Christmas Eve, during the garden centre opening hours:-

09:30 – 17:30 Monday to Saturday and 10:00 – 17:00 on Sundays.

I would definitely recommend a visit to get you in the festive mood! Thank you for reading ‘A German Christmas Market in Essex’.

Days Out, Farms, Halloween, Home, Outdoors, Unusual

Spooky Nights at Barleylands

Spooky nights at barleylands blog

Spooky nights at Barleylands

We had such a fantastic Halloween half term this year. We picked pumpkins, made scary cupcakes, rode the spooky train and went out trick or treating. One of our highlights of Halloween was the Spooky Nights at Barleylands Farm Park in Essex.  I wasn’t too sure what to expect on the night, but they had promised a ghost train so I knew that Eden would be so excited to try that out!

On arrival

On arrival we were shown where to park the car, popped on our wrist bands, given a map and then shown into Barleylands Village. I had no idea that the whole village would be part of the Halloween fun. On the reverse of our map was a list of shops with a special code word to visit for trick or treating. Say the code word and receive a sweet treat! It was such a brilliant idea, safe trick or treating around the shopping village. Eden was so excited to get the code word and whisper it to the shopkeeper to get her reward. The shops were decorated and shopkeepers dressed up, it all added to the brilliant atmosphere!

Spooky Nights at Barleylands Eden trick or treating

In the barn was a Halloween disco, carnival games and a Zombie Maze. Eden went into the maze with her daddy. She clung to him and was a little frightened of the zombies. This was perfect for the braver kids… the zombies just wandered around the maze but were not threatening in anyway. Eden still wasn’t too keen though, lol!

 

Halloween Hoopla with skull heads Spooky Nights at Barleylands

Inside the Farm

Inside the farm, the play barn was buzzing, there were zombies roaming around, fairground rides and witches! So much to see and do. After visiting the Witchy Walk and walking through the scary barn we visited the Terror Hotel. This was perfect for bigger kids, a creepy walk through experience that I wimped out of! Eden and her daddy braved it though! There was also a brilliant 3 tier ghost train, which was very popular, it was so much fun and worth the wait.

We also met some creepy critters, in the Creepy Crawly Cave. Eden got to stroke a snake and see some bugs and spiders!

 

Spooky Nights at Barleylands Terror hotel

Terror Hotel Outside Spooky Nights at Barleylands

Close up of a witch Spooky Nights at Barleylands

The Ghost Train Spooky Nights at Barleylands

 

Eden meeting a snake Spooky Nights at Barleylands

 

Aerial view of the farm and fairground rides Spooky Nights at Barleylands

We had such a fabulous time, the evening flew by so quickly, we didn’t want it to end. I think they could benefit by maybe staying open another hour. We were sad to go but that was because we literally had the best family Halloween fun. The evening really appealed to both little ones, bigger kids… and adults too! Absolutely worth a visit next Halloween! One for the list, Spooky Nights at Barleylands, you will not be disappointed!

For more info on Barleylands events, please see their website. For more ideas for Halloween in Essex, please take a look here.

Three witches Spooky Nights at Barleylands

Thank you for reading ‘Spooky Nights at Barleylands’.

Written in collaboration with Barleylands Farm Park but all views and opinions are my own.

Family Life, Home, Lifestyle

Family Gym Time – 3 months on at David Lloyd

Family gym time

Three months ago our family set out on a new and exciting journey. We became members of our local David Lloyd club with a ‘family membership’. You can read about the start of our family gym time journey here.

Before joining the David Lloyd club, myself and my husband attended two different local gyms without any kids clubs facilities. This meant that my husband and I never trained together and all of our workouts needed to be during the week whilst Eden was at school or one of us had to look after Eden whilst the other one went to the gym. This was the complete opposite of spending family time together.

Training together

Since starting our membership, it has allowed us family gym time. We can all visit the gym together. Eden is always so excited to head off into kids club, whether it’s ‘Get active’ or a ‘Make and Create’ class. The options for kids don’t stop there. Eden regularly enjoyed Ballet, Tap and street dance classes all included within the membership. David Lloyd also runs other classes, swimming, tennis and yoga along with a monthly Friday club night with a children’s entertainer, movie nights, special event night. There are so many options to entertain the kids.

Whilst Eden was off enjoying a class meant that my husband and I were able to go off and train in the gym together. It became a regular family event, enjoying every Sunday morning at the gym together. Afterwards treating ourselves to a family brunch. It definitely brought us together as a family, spending much more time together during the week. It also meant that with so many kids classes on offer I didn’t have to cram my workout into the day but I could take Eden after school.

 

Family Gym Time - David Lloyd get make and create class

Family Gym Time - David Lloyd eden waiting for class

Classes

The classes available at David Lloyd far super cede those available at my previous gym. I really enjoyed trying lots of new classes and each week changing up my training plan. I was able to mix up my weight training with my husband, with brilliant HIIT classes, Fight Klub, Pilates, Core and Legs, Bums & Tums. I have definitely benefited from training at David Lloyd both physically and mentally, I have proof that my body is improving by using the Boditrax system. It measures not just your weight but fat, water and muscle, along with other things. After tracking my progress each month, my muscle mass is growing and fat decreasing, I’ve even manage to improve my metabolic age by 5 years!

I think it’s so important to look after ourselves both physically and mentally and by having family gym time we are setting a good example to Eden from early age. We are showing her just how important it is to keep fit, stay active, eat healthy and to look after yourself.

I believe David Lloyd clubs are not ‘just a gym’, they are so much more than that, it is a way of life.

They are so family focused, the food menu is healthy and delicious, they offer brilliant classes for all ages and abilities, and if you don’t fancy any of that you can chill and some ‘me time’ in the lounge area or have a swim and steam. We have truly enjoyed our time at David Lloyd and look forward to our time ahead.

To find out more information about your local David Lloyd, visit their website.

Family Gym Time - David Lloyd fight klub

Family Gym Time - David Lloyd Squash

Family Gym Time - David Lloyd in the gym

Family Gym Time - David Lloyd. Hubby and I

Family Gym Time - David Lloyd our family

Thank you for reading ‘keeping fit as a family – 3 months on at David Lloyd’.

Written in collaboration with David Lloyd Clubs but all opinions and views are my own.

Books, Home, Lifestyle

Getting kids into Languages with One Third Stories

One Third Stories

When I first heard about One Third Stories I was really excited, it sounded like the perfect introduction for getting kids into languages. Described as ‘Stories that start in English and end in a different language’.

One Third Stories is a subscription service aimed at children from 4-9 years that delivers a story book each month along with an activity pack. I’ve always wanted to get Eden learning a new language. Eden is the biggest book fan so introducing languages through a story book and fun activities would really appeal to her.

One Third Stories kindly sent us one month’s pack to try out and Eden was keen to get started. You can choose between French and Spanish. We opted to learn French, and were very excited when our bright and exciting yellow One Third Stories package arrived.

One Third Stories Package

Learn languages through stories

Along with the story book, activity pack and flash cards, you also get a link to download the audio book. You and your child can then listen to it and learn how to pronounce the words properly.

First off we listened to the audio book, at the end of the audio book, there is a glossary of all the French words used during the story. Over the next few weeks we read through the story several times together.

Afterwards we spent some time practising the flash cards to see if we could remember the words in French, testing each other. Inside the activity book are lots of fun things to work through using the words recently learnt.

 

One Third Stories Book and activity pack

One Third Stories activity pack

One Third Stories activity pack

One Third Stories flash cards french

 

We have really enjoyed our introduction to French via One Third Stories. Eden has picked it up really quickly. Quite often in the back of the car I can hear her going over the French words and sayings she has learnt.

I would definitely recommend this service. Eden really enjoyed listening to the audio book and likes to listen to it at bed time. The book is beautifully illustrated and a pleasure to read. Eden also liked working through the games and activities in the activity book and using the flash cards.

Watch our video to see our One Third Stories pack in action:

 

For more information about One Third Stories and their books, please visit their website.

 

We collaborated with One Third Stories on this blog post but all thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for reading ‘Getting kids into Languages with One Third Stories’.