I want to be the Mum that let’s them decorate the tree

The trouble is…

I love my perfectly perfect pastel themed Christmas tree.

With soft lighting- you know, the glowey yellowey kind.

Carefully chosen tree trinkets hang at equidistant intervals, the pale pink is never next to a pale gold, is never next to a pale silver.

You feel me?

Yup, I’m basically Monica Geller come December 1st.

This has become a problem since having the kiddliwinks.

Because

I want to be the Mum that lets them decorate the tree.

Honestly I do.

That Mum that endorses excessive use of Tinsel inbetween the homemade Santa hat and snowman masterpieces a la nursery school.

But I love my pastel hew.

I love clearing away the family photo frames on the top of the mantel piece and selecting which of my over-priced, over-sized wreathey long foliagey things should take pride of place that year.

I want to be the Mum who, as Sarah of Unmumsey famously put it, shouts: “The theme is Christmas!”

And it is.

-In the toy room, behind a nice big closed door.

I have learnt that Christmas is allowed to throw up its sickeningly tacky, heart wrenching sentimentality in this room.

We used to go over to ‘Granny’s’ as the girls came to call her, and Christmas-up her living room every year.

We loved it.

I think she loved it too.

Our toy room now has Granny’s tree in pride of place.

And on this tree goes all of the homemade offerings that have been painstakingly crafted, not at home, over the years.

Scraps of paper with stubby bits of cotton wool hanging on for dear life are shoved into the centre of the tree with all the precision and delicacy of a hammer-throw.

Constrictor style tinsel sucks the life blood from this psychedelic fire hazard, with baubles that spell out Harrods 2010 (how posh!) stick men Santas and too many clashing baubles for my brain to process:

Shiny Red next to sparkly red next to cracked red under red tinsel with some of that purple, foiley, whispy stuff statically-stuck to every.bloody.relic.

Lines and lines of coloured lights, some even in the shape of trees, struggle to shine through the offensive layers – wrapping Granny’s tree all up in a firefighter’s nightmare.

But.

I’ve grown to love letting the kids loose in this room.

Mostly because I can close the door on it.

But occasionally I gaze at it when the kids are in bed and think ‘this is what Christmas means to them.’

Colour, chaos, and no equidistance.

How it should be?

Probably.

But Christmas.

Unattainable ‘Magazine-shoot’ Christmas.

It doesn’t exist.

It’s happiness. It’s noise. It’s finding the green triangles have all been eaten when it’s finally your turn at the quality street.

It’s squeals of delight as hoards of Poundland tat slowly take over the lounge.

It’s cheap crackers and shoddy jokes. It’s queens speech and Slade.

It’s Merry December to us, the grow-ups: the overworked, knackered elves of Christmas.

What a beauty…

Pretty much the only review I will ever do for ‘stuff’

This is a one-off.

Which makes this a one-of-a-kind, if you will.

Because.

Christmas.

I like to get a head start on Christmas shopping. Which isn’t difficult seeing as you can sit a-la P.Jarm ‘n’ hot choc in hand, tap tapping away these days.

Ticking off those gifts one by one, without the threat of cold hands, rain-induced hair-frizz, and no moaning from my offspring as I drag them from shop to shop. Or worse – rushing around like a mother possessed to finish in time for school pick up.

No extortionate car park charges.

Need I go on about the merits of being a Sofa-Savvy-Shopper?

Probably not.

Mumas have all got this.

A few weeks ago I was approached by Personally Presented to choose something from their website and review it.

This couldn’t have been better timed.

You see, it was during my ‘list phase’ (everyone has a list phase, right?!).

Ordinarily I would have fired off a quick ‘Thanks but no thanks, I have zero time, I am training to be a journalist and am working many, many M A N Y hours for F R E E right now.’

But.

Oh the pretty things.

Oh… the one thing I desperately have been looking for. (‘Desperately’ might be a little OTT)

Was right there.

On their website.

(A really lovely, pretty and easy-to-use website.)

Jewellery boxes. Personalised jewellery boxes. Matching personalised jewellery boxes.

Anyone out there with daughters who share my pain if one of them should acquire an item (something important like, say, a jelly bean) and the other one doesn’t?

All hell lets loose.

They must have exactly.the.same Everything.

Or “It’s not F A I R” fills the air at grenade decibels.

I can’t handle that. So it’s matchy-matchy all round for us.

Anyway, back to the jewellery boxes…

Not twee. Not childish. But, not grown-up either.

My requirements were specific, but there were plenty of options to scroll through and choose from.

Glass ones. Painted ones. All could be personalised.

The website is a little like Not On The High Street actually, but it’s a family run business which I just think is rather nice.

There was free shipping, and as soon as my order was received I had a confirmation email, and then another when the boxes were dispatched.

I had them in my hand just two days later.

You can’t argue with that.

Beautiful quality, and matching – all but their names on the top.

A big tick for my gift list, and I really cannot wait to give them their special presents in a months time.

Keepsakes for their precious things.

Personally Presented have given me a code for you to get 10% off of your orders until the end of November, so put your (slouch-sock) feet up, cuppa in hand and add to cart a few personal gifties this Christmas.

Your10% off code: muma10 at Personally Presented

Enjoy!

Happy shopping! Xx

*This is a sponsored post and Muma on the Edge received goods in exchange for this review.

** If they had been awful goods I would have sent them back and not reviewed.

*** Therefore, this isn’t a load of BS.

Christmas unwrapped

I’m currently drowning in this week of Sundays. I have no idea what day of the week it is, what time of day it is (although it’s dark again – did today even happen?!) I’m assuming the kids don’t have to be back to school yet as my husband is still hanging about.

I feel all out of sync and disconnected from the rest of the world, so thought I’d tell you a little bit about how Christmas went down. All hopes are pinned on feeling all Guns a Blazing for 2017 by the time I finish writing this post…

Sunday 25th December 2016

We were up at 5.30am on Christmas dawning. I mean, you wouldn’t want to waste a single minute of this glorious day would? Not if you are 2 & 5. This is the day you live for. This is it, The Big One.

“PRESENTS!” they screamed. and screamed as we desperately tried to sshhhhh them as we crept downstairs, one eye open, to save the whole household waking up at this ungodly hour.

(We tried to remind our greedy little treasures of the true meaning of Christmas, it wasn’t washing. So we stuck the entire 2 & a half ft long Nativity scene that nanny had knocked up the evening before, right in front of the Turkey; Nazareth vibes.)

This was our 6th Christmas as parents, but each time I become more gobsmacked at the months of planning, spending and wrapping which are literally ripped apart within seconds. Toys and trinkets that I’d trawled the likes of highbrow Tiger and Claire’s for, were disregarded in favour of the next shiny package.

I felt like I was directing traffic (and yes hand signals were used):

“STOP!”

“What was that gift?”

“Who gave that to you?”

“STOP!”

“Unwrap!”

“Not you, you. Lila, YOU unwrap”

“WAIT!”

I wanted to tape my mouth up and shove myself in a cupboard by the end of our 3rd Christmas. These were not the dulcet tones of the hip cool Muma I’d like to think I was…!

Once they had finished their gift massacre, came the cries for help with mission impossible packaging. Actual screwdrivers were needed to free Percy the Train from his cardboard prison. Why do toy companies hate parents so much?

If it needs batteries, please Mattel n friends, just provide them. Where’s your festive spirit? I’ve just spent hundreds of pounds on half a ton of plastic, the least you could do is help me over the finish line here.

In other news, the whole giving thing was a bit hit and miss this year.

We had one very unimpressed nearly-teen exclaim:

“This wasn’t what I wanted. This wasn’t on my list!”

Okey dokey then. I cringed.

and one,

“It doesn’t suit us, do you have the receipt?”

{insert pissed off emoji}

It doesnt seem to make a difference how much effort you put into the gift selection process.

***

The wrapping paper had been cleared narrowly avoiding the need for an excavator. The bird had stuffed us, and yuletide arguments could be heard between the girls as they fought  over the ride-on fire truckthat  ToddlerMonster had been given.

Everything was on point. Christmas Day was as it should be. 

We were all weary from being all jazz hands ‘Christmas And On It’ for the past 14 hours: At last it was time for The Great British Bake Off Christmas Special. We are massive GBBO fans in our house and this was set to be a little personal highlight. 

It turned out to be a bit tragic though didn’t it. I thought past winners would be queuing up to go back for the last ever, ever show and have a bit of a festive knees up chez Hollywood & Berry. It seems they weren’t. We got Norman and his shortbread instead, it was more like the GBBO rejects. Damn you BBC. Damn you.

And then in the blink of an eye it’s all over – unless you are like us and have 3 Christmas with each side of your family. In which case it’s several blinks and many many glasses of bubbles.

I know a lot of people will be glad to see the back of 2016, but I am thankful for it. I have finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up. I am no longer pondering what I am going to do with my life. I have a direction, I have a passion and I have ambition. I am going to write.

2017 will see me having a 3 and 6 year old. That’s like, proper Motherhood ages isn’t it? I’m in the midst of it then. I can no longer be the newbie Muma seeking Rookie as my excuse, ‘Opps I forgot the wipes’. It will just be me, being disorganised…or worse – lazy.

Happy New Year Mumas – have a goodie, let’s go kick 2017’s butt.

 

 

 

 

ASBO Toddler does Christmas

Welcome to The Lila Show. Starring Lila: Diva extraordinaire, ASBO deserved. 

I’ll be honest here, when people have allured to the wrath of a threenager in the past I may have raised my need-to-be-did eyebrows and wallowed in self pity for the gruesome twos I was being forced to endure. Thinking that surely Toddlerhood couldn’t possibly exceed the floor licking tantrums of age 2 (which peaked at Lego land incidentally- I’m sure it was a very clean floor).

We are staring Lila’s 3rd birthday in the face and I do not feel the end is neigh with this ASBO behaviour. In fact, I fear it could just be the beginning…

It is no secret that sub-4 kids don’t do sharing. (To be honest I’m not a massive fan of sharing even now, but that’s another story.)

Lila is very blunt about this hate of sharing. It’s more than a little off putting to her friends who look blankly at me as Lila snatches whatever plastic tat they might have dared to touch, upon a rare play date.

Lila has fast worked out that she cannot snatch n grab every toy at once, evolution is still one step behind with that 3rd hand that she requires. One of her favourite solutions when facing this predicament is to select one of the 456,000 buggys we have and simply pile it all in.

She will happily wheel about shopping tills, random candles, a naked sylvanian, the odd shoe, her beloved inflatable mic, the cat… you name it. Lila will stack it high to ensure that no one else can touch this sacred stash. I like to call it her tramp trolley, I mean no disrespect, but it is bares an uncanny resemblance.

Theft is becoming a real problem in our house. Crucial items tend to go missing, often for days on end. I have now found a Grinch like cupboard in her toy kitchen which has basically got trophies from her bin raids. I discovered old milk bottles, yogurt tops, coffee pods, the crucial sellotape wheel thing, a fitbit, even the garage keys. I offered to clean this revolting collection up, and retrieve our stuff.  That didn’t go down well. Who knew it was possible to have such an attachment to junk? One girl’s trash is another girl’s stash…

The latest victim of Lila’s venomous tongue is ELFred. This has at least given Darcie the week off from hearing her sister shouting,

“Darcie is a poo and a worm, I hate you Daadaa”

It’s fair to say that ASBO-toddler has not taken kindly to this invasion of her privacy. This morning when ELFred was found straddling Lila’s train, she could take no more.

“ELFred need to go home now Mummy.”

“Bye bye ELFred, don’t forget your Hat”

– Oh yes, don’t let him forget that, it cost more than mine!

My annoyance has reached boiling point. There are a whole bunch of parents out there that hate the elf, who don’t have the time or inclination to deal with elf-shit. But their little treasures love Chippy, dingbat and Zaton so much that they begrudgingly move him between Christmas tree branches for 24 nights.

The thing is, try as I might to loath this additional ball ache at the busiest time of the year, I don’t. I was loving this damned tradition. I love moving him about – albeit not very imaginatively, but I’m just warming up! I was just getting started! I loved those first 4 days of them discovering what Elfred had been up too. But I’ve been halted by my child, the only child that seems to hate him.

Oh the irony is not lost.

I had imagined that ELFred would have been a pretty useful bribery tool,

“Don’t spit on the carpet, Elf is always watching”…

“But he’s in the Woooooooooownge Muma!” Followed by deafening cries.

Well that went down like a shit sandwich. I did not see those screams of protest coming: Rookie, rookie, Mistake.

“No, no he’s not watching you all of the time, he just watches you in a nice way… ”

I don’t think I was helping. And to be fair it did all sound a bit pervy.

So Elfred is in the fireplace, with a farewell card – at least she remembered her manners.

Here is the conundrum: If I send ELFred away, Darcie shall be devastated. If he stays, Lila will be terrified.

You know what, sod you elf. You have just succeeded in turning your No.1 (and quite possible ONLY) adult fan against you.

***

Lila has just given me the perfect ending for this post. She has just returned from  bossing the nursery room. Actually she looked quite sweet as she snuggled up to her bunny on the sofa just now. I began to feel bad that I was mid sentence on a post that brands her a total A-hole. Then she took something from her pocket…

She looked at me with her devilish eyes but at least had the good grace to add a nervous giggle. She’s only gone and stolen baby Jesus from the nursery nativity scene.

I rest my case.

Is anyone else living under the duress of a crazed ASBO-deserving nearly threenager?!

 

Mummuddlingthrough

 

 

Drusillas Winter Wonderland Review

Drusillas has kicked off our festive celebrations in spectacular fashion!

This award-winning zoo has always been a fixture on our December calender since our little girls were babies. Drusillas seems to up the ante on its renowned Winter Wonderland year on year. Adding to its huge collection of impressive illuminations is a whole host of Christmas goodness. Drusillas is bound to leave the you feeling so festive that even your pile of Christmas cards waiting to be written shall no longer seem like such a chore (although a substantial glass of mulled wine is still  advisable!)


Meeting Father Christmas

The girls and I took our friends Amy, who writes at Bean Musing , and her daughter along on Saturday to join in the fun. We  headed straight for Father Christmas’ cosy cottage, why wait?! We were met by Mrs Christmas and her elves before being taken into meet the man of the moment. I think at this point I was probably more excited than the girls. Each time we have taken them to meet Father Christmas I always get embarrassingly emotional! I probably need to get a grip, but I can’t help but wonder at their little faces. They are totally in awe of this movie star figure, sitting right in front of them. Despite of course, my toddler repeating that she didn’t want to go anywhere near Father Christmas and that in fact, she would be perfectly fine standing right next to the door thank you very much. The elf and FC made a great team and looked like the real deal. There were no fake beards and cheap suits here: right before our eyes was a miracle on 34th Street Santa. I just managed to stop myself muttering “I believe”.

“Is he real?” whispered Darcie.

“Oh yes, he is most definitely real”

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Did I mention that the gift is gorgeous?! The girls were thrilled to reveal a cuddly Husky dog, just like the ones they were about to meet in the real. They didn’t let go of them for the rest of the day. It makes a nice change to have a decent, good quality Santa gift. I don’t mean that in an ungrateful way, but we have paid through the roof for some SuperTat in the past.

Fabulous festivities

The Husky dogs and reindeer had taken up residence  right next to the huge sleigh scene in the beautifully decorated festive square. We were able to go straight in and cuddle up with these gorgeous Husky dogs before looking in on Donner and Dasher who seemed right at home being the center of attention.

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You won’t believe what happened next…

We had some time before the illuminations show began, so headed over to the Zoo. The girls love the stamper book activity and ran around searching for animals. The meer cats are usually my high point, however today that high was handed to the penguins…

We had coincidentally just arrived as the penguins were being fed. Despite my frozen toes we decided to stay and watch, and I’m glad we did. Not only because the Penguin keeper was lovely and very knowledgable about her water babies, but because of what came next. A silence came over the enclosure as the keeper invited one of us 8 in the audience to, “Ask the question”. before we had a chance to exchange confused glances, the man standing next to us proposed to his girlfriend! Thankfully she said yes, their 2 children clapped, so we all clapped, with open mouths, min you, the penguins couldn’t have given a monkeys!

What a moment to share, huge congratulations to them. Could there be a Drusillas wedding on the cards?!

Rockin’ around the Christmas tree

Back to the order of the day, and laden down with chips and hot chocolate we really got into the festive swing of things as the square came to life. Some of the best known christmas classics, filled the square, whilst the lights dazzled. Polar bears shone, ice caps sparkled and reindeer twinkled brightly. We couldn’t help but smile, sing and bop along with our little girls. It really did look beautiful, and yes, I may have welled up a little bit more – I can’t help it!

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Hurrah for Drusillas

Drusillas is a truly great day out at any time of the year, but especially at Christmas. They have pulled out all of the stops this year to get you in the festive spirit.

Don’t forget the Zoo, Hello kitty rides, the vast adventure playgrounds, indoor play, Thomas train ride, and the Maze are open for you to explore as usual!

Drusillas doesn’t do bored

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Visit the Drusillas website

Book tickets 

Drusillas Park, Alfriston, East Sussex, BN26 5QS

 

 

 

 

Muma: The Unsung Christmas Hero

Cheers Mumas.

Here’s to you, the puppeteers’ of Christmas.

The makers of the magic.

Without you, there would be no tinsel-tastic hollabaloo.

Cheers to the Mumas who come up with a new trick for that creepy little elf each evening.

And cheers to those that have chosen not too.

Cheers to the Mumas who are busy needle and threading nativity costumes.

And cheers to those Mumas who Amazon Primed theirs.

Here’s to the Mumas who boss the sparkle all on their own.

And here’s to the Mumas who navigate the web of family celebrations.

To the Mumas that no longer have their own Muma here, to help and to encourage.

To the Mumas that light a candle for their sleeping babies.

Here’s to the Mumas that are frantically trying to make ends meet,

and to those Mumas who have plenty, but worry about spoilt brat syndrome.

Cheers to those Mumas that proudly plaster Jimmy & Jane’s every December waking hour over facebook,

and to those who don’t.

 A bottle of Bolly to the Mumas who trudge the freezing high street, in search of the perfect gifts.

Hats off to those that are trawling websites, waiting in for parcels and single handedly keeping Paypal afloat.

Bravo those Muma’s who credit Santa and his Elves for everything. Just to keep the magic alive.

And to those Mumas who’s teens no longer believe, enjoy the ‘thank yous’.

Here’s to the Mumas that decorate their Christmas tree daily, thanks to a Bauble-loving Toddlermonster,

and here’s to the Mumas that have sacrificed a catalogue tree in favour of displaying homemade one-of-a-kind loo roll angels and pipe cleaner snowmen.

Here’s to my Muma that still displays that loo roll angel 30 years later…

Cheers to you, the unsung Christmas heroes; Battling to win a Tesco delivery slot, attend the carol concerts, plays and recitals, with a highly flammable hot flush inducing Primark Christmas Jumper which has become your reluctant December uniform.

All the while, you keep that smile, and remember to savour those bright believing eyes, before the magic dies.

Here’s to our forever babies, and the copious Prosecco deals, which somehow make this manic month entirely worthwhile.

 

 

 

Rainforest Cafe: Review

This weekend my Mum and I treated my eldest daughter to a big girls day in London. Darcie is 5 going on 15, so a show and lunch seemed fitting. I love London at this time of year and try and make a trip every Christmas time. The festive buzz, the lights, the window displays, random Christmas fairs- as an interloper from the sticks, what’s not to love?!


Rainforest Cafe

20 Shaftesbury Ave, London W1D 7EU, Piccadilly Circus tube –  on the dark blue line!

I remember being taken here when I was little, and I have never forgotten it. So, off we toddled to see if the magic still existed 25 years later…

Rainforest Cafe has a great position right on on Sharftesbury Avenue, a stones throw from Piccadilly Circus. Leicester Square sits right behind it, and the famous Trocadero money pit is right next door: handy…!

What’s right with it:

  • The atmosphere. This place is jaw droppingly impressive. I have never been to a rainforest, but if I ever did, I’m pretty sure it would look just like this place. The walls and ceilings are alive with foliage and wildlife.

  • The animals. Meet the gang of actual sized Gorillas who come to life at random intervals, admire the huge elephants who twitch their ears, marvel at the massive Butterflies and Parrots suspended from the vines overhead, and if you really have your eyes peeled, you will spot a Cheetah catching some zzzz’s on a branch of a tree.

  • The waiting staff. This place runs like a well oiled machine, every member of staff seemed to know exactly what they are doing. We were asked if we had any allergies or if we were celebrating a birthday at the time of arrival. You are given a ‘passport’ with this info on it to pass over to your waiter. Our’s asked Darcie her name, and used it when speaking to her which was a really nice touch. It’s the first restaurant I have reviewed which has taken the trouble to do this. They were all super friendly and even the toddler projectile voming over his Dad and the floor didn’t phase them…
  • The Food. The children’s menu was a big thumbs up. There was plenty of choice, from pastas, burgers, and chicken, mostly with chips. Nothing ground breaking here, BUT it’s all stuff that kids tend to love. Rainforest’s Rascal Menu – £12.90 a main, desert & drink. OR upgrade to Total Kids Adventure Menu – £15.90. for an additional side and a super duper activity pack. We did this (I must have been feeling generous) But I must say the better activity pack was worth it. It came with stickers, a wallet, mask, puzzle book, pencil rubber ruler set and probably a few things I’ve forgotten about, all in a handy carry case.

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  • Adults Food: There was a wide rang of options, from Chinese noodles, to a huge rack of ribs, pastas, and burgers. It’s all clearly marked with allergy information. The food was pretty good, but its not the reason I would go back.
  • Entertainment. Apart from the obvious sights and sounds of the Rainforest, you are given a child menu with an activity sheet on the reverse. You can upgrade your child’s meal and have the Total Kids Adventure pack – as above.

  • Changing facilities & loos were spacious and I would have been happy to change my baby in there.
  • It’s FULL of kids. Every table has children, babies or toddlers on it.There were tantrums, squeals, laughter, stern “one more mouthful” and other go-to parenting phrases being banded about all over the place. Rest assured you can feel totally at ease here should your Treasure break into the mother of all tantrums. We are all in the club. We all understand.

What’s not so right

  • It’s FULL of kids. Tinder users take note: DO NOT go here on a first date. Or any date actually. Unless of course you want to be put off having a 2nd or 3rd date in fear of morphing into the 2.4 lifestyle sprawled out around you.
  • It’s pricey. I say this with slight trepidation; Considering it is London, and there is a real theatrical element attached to this dining experience I thought it was justifiable, as a one off. Our lunch for 3 was £75 without any booze.
  • You cannot book a table in advance from now until after Christmas without booking a trip to Santa’s Grotto as well, which is £45. It does include the standard 2 course children’s menu! As we didn’t visit I couldn’t say if this is good value for money or not.

Top tips!

  • Arrive early! If like us you haven’t booked in advance then arrive early. W arrived at 11.45, it doesn’t open until 12 noon, and were in a queue to be seated.
  • Watch out for the thunderstorm! It’s loud, and very realistic. Babies faces were a picture…
  • If it’s your birthday you will be given the royal treatment and invited to stand up on your chair while the restaurant serenade you!

Verdict

This is Child Friendly Dining at it’s peak. This place will capture even the biggest kid’s imagination and run a mile with it. It’s a must do – if you can. A definite treat, and if I’m anything to go by, the memory of your visit should last until your children have children. Now there’s a thought…

(Oh and here’s what went down later on that afternoon: Beverly Knight was on form, she is one fierce performer. Her standing ovation said it all.)

The pressure to make the most of it: Christmas Edition

Well, well. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Here we are once more, the big TV Christmas ads are OUT, Christmas carols from Germany are merrily playing throughout Lidl, and we have the hotly anticipated ‘Soz, your kid’s not Mary, so please bring in a tea-towel and long sleeve tunic, a la Inn-Keeper’ nativity request form.

This is by far my favourite time of year, but it is also a time when I reach peak anxiety level. What if he doesn’t pick me out those Cath Kidston slippers…

It is becoming abundantly clear how this whole Father Christmas belief thing works:

There is a window of about 3, maybe 4 years if we are lucky, where our children both understand who Father Christmas is, before a total arsehole  non-believer takes it upon themselves to spread their poisonous ‘He’s not real’ yarda yarda through Mrs White’s class.

I am in the eye of the magic right now. Our girls are nearly 3 and 5. They are fully committed to the Father Christmas movement. They write* to him almost daily, and have an unwavering belief which is actually infectious. I am absolutely expecting a man in a red suit to come down my chimney (so to speak), baring every gift upon my wish list.

It’s truly magical to see their faces when a festive buzzword is mentioned: Father Christmas, North Pole, Head Elf, Naughty n Nice list (-single best bit, thanks FC), Rudolph’s band of merry reindeer, I could go on…
I don’t want this belief to end, and that panics me because I know it will. I must appreciate this year and make the most of it because it might be the last Christmas that Darcie possesses this unquestioning precious belief.

I want to embrace every tradition I hear of, for the FOMO (fear of missing out) is too much to bear;

The pressure to make the most of it is all consuming.

Take that creepy looking ‘Elf on the sodding Shelf’ for example. Last year I laughed and mocked those parents who tirelessly thought up all sorts of frankly bonkers positions for their Elf to be found in each morning. The X-rated versions took the biscuit and had me in stitches, I confess. But on the whole I just thought, what a load of tosh.

Guess what?  This year we are having an Elf on the Shelf. My panic that I’ll regret doing it for our girls once it’s too late was just too much. So I caved. I’ll be posting wan*y ‘Elf dangling from the ceiling in a bid to rescue Barbie from her arranged marriage to Ken.’ and other must see footage…


More Xmas bangers…

Do we give in and pour flour all over the floorboards to mimic Santa boot prints? What about those Christmas Eve boxes or treats? (Who the F came up with that one.) How do we decide on  The Santa Visit ? Have we made  arrangements for the family to see the kids? Have we got any school holiday trips or treats planned? Hang on, what about Christmas crafting?! It’s a minefield.

Then there’s the gifts.

And this is my plea:

Please parents, don’t be a Festive-Douche.

Please don’t post photos of your Christmas tree groaning with gifts at 9pm Christmas Eve. It’s too frigging late by then for me to nip out to Poundland and purchase more tat to pad ours out with. I don’t want to read that you struggled to get in the lounge door because of all the gifts in the way. I don’t want to see that the Christmas eve boxes went down a storm with homemade PJ’s and personalised hot chocolate mugs. That’s great for you, but please don’t put the panic surges and gut wrenching guilts on the rest of us who didn’t get the jazz hands memo.


That all sounds  a bit harsh doesn’t, self preservation is at work, sorry.

I can’t be the only one who has Inst-Panic and Facebook-fu*k moments over Christmas time can I? Is there anyone else out there sharing these feels?

I guess it all boils down to this, the big question, ‘Am I making the most of it?’

My gorgeous, switched on friend, Ursula, who blogs at Mumbelivable wisely said to me “Pick the traditions you want to do, don’t try and do it all  and don’t compare yourself to others, your kids are lucky that you are their Mummy”.

I’m going to try and remember that.

Right then, I’m just off to stage the family Christmas card, and send off for personalised snowglobes, right before adopting a reindeer for a month… just kidding.

Keep it real Mumas, we got this.

Top 5 places to visit Santa near Brighton & Win tickets!

I don’t know about you, but since having our girls I have this crazed obsession with making each Christmas better than the last. I put huge pressure on myself to ensure that we have squeezed the most out of every memory maker going. I am painfully conscious of the fact that there are only a handful years when our children will truly believe in The Big Man. The thought of wasting one of those precious years visiting a tin-pot Santa makes me shudder- in all the wrong ways.

This year there are only 6 weekend days in December to cram in as much tinseltastic memories as possible; ergo- planning is everything. Knowledge is power.

So without further ado, I would like to present to you the top 5 places to visit with your families in the greater Brighton area this December:

1) Drusillas Park

*Win a family ticket to Drusillas!*

Location: Drusillas Park, Alfriston, East Sussex, BN26 5QS

Drusillas Park: family ticket givaway


This is one of my families favourite places to visit. We have annual passes and so you could say we know Drusillas inside out! Widely regarded as one of the countries best small zoos, not only can you enjoy seeing a wide variety of animals but the adventure park is something to behold! There is a large indoor play area, cafes, and my girls favourite: Hello Kitty world which has 3 brilliant rides – all included in your ticket price.

Festive Sparkle: A huge winter wonderland display comes to life after dark with an impressive animal themed Christmas light show all synchronised to music. There will also be an opportunity to meet 2 of Santa’s reindeer and husky dogs on selected dates.

Meeting Santa: The star attraction is Santa’s cosy cottage. It does look beautiful and has the winter wonderland laid out in front of it, making it all very magical. – With elves, and a big sleigh to ride too! The early Christmas gifts are really good quality – our girls still love their cuddly polar bears a year on.

Dates: Join the festive fun from Saturday 19th November until Monday 2nd Jan.

Meet Santa from Saturday 19th November (weekends only) and from Thursday 15th December – Friday 23rd December (daily).

Price: Normal entry price, plus £11 to meet Santa.

More information on the Christmas festivities

Book your tickets in advance to bag a better deal

2) Bluebell Railway

Location: The Bluebell Railway, Sheffield Park Station, East Sussex TN22 3QL


Think, Thomas the Tank Engine – with class!! My toddler is train mad, and I think this is where we are going to go this year.

Festive Sparkle: The ‘Santa Special’ trains depart from the Sheffield Park station (East Grinstead on the 23rd) for a ten mile round trip to the beautifully restored Horsted Keynes station with special Dickensian themed activities for you to enjoy.

Santa will be on the train to meet you and give a gift and treat to each child. Once at the station you can have your photo taken with Santa in his special cabin, and enjoy a range of Christmas activities, from Victorian street entertainers, to fairground stalls (20p a go – not bad). A right olde ye Christmas shindig then; lovely!

Dates: Departures from Sheffield Park ONLY at: 11.00am, 11.55am, 1.45pm and 2.40pm
on 3rd, 4th, 10th, 11th, 23rd and 24th December

Departures from Sheffield Park ONLY at: 11.00am, 11.45am, 12.30pm, 1.15pm, 2.00pm and 2.45pm on 17th and 18th December

Departure from East Grinstead at: 12.45pm and 3.30pm on 23rd December

Price: First Class:  Adult £26.00  Child £14.00  Toddler £9.00 (no seat allocated for toddlers) Third Class:  Adult £21.00  Child £14.00  Toddler £9.00 (no seat allocated for toddlers) -Not sure what happened to 2nd class?!

More information on meeting Santa on the Bluebell Railway

Book tickets 

Please call 01825720806 for 1st class ticket bookings – these are very popular, so don’t be disappointed if you have to travel coach, it’s all fabulous.

3) Tulley’s Farm 

Location: Tulley’s Farm, Turners Hill Road, Turners Hill, Crawley, West Sussex, RH10 4PE


This farm has an outstanding reputation for its Spookfest, and puts the same incredible effort and detail into it’s Christmas experience. This is a whole day of specially crafted Christmas activities and delights for the whole family to enjoy.

Festive Sparkle: Christmas really did land at Tulley’s. You will journey on Santa’s sleigh, through a forest to reach Santa’s log cabin where you will be read a story by the man himself and the children will receive a gift star.

These activities are included in the main child ticket 1-13 years, and slight variations occur for Tiddler tickets and adults which are classed from age 14:

  • Gingerbread Decorating
  • Elves Magical Forest
  • Story time with Father Christmas
  • Build a Bear  or Toy shop
  • Real live Reindeer
  • Sleigh Ride
  • Post House
  • Elf Hunt
  • Puppet shows
  • Christmas Shop

Dates: Daytime dates: 10am-5pm. Every weekend from Saturday 26th November – Saturday 24th December as well as these additional dates: Friday 9th December, Thursday 15th, Friday 16th, and then everyday Monday 19th – Saturday 24th.

Twilight dates: 4.30pm – 7.30pm 10th &11th December and then everyday from Saturday 17th – Friday 23rd.

Price: It’s complicated…

Daytime 10am-5pm: 26th & 27th November: Adult (14+) £8, Child £14, Tiddler (1-) £4

3rd & 4th December, 9th, 15th &16th: Adult £10, Child £16, Tiddler £5

10th & 11th, 17th – 24th: Adult £10, Child £18, Tiddler £6

Twilight 4.30pm-7.30pm: Friday 16th December, Adult £10, Child £16, Tiddler £5

10th &11th and 17th – 23rd December, Adult £10, Child £18, Tiddler £6

More information on Christmas at Tulleys Farm 

Book your tickets and celebrate Christmas, Tulleys style!

4) Preston Manor, Brighton.

Location: Preston Manor, Preston Drove, Hove, Brighton BN1 6SD


Preston Manor is an impressive Edwardian house, which is the perfect setting for hosting a Victorian themed Christmas. There are very few dates available, but this really is a gem of a place and a slightly calmer way to celebrate than my other suggestions. I would say it would be of more interest to children who are school age and above, and ideal for anyone who doesn’t deal well in crowded places.

Festive Sparkle: A beautifully decorated manor house will transport you back in time, with special festive activities like dressing up and listening to stories which will all be going on throughout the house for the children. Father Christmas greets every child with a gift, at allotted time slots which are all pre-booked.

After you’ve met the man himself take a look around the rest of this delightful Edwardian Manor House. The Dining Room table is set as if a grand family of the period are about to take tea and Lady Ellen’s little Morning Room is covered in Victorian and Edwardian Christmas cards, holly and ivy and traditional decorations.

Dates: Saturday 17th & Sunday 18th Dec, and,  20th-23rd December.

Price: £8.50 to visit Santa, plus admission charges – Adult £6.60 Child £3.50

*Brighton & Hove residents will benefit from half price adult admission. Each half price adult can take up to 4 children for free. Please note that ‘visiting Santa’ charges still apply. ID and proof of address needed at time of booking to qualify.

More information on Preston Manor

To book call 03000 290902 or visit the Brighton Pavilion, or Preston Manor.

5) Spring Barn Farm

Location: Spring Barn Farm, Kingston Road, Lewes BN7 3ND


I adore this farm, it has a real family feel to it. It is small enough that it keeps a local vibe but big enough to warrant a full on day out.  There is a large indoor play area housed in a barn along with an undercover small animal petting area, so rain needn’t spoil your day out. The shop is worth a mention here – it’s to die for with fresh local produce and gorgeous gifts.

Festive Sparkle: A large area of the huge barn turns into a winter wonderland for the season. The head elf will meet you at the entrance and take you through to make reindeer food, before writing to Santa. A special Santa-Mail letter box is waiting for your children’s letters amongst the twinkle lights and festive displays. Santa awaits you in his log cabin where children meet with him in family groups. You are then whisked off to the Elves workshop to choose a gift.

Dates: Nov: Booking slots available from 9.45am – 3.45pm on 26th & 27th

Dec: Booking slots available at 9.45am – 3.45pm on 3rd & 4th, 10th &11th, Friday  16th- Saturday 24th (last booking 3.15pm)

Cost: Child £13.50, Tiddlers 2 & under £7.50, Adult £7.50, Senior £6.50 plus admission price.

More information on Christmas at Spring Barn Farm

Book Tickets

Have a brilliant time visiting Santa and getting all festived-up.
Don’t forget to enter my giveaway to win tickets for a family of 4 to the fabulous Drusillas Park:

Drusillas Park: family ticket givaway