Bill’s Bill’s Bill’s: The restaurant not the wonga.

There is something to be said for hitting up a restaurant chain rather than taking a chance on an unknown non-tried non-tested eatery when you have small kids in tow. I’m all for hipster independents but somehow I just can’t find the courage to branch out. When you find a restaurant or cafe which you can just about bare to sit in public with your whiny, fussy, fidgety critics, it’s worth repeat visits. Even better if that chosen restaurant or cafe is a chain – wherever you are, it can be relied on. You will know the score. Do not deviate from what works, never shake up the system… This is my dining out mantra with my under 5’s.

This is why I could recite the menu at Bill’s to you. Ask me anything?! Blueberry pancakes: check. The Bill’s awesome breakfast (no halloumi sides allowed until midday) is always a total delight, guaranteed to put me in a good mood. Bacon is done extra crispy on request. The Bread basket assortment can indeed be made up entirely of Pain au Chocolat for your precious 5 year old. Viola! It seems to be no problemo. That is what I like, no, what I LOVE about Bills: Great food, no hassles.


I feel quite hip and cool when I’m in there too – I imagine this is what all the haunts surrounding Borough market must look like these days. Selling produce on crate shelving, mis matched battered chairs around scrubbed wooden tables. Giant metal tea pots that  sort of go together but never 2 the same., cutlery in old battered looking tins in the middle the tables and chalk boards suspended from the exposed ceilings: Feeling totally current right now…!!

Quirky: In just the right dose to be acceptable with 2 minors in tow.  

They still have highchairs and a kids menu but somehow this place doesn’t make me feel like I’m sitting in a germ infested clinical box, like many ‘child friendly’ cafes I have sipped weak coffee in, seem to do. Somehow the staff seem to enjoy waiting on children, the novelty factor clearly didn’t wear off on them at 6.10am that morning. They are fresh and ready to appease the demands which are muttered – or screamed. For try as I might, there is no in between. (The kids that is – I have a perfectly normal decibel level… when in public.)

Our latest Bills breakfast sesh was on Lila’s 3rd birthday. Talk about spoiled, the girls were each given a flower at first, then along came a couple of stickers (proper sub-5 year old goals) before out of nowhere our Topshop-cool of a waitress produced 2 beautifully wrapped bags of chocolate drops. I’m not saying this is the norm for birthday shenanigans – it might be! But it prompted me to shout about what a blooming great all rounder Bill’s is.


I don’t know many places that I would happily take the kids too, AND have a boozy night out with my girlfriends. Oh yes, it’s happened at Bill’s. Their dinner menu is gorgeous – with plenty of halloumi on it at this time of the day! There are cocktails and prosecco to fest on, and a candlelit atmosphere that flatters even the most trowelled on contour-less make up (that’s me – this place rocks after dark!).

Our favourites are the Lewes (the original and legendary 1st Bill’s), Eastbourne -which is brand new, but somehow looks like it has been there for decades with its distressed interior) and Brighton, which I struggle to get a table in it’s so popular! There are over 60 Bill’s around, so there is bound to be one near to you!

Thanks Bill – we totally dig your vibes.


(This post was in no way sponsored or affiliated with Bill’s – it’s just me, telling you, what a blooming cracker of a family friendly shindig it is.)  

#MumaWin No.1

Welcome to my new weekly series (actually it’s not just new, it’s my FIRST ever series..! I’m feeling a little bit commitment phobe about the whole thing to be honest). I felt it was about time we showed parenting who’s boss: and started to shout about how we nailed the hardest job on earth each week. This is entirely new territory for me, finding faults is much easier and far more plentiful in my day to day life!

It’s a dog eat dog world out there, it’s Mum V Kids, and for the most part they are scoring all of the points. Well, the tables are going to turn: I shall be seeking out a #MumaWin each week. A glorious moment where I reign supreme over my kids who seem to be sponsored by Duracell.

I am constantly chasing my tail and seem to always arrive in the wake of disaster just seconds short of foiling the shitstorm, despite the girls being surgically attached to my hip. How does that work?!

Muttering “{BIG SWEAR}, another parenting fail” under my breath is a constant. It does seem to be my daily chant actually. How did  Vicks become smeared all over the carpet? And in which millisecond that my back was turned did ToddlerMonster manage to go nuclear, thanks to a slight glow stick mayday… in her mouth?

I don’t want the corner stone of my week to be blighted by organic-less food guilt, and loosing my shit in the playground in front of ‘Sorted Muma’ because I am decidedly Unsorted.

So here we have it: #MumaWins is born.

Every week I’ll share mine if you share yours… leave your Mum Boss #MumaWins in the comments or on the facebook Instagram or Twitter thread. I need your inspiration, let’s show these tinkers that Mumas got it all goin’ on.

To the end of Parenting Fails!!

***

I’ll keep this as brief as I can:

I’ll be honest, I want to tell you about how I managed to clean out ALL of my kitchen cupboards at a rate of 1 a night last week. Now this might not sound that exciting, but to me this is proper Muma Porn. My cupboards are now neat little pintrest worthy joys.

But I felt that if I named this as my #MumaWin then I would have to also confess that this resulted in 10 bin bags full of out of date food (FYI flour has a use by date?! Who knew!), some by 2 years, which leads to further embarrassment as our new kitchen is only a year old. Yes: I moved and stored out of date food, and then put it back into my brand new shiny kitchen!! There was also the little issue of unearthing the sweet potato which had taken on a more hummus like consistency at the bottom of my ‘anything goes’ cupboard.

Some of those bin bags were full of plastic sippy cups with no lids, and lids with no sippy cups. Tuppleware bottoms and Tuppleware tops, but not pairs. Rusty baking trays, which are health hazards. Which leads me on nicely to confess that I’m pretty sure the food standards bods would shut me down. Never again will I turn my nose up at those eateries with just 1* on their hygiene certificates. For that is 1* more than I would have been awarded…

So my first #MumaWin goes to my beautifully clean – even bleached kitchen cupboards. No more out of date roulette for us, no more ducking out of the way each time the cupboard of plastic doom is opened. Oh no. This is a #MumaWin and a half, not least because I did it with the assistance of my 2 & 5 year olds! (Please don’t report me for child labour- they thought it was fun! Honest…)

So it’s over to you – what’s your #MumaWin of the week?

Mummuddlingthrough
Life Love and Dirty Dishes

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.

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

Child-free zones at 36,000 ft.

We are living in an age where we can run our entire lives from our phone, listen to music via headphones sans wires, and enjoy processco literally on tap in some of our favourite bars.

But until last week we were still living in a world where grown ups doing adulting, grown ups doing parenting and kids doing the kid thing were all mixed up like a badly organised wash pile every time you dare to board a plane.

Well not anymore, not if you travel in India! IndiGo has adopted a ‘quiet zone’ policy which basically means if you are 12 or under you aint getting in.

HURRAH! It’s 2016, but we got there in the end! We have been enjoying air travel for over 80 years, but finally, FINALLY an airline has engaged brain and realised that Little Tarquinn, age 3, doesn’t like to fly. It makes his ears pop and there isn’t room for him to stand on his head while he sings the theme tune to Paw Patrol at levels that only dogs should be able to hear. This makes Tarquinn cry, he dissolved into full blownn Sh*tbag mode. This makes Tarquinn stamp his feet and kick the seat in front. It makes Tarquinn throw his crisps into the lap of the tight lipped passenger next to him -not Muma… she’s swigging Gin on his other side. Tight lipped passenger begins to tut, gradually the tutting turns to the intake of breath followed by loud breathaliser sounding sighs.

Sorry Easy Jet
Mumas no longer need to mutter “I hate my life” or “I’m so sorry” and “send me the dry clean bill” on a flight anymore! Because guess what – the passengers that really minded being sat next to the little Tarquinns of this world have paid a few quid extra to escape this particular endurance test. So long, huffers and puffers. So long, Muma-guilt. IndiGo, I salute you.

It seems it’s not just me that feels this way either. The concept of the Quiet Zones has been praised by both Adulating Adults and Parenting Adults. I asked a few of my fellow bloggers their thoughts on the subject (I was concerned I might be having a very unmumsey moment rejoicing at this idea!). Surprisingly it was almost unanimously positive feedback. There were some suggestions for other zones which I thought might have legs too. Kate Tunstall of Refined Prose suggested an area reserved for inconsiderate adults, after all, it’s not only children that can be irritating! I see where she’s coming from! While Alana Perrin of Baby Holiday did make a good point, and one that will probably have the air stewardesses drawing straws to man bucket class over at IndiGo; Imagine how noisy it will be when all the babies and toddlers kick off, because of their proximity it will be like a chain reaction… Ear defenders for the long suffering parents?! Frankly, the mind boggles. But that still wouldn’t put me off casting a vote for this genius division.

I wonder if IndiGo might be interested in a little ‘idea development’? Children’s entertainment packs? Disney channel on a big screen? Hell, how about a kids entertainer (Mark Warner are you listening?!) And while we are at it, a loo facility which actually allows the task of nappy changing to take place. One last life changer please airlines, could the Mumas have reserved seating in said Quiet Zone for the duration of the flight, along with several large bottles of Processco. Pretty please.

I am sending a plea to UK airlines to adopt this genius and absolutely nessesery Quiet Zone initiative. Please don’t let tourist space travel happen faster than this, the most basic of travel needs. Come on Branson – lead the way!

What are your thoughts? Would you be offended if an airline offered the option of a ‘Quiet Zone’ for 13+? Or would you breathe a sigh of relief?

Cuddle Fairy
Run Jump Scrap!
Two Tiny Hands

10 times a new Muma & a Fresher were the exact same.

I was reminded today by Grimmy off of Radio 1 DJ ledgeness, that it is Fresher time.  So, there I am driving toddlermonster to her swim lesson, my arm contorted in eye watering angles whilst I pass her various lunch offerings,  I cast my mind back to 13 whole Septembers ago and vaguely recollected a ‘Month of Blur’ (not the band). My mind then jumped to the only other time that I have endured a Month of Blur: The newborn days.

I thought I might demonstrate how actually, being a Fresher is the exact same as being a new Muma… Just you wait, Girls, you’ll be amazed:

1.Being awake in the early hours, to the thud of the base, or the squeal of a non-latching      newborn. Exact same thing.

2. Surviving on nothing but a packet of biscuits and a Twix ALL.DAY.

3.The suggestion that you left the house before lunchtime is met with hysterical laughter.

4. Jeremy Kyle is beginning to feel like an old friend, his gambling past, tragic ‘my  brother used to…’ stories, and lie detector suspense has kept you faithful at 9.25am.

5. You make frequent trips to the Dr’s for complaints you never knew existed, in areas you really rather wish had been left alone.

6. Cheesy pasta is a treat; Hot food, cooked in a saucepan.

7. Awkward ‘making new friends’ moments. Eye contact, going in for the kill: the SU or baby massage class. Exact same thing.

8. Surviving on minimal casheesh, student loan v’s mat leave allowance. Its a close call. Toppers should definitely offer a maternity leave 10% discount, students are spoilt.

9. Learning a whole load of new stuff. Text books / baby manuals coming out of your ears.

10. New timetable. Except the one major difference here is that ‘FREE PERIOD’ does not feature in the Newborn version. Almost, the-exact-same-thing.

So there we have it, those Freshers aren’t going to feel so darn rocking cocking now are they…

Mumas, as always, nailing life.

Life Love and Dirty Dishes
You Baby Me Mummy
My Petit Canard

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Cuddle Fairy
Tammymum

Cath Kidston introduces Winnie the Pooh *squeals of delight*

Drum roll please…

Something extremely exciting, and not at all life changing has happened today: Two of my favourite brands have collaborated: Cath Kidston does Winnie. So to speak.

I thought I should give you the low down of the collection, and of course, the highlights- according to moi! There are clicks throughs if you can manage to get your hands on this gorgeous collection before stocks sell out!

First up, something for squidgy newborn baby bundles:

 

newborn-winnie
Newborn Starter kit £30.00
newborn-blankey
Pram blanket & rattle set, £20.00
How about a few delights from the clothing range for the kids.

pjs
Hundred Acre Wood PJ set £20.00

unnamed
Hundred Acre Wood jumper £35.00
skirt
What a skirt! £40.00 – bit pricey, but a Primark top wouldn’t be noticed with this ballooning bunch below it!
Hot bags… always wipe clean, always gorgeous.

bag
Medium backpack, £25.00
Hands up Mumas who  love a good set of PJ’S, bottom right….

 

aaaaaa
Muma PJs £50.00
So there you have it – a little taster of Miss Kidston’s genius new line. I’m in love…

Happy browsing y’all.

Check out the entire range

Toddler- led potty training: it’s totally a thing.

I wanted to share something with you, possibly it’s a little bit controversial- I know: Me, controversial, surely not..?! 

This is the story of why we are not potty training our  nearly 3 year old. 

Lila is potty training herself; you’ve heard of baby led weaning? Well this is the toilet version. I’m not sure if this is an actual thing or if I am just breaking out of the Muma- society mould here, I’m sure you’ll let me know…

                                    ***

She stood in a puddle of wee, in the middle of the park, sobbing; Wet knickers, wet leggings and wet shoes

It had been 1 week since we declared ‘potty training’ had began. this is back in 2013, and I am talking about our eldest daughter Darcie. She was exactly 2.5 years old, and numerous ‘experts’ (Butty-in elders and judgemental Gina-ford types ) had been surprised that Darcie wasn’t potty trained-

“What with the baby on the way…”

I was panicing that the world would stop spinning as I knew it with ‘the coming of baby No.2’, and decided that we should of course get cracking with this potty training lark.

We lasted 1 week before I couldn’t bare to see her wet herself and struggle anymore.

I had listened to other parents tell me of their potty training antics – us Mumas have great chat, right?! MONTHS some of them had spent watching their toddlers wet and poo themselves. In public, in the car, at home: you name it.

I just couldn’t do it. It just strikes me as a bit demeaning really. I would HATE to Wee myself in morrisons, so why would I think it ok to have my child do this? Why would I make my daughter wear knickers day after day standing by while she poos herself, looking helpless, telling her “she’s almost there”. Nah, that’s not my style. So we made the decision to avoid putting pants on our kids, until they ask.

I know using that word demeaning in association with potty training is probably going to get some backs up. I know that it’s all about personal choice and we all want what’s best for our children. Of course we do- that’s a Muma’s mantra. I also realise that using the loo and making that leap of faith from nappies needs to be taught, and learnt. But do we really need to force a round peg into a square hole here?

So we waited. We waited months, and months, our new baby arrived, and we celebrated Darcie’s 3rd birthday. STILL IN NAPPIES. 

And then it happened; one spring afternoon, down the stairs she came with her Peppa Pig knick-knocks on.

Darcie never put a nappy back on again. From that moment she used the toilet, not the potty. She was old enough to tell me when she wanted to go, she was old enough to sit on the toilet without having to lug a potty EVERYWHERE with us.

Darcie is now 5 years old, and we have never had to remind her to use the loo before we go out. Nor do we check if she needs it when we are out and about. I leave it up to her.

Her accident record is Zero.

I’m not saying that’s purely down to the approach we used, that, we’ll never know. But I am sure that never making a big deal out of all of this toilet related stuff has helped her.

So now it’s Lila’s turn. When she wants to wear knickers she does. When she wants to wear a pull up, guess what: she does! Sometimes she likes to use the loo, and other times she doesn’t. But you know what, more and more she is opting to use to use it. I have checked that nursery aren’t pushing her with toilet training and they have been very supportive of our choice to let Lila decide when she is ready to ditch the nappies- and start saving us a fortune.

I suppose the point of telling you all of this toilet related goodness is because I wish I had read that you don’t have to potty train like its a military operation, and you don’t need to label it:

WE ARE POTTY TRAINING”  *like a declaration of battle*

Just introducing the potty n knickers combo and offering those things,  rather than pushing them is enough. 

They will get there eventually. It’s not a race. 

I felt a huge pressure to succeed at potty training. And for what?! To gloat like a Gloatey McKnob that my daughter is wearing knickers before she’s learnt to pick her nose?

Our nearly 3 year old has enough on her plate- she is learning to speak, to form opinions, deal with frustrations, realising that book cases make great ladders, and all the while, brewing her next UberTantrum.

She doesn’t need this kind of shit in her life right now: literally.

I’ll keep you posted on how the Toddler-led toilet training is going- I know you’ll all be on the edge of your seats awaiting this update…

Until then, I’d love to know if anyone else has had a similar experience to me and has used, or is using this method?

Xx

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