Monday, 24 October 2016

Our #FrubesMoves Challenge

My two eldest children (aged 8 & 9) love Angry Birds. They also have a keen passion for food and possess a unique skill of making a weekly shop, last only a single day.  Therefore, when we found out about the partnership between Frubes and Angry Birds, they were understandably very keen to try them out, and provide their expert food opinions.



Frubes are already the largest portable yoghurt brand, and my children often enjoy them as part of their packed lunch at school. They are available in a variety of flavours including Strawberry, Red Berry, Peach and Banana. 

My children have previously often opted for the Strawberry flavour, but recently turned their tastebuds to the Banana flavour, with my daughter claiming "it was a delight on the palette" (yes she has been watching far too much of a certain popular bakery programme lately). In simple translation though I think she was basically stating that it was indeed rather yummy!

In addition to the tasty flavours, there are of course some great health benefits to Frubes. They contain both Vitamin D and Calcium which help to build strong bones. Taking care of your child's bones is very important, due to the fact that around 90% of their lifetime bone mass is set by the age of 18 and so it is fantastic that Frubes can help children to obtain some calcium through their diet.

If the flavours and health benefits weren't enough, then how about the added bonus of an amazing competition which is currently running on pack until the 31st October. As part of the Angry Birds Partnership, Frubes are offering families the chance to win an amazing host of prizes with weekly draws for Angry Birds Movie Merchandise, and an amazing grand prize of a Family Holiday for 4 to spend 6 nights in the Bahamas! Wow!!!!





Frubes are available to purchase in all leading supermarkets and have an RRP of £2.00. The packs that I purchased each contained 9 x 40g pouches. The pouches are very easy to open, suitable for small hands without the need for scissors, making them ideal for packed lunches.




Frubes have also launched a brand new fantastic website to tie in with all of this, and this can be found at angrybirds.frubes.co.uk. In celebration of the collaboration, they have created a Squawksome game, where you can have a dance-off between the Angry Birds and the Mischevious Pigs. If you have seen the film then you will know the the Angry Birds and the Mischevious Pigs are enemies and the game allows you to pick a side and settle the feud for good with a dance off and find out who does really have the BEST dance moves.




Inspired by this, my children couldn't wait to have their own dance off, and so they did, to the same themes available on the game which are Funky, Dance Party, 80's Funk, Mexican Fiesta and Jazzy. My 3 year old absolutely loves to dance and so he couldn't help but get involved too. 

None of my children have ever been to dance classes (as you can probably tell from the video), however that being said, they certainly have their own dance styles and aren't afraid to show of their freestyle moves! Check out the video below!

This post is an entry for BritMums' #FrubesMoves Linky Challenge sponsored by Frubes






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Wednesday, 5 October 2016

A Review of our Adventure to Stonehenge

Stonehenge has always been somewhere that I have wanted to visit, but as we don't venture down to the South of England too often, we hadn't found the opportunity to do so, and so I was really pleased when the children wrote it down on their list of places that they wanted to visit over the summer.

They had been learning all about roundhouses in school and Stonehenge had been mentioned and so it was something that was a current interest in their minds, and so I jumped at the chance to add this into our travels.


The historical site of Stonehenge is located in Salisbury, and on the approach we could see it quite clearly in the distance much to the childrens excitement. On arrival, we found the car park to be well organised. I didn't realise how popular it actually was to visit, and although we arrived early at 10am the site was very busy with queues to get both into the car park, and into the site itself. The queues were handled very well and quickly though and we were soon parked up and ready to commence our visit.

I joined a short queue at the main entrance to collect our tickets and we were greeted by a young man, who was very pleasant and helpful. He recommended that we viewed the exhibits in the visitor centre first before making our way to the buses that carry you to Stonehenge. I hadn't done much research prior to our visit and so I was pleasantly surprised by the indoor visitor centre as I had not been expecting this, and had thought, probably rather naively, that you simply walked round the stones.

The visitor centre exhibits are very well laid out, and despite being a very busy attraction, it never felt too crowded or that people were fighting for space to view things. It was very informative, and my kids really enjoyed seeing artefacts from many years ago. One fascinating part of the centre was the discovery of a skeleton, and although this may not seem extroadinary at first, it actually really is. With the use of modern technology, they have managed to produce an extremely lifelike face of what the person would have looked like which is so clever and was really amazing to see. Based on science and close analysis, they were even able to provide his approximate age at death, the date period that he died, his height, weight, the fact that he was right handed, and they could even tell that at some point during his life, he suffered an injury to his leg. Isn't science amazing!

Several other exhibits focused on the tools that inhabitants would have had in that era, and how they would have used this to help make equipment and ultimately homes.  In addition, the exhibits also delved even further into the past and looked at what the area would have been like before Stonehenge existed.

Each exhibit offered both written information and visual pieces, and on exhibit I did find very interesting was the focus on how Stonehenge was actually built. I will be honest when I say I hadn't given much thought to this previously. It was a historical monument that I had always wanted to see, but I had never really thought about the realism and historical facts about it all. The stones weight a remarkable 30 tonne, and are believed to have been transported to the site by boats from South Wales. Once on land they were then carried on timber sledge with rollers and dragged. This would have taken tan immense amount of effort and would have involved 100s of people to do this.  It really is an amazing piece of engineering for its time.

The exhibit then goes on to explain that the stones would have then been worked into shape using hammerstones before being joined together using joints most often found in woodworking.



As we made our way out of the visitor centre, my children were delighted to see a selection of roundhouses. You werent able to go into these houses but you could view inside and they did provide nice photo opportunities. I do love exhibits that make the children think about the things that they have in their lives, their home, their toys, their garden to play in, and their education to name but a few. They were shocked to think that whole families would live, eat and sleep in these little houses, and it does help them to appreciate just what they have.



There was also an extremely large stone, which seen close up gave you a much better idea of the size, scale and weight of the stones. After the kids had posed for some photos by this, we made our way over to the buses. I had suggested to my husband that we didn't need to get the bus and we should walk. I am glad that my husband talked me out of this, as it was much further than I had expected and took about a 5 minute journey up a gradual slope on the bus. We passed many other walkers on the bus that looked tired, and so I was glad that we had chose to opt for the bus instead. This took you straight to the entrance point of the stones where you followed a guided walkway around.

One thing that I didn't like about the bus, was that they fill it full to capacity. We were not lucky enough  to get seats on either journey and I did feel uncomfortable having to stand on a very crowded bus with a toddler. As I had my tickets, purse and bag in one hand and was supporting my son with the other, it was very hard to steady myself. That being said though it is only a short journey and I do understand why they do this when the site is so busy.

On arrival at the stones we began to follow the route around. We noticed that many of the tourists had opted for the audio tour, however we had chosen not to do this, as the children like to travel around at their own pace and so I felt we wouldnt be able to enjoy or listen to the audio tour fully.

The sight of the stones really is spectacular, and again, even though it was extremely busy it didn't feel too crowded at all. We took a leisurely walk around the stones and took in the information at various point where there were display stands of information and facts. One thing I did really enjoy, was meeting so many people around the site. There were tourists literally from all over the world and it was great to here about where other visitors had travelled from and why. Everyone seemed to be having a great time taking photos and enjoying all the history of the site.

In total we spent around 2.5 hours at the attraction. We could have stayed and enjoyed it for much longer, however unfortunately the weather was not on our side, and during the course of the morning it had become very cold, windy and wet, which are three combinations my children don't enjoy.  We did however manage to have a quick wander through the shop which seemed to offer most touristy items you could think of, along with a nice selection of homewares. There were a variety of pocket money priced items, as well as much more expensive things but there was certainly something there to suit every taste.

When we returned on the bus, the queues were nearly double the size they were when we had departed, and so I would definitely recommend visiting earlier in the morning if you can, though the buses are very frequent so I would imagine that they get through the queues as quickly as they can.

Overall, I would highly recommend a visit to Stonehenge. We really enjoyed our morning here and I found the site both interesting and fascinating. My youngest child who is 3 also really enjoyed the visit which surprised me as I had been worried he would be a little bored, but he enjoyed all the exhibitions as much as all of us, which in general made it a great family day out.   

The entry prices are reasonable and cost for an individual adult ticket is £17.10 with gift aid, and £10.30 for a child ticket (aged 5-15) with gift aid. Value tickets are available for families at a cost of £44.50 for 2 adults and up to 3 children, and there are also concessions available for the elderly and students at a cost of £15.40. These prices are for online ticket purchases only and are subject to change. Walk up prices are slightly higher than those listed above. If you would like to book tickets online please visit the English Heritage Stonehenge website here: English Heritage Stonehenge

*Disclaimer - I received a complimentary family ticket in exchange for an honest review.

A Camping Adventure

My family and I wanted a little break away during the summer holidays, but having been fortunate enough to have gone to Florida earlier in the year, we only had a limited budget. We therefore asked the kids where they would like to go, and told them to make a list of places that they would like to visit.

Their list actually quite surprised us, as we were expecting the likes of Blackpool, Alton Towers, and Chester Zoo, but instead had a mixture of attractions ranging from Theme Parks to places of historical interest. The list went as followed:
Gullivers
Legoland
Stonehenge
A farm
Monkey World
Peppa Pig World
A park
Warwick Castle

We initially thought about putting all the choices in a hat and picking out somewhere to visit and stay at a hotel nearby for a couple of days.  I got a quote for both the Legoland Hotel and the Warwick Castle glamping and was quite shocked to find both of these amounted to over £400 for just a couple of nights. So my husband and I had a chat, and I said, why don't we do them all and just camp out! So that is how our camping adventure began.

I set out trying to find campsites that were central to a couple of attractions so that we could camp two nights in each area. We already had a large tent that we had purchased earlier in the year, and after getting a few quotes from campsites, the total accommodation cost for 12 nights at campsites with a grass pitch and electric was coming to £370! Ok so we wouldn't be in a nice posh hotel, and yes it would be 12 nights on an air bed, but a 12 day holiday as opposed to two nights in one place had certainly caught my attention, and so I set about planning our route, and making final decisions on campsites.

I joined the Camping and Caravanning Club which costs £38 for a year membership, however being a member entitles you to a discount at their campsites and due to staying at several of their sites, the discount was more than the £38 joining fee and so it made sense to do this.

The first campsite we stayed at was the Gullivers Camping and Caravan site in Milton Keynes. We arrived an hour early, but we received a friendly welcome and were told that due to them not being full they were happy for us to go to our pitch early. A gentleman on a bicycle led us to the camping field and gave us a choice of several empty pitches. We chose one that was located just across the road from the shower block, and just a short distance away from the park. The pitch was level grass, and it was easy to get the pegs into the ground and get the tent set up quickly.

It is a lovely little site, that is a short walking distance to Gullivers Land, however on the entrance walk to Gullivers from the campsite, there is a lovely park, and sand pit play area that we were able to use which our children really enjoyed. Another big plus point to this site is the short distance from Willen Lake. There is a lovely walk that leads there from Gullivers and there is plenty for the kids to see and do including a very large play area, plenty of open grass space, watersports, a fairground with bouncy castles, bungee trampolines and hook a duck games (possibly seasonal), and several food and drink kiosks. There is also a Premier Inn with attached Fayre and Square restaurant that we took advantage of one morning for a lovely breakfast. Numerous other campers that we spoke to also spoke highly of their evening meals there.

The shower and toilet facilities were very clean and well maintained. They close the block between 10:30 and 12 noon to clean them and I had no issues with the facilities during our stay. Despite being quite a large site, it was also very quiet in the evening, and we all managed to sleep well during our stay.

The second campsite we stayed at was Chertsey Camping and Caravan site which we had chosen due to its proximity to Legoland Windsor. Although the site was nice, this was probably my least favourite site as when we were pitched, it was very close to another family who were directly opposite literally a few footsteps away, so when we went to sit out in an evening it felt like we were staring directly at them. The other tent had been there prior to our arrival, and when they returned to their tent after their day out, it was clear that they too also felt uncomfortable by how close we were. We then found out that we had been placed on someone elses pitch who had a campervan and had gone out for the day. They had apparently left a marker to say they were returning, but we had been sited here by one of the employees and so had listened to what we had been told.  It did lead to us feeling quite uncomfortable during our stay.

In addition to this we had been placed under a tree,  which firstly meant that the ground was very hard and ultimately we broke our mallet trying to get the pegs into the ground, and secondly it felt like the tree housed every single bug known to man. I kept finding countless creatures crawling over everything, and this combined with being on the Heathrow flight path led to 2 very sleepless nights.

The park was very basic with a slide and two swings, however it was large wooden trunks to climb to the slide so not suitable for younger children. My 3 year old could just about manage it with help from myself.

However, there are some good points to the site, which are that it is very clean and tidy, with the shower & toilet facilities being well above standard and amazingly clean given how many the site could accomodate. It offered laundry facilities, an indoor recreation area where you could sit, play games, or hire the table tennis table, and it was only a 30 minute drive to Legoland which was ideal for us. I would say that the site is more suited for couples or families with older children, and unfortunately just wasn't our cup of tea, though for others it could probably tick all the boxes.

The third site we visited was Paultons Campsite in Romsey, Hampshire. We had chosen this site due to its very close distance to Paultons Park, quite literally just across the road in the car, and roughly a 15 minute walk by foot. This was the smallest site on the list, but by far my absolute favourite purely down to the owners who are one of the nicest and accommodating couples I have met. We were greeted on arrival and shown to our pitch by Dawn, and whilst my husband began setting up the tent, John took my son and I on a quick tour of the facilities.

The owners have taken the time to think about the 'little things' that can really make a difference, and this included a selection of bikes for children to play with, a football goal, cricket set, and cozy coupe cars for toddlers. There were barbecues available to borrow free of charge, a selection of leaflets and information on the local area, and picnic benches by the tents. I felt that the picnic benches were a great idea as it gave us somewhere nice to eat as a family, instead of just on our laps in the tent.

In the evening, because there were only a few pitches, it felt a lot more how I had imagined camping, with everyone getting to know each other, and the kids running around with their new friends in and out of each others tents. A nice man in the pitch opposite to us also invited all the children over in the evening to toast marshmallows with his son, which was great, and I loved the chance to meet new people. Each time someone new arrived with their tent, it seemed natural to all pitch in and help them set up, and in general it was just a really lovely couple of days on a wonderful well thought out site. Whilst staying on this site we visited Peppa Pig World.

The next site we visited, was the Merley Court Holiday Park in Wimborne, Dorset. Unfortunately, we had some initial problems with this site, and the pitch that they gave us was very unsuitable for a family, especially one with young children. However, the warden kindly moved us to another pitch so that we could enjoy the rest of our 3 night stay in comfort. The new pitch was exactly what we had expected from their advertising and we were satisfied with their efforts to move us. In addition, when I raised my full concerns, the management team addressed my issues to my satisfaction and I was pleased to find that their customer service was excellent.

Merley Court Holiday Park was the largest site we had stayed on during our travels, but it was very nicely laid out, clean and tidy. There was a outdoor pool with lifeguards which we used a couple of times, which felt cold on initial entry but was absolutely fine once you were in.  The shop was very well stocked and reasonable priced, with a good selection of food, drink and kids pocket money priced items available. The young man that worked in the shop was very friendly and was always keen to have a chat and ask how your day was going when he saw you.

There was a little park, that was most suited to over 5's, but my youngest did enjoy pretending to drive the large wooden train which kept him busy for a short while. The site also offered a bar (which we didn't use) and a football pitch. The toilets and showers were clean, but the showers could definitely do with an upgrade, as I found them very difficult to use and they were either extremely hot, or very cold.

The site was ideally located for numerous attractions that would probably normally be within a 20 minute radius, however due to traffic issues when we visited, we found that some journeys took nearer to an hour to visit places. I was told by the young man in the shop that this was due to a main road being partially closed and so traffic was being diverted along all other routes which in turn caused congestion. Whilst staying at this site, we visited Farmer Palmers, Monkey World,  and Stonehenge.