Stunning autumn leaves at Hampton Court Palace and the Magic Garden playground

There is something for literally everyone in the family at Hampton Court Palace and the new Magic Garden

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We are members at Hampton Court in Surrey (UK), though we haven’t been for a few months as we have been so busy! But we were lucky enough to enjoy unexpectedly sunny weather for October, when we visited with some old friends yesterday.
We spent a couple hours at the magic garden playground. It’s been open for about 6 months, and is still incredibly popular especially with kids age 5 and under. Their favourite activity seems to be sliding down the hill which is covered in fake grass! It reminds me of the landscape in Teletubbies! Among other things there are majestic towers with bridges linking them, several slides, a “life-size” dragon to climb on, and an area with sand and water play which is great for the little ones (bring a change of clothes!)

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As well as some decent toilets, there’s a handy cafe in the playground area, so you can get your coffee fix…and they sell Tropicana juice boxes (£1.50) and ice creams too. If you want more substantial food the Tiltyard cafe is not far from the magic garden and you can get all manner of lunch fodder there. The fish and chips seemed very popular, and they have some nice cake and tasty brownies too (my daughter tells me, I didn’t actually get to taste it!)

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We then happened upon some amusing live entertainment, en route to the famous Hampton Court maze where my husband tells me he genuinely got lost with the kids…but apparently in an enjoyable way. I steered clear this time as our littlest was napping by now in the buggy.

We then took a quick look around the palace, but our plan is to return to see that properly another day, perhaps with just our oldest, as by now thanks to the little ones we were pretty exhausted!

All in all a lovely day! Highly recommend. My top tip is get there early and if you drive you can park your car in Bushey park, where parking is free. It’s then about a 5-10 min walk to Hampton court.

Sadly the magic garden itself will be shut for the winter but there are still a couple more days left till closing (Sunday 30 October is the last day you can visit it, till it reopens in spring 2017).

Further details can be found on their website, link below:

http://www.hrp.org.uk/hampton-court-palace/

 

For another fun family day out not far from London, please read my post about Bocketts Farm:

Bocketts Farm

 

Rhyming with Wine
Naptime Natter
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Konmari and how it has changed my life (so far)

About a year and a half ago I read this book, called “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo, a Japanese organising and de-cluttering guru who, as the media says, has taken the world by storm!

I won’t go into all the nitty gritty details as there are many articles online now devoted to this (and youtube videos as well).  But I wanted to mention it as it really has made a profound difference to my life in one significant way…the way in which I organise and fold our clothes.  This extends from our own wardrobe, to the children’s chests of drawers, to the way I pack for holidays.  I am constantly telling friends about it, which probably is incredibly irritating, but I am really that enthusiastic about MK’s methods, or Konmari as she has dubbed it.

So far I haven’t managed to do the full Konmari on my house, but I have taken on some of the principles and hope that one day I’ll have the time and dedication to make it happen.  In the meantime, I am satisfied that life is just that little bit more organised with the new folding method.

Here is how it looks in a drawer:

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And here’s how it looks in a suitcase:

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The benefits may not be readily apparent, and it may seem to take a lot longer to fold each item the Konmari way whereby it is supposed to stand up on one end unaided and be the same size as the next item (this doesn’t always happen for me!) but trust me it’s worth it.  The advantages for me, are as follows:

  1.  The clothes take up much less room.  After I folded my daughter’s clothes this way, lo and behold, I had an extra drawer that was now completely empty!  Previously it seemed to be stuffed to the max.
  2. You can see all of the items in the drawer at once, just like when you look at books or DVDs on a shelf.
  3. You can then pick the item you want, and remove it from the drawer, without upsetting all the other items irrevocably so that they turn into a crazy mess in the drawer (the pointlessness of which has always put me off bothering to keep any semblance of order in a drawer)

Even my husband, who thought it was a little ridiculous to start with, is now a convert and has been seen to be folding his clothes, her way, on occasion.

It really is incredible, and life-changing.  So thank you Marie Kondo!

I highly recommend reading the actual book.  She describes her early life too, and it is fascinating to find that she has been into tidying since she was a child.  It also puts you in the right frame of mind, to only keep the things that “bring you joy”, and to enter the process the right way, by categories rather than room by room.  Happy organising!

 

If you wish to take a closer look click on the picture of the book below and it will take you to amazon.co.uk where you can read more reviews or purchase the book. Please note it is an affiliate link, so amazon will pay me a few pence if you click through and buy. However please note I only ever endorse any products and places I truly rate highly and believe to be worth recommending!


Mummy Times Two
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I’ve got a golden ticket! – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the musical

My 7 year old daughter and I went to see this brilliant show in London’s West End over the summer, during a rather wonderful thing which you might not have heard of (as I certainly hadn’t, until I came across it quite randomly on a mumsnet forum), known as “Kidsweek” (link below).  Basically from what I understand it started out as a week in the summer holidays, but due to its popularity it has evolved to actually take place, every year, over the whole of August.  So yes, it is a misnomer (I just had to use that word!)  Anyway, back to Kidsweek.  It is a whole month, during which kids can get tickets to see shows for free, as long as they are accompanied by an adult who is paying for a full adult ticket.  Since tickets for kids generally cost exactly the same as tickets for adults, this can be a massive saving.  Especially for a show like Charlie, where tickets cost about £75 each (ours did, anyway.)  You do have to be quick off the mark to get tickets for the more popular shows, but even if you miss the day tickets are released, there are usually tickets still available for some great shows.  Everything from Lion King to Phantom of the Opera (though I wouldn’t take my kids to that, just yet!)

We had a lovely trip to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and it was great to have a grown up girls day out as that’s a little rare these days, since we’re often so busy just keeping my toddler and preschool sons alive 😉 We picked up a couple of our friend’s children along the way, and got the number 87 bus from Clapham Junction all the way to Aldwych (which is quite fun as you get to see lots of London sights including Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament – try to sit upstairs at the front of the bus if you happen to do this journey!) The theatre is not far at all from the last stop on the bus, and since we had some spare time before the start of the show, we wandered down to Covent Garden where we watched some street performers.  This is always a bit of a laugh, and quite a novel experience for my daughter since we don’t make it into central London as often as we would like!

The show itself was brilliant.  I was half expecting not to like it, as I adore the original movie and the score is tough to beat, but the new songs and the performances were genuinely incredible.  We were wowed by the children’s abilities to sing, dance and act.  Willy Wonka himself gave a strong performance and got quite a few laughs.  The show is quite long, and does have quiet parts, and I commented to my friend that I was glad we hadn’t brought my 3 and a half year old, as he would not have been able to manage sitting still through the whole show, never mind staying silent!  I think if you ‘re thinking of going, age 5 and up would be my recommendation.  And if the child knows the story already, that’s a bonus of course!

Journey home from Charlie and the Chocolate factory musical
Travelling home from the show, checking out the souvenir brochure
Brochure from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the musical
Souvenir brochure from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the musical

The songs were all brand new but good.  They did play one familiar song, “There is no place I know, that compares with your imagination…” which I was really pleased to hear.  It is the best one, in my opinion!

The oompa-loompas were amazing!

Go and see it, you won’t regret it.

Next August I am hoping to get tickets for Matilda the musical.

If you’re interested in kidsweek, check out their website (link below) and sign up so you’re ready to pounce on the day they release the tickets (usually a few months before August).

http://www.kidsweek.co.uk/

If you prefer not to wait, you can book now via the link below to theatre tickets direct.  This is an affiliate link which means I would get paid a very small amount if you make a purchase via the link.

 



 

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Bocketts Farm, Surrey

Bocketts Farm in Leatherhead, Surrey – great family day out, all year round!

This incredibly child-friendly farm located in the Surrey countryside near Leatherhead (off junction 9 M25) is a very popular day out with our kids.  We have now been several times and can highly recommend it for families with young children!  Along with plenty of farmyard animals which the children can feed (the animal food can be purchased on entry and costs 95p), there is a huge indoor space containing an area for under 5’s to zoom about on ride-on tractors and motorbikes, trampolines, soft play with slides, and animal handling sessions where the children can meet small furry animals like bunnies and guinea pigs up close.

There is also an exciting pig race at Bocketts Farm, which I have never witnessed elsewhere, numerous outdoor play areas including a big sandpit, giant bouncy “pillows” (think large outdoor trampolines), pony rides (£2), coin-operated mini diggers (£1), and a real tractor that can take the whole family on a ride around the farm (included with entry fee, as are most of the activities unless mentioned).  The last time we went, in June this year, there was also a circus skills event taking place outdoors, where performers taught us some circus tricks, and then put on a little show.  There are often special events for example at Halloween, Christmas and school holidays.

For food, you can bring a picnic as there are plenty of places to sit outside if the weather is favourable, or there’s a good cafe in a separate barn building, selling hot and cold food.  Try to get to the cafe early if you plan to eat there as it does get busy!  Don’t forget to wash everyone’s hands – multiple sinks are dotted around the farm.

There is plenty of car parking at Bocketts, and it’s only a short stroll to the farm entrance.  The farm is open almost every day, all year round.  Even if it is cold or rainy you can still occupy the kids for the whole day.  We actually went twice in November and once in January!

 

 

Do you fancy a family-friendly break in the beautiful forest, with amazing family fun on tap?  Do you like tasty pancakes?  What about the funniest magic show you’ve ever seen?  Read my post on Center Parcs Longleat to find out more!

Center Parcs Longleat – amazing family break

 

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Plutonium Sox
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Bullet Journals

I’ve recently had my eyes opened to a whole new craze in organising, known to those in the know as the “bullet journal”. What is this thing you speak of, I hear you say!

Well, I’m just on a journey of discovery myself so I’ll keep you posted, but for now I have gathered the following and can tell you this much – it is a place where people who tend to have a lot of lists floating around can keep all of their lists together in one place! It’s a personalised fully customisable system. And it’s an excuse to buy a gorgeous new notebook (mine is a moleskine I picked up at TK Maxx)… It’s basically ideal for me, as I am an obsessive list-maker, but I often forget to look at my lists as I misplace them or lose track of them. The jury is still out as to whether this is going to work for me in the longterm, but so far in 2 weeks of using it I think it’s having a positive impact on self-organisation and stress levels!

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Check back later to find out more about my bullet journal journey!

You can also read lots more about this concept on this website, written by the original inventor, including a video which teaches you how to get started www.bulletjournal.com

There are plenty of other useful websites – two that I like a lot are https://www.tinyrayofsunshine.com/ and http://www.bohoberry.com/.  These ladies really know how to make their bullet journals look beautiful!  Of course that isn’t actually necessary in order to get organised, but I find that if you love how something looks, then you’re more likely to use it.  So to that end I have bought myself some colouring pens!  Not ones for the kids, ones that only I can use (unless they ask me very nicely, and promise to put every single pen lid back on!)

 

If you’re into organising, you might also like to read about my other obsession, with Marie Kondo’s tidying methods.

Konmari and how it has changed my life (so far)

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