Mind The Gap – Travelling on the tube with children

Travelling on the underground in London can be daunting for any adult who has never done it before. It can also be very stressful, especially during the busy rush hour, but it needn’t be if you prepare your self.

Living on the outskirts of London means that we travel into London a lot of times. Sometimes we go after school during the week to get to auditions and other times we travel on a weekend just for a day out. We are so used to travelling during the rush hour that it just seems natural to us. There are some stations and routes that we will avoid at the busy times, which may mean walking through the streets to get to the next station  but they are never that far away from each other.

Travelling with a baby or young children across London can be every adults nightmare, It can also be very challenging but it is definitely possible and enjoyable.

Here are some of our tips on travelling with children on the underground

  • Grab your self and Oyster card or if you can use your phone or bank card if cantactless is set up on it.

-Children under 11 travel free on the tube, overground, DLR , TFL rail and buses if they have a 5-10 Zip or travelling with an adult (under 5 travel free)

-Children aged 11-15 can travel with a Zip oyster photocard. They travel for free on buses and trams and get a reduced rate on all other TFL service

-If you’re visiting London and travelling with children aged 11-15 who haven’t got a Zip Oyster photo card, you can still benefit from reduced rate travel for them. You can get a discount set on an Oyster or Visitor Oyster card that will allow them to pay as you go at half adult-rate for up to 14 days.

Apply for these cards online prior to visiting

  • Remember always to tap in and out at the stations on the yellow card reader with your card. If you manage to walk through a barrier without tapping out after your journey, you will be charged the maximum fare
  • Plan your route. Take a look at the underground map online or download an app. We find the app to be very useful, not only does it tell you if there are any delays on any of the routes but it also plans your route for you and tells you how long each journey will be.
  • Grab a map at the station and give to your child to look at and study. When on the train tell them your destination and see if they can work out the route.
  • Try to avoid travelling during rush hour. With commuters moving around the city, expect the trains and stations to be overcrowded between 07:30 and09:30 in the morning and between 17:00 and 19:00 in the evening. This said, I have also found some stations on particular routes in zone 1 to start getting busy at 4.30.
  • When travelling with babies, try taking a light fold away buggy/stroller or use a sling. It will make your trip a lot more easier
  • Be prepared to walk up lots of stairs. There are also lots of escalators to use.
  • When using the escalator stand on the right as people walk up on them on the left. Keep young children in front of you.
  • Take a look on the map for step free access stations. Sometimes its easier to travel to your destination by using the nearest step free station and walking the rest
  • If you are travelling with more than one child, tell them that as soon as you get off of the train and on to the platform to wait against the wall. Platforms can become extremely busy. You don’t want to be dragged along with the crowd not knowing what direction you actually want to go. We always wait against the wall and then look for the way out sign or where to go for the next line.
  • I know it’s scary but I have always told my children that IF they ever get left on the train to get off at the next station and wait on the platform against the wall for me to get them. I also tell them that if they get off of the train without me to wait on that platform and I will come back for them. This has never happened to us, but the trains do get very busy and sometimes a small child could become disoriented within a crowd of people.
  • Tell your children to always wait behind the yellow line until the train has stopped.
  • If there are two adults when travelling, always have one at the front and one at the back when walking through the stations and even through London streets. Think of a sandwich, keeping the children in the middle. I travel with my three children, who are now 15, 10 and 6. It is always me first and my eldest last.
  • Walk around London from one station to the next, instead of going by tube. For example; although travelling from Oxford Circus to Piccardilly Circus can take a few minutes on the train, it does only take 11 minutes by foot. Think of all those lovely shops and building that you will see.
  • Carry water with you. The trains can become stuffy and hot, especially in the summer. Also have a snack in your bag.
  • If you are going to be on the train for a while, play some games with them to keep them occupied. We like to play the station alphabet game or I-Spy
  • When standing on the platform waiting for the train to approach, wave to the driver. they always wave back and the children love it.
  • Use the wider ticket barriers, they will have much more room for the family to get through. They are marked with a blue wheelchair symbol and normally have an attendant close by.

Remember where ever you go in London; on bus, tram, tube or river boat to enjoy your self. Have a great trip and Mind the Gap!

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Do You Want To Build A Snowman? – A Cute Little Food Gift For The Children This Christmas

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I was searching through the internet trying to find a fun food gift to give to the children in school. I didn’t just want to give them chocolate, I wanted to give them something that they could do by themselves.

I found this fun marshmallow snowman on google images. What a great idea to give to the children at Christmas, which would also be ideal for birthday party treat too.

You will need:

  • Three marshmallows (I found Halal ones for the children that was Halal)
  • Two iced eyes
  • Three mini coloured chocolate Smarties for the buttons
  • A Matchmaker stick for the twig arms broke into to two pieces
  • An Iced carrot for the nose
  • A strawberry lace for the scarf
  • A couple of white chocolate buttons to use to glue it all together

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Now all you have to do is construct it and build your snowman!

To present the snowman I bought some cellophane treat bags from Hobbycraft and made up a little label on word and then stuck it onto some card. Finally I stapled the label to the bag. As an added little gift I sellotaped a packet of fake snow on the back (I did emphasise to the children that the packet of snow wasn’t food and that they must show their adult first)

These fun little treats would be a cute little gift to find inside a stocking. I handed them out to the children in school and they loved them. Our elf on a shelf brought them to the boys and they immediately wanted to build their own snowman. It kept them occupied for a few minutes and they got to eat their little creation after

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Fancy trying one yourself? Download the lable below

The snowman was not my idea, I found a picture online and adapted it to my own version. 

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Thomas and Friends MINIS Motorised Raceway review

Calling all Thomas and Friends little engineers… Thomas and James need help to choose which track to take down the from the mountain.
My little boy loves Thomas and Friends and loves to set up his vast amount of track in the garden and play away for hours at an end, sending trains around the track and helping them on their way. So you could imagine his excitement when he notices A Thomas and Friends toy had been delivered for him to play and test out.
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He has quite a few MINIS in his collection as he went through a stage of buying the little collectible bags, which he normally carries around in his little rucksack or put into his pockets when we are going out somewhere. Because of their size, they are ideal for children to collect and carry about with them.
He couldn’t wait to test it out and was soon begging me to open it for him.
We found the instructions easy to follow, although assembling it was a little tricky for him to do.
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He followed the step by step colourful picture instructions and found the parts with no problems.
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I then helped him to put it together, some parts had to be pushed in until they clicked and needed a bit of a firm push. To be fair they was pointed out on the instructions sheet by marking it with a little yellow star, these parts can not be taken apart once fitted together. The whole process of labeling the stickers, fixing the track together and placing the batteries in took us about 15 minutes.
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The set comes with two Mini trains; Thomas and James and as we quickly worked out that the other Minis all fit on too.
The raceway is great fun. The adventure starts when you send the trains up the steep vertical lift, which the minis climb up automatically. The bottom of the train attaches to a small little black hook on the motorised track.
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Once they reach the top, you then need to choose which track to send them back down on, using the hand switch at the top.
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The minis can go in three directions.
The first track is the waterfall, as the mini travels down it heads straight into a 360 degree loop
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The next track is a free-fall, it seems that the track is broken, but have no fear as the minis jump the gap and land safely on the bottom track.
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Use Cranky the crane to safe the minis by swiveling him around and swooping him down to catch them before they fall
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The trains have hooks and eyes on either end so they can hook together or on to Cranky
The last track seems to be heading no where, as soon as the minis arrive at the top of the lift they roll off of the edge, defying gravity and rolling upside down along the track. The track is  T-shaped which, when aligns with the bottom of the mini, keeps the mini securely on so it doesn’t fall off.
I’m not sure that my son has a favourite track to send the minis down on as they are all fast and thrilling. 20171109_195231
He certainly enjoys being the engineer and changing the choice of track each time a mini arrives at the top, but you have to be fast as they travel along them tracks as fast as lightening. It definitely is full steam ahead with these minis.
At the bottom of the raceway are two sheds where you can store two minis when not playing with it.
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The only downside to this toy is that when switched on it can be a little noisy and the track direction changer is a little stiff to turn, but that could be a good thing as then it doesn’t slip around when you don’t want it to. Also, it doesn’t pack away back into the box -it has to stay erected.
The raceway requires 3AA batteries, we used rechargeable ones and have been playing with it for just over a  week now and they have showed no signs of running out yet. The first day my son played with it for hours and has kept on playing with it daily.
The raceway is bright and colourful to attract the eye of a young child. It is sturdy and easy to move around from room to room. We found the Minis raceway to be fun and entertaining.
The raceway is suitable for ages 3+
RRP £44.99
We was sent this toy for the purpose of this review. 
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5 ways to get your children drinking more water

Keeping children hydrated is important as they are less heat tolerant and are more likely to feel dehydrated, especially when they are doing physical activities and hot days. Children, especially younger ones need to be encouraged to have a drink as they are more likely to go through the whole day and forget to have one.

When my children were babies I always encouraged them to drink water in between milk times and I carried on that as they grew older. My children are very active, so I always like to have water readily available for them to drink to keep them healthy and energised.

Did you know that the amount of fluid a child needs to drink depends on many factors including their age and gender, the weather and how active they are? Children aged 5-11 should be consuming about 6-8 glasses of water a day.

A recommended daily amount of fruit and vegetable juice should be limited at one small glass (150ml) and they should really only be drunk at mealtimes. The best choice of drink to keep hydrated throughout the day is water – this doesn’t provide extra energy or risks them harming their teeth

My 5 top tips on getting your children to drink more water:

  1. Make sure water is readily available-When we are out and about I like to fill up a sports bottle with water and take it with us. I always carry one with me, so the children get a drink all the time, it also ideal to fill up from a water station when empty. Buy a water dispenser for the home. We have one in our kitchen, placed near to the edge of the work top. The children help themselves to water when ever they feel thirsty. We bought a Kilner one from Dunelm Mill, but they are available from lots of shops
  2. Be persistent. Keep offering them water, especially during and after being active. The more you offer it throughout the day they will eventually become accustomed to drinking it and get into the habit of remembering themselves
  3. Add in some flavour with fresh fruit and vegetables. We like lemon and lime but you can add in strawberries, melon, pineapple, mint, cucumber and berries. You can even freeze the fruit in slices and add them into the water to cool down as well as giving flavour
  4. Offer food that has a high content of water. Fruits, vegetables, smoothies, soups and even pasta and rice absorb water as they cook. Homemade ice lollies and ice cream are a great way of introducing more water to a child
  5. Remove temptation. Stop buying juices and fizzy drinks (or hide them away from the children) they will soon start drinking water if there is nothing else to drink. We still have juice but they are no added sugar types and are at the back of the cupboard away from there little hands.

Remember children will do as their adults do. So, if you drink water then they will too!

How do you encourage your children to drink more water? Please leave a comment below 🙂

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Customising with Gel-a-peel #review

I love a good craft project, especially when its one that combines summer and neon pens.

I had never heard of Gel-a-peel before, maybe because my boys are more into football or climbing trees. But when we was contacted and asked to join in on the gel-a-peel summer campaign I couldn’t wait to introduce it to my boys. The box itself doesn’t really appeal to my boys as it was a little girly but once I showed them what the pens could do they were showing signs of interest.

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We was sent a gel-a-peel box which contains 3 glow in the dark pens and a pair of sunglasses for the boys to decorate and customise to their own taste.

What’s in the box:

  • 3 glow in the dark gel tubes
  • 16+ design templates
  • Gel tray with shapes and letters
  • 4 designed tips
  • 1 plastic sheet
  • Instruction sheet
  • Cleaning tools

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The pens are easy to use. They come in 30g tubes and made from silicone. You can create any fashion accessory in 4 easy steps

  1. Choose a template or create your own
  2. Pick a colour gel pen and a tip
  3. Place the plastic sheet over the chosen template and trace over it. Use some tape to secure it to the table (your drawing sheet may slip otherwise) Once finished leave it to dry. Each template tells you how long it takes for it to dry
  4. Once dry, peel it off and now your ready to wear/use it

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We found that when you are tracing over the template onto the plastic sheet you need to make sure that the lines are nice and thick, be generous with the pen but try to keep it even. Overlap the lines and reinforce thin spots. Our bangle, in the shape of a cherry snapped when we was putting it on, but the magic of these pens is that they can easily be fixed. Just apply more gel to the break and wait for it to dry.

The boys made me a lovely bracelet following the instructions. They also used the tray to make some letters and using the gel pens they attached them to the bracelet

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Cute isn’t it!

These pens are such a brilliant idea, fun and easy to use.

My son couldn’t wait to decorate his sunglasses with the pens.

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He chose the fine tip to decorate around the frames and a the star tip to leave little stars on the arms.

 

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The tips included are round tip, rake tip and star tip. Remove the cap and plug from a gel tube, then twist on your chosen tip. The longer you squeeze the bigger the shape will be. These tips help you create different effects.

Once you have finished with a pen and tip just place the lid back on the pen and clean out the tip with the tool provided. I found that the next day, once the gel had set and dried I could easily pull it out of the tip ready to use again with another pen.

The Tray is easy to use, not only does it have the alphabet in capital letters but also, numbers, 4 emojis and 5 different shapes. You use the round tip to completely fill in the shapes and then use the cleaning tool to remove out any bubbles in the gel. Then use the squeegee tool to remove any excess gel from the tray. Once your chosen shapes are filled in leave them to dry, loosen them with the cleaning tool and just peel them out ready to use on your designs.

He chose to use some of the shapes to decorate his sunglasses

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We left our sunglasses over night to completely dry out before we wore them.

My son was really pleased with his glasses, it makes them extra special as they are his own design. He couldn’t wait to try them out in the sun.

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They have been packed and ready to use on holiday. His very own customised pair of sunglasses, an original that he knows that no one else with have. This pack of pens are glow in the dark so will be ideal for customising any accessory ready for the summer festivals

The pens are a really good idea for any child to get creative, they are advised for children over the age of 8.

My only complaint about them is that the advertising is aimed at girls and really boys will enjoy this activity just as much. As you can see from my son’s face in the above pictures, he enjoyed the activity and the outcome of his design.

Gel-a-peel is available to buy from £14.99

We was sent a box for the purpose of this review

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Num Noms Series 4 Has Arrived!

One of the most anticipated new-series launches has arrived in the UK… Num Noms Series 4 !
The wacky collectibles are set to bring new themes and flavours in the shape of cookies, cakes, candies and pies – delicious!
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What are Num Noms?
Num Noms are cute little collectible squishy characters that are themed around yummy food, not only do they look the food but they also smell like them too. The Nums are the soft and squishy outer shell and the Noms are hard inner shell that come as Lip gloss, erasers or stamps. Stack them together to create wild and wacky combinations. And if you are brave you can then recreate the combo in the kitchen for real and dish up a surprising fun piece of food.
My son loves to collect them and has quite a little collection going on now. He prefers to have the stamp or eraser noms over the lip gloss noms but that is just because he says that they are bit girly for him ( but between you and me, he still plays with them) He plays his own little game with them and makes up stories with them. He creates a Num Nom village where he scatters the little characters about and they all have their own jobs, like Num Nom news reporters who tells the Num Nom news.
He was very excited to receive the latest series in the collectible craze.
Not only are there new flavoured Num Noms but there is also the official Num Nom magazine that is packed with fun things to do, posters, stories and games.

The Desert tray is the ultimate Num Noms collection all in one box! Mix n match Nums & Noms to create delicious flavour and scent combos! It’s a surprise which mystery Num is hidden behind the question mark.

Lunch Box Includes:

10 scented Nums; including the mystery one

2 flavoured Glittered Lip Gloss Noms

Collectors Menu

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The Desert Tray smells delicious, just like a cake shop. My favourites have got to be the Mocha Frappe and Mint Shake as they actually smell like their namesake. There are all sorts of new characters from B-day Surprise, Autumn Spice to Candy

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Have I mentioned how yummy they smell? They really do smell sweet.

Sometimes it’s hard to get the real aroma from individual Nums when they have come from a big box as I think that they pick up the scent of the other Nums.

The Cookies and Milk Num Noms Series 4.1 starter pack is the perfect little set to get started with collecting these adorable, squishy character.

What’s in the box?

3 character themed Num Noms

1 scented glitter lip gloss Nom

Tongs and Cookie Jar

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Included in this pack is Rainbow Crumb, Sprinkle Berry, Nilla Whip Nums and Razz Cookie lip gloss Nom

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I can just imagine a rainbow cookie with a berry topping and a squirt of vanilla cream.

There are 120 Num Noms in series 4 to collect to create sweet flavoured recipes with

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Place them in the cookie pot and stack them up

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The glitter lip gloss is only small but it goes a long way. It glides on the lips smoothly and leaves the lips feeling a little sticky but makes them shine.

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The new Num Nom magazine is packed with lots to do for the children

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It comes with a few little freebies too; a toy camera, a rubber key ring, party invites and a magnetic picture frame.

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Nums in series 4 are:

Cookies – wafer, chip, fortune

Creamery – cafe drinks, smoothie, milkshakes, fro-yo

Fancy Cakes- Teacakes, Bundt

Creme Filled- Macarons, Sandwich

Baked Goods – Pies, Donuts

Pasta Nums

In each group there is a special edition Num to collect

We have packed the magazine as well as some Num Noms to take away with us on our holidays as I am sure they will keep the children entertained on the journey.

As the Nums are squishy and light they are great for taking away with you. They fit into little pockets and take up no space in a case.

Series 4 is available now to buy in shops.

We was sent a selection of Series 4 for the purpose of this review. Picture and words are my own.

 

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An Amazing Experience for my Young Animal Enthusiast at Colchester Zoo

It was my sons 1oth birthday and I wanted to get him something a little different, as I was strolling through the internet I came across an animal experience at Colchester Zoo. This would be perfect for him as he absolutely loves animals and is always talking about becoming a zoologist when he is older.

The Zoo academy introduces children from the age of 10 – 15 to what it is like to work with animals. It gives them a behind the scenes experience with a few of the animals from the zoo. With expert tuition from the keepers, the children get to meet some incredible animals and enjoy a ‘hands on’ lesson that they will treasure forever!

The experience includes: 2 hours with the animals and keepers, a whole day entry into the Zoo and a souvenir pack which includes a certificate.

The programme is designed to introduce children to a broad range of keeper skills. The Cadets go behind the scenes and learn how to carry out health checks, train animals, complete water tests, design enrichment and more! From the coatis and owls to our tortoises and stingrays.

It was a morning experience starting at 10am which meant that we would have the rest of the day walking around the zoo with the family after he had finished being a Zoo Cadet.

It was a lovely hot day and we was all very excited especially the birthday boy. I got to go along with him as he had to have an adult with him and what was even better was that he was the only child booked onto the experience so he had 1-1 time with the animals and keepers.

We was introduced to the keeper who would be showing Joseph around for the first half of the experience. And was walked on over to the first part of the behind the scenes to prepare some enrichment for the Parrots.

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He was shown what to do and then Joseph began making some of his own. He wrapped up the food in paper, then he hid the paper inside some card and then wrapped it all up again in an egg carton. Enrichment teaches the Parrots to forage for their food and challenges them

Meet Gizmo, Isn’t he a cutie! He loved the attention he was getting from us and went absolutely mad when we walked away, when we turned back to face him he whistled at us.

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After we said our goodbyes to Gizmo, Joseph was introduced to A ring-tailed Coati, a medium-sized mammal that is from the Racoon family. He was an excitable little fellow and was keen to come see who was visiting her in her home. The keeper placed a lead onto the Coati and asked Joseph if he wanted to take her for her daily walk. Obviously, he said yes. It was like walking a dog.

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The keeper kept some treats for her in her pocket and when she was behaving on the walk, she was given some. The Coati was very much like a dog and was well-behaved.

After the Coati had her walk we said goodbye again to Gizmo, as we was passing and was led on over to the bird of prey where Joseph was introduced to some Owls. He was told that the barn owl needed to be weighed and that would be his job. They keep a diary of how much the birds weigh so that they feed them the correct amount of food.

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Joseph had to keep his hand still as the owl was perched onto the glove on his hand.The owl got a little fluttery as he was adjusting himself and managed to scratch Joseph with his talons. This didn’t faze Joseph, he was just more determined to walk along with the owl.

Once in the weighing shed, he placed the owl onto the scales and using small weights he had to balance out the weight.

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If a bird is under weight then it will have little energy to fly

Once the weighing was done, Joseph walked along with the owl through the wild display area where we met the next zoo keeper that would show us around on the rest of the behind the scenes experience.

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He had a smile constantly on his face throughout the whole morning, he was so happy. It was lovely to see him doing something that he totally loves. He looked so at home and comfortable with the animals.

We was taken into the butterfly enclosure and again behind the scenes to see the cocoons of some butterflies and to release them into the enclosure

He was very careful as he carried the butterfly gently within his hands to let it go through the hatch

After he had released a few butterflies we made our way over to see the Tortoise. As we have a pet tortoise at home he was very excited to get close to a much bigger one.

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He wasn’t allowed to pick him up but he did get to stroke him.

The whole time he was walking along with the zoo keeper he was told information about the animals. Joseph was full of facts and told the keepers a thing or two too. He knows a lot about animals and is always watching videos, documentaries and reading books about wildlife, animals and nature.

I didn’t even know that he knew as much as he did. He amazed me. I was so proud of him.

The next place we went was behind the scenes with a creepy crawlies. I’d say they were mini beasts but they wasn’t quite mini, they were huge!

I even had a little stroke of the hissing cockroach, they are so smooth.

Did you know that cockroaches are cleaner than humans? They are always washing themselves I’ll remember that next time I see one whilst abroad lol

The last part of the Zoo Academy was to test the water for bacteria and animal poo in the stingray enclosure.

With glasses and gloves on he was ready to do the experiment

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Using a syringe he sucked up some of the water that had been collected from the stingray pool and he squeezed it out into a tub where he added in some drops from a bottle that would check the N02 and PH levels

 

Once he had checked the levels it was then on to the last job and that was to feed the stingray. He sat on the edge of the pool and lent over with a big rod and handed over the food to stingray that swam past

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It was an experience that he will not forget in a while. A truly memorable day

His words “It was amazing!” He wants to work with animals even more so now.

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The staff was friendly and the whole experience was very well organised.

 

 

 

 

 

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Keeping the Children Busy with Rock Painting Activity

Summer holidays are well and truly here but in Great British style the weather is not! The hot summer days seem to be over now and we are left with windy, rainy days instead. Weather like this makes it hard for us parents to keep the children entertained outdoors, especially when it comes to keeping the budget at a low cost.

Since the children have finished school for the summer we have had pretty crap weather, I don’t want to keep the children indoors (otherwise my house looks like a bomb site) I want to see them outdoors enjoying the time that they have off school, playing with friends and making new ones.

I came across a Facebook page called ‘Love on the rocks uk’. It’s a page where people paint on rocks then hide them for others to find. All they ask of you is to get creative as you want with a rock and some paints and then write on the back “love on the rocks” with the Facebook symbol then hide the rock within your community; a park, forest or a beach promenade. Take a photo of it and share it on Facebook for other rock hunters to find it. Once found, the hope is that people will look up the Facebook page and join in with the fun.

This activity is cheap and fun. Not only are you getting creative but also getting out and about in the great outdoors.

We visited Hanningfield Reservoir in Essex for the Wind in the Willows Trail and whilst we was there we found some rocks to paint on. We took some felt tip pens and sharpies with us. Found a quite spot to sit down at and got drawing

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That’s what is great about this activity it keeps the children busy, it’s fun and they get to explore at the same time.

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The eldest drew a sunset onto his rock, using tippex for the shadow on the sea

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Our little collection of love on the rocks

We found a few spots in Hanningfield to hide them and left them feeling very happy with ourselves, that maybe we can put a smile onto someones face.

Would love to see the face of the child/adult that finds these rocks. They’re not a work of art but they are fun

A shadow of a cat sat in front of a sunset
A shadow of a cat sat in front of a sunset
Love on the rocks written on the back
Love on the rocks written on the back

Why not join in on the fun. Wouldn’t it be fun to spread the love of rocks further afield. I am thinking of hiding some abroad

 

 

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Wind in the Willows Trail at Hanningfield Reservoir-Days out in Essex

Wind in the Willows is a children’s classic novel about small animals who spend their summer days boating on quiet rivers, going on picnics with large hampers of food and being lost in the wild woods. It’s fun, adventurous and very British- A classic tale of river life and friendship.

The novels begin with Mole, a peace-loving little animal, who decides to leave his burrow after being bored with doing his spring cleaning. He ventures down to river bank and soon meets brave Ratty, grumpy Badger and an unruly Toad.

Children and adults love Wind in the Willows as it represents a quintessential British summer. We all want to stroll down by the river, picnic on the banks, sail down the river in a boat and set out on journeys full of fun and adventure.

At Hanningfield Reservoir you can follow in Mole’s footsteps, follow the trail and discover the characters from the Wind in the Willows.

The boys love a bit of excitement and anything that’s gets them out within nature. They love trekking through woods going on adventures.

With a map in one hand and a crayon in the other they were ready to go off and search for the wooden sculptures hidden within the woods of Hanningfield.

The maps and crayons are available at the visitors centre for £1.

As soon as we had left the car and headed on over to the visitors centre they were greeted by the beautiful wildlife garden, which is the home to Ratty’s boat and Toad’s caravan.

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Inside Toad's caravan
Inside Toad’s caravan

After a little stroll around the peaceful garden we headed on over to purchase our maps. We were given a crayon too as next to every wooden sculpture there is brass rubbing squares that you can create a rubbing from on the back of your map.

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The boys used their map reading skills to follow the trail and lead us to the fun, life-size characters that were numbered on the map. Teaching them navigation skills and direction.

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I love watching the boys working together as they are normally squabbling with each other.

They were so excited when they found the first one set within the trees. Once they found the character they could also read the description about each animal under the square that you used fort he rubbing. Not only were the children having fun but they were also learning facts about the animals as they went.

As we walked along we also made our way over to Lyster Hide, where we could look out over the reservoir and watch the birds fly over or swim on the water.

hanningfield reservoir

The first on the trail was Badger

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Second was The Weasels

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Third was Mole

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Fourth was Ratty

wiw ratty

And last was speedy Toad

wiw toad

There were also other sculptures to see that had mini beasts carved into them and picnic benches to sit down and eat your lunch at.

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The whole adventure took us just over an hour, we didn’t rush around and spent time just enjoying each others company and the woods that surrounded us.

It was a lovely day out and would definitely recommend it. Parking is free but no cycling or dogs are allowed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Young Driver Experience – A day to Remember

Could you imagine learning to drive before the age of 17?

At Young Driver, a center that gives children from the age of 10 an opportunity to get behind the wheel and experience driving with a qualified instructor. Children can learn to drive at one of the 60 UK centers where they are taught in a specially designed training area. The training area includes; sharp bends, mini round-about, parking spaces, traffic lights, and junctions.

Young Driver follow the Driving Standards Agency curriculum, which means that what 10 – 17s learn at YOUNG DRIVER is exactly the same as they will learn on the road at 17. The children are given a Drive Diary to record their progress and this is one of the most important parts of the programme – moving forward is the aim!

Their personalised Drive Diary charts individual progress and current level of driving and is completed by the instructor after each driving session. The instructor talks them through it and explains where they could do with some more help or whether they can progress to the next step. The Drive Diary can be given over to their driving instructor when they begin their official lessons at the age of 17 and the instructor will then know what their experience level is.

 

My son, who is 14 years old, was lucky enough to be invited along to the Bluewater Center to experience for himself what it is like to drive a car. The center itself, is situated within the blue car park at Bluewater shopping center. There is a section of car park outside that is specifically designed for a  beginners’ zone, that has a full road system with traffic signs, road markings, junctions and parking zones. In this way it encourages responsible driving.

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As soon as we had arrived, he was called up by his instructor and taken along to the car that he would be driving. Before he could turn the key he underwent a safety check and was taught how to use the mirrors, signal and when to manoeuvre. He had full control over the steering wheel and pedals, however the instructor had pedals that would over power his if an accident were to happen. He started off slowly, to get used to the feel of the steering and clutch. Not long on the road and he was soon snaking in-between cones and maneuvering the car into a figure of eight in the parking lot. Whilst, he was driving he was continuously given advise and constructive criticism from the instructor. He spent 60 minutes out on the road, building up his confidence and learning some important skills of control and responsibility. He now knows how to drive safely and properly, putting him leaps and bounds ahead of other 17 year olds.

His instructor was fantastic, professional and made him feel safe at all times.

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Since his experience, he has become more road aware and is definitely more confident and prepared for when he can hit the road.

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We made a video of his experience

My son certainly left with a big smile on his face and is now eager to get behind the wheel.

I would highly recommend the experience for any young child who wants to get ahead of their peers and become a much safer driver. A very valuable and worthwhile experience.

30 minute lesson – 10-17yrs – £34.95

60 minute lesson – 10-17yrs – £64.95

To find out more about the experience or to make a booking, head on over to their website www.youngdriver.com

We was given this experience for the purpose of this review.

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