Friday, 19 August 2016

Scooby Doo Live; Musical Mysteries at the London Palladium, a fun filled show for all of the family. Book now for performances between 18th-21st august 2016 only

Scooby Doo Live at the London Palladium



We have just got back from Scooby Doo Live at the London Palladium and we all absolutely enjoyed our afternoon. 



Scooby Doo Live; Musical Mysteries is running from 18th-21st August 2016 only and with just 12 performances over these dates you can book tickets at www.scoobydoolive.co.uk for a fab theatre experience for the whole family. 



Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy and Scooby are back to solve some clues and unravel the mystery of the West End theatre ghost. 






The show was full of music and fun and the characters really got the audience participating by asking us to tell them every time we saw a ghost. The children loved helping out and it was a great Scooby Doo ghost filled adventure with the finale of finding out who the ghost was.

The story follows the gang to a theatre where they investigate sightings of a ghost. Under the disguise of Missing Link the band they decide that if they perform at the theatre the ghost may appear and they can trap it. 

With lots of songs and music along the way, there are clues to be found and ghosts to scare them all. Shaggy and Scooby Doo are particularly scared of the ghost! 




The children absolutely loved the show. It kept them engaged from start to finish with the storyline as well as the music, flashing lights and dance moves to learn. The show lasted 80 minutes, two 30 minute acts with a 20 minute interval. There is also a chance to meet Scooby Doo with a post show VIP meet and greet experience (see website for more details) 

If there is one thing you do whilst visiting London over the next few days go and see this fun packed show with the children and enjoy the theatre experience along with Scooby and the gang! 




Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Our DIY garden makeover on a budget. How to transform an ugly space into something a little nicer. Including finding bargains to stick to your budget.

Our garden makeover on a budget! 

Since our home extension three years ago the poor front garden has been neglected and left as it was once the extension work had finished.

On the start of the extension work some of the original driveway had to be dug up to make way for the extension. The front garden was used as a permanent site for the skip and rubbish for around 6 months and once it was all gone we were left with a patchy grass area which was very uneven and when it rained a huge puddle would appear right where you had to walk to reach the front door.


This picture is from before the extension, the front door was on the side of the house and there was a lot of shrubbery! 


After the extension was complete we had a front door on the front of the house but no path to the door, driveway to the right and to the left out of picture was the garden which had seen better days, this stayed like this for 3 years!



The view from the front room window showing the grass before we got to work! (picture courtesy of Thing 5!) 


All sorts of ideas were thrown around about what to do to improve the front garden but with a very limited budget things like block paving were definitely out of the question. The thing is, as part of the building regulations we had to make the front garden into a space that could hold more than one car. So we couldn't make the grass area flat and then regrass it all, it had to go. 

As always my amazing Mum was on hand with her bargain finding skills and also her ability to get us all motivated to finally get the job done! 


The makeover commenced just a few weekends ago where we put down the path first. We haven't had a path to the front door since, forever! The old front door used to be on the side of the house so you used to walk down the driveway to access it but when we extended the door got moved to the front of the house. 


The cream slabs that have made the path were originally my parents old patio which got taken up a couple of weeks prior to our garden makeover. The path took a good morning and half an afternoon for the men to put down whilst myself and my Mum started on a border and sifting dirt from stones and turf! 



The path was the first job to be completed before we then started on the rest of the garden





After the path was laid and also some extra slabs put down for the bins to sit on it was time to get rid of all of the grass and prepare the garden for some decorative stones. This was another amazing find by my mother and we bought them off eBay for just £19.99. They were collected locally and we thought there would be enough to cover the main grass area we had dug up and we would have to find something else for the right hand side of the path and in between the old bits of the driveway. 


I'm unsure if Thing 5 sat in a towel was of any help to Daddy, he was probably telling him to work faster!



Clearing all of the grass and trying to make the garden fairly flat compared to what it was. We put a small border in so we made sure we weren't short on stones for the rest of the garden!

I purchased some weed control membrane from a local store for the princely sun of just £4 and we got to work shifting the stone from a pile on the driveway on to the newly flattened garden. Before we started it ran downhill towards to house but with a huge lump in the middle of it. Between us all we did our best to remove all grass and level as much as possible before putting the stones down. 


In the week running up to this next stage the wonderful mother (again!) found someone giving away some more stones on Gumtree FOR FREE!. They didn't match the stones that were on the main garden area but they would do for the driveway side of the house. So again off my parents went to pick up another trailer load of stones. 


This past weekend was where the garden magic happened! I roped my brother in to help out and the parents turned up at 8.30 am (thanks parents!). First we laid the stones on the main garden area and couldn't start on digging up the areas between the existing driveway until these had been shifted. I ideally wanted the greyish stone to go either side of the path but we weren't sure it would stretch that far but we managed it, just. It was the perfect amount and was a made to measure bargain that my Mum managed to find!




After pictures! There are still a few finishing touches to be made and some bags of rubbish to dispose of but overall we are very pleased with the end result.


Once that was sorted we started on digging up all of the grass and weeds from in between the old driveway and making it level enough to take the other stones. 

We purchased some lavender to go in the border that we had dug as this will soon grow and bulk out and fill that space down the left hand side. I also remembered that I had bought some solar lights a few weeks ago from a local garden centre but didn't want to put them out in the old sad looking garden so had waited for the right time. I unwrapped them and put them along the border and they look lovely when they come on at night. These were just 4 for £10. 

All in all it cost £19.99 for the stones, £8 for the membrane under the stones, £9 for the lavender, £9 for 5 extra paving slabs that we were short of on the path and £10 for the lights. I paid my work force with lunch and cream cakes and we are very grateful to my parents for their bargain finding skills and their hard work to help make this all happen. I am so pleased it is all done and looks fab instead of drab and all for the grand total of; £55.99!! 






I thought I had taken a full before picture but you can see from the extension pictures that I have put up what it was like before, just without the skip still there! Thing 5 had taken a lovely picture of the grass before we started so that is his offering of a before pic too. 


My last wants are 2 topiary trees for either side of the front door, a number plaque for beside the front door and something else to go in the bedding area underneath the windows. I also find some wooden edging to go around the border which will cover the green plastic edging. This will all come together eventually but the main part is done and I hope you agree it is a huge improvement on what it looked like before. 






Tuesday, 2 August 2016

The BFG by Roald Dahl book review from Puffin Books and the release of the long awaited film.

THE BFG by Roald Dahl from Puffin Books


'On a dark, silvery moonlit night, Sophie is snatched from her bed by a giant.
Luckily it is the Big Friendly Giant, the BFG, who only eats snozzcumbers and glugs frobscottle. 
But there are other giants in Giant Country: fifty foot brutes who gallop far and wide every night to find human beans to eat.
Sophie decides she must stop them once and for all. And the BFG is going to help her!




When I was younger, and even now, I am a big fan of books. I used to read my books from school on the walk home, I am still surprised now that I didn't fall over with my nose stuck in a book! 

I am pleased to say that my love of books has rubbed off on my 2 daughters and when we received The BFG through the post to review there was a fight over who was going to read it first. 

Thing 2 got the pleasure of reading The BFG first and here is what she had to say; 

'On opening up the book and reading the first couple of chapters I didn't want to put it down. I have read many Roald Dahl books before but hadn't read The BFG. The start of the summer holidays was the perfect time to get stuck into a new book and The BFG didn't disappoint. The relationship that grows between Sophie and the BFG is lovely throughout the book and I like how they live side by side at the end. I loved it from start to finish and can't wait to go and see the newly released film'

Thing 3 (who waited quite patiently to read the book!) had this to say; 

'I quickly got into the book and read it at bedtime over a week. I love how the BFG catches dreams and keeps them in bottles for children to enjoy. I like how quickly Sophie and the BFG become friends and make the Queen aware of the other man-eating giants so they can be captured. I loved the story from start to finish. All of the fabulous 'mixed-up' words in the book are great and sound funny too'



       


Both girls are hoping to see a lot of the original book in the film and hope that it is as fun and exciting as the book is. Thing 3 particularly likes all of the weird and wonderful words the BFG uses and hopes to hear lots of these in the film too. The film is out on July 22nd 2016 so head down to your local cinema and see it over the Summer. 

In the back of the book there is also a BFG draw along which Thing 3 got involved with. Can you draw the BFG, maybe add lots of colour or different shaped ears! 




On 13th September 2016 it's time to celebrate 100 years of Roald Dahl and you can join in too. Register here for your FREE party pack. 

TO WIN A COPY OF THE BOOK ENTER THE RAFFLECOPTER COMPETITION BELOW!!


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Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Making the summer holidays affordable. Adults go free with Kelloggs at selected attractions, kids eat free at Frankie and Benny's, Vue Mini Mornings for £1.99, swimming for kids for £1 and more

The summer holidays are here, we are just one week in and already the children want to do so many activities that sometimes just aren't easily affordable. If you don't want to spend the rest of the holidays skint that is! 

Days out are always expensive for us anyway due to the size of our family however theme parks etc... aren't always affordable for a lot of people. Doing one or two days out is ok but when you have six weeks to fill it can get a bit much. 

I have had a quick scout around of offers that are on at the moment as well as fun free activities to do with the children. 

Firstly, Kelloggs are running 'Grown ups go free' at selected attractions across their cereal range. These attractions include; including: THORPE PARK Resort, the LEGOLAND® Windsor Resort, LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre Manchester, Madame Tussauds London or Blackpool, SEA LIFE centres & Sanctuaries, The Dungeons, Warwick Castle, Shrek’s Adventure! London, Aqua Zone at the National Aquatic Centre Dublin, Aillwee Cave and many more. These vouchers last until 30.06.2017 and are valid with another full paying adult or child. Restrictions do apply, please see the website for full details. 



Legoland adventures


Over the weekend we visited our local Vue cinema who are running their Mini Morning films every morning over the summer holidays. At just £1.99 per person this makes a cinema visit a lot more affordable than it usually is. We saw Angry Birds the Movie and there is also Kung Fu Panda 3 on show too. Check out the Vue cinema for dates for specific films. 



Vue Mini Mornings for £1.99


When you are out and about the children inevitably get hungry and what better way to eat than Kids eat Free at Frankie and Benny's! Every Monday-Friday from 4th July to 2nd September 2016, all you have to do is download the F & B's app. One child eats free per adult eating from the main menu, up to four free kids meals per table. 

Our local Places for People leisure centre is offering kids swimming for just £1 over the holidays. for a registration fee of £3 per application all children aged 16 years and younger can swim for £1 within the All Welcome and Family Fun sessions. Do check your local leisure centre for any similar offers. 

Local library summer reading challenge. It's FREE, my favourite word at the moment! The local library is always a fab place to go and hunt out new books to read. The summer reading challenge takes place each year and the children need to read six books to complete the challenge. Find more details and sign up at your local library. This is always good for rainy days and you can take as many trips back and forth to choose the right books too. 

Local to us we have Stoke Park to visit. It includes a splash pool for the kiddies that they can have hours of fun playing in and a grass area to take a picnic. You could spend the whole day there just for the cost of a car park ticket and maybe an ice cream too! There is also a play park, mini golf (fees apply) plus lots of sports facilities to hire too. 

We also visit Runnymede in the summer too. There is a splash pool there so don't forget a towel for the little ones. We pack up a picnic and take a football and some cricket stuff. we play games, have a mass family picnic, the kids enjoy a splash around, we walk along the River Thames and enjoy an ice cream too. Parking charges apply but this again makes for a cheap day out. 

(Whilst the 2 parks mentioned are local to us please do look up parks in your local area and see what you can find whether it be a play park, splash pool, sports facilities or more.)

 A trip to the beach is always great fun. We have so many different places we could go to within an hour to an hour and a half drive away. Again you can pack up a picnic, some towels and your swimmers and have a fab fun day out at the beach. The children love making sandcastles, burying each other in the sand, splashing in the sea and looking for shells and more. 


A slightly chillier day than normal at the beach

What are your top tips for saving pennies over the summer holidays? Are you struggling to keep them entertained or keep up with the demands of days out?