Saturday, 16 June 2018

A day out with Thomas the Tank Engine on the Mid Hants Railway Watercress Line. This Summer from 4th to the 12th of August 2018.

Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends are returning to the Watercress Line this Summer and are waiting for you to visit. From August 4th to August 12th 2018 they will be at the Mid Hants Railway Watercress Line with so many fun things to see and do. 

We visited last year and it was a lovely day out for all of us. The children loved hopping on board to ride behind Thomas or Toad at the Ropley station as well as jumping on board one of the big steam trains that goes up and down the line all day. 

As well as meeting Thomas the Tank Engine and his friends at the Watercress Line you can also ride on the real steam engine, shake hands with The Fat Controller as well as enjoy everything listed below and INCLUDED in your ticket price. 

NEW! This year they will have vintage fairground rides at Ropley and a fantastic delicious new food offering.
There are plenty of activities to keep the family entertained for the whole day - ALL included in the ticket price:
  • Unlimited travel on the big steam trains that run up and down the 10 mile line - trains run every 45 minutes from 9:45am to 4:45pm
  • Unlimited rides behind Thomas the Tank Engine and Toad the Brake Van at Ropley
  • 'Rusty' entertaining children with magic and fun at Ropley
  • Unlimited rides on the miniature railway
  • NEW! vintage fairground rides
  • A Passport To Friendship full of activities for children to do throughout the day with a sticker on completion
  • Story Time with Rusty and the Fat Controller
  • 'Thomas & Friends' temporary tattoos 
  • A Day Out With Thomas colouring-in certificate
  • Imagination Stations with Thomas play-sets, colouring and DVD shows

We had a fantastic day when we visited last year. We hopped on the steam train and hopped off at a different station before heading back down the line to Ropley again. The different attractions were enough to keep us entertained for most of the day and there was food available on site too although plenty of space to find a patch to enjoy a home made picnic lunch too. 

2018 fare prices are as follows*
Adults: £18
Child (2-16 yrs): £12
Child (under 2 yrs): Free
Family (2 adults and 2 children): £54
*An online booking fee applies
Parking Information:**Ropley: They have a FREE car park in a large field next to Ropley station. Postcode SO24 0BL. (We parked here and it was very easy to find with ample parking spaces too)
Alresford: Pay and Display, £1.50 for the day or free Sundays and Bank Holidays.
Alton: Pay and Display South Western Trains car park. £2 on the weekend or £7.50 on weekdays.
Disabled parking available at Alresford and Alton stations. Disabled drop-off at Ropley station and park in the field.

So why not have a fantastic day out with Thomas and Friends this Summer at the Watercress Line it really is a fab day out for all. 

Thursday, 14 June 2018

How to DIY on a budget. Our home makeover. Shop around, source materials from various places and get your bargain hunting Mum involved!

I love a bit of DIY on a budget. Anything that needs doing in the house we always research all of the materials that we need and make sure we get the best price possible for everything. We've done quite a few DIY projects over the years and last week we embarked on our garden fence makover! 

When it comes to bargain hunting my Mum is the best. For our stairs makeover last year she found brand new underlay and brand new carpet on ebay from a seller locally that had remnants left over and we got it for the bargain price of £1.98. The before and after pictures show what a fab job Dadof5 did in fitting it and it completely changed the hallway. We also painted the walls with some Dulux Chic Shadow paint which we already had. 

Before and After of our hallway makeover

We also did our front garden makeover on a budget. We sourced the stones from a seller on Gumtree who had excess leftover from a garden project they had done. Paving slabs were taken from my parents old patio to make the path and we bought lavender from Lidl for the borders which has grown loads! I also bought some wicker edging for the borders which was reduced in our local Wilkinson store. All in it cost around £60 in total. 

Before and After of our front garden makeover 

Picture taken today (14/06/2018) as you can see we've added 2 planters by the front door and the lavender has really grown on the left hand side. We also added some small bushes in the beds along the front window. 

More recently we were desperately in need of replacing the fence in our back garden. Last year the back fence was replaced by the neighbours who live behind our house. A few weeks ago the neighbours to our right had that fence replaced too. For quite a while now we knew the left hand side fence needed replacing and it was our responsibility but funds just weren't available. We priced it up and even putting the fence up ourselves meant that all of the materials would still cost £350+. Our neighbours have a huge hedge which had completely taken over the fence. It had grown through it and over it and the fence was leaning really badly and looked so unsightly. 

Step in bargain hunting Mum who found some brand new Wickes fence panels and posts on Gumtree from a local seller. Myself and my Dad went to collect them and last weekend myself, Dadof5 and my parents put up the new fence. We painted the neighbours side, my Dad and Dadof5 were in charge of concreting in each post, levelling it all up and fixing the fence panels in place and then a couple of days later myself and my Mum painted our side of the fence. 

The costs was £80 for the six fence panels and nine posts with the seller also throwing in some bottles of paint for us, £25 for the postcrete (Wickes) and £10 for the Ronseal paint (currently £5 a tub in Wilkinson) for our side. Total £115. Oh and a few bacon rolls for the workers too.

The fence looks amazing compared to before and I made sure that I took lots of progress pictures, I told my parents the pictures are all for their portfolio for new clients as they always do an amazing job when they help us with DIY projects! 

Before. As you can see it was very overgrown and it had been pulled over by the neighbours hedge. You can see Dadof5 struggling to clear the hedge, it took a while!

This was just after we had finished putting the fence up.

This is after myself and my Mum had painted it and had a tidy up too. 

As you can see we did a pretty amazing job. We are truly blessed to have my parents help us out with our DIY projects and to have my bargain hunting Mum helping us find what we need. The fence looks sooooo much better and now Dadof5's next project is some decking in the back garden too. 

I best call my Mum again! 

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Decluttering our home. Using online selling sites to make some money from unwanted items in the house.

I've recently decided our house is too full of stuff and needs decluttering! From unwanted toys to unused homewares. There are cupboards housing unused items that someone else could make good use of. 

Dadof5 has always been a great hoarder of anything and everything and always questions why I am selling something. Usually something that has sat unwanted and unloved for at least six months or more and clearly needs to be put to better use elsewhere. I swear some day the loft will cave in from everything he keeps 'just incase'! 

Over the past few weeks I have slowly started decluttering. We had a toy storage unit that was storing toys that weren't being played with. So not only did the toys need a new home but once they had gone there was no need to have the storage unit taking up space and now stood empty. 

As we have an impending bedroom makeover coming up too we really need to sort out everything and as the children get older the house can start looking like a home and less like a branch of toys r us combined with a full on mess! 

Not only are we decluttering but making some pennies in the process. The youngest 2 Things wanted a Nintendo Switch and so I told them that if they wanted one they had to fund one themselves by selling some unwanted toys that were hiding under Thing 4's bed. Although I did all of the selling and posting of said items the Things actually made almost enough pennies for their much wanted item, even going to the shop with their money and buying it themselves. 

Buying their Nintendo Switch after raising some funds from decluttering

Everyone is benefiting from our clear out of stuff. The buyers who get to buy something that they need for just a few pennies and we get to raise some funds to do other things around the house. 

I have really done well with selling online via local selling groups on Facebook or on eBay so far. We have still got lots of items we can sell or donate and I am making my way slowly through the clutter that we don't need and then we can start on home improvements too. Stay tuned for a much needed double bedroom makeover for the two smallest Things. 

I am slowly getting my house back and can start making it into a home. The Things appreciate the items they do have rather than having so much that they forget what they do have or have things they don't play with any more and it stays bundled in storage for ages. 

Car boot sales are also great fun. We used to do them every now and again and are also a great way of getting rid of unwanted items. Just remember not to go browsing and end up bringing more stuff home! 

So why not have a declutter if it's needed. Or is your house clutter free? Do you wonder if the toys multiply over night? Do you have a hoarder in the house? 

Disclaimer; All pictures as above of our 'lovely' uncluttered tidy home are not a true representation of life with five children and there is currently Lego on the lounge floor, washing up to be done in the kitchen and a clothes washing mountain in the utility room! 

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Our Fathers Day 2018 gift guide. From socks to whisky, personalised family pictures to yummy biscuits & more

Fathers Day is fast approaching and as always I am completely unprepared. I always struggle to find something different to buy that we haven't bought in previous years so I have had a look across the internet to see what fab gifts there are for Fathers Day 2018 for the dads and granddads in our lives.  

First of all I headed over to the Honeywell Bakes website as I have had some of their lovely biscuit gift sets before. I found this fab little burger biscuit set which comes presented in a burger style box with biscuits chips too. 

Honeywell Bakes burger biscuit set

On the Firebox website there are so many things to choose from in their Fathers Day section. Dadof5 got a can of Abashiri blue beer from Santa at Christmas and so I thought he would love to give this Abashiri green beer a try too. 

Abashiri green beer from Firebox priced at £4.99 for one

Not On The High Street also have a great Fathers Day section packed with loads of gift ideas from a whole array of fabulous sellers. I love this button family personalised picture from the seller Mrs L Cards. 

Personalised family picture from Mrs L Cards at Not On The High Street

Another find on the Not On The High Street was these personalised twinning dad and child socks from the seller Solesmith.

Personalised twinning dad and child socks from Solesmith

Grandadof5 loves a drop of whisky and has tried so many different brands but amongst his favourites is Monkey Shoulder. Available from most supermarkets as well as many online stockists. The 70cl bottle is currently on offer at Tesco priced at £22 instead of £27.

Monkey Shoulder whisky from various supermarkets

Virgin Experience Days have lots of fab gift ideas for Fathers Day. From days out at Donnington race track to Comedy nights, a day at the races or a football stadium tour. If you can't decide you can buy a gift card so Dad can choose what he would like to do. 

Virgin Experience Days

I know that Dadof5 would love any of these gifts as much as he would love a lie in and a cooked breakfast too. Whatever you decide to do for the special men in your life I hope you all have a lovely day. 

Monday, 11 June 2018

Mum gets a day off. Heading into London for a day of me time and city sightseeing

Heading into London is always fun for me. I love heading to the city whether it’s for a blogging event, theatre trip, afternoon tea or family outing.

I’ve been on my own a few times but only ever to stay for a few hours for a specific event and then I head home again. Other times it’s been with the children or friends who love heading into London too.

Two years ago we went into London for Thing 2 and Thing 5’s birthday and we had a lovely day visiting the Sealife Centre followed by a meal at the Hard Rock Cafe.

Thing 3 enjoying London adventures

So I’ve decided that I need a day off. A day off from being Mum, wife, shop worker, school run Mum, blogger, washer woman, house cleaner! A day where I don’t have to think about what the kids are up to, where they are, are they behaving or what needs doing that day, how much time do I have to get jobs done around the house before the kids are back from school or before work time and is dinner on the table in time for the hungry people in my house.

I’ve decided to head into London alone for the whole day. It may not seem that special to some but like I’ve said I’ve not spent the whole day there alone without having  a reason as to why I’m there. I’ve been so many times and never stood outside Buckingham Palace, I’ve visited Harrods many times but never alone so I’m going to go and look, browse slowly without a child standing next to me, I’m going to go back to Hard Rock Cafe and actually eat something this time, I’m going to walk through Leicester Square without the children asking for Lego or M & M’s! and for just one day not worry about getting home in time for the school run or dinner time and even bedtime. Go me!

The View from the Shard

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been many times without the children. We went to London for our tenth wedding anniversary which was lovely but I had so much planned that weekend that we were on a schedule for the whole 3 days! Theatre trip, China town, a gorgeous afternoon tea at The Athenaeum Hotel (must stay there some time soon), The Shard, London Film Museum for the James Bond exhibit, shopping and eating out. More recently I went for a fabulous afternoon tea and bus tour with the bestie followed by dinner in Leicester Square.

B Bakery afternoon tea and London bus tour 

We are so lucky to live just a short train journey away too. Travelling to London is so easy for us and I love jumping on the train to travel into the City as long as it’s not peak time rush on work days!

I'm sure as parents we all feel we need some time out and a day off from every day life. To recharge, chill, have a day that’s different from the normal. I know I certainly do and so to find myself almost 'running away' for the day feels good. 

Kingly Court near Carnaby Street, great restaurants. 

I’m going to leave the husband in charge. He left me in charge a couple of weeks ago and had a lads day out at the golf, something they do annually. It’s a full day out with a meal afterwards and a relatively late return home and they have a great day. So it’s my turn and I need to learn that he will survive, the children will get fed and put to bed although maybe not at the correct times and they will cope for the day without me. Fingers crossed!!