Showing posts with label family fun. Show all posts
Showing posts with label family fun. Show all posts

Thursday, 7 December 2017

The Festive Fairground at Dreamland

Situated on the Kent coast, Dreamland is a vintage family theme park full of colour, personality and charm.  Over the coming month they have transformed the Margate park into a festive fairground complete with Santa's Grotto and an ice skating rink and the boys and I (plus my sister) spent last Saturday there for the opening day.



Archie and Dylan are four and six and were a great age to enjoy the park.  I found it was definitely aimed at four years and above (or for children over a metre) and there was plenty that they could both go on but quite a few that Archie at 105cm was too small for as well.  The park has a selection of rides from the iconic Scenic Railway which is the oldest wooden rollercoaster, to the traditional dodgems and carousel.  Entry to the park is free and a wristband gives you unlimited access to all the rides or you can buy seperate tokens if you wish to only ride on a couple.  The children's beehive rollercoaster was a definite favourite for both boys.




We spent about 5 hours at Dreamland and that was the perfect amount of time.  We spent time on the rides as well as enjoying all the open spaces and bright walls.  Dotted around the park are giant letters that spell out Dreamland and we loved spotting them and climbing on them too.


As part of our visit we couldn't resist booking tickets to see Father Christmas.  You have to book ahead on the Dreamland website and you are given a 30 minute slot for your 'Santa experience'.  It is more than your traditional grotto, with two simple craft activities as you prepare to see the big man. The boys loved creating their VIP passes and they are still playing with them days later.  Santa's special Elvis inspired elf stole the show and we were surprised to see a rocking and grooving Santa.  The boys were each given a book as a gift but they are a little old for them at the moment - we would love to see books aimed more at younger readers in the future.




I was nervous about taking the boys ice skating as it doesn't come naturally to me (I like to hold on to a wall the whole time) and they have never been before.  We found the set up was brilliant though and when we turned up for our booked slot there was no queue for boots and the rink was not too crowded.  You can pre-book aids and there were two choices, a standing penguin that the children can hold on to if they want to skate independently, and a seal that the children can sit on to be pushed around.  Archie was happiest sat down and loved it as I raced around with him (I was happiest pushing him as it gave me something to hold on to).  Dylan tried both and really enjoyed giving skating a go with the penguin.  The ice skating was definitely a highlight for all four of us and I would highly recommend booking a slot if you are visiting for the frosted fairground.



The park was quiet in the day, we didn't queue for a single ride and it was so much fun, but the parK really comes alive when it gets dark.  The lit up trees dotted around the park, the dancing lights on the big wheel and the brightness of the fairground were irresistable and I would really recommend staying for at least part of the evening.  



Dreamland is situated less than 5 minutes walk from Margate train station and there are direct links from St Pancras and Victoria station in London.  There is so much to do locally with a brilliant beach opposite the entrance to Dreamland, the Turner art gallery and a row of arcades full of 2p machines. Inside the Dreamland Complex there is a fantastic soft play/imaginative play centre called Octopus Gardens as well as a roller disco. We had a brilliant day out and all left with rosy cheeks and big smiles.

Thank you to Dreamland for our tickets for this fun day out!












Read more ⇨

Monday, 4 December 2017

Sorted at The Postal Museum


"But that wasn't a real museum, was it? It was too much fun!" Dylan aged 6.  This weekend the big two boys and I went on a little adventure to London.  It has been a long time since I did anything with just them, without having to make sure it was baby or toddler friendly and we all needed this time. We were invited up to check out The Postal Museum and their new imaginative indoor play area 'Sorted!' and I had a tough time convincing the boys that it was a real museum.

The Postal Museum, Sorted indoor play area

I don't know quite where they got their views from as we haven't really taken them to many museums before.  They clearly had low expectations however which were exceeded before we even discovered the play zone.  After locating The Postal Museum which isn't far from Kings Cross station, we headed straight for the Mail Rail, an underground ride to discover the history of the postal service.  As you book tickets in advance there was no waiting around in queues and the ride was interactive with narration, short videos projected on the wall and lots to look at.  It was the perfect length for their concentration spans at 4 and 6 years old and it gave us plenty to talk about.

The Postal Museum, Sorted indoor play area

Sorted! was the main reason for our visit though and we were all excited to see what it was like.  20 children are allowed in at a time and the play area was split into two main zones, one for post offices, post vans and post boxes and the other for inside the sorting office.  The 45 minute session could easily have been double as long before the boys were ready to leave and the variety of tasks combined with the limited number of children allowed in and therefore the amount of space they had to play was a great combination.  They loved sorting the parcels and sending them down the chutes before heading down the slide to start again.  There were different dress up accessories dotted around and plenty of soft parcels that could be sorted, weighed, posted and played with.  

The Postal Museum, Sorted indoor play area

As well as the imaginative play for children, there was so much to keep toddlers and babies entertained too, from magnetic walls covered in toys to be moved around, post vans to pretend to drive and wooden blocks to make a city.  Everything was designed for children from zero to eight years and I felt a bit sad that Finn and Cora were missing out as they would have loved the experience so much.  There was space for adults to sit and enjoy a drink or you could get involved with the children.  The whole place was spacious, clean and easy to see everything and we all loved it.  

The Postal Museum, Sorted indoor play area

I was a bit worried that after all this excitement, the boys wouldn't be that interested in the main museum, but in actual fact it was brilliantly designed for children and adults of all ages.  The whole exhibit was interactive and the boys loved sorting the letters on the simulated moving train in a race against one another.  With accessories to dress up dotted all around they could really get involved and the sorting game was coded with both words and pictures so Archie at 4 could still take part. (There were also little stools so that smaller children didn't miss out).

The Postal Museum, Sorted indoor play area

We did have to leave one building and cross the road to get to the second which I am not used to in museums but it gave us a chance to break up our visit as the second building had a cafe which served lunch and refreshments.  The children were given a trail to do around the museum, spotting stamps and post boxes to earn a sticker at the end.  The museum was really interesting from my point of view and the children were really curious as we went round, asking questions and enjoying the conversation.  There were phones to be picked up, hats to try on, letters to open and everything was on their level.  Overall we spent about 3.5 hours in The Postal Museum but we could easily have spent another 45 minutes looking around if it wasn't for the call of some promised milkshakes.

The Postal Museum, Sorted indoor play area

We left the museum with a better knowledge of how things worked, an insight into life inside a sorting office and a desire to send some letters of our own.  There was a lovely gift shop inside, but they didn't have any postcards! We headed over to Covent Garden when we were done (an easy walk) to buy some postcards to send, talking as we did about the journey they would be going on before they reached our loved ones.

The Postal Museum, Sorted indoor play area

Until recently I had no idea that a Postal Museum existed but we will definitely be back with the whole family next time. It was brilliantly interactive, well laid out and the indoor play area 'Sorted!' was a great way to get their imaginations going.  Archie declared the visit 'better than a Kinder Egg' (high praise indeed from a four year old) and Dylan is already asking when we can go back.

The Postal Museum, Sorted indoor play area

The Postal Museum, Sorted indoor play area

The Postal Museum, Sorted indoor play area

The Postal Museum, Sorted indoor play area

The Postal Museum, Sorted indoor play area

The Postal Museum, Sorted indoor play area

The Postal Museum, Sorted indoor play area

The Postal Museum, Sorted indoor play area

The Postal Museum, Sorted indoor play area






This post is in collaboration with The Postal Museum but all thoughts and opinions are completely my own.

Read more ⇨

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Me and Mine in November

November has been the month that Autumn became Winter, even if not officially.  We started the month in light jumpers and thin tights, mild mornings and trips to the park after school  yet we are ending it wrapped up in hats and scarfs, with the heating on, candles burning and the anticipation of Christmas everywhere we look.  November seems to be very much a transition month and it has passed quickly and without standing out too much.

I don't feel like we have done much, but friendships have been established, play dates enjoyed, the outside world appreciated and all four children seem to have grown in the past four weeks.  We didn't manage to get a family photo on time, so this is a very last minute phone snap before the school run this morning - only three of us are dressed, the house is messy and not everyone really knows what is going on - we will always make sure we get a photo, even if it is by the skin of our teeth.


December will be full of excitement and magic, Christmas and fun and I feel like our simple November leads perfectly into it.  This month 

Becky is loving a night out with the reception mums from school, playing football, a day out with my big two boys and going to the Mother and Baby awards.

Ed is loving is new breadmaker, getting Sky for the house, discovering that we have underfloor heating in the kitchen and celebrating friend's birthdays

Dylan is loving arts and crafts with Aunty NatNat, a day in London with Mummy, preparing for the school Christmas show and asking 'who would win in a fight' questions about animals and mythical beings.


Archie is loving playing Pokemon cards, talking about Pokemon cards with his friends, drawing Pokemon and thinking about Pokemon related presents he can ask Father Christmas for.

Finn is loving scooting to nursery, getting himself dressed and undressed, chatting to the older ladies in the cafe and the new playgroup we have started going to.

Cora is loving carrying around her dolly, walking on the school run, splashing in puddles and having her hair brushed.



Hopefully our December photo will be a bit more organised!




Read more ⇨

Monday, 20 November 2017

I Think We Are Done

It felt like this day would never come, and in some ways I think I will always be broody.  As I see women walk past me, their prominent bumps ahead of them I feel excited for them, a little envious that they are at the beginning of this journey, they still have all the best bits to come.  I cuddle a newborn, and sniff that beautifully milky scent on the top of their head, hold them with their head resting in the palm of my hand, feel the weight of them curled up on my chest, and I feel desperate to hold my own baby in that way again.

But it isn't a new baby I want anymore.  It is the babies I already have.  I would love to go back in time just for a little bit, to savour those final moments of pregnancy, knowing how everything is about to change.  I would love to hold my newborn sons and daughter again, to take in all the small details that I may have missed the first time.  To feel the warmth of them, to watch their tiny fingers curl around mine.

I would love to be back in that new baby bubble, where nothing else matters, where you lose hours a day just watching them sleep. 

But I don't want to give up what we have now.  As Cora started taking steps, using her voice and becoming more independent, we are moving on to a new stage.  The end of nappies and buggies, slings and cribs is in sight, even if still a long way off, and new adventures will soon be possible. I want to visit new countries, watch our children enjoy and explore them without the limits of a baby.  I want to go on days out, visit theme parks without a pushchair in tow and I want to watch my children develop their sibling relationships just as they are.


Four is busy and loud but it isn't too busy or too loud.  We fit in our car and in our house, we can remember each child's name (although we may have to say the other three first). They always have a playmate or a partner in crime and it feels just right for us.  As much as I would love to do it all again in some ways, I don't want any more children, I think four is our number.

I am going to try and enjoy these final months of having toddlers in the house, celebrate those lasts because I have so many memories of the firsts, and the seconds and the middle ones too.  I know we have new adventures ahead of us and I can't wait to see what they are.


Read more ⇨

Friday, 17 November 2017

Simple Christmas Cards with Sellotape

One of the best things about Christmas is the lead up.  Decorating the tree, playing those familiar tunes, carefully choosing the perfect gift and of course making the Christmas cards.  The boys are still too little to go Christmas shopping, but they love making cards for family and friends and used some of Sellotape's new sparkly range to make our cards extra special this year.

sellotape, sparkly tape, Christmas card crafts

Dylan has his own big ideas, Cora is still too little but Finn and Archie are at an age where they want to unleash their creativity but need a little guidance.  I drew basic tree outlines for them and they then decorated them as they pleased.  We used the tapes to create a bright photo-frame border around the outside.

sellotape, sparkly tape, Christmas card crafts

The children loved this activity and it was easy to let them get on with it, helping only with the final framing.  They have so many more ideas for using the sparkly tapes like decorating the toy boxes and covering plain baubles in them.  Sellotape has been a Blue Peter staple since the 1970s and a household essential during my childhood and with my own children, and I am loving how great the tin is for hiding the tell tale ring of tape from small children who have something (or someone) they just 'need' to stick together.

sellotape, sparkly tape, Christmas card crafts

Sellotape are celebrating their 80th birthday with the launch of these Christmas tapes as well as a special edition tin.  If you want to show how you are 'sticking together' then check out their generator.

sellotape, sparkly tape, Christmas card crafts

If you are looking for other Christmas crafts involving these sparkly sellotapes then check out these glitter tape baubles.

sellotape, sparkly tape, Christmas card crafts


 In collaboration with Sellotape



Read more ⇨

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Port Lympne Dinosaur Forest

We recently visited Port Lympne Wildlife Reserve and I was prepared to enjoy seeing the animals and the safari, I wasn't prepared for how good their 'Dinosaur Forest' would be.  For four children who all love dinosaurs (Cora may not be talking but give her a toy dinosaur and she knows to start roaring) it was fantastic.  As the UK's biggest outdoor dinosaur exhibition it was bigger and better than any of the ones we have previously visited.


You walk through the forest following a path that traces the different eras of dinosaurs so you can really see how they have evolved.  What made this brilliant for young children is how hands on it is.  Whilst there are signs asking you not to climb on the dinosaurs, you are able to touch them, walk around them and study the different features.  It is so much more interactive and that is perfect for these four explorers.  Port Lympne have designed it so well with plenty of information one each one and even my non-reader could understand some of it.


Each dinosaur's weight is compared to other animals and you can see that it weighs 15 rhinos or something similar by the 15 pictures of rhinos in the box.  The boys loved counting and comparing as they walked round and Dylan could read them more of the information too.


There are dinosaurs in the trees up high, tiny ones on the floor and some where even the tallest of my boys barely reached his knee.  There was so much to see and I know if we were to return, this is what they would most like to see. Towards the end of the exhibit there were dinosaurs that you could climb on/in which was fun and made a great picture too!


I have written already about our experience at Port Lympne and about staying overnight at Bear Lodge but I really wanted to share how impressed we were with the Dinosaur Forest too.






Read more ⇨

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Staying Overnight at Bear Lodge, Port Lympne

We recently spent a night staying at Bear Lodge in Port Lympne wildlife park and it was such a fantastic experience for the children and us.  It wasn't our first time glamping, but Bear Lodge was definitely the most glam thanks to the en-suite shower and toilet and the running water in the kitchen sink.  We slept overlooking the bears as well as being able to see out 40 miles towards the coast and we had our entry to Port Lympne included the next day.

Bear Lodge, Port Lympne, glamping

We were expecting the tents to be big and from the outside they looked similar to others we had stayed in.  Inside they were quite different though, so much bigger and better.  Being a family of six, we had one of the largest sized tents which sleeps up to 8.  There was a master bedroom, a second bedroom with bunk beds and a bed built into what looks like a wooden crate.  It had a storage/crawl space underneath and you could close the shutters both sides to make it fully coccooned.  There was a small 'kitchen' with cupboards, a fridge and a sink, a dining area with a large table and a living area with a sofa.  Outside the tent were tables and chairs so we could sit and enjoy the view.

Bear Lodge, Port Lympne, glamping

Bear Lodge, Port Lympne, glamping

All of the beds were made up with thick winter duvets and fleece blankets which we were really grateful for as we stayed at the end of October and it got pretty chilly! Whilst the previous day was mild, the night was freezing and we slept wrapped up in the warm layers.  I would definitely recommend taking warm layers if you are going outside of the summer season.

Bear Lodge, Port Lympne, glamping

There were around 20 tents all grouped together with a communal playground in the middle which all four children loved.  It was really great to be able to let them run around out there as soon as they woke up in the morning too.  

Bear Lodge, Port Lympne, glamping

Just behind our tent was a small meerkat enclosure and towards the bears was another one with small mammals (I have forgotten their names) that the children loved watching run around through the wire tubes.  Whilst the area felt safe and serene at times, you were very aware that you were sleeping in a wildlife park and we heard the bears growling through the evening too.

Bear Lodge, Port Lympne, glamping

The views were breathtaking and my photos do not do them justice.  The sun set just in front of us so it was the perfect spot to sit and watch it.  As occupants of Bear Lodge you can book in to do a later safari so rather than queing with the day customers, there were later safaris for the guests to go on an hour tour of the reserve taking in animals such as the giraffes, rhinos and deer.  We were staying at Bear Lodge as part of a project I have been doing with Panasonic so we had dinner with them, but there is a restaurant on the campsite that sells dinner and breakfast and had a bar.  The tents don't have any cooking facilities so you do have to eat out.

Bear Lodge, Port Lympne, glamping

If you are thinking of a visit, then don't forget to pack warm pyjamas, wellies and some marshmallows to toast! We had a brilliant time and I would love to take the children back.  From one year old up to six, they all found different things to amuse themselves and there was a lovely atmosphere in such a small site with the children all playing together.  

Bear Lodge, Port Lympne, glamping

You can stay at Bear Lodge at Port Lympne from £210 a night and that includes entry into both Howletts and Port Lympne for the duration of your stay, all bedding and towels and the safaris.  You can read more about our experience at Port Lympne here.  I have also written about the amazing Dinosaur Forest

Bear Lodge, Port Lympne, glamping
Bear jumpers for Bear Lodge - It had to be done! All 4 are from Tootsa Macginty
Bear Lodge, Port Lympne, glamping




Read more ⇨
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...