Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Little Adventures with Regatta

This post features clothing sent to us to promote

As the world opens up a little, we are enjoying exploring somewhere different, visiting attractions that we have missed and seeing people, but we are still making time for the simple things, the little adventures close to home that were available all along and kept us going through the past year.  The beach is my favourite place to be and we are lucky enough to live within walking distance.

Whilst it is a fun summer day out, I have written regularly about how we enjoy the beach in all weather and this windy bank holiday weekend was no exception.  We met up with my parents and my nephews (they are a childcare bubble) at their beach hut and spent the day building sandcastles, eating chips and splashing in the sea.  Cora was sent a raincoat and wellies from Regatta's new Peppa Pig collection and whilst there were no muddy puddles to jump in, there was a sandy sea.

regatta, peppa pig, regatta kidswear, adventure ready kids

Cora prefers wearing wellies to shoes as she can take them on and off easily and it means she is always prepared for puddles and adventure (are you a parent if you haven't tried to prevent a child in inappropriate shoes not to jump in a puddle?).  These boots have an adjustable toggle so you can fit them snuggly around the legs which should stop water splashing into the boots on the biggest jumps too!

regatta, peppa pig, regatta kidswear, adventure ready kids

As the weather is warming up, the children are keen to ditch their bigger coats (as is the person who seems to end up carrying them most of the time), and we are looking for coats that protect from the elements without being too warm or bulky.  Cora's Peppa Pig raincoat is ideal for this, it protects from showers without getting in the way of climbing, running and sea splashing.

regatta, peppa pig, regatta kidswear, adventure ready kids

We are looking forward to a year of adventures closer to home (we haven't risked booking any foreign travel yet) and with the British weather so unpredictable I think wellies and a thin raincoat are going to be essentials!  The Regatta Peppa Pig collection is available  in size 12-18 up to 5-6.  Cora is a petite nearly 5 year old in age 4-5.  We found the wellies were generous sizing so don't size up!

regatta, peppa pig, regatta kidswear, adventure ready kids

regatta, peppa pig, regatta kidswear, adventure ready kids

regatta, peppa pig, regatta kidswear, adventure ready kids

regatta, peppa pig, regatta kidswear, adventure ready kids





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Friday, 30 April 2021

Days Out in Essex // Colchester Zoo

When I booked the children and I a week away in Essex earlier this month, I had no idea about the area or what was local but after a quick Google I discovered Colchester Zoo was a 30 minute drive away from Clacton and I could only find great reviews from friends that had visited.  Because of Covid reopening, I was online at 8am the weekend before trying to get tickets and managed to get 5 for the Wednesday right in the middle of the trip.  

Colchester Zoo was easy to find and parking was free. We had a 30 minute slot for entry and there were very few people around the entrance.  My tickets were scanned through my phone and we were sent inside.  I don't know how busy the zoo usually gets to comment on, but we never felt crowded or too close to others, but when it came to wanting to eat, it was very challenging to find somewhere to sit! 

Colchester zoo, visit Essex, Colchester with children

We found the zoo difficult to navigate at first and my phone didn't get enough signal to get the online map up. I did see other people with paper copies though so they must have been available at the entrance.  That being said, we had no real agenda other than seeing as much as we could and we enjoyed wandering and seeing what came up next.  

We liked how interactive the zoo was, with things that can be climbed on, information designed for children and interesting displays around the zoo.  We visited the feeding area where the children could feed some of the animals including goats.  This was a real highlight for the younger two who like to get involved where they can.

Colchester zoo, visit Essex, Colchester with children

My favourite part of the zoo was the African area where giraffes, zebras, rhino and other animals that naturally coexist were in a larger area together.  You could walk most of the way around the area and there are opportunities to pay to hand feed the giraffe and elephants (£20 for a family/group of up to 5 people).

There were a few enclosures and areas that were not open to visitors, anything that was fully inside was shut due to Covid guidelines, but we spent many hours at the park and didn't feel like we missed out.  Some areas were undercover but with open sides so masks were required (alongside social distancing of course) but they were open and clearly signed. There were also no keeper talks or timed feedings to avoid crowding

Colchester zoo, visit Essex, Colchester with children

The boys favourite part of the zoo experience was the 'Lost Madagascar' train which took us around an area of the park and gave us a unique view of some animals.  The train was cleaned between passengers, there were perspex screens between each group and there was a great narrative from the driver.  It was ideal after a long afternoon walking around!  We ended the day at the big playground near the exit.  Designed for school aged children it was secure, big enough to keep my elder children (8 and 9) happy and had plenty of seating.

Colchester zoo, visit Essex, Colchester with children

We had a brilliant day out at Colchester Zoo and would really recommend it as a family attraction in Essex.  We spent over 6 hours in the zoo and the children have all asked to return! As we visited on a week day, my adult ticket was £21.24 and the children's tickets were £15.30 each.  There is a large store that you can visit for gifts and souvenirs on the way out, but you can avoid going inside at all and use the exit at the side.

Colchester zoo, visit Essex, Colchester with children

Colchester zoo, visit Essex, Colchester with children

Colchester zoo, visit Essex, Colchester with children

Colchester zoo, visit Essex, Colchester with children

Colchester zoo, visit Essex, Colchester with children

Colchester zoo, visit Essex, Colchester with children









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Tuesday, 27 April 2021

A Gaming Themed Shared Bedroom

The older boys have had a London bus themed bedroom since they were 2 and 3 years old and their bus bunk bed was well loved and played with, but as they have gotten older and are heading towards the tween years, I wanted to change their shared space into something a bit more grown up for them, something that reflected their interests more and that will hopefully grow with them.  Both are avid gamers, although the games they choose are different, so I used this as a base.

Archie is very into the colour black and we already had some furniture in the room which was white so I chose to go with a mostly monochrome theme.  We live in a rented house so my options for the walls and floor are limited and I went for decorations that are easy to remove and change up.  I bought them each a single MALM bed from Ikea with black under-bed drawers and started putting the room together.

gaming themed kids bedroom, gaming room for children

gaming themed kids bedroom, gaming room for children

We were sent a custom designed piece of steel wall art from Narla and it is probably our favourite thing in the room.  I chose to have it made in the shape of an X-Box controller and it has green lighting so it works well as a nightlight too.  It is amazing quality and something that should last them a long time (They have a gamer dad too, so I am sure he will be using it if they ever don't!). I bought some pictures from Etsy as well as the Vinyl 'eat, sleep, game, repeat' wall sticker and the black letter bunting.

gaming themed kids bedroom, gaming room for children

gaming themed kids bedroom, gaming room for children


Their built Lego is displayed on top of the taller Kallax unit and Red Candy sent them a giant Lego brick which has all the loose pieces in ready to play.  We were also sent a Nintendo Switch dual charge base which stores their consoles.  

gaming themed kids bedroom, gaming room for children

gaming themed kids bedroom, gaming room for children

Storage is Key and most items are Ikea.  The black and white storage chair was actually given to us by a friend looking to get rid of it and it goes perfectly with their room.  They have under-bed drawers for toys and plenty of Kallax boxes so I am forever hopeful that their room will stay this tidy for a while!  

gaming themed kids bedroom, gaming room for children

gaming themed kids bedroom, gaming room for children

I didn't want to theme the room too much around particular games that may just be a phase so all the art work is generic gaming and the duvet sets are from Asda.  The boys are really happy with their room and I think it will work well for them as they grow older and want to spend more time up here.  I would have loved to have done more with the walls and flooring but we are limited at the moment with that. I have been meaning to look at dying their blackout curtains black too, but it never seems to be top of my priority list!

gaming themed kids bedroom, gaming room for children

gaming themed kids bedroom, gaming room for children

What do you think of our gaming themed bedroom?


gaming themed kids bedroom, gaming room for children

gaming themed kids bedroom, gaming room for children

gaming themed kids bedroom, gaming room for children

gaming themed kids bedroom, gaming room for children

gaming themed kids bedroom, gaming room for children

gaming themed kids bedroom, gaming room for children

gaming themed kids bedroom, gaming room for children








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Wednesday, 21 April 2021

A Week away in Clacton-On-Sea

After a series of lockdowns, we were all desperate for a change of scenery so I found myself online one evening looking at what our possibilities were for the Easter holidays.  The easing of restrictions fell at the beginning of our second week off and I nervously booked a caravan break for the four children and I.  With things liable to change at any point, I decided not to tell the children until the last minute but thankfully everything went ahead, so on the 12th April I found myself in a car on the motorway for the first time this year, heading to Clacton-on-Sea in Essex.

parkdean resorts, clacton on sea, family caravan holiday


parkdean resorts, clacton on sea, family caravan holiday

I booked with Parkdean and went for a slightly wider caravan than their basic option to give us a little more living space.  Our caravan had three bedrooms, a double bed for me and two twin rooms which the children shared.  The beds were very narrow (as you expect in a caravan) but the children all slept wonderfully.  There were radiators in each room which we appreciated on the cold April evenings and plenty of pillows and bedding.  The kitchen had everything we needed with a full sized oven and grill, microwave, toaster, kettle and fridge freezer.  We were assigned a caravan right by the park and other amenities which was ideal and we knew in advance where we were going so there was no check in process.  The whole week, I was impressed with the Covid measures that they had in place.  Everything was done through an app, including booking swimming and craft sessions and ordering click and collect meals from the restaurant. The whole park felt comfortable, clean and well maintained.

parkdean resorts, clacton on sea, family caravan holiday

parkdean resorts, clacton on sea, family caravan holiday

We spent a lot of time in the playground and I could order drinks to be delivered to the tables round the outside as I watched them play.  We did two swimming sessions which were 45 minutes long and with very limited numbers and we did two craft sessions which were capped at 7 children in total.  The park was around a 5 minute drive to the beach and we had two days out during our stay, one at Clacton Pier and seafront and one at Colchester Zoo which was roughly 30 minutes away in the car.

parkdean resorts, clacton on sea, family caravan holiday

parkdean resorts, clacton on sea, family caravan holiday

I was nervous about being away with the four children on my own, but we had the best week and they were all so well behaved (most of the time).  They thrived on the novelty and adventure of being somewhere different and having somewhere new to explore and it felt like the perfect detox after months of being inside more than we should be with far too much screen time.  I did take my laptop with some films so we could have some quiet down time when we needed to, but we were outdoors enjoying ourselves for most of the week.  All four children loved it and have asked to return there! The holiday park we stayed in was called Valley Farm

parkdean resorts, clacton on sea, family caravan holiday

parkdean resorts, clacton on sea, family caravan holidayv


For me the key to solo travel with children is in the preperation.  My boot was packed with enough breakfast foods and milks for the week, two full dinners and lunch foods as well as snacks, so that I didn't need to take the children into a shop whilst we were away.  I had booked our tickets for Colchester zoo and looked up maps and distances so I was prepared.  Normally I am aware that I can pop out in the evening for anything I have forgotten but it isn't as easy without a second adult and I appreciated the time I had spent preparing and packing well.  This trip has made me realise how enjoyable it can be travelling alone with the children and I will definitely be booking more trips (although of course it is nicer if Ed can come along too!).
 
parkdean resorts, clacton on sea, family caravan holiday

parkdean resorts, clacton on sea, family caravan holiday


I will be writing about our days out in the area over the coming weeks too so keep an eye out if you are looking to travel to this area.

parkdean resorts, clacton on sea, family caravan holiday

parkdean resorts, clacton on sea, family caravan holiday

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Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Reasons to Travel More

Advertorial

You may be a busy person and have limited free time, therefore, travelling might not be a priority on your to-do list. However, you may change your mind after understanding all the wonderful reasons that exist regarding why you should travel more.

The following list may be ideas you haven’t thought too much about before and may inspire you to want to get out and see the world. Travelling can be fun and exciting and a chance to embark on new journeys that can be rewarding and help you gain a whole new perspective on life.

To Experience an Adventure

One reason to travel more is that you’ll have the opportunity to experience an adventure. Think about all that goes into planning and preparing for a trip. Also, consider all you can do once you arrive at your destination. You can come up with a long list of activities and excursions you’ve never done before and see how enjoyable it is to step outside your comfort zone. You’ll soon feel relaxed and have a smile on your face as you discover new lands and have new adventures.



So You Can Learn & Grow

Travelling more is a chance for you to learn and grow as a person. Sitting at home may be relaxing and comfortable, but it’s not challenging you. When you travel, you can open your eyes up to different cultures and experiences and try new foods. You’ll learn more about your likes and dislikes, and it’ll help you see who you are as a person and what assumptions or judgments you may have had about something before seeing it for yourself. It’ll give you a whole new outlook that will be invaluable.

As A Chance to Fall in Love

If you’re single and looking for love, then travelling may be just what you need. You never know who you’re going to run into or meet when you’re out on an adventure in a new place or area. Go out and explore and give yourself the chance to fall in love by being open to the idea. Visit different countries and see if anyone you meet sparks your interest. If you do fall in love and want to come back home and get married, then you’ll want to look into getting a k1 visa so you two can begin building your life together as a couple.




Give Yourself A Break

Another reason to travel more is that it offers you a break from your daily responsibilities and work tasks. Travelling solo is an excellent opportunity to carve out some quiet time to self-reflect and think about your goals and future. On the other hand, if you travel with family or friends, you can grow a deeper bond without the hassles and stressors from your everyday schedule and routine. You can put your feet up by the pool one day and go hiking and exploring the next. It’s a wonderful way to get a break from thinking and doing and allow yourself to be present in the moment.
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Friday, 2 April 2021

Our Favourite Books for 8 and 9 Year Olds

I am really enjoying reading to slightly older children now, being able to pick books with more of a storyline and I am finding that I often enjoy them too. I thought I would share some of the books the bigger boys and I have really enjoyed recently and I would love to hear any recommendations.

books for 8 and 9 year olds



The Christmasaurus - Both boys voted this as the best book I have read to them.  Written by Tom Fletcher it is a wonderful book full of humour and excitement and we enjoyed The Christmasaurus and The Winter Witch just as much.  I know it isn't the perfect time for reading a Christmas book but Archie has been asking if we can re-read it already so I couldn't resist adding this magical story.

books for 8 and 9 year olds



The Girl Who Stole an Elephant - Nizrana Farook, the author visited Dylan's school pre-covid, but it took us another year before we got round to reading the book.  This is a tale of adventure set in Sri Lanka and opened up a lot of questions about different cultures and ways of living.  This book is aimed more at 9-12 year olds and I think for independent reading Archie especially would struggle, but he enjoyed having it read to him.

books for 8 and 9 year olds



The Storey Treehouse Collection - I haven't tried reading these books to the children, but this is Dylan's favourite series for independent reading and books he happily got stuck into, even as a reluctant reader. He got the newest one for Christmas but there is a whole series and I think they are great for 6-10 year olds depending on their ability.  They are full of fun illustrations which make them less intimidating for younger readers.

books for 8 and 9 year olds



The Danger Gang - This is another Tom Fletcher book but I couldn't not include it as we have just finished it and both children loved it.  This book is written as a series of letters, one for each month about the freaky goings on in a town called Freaky and we love how each of the Tom Fletcher books references the others in little ways. (We have read the Creakers too).  We all can't wait to see what he writes next.

books for 8 and 9 year olds



The Secret Seven - This Enid Blyton collection is dated and I have to explain words and ideas to the children sometimes (and look them up myself too), but the themes of friendship and adventure seem to resonate with the children as they ask for the books and enjoy the stories.  I bought the collection on a special offer and we are working through it slowly, reading the books in between others (we are currently on book 5). I like the way that the books my mum read as a child and that I read as a child can still spark their imagination now, over 70 years since they were written.

books for 8 and 9 year olds



I would love to know what children's books your children of this age like reading independently or like having read to them.
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