Tuesday, 13 December 2016

McDonalds - changes to keep them in touch with modern life

Recently, I was invited to McDonalds in Aylesford to find out what McDonalds have done to make their stores fit in with the changing times of modern society. You can read on to here my thoughts on the store, and you can also click here to find out more information about all of the changes taking place at McDonalds! 

As soon as I drove into the car park I could see that it was unlike any McDonald's I had been to in the U.K. There was a play area outside and the restaurant itself was 2 storey. 



Both myself and some other lovely bloggers were lucky enough to be given a grand tour of the store. Which lead to us even being allowed to create our very own Big Mac (more on that later!) 

McDonalds has been in the U.K. For 40 years now, and during that time society has changed a huge amount! I think McDonalds has always done a pretty good job of keeping up with the times. Memories from my childhood at McDonalds include parties with Ronald McDonald, polystyrene containers, and of course who can forget the mini TY beanie babie craze in the Happy Meals! The design and look of McDonalds has also changed over the years. But I can't  think of a time when the changes were as big as this! 

It's revolutionary from as soon as you walk through the doors! Now, you can order your food using a touch screen order point, and if you are eating in the restaurant you can even have it brought to your table! 



We learnt that the best thing about this technology is that everything is now cooked fresh. From the moment you place your order, you can guarantee that it will ping up on the screen in the kitchen and one of the staff members will be starting to prepare your order. No more food waiting to be brought here! 



Another great thing about the new look McDonalds stores is that they are not only offering free Wi-Fi, but they are also offering charge points at your tables, with some tables even having Tablets to use! 



Technology plays such a big part in our lives nowadays, that I have no doubt that this part of will be hugely popular. From parents trying to keep their children entertained, to business people needing a quick recharge of both their batteries and their mobile devices batteries! 

Whilst on the tour. We were shown the back areas, the parts we don't normally see. What has stuck in my mind the most from the whole experience is how clear it is that McDonalds truely value their Staff members.



 It wasn't just a front because we were there, it was clearly displayed on posters, in the staff room with the use of computers, and just by hearing how well everyone was getting on. I also really loved the strict hand washing rules.

But, now it's time to show you my favourite part of the evening, making a Big Mac! A trained McDonalds staff member would be able to do this in 50 seconds from start to finish. Even though I didn't make that time, I think you will agree I did do very well! 




How amazing is that?! I can also confirm that it tasted delicious!



So, what do you think of the upgraded stores? They will be rolled out across the U.K. Over the next couple of years, and personally I think it will be a huge hit. I can't wait for my local to be transformed!  

*please note: I was invited by McDonalds to view the Aylesford Store and was compensated for my time. This does not affect my views, which are all my own!

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Skylanders Academy launches exclusively on Netflix!

So if you haven't noticed already, we are a bit Skylander crazy here! Chester has been a fan right from the very beginning, back in the days of Spyros Adventure. He is a big collector of the characters, and has always used them not only for the game play but also for imaginative play. Now Millie is a little older she is also showing a very keen interest in the game! 

One thing we have always said is that Skylanders would make a great TV programme. We were invited to London on Monday to a Skylanders event, and whilst there we were lucky enough to see our dreams become reality! 


Yes, that's right! Skylanders has been made into a TV programme! How amazing is that?! 


The series, named Skylanders Academy, is going to availible exclusively on Netflix. Season One has 13 episodes at approximately 20 minutes per episode. Based on Activision Blizzards pioneering video game franchise, the show follows the heroic adventures of Spyro, Eruptor, Stealth Elf, Jet Vac and Popp Fizz as they travel the vast skylands universe protecting it from evil doers. 

Now, we were extremely lucky enough to get an exclusive screening of the first episode, and let me tell you, it was awesome! It is everything we had hoped it would be. Millie found Kaos hilarious, some of the things he said were good enough to entertain me too! Chester loved getting to know the characters personalities a bit more, and all three of us agreed that it was very humorous. The adults in the room recognised some famous voices including; Justin Long (DodgeBall), Ashley Tisdale (High School Musical), and Jonathan Banks (Breaking Bad). It has been written by Eric Rogers (Futureama) and to me that explains the well placed humour! 

Chester, Millie and I will certainly be watching the new series on Netflix. It starts tomorrow (28th October 2016). If you are a Skylander fan then this programme is for you! 



Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Our fun Family day out with Emirates!

Craig and I both work full time, and with Craig working every Saturday and both children having football every Sunday, it's very hard to enjoy a day out all together. On Sunday though as it was the beginning of half term we had a football free day and certainly made the most of our family day out! 

When we were asked if we would like to come and visit the Emirates Aviation Experience the geek in me was very excited! Craig is a mechanic so is always interested to find out how things are put together. However, Craig is also very scared of flying! Its always a struggle to get him to agree to a holiday that involves flying. Its something that really upsets me as I really love holidays and adventure and desperately want to take the children on more foreign holidays. So my main excitement for the day was that the whole experience may alleviate Craig's fear! 

We are very lucky that Greenwich and the O2 area is only a 40 minute car journey for us, and actually by the end of the day I questioned why we didn't visit the area more often!


When we arrived the children were very excited, they could see the Emirates Air Line cable cars in the Sky and were fascinated! But more on that later, the first part of our day was a special treat for Craig! He had half an hour flying a simulator A380 plane. It was amazing! The simulator experience is for up to 4 people but only people of a certain age can actually be a pilot. Craig was Captain and Chester was asked to be co pilot! Millie and I were given seats behind, and felt included in the whole experience. The experience is 30 minutes and in that time Craig and Chester managed to take off from 3 different airports, and make successful landings 3 out of the 5 attempted times! I was secretly hoping that it would help to cure his fear, and whilst I don't think it has completely done this, I do think it has helped!


Walking around the exhibition there was lots to keep the children (and adults!) entertained. Through an interactive game we learnt how the airport staff work together to turn a plane around quickly and efficiently.



We watched a video in the surround cinema with a moving floor, which showed how luggage goes from check in to the plane. 

We sat in real airplane seats and had a play on the inflight entertainment.



But saving the best until last, we got to get up close to a Rolls Royce Trent 900 engine and see how it works. I must admit that some of it was a bit too mechanical for me, but Craig was fascinated!




We probably spent about an hour in the exhibit area and although we had seen and done everything, we had to peel the children away! They would have been happy to stay in there longer! 

The next adventure for our family day out was a trip on the Emirates Air Line cable car! Chester and Millie were very excited about this! Sadly Craig bottled it at the last minute as it was a bit too high for him! I think he had visions of it swaying about in the wind, but it wasn't like that at all! It was a really calm ride, we could see for miles!



It was roughly 10 minutes each way so we had plenty of time to spot the landmarks. Chester was very happy that he spotted Olympic Park. Millie and I were very happy to spot the Golden Syrup Factory haha!



We were also very lucky to see two planes come in to land at City Airport, I think that was the highlight for us! 

The capsules were big and could seat around 8 people comfortably, I saw a couple take on a pram which was no issue at all, so very family friendly. The Cable Cars run from the terminal at the O2 to a terminal very close to The Excel, which also makes for a great DLR and other tube connections.  

Whilst we were in the area we also popped into the O2 for a meal and had a look around some of the exhibits. We spent a full day in Greenwich and came home exhausted but happy! Chester and Millie are already asking when we can go back!  

For more information and prices for Emirates Aviation Experience and Emirates Air Line please take a look a the website here.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Keeping the children entertained over half term!

We really love family breaks here, whether its short weekend breaks exploring parts of the UK we are yet to discover, or longer faraway holidays, I can always be found planing our next adventure! 

Booking.com has just announced the findings of a global survey of over 22,500 children aged 5-15 years old to find out exactly what makes their family holidays amazing. Half term holidays are now upon us and many parents in the UK, including myself, are planning how to keep their little adventurers happy. So with the recent findings, Booking.com may have found an answer to avoiding those half term holiday nightmares!

From fast Wi-Fi and the chance to take cool social media photos, to the bounciest beds and staying up late, children from around the world stated exactly what they prioritized on their travels. Plus, Booking.com has also found the top destinations for each want. Take a look at this infographic below, the results may just surprise you! 



As you can see the findings highlighted Greece, Brazil and the US as among the top rated destinations for children this year. I personally am not surprised by the finding. Greece is a very popular family destination, I know several families who spent summer holidays there. Those of you that know me well, will know that the US and more specifically Florida is a favourite with our family. If we could we would go every year! And as much as I am not a huge fan of spending holidays glued to technology, the last time we went to the US it did come in very handy to share our photos with family and friends back home! Not to mention being able to let Millie watch her favourite show (at the time) Peppa Pig, when we returned to our hotel room for a rest! 

Adrienne Enggist, who is the Director of Product Development at Booking.com, explains how they are on a mission to get things right for families: “Spending time away together is an important part of family life, but we understand that planning to keep all the children happy can be hard. At Booking.com we’re on a mission to match families with their perfect choice of holiday and we offer an informative bank of guest reviews, handy filter functions and easy booking of over one million diverse properties to help them do just that.  Whether it’s finding a great place to stay near to the coolest outdoor pursuits, most family friendly restaurants or even the bounciest beds you can find it in just a few simple clicks on Booking.com.” 

I have to say, I have actually browsed Booking.com and am super impressed with how easy it is to find what you are looking for, the filters are set up for just the right things and gave me confidence to look into family trips. The reviews are really handy and just what you need to read to decide if it's the right booking for you. So if you are looking for last minute ways to entertain the kids this half term I would certainly recommend taking a look! 

Friday, 21 October 2016

Millie's first (half) term at School!

I can't believe that Millie has already been at School for 6 weeks! Right from day one she took it all in her stride and has loved every minute of it so far!



At first it was all about exploring the unknown, settling in to a new routine, and making new friends. She did all three of those things so casually as if it was already the norm. I thought that the School day would tire her out, but it hasn't. She has really enjoyed doing all of the things her big brother does, and she loves assembly! Making new friends was an easy one for Millie, she is such a sociable child. One of her best friends is in her class, and that is really lovely that they are going to go through School together. But it's also very nice that Millie seems to have surrounded her self with lots of new friends, mostly boys, which I am not surprised at. I myself get on much better with boys than girls!

But then it moved on to be all about the learning. It will never cease to amaze me how quickly children pick things up. Millie was very lucky that her Nursery workers were fantastic and gave her a head start with phonics. But since starting school those 6 weeks ago, Millie has picked up a whole new vocabulary. She seems a bit more grown up (which of course I am sad about) and she has already gone from not being able to read to now being able to recognise simple words in her books!

A few weeks in she was chosen as Star of the Week and got to take home the Class Lion, and she has even picked up her first certificate for good work!

Outside of School, Millie has taken up Football! It's really no surprise that she asked to do this, we spend so much of our time following Chester's football that it is pretty much a way of life here! But again, she embraced it and absolutely loves it, even in the rain!


I am so proud of how well she has adapted to School life, I am so happy for her too as I know how excited she was to start School!

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Chester turns Eight!

Things have been pretty hectic here recently, and over the coming months I shall share all of our crazy family updates. But for now, I want to tell you all about Chester's Eighth Birthday last week!

Chester is at that age where is kind of still wants a party, but it needs to be cool. He is also at that age where he has a select few close friends. So after much thought he decided on a Trampolining party with his football team buddies and a couple of classmates too. We are lucky where we live, as the new trampoline craze has meant that we have two big trampolining centres close by. We chose to go to Soar as they do a great party package and spectators are allowed on the walkways inbetween the trampolines to take pictures. As a blogger, that was a massive plus!

Well they had a fantastic time!

Ducking and diving....




Bouncing into foam bricks...


And even battling it out on the beam!




It was all topped off with Slush Puppies, Pizzas and cake! What more could anyone want?!



It really was an awesome party, and Chester was so grateful to all of his friends for joining him. Millie is now planning her party and of course it is also going to be trampolining!

On his actual Birthday, a School day much to his disgust! He was very excited and got up super early. By early I mean 4:15am! He was so happy to receive the new goal keeper kit for his beloved Crystal Palace, amongst lots of other lovely things! Naturally, my football mad Chester requested a Crystal Palace shirt cake, and I think I did pretty well considering I am an ametur!




All in all it was the perfect Birthday for Chester. I am so pleased he had such a great time!

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Num Noms Wacky Bakers!

We love a challenge here, and recently we were sent some series 2 Num Noms and asked if we could create a recipe inspired by the Num Noms flavours.



For anyone unaware of Num Noms they are small figurines which look and smell like food! They are what I would call pocket money collectible toys. The idea is that you choose your base, add a Nom and then a Num! Both of my children love baking, both in reality and imaginative play so Num Noms, with over 5000 combinations, are the perfect platform for their imaginations!

Now onto the recipe creation. I left this in the hands of Millie and her amazing 4 year old imagination! She took this role very seriously and mulled it over for a good few days. She wanted to keep the theme to the flavours we received, she thought about making a strawberry and blueberry crumble, and for a while she thought about grape sponge! But then she remembered that our particular set are from the Freezie Pop collection, so decided to do something she could freeze!

We decided to create some Magical Mocktails;

I chopped up some strawberries and grapes into small chunks, then Millie helped to place them into Ice Cube trays.


We then poured Tropical Fruit Juice over the fruit and placed the trays in the freezer.


Once frozen I (with a great deal of effort!) got the ice cubes out of the trays. Millie and Chester were then given a glass of water each and a mocktail stirrer (a chopstick for all you spoilsports)


They then added the ice cubes and stirred until melted! Magically the water turns into a yummy tropical mocktail with fruit snacks!




The tropical Magical Mocktails were a big hit here and very easy to make!

Do your little ones collect Num Noms? What Wacky Recipe would you make?!




Sunday, 11 September 2016

Dear Millie.....






Dear Millie,

As I write this, you are upstairs trying your hardest to go to sleep. It's extra hard for you this evening because you are so excited about your new adventure tomorrow. 

You have been waiting for this day for such a long time. You are ready for it, in my head I know you are. But in my heart I am struggling to come to terms with the fact that my little baby, my cheeky little Millie Poppins, is old enough to start School! 

I hope that you enjoy School as much as you think you will. You are such a confident, happy, smiley little girl, and you love to learn. You are an adventurer and you love to play, especially imaginatively. You are so proud of the fact you can write your name, and other letters too. You 'read' a picture version of the Ugly Duckling yesterday, from listening to that I am pretty certain you will love reading as much as I do!  

You are strong headed, just like your brother! You know exactly what you want and what you need to do to get it. But you must learn how to control this, your brother has learnt the hard way. I know he wouldn't want you to go through the same School experience as him. 

I know that your recent tantrum phase is caused by frustration. By your brain needing a little more stimulation. I hope that by going to School, you will no longer feel the need to tantrum over the slightest thing. You will be occupied enough to be distracted by the smallest of annoyances. 

When tomorrow comes, I know that you will be a confident, happy, care free, little girl walking into that classroom. I will walk away with a tear in my eye. But it will be a happy tear. I am so happy for you, and even though I won't be there, I will be thinking about you all day. Wondering who you are sitting next too, how you have managed with your School dinners, if you have managed to see your brother. 

I really hope that you find your place in your classroom quickly, and that you don't loose your cheeky sparkle or your panda loving enthusiasm. But most of all I hope that your teachers can see the kind, caring, panda loving little girl that I see every day. I hope that they suss out what you are about pretty quickly, and that they will know when you need cuddles and when you need a reality check! 

Have fun little one! 

Lots of love
Mummy xxxx



Thursday, 8 September 2016

BUILD-A-BEAR WORKSHOP TO CELEBRATE NATIONAL TEDDY BEAR DAY WITH TWO £5FURRY FRIENDS ON SEPTEMBER 9th

I very rarely share press releases, purely because I only want to share content relevant to me and my readers. But when this one popped in my inbox today I knew I simply had to share! So if you love Build a Bear and love helping a worthy cause, please read on! 


Retailer to offer one-day-onlyin-store event featuring commemorative £bear, two additional £5 teddy bears and a donation match for three charitable organisations

                                                           
                            

 Build-A-Bear Workshop, Inc. (NYSE: BBW), an interactive destination forcreating personalized furry
 friends, is inviting guests to celebrate the brand’s favorite holiday, National Teddy Bear Day, in stores
 on Sept. 9 with £5 teddy bears, all while helping children across the globe.

To mark the occasionguests of Build-A-Bear Workshop stores can make their own limited-edition National Teddy Bear Day bear for just $5 (USD) / $5 (CAD) / £5 (GBP), plus applicable taxes, in U.S., Canada and U.K. stores on Friday, Sept. 9. This is the first time the brand has created a commemorative bear for National Teddy Bear DayTwo additional bears will also be available for £5 each: Lil’ Vanilla Bean Cub and Lil’ Hazelnut Cub. Each guest can purchase a maximum of five £5 bears, while supplies last.

In the spirit of the brand’s mission to “add a little more heart to life,” for every £5 bear purchased on Sept. 9, Build-A-Bear will donate a furry friend to one of three charitable organizationsToys for Tots in the United States, up to 30,000 furry friends; Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada in Canada, up to 1,000 furry friends; and Childhood Firstalong with other children’s charities, in the United Kingdom, up to 6,000 furry friends

We celebrate teddy bears every day, but Build-A-Bear Workshop is commemorating National Teddy Bear Day with exclusive £furry friends and a heart-felt opportunity to share the hug of a teddy bear with kids in need,” said Gina Collins, chief marketing officer, Build-A-Bear Workshop. “With the support of our charitable partners around the world, we hope to help as many children as possible experience the joy of a new furry friend during this fun, in-store event.”

During the week of National Teddy Bear Day, teddy bear fans can:

• Visit BuildABear.co.uk/TeddyBearDay to learn more about the in-store event and find a nearby Build-A-Bear Workshop location

• Attend the National Teddy Bear Day Twitter Party hosted by Build-A-Bear Workshop on Thursday, Sept. 8, at 9 p.m. ET to answer fun triviainteract with the brand and qualify for thechance to win prizes. To participate, register online at http://bit.ly/2bCHkQU.

• Follow the brand on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram and share a favorite teddy bear or Build-A-Bear Workshop memory with hashtag #NationalTeddyBearDay and @BuildABear.

The brand will celebrate its 20th birthday in 2017, and 2016’s National Teddy Bear Day marks the kick-off of more than a year of celebrations.


Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Hotter Shoes.... The most comfortable shoes I have ever worn!

A little while ago, if you follow my Instagram account, you would have seen that I was lucky enough to attended a fantastic blogger event at Hotter Shoes in Maidstone. We were treated to drinks, nibbles and given lots of information and history about Hotter Shoes. Then we had lots of time to browse the store and try on lots of shoes, and even got to select a pair to review!



When trying on the shoes in store, I had to explain that I always have trouble finding shoes to fit my feet. Shoe shopping is usually something I dread as I almost always come away disappointed. But this experience was something totally new for me, instead of trying on loads and finding nothing to fit. I tried on loads and found loads that fit! I was so shocked! I was given lots of advice about different types of insoles to help make different styles comfy too which was really helpful. 


I was one of the last bloggers to chose my shoes, I kept changing my mind. So in the end what I did was pick one pair to review and another which I purchased because I just loved them so much. 


Of course, I never expected them to stay that comfy for long. I mean everyone knows, to wear shoes in you have to suffer for a good few days, right? Wrong! The very reason this review has taken me so long to write is that I wanted to give them as much testing as possible, I mean the title for this post is a very bold statement. You can't just go around saying 'they are the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn' about any old shoe can you?!  

So I am happy to report back that They really are amazing shoes, I have experienced no wearing in pain whatsoever and they fit my feet perfectly! It turns out that Hotter Shoes are so confident that their shoes will fit without having to suffer the pain of wearing them in, that they give you a 100% happy, 90 day no quibble guarantee. Which fills me with lots of confidence, and clearly says that they are confident in their own product. 

Let me tell you a bit more about the shoes I chose. Cloud Shoes. So with a name like that expectations were high. Hotter say; 'Cloud's lighter than light sole and stretchable slipper design, together with its memory foam footbed and textile lining, give you that wonderful floating feeling. Complemented by contrasting stitch detail and a handy back loop, as well as available in three contrasting colours.' 



Well. After wearing them for weeks, for walks in the county park, long days exploring London and general day to day Mummy duties. I can confirm that these shoes really are lighter than light, the memory foam insole really does give you the floating feeling and despite the amount of walking done, my feet have not hurt or ached, not even once! As a busy Mum of two, I would say these are the ideal shoes. I am practically living in them, not only are the comfy, but I am finding that they match a lot of my wardrobe too.



Now the other shoes I chose to buy were called Feather, they are part of the ultra light h92 collection. They are what I would call Trainers. Can you see my theme of shoe here?! I am all about the comfort! The Feather shoes are also lightweight and with a mesh fabric they let feet breathe (and trust me, my feet are the kind that need to breathe!) they also have a memory insole too. I recently went to Go Ape! With some friends, which is one of those tree climbing, zip wire kind of courses. I certainly put my Feather Hotter Shoes to the test here! It was 3 hours of intense climbing, balancing, swinging and zip wiring and at the end of it all I was exhausted. But my feet weren't! They were cool, comfortable and happy! 



We are going to Florida next year, which will involve lots of walking, and I have to say that both of these pairs of Hotter Shoes will be making it into my suitcase. They are practical, comfy, stylish and fantastic value for money. What more could you want in a shoe?! 

Whilst at the blogger event we were told that the soles of the Hotter Shoes made in the Hotter factory are filled with millions of air bubbles. At the time I thought that was amazing, and after wearing the shoes for weeks I now think it's genius! 

Monday, 1 August 2016

Crystal Palace Park, one year on!

Crystal Palace Park, is hands down our favourite park to visit. It's in South London and takes us just under an hour to get there, parking is free, there are dinosaurs to find and a farm to visit! What more could you want?! Well let me tell you, that is not even the half of it! So much to explore and almost all of it is free! Of course, it also holds a special place in Chester's heart because it's very close to his beloved Crystal Palace Football Club!

Well, yesterday we visited Crystal Palace Park, along with the inlaws and our Neice. We had an absolutely fantastic day, spent hours visiting the farm animals, hunting for dinosaurs, picnicing, pedalo riding, maze exploring, and ice cream eating. It truly was a great day. 


When I got home and went through my picture, I compared them to similar ones taken last summer. I was absolutely blown away by how much Chester and Millie have changed in just one short year! 


They really have changed haven't they?! Chester looks so grown up now, and Millie is so tall! 

Anyway, here are some snipits of our fantastic day....