Category: Uncategorized

Alternative Halloween Films 

 
 Me and horror films don’t get on. Scream traumatised me for years, Halloween was a nightmare with masks popping up everywhere, and The Ring is still traumatising me. A grown woman really shouldn’t have to sprint up the stairs so fast just because the lights have gone off!

I still really enjoy Halloween, and it’s no secret that I love film night; I’m just no good with the horror films. So here are my alternative Halloween films, that won’t keep me up with the lights on for the next year.
 

  

Hocus Pocus – an obvious first choice. I love this film so much, all year, but especially at Halloween. Who doesn’t love Bette Midler for a start!? Suitable for children (slight fear factor) and adults too, a true Disney classic. I’ll be singing the creepy child luring song for weeks!
 
Addams Family Values – of course the first film is equally good for this time of year, but this was the one we had on video and my favourite. More suited to older children it has a mild scare factor and language. But nothing is better than the Thanksgiving pageant…Pugsley as a singing turkey, brilliant!
 

  

Practical Magic – one for the grownups, best enjoyed with a pitcher of margaritas! Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman are both fab, but Stockard Channing steals it for me. Spooky enough to make me jump but not keep me awake with nightmares, this is a great grown up film for Halloween. Just don’t try the witch jump off the roof…unless you know you can fly of course.
 
Return to Oz – not a Halloween film I hear you say? Well if you enjoy scaring your littles (just a little bit) this is a good film for it. Jack Pumpkinhead was my first thought for a Halloween hint, but the Wheelers and all the Queen’s heads…terrifying for kids! Not as good as Wizard of Oz (of course) but I do enjoy it as a film in its own right.
 

  

Casper – a great kids film that has the feel good factor, and very little fear factor. Who hasn’t fallen in love with the cute, chubby cheeked ghost, and the adorable Christina Ricci? I still tear up at the end “can I keep you?” blub blub!
 
Will you be watching any Halloween themed films this week? Or are you braver than I, and enjoy a good horror?
 
Mrs H xxx

Little Tikes Lil’ Ocean Explorers

  

Recently we were very lucky to be invited to meet the lovely people of Little Tikes, and get to know their brand new range a little better.
It was G’s first time in London, and my first time taking on a solo trip so big! Despite the very shaky start (cancelled train and a big panic!) it went pretty well, and G was so good considering the incredibly active 16 month old was forced to keep pretty still for several hours over the course of the day. I think a couple of hours making new friends and playing with some seriously cute toys helped make up for it. I think he’d agree anyway!

And it certainly was lots of fun! Both of us got to meet “new friends”, although it’s proving to be very strange meeting fellow blogger that you’ve been talking to and reading about for a long time! You’re meeting for the first time but already know so much about their lives. It’s very strange, but nice at the same time.

 

Doll thief!!
  
G’s friend making was a lot less strange for him. Steal a doll, try and swap your beloved penguin for said doll, have to give doll back. I don’t think there were any long term grudges. At least I hope not!
After the initial scoping out of the poor doll, he soon got stuck into the toys (the ones we were there to actually try!) and really enjoyed them.

  

Checking out the Stand ‘n’ Dance Starfish
 

The Lil’ Ocean Explorers range consists of eight new little sea creature friends which have been designed to engage our littles whilst helping them develop their motor skills and co ordination. And they don’t even know it!

We got to chat to Dr. Amanda Gummer, an independent child development and play expert, who believes that children learn best through play. And I happen to strongly believe this! Children are the little sponges who are constantly soaking up new information and learning new things (even the stuff you wish they didn’t!) and they’ll learn best by doing rather than being shown. These colourful characters can help them reach important milestones whilst having so much fun they hardly know it.

Side note – we’re supposed to be encouraging these milestones, not crying over them and repeating “where has my baby gone!?” over and over…so I’m told.

Catch Me Crabbie looking cuter than ever in biscuit form!

All the characters are exceptionally cute, with they’re bright colours and big cartoon eyes, it’s hard not to love all of them! I was particularly taken by ‘Catch Me Crabbie’ who has a motion sensor that will detect baby approaching, and scuttles side to side, clapping it’s claws and playing music (the music I can’t comment on. A room full of toddling, crawling children and chatting parents…yeah I couldn’t hear it!) It’s great for encouraging crawling and hand eye co ordination to catch him. What I particularly loved was that he doesn’t scuttle off too far. G had some great toys when he was younger, that would roll off in order to be chased. They would inevitably roll too far and mean that I was chasing it more than G! Crabbie goes far enough away to encourage movement, but not too far that I’d have to join in too much. Win win.

Stomping out a tune

G’s loved the Stand ‘N’ Dance Starfish. It has everything that he loves (and I’m sure he’s not alone) lights, music, and a ‘slide’ that he can spend hours chucking the balls (and cars, trains, upsy daisy and bits of sandwich) down the ball drop and watch them spiral down and across the room.

3 in 1 Adventure Course

To be honest, he really enjoyed playing with all of the toys, but his favourite by a mile was the 3 in 1 Adventure Course. It’s a fab all round toy, suitable from 6months, all stages can find something to enjoy with this. There are loads to look at and reach for if they’re just sitting. The octopus is sturdy enough to help them pull themselves to standing, where they can load balls onto his arms and catapult them across the room. 

Not sure if the kids or grownups were enjoying this feature the most. Even when they’re crawling or full on sprinting, there is hours of fun to be had crawling under the tunnel sections or zig sagging in and out of the course. And although it’s a fairly sizeable toy when it’s all set up, it does come apart for storage. I believe (although I didn’t test it out) that the sections can be used individually too. 

The adventure course will definitely be going on G’s letter to Santa this year! I can see it having a lot of use, burning off some energy on the rainy days indoors, and taken into the garden for an obstacle course during the summer months (we are getting one next year…right?)

 

Exploring the Adventure Course
 
 
Definitely his favourite toy!
 

Little Tikes is such a well known and trusted brand, we knew that we were going to have fun, but were really impressed with the new range, the bright colours, variety and sturdiness. They were all put under some serious and rigorous stress testing that afternoon and I didn’t see a seal or lobster falter.
 

Have you seen the new Lil’ Ocean Explorers range? Who’s your favourite character?

Mrs H xxx
 

Our Halloween Plans

Last years pumpkin…must try harder this year!

 It’s half term and Halloween, and there are tons of events on locally during the holiday. I usually avoid anywhere public during half term, prices go up and it’s always too busy for taking a little baby out. Soft play is a special kind of hell during the holidays. Except now he’s not a baby anymore, he’s a very bright and energetic toddler who would enjoy the chance to join in some activities.

I wanted to do so much, and visit so many places during this half term. In fact my biggest problem was going to be how we’d fit in all the activities, places and crafts into just one week. I was prepared to face the crowds (too many people give me anxiety) and I know G would love it.

Now, due to some ill health, it doesn’t look like we’ll be doing half as much as I’d planned. But instead of sulking about it, I’m planning a load of crafts and activities that we can do at home instead. I’m still going to try and get out a bit, because it would be nice for G to be able to join in and have some company his own age, but the week won’t be as jam packed as I thought it would be.

I’m hoping we can have a little party in the house at the end of the week too, so all these activities can help with decorations too!

I don’t know how many of these we’ll get through, but here are some of the activities we’re hoping to do this week (thanks Pinterest!)

Potato ‘pumpkin’ printing

Happy Halloween bunting

Toilet roll Bats (I need to use up the million and one loo rolls I’ve been hoarding!)

Bloody window clings

Pumpkin carving

Spiced pumpkin seeds

Toffee apples

Creepy cookies

Paper plate black cats

Spooky sensory bins (spaghetti worms, jelly eyeballs etc…a classic game!)

If you’re still looking for things to do in and around Cardiff this week, check out these fab guides from Cardiff Mummy Says and Cookies and Cwtches. 

Do you have any trips planned this half term? Or will you be getting crafty too?
 

Mrs H xxx

A Fab Time at Folly Farm

   
 

 I’ve been to Folly farm on several school trips when I was very young. I can remember that it involved a tractor ride sat on hay bales (lots of hay sticking up the leg of your shorts and itching and tickling), feeding bottles of milk to lambs (still miss this) and a few cows.

It has certainly changed a bit since then! Not only do they have the traditional farm animals, but there is a fantastic zoo! From chickens to emus, goats to lions, and cockroaches to penguins, it really does have it all.

Shouting at goats

On top of this there are plenty of different play areas, indoors and out. Several wooden adventure parks suitable for the older children, sand floored areas with sit on diggers, soft play frames for the toddlers, and variations of them all for all ages.

And if that wasn’t enough, there’s a vintage fairground too! A classic carousel and waltzers take centre stage in the indoor fair, surrounded by vintage rides suitable for all ages and rates of bravery. There’s also a beautiful Ferris wheel outdoors that gives a beautiful view of the whole farm. The rides are additional to the entry price, but are extremely reasonable, usually only 50p or a £1 per person, even the Ferris wheel.

Loving all the funfair arcade rides

We took G last year when he was only 4 months, and he did enjoy it, getting to look at the animals and nose about. But this years’ trip was so much better!
We got to explore the many play areas, and have a go on the big slide. There are hundreds of animals to see and shout to, including the beautiful lions. It was only disappointing that they didn’t roar back to him ;)

ROARRR!!

G loved watching the meerkats running around, especially the tiny baby ones. He was oohing and ahhing over the cute babies…well we all were!

My meerkat family

It’s definitely not somewhere that you need to take kids to enjoy. We went with my parents, and although it was special to watch G trying to interact with the animals, we would have been able to enjoy the day out without having to take him. There was even a special ‘adult’ showing at the giraffe enclosure, however I’m not sure that was part of the official schedule!

Just before the ‘adult’ show 😂

The family was forced to spend the most time visiting my favourite animals. The beautiful and funny penguins. I could happily spend the entire day watching the penguins. Mr H and I were there to listen to the penguin talk, and watch feeding. My parents were walking around the outskirts whilst G had a bit of a nap. 

Once he woke up we spent a good half an hour at least watching them waddling and sunbathing at the top. Then we took a walk down the penguin walk ramp (past the beautiful new flamingos!) to the viewing area, where you can watch them diving and swimming around. I, of course, absolutely loved watching them, but G did too! I think we both could have stayed there and watched. He was so excited when they were swimming right up to him at the glass. He even leant in and gave them kisses. My heart melted!

 

Hello new friends
  
Giving the penguin kisses!
  
We love the penguins
 

Usually we would take a picnic on day trips like this (I was particularly proud of the epic picnic we took to Alton Towers earlier this year) but as we were self catering that week anyway, we decided to treat ourselves to lunch at the farm. It was so reasonable! 

We ate at the restaurant inside (next to the vintage fairground) although there was also a cafe and burger spot to choose from. The restaurant doesn’t have hundreds of choices, but what they have is very tasty! Between us we had pie and chips, fish and chips, curry and rice, and pasta Bolognese and there wasn’t a single complaint!

 

Tractor fun!
  
Exploring the softplay
  
Family photo on the Ferris Wheel
 

We had such a fantastic time, rounded off by a trip to the gift shop on the way out of course. We almost went for the boomerang ticket, a fantastic deal that means you can return half price, but there was so much planned already we knew we wouldn’t get the chance. You could easily do two or even more trips in one week and not get bored with it all! We’re were a little bit sad when we realised we wouldn’t be able to squeeze another visit in during our holiday, but knowing that the new members of the Folly farm family were not due to arrive until October, we reasoned that we’d need to make another trip later this year anyway. Not only will you be able to see lions, penguins, giraffes, as well as lots of farm animals up close, due to arrive in October are Rhinos!! We can’t wait to go back and say a big hello.

Folly farm is also on my list of places that we may take G to visit Father Christmas. Not decided yet, but it’s almost any excuse to plan another trip here!

I would really recommend this as a fantastic day out for all ages, and you certainly shouldn’t feel like you have to take children as I’d thought before, it really is suitable for all ages. And it is one of the cheapest day trip entry prices I’ve seen anywhere, especially when you consider everything that is included. It’s actually not much more than one of the big soft play centres in Cardiff, and they don’t have penguins! Even if you add on token prices for the fairground rides it really isn’t that much extra, and as they’re not really something that everyone will want to go use I think it’s fair that it’s an extra (a very small extra!).

 
Have you ever visited Folly Farm? What would be your favourite animals to visit?

 
Mrs H xxx

 
*Disclaimer: we were very kindly given entry to Folly Farm in exchange for a review. All thoughts and opinions are honest and purely my own.

The Herniman House is NOT Moving!

   
   
For most of this year we’ve been planning to move. There’s nothing wrong with our current house, we really like it here, but a friend of ours had a property becoming available that we’d always dreamed of living in. A beautiful little cottage on a mountain. For the moment at least, that plan is on hold. It’s not never going to happen, but it’s not happening for a while.

It’s not a really a big deal, like I said we do like our current house, so it’s we’re not desperate or stuck somewhere we don’t want to be. But I’ve spent so much of this year planning the redecoration of somewhere new, I’ve let our home slide. It’s starting to feel like a house and not a home. With my favourite time of year rapidly approaching, I know I’m going to want to make my home a cosy and welcoming again, for us as well as any family and friends that will visit.

I’m going to be going through each room, decluttering and getting rid of a lot of the junk that is hoarded, and redecorating or adding some new personal touches. There’s something to be done to every room. That’s the kitchen, living room, dining room, bathroom, two bedrooms and a spare room. It’s not all a big refresh, some rooms just need a few little changes, but others need a bigger overhaul.

I have zero budget for this! It’s going to be done on as little money as possible…mainly because we have none :D
Charity shops, sale items, free cycle, up cycling, selling our unwanted stuff. Way more fun than simply shopping!

So wish us luck as we start sorting out and improving the Herniman House!
 
Do you have a sort out at this time of year? Have you got any tips for home improvements on a budget?

 
Mrs H xxx