Week 1 of holidays………..survived!

I thought that with the start of the school holidays I would have so much more time to do…………things, chill out, catch up on a bit of telly, blog amongst others.

HOW WRONG COULD I BE!

I cannot believe that we are into the second week of the school holidays already. In fact a slight panic has set in, have I actually got enough time to do everything. My eldest has already been and returned from his week long scout camp!! We are heading off tomorrow to my MIL’s caravan along the Kent coast until Monday, as hubby now has a few days off work (thank God!). Now my boys are pestering me to go to their Nanny’s, who happens to live in Devon, which would be fantastic but I’m not sure I can drive that long on my own ( due to the M.E sometimes my muscles are extremely painful and an almighty fatigue can set in). We also have a festival in the middle of August and I haven’t even thought about uniforms ( apart from my eldest’s new blazer……….which I never forget after leaving it into a dry cleaners once only to wake up middle of the night on the day he was due back to school, in a total panic about what to do!!! Believe me my OH was not best pleased as I almost gave him heart failure thinking someone had broken in!!)

Anyway, last week was great with one child away it was great to spend time with the other on his own, and boy did he have his week planned out. OH was off Monday so my son decided he wanted to visit St Paul’s Cathedral in London!! So naively we thought great a little afternoon up there, we would listen to the tour gadgets and take a few pic’s and then home….

Oh no were there for 5 hours!! Yes you read it right………5 hours. They convinced me to go up the stairs to the Whispering Gallery, which I really wanted to do anyway. However, then they persuaded me to go further to the Stone Gallery! Which turned out to be fantastic as it was a beautiful day so we sat and had our lunch there!

That’s us on the stone Gallery
View from the Stone gallery

 Then they persuaded me to go a bit further, to the top in fact. From there we had just the most fantastic view across London, so I felt it was worth it in the end.

More steps!!!!
View from the very top!

However, I started to struggle coming down and after several rests I got to the bottom only to find my legs started shaking uncontrollably and I was stuck to the spot for about 15 minutes!!!! It was sooo not funny, bad enough when people pass you on the stairs and look at you as though you are a complete pleb for not being able to get up there, let alone how people look at you when your OH is practically holding you up in the middle of St Paul’s!!( M.E is invisible so people look at you as if your are an idiot when your OH helps you up or holds you up for whatever reason). We made it to the cafe to recuperate …………a cuppa and a chocolate crispy cake is like a miracle cure.

Then a purchase in the shop ( I very sadly collect fridge magnets from wherever I go) and a snoop in the Crypt and we then being practically thrown out we had been there so long.

When I thought it was all over my son casually mentions going across the Millennium Bridge ( which is practically in front of St Paul’s) so I plodded on.

That’s us heading towards the bridge…………..slowly.

The day was fantastic although I knew I would suffer the next day.

So on Tuesday my OH took over and the pair of them built a ‘den’ in the garden while I watched from the sidelines taking pic’s and drinking tea.

The finished product!
Complete with warning.

Wednesday my Oh returned to work so I promised my son that we would use our prize from a competition and go play our free round of mini golf at Bluewater. That was great fun until my son beat me by 2 points!!! I was so not impressed………I’m not one of those lovely parents who let their child win at things. I don’t know what happens to me but a competitive streak takes over and not an inch is given.

However, I consoled myself with a Krispy Kreme and a coffee before letting my son window shop around Bluewater to get a few ideas for his birthday.

Thursday, I had a lovely invite to HMS Belfast which you can read about in the previous post. So little ol’ me and my son and his buddy spent a fab few hours on the ship before returning home. He then was invited to his friends for the afternoon ( his mum is a start and knew I would be heading to bed after a busy morning out) and didn’t return until dinner time!!

Friday was a meet with a friend at the pool, boys went swimming we had a coffee and then went back to hers for lunch and a great catch up in the afternoon!!

By then I was completely drained so Saturday was a complete blur to me and spent most of it in bed. But my eldest returned from his camp very happy but tired!!

This week had already started with an impromptu water fight yesterday afternoon and a swim ‘play date’ with their friends this afternoon.

A make do water spray!! LOL

We will be off to the caravan tomorrow but I’m yet to get everything packed and I am sitting on the computer doing this!!!!!
I’m waiting on the magic fairy to come in the night and sort it all out for me……………….OK that means I will be up late and then not sleep as I think of the things I have forgotten to pack!!! Meanwhile my lovely boys (including OH) will sleep fantastically well as they only have to remember to put on clean pants……and sometimes that’s a struggle.

So here’s to a few hopefully relaxing days away where I am hoping my OH will take over the ‘entertaining’ of the boys for a while as I sit on the sidelines and recuperate a little in readiness for the next few weeks!!!

HMS Belfast Gun Turret Exhibit

We were lucky enough to be invited to HMS Belfast on Thursday to see the new Gun Turret exhibit that is opening on board.

I arrived with my 10 year old son and his best buddy on a beautiful sunny morning to be greeted with tea and pastries and a press pack with all the information about the exhibit and HMS Belfast itself. We were then guided along to the exhibit which actually does take place within one of the ‘gun housings’ themselves. we went in and a black curtain darkened the inside. There is only room for a couple of families at a time in there so the children were encouraged to move forward to the front. A short film started to play with the story told from the perspective of a serviceman on board the Belfast in time of war. It takes you through what would happen in the run up to the guns being fired, with the workings moving and getting prepared. The experience culminated in a reenactment how it would feel to be inside there if the guns were fired, so loud noise, floor shaking and some smoke too. The boys thought it was great!

I am told that this film will be running on a timed loop for visitors to enter and watch during their visit. There is no extra cost to this so once you have paid your entrance fee everything then on board will be included. With this film on a constant loop it would be something that you could watch a few times on your visit if your children enjoy it.

Afterwards we were taken to the Operations Room where there are a couple of hands on games they can play. It consists of touch screen maps were the children or adults use ships and helicopters to search for aircraft wreckage on a timed game. The two boys loved this and were very disappointed by a ‘Mission Failed’ on their first attempt!!

Then we moved into the front control room with the Captains chair complete with uniform and hats for the children to try on, and two very helpful guides who encouraged the boys to put the coats and hats on and got them searching for different things to spot out of the window with the old sets of binoculars! The boys were in their element.

View from the Captains Chair!
In his dreams LOL

We were then offered a guided tour around the ship or the chance to explore by ourselves. The boys opted to investigate the rest of the ship using the guide map. We went from the very top to the very bottom and had great fun on all the levels along with the child friendly hands on displays.

Using Morse code!
Attempting the knots!

Word of warning……go sensibly dressed in trousers and don’t wear flip flops!!!! Not that I did, but there was a lady with her son there who had great difficulty in a maxi dress and sandals, going up and down the very steep ladder/steps!!!

Although I went round with two gun mad boys who seemed to love everything about the ship I didn’t feel that this would be a trip exclusively for boys. There were lots of girls on board who seemed to be having just as much fun. There is also a fab little cafe on board for that necessary thirst quenching cuppa for the adults, but if your budget doesn’t run to extras there is an area just as you come on board where lots of families were indulging in their picnics too.

As with most London attractions, visits don’t come cheap with an adult ticket @ £13.50 and a child @ £5.50. However don’t be put off as there are lots of 2 for 1 offers when travelling by train, and if your child is lucky enough to be the proud owner of a Blue Peter Badge ( yes they are still going!!) they will get in free!!

SO CHECK OUT THE GREAT AND EASY COMPETITION BELOW FOR FREE TICKETS!!

Just as an extra there is a competition running for a family to win tickets to HMS Belfast with the opportunity to be aboard when the fire the guns for real!!!!

To enter the prize draw, readers just have to email hmsbelfast@fidopr.co.uk and the winner will be selected at the end of July.

Competition- HMS Belfast!

One of the great attractions in London, to do with children, is to visit the fantastic HMS Belfast. If you haven’t been before it really is worth a visit. I have a great opportunity to go there this Thursday for the opening of the new ‘Gun turret’ on board. So that post will be coming at the weekend.

However, in the mean time they are running a great competition to win family tickets and a special tour on board HMS Belfast. The crew want everyone to have a blast, so they have decided to fire their guns for the winner! They don’t do this very often so it will definitely be a rare treat for the winning family.

 To enter all you have to do is email hmsbelfast@fidopr.co.uk to say you are interested, and then leave me a comment to say you have entered and include your favourite London attraction!!

Just to show you what you are missing take a look at this tour which will give an idea of what you will see    
  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i22EVBebuiE
                                    PS: feel free to follow too!!!



Summer activities without breaking the bank!!

I’m a stay at home mum because of illness rather than choice. However I know there are lots of mums who also chose to stay at home while their children are young. This is great in the fact that childcare over the 6 week Summer holidays is not an issue.
 However when you don’t work you don’t earn money, and that is an issue when your facing 6 weeks of entertaining your children!!
My boys are aged 10 and 13 so there are only so many days that they will be happy to take some food and head of to one of the parks for the afternoon. Then comes the problem of not only entertaining the kids but keeping them active as well!
Tomorrow there will be an online programme broadcast that you can not only become involved in but also get great ideas on keeping the kids both entertained and active without costing a fortune!
So why not take a look at the link below if you would like some more information but also to submit a question yourself! 

Quadruple Olympic gold medal Matt Pinsent CBE will be online live tomorrow, Tues 26th July @ 2pm, on Studio talk TV.

Tune in tomorrow @ 2pm via the link below
What to do with your kids this summer?
Gold Medallist and dad Matt Pinsent – and Olympic friends – with ideas on how to keep them busy this summer…..and without breaking the bank!
 
Show date: Tuesday 26th July
Show time: 2:00pm  
 
With the summer holidays stretching ahead of us, there’s really only one thought on most mums’ minds – how am I going to keep them occupied for the next 6 weeks? And how am I going to do it without breaking the bank?
 
Summer is a great time to get out and about as a family, getting active together in the sunshine. But coming up with new activities and destinations can tax even the most imaginative mum during the long summer break.
Many schools and sports centres run summer sports clubs but they can be expensive and they tend to focus on the more ‘traditional’ sports of football, tennis and cricket.
But there is a new scheme launched this summer to give millions of kids access to play up to 27 different sports for free. The Nestle Get Set, Go Free scheme will, for the first time, give kids access to a range of amazing activities including scuba diving, white water rafting, horse riding and paintballing.
 
Quadruple Olympic gold medal Matt Pinsent CBE is an active dad of three young kids.
on Tuesday 26th July at 2pm  for a live webTV
offering to discuss the Nestle Get Set, Go Free campaign and give his hints and tips on some alternative activities this summer.
 
 
Click here to submit questions before the show: http://www.studiotalk.tv/show/what-to-do-with-your-kids-this-summer
 
 

For more information visit http://www.getsetgofree.com

Science Museum Space Exhibition- a free day out for summer!

I was lucky enough to be one of the few people invited to the relaunch of the Science Museum’s Space Exhibition in London on Wednesday evening.

With me I had 2 trusty space explorers in the shape of my 10 year old and his best buddy! When we arrived we were welcomed  and our explorers were given the coolest video cameras to record their visit.
This was by far the best decision for the visit as all the children there were running around recording all sorts of different things going on!

So we were given a tour that led us through the space entrance and the children had their ‘passports’ to find a special letter in each of the relevant sections.

They loved this globe!

By far the most enjoyable bit for my two 10 year old explorers was definitely the Launchpad where they had the most amazing ‘hands on’ activities. As there were only a few of us there the children had the rare experience of being able to try lots of these out without a wait! Again this was something they talked about on the train journey home.

The wall of water/ bubbles!

In passing we went through the area where the Imax is and we came across these……….not space related but they loved one and I loved the other.

Boys and their toys!
A fantastic dress made entirely of newspaper….no sign of the boys!

They were then able to listen to a talk about all things space related by a real enthusiast, who dressed for the part and everything. Children being children though, were engrossed by the stories of how astronauts go the the toilet in space! Typical.

 We have visited the Science museum before but probably not since last year so my son had a real treat that evening. However, the tour itself went past very quickly and the children seemed understandably rushed from one part to another. They talked on the way home that they would have loved to have more time in each section. The upside to this is that it has given both of them a renewed interest to go back for the day over the summer. Although they wont be lucky enough to have video cameras next time, and the museum will be incredibly busy I’m sure, they are looking forward to staying for the day and visiting all the departments. I know for certain I will be sat in the hands on Launchpad for a very long time on my next visit!!

Please if you are close enough for a visit and haven’t been before it truly is worth a trip. Any age group will enjoy it here and the adults will love it just as much as the kids………I guarantee it!

This all kicks off on the 23rd July, the museum itself is free to get in (although there are charges for the Imax and simulator if you chose to do them). So there are no excuses for not popping along during the summer holidays (unless of course you live in Scotland!!)

Check out their website http://sciencemuseum.org.uk

Curious case of the ‘open door’!!!

 It was Monday evening, the last night before the holidays for the weekly cub/scout meetings. Both my boys are in scouts however my OH helps in cubs and my youngest likes to go in to show off to his mates help also.

My eldest hates going up early (so bloody lazy) and so we tend to let him stay behind and this week he was getting a lift from a friend with his son. Not a problem we thought. He often opts to stay at home while I nip out with my youngest. A bit of responsibility or sneaky PlayStation/computer time. We were all young once so I know all the tricks!

Anyway the above mentioned teenager was left the responsibility of closing the door behind him and locking it. Not a major issue I hear you say. This is the boy who is going into year 9 in September, a boy who walks to school and home again on his own.

SO WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL?

The fore mentioned teenager had the security issues explained to him and I was even kind enough to write it on a note as he has some short term memory issues. Nothing major he’s just a bit of a Dory ( you know from Nemo???). It’s kind of funny on occasion.

Anyway, he arrived at the scout hall to give me his keys and mention that he forgot to double lock the door!!!! SEE WHAT I MEAN!!!!
However he laughingly said to me ‘ Don’t worry mum I shut it I just forgot to double lock it like you said’.  Ok I though not a major problem, I will be home in about 45 mins.

So we finished the cubs meeting and headed home about 8.15pm.

It was chucking it down with rain so I jumped from the car and opened the porch……………….

THAT’S WHEN I FOUND MY FRONT DOOR WIDE OPEN!!!!!

Not just opened a bit, or closed but not properly (if you know what I mean) but actually wide open as though a furniture delivery had turned up and were about to try and fit a sofa through the door!!!

That’s when the freak out occurred.

Shit……….what if someone is in there?
Shit……….what if someone has been in there and left us with nothing????
Shit……….what if squatters have taken residence and we cannot get our home back ??

SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT…………..Like I said that’s when the freak out occurred!

Thankfully my OH is ‘Plod’ and very level headed. Thankfully he was there otherwise I think I would have hyperventilated on  the spot……..as you can tell I’m not great in a crisis.

He went in and we were relieved to find our telly still there, my son’s laptop was still there, my bloody fridge freezer was still there……………..oh and the moggy was still there too!!!!!

Thank God it had been raining ( I’m sure burglars must check the weather forecast before going out) I will never complain about the rain again………..honest.

 As predicted words were had and low and behold ‘ It wasn’t me’ followed by a huge meltdown!!!
 Followed by ‘ I don’t care’!!

Disappointed doesn’t even cover it……………………………so what happens now?
How do we get him to take responsibility seriously?
This is a boy who has lost…………..his phone on a school field
                                         ……………a full PE kit at school
                                         ……………a wet weather coat
                                         ……………a lab coat
                                         ……………his new Ipod touch (8 weeks old)
                                         ……………and now our trust!!!!!
 All in the space of a few months, so where do we go from here?

Any help or advice would be most welcome……..please.

Love sweets??? Rountrees share bags review

We love sweets in this house. To be exact my OH can sit and demolish a pack of wine gums in about 10 minutes. It doesn’t matter when we nip to the shop a bag of sweets will find its way into our bag!!!

Anyway we were sent some of the NEW Rountrees share bags to try. Share being the operative word and something my OH can struggle with once a bag of  sweets are opened.

I opened our lovely package to find these new packs.

Very exciting as the kids ‘bagsied’ the alien ones within seconds….only to be told that really to do a review we all had to try some from each of the bags!

It was all going swimmingly until my youngest became ill before we could try any……….it was almost unbearable to wait until he was better, but we thought it would be very unfair of us to be scoffing whilst he couldn’t eat anything. So we waited, and waited, and waited………until he felt better enough to try them.

So a few facts:

Jelly Aliens – contains 25% fruit juice

Sour faces/ Very Berry Jellies – both contain 50% fruit juice

ALL 3 BAGS   contain no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives!!


VERDICT:

A huge thumbs up from all of us. The kids absolutely loved the Jelly Aliens and the randoms ( especially looking for the new shapes!)but the grown up favourites were definitely the Very Berry Jellies ( definitely very fruity)and the Sour faces ( which really made us pull faces)!!

Rountrees have been around for a while, since 1881 in fact! So how many of their products do you remember?

Fruit Pastilles
Fruit gums ( my all time favourites)
Tooty Frooties
Jelly Tots
Randoms (introduced only 3 years ago)

Although I haven’t been around since 1881 I very much remember them all!

So that only leaves me with 1 burning question……………

CAN YOU PUT A FRUIT PASTILLE IN YOUR MOUTH WITHOUT CHEWING IT????