Smiggle- Gift Voucher Giveaway


I was invited recently to the Smiggle branch in Bluewater to open the next window on their Christmas advent calendar and see what treat could be waiting for me.

Anyone that has been to a Smiggle store will know it’s an explosion of colour and a total must for all stationary lovers. The store there is not huge but is very well stocked with both lots on the shelves and underneath the display tables ( so I cannot see you having any trouble getting a particular item you may be after).

At the moment they have lots of their fabulous Christmas Advent Stockings, that retail at £28. That may sound a little extravagant but is in line with Lego or even Yankee candle (if you buy yourself one!). However, the goodies that are in the advent would cost around £40 if they were bought individually, so a bargain when you consider that and also a great alternative to just more chocolate.


There are the typical colour assumptions, pink for girls and blue for boys, but there are also lots of alternatives that can be gender neutral. Some of the bits can work out quite expensive but there are also some fabulous gifts that would be perfect for Christmas presents that work out at just £10-15 which is very budget friendly.

I particularl
I particularly liked this design on a black background and perfect for little monster lovers!

There is also a wonderful little colouring area set up in this store which was in use most of the time I was in the store and it was constantly busy in there. I was given the chance to peel off the next advent sticker from the window outside to get the next prize ( which I will include with the gift voucher giveaway as a little extra, it’s a Goo Glopper………………!

The store manager there, Linda, has a great manner about her and she will find out if it’s your birthday and get the whole store to sing Happy Birthday to you, I heard the singing even before I reached the store as I came down the escalator towards it. You will recognise her as she has a huge whistle hanging around her neck and she’s not afraid to use it- so be warned.

So I have a lovely £25 gift card and my Goo Glopper from behind the advent to giveaway to all you lovely stationary loving peeps. All you have to do is comment below with what you would use the voucher for and fill in the normal Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Activities for Teenagers over the Half Term


Now when I say teens I don’t mean a 13 yr old with younger siblings, those teens are normally more than happy to engage in the family activities that their brothers or sisters like- a day at the park, walking in the woods, cooking/baking at home and Halloween crafts , bike rides and meeting up with friends while mums can grab a coffee and a natter and a bit of moral support!

But my eldest is 16 and has a younger 14yr old brother who is mature for his age and so thinks he is 16 himself. There are no younger siblings to occupy so we have moved on from planning every day to within an inch of it’s life and gone for a few planned things throughout the week with free time for the rest so they can either lounge in bed watching DVD’s or playing Xbox ( shoot me now for being a bad mother).

So as the net is saturated with activities for younger kids here is a few ideas that your older teens may enjoy (and you may earn some brownie points for).

* Offer them a taxi service to the nearest shopping centre, ours is Bluewater which offers them shopping, cinema and fast food places or restaurants. Offer them lifts for their friends so they don’t have the ‘effort’ of arranging how to get there- believe me this makes a difference!

* Book them and their friends into the local bowling alley. Ours is a Tenpin Bowling and offer a ‘Bowl and Bite’ offer over the half term which would cost less than £10 per child ( obviously only pay for your own and get your teen to round up what’s owed by the others)- we have done this loads of times and although it’s only 1 game of bowling if there are 4 or more this could take about an hour, then they could eat and then if they like spend some time in the games arcade area.

* Offer your eldest the use of your house ( if you trust them and their friends- which I do with mine having met them all, and know some of the parents). Now this may sound like trouble in the making but if arranged properly could earn you kudos as a parent and respect from your teen. After all we have to let them earn trust. I have before bought a few pizzas in and let them cook them themselves ( with a mixed group of boys and girls they loved doing it). As it’s Halloween get them to bring their horror DVD’s for a film fest maybe, or set the Wii up  ( I kid you not they love to act like kids when they are all together- it’s the freedom they like). I either give them the afternoon or evening on their own with an agreed time to be back- then we can go and do something with the youngest on his own.

* Find your nearest fun pool, for us it’s Larkfield towards Maidstone which is about a 30 minute drive away, but it has a normal separate pool, a wave pool, a lazy river and 2 flumes all included in the price normally less than £6. Now this one is probably for the younger teen ( although my eldest still likes going there with mates), but get him to arrange what friends he wants to go with and offer them a lift there and back and each can pay for themselves ( believe me this works well) as you are providing transport and a parents beady eye over them. Then take your laptop with you and get a bit of blogging done using their free wifi!

* Film nights at home. Now I use the term ‘night’ loosely as on a lazy day they are still unwashed at 3pm! So really anytime of day will do. Let them watch a film older than their age group- now before you jump on me for being an irresponsible parent my youngest is a mature 14 so I have no problems with the 15 rated films and my eldest is a sensible 16 and loves horror films like me so I will allow him to watch horror films although they are 18! So go on shoot my now! I cook up some popcorn, we turn out all the lights and bring the duvets down. Your front room may then smell like something has died in there with all the teen testosterone but they will love you for not making them shower and wander round the shops with you.

* If they are into cooking/ baking allow them to cook a dinner on their own ( my youngest enjoys this). Get them to decide what they want to make and then take them up to a supermarket for them to go in and get all the ingredients- then give them freedom to make a mess and give you food poisoning offering to clear up afterwards ( again they will love you for that). I have had full blown cakes, stirfry’s and curry’s made for us so far.

* Ask them to sort out something technical for you. I find getting my youngest to sort out my MP3 player ( I don’t do Ipods- sorry), he always sorts out the CD’s I want put on there and I get him to put on some of his that he thinks I would like- he likes to think he’s educating me to the modern music world. Obviously this is a task rather than an activity but gives him something constructive to do for an hour.

* Another technical one for them to do for you is to make a CD of your photos, maybe from your hols or just general ones over the year and as long as you have saved them already allow them freedom to add music, text and special effects as they see fit. I now have several of these and lets face it they will get them done much quicker than we would probably! Then it can be given an airing after dinner and you can have a bit of a laugh as a family.

Now this is NOT a sponsored post I just wanted to point you in the direction of some places we use ourselves.

So by incorporating a few of these if they suit your teens combined with a few xbox days I think your half term may go quite nicely, and hopefully if you have done some of the taxi runs etc and booked cinema or bowling etc for them some of the other parents may also have things planned that they include your kids in too.

If you have any other ideas for older teens I would love to hear them



Age certificates for films

Now don’t get me wrong I am ALL in favour of this sort of stuff. I am that completely mean mum who doesn’t approve of underage playing of age 18 video games and inappropriate TV programmes……………even though my eldest is now 15 he still laughs at my ‘total shock’ face!

However, tonight it was a different story. I took my eldest to see The World’s End at Showcase in Bluewater. This was a treat just for him away from his pain in the arse younger brother, something for him and me to do together. He is a really good kid and looks after me well with my illness and I wanted to treat him.

When we got there though the ticket girl asked if he had any ID. At first I was shocked at this although part of me did understand, even though he stands at 5’10 and has the token facial hair and spots that go with his age. Now I know what your all thinking, some kids are older looking than others blah blah blah. But I am not that type of parent. I play by the rules. I realise why the rules are there after being married to a policeman for almost 20yrs!!

However, I REALLY do think my son looks his age now. He has shot up in size and demeanor and it really did not cross my mind to even think about ID. Yes the small print in the T’s and C’s say that people may be asked for ID however after he has had access before there I haven’t ever worried.

Tonight though something in me just clicked and I felt determined to push the point!!!

I asked to speak to the manager who just told me he would not go back on a decision the clerk had made!!! Surely as a manager he should have people skills, be able to listen and if necessary override a lower member of staff. I appreciated what he said about the cinema being fined if they were ‘spot checked’ by the council and so I offered to call home and get his passport number and Oyster card number that are traceable and legal documents that could be easily checked should the council ask. The manager even stated that he probably was 15 but now ID had been asked for he could not let him in without it!!!


Really would a parent stand there and try and argue his case if he wasn’t the required age group? Would a parent offer to ring home for legal document reference numbers that are checkable? Would I offer my name and address and telephone number plus leave my driving licence to back up the surname and parent/child relationship???

In my mind- NO I WOULDN’T.

So why could a decent manager not see this- he did understand and agreed he looked 15 but because the ticket clerk had asked for ID he would not go back on that decision!! SPINELESS in my mind, a cop out from someone in a management position.

So I returned furious, after taking their names I have already sent an email to the General Manager and requested someone gets back to me.

OVER THE TOP? Yes probably, however, my teen is a good kid, we teach him right from wrong, he looks out for me and does lots for me due to my illness, so as a young carer he should be treated better I think- he does look his age so this did nothing for his self confidence!

Rant over- do you agree or not, don’t mind if you don’t but would love to know.

Explosions and experiments

I have just returned from watching a show FULL of explosions and experiments with a few electrocutions thrown in! No I wasn’t at some indecent over 18’s only dodgy show but at Brainiac Live at The Glow in Bluewater.

First of all this is NOT a sponsored post I bought the tickets and just wanted to share how good it actually was!

I was surprised though that the show wasn’t sold out as this was enjoyed by kids (boys and girls) and big kids alike. I took my eldest who is 15 who thoroughly enjoyed it.

The show starts with blowing up a little caravan, and then goes on non-stop from there! Anyone who is a fan of the show will know exactly what to expect, they ran through doors of plasterboard / wallpaper and attempted netting. They worked their magic with liquid nitrogen, airzookas, live electric shocks and spinning on chairs using fire extinguishers and rockets and much more.

Using airzookas trying to blow smoke rings to the audience!

The tickets only cost around £7.50 for this venue and the show lasted about an hour. It was noisy but definitely fun. I know the show is also going to run in London as well so really worth a look for something different to do with kids of all ages .

Check out their website here to find more details of where the show will be- everyone will love it.

Summer Bucket List Update

Yes we are one full week into our summer break. As we were finishing for the summer I decided to get a list of things together to accomplish over the holidays, some for the family and others selfishly for me! To check out my list here

So, one week in and already we have managed to:

*set the pool up with much nagging to the OH….

Complete with very brave or stupid cat!!

We have also completed our full day’s fishing with lots of fab catches:

Youngest’s biggest catch to date!
Not my biggest to date but biggest I caught that day!
OH had to get biggest of the day at 9lb15!!! He was gutted as wanted a double figure- over 10lb LOL

After a full days fishing I also managed to fit in my pj’s day!!! Not through choice but because the fishing day had taken it’s toll so I spent most of the day in bed and stayed in my jim jams for the rest of the day LOL…………….still that counts surely!

Also earlier in the week we found ourselves child free for an evening- Yes you heard me right- CHILD FREE!! So we treated ourselves to the cinema, Gallery seats at Bluewater no less- lots of leg room, super comfy seats and complimentary snacks and drinks………..don’t mind if we do.

Well here’s to next week to see what I can knock of the list- wish me luck.

How’s your Summer Bucket List going?