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How To Make Your Garden Suitable For All Weathers | AD

27 August 2020

4 comments
Disclosure - This is a paid post

toys on astro turf

Giving our garden a makeover was not on my home improvements list and I would rather have spent the money indoors however it was probably the best thing we ever did. Not matter how big your garden is, it is an extension of your home and with the right makeover you can make your garden an outdoor space that is suitable for all weathers.

Grass Makeover
Astroturf isn't for everyone but I can honestly say that once you decide to invest you will never look back. Not only do you never have to mow your lawn again it will stay looking fresh and green for years to come.

Astroturf allows you to use your grass space in all weathers. After a heavy downpour the boys will usually head out less than an hour later and the grass is less than damp. No having to wait for the soil to dry out and no muddy puddles. They can play football all year round.

Table and chairs on patio area

Create A Patio Area
You don't need a large patio area just enough for a seating area or table and chairs. It's so nice being able to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner out there on warmer days and also just chilling in the Summer evenings.

Sometimes you need to just get out the house, it's nice to have a space that you can go to and sit. The type of patio is up to you but most will choose paving flags. A row of at least 4 should be enough to create your own patio space.

Choose The Right Furniture
We chose Rattan furniture for our outside patio area as its durable and easy to clean. You can also add removable furnishings such as seat cushions and a parasol.

Get Cosy 
We don't have many hot sunny days in the UK so investing in a fire pit or outdoor heather will make sure that you can still enjoy your garden even when it's cold outside. Add some fairy lights too and you will create a warm chill area for you to relax no matter what the weather.

boy splashing in the pool

Outside Taps - Hot and Cold
We have spent too many Summers fixing hose pipes to our indoor taps trying to fill up a paddling pool. We have also spent too many Summers giving up when the hose won't sit on the tap right, and reverted to buckets.

Having a hot and cold tap has made filling up the pool a doddle this year and there has been no buckets in sight.

Install An Awning
Hot and humid days and nights are a nightmare when it's raining and you are stuck inside. Putting an awning over your patio can let you enjoy the outside without getting wet and it can also provide shade.

An awning is like a large canopy that sits tucked away in its case attached to your house until you are ready to use. Pull the cord and the awning will cover your patio in seconds leaving you dry underneath.

Storage
It is important to have good quality storage such as a shed or storage box. We chose plastic for durability and also ease of build. There are many varieties of storage size and shape available, so you will be able to choose the right size and shape for the space you have allocated to storage. For bikes we have a 'store it out' lift up storage box and its perfect for getting the bikes in and out easily.

Remove All Plants
This won't be for everyone but if you are afraid of insects and flying creatures, removing plants and flowers can help to make your garden bug free. One of the reasons I never enjoyed the garden was because of the wildlife that plants and flowers attract but now that we have none I am so much happier out there.

It's been a few years now since our garden makeover and we have never looked back. We spend so much more time out there now than we ever have done in the past and it's a great space for us and also for our family and friends.

Michelle
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Top Tips for Helping Your Child Learn A New Language | AD

26 August 2020

1 comment
Disclosure - This is a paid post.

The Eiffel Tower

The National Curriculum in the UK states that children should be taught a modern foreign language between the ages of 7 to 14. That means that at some point during your child’s academic journey, they will start to learn a new language, usually Spanish, French, Italian or German. Sometimes, they may be taught a combination of more than one language. All parents want their children to succeed across each of their school subjects and their ability to speak a second or even third language shouldn’t be overlooked; it can actually be really great for their future career. With that said, you’re probably wondering how you can help your child perform well in their language lessons, despite the fact that you may not be able to speak the language yourself. I have teamed up with a girls’ prep school in Kingston Upon Thames to offer parents some advice on how they can help.

First of all, it’s important to note that you don’t have to be good at any particular subject yourself in order to help your child excel in it. Simply providing a supportive and optimistic environment for your child to grow up in will help them with their confidence and overall approach to their education. When it comes to learning a new language, perhaps encourage your child to stick labels around your home on the everyday items so that your child can learn some basic vocabulary. Of course, this may look unsightly, but it will demonstrate to your child how keen you are for them to succeed and how much you support them, which will make them all the more determined. When your child becomes more proficient, they will be able to use the new vocabulary in their sentences.

Another great way to learn vocabulary and even some sentences and common phrases is to use cue cards, with the English translation on the other side. You can hold the cue cards up in front of your child, showing only the English side, and ask them to read out the foreign alternative. Let them know if they were correct. This is something they could do quite easily alone but having a “study buddy” will make the experience feel less tedious.  If you are not available to carry out this activity, perhaps allow them to invite a friend over to help.

You could also sit and watch a foreign film together (with English subtitles to begin with to help you understand what’s going on) or play foreign music during car journeys. What’s more, there are lots of resources online or even downloadable apps that your child can use to help them with their learning. If your child is struggling with their language skills, you could consider hiring a private tutor or perhaps looking into some local evening or weekend classes. If this seems like an extreme option, perhaps start by contacting your child’s teacher to find out if there are any lunch clubs or other extra-curricular sessions that can help your child with their learning.

Michelle
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Dealing With The Back To School Blues | AD

25 August 2020

2 comments
Disclosure - This is a paid post

Academic Diary

This Summer has flown by and considering that we haven't had our usual holiday abroad I am shocked just how fast it has gone. We have been talking to little J now for a few weeks about his return to school. If I am honest he is not looking forward to it and neither am I. The back to school blues are real enough for children after the six-week summer break but can you imagine how they’re going to feel returning to school after months at home thanks to the global pandemic?

Some kids are probably excited to get back to their friends and extra-curricular clubs, while others are probably feeling pretty anxious about starting a new year with a new set of challenges. The majority of children are probably feeling a combination of the two and it’s important for parents to help them transition back into a normal routine. Here’s some advice from one of the best prep schools in Oxford.

With just over a week left to go until most UK schools reopen their doors to all students, it’s crucial that kids start to familiarise themselves with healthy habits, including early nights and early starts. Lots of us are guilty of letting our youngsters stay up late during lockdown and have long lie-ins, but unless they get out of those sleeping patterns before school, they’ll struggle to get up on the first day of term. You should also make sure that they have all of the appropriate uniform and stationery ready and organised for their first day back, otherwise the morning will feel like a crazy rush. The more prepared you all are, the more smoothly everything will run.

As well as preparing your child physically, it’s also important to help them mentally. Find some time to have some one-to-one time with your youngster in which you can chat about how they might be feeling about returning to school. Don’t ask any leading questions that might put ideas into their head and, instead, let them open up to you on their own terms. They may tell you that they are worried about some friendship problems that they left behind before lockdown, or perhaps they’re struggling with a specific subject. These are things you can give them advice on or even contact the school to help resolve the issue. If your child knows that they have your support no matter what, they will feel a little more comfortable about returning to school.

It’s also wise to use lots of positive terminology around your child, especially when talking about school, to help lift their spirits. If you say things like “I hated school when I was your age”, your child will not develop an optimistic attitude towards their own learning. Instead, try and remind them of all of the great things about school, like being around friends.

No one truly knows what the return to school is going to look like however children are so resilient and can usually adapt to change very quickly. I am sure little J will be fine and will be happy to get back to school once he is there and we can look back at the past 6 months with fond memories on how we got to spend so much time together as a family.

Michelle
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Family Walk From Grizedale Visitor Centre

24 August 2020

16 comments
dad and son at the top of Carron Crag

Last weekend we decided to attempt a family walk in one of our favourite places to visit, The Lake District. There are so many walks to choose from, and also so many guides that the choice was actually quite difficult, with different sites giving the same walk different ratings in terms of gradient, accessibility and overall difficulty. 

We have visited the Lake District many times, and usually opt for the most popular tourist attractions such as the boat trip from Bowness-On-Windermere to Ambleside, or the lovely walk around Tarn Hows, however this time we wanted to have a bit more adventure and find something new, something with a rewarding view and a sense of achievement at the end.

After lots of research we decided to set out from Grizedale Visitor Centre. The visitor centre is a great base as it has plenty of parking, facilities including toilets and washing area, picnic tables for lunch before you set off.

The centre also has a fantastic childrens play area, and a cafe area with outside and inside seating (although inside isn't available at the moment) serving food, drinks and ice creams throughout the day.  There is also a Go Ape centre here with climbing options in the forest and Segway routes if you would prefer this to a walk.

two boys walking up a steep hill

There are several routes you can choose from, starting at Grizedale. The benefit of starting from the centre is that each route is signposted and there are coloured indicators throughout the walk to let you know you are still on track. These are brilliant for inexperienced walkers and those who want the safety net of markers to avoid getting lost. With this in mind, we chose the Red Route to Carron Crag. This is described as a steep circular route with panoramic views, being 314 metres above sea level at the summit.

As we set off from the centre, we noted the walk length as 5km and estimated a walk time of around 2 hours. This will obviously depend on your walking ability, as we found out!

The start of the walk takes you up a steep bank to the right of a small stream and sets you up well for what is ahead. Walkers go off to the right and bikers go off to the left at this point, although once you reach the top of the bank after a short climb both roads meet again.

Here you turn right and head along the road noting the red markers indicating you are going the right way. After a short walk you come to the first of two red markers. The first one heads off left and looks steep. We chose to avoid this marker and head for the second red marker, again going off to the left, but going up a little stream. These are the beginning and end markers of the circular route. You can go either way, however I recommend you follow our route, as coming down a stream, especially if its raining could be challenging for some.

A boy walking up a steep hill

Walking Boots

Up the stream we headed. The path is rocky, with outcrops sticking out here and there. You will definitely need your walking boots here. This section of the walk seem to go on for some time, and is steep, however after some time, you will notice the forest begin to clear and you can start to appreciate the views from the top of the forest. There is a lot of logging going on towards the top of this section and there are some areas with warning signs not to enter too.

As you reach the top of the stream, turn sharp left and head along the road, which is wide and not as steep as the stream, giving your feet a rest on a flat surface.  Follow the road for some time and you will come to another red marker, this time on the right. This is the path to the top of Carron Crag.

This is the steepest part of the walk, and the ground is made up of pebbles that have been put down to help you grip up the slopes. This is a short, sharp climb to the summit, and although you don't need to scramble or climb, it could be difficult for less able walkers.

Man and Woman with the lake district in the background

A boy looking up

Once at the top, there is a small climb to the Trig. This is the marker indicating you have made it to the top. The views here are great. Whilst there aren't any lakes in sight, you can see some of the Fells, including Coniston Old Man, and you can also see all the way to Morecambe Bay and beyond.  There are some rocks that you can sit on and have a drink and a break, before it's time to head back down to the forest centre.

There are choices to make for your descent. One way is to continue past the top and follow some more red markers back down a steep path through the forest. We opted to head back the way we came, back to the road and the marker towards the top of the Crag.

A boy at the top of a mountain

View over the lake district

man standing over the lake district

At this point instead of retracing our steps (as we didnt want to attempt walking back down the stream) we turned right, following the road as if we had passed the Carron Crag route.  This takes you to the right of the forest valley and after a kilometre or so brings you to a crossroads where you meet your red markers again. From here turn left and head back down the path to the first red marker you went past on the first road. You then turn right back along the road and then turn left back down the steep bank you started on.

boy playing on a swing

boy playing on a slide

The walk took us around 4 hours in total. This included a stop for lunch, however a lot of this time was walking. The distance we walked seemed further than the 5km indicated, however for much of the time we followed the route. The walk was very enjoyable however, and we all felt really good when we made it to the end and celebrated with an ice cream outside the cafe.

Somehow Little J still had energy to burn on the play area, and he loved the size of the structure, made of wood, with the biggest slide he has been on for some time. The area was quite quiet as it was around 4.30pm by now, however I could imagine it could get very busy at lunchtime.

We had planned to head to Coniston or Bowness afterwards however we decided instead to head home and save that for another trip. We will also head back to Grizedale soon as I am sure we will want to try out some of the other trails that are all easier than the Carron Crag trail.

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John


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Back To School Essentials List | AD

18 August 2020

7 comments
Disclosure -  This post was first published in 2019 however I have added to it today and updated and update photographs. This post is a paid collaboration with Taunton School and features pr samples for the purpose of this post. Any thoughts, opinions and photographs are our own. This post also contains affiliate links.

2019 deluxe planner
As a child I loved going back to school shopping with my Mum. I would head to Woolworths or WHSmith and spend hours choosing the perfect stationery set and lunch bag. It was definitely a highlight of my Summer. Now I am a Mum I try to get the Back to School shop done as smoothly and as quickly as possible. Dragging two boys around the shops trying to get them pick shoes and try on uniforms when they would rather be out playing football is such a chore. A prep school in Somerset have put together a back to school checklist to ensure you are prepared in time for September. I have added our favourite products so it has everything you need to be prepared for the new school year ahead.

stabilo highlighters
Stationery
When I started Senior school I was introduced to the world of fineliners and highlighters. Now as an adult I am addicted to different pen types and highlighters using them every day for many things. Stabilo have a wide range of highlighters and pens available which makes back to school stationery shopping easy for both older and younger school children.

The Stabilo Easy Start range is perfect for younger ones starting their school journey. The range is ergonomically designed offering a triangular shape and non-slip grip moulds for a relaxed hold and you can choose from yellow and red colour colour coding which indicates left or right handed versions.



Bic Kids range
You may think that littler ones may not need to purchase back to school stationery but having a little one in infants I know that having pens and pencils at home is a must as the amount of homework they need to complete is crazy.

Even since Nursery little J has brought work home every week which may involve drawing or colouring. The BIC Kids range of pens and pencils will ensure that you are well prepared at home for when the homework begins.

The BIC Kids and BIC Evolution product ranges are perfect colouring tools designed to be easy for kids to use. The bright colouring pencils available in 12 different shades are all made with synthetic resin that's shock-resistant, chew-resistant and doesn't splinter if broken. The Kid Couleur felt tips come in 12 colours and are made for kids 5 and up for everyday colouring projects. Each felt tip offers a fixed medium nib which won't get pushed in under pressure.



Academic diaries
For as long as I can remember I have always used a diary. Some people buy their diaries to start in January but I have always used an academic diary starting in July/August. It's just the way I have always worked.

Harry Potter and Disney are perfect choices for us as we are huge fans. The diaries show one week over 2 pages and runs till August 2020. Lots of space for notes, addresses and also a year to view page too.

The Danilo mid year academic diaries are a perfect addition to your back to school essentials.

stib pencils

stib pencils
Stib Inspirational Jumbo Pencils come in a pack of 12 colours in a tube pencil holder.  Each pencil has inspirational word on them to help keep you going if times get tough.

 Peace Keeper, Earth Lover, Joy Finder, Big Thinker, Self Believer, World Changer, Story Teller, Problem Solver, Good Listener, Freestyler, Great Leader & Team Player.

These words have all been matched with an animal character, that together form The Stiblers. Each pack of pencils contains a specially designed sheet of Stibler stickers, which can be used to decorate the Stib tube or elsewhere. The pack also includes a bright orange double pencil sharpener.


Snacks
Snacks are a huge part of little J's day. Each morning he will spend a long time choosing which snack he will take in to school that day. Having a wide range of healthy snacks available for him to choose from is a must from September.

Del monte fruit snack
Del Monte Squeezie are an 100% fruit snack boasting one of your five a day and perfect for lunchboxes.

Available in Apple and Mango, Apple, Strawberry and Blueberry and Apple, Strawberry and Banana these are a great way in ensuring your little ones take a healthy snack that is also tasty too.

Crazy jack organic
 Crazy Jack ready to eat soft apricots are perfect for snack time. Each individually wrapped bag is filled with delicious naturally dark apricots and just 70kcals. The Crazy Jack Soft Apricots are also organic, gluten free and suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

Gregory's tree bars
Gregory's Tree fruit with a twist bars are the perfect way to 'beat the dip'. When you are low on energy and need a boost the double fruit twists are a perfect snack. Just 60kcals per bar with no hidden nasties.

Peperami snacks
Both boys have always loved taking a Peperami as a snack to school but now there are a few new additions to the Peperami range and are perfect for lunch boxes.

Peperami Pep'd Up Chicken Bites come in a handy individual wrapped bag, ideal for snack time. Peperami and Cheese snack box is a great source of both protein and calcium to get the little ones through the school day.

Lunch Time
If your little one stays for a packed lunch then you will know that the lunch bag and lunch box range in the shops is huge. There are so many options to choose from. Having a son in sixth form and one going in to year two their lunch bag/box choices are very different.

Smiggle lunch boxes
 Little J is a huge fan of Smiggle and when it comes to lunch bags and bottles, Smiggle is his go to place. They offer a wide range of bags including this style which is called a double decker. So if you want a bag with lots of space than I would definitely recommend a double decker. The top can be opened using the zip to reveal a shallow compartment. This is ideal for snacks or even an ice pack if needed. The bottom is spacious and could fit a large lunch in and/or a water bottle.


Smiggle is also known for its huge range of stationery too including notebooks, pens, stationery sets and pencil cases. 

Sistema lunch boxes
Sistema lunch boxes are perfect for those that like to take a range of goodies for their lunch as the bento box has lots of different compartments. There is plenty of space for sandwiches, fruit, treats and a yogurt or dip pot too.

You can also accompany your lunch box with a Sistema water bottle. There are lots of different bottles to choose from including twist cap, sports cap and quick flip.


Ace Cleaning products
As a parent, you don’t need to be told that children stain everything! With that in mind, make sure you have at least two, if not three versions of each item so that your kids have spares when you’re doing the laundry. However if they do come home with some stubborn stains then ACE stain remover products can help get their uniform looking new again. There is a variety of products to choose from including stain remover for colours or for whites. You can also choose mousse, spray, liquid or powder. You can use ACE on all wash temperatures but obviously you need to check the clothing label first and although ACE uses a mild bleach it has been extensively tested and did not affect the durability of the garments. 

We have started to buy a few items already. Have you started the Back to School shop yet?

Michelle

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What To Expect When Visiting Alton Towers After Lockdown

16 August 2020

6 comments
After our visit to the Alton Towers Gardens back in June we couldn't wait to get back to the theme park and ride the coasters. We decided to visit last week after we renewed our Merlin Passes at the Legoland Centre in Manchester. We pre booked our tickets and also booked a night at the Alton Towers hotel. We were keen to visit but also a little anxious how social distancing would work both in the park and hotel. 

boy looking at an Alton Towers map

After our visit to the Alton Towers Gardens back in June we couldn't wait to get back to the theme park and ride the coasters. We decided to visit last week after we renewed our Merlin Passes at the Legoland Centre in Manchester. We pre booked our tickets and also booked a night at the Alton Towers hotel. We were keen to visit but also a little anxious how social distancing would work both in the park and hotel. 

Entering The Park
The entrance was extremely busy and there were huge queues. The monorail was off so the queues were backing up as people walked from the car parks. 

Temperature and bag checks first and also we were checked with a handheld metal detector scanner too. 

There was no social distancing taking place getting in to the park. Although there are guidelines on the floor as to where you should stand, most people just ignored this and huddled together. 

Towers Street
Towers Street was extremely busy. As everyone is entering the park at the same time it was very overcrowded in places as people were deciding which way to go, heading to guest services or just stopping to take pictures. 

The Rides
We managed quite a few rides so I will tell you about individual rides and how the socially distancing works. The queues were very busy for most rides which you would expect during Summer. There are chevrons in place within the queue lines but again most people just ignored these despite announcements every few minutes from staff reminding guests to socially distance from the guests in front and behind. 

Spinball Whizzer
Each ride seats 4 guests however they will only fill the ride with members from your own party. If you are a 'two' then the seats behind you are left empty. 

There is no single rider queue. 

This ride does not require you to wear a mask.

The ride access pass / disabled queue was really big for this ride. We heard a family saying they had queued for 1 hour. They will only allow one ride access pass family on at a time so you have to wait for the guests using their passes to finish the ride before you can go on. 

Heave Ho
There are 6 rows on Heave Ho however they are only using the two back rows and one of the middle rows to ensure social distancing takes place on the ride. Only one family can sit per row. You will not be allowed to sit by other guests to fill up a row. 

This ride does not require you to wear a mask.

The ride access pass / disabled queue runs as normal.

wearing mask on ride at Alton Towers

Marauders Mayhem
This ride runs as it did previously with each barrel being used. 

This ride does require anyone over the age of 6 to wear a mask.

The ride access pass / disabled queue runs as normal.

Wicker Man
If you have experienced Wicker Man before you will know that just before you reach the ride you are enclosed in a room with other guests and you watch a short video. This has been removed. You are kept outside until it's your turn then you walk straight through the room and on to the ride. 

Every other row is kept free to ensure social distancing from other guests. 

There is no single rider queue.

This ride does require anyone over the age of 6 to wear a mask.

The ride access pass / disabled queue runs as normal.

The Runaway Mine Train
Every other row is kept free to ensure social distancing from other guests.

This was the only ride we saw being cleaned. They stopped the ride quite frequently and cleaned all the seats and bars. 

This ride does require anyone over the age of 6 to wear a mask.

The ride access pass / disabled queue runs as normal. They will let up to two ride access pass parties on the ride at any one time. 

Duel
Each cart seats 5 people however if your party is less you will not share a cart with anyone else. 

This ride does require anyone over the age of 6 to wear a mask.

There is no ride access pass / disabled queue for this ride. It has been removed. 

Congo River Rapids
Each boat seats 8 people however if your party is less you will not share a boat with anyone else. 

This ride does not require you to wear a mask.

The ride access pass / disabled queue runs as normal however the entrance has moved. It is now down a pathway that is opposite Duel.  

The Blade ride at Alton Towers

The Blade
The blade has 10 rows available however only half are being used to allow social distancing. 

Both back rows are used as are rows 3 on each side. Another party will fill up one of the middle rows (row 5) on one side.

This ride does require anyone over the age of 6 to wear a mask.

The ride access pass / disabled queue runs as normal. They will let one ride access pass party on the ride at any one time. 

Nemesis
Every row is being used as normal, however if you have less than 4 in your party then you won't share your row.  

There is no single rider queue.

This ride does require anyone over the age of 6 to wear a mask.

The ride access pass / disabled queue runs as normal. They will let one ride access pass party on the ride at any one time. 

Galactica
Every row is being used as normal, however if you have less than 4 in your party then you won't share your row.  

There is no single rider queue.

This ride does require anyone over the age of 6 to wear a mask.

The ride access pass / disabled queue has been moved. It is now next to the main entrance. They will let one ride access pass party on the ride at any one time. 

Thirteen
The rows at the back of the Thirteen train are filled with mannequins so are out of use. This is to ensure enough weight is on the train to allow it to go. Depending on party sizes they were only allowing 2-3 parties on at any one time to allow for social distancing. 

There is no single rider queue. 

This ride does require anyone over the age of 6 to wear a mask.

The ride access pass / disabled queue runs as normal. They will let one ride access pass party on the ride at any one time. 

Rita
Every other row is kept free to ensure social distancing from other guests.

There is no single rider queue. 

This ride does require anyone over the age of 6 to wear a mask.

The ride access pass / disabled queue runs as normal. They will let one ride access pass party on the ride at any one time. 

Smiler
Every row is being used as normal, however if you have less than 4 in your party then you won't share your row.  

There is no single rider queue.

This ride does require anyone over the age of 6 to wear a mask.

The ride access pass / disabled queue runs as normal. Once at the lower staircase you are in with the main queue from this point on. 

Unfortunately we did not go on Hex, Oblivion or Enterprise so I am unable to update on these rides.

freestyle machines

Around The Park
There are hand sanitisers everywhere. 

There are keep left / keep right guides for you to follow ensuring you stay on your own side of the path.

Toilets were very clean and every time we went in there was a cleaner in there. If the sinks were in rows of three the middle one was the only one in use. All toilet cubicles were open which wasn't great if you open the door at  the same time as the person next to you. 

The FreeStyle drinks machines were open. I thought they wouldn't be available but it was. There were hand sanitisers close by to clean your hands both before and after.

We had a great few days at Alton Towers although even though we have our passes we still had to pre book our tickets. Pre booking your tickets online before you go guarantees entry and also lets Alton Towers know how many guests to expect. 

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If you found this post useful there are a few ways that you could say thanks and support Playdays and Runways.

Leave us a comment below and let us know about your visit 

Visit our Out and About section for more days out ideas

Like us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram


Share This Post With Friends Who May Also Find It Useful. 




Michelle
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Mandrakes - A Magical Experience

12 August 2020

14 comments
Mandrakes
Last week we celebrated John's birthday and as a special treat we booked afternoon tea at Mandrakes - A Magical Experience. Mandrakes is a small cafe based in Ormskirk that is loosely based on Harry Potter. After browsing the menu online we opted for Afternoon Tea. We completed the online booking enquiry form however after not hearing for a few days we just rang up and booked our table. 

When we arrived our table wasn't quite ready so we were shown to the Harry Potter gift shop which sells official Harry Potter Merchandise. As Harry Potter fans it was lovely to see all the products, some we already owned and some that were on our wish lists. 

Once our table was ready we were sat down and our Afternoon tea was explained to us. 

Afternoon Tea at Mandrakes
Starting from top to bottom we had 4 finger sandwiches, 2 ham and 2 Wensleydale cheese and cranberry. We asked for no salad on our sandwiches so they came plain. 

Afternoon Tea at Mandrakes
On the next tier we had the largest homemade scone I had ever seen with a portion of butter and a pot of strawberry jam. You can choose to have your scone warmed up and also with whipped cream if you prefer. 

Afternoon Tea at Mandrakes
On the top tier was a flute of jelly, custard and cream, a macaron, a small chocolate frog and a small plant pot with a chocolate brownie in. When you are ready to eat your brownie they take your pot away top it with mint ice cream, whipped cream and crushed Oreo pieces. 

The afternoon tea is served with unlimited tea however we were able to sub one of our teas for a coke. On the table was also plant pots full of crisps and half way through we also reached little pots of chocolate stars. 

Once we had finished our afternoon tea we were then asked to gather our belongings and we were then taken on a little tour. 

Mandrakes
First we were shown the flying mandrake and we then had the chance to take photographs, Next up we found some Mandrakes but we needed to put our earmuffs on first as they have quite a squeal on them. 

Mandrakes
Last but not least we visited the potions room. 

The whole experience including the afternoon tea and tour lasts 1hour and 15 minutes. They are quite strict on the times as there was another booking straight after ours. 

The afternoon tea costs £18.50 for adults and £12.50 for children. If afternoon tea isn't for you they do have a small menu available which you can view online. 

We all really enjoyed our visit. The afternoon tea was really nice and the setting is very magical and a   must for Harry Potter fans. Would we visit again? Absolutely and I would probably choose afternoon tea again as it's great value for money. 

Michelle
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What To Expect When Visiting Gulliver's World, Warrington This Summer

11 August 2020

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Disclosure - We were invited to Gulliver's World, Warrington. Any thoughts, opinions and photographs in this post are our own. 

As lockdown eases across the country we have been exploring more and enjoying days out. Last week we headed to Gulliver's World, Warrington to enjoy a day of fun on the rides and to meet and greet with Lampo and Milady from 44 Cats who are visiting Gulliver's World this Summer. 

Welcome sign at Gulliver's World

You may already know that we love theme parks and although we have been to Gulliver's World many times before it was nice to visit post lockdown and see what measures have been put in place to make it a safe environment whilst still enjoyable. 

boy looking at map

Entering The Park
All tickets must be pre booked before arrival. This ensures Gulliver's World can keep track of how many visitors will be arriving each day. At the moment the website states they are running at less than 40% capacity so booking in advance will also ensure you can visit. 

You can also choose an arrival time when booking this helps to stagger the times visitors arrive.

There were chevrons in place in the queue lines to enter the park and we had our temperature checked by a member of staff. 

When we arrived at the front of the queue we were shown to an available desk where are tickets were scanned. We were told that there are no paper park maps available at the moment but there are map boards dotted around to ensure you can find the rides you wish to go on or you can take a photograph of the one by the the main entrance. 

boy and man on flying ride

The Rides
Most of the rides at Gulliver's World are suitable for younger children and up. There are no huge thrill rides so it makes for a lovely family day out. 

To ensure social distancing takes place the queue lines have chevrons which are 2m apart from the guests in front and behind.

The rides are running on reduced capacity where needed, leaving rows of empty seats in-between guests and families. 

boy and woman with masks on

Masks must be worn on all rides, inside gift shops and attractions. Under 3s are exempt or those wearing a wristband which I assume means they cannot wear one for medical reasons. 

Staff on the rides were really good at enforcing masks to be worn on the rides however inside shops we saw a few people with masks lowered to under their chin and not covering their mouth or face. 

Gulliver's World Notice

In between every ride a member of staff sprayed and wiped each seat and hand bars before they would let the next guests on the rides. Also each ride has it's own closure time throughout the day for up to 1 hour for a deep clean. 

There are no estimated queue times for the rides so you just join the queue however the park was not busy at all and I think the most time we waited was 20 minutes for The Antelope Rollercoaster. 

44 cats characters

Meet and Greets
Just at the main entrance there is a small stage which is home to characters for meet and greet opportunities including Gully Mouse and throughout the Summer Lampo and Milady from 44 Cats are appearing at the park. When they come on stage you are requested to form a queue keeping to social distancing and when it is your turn you head over to the cats and stand inside the small red circle. 

Although you are unable to give the cats a cuddle or a high five they were still very interactive with the children dancing and posing getting the children to copy the moves. 

If you have a fan of 44 Cats at home they will love to see the characters up close and have a photograph taken with them too.

adult meal at Gulliver's World

child meal at Gulliver's World

Food and Drink
There are a few places to grab a bite to eat at Gulliver's World. We headed to Big G Diner for lunch as our food was pre booked. There was a limited menu of just chicken burger or veggie burger for adults and turkey dinosaurs for children however there were kiosks offering pizza's and other snacks around the park. 

There is also a Costa Coffee serving hot drinks and cakes. 

Hand sanitiser

Around The Park
As I said we have been to Gulliver's World many times and it feels natural to us to head around the park clockwise which is a good idea as some of the 'lands' do not open until 11:30am.

There were a few hand sanitiser stations around the park however I would recommend bringing your own. 

There are quite a few 'plastic' play areas around the park which were quite busy at times but you can use your own judgment on whether you are happy for your child to play on there or not. 

In some places there are one way paths put in place when the paths are quite narrow. Most people adhered to the one way which is great.

boy and man looking at a dinosaur

Other Info
The park opens at 10:30 - 5pm. Like I said it wasn't busy at all considering it is the Summer holidays and we managed to ride everything we wanted, some rides twice, stopped for a coffee, ate lunch and also met the 44 cats. 

There is a hotel on site and although we didn't go inside it does look lovely from outside and I've promised little J we might stay overnight soon. 

We had a great day out at Gulliver's World, Warrington and we are looking forward to returning again maybe around Halloween or Christmas. 

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Michelle
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