A Haunted Halloween at Tatton Park (review)

October half term is here and like many parents, I’ve been looking for fun and imaginative activities for my 7 and 5-year-old girls.  So this weekend we headed to Haunted Halloween at Tatton Park in Cheshire with some friends, in order to get ourselves totally spooked!

Halloween at Tatton Park
The VERY haunted Old Hall

We love Tatton Park.  There’s always so much to do as a family, whether you’re visiting the beautiful gardens, Mansion House, Farm or the Old Hall.  There is also a fantastic adventure playground, picnic areas and places to eat and drink  (my favourite is the Gardener’s Cottage!).  We tend to visit every school holiday and see what activities are on offer as it’s convenient, easy to travel to (we’re based in Manchester) and a beautiful setting.

For October half term, Tatton is currently in Halloween or Haunted mode.  You can visit Secret Hauntings at The Old Hall, which has been named as one of the most haunted places in the country.   You can also follow a spooky “I spy” trail  to spot the eccentric treasures of the last Lord Egerton in the Mansion House, encounter a Mystery Maze at the farm, or go ghoul spotting in the Gardens.

There’s so much to do, it’s difficult to do it all in one day.  So with this in mind, and as it was a blustery day amidst Storm Brian on the day we rocked up (a very apt atmosphere for spooky wanderings), we kept indoors and headed to the Old Hall.

SPOOKY!

I can report if you love being creeped out, this is definitely the place to visit.  As we entered the Old Hall, we were told that our eyes “should soon adjust to the darkness, so not to worry”.  It was dark, and decorated with a number of creepy adornments including skeletons, candles, ghouls and bats.  There was a projecting light show of skulls on the walls.  However the spookiest feature was by far the actors – dressed as ghosts, with silent, stony faces and primed to chase us unrelentingly around the Hall or leap out at our poor, unsuspecting selves.  Other rooms were set up as creepy crypts of hell, with skeletal, gibbering forms and model creatures.  And all this within one of the most haunted buildings in the country!

At this point I should note to my readers that my youngest daughter – age 5 – had to be hurriedly carried out of the Old Hall by my husband!  It was far too scary and upsetting for her.  However, my 7-year-old was fine and quite enjoyed it.  Whereas my fellow 41-year old friend also screamed her way through the Hall and was in and out in around 4 minutes! I would consider your own children’s sensitivity (and also your own?!) to this kind of environment.  I don’t think we’ll be taking our 5-year-old to anything spooky any time soon.

However, next up we visited the Mansion House, which was totally fine, spook-wise, for all family and friends.

Halloween at Tatton Park
Eccentric clues at the Mansion House

The Mansion House at Tatton was home to the Egerton family from around the turn of the 18th Century, and is set amidst over 50 acres of gardens and a whopping 1,000 acres of landscaped parkland.  The collections and exhibitions inside the mansion are beautifully kept and well presented.  I love wending my way around old houses like this; my favourite room at Tatton is the old study, complete with columns of bookshelves full of dusty old tomes.  The kitchens are another favourite.  I’m a self-confessed oven-geek and very much enjoy a browse of the old range ovens used in days of yore to prepare hearty feasts.

For half term, the children are given an ‘I Spy’ quiz sheet to complete.  In each room there is a fact sheet for them to spot containing a clue which will give them the answers to their questions.  All the children enjoyed the quiz and it was difficult to keep up with them as they excitedly ran from room to room.  We spotted many eccentric objects collected by Lord Egerton on his travels around the world, including a table made out of an elephant’s ear!

We’re planning to return later in the week to both the Farm and the Gardens.  My 7-year-old spotted a ghoul through the window whilst in the Mansion House and now wants to see how many more she can find!

A Haunted Halloween at Tatton Park runs until the 29th October and is well worth a visit – just a note that the Old Hall is for the non-sensitive!

Disclaimer:  We were invited to review A Haunted Halloween free of charge.  All opinions are our own.

Fossil hunting and rock pooling in Lyme Regis 

In my Summer Bucket List 2017, I mentioned our planned holiday trip to Lyme Regis where we would spend lots of time relaxing, building sand castles and admiring the views on The Cobb beach.

Well we’re here and we’ve been having a fantastic time.  Our cottage – an old shipman’ cottage – is a 2 minutes stroll down to the East Cliff beach and a short walk into the main town and the bustling Cobb area.

Lyme Regis holiday review
The view by our gorgeous ancient mariner’s cottage

There’s so much to do here. Sunny days can be spent on the beach, taking in the breathless views towards the Golden Cap, finding shrimps and crabs in rock pools, fossil finding and strolling along the seafront with its many bars and cafes. For rainy days, there’s so much to do; in the town itself there’s the Town Mill museum with it’s working watermill, the Lyme Regis Museum and the Dinosaur Museum to name a few attractions. 

Lyme Regis holiday review
The beautiful East Cliffe Beach- great for fossilling and rock pooling

The beach areas are great for families.  The Cobb is where the main events and activities take place, with lifeguards stationed at the Sandy beach area, plenty of amenities and cafes, the obligatory English deckchair for hire and so on.  It feels safe for the kids, which is all the more relaxing for the parents. 

Lyme Regis holiday review
Lots of rock pools!

We’ve never been rock pooling or fossil-hunting before. I was a little dubious we would find anything at all. Not naturally outdoorsy-type people, it makes our brains hurt to think of what equipment we would even need for such activities. 
As it turns out, no equipment is needed whatsoever.  Although I believe you have more success with lines and bait for the crabs and shrimps, when the tide is out a simple bucket will catch many tiny shrimps. It’s easy to spot the crabs dipping in and out of the shady rocks.  It’s a fantastic children’s activity; a good hour or so at a time can be spent pottering around the rocks, in sunshine or drizzle (we did both!).
Lyme Regis holiday review
Success! A fossilised ammonite.
Over at East Cliff, you can see many tourists with hammers and chisels, busting away at the grey Jurassic rock in their fossil hunts.  The tools are sold in the local shops, but you can simply use another big stone to tap along the strata of the rocks, as we found to our success!  Ammonites are most commonly found – a type of marine mollusc.  However, head to one of the museums to see some unbelievable examples of fossils found and read the story of Mary Anning who made some of the most significant geological finds of our time.

Lyme Regis town museum review
Fossilised Ichthyosaur in the Lyme Regis Museum

 At the Town Mill Museum, our two girls learned from one of the best volunteer guides we’ve seen how the working watermill worked and even had a try at milling their own flour.  We really enjoyed our afternoon here, topped off with a beer at the Lyme Regis Brewery across the way. 

Lyme Regis town mill
Learning the daily grind!

It’s important for us as parents to chill out on holiday and I can report that it’s been relaxing so far mainly due to the children being occupied…and helped by the discovery of a handy flask in our cottage.  Perfect for beach-coffees!

Lyme Regis holiday review
Solitary coffee on East Cliff Beach- great for rock pools and fossils

We’re only a little way into our holiday so more beach days to go.  I haven’t even mentioned the restaurants we’ve visited (separate review of River Cottage to come!). Lyme Regis is famous for the 1981 film version of The French Lieutenant’s Woman, so this evening we’ll be visiting the aptly named  French Lieutenant’s Bistro

Later this week we’ll be following in my pal Hodge Podge Days‘ footsteps and moving across to sunny Devon for more fun and adventures! 

Half-term fun at Legoland Discovery Centre, Manchester 

Legoland Manchester half-termYesterday my 2 girls and I had a fun packed day out at Legoland Discovery Centre, Manchester.

We enjoy going to Legoland.  It’s easy to get to, jam packed with activities and you’re well placed in the Trafford Centre to go shopping or to one of many restaurants afterwards.  

There’s lots on this weekend, both for half term and Halloween.  The indoor lego playground, has been transformed into the world of Ninjago to celebrate the Ninjago adventure Day of the Departed! Children can also build their own Ninjago Eye Mask, take part in the Ninjago Laser Maze Challenge, and build a Ninjago vehicle in the Build and Test area. 

We arrived and were greeted by Professor Brick as usual and were given a limited edition Halloween Lego brick in return for helping him get his machinery working again.  My girls (aged 6 and 4) are always thrilled to meet Professor Brick (mainly because they get to jump up and down like lunatics to get his ‘Legoo’ machine working!).

We then took a ride on Kingdom Quest – a shoot em up ride during which we saved the princess from Orcs. 

Then we passed through some amazing Lego builds – including a fab Blackpool Tower with a firework display – straight to the main area.  My two headed straight for their favourite ‘pink kitchen’ area complete with karaoke machine, which was perfect as this meant I could sit and drink a Costa while they blasted away at the mic! 

Legoland Manchester half-termThey then took a turn on the 2 soft play areas for a good while, made their eye mask and did some colouring,  before we met one of the stars of the Ninjago series, ‘Kai’, the Red Fire Ninja, who is at the Centre every day until the 31st October. He’s a mean looking Ninja!

We also saw the new 4D film experience starring the Lego Nexo Knights.  This is a great interactive experience.  We wore 3D glasses for the film, and experienced wind and even a spot of rain (note: sit at the back if you don’t want to get wet!). 

We also had lunch at the cafe. As Merlin Annual Pass holders we can not only visit a number of attractions – including the SeaLife Centre which is just next door – but also get 20% off food.  The girls had a kids lunchbox with 4 items each, I had a sandwich and (another) coffee and the whole thing came to £12.95.

Legoland is well worth a visit if you’re still looking for something to entertain the kids today.  Great half term activity!

Disclaimer: Lucky us- we’re ambassadors for both Legoland and Sealife, trying out their Merlin Annual Pass in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are our own. 

A Frightsome Halloween at Tatton Park 

Halloween is exciting for 6 and 4 year old girls. So imagine Halloween coupled with Roald Dahl’s The Witches!  Then: imagine Halloween coupled with Roald Dahl’s The Witches AND Tatton Park!

Yesterday we had a half-term day out at Tatton Park’s A Frightsome Halloween, based on Roald Dahl’s The Witches.  This year, Tatton has had magnificent Roald Dahl themed events and activities and they’ve been amazing entertainment for the children.  Check out my previous posts on Roald Dahl’s Tremendous Adventures over the summer holidays and Easter holiday adventures with The Twits. 

A Frightsome Halloween Tatton ParkWe began our day at The Old Hall, converted into The Hotel Magnificent for the event.  We had a great time just in the hour or so we spent here.  The girls were given an activity sheet to assess clues and find all the ingredients of The Witches’ horrible potion that turns all little children into mice. 

These clues we’re hidden around and in the Old Hall itself.  There were games and carousels outside (including pumpkin skittles!) and a fantastic storytelling event. The storyteller was one of the best I’ve ever seen.  She acted the part of Grandma in The Witches, telling a captivated audience how to recognise a witch. 

I’ll never look at any woman wearing gloves in the same way again.

Inside, the hall itself was completely transformed into quite a scary haunted hotel.  It was really well done, to the extent that my husband jumped out of his skin at one point.  I have to add a little caveat that some children may be scared: ours were fine, however! 

We searched for clues in the scary, dark hotel met by figures dresses as witches and ghouls along the way.  The freakiest part for me was the green model skeleton with chattering teeth!

The girls also got to make their own witch mask at The Old Hall and face-painting was also on offer.  There was lots to do – it was great fun. 

Next we had lunch at Gardener”s Cottage at Tatton, next to the gardens and mansion.  This is a great addition to Tatton and the already popular main Cafe area.  Set slightly to one side, the Gardener’s Cottage is quiet, has (you guessed it) a beautiful garden and really good food.  We had the deli boards- one dairy board and one gamekeeper’s board. They were both well presented, contained lots of cheeses and meats, their signature ‘plant pot bread’ and contained extra touches such as little pies and homemade scotch eggs. The girls tucked into hot, buttered toasted teacakes and were treated to ‘posh lemonade’ (or Rose Lemonade!).


After the restaurant we headed to the gardens where we have spent quite a lot of time this year.  Already the girls have enjoyed seeing The Twits in the Tower Garden, including pulling silly Twit faces and trying out The Twits’ oddly sized chairs and walking sticks.  We’ve also completed a Danny the Champiom of the World adventure trail and seen the BFG and Enormous Crocodile in the conservatory area.

For Halloween, there were also Frightsome witches strategically placed around the garden. This was fab fun for the girls as they shrieked with delight whenever they spotted one! The amazing pumpkin display in the greenhouse area fascinated them.  Who knew there were so many different types of pumpkin? 

The girls always spend a good amount of time running around the gardens and enacting imaginary play in the bushes.  For adults who like gardens and gardening, Tatton Gardens are an absolute must.  They are so well kept with burst of colour at every step, all year round.

We didn’t manage to get to the Halloween activities at the Mansion and Farm – hopefully we’ll get to those over the weekend, too. There’s so much to do here it’s hard to fit it all in!

We’re looking ahead to Christmas and A Glorumptious Christmas Mansion which we’ll definitely be attending! We’ve really enjoyed all the Roald Dahl events at Tatton this year and it will be great to end with this sparkling Christmas Mansion event.

A Frightsome Halloween continues this weekend – be sure to try it.  You won’t be disappointed!

Disclaimer: we are ambassadors for Roald Dahl at Tatton Park and attended this event free of charge. All opinions are our own.

Pizza Express, Didsbury (review) 

Hot on the heels of our review of the flaming hot Etna pizza with Pizza Express/Deliveroo, we were invited back to Pizza Express in Didsbury, Manchester this weekend to sample their new Autumn menu.

The new Autumn menu includes some much loved PizzaExpress classics, including the Rustichella Romana, Basilicata Romana and Cannelloni.  AND – the new melting Chocolate Fondant.  

Pizza express Didsbury
Our local restaurant is just around the corner from us, so we enjoyed a lovely autumn walk on the way there. Pizza Express restaurants are always a good family choice, as they are great with the children meaning the olds can have a relaxed meal while they’re entertained with colouring and activity sheets and crayons. 

The kids menu is really reasonable: 3 courses for £6.45.  Our excited girls had the dough balls which came with an inviting pot of garlic butter and a separate pot of vegetable sticks. 

They then had their own mini pizzas (1 la reine with olives, ham and mushrooms, and 1 marguerita).  They loved these and got to take the remainder back home (in their own ‘special box’, no less). 

For pudding, they were delighted to tuck into chocolate brownies and a bambiccino – a nice touch which was thrilling for them!

Pizza express Didsbury

Onto the adults, where we were trying out the hearty Autumn menu.  We each had the mozzarella and tomato salad to start which was refreshing and light enough to make room for the mains.  My husband had the Basilicata Romana which was topped with lamb, mint and chilli meatballs.  I had the Canneloni, stuffed with spinach annd ricotta and topped with loads more cheese and a delicious tomato sauce. Both were really tasty – and filling!

Despite this, we still managed to squeeze in pudding.  We just had to try the melting chocolate fondant.  It was soooo nice! All warm, melty, chocolatey gooiness.

We enjoyed or lunch at Pizza Express.  It’s a great local family-friendly restaurant for us and we’ll definitely be returning. 

Disclaimer: We were invited to try the Autumn menu at Pizza Express free of charge.  All opinions are our own. 

Flaming hot pizza with Pizza Express & Deliveroo

We love hot food here in the Expression household.  The hotter the better for my husband and I – plus our girls (now aged 6 and 4) got used to a bit of spice in their food from an early age. 

What else is a favourite? Pizza of course! What family doesn’t love a cosy Saturday evening in with a big fat pizza? Even better, a big, fat, HOT and SPICY pizza? 

This is exactly what we did last night.  Strictly was on TV (yes, after years of holding off our 6 year old is now smitten with the sequinned, spinning wonders parading before us) and we ordered the Pizza Express Etna pizza which is currently available via the Deliveroo app or site. 

Apparently, Pizza Express fans have been clamouring for the return of the flaming hot Etna pizza recipe, which was removed last year. It’s now back – exclusively via Deliveroo. 

The pizza contains spicy ‘nduja sausage paired with sweet and spicy roquito chilli peppers.  We added the Romana base (bigger, nice and thin) and also a side of formaggi dough balls. 

Pizza Express Etna deliveroo
I forgot to mention that wine was also involved

I can report that this was a big hit with the family. I was variously told “nice sausage”, “hmmm, spicy” and “hmmm, melting cheese!”

The deliveroo service is also really handy for those evenings when you just can’t be bothered to go out and yet would still like restaurant quality food.  We’ve used deliveroo quite a few times, for local independent restaurants as well as the larger chains such as Pizza Express.  Our pizza arrived within 30 minutes, nice and hot and delivered by a very friendly chap. 

The Etna recipe  is exclusively available for customers to order by logging on to the Deliveroo mobile app, the Deliveroo website or the Pizza Express website. 

Disclosure:  We were invited to try the exclusive Etna recipe free of charge.  All opinions are our own. 

Roald Dahl’s Tremendous Adventures at Tatton Park 

Roald Dahl Tatton Park
The fairground and exploring the beautiful gardens.

Hot on the heels of my recent posts bemoaning the end of the summer holidays, I wanted to sneak in a piece about our recent trip to see Roald Dahl’s Tremendous Adventures at Tatton Park.  As ambassdors for Roald Dahl at Tatton Park (hooray!!) we couldnt’ wait to visit again. Our last visit in April this year was a huge success; we loved every minute.

The thing is, this summer has been so wet! Luckily, there’s still lots to do at Tatton and particularly with the Roald Dahl activities and events, such as Matilda at the Mansion house and Fantastic Mr Fox at the Farm.  However, we really wanted to wait for a terrific sunny day so that we could spend time in the gardens once more.

Roald Dahl aside, as you can see from our photos, Tatton is always a great place to visit.  Last week, there was a mini-fairground adjacent to the adventure play area, so we began our day with carousel rides and ice cream.

Moving onto the gardens (via coffee at the excellent cafe/tea rooms – a recurring theme of my posts!) I always take the opportunity to take lots of photos of the girls (aged nearly 6 and nearly 4) here.  They really are beautiful and looking so amazing at this time of the year.  A big favourite with my girls is the rose garden, where they smell the different varieties of rose and avidly watch the pond for creatures and critters!

The girls are already huge Roald Dahl fans, which is great as I used to love his books when I was young (and still do).  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a big hit with them, and on that note they were overjoyed to see the huge replica of a ‘golden ticket’ chocolate bar adjacent to the entrance road as we drove towards the parking area.

In the gardens you can find activities and exhibits relating to Danny Champion of the World, The Twits and the BFG.  A big favourite here for my girls is the Twits – check out the Twits grumpy faces my youngest is pulling.

Roald Dahl Tatton Park
Pulling silly Twits faces, getting smaller, The BFG and The Twits in the Tower Garden.

I don’t think I could do better myself!   The Twits’ House is set in the Tower Garden and really well done, with the silly  Twits dangling upside down from the ceiling and mirrors, pictures and the like also upside down.

They also love the Twits’ oversized and undersized chairs…because of course a silly trick is played whereby Mrs Twit thinks she is shrinking (might try it on the husband).

There’s lots to get through just completing the Road Dahl activities in the garden alone.  The Danny Champion of the World trail is amazing, with lots of well crafted huts, a wooden adventure trail and fire station.

We found the BFG hiding in the conservatory – peering out from the tall tropical plants, surrounded by snakes and other various creatures.  We also saw where he kept the dreams of children – suspended from multicoloured jars from a colourful tree.

We spent the best part of an entire day in the gardens, in part because the Roald Dahl exhibits (see his own writing hut, below) fired the girls’ imaginations meaning they spent a long time at imaginary play.  It was lovely to see.  I got a nice sit down too, of course, as they ran in and out of the bushes, pretending they were in their very own writing hut.

Roald Dahl Tatton Park
Roald Dahl’s writing hut

 

Next up is a Frightsome Halloween from the 22nd – 3oth October, based on The Witches! There’ll be activities galore in the Mansion, Old Hall, Farm and Gardens.  I really can’t wait for that.  I love a good spookfest! A family ticket for all of these activities is £27.50 which I think is really reasonable.

Well, summer is over, but autumn is here.  Happy new term everyone!

Disclosure:  I am an official ambassador for Roald Dahl’s Tremendous Adventures at Tatton Park and was given a free pass for my family.  All opinions are my own.

Summer fun at Legoland Discovery Centre Manchester

Well that’s that, the summer holiday period is over (boooo!) but there’s lots to look forward to (hooray!) as we settle into a brand new routine.  My eldest girl (nearly 6) enters Year 1 this September and my youngest (nearly 4) will be skipping into Pre-School.  She can’t wait – but I admit I’m feeling a little tearful at the thought of my littlest sausage-loving pink princess leaving me.

I wanted to make this summer really special and as you’ll see from some of my posts, we’ve been keeping ourselves active and getting out as much as possible. Luckily for us, Legoland Discovery Centre Manchester and Sealife Manchester have very kindly provided us with a year of fun via an annual family pass!  We’re feeling very lucky; my girls love both of these great attractions.  We had such a good day viewing the Octopus Hideout at Sealife during the Easter holiday back in April – the girls could!n’t stop talking about it.   They’re also accessible and easy to get to – located at Barton Square in the Trafford Centre. Great parking and ease of access, which is always a bonus if you have young ones and you’re lugging prams and bottomless ‘Mary Poppins’ changing bags around.  Luckily, we left that stage behind, only to be replaced with “bottomless snack rucksack” (however, Legoland has a really good cafe…more on that later).

Last week, after much deliberation (Legoland or Sealife? Both in one day? Or savour one at once?) we settled on a trip to Legoland again.  Recently, and after 6 hugely successful years the Legoland Discovery Centre has welcomed its 2 millionth visitor!  I was excited to hear that Thomas and Rebecca Stevens alongside their father Andrew, and his partner Karen, were welcomed into the attraction in a fanfare of balloons and prizes on Friday 26th August and were also awarded with an annual family pass.  Have fun guys – it’s an invaluable family bonus and you’ll find yourself using it lots.

Legoland Manchester
Mr Brick and his Brick-ettes

Inside Legoland we were greeted by Dr Brick, a really friendly character the girls were immediately in awe of! He explained to the girls how the Lego bricks are made, with his colourful machinery. I thought this was really magical for the girls. They had a chance to engage with Dr Brick; he asked my 6-year-old to pull some levers, press buttons and jump up and down and out popped some special Legoland bricks!  My girls like nothing better than jumping up and down.

We then entered Legoland through a set of huge colourful doors and made our way onto our first interactive ride – shooting the baddies with laser guns and saving the princess!   They were so thrilled and would have had about 80 turns if we didn’t have so much else to see.

When you enter the main area you are immediately struck by how much there is to do here!  There is over two million Lego bricks, with many impressive models for the children (and adults!) to view including a Manchester themes Miniland.  The centre provides an opportunity for children to explore and learn through interactive play, with huge vats of differently coloured bricks and different modelling stations (including a car-building area). Alongside the Lego, the centre offers a 4D cinema with different films on rotation and rides including, the Kingdom Quest Laser Ride and Lego City: Forest Pursuit.
Legoland ManchesterThere’s a cafe, where we had lunch. I found the pricing here reasonable. We bought a kids lunch box (sandwich, drink, fruit and crisps), the obvious latte for me and a toastie and we shared the lot which came to £12.99.  I can also report that there is nice coffee – not easily found in family attractions.
There’s a Lego kitchen area which was a BIG hit, particularly because it’s mainly pink and contains a karaoke machine.  There are also great soft pay areas – one for very young children and one with a climbing frame and slide.

My two had a great time. I think it’s well worthwhile checking out their offers on their website, both for family tickets and annual passes if you’re looking for a regular attraction you can reply on for your children, in school holidays, rainy days or just when you’re stuck for something to do.

 

We’re planning to visit at half term – and possibly before (I still get half days with my youngest as she’s pre-school and not yet in full-time education – yay!!).  As an ambassador for both Legoland and Sealife, I’ll be looking forward to telling about all the latest news and events.


Disclosure: I am a blogger ambassador for Sealife Manchester and the Legoland Discovery Centre Manchester.  I have been provided with an annual family pass by Merlin Entertainment.  All opinions are my own.

Moving on 

last day of reception
The last day of Reception.
Yesterday marked the end of an era right here.  The last day of Reception for my 5 year old (6 in October!) which was also the last day of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) in educational terms.

It was also the last Thursday my youngest (age 3…nearly 4!) and I would spend just the two of us, as by September she’ll be starting preschool.  It seems only a minute ago that I was blogging about back to school last September!

So a lot of endings…but a lot of new beginnings.  The start of the summer holiday period with lots of activities lined up, including trips to SealifeLegolandRoald Dahl at Tatton Park and a holiday to Windermere.   It feels different, this summer.  The girls are a little older again – “stop growing!” I say, and yet it’s easier in many ways and new activities seem to become appropriate.  This can mean anything from trampolining to sticking a big drawing pad in the garden on a sunny day and letting them draw/write about their summer!

My 3 year old starts preschool in September
Also new on the horizon: starting Year 1 and the National Curriculum, which I believe is a big step up from the early years.  Luckily our 5 year old has had a morning of settling in which she enjoyed – “you have to finish your writing before you can play, you know!” I was reliably informed!

3 year old similarly had her ‘settle in’ for preschool and didn’t look back.  She wants to go right now! In that, there’s a bit of a theme occurring…I have moments of sadness that I’ll get less time with them now that they’re both at school, but they are just happy and keen to move forward and get on with it.  And that’s just how I should be, too (despite turning 40 recently…more on that soon! Could time slow down please?).  

To trot out an old and now slightly annoying (and usually corporate) phrase, “there’s nothing as constant as change.” Sometimes, it takes a while to get used to, to settle into it (and then change happens again).  I started this year by blogging about being more mindful.  I think I’m doing ok!  The moments of sadness about my little ones moving on have been fleeting, as I know there’s such excitement and rich experience ahead. 

Happy summer holidays! 

Planting a gobstopper tomato (Spring week at Wyevale Garden Centres)

Easter school holidays…many of us are into our last week of the vacation and there’s still a couple of days to fill with young children full of energy and raring to get out of the house.  Today it’s beautiful weather (for a change), making me think of gardens and the outdoors.

We’ve been doing a lot of work on our garden through the Autumn and winter ready for spring/summer.  We’ve been getting our two girls (aged 5 and 3) involved as much as possible, taking them with us to choose flowers, plants and shrubs and encouraging them to help us plant them.

Last week it was Spring Week at Wyevale Garden Centres across the country with many events taking place aimed at getting children involved in the hard and yet enjoyable work- the planting! Wyevale invited us to attend a ‘plant a gobstopper tomato’ activity at our local Wyevale centre in Altrincham.

What’s a gobstopper tomato I hear you ask? Turns out it’s a variety of tomato (and we’re looking forward to watching how they turn out!).

Our local centre is a great place to take the kids. It’s huge, has a soft play area and great cafe with packed lunch boxes for children.  We always take a trip there in the lead up to Christmas, when they have a huge variety of decorations available; they each get to choose one new decoration for the tree. They also love looking at the displays (there was a flashing unicorn last year which they were thrilled by).

The ‘plant a gobstopper tomato’ activity was well planned and we enjoyed it.  The girls were given their own pot and variety of stickers to decorate it with.  Once they’d finished this, they filled their pot with compost.

Then the best bit: they chose their gobstopper tomato plant, made a little well and hunkered it down.  Finally, they decorated and drew on a tomato ‘face’, wrote their names on and stuck this in the pot too.

We then left with two happy children with their own personalised tomato plants, plus some springtime colouring sheets.

I think it’s great to get kids involved in gardening.  It’s creative, it helps them to learn about their environment and surroundings and it gets them outdoors.

We’re leaving our plants in a sunny indoor spot while they get a bit more robust, after which they’ll be a welcome addition in our developing garden!

 

gardening tomatoes
Spot the rhubarb…and free space for tomato plants…

Disclosure: We were invited to attend Wyevale’s Spring week free of charge. All opinions are my own.