Give the gift of Adventure this Christmas – Moms in the West Midlands recommend!

This year has been the year the world opened back up again and we really made the most of exploring some new places, we’ve listened to our friends suggestions and had some wonderful experiences all across the Midlands and so we thought we would recap some favourites and invite some friends, other moms (and no that’s not a typo) in the West Midlands to also share their recommendations for family friendly places to visit across the Midlands all year round.

All of these awesome places offer annual passes which are a great gift idea, and offer excellent value for money if you visit a few times throughout the year plus membership often includes perks such as free parking and additional discounts – so without further a do let’s get right in to it:

The Botanical Gardens

Westbourne Rd, B15 3TR

We are personally recommending the Botanical Gardens. I have a single adult pass because under 5’s visit for free and a membership allows you to invite one guest to accompany you for free entry. Members also get the added bonus of free parking which saves £2 on every visit. An adults pass is £42 and family passes are £67 for the year.

We visit the gardens regularly throughout the year, enjoying the peaceful surroundings in the middle of the city. With tea rooms, two children’s play areas and of course the beautiful botanicals and glass houses there’s something new to explore with every visit. Our highlights this year include access to the dinosaur exhibit and some the live music events from the bandstand during the summer.

All things Wild

Station Rd, WR11 7QZ

The dinosaurs at All things Wild

Season passes valid all year from 1st Jan are £80 per person. Discounts for four or more multiple purchases apply. All things Wild is such a wonderful place to meet so many animals but the things which our Moms in the West Midlands seem to mention over and over again are the amazing mud kitchen, the barefoot walk and the dinosaur trail – if you have dinosaur mad little ones this is a place they will repeatedly ask to visit. There are many different outdoor play areas and there’s a fabulous indoor play area here too which makes this a great all year round place to visit.

Warwick Castle

CV34 4QU

Warwick Castle (Brummie Mummie Amy)

Brummie Mummie Amy recommends Warwick Castle. With three children ranging from toddlers to pre -teens Amy recommends this as a great day out for the entire family. Their gold pass comes in at £65 and we agree that this is an amazing annual pass offer. This membership gives members year round access to the castle, gardens and grounds and Warwick Castle hosts so many fantastic events throughout the year this represents excellent value for money as a single day ticket is £16- so even if you only visit once in each school holiday you’re already saving money.

Members receive perks such as discounts in store, restaurants and on overnight stays in the knights village, complimentary parking and exclusive offers to special events and exclusive experiences.

Merlin Passes

Various locations throughout the UK

Legoland Windsor (Moms in the West Midlands)

Merlin passes had to be mentioned. These passes are perhaps one of the more expensive available but have such a huge variety of big names Family attractions under one pass it’s worth exploring – with local venues such as Warwick Castle, the Sealife Centre and Legoland Discovery there’s plenty to explore a stones throw from the Midlands.

Alton Towers – recommended by Kiri.mumto2leiversboys

Of course if you like to chase big adventures then the pass also entitles holders to visit some of the UK’s best attractions such as Alton Towers (recommended by Kiri , Thorpe Park, the Blackpool tower and so much more. Even if you created a bucket list and only went out as a family once a month you’re bound to make savings – options include a monthly direct debit to spread the cost and members receive way too many perks for me to list.

Cotswold Wildlife Park

Ox18 4JJ

The Cotswold Wildlife Park

If you ever wondered what it was like to see a rhino living the highlife then this is the place to visit, it’s almost surreal seeing them graze in front of the glorious house. This independent park is home to some one of the UK’s largest zoological collections and a fabulous day out for all. We love the magnificent play area and the variety of animals to visit. Adult annual passes are £78 and kids 3 and up £55 with family options also available.

National Trust

Various locations throughout the UK

At £78 for one adult and kids or £128 for two adults and kids this pass is one which has had so many mentions. The National trust hosts over 500 venues across the country and so if you like to travel and find new places rather than return to the same place then this is one for you. Attractions include gardens, houses and parks – many of which have historical and cultural significance. National Trust members receive perks such as free parking and a handbook which is a useful guide to all of the different places you can visit.

The Grand Theatre

Lichfield street WV1 1DE

Something a little different here – purchasing a friends of the grand theatre pass for a loved one entitles them to exclusive priority booking and discounted tickets alongside invitations to exclusive events.

West Midlands Safari Park

Spring Grove, DY12 1LF

The Ice Age at West Midlands Safari Park (Moms in the West Midlands)

Moms in the West Midlands founder Sangeeta recommends the Safari Park – annual passes are £70 for adults and £50 for kids aged 3-15. As always members receive exclusive benefits including discounts in retail shops, restaurants, theme park wrist bands and more. Annual pass holders also get one free trip to Midlands theme Park Drayton Manor too so this membership offers the potential for great savings.

Giraffes on Safari (Mumof4_lifewithliz)

WMSP hosts various seasonal events including at Christmas and Halloween – during the summer opening hours are extended so you can really make the most of it. Our Safari highlights include the Ice and and Dinosaur exhibitions – not to mention the brand new route of the drive through Safari a 2-3 hour self drive experience which takes you across the plains of Africa and beyond with excellent views across the Severn Valley to enjoy too.

Lorikeet feeding (Mumof4_lifewithliz)

Arley Arboretum

Lion Lane, DY12 1SQ

For the most scenic views across the valley then a walk through Arley Arboretum is highly recommended by all. An annual pass is £30 for adults and £15 for kids. Highlights at the Arboretum for us include the fairy garden, the maze and the awesome Easter trails hosted every year. My top tip would be to check out the cafe for seasonal treats and delicious hot chocolate.

Bodenham Arboretum

Bodenham Lane, DY11 5TB

Another beautiful treasure of the midlands is this beautiful Arboretum with its five pool walk. Memberships begin at a similar £30 for adults and £20 for kids with family options also available. Bodenham hosts the most glorious winter trails and the annual pass also entitles you to visit the Living rainforest in Berkshire and Batsford Arboretum in Gloucester. Arlo’s favourite experiences at Bodenham include the working farm you can visit right in the middle of the woods, and feeding the fish in the lake because they come right to the surface.

Park Hall Farm

Park Hall, SY11 4AS

Twelve month memberships available at £48 with families of four at a reduced rate. Based in Shropshire this is another delightful day out with animals to visit, play areas to explore and our favourite – the barrel train ride. Members also receive a discounted Santa experience too.

Birmingham Museums

Various locations

We are all incredibly proud of our city and our diverse history and thriving culture. The Birmingham Museums collectively have eight different places to explore across the region and membership gets you unlimited year round access to all of these places – Thinktank in the heart of the city centre is home to the immersive mini Brum play village and the science garden and I think the pass is worth it just to be able to visit on a regular basis. A family membership is £95, adults £35 and kids/concessions £30. Membership perks include discounts in cafes and shops as well as exclusive member events.

The eight Birmingham Museum attractions are: Sarehole Mill, Thinktank Science Museum, Blakesley Hall, Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, Soho House, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Weoley Castle and of course Aston Hall

360 Play

Kingfisher Shopping Centre, B97 4EU

360 play Redditch (Brummie Mummie Amy)

When you’re stuck for something to do on a rainy day then soft play is the answer. We are lucky to have some awesome indoor playgrounds in and around Brum, and many of them offer annual passes. One of the most popular suggestions from our Moms in the West Midlands is 360 Play based in The Kingfisher Centre in Redditch. This fabulous area has its very own merry go round, a huge soft play frame to explore and immersive play experiences with props too.

A peak membership pass for a year is £95 (currently on offer for £70) and is for one adult and one child. The best bit about this is the adult can be different for each visit so you can send mum, dad, grandparents or a childminder. Membership perks include discounts on food and special event tickets.

Twycross Zoo

Burton Rd, CV9 3PX

Image credit: Brummie Mummie Amy

Another awesome animal based attraction in the Midlands is Twycross Zoo. Recommended by Rebecca from House of Stew and many other local mums, passes are for Adults £65 and kids £50. This year round pass entitles you to visit every day (except for Christmas Day) and includes special events such as Easter and Halloween. With hundreds of animals to meet, and awesome indoor and outdoor areas to explore this offers a fabulous family friendly day out.

Twycross Zoo (House of Stew)

I’ve shared a blog post before covering some of our favourite family friendly farms in the Midlands and it’s delightful that many of these offer annual passes. Highlights for us include:

Hatton Adventure World

Dark Lane, CV35 8XA

Exploring Hatton (Kayla_89_xo)

Reccomended by Kayla_89_xo and many other moms in the West Midlands, Membership for the farm is £96 for individuals with a variety of family pass options available at discounted rates. We love Hatton and it’s year round family friendly events – the indoor facilities including the animal barn and soft play make this a fabulous place to visit whatever the weather and an added bonus is the beautiful surroundings and the shopping village with its array of stores to explore.

·         Unlimited entry to Hatton Adventure World all year round

·         Entry to Snorty’s Superslide Mania indoor soft play

·         3 members newsletters every year full of exciting news

·         Exclusive Members offer vouchers 3 times a year

·         Invitations to 3 exclusive members events at the Adventure World

·         Discounts on children’s birthday parties and Laser Combat parties at Hatton

·         Discounted entry to meet Father Christmas

· Complimentary and exclusive Hatton calendar every year

Birds of Prey experience at Hatton

Attwell Farm

Seafield Lane, B98 9DB

Attwell Farm is one of the places the kids request to visit most often for several reasons – recommended by Abby and Olivia Attwell Farm has the most awesome bouncing pillow and the “real” decommissioned fire engine. The kids always enjoy the huge soft play, sand pits, outdoor play areas and of course meeting and greeting the variety of farm animals too. As a grown up I can confirm that the cafe serves the most devious cakes and there’s always plenty of seating in the soft play which is an added bonus. Adult memberships £72 and kids £80.

Drayton Manor theme park and Zoo

Mile Oak, B78 3TW

Thomas Land at Drayton Manor (BrummyMummyDiaries)

Recommended by Hayley – Brummy Mummy Diaries, Just 40 mins drive from spaghetti junction, in Tamworth is Drayton Manor – home to 100 rides and attractions including Thomas Land and a zoo. With the annual pass you can visit whenever the park is open (check the website for closures) and enter seasonal events too. Family Pass for 4 people: £340 (£85pp) – Age 12+ £99pp – Age 4-11 £85pp – Age 2-3 £65pp and of course Under 2’s go free.

Members receive exclusive perks such as 20 £20 passes for family and friends to further share the gift of adventure as well as discounts to on site shops and restaurants, special events and hotels. Annual pass holders also receive a complimentary ticket to West Midlands Safari Park.

Dudley Zoo and Castle

Castle Hill, DY1 4QF

In the heart of Dudley is the famed zoo, the zoo itself features enclosures with the unusual Tecton architecture which attracts a mixed bag of opinions from visitors, especially as they offer a stark contract to the 11th century castle ruins – it’s unsurprising that the zoo has a protected status. Dudley zoo is a shining example of how attitudes towards conservation have grown over the years and the changes the zoo has experienced alongside its history are what makes us proud to have such a place on our doorstep. There’s such a wide variety of animals to meet, including some of the worlds rarest animals.

This annual pass is one which delivers the most value for money in the Midlands – adults £49 and kids £32 which offers unlimited entry for a year and you can also get a £15 annual parking pass too.

English Heritage

Various places throughout the UK

English Heritage is ideal for fans of historical architecture and for budding explorers. It’s most famed attraction is perhaps the beautifully mysterious Stone Henge but English Heritage proudly boasts over 400 attractions nationwide. Memberships start at £64 for one adult and up to six children. Perks include discounted entry to Warwick Castle and many other attractions as well as free parking and delivery of magazines and a members handbook.

Conkers

Rawdon Rd, DE12 6GA

Visiting Conkers – (House of Stew)

If you’re looking for the ultimate place for outdoor adventures then Conkers is it. Suggested by Rebecca – House of Stew – Membership is £18 for kids and £28 for adults with various family packages. Conkers is home to acres of woodland / forest to explore and has its very own ropes course which is great for an adrenaline rush. The barefoot walk is a highlight for a sensory experience and on rainy days there’s plenty of indoor activities to encounter too. We’ve visited so many times and still haven’t managed to experience everything Conkers has to offer. There something for all ages here to enjoy.

Ironbridge Museums

M54 J4 or 6 based on the attractions you wish to visit

Another place which has had so many nominations is the Iron Bridge Museums – with a family pass for one adult and up to four children costing £47 which gives you entry to all of the attractions including Blists Hill Victorian town. The iron bridge gorge itself is a world heritage site so well worth a visit.

Hawkstone Park Follies

Shrewsbury, SY4 5JY

The follies are open on selected dates throughout the year but a membership is still worthwhile as there’s so much to see and do. This is the kind of place to visit with your walking boots on and head out for a great hike so perfect for outdoor explorers and adventurers. This English Heritage attraction was one of the most visited landscapes in the 19th century but forgotten about and allowed to become overgrown until a huge project in the nineties set to restore it to its former glory. The views you can find at the follies and second to none and there are surprises to encounter throughout including a shell encrusted grotto, the Swiss bridge and gingerbread hall.

Black Country Living Museum

Tipton Rd, DY1 4SQ

If you’re looking for the best fish and chips in the midlands then the Black Country Museum is the place for you. This open air museum is where history comes to life, and it’s an experience quite unlike any other as buildings such as shops, houses and even a pub have been reconstructed to show what life was like for Black Country residents during the industrial revolution and beyond. They even host Peaky Blinders themed evenings and members of course receive discounts on special events, food, drink and additional tickets for friends and family alongside free parking. The best thing about a visit is the team of actors who do an excellent job of bringing the experience to life. It’s hard to explain but they have an awesome TikTok page you can visit to get a feel for the work they do.

Birmingham Wildlife and Conservation Centre

Pershore Rd, B5 7RL

Affectionately known by locals as “the nature centre” which was it’s name many moons ago, it’s hard to believe that such a lovely variety of animals lives behind the fence along the Pershore road, adjacent to Cannon Hill Park. A family season ticket is £86 (two adults and three children). This season ticket grants you year round access – highlights include the red pandas, the new pair of otters Charlie and Ceri, and the reptile house which is home to all manner of creatures. The conservation centre has its own cafe with an indoor play area too which is a bonus for rainy days and ideal for little ones.

Weston Park

Weston Under Lizard, TF11 8LE

A family pass for Weston park is £75, or for individual adults £30. This stately home is unlike any other in that nothing is “out of bounds” so you can bring a football, or take the kids bikes and scooters along to enjoy the space. The woodland adventure playground is one of the kids favourite play areas to visit, and members can also enjoy discounted (or free) entry to many events throughout the year including festive experiences and the summer fiesta.

Trentham Gardens

Stone Rd, ST4 8JG

Membership to Trentham has its perks – such as early entry – so members can arrive an hour before everyone else and priority ticket purchase for special events. You can also bring along family and friends at a 20% discount. The year round fairy trail at Threntham is one of the best trails in the Midlands to explore with beautiful sculptures around the gardens and then Trentham Gardens always hosts excellent trails for Easter too. We love visiting to walk around the vast lake which hosts many water sports and we can’t wait to come back next year and take a trip on the Miss Elisabeth boat and maybe bring our fishing rods for a quiet afternoon of fun.

Monkey Forest

Trentham Estate, ST12 9HR

Monkey Forest (mumof4_lifewithliz)

A stones throw from Trentham gardens is monkey forest – adults passes are £30 and kids £22. Liz from mumof4_lifewithliz has recommended this attraction and so we are avidly waiting for the announcement of the beginning of the 2022 season. Members not only get to visit throughout the opening season but also can few proud that memberships contribute to the valuable conservation efforts Monkey Forest is making.

If you have any top tips which you think local mums would be interested in hearing about, or if you’re a local business and want to be featured then please get in touch – we can’t wait to hear about your amazing adventures!!

A bee in your bonnet – A beehive hat DIY for the Easter bonnet parade

Easter bonnets are a tradition I remember participating in when I was a little girl. I was so excited when the nursery asked us to get craft as parents as they’re having a bonnet parade this week before the holiday break, but of course when I asked Arlo what he wanted to make he didn’t have any traditional ideas. In fact he was adamant he wanted to go as a dinosaur and so we were tempted to glue some feathers around a T. rex mask but I didn’t think that would go down too well with other parents.

So I began by reading for an Aldi brochure I’d picked up full of Easter food and the first thing he noticed was the giant beehive Easter egg and so that was his mind made up, and I’m not one to shy away from a challenge so I looked around for things I could use to make a beehive shape. Opting for a small plant pot and half of a plastic wine glass of all things.

The main thing to consider with things like for children is wearability – so you’ve got to consider the weight of everything and how to stick it all on securely. The plant pot we used had holes so I threaded wool through the base before sticking the two halves together so that I could tie it in place.

The beehive was wrapped in wool and I experimented with three different kinds of glue to make sure it stuck before we painted it a lovely golden yellow shade. It’s a little on the interpretive side but you get the gist of things. Then the next thing we needed was bees – and as it’s Easter it seemed logical to use some little egg decorations we had from Poundland.

So we added more yellow paint and cut out little cardboard shapes for wings – we left the little strings on the eggs and then it was easy to hang them up to dry, and then we dipped the bigger end in to white paint before using a chalk pen to draw stripes and smiles ….. and of course adding googly eyes to complete the look.

Meanwhile we set to work decorating the base of the hat – opting for a brim of fake grass and then some scrunched up tissue paper to make the base. I didn’t cover the top until we had secured the beehive in place as I wanted to make holes in the too and then hide these.

Whilst putting all of this together we had inevitable conversations about bees and Arlo confidently explained that bees make honey and so we had to add in a little honey jar too – a plastic shot glass with a roll of paper inside labelled “hunny” and then covered with a scrap of gingham paper tied in place with elastic .

Then once all of the little components were in place it was a case of securing it all to the hat, and then adding flowers and leaves to decorate.

There we have it – Arlo’s Easter bee in a bonnet! 🐝

Get Christmas wrapped up with Aura

I am absolutely obsessed with Christmas (in case you hadn’t noticed) and we love all things festive in this household. We have so many cute little surprises for our family and friends – you can see our gift guides and amazing advent is practically bursting as they’re so full – now that the big day is approaching we have also been working hard on handmade gifts and our festive bakes to share with loved ones.

No matter what surprises we have planned I love to make them look wonderful for the recipient. We put a lot of effort in to wrapping presents and making the unboxing experience special for our loved ones and Aura has us covered with personalised Christmas tags so that we don’t get any gifts confused. With so many nieces and nephews we like to gift them the same things so a label for us is super important not to get things mixed up and we like to add a personal touch.

I’ve been having a mooch on the Aura website and there is so much I can share with you all – from custom tags to greetings cards and beyond there’s something for everyone wether you’re looking for items for personal use, or for businesses, maybe even to organise Custom greeting card printing for the entire class or sports club when you have a lot of people to organise cards for.

For those who are creative minded then Aura has a fabulous blog post about how you can turn those illustrations and graphics in to a side hustle and maybe set up your own printing service – along with all sorts of tutorials and blog posts to get the creative juices flowing.

My favourite idea however has to be the custom wrapping paper. This hands down beats anything you could possibly receive in the shops and adds a unique personal touch. Maybe you could get each kids name printed up, or add a pic / graphic to paper so they know the deisgn is just for them. Totally unique for a present pile picture which will certainly stand out from the crowd!

Check out the latests posts from Aura here – I just love the idea of creating my own deck of playing. Cards or tarot cards and then crafting a little box to store them all in! When it comes to party planning and hosting those all important gifts be family gatherings then signs and labels for food are a must have. Maybe you could opt for a hot chocolate station sign or something which says “Santa stop here for the Smiths Family” – you can’t get that kind of personalised touch in home bargains.

Aura also offers a rush service for a fast turnaround on orders so there’s still plenty of time to get your festive stationary organised if you have left it until the last minute

Introducing Morphle Merch

Once upon a time I was a parent who was passionate about having zero screen free time – then lockdown happened and I discovered the untold positives of children’s technology. Of course I am still an advocate for learning through play and the benefits of natural resources but I have managed to find some wonderful kids shows which I feel really help kids learn important lessons for themselves.

Morphle caught my attention because he has a naughty counterpart or twin called Orphle (pronounced awful) the notion of which cracked me up and made me pay attention to the YouTube channel of Dutch animator Arthur Van Merwijk – I often find myself with kids shows still on long after bedtime and forget that Arlo isn’t even awake, I made a mental note as I thought he would enjoy this fab little show. Morphle is a funny little magical pet which belongs to Mila and they have all sorts of adventures together.

Morphle is magical and can transform in to all sorts of different shapes and animals which means he can often be called upon to help friends in a time of need. Mila (just like Arlo) has a strong imagination and so there’s no limit to the creativity – Morphle can become a dinosaur a giant truck, or even a fire engine with a large ladder to help rescue a cat stuck up a tree. It’s no surprises that the animation now has its own dedicated TV show and a huge range of merchandise and toys.

The idea is that whatever situation they find themselves in, a little creativity from Mila can help solve the problems and of course friendship tends to help overcome all the barriers too. These are powerful messages for little ones which we like to reinforce at home. Arlo likes to play pretend and “transform mummy in to” all sorts of creatures – I love to play along which is okay at home but I do get some funny looks when he tells me I’m a kangaroo in the middle of a supermarket and I play along by jumping around like a loon!

That’s beside the point – one of our favourite things about Morphle is his twin Orphle – we use this analogy to help communicate emotions and feelings in a positive way. The little plushie we were sent recently is ideal for this – we have conversations about how we feel on a daily basis and Arlo will show me the green or red side based on how he feels – a little like the inside out octopus (octopi?) toys work – Morphle is always happy and Orphle is how he tells me he’s been up to mischief – and trust me a four year old can create havoc at home in a matter of moments.

Arlo will re-enact episodes from the show and then continue the story with an ensemble cast of his toys here at home creating all sorts of escapades. His little Mila vehicles are ideal for this and he gets very involved with his role play and it keeps him busy for hours. These chunky little vehicles are ideal for small hands and he likes to take them out and about too. Other parents have spotted these and mentioned that they too have kids fascinated with magical Morphle and didn’t realise that there was a range of toys in existence.

These vehicles, the plushie and more Morphle items are available to order online now from retailers such as Amazon and would make ideal stocking fillers for little ones.

Products provided for the purpose of review but as always all thoughts and opinions expressed are our own

Christmas at the Lower Drayton play Barn

We have had the most wonderful time at the play barn. We love it here anyway with one of the biggest indoor soft play areas and all the usual farm animals to meet and greet but it’s had a festive make over which makes it all the more magical. When we arrived we were greeted by a friendly elf who handed us over our passports and gave us a little bit of orientation – the kids of course wanted to have a run around the soft play before we did anything so we enjoyed our adults complimentary hot drinks tokens from Honey Pots Cafe before starting our adventure.

The adventure began when we took a trip up in the “naughty or nice” lift and were greeted at the top by several elves who enthralled the kids. Stamping their passport for the first time and getting them involved in a conversation about Christmas to suss out if they’d been nice enough to meet Santa – and sure enough the kids were all invited to meet the big guy himself who enjoyed having a chat with them all and was happy to let us snap away lots of pictures. One of the good elf’s captured a family picture for us all too.

After our Santa meet the kids were given free reign to choose their own gifts from Santa’s toy shop and there were lots of different toys to choose from – all surprisingly good quality for a grotto and each managed to find something they loved before we moved on to complete our passport stamps.

Upstairs in the play barn the party rooms have been beautifully transformed in to different workshops – our first was a glitter heaven and each of the children were invited to get crafty with their own wooden decorations. Our elves were on hand to help with every step and fully prepared with all the colours and supplies they needed to achieve their stamp.

The upper soft play pitch has been turned in to a faux snow ball fight zone – with white balls and balloons everywhere this is a lovely zone for a high octane snowball tournament or a sensory moment for little ones to soak up the lights colours and textures. We had a little play and earnt another passport stamp before we checked out my personal favourite room – the gingerbread bakery.

The staging for this room wouldn’t be out of place in one of the garden centres we’ve visited recently, the attention to detail is brilliant and the kids were invited to pop on their aprons and get busy with some sweets and icing to decorate their own gingerbread cookies. Again our elves were very attentive and made sure every child had a lovely experience and a fabulous cookie to take home (or munch on).

My sister and I got a little bit emotional with the kids writing their letters to Santa, it’s the first time they’ve really been able to write their own letters – Arlo asked for robots and bakugans, Lincoln asked for a scooter and Paloma just wrote to say “I love you, from Paloma” – they spent so much time writing neatly before posting letters.

In between all of the activities we managed to head out to see the animals – Arlo asked a very patient elf the name of every single small animal and put her to the test – Rocket the Guinea pig was a firm fave and he decided to name the baby chicks after Santa’s reindeer – and then ran out of names so then we had Rudolph 2, 3, 4, 5…. You get the picture!

Downstairs at Honey Pots we opted for a couple of portions of chips and a toastie meal deal – there was quite a variety of different food options including hot/cold and lots of great looking cakes too. The kids ran around the indoor soft play for a while and then we ventured to the picnic barn with the big slides and the inflatables – we practically had this space to ourselves and spent a good hour running around like loons before the cold defeated us and we went inside.

Ham and cheese toastie meal deal from Honey Potts

Our passport had one final activity left to complete so we went to find out what the story was all about and found a movie screen with hay bales and blankets set up for a viewing of a mischievous elf story featuring many characters we had met throughout the day. It was at this point we realised we hadn’t been outdoors and absolutely needed to find the zip wire and bouncing pillow.

As the sun set we had the outdoor area to ourselves and had one final hurrah with some role play in the fire engines before we said our goodbyes to the elves and the cattle who were turning in for the night. I genuinely can’t recommend this experience highly enough. It was a fabulous day throughout and the team at the farm were working so hard to make sure every child had a magical time. The place has everything you need to capture that Christmas spirit and get you feeling festive.

Xmas at the farm is available to book until Christmas Eve – peak and off peak pricing applies – check out their website here for more information.

Our tickets today were provided for the purposes of review however as always all thought and opinions expressed are our own

THE 100-YEAR-OLD TREND THAT NEVER FADES

Some styles are truly timeless. The little black dress, jeans and a t-shirt, and a well-tailored suit will never be out of style, for example. There are certain trends that extend beyond their original time period, and one such trend is Art Deco.

What is Art Deco?

Art Deco is the name given to all manner of design aspects that can be found in all areas of life: architecture, clothing, jewellery, and interior style. Art Deco jewellery has endured well beyond the 1920s-1940s, however, becoming a truly timeless trend.

The emphasis of Art Deco jewellery is on symmetry and architectural shapes. Often, shapes that are geometrically simple, such as squares, rectangles, and triangles are used in a repeated sequence to create something complex and intricate. This was a possibility at the start of the 1900s due to the technological advancements of the time. Before this period, jewellery with multiple gemstones required lots of metal to hold them securely. 

The improvements made to platinum at the turn of the century, however, meant that much stronger metal could be used to set gemstones into jewellery, meaning that less metal was required. This in turn led to jewellery with clean lines and finer designs that were more modern and structured.

Enduring Popularity

Even beyond the agreed Art Deco period of the 1920s – 1940s, Art Deco styles of various kinds can be found in everything from fashion to architectural design. Like all trends, Art Deco has gone ‘out of style’, but not in the same way that other elements of design and style do. The Chrysler building in New York City, for example, is a famously Art Deco-design building that has always been considered a beautiful building with a timeless design.

The jewellery that came out of this period also stands the test of time, being sought after for many reasons today. Not only is it very well-designed, made with strong metals and unique gemstones. The designs themselves are also distinctive and unique, with contemporary jewellery today often failing to meet the intricacies and beauties of the Art Deco period.

One such element of jewellery that lasts throughout the last 100 years is Art Deco brooches. The brooches from this time period are often large and ostentatious, reflecting the ‘roaring ‘20s’ time period from which they come. Owning such a piece of jewellery today, whether it is a new purchase or an inherited family heirloom, is certainly a statement piece that asserts a certain level of status.

The Re-Birth of Art Deco

Although brooches as a sub-category of jewellery have been out of the limelight for a little while, they are now making their comeback. Art Deco designs in general are also once again on the front lines of design and style. Mid-century modern designs and Art Deco designs are coming together with just a little splash of some Scandinavian minimalism to create the most popular interior design styles today.

Art Deco is on top, as it has been for the last century. Art Deco-themed parties, weddings, and other social events are at an all-time high, and a lot of the fashions are hitting the runways too. There is something intrinsic in the human appeal of geometric symmetry, with it occurring in nature as often as it does in man-made designs. Perhaps this is the reason why Art Deco is timeless, whether it is architecture, fashion, jewellery, or any other aspect of design.

Art Deco is a timeless trend because its styles are so unique and immediately recognisable. Art Deco represented a massive advancement in design, thrusting humankind from the Victorian era into the ‘future’. In any case, it is safe to say that Art Deco is likely to be around for another 100 years. What is your favourite timeless trend?

The 100-Year-Old Trend that Never Fades

Some styles are truly timeless. The little black dress, jeans and a t-shirt, and a well-tailored suit will never be out of style, for example. There are certain trends that extend beyond their original time period, and one such trend is Art Deco.

What is Art Deco?

Art Deco is the name given to all manner of design aspects that can be found in all areas of life: architecture, clothing, jewellery, and interior style. Art Deco jewellery has endured well beyond the 1920s-1940s, however, becoming a truly timeless trend.

The emphasis of Art Deco jewellery is on symmetry and architectural shapes. Often, shapes that are geometrically simple, such as squares, rectangles, and triangles are used in a repeated sequence to create something complex and intricate. This was a possibility at the start of the 1900s due to the technological advancements of the time. Before this period, jewellery with multiple gemstones required lots of metal to hold them securely. 

The improvements made to platinum at the turn of the century, however, meant that much stronger metal could be used to set gemstones into jewellery, meaning that less metal was required. This in turn led to jewellery with clean lines and finer designs that were more modern and structured.

Enduring Popularity

Even beyond the agreed Art Deco period of the 1920s – 1940s, Art Deco styles of various kinds can be found in everything from fashion to architectural design. Like all trends, Art Deco has gone ‘out of style’, but not in the same way that other elements of design and style do. The Chrysler building in New York City, for example, is a famously Art Deco-design building that has always been considered a beautiful building with a timeless design.

The jewellery that came out of this period also stands the test of time, being sought after for many reasons today. Not only is it very well-designed, made with strong metals and unique gemstones. The designs themselves are also distinctive and unique, with contemporary jewellery today often failing to meet the intricacies and beauties of the Art Deco period.

One such element of jewellery that lasts throughout the last 100 years is Art Deco brooches. The brooches from this time period are often large and ostentatious, reflecting the ‘roaring ‘20s’ time period from which they come. Owning such a piece of jewellery today, whether it is a new purchase or an inherited family heirloom, is certainly a statement piece that asserts a certain level of status.

The Re-Birth of Art Deco

Although brooches as a sub-category of jewellery have been out of the limelight for a little while, they are now making their comeback. Art Deco designs in general are also once again on the front lines of design and style. Mid-century modern designs and Art Deco designs are coming together with just a little splash of some Scandinavian minimalism to create the most popular interior design styles today.

Art Deco is on top, as it has been for the last century. Art Deco-themed parties, weddings, and other social events are at an all-time high, and a lot of the fashions are hitting the runways too. There is something intrinsic in the human appeal of geometric symmetry, with it occurring in nature as often as it does in man-made designs. Perhaps this is the reason why Art Deco is timeless, whether it is architecture, fashion, jewellery, or any other aspect of design.

Art Deco is a timeless trend because its styles are so unique and immediately recognisable. Art Deco represented a massive advancement in design, thrusting humankind from the Victorian era into the ‘future’. In any case, it is safe to say that Art Deco is likely to be around for another 100 years. What is your favourite timeless trend?

Zimpli Baff Bombz – Amazing advent giveaway

I do T know about anyone else but bath times for us are a highlight of the day and have always been a little crazy, with lights, glow sticks and most recently these awesome zimpli baff bombz – this multi pack contains three different varieties – one of many awesome prizes we’re featuring this festive period so make sure to check out out other giveaways!

Tap this picture to enter the free giveaway. T&C’s apply click here for more info. Giveaway closes on 14th December

Melissa and Doug – Amazing advent giveaway

Another awesome arts and crafts prize for the Amazing Advent 2021 – this time from Melissa and Doug and with a Dino theme – one of many awesome prizes we’re featuring this festive period so make sure to check out out other giveaways!

Tap this picture to enter the free giveaway. T&C’s apply click here for more info. Giveaway closes on 14th December

Panto’s back – Oh Yes it is!!! Beauty and the Beast at The Belgrade – review

Beauty and the Beast at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry is the must see panto experience in the Midlands this winter. Be transported to the town of Middle Widdle on the Piddle (somewhere near to – but not quite Nuneaton) for a few hours of silly fun with Billy, his mum Dolly Mix, alongside Maurice, Grub and of course the stars of the show Beauty and the Beast alongside a dance troupe who perform as gremlin waiters, skeletons and villagers as well as an Olympic mop team!

Bought to the Belgrade by Imagine theatre, a production company run by husband and wife team Steve and Sarah Boden, Beauty and the Beast is a sheer delight for its entire three hours running time. There was so much jam packed in to this performance we have far too many highlights to share but I have to say that we really did have a wonderful experience full of belly laughs – it was obvious just how happy the cast were to be treading the boards once more and this feeling was echoed by the audience in the auditorium.

We visited for a matinee performance: my mom, Arlo and my nephew Logan and each of us had our own favourite moments from the show so I can truly say that there’s something for everyone and it’s a real family friendly panto.

The sets were beautiful with all manner of small details adding to the enchantment of the story. As we entered the theatre the stage was set with the castles on each side and between acts the props and sets changed swiftly to immerse us in to the middle of the action. The same level of attention to detail was apparent in the costumes – and none more so than in the extravagant outfits worn by Dame Dolly Mix, played by Iain Lauchlan, whose mere stage presence had us in fits of giggles. Lots of cheeky innuendos kept the grown ups amused throughout the performance, Logan smirked throughout all the cheeky toilet humour and Arlo kept asking me if the flying saucer fascinator was real.

My mom’s favourite scene of the entire show consisted of Dame Dolly Mix with a fork, alongside Grub with a fish, Billy with a Bucket of water and Maurice with a blonde wig. I can’t even begin to explain what was going on, but we really appreciated the intricacy of the choreography and how challenging this must have been to perform – Arlo’s was sat beside me squealing with laughter as Billy managed to get poked in the bum and slapped with a wet fish! This skit bought the house down and rightly so – brilliant comedic timing!

Arlo’s favourite moment was the scene where the wolves managed to outsmart Billy and his mom – every child was out of their seats exclaiming “he’s behind you” and it was just so thrilling at that moment to look around as a parent and see so many children at panto for the first time and relishing in every moment. I found it quite emotional, and then when Beauty (Ruby Eva) and the Beast danced together to Iris by the Goo Goo dolls it sent me over the edge and I held my breath. I remember being four or five and seeing the Disney movie for the first time and being mesmerised – and for a moment I was experiencing those same feelings. The music chosen for the show really was spot on and had us all clapping along.

The one tune which has stayed with us all afternoon is “Soapy Soapy” (to the tune of Hokey Cokey) – a fabulous slapstick scene where poor Maurice (Peter Watts) was stripped down to his pants in the name of comedy. He did marvellously in this non speaking scene, where the stage was set with a huge sheet and Dolly and Billy went to town with bubbles and mops – it was chaos on the stage and had me laughing with tears rolling down my cheeks …. I also have to give a mention to the Beyoncé style moves from Maurice during the “best song in the entire show!” Great comic timing – it’s such a shame his character got thrown to the wolves in the end.

Honestly I could rave about this show all day – Arlo’s fallen asleep talking to me about mop stealing “naughty nickers” and said he had the best time ever. Thank you for inviting us to the show – Beauty and the Beast is running at The Belgrade until 4th Jan 2022 – good luck to the troupe for the rest of this run – next years panto will be Jack and the Beanstalk – we can’t wait to come back and see you again!

ProjeX – toy review

Arlo getting some practice in.

From the moment we unboxed this game we have all been fiercely competing against each other for household champion bragging rights. ProjeX is like one of the retro arcade games and the best thing is you don’t need any screens – just the base, blasters and a blank wall.

ProjeX – inside the box

The box comes with a base, two blasters and three interchangeable cards for different targets plus full instructions on a sheet. The three different card options are targets, aliens and my personal favourite – ducks! The base has a slot to install the cards and two buttons which programme the game play – a simple LED screen flashes in to action when you press power and the base also lights up – and for the best game play the room lights need to be off.

The base whirrs in to action – rotating and moving up and down projecting the chosen targets on to the walls around the home and then it’s simply a case of directing your blaster at your intended target and firing. Each different target has its own unique sounds which have had us in stitches. Everyone in the family has been involved in the game play in one way or another. You can play solo, head to head – blue vs red to see who gets the highest score or you can choose to team up and work together to defeat the ducks and get the highest score possible!

Team work

There’s five different game play options and three different levels to choose from – I’ve been finding the kids (and adults) practicing their skills with a bit of solo practice at every opportunity as we’re planning a family tournament on our next rainy day. I’m really pleased with this toy because it reminds me of nostalgic childhood games and really does involve everyone as it’s so simple to get to grips with. The blasters have target pointers which help – the little red and blue dots track across the wall so you can get an accurate aim.

The pesky ducks!

We have been using this in the front room where we have a nice clear light wall to project on to and can draw the curtains for darkness. We find ProjeX works well lower down, so positioned on the floor or on a coffee table rather than a dining table and so far with hours of game play we’re still on the one set of batteries. (4xAA – not included). Overall I’m very impressed – ProjeX is available in Smyths with a RRP of £49.99 and provides hours of family fun.

ProjeX provided for the purposes of review but as always all views expressed are our own