Category Archives: Herfordshire Recommendations

Dick Whittington panto review – Hawthorne Theatre WGC

Dick Whittington Panto Review

We love going to the panto this time of the year, and for the second year in a row we have been to the theatre in Welwyn Garden City. It is one the highlights of the holidays for the boys who all love the live singing and dancing. They just love to get involved with the shouting from the audience, catching what is thrown from the stage and being squirted with a water pistol.

This year its Dick Whittington and it runs all over Christmas until 4th January so be sure to book up a ticket and go see it. You and the family will have a great time.

20-12-16-dick-whittington-panto-selfie-v1

Press Night

20-12-16-dick-whittington-panto-cupcakes-v1We were very fortunate to have been invited along on the press night so arrived to a lovely reception of cheese, crackers, wine and cupcakes (supplied by the Sugar Boutique, local to me in Knebworth)! A lovely way to start the evening chatting with the mayor of Welwyn Garden City (a very busy lady!), local press and Jake Wood from Eastenders. We took our prime seats on the front row of the upper section. The theatre is not huge so wherever you sit you will have a great view.

The Show Opens

The show opened with a fabulous scene with the dancers. A great routine to Don’t stop the Feeling kicked off the show perfectly and got all of us singing and dancing. I love that the panto keeps the entertainment up to date with the songs that the children adore from Little Mix to Michael Jackson to Celine Dion (Lily cried out at this point, that she loved this song!)

20-12-16-dick-whittington-panto-stage-v1 20-12-16-dick-whittington-panto-kids-v1

Fairy Bowbells and King Rat

We were introduced to the main characters, first up was the beautiful Fairy Bowbells, a regular fairy into the Welwyn Panto. Then we met the baddie of the show King Rat. Jack did not like him, especially when he walked right next to us! King Rat had an amazing voice and sang a brilliant version of 7 nations army with Fairy Bowbells.

Dick and Tommy

The main man of the show Dick Whittington was introduced along with his cat Tommy, bring on the many jokes and innuendos. The jokes were laced in brilliantly. It was pitched at the right level to make the adults cackle with laughter at the right bits and the children giggle at the more cheesy jokes. Dick Whittington was played by Stuart Turner, a seasoned actor and panto regular.

Fitzwarren Family

We met the love interest Alice Fitzwarren, and her father Alderman and hurrah to the panto dame Sarah the Cook and her son Idle Jack. There were many funny comedy moment between Sarah and Jack, particularly the boat scene. Classic slapstick comedy that the kids loved, including custard pies of course.

Book your tickets now

This really was a great show and being a personal finance blogger I must mention the value for money. Tickets for a family of 4 will cost you £50 (considerably cheaper than Stevenage panto). Plus use your free zebra card to save yourself 15% off any food and drink you purchase at the panto.

We had a great time at Dick Whittington and highly recommend it for the whole family, young and old. We loved the music and the dancing and laughed out loud so many times. Bravo!!

Other fun activities at CW Entertainment

There are plenty of other fun activities to keep the family amused over the Christmas holidays. The cinema has all the up to date films just released and with a zebra discount card seats can cost under £5. There is also RollerCity and Soft Play City.  They are open every day except Christmas day itself. See my previous post for more details of fun at CW Entertainment.

This post was written in collaboration with CW Entertainment.

Santa Claus and The Night Before Christmas at The Watford Colosseum

Santa Claus and The Night Before Christmas at The Watford Colosseum

One of our favourite things to do this time of the year is to go to the theatre. The boys adore a panto or a show with real life actors. They adore the singing, the cheesy jokes and the shouting out loud. When we got an invite to the first show of Santa Clause and the Night Before Christmas at the Watford Colosseum, we jumped at the chance.

We arrived at the theatre an hour before the show started for some mince pies and crafts. The boys were really good and channelled their Christmas excitement into making a fairy, an elf and Santa. Josh the crafty one loved it and did a great job with his elf. Jack, 4, wasn’t so focussed and preferred to drink as much apple juice as possible and run around the bar area!

After crafting we heading down to the show to take our seats in the small theatre. This show runs until Christmas Eve (of course!) and you can get hold of tickets here. It’s a short play with a few central characters, Santa of course, one cheeky elf and one girly elf and a little girl who is starting to think that maybe Santa doesn’t exist.

The Show Begins

7-12-16-watford-colosseumIt ran for 45 minutes which is a perfect amount of time for my 3 boys. There was a perfect balance of fun stuff, like magic, a snowball fight and Santa getting stuck in the chimney.

Here are the favourite bits of the show from Dylan, Josh and Jack

  • Santa getting stuck in the chimney, of course, and the only way to get him out was throwing snowballs. The boys properly loved this bit!
  • Dylan got to go on stage to help with a magic trick. A snowflake was made and magic turned it into lots of snow fall. I was able to take a video of this, have a watch on my YouTube channel
  • The snow became real, snow was falling over everyone in the audience. Josh loved getting covered in snow!
  • The bit where the naughty elf fired water guns into the audience.
  • When I asked Jack he simply said Santa was the best thing about it.

This show is perfect if you think your little ones may struggle with a longer panto. At 45 minutes, it was a perfect length and not one moan from any of the three boys of being bored. At the end the boys got to meet Santa and get a small gift from the elves.

7-12-16-watford-colosseum-santa

Here is the link for tickets.

I was not paid for this post but did receive the tickets to the show free of charge.

Thaikhun Thai Restaurant – Cambridge Review

Thaikhun Thai Restaurant Review

One of my favourite food cuisines is Thai. I have never been to Thailand, I will go one day when the boys are older and maybe a bit more adventurous with food…but why not give the amazing food a try with the boys now to see if they like it now!

Thaikhun contacted me back in July before our holidays to ask me if the 5 of us fancied trying out their new family National Geographic inspired menu. The nearest restaurant to us is Cambridge and as we are there (at least) 3 days a week with football it fitted in perfectly with a late lunch after a family football fun day on a Sunday in the summer holidays.

Location

It’s a perfect location for a restaurant. Cambridge is a stunningly beautiful city with architecture to admire, people watching to your hearts content, wander along the cobbled streets or the river Cam. The restaurant was situated right next to the punting launch bit of the river.

We were greeted by the super friendly Maître D who showed us to a table outside in the courtyard by the fountain. Handy for children’s entertainment. There was lots of choice inside or out but it was a hot day so outside we went:-)

The Menu & Our Order

The menu was explained and we placed our orders. The children’s menu was a lot of fun. It is served canteen/bento box style and they could mix and match various different pieces from the menu. Dylan the eldest will try most things, Josh is a bit fussier then you get to Jack who is very particular shall we say!

31-8-16 Thaikhun Thai Josh wormfaceDylan went for satay chicken and noodles with BBQ sauce with carrot & cucumber sticks. Josh went for chicken in breadcrumbs and rice, also with the vegetables. Jack went for chicken satay and rice with sticky chilli sauce. All boys got a creepy crawly starter before the main event arrived. We didn’t tell them what it was and just got them to eat it. It was dried silk worms!! A great source of protein and Dylan actually enjoyed them! Here was Josh’s face after we told him it was a worm, he wasn’t happy! The boys drank apple juice and coconut water for Jack (a huge surprise!)

Hubby and I didn’t really know where to start, except I was eating clean so whatever I chose needed to be healthy. Thai is a great cuisine for eating clean. I chose vegetable dim sum starters and sea bass baked in banana leaves with rice noodles. All of this I could eat no problems. I drank coconut water. Hubby went for crispy prawns starter and Thai beef curry with sticky rice. He drank Thai beer.

How was our Food?

The food was amazing, all of it. The starters were just the right size, were light and super tasty.

31-8-16 Thaikhun Thai starter me 31-8-16 Thaikhun Thai starter prawn

My main course was amazing. The sea bass was stuffed with lemongrass and ginger and all Thai flavours, it was so good. The rice noodles tasted very good, I can’t get mine to taste like at home. Hubby’s curry (I did try a little in the interest of this review!) was amazing. The meat fell apart and the sauce was flavoursome with a perfect amount of spice. The sticky rice was so sweet.

31-8-16 Thaikhun Thai curry main 31-8-16 Thaikhun Thai seabass main

The boys loved their food and it all disappeared very quickly. The joy I get from watching my children actually eat their food is incredible. I make so much food that is disliked or I spend so much time persuading them to eat, so when they eat is amazing. We go back to restaurants where I know the children will eat the food!! The chicken was amazing, slight argument between Dylan and Josh over the chicken in breadcrumbs. Next time they all will have it!! The boys had mini-milk ice-lollies for dessert. Hubby and I were too full!

31-8-16 Thaikhun Thai Josh main 31-8-16 Thaikhun Thai Dylan main

We really enjoyed Thaikhun Thai restaurant and definitely recommend if for lunch or dinner either as a couple or with the children. There are a few about we went to Cambridge, but they have 8 restaurants in total Manchester, Guildford, Oxford to name a few. Here is a link to their website, take a look at the menu and why not pay them a visit.

We received our dinner and drinks free of charge in return for this review post.

Gravity Force Trampoline Park – St. Albans

Gravity Force Trampoline Park

I have seen these parks pop up all over the country and have been really keen to see them in real life and try them out. So how cool is it that two have opened within a week both local to me in Hertfordshire and I get to review both for Mrs Mummypenny. This week I review the new Gravity Force Trampoline park in between St. Albans and Hatfield.

Launch Day Fun

Last week I was invited along with buddy Anita and our 4 boys (8,7,6 &5) to the launch day to experience the brand new park. It looked spotless and huge. Everywhere you looked there was trampoline after trampoline. Apparently 200 in total. There were a lot of mats where you jump from one to the next, dodgeball, basketball, sponge pit jumps, trampolines on wall, trampoline runs. Basically I have never seen so many trampolines and all in my favourite colour purple:-)

23-8-16 Gravity Force Trampoline dodgeball and basketball 23-8-16 Gravity Force Trampoline wide shot

So the boys went mental as soon as we got there and bolted off to give everything a try. Anita and I got a drink and chilled in the coffee shop overlooking the trampoline park, we know how to live;-). We chatted and tried to keep an eye on the boys, which actually we managed to do. The viewing gallery has a great view overlooking the whole park. They spent a lot of time in the dodgeball area, working as a team to take down the other children. They then moved to the trampoline runs. We wondered down to do some filming.

They loved the sponge pit jumps where you can jump off a ledge onto a trampoline then flip into a huge sponge pit. Take a look at the video where I managed to get them all in quick succession jumping in.

Us grown up didn’t have a go. The boys were having such a great time so we didn’t feel the need to, I definitely will next time;-) But only if I wear a decent sports bra and some sporty clothes.

At the launch party there were lots of very clever gymnast people, flipping about showing us all how trampolining is done. There was a free runner who was super talented and Anton from X-factor. That was a bit random??

The Cost

It’s going to cost you £9.95 per child age 5 and over for 1 hour of bouncing, this is more than enough time! You are also going to need special socks (£2) so make sure you keep them if you buy them first time around or from another park. This is not the cheapest of activity but it is a lot of fun and the children are going to be grateful for the experience, Josh claimed its his second favourite activity in the UK after football. They will be so tired out that 7pm bedtime should be fine;-) For the tot’s session it half the price at £5 per child and £5 per adult, and the adults have to accompany the tot.

Age Range

There are 2 age groups that can visit. The under 5’s can go to gravity tots first hour of the day every day. Then aged 5 and older can go to Gravity Jump. This is nice to split up the ages as it can get quite full on with the older children. I know Jack would love to come along with his little 3-year-old friends.

Other Activities

There is keep fit for grown up on a Sunday morning at 9am. I am absolutely giving that a try as I have heard 10 minutes of trampolining is the equivalent of 30 minutes running calorie wise.

There are also birthday parties. These cost £16.95 per child with a minimum of number of 10 children. This includes a party leader, food, drink.

Overall I was really impressed with the trampoline park and will return with the boys. I love an activity where they have brilliant fun and there is some tiring activity involved. This ticks the boxes.

Bouncing mad at Air Space Trampoline Park Stevenage

Air Space Trampoline Park in Stevenage

A huge thank you to Sam Buckley, who reviewed the brand new Air Space trampoline park in Stevenage for Mrs Mummypenny whilst we were on holiday. As you will see and read, she done a fantastic job and had a great time at the launch day. Over to Sam.

19-8-16 Air space trampoline Stevenage familyIndoor trampoline parks are popping up everywhere, and I really wanted to know what all the fuss was about.   I was expecting a good fun hour for the 8 and 5 year old, and I could leisurely have a cup of tea (and possibly cake) and watch them have fun.

On Arrival

As you walk in to reception, you have to fill in a couple of forms.  The friendly staff make sure you have read the safety notices, as well as signing to confirm you’ve read them for yourself and any children you have with you – they also ask you for your age, yep, even mum’s!

More about safety

We all get a pair of bright Orange socks, and taken through to the safety video (yes, I know I’m going to sit down and have a cup of tea, but I’ve picked up the socks just in case I change my mind). It’s only a couple of minutes long, and it’s a repeat of what I’d just read at reception, but to be fair, I’d already forgotten that, so this wasn’t such a bad idea.

The 8 year old is sort of listening….and the 5 year old is more interested in her slush puppy, so in terms of the impact of the actual video, I’m not sure if anything was really taken in, but I can tell that these guys really are serious about keeping you safe and following the rules.  The scariest part was when we were tested with a couple of questions at the end.  I really should pay more attention!

So what’s it all about?

There are a number of sections within the huge warehouse of trampolines – including:

  • Basketball – A strip of trampoline leading to a basketball hoop (only one of these, so not sure what it will be like when busy)
  • Dodgeball/volleyball – this is a netted off area, and the only space where you can end up being on the same trampoline as others
  • A performance wall with trampolines – more of a place for the older kids to learn techniques and tricks
  • Air bag space – two strips of trampoline leading to a huge airbag.
  • The main trampoline section – with over 50 trampolines – as well as wall trampolines.

Now that’s a lot of bouncing!

19-8-16 Air space trampoline Stevenage small trampolines19-8-16 Air space trampoline stevenage long bounce

Both the 8 and 5 year old were excited, but a little reluctant at first and wanted to just try the main trampolines – building their confidence through different bounces.  After a while they warmed up and started bouncing against the walls and seeing how fast they could bounce.

Favourites

19-8-16 Air Space trampoline Stevenage crash matThey both loved the long trampoline at first – seeing how quickly they could bounce.  However once they both mastered the air bags, this was the definite favourite – even after the actual bounce, trying to crawl off the airbag was half the fun.

The performance wall was a little much for them, so they ignored that, maybe next time….

Other bits…

They have lockers within the toilet areas and near the trampolines, so no worries about storing your stuff, and they also have a balcony area, so if you really do want just a cup of tea, you can watch from up there and keep an eye on things.

No under 5’s allowed

I’d seen on Facebook that there was some criticism about 5-year-olds not being allowed to take part, and I did think that was a little unfair. However, after seeing how boisterous it can get, and how serious they are about safety, I can see why they would want to err on the side of caution – my 5-year-old is on the smaller side, and she did struggle with the wide gaps between each trampoline.

Is it for grown-ups?

I loved it, although I was a lot more cautious than the kids and I ended up taking longer to try the different stages long after either of mine did (I seem to get scared of more things as I get older…) However one surprise was, 10 minutes trampoline is the same as a 30 minute run!  They are going to start exercise classes soon, and will be around 45-60 minutes long – I’ll be keeping an eye out for sure. Just a word of warning to mummies…try and practice those pelvic floor muscles before you go!

What’s the verdict?

You only get an hour entrance on the trampolines, but this really does tire the kids out, and they have a huge amount of fun.  The staff are friendly, encouraging and they’re there to help you keep safe but also to have fun.  If you want to wear the kids out this summer, Air Space really will help you out. The cost is £9.95 per child for an hour. This initially feels like a lot of money until you compare it to places like 360 play which are very similarly priced.

Next time, I’ll make sure I’m in my sports gear, hair tied back and Tena lady ready!

To see exactly what its all about check out this YouTube video. And to book tickets click here

One last thank you to Sam Buckley for writing this review and attending the opening day of Air Space trampoline park with her children. We have both received tickets to Air Space free of charge for our families. 

Standon Calling Review, Pictures and The Good & Bad

 

Standon Calling Festival

I have been wanting to go to a festival for years now, I watch Glastonbury, V festival longingly every year on TV but never do anything about it. I suppose the fear of the unknown and camping has maybe put me off. I wrote my #40thingsb440 list and included festival and camping as things I wanted to do. I was very excited to be contected a few weeks ago and was asked to go to Standon Calling festival and to experience it as a family.

We jumped at the chance. I showed the boys the pictures of camping, under the sea theme and swimming pool and they were in. Hubby not so keen as he is not a fan of camping and not a fan of the unknown which I will explain more about later.

6-8-16 Standon calling car shot

Packing for 2 days Camping/Festival Life

So off we trotted last Friday with a car packed to bursting point of stuff for camping and festival life. Lovely Mrs Mummypenny readers (thank you Gem, Sarah, Natalie x2, Shelly, Laura, Andy) offered lots of advice on tips and tricks and what to take, which enabled me to write this post last week of our packing list. We were very well prepared.

 

The BEST Bits

  • The atmosphere. Standon Calling in a smallish festival around 30 minutes drive from home in Hertfordshire, near Ware. Despite the small festival point, the headline acts were Jess Glynne, Suede and Kelis! Everyone was super friendly, chilled, chatty, smiley. It felt really safe. It almost felt like an alternative universe were there was none of the nastiness of the world today. From the security staff to the catering staff to the acts to the PR guys, everyone was lovely.6-8-16 Standon calling nightshot of festival
  • The food. This was hubby’s favourite bit and he got to try a lot of different food. There was vegan, pizza, smoothies, burgers, ice-cream vans, waffles, cake shop, coffee shops, Kelis Pop Up ‘Le Bun’. You name it they had it. Even a pop up sit down restaurant. A great selection of food to keep all members of the family happy. For dinner on the Saturday there were 3 of us eating. I had ribeye in brioche from Le Bun, Dylan had a beautiful burger and Josh had bacon, egg muffin bap. From 3 different places and everyone was happy.6-8-16 standon calling le bun
  • The music. I loved the bands and you got to be really close to the stage. On Friday night we were front row for Suede. At one point Brett Anderson climbed into the crowd and stood like 50 cm away from Dylan and I and sang. It was a surreal experience that we both really enjoyed. I really liked Everything Everything on Saturday, and the Hives put on a great show before Suede on the Friday night, although they were a bit shouty. Jess Glynne sounded amazing but at 10:15 start time on Saturday the boys 6-8-16 Standon calling brett anderson seudecar shot 6-8-16 Standon calling asleep for jess glynnecouldn’t keep their eyes open and were shivering so we had to retreat to the tent…slightly gutted about that.
  • The pool. The festival is held in the grounds of the Lordship of Standon and part of the festival is in his garden and pool. It was very safe with limits on number of people in the pool and 2 lifeguards at all times. The boys all loved the pool, really loved it. The queues were annoying, but hey you could sit and chill in the queue whilst the boys ran around playing football/making friends.6-8-16 Standon calling swimming
  • The fancy dress. I wasn’t quite prepared for this. I had brought suitable festival wear. Summer hippy style dresses etc but that was it. So I got glittered up with Go Get Glitter. If you see them at a festival ( I know they will be at Reading) do pop along and get glittered up. And there was face-painting/hair dos galore. My hairdressers Farley’s from Hitchin were there coincidentally and did the most amazing mermaid style up do for me, thank you Michelle. Everywhere you looked people looked so cool from pirates to mermaids to jellyfish to sea monsters. You name it, it was there. The boys and I had fun playing spot Nemo.6-8-16 Standon calling mermaidhair 6-8-16 Standon calling glitter face & DJ
  • The camping. The boys loved it. The adventure, the sleeping arrangements. All the free stuff we got from Aldi from sleeping bags (£19.99) to hammock (£29.99) to blow up sofa (£19.99) to rucksacks to lights. Thank you so much Aldi. We can confirm all items sent were extremely useful, brilliant value and easy to set up. The hammock provided much camp site jealousy. And a place for me to have an afternoon nap on the Saturday and a place to sleep on the sat night. We borrowed a cool blow up tent from friends Gerry & Tracy. No poles, just inflatable bits.6-8-16 Standon calling inflatable tent 6-8-16 Standon calling inflated tent
  • Entertainment for children. There was an amazing children’s area where there was circus skills, walking the plank, street dance, face-painting. The boys spent hours there. All 3 loved it. There was a big wheel and big merry-go-round ride. 6-8-16 Standon calling hammock
  • The well-being area. Had I had a bit more child-free time I would have made full use of this with yoga, massage, reiki and meditation. Next year I will deffo check it out.6-8-16 Standon calling big wheel 6-8-16 Standon calling circus
  • The weather. Apart from a brief downpour in the middle of the Friday night (which did leak into tent) it was a beautiful weekend with sun and warmth. There was no mud, flipflops were fine:-)

The Bad Bits

Life is all about balance and of course not everything was going to be perfect..so here are the bits that we didn’t like.

  • I’ve read lots of stuff about camping, so was prepared for it to be a challenge. But hubby did not enjoy the camping bit. From the carrying of stuff from car to pitch (which wasn’t even that far as we had special press parking tickets). The putting up of tent, apparently the tent pegs were not strong enough. And the sleeping arrangements, hubby did not set up the hammock or yoga mats so ended up sleeping on floor with just sleeping bag. With a hammer through fear of someone coming and attacking us all. The only way hubby would return is if we did glamping/or he just drove back home. Which he did do on the Saturday.
  • The cost of stuff at the festival. We spent around £250 from Friday afternoon to Sunday lunchtime. Everything you bought was expensive. The food was maybe £8 per burger. Coffee was £3. Icecreams were £3. Water was £2. Pint of beer was £5. Fairground rides were £3 a go. We didn’t budget,  we just spent as we wanted and therefore spent a lot. We had however received the tickets free of charge (full weekend camping tiks for 2 adults and 2 children would have been £300, infant was only £5) and the camping stuff was gifted by Aldi (cost of around £150). So we actually had a great weekend for £250, we would have spent more at Haven. They had a great cashless wristband thing which reduced queues, but also made you think less about the cost of things and therefore spend more.
  • The queues for the pool. Luckily we got to the pool as soon as it opened Saturday and Sunday mornings and only had to wait 1 hour to get in. But if you joined at 10 am on the Sunday morning you would have been waiting for 2-3 hours to get into the pool for your 30 minute slot. Not great, but it was very popular. And no one was annoyed about the queues, just chilled out and relaxed!
  • The toilets. Okay so I expecting these to be bad. And they weren’t as bad as they could have been. They were proper toilets with loo roll. But they were smelly and by the afternoon and def evening they were not nice. Dirty/stinky. The cleaning staff did a great job at getting them cleaned up in the mornings, not a nice job.
  • We could have been better prepared food wise. We did take a good supply of Aldi snacks, sausage rolls, crisps, chocolate, fruit, water, beer, cider. But not enough of the right stuff, as the temptation of the food stalls was far more. Lots of people had camping stoves and were boiling up water for tea and cooking bacon. We had none of that. And probably spent £60 on breakfast food! I went on a sugar rampage on the Saturday and ate a huge slice of chocolate cake. This was a huge mistake after eating clean for 5 weeks. The sugar hangover on the Sunday was the worst ever and actually lasted 48 hours. Not great when we were flying to Spain very early on the Monday morning. 48 hours of migrane pain killers were the only solution. And I have learnt that having a huge slice of chocolate cake is so not worth it.
  • 6-8-16 Standon calling octopus 6-8-16 Standon calling jellyfish

Overall all we loved it a lot more than the bad bits. Particularly me and the 2 eldest boys Dylan and Josh. We will absolutely be back, but maybe glamping;-)

A huge thank you to Full Fat media, Molly, Tom and co for the tickets. And thank you to Clarion and Aldi for the camping gear which we couldn’t have done without. If you want to get tickets for next year..join the waiting list for more information. I have added my email address.

Please do share your camping/festival experiences, what was your favourite bit and least favourite bit?

Standon Calling – Festival & Camping with the Family

Standon Calling #40thingdb440 – Tick

I wrote post a few weeks back detailing my list of #40thingsb440. One thing on the list was to go to a festival. Yippee we are going to Standon Calling tomorrow for a whole 2 nights of camping that is 2 things ticked off the list no 15 and no 16. I also have no 25 to sing on stage, maybe I can get an opportunity at this festiva;-) Thank you to the organisers of Standon calling I am an official family ambassador and one of my tasks is to write this post. Plus oodles of social sharing over the weekend and another post to tell you about it after the event.

We are so excited to go, me for the music, the atmosphere, the wellbeing tent, the food, the land of the sea theme. The boys are excited for Jess Glynne, swimming, pirates and camping. Hubby wants to get the boys to experience drum and base with Goldie.

I have asked advice from friends and MMP fans who are festival goers, who have advised on things to take and things to think about when we are there. And Aldi have been fabulous and have sent us loads of camping gear to try out.

Camping Gear

You can spend a small fortune on camping gear, luckily for us Aldi have gifted us:-) . I wrote a few weeks about camping bits we were sent. So we are stocked up with

  • 1 hammock
  • 1 double sleeping bag
  • 1 huge rucksack
  • 2 mini rucksacks
  • 1 inflatable sofa
  • lots of lights, including a head light
  • Bottle opener
  • Sun cream, after sun, wipes.

We are borrowing an inflatable tent. No poles, it inflates…looks brill in the YouTube video.

We already have :-

  • 2 airbeds
  • 2 camping chairs
  • Picnic hamper/rug set
  • Duvets and pillows

We are also taking a pushchair, not for a child, more to lug stuff from car to camping site. As we don’t have a trolley. I have also brought a potty, surely a clever idea for night time wees.

Other handy stuff

  • We have a big bag of Aldi goodies for snacks including popcorn, Pringles, cookies, Haribo, tons of water, mini sausages, scotch eggs.
  • Loo Roll, baby wipes, hand sanitiser
  • Waterproof bag for phone to tie round neck.
  • Super phone charger holding 2 phone worth of charge.
  • Cash to load onto pre-paid wristband
  • Mini first aid kit.

Stuff for boys

Warm pyjamas, socks, pants, jumper, joggers, shorts, t-shirts, wellies, swimming stuff.

Stuff for me

I had a look today in Topshop and H&M for cool festival clothes. I wasn’t keen. Am going to style up clothing I already have to look cooler than cool. I have flowers for hair. I have chunky jewellery. I have wellies (which I might decorate with dinosaur stickers). I have chiffon floaty clothes. I have bright pink long lasting lipstick. I’ll be fine. Oh flip-flops for shower. I need warm clothes for night time as it will maybe get cold and I need a jumper. Book to read in morning as I will most likely wake up early.

Top Tips

  • Sleep with valuables at foot of sleeping bag/ take as little as possible.
  • Ear plugs for night time
  • Don’t camp near a main pathway
  • Prioritise the Hives and Cuban Bros and Goldie
  • Camp next to something memorable so you can find tent.

If there is anything I have missed please shout very quickly as are planning on getting there at 3pm tomorrow. Woo hoo. Official holiday starts tomorrow!

Supporting Local Small Business – #shoplocalknebworth

Supporting Local Small Business

Mrs Mummypenny is a local small business that has evolved over the past year. I started out thinking it would be a great medium to share my money saving tips with the world across my website and social media. I absolutely still do this, but there are lots of extra parts of the Mrs Mummypenny family.

I offer commercial & marketing advice to small businesses. If you need a lesson in social media I can do this for you, if you need a marketing strategy I can do this for you. If you need commercial advice on how to make money from your business I can help. I work with big brands on their advertising campaigns so you will see the occasional collaborative post pop up with interesting new products or services that I think are great value for money. Name check Aldi, Disney, Standard Life, Epson;-)

Why should you shop local?

A new project is #shoplocalknebworth. I live in a beautiful Hertfordshire village with so many local small businesses. I shop in these shops and I love to support local small business. If I need some cheese for a dinner party cheese board I will go to my local Butchers/Deli – Trussells. Or if I need a gift for my friend who has just had a baby I will go to Lucas May to get a cute gift. I also get to work with these businesses, helping out with social media and marketing ideas.

#shoplocalknebworth is all about sharing with you who live near the village about the fantastic local businesses and what you have available on your doorstep. Please visit the high street as often as you can to keep these local small businesses going. We have everything on our doorstep, great quality, fantastic value and amazing customer service.

I will be running this campaign every few months to celebrate local business and give everyone a chance to promote their business. I encourage you to use the #shoplocalknebworth every time you buy something great in the village. Why not tweet a picture of a great find in the local charity shop or beautiful necklace you have found in the bead shop and use the # when tweeting or posting on Instagram so I can find the pictures:-)

The following five businesses are the first to embrace #shoplocalknebworth to promote their businesses with Mrs Mummypenny, please go take a look at their products or services and mention me when you visit, call and buy!!

Trussells Butchers

A butchers can be an intimidating shop, there is a lot of meat and men!! Don’t let this put you off Trussells. Hubby and I have shopped there for maybe 10 years. It has been great to watch Paul & team grow the business and expand into the deli. The cooked meats, cheeses and olives are yummy and Jack, our 3-year-old adores the home made sausage rolls. Here are a couple of meals I or friends have cooked using meat from Trussells.

17-7-16 #shoplocalknebworth local small business Trussell butchers217-7-16 #shoplocalknebworth local small business Trussell butchers

I love the local sourcing of food and the information you get when you go in. If you want to know how the cows are reared for the 30-day aged sirloin steak just ask the guys behind the counter. I am interested in animal welfare and like to hear about the farm in Saffron Walden where Paul will be getting his turkeys from this year.

And its great value for money and healthy. The meat wont shrink when you cook it, the meat tastes great and you will feel happier eating meat of an animal that has been brought up happy and healthily. I am eating clean and this is the best place to get my turkey, chicken and lean meat from. Handily on a Friday a fish van arrives to sell beautiful products from the carpark to the right of Trussells. Visit their Facebook page here

Putterills Estate Agents

We have moved house twice since moving to Knebworth and we bought our current house 7 years ago from Ricky and the team at Putterills. We have toyed with the idea of moving several times over the years and there has been no hesitation from Ricky to value our house or give us advice on the best things to add to the house to create value.

Ricky has owned the franchise in Knebworth for 24 years and has built up a loyal team around him who take pride in everything they do from photography to chasing down the chain in a sale purchase. They even have a dedicated full time sales progress mgr who will help out with that ‘lovely’ stage between offer to exchange and completion, that we often want to progress as quickly as possible.

Here are a couple of properties for sale at the moment. Why not pop in and ask for a valuation, or check out their website for latest houses for sale you’ll be shocked that the current house prices in the village if you haven’t checked for a while! Here are a couple of properties for sale at the moment in Rabley Heath and Knebworth.

17-7-16 #shoplocalknebworth local small business Putterills 17-7-16 #shoplocalknebworth local small business Putterills 2

Lucas May Florist

Catherine launched Lucas May in November 2015, the hop is at far end of the high street near the school zebra crossing and 4hair. She offers the most beautiful bespoke bouquets and gifts to suit any budget. Take a look at these 17-7-16 #shoplocalknebworth local small business Lucas May2flowers hubby gave me for our anniversary on Thursday last week. Flowers from Lucas May are more expensive than the supermarkets BUT they will last and last with care and love (i.e. change the water every few days!!). I got a bouquet for my birthday back in March and they lasted for 2 ½ weeks!!

I adore flowers and pretty things so this is one of my favourite shops in the17-7-16 #shoplocalknebworth local small business Lucas May village. Pop in and take a look at her wide range of cards, candles, vases and oil burners. I suspect some of us have not yet bought a present for your children’s teacher. Take a look at the wide range of gifts for inspiration, I took a few pictures of my favourites this week.

Caffé Vero

Arif took over Caffe Vero 2 years ago. The cafe can be found on station road, near the newspaper shop and ABC end of Pondcroft Rd. We visit often as a family and we always get a warm welcome from Arif and team, a chat and some great food. I also visit quite a lot to use it as an office/meeting place. Sometimes it nice to get out of my home office and go somewhere social to work. Tis important for me who still misses the hussle-bussle of an office sometimes for grown up real-life conversation.

They support local and buy their meat from Trussells, so you know your English breakfast will be top notch with the best sausages ever. I am the most difficult eater in the world at the moment with my eating clean but they will cook me whatever I ask for, last week I had smoked salmon, poached egg and green tea in hard-core week 1 of eating clean.

17-7-16 #shoplocalknebworth local small business Cafe Verro17-7-16 #shoplocalknebworth local small business Cafe Verro 2

Ross Randall Plumbing and Heating

A great plumber is hard to find!! We did an extension 3 years ago and moved one bathroom and created a new one. Ross did those bathrooms for us and did a professional and great looking job. Handily whenever we have bathroom issues he’ll pop round to take a look and sort it out. It’s important to know trustworthy tradesmen like this and we recommend him time and time again.

Ross has owned his business Ross Randall Plumbing & Heating for 7 years. His mobile number is 07824 394126, do drop him a line for your plumbing and heating requirements. Here are a couple of photos of our bathroom that Ross fitted.

17-7-16 #shoplocalknebworth local small business Ross Randall2 17-7-16 #shoplocalknebworth local small business Ross Randall

THANK YOU for supporting #shoplocalknebworth

So there you have it, my first social media campaign to support local business of which I am also one!  So please like my Facebook page and follow me on Twitter & Instagram. I WILL save you money with my personal finance and lifestyle advice.

@mrsmummypennyuk on Twitter & Instagram

Mrs Mummypenny on Facebook & Pinterest

MrsMummy Penny on You tube

And please do sign up to receive regular emails from Mrs Mummypenny so you miss nothing.

The next #shoplocalknebworth campaigns will be in September & November. So if you would like to feature in the next campaign please email me on lynn@mrsmummypenny.co.uk.

Paradise Park – A day out with the family in Hertfordshire

A Perfect Family Day out

Last weekend on father’s day hubby was recovering from a hangover after a stag do so the boys and I escaped early to leave him to vegetate on the sofa in peace whilst we headed out to Paradise park. I call that the perfect father’s day pressie. We have been to Paradise Park a few times but I know there are lots of bits that we have never seen or experienced before so the trip this time was to try a bit of everything.

Paradise Park Animals

First stop was a walk around the animals, this is something I have done time and time again and never tire of. As it 29-6-16 meerkats at paradise parkwas early lots of the animals were out and about or eating. My top 3 animals were 3) The snow leopards, 2) the white lions and 1) The otters were just too cute. The boys loved 3) the cheetahs eating chunks of meat, 2) the monkeys for amusement and 1) the meerkats.

29-6-16 lions at paradise park 29-6-16 otters at paradise park

29-6-16 cheetahs at paradise park

Bird Display

After a 20-minute stop at the snake helter-skelter and the bouncy castles we went to watch the bird display. 10 minutes early meant a perfect place to eat our packed lunch I had brought with us. The bird show was brilliant. We got to see the cutest parrots, a huge owl swooping right above our heads and a crazy golden hawk from the Falklands who sneaks into tents to steal food and can open a picnic basket.

29-6-16 cute parrot at paradise park29-6-16 falklands hawk at paradise park

Crazy Golf

Next was crazy golf which normally costs as extra £1.50 per person. I didn’t even know this existed! The boys had a wonderful time. I didn’t keep score as I felt tired at that point so sat at every point I could;-) They wanted to repeat the 18 holes..please no.. onto the splash park.

Splash Lagoon

29-6-16 splash park at paradise parkThe splash lagoon is another thing we have never done before mainly because I normally forget the swimming shorts. I remembered this time so they were happy for 30 minutes. Jack did not want to get out ever.

Woodland Walk

Ice cream time for the boy and the woodland walk to keep me happy. There is a stunning woodland walk where the wolves, reindeers and dinosaurs live. Jack was most impressed with seeing kung-fu panda. We gave the reindeers some food. There is a beautiful pond with an RSPB bird lookout. We saw a few ducks and moorhens. Can’t beat a bit of nature.29-6-16 woodland walk at paradise park

We walked through the outdoor play section, and spent another 30 minutes doing the assault course, bouncy castle slide, swings, pirate ship, fire engine and train..which took us to 3pm for the reptile encounter.

Reptile Encounter

29-6-16 snake at paradise parkThis was the highlight of the day for Josh, who was desperate to get near a snake. He certainly did, the head/hair in the picture is Josh. This is a python. There were too many people to touch the snake, too stressful. I would feel the same snakey.

 

The day was complete and we headed over to the discovery centre to say thank you and good bye to the lovely team and headed home.

A brilliant day thoroughly enjoyed by everyone. Particularly hubby who got to watch formula 1, golf and football in peace.

Go on over to their website to book tickets for summer holiday amusement. There are often money saving deals out there and vouchers so be sure to check out vouchercode sites and hotukdeals etc for a great deal.

This post is written in collaboration with Paradise Park and we received the tickets and VIP bands free of charge.

Free/Money Saving Activities for the Family in May Half Term

Yeah to May half term, hopefully its sunny and warm and we can spend the whole time outside. Or maybe not, it’ll be cold and rainy and you need to refer back to my February half term post for indoor entertainment tips!! This post will give you plenty of ideas for half term on a budget. Lets do this for less than £100 (based on 3 children, boys;-0).

Bookable Sports Camps/ Active sessions

Check out you local council run sports centres, sports clubs and schools for entertainment that you can book your 2014-08-31 10.39.21kids into. We have lots of options local to Knebworth including football camp at a Stevenage school for £10 (if you book at least 2 sessions, otherwise its £12.50) for 6 hours, or multi-sports for the same price. I have seen netball master classes locally and a football fun week at our local school, 4 days for £45 per child. Knowing that my 8 and 6 year old will want to play football every day for 10 hours a day if they could, they are booked into football camp at Marriots school. £40 for 2 days each. Plus their mates are going too:-)

Activities for Dare Devils

I have one dare devil child, Josh the middle one. He always wants to do the muddiest, most dangerous stuff. So for him I have planned a walk to the woods with an assault course that we will create. We live near to Mardley Woods which have lots of hills, fallen trees, ropes hanging from trees. And in the middle of the woods is a huge green grass area to put down a blanket and have a picnic if its sunny. This is of course a wonderful freebie activity.

Visit to the Farm

So when I go to the farm, I go to see the animals. I am a sucker for a cute lamb or piglet and could spend ages watching them run around/eating/fighting with their brothers and sisters. Sometimes its different for kids and they require a bit more entertainment with rides etc..but really? Its a farm, take it for what it is and get your kids to learn and experience the real farm. There are lots of ‘entertainment’ farms about, Willows for example in Hertfordshire but its expensive, If I booked now a 7 day advance tickets for half term its £13.85 for me and £14.60 for each child over 2. That is a huge £57.65 for me and family of 3 children. I WONT be going there.

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I have mentioned Church farm Ardeley before. Its £10 for a family of 5 or £3 per person to enter. Its huge, you can walk for miles around the hundreds of animals. There is always a baby animal of some sort. There are sheep, cows, rabbits, goats, pigs, chickens, ducks, turkeys which you can feed. There are a couple of play areas, not that great to be honest, but they will keep the kids happy for 30 minutes. And there is a lovely cafe and farm shop.

Free Museums

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There are lots of local places you can drive to including RAF museum in Hendon or the Natural History museum in Tring..or if you fancy an adventure get the train and go to London for the Science Museum or Natural History Museum or maybe the Tate? Use your Family and friends Railcard to get the train, I only needed to use it twice before I had got my money back, click on this link to get a 10% discount, so £27. Underground is free for kids. And hit the London museums. Warning..I have been in half term and they are busy. Only do this if you can cope with it..maybe with friends;-)

Children’s Bake Off

Baking Challenge_Smart Energy GB_149

So this is inspired by my recent Smart Energy GB Bake off Estimation Challenge last week, yes that is me with Ian Cummings runner up from Great British Bake Off and Paris from Working Mum Blog. More to be written in a dedicated post later this week when I have the video content, as I am wearing an attractive go-pro;-). The professional photographer was amazing and captured some incredible moments. We are going to do  cup cake estimation challenge. I am going to get the boys to guess the amount of flour, sugar, eggs and butter to add to their cupcake mix. A bit of fun to fill an hour or so. The winner will get some Panini football stickers, the current reward for good behaviour, goals scored in football tournaments, tidy up tasks etc.

Splash Park

We have loads of brilliant splash parks near here, so you must have too wherever in the UK you may be reading this post from. There are great parks in Baldock, Letchworth, St. Albans and Stevenage that I know of. Probably more. The kids love these and given warm weather will spend hours running around whilst I can sit and chill in the sun. Great thing to do with friends and its another freebie. Again take a picnic to save some extra pennies. You might not get away without buying an ice cream though!!

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Local Council Run cinema/soft play

19-11-15 cinemaDo a search for your local facilities on Google if you don’t live in Hertfordshire. I have Campus West in Welwyn Garden City and Letchworth cinema. Both have bargain cinema deals and the added advantage with Campus West in Welwyn is soft play, roller city and a big cafe. Take a look at a previous review  I have written for lots more detail and information. We might be checking out Angry Bird this half term, not my first choice of film. Its £4.15 per ticket when booked with a Zebra card at Campus West.

 

Library

Spend an hour or at the library. They all have brilliant inspiring children’s sections where you can sit and chill and read a book or two. Have a check of your local library website and see if there are any organised activities . There probably are. And we really need to support this service as its in dire risk of closure at the moment with the many government spending cuts. Rant over.

I know this will have given you lots of ideas for a great half term at little or no cost to you. Have fun..send me your pictures of your half term fun and use the #mrsmummypenny.