Wednesday 19 November 2014

Meeting Santa at Pugh's garden centre

Even though Eva is only 22 months I already am aware of how difficult it can be to choose the best place for your child to meet the big man himself. More often than not meeting santa is severely overpriced and the queues are always huge, which let's face it, is pretty hideous when you're trying to entertain a toddler.
Last year we went to Caerphilly Garden Centre as Eva was not even 1 she didn't really understand anything. We also had to wait 1.5 hours to greet him. This made me realise I had to find something easier this year.
A few people had mentioned Pugh's garden centre to me and after following them on twitter (follow them here Twitter) and reading their updates I knew we had to give it a try. 
You can book online before hand (huge tick in the box for me) so there is not much waiting around. It costs £2 per adult, do not be put off by the fact that you pay for an adult, you are involved in a 10 minute experience with your child. The child price is £7 with a toy. I found these to be pretty good prices when compared with other places but little did I know how good they were until we got there.
We visited on the opening night which meant they had real reindeer there!!!! What a bonus and a special treat. They were adorable. I think Arwyn and I were more excited than Eva who simply called them dogs. 

The winter wonderland is 'Frozen' themed. This is a huge hit with Eva and I imagine with the majority of children. Eva was elated to see the life size cardboard cutouts of Elsa and Anna (little does she know she'll be meeting the real life princesses in Disneyland Paris in a few weeks). There is Frozen music on in the background which helps create the atmosphere. 

Before you enter Santa's winter wonderland you are given a lantern to carry (loved this idea) and you are on your way through a magical journey of christmas and ice to find Santa. A lovely elf takes you on your guided walking tour through the frozen winter wonderland. Expect lot's of decorations, snowmen, ice, water and mist. The whole walk through sent Eva into a sensory overdrive (same with mummy and daddy). She loved all of it and was amazed at everything she saw. Even all the adults couldn't wipe the smile from their faces. 

Finally you end your journey by finding santa. Firstly an elf reads you all a story while the children sit on the floor and the adults sit on surrounding benches. Then santa calls your child up to meet him. Eva was rather nervous about meeting the big man and when asked if she wanted anything for christmas she simply replied no. All the more presents for mummy then!! 
Last on the agenda was collecting your present which you can pick yourself (another bonus as you know your child will like it).

My pictures do not do this wonderful experience the justice it deserves. We had the most fantastic time and certainly felt like we were taken into a magical wonderland. I can't recommend it enough. It's a unique experience for all the family to enjoy. We loved it so much we are going to take Eva again nearer to christmas day. 

Have you been to this winter wonderland before? Where have you taken your child to see Santa? Please leave me a comment of your experience if you visit Pugh's.


Monday 10 November 2014

Not quite Torvill and Dean

As a part time working mum, I quite often find myself suffering from guilt whenever I have a day off and I'm looking after Eva. I found that instead of using these days to spend quality time with my daughter (the whole reason for going part time), i'm more often that not cleaning the house, washing, ironing or doing food shopping. This made me make a pact that every day I have off we will do at least one fun thing together. This may simply be a play in the local park or soft play to things like baking cakes.
Now, I don't know about you but sometimes I am just sick of the sight of soft play and I really struggle for interesting, new days out to do. Whilst googling about ice skating in a winter wonderland I stumbled across something called 'ice tots' which is basically a parent/toddler session of ice skating for 18 month olds to 5 year olds. It takes place at Planet Ice and they have quite a few rinks across the UK. My local rink is Cardiff and they run the session every Wednesday 4-4.30pm for £5. To see your local rink and times click here: Ice Tots
So let's get down to the nitty gritty. When we went to collect our skates I was faced with issue number one...the smallest toddler skates they have are a size 6 and Eva is in a 5. Had  I known this before hand I would have packed some welly socks to make the skates fit a bit better. She tried two different types of skates, one with a single blade and one with a double blade. I have to say she seemed more balanced on the singular blade so bare that in mind if you take your little one.
Problem number 2......perhaps I should have been a bit more competent in skating myself before attempting to look after Eva. Even though there is a sectioned off area for the little ones, I still found the whole thing slightly daunting. I think next time we go I will take some reigns to hold Eva with as my back was absolutely killing me after 5 minutes of bending over to keep her upright. 
All that aside Eva had an absolute ball. She didn't manage to 'skate' anywhere but she was more than happy falling on the floor (she found this hilarious) and was completely fascinated by what she thought to be a real penguin. The instructor was extremely helpful and very patient (he needed to be attempting to look after the both of us). I think I wrapped us both up a little to warm as the pair of us were sweating when we left. From a parent's point of view I have to say I felt like i'd done a full body workout but hey that's always a good thing. 
To sum up I will definitely take Eva again. I don't think I will make it a weekly thing as it will become quite pricey but it certainly is a great activity to learn together. 

Have you taken your little one skating? What other unique activities can you suggest for our days off together?

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Love Kerry and Eva xx

Sunday 2 November 2014

Who you gonna call.....Ghostbusters!

This halloween was a slightly different experience  to last years what with Eva being a bit older. She is currently 22 months old so we decided to give her a jam packed day to suit her need to be on the go constantly.
I was slightly miffed to find that Tesco had reduced all their halloween outfits (including the one Eva is wearing) a day before halloween. Next year I think I may risk it and leave it until last minute as this really wound me up. 
As I arranged her activities for the day, I started to wonder whether she has more of a social life than me but hey i'm always there with her so my life is equally hectic and enhanced. 
We started the days festivities by going to the children's halloween disco at our local pub the Cwrt Rawlin. I have to confess I have never ever seen the pub as busy as it was that day and that wasn't a good thing. As much as Eva was in her oils running around the pub chasing other children, dancing and admiring everyone's outfits, I on the other hand was close to a nervous breakdown as keeping up with her was extremely tiring and stressful. So I made a note to self to give that a miss for a few years until she's at an age where I can safely leave her to her own devices. 

We then decided to take Eva trick or treating around a few of the houses in our street. We didn't have a lot of time as we had more exciting plans for the evening but we didn't want her to miss out on the experience. We also couldn't leave Alfie our staffie out of the fun so we decided to fashion him a 'ghost dog' outfit out of some old sheets. The two of them were a massive hit and a formidable pair. All the other parents and trick or treaters couldn't stop admiring Alfie and spoiling Eva. One thing I have learnt about the whole trick or treating experience is that some people are so miserable!! I quite often wonder what some of these people's childhoods were like or whether they have just forgotten what it was like to be a child. I understand that trick or treaters can be annoying and I certainly agree that children of a certain age should not be out but when it's young children with their parents I think the festivities should be embraced and encouraged. 

Last on the agenda was the drive in movie experience watching none other than Ghostbusters!! I cannot recommend this experience more. It's at the national diving and activity centre in Chepstow and it's well worth the trek. Arwyn and I have been avid movie goers for quite some time but we have never been to a drive in cinema. Let's face it, we live in Wales so the weather isn't always on our side to hold events like these. We also took Eva as we figured that she had the freedom to play in the car and also fall asleep in her car seat when she became tired.
How wrong were we thinking she would become tired. Eva absolutely had time of her life. When we arrived we parked up the car and visited the onsite cafe to grab ourselves some food and drinks. Why we did this when we had a car full of goodies that we'd brought with us, i'll never know. Perhaps, it was being caught up in the atmosphere. There is a fully licensed bar there so we had some alcoholic beverages (in real glasses i might add) and we also purchased the standard movie snack, popcorn. We then dashed back to the car with our food and drinks, tuned in the fm station and sat back and relaxed and enjoyed the film. 
Ironically enough it was actually one of the mildest halloween nights on record and also dry. Other people had obviously checked the weather forecast in advance as there were people sat on deck chairs and the bonnets of their cars all snuggled up with blankets under a canopy of stars. It really was magical. 
I cannot recommend this enough. It's perfect for all the family or as a date night. The usual cost is £30 a car which may seem pricey but it's a movie experience like no other. We actually paid £15 for our tickets on amazon local so keep your eyes peeled for further deals. Check out their website here to see more information and a full list of showings between now and the new year: Cinema listings. I think we'll go again to watch Elf, Frozen and if I can drag the hubby, Grease.

I'm sorry the pictures didn't turn out so great (it was pitch black). What did you get up to on halloween? What has been your experience of trick or treating with your little one? Have you been to a drive in movie? Please leave me some comments, I love to hear them.

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Love Kerry and Eva xx
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