Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Gower Heritage Centre - #SwanseaBayMoments

This is the third in a series of posts about our weekend in Swansea Bay last month. 

After filling up on our fabulous hotel breakfast we piled into the car and set off up to Gower Heritage Centre.  As part of a special half term event Gower Heritage Centre were holding a "Pirate Week" - offering face painting, pirate crafts and story telling along with a bouncy castle and even some parrots!

The beautiful bright blue sky belies just how flipping cold it was!

We arrived at Gower Heritage Centre in time for opening (bearing in mind we had a lot to fit into our day!) so it was really quiet when we first arrived.

We walked straight through into the courtyard area which had been covered over and decorated with some piratey decorations.  Of course Ben and Chloe were immediately drawn to the big bouncy castle and their shoes were off before we'd even opened our mouths!  Alongside the bouncy castle (which I assume was a temporary half term treat) there was also a small soft play area and a section for ride ons (tractors and the like).

Pirate themed courtyard area

Even Amy got in on the bouncy castle action!

Amy enjoyed exploring this little soft play area
I think he has a future in farming don't you?

I love that they had ride ons of varying sizes so all three children could join in!

Ben and Chloe enjoyed the bouncy castle so much that I think that in all honesty I think they'd have stayed on there all day.  They weren't impressed when we asked them to put their shoes on so we could have more of a look round!

We had a little chat with some visiting parrots - this was a bit of a strange experience and not something I think any of the kids were especially keen on but of course it did fit with the piratey theme.

This little dude talked which Ben thought was ace!

Who's a pretty boy then?

We made our way out of the courtyard to explore Gower Heritage Centre a bit further - we found a range of old farm machinery which, whilst I was quite interested, I'm afraid Ben and Chloe couldn't have cared less and stormed on past.  They were excited to see the little stream which plays host to a Duck Race unfortunately this wasn't taking place till much later in the afternoon so we weren't able to take part.

Quick family photo opportunity!

Time to explore!

We walked all the way down to the end of the path stopping to visit the animals along the way - quite a lot of the pens and cages were empty which I assume was due to the time of year.  I imagine the little animal farm would be a quite a hive of activity later in the Spring and Summer however on a cold February day it was just a little drab and disappointing really.  Ben and Chloe were keen to make their way back to the play area and sandpit.

Ben loved this very fast slide!

He also loved digging in the sandpit!

The play area, whilst not especially big, was lovely and had plenty to keep all three children entertained however Mummy and Daddy were far too cold to be standing around watching them play for long and ushered them inside for lunch!  After spending quite a while outside it was a real joy to sit down in the cosy little Tea Rooms and order a nice hot lunch!  Ben and I ordered a hot chocolate and I was impressed when the gentleman taking the order questioned if the drinks were for the children before offering to put Ben's hot chocolate into a lidded cup and add a little extra milk to cool it down for him - this was a really thoughtful touch.  I couldn't resist ordering the Welsh classic "Welsh Rarebit" - when in Rome Wales and all that!  It was absolutely delicious!

Welsh Rarebit

Unfortunately due to the time we had sat down to eat our lunch we missed the next scheduled pirate storytelling session which was a shame.  As part of the Pirate Theme there was the opportunity to take part in pirate craft sessions, face painting and puppet shows however these were all at an additional cost to the entry fee and as such were swerved by our family.  I'm afraid expensive add on activities are something which really annoy me when we've paid to go somewhere - a family outing for five is already expensive without having to pay out for three lots of face paint or craft activities.  I rather felt that this should have been included in the entrance cost if they were advertising a pirate theme - it meant beyond the parrots and piratey decorations the pirate theme itself was only really available to those who were prepared to pay for it.

So costly pirate themed activities aside?  The Gower Heritage Centre has the potential to be a really lovely day out with plenty going on to fill your day and make the most of your entrance fee.  On a cold February day we found it hard to get our money's worth and were done within a couple of hours however on a sunny Spring day I think it would be an absolute joy to visit!

You can read more about our #SwanseaBayMoments here: 

A Visit to Swansea Bay - #SwanseaBayMoments

Swansea Waterfront Premier Inn - #SwanseaBayMoments

*Disclaimer: We were invited to visit Gower Heritage Centre as guests of Visit Swansea Bay.  All thoughts and opinions remain our own* 

Tried & Tested Tuesday

Hello all, and welcome to another Tried & Tested Tuesday! Can you believe it's almost April?! We can’t wait to see what you’ve been reviewing lately and we always love the wide variety of products, experiences and blogs we get to read as a result of this linky.

 Please have a quick read through the points below to make sure you know how things are working –

* The linky is open on Tuesday – from 8am to midnight on the same day 

* We’d love to share your post on Twitter – please tweet us your link (@Lollinski & @FamilyFever) along with the #TriedTested hashtag and we’ll retweet that for you 

* If you’d like Colette to tweet you a reminder each week when the linky is open then please drop her a tweet (@Lollinski) and she’ll add you to the list

* We will continue to feature our two favourite reviews from the past week and, in the near future we’ll be introducing a special “featured blogger” badge but bear with us on that one!

So if this is your first time here then welcome along! You can find out more about it and how to join in here. If you’re a regular then welcome to you too, it’s lovely to have you back! Crack on, link up and share some commenty love – lets face it, that’s what makes linkys work.

This week we have loved:
  #TriedTested featured blogger

TheraPur Rapport Bed review from Renovation Bay-Bee - a good bed is an essential, and we both loved the look of this one - could it be the key to a full nights sleep? ;-)

  #TriedTested featured blogger

Quinny Moodd review from Keep Up With The Jones Family - we loved reading this take on pushchair versus babywearing, and felt it was a really thorough and balanced review.

If you link up please do make sure you visit your hosts Family Fever and We’re going on an adventure to leave a comment on the posts we have each linked up as well as a couple of others if you can – we know that people really, really appreciate the feedback!

We do ask that you link a maximum of 2 posts each week to keep things fair for everyone – if you choose to link up an extra post please make sure you visit extra posts in the linky to balance it out.  (Additional or irrelevant posts will be deleted out of fairness).

We do our best to visit each post and leave a comment but we can’t promise to get round everyone every week. We would love it if you grabbed our badge and popped it on your post too so other people know where to find the linky!

We're going on an adventure

Monday, 30 March 2015

Hot Wheels Super Speed Blastway - Review

As you can imagine when the email landed in my inbox offering Ben the opportunity to try out the Hot Wheels Super Speed Blastway Trackset he was more than a little excited.  I don't normally tell my children about reviews until the items arrive but this time I decided to show it to him to see if he fancied reviewing it.  The answer was, unsurprisingly, a resounding yes.

Of course in the short time it took for the parcel to arrive he had long forgotten about it.  I allowed him to open the parcel before school one morning which turned out to be a bit of a mistake - he was so excited about coming home and playing with it that he spent all day counting down the hours till home time with his teacher and then got into trouble for talking in assembly . . . yes he was talking about his new Hot Wheels track to whoever he happened to be sat next to at the time!  As a result I told him he couldn't have it until the next morning and he was absolutely gutted. 

The following morning, my turn to have a lie in incidentally, I was woken by lots of screaming, laughing and general noise.  Needless to say I quickly realised that Daddy had helped Ben to set up his track and they were playing with it on the dining room table.

What we love about it: 
* Set up is relatively easy and Ben enjoyed helping to put all the stickers in the right place. 
* It's fast, furious and exciting!
* You can play on your own but it's definitely more fun with two!
* It connects to other Hot Wheels tracks so you can build all sorts of racing fun into it!
* The pop up element of the characters is good fun and a really visual sign of who won!
* An RRP of £22.99 is a pretty fair price

What we're not so keen on: 
*Storage isn't all that easy unless you take it to pieces but I was worried it wouldn't withstand constantly being taken to bits 
* The middle sections are quite flexible which could lead to breakage if you didn't move it carefully
* It's noisy when Mummy is trying to have a lie in! (Though that's as much the excitement as the banging of the toy)
* It's a shame only one car is included when the whole point is a competition - that said we have a box full of Hot Wheels cars and I'm sure most boys of Ben's age probably do.

I asked Ben to tell me about his new Hot Wheels Super Speed Blastway . . . 

Whilst we're on the subject of Hot Wheels there's also an exclusive promotion: buy five Hot Wheels cars to get your hands on a free, limited edition Black Car!  For more details go to HotWheelsPromotions.co.uk 

*Disclaimer - We were sent this track free of charge for the purposes of review however all thoughts and opinions remain our own* 

Birthday Celebrations with Balloon Time

I've known Marc for 15 years now and despite our birthdays being just days apart we've never really managed to celebrate them together . . . until this year!  We decided that we'd have a bit of a get together at our house - much easier than trying to arrange baby sitters or deal with children in restaurants right? 

We did a buffet which everyone contributed to, including lush homemade pizzas (thanks for that Richard) and a Batman birthday cake - clearly this is what every 35 year old needs right?  Ben and Chloe certainly enjoyed free reign of the buffet - I dread to think what they actually ate but I'm not one for enforcing rules on party food. 

Ben, Chloe and Amy were thrilled to have everybody round and the addition of helium balloons from Balloon Time added to the atmosphere and excitement of our little party.
I had picked the Balloon Time kit up in Tesco a few days earlier but hadn't told Ben and Chloe anything about it.  They've only recently discovered the joy of helium and I loved their little faces when they realised these weren't just "normal" balloons!

The Balloon Time kit is super easy to use - everything you need comes in one box - the helium tank, balloons and ribbon.  According to the instructions the balloons have a float time of around 5 to 7 hours (though hours lasted about 10 before unceremoniously collapsing to the floor).  With a relatively short float time I would suggest inflating your balloons at the last possible minute - this certainly isn't a job to do the night before your party!  Oh and make sure you pre-cut the ribbons otherwise you might end up with a lot balloons lost on your ceiling!  It's also worth considering if you are going to leave your balloons to float freely as we did or if they need tying to anything, you may need to invest in some balloon weights if you want them in the middle of the table or or on the floor.

To inflate your balloons you just have to fit them over the end of the nozzle and press down - make sure you don't over inflate your balloons or you'll soon find you've run out of helium.  The tank contains just enough helium for the provided balloons.

One thing to bear in mind is that the tank does need to be disposed of carefully after the event - this isn't just something you can plonk in your household waste (and as such is still sat in our dining room waiting for Dave's next trip to the tip!)

A photo posted by Colette B (@goingonanadventureblog) on

What we loved:
* Everything you need comes in one box - the helium tank, balloons, ribbon
* The balloons are easy to fill 
* There's just enough helium in the tank for the 30 provided balloons
* At £25 it's great value

What we're not so keen on:
* Having to dispose of the tank is a bit of a pain
* The balloons only last for a short time (around 5 to 7 hours according to the instructions though ours lasted about 10 hours in total) so you can't inflate them too far ahead of your party

This isn't the first time we've used a Balloon Time kit and I can pretty much guarantee it won't be the last! 

*Disclaimer: I'm working with BritMums and Balloon Time as part of the "Celebration Club", highlighting inventive and fun ways of using balloons.  I was provided with a Balloon Time helium kit and have been compensated for my time.  All editorial and opinions are my own.  Visit www.balloontime.com for more information and party inspiration.*

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Operation Wedding Weight - Weigh in #7

It was my birthday on Tuesday - which has meant lots of celebrating and not a lot of concentrating on keeping a track of my Syns!  

We had friends over on Saturday afternoon and we enjoyed a generous buffet lunch - I snacked, picked and munched my way through all sorts of treats.  I didn't bother to check syn values or write anything down, I just enjoyed my birthday party! 

Birthday cake!

On my actual birthday Dave and I went to Housing Units for breakfast - Eggs Benedict and "bressert" - chocolate cheesecake and a hot chocolate.  I really enjoyed it but I must admit to feel a bit sick afterwards - it was clearly more "naughty" food that I've been used to eating of late!  I also enjoyed some Hotel Chocolat goodies after the kids were in bed!)

Three days of birthday celebrating and not really paying much attention to my food meant I knew I had to work really hard to draw a line under it and get back on plan.  Previously I'd have had the attitude of  "Well I've ballsed these week up now so I might as well keep eating" - not this time.  Wednesday morning and I was back in the game, weighing out my cereal, carefully planning my lunch for work and writing every mouthful down again. 

On Friday night we made a mad dash up to the Trafford Centre for a quick shopping session - I had birthday money to spend but also needed something to wear for our family photo shoot (watch out for a separate post on this).  Anyway, you know when you've lost a bit of weight but you don't necessarily feel like you can see it yourself - then you go shopping?  I had one of those nights on Friday, smaller stuff was fitting me, stuff that wasn't made of jersey!  I bought jeans, actual jeans not leggings (though I admit they are stretchy) . . . And a bright red anorak.  No black.  Bright flipping red.  Knowing that I was fully expecting a bit of a birthday related gain when I got on the scales the following day I decided I would keep a tight hold of this win to keep me focussed for the next week.  

Dave took this photo of me when I'd fallen in the mud and you know what - I was quite pleased with it so I'm going to share it with you . . . 

A photo posted by Colette B (@goingonanadventureblog) on

I'd said last week that really I was just hoping to maintain - I think most people would be more than happy with a maintain in their birthday week right?  Imagine how pleased I was with myself to discover that I'd actually managed to lose weight!

Basically I've lost the 0.5lb I put on last week and, as an added bonus, not gained anything over my birthday.  The last two weeks have just cancelled each other out.  I know I've got a good straight run this week - no plans to tempt me off plan.  Just a normal week where I can remain focussed - which is just as well really with next weekend being our Wedding Anniversary and Easter! Eeep!  I'd be thrilled to lost 3.5lb this week which would get me to the next stone under however I'd be happy with 2lb really.

On top of my new jeans and my 0.5lb loss I was also awarded Slimmer of the Month!! I couldn't believe it.  Especially considering the last two weeks didn't really count for much! When I first went back to class two months ago but first mental target was to "feel better" by this week - to feel nice for our photo shoot.  I achieved that.  I felt nice having my pictures taken yesterday - I just hope that the camera agreed with me!

Don't forget you can keep any eye on #OperationWeddingWeight over on Twitter and Instagram during the week.

You can read about my journey so far here: 

Operation Wedding Weight is ON!

Operation Wedding Weight - Weigh in #1

Operation Wedding Weight - Weigh in #2

Operation Wedding Weight - Weigh in #3

Operation Wedding Weight - Weigh in #4

Operation Wedding Weight - Weigh in #5

Operation Wedding Weight - Weigh in #6

Friday, 27 March 2015

Tuff Spot - O is for Oats

This is an idea I've been meaning to try at home for quite some time after seeing it set up in a Year 1 classroom so when Emma from Adventures of Adam invited me to take part her in her Tuff Spot A - Z Challenge  I seized the opportunity for the letter O and knew immediately that today, O is for Oats. 

There isn't much setting up to do with this activity however it could get a bit messy so keep your dustpan and brush or vacuum to hand!  Thankfully with it all being dry ingredients it doesn't take long to clean up.  The other bonus of a dry Tuff Spot activity is that you can leave it out for your child to go back to whenever they choose - though in this instance that would be easier if you had a Tuff Spot Stand (this is something which is on my wish list at the moment).

Tuff Spot (obviously) Of course you could use any sort of large container really 
* Cheap porridge oats
* Assorted containers, funnels and utensils

There's so much scope for learning with this activity but I was keen to just let the kids explore and see what they came up with rather then limiting the activity with my own preconceived ideas.

From the moment I had put the Tuff Spot out, Amy was in there, exploring the utensils and enjoying the sensation of the oats on her hands and feet.  Ben quickly started to fill containers and told me he was a Scientist making a potion.  We talked as they played, discussing the feeling of the oats, the way they poured, why they wouldn't fit through the funnels, what they were pretending to do.  Of course I encouraged them to keep the oats in the Tuff Spot but this was definitely a time I was grateful for our fantastic laminate flooring, the oats were everywhere!  This was Amy's first real "Messy Play" activity (a downside to her missing out on the early Nursery care that the older two had when I was working full time).  She absolutely loved it and remained focused on the activity for quite some time.  I loved that this was an activity that both Ben (5) and Amy (16mo) could really get involved in together.  (Chloe did come and play for a bit but she wasn't as interested as the other two!)

With my teacher head on, these are just some of the skills & learning which this Tuff Spot activity addresses: 

* Fine motor skills 
* Capacity
* Pouring and measuring
* Mark making
* Hand eye co-ordination
* Problem solving 
* Concentration
* Sensory exploration
* Imaginative play
* Opportunities for talk

So oats were a definite winner in our house and one we'll certainly be trying again!

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