Where to eat Amazing food in Blackpool

My boys march on their stomach.  They are at that age where they are bottomless and food is an important part of their day.  They get ratty when they are hungry (we call it hangry) and also have adverse reactions to certain foods. where to eat in blackpool So when we are on holidays and days out we often take picnic food to keep them fed and also make sure that we have an idea of where we are going to eat. We had some fab meals in Blackpool and the food was fantastic. Ribby Hall We stayed at the amazing Ribby Hall Holiday Village, which is ten minutes outside of blackpool in one of their self catering cottages, but chose to have breakfast in their tea rooms each morning.  The food was delicious, scrambled eggs that were perfectly cooked on granary toast for me and Farm Shop sausages for the boys with beans and mushrooms, which MadDad opted for the Full English.  All cooked to perfection. The boys and MadDad also had a fab meal in their restaurant on Friday Evening (whilst I gallivanted to celebrate a certain someones upcoming birthday) .  They both said the food was excellent and the deserts even better! Harry Ramsdens Lunch on Saturday was fish and chips at Harry Ramsdens on the seafront.  MadDad and Mini opted for a small Haddock with chips and mussy peas, whilst Mini and I had cod and chips with mushy peas. The fish was amazing and the batter was really light and crispy.  The sign that it was great was empty plates at the end of the meal. Notarianni's For MadDad this was his favorite part of the whole weekend away.  The ice creams at Notarianni's are pretty darn good, in fact they are pretty much a meal on their own. MadDad had a Nosi Mess with meringue, fresh raspberries, vanilla ice cream, raspberry sauce and fresh cream.  Mini chose a Strawberry Sundae and Maxi a Knickerbocker glory.  I decided to share theirs and to just have a coke float.  If you are in Blackpool then it is a must visit and it is a real Blackpool Institution and has been in the same location for over 70 years. La Fontana We had an AMAZING meal at La Fontana, which is an award winning restaurant on Clifton Street before we went to see Mamma Mia.  It really was delicious and they went out of their way to  accommodate our request.  The boys  and I adore Calamari and we didn't think we could manage a starter after all the other food we have already eaten so they brought me it as a main course with salad and it was  mouthwateringly perfect.  The MiniMads couldn't get enough of it. Mini said the margarita pizza he had was the best ever after our homemade and Maxi's bolognese didn't last very long either! MadDad thought his carbonara was delicious. The deserts was unbelievably good (no pictures as the boys polished theirs off before I could even get the camera out).  Mini profiteroles for Maxi, Mini had a banana and chocolate crepe and I opted for tiramisu.  MadDad finished his meal with a coffee. We would certainly go back and it was really reasonably priced for such fab food. Disclosure: We were guests of #Blackpools Back and Merlin Entertainment for our weekend in Blackpool and we are already planning our next visit.   
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Our family gratitude journal, Ending the day in a positive way

how to encourage gratitude in kids I used to be a glass half empty girl, but when I had postnatal depression after Mini was born I was lucky enough to have some fantastic treatment and part of that was cognitive behavioral therapy and I learned how to find joy in the little things.  One of the most transformational parts for me was ending the day with three positive things. Maxi is very much like I used to be and see the negative a lot, so we decided as a family to start a gratitude journal as a family.  I want to encourage him to see the good in everyday and to stop looking at the negative and to start to appreciate more. I want my children to become sensitive to the feelings of others,  to develop empathy and other life skills and I feel that gratitude is essential.  This is even more important as Maxi is starting to feel entitled to certain things and becoming a spoilt child. I need to teach them to look outside of themselves and understand that we do things for them as do other people.  I want them to develop perspective. Our Family Gratitude Journal

Family Gratitude Journal

We decided one way to do this was to establish a tradition of a family gratitude journal and to set a good example for the boys. Together we made a journal that we use for recording three things we are each grateful for. Each evening before bed we sit down together and discuss those three things each that we are grateful for. We take turns in writing them down in a journal that we made. Mini is a natural and finds lots of things to be grateful for amd that have made him happy. Maxi finds it more challenging, but we are slowly learning together how to turn each of those frowns upside down. I think that it is a really positive way to end the day.  It means that the last things they are thinking of before bed are good thoughts.
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What to do in Blackpool when you are eight and nine

It is nearly 20 years since I have been to Blackpool and wow things have certainly changed for the better.  We recently spent a weekend in the wonderful seaside resort and it blew our minds and the boys had THE BEST time. blackpools back

What to do in Blackpool when you are nine

Madame tussauds Madame Tussauds Having visited Tussauds in London I wasn't sure we would enjoy the Blackpool one, but it was ace.  Much more manageable and less busy.  So the boys actually got to take a really good look at the waxworks and actually recognised a lot of the people. The boys particularly loved the football Changing Room and also the Sports Stars.  They had fun climbing with Bear Grills, who is Chief Scout (the boys are both CUb's). We spent a great time looking at the waxworks and finding out how they were made and we also had our hands dipped in wax.   We even had a drink in the Rovers Return.
Maxi - "I liked Madame Tussauds because it a lot of interactive activities that you could do all the way round.  I really enjoyed making a wax hand" Mini - "I thought that the picture we had taken with Spider man was very clever"
Blackpool sea life center Sealife Center Mini loves animals, all animals and he loved the sealife center.  The one at Blackpool is really great and well laid out.  It has 50 displays and more than 2,000 spectacular aquatic creatures. For younger children they can meet the Octonauts, the team of undersea adventure heroes from CBeebies until 1st September. The boys loved the kids quiz trail and enjoyed getting their passport stamped.  They got a medal at the end for completing it. Both the boys love the interactive aspect and touching a starfish was a highlight for Mini. There are sharks, octopus and a really big crab called Big Daddy!
Maxi - "I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw Big Daddy, which is a HUGE spider crab" Mini - "I got to feel a starfish, I didn't think it would be rough and slimy at the same time!
Blackpool Tower Eye The Tower No visit to Blackpool is complete without a visit to the top of the tower or the Blackpool Tower Eye as it is now called. Before ascending to The Blackpool Tower Eye, you will experience Blackpool's first ever 4D Cinema experience, we all thought it was amazing and gave a really great overview of Blackpool.  
Maxi - "The 4D movie was awesome and I loved going top the top of the tower. I even climbed up to the very top part of the tower.  I could see our car in the car park!" Mini - "I loved the Tower, the view was really good and I liked the 4D movie too"
Pleasure beach BlackPool Pleasure Beach The reason we were last in Blackpool was to go on The Big One at the Pleasure Beach and wow have things changed there for the better.  As both the boys are over 1.32 meters they can ride on everything and they loved that (yes they are mini thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies). We spent an afternoon at the Pleasure Beach, but if the lads had got their own way they would have spent all day there. We had so much fun as a family going on the rides.  But you don't have to have adrenaline junkies to enjoy it, there are plenty of rides for younger children especially in Nickelodeon Land. The four of us finished our weekend in Blackpool with a ride on The Big One.  Well I didnt remember it being that scary 20 years ago!
Maxi - "My favorite ride was Revolution because it did a loop de loop forwards and then backwards.  I also liked the pizza we had as the choice was great" Mini - "I loved going on The Big One, I wasn't scared, but I could hear Mummy screaming"
Blackpool zoo Blackpool Zoo We all thought Blackpool Zoo was great.  It is compact and flat (before being a zoo it was an airport) which makes it really great for visiting with kids, buggies or wheelchairs.  Mini loves Animals and adored the Zoo. Highlights included The Lemur Wood, Orangutan Outlook, Active Oceans and Wolf Ridge. We spent the morning at the zoo and really could have spent a lot longer.  Feeding times are clearly marked on a leaflet you are headed as going in and we managed to catch the Pelican feeding time.  We would have loved to see a couple of the shows too. Entry for a family of four was £49.50 and the car park is £2.50 (pay and display).  You can also use your Tesco Clubcard points for entry into the zoo.  If you live close by then annual member ship is less than £100.
 Mini - "I really love tigers and got to feel tiger fur.  I also enjoyed watching the Pelicans being fed" Maxi - "I loved watching the penguins, they kept swimming to look at us"
I would advise that you take a look at the Blackpools Back website for information on tickets and other attractions. You can get a multi venue ticket, which is really great value. Disclosure: We were guests of #Blackpools Back and Merlin Entertainment for our weekend in Blackpool, however, the boys already want to go back and see the illuminations before school starts! 
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How to make family movie night more fun

how to make family movie night more fun We love going to the cinema as a family and are often visitors at our local Cineworld, however, we can not always spare the time (or the budget) for a night out at the movies, so we have started to recreate the feeling at home. theme your experience   First things first, choose a theme for your movie night.  This tends to be dictated by what we are watching and can be anything from super heros' for X Men or Nature themed for when we watched Epic. decide on your food Do you want food during before or after the movie?  Are you going to follow the theme for your food?  We always have popcorn during our movie.  We don't often snack, so love snacking on movie night! There are loads of ways to perk up your popcorn and Pinterest is full of ideas for movie themed snacks. use free printables Movie night doesn't have to be expensive.  I love using some of the fab, free printables available to make it super special.  How cool are these free Frozen movie night tickets.  The Crafty Chick's have some great movie printables. I round up some great free movie printables over at A Thrifty Mum. I also have made a free printable for my boys to review any movies we watch. my movie review cover Movie themed crafting You know me, I love, love, love crafts.  So any opportunity to craft I take it and I love getting creative with the boys and I look on pinterest for ideas, colouring pages and such which fit in with our movie.  We also print tickets and will often make a poster advertising our movie night. decorate For us this can be as simple as putting all the cushions on the floor or bringing our blankets.  But you could pop seats in the style of a cinema.  I often pick up themed paper plates and accessories when I am out shopping to help make movie night a real event. practice writing opinion pieces 3.
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Things to do at Sand Le Mere when you are 9

We are fans of spending family time together and have come to love holidays where we can take all the family including Alvin the dog. At Half term we went to Sand le Mere on the Yorkshire coast, 2 hours away from our home on the Yorkshire coast (Hey Yorkshire is big and we live in North Yorkshire and Sand le Mere is in East Yorkshire). Now I am going to preface this post with the fact that it was WET, very wet, it rained every day bar one when we were there and then Mini got tonsillitis, but inspite of all that we had a lovely time and I can safely say Sand le Mere got the thumbs up from us. We stayed in a two bedroom caravan and it was great.  Perfect for all of us with a double bedroom and loo for us and a twin room for the boys.  We took Alvin's crate and bed and he was a very happy pup. Things to do

What to do at Sands Le Mere when you are nine (by Maxi)

  • Go in the pool - the pool at Sand Le Mere is ace
  • Go to the Park and play football - There was always load of other kids at the park and it was fun to play with them
  • Take your scooter and explore
  • Play air hockey - it was a £1, but I love air hockey
  • I enjoyed walking Alvin round the park
  • The entertainment is really fun and it runs during the day and evening
  • There is a soft play area, but I was about the biggest in it!
  • Make sure you save yourt 2p's before you visit for the penny falls in the arcade
sand le mere

What we thought of Sand le Mere as a family:

What we loved:
  • The pool was excellent, never too busy and the boys adored it.  The lifeguard was strict, which as a mum I love.
  • The evening entertainment was ace according to the MiniMads.  it was perfectly pitched at kids and not inappropriate at all.  They even managed to get MadDad up on stage with Mini!
  • We could take ALL the family including Alvin
  • Free Wifi in the central complex
  • The onsite shop was reasonably priced
  • The beach is walkable
  • The soft play area inside is small but perfectly formed
  • The boys loved the arcades especially the tuppenny falls and air hockey.
We weren't keen:
  • We tried out the food and I wasn't really impressed.  It was just frozen stuff warmed up. But saying that I am pretty picky and the boys didn't mind it at all!
 Things to do nearby:
  • The Deep
  • Fort Paull
  • Spurn point
  • Hornsea FreePort (which is doggy friendly)
  • Honsea
  • Withensea
  • RAF Holmpton
  • Burton Constable
  • East Park, Hull
  • Arctic Corsair
  • Streetlife Museum of Transport
 Disclosure: We were invited by Sand Le Mere to visit
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Over 50 low cost Ideas to make the most of summer with your family

over 50 low cost summer family activities Along with the The Tots100 and Amazon Prime Video I co-hosted an amazing #AmazonSummer twitter party. There were so many fabulous ideas on how you can make the most of the summer with your family, that I wanted to share some of them with you.  But first I want to share with you just how we are finding Amazon Prime Video.

Amazon Prime Video - Great for Kids

We have been trialing Amazon Prime Video and I want to share with you just how fantastic it is.  We recently went away for a few days and we made sure the boys were occupied on the car journey by downloading a movie and TV series to our Kindle Fire HDX. I love that Amazon have Free Time, which enables me as a parent to be in control of how my boys use the Kindle.  I can set time limits for reading, apps and videos.  I can also set which apps, movies, books and videos they have access too. Better still I can restrict access to the apps and videos until they have completed a specific amount of reading! I have a Free Time setup for each of the boys and they both have their own limits and specific turn on and off times. As adults we are loving it too and are watching Stephen Spielberg's mystery thriller Extant Great reasons to try Prime Instant Video  Britain's largest subscription streaming service - more than 15,000 blockbuster Movies and TV shows Watch anywhere, anytime with unlimited access throughout the UK Watch exclusive hit TV shows before they air on British TV Available on a huge range of compatible devices including Smart TVs, games consoles, Kindle Fire, iPhone, iPad and laptop Over 50 Ideas to make the most of summer with your family You don't have to take my word for it, they have a free 30 day Amazon Prime Instant Video worth £5.99 so you can see for yourself.
Disclosure: I recently attended an event run by Amazon Prime Instant Video to learn more about it and received a Kindle Fire HDX.
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Top tips for a great day at Thorpe Park when you are nine and win £250

My boys know no fear, they are mini thrill seekers and love visiting theme parks, but being eight and nine, means that they are not tall enough to go on a lot of the rides, but they really enjoyed Thorpe Park and could happily spend a couple of days at a time there! Thorpe park facebook

Top tips for a great day out at Thorpe Park

  1. Get there before opening time.  The smallest queues are at the beginning and end of the day, so take advantage of this for the bigger rides
  2. Check your height before you go.  Make sure you avoid disappointment on the day by checking your child's height, as long as they are over 1.2 meters there will be lots for them to enjoy.
  3. You will get wet on the water rides including your feet.
  4. The artificial beach and paddling pool is a great place to relax mid afternoon, so take a towel and costume for the kids.
  5. If you only have a day it is worth investing in fast track passes.  Who wants to spend most of their day in a queue?
  6. You can hire a large locker for just £1, great for storing those spare clothes and towels!
  7. If you want photo's of you and the kids on the rise, buy a pass that gets you four for £12, a saving of over £15 on them individually.
  8. Buy a refillable soft drink cup to share on the day.
  9. There are plenty of food outlets, but they do tend to be quite expensive, so my advice would be to pack a picnic
  10. Check out our previous review's of Thorpe Park for 7 and 8 year olds, our post on things to check out before visiting Thorpe Park and the Thorpe Park Pinterest Board before visiting
sunfessions win

Win £250 with The Mad House and #SunFessions

The Sun + are offering you the chance to get your hands on two tickets for Thorpe Park Resort worth up to £99 by signing up to The Sun+ for a £1 month’s trial of their subscription and then a subsequent month at under £8.67 so a saving of over £80.

To support the #Sunfession campaign, I also have £250 to give away to you lovely blog readers to spend at Thorpe Park. All you need to do is log in to Twitter or Instagram account and retell a hilarious awful thing you have done to your kids.  Don’t forget to include #Sunfession and #muminthemadhouse . Hit tweet or post, and then visit the Sun site to see your #Sunfession appear.

Win £250 to spend at Thorpe Park with #SunFessions What do do in thorpe park when you are 8 and 9 3.
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July’s Small Stuff

I think I say this every month, but wow July flew past.  The days can be long, but the month is short! July small stuff The start of July was all about trudging through the last days of school.  We were all tired, but fun was had a musicals, assemblies, shuffle up weeks (meeting new teachers) and saying thank you to teachers who have helped to shape and mould my boys. The other underlying aspect of July has been thrills and spills.  We have visited three theme parks. Enjoying a fab new ride at Drayton Manor, Thorpe Park (come back tomorrow for a FAB competition featuring Thorpe Park)  and have our ill held preconceptions shattered about Blackpool where we took Mini to his first show to see Mama Mia. Family has been the keyword during July with a fab family Christening and catching up with some wonderful family from my Dad's side of the family and watching the MiniMads connect with another generation.  We have spent the warm summer evenings walking the dog and chatting. The Minimads have been loom band and football card crazy and also finding time for some Hama Beads in their crazy social whirl.   The weather has been really kind, so lots of scootering and biking has happened and they have made the most of the time off school playing football and cricket with friends. I made a trip to London to learn about Kindle Fire HDX and learn how to use it to limit the boys online time but also about Amazon Video Streaming (more on that to come).  I also took part in a North Eastern Blogger and Brand Event in Newcastle, which was really interesting. I have discovered that I love cold coffee and have been making frozen decaf ice cubes to add to cold milk (voila iced caffe late) thanks to our Dolche Gusto machine.   We have also been filling the freezer with home made lollies and popsicles. We have so much to be thankful and grateful for that we have started a family gratitude journal.
The Mad House
So now it is your turn.  Come and share with me your small stuff.  The little things that make a big difference.
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5 ways to teach kids to be smart with money

According to a recent survey by Scottish Friendly UK disposable incomes on the rise, which can only be a good things after such a period of recession. (You can find Scottish Friendly on twitter) We were listening to the news on the radio whilst in the car at the weekend, when Mini asked "what is a recession?" This got me thinking that money really has a terminology and language of all it own and it is my responsibility as a parent to teach this to the boys and to make sure that they are money smart, but how do you do that? 5 ways to teach kids to be smart with money

Start talking to your kids about money at an early age

  Explain to your Kids why you work, so that you can make money for the family.  Explain that the items they use each day all cost money and you must work to make and save enough to make sure all things are paid for.  From an early age if you asked the boys why their Daddy went out to work their response would be "to get pennies" . We also explained that a bank is a place that keeps money safe. 

Give them practical money lessons

The best way to teach kids to start managing money is to give them some. If they blow their pocket money on the ice cream van and don't have enough left for later in the week, that's actually a good thing: They learn firsthand the consequence of overspending. Another way to do this with older children is to get them involved with the family shopping budget.  Get them to make the list and give them a budget to spend to get the shopping.

Model good habits

Make sure you set a good example for your kids.   Let them see you making smart decisions about money.  Be a role model,Let them see you have a savings account and how you shop wisely.  Show how you set up a budget and stick to it. In addition to disciplining yourself to use smart money habits, make sure you point out to your kids how those habits work in your day-to-day life.  You have a budget and spending priorities. So should your child.

Talk about money

Money should not be spoken to in hushed tones or b e a dirty word.  Make sure you talk to your kids about money and finance.  Talk about your work and how your salary is based on the work you do. Show how your earnings reflect the health of your business and the economy. If your family is enduring a difficult time, find a way to talk about it an age-appropriate manner.

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

Delayed gratification is one of the hardest money lessons I think.  I want to avoid that  "buy now, pay later" mentality that could mire the boys in credit card debt later on. So, as much as I can, I reinforce the idea that waiting pays off. But remember that postponement of pleasure is a grown-up characteristic, learned from grown-ups.

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Stepping outside my comfort zone and Dr Beckmann competition

A while ago I was asked to be in a video by Dr Beckmann about their stain removers and their colour  and dirt collector sheets. Me in a video!  Initially I was going to decline, but I use the products and actually for once decided to step outside my comfort zone and say yes. jen filming As the date got nearer, I got more and more apprehensive.  We were going to be making a proper video and I was going to be using an autocue as I had a script and everything! Any way, I swallowed my scaries and we made two videos.  The experience was fantastic and the girls and guys made it fun and even better the video turned out amazing. Well I think it did. Why not take a look for yourself......................... I would never make a video for products that I didn't believe it and there was no camera trickery involved in this second video.  What I add to the water is actual Dylon Dye and the Colour & Direct Collector sheets absorb it all from the water. The lovely people at Dr Beckmann's have offered a reader of The Mad House the opportunity to get their hands on some great products including Stain Devils for ridding those stubborn stains, the whole Service-It family, for maintaining and cleaning your appliances and the handy Dry Clean Only cloths to keep those delicate garments looking and smelling fresh, Carpet Stain Remover, Glowhite, Oven Cleaner and brand new Colour & Dirt Collector Sheets. win Dr Beckmann Products So to be in with a chance to win this great prize all you have to do is leave me a comment telling me what colour dye I add to the vases. Entry is via Gleam. Dr Beckmann's Prize Bundle
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