Savory Scones 3

My mum was an amazing cook and baker and growing up our home was filled with the smell of cooking and baking.  She cooked everything from scratch including bread and biscuits.  One of my favorite things that she baked was her savory scones.  She could whip them up in 10 minutes flat and always said that the less you handled them the better they were.  She never rolled our her scones, she just patted them down and often just cut the in to triangles rather than cut them in to circles. When my mum died I took her cook books, but to be honest most of the time she cooked from more »

Postcards from Butlins – Day one and a competition

Win an iPad, Wii U, iPad Mini or iPod Touch with Butlins

Butlins are call for all bloggers to tell them about a special childhood holiday memory that still makes you smile and you could be in with the chance of winning one of these 4 prizes: An iPad, WiiU, iPad Mini or iPod Touch.

Once you have thought about which childhood holiday was most memorable to you, all you need to do is write and post on your blog a short description and conclude the entry with the end line “Competition sponsored by Butlins Holiday Parks, helping your family make memories.” Then email us at [email protected] with link to your blog entry to let them know!

How to enter

first day-postcard-front

dfds  Collage

Sunderland International Airshow 2013 – a view from the sea 1

We adore the Sunderland International Airshow and it is something we have visited every year with the boys since returning to the North East. However, this year MadDad and MIni had the opportunity to view the airshow from a different perspective. They took the DFDS Sunderland Airshow Sailout, which costs £15 for children and £30 for adults and includes a three course lunch too.

The sailout is such a popular event that it often sells out early and we were lucky enough to receive our tickets via the press office.

The trip at a glance

10:30-11:00 Check-in and board the ship. Boarding will take place at 11am
11:30 Ferry leaves port for Sunderland. You have a three course buffet lunch.
12:20 Ferry arrives at viewing point off Seaburn and Roker
14:00 Ferry leaves Sunderland for voyage back to port
15:00 Ferry arrives back into port. All passengers disembark
MadDad’s Review

You are guided to a free car park as you enter the Port of Tyne and then are shown where to exchange your ticket for boarding pases and board the ship. Once onboard you have the freedom of the ship and we decided to go for our lunch, which was a three course buffet style meal. Both Mini and I enjoyed the food, although we did find the drinks rather expensive (which are the only extras you have to pay for).

The boat dropped anchor off shore at 12.20 and we found a place on the deck to watch the Red Arrows who were opening this years airshow. It was hot on deck and I was glad that we had took sunscreen and hats. Although there was 500 people onboard the ship didn’t feel crowded and there was plenty of room to find a vantage point.

Watching from the sea gave a whole new perspective on the airshow. The planes were closer and we had super views and really enjoyed our day. There was people of all ages on board the ship from families with small children and older couples. You avoid all the traffic and queues getting out of Sunderland.

The only negatives were that the day was far too short and we didn’t get to see all the days flights and also the drinks were more expensive than I anticipated. Saying that we will be looking at booking tickets for next year for the whole family.

Mini’s Review

I was really excited to be going on a special trip with just Daddy. I love planes and have lots of models at home and the airshow is one of my favorite things to go and see. I have never been on a ferry as big as the one I went on, which was called the King Seaways. The food was gorgeous and the carrots were my favorite part of the meal.

After the meal we went to get a drink of slush as it was very hot on the deck. I was excited to see the red arrows and they surprised me by being so close and it felt like they nearly skimmed the funnel of the ship. We also saw Misdemeanor (a Hawker Hunter), which I have seen before and could tell it was her by the colours she is painted.

We also watched two helicopters that did lots of tricks and they were absolutely class. I was a little upset to have to set off back before we saw the Typhoon. I wish the trip had been longer and I would love to go next year with all the family.

Skimming Stones 21

I would love for you to link up any posts you might have about activities in the summer holidays.

skimming stones


No screens after 6pm #screenfree 7

We are also trying to reduce our dependance on screens for those I am boarded moments whilst waiting for food to be served or waiting in queses with small games and have recently been sent Dobble from Esdevium Games, which is a card game and the perfect size for keeping in my bag. It is a card game, which is based on the concept of snap and needs, speed, good observation and super fast reflexes. You can play up to five different mini games from the one tin of 55 cards (which are circular) and is a great game for all ages and is currently less than £10.

What are your favorite screen free pastimes?

Cut the rope Toys review

They received a plush cut the rope OmNom that makes the cut the rope noise, which Mini really loved. As it is a circle the boys took to throwing it at each other and it wasn’t long before Alvin decided that this must be his new toy. This is around £9.99 and has been a big hit with any of the many children that come through my house.

We were also sent a joke book (RRP £4.99). My boys who are now seven and eight really love and understand jokes. This book has been well thumbed and has 64 pages of age appropriate jokes. It is a super book for any reluctant reader and prepare yourself to be inundated with jokes.

We were sent a comic, which is a monthly publication and is £3.99. I find childrens comics quite pricey, but this did have a lot of content and was also filled with puzzles posters, experiments and also things to make and do, so Maxi enjoyed it and as always the boys love the freebies that you get on the front of childrens comics and magazines. This edition came with a small book and pen and some cut the rope stickers.

We were also sent a doodle book, which I actually nabbed to put in the boys summer activity packs for the car. This is £5.99 and is filled with activities including dot to dots and mazes (which are Maxi’s favorite).

cut the rope


10 Last minute rainy day activities 6

Learn how to bubble write

Colouring in

Write a book report

Try some decoupage

Write a letter to a penpal

Make fingerprint art

plan and cook a meal

Make a masking tape race track or town

Make your own play dough

Make paper flowers

Looking for more ideas, then Cass at Frugal Family has some more great rainy day ideas on her blog.

Free summer printables from Pen and Paint Blog 2

Pen and Paint is Lindsay Hopkins and I first discovered her fab artwork on Instagram. We now have four of her prints around our house and we love them Everytime I look at them they make me smile and people always comment on them.

pen and paint blog bucket list

Lindsay also has a brilliant blog and every now and then she offers free printables on it and I just had to share the summer ones with you. I have printed out the bucket list one for my boys to colour in and fill in, but Lindsay also have one that is pre coloured in.

pen and paint summer

Both my boys had the Spring version of the seasonal print in their rooms. I love the fact that you can make children aware of such fantastic art and they love it and have been waiting for the summer one.

pen and paint blog bucket list

#Freerangesummer doesn’t mean that I ignore my children……….. 1

Nor does it mean that I let them be bored or fail to plan activities for us as a family. I am not a parent that see’s boredom as a virtue, in fact I have a bored jar for times like that!

No a #freeRange Summer means that I am trying to give my children some freedom to play out. That I am trying to establish some boundaries for them to stick too and to reduce their reliance on screens. In today’s increasingly technological world they are increasingly looking at picking up a piece of technology to escape their boredom.

Tefal Optigrill – A Review 6

As I am a Tefal Innovator, I was sent the brand new Tefal Optigrill to test. This is a revolutionary new grill that can detect how thick your meat is and tells you when it is cooked to rare, medium or well done.

We like:

It does what is says it will – We had three different cuts of meat all cooked to different specifications and it was delicious.
It takes the guesswork out of cooking – I love that it has an audible beep as well as a visual identification when your meat gets to a certain specification
The cooking plates are removable and dishwasher safe. _ no mess, no stress and no burning your fingers cleaning it.
Large drip pan – We tried burgers on the Tefal Optigrill today and they were either fatty, but the drip tray more than coped and it fits snuggly to the machine
It is versatile with settings for fish, sausages, burgers, bacon, chicken and a manual setting for vegetables. My mushroom today was divine
We weren’t keen:

At £130 is isn’t a cheep bit of kit, however, I have had three of the competitors grills in over two years. So if this lasts then it will be much better value for money than its competitor
It has a large footprint. I know that this is something we will use regularly, so didn’t want to put it in a cupboard, but it takes up two thirds of the top of my microwave where it now lives!

The Optigrill has such a familiar look and feel to me. My mum had a tefal grill with removable interchangeable hot plates for over 30 years. She used it a lot and I am hoping that I get just as much use out of this as she did. The grill plate is a great size and could easily cook six burgers on it and is perfect for a family of four. I am looking forward to trying out tuna steaks on it and fish next week.

Don’t just take my word for it, see what my fellow panelists think of the Optigrill

optigril review

New folder

Teacher Appreciation Gifts 2013 – personalised note books 8

The notebooks were from the pound shop and the stamps we already have, but you can pick up similar from ebay, just search for 70 piece Alphabet/Number/Symbol Stamping Kit, they are about £10 and brilliant for all sorts of things.
We used washi tape or stick on stamps to hide the smudge marks!

We also bought the two main teachers a brill stamp set from Skull and Cross Buns on Etsy.

I am going to moan about schools and term time holidays 13

This holiday has been booked since just after my Mum died and we have been looking forward to the trip for a long time. My Brother and family are self employed and that is why we are travelling at this particular time of the year and I am aware that it could have an impact on my seven and eight year olds school work, but…………

For the last two weeks they have not really done any significant learning at school, in fact for this week they have watched more DVD’s at school that they have at home in about a year. I am not going to justify me taking them out of school by saying they will learn as much with me as at school, however, I will say that it should be my choice as a parent to make this decision.

We are sensible enough to make our own decision and I am disappointed that this is being taken away from me. There has been a lot of noise made about the Lunch box issues this week, but no one has shouted about the fact that the law has changed and that from September Headteacher will not be able to grant time off for holidays.

Currently headteachers are allowed to grant leave of absence for the purpose of a family holiday during term time in “special circumstances” of up to ten school days leave per year. Headteachers can also grant extended leave for more than ten school days in exceptional circumstances. However, Amendments to the 2006 regulations remove references to family holiday and extended leave as well as the statutory threshold of ten school days come into force in September.
Not only are the government taking this out of our hands, but also out of the hands of the school. Yet another example of the government invading my home and my choices.

I wonder if this applies to private schools too? or maybe that would be a bit like a bear pooing in its own backyard.


Are you in London today?

Piccadilly Circus
Trafalgar Square
Buckingham Palace t Houses of Parliament
Houses of Parliament
Big Ben
Covent Garden
Canary Wharf
London Bridge
Tower of London
The Gherkin
Tate Modern
St Paul’s Cathedral
Whilst out on the road the cab will also stop during

The Ultimate No Spend or Low Spend Bored Jar list 6

Let’s play – Read a book
Go on your DS for 30 minutes
Research the Romans on the computer
Let’s cook – Biscuits
Let’s cook – make pizza
Tidy your room
Pick a flower and paint a picture of it
Go swimming
Call on a friend
Do the washing up
Make music
Go to the library
Make rocky road or fridge cake
Make an obstacle course
Groom the dog
Colour in a book
Clean your bedroom
Learn how to skip
Help pair socks
Draw round your brother
Write 5 things you love about each member of your family
Play with Lego
Do a jigsaw
Paint rocks
Scoot round the block
Make fingerprint animals
Feed the ducks
Put up the play tent
Play with the toy cars
No electronics for the rest of the Day
Make cards
Have a bath
Write a story starting with “David had to find out where Rocky had gone…………………”
Draw a map of our house
Find out how many bones are in the human body
Have a shower
Draw a robot and label all his parts
Pretend you are a knight
Sort the laundry
Make paper aeroplanes
Have a tea party with your friends
Empty the dishwasher
Jump up and down 20 times
Let’s cook – cupcakes
Let’s cook – you choose
Put on a DVD
Go out on your Bike
Get the paint out
Go to a park
Water the plants
Make homemade bubbles
Have an ice-cream
Make hot chocolate
Vacuum the stairs
Craft with Mum
Set the table
1 chore of Mums choice
Draw a comic
Play with Playmobil
30 minutes on the Wii
Make Jelly
Feed the ducks
Make a bird feeder
Build a den
Science time
Draw a picture of our house from the outside
Time for a Science Experiment
Make a rain water collector
Climb a tree
Make wooden spoon people
Spend 30 minutes on Moshi Monsters
Let’s cook – muffins
Make’/fly a kite
Let’s cook – Make popcorn
Go out on your Scooter
Board game
Roll down a hill
Go to the beach
Sort out your shoes
Borrow the camera
Find five toys to give away
Go for a walk
Sweep the ground floor
Do some stitching
30 mins with Mum
Wash the car
Football match upstairs
30 Minutes on the Xbox
Go to a Museum
Make a volcano
Plan dinner, write a menu, help cook and serve
Have a race
Wash the pots
Plan a bean in a jar
Make finger puppets
Find shapes, animals and objects in clouds
Write a poem
Watch Phineas and Ferb
Pretend you are a cowboy
Make a family tree
Empty the dishwasher
Make a treasure map
Make a paper plate monster mask
Pretend you are a pirate
Learn how to use the washing machine
Go to soft play
Steam mop the bathrooms
Steam mop the kitchen
Make a paper boat
Take dog for a walk
Write to your penpal
Make a card
Prepare dinner


the games

#ScreenFree family games night 8

We tried lots of different flavours of Coke including vanilla, cherry and plain and couldn’t decide which was a winner on a unanimous basis! Maxi and I love vanilla, MadDad plain and MIni Cherry. But we all agreed they were a real treat and something different to make the family games night special.

Super Sticky Post-It Notes 1

If you are in London and fancy getting a look at the taxi, then the itinerary is below:

8.15AM-Harrods (SW1X 7XL)
8.15-8.25AM- Harrods (SW1X 7XL) to Marble Arch (W1H 7DL)
8.25-8.40AM Marble Arch (W1H 7DL) to Oxford Circus
8.40-8.50AM Oxford Circus to Piccadilly Circus
8.50-9.00AM Piccadilly Circus to Trafalgar Square
9.00-9.20AM Trafalgar Square to Buckingham Palace
9.20-9.30AM Buckingham Palace to Houses of Parliament
9.30-9.40AM Houses of Parliament to Big Ben
9.40-9.45AM Big Ben to Embankment
9.45-9.55AM Embankment to Covent Garden

12.00-2.00PM- Canary Wharf including stopping off at Unit 1330, Cabot Place, Canary Wharf, London E14 4QT.

3.00-3.05PM- London Bridge to Tower to Tower of London
3.05-3.15PM- Tower of London to The Gherkin
3.15-3.25PM- The Gherkin to Cannon Street
3.25-3.40PM- Cannon Street to Tate Modern
3.40-4.00PM- Tate Modern to St.Paul’s Cathedral.
4.00-4.30PM St.Paul’s Cathedral to Cromwell Road
4.30-4.45PM Cromwell Road to W12 7SL


win hamper

Win a deluxe picnic hamper for four worth £115 339

Chocolaterie Diane White Chocolates Pralines 150g
Edinburgh Preserves Wholegrain Mustard 100g
New English Teas English Afternoon Tea x 10 Envelopes
Triple Chocolate Gourmet Cookies 100g
Cherry & Coconut Flapjack 120g
Honey Baked Flapjack 120g
Hand Made Sundried Tomato & Sesame Biscuits 100g
Lewis & Cooper Savoury Mustard & Coriander Biscuits Tin 200g
The Wooden Spoon Plum, Pear & Apple Jam 113g AWARD WINNER Silver Award from The Guild of Fine Foods
Presented in a fully fitted 4-person wicker hamper with stripey lining
CUTLERY CONTENTS: 4 x Forks, Knives, Spoons, Plates & Cups

The ultimate summer holiday bucket list 13

have a water balloon fight
make journals and update your scrapbooks
Make memory stones
make homemade jam
prepare a family meal
Collect pinecones and make things from them
Make a den
go bowling
have a neighbourhood waterfight
go to the zoo
colour some more fabric
family bike ride
go to Beamish
make a rain catcher
go to a park you’ve never been to before
go swimming
go bird watching
learn how to play a new board game
visit local art gallery
mail a letter to a penpal
bake cookies
fly a kite
make pavement or sidewalk paint
go on a road trip
have a water balloon fight
go to the airshow
go camping
make a bird feeder
play hopscotch
make paper airplanes and race
have a cricket match
make sail boats and race
play mini golf
make cupcakes
learn to sew
make smoothies
go to a museum
have a family talent show
go to the woods
make friendship bracelets
create sidewalk art using chalk
make some shrinkydinks
make homemade bubbles
go to an amusement park
do a jigsaw puzzle
make a dream catcher
play mini golf
camping in the backyard
make sand castles at the park or beach
make a volcano
homemade marshmallow guns
make a video
make homemade instruments
decorate cupcakes or cookies
have a treasure hunt
play Frisbee
make sun catchers
visit a nature center
go to the beach
eat fish and chips at the beach
collect sea shells
go a local farmer’s market
go on a minibeast hunt
make soda floats
have an ice cream party with lots of toppings
go to the skate park or a skating rink
make paper mache air balloon models

100 summer activities


Children aged 4 to 9 do not need a mobile phone 14

Secondly, children this age DO NOT NEED mobile phones. Both my boys play outside, however, initially we used walkie talkies to keep in contact. Now they can both tell the time they have a watch and come back at a specific time. It is their responsibility to do as I tell them too. If they go to play at anyone’s house or or activity such as cubs or football I make sure I have the contact numbers of a responsible adult. I am their parent, so I make sure I look after them the best I can. I do not put that responsibility on them at four or even at nine. I do not feel that at four my children would have known when to call 999 and feel that it is unreasonable to give them access to the emergency services.

This is without bringing in to the debate concerns about the long term health effects of mobile phones or the fact that a first phone introduces them to technology far too early and that there are studies out there that prove that screens have an impact on our ability to sleep.

Children are bombarded with technology from such a young age and I want my children to stay children for as long as possible. I want them to feel as though they can go play on their bike without worrying that they are carrying a phone with them that could make them a target for mugging. What if they lose it. This particular phone costs a minimum of £50, yes £50. It is a lot of money to make them responsible for. I also feel that it is just another way to make money out of children and their parents.

I survived as a child and a teenager without a mobile phone. I appreciate things change and I am not against phones for teenager, but I do not want to expose my children to them at this age.

If you are worried about losing your children in places such as LEGOLAND or on days out I was sent some fantastic temporary tattoos with our mobile phone number on for the boys. I have taught them to look out for a person in a uniform or a mum with children and to tell them that they have lost us and could they call us on the number on the boys tattoos. Much cheaper than the £50 for the phone and it also meant that we had the stranger danger conversation too.

All of the above is enough for me without bring the following shocking statistics in to things:

According to the Cyberbullying Research Center (CRC), 25 percent of kids have been harassed or bullied with mobile calls or texts.
Only about half of the students who are cyberbullied tell their parents, also according to the CRC.
15 percent of kids have received a sexting message from someone they know.
60 percent of kids have sent texts during classroom hours.
I do not want to normalise or introduce my children to mobile phones at an early age. Where do you draw the line. I do not want my children to start taking a mobile phone to school or even preschool as that is the age this phone is targeted at. In fact I feel that giving a nine year old child a phone like this would actually make him a target for bullying. When I showed it to Maxi, who had seen it on CBBC Newsround, he said that his friends would laugh at him.