Ribby Hall Holiday Village

During 0ur recent weekend at Blackpool we stayed at Ribby Hall Holiday Village which is ten minutes outside of Blackpool and is amazing.  For us it was much better than staying on a B&B or a hotel as we had the freedom to come and go as we likes, plus coupled with fab onsite activities  and leisure pool it has something to suit every family. Accommodation Ribby Hall accommodation Ribby hall has a fantastic array of accommodation options to sleep up to 14 people.  We stayed in Ruby Cottage which come with a fab lounge and with TV and DVD player (not that we had time to watch it) a fully fitted kitchen and dining area with oven, hob, microwave, fridge freezer, toaster, crockery, cutlery and all utensils.  It really was an amazing base. Fantastic Activities at Ribby Hall RIbby Hall activities We really wish we had more time to spend using the amazing facilities that Ribby Hall had.  The boys had an ace time on the climbing wall and we had a great round of MIni Golf as a family.  The leisure pool is super and the boys loved it. IMG_4179 The boys took full advantage of the park when we had a spare minute. Eating at Ribby Hall On the Friday Night the boys and MadDad ate in the Restaurant, whilst I galavented to Sally's.  During breakfast in the morning they couldn't wait to tell me about the EPIC deserts they had the night before! We stayed in a Ruby Lodge and it had a fully fitted kitchen with a fridge freezer, cooker, microwave, toaster and dishwasher so we could have  very easily cooked ourselves, but we took advantage of the Tea Shop serving breakfast and it was lovely. Disclosure: We were guests of #Blackpools Back and Merlin Entertainment for our weekend in Blackpool
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Ombre Shoe Lace – How to

We have been busy having a crafty summer and as the boys are getting older I have moved on to different craft activities and we have been customising clothes and shoes with our friends from Frugal Family. how to make ombre shoe laces

Ombre shoe laces

  1. Dye - Dylon Hand Dye Sachet
  2. Shoe laces
  3. Salt
How to Ombre shoe laces We used Dylon Hand Dye which comes in an array of colours,  Miss Frugal decided on Flamingo Pink for her laces. We made up the mixture according to the packet with warm water and added salt as per the instructions. We west the ends of the laces to about a third of the way down with cold water to dilute the dye as it moved up the laces. We then dipped the laces into the dye and let it work its way up the laces using capillary action (Coffee Cups and Crayons has an ace post on how capillary action works with this post on walking water). walking water We left the dye for 30 minutes, agitating it occasionally before rinsing the laces and allowing them to dry.
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The parents ultimate guide to scooters

Kids scooters come in all shapes and sizes and also all sorts of prices for £10 to a couple of hundred.  It can be hard to break through all the jargon and find the right scooter for your child and even harder to understand why one scooter is OK for going to and from school on, but no good for the local skate park. My boys have both pretty much worked their way through what seems like hundred of scooters and I have discovered that there isn't a one size fits all solution and even now we have six scooters in the garage and I often feel as though I could open up my own shop. parents ultimate guide to scooters

The parents ultimate guide to scooters


It is worth investing in a good stunt scooter

It is really important that your kids have a really good quality stunt scooter if they plan to try  jumps, tricks and stunts on it or use it at a skate park.  Stunt scooters are designed to withstand a LOT of punishment. Stunt or extreme scooters as they are know don’t feature a folding mechanism or adjustable handlebar height, instead, they have a one piece handlebar which is much stronger.  They also tend to be heavier that a folding scooter due to the parts being reinforced for strength. IMG_4650 Stunt scooters are more expensive than a recreational scooter and can cost from £80 to more than £250, but remember you are paying for a scooter that will take some pounding and is much more robust. Most extreme scooters are designed for any ability level and suitable for ages 7 years and above. Maxi has a Micro MX Trixx Scooter (which he has had for over 2 years and  Mini a Zinc Zycho and both love them and would not swap for each others! We have had the Zinc Zycho for three months now and are really impressed with it.  It retails at £120 and is a hit at the skate park and on the street too.  It has become Mini's go to scooter and he is not willing to share it will anyone! The Zycho scooter uses 7000 series Aluminium – With its zinc elements the material flexes under stress and returns to its original shape. The Zycho also features a Zinc integrated sealed threadless headset and is compatible with HIC and standard bars. Zero offset one piece wedge forks and a CNC square neck for extra durability.  The Zycho has an integrated 4.5" wide x 19.5" long deck. The deck a rounded bottom for ultra fast grinds won't catch like a square edge.  What the above means is that it is light, flexible, but very, very strong.  It is great for grinding much better than any previous scooter the boys have had. The Zinc Zycho certainly turns heads at the Skate park and Mini is really confident on it.  His tricks have really come on since he received it. Miss Frugal has a Zinc too and you can read her review on it here. Our local skate park will NOT allow folding scooters to be used.

Three wheels can be better than two

Mini Micro Scooters are the perfect start scooter for small children and my best friends two year old is happily scooting about on the boys old one.  They are incredibly stable and easy to use, even for young toddlers, giving them confidence and independence. They are also great value, portable, stylish and lightweight. Maxi Micro Scooters are the next step up, great for older children than still need the stability, but they are also superb for speed and great for everyday scooting.  Perfect for the school run (as long as you do not have to carry them home).

Not all folding scooters are made equal

Folding scooters, with adjustable handlebars are great recreational scooters.  They are often aimed at kids aged four and over, but I have seen three year old's on them.  Personally I prefer the click in to place adjustable height handle bars, rather than the ring hold ones as they feel much more secure, but they are less variable. It is essential to make sure that the folding mechanism is secure and hard wearing and that it is easy to fold.  Both my boys still have a folding scooter as they are perfect for packing in the car if we are going on holiday and for two and from school, especially if you have to bring it home.

Kids love to personalise their scooters

It is not just about scooting, but about scooting in style!  You can buy loads of stickers and add on's for scooters now from bar wraps to grips.  You can also pretty much replace any damaged part, especially on a stunt scooter.

If in doubt ask a parent or an older child

Most of my information has been gleaned from other parents at the skate park or the older kids.  The staff are also full of great information too and more than willing to offer advise.  A good scooter is really an investment and it is important to make an informed decision otherwise it could just end up gathering dust in the garage. Disclosure: we were sent a Zinc Zycho to review for this post and this post contains affiliate links. 
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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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