Monthly Archives: July 2013


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 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


Things to do for families in Las Vegas

Las Vegas is a place that we usually associate with gambling and casinos, but there is far more to the place than that. Casinos are very important but you can also enjoy a family holiday there which doesn’t involve Mum staying with the kids while dad plays slots in Caesars Palace. Here are a few things for families to do.

Hire a car and take a trip to Death Valley. In many ways it is one of the most exciting places on the planet and the kids will just love it. Just driving across the Mojave Desert is a thrill of a lifetime, and visiting the valley is an unforgettable experience. Badwater Basin is 86 meters below sea level and Furnace Creek has the record for being the hottest place on earth. You will see some amazing sites and make sure that you visit Zabriskie Point and view the Badland Formations; truly amazing.

Keep that car and take another trip, this time to the Grand Canyon. This is one of the world’s natural wonders and another very remarkable and unforgettable destination. The canyon is 277 miles long and up to a mile deep and 18 miles wide. This beautiful and unique place is home to many Native Americans whose tribes have lived there for thousands of years. You can take an aeroplane or helicopter trip into the depths of the canyon too for some unparalleled views.

Another fascinating place to visit is the Hoover dam, but the kids might appreciate its reservoir Lake Mead a little more. Boating on Lake Mead is very popular ad are swimming, water skiing and fishing. The lake is huge, up to 112 miles long, and there are numerous beaches, marinas and resorts.


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.


Summer Holiday Planning and Activities 8

Just because we are having a free range summer, it doesn’t mean that we can not plan some activities and ideas for things that we want to do as a family. I was inspired by Frugal Family’s post on how they plan their summer holidays to share how we plan ours.

So this morning we all sat at breakfast and decided on things that we wanted to read, do, make and places we wanted to go. I sat and wrote them all out on Post-it Super Sticky Notes from 3M . The boys would have had we had more time and will any additional ones!

We used a different colour for each of the activities and then used some lovely heart ones for major things and day trips we are planning.

Our list this year is wonderful and wide ranging and includes:

Visiting lots of different parks – We tend to take a picnic with us.
Visiting local museums and art galleries – I tend to tie this into times when they have free activity sessions on. Your local council is a great source of information on this.
Woodland centres and forests. The Forestry Commision has an enchanted wood at Dalby Forest with a magical adventure play area with a fort, storytelling seats and carved insects hiding in the trees. They also have some great free fairytale activity sheets and ideas too. The woodland trust also has a great Nature Detective website with over 150 ideas for free things to do.
Visit the cinema and bowling alley. We always make sure we look out for great deals and this summer Cineworld have some great family deals, which I featured on A Thrifty Mum.
Outdoor play – including cricket, football, rounders, minibeast hunting, camping out in the garden, playing with friends, cycling, scootering and having their own olympic games.
Making and baking – I always encourage the boys to be as creative as possible and this summer they are going to make their own cakes, pizza, biscuits and picnics. They also want to make a windchime, birdfeeders and dream catchers. I think that it is always fun to collect items from your trips to places and use them in your crafting, such as shells and pebbles from the beach, which can make rock monsters and memory stones.

The Mad House

Thank you to Post-it Super Sticky Note for provided me with lots of Post-it Super Sticky Notes to write our activities on. Did you know that they are so sticky that they are going to cover a London Taxi in them and drive it around London to prove it. You can get your name on a Post-it Super Sticky Note, that will then be stuck on the Taxi by visiting their Facebook Page www.facebook.com/PostitUK. My name will be on the Taxi! Six people will be invited to remove a note off the taxi and if your name is on it then you would be a winner.


Join me for a tea break at 1pm on Wednesday 10th July #chaitea 2

Everyone that knows me knows that I am a tea monster. So I am delighted to be co-hosting a fabulous #chaitea twitter chat with The Foodies100, Tea India (www.teaindia.co.uk) and award-winning chef Ravinder Bhogal to bring together some of the best baked treats to serve alongside Tea India’s brand new range of specialty Chai and Black tea blends.

A Chai latte is my tea of choice at the moment and I will share with you my top tips for tea making (I am a loose leaf tea fanatic) along with my favorite tea time treats.

#CHAITEA TWITTER PARTY

Join us at 1pm on Wednesday 10th July on Twitter for a live Twitter party where we’ll be asking Ravinder Bhogal for her baking and recipe tips – and inviting you to share their own recipes, tips and ideas.
There are some great prizes on offer for the best recipes and tips submitted during the Twitter party. Four winners will each receive a £25 voucher for a supermarket of their choice, and the top 10 Tweets will each receive a month’s supply of Tea India products.

Want to know more?

Join me on Twitter between 1 and 2pm on Wednesday, 10 July.
Make sure you’re following @foodies100, @TeaIndiaUK and me (@mum_themadhouse)
Tweet your tips, recipes and questions using the #chaitea hashtag


Ben Nevis – Home to the UK’S highest Bed 1

BEN NEVIS – HOME TO THE UK’S HIGHEST BED

Yes, Travelodge is known for its weird, kooky hotel designs, but this one really takes the biscuit: a team of 36, led by Travelodge Managing Director for Property & International, Paul Harvey, climbed Ben Nevis’ 1,344 metre peak, but not just for the view. On arrival at the summit, the team constructed a replica Travelodge room, having carried the contents of the very room itself, up the testing terrain. I encourage you to refer to the images to see just what the team achieved. The Dreamer bed, duvet, chair and wall hanging make up the very same components you’d find in any other Travelodge Hotel.

Though the trek was nothing less than exhausting, the team had the weather on their side; it rained as the group ascended the mountain, ensuring that team members were kept cool as they carried the contents and shell of the bedroom on their backs. On arrival at the summit, the wind stopped, the rain and stopped, and the snow provided an excellent base for the bedroom.

The formidable task took a total of eight and a half hours to complete: four hours to ascend Ben Nevis, two hours to build the room, and two and a half hours to descend. The team walked a total of 11 miles and burned 3000 calories each.

As anyone who has had cancer will know, the fight is made all the more easier by having steady support and not having to face the disease alone. Travelodge made this more and more of a reality by partnering with Macmillan Cancer Support for the trek, and raised a staggering £60,000 for the cancer charity. Sally Hill at Macmillan Cancer Support expressed her delight at working with the hotel chain as well as her heartfelt gratitude for what Paul Harvey and his team achieved.


A free range summer 23

When I think of my summer holidays as a child, they were filled with sun, sand, bikes, scraped knees, dens and playing out with my mates, only coming home when I was hungry or thirsty. This i9s the type of summer I want my children to have. A somewhat retro summer and certainly a free range one.

I am not saying that I am going to leave my seven and eight year old boys to fend for themselves all day or go on days out with them or even forgo every planned activity. What I am saying though is that I am going to limt screen time and expect them to take out their cricket bat and ball and enjoy some outside time.

I want them to get board and to try and find ways to fill that time with something other than a mindless electronic game. If all else fails then they can resort to the board jar and face the chance of getting a chore instead of an activity!

Who is with me?


Pyjama Pajama Kickstarter Project 4

Pyjamas without labels that rub, scratch or irritate – tick
Pyjama tops that are cool enough to wear as T shirts – tick
Pajamas that capture children’s imagination and move away from high street character driven ones – tick
Pyjamas that have facts on them – tick

This and more is the goals and aims of Pyjama Pajama, a new company who are looking for Kickstarter investment at the moment.


A family trip to Warwick Castle and our tips for a great day out 7

e also did Merlin’s Tower, which was short, but AMAZING and the boys were smiling about it for the rest of the day and still keep telling everyone about it.

The adventure playground is great and perfect for larger children, not just the littlest one.

We had a great day, the only down sides for us where that we couldn’t fit it all in and that the food and service at the Coach House Family Restaurant was really poor. Our meals were not brought out together and everyone had finished before mine was delivered to the table, inspite of us asking where it was three times (it was only soup and a roll, so I do not understand why it was so hard). It was even more infuriating, as there was only three tables in use and all the rest were left with the detritus of precious visitors.
Our Top Tips

Get their early and book your tickets (free but timed entry) for any thing like the Princess Tower
Do the same for any paid activities, including Merlin Tower and the Dungeons.
Buy a refillable hot drink voucher. It was £7, but my boys love hot chocolate and it cost £2.25, so soon paid for itself with that and our teas and coffees.
See the free shows, they really make the castle come to life.
You can not do it all in one day if you see the shows. We didn’t get to do the dungeons or the Kingmaker exhibition, but are looking forward to returning
Book in advance online, that way you get a discount.
Keep an eye out for the special events online – We are really looking forward to the Horrible Histories Stormin Summer event, which runs from 20th July to 1st September.


Beach holiday checklist for families 1

The secret for enjoying a day at the beach is what you take with you and I have some great hints and tips.

Leave towels at home for the younger children and purchase towelling dresses or robes instead. It is much easier to just pop them on when they are wet and cold.
Talc or baby powder is great for removing sand off feet before putting your shoes on.
Get some shade – a beach umbrella is a must with children, even better is a UV tent as they can take a nap in it.
Take plenty of sunscreen. Even if it says it is water proof please reapply every time they have been in the water.
A string bag is perfect for carrying beach toys.
Take beach toys, bucket, spade, ball, flying disc and cars or diggers.
Take snacks and water. I pack my snacks in individual bags as sand will always find a way in to an open bag. The same with water, it is better to pack multiple bottles than one large one.
Take spare change for ice creams and beach snacks. Never take a lot of cash or your cards.
If you want to take photo’s – make sure it is just a cheap compact camera – sand and camera lenses do not mix well. Or even better take a waterproof one.
Hats are a must for everyone.
We always take a couple of UV suits so that they can use one against the other.
Beach shoes are great if you are going to a rocky area.


Too busy having fun to photograph it 4

But this weekend was filled with Alvin’s first walk and then many a subsequent walks.
A house and garden filled with 11 children
Cricket, more cricket and a little more cricket
Salad sandwiches from the garden
Planting peas and tying up ones that are growing well
Weeding
Washing and hanging out washing in the garden
A trip to the seaside with fish and chips and lemon top ice creams
Movie night
Lawn mowing
book reading
Early morning LEGO building
plotting and planning
Den building
Hide and seek
Letter writing