Rochester Dickens Festival 2017

We spent Sunday at the Rochester Dickens Festival with Martyn & the boys, enjoying the sunshine, actors, music, food & scenery. It was the 350th anniversary of the Battle of Medway so there was plenty going on in Rochester & surrounding areas for the entire weekend.

Rochester Dickens Festival

Rochester Dickens Festival

After attending the Medway English Festival with Martyn and the boys we were looking forward to joining them again for a lovely day out. With a nice early start we managed to get to Rochester just before everything started, giving us plenty of time to have a slow wander around.

Actors

We came across some brilliant actors over the course of the day but the first Fagin we bumped into Izzy absolutely loved! She couldn’t wait to get in a picture with him, sitting on his knee. He was wandering around looking for the owner of the lost pants in his hand.

We found another Fagin a little while later too and all the kids jumped in for a picture this time! Both actors were fantastic and really interacted with the kids which was brilliant. It was nice to see the girls enjoying the characters too although Eva was a little worried about the clock face guy!

There were so many different Dickens characters wandering around and people who simply dressed up and joined in too. It made the day quite fun having different characters chatting to us & the girls really seemed to enjoy it. Eva was a little unsure about a few costumes but still enjoyed herself.

Performances

Dancing

We stopped to watch the dancing which was absolutely fantastic and Izzy especially loved it, joining in with her own little dance too. Moving on we came across these actors singing ‘Beer Beer Beer’ an ode to Charlie Mops the inventor of beer!

charlie mops beer beer beer

Everyone joined in with the chorus which was quite fun even though it was a small group as it was still fairly early in the day. It was interesting to see so many different characters up to different things. We’re definitely interested in going to the Rochester Dickens Festival again next year so we can catch more of them!

Grand Parade

Next we watched the parade with bagpipes playing & a range of characters, I loved this purple dress! I had to get a video of it all as there were some fab costumes. Most of the Actors were really amusing & played the role so well! I had to take a few videos of the parade as it was so fun, here’s one video, you can find the rest on my YouTube channel.

After the parade the boys got stopped by bobbies on stilts! ‘They went that way officer.. honest!’. These guys were hilarious chatting away and asking who the ring leader was haha!

That way officer

 

Food & Drink

After the parade we headed up to the castle, stopping for doughnuts & ice cream. Another vintage ice cream van was selling ice cream, although a little pricey! We then headed up to the castle grounds where tons of stalls were dotted around full of goodies!

 

Cupcakes & cookies

The girls decided they wanted gingerbread men to take home from Cupcakes & cookies which the girls said were delicious! Unfortunately they got a little bashed up in my bag but the girls enjoyed them anyway.

Treats To Take Home

We also popped by Sudzz again to get Eva another super exploding pink bath bomb and some soaps for both girls. Sudzz bath bombs are amazingly explosive & Eva LOVES them! The cute heart soaps are all different scents too.

 

Simply True Jewellery were there too, so we took them all to get another £1 lucky dip. The boys got skull necklaces again but different to their last 2. Eva got a clear heart necklace & Izzy a star necklace. For £1 I’m still can’t get over the quality of the necklaces! At this rate I’ll be ordering a jewellery box just for Jewellery we buy from Simply True Jewellery!

Stopping off for lunch the kids had a picnic whilst Martyn, the Mr & I had chips & burgers from Scoff & Sip.

Having lined our stomachs the Mr was of course on the Goody Ales again. Although Goody Ales themselves weren’t there the beer stall had beers from several breweries.

Goody Ales

Martyn & I headed over to the Kent Cider Company for a delicious Strawberry cider. I’ll definitely be after a bottle to take home next time! Very tasty & certainly packs a punch. I’ve recently lost my love of cider but I think I may have found it again in the strawberry cider.

Kent cider co

 

With the day almost over we had a little look around the castle grounds before dropping the boys off. It was a lovely day all round although quite pricey for rides & treats. Luckily there was enough going on that the kids didn’t moan too much about going on rides.

 

Have you ever been to the Rochester Dickens Festival before or is it something you’d be interested in?

Inspire Enterprising Behaviour With Clever Tykes

Clever Tykes are helping inspire enterprising behaviour in pupils/children along with positivity and resourcefulness with their storybooks. They also have the worlds first enterprise education portal too! Supported by the Lloyds Banking Group Clever Tykes were able to send us 3 of their storybooks to help spread the word about these amazing resources.

Enterprising behaviour with clever tykes

At Clever Tykes, we’re passionate about instilling enterprising behaviour and the associated skills in children. We know that enterprise education has a key role to play in helping children adopt a positive mindset and attitude towards work and their future.

So what is enterprise education?

Enterprise education isn’t just about the skills needed to be enterprising but also the behaviour, attitude & mind set needed.  The 3 storybooks created by Ben & Jodie Cook help children develop a fundamental outlook on life & a can do attitude. Enterprising education enhances positivity, resourcefulness, independence, resilience & endeavour.

Enterprising Behaviour

It is much easier to instil these traits in younger children so introducing enterprising education during primary years is ideal. Whilst it doesn’t necessarily need to be a subject on it’s own Enterprising education can be integrated into PSHE lessons & more. A lot of children lack a positive role model to teach them new skills & ways of thinking.

Clever tykes aim to educate and inspire children to be high-achieving and empower children.

Our Thoughts

Eva read the Clever Tykes Change It Cho book first and quickly flew through it with plenty of smiles! Once she had read it I asked Eva what she thought. She really enjoyed the book and reading how Cho decides to change how much junk food kids eat. Cho starts raising awareness but faces several challenges along the way. Eva said her favourite part in the book is when Cho stands up in assembly in front of other children to tell them about healthy eating.

clever tykes change it cho

Personally I think these books are fantastic. Eva’s attitude has changed since reading the book. She has started putting a lot more effort into everything. Challenges no longer end in tears since Eva read the Clever Tykes books. Eva is stopping to think of ways she can solve problems rather than getting upset & feeling defeated. Definitely a sign the books have helped instil positive enterprising behaviour.

Resources for Teachers

Clever Tykes have the worlds first enterprise education portal which contains plenty of resources for teachers. Over 100 pages of teachers materials and lesson plans can be accessed via the portal. UK schools can use portal.clevertykes.com to create their account. There are a range of ways in which enterprise education can be integrated into PSHE lessons and other areas if the curriculum.

Ben & Jodie believe enterprise education shouldn’t be a mandatory part of the curriculum. They do however feel it can be incorporated in other lessons to encourage enterprising behaviour in children.

Overall I think Clever Tykes books & resources are amazing and brilliant way to improve enterprising behaviour. 

My Sunday Photo – Eva’s 7th Birthday

It was Eva’s 7th Birthday on Wednesday so this week I’m joining in with #MySundayPhoto and sharing 3 of my favourite pictures from Eva’s birthday.

Eva’s 7th Birthday

Eva's 7th birthday

You can’t go to school on your birthday without a huge badge to let everyone know it’s your birthday! (And rip a hole in your school top doing so 😉 haha) She was so happy to get a pink fidget spinner for her birthday too and I love the smile on her face in this picture.

Eva's 7th birthday cake

Eva had a lovely day and had friends & family over to share her cake with her. This lovely big cupcake had plenty of colourful icing, sugary stars and a surprise middle too! Topped off with a No.7 candle & sparkler!

Eva sized Pinkie pie balloon

Her Uncle Slim bought her a huge Pinkie Pie balloon which has literally made her year! I love this picture of her cuddling Pinkie Pie, My little pony is one of Eva’s favourite things along with Shopkins!

What have you shared this week?

 

 

Photalife

Turning #TearsIntoSmiles With Elastoplast

We’ve been turning #tearsintosmiles with Elastoplast this week! Eva can be rather clumsy at times and quite often hurts herself in some way. It has become a family joke that Eva could win an award for the most medical forms sent home from school! We joined the Britmums & Elastoplast #TearsIntoSmiles challenge and were sent some awesome Frozen and Star Wars Plasters to join in with.

Elastoplast

We headed out to the park at the weekend, the girls really enjoyed running around and playing on this awesome ship! Whilst playing outdoors is important in child development falls and scrapes can happen often. Eva loves to climb but she managed to lose grip fall off the climbing frame and hurt her arm. We dusted her off and she seemed ok, just a small scratch. We gave her a quick cuddle and tried to distract her with pirate jokes.

#TearsIntoSmiles with Elastoplast

Playing in the park

When a cuddle doesn’t help usually distractions work best. Usually joking helps but when she has a cut it can be quite difficult to calm her down. Luckily I had the Frozen plasters we were sent in my bag at the ready. We quickly cleaned the scratch and popped a plaster on it which instantly turned her #TearsIntoSmiles. We headed home for a cuddle on the sofa & watched a film and Eva soon forgot all about her cut.

All kids react differently when they hurt themselves but when they do get upset a cuddle and distraction seems to work for us. Izzy rarely cuts herself and is one to get straight back up and dust herself off like nothing ever happened. Occasionally she will ask for a cuddle but cheers up fairly easily and carries on playing.

 

How do you #TurnTearsIntoSmiles? Do your little ones love character plasters too?

Check out Elastoplast’s #TearsIntoSmiles video below! What do you think?

*This post is an entry for the BritMums #TearsintoSmiles Challenge, sponsored by Elastoplast.

 

 

 

7th Birthday Gifts

It’s Eva’s birthday today so I have put together this list of 7th birthday gifts to help anyone shopping for a 7 year old! Eva has a huge range of interests so it can make birthday shopping quite fun. This year we have been sent several products to feature in this gift guide (all approved by Eva herself!) as well as adding in a few we picked ourselves.

 

  1. Eva has been a shopkins fan since season 2 and has been asking for Shopkin Shoppies recently. I decided to act like I had no idea what she was on about and asked her to show me them on Amazon. Of course I got her to point out her favourite which was Jessicake, at £29.99. The pack includes Jessicake, 2 shopkins, a VIP card and accessories. 7th birthday Shopkins Shoppie Jessicake
  2. Anyone that knows my girls know that they like to make things whether it arts & crafts or making something delicious in the kitchen. Eva loves baking & eating the results so these Bumblebee Chocolate lolly kit’s from What2buy4kids are a perfect gift. Bound to keep any 7 year old busy with a tasty treat to show off and eat at the end! They would make fun party bag fillers too.bumblebee chocolate lolly making kit
  3. The BFG is an all time favourite for children and adults alike! Eva is obsessed with Roald Dahl at the moment so the BFG DVD is a gift that will no doubt be watched countless times! We love sitting down with a film, curtains closed and munch at the ready. I’m sure by the weekend once Eva has finished fitting in all her birthday guests curling up to watch a good film will be well needed!The BFG
  4. Packs by post are a subscription service which sounds out craft materials by post. The difference with these crafts packs are that no instructions/rules are included, children are free to use their imagination! Eva doesn’t always like to follow the rules when crafting. I know she will love being able to come up with something totally unique to create with the materials provided. In these lovely Spring has sprung packs!
    Vee Mcdee
  5. I recently read TwinMummyandDaddy’s Hatchimals collEGGtibles unboxing and review and knew it was something Eva would love. She had asked for a Hatchimal at Christmas but those kinds of toys are way out of our budget right now. These smaller collEGGtibles for £9.99 are much easier on the bank account. Eva has no idea these eggsist (haha!) yet so I can’t wait to surprise her!
    Hatchimal CollEGGtible blind bag
  6. Fidget Spinners are all the rage at the moment and Eva of course has asked for one. She wanted a pink one so I decided after hearing such good things about them to order her one. Eva is always fidgeting and struggles to concentrate at times so hopefully this gift helps with that.7th birthday gifts - fidget spinners
  7. Baking being one of Eva’s favourite things to do these Little Cooks Co subscription boxes are perfect. Each box includes the ingredients and instructions for making a delicious, healthy snack for the family. The boxes cost £7.99 a month, if you use code BOX1 at the checkout you can get your first box for just £5.99!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lastly we received this gorgeous personalised family print for Eva from The Card Gallery! Eva loves pretty artwork and anything with her name on, like me she has a fairly unique name so personalised gifts always mean so much. We love you millions & billions & trillions is something we all say to each other as a family so I knew she would love that along with some pretty cupcakes!

Personalised Family Print from The Card Gallery

What gifts would you recommend for a 7th birthday? Would your 7 year old love to receive any of the gifts above?

Windowsill Garden For The Girls

The Mr has set up a windowsill garden for the girls since spring is here and they don’t have a garden to play & grow in plants in.

Eva & Izzy have a small glass greenhouse the Mr picked them up in Ikea last year. They planted a few plants when we first bought it. Unfortunately girls pulled them apart trying to feed a ‘pet’ fly that was dying on their windowsill. Yes my children are weird.

The Mr decided now both girls are older to try again so set the greenhouse back up on their windowsill & gave them a small succulent to get them started. Izzy then picked out these two weird little Bear grass head plants to grow with Eva.

The girls really enjoyed getting involved and soaking their bears in water to help them start growing. They love doing things like this although they do pick some rather random plants!

Learning to Repot Plants

Izzy again went shopping with the Mr & came back with another two small succulents and a Grow kit for peppers! The Mr showed Izzy how to repot the small succulents into slightly bigger pots. She helped fill the bigger pots with soil before gently holding the plants as the Mr helped get them out of their tiny pots. Izzy was really excited to put the plants in the bigger pots and popped them in the greenhouse alongside the other plants.

 

Next they planted California Wonder Pepper seeds in the pot of soil. Izzy enjoyed getting involved and getting her hands messy! Izzy placed the Peppers next to the greenhouse as it was too big to go in with the others. Luckily they had thought ahead though and bought a mini propagator for it!

So far the girls have behaved with them & Izzy has remembered the bear heads need watering every morning too which is lovely! The girls have agreed Izzy will water the plants when Eva is at school & Eva will water them at the weekend. The Easter holidays are coming up so we’ve agreed they can take a turn each day then.

A Windowsill Greenhouse

windowsill garden

I miss having a garden so much and growing our own fruit & veg, Eva loved growing & eating strawberries! its nice the girls are still learning to look after & grow plants even if it is only tiny random ones they have picked on their windowsill.

Two Year Funding – Why I’m Not Sending My 2 Year Old To Nursery

Two Year Funding  -What Is It?

Two year funding allows children to start nursery a year earlier. This scheme is offered in most deprived area’s and Thurrock is one of them. It’s run to help children learn & socialise a little bit earlier and to give parents a chance to get back to work etc. We have been offered each term a chance to enrol Izzy at a nursery since she turned 2.

I had previously considered taking up the offer but I sat and thought about it. Could I use the time to myself? Yes. Do I thijnk it would benefit Izzy? No. Eventually I decided not to take up the offer and to wait until September when she will be 3.

Why?

I can’t justify sending Izzy to nursery early just because I’m able to. Whilst it is a great scheme especially for parents looking to get back into work or to save a few £’s on childcare or even to get toddlers playing with other’s their own age, I’d rather spend this year helping Izzy develop at home. Although I doubt myself constantly as a mother, I know my girls are learning plenty at home. Children spend so many years in school already & I can’t see why I should add another year to that. Especially whilst I am home all day.

Izzy loves being at home & she has learnt a lot from our usual routines. Shopping with daddy, finding what we need and popping it in the trolley is so much fun for her. Chatting to people all around town from shop staff to people she passes regularly. School run’s to get her ‘Ea-yaye!’ gives her a chance to run like crazy on the way home. Helping around the flat with chores makes her beam with pride. Teaching her everything’s has it’s place & needs cleaning. even if it’s just been sat for a while.

Reading is Izzy’s absolute favourite thing to do, we read a lot of books together which is why we started Our Favourite Books This Week series. She can count to 12 & has started learning basic math. Just this morning when asked what is 2 + 2 she said 4 then counted 4 with her fingers then showing 2 fingers plus 2 fingers make 4. Izzy recognises most letters in the alphabet & has begun to recognise words whilst we read. I’m confident she will keep up when she does start nursery in September.

At home we pull out the craft boxes, paint or draw. Izzy loves getting creative and making lovely pictures to put up around the flat. Her fine motor skills are pretty good, in fact as Eva is a lefty Izzy holds her pencil better.

Going to the pub on paydays with daddy and talking to all the regulars in ‘her’ pub & playing with Saphy the staffy. Then there’s baby Finn who she has watched grow over the last year & become good friends with. Whilst ordering her fruit shoot & crisps she say’s hello to the women at the bar. Whilst she only goes once a week or every other week she loves it. Izzy has a better social life than me and learns so much from this.

Why should I cut that short when she’s already going to spend the next 15 years in school?

Don’t get me wrong 15 hours a week of peace & freedom again for me would be AMAZING! But I will have plenty of time to myself when she starts in September. I am in no rush. I want to make the most of these last few months before she starts nursery in September. I don’t want to send her early and miss out on our time together when I know she’s always learning & socialises better than I could ever dream of!

When Eva started nursery she changed so much, and so quickly too! I guess I’ve realised the years fly past so quickly and I want to make the most of this time. Soon Izzy will have her own little world & circle of friends at nursery & then school. She will be interested in things I am clueless about & wanting time to herself. So for now, I want to make the most of the terrible two’s, have those lazy sofa snuggle days & enjoy these moments before Izzy grows up too fast.

Izzy will start nursery in September and is really looking forward to it. She will be coming with us to take a look at the local nurseries over the next few month’s to find somewhere she will be happy. I’m looking forward to the free time as I fell pregnant after Eva started nursery. I spent that time feeling fat and awful. I will definitely be making the most of the time come September & enjoying some me time but for now I’ll be enjoying our time together.

Whilst I’m not jumping for the early years funding I do think it’s a brilliant scheme which allows parents to get back to work/learning or finally catch up on 2 years worth of clothes washing & dishes or even just getting a few hours to relax each week.

What do you think of early years funding? Is it available in your area? Would you take it up or have you?

DIY Daddy Blog

My Sunday Photo – A Lovely New Crocheted Unicorn Friend

Izzy received her lovely new crocheted unicorn friend this week and I absolutely love how happy & smug she looks. After lots of arguing between the girls over Eva’s pink sparkly unicorn Izzy had to have her own!

She couldn’t be any happier with her stunning new friend Crocheted by the Lovely Mrs A/Tracey at Hooks & Dragons.

lovely new crocheted unicorn friend

I love this photo so much I had to share it as my Sunday photo even though I already shared it on Instagram! Both my girls now have their own unicorn in their favourite colours. Finally the arguing has stopped.. over unicorns at least…

 

Photalife

An Arty Day Out At The #LoveGrays Event

On Saturday the girls enjoyed an arty day out at the #LoveGrays event on in town. The Mr pointed the event out to me as he spotted it on facebook so I decided to drag the girls to town to see what was going on.

We only stayed for an hour or so as it was cold but the girls really enjoyed themselves!

#LoveGrays event

Eva headed straight to the stage where local’s performed across the day. She joined in with the dancing and Izzy followed but spent most of the time just staring at the stage or trying to be cute when the photographer’s were around.

We decided to go see what crafts were happening and the girls joined in drawing the things they love in grays. Izzy drew the ‘park & boats’ and a few other little pictures happily chatting away as she did. Eva drew her teachers & had hers put up on the display’s.

I actually loved the way the displays had been made with large reel’s stuck together and painted. They soon filled up with postcards by kids filled with pictures & writing about why they love Grays.

The girls then moved to another table where they got to pick a picture from a copy of local history books and stick it to a piece of card & draw/decorate/write on it however they wanted with Posca pens.

I was quite impressed with Eva coming up with the idea of outlining parts of hers.. I half expected her to just add hearts & flower’s everywhere haha! Eva loves these activities which are run by Metal  to get people involved in arts across Southend and south Essex.

Last summer we attended the Village Beach event too where Eva earned a certificate for designing & printing on a tote bag. She still has her bag & loved receiving her certificate last year too! We will definitely be keeping an eye out for any other upcoming events!

Do you have anything like this running in your area? Do you or your kids enjoy getting involved in events like this?

A Crazy Few Weeks

It’s been a crazy few weeks after I discovered last Wednesday I was entitled to PIP when I woke up and checked my bank account. A letter followed that afternoon. I didn’t quite know how to feel to be honest so I’ve been a bit quiet on the blog. I was quite relieved to have the back payment and be able to sort a few thing’s we needed but at the same time it made me feel quite low. My Anxiety & Depression have spiralled our of control because of Chronic Pain at the moment that I need this just to help me do simple things and make life a little less stressful!

I’ve found it hard to write or join in properly on twitter again which is quite frustrating but I’m feeling a little bit better about everything now and trying to focus on the positives.

It’s been a struggle to get out and about for month’s thanks to anxiety and pain making my life hell. I’ve been able to get taxi’s over the last week or so, something I usually avoid because of the cost. It’s been quite nice to go out and not hurt instantly from walking there or panicking about missing a bus or train. I have a lot of different appointments coming up with CBT, Psychology etc. It’s difficult having to go alone as the Mr has to look after the girls. Now I know it won’t be half as stressful going alone as I can take a taxi and not be late or stood waiting in the cold for up to 30 minutes!

I’ve been able to sort storage for the girls room so they have no excuse for it to be too messy. Hopefully saving my back from hours of tidying. Something I stress about regularly. I feel a bit guilty as I should have a quick tidy in there every day but I struggle to keep up with it all, hopefully now the girls will know where to put everything and keep it cleaner.

I decided to treat myself a little to try and make me feel a bit better about myself. I had my hair cut last week and then the Mr dyed it for me with my usual Schwarzkopf XXL Live Mystic Purple dye! He even did my brothers hair too which made Alex happy. It’s definitely made me feel a little less-self conscious being purple again.

a crazy few weeks

I bought a dinner table so we can eat properly at a table as a family, great for Family dinner’s! My brother Alex has found our family dinner’s give him a sense of normality and family life he missed out on growing up and he loves that. It’s nice for me too as I rarely see anyone these day’s, now it will be much easier so we can do it more often.

Although our day out this half term didn’t quite go as planned as 360 Play in Basildon were full and had to turn us away, the girls had fun in the arcades at Hollywood Bowl. I was a bit gutted but also quite grateful as the noise in the arcades was bad enough! I felt pretty anxious but with my brother there I managed to stick it out long enough for the girls to have fun.

Martyn & the boys came over this week too for a Greek day, it turned into a not so Greek day with only shields and swords being completed.. me playing with bubble wrap and paint may not have helped haha! It was a rather noisy busy day all round but it was nice to have a catch up and the girls obviously had lots of fun.

Eva/Elsa

Today Eva is off at a Disney Princesses and Princes workshop at the Thameside Theatre run by Creative blast. I surprised her and kept the day a secret right up until the last minute when I pulled her Elsa dress out and explained what she would be doing. She was a little confused at first bless her as she thought I had something important to do haha! The lady at the desk explained what would happen across the day and Eva got excited, even more so when she had her dress on! At the end of the day they are putting on a show which we will go and watch 20 minutes before the end of the day at 4pm. The day only cost £22.50 and it was a fairly small group of kids so I’m sure Eva will have lots of fun getting involved with the others!