• Half Term Days Out: The Haunted Castle- Warwick Castle at Halloween

  • Featured Post: Fifi’s Dream Pet Thanks to PetPlan

  • Book Review: A Day with Dogs by Dorothee de Monfreid

  • Book Review: Roo The Roaring Dinosaur Best Playday Ever! By David Bedford and Mandy Stanley


Half Term Days Out: The Haunted Castle- Warwick Castle at Halloween

witches cauldron

The Witches Cauldron

Warwick Castle is always a brilliant day out. Its a beautiful restored castle set within 64 acres of Capability Brown designed grounds on the River Avon. Its also fantastically well located in the centre of Warwick meaning that you can easily get there by train or from the M40. It takes us just about 1 hour 45 from St Albans generally- thats great for a different day out to usual!

From 22- 31st October Warwick Castle is been transformed into The Haunted Castle especially for Halloween. This makes a trip even better value! By day there are all sorts of family friendly activities including the Horrible Histories Maze (which the kids loved), through to The Haunted Hollows.


The Gargoyle in The Haunted Hollows

If you have the stamina to stay on later you can see a Halloween Fire Joust and see the plague Doctor in the new Outbreak 1349 show about the Black Death.

Pumpkins at the entrance (and my little pumpkin)

Pumpkins at the entrance (and my little pumpkin)

We visited the Castle on Saturday and if you follow my Tweets you’ll see what a fantastic day we had. The kids loved climbing the castle ramparts and exploring the towers. The Haunted Hollows was eerily scary and pitched at just the right level for my lot (9, 4, 7). In fact, I was a little disturbed walking through the clothes lines hanging with sheets in the fog- it was eerily scarily like something from Victorian London.

One of the highlights of any trip to Warwick Castle is the Flight of the Eagles bird show, at the moment there are lots of new birds to see and we loved seeing them. The Condor was an amazingly impressive bird and its only going to get bigger, I cant think of a more spectacular bird display.

Witches Garden

Enter the Witches Garden at your peril

The Witches Tower is replacing the Princess Tower for  Halloween and it was a really popular attraction- if you want to go to it make sure you get your tickets early on in the day as we couldn’t get any suitable times for our kids. Its basically a new storytelling experience which looks great fun.



Unfortunately my little crew weren’t quite old enough to experience some of the more spooky halloween experiences. There are a couple of attractions suitable for over 10 and over 12 year olds. apparently Tormented is really, really scary. They’d be great if you have teenagers you want to entertain. The castle is also open until 9pm so you can experience at castle at night, which is a special experience in itself!

We had a really full day at Warwick, from 10:30 till nearly 6 pm the whole family was entertained in a fun way, but we also learnt loads! The kids are brimming with history facts and the trip was definitely one of the highlights of this half term. Warwick Castle is a beautiful magical place, you can have a lovely walk, watch the trebuchet get fired and explore the castle.

Beautiful Autumnal weather at Warwick Castle

Beautiful Autumnal weather at Warwick Castle

Inside the castle!

Inside the castle!

If you’d like to find out more have a look at the Warwick Castle website and make sure you add it to your bookmarks as there is an ever changing series of events here and they are always brilliant.

spooky cake

A spooky cake!

Featured Post: Fifi’s Dream Pet Thanks to PetPlan


Jonny Cat

I can’t even begin to explain how proud I am of my daughter, she’s bright, friendly well natured and the loveliest little girl. She also has a burning ambition to become a vet and we are trying our best to support this however we can. A couple of years ago we decided to get a family pet and welcomed our lovely cat Jonny into our home. Jonny and Fifi have become the best of friends and she spends a lot of time with him and enjoys caring for him.

One thing we have discovered is that we have an accident prone cat. He is quite an explorer and is forever getting himself into scrapes. About a year ago he came back with some serious injuries which I think were the result of squeezing through some barbed wire or similar. Jonny had to have quite a lot of stitches and medicine all on a Saturday and we were really fortune to have taken out PetPlan insurance. The insurance saved us hundreds of  pounds at a time when we really couldn’t have afforded it. The reason that we happened to have PetPlan out of all the different companies out there was that we had got Jonny from Cats Protection and they had recommended it.

Anyway, it was lovely to hear from PetPlan recently about the Dream Pet campaign for bloggers. I must admit I don’t really get involved in many blogging campaigns but I knew that little Fifi would absolutely love this one, partly because PetPlan were asking her to get involved and she loves reading their magazine!

PetPlan have asked the children of bloggers to create their dream pet. This was a tricky ask for Fifi as she’d quite happily provide a home to every passing animal. She decided on a mixture between a dog, a horse that flies. She’s desperate for a pet dog and her own pony and takes every opportunity to try to get round myself and the hubby.

dream-petMeet Sparkle, Fifi’s new best friend and her dream pet. Petplan really kindly took this drawing and had her made into an actual soft toy! I was frankly astonished, they had done such an amazing job, real life sparkle looks just like the picture.

Fifi unsurprisingly loves Sparkle. She has taken her to show and tell, to bed, to the Tate Modern. The list goes on and I suspect that Sparkle will now become a firm favourite and a feature of Fifi’s childhood.

Pets are a wonderful addition to any home, I have really seen the benefits in having Jonny Cat as a member of our family. The boys are more considerate of animals and they have all benefitted immensely. It has been such a joy to see the children grow with Jonny and I must admit, I love my cat (because he is definitely my cat). I’m ever so grateful that Jonny found us as a family and that we took out pet insurance as it has been invaluable thanks to his adventures!


The actual Sparkle!

I’ve learnt more about Petplan as a result of this campaign: They work with more animal rehoming charities than any other pet insurance provider and are committed to supporting charities and the vital work they do. They work with more than 1,200 charities throughout the UK and in 1994, formed the Petplan Charitable Trust which has so far raised more than £7million towards a better, healthier world for animals.

This has been a lovely post to write and i’m quite proud to recommend PetPlan here on this blog, this post has been made possible thanks to them but all the thoughts are my own


Book Review: A Day with Dogs by Dorothee de Monfreid

adaywithdogs_cover_medThis is the ideal book for any little children who love dogs. Its a cute book featuring nine dogs who go about their daily lives. Essentially this is a book of descriptive illustrations which provide the stimulus for lots of interesting conversations with children. However, there are also lots of little vignettes and funny conversations which add to the book.

There were several illustrations which my kids particularly enjoyed; The Alphabet which features dogs and different names for all the letters, Sports which is frankly hilarious and The Kitchen in which the dogs cook their dinner stand out.

We like books which encourage storytelling and thinking and these activities form the basis of good reading and comprehension skills. If you like Richard Scarry’s books then you’ll love this as its a similar more modern version.

You can find out more here.

Book Review: Roo The Roaring Dinosaur Best Playday Ever! By David Bedford and Mandy Stanley

roo-the-roaring-dinosaur-best-playday-ever-9781471145032_hrRoo The Roaring Dinosaur is a delightful little character and we loved the first book which introduced him. This new book takes Roo on an adventure with his new friend Erik the Polar Bear.

This is an ideal easy, bright, colourful read for under 6 year olds. Its a great story to introduce the concept of how you can be different to somebody but still friends and navigating ups and downs of friendship generally.

These sorts of books are really nice to share with children, this book in particular is perfectly pitched for nursery/ reception age kids and it was great to read with little (4 year old) Ned. With lovely illustrations which provide lots of opportunities for discussion and an interesting story this book has provided some lovely mother/ son moments in our household.

You can find out more about the book here.

Film Review: DreamWorks Trolls

TrollsDreamWorks make some of the best children’s films. Their movies are the ones which frame childhoods and create memories and Trolls is no exception. If you’re looking for a frenetic, joy filled musical extravaganza then this is the movie for you.

I should say that Fifi was a little bit worried about the Trolls being scary (she admitted this when we were halfway to the screening) but she soon realised how silly she was being and is now a massive fan. They really are the cutest little movie characters, possibly ever and the scenes which involve what can only be described as fuzzy felt to explain what might happen are a stroke of genius.

I was excited to see Trolls as I remember having the little dolls when I was little and they really were a feature of my childhood. I still have them and I even have a little jewel box which sat on a wrist band and held a Troll- something which is referenced in the film for uber fans of a certain age like me.

Despite being 41 instead of 7, there was no stopping us getting a photo with the Trolls at the gala screening. In all honesty I don’t think I could have been more excited!


This film is a musical and the soundtrack is awesome, we were all jigging about it our seats and singing the songs all the way home. These Trolls are cast as little Party People with pink haired Poppy Troll (voiced by Anna Kendrick) in charge. She’s a sassy little girly troll with an attitude not unlike my daughter and there were some brilliant almost teenager like one-liners from her.

The film is a roller coaster ride of emotions, particularly for younger kids. The bad guys (Bergens) are a little bit scary. Branch  the boy Troll (voiced by Justin Timberlake) reminded me of my eldest son in attitude and latent musical talent.

If you like Shrek, then you will like this movie as it has a very similar sort of feel about it. However, we thought it was better than Shrek, its much more visually stimulating, the comedy is more contemporary and the music really takes it to the next level.

It is without doubt the perfect movie for a rainy autumn half term and will serve to raise the spirits of even the battle hardened parent. I defy you not to feel happy once you’ve seen it. We all love it and the soundtrack is now a fave on our Spotify playlist.

Have a look at the trailer:

The Blurb:

DreamWorks’ TROLLS is a hair-raising comedy filled with unbelievable adventure and incredible music.  Known for their crazy, colourful, and magical hair, Trolls are the happiest, most joyous creatures ever to burst into song. But their world of rainbows and cupcakes is changed forever, when their leader Poppy (Anna Kendrick,) must embark on a rescue mission that takes her far beyond the only world she’s ever known.

TROLLS stars Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, James Corden, Kunal Nayyar, Gwen Stefani, Russell Brand, Ron Funches

DreamWorks TROLLS is released in cinemas from October 15 in 3D and 2D.

I’d love to hear about your childhood memories of Trolls and if you see the film yourself don’t forget to leave a review here.