A day out at Discover

ed7I’m always looking for new and exciting things to do over the holidays and when we were invited along to the Discover Story Centre in Stratford (East London) it seemed the perfect chance to discover something new.

Stratford is not somewhere that you associate with books; its home to a massive shopping centre and the Olympic park. The story centre provides something different within all this, a little haven for people to come and explore their imaginations.

ed1Discover is the sort of place which inspires children by an immersive experience. There are loads of things to climb on, walk across and explore. Its a bit like being in an exciting adventure playground that is all themed around stories. We thought it was brilliant. In terms of age groups, it was ideal for the 4 and 7 year old but at 9 my eldest was really on the cusp of being too old. Of course, life begins again at 40 which probably explains why myself and the husband loved it.

ed3We were invited along to visit the Michael Rosen temporary exhibition which is in the basement of the story centre. The best way to describe this was that it seemed a mixture of theatre and physical interaction. You could find yourself inside the bear’s cave from the bear hunt books and immerse yourself in the swishy swashy grass. My 4 year old was the perfect age for this, he loved it. I wish my photographs captured his joy. Along with his sister he is a big fan of the Bear Hunt book, so I think it really was amazing to find himself in the bear’s cave.

ed5We loved Discover and its definitely somewhere we will revisit time and time again. What a fantastic idea and a great way to get children engaged in stories. I don’t think we realised what a great day out you could have in Stratford. There is loads of car parking, a beautiful and interesting park, loads of shops and lots of places to eat. We had one of the best days we have had all year.

I should point out that they are completely renovating Discover so you cant enjoy it until 23rd July when there will be a new Dr Seuss exhibition alongside a refreshed story trail. You’ll find us first in the queue! If you’d like to find out more you can check out their website and sign up for the newsletter here.


Bear Hunt, Chocolate Cake and Bad Things

discover story centreOne of the things we hope to do this weekend is to head off to the Discover Children’s Story to visit Michael Rosen’s Bear Hunt, Chocolate Cake and Bad Things exhibition.  Its a brilliant interactive exhibition which I think will inspire and help the children in their reading. There is loads to do including the chance to step inside a humongous chocolate cake! I’m aiming to write a review of it, but I wanted to flag it up to you all because it actually closes on 10th April so there isn’t much time left if you wanted to find out more and go along to it.

quick lets get out of hereTo celebrate the exhibition Puffin books kindly sent us a copy of Michael Rosen’s poetry collection about family life: Quick, Let’s Get Out of Here, illustrated by Quentin Blake. Good quality, engaging poetry books for children are quite hard to find so this is a brilliant addition to the bookshelf. As an adult i’ve very much enjoyed reading this and there really are some gems.

Its very important to get your children reading poetry (or if they wont read it) to read it to them as part of their bedtime routine. There is an emphasis on it at school which can be lost later in life. Poetry is such a lovely accessible form of literature its a shame that it can be overlooked. I think its an especially good thing for reluctant readers as there simply isn’t a great deal to read in order to get the ideas across.

If you’d like to get hold of a copy or to find out more just click here.

Backseat Bedtimes with Vauxhall

Vauxhall Backseat Bedtime Edith Bowman APPROVED FOR MEDIA 2I’ve been the proud owner of a Vauxhall for many years now. I’ve got a Zafira and its a fantastic car if you have children as its so versatile, I’m forever moving seats around to accomodate extra children or stuff. Its a brilliantly versatile car. Anyway, i’m not here to tell you all about the merits of Vauxhall, rather their new ‘Backseat Bedtime‘ initiative.

Vauxhall have teamed up with Edith Bowman,  author Tracey Corderoy and fantastic publishers Nosy Crow (coincidentally publishers of Fifi’s favourite books). Nosy Crow always seem to be at the fore front of using technology with their books. Edith has narrated three stories including the fantastic Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam (one of our faves) which can be streamed as audio or video content through Vauxhall’s in-car intelligence system OnStar. You can also view the stories from the website featured above. What a fantastic help these little stories will be in pacifying the children when you’re rushing to the grandparents!

In case you don’t know what OnStar is (I didn’t as my car is sadly too old) , OnStar is a personal onboard assistant which is avaliable across the entire Vauxhall range, it has Wi-Fi for seven devices, vehicle diagnostics to your phone, stolen vehicle assistance and loads more.

This initiative is great timing, as its this time of year when we all embark upon some long drives, according to the RAC there could be 12 million cars on the road over Christmas.

Vauxhall did a survey where they found that three quarters of parents found these car journeys stressful. This isn’t a surprise, we are generally OK for about half an hour and then the kids start having a punch-up, someone needs the toilet or someone is bored. That’s when we resort to story CD’s or storytelling amongst ourselves. Another tactic parents use if to coincide long journeys with bedtime- 56% of parents put their children in Pj’s before setting off. We’ve done this a few times and its been a great idea. I think Backseat Bedtime is going to help lots of parents!

Disclaimer: Vauxhall sent us a small hamper for the children to celebrate the launch of this, I thought it was a great idea so decided to flag it up.

Three Go Skiing at The Snow Centre with Crystal Ski Holidays

ski4One of the best holidays i’ve ever had  was our Ski trip to Austria. Of course, this was before children so we could make the most of the apres ski and have hours and hours of fun skiing down the slopes. I think what made it so good was that it was so different to our usual trips and the whole experience was just really good healthy fun.

Since we have had kids I’ve been really keen to take them skiing, but unfortunately I just haven’t been able to get together the funds. Its not that its any more expensive than a foreign holiday, its just that with three children to support its an extravagance booking a UK holiday cottage for us. However,  if you have similar issues that doesn’t mean you cant enjoy the fun of the slopes here in the UK and I was thrilled when we were asked by Crystal Ski Holidays if the children would like to come and have a go at skiing at The Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead.

Crystal Ski hosted a day of Skiing at the Snow Centre and provided childcare alongside lessons for the children to give the adults a flavour of their holidays. I know Crystal Ski are great operators for this sort of holiday because they hosted our Ski holiday.  I was really looking forward to the day, if a little apprehensive about whether little Ned would be able to manage on ski’s without his mummy to cling to!

Ned Ski's!

Ned Ski’s!

I didn’t have anything at all to worry about, the instructor was clearly used to three year olds and after a short while Ned was skiing a bit like a pro for someone his age. The boy and Fifi were simply enjoying the fun. I have to admit it was really awesome seeing them all enjoying themselves whilst learning a really healthy fun skill. They also got the chance to do a bit of sledging in the snow garden which was a great way to introduce them to the snow after a long hiatus here. In fact, I suspect this might actually be the first time that Ned can even remember any snow at all since last winter failed to deliver here in the UK.

I have to say that if you want a great fun day out with the kids which is a bit more unusual then a trip to an indoor Ski Centre is one of the best things you can do. Its good old healthy team building fun and something which I vow to do far more of after I saw them at The Snow Centre.

ski7One of the things we got the chance to experience was Crystal Ski Holidays Childcare- the children’s hosts. I was very impressed because they all managed to get some words out of my incredibly shy children and by the end the kids were actually joining in with the activities and chatting away. If this is anything to go by I think they would be a valuable asset out on resort and enable the adults to get a bit of much needed ‘me time’ without any worry.

A family holiday away in the mountains has to be one of the best experiences you can give your children, not only will they learn a life skill, they’ll get a bit of exercise and see some amazing sights. If its something that you might consider then Crystal Ski have produced this really helpful guide. I was surprised to hear that it can be much more economical than I thought, average prices for a family of four can start from around £1500. I’m currently saving up as we speak!

Crystal Ski Holidays offer some great deals so its worth checking out what they offer. They fly from 23 airports and you can even travel by the Eurostar which could be very exciting. Here is the information they gave me, reproduced as I thought it would be useful:

Free places for kids

Take advantage of the free kids’ places on offer, there are great value family ski holidays to be had – the earlier you book, the more dates and accommodation you have to choose from.

  • 81 properties offer free kids places for children under 11
  • 135 properties offer free kids places for children under 15

Different ways to travel to your ski resort

Direct flights from 23 UK airports


Belfast City

Belfast International






East Midlands






Isle of Man



London City







Eurostar ski train (direct)

From London St Pancras or Ashford, Kent directly to the Alps

For a travel alternative that’s friendly on your wallet, your schedule and the environment, you can’t beat the Eurostar ski train:

  • Check in one hour before departure.
  • Baggage allowance of two medium-sized suitcases, one item of hand luggage and free ski carriage.
  • Travel overnight on Friday for eight days of skiing – remember to grab an eight-day lift pass too.
  • Shorter transfer to your resort – usually under 60 minutes.

Watch this video to see why kids love train travel to the Alps


Playmobil Super 4 and your chance to hunt for the world’s most expensive Super 4 figures

Ned with his favourite-Ruby

Ned with his favourite-Ruby

We absolutely love being Playmobil Playologists as it means we get to play with all the toys and find out the news before everyone. Its very, very exciting especially if like me you’ve lusted after Playmobil since you were a child, I mean, thats at least 35 years of lust in my case and my heart still soars whenever my children get a delivery.

This weekend we were really lucky to be invited along to try out the new Super 4 treasure hunt trails which tie in with the launch of new Super 4 toys. If your kids like Playmobil they will be very familiar with the Super 4 show in Citv, my kids love it. Basically the show is set on a planet divided between five island nations each different to the other. Each island has its own specialities; a sci-fi setting, a magical forest, a castle, a pirate hideout and a lost world. Each of the islands has its own lead character (your child will have a favourite!) and the toys and television show are based around these.


Gene with his Techno Chameleon

treasure huntFor the treasure hunt Playmobil have devised 4 different trails around London; Ruby’s telescope Trouble, Gene and Seven Dials, Alex and the Cave Quest and Twinkle and the Four Squares. Over October Half Term and right up to Christmas everyone can join in the treasure hunt to try to find gold Playmobil figures and crack the code. One golden figure will be placed on each trial on different days between 19th October and 6th December 2015, so it really is pot luck! If you aren’t lucky enough to find the gold figures every child has the chance to win a new Super 4 toy set and claim a special reward. The first four completed puzzles to be submitted on each day in October half term will receive a Super 4 toy set and everyone will receive exclusive super 4 collectible stickers in return for a completed puzzle sheet. These rewards can be collected in Hamleys on Regent Street.

super42If you’d like to have a go you can download the free adventure trails at the Super 4 website.

We followed Ruby’s telescope Trouble which took us around Trafalgar Square and along The Mall. It was brilliant fun and I have to say it was great to just stand and look and try to spot things in a part of London which we are all usually rushing through. The trick was to really look at the map and take note of the direction the arrows are pointing. Fifi was the best clue spotter and really thrived with the challenge.

The Super 4 Treasure Trails are a fantastic idea to help you get the kids out and about this half term. We had a great time and best of all its free. If you live near London they are well worth doing.