Day out at Paradise Wildlife Park, Broxbourne, Hertfordshire

Paradise Wildlife ParkWhen you drive through Broxbourne Woods you wouldn’t think that within the hornbeams there is a whole wildlife park with dinosaurs, a train and a speedway museum but thats exactly the beauty of Paradise Wildlife Park.

We visited Paradise Wildlife Park on one of those typical British September Sundays,  the park was buzzing with people enjoying themselves. We were given a map of the site which had times of all the shows. The bird show was nearby so we headed over and what a treat it was. The staff were clearly well informed, it was a small enough audience to really feel part of the show and the birds were close and impressive.paradise wildlife park

One of the things which Paradise concentrates on is its big cats and there are plenty to look at and learn about. The big cat area is really great as its wheelchair/ pushchair friendly and allows you to have a look at the cats from lots of different angles. We loved spotting the baby jaguar which was absolutely adorable.

baby jaguar

 

 

There aren’t just big cats though, there is loads to see. Inside the reptile house we got to meet a special turtle and ask the keeper questions. We saw otters, wolves, penguins, pigs, sheep and all sorts of things!

The great thing about Paradise Wildlife Park is that when the kids get bored of the animals there are loads of other things to do. My kids loved the different playgrounds and in particular the slides which kept them amused whilst we had a chance for a sit down and a cup of tea. We went on a little train ride and spotted dinosaurs and we even visited a speedway museum.snow leopard

The absolute joy of Paradise Wildlife Park is that although it is busy, there is so much to do that the queues for things are very short. There are plenty of toilets, places to sit down and eat and its not so massive that it wears you out. Its fairly easy to park and you can by pass the shop on the way out which is always a winner for me as it prevents the end of day meltdowns. We had a fabulous time and will definitely return soon as there is so much going on. If you are looking for a great stress free day out in Hertfordshire then we would highly recommend a trip to Paradise Wildlife Park.

paradise wildlife park

otters

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Fun on the slides

Book Review: Penguin Problems by Jory John and Lane Smith

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If you are after a well-paced comedy story for children but really (I suspect) aimed at parents then you cant go wrong with this little gem. The little penguin in the story is plagued with anxiety,  he cant fly, he looks the same as everyone else, his mum looks the same as everyone else. Life really isn’t easy. I think my children could identify, so much so that it made us all laugh.

This is a great book if you need to subtly get a child to open up about problems and convey the idea that everyone has similar anxieties. At the end the penguin realises that he only has one life and that maybe things will work out, then carries on moaning. It really is charming right up until the last page.

I love this book, its beautifully illustrated, funny without being slapstick or condescending and also conveys a message about life. My children thought it very appealing and have asked to read it lots of times since it was delivered for review. We haven’t stopped laughing about the penguins problems, thats not to say that they aren’t important and we don’t recognise that. But I think it has helped the children to put things into perspective and to laugh at themselves sometimes. When moaning starts happening I just remind them about penguin and all his problems!

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You can find out more about the book here.

Film Review: Swallows and Amazons

swallows and amazonsVery rarely a children’s film comes along which as an adult you love. This is one of those films.

Swallows and Amazons is one of my favourite children’s books and I must admit that I was slightly worried that the film would not do it justice. I didn’t need to worry, the film does justice to the book and manages that difficult feat that you find with some of these classic books in making it accessible to this generation of children.

The story tells us about a family who have a holiday in the Lake District. Their father a sailor is out at sea and they are alone with their mum. Resolved to have an adventure they take a small sailing boat out onto the lake to reach an island where they can camp. This is the stuff of dreams, I cant think of any children nowadays who would be allowed such a privilege. Their boat is called the Swallow and they meet some pirates (local children) called the Amazons. Together they end up embroiled in a spy drama. Its about friendship, sibling relationships, pulling together, coping with adversity and much more. For me it was about reliving my childhood dreams of adventure, for my own children it was about the relationships between the children.

Have a look at the trailer:

This is a beautifully directed, thoughtful film with an excellent script. The scenery of the lakes, alongside the carefully considered costume add to the overall feel. The adult stars  Rafe Spall, Andrew Scott and Kelly Macdonald perform their roles brilliantly, but the children are clearly the real stars of the film, especially little Roger who reminded myself and my husband of our third child. The dialogue between the children was spot on, so much so that the children came out remarking how they thought their conversations (and general dynamics) were very similar to our household.

Once in a while we go to a movie where all of us come out smiling and remarking how brilliant it was. This was one of those films. I want to go on holiday to the Lake District now and to be little and to sail a small boat to an island and camp. I guess we could do some of those things.

Swallows and Amazons Cast and crewWe were really fortunate to have the cast, writer, producer and director introduce the film for us. They clearly cared about making this film and how to correctly convey the essence of the book and you could see their pride. I can see why as they have produced what has to be one of the best films of the summer.

You must go and see this film, you wont be disappointed its simply brilliant. You can see it in cinemas from August 19th

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Film Review: Thomas and Friends- The Great Race

It isn’t often that I get to take Ned along to an event on his own but when I was invited to see the new Thomas and Friends movie I knew it would be up his street!

Thomas and Friends- The Great Race is the latest in the series of Thomas movies which have been popular with toddlers and pre-schoolers for as long as I’ve been a parent. We were so excited about going along to the premiere that we decided to eschew our usual car journey for the train. Since the premiere was hosted at the frankly amazing Kings Cross Theatre all we had to do was walk through the train station and around the new development behind it to get there.

ned1When we arrived we were both really amazed, we go to a lot of screenings but this was really special. Thomas was outside for photographs and inside the theatre is kitted out just like a train station (The Railway Children is currently on). We walked down some train station steps and into the foyer area which was just like a train station with little ‘shops’ featuring lots of Thomas toys which we could add to our wish lists. There was also a brilliant Thomas play area with loads of toys that Ned could try out. I must admit, my favourite thing was the Thomas themed blueberry muffins.

So, what did we think of the movie? Well, there were all the usual things you would expect from a Thomas movie. a few songs, the fat controller, a story featuring mild peril. However, there were some added extras, a few new characters from around the world (China, Russia and India spring to mind) and the potential for a love story further along the tracks (see what I did there). The new female engine will possibly attract a few more girls into the Thomas franchise which is a good thing and also helps if you have boys and girly girls to entertain at the same time.

Throughout the movie I was watching little Ned (4) to try to gauge his reactions and he was gripped. He really liked the songs in particular and I think when the movie comes out on DVD there will be lots of dancing around living rooms.

thomas1I cant believe quite how lucky we were, after the movie the actual real life Fat Controller drove a full size steam engine across the stage. This was the stuff of Ned’s dreams and something I wont forget so I’d like to thank Mattel for inviting us along, you made a small boy very happy and created a long lasting childhood memory which I will treasure.

Thomas and Friends- The Great Race is out at the cinema now. You can have a look at the trailer here: