Hever Castle, Kent

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We were lucky enough to Visit Hever Castle Over the Easter School Holiday’s. Hever Castle was once a childhood  home to Anne Boleyn,  who was wife to King Henry the 8th and mother to Elizabeth 1st.

The castle its self dates back to the 13th Century and has seen many changes though out the centuries with the changing of monarchy.

There are many beautiful Gardens around the castle and the moat, these were just modest gardens around the castle walls until  William Astor brought the castle in 1903 and they are now award winning gardens.

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April 18th – May 7th There is  Tulips Celebrations going on around the gardens there are 7,000 tulips currently in bloom. They look totally amazing, They are certainly worth popping down to see.

We loved having a wander around the gardens, we saw many wildlife including a black swan, only a small number of black swans are in the UK.  There is also a large boating lake which you will be able to take a small boat ride around the lake. If you do not fancy a boat ride there is a lovely lake walk. There is a mini model of the castle and I think other buildings in a section at the back of the shop, It was lovely to see but I did find it a bit dark to try and read but to be honest it could be my reaction lenses trying to adjust going from bright sunshine to indoor light.

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Over Easter Holiday’s the Castle had lots on for the children, they had a Easter Egg Hunt, Easter bonnet making and a Easter bonnet parade for the children to take part in. There is also a maze and a water maze for everyone to join in, there is also a play area too, which is in excellent condition. There is also Archery and shield painting  which runs from 1st April until the 29th October, and starts from £3.

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I felt the Easter Bonnet making was great value for money as it was just £1, Bear and Bell really enjoyed doing this, there was lots of choice from stickers, to crepe paper, to stencils and gems to decorate the bonnet. The member of staff running the area was very helpful and friendly. We unfortunately didn’t get time to check out the shield paining and Archery, but we will certainly have a go next time we visit!

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The Easter Egg hunt was in partnership with Lindt chocolate,  was also great fun, the clues were easy to find and the clues took you mostly around the garden area. The children enjoyed looking out for the clues and got really excited when they found them, at the end there was a lindt bunny at the end to take home.

We were also very lucky to met the King,  when we entered the castle, he was very friendly,  helpful and certainly made the castle seem more alive. The Castle was bright an you could have a lovely look at all the beautiful items on show, without the rooms feeling crowded. The staff were helpful and answered any questions Bear had. Going round the castle was very easy to follow unlike some places we have recently visited.

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We brought a picnic with us, there was plenty of space to sit down with a picnic blanket or there was plenty of benches to sit on if you prefer,  The shop had a great choice of gifts and there was a good selection of pocket money toys if your little ones fancy buying something tiny.

Even though we didn’t take a buggy, We are now out of that stage, I felt Hever castle is very buggy friendly around the ground, the buggy’s are not allowed in the castle so I do suggest you take a baby carrier or carry your little one round. The grounds are also wheelchair friendly but hilly in some places.  There are six different trail walks which you can download before you go via the webpage, –  Hever Castle Trails to Download

The views walking around the castle are very pretty and personally I think it would be a great visit all year round for all the family. The Children really enjoyed exploring the gardens and finding new places which they seemed to miss coming in.

The prices are very good £16.90 for a adult for both the castle and the grounds and £9.50 for children over 5 years old. Hever castle offers a discount for seniors and students. There is also a family price of £44.50. There is also a small shop where you can buy some plants and a little coffee van too!

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This is certainly a great value family day out for all the family, if you are not local there are a few places to stay near including Hever Castle its self.

Hever Castle has lots of events all year round so why not have a peek at their website for up to date information and prices.

 

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Our Spooky Half Term Fun 2016

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What is a Spooky half term without Pumpkin Picking?

Bell and Bear loved pumpkin picking there was so much choice. There were little pumpkins and giant pumpkins! Of course Bear chose a giant pumpkin which I was dreading carving! Bell chose a sensible size one.

We went to a local pick your own, which is ten minutes from our house, we usually go their for strawberry picking too!

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Bell had her first cinema trip and we saw Trolls at Odeon cinema , they were both very well behaved and sat so nicely, I even managed to loose the carpark ticket, which wasn’t good! But it was all okay the nice ticket man let me of the fine and I paid for the 3 hours we were there.

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We went to a Halloween birthday party! We had so much fun! There was a entertainer called Silly Billy and all the children loved him and the grown ups too as he was very funny!

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We sat in traffic jams!

Okay this isn’t typically a fun time, as traffic jams are awful at the best of times but with these two clowns traffic jams aren’t too bad!

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We visited National Trust Emmetts Garden and rolled down the hill and went on a pumpkin hunt with some friends who we hadn’t seen in ages! This was very spur of the moment, and we all had a amazing time, and the weather was amazing for October!

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The car broke down!

Need I say more?

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We visited Coolings Nature Trail. We love it here, the children can run about in a safe area and the best bit they now have my favourite animals…. OWLS! It is also great value for money and we can go in any season.

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We had a play date with a pirate! Okay not technically a pirate but a lovely little girl called H who Bear used to go to pre-school with, she is now in reception and Bell goes to pre-school with her brother G, so it was fun to catch up even though Bear had about 4 tantrums whilst we were there!

We were so lucky to go to Kent Life , to join in with their spooktastic Halloween event! The children loved meeting the animals in cuddle corner, playing on the bouncy castle, the play park, looking around the houses and looking for the ghosts. We also went on the tractor and the land train too! We were so busy we even managed to see a bubble show  soft play too!

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And we all know half term isn’t complete without the DVD, popcorn on the sofa day!

How has your half term been???

 

Photographs

One thing which has always fascinated me is History. I just love finding out about the past and how people used to live.

Photographs can tell a million different stories, Louis Daguerre  had the right idea he designed one of the early cameras in 1839, but their were two people before him who attempted to design a camera also.

Having Photographs can open so many emotions. It can open uncertainty, it can open happiness and it can open sadness.

I came across a photo recently of mum, she is sitting crying. I don’t know why,  but I can tell from the photo it was when we lived in Downham and it was a beautiful summers day. Another photo I came across was of my dad’s dad, my granddad on a trip to America when I was younger his wearing a clown hat, and his eyes are shining and he looked so happy and relaxed. He was with most of his children and grandchildren what more could a guy want to be surrounded by the ones he loved. I also remember thinking I was the luckiest girl in the world to be in Disney! I think we went for around 3 weeks!!!!

I love all the photo’s I take of my two. I prefer the non staged ones where they are not paying any attention to what I am doing, where they aren’t being told to stand there and smile. I think they show the true personality of them.

Here are a few of my favourite photos, yes some are done by my amazing friend Katie. We also have some amazing photos done by the very talented Nicky at NPphotography who did our pre wedding Photoshoot and our beautiful wedding day.

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Now these are my favourite un-edited, not staged photos!

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If you would like to see more of my photos and follow Bell and Bears adventures please pop over to my Instagram account.

 

Healthy Eating

Sparkly Mummy

Let’s join in with #FoodieFriday! 

What a fab Idea  Mummy In A Tutu and Sparkly Mummy 

Now who doesn’t love food! 

I was going to write a whole post on cake and chocolate but I thought with Christmas just around the corner I would write about something a bit practical and it could help you save a few ££££ to! 

So let’s Talk about 

Meal planning 

I have decided that doing a meal planner would be best for my family, Bear and Bell seem to eat constantly. I know this is a growth spurt and now the weather is getting colder I’m sure some of the time it’s out of boredom! 

The meal planner is working really well, even hubs is following it, which is great. 

And the best bit is it is saving some money, especially with Christmas around the corner.

But the downside to a meal planner is that the meals I plan I usually do not fancy that night but I do still follow it! 

How I do my meal planner?

I type it on the laptop, as it’s so much easier to read and plan. I also sit there with a pile of cook books and have a flick through trying to get inspiration for new ideas.

Do I write a shopping list?

Yes, I didn’t use to but I have to admit it is so much easier shopping. I do still add a few non listed items but they are for Christmas which I see on offer.


Would I recommend meal planning?

Yes I would it was really scary at first as I thought it would be really expensive but really it isn’t . I don’t buy the extra vauled products  as I feel they have a high salt content which isn’t good. I do sometimes buy chicken nuggets and chips but this is starting to be a rare treat. And we are still saving money.

Does meal planning help us eat more healthily as a family?
Yes it does! Everything at the moment is fresh, we are cutting down our meat intake and increasing our fish intake. The meals are freshly prepared and taste much nicer than pre done meals and the best bit is I know what is actually going into the meal!

So overall we are really enjoying the meal planning and eating much more healthily. The children are also trying new foods which they would usually turn their noses up at.


Do you have any healthy eating tips or tricks? I would love to hear form you!


Are we expecting to much of our self’s of mum’s  (and dads) 

Reading through a post on Facebook, regarding how much housework we should be doing as a SAHM or SAHD  (for those who don’t know they mean stay at home mummy or dad) and are your houses always untidy.

God yes! There are real mums and dads who’s houses aren’t unclean but are messy with toys, books and general clutter of children. 

I am currently sitting in my living room with coco pops under the table  (the Dyson is charging but also hoping the cats may take a liking to them) toys all over the floor and the covers from the sofa are still in the putting away/back on pile and they have been there since last week, thank goodness for throws and pillows to cover the sofa… 

Anyway are we expecting to much of our self’s? Should I still have coco pops on the floor, should I have got the heavy hoover out and hoovered up 2 minutes before we had to leave for school and run the risk of Bear being late? 

I’d rather leave the coco pops on the floor for a extra ten minutes than Bear being late for school. 

I remember growing up the house was always tidy and clean, nothing was out of place, the toys lived in the cupboard under the stairs and that’s where they went when I finished with them. The washing machine was always on and the bedding was changed weekly and dinner was always dished up dead on 5.30. 

Obviously I didn’t get the clean and tidy bit from my mum, I hate cleaning! 

Anyway enough of my ramblings here are some tips to help you. 

  1. Rota the housework everything doesn’t need to be done daily! 
  2. Plan a meal rota (I’ve just started but so far it’s a life saver!)
  3. If your child is poorly sit and cuddle, housework can wait a poorly child on the other hand can’t.
  4. Deligate housework, if and your partner work (Even if one of you is full time) help each other don’t leave everything to one person being a SAHM/SAHD is actually harder than it looks! 
  5. Don’t critizes your partner or wife/husband if the place is untidy when you get home from work, the main important thing is the children are safe and happy.
  6. Always remember the children aren’t always going to be living at home one day you will have the house all to yourself and wish it was cluttered with toys again.

So you get the gist you don’t have to be supermum, superdad or superhuman, the house doesn’t need to be spotless and tidy 24/7 it’s okay to leave the dishes in the sink over night, it’s okay to not do the washing every day or change the bedding a few days later than you would do normally! 

Breath, relax and enjoy the children whilst they are young. I know a few people may disagree to this but remember everyone is different do what’s best for you. 

By the way my oven needs a clean and I still need to hoover ek! 

3 Little Buttons

Today I got thinking…. 

How much one to one time do I actually spend with each child… obviously I spend a lot more time with Bell than I do with  Bear as his now in full time education. But now Bell is getting to be a less of a a mummys girl (don’t it’s sad times) and more of I will stay with daddy without the emotional tears and tantrums which used to come with it… I have promised myself I will spend some one to one time with Bear. 

Even if it’s just to Tesco or a quick drive to collect petrol, as we all know money can be tight some times,  those 5 to 10 minutes can actually improve a child’s behaviour. 

Why? 

Because they aren’t trying to fight for attention with other siblings or your husband/partner, who could be their dad or their step parent. 

One to one time is actually beneficial  for both a adult and of course more importantly the child. 

With 16 years of child care behind me I have noticed the following of why a child could play up. I am obviously not a expert in child behaviour.

But here it goes….

  1. Negative speech towards a child,if your always given negative commnets to a child he or she may or will play on those comments as they will feel that they can’t do nothing better.
  2. You work part-time but your always putting your child in clubs, I know how annoying children can be. But the importance of spending time with a child and helping and taking time out for your child should come first! 
  3. Always on your phone, okay even I am guilty of this put the phone down for 10 minutes and have a conversation with your child it’s not hard seriously ask how their day has been, who they played with simple things will make sure your child will feel they are valued 
  4. Who always picks up? Yes this is tricky as many parents work long hours now a days but if your at home and it’s always your wife picking up from school but she works from home and your at home with the youngest swap roles, let dad pick up and have a conversation. Obviously if you can, it will make the world of good
  5.  Limit Ipad time, I swear this is the route of all evil, this is why children play up, this is why the art of conversation is dying out. You would be surprised at how many children get in from school and sit glued to the Ipad until dinner is ready! 
  6. Last but not least take a interest in your child’s homework, even the most brightest child may struggle, if you don’t pay attention to their homework they will show less attention in school and play up.

So they are my 6 main things I have picked up on, obviously in a  perfect world we would be there 24/7, UK schools would start teaching at the age of 7 and homewoork would be non existent.

My main point is take time even if it’s 5 or 10 minutes (longer if possible!) With your child one to one. Even if you have to lock the bathroom door and sit on the loo for a quick chat do it! 

The Coffee Shop

I’m sitting in the coffee shop around the corner from my place, one day it’s really quiete and the next is so busy.

I am not complaining one bit, the coffee shop is a little independent shop, with fabulous staff and a lovely atmosphere.

Today it’s busy, the coffee shop is hosting a Macmillian coffee morning and there are a few groups of people, 6 ladies who are chatting loudly who keep looking around and apologising  almost every five minutes for being loud, the keep fit ladies who are sitting out the front, two gentlemen who are celebrating a birthday and three ladies who always seem to be in here having a chat but mostly listing into other people’s conversations. 

This is why I love the coffee shop there is always a mix of people, you hardly ever see the same people sitting in. 

The cakes are amazing here they are mouthwatering. They don’t bake them themselves but they have a lady who bakes and brings them in. 

There is a wide selection of hot drinks, unfortunately I do not drink hot drinks, but hubs does so he has plenty of choice.

There are plenty of choices for sandwiches, wraps and paninies. Either hot or cold. 

The milkshakes!!!! If I had the money I would have one everyday, they have fresh fruit, chocolate bars and biscuits to choose from, and if they don’t have what you fancy take it with you as they offer a discount, I only found out about this the other day when they ran out of my favourite sweets! 

Now here’s the most important things you need to know, the staff are brilliant, they go above and beyond for you, like today it was a gentleman’s birthday who seems to go in quite a bit and they had a happy birthday banner up for him.

No request is too big or too small for the staff here.

The only down side is the coffee shop is small and if there are a few buggies it does get very tight, but I’ve never had a problem with this. 

So enjoy!