We’re Going to Wembley Again

Not long now and we’ll be heading back to Wembley for the Women’s FA Cup Final 2018. This will be our fourth year going; I’m filled with delight that this year it’s on a different day to Eurovision. At last!

H at Wembley, football,

Tickets are on sale right now for the Cup Final, as SSE customers we bought ours via SSE Rewards – it has cost us £15 total at a 50% discount. I also entered H into a competition to be a mascot but I suspect we’ll have no luck on that front.

Things are looking interesting on the football front too; our Crystal Palace Wildcats are back after a short Easter break. It looks like SSE and the FA have put even more money into the Wildcats clubs and making even more available to join. One has even opened in Carshalton, although we’re sticking with our Caterham gang!

H at SSE Crystal Palace Wildcats

It is almost a year since H joined Wildcats. She’s still enjoying going every week, and at £3 a time it isn’t expensive. It’s also a lot more enjoyable for us parents now the weather is warmer. Standing out in the cold has been quite hard at times in the past! She has made loads of new friends. I love that she isn’t with school friends so has different circles of friends now.

Oh, and this isn’t just about H – we’ve made some friends too which is great!

We love going to Wembley. We’re sad we haven’t got to see Tottenham play there, though we’re looking forward to visiting the new White Hart Lane.

I love that more opportunities are opening up for girls, here’s our local flyer. It is worth having a go. The more groups of Wildcats girls there are, the more girls will end up playing against each other and having even more fun. Football has done wonders for H, and I’m so happy there are more groups opening up.

Crystal Palace Wildcats sessions 2018

Here’s hoping this year’s SSE Women’s FA Cup Final is a record-breaking crowd!

Wembley Stadium SSE giant sponge hands, football, Women's FA Cup Final 2015

PGL – New Experiences and an Amazing Time

You’re eight. You’re standing at the foot of a tree, a very big tree. It might be as tall as a house, maybe even taller. At the top is a ledge, a small ledge with an instructor waiting for you. All you have to do is climb to the top using the ladder and the large staples. Once you get to the top you zipwire down. Can you do it?
Climbing the tree to the zipwire at PGL Marchants Hill

That’s H’s PGL experience – or one of them – summed up.

PGL Adventure holidays are a whole new experience for us. We went to Marchants Hill for our Brownie camp, taking just ten girls. You let PGL know what sort of activities you want to do and they tailor them accordingly. We asked for confidence and team building, and on the second day we found ourselves on a foggy Sunday morning standing by the zipwire.

Starting the zipwire at PGL Marchants Hill

We were moved from the two slightly easier accessible by stairs ones – which left us unsure whether our girls would complete it. In the end only half managed – but the ones that did had the time of their life. Some girls surprised me because I didn’t think they’d do it, but they had the determination. H was one of them.

H on the zipwire at PGL Marchants Hill

It was high – any zipwire expert knows you need to start high to get a good run. H said she got half way and felt terrified. She didn’t want to continue. But then she also thought about it rationally, she didn’t want to come down either as that looked pretty difficult. So she kept on going, looked down to me when she got to the top (for reassurance) and then dealt with the final hurdle, getting off the platform. The instructor had H shouting over to the other zipwire instructor (something like “Craig is a muppet”), and once the giggles took over she was ready, and that was that.

learning how to use the zipwire at PGL Marchants Hill

That to me is what the PGL experience is about. It’s what you make it. If you want to do something then only you can be the one who does it. Being part of a team and having a go is so important. If it’s an individual task then having a go can improve your confidence.

As a leader I could have joined in but chose not to, and to make it about the girls. I tried not to help as much as possible and let them work it out. Also – my back.

quad biking at PGL Marchants Hill

Other things we did include quad biking, raft building, buggy building and problem solving. Lots of different activities which involved water, knots, working together and laughter – very important.

Quad biking fun at PGL Marchants Hill

Oh, and PGL has a songbook – you will learn many songs. They will probably involve Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or various fizzy soft drinks. Or toilet water. Or cow poo. They will make your child feel included.

The quad bikes are limited to 10mph. Once we got there the course was pretty small as well, just the right size. This was H’s favourite activity by a mile.

raft building at PGL Marchants Hill

 

With a hearty breakfast, lunch and evening meal included we always felt well-fed and ready to face the day. You need to eat well and feed yourself more than usual as you’ll use a lot of energy walking around the PGL site. Each activity has a different instructor, and as they finish you’re returned to your main instructor who gets you to where you need to be on time.

The evening’s entertainment was organised for the girls, the first night we had a quiz night and the second a disco – this was the only time we were indoors too (apart from food breaks). This was a good excuse for us Brownie leaders to head to the bar on site and have a 30 minute break. The second night there was a free wine and cheese night – of course we went! The girls are looked after by their PGL leader and we’re always nearby thanks to it being a really well laid out area.

We visited PGL Marchants Hill for three days (two nights), at a cost of approximately £115 each. There are Girlguiding deals available. Generally for every six girls a leader goes free, and they offer additional discounts so it’s always worth asking.

When we asked each girl what they enjoyed the most about PGL everyone had something different – from learning knots and building something, to the zipwire. H’s favourite was the quad bikes!

Clandon Park is Open Again after the Fire

It was the 29th April 2015 and news started to come in – Clandon Park near Guildford was on fire. Beautiful Clandon Park – a Grade I listed mansion. But there’s good news – Clandon is being rebuilt.

Clandon House 2013

Clandon Park is a mansion near West Clandon, near Guildford. On the 29th April 2015 a fire gutted the mansion, all bar one room. The fire started in the basement and spread to the upper floors.

Fortunately several things were saved and retrieved before the fire took hold. However, a lot was lost – including the inside of the house. Clandon Park is just a shell.

Clandon Park fireplaces that survived after the fire

As National Trust members, we’ve combined Clandon Park and nearby Hatchlands Park in a single visit. When H was a baby Clandon was the better of the two for little legs. It has now reopened, and things are changing.

From January 2019 work will begin on restoring Clandon. The ground floor will be as close as possible to how it was, with the upper floors having an exhibition area which will continually change. On the top floor there’s talk of a dining area with spectacular views across the Surrey Hills.

Hi vis and hard hats to see inside Clandon Park

We were given hard hats and hi-vis vests and had a look inside the house.

There is a walkway through a section of the house, and it’s fascinating. Obviously it goes without saying it would be better the fire never happened, though because it did, the people who volunteer at Clandon have learned so much about how the house was built.

Clandon Park after the fire Royal Bedroom and doorway

For example, in the Royal Chamber; a room which was always ready for any passing Kings or Queens to stay, should they need to; it was discovered the walls had several layers. Initially wood was nailed into the walls which were then covered in hessian. Wallpaper was placed over that, leaving what everyone saw up to 2015. But now you can see the layers underneath.

Clandon Park after the fire - 1930s fireproof solution and looking up to the roof
How about some 1930s fireproofing? There is a tiny section which hangs across the upper floor. Sadly ironic, it’s the only part which still stands up there.

Incredibly, the marble fireplaces remain intact. The staff at Clandon Park found that pillars thought to be marble were in fact painted to look that way – and were just plaster. On the first floor statues (again, marble) are intact. You can see smaller fireplaces which survived as well.

What H thought would be a boring hour or two ended up being a really fascinating hour or two. Seeing the structure of the house, how thick the walls are and seeing where wood and stone staircases once were is really interesting.

If you visit Hatchlands Park, I’d recommend a trip to Clandon Park as well. It’s just up the road, the grounds are open too. I wish it wasn’t interesting and that we were visiting as normal (the cafe in the basement was always one of our favourite National Trust ones), but love that H came away asking different questions about the build of the house.

Clandon Park Dutch Garden and Newt

In the gardens we spotted loads of newts in the pond in the Dutch Garden – with the glorious sunshine it was a lovely day to get out and enjoy being outdoors. Looking across the bulb meadow to the house there was a hint of sadness, though knowing things will change in the coming years means this view will happen again.

To visit Clandon Park, please check their opening times. You can turn up to visit the house, you don’t need to pre-book. Spending money at Clandon Park also helps vital funds needed for this rebuilding project.

Clandon Park after the fire. Before and after

Country Kids
 

Hever Castle Tudor Towers Adventure Playground

Since we took out Historic Houses Association membership last year, we’ve made several visits to Hever Castle. It’s about 40 minutes from us and there’s always plenty to do.

Hever Castle
We visited on the Bank Holiday weekend, and were delighted to see the Hever Castle Tudor Towers adventure playground is now open – in fact, it opened last October.

Hever Castle Tudor Towers adventure playground is situated in the main playground area within the grounds.

It covers a large area. Or as H said “this is bigger than our house!” – something that isn’t too difficult, mind. There are three floors to it, with so many things on offer. Have you been to Leeds Castle? We visited there for the first time, there’s a similar one there. The only thing is, Hever Castle’s is far superior according to H.

Hever Castle Tudor Towers Adventure Playground outside

The Hever Castle Tudor Towers adventure playground has tunnels too – H’s favourite is the one which goes from the back of the house to a well outside. It took me longer to walk around from one entrance to the outside part than it did for her to crawl from one to the other.

There are fireman’s poles, plenty of slides, and the best thing? It’s suitable for 7-14 year olds. At the moment there are younger kids having a go, though this will change when they have their own one built this year.

Hever Castle Tudor Towers Adventure Playground

Three towers are at the top of the castle, Astor, Waldegrave and of course, Boleyn, named after Anne their most famous resident. Each has their own adventure to discover within. The second floor has some sections with speakers which randomly pipe out music which is suited to the Tudor era.

At the very top of the castle is a tunnel you can crawl along – high up so not for the faint hearted.

Hever Castle Tudor Towers Adventure Playground upper tunnels

It’s tip top great fun though – and somewhere H is already asking to go back to.

There’s enough room on a rainy day and enough inside that keeps it sheltered. Hever Castle are sensible enough to make sure there’s a coffee machine outside selling reasonably priced tasty coffees for us parents. There are plenty of benches too.

Even better, you can get to most areas yourself should you need to. Shaun might have even tried one of the slides….

Hever Castle Tudor Towers Adventure Playground is open now. Allow plenty of time there too. Final entry is 45 minutes before the grounds close. The final exit being 15 minutes before they close.

Country Kids
 

Armpit Fudge – Prepping Another Brownies Activity

A Girlguiding (and probably Scouts too) staple has to be armpit fudge. It isn’t difficult to make, doesn’t take long and is doable with regular ingredients that you will probably have at home. Definitely worth a try, so we did.

Armpit fudge describes what it is pretty well. It’s a simple one, and is something that I’m considering for Brownies next term.. I may regret that.

For each person you need :

2oz Icing Sugar
1 tablespoon Butter (we used Vitalite)
2 teaspoons Cream Cheese (we used Philadelphia)
Vanilla Essence (or whatever you have, we had errr Buttery Caramel)
2 teaspoons Cocoa.

Ikea bag for armpit fudge

Get a ziplock bag. We had some Ikea ones so used the smallest size we had of those. Add each ingredient carefully into the bag. It gets messy… especially with the Icing Sugar and Butter.

Once everything has been added to the bag, squash all the air out and seal the bag. Give the bag a good squash. H told me she was “really tired” so she imagined it was like a fidget spinner but you could eat it… seemed to work.

armpit fudge in an armpit

Once it is suitably squashed and mixed, stick it under your arm and give it even more of a squash. That’ll help too, the warmth of your underarm (ew!) makes it all mix together well. Check if it is creamy. If so, then you’re ready to add things like Smarties or Parma Violets or Skittles or the whole lot (we might have….).

squishing armpit fudge

Give the bag another good squish under your arm to make sure all the extras get covered. Yum.

armpit fudge ready to eat in Ikea bag

Then open and dip in with a spoon. Spoons are so much nicer to deal with than fingers… someone I know may have got armpit fudge over her glasses too…. wonder who…?

Armpit Fudge - eating it

The mixture works, the armpit fudge is sugary sweet without being too over the top. I now have to work out how this will work for over 30 7-10 year olds…

Word Has It – Fun from University Games

Word Has It is a fun game that’s suitable for all the family. It is easy to pick up, and a bit like Dobble, one that you’re fairly evenly matched.

Word Has It is good fun – it is easy to follow and has been one of those games we’ve really enjoyed playing, and that H immediately plays with her friends.

Word Has It in action

It has simple rules. There’s a wheel in the middle of the board, spin it to see which letter you need. Then choose a card. Press the button in the middle and you have 40 seconds to select individual word tiles and make a word beginning with the letter, based on the theme on the card.

Word Has It starter button

Now, you would think being an adult vs a child may be an unfair match, however, once the music gets going it’s a distraction. Imagine playing Countdown at home where it all seems lots easier vs playing it in the studio where I’m sure the music would make me even more nervous. Word Has It is like that. You need to focus on what you’re spelling as well as finding the letters. Then you have to build your word and the music tempo keeps building to add to your nerves.

It’s great fun. Even if H takes to putting up silly words from time to time!  The main thing is that if you keep things simple it’s a really fun game. It has been good for seeing how H thinks as well. Options on the cards include ‘made from metal’ or ‘found in a garage’. As an adult I’d think differently to my daughter which has resulted in some clever answers.

Word Has It letters and categories

Word Has It is for up to four players, and is recommended from age 7 upwards. I love that H has played it with her schoolfriends after school;  they’ve sat playing for at least half an hour too. Highly recommended!

For more information head here.

Ravensburger Make It Medley Jigsaw

We have been getting out as much as possible of late, but with some weather you don’t want to venture too far – and we’ve got into jigsaws of late. We have been sent a Ravensburger Make it Medley Jigsaw to review.

The Ravensburger Make it Medley jigsaw is a lot of fun – they’re billed as ‘a tantalising, tricky treat for puzzle fans. It’s challenging…. but not impossible’

doing the Ravensburger make it medley jigsaw

I would honestly say this was a fairly easy jigsaw to do. We had spent almost two weeks doing a Harry Potter jigsaw which felt like it was taking forever. It has a wooden frame around it which is really difficult to assemble – after all, you start around the edges first!

So this Ravensburger Make it Medley Jigsaw was quicker – but that didn’t make it less fun. Someone (aka Shaun) might have stayed up until 1am one morning doing some of it as he was enjoying it so much…

The pieces were good shapes – with enough of each image to work out where it belonged. I liked having the lid and a piece of paper with the image on so we could all share it to work out where things went.

The design of the puzzle has various things you would use to make things; bobbins of cotton, wool, ribbons and more. There were lots of beads on there too – plenty of different things going on.

ravensburger make it medley jigsaw

This was suitable for H (age 8) too. She would often get a bit frustrated if her jigsaw was too difficult, so kept at this one and didn’t need a break from it. When we finished she had a real sense of achievement!

The Ravensburger Make it Medley jigsaw is available now. (affiliate link) We were sent one for the purpose of this review. All opinions are our own.

In 2013 I Bought a Sledge from Trespass

In 2013 I bought a sledge from Trespass.

It was a winter so cold, the coldest it had been for a long time. There was so much snow. I did the sensible thing and bought a simple plastic sledge from Trespass which cost me £10.

We were ready! Ready for whatever snow came – we could go sledging!

Except the next year there was no snow.

There was also no snow the following year.

The lack of snow was getting me down a bit, almost as much as when the snow starts to melt and become slush when it does appear. To make matters worse, almost everyone else everywhere in the UK seemed to be having snow. Unfair.

The following year we had snow! Not enough to sledge in though, just enough to make the world’s tiniest snowman. So we did.

The following year? No snow, of course. The sledge was put in the loft.

It must be around 2017 now and I was starting to forget I’d even bought the sledge. It got moved to the shed, a place where even more possessions go to be forgotten over the years (but slightly more accessible).

I thought about Freecycling it. Maybe that would bring the snow back to us here?

2018. The year of the snow. Our sledge from Trespass finally made its debut.

Sledging at The Wrythe, Carshalton
Five years is a long time to not use something and for it to gather dust in a cupboard.

sledging home again on our sledge from trespass
Fortunately it has had two afternoons of optimum sledging after school. Once in Grove Park and then Carshalton Park where my daredevil child sledged down the Hog Pit Pond. It’s steep – she managed three or four goes. I missed it as I got home from work after they had left. It looks like this when there is no snow and is the place where the big bonfire happens each November as it’s such a big slope. It actually filled with water for the first time in years in 2014.

snowy air raid shelters at The Wrythe, Carshalton

We went to our local park The Wrythe, the old Air Raid Shelters made a fantastic slope, and where I was able to catch Shaun and H up to join in. H managed at least 30 goes!

Finally using the sledge from Trespass at Wrythe Green Air Raid Shelters

It’s fairly safe to say our sledge from Trespass has had a lot of use – at last!

Country Kids

Glam Goo – Slime Just Got Funky!

We have a Deluxe Pack of Glam Goo – a new slime activity with a twist.

Glam Goo contains some slime, a shoulder bag and a ring. Its purpose is to bling up the slime – and get creative. You also get three types of glitter to mix in, some pink and blue powder for colour, some perfume, and a mixing spoon.

Glam Goo deluxe pack

Inside the kit you get a large tub of ready-made slime, and that’s where the fun starts. It can be quite sticky, the instructions suggest adding bicarbonate of soda but we waited. We were mixing in some colour and glitter and scent.

Once the container is open the slime goes white and looks more like the slime we make at home.

Glam Goo Deluxe Pack contents

Having recently made slime at Brownies I know that the consistency can change quite dramatically with just a tiny bit too much of one element. You have to add a small bit at a time and work it, knead it together.

Mixing before adding Glam Goo

We started with less slime than we needed. H wanted to mix one of the concoctions suggested in the leaflet that comes with it – Shimmer Lake. You add some blue powder – start with small amounts and build it up. We added some glitter – Day Dreams – and finally Violet Vibes, a perfume which you can add a drop or two of.

Mixing Glam Goo

 

We mixed everything in a small Ikea bowl to try and contain the glitter which worked well. After a bit of kneading I found the slime gets sticky if you keep it in your hand, but if you keep kneading and squishing it, it has a good consistency.

Glam Goo ring ingredients

Then comes the fun part! Once the slime is ready and how you would like it, you can put into the mould part of the ring – or maybe the love heart of the bag – or even one of the compartments on the back of the bag.

Glam Goo bag compartments

H tried some more Glam Goo, making Purple Rain. This was a mixture of the blue and pink powders with more Violet Vibes – oh, and Unicorn Tears (some really light sparkly glitter circles). It looks really good in a section of the bag.

 

Glam Goo is really easy to use – helped by the slime being ready-made. As you add extra things to the mixture it does change, and it’s quite interesting seeing how much it differs the more you add.

Glam Goo bag modelled by H

The shoulder bag would probably fit a book in it – though it’s more for showing off than being practical. The slime isn’t too runny so it doesn’t gloop out of the bag, either.

zoom in on Glam Goo in bag with different glitter pieces

H says “I really like it – it wasn’t difficult to mix and I liked the suggestions the leaflet has. I want to make my own slime and add that in there too to see what it looks like

Glam Goo bag with three compartments filled

I think it’s safe to say that Glam Goo gets a thumbs up here – at last, slime with a purpose!

Glam Goo Ring

You can buy Glam Goo at all good stores, including Amazon. Their official website is here.

We were sent Glam Goo to review. 

Project Mc2 Pixel Purse – Some STEAM Fun!

H loves Project Mc2 – the Netflix series. She was delighted to try the Project Mc2 Pixel Purse recently. Bry who is one of the gang can be seen with a Pixel Purse – and they’re pretty awesome!

The Project Mc2 Pixel Purse is cool. Really cool. It has pixels on one side of it, which you can customise. Some are preloaded and others you can upload yourself via an app (Android and iOS).

The app is free and works fine on my Android phone, however wasn’t on Amazon Kids, unfortunately so H couldn’t use her tablet.

Project Mc2 Pixel Purse packaging

The Project Mc2 Pixel Purse is a battery operated purse that includes a cable inside which plugs into your phone headphone socket. You can upload your creations to the purse and show them off.

It really is that simple – and it’s a lot of fun. 8 year old H is pretty good with apps anyway and picked it up straight away.

Project Mc2 Pixel Purse phone plugged in transferring design

There are several options – you can create your own design or add a ready made shape – hearts, stars, square, triangle and flower. You can change colour to have all kinds of colourful things going on – it really is a world of colourfun! (my new word I made up there)

Project Mc2 Pixel Purse heart design transferring on phone

Project Mc2 is a series based around STEAM activities with the girls all being pretty smart in their chosen subject. They work for a Government organisation called NOV8 and use their science knowledge to help catch criminals that the police can’t catch alone.

The newest addition to NOV8 is Bry, who wears a Pixel Purse – H was excited when she spotted it in an episode!

The packaging describes what it is about perfectly (and in very small print!).

Project Mc2 Pixel Purse H design

“If you were to look at a phone, tablet or television screen with a magnifying glass, you would see it is made of lots of tiny dots called pixels. For example, when something is HD it means the screen has more pixels packed into it. The Project Mc2 Pixel Purse has very large pixels made from LED lights. LED stands for Light Emitting Diode and they act like tiny lightbulbs turning on when the microchip inside the pixel purse sends electricity to the LED. LEDs can be found in the headlights of newer cars and most traffic lights. Looking at one LED would be boring so we put lots of them together to create fun patterns and images. Each pixel can change colour and inside the Project Mc2 Pixel Purse is a microchip which remembers the images in which order to display them.”

I’ve read some reviews saying the app crashes on Android. We haven’t had that problem, but have found it can run quite slowly. I’d recommend closing all other apps that are open before using. So far we’ve had no problems and have been able to save designs mid-way without any bother.

Project Mc2 Pixel Purse I heart you design

“I really like how you can design your own patterns rather than having the ones that are pre-made” says H. “It’s quite fun to do and I enjoy doing it a lot.”

You can’t put anything inside the purse apart from your phone, so its use is limited. However, creatively it’s a lot of fun and gets a thumbs up from H. It isn’t the sort of thing you would get bored of as you can constantly update it.

The Project Mc2 Pixel Purse is available now from all good retailers. It’s over here at Amazon.

We were sent the pixel purse to review.