Coombe Mill – Our Summer Trip to Cornwall

This summer we went back to Cornwall for a third year, and decided we’d stay at Coombe Mill. We join in with Country Kids as much as we can, and enjoy the outdoors. Just follow Coombe Mill’s Instagram and you’ll see the beautiful scenery and fun on the farm.

Coombe Mill is in St Breward, near Bodmin. It’s a working farm, something I had a lot of questions about, because I’m a curious person who likes to know stuff. I’ve often wondered if owning a farm and rearing your own animals means you could eat them. We soon found out that the animals without names were the ones which went! H was doing her Brownie ‘Friend to Animals’ badge there and learned a lot of facts which helped too.

Coombe Mill Scandinavian Lodges, Coombe Mill at Christmas

We stayed in Trebah, a Scandinavian style lodge which was cosy and comfortable and had everything we needed. You have a washing machine and a dryer which came in handy as we had a lot of rain. We also had a wood burning stove which kept us really toasty on the more chilly nights.

Two doors down was The Boy and Me gang so H had a playmate, and over by the train tracks was Jo from Mummy Needs Wine. It was a proper blogger get-together!

So what does Coombe Mill offer? For H, freedom. We live in London and I get twitchy enough her going to post things at neighbours houses. We joined the feed run every morning, and H got to drive the tractor with Farmer Nick twice which she really enjoyed.

driving the tractor at Coombe Mill

She learned facts about the animals, picked them up and by the end of the week was way more confident with them than at the start.

cuddling hen at Coombe Mill

Bear in mind as we rent we can’t have pets, and she has never spent a chunk of time around animals this was a big deal for her. By the end of the week she was picking up hens and rabbits without a care. At the start of the week there were a few strops when they didn’t just magically come to her!

catching rabbits at coombe mill

Coombe Mill is in a great location with several places close by. As ever we ran out of time to do everything we wanted to. We discovered the fabulous beach at Perranporth and are trying to plan next year’s holiday. That may be a part of it…

Coombe Mill is a great place to stay. It’s somewhere you could stay through the day and still have plenty to do. Aside from the feed run there’s the daily train ride from Coombe Halt which H insisted we HAD to go to. H even got a circuit on her own!

We loved watching the wild deer every morning on the feed run.

I loved opening the doors and listening to it all. The river, the birds, the animals. I started to breathe again, to relax. But then all of a sudden our week was over – it flew by! I wish you could bottle it up so I could have some to remind me of the calm.

The thing I loved the most was meeting parents every morning on the feed run and chatting. Everyone was so friendly – and H made new friends. She’s sending a Christmas card to a girl she met at Coombe Mill as they swapped addresses and write to each other.

Our last night we had an outdoor barbecue with the bloggers, and it was a lovely end to a lovely week. The kids all played around us, their age differences didn’t matter as they all got stuck in and enjoyed each other’s company. You can’t beat that as far as holidays go.

The Coombe Mill website is here.

Obviously we’re linking in to Country Kids again!

Country Kids
 

Lego Star Wars Sustainable Advent Calendar 2017

It has become something of a tradition in this house every December that we buy H a Lego Advent Calendar. This year, however, things have changed for the better. Lego have launched a Lego Star Wars sustainable Advent Calendar!

The Lego Star Wars sustainable Advent Calendar looks exactly the same as previous years. Each container which holds your Lego surprise is made from 100% Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper which can be recycled along with the box.

Lego Star Wars Sustainable Advent Calendar 2017 - what it looks like

Given previous Lego Advent Calendars have had a plastic tray, this is a big and good move forward as far as reducing waste goes. That will save over a million plastic trays going to landfill sites.

Of course, rather than just recycling the trays, there are several other uses for them.. I’m thinking of a way we could use ours at Brownie meetings – they would make great seed trays to grow something in the new year.

Checking this video, I’m tempted to have a go at a few Stormtroopers too.

Then again… my attempt looks a bit like an ageing Stormtrooper! Still, we have plenty of others to practice on! Have you tried to make any? Share your pictures if so, I’d love to see!

Lego Star Wars Sustainable Advent Calendar 2017 Stormtrooper craft from the tray, easy crafting using Lego Star Wars recyclable trays

What I love the most about the Lego Star Wars Sustainable Advent Calendar is that it reduces landfill. This is such a good thing, and more companies should take this on board – it isn’t difficult to make little changes like this.

H’s Lego Star Wars advent calendar also has her current favourite in there, alas not due until Christmas Eve…Lego Star Wars Sustainable Advent Calendar 2017, Christmas BB-8 from the 24th December

Maybe next year it will be a Lego Porg….

The paper pulp tray is starting to appear this year and is available in approximately 60% of advent calendars. The advent calendar paper trays are one of the product innovations to improve the sustainability of LEGO packaging. The LEGO Group is working on improved product labelling to promote correct recycling, and recycled or bio based plastic packaging, among other initiatives.

Since 2013, the average size of LEGO boxes has been reduced by 14%. Using smaller boxes has so far saved approximately 10.000 truckloads, over 20.000 tonnes of cardboard, and CO2 emissions by 35.000 tonnes.

We received a Lego Star Wars Sustainable Advent Calendar for the purpose of review, all opinions are our own. 

Jack and the Beanstalk at Waddon Leisure Centre

We recently went to see Jack and the Beanstalk at Waddon Leisure Centre – the current home of Croydon’s Pantomime.

Jack and the Beanstalk at Waddon Leisure Centre runs from now until 31st December 2017.

The ingredients for a good panto : one dame. Essential. Must be in gaudy outfits, the more bright and outlandish the better. Slapstick. Essential component to hold things together. Laughter. Usually fits of giggles from the castmembers, especially if someone forgets their lines. Ad libbing. See previous, also essential – you must be able to think on your feet. Songs. Pop songs are always good, especially if everyone is likely to already know it. Audience participation. Essential. Compulsory. “It’s behind you!” and “oh no it isn’t” and joining in with songs or dances (if invited).

Jonny Awsum (Billy Trott) and Tim Hudson (Dame Trott) in Jack and the Beanstalk at Waddon Leisure Centre (photo James Spicer)

As seasoned panto goers, if our pantomime experience ticks all these boxes then it’s job done. Last night we saw Jack and the Beanstalk at Waddon Leisure Centre and can safely declare that it’s a good ‘un!

Jack and the Beanstalk stars Jonny Awsum (who reached the semi finals in Britain’s Got Talent – I recommend watching some YouTube videos of his performances beforehand), and Paisley Billings who is the receptionist on E4’s Tattoo Fixers. I think that underplays Paisley’s talents a lot – this lady has stage presence and a big, powerful, incredible voice.

Jonny Awsum plays Silly Billy Trott, the token daft character who keeps the story going. He’s funny and his facial expressions made us laugh a lot. You know when someone is naturally funny? That’s Jonny Awsum.

Paisley Billings is Fairy Kale. She pops up throughout the story, helping Jack Trott with his beanstalk issues and acting as a narrator.

Paisley Billings (Fairy Sweet Pea) in Jack and the Beanstalk at Waddon Leisure Centre (photo James Spicer)

There’s plenty of cheers and “HELLO BILLY!” goings on from the audience too, as well as the compulsory “booooooooo!” to Fleshcreep played marvellously by Steve Edwin.

Steve Edwin (Fleshcreep) in Jack and the Beanstalk at Waddon Leisure Centre (photo James Spicer)

Pop songs there are aplenty, all recognisable which is always a winner in panto terms.

A special mention must go to the Panto Dame Tim Hudson who made us laugh out loud several times throughout the show too.

The slapstick was as required, and the supporting actors and local young performers did a fabulous job too.

For the last two years the Croydon Pantomime has left its old home of Fairfield Halls and has moved to the nearby Waddon Leisure Centre. We had no idea what to expect either. It’s the main hall area, converted into a popup theatre – and it works too. The rear seating is raised as well, guaranteeing a good view for all.

Charlotte Bramwells (Princess - centre) and cast members of Jack and the Beanstalk at Waddon Leisure Centre (photo James Spicer)

One thing I thought they could maybe add is a big sign asking people to please not take photos or videos… I think I had 15 people in front of me doing just that which got a bit offputting at times! But it didn’t distract from the show too much as the performers gave it their all and delivered.

Q Productions who created this panto felt that Croydon not having a production would be wrong – and fortunately all the companies they needed to agreed it could happen. I’m delighted that we have a local panto, especially since we’ve recently lost theatres in Carshalton and Sutton. These pantomimes can only be a success if you give your support, and if they’re a good production. Jack and the Beanstalk at Waddon Leisure Centre is exactly that, you can still buy tickets, just head over here.

Jack and the Beanstalk at Waddon Leisure Centre runs for two hours. This does not include a 20 minute interval between acts. We were sent tickets for the purpose of review, all opinons are our own. 

The Letterbox Club Festive Appeal

BookTrust have a scheme, The Letterbox Club who send out books to children in care throughout the year. The Letterbox Club Festive Appeal has just launched. Please read on and if you can, please donate.

The Letterbox Club Festive Appeal is happening now. For £10 a child in care will receive a book and gift this Christmas. Here’s an example of the kind of package they receive through the year.

Book Trust Letterbox example
We visited the BookTrust offices a while ago, and while there learnt about The Letterbox Club – a service they provide which sends children in care books to keep. Children are sometimes taken from their parents with very few possessions, and until they’re placed with adoptive parents, often have just a handful of toys and very little that truly belongs to them.

The Letterbox Club sends them a book package throughout the year and is put together specially for them. Often it can be the first item of post the child has ever received.

Then I heard about The Letterbox Club Festive Appeal via a friend on Facebook. By donating £10 you can give a child a book, somewhere they can escape and enjoy, hopefully making their days a little bit easier. BookTrust have selected six hardback books which will be sent to children aged 3-13 years. The Books are picked according to the age of the child and each child will receive a specially- created festive poster and postcard by illustrator Adam Stower.

The Letterbox Club Festive Appeal

BookTrust CEO Diana Gerald said:
Christmas can be a particularly difficult time for children in care. Books have the magical ability to transform children to different worlds and to make them feel a part of something special. Why not donate today and help make a child in care’s Christmas that bit brighter.”

H and I have donated, and I hope you will take time out to as well if you can. There are 9,700 children in care in the UK.

Case study 1: Emma Norry, aspiring author, Bournemouth.
When you’re a child in care, you have very little control over what happens to you and the choices you make are often limited. To be able to choose which fictional worlds to explore, enter and escape to is invaluable.

“Books are a way out of and into what you may be experiencing. They are a chance to make new friends, access new worlds and to realise that you might not be alone after all. Books took me places I needed to go. No matter who came and went, books were always there showing me how similar we all were inside.

“For me, I knew that between the pages of a book was a place I was always welcome. Books didn’t mind who I was or wasn’t, where I had come from or where I might end up. Books remained the same even though all around me
was constantly changing. I clung to my books like a life raft. Books were my constant home and I carried words inside me, as armour and protection and comfort.”

Case study 2: Darren McCartney: “I spent some time growing up in care it was sometimes difficult. It wasn’t a particularly unhappy time but sometimes I
would struggle. I felt like I needed an escape and I found that in books. Reading gave me a method of forgetting about what was happening. You don’t realise at the time that’s what you’re doing, but looking back if it hadn’t been for a good book I realise now my time in care would’ve been a lot more difficult.

The Letterbox Club Festive Appeal is something which is so easy to donate and give back to. If you head here £10 will send one book to one child, £50 to five children, £100 to 10 children.

Blue Peter Book Awards 2018 Shortlist

We’re a bit late to the party this year, but we’re still here and supporting! The fantastic Blue Peter Book Awards 2018 shortlist has been announced – and there are some great books in there.

Blue Peter Book Awards 2018 logo, unveiled with the Blue Peter Book Awards Shortlist

The Blue Peter Book Awards 2018 shortlist has been announced! Wizards, warriors, wabbits, weird worlds, leper colonies and creepy things take the 2018 top spots. They’re all competing to win the Best Story and Best Book with Facts.

The contenders for Best Story are ‘The Island at the End of Everything’ by Kiran Millwood Hargrave, ‘Wed Wabbit’ by Lissa Evans and ‘The Wizards of Once’ by Cressida Cowell. Each of these nominations have strong girl characters who must undertake dangerous journeys in their quest to triump over evil. But who will triumph from the Blue Peter Book Awards 2018 shortlist?

Battling to be crowned Best Book with Facts are ‘Corpse Talk: Ground- Breaking Scientists’ by Adam Murphy & Lisa Murphy, ‘Real-Life Mysteries’ by Susan Martineau, illustrated by Vicky Barker and ‘Beyond the Sky: You and the Universe’ by Dara Ó Briain, illustrated by Dan Bramall.

Blue Peter Book Awards 2018 Shortlist

BookTrust are again managing the Blue Peter Book Awards. All the books are published in the last 12 months. They are voted for by over 500 children from 12 schools across the UK. The winners will be revealed on World Book Day on the 1st March 2018.

The judges are ‘Kid Normal’ authors Greg James and Chris Smith, Poet and ‘Darcy Burdock’ author Laura Dockrill. School Librarian of the Year 2016 Amy McKay and Blue Peter editor and non-voting chair Ewan Vinnicombe make up the panel. They also selected the shortlist.

Greg James said. “Chris and I love Blue Peter SO much so to be asked to judge their Book Award was a total dream. It was brilliant to lock ourselves away and get lost in the entries. It was an incredibly tough choice but we are confident we’ve chosen books that will inspire a new generation of young readers.”

Amy McKay said: “It was a massive honour and pleasure to judge the Blue Peter Book Awards, I loved every minute of it! There were many fantastic books to choose from and I’m very proud of our eventual shortlists. I’m already eagerly awaiting hearing which books children vote as the winners.”

Blue Peter editor, Ewan Vinnicombe said: “In Blue Peter’s 60th year the Book Awards will play a key role in our celebrations. The shortlist is just so exciting and shows the creative strength in children’s publishing at the moment. With a diverse mix in both categories, I can’t wait to find out what school children in the UK decide are their favourites.”

The Blue Peter Book Awards have been celebrating children’s literature since 2000. BookTrust has managed the Blue Peter Book Awards since 2008. The 2017 winners were Kieran Larwood and David Wyatt who won Best Story with Podkin One Ear and David Long and Kerry Hyndman who won Best Book with Facts for Survivors.

Laura Dockrill explained. “I adored judging the Blue Peter Book Award. The nominated list was incredibly strong and made judging the prize so difficult. Which I think is a very good thing for the world of children’s books! I met wizards, talking toys with speech impediments, and was flown across the globe to marvellous new landscapes. I met big foot, uncovered mysteries
and had my head blown off by space facts. It was a wonderful privilege and the shortlist is stunning!

Diana Gerald, CEO, BookTrust commented. “The Blue Peter Book Awards are a brilliant way to celebrate children’s literature and get youngsters excited about reading. BookTrust is honoured to be involved in such prestigious awards and hopefully inspire even more children to become lifelong readers.”

Keep up-to-date with the Awards at www.booktrust.org.uk/bluepeter and on Twitter by following @Booktrust and #BPBA

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Volunteering with Girlguiding – Why I Do It.

I’m a leader in training at Brownies at the moment. Volunteering with Girlguiding is my way of giving something back. There’s a huge shortage of volunteers, so if I can do something to change that then I feel like what I do is worthwhile.

Volunteering with Girlguiding can be time consuming. I look after our accounts, and since we had a recent change of systems also look after our Unit membership on Go! which is our main admin system. The other two leaders can’t get in. Let’s not talk about Gift Aid right now too… I’m not ready. I know it needs doing, it’s just getting to the point where I do!

Volunteering with Girlguiding is fun. The girls crack me up – intentionally and unintentionally. 7, 8 and 9 year olds are quite funny characters to be around.

Volunteering with Girlguiding is something I find myself enjoying and feeling like I’m making a difference. When I helped at Rainbows and left, and a girl did me a picture saying “you’re my favourite teacher” (!!!) I knew I was doing something right.

Volunteering with Girlguiding means I have to join in from time to time. Like last week when I pretended to be a dog. I didn’t roll over onto my back or anything, mind. Or that time I was bandaged up when we were doing the First Aid badge.

When the Brownies bandaged me up #firstaidbadge #girlguidinguk #snowyowl @girlguiding

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Volunteering with Girlguiding means that occasionally the Brownies step over the line, squirt me in the face with their water bottle and when I look at them sternly they say “but Snowy Owl, SHE told me to do it!” while running away laughing.

Volunteering with Girlguiding means giving support to girls who need it. The shy ones, the ones who might have difficulties in certain situations. The ones you know will be fine when they find that confidence.

The girls who have learning difficulties who tell you “I want to be a leader when I am old enough” makes you feel like you’re doing something right.

We encourage girls to be kind and to respect others.

I was a Brownie and a Guide and left Guides because I felt like I had done my bit. I loved every minute of Brownies.

1970s Brownie me, these days I'm volunteering with Girlguiding. This was a throwback picture for the Lottie Brownie Pack in 2017.

Girlguiding has a shortage of volunteers right now. Our Unit waiting list is high, with many girls waiting to move up from Rainbows too. Another Unit here in Carshalton (or even running two units in one night) might solve the problem but there aren’t the people to run it.

Girlguiding has a campaign running at the moment, with a video to accompany it. The campaign is ‘Know Your Place’. Is your place helping the largest charity for girls in this country?

Then head here and register your interest. There are units desperate for help.

Volunteering with Girlguiding is telling a parent there’s no space for their daughter in our unit because there are so many girls who want to join, but not enough adults to make it happen. We’d love it if you could join us…

I think it’s worth adding this final note. Back, during the World War Girlguiding played a huge role in it. The skills the girls learned were essential to being a part of the people helping during the war. I’m reading a fascinating book, How the Girl Guides Won the War’ which goes into a lot of what happened. People, we’re training your girls with proper life skills here. Oh, and a few daft ones too, that helps keep it all fun.

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Kidzania Top Tips – Have You Been?

Back in August we treated H and two of her friends to a trip to Kidzania for her birthday. We had no idea what to expect, so I’m hoping our Kidzania top tips will be useful for other first-timers.

Kidzania Top Tips.

Kidzania top tips - the view from upstairs and downstairs
From L-R. View from below of Kidzania with a walkway from above. This is where all the vehicles drive and where kids will march when on various duties. View from the bridge above looking down. View towards the entrance where you come in to Kidzania.

Plan beforehand. I couldn’t find a map of what was where, but asked everyone to list their top 10 places they wanted to visit within Kidzania. I then collated everything so it meant we had an idea where to aim for once there. It also meant if somewhere they liked had a short queue we could do it.

Kidzania PDSA

Know that the plan will change – and that’s okay. In each four hour session your child is likely to do up to seven activities. H managed 9, her friends 8!

Kidzania surgeons
Kidzania surgeons. I think they were doing a liver transplant. Another Kidzania business will come to collect it and transport it – yet another way they can earn Kidzo’s!

Keep an eye on queues and queue times. Sometimes it’s not worth it, and sometimes you can do an activity really quickly. Kidzania give you this information for each activity so you need to have maths skills ready.

Kidzania Cadburys workshop

We got a 9.30am slot, getting into the main Kidzania area by 9.45. The upstairs area didn’t open until 11am, and everything was really quiet at first – so things like the climbing wall had a 10 minute wait.

Kidzania top tips - the tracker watches are scanned at each activity, so you should know where your child is. This is what they look like.

We were all given tracker watches. This means you should always know where each of you are. As you can see from the picture below, they weren’t always scanned in. Fortunately we stuck together the whole day, but worth bearing in mind. The watches will still track, but you will be unable to do any activities once your four hours are up.

Kidzania Top Tips. Each person has a tracker watch on which should tell you where your child is. As you can see, our three kids we were with hadn't always had theirs updated

Adults – be prepared to stand. Not all Kidzania activities have seating arrangements nearby. Keep an eye out for chairs. Your children are safe within Kidzania (you’re generally almost always behind a big glass window watching them), it becomes quite exhausting standing watching them.

Kidzania top tip. Find somewhere to sit otherwise you're standing for a lot of the day. There isn't a lot of seating here, and no adults are allowed inside.

There is a LOT there. You will not get everything done. You have to accept that if you do want to do more you will need to visit again. If you plan to visit a lot in a year there are annual passes.

Kidzania drumming workshop

Take snacks. Take advantage of queues and have a quick snack then – if you buy a meal within Kidzania you’re using up your valuable time!

Kidzania drum workshop

You have a four hour timeslot. It is activated from the point you enter the main Kidzania area. You can go over your four hours but your tracker watch will no longer scan so you can’t do activities.

Kidzania Mission Deli factory

Kidzo’s – this is the Kidzania currency. You spend it to do fun activities and you earn it doing other fun activities. The penny dropped pretty quickly with our 8 year olds, and they found a good balance of earning and spending, with enough Kidzo’s left at the end to spend them in the Kidzania gift shop within the main area.

There’s an additional Kidzania gift shop when you’ve left the main area and handed back your tracker watch. By the time we got there we were exhausted!

Kidzania Midwife

When you’re 8 and you get to make chocolate, make wraps, be a vet, a midwife, a surgeon, climb a wall the size of a house, make smoothies, learn how to drum, be a fashion designer… it’s a pretty awesome day. Keep an eye out for deals too as there are often several around.

These are my Kidzania top tips. Have you been? Can you think of anything else I’ve forgotten? Let me know!

Gel-a-Peel Colour Change Kit Fun!

Ooh how we love Gel-a-Peel in this house. We were asked if we’d like to try the new Gel-a-Peel Colour Change kit and of course we said yes. We love a bit of colour changing round these parts!

Gel-a-Peel colour change kit

The Gel-a-Peel Colour Change kit is available in stores now. You make your creations and hold them to the sun, and watch the colours change. Now… the weather hasn’t been the best of late so I haven’t been able to see our colours change. I’m working on it though!

There is one HUGE thing which I love with this Gel-a-Peel Colour Change kit – there is a tray template for bracelets. Both H and I are quite clunky when it comes to following the pattern for the bracelet fasteners. Now we can create them on the tray and gel them to our creations! Now that is ruddy marvellous and something which we both give a big thumbs up to.

Gel-a-Peel colour change kit showing the clasp design in the tray for precision gel dispensing

There are two bracelet styles which we had a go at straight away. It makes such a difference having the tray as your guide too.

Gel-a-peel colour change kit bracelets and tray

The Gel-a-Peel Colour Change kit comes with three tubes of gel, one (fabulous) tray plus 16 design templates, and five designer tips – 3 round, one rake and one star. There’s also the clear plastic sheet to use with the design templates.

Gel-a-peel colour change kit necklace being made without clasps

An additional one this time is a necklace which is currently drying. We’ve made some little gel gems to hang from it too. H loves it!

If we have enough gel left we’re going to use the Gel-a-Peel Design studio and screen print onto a t-shirt – that should make an interesting design, especially if the colour changes from time to time.

The Gel-a-Peel Colour Change kit is available now. There is also a 2-Tone designer kit where your designs flow from dark to light which I suspect we’ll be buying once our gel tubes get empty.

I like that Gel-a-Peel can be used on several surfaces – from just adding emoji’s to books to decorating t-shirts, to even making your own purse. It’s a really versatile product with so many fun uses – and really brings out a lot of creativity in H.

Buy your Gel-a-Peel Colour Change kit over here (affiliate link) or from all good toystores now! It has a RRP of £17.50.

We received the Gel-a-Peel Colour Change kit for the purpose of review. All opinions are our own.

Castle Howard – We Finally Visited

For a large chunk of my life I lived in York, though now reside in London. So why did I never visit Castle Howard, other than to drive through the grounds in the areas there are roads? As Historic Houses Association members we put this to rights and paid a visit during our recent stay up north.

Castle Howard looking back from the hill that leads to Ray Wood

Castle Howard situated in the Howardian Hills and is approximately 15 miles from York. The grounds are large and you are able to drive through sections. You often face gateways at the top of a hill where cars only see each other at the point of give way. It makes for a careful, cautious driving experience.

Castle Howard

Castle Howard is part of the Historic Houses Association group, however has changed its rules recently, only allowing one visit on membership a year. They now have their own scheme which you can sign up to.

Castle Howard dome from inside

So what is there to see? There’s the Castle Howard building itself – not a castle, just a stately home built on the site of an old castle. It’s very grand with displays of china from around the world. You can find a room dedicated to the filming of Brideshead Revisited, both the TV series and the film. There is another room dedicated to what happened during the war at Castle Howard. It’s interesting stuff, and I loved how it brought that period of time to life in H’s eyes.

There is a section which had a fire last century which was used as a spooky room (which was pretty good!), with a small shop outside selling all kind of spooky things and sweets!

Castle Howard Children's Play AreaMore recent filming done at Castle Howard includes the first series of ITV’s Victoria, where it doubled up for Kensington Palace when she was born. I might have to re-watch and see how much I recognise especially now they’re on DVD!

Castle Howard Ray Wood walk

As it was nearing Halloween we took part in the Castle Howard trail. This took us up to the main woods – Ray Wood, and over to the Boathouse Cafe near the Children’s play area (suitable for all ages).

Castle Howard lake from Boathouse Cafe

We caught a land train back to the house. The views are spectacular.

My favourite part of North Yorkshire is as you head towards the North York Moors. Castle Howard is near to Whitwell on the Hill on the A64.  The road starts to become really hilly before you reach the most beautiful countryside you could imagine.

Being at Castle Howard gave me a sense of how grand it must have been to live there. Inside the volunteers had a lot of information for us about the house. It was somewhere I’m kicking myself for never having been before.

H spotted loads of Roman Gods on the various statues inside the house. The volunteers were more than happy to help her find more, telling her what to look out for.

H and the Minerva statue inside Castle Howard

Castle Howard is open all year. There are always activities on, and fabulous grounds to walk around. Their website is here.

Country Kids

Girls’ Football Week 6-12 November 2017!

It’s Girls’ Football Week 2017 from the 6-12th November. So that’s NOW!

Girls’ Football Week 2017 celebrates all things girls and football – so that’s us back again supporting it. H loves playing football every week with Crystal Palace Wildcats. I’m so glad we started doing the sessions.

This video is Sara’s story – she was at Wildcats, H remembers her – and now she’s playing for Crystal Palace girls. Alas, H couldn’t make it the week they filmed this, but she’s spotted all her football friends.

The FA want to get more girls participating in football by 2020 – and it’s getting closer. There are more opportunities out there, though there’s also the chance of funding being pulled in other areas – just look at Notts County Ladies for example. That’s why campaigns like Girls’ Football Week 2017 are important – we need everything that creates awareness out there.

Right now, 8 year old H is having a wonderful time playing each weekend. This weekend also has a chance to be a mascot for Crystal Palace Ladies. Keep an eye on my Instagram feed on Sunday! If everything goes to plan she’ll get to train with Crystal Palace Ladies, meet the team for Q&A’s, have photos and autographs, walk out with the team and have a brilliant time!

She Can Play is a new network of football centres set up by ex-player Kat Clifton. For more information head here.

SSE Wildcats Girls Football Club, FA Girls' Football Week 2017

For more information about Girls Football Week 2017 head over to the official website.

The FA has their For Girls website still going strong with lots of news and information as well as football skills.

More information about the SSE Wildcats sessions that run up and down the country are here.