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. 

Young Voices 2018

H took part in Young Voices 2018 recently. It was a wonderful, positive experience for all of us – and I’m also claiming it as H’s first gig that she has performed in!

Young Voices 2018 is the UK’s biggest school choir. With showcase gigs bringing the children together to sing at events around the country, it’s a special day. On our night at the O2 there were 7,800 schoolkids performing from around the South of the UK.

Young Voices 2018

H has never been the most confident child. She has never been comfortable speaking out – she can do it, she has to leave her comfort zone.

When the opportunity came to be a part of Young Voices 2018 I did my best to persuade her. An added bonus was her teachers from last year run it. We decided to give it a couple of weeks, see how it goes. That wasn’t necessary – after one week she loved it!

Delights such as ‘Africa’ by Toto, and choruses to ‘Kyrie’ by Mister Mr. Oh yes, my eighties brain said. Add ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ by Procul Harum – my mum and dad’s song – and there’s quite a cross section of tunes.

There has also been a transformation in H – she doesn’t stop singing at home, at all. She has a new-found confidence in other things too. This is all down to Young Voices.

young voices 2018 main show

With our performance at the O2 we decided to travel on the coach with people from school – it still took a while but we had enough time to grab food (top tip, preorder from one of the places inside the O2 – Five Guys was our expensive choice). The biggest delay we had was the security check at the gate to get into the O2 arena itself.

We missed the very start of Young Voices 2018 but only a couple of minutes thankfully. Armed with our National Trust binoculars we soon found H who looked like she was having the time of her life!

The two hours flew by, and before we knew it things were over.

“The children can’t leave until all the adults have gone” is possibly the best, quickest way to get several thousand families out of the O2 in record time. I say that, as some kids were leaving as we got to the main exit/entrance! It was really well done, and well organised.

Young Voices website can be found here. They’re taking registrations for 2019…

A Hearty Winter Soup

It is officially the coldest week this year. Considering this year is only five weeks old, I’ll take it. I also hope that will be it and things will only get warm from here onwards. Monday means swimming for H, which in turn means soup for tea, usually using up our vegetables and whatever else I can find. This week we’ve made a hearty winter soup.

My hearty winter soup is an easy one. We have our Morphy Richards Soup Maker – our second one which alas, is on its way out. The smooth soup function isn’t going so well, though this doesn’t stop us trying a nice chunky soup.

Hearty Literally Winter Soup

When I got to the cupboards they were looking a bit bare. One carrot, half a butternut squash and five medium sized potatoes were the only fresh vegetables we had. The broccoli had seen better days – and because this was chunky rather than blended ended up in the food waste.

Fortunately I had tinned lentils hidden away in the back of the cupboard for days like this. So here’s my hearty winter soup recipe. So easy with a soup maker.

1 carrot
5 medium sized potatoes
Half a butternut squash
Tinned lentils
Bouillon (low salt)
A pinch of sea salt (this might cancel out the previous entry)
Garam Masala

Well, you know how this goes. Peel and chop the veg- but this time into small cubes. Stick them in the soup maker. Add the whole tin of lentils to the mixture, and top up with water.

Add a tablespoon of the Bouillon to the mixture, and add a sprinkle of Garam Masala (if your child is fussy like H). Finally, a pinch of sea salt because it feels nice.

Stick your soup maker onto the chunky setting, and sit and browse the internet for 28 minutes.

Serve the hearty winter soup with a ciabatta, lightly toasted is good, and complain about how flipping freezing it is out there at the moment.

For all previous soup concoctions, everything is tagged souptastically souper.

a hearty winter soup with ciabatta

That Time We Did Sutton Soup

Sutton Soup is a fantastic community led evening held in Sutton. It’s like Dragons Den without the dragons – indeed, YOU are the dragon. You get some soup and bread too.

Sutton Soup - It's amazing how a bowl of soup can help change our communities logo

Sutton Soup meets every quarter or so, is run by volunteers and is a good fun night out. Four groups pitch on the night and whoever gets the most votes gets to take away all the money. Now, if you do the maths, 200 or so people giving a suggested donation of £5 each works out at… well, a fair bit! At our night the total was just over £950 in the end.

So how does it work? Each group gets four minutes to pitch. After that you are asked up to four questions.

We bravely* stepped up in front of 200 people last week to pitch for some new camping equipment for our Brownie Unit. We also wanted to share with other units in the district, after all money is tight for everyone. In addition, we also wanted to buy a new flag as ours is quite old…. actually, it’s very old. So old that a Conservative councillor in attendance said she had probably carried it when she was a Brownie – and coincidentally she went to our unit!

The four minutes flew by – and what we thought was a carefully timed and rehearsed pitch wasn’t. We didn’t factor in laughter (yay! my joke was laughed at!!) and applause (the song at the start of our pitch) – and went slightly over by a few seconds.

At the end loads of ex-Brownies came up and chatted to us – most glad that Girlguiding still existed. Girlguiding is looking for volunteers so we brought leaflets in case anyone was interested. That’s the other thing – Sutton Soup is good for networking. Not that I’m in any way good at being at all businesslike, mind!

The next Sutton Soup is in April – you can find out more about them over at their website. It’s a great night out, you get soup and a bread roll and a really good feeling inside knowing a local cause has got some well-deserved money.

* I had a tight grip of H’s shoulders I was that nervous. Poor child!!