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My Mood Stars – A learning aid & interactive toy that can help children express their feelings

March 11, 2019
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Today, I would like to introduce you to My Mood Stars these tactile cuddly little stars are an ingenious invention by Wendy Woo. She saw a need for children to be able to express their emotions particularly in young children or in children with special needs. As parents, carers and teachers well know when a child can not express truly how they feel, it can lead to anger, anxiety and frustration. Mood stars can allow a child to explore how they are feeling in a fun and simple way. They also allow children to gain an understanding of the emotions and feelings of others, which is something important for all children to learn.

Wendy Woo worked as a Nanny before having her own three children and later on she became a Registered Childminder, so she has a huge amount of knowledge of how children play and develop. Wendy explains in her own words what My Mood Stars are about.

“Encouraging emotional development was always a priority for me during my long career as an Early Years Practitioner, leading me to design and develop My Mood Stars.”

“My Mood Stars and the accompanying board started to gain attention from parents and carers of children with Autism and Asperger’s syndrome. Some of these children have difficulty recognising and acknowledging facial expressions so My Mood Stars helped as a visual aid. I was delighted, not only had I made a really fun toy but an effective developmental resource that would actually help young children.”

My Daughter Amelia is six years old, despite having quite advanced language skills for her age, she still struggles at times to get across how she really feels. We played with the mood stars for a little while and it was interesting to hear her describe how she related to each of the star’s faces. Mood Stars are suitable for children of any age.

The Mood star set comes complete with:

A board that can be mounted on the wall and included the hooks and fittings to do so.

8 mood stars including, Shy Star, Sad Star, Scared Star, Happy Star, Angry Star, Surprised Star, Silly Star and Sleepy Star.

Plus the book, which is an excellent way to work through some of the emotions your child might be feeling. As you can see Amelia has both drawn a picture and written a comment about snoring.

The mood stars are small enough for little hands to hold and are made of a material that will simply attach and detach from the board. Moving and replacing the stars on the board is a game in it’s self.

I wish I had know about this wonderful education toy years ago when Amelia was younger, as I can see how they would have been invaluable in dealing with lots of the changes that small children go through such as: Mummy/Daddy going back to work, starting nursery or school for the first time, sleep issues and potty training.

Wendy has also developed some suggested games that could be used alongside the Mood Stars, a leaflet is included in the pack and you can also find out more over on her website. The game that stood out to me that was particularly helpful was “Today I Feel….”. This activity allows the child to take control of their emotions and express how they feel thought the day. In this game you use the board and stars as part of their morning routine, allow the child to choose which star they are feeling that day. If it is a negative star, the child will see this as a challenge to end the day with a postive star. If the child feels they are in complete control of their emotions, they will want to ‘win” the game.

Wendy has also published two books which are available to buy online via her website, Rat & His Amazing Musical Band, plus Rat Loses His Voice.  These stories have become firm favourites in early years settings such as childminders and nurseries and has been developed to encompass much of the UK Early Years Framework. Both both are priced individually at £10.00.

If you would like to buy your very own set of my Mood Stars you can head over to Wendy’s Website where the board and set of stars are priced at £24.99 and you can also purchase extra copies of My Mood Star book for £5.99.

Disclaimer – AD -This is a collaborative post with My Mood Stars, however as always all views are my own and are an honest reflection of my opinion of the product.

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Ealing 135 Group – Local Parenting Support & Events

March 10, 2019
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Ealing 135 is an organisation run by volunteers who put together playgroups, events and networking for parents/ carers with children under 5 years old in the borough of Ealing. “Ealing 135 was established 40 years ago by a small group of mums who felt Ealing was lacking activities and support for those with babies and young children. In the days before Netmums, Mumsnet and Facebook, finding and connecting with others in the same boat as you was harder and being a new parent could be a lonely and daunting experience” Sourced from Ealing 135 website. So if you are looking for some new Mum friends and some great local events then you should definitely consider joining Ealing 135.

How much does it cost to be a member? 

Standard membership: £15
Out of Area members*: £21
*(any postcode that does not begin with: W3, W5, W7 or W13)
Members on benefits: £5

If you would like to join head over to the Ealing 135 Website. Where you can join online.

Ealing 135 Pre-loved sale

What is included in the membership?

(Sourced from the Ealing 135 Website)

  • The newsletter – Only members receive a jam-packed newsletters four times a year, detailing all the Ealing 135 activities, alongside a regularly updated diary of baby and toddler groups going on each day in and around the borough. It also includes loads of suggestions for trips further afield and great articles written by our members and local businesses about a range of topics
  • Reduced entry costs – Members get cut-price entry to our Saturday Box Making, play-sessions and Actions, Songs & Rhymes (ASR)
  • Access to holiday events – Members can attend holiday events, which are always popular since most local activities only run during term-time. The most popular events are the Spring Fun and Summer Fun events, where each session offers 2 hours of action packed crafts, singing and fun.
  • A range of discounts – Only members get access to discounts which have been negotiated with local business exclusively for Ealing 135, encouraging you to shop local.
  • Access to special interest groups – Members can join groups for first time parents, second time parents, grandparents, lone parents, working parents, or parents with babies who are or have been in special care. These groups provide valuable support by connecting you with others in a similar situation to you.
  • Access to the babysitting circle – Only members can join this system of reciprocal babysitting. It’s a great way to get a night out knowing that it is another parent that will be looking after you child/children and not having to pay because double glass pebbles are used as payment. You’ll get 6 hours worth of pebbles to get you started once you’ve joined and you earn more by babysitting for others.
  • A packed diary of open houses and other activities organised by our members – Members receive the full diary of Ealing 135 events, the majority of which are actually small informal gatherings organised by members to enable you and your kids to get out and about throughout the week. From coffee mornings and playdates, to meet-ups in the park, group forays to local playgroups and even trips further afield, there’s always something going on.

How can I help?
Ealing 135 is still in desperate need of volunteers for the following roles:
– Chair
– Events Manager
– Northfields Playgroup Coordinator
If you’d like to get involved or would like more info please email  ealing135chair@gmail.com or send a pm on Facebook.  All volunteer committee members get free annual membership to Ealing 135 and volunteers for events and playgroups also get to go for free!
You can also follow Ealing 135 on Facebook for all their most recent news and you can also join their great Facebook Group for local information and buying/selling of baby and child related items.
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It’s that time of year where we all start to feel the pressure! There just seems so much to do and sometimes we just run from task to task and begin to forget that one of the most important things is to spend quality time with our families. This festive season I have teamed up with Clas Ohlson to give you my top tips for a merry stress free Christmas. I have never particularly been into home baking (it’s the mess that puts me off!), but I have decided to try my hand at baking gingerbread men from scratch and I have to say it was a really enjoyable experience!

I have put together some tips, that I think might help busy parents at this time of year:

Delegate – ask other members of your family or household to do some of the shopping for you. Remember you don’t need to do everything!

Preparation – try to get as much Christmas Dinner preparation done in the days before. That way you will be able to enjoy the day with your family.

Organise – write a list and check you have everything you need, so that includes all your gifts and everything you need for wrapping presents, the last thing you need to be doing is hitting the shops at the last minute when it is really busy.

Take time out – Make sure you take out some time for yourself to relax and do something you enjoy.

Clas Ohlson have a brilliant range of items for home baking, so I decided to take some time out from my busy schedule to make and decorate some gingerbread men with Amelia.

I used the following items:

Folklore Spatula Set – £4.99

Biscuit Cutters – £1.99

Mixing Bowl Set – £2.99

Measuring Cup & Spoon Set – £5.99

Cake Tins – 2 pack – £4.99

This gingerbread recipe can be found on the BBC Food Website. I found it was perfect to make with children, as it wasn’t too complicated.

Taking time out for this sort of activity was fun and really took me away from the stress of the festive period for an afternoon!

As you can see Amelia was very proud of the finished product!

Clas Ohlson have stores at Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre, Kingston, Manchester, Reading, St Albans and Liverpool. Or of course you can shop online, plus they also offer a click and collect service.

At the moment they are offering free delivery (on orders over £10). Just make sure you order by midnight on December 20th for pre-Christmas delivery.

You will find a wide range of products in store and online, including: Christmas lights and decorations, gift wrapping, multimedia, leisure, electrical and even spare parts.

Clas Ohlson – Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre

Disclaimer – This is a paid collaboration with Clas Ohlson, as always all views and opinions are my own.

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Winter Wonderland – Hyde Park 2018

December 10, 2018
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Every year we look forward to our family trip to Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park. For me it signals the start of Christmas in London! So even if you have been before or this is your first ever trip, let me tell you what you need to know to enjoy your day at this magical festive experience. Every year they seem to add more and more rides and attractions, so I think it really pays to study all the information available on the Winter WonderLand’s website. That way you can have a think about which rides and attractions you would like to visit. I think if you plan your visit instead of just wondering around, you will actually get more from your day out. The nearer to Christmas Day you go in my opinion the more busy it becomes, so I think go sooner if you can or even wait until after Christmas.

When is it open?

Winter Wonderland is open every day (apart from Christmas Day) from 10am to 10pm until the 6th January 2019.

How much does it cost?

It’s completly free to enter, but of course rides and attractions will have charges. A ride token costs £1.00, children’s ride start at £2.00 and adults rides start at £3.00.

You can purchase tickets for all the shows & attractions via the website.

How do I get there?

The best way to get to Hyde Park is via the Underground or rail via the following stations:

Green Park – step free access

Victoria

Paddington

Marble Arch – avoid at peak times

Hyde Park Corner – avoid at peak times

Can I bring my own drinks?

Only if it is an un-opened bottle of water, anything else the security people will not let you bring in.

Any other tips?

Really do watch your bags and belongings. I haven’t seen any evidence of pick pockets, but I have been told they are around, as in any other busy part of London.

This year we started off our visit with a show, Teletubbies Live! The show is on every day at 11:00am and runs for around 45 minutes. To give you an idea the cost for a family ticket is around £ 30.00 to £46.00 depending on if it is peak time or not (Children under 1 year do not require a ticket), a transaction fee will also be added. We enjoyed a snack before the performance then settled into our seats. It is recommended that you arrive 20 minutes prior to the show start time, which I think is a really good idea as you will also need to allow time to walk from which ever entrance you come into. The new family entrance which brings you in via Santa Land is recommended.

I would say the show is suitable for ages 1 up to 5 years, it was perhaps a bit young for my six year old, but I did see her laughing and joining in when audience participation was needed!

Image credit – Glenn Grafton

Our next show was Zippos Circus, which I have to say for me was the highlight of my visit! I love a good circus and this one certainly didn’t disappoint. Show times are daily at 1:00pm, 2:00pm and 4:00pm. Again to give you an idea of ticket prices for a family ticket you are looking at around £30.00 to £46:00 depending on if it is off peak or peak times, a transaction fee will also be added. The show lasts for 45 minutes, which we found with a 6 year old was about the right length of time for her to sit through it.

There was a really good mixture of traditional circus acts and take your breath away stunts and tricks. From amazing acrobatics to stunts involving huge rotating wheels, it really was jar dropping stuff!

Image credit – Piet-Hein Out
Image credit – Piet-Hein Out
Image credit – Piet-Hein Out

I would highly recommend a trip to the circus as it is a great show for all ages. The show was produced really professionally and the level of talent of performers was very high too.

Image credit – Piet-Hein Out

Then it was time to relax and have some lunch in the Bavarian Village. Every year we go I can not resist a Bratwurst sausage and a lovely warming cup of mulled wine! The music and atmosphere in the village always gets me in the Christmas Spirit!

Even if you are not into the German style food you will find so many other opitions such as: chicken and flamed grilled salmon, burgers and so may sweet treats to mention just a few!

Our next activity was The Magic Ice Kingdom, The Secret Forest, which is amazing! But make sure you are wearing a hat, scarf and gloves as it is just like stepping in to a freezer, the temperature can be as low as -10 degrees. It really is magical you will see so many beautiful ice sculptures, you can even sit in your very ice throne and there is an ice slide too which children will love!

You can take your time walking through this attraction, but I would allow around 30 minutes. The last admission is at 9:30pm and to give you an idea of the cost a family ticket ranging between £20.00 and £36:00 depending if on if it is classes as off peak or peak time when you visit, a transaction fee is also added. You are able to bring your pushchair all the way round this attraction which is handy.


There are so many rides to choose from this year. They range from traditional childrens fairground type rides to the super frightening roller costers. We tried a few different ones and this year we even braved Ice Mountain that had all of us screaming, not for the faint hearted!

Image credit – IMG Press & Winter Wonderland

A new addition to Winter Wonderland this year is Santa Land, which is really geared up to younger children and there is also the opportunity to meet Santa in his grotto for free! However the queues will be long at busy times and he does take breaks throughout the day. So do check the times in advance and think about getting there early if you don’t want to wait!

This is just a taste of whats’s on offer at Winter Wonderland for 2018. I think I might be going back for another visit, as I have some other things on my list that I didn’t manage to do!

Image credit – IMG Press & Winter Wonderland

Disclaimer – I was invited to the Family Press Day and received complimentary tickets for various rides and atttractions. All views are my own and are an honest reflection of my visit.

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Pamela Howard School Of Dance – Ballet & Dance Classes In Ealing

November 23, 2018
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The Pamela Howard School of Dance was established in Ealing 70 years ago, originally named the Howard-Le Gray School and started by Pamela Howard herself. Once pupil of The Royal Ballet School and who went on to teach stars from Ealing Studios. The school offers classes in Ballet, Tap, Modern and National dance, for students of all ages and ability, and has recently expanded to include music, drama and body conditioning. All classes are taught by qualified teachers, and they welcome students of all backgrounds and experience. Many students have gone on to work in the dance or performing arts fields, and previous graduates include world renowned dancer and choreographer Graham Lustig.

My Daughter has been taking ballet classes and now also tap classes, since the age of 3 at the Pamela Howard School of Dance. I have been so pleased to see how her dancing ability has progressed. I would recommend classes to local parents, because I have always found the members of staff to be so friendly and they have made both myself and my Daughter always feel so welcome! The standard is high and children are encouraged to move on to examination if they wish.

What are the benefits of ballet for children?

  • Ballet and dance is a brilliant way to nurture confidence in young children. Attending a class usually means leaving parents outside the studio and learning to trust their teacher. Your child will meet new friends and interact with other children. Plus, there may be an opportunity to perform on stage, which for many children can be daughting at first, but can be a real achievement.
  • Ballet teaches children to focus and take instruction.
  • Your child will also develop coordination and balance.
  • Overall ballet and dance are a great form of exercise and as recommended by NHS children between the ages 5 to 18 years should be aiming to get 60 minutes of physical activity a day.

One of things that I love about this school is that they have a yearly stage show, which has been previously held at The Watermans Arts Centre in Brentford. The level of talent has been outstanding and when I have attended a performance, I have almost forgotten that I was in Ealing and for a moment thought I was watching a perfomance in the West End!

If you would like to find out more about the classes available have a look at Pamela Howard School of Dance Website. They have available places in some of their classes, so do contact them to find out more.

The Pamela Howard School of Dance can be found at 141 Broadway, West Ealing, London W13 9BE and you can contact Sue Cunningham on 07850 889948 for more information.

 

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Interview with Pam Wade – Local Ealing Photographer

November 9, 2018
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This week I would like to introduce you to Pam Wade who is an Ealing Photographer. I first met Pam last year, when I was looking for someone to take some photographs of my family and I was over the moon with her attention to detail and flair! The first time she took photos of us as a family was in Walpole Park, Ealing. When I looked at the photographs afterwards they had this beautiful rich quality and I could really see all of our personalities coming through on the images. Next Pam came to Amelia’s 6th Birthday Party at The Little Gym Chiswick where she took images for both our family album and for promotional purposes too. Pam is a Mother herself and she really knows how to put children at ease and I think the results speak for themselves! So if you are looking for someone local to Ealing to take some stunning photos of your family, then I can not recommend Pam enough. Also, if you are a local business and need some professional images for your website Pam may well be able to help there too, she has also covered a variety of community and sporting events.

I recently had another photo session with Pam, this time at Kew Gardens and I think you will agree that she has captured the beauty of Autumn perfectly! You will see a selection of Pam’s work from that session below, plus if you scroll down to the bottom of this post you will see more examples of Pam’s work. So now I am handing over to Pam! In this interview she will tell you all about her love of photography and how she balances Motherhood with a successful business.

Our Autumn photo session at Kew Gardens

Where do you live and tell us about your family?

I have lived in Brentford for nine years and have three children, a boy aged ten and identical twin girls aged seven. 

Which places do you recommend to go in Ealing/Brentford? 

As a family we love to eat in Pizza Express, ASK in Kew and La Rosetta in Brentford.  The children are always very well looked after in all of these restaurants and happy children = happy us! For day trips there is nothing our three enjoy more than going to Gunnersbury Park or Boston Manor Park where they love to build dens and climb trees.  We also often take them further afield to Saville Garden and Virginia Water which are both so beautiful, especially this time of year.  We are very lucky to have Watermans theatre on our doorstep and take full advantage of their Saturday morning movies. As a couple we are really enjoying to the Black Dog Beer House in Brentford which only opened a few weeks ago and Sami’s Spice in Brentford was an old favourite but sadly closed recently – we haven’t yet found a new favourite.

What did you do before you became a Photographer? 

Before I became a photographer I worked as a PA at GlaxoSmithKline.  I had worked for SmithKline Beecham / GSK for 16 years and left following the birth of our daughters in 2011. 

Amelia at the The Great Broad Walk Borders – Kew Gardens

Why did you become a Photographer? 

I have always had a love of photography.  Growing up I was rarely without my camera.  Once our children came along my passion for capturing every special moment on camera grew even more and I decided to turn my passion into a business. 

Amelia on the steps of Kew Palace

How did you train/learn photography? 

Over the years I have read lots of manuals and self-help guides.  When I decided to make a business out of photography, I completed the NCFE level 1 and 2 courses at EalingMedia College, followed by a Photoshop course and an Advanced Photography course at the Putney School of Art and Design.  

What camera do you use? 

I use a Canon 5d Mark 3. 

What do you enjoy to photograph the most? 

I love all photography, but I really love working with children the most and being able to capture the personality of each child in my images. 

What tips do you have for photographing children? 

I always get down on the child’s level, try to connect with them and make them relax.  I try to give them enough time to get used to having the camera aimed at them, even showing them the images if they want to see them – sometimes this makes them want you to take more photos. I tell them corny jokes and generally act the fool and play with them – children love an adult who larks around!

How do you balance Motherhood with running your own business? 

This is never an easy thing to do.  Family sessions tend to happen at weekends when most people are not at work, which obviously affects our weekends at home. I try to get most of my editing, marketing and paperwork done while the children are at school, but sometimes it is just not possible.  I am very lucky as I have a very supportive husband who takes control if I have to work at weekends or evenings.  I offer reduced rates for mid-week sessions during school hours to try to minimise my work when the children are at home.  

What is the history of your business? 

I started my business in 2015 and over the years I have worked with so many interesting clients.  The Princess Alice Hospice, photographing two of their fundraising events – Ride London and an abseil down the Orbit Tower – I was totally freaked about having to actually go up the Orbit Tower, but soon lost my fear once I started taking photographs.  Sara Ward at Hen Corner commissioned me to photograph her wonderful micro bakery and separately her Bee Keeping Course.  There was a promotional photoshoot for Katherine Whitby of Babysteps, which was really interesting. 

Recently I provided some product photography for Lucy Savage at Handmade in Ealing, capturing her wonderful Christmas Chocolates and earlier in the year her Easter chocolate range.  St Paul’s Church commissioned me to photograph the licensing of the new Priest in Charge, the Revd Sarah Guiness.  St Paul’s Church of England primary school commissioned me to photograph the dedication service/event for the school’s Alexandra House opening. I was the official photographer for the Brentford Dog show 2017 and more recently, the Brentford Festival 2018 at Blondin park.  I have also worked with Cultivate London, photographing their Farm Day last summer and a Cocktail Evening.  Most recently I have photographed a Yoga Instructor in a very creative session in Gunersbury Park which was lots of fun.  In between all this there have also been lots of lots of family photo sessions, newborn sessions and maternity sessions along the way.  Oh yes, I have also photographed the lovely Ealing Mummy her family on two occasions this year!   

What is the biggest challenge running your own business? 

For me the biggest challenge is time management.  I struggle with trying to wear so many different hats all in one day. On a normal day I am the marketing manager, the accountant, the creative editor, chef, teacher, homemaker, photographer and Mum so juggling all of these and getting the balance right can be quite a challenge. 

How do you suggest a parent should prepare for attending one of your photos sessions? 

Give yourselves plenty of time to prepare in the lead up to the shoot. To make it as stress free for yourselves as possible choose your outfits well before the day and make sure that you and the kids are comfortable in what you are wearing.  Bring a change of clothes for the child, and even a change of top for yourselves just in case you change your mind half way through.  Don’t have a haircut just before the session just in case something goes wrong.  Bribery is a wonderful thing.  If you have a child who is not very happy the day of the shoot make sure you have a treat hidden away!

What packages are you offering at the moment? 

Christmas is fast approaching, so for the month of November I am offering 15 minute mid-week Christmas themed studio sessions for toddlers for £45 and 30 minute family mini sessions in local parks for only £65.

 Do you also offer prints too? 

I offer Mounted Prints, Framed Prints and other wall art such as canvas, acrylic and prices vary depending on size and product. Basic prints are also available to order and prices start at £9.50 for a 5×7 print

 Where can potential clients find out more about you? 

You can find out more about me and see examples of my work on my website www.pamwadephotography.com and also on Instagram and Facebook @pamwadephotography

I am also available by phone for an informal chat 07923 403503

Some more examples of Pam’s work!

Birthday Party at The Little Gym Chiswick
Photo Session – Walpole Park, Ealing

Karen Clancy – KC Flow Yoga Ealing
Handmade In Ealing – Chocolate & Confectionery

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Where to visit Santa this Christmas in London

November 4, 2018
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Christmas is coming (yes I know it is only the 4th November!) So now is the time to think about where your little ones will meet Santa this Christmas! Some grottos in London get booked up very early and if you are looking for certain dates it’s better to be organised and book now. There are so many places to visit Santa or Father Christmas depending on what you like to call the man in red. So how do you decide?

I have compiled a top ten of the places that you could go this festive season. They range in price from completely free to super expensive! Plus, I have given you a brief description of what to expect and I have also added some of my own photos from past years too. I hope you have an amazing Christmas 2018!

Santa’s Grotto Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre – 2017

The Magic Wardrobe – Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre

Where? Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre – Outside Tesco

When? 17thNovember until 23rdDecember, every weekend 11-6pm

Cost? Free!

What to expect? A great opportunity to meet Santa locally, no need to book just turn up! With the added bonus that it is free!

Wyevale Garden Centre – Osterley 2016

Breakfast or Tea with Santa – Wyevale Garden Centre – Osterley

Where? Windmill Lane, Osterley, TW7 5PR

When? from the 1stDecember morning and afternoon slots available.

Cost? £10.95 child & £8.50 Adult

What to expect? Meet Santa and receive a present, tuck into breakfast or enjoy an afternoon tea, decorate your own biscuit and take part in festive fun activities!

Santa’s Grotto – at London Wetland Centre

Where? WWT -Queen Elizabeth’s Walk, Barnes, London, SW13 9WT

When? 8, 9, 15 & 16 December. 10am– 4pm.

Cost? £10 per child and accompanying adults go free, however normal admission charges apply. So for example a family ticket is £34.77

What to expect? Receive a gift from Father Christmas and have the opportunity for a photo with him! Also husky sleigh rides, donkey rides and an elves workshop at an additional cost.

Image courtesy of Westfield London

Santa’s Snowflake Grotto – Westfield White City

Where? Westfield White City – Shepherd’s Bush

When? 22ndNovember until 24thDecember

Cost? £7.50 per child and £7.50 per adult

What to expect? “Westfield London invites children and families to Santa’s Snowflake Grotto, a magical world of snow. You’ll be transported to the Snow Factory in the North Pole, where Santa’s elves make all the snow in the world. Children will create their own snowflake and explore the various activities within the factory. Meet Santa in his icy Snow Chamber, where every child will receive a gift and have their photo taken with him. To leave the North Pole and go back to London, experience the infinity room. The visit lasts approximately 20-25 minutes, and photos can be purchased in the Christmas Shop at the end.” (source from Westfield website)

Santa’s Grotto – Smiths Garden Centre Denham

Where? Smiths Garden Centre, 95 Oxford Road, New Denham, London, UB9 4DE

When? Various dates in December – book in person or by phone

Cost? £7.50

What to expect? “Meet Santa and also ride the train will also be in operation taking you on a spectacular journey throughout the Smith’s Winter Wonderland on Saturdays and Sundays throughout December, as well as the final week in the lead up to Christmas. The train ride is £2.50 and cannot be booked, just turn up for a magical adventure!” (source from Smith’s website)

Hyde Park – Winter Wonderland

Santa Land at Hyde Park – Winter Wonderland

Where? Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park. Nearby tube station and mainline stations include: Bond Street, Green Park (step free access so best if you have a buggy), Knightsbridge, Marble Arch, Hyde Park Corner, Paddington and Victoria.

When? from the 23rdNovember

Cost? FREE!

What to expect? There is no booking, so first come first served basis. Choose your time carefully as it will be busy! Perhaps consider avoiding weekends.

“Catch a glimpse of Santa in his Christmas grotto and enjoy a magical family day out in the new and exclusively designed Santa Land! This year, we’ve created a convenient family entrance that will take you straight into Santa Land. See your little ones’ faces light up as they experience the full festive experience including the brand new 45m long Ice Slide as well as an Ice Trike Trail. There’s so much to do with plenty of eateries and sweet treats, specially chosen rides to suit the little ones and the chance to meet Santa in his grotto.” (source from Winter Wonderland website)

Hamleys, Regent Street

Meet Father Christmas – Hamleys

Where? 188-196 Regent Street, London, W1B 5BT

When? Selected dates from Saturday 24th November – Monday 24th December 2018.

Cost? £39.95 child, adults do not require a ticket. Recommended age range 3-7yrs.

What to expect? “Jingle all the way to the Finest Toy Shop in the World to join Father Christmas and his loveable elves for fun, magic and theatre at this very special time of year. Meeting Father Christmas at Hamleys is an extra special experience where children will take part in seasonal activities, spend time with Father Christmas and receive an extra special gift bag to take home. During this group session each little guest will hear magical stories of Christmas, write their own Christmas wish list and meet Father Christmas himself, all surrounded by the finest toys in the world.” (source from Hamleys website)

Lapland, Uk

Where? Whitmoor Forest, Swinley Road, Ascot, Berkshire, SL5 8BD

When? 17th November – 24th December

Cost? The cost is variable depending on which day you book, but to give you an idea a family of four (including two adults and two children) would cost £300. this includes:

  • Personalised invitation to every child from Father Christmas by post
  • Entry to LaplandUK
  • Elf Passport for every child
  • All activities, and performances including ice skating
  • Beautiful gift from Father Christmas for every child
  • One free photo per booking
  • Booking fees
  • Parking at Whitmoor Forest
  • Christmas Morning Thank You card from Father Christmas for every child

What to expect? “LaplandUK is an original adaptation of the Father Christmas story and the secret world of the elves brought to life through a 4-hour immersive experience of unprecedented scale and quality.” (source LaplandUK Website)

Visit Father Christmas – Crockford Bridge Farm

Where? New Haw Road, Addlestone, Nr. Weybridge, Surrey KT15 2BU

When? Selected dates in December, check their website for more details.

Cost? child ticket £16, adult ticket £12 and babies in arms 0-8 months go free.

What to expect? “Our Father Christmas visit is a unique and much loved walking performance through The Wonder Wood (our 30 year old real Christmas Tree Forest.) After writing your Christmas wishes and being entertained by a cast of characters along the way, your group will meet Father Christmas in his Log Cabin. There is a gift for every child and a chance to share your Christmas wishes. Our walking performance lasts for approximately 30 minutes.” (source Crock Bridge Farm Website )

Ham House in Richmond, London

Meet Father Christmas  – Ham House

Where? Ham House, Ham Street, Ham, Richmond, TW10 7RS

When? 15thDecember until 23rdDecember

Cost?£5 to visit the grotto plus the usual admission price to enter Ham House, which for a family is £27.60.

What to expect? “Meet Father Christmas and recieve a special Christmas gift or take part in some of our other family activities in the house and gardens. Such as the Children’s trail (which is £3 extra) or make your own set of antlers. Wear them proudly as you explore Ham House. (source taken from Ham House website)

Amelia with Santa – Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre 2017

 

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Ealing Broadway Shopping – has all you need for Back to School

August 22, 2018
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It’s time to get organised, the Summer Holidays are coming to an end soon! So parents we need to be thinking uniforms, shoes and stationary! I’m not a fan of shopping at the last minute, as for me this adds even more stress to the already high pressure of finding the right sizes and fit. So save yourself the headache of the last minute rush and head on down to Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre where you will find all you need for Back to School 2018!

M&S School have some great quality uniforms and accessories to kit your kids out, for a competitive price. Many of their products feature extra benefits such as easy iron, stay new technology and stain resistant material. As we all know how hard it is to keep kids clothes looking stain and crease free!

Amelia wears:

Dress, benefits include: stain resistant, easy to iron, machine wash, tumble dry, PFC free – £10

Grey Cardigan Stay New, responsibly sourced cotton, machine wash, tumble dry, PFC free – £10

Hair Accessories – Navy pack (includes X2 hair ties, X2 clips and alice band) – £5

They also offer a great range of school shoes too! This cute pair which features little diamonté detail which put a smile on my Daughter’s face! Other features include FreshFeet, which keeps their feet fresher for longer, breathable lining, coated leather and scuff resistance too! – £26

M&S have lots of sports wear available too. Again at very resonable prices.

Cycle shorts, 2 pairs active sport collection, machine wash, tumble dry, PFC free – £10

Polo shirts 2 pack, stain resistant, responsibly sourced cotton, machine wash, tumble dry, PFC free – £9

Cotton rich socks, 5 pairs, Cool & FreshFeet reinforced heals and toes – £7

Smiggle has so many great school bags suitable for all ages, plus a huge variety of colourful stationary too!

Amelia loves this junior bunny backpack  – £26.50, which has the following features:

  • 3 zipped compartments main compartment with double zip
  • Inner compartment fits A4 notebook
  • Dual drink bottle sleeves
  • Padded adjustable shoulder straps
  • Carry handle
  • Internal name label
  • W 25cm x H 36.5cm x D13cm

Don’t forget your stationary and other school essentials. Check out Clas Ohlson range of stationary and pick up some other useful products from Superdrug too.

Sticky Notes Cube £1.99

Sticky notes set – £3.99

X6 Highlighter Pens – £2.99

Triangular Scale Ruler 15cm – £2.99

Casio Calculator- £14.99

A5 lined Planets notebook – £2.99

Plain notebook A5- £2.99

A4 Magazine rack – £5.99

Bic Pen – £4.99

Be ready for any sniffles or colds that they are bound to pick up when back at school, stock up at Superdrug

TLC Chewy vites Calcium & Vitamin D3 – £3.99

Blister Plasters – £3.79

Pocket Tissues 12 pack – £1.50

Paracetamol Caplets – £0.45

Nail Clippers & Scissors set – £2.49

Would you like to WIN this gorgeous backpack from Smiggle? Well, head over to my Instagram, all you have to do is follow me and Ealing Shopping, plus tag a friend and you could be sending your little one off to school with this super cute backpack! Terms and conditions apply, see my Instagram post for full details.

Image by Smiggle

This is post is a collaboration with Ealing Broadway Shopping.

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It’s getting to that time of year when we are looking forward to our Summer Holidays. The holiday is booked, you’re checked your passport is still in date and you have treated yourself to a new bikini, but have you thought about how to keep you and your family safe and well at your choosen destination? When I’m not working on my blog I also work as a Practice Nurse and have a qualification in Travel Health. I spend some of my clinic time advising patients on how to stay well abroad. So, I’m going to give you a quick run down on some of the essential items you should be packing in your suitcase this Summer. I have picked up all of these items at The Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre. So if you are about to jet off, then you can head down there to pick up your last minute essentials!

One of the most common complaints travellers often have when travelling abroad is suffering with diahorerra and vomitting. This often caused by poor hand hygiene and occasionally food posioning, but did you know that it can be simply down to dehydration? So how to avoid it? Always carry hand gel and anti-bacterial wipes, avoid shellfish, ice cream, unpeeled fruit and vegetables and ice in your drinks. Also avoid street food and always drink bottled water that has an intact seal. Make sure you take some rehydration powders like Dioralyte or a similar brand.

Heat stroke, heat exhaustion and sunburn can be another major issue. Keep well hydrated and avoid the sun at peak times. Cover up and wear sunglasses and a hat. Wear sunscreen of a at least 15 SPF to protect against UVB and at least 4 star UVA. Pay particular attention to applying sunscreen to babies and young children. Don’t forget about using lip screen also. Think about taking some aftersun lotion too, to ensure your skin stays well moisturised and to avoid peeling skin.

Mosquito bites and malaria are another major consideration. Think about the country you are visiting and if there is a risk of Malaria. You can check a website like Fit for Travel for up to date advice on various destinations. The best way to ensure that you are correctly protected against Malaria is to either have a consultation with your Practice Nurse/GP or seek advice from your local Pharmacist as they can advice you on which anti-malaria medication to take. Cover up in the evenings and use an insect repellant that contains at least 50% DEET. Think about alternative for young children and babies as the chemicals in these products may not be safe for their skin. You can also buy mosquito nets.

Accidents on holiday are common and in most cases could be avoided. When arriving in your accommodation, have a good look around for any potential hazards, especially with young children in mind. It could be low open windows, exposed plug sockets, balconies ect.. Also check the depth of the swimming pool and make sure there is no way your children can access the pool on there own. Try to have to hand the contact number of your holiday rep if things were to go wrong and the contact details of a local reputable health clinic.

Regarding holiday vaccinations, it is always best practice to go and speak to your Practice Nurse/GP, however some local Pharmacies like Boots and Superdrug also offer Travel Health services. For your children do make sure that they are up to date with all their routine childhood vaccinations. There are of course vaccinations that are recommended for certain parts of the world, ideally you would want to get these vaccinations completed 4-6 weeks prior to travel. Again you can check on the following websites Fit For Travel  and Gov.com also have helpful information listed country by country on any health outbreaks or potential risks to tourists.

It is always a good idea to take a supply of items that you would usually keep in your medical cabinet at home. That way if you or your family suddenly becomes unwell you have items to hand. Plus in a non-English speaking country it may be hard to convey what you are after, So here is my list:

  • Suncream Adults at least SPF 30 – waterproof
  • Suncream Kids SPF waterproof SPF 50
  • Aftersun
  • Bite & sting antihistamine cream
  • Priton allergy tablets
  • Insect repellant spray – 50% DEET
  • Mosquito plug in device
  • Travel first aid kit – containing a variety of plasters/bandages and tape
  • Dioralyte – for rehydration
  • Loperamide tablets
  • Paracetamol sachets for children
  • Ibuprofen sachets for children
  • Anti-bacterial wipes
  • Anti-bacterial gel
  • Adult lip screen
  • Kids lip screen
  • Paracetamol tablets
  • Ibuprofen tablets
  • In ear thermometer

This post is in no way meant to be a replacement for medical advice. If you have any concerns or questions about your health please seek advice from your Doctor or GP. 

Disclaimer: This is collaborative post with Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre.

 

 

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The Goat Chelsea – Child Friendly Sunday Lunch

June 15, 2018
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The Goat Chelsea is a great place to go for a child friendly Sunday Lunch. Not only do they offer a lovely contemporary Italian inspired menu, but they have entertainment for the kids at their Kids Club Sunday from 12-3pm. So, you might actually be able to enjoy your meal without the usual interruptions that you would normally expect with kids! There is no extra charge for the entertainment, but I suggest that you book a table to avoid disappointment, as it is very popular.
The entertainer is based in a private dinning room on the lower ground floor of the restaurant, which is great because that way you don’t feel as if your child is disturbing other diners who may not have children. On this particular Sunday my Daughter was entertained by Froggle Parties Professionals. The friendly man was dressed as Train Conductor and performed an array of magic tricks and jokes. Amelia enjoyed it so much we had to convince her to come back upstairs and have her lunch! She also left with some party bag gifts and a candy cane that the entertainer modeled from balloons especially for her!
They offer a great children’s menu which definitely suited my little one’s taste buds. She decided on the chicken goujons coated in panko breadcrumbs with broccoli and fries and to finish with chocolate brownies and geleto.
I was impressed with the overall menu and decided to go with the truffled macaroni and cheese to start with. I went for a Devon crab salad for my main. I finished with a delicious stick toffee pudding and vanilla gelato. I also sampled one of their cocktails which was inspired by the Chelsea Flower show, it was fantastic in both taste and presentation.
I would thoroughly recommend The Goat to families. I also noticed they have highchairs available and baby changing facilities too. It’s the perfect place to go if you want a leisurely lunch with the kids. The staff made us feel very welcome and could not do enough for us. We can’t wait to go back soon!
Disclosure 
This review was first published on City Kids West. I was given a complimentary meal in return for a review. All views are my own and are an honest reflection of the my experience on the day.
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