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Half Term

I’ve always had a love of reading ever since I was a young child and I still have my nose in a book a lot of the time now too. I’m always keen to encourage my Daughter Amelia to love books too. This Easter I have teamed up with Waterstones, at Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre to give you a run down on my top five books to get the kids reading this Easter. To hopefully spend less time on electronic devices! Plus, I have a competition over on my Instagram for you to enter. You could win a £10 Waterstones voucher, plus four top kids titles get you going, the prize is worth £38! Head over to my Instagram now to enter!

My First recommendation has been a firm favourite with my Daughter and the stories always keep her coming back for more. Aimed at children of the between the ages of 4-6 years old. There are a variety of Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam Stories. This one is entitled The Cat Burglar, by Tracey Corderoy and Steven Lenton.

“Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam have swapped a life of crime for baking cakes in their cafe. But now there’s a new robber in town – the infamous Kitty-le-Claw! When there’s a midnight robbery at the bank, can the two baker dogs save the day?”

My next suggestion is The winner of Watermans Children’s Book Prize 2019. The Boy at the Back of the Class, by Onjali Q. Rauf. I would say it is suitable for children aged 7 years and up. It might be a book that you could also read to your children, but it could be suitable for them to read to themselves depending on their reading ability.

“A story of friendship, hope and the importance of kindness, The Boy at the Back of the Class is a story full of heart and humour, told from a unique perspective. Featuring illustrations from Pippa Curnick, this is an exceptional book by an emerging voice in children’s writing.”

You can’t go wrong with Charlie Changes Into a Chicken, by Sam Copeland.

“Charlie McGuffin tries to be an optimist, but in reality he’s a bit of a worrier.

Some of the things Charlie is worried about:

  • His brother (who is in hospital)
  • Their very panicked parents
  • Unwanted attention from the school bully
  • The fact that he’s started turning into animals!

Even though every kid wants a superhero power, Charlie isn’t keen on turning into a pigeon in the middle of the school play.

But what happens if he does? Will he get sent away for Science to deal with? Will his parents crack under the extra stress?

With the help of his three best friends, Charlie needs to find a way of dealing with his crazy new power – and fast!”

 

We also love Lightning Girl by Alesha Dixon. It’s great to see a superhero that is a girl for a change!

My inspiration to create a superhero called Lightning Girl began with wanting my young daughter to feel empowered. It’s been a dream to create a strong role model that any child can look up to – I want my readers to see themselves in Aurora.” – Alesha Dixon

The winner of the Waterstones Children Book Prize for older children. Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adyemi, is suitable for Teens.

“Magnificent from the off, Adeyemi’s richly drawn world is a breath of fresh air in Teen and Young Adult fantasy. Written with seemingly endless reserves of imagination, our booksellers were captivated by this distinctive and exhilarating novel, which is all at once fearless, immersive, emotional and cinematic beyond its pages. This poignant debut has more than enough to keep you on the edge of your seat and reading late into the night.” – Florentyna Martin, Waterstones Children’s Buyer

Don’t forget your local Ealing Waterstones has something for all ages and abilities of reading. They have an excellent section for younger children and a wide range of picture books.

Also, if you are going away over Easter and need some activities to keep the kids entertained on a long journey, you can’t go wrong with a sticker book and Waterstones currently have a buy one get one half price offer.

They also have a great range of toys and gifts too! If you have a birthday party coming up.

I hope you have a very Happy Easter and enjoying encouraging your child to read or read with them!

Don’t forget your Ealing Waterstones has it’s very own social media accounts, so follow them if you want to find out what’s going on locally.

Twitter: @WstonesEaling

Facebook: @WaterstonesEalingBroadway

Disclaimer – (AD) This post is a paid collaboration with Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre and I was gifted the above products from Waterstones in return for a review.

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Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery – A Family Afternoon Out In Ealing

March 17, 2019
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Pitzhanger Manor and Gallery finally re-opened it’s doors this weekend in Ealing, after being closed for three years while the Grade-1 listed building underwent refurbishment. Once the country home of British architect Sir John Soanes. Built between 1800 and 1804 it is a stunning example of architecture of this time. The opening has been eagerly awaited by the people of Ealing, West London. For many months the building has been shrouded by hoardings and I have often walked past to try to get an glimpse of what has been going on. So I was thrilled to be some of the first members of the public to venture into this stunning building this weekend!

I am over the moon that here in Ealing we have somewhere to view amazing pieces of art on our doorsteps. The exhibition area intends to have three different artists presenting their work over the next twelve months. Currently, Anish Kapoor is showing his work until the 18th August 2019.

Pitzhanger Manor House and Gallery – Ealing

I am also so glad that Pitzhanger Manor and Gallery will be providing space for local families to engage in creative activities and other workshops suitable for adults too. This addition to Ealing will make our area even more well known as place for families and help our community to grow.

The house is really interesting to walk around and there is plenty to learn about it’s history and of course how the refurbishment was completed. Amelia particularly enjoyed dressing up in some costumes that were available!

In the Upper Drawing Room the beautiful wallpaper really is spectacular! Within this room there is an opportunity for children to play with wooden blocks and other interactive hands on toys. While parents can sit and marvel at this stunning room!

Heading downstairs to the Gallery area, which was once Ealing Lending Library and dates from 1939. You can enjoy Anish Kapoor’s exhibition in this amazing light space.

Anish Kapoor’s Exhibition at Pitzhanger Manor & Art Gallery – Ealing

These pieces of art are really breathtaking and transport you into another world of mirrors and light. It’s hard to really get a full appreciation of Anish Kapoor’s work without actually seeing them, so I highly recommend that you go and see them for yourself. My Daughter Amelia found them fascinating, as I’m sure most children would!

Finally on your way out don’t forget to visit the shop. Selling lots of lovely gifts and some locally produced products too. Including Pitzhanger honey and cards by local artist Charlotte Berridge.

Information to help plan your visit

Address: Mattock Lane, Ealing, W5 5EQ

Admissions and bookings

Go to the website

Opening Hours see below

Ticket prices

Adult tickets start at £7.70, with a reduction in price for Ealing residents priced at £4.95. The ticket price includes entry to the house and gallery.

Children from 0-17 years are free of charge, there are various other concessions, so please see the website for full details.

You can also join as a member which will give you free unlimited entry, plus many other benefits.

Ealing residents can also visit for free on Tuesday and Sunday mornings.

Accessibility 

The whole building is accessible to wheelchairs and buggies.

What’s on

There are so many events planned at Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery coming up over the next few months. I’m especially looking forward to some of the family activities they have planned. Including: Upcycled Easter Baskets & Disco Eggs, Chocolate Easter Egg Workshop, Little Builders: The Great Materials Hunt, May Half-Term: Mystical Mirrors and stories and Open House Families to name a few.

You can pick up a copy of the What’s On Guide at the Manor or find out more details over on their website.

If you enjoyed this blog post then, why not have a read of one of my other posts? Ealing 135 Group – Local Parenting Support & Events

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Carluccio’s Ealing – Local Italian Resturant & Deli

February 11, 2019
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Half Term is fast approaching, so it’s great to have some ideas for family friendly dining in Ealing. We love to eat out in West London and one of our firm favourites is Carluccio’s Ealing – local Italian Restaurant & Deli. It has been one of our go to places, ever since Amelia was born. Eating out with children can be stressful, as we all know especially if your child is making lots of noise or is not keen to sit at the table. I think as parents we have all been there! However, if you are in an environment that caters for children, then the whole experience is a lot more relaxed for everyone! The Ealing branch of Carluccio’s was refurbished last year and as you will see from my photos it certainly is stylish with a warm and friendly atmosphere.

Carluccio’s Restuarant 5-6 The Green, Ealing, London, W5 5DA

Carluccio’s have recently re-vamped their children’s menu, which I have to say I now actually prefer, because there are more options. For £6.25 your child can have two courses including a drink and for £7.50 you can increase that to three courses. My Daughter is six years old and I would say the portion sizes are more than adequate for her appetite.

Carluccio’s New Kids Menu

Amelia is a budding restaurant critic too and has done a little write up here! She really enjoyed the new kid’s menu as you can see!

One of the choices of starter includes cucumber, carrots and celery sticks with a tomato sauce dip, children also get bread sticks too! A brilliant way to get one of their 5 a day!

The main course, along with the usual pasta options also includes: chicken or fish with vegetables, however Amelia when back to her favorite of pasta with a tomato sauce.

Carluccio’s has all the usual child friendly facilities that you would expect, such as baby changing facilities, highchairs and even child sized cutlery which make eating all that bit easier. Plus there is colouring and crayons to hand to keep them occupied. The other thing I like about this restaurant is that the tables are not too close together, so if you wanted to bring your pram then likelihood is there will be room nearby.

At the rear of the restaurant the tables can be set up for a larger family gathering or party. Just enquire at the restaurant and I’m sure they will be happy to help.

They have a wonderful selections of cakes and sweet treats, so you could also just come in for afternoon tea!

Plus, don’t forget if you are looking for a romantic Valentines Day meal than you better be quick to get booked in! From the 13th until the 16th February they are offering a special Valentine’s set menu three course for £22.95.

Carluccio’s have lovely selection of gifts available from their Deli and in-store shop. You will find ingredients to make your perfect romantic Italian evening at home also!

You can find your local Carluccio’s at: 5-6 The Green, Ealing, London, W5 5DA.

Disclaimer – I was offered a complimentary family meal in return for a review, however as all views are my own and they are an honest reflection of my experience.

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Our Half Term Break at Center Parcs – Woburn Forest

November 6, 2017
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This Half Term we decided to book a family holiday to Center Parcs and this time we picked Woburn Forest as we hadn’t visited this location before. We particularly liked the fact that it takes just over one hour to drive there from Ealing and as our little one tends to suffer with travel sickness, so this really suited us.

So let me walk you through what we got up to this October Half Term and also share with you my top tips for a successful break!

Accommodation

We stayed in an Woodland Lodge and found it was worth spending that bit extra on the accommodation this time. Not only do you get the added bonus of a daily maid service, but generally the decor and furniture was much more modern and fresh. I really loved some of the extras such as a coffee machine and there was even a refrigerated wine cooler! Ok, so Centre Parcs are not cheapest holiday, but you get what you pay for. For me when I go away, I want to stay somewhere that is as good as or nicer than my own home.

Our lodge had a large open plan living and kitchen area, two bedrooms both with en-suite bathrooms. You also have Wi-Fi included, flat screen TV’s in the lounge and both bedrooms, an outside patio area with seating, plus your bed linen and towels are included. We didn’t get to use it, but there is also an open fire place which I’m sure would be so cosy on a Winter’s evening. Over all I was very impressed with the accommodation the rooms were spotless and extras were provided such as toiletries, washing up liquid, dishwasher tablets, hairdryer and pods for the coffee machine.

Activities 

There are so many activities to choose from during your stay. There is something for everyone and we found for our five year old there was plenty to keep her occupied. We tend not to book too much as we want to enjoy all that the park has to offer without rushing around. As went stayed around Halloween there was lots of activities based around this theme.

Our Daughter did pumpkin hunting and also attended a spooky princesses and wizards party which she enjoyed a lot. I noticed that the staff really made an effort and dressed up in costumes, which also added to the Halloween atmosphere!

We also did pony riding, which is a real treat and pottery painting which I absolutely loved, as you can see from the photo I was totally lost in concentration.

 

What You Can Do For Free?

Yes, there are things to do that are totally free! You can bring your own bikes and then cycle around the forest’s numerous paths. Once everyone has parked their cars it is really safe to cycle and very relaxing too. Or you could get on your scooter and have a whiz around.

Of course the Subtropical Swimming Paradise is included in the price of your stay. You will find that the lockers work with your electronic wrist bands and there are buoyancy aids available free of charge for children. Our little one particularly liked the wave machine and the lazy river.

You could also enjoy a walk or jog in the forest, there are lots of paths and there are also two lovely adventure playgrounds.

There is always soft play, if you can handle the chaos! Available in The Sports Bar and in various restaurants.

We were lucky enough to be there the week before Bonfire night, so got to experience a wonderful free fireworks display down by the lake. It was a great atmosphere with entertainers and open air food stalls too.

Eating & Drinking

We like to eat out in the evenings and there are plenty of restaurants to choose from. Most of them have children’s play areas, which for us is a real bonus. We can sit and relax while our daughter gets to burn off some energy.

This time we tried Strada, Cafe Rouge, Hucks (Hucks has the biggest and best play area) and Las Iguanas. We found the staff to be really friendly and helpful and so geared towards children. There were always colouring activities to keep her busy!

There are other options for lunch and more informal dinning, such as Starbucks, The Sports Cafe and The Pancake House.

The Ealing Mummy’s Top Tips When Staying At Centre Parcs

  • Make sure you book all your activities well in advance of your holiday, especially at peak times they will get booked up and you don’t want to be disappointed!
  • Try to take your basic food essentials such as: bread, milk, cereals, cooking oil, tea bags. It will save on time and money going to the on site shop.
  • Don’t forget your wellies, waterproofs and umbrellas. Some lodges are a fair old walk to the Village Centre or Sub Tropical Swimming Pool.
  • You will need to bring towels for use at the swimming pool, as you are not meant to use your accommodation towels for this purpose. You can however hire towels too for a price.
  • I would also advice making any restaurant bookings in advance too, because there are limited tables available early evening when everyone with children wants to eat.
  • Think about arriving before the official check in time for your lodge (which is 3pm), you can park your car and use all the facilities it make your holiday that bit longer!

Will We Be Going Back?

Yes! most definitely! The thing with Center Parcs is it has so many benefits and what ever the British weather throws at you there is always plenty to keep us occupied. There is so much to do and the activities fit a variety of age ranges, so I can see us going back for many years to come!

The other thing I love is that they really do make an effort to make the forest look magical for Christmas. While we were there I saw staff putting up numerous lights, features, Christmas trees (with artificial snow) and even a wooden grotto. I think a Christmas stay could be on my bucket list!

Disclaimer

All comments and opinions are my own and are an honest reflection of our recent stay at Center Parcs. This review is completely independent and I have not been paid by Center Parcs or given anything for free.

 

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Flip Out At Brent Cross – The New Trampoline Park

June 5, 2017
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If there is one activity that my Daughter is always asking to do it is trampolining! We have a trampoline in our garden and it gets a lot of use, but she seems to enjoy this activity even more when we visit a trampoline park. There is a new venue to try out and it is only a short journey from Ealing. So we put on our jumping socks this Half Term and decided to go and try Flip Out.

Situated at Staples Corner Retail Park there is plenty of free parking right outside the venue. I would recommend booking online as this way you can ensure you are booked for the most convienent time for you, plus it is at this point you can sign the waiver form online which saves you time at the venue. However you can just turn up on the day, but do bear in mind that sessions start on the hour.

The park has a variety of different sessions to suit age range and ability. For example they offer sessions for children under the age of 5 called Mini Flippers, this is where toddlers and parents can bounce together learning new skills and gaining confidence on the trampolines. For older children they offer a class called Little Ninjas. Then for anyone over the age of 15 there is Flip Fit a great way to burn calories. On the day we attended it was a standard free jumping session, which is priced at £12.50 per person.

We loved Flip Out because it had some different features to some of the other trampoline parks we have been to. Of course there were absolutely loads of different trampolines to bounce on, plus bars to balance on with soft foam to fall in. For older children/adults there is the stunt box area and wall runners.

We also couldn’t get enough of the laser maze challenge, which is included in the price and you really do feel like you are staring in Mission Impossible dodging the laser beams! After all this adventure we enjoyed a drink and snack in the cafe. It is also worth pointing out there is free Wifi, baby changing facilities and the lockers are also complimentary.

While we were there we also looked at the party rooms. They have two rooms one has an underwater theme and the other one is woodland themed, so could be a great option for a birthday party next year.

We really enjoyed our morning at Flip Out and are looking forward to our next visit very soon!

You can follow Flip Out on social media to stay up to date with their latest offers
Facebook @flipoutbrentcross
Twitter @flipoutbrebtcross
Instagram @flipoutbrentcross

Disclaimer
We received free entry to Flip Out in return for a review. Everything you read is an honest reflection of our visit and all opinions are my own.

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