Friday 22 December 2017

Festive Afternoon Tea with Wyevale Garden Centre *Review*

A couple of weeks ago we were kindly invited along to Huntingdon Wyevale Garden Centre for a Santa afternoon tea. It's always nice to try and do something different each year at Christmas and we've not yet done a Wyevale Garden Centre Santa meet so it sounded great. 

Wyevale looked fab when we arrived, it really draws you into the festive spirit with lots of pretend animals in wintery scenes and so many sparkly lights, it was a great start. We arrived in plenty of time to have a look around and maybe go to the grotto (which you pay for separately to the tea) if we had time. As well as the grotto and breakfast/tea option there was a huge snow globe and lots of photo props around which added to the festive feel. 

Sadly, we weren't able to make it into the grotto due to time constraints and because it was £8 per child we felt that as we had a Santa tea already booked we wouldn't need to do a grotto trip aswell. I think this is worth thinking about, either book one or the other otherwise it could get a little tricky explaining that one away! 

So we took the opportunity to have a few photos and a look around the garden centre, I didn't realise how big the Huntingdon Wyevale is, so much to look at so we managed to kill a good half an hour before making our way over to the cafe for our Santa afternoon tea. 

We were greeted by the very friendly Mother Christmas and shown to our table. What I liked is that there was only a handful of other families so it didn't feel overly busy, the cafe was also fairly quiet at this point so that was also nice. However the area where the tea takes place was situated right next to the small, indoor soft play and trying to explain to a 5 and 2 year old that we haven't paid for it (yup, you read that right it's chargeable!) that we haven't paid for it was a bit of a challenge. 

On our table were crackers, drawing sheets and crayons so we were able to distract the kids for a little while but the proceedings did seem to take quite some time. Mother Christmas kept wandering around and engaging in conversation but things didn't really seem to flow. We were sat waiting for an age wondering where the food (that had been pre-ordered) was going to arrive. This was not just us but all of the tables. 

After a while we were approached by a very apologetic lady, a waitress I think to tell us that sausages we'd ordered had not arrived from their suppliers and we'd need to order another dish because of this, a little bit inconvenient but these things happen. 

There was supposed to be the option of unlimited squash, however there was only water available and this wasn't on our tables so we had to reply on Mother Christmas and her helper to bring this around, there were a couple of times we did have to ask for a top up because the kids were so thirsty. The garden centre was also horribly hot, I mean stifling hot - even Alfie was complaining he was hot and he's normally not fussed by being warm. It was quite uncomfortable at times. 

I know this is sounding horribly negative at the moment and I don't mean for it to be but I pride myself on writing honest reviews and it does get more positive I promise! 

The kids food arrived and the portion sizes were massive!! Too much for the kids really but nice that there were generous. Myself and my husband were served a nice afternoon tea. The sandwiches were a little iffy and more would have been welcome, however the scones with jam and clotted cream were amazing!! The little cakes were also delicious.

After finishing the tea it was time for some gingerbread decorating. I loved this and so did the kids! They each got a gingerbread man (or should I be saying person if I'm being politically correct, ha!). We were also given a little pot full of sprinkles, choc buttons and marshmallows to decorate. The kids loved doing this and who can blame them! 

After gingerbread decorating it was time for a quick story - this is a lovely touch, really nice to get the children sitting on the floor and waiting for Santa. Finally, it was time to meet the man in red!! Oh my word the excitement from both my 2 when they saw him coming was something I'll keep in my memory for certain. Their little faces. Elarna especially as this is the first year she gets Christmas! 

Santa was great, he was so engaging and chatty and he took time to speak to each child individually about have they been good, what would they like for Christmas etc, etc. He really was fab. My 2 were able to go and sit with him together which made for some lovely photos. Elarna had quite the chat with him, there was no shyness at all from her! Alfie was just captivated, as mentioned above it was truly lovely to see. 

After having a chat to Santa is was time to pick a pressie. I really liked how the presents were picked by the child. A massive trolley was positioned to where we were all sitting, piled high with gifts. Although not wrapped I thought this was a fab idea to let the child pick their own gift, there was alot to choose from also from craft sets, cars, horses, soft toys amongst others. Apologies that there is  no photo of the trolley mine didn't come out very well. 

There really was no rush from Santa, he was more than happy to have a chat to the children and that speaks volumes (pardon the pun). It was great watching them interact with him. After the chat they went to the trolley and chose their gifts. Alfie, there was no real question about what he chose and he went for the racing car while Elarna chose a really nice craft box which was packed full of things! 

So, I know this has come across as a bit of a mixed review BUT did we enjoy it? In a word yes, it was a little rough around the edges but the concept it great and the kids really did love it and they were sooo happy to see Santa. Would we visit again? Yes I think so, trying the breakfast with Santa would be nice, I definitely wouldn't rule it out, for £36 in total it wasn't too bad and the memories we'll take away with us are always worth going to these type of things. 

What do you think of this lovely, festive afternoon tea with Santa?

* Please note we were kindly offered the tea free of charge in exchange for an honest post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Thursday 21 December 2017

Brighten up your Home this New Year!

Brightening Up Your Home this New Year

As we near the end of another year and welcome in the next, it’s time to start thinking about your New Year’s Resolutions. Whether you are a resolution trendsetter or prefer to set your goals in private, one thing’s for sure – in 2018, it’s time to ditch the same old resolutions and go for something different!
After all the extravagance of the festive period, January can seem like a very dull and bleak month. From post-Christmas financial worries to the bad weather and freezing temperatures, it’s no surprise that for many, this is the least exciting month of the year.
For that reason, there’s no better time than the present to take a look at your home and consider a redecoration project to tackle this January!
From simple, quick and easy updates to more involved longer-term projects, there are plenty of different ways in which you can introduce an element of positivity and light to your home this New Year.

The Simple Touch
Are you in need of a quick fix or simply looking for a budget-friendly refresh? Sometimes, it is the simplest details that really do make the biggest differences, so if you are feeling the after-effects of the post-Christmas pinch, don’t feel as though there is nothing you can do. A bright bouquet of seasonal flowers displayed in your favourite vase is always a great go-to, but if you fancy something else, there are many more ideas for small ways to update your home. Some new cushions or a rug will always work well, but for the ultimate thrifty refresh, you could simply try rearranging your furniture in a new configuration for a new look without having to spend a single penny!
A Splash of Colour
Bright colours and bold designs will do wonders to improve your mood at any time of year, but they will be particularly effective during the dreary winter months. Counteract the grey skies and dull dreariness outside with your very own rainbow of colour inside for the ultimate bright look. Of course, everything is better in moderation, as a complete colour overload is likely to ruin the overall aesthetic and leave you with a headache, so choose wisely and go for complementary, pleasing shades. Your walls and carpet are a great place to start, but if you would rather focus on the furniture, why not go for some patterned curtains or a block-colour sofa? For the budget-conscious interior designer, some complementary cushions, a statement lamp or your favourite photographs or prints will still work wonders.

Classy and Contemporary
If you feel like your home is looking a little tired or outdated, it may well be time to consider a whole new look. Even just putting the focus on one room in need of an update can be a brilliant way to breathe a new lease of life into the house – the perfect antidote to the grey skies outside. One area of the home which is often overlooked is the staircase. The transition point between upstairs and downstairs, refreshing the look of your stairs is a perfect way to improve the look and feel of the entire property. If you don’t have the budget for a whole new staircase, have you considered updating smaller parts of the whole? Stair cladding or a mopstick handrail in attractive pine tones will be sure to make an eye-catching, polished addition to your home.
Are you feeling inspired yet? When it comes to warding off the January blues, there really is no time like the present to get involved and get busy updating the look of your home, ready for the rest of the year ahead!
* Collaborative content.

Tuesday 19 December 2017

Christmas Wishes with Feel Good Contacts

Christmas is only a few sleeps away and the excitement is building in the Blogging Beautifully house. I'm likely to have bleary, tired eyes through lack of sleep trying to make sure everything is perfect for my 2 monkey's but luckily Feel Good Contacts will help me out with this. Along with some contact lenses I was also sent a lovely gift from the company to help me through the festive season which I am featuring throughout the post! I'm still frantically trying to wrap all the pressies and write the food shopping list before finishing work on Friday, still so much to do! This year hasn't been the best for us so it got me thinking about if I could wish for anything this Christmas what would be.

  • Well firstly that Christmas day goes by without any hitches and is enjoyed by all!

  • Health. Above everything else I wish for a healthy family, we started the year off with a poorly daughter and numerous illnesses through the year and then myself finding a lump in the Summer has kind of put things into perspective and I just wish for the good health of my nearest and dearest. 

  • Money. It's what makes the world goes around doesn't it and let's face it we could all do with more of the stuff. I wish could be more savvy and save more, I really should make it one of my resolutions for 2018......we will see I guess!

  • Achievements. I wish for my children to achieve to the best of their ability and fly high. It's so easy to become complacent through life and I'm determined for my children to not make the same mistakes I have and fulfil their dreams. 

  • To have lots to look forward to. I like to fill our diary with fun things to do, although I do like staying in too but I wish for a nice balanced calendar this year with plenty of things to look forward to and be excited about (hence why Summer hols 2018 have already been booked!).

  • To not be so critical on myself. As a personal wish I want to try and be less critical of myself. I am very, very hard on myself about certain things and put alot of pressure for me to keep everyone happy and sometimes it's just not possible. I think I need to start to say no a bit more!

  • For more couple/adult time. We recently were lucky enough to have an overnight babysitter and I was whisked away to the spa for the night. It was bliss, I really feel that we need to do a few more adult only breaks, it does the world of good having some time away from the kids and being able to enjoy each others company again. 

  • To get a puppy? Wishful thinking but it's been on the wish list for quite a while now! Now I just need to figure out how to convince the husband!! Ha!

So these are my Christmas wishes for 2017, what are yours? If you fancy finding out a bit more about contact lenses and Feel Good Contacts please head over to the website for more information. I can also offer you a 10% discount code by using ATBXMAS10.

* Collaborative post. We were kindly sent the gorgeous gift and lenses free of charge in exchange for a post, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Friday 15 December 2017

Buying a Family Car *Top Tips*

Buying a car is one of the most important decisions, especially if you have a young family. If you're like me, not only do you want it to be safe and functional but also look nice aswell. We have 2 cars currently, a little Mazda 2 which I tend to use and an Audi A3 which my husband uses. We are thinking about changing our Audi for something that is a little bit bigger and more practical but it can be a bit of a minefield knowing where to start. Here are a few tips to help you out if you're looking for a car or thinking about a new car.

  • Choose a reputable dealership. You want somewhere that is friendly, able to answer any questions you may have and can give you the advice that you need.

  • Do you research! This is vital. What sort of car are you looking for? What are the most important features that it needs to have? How many miles are you thinking of driving in it?
Driving home for Christmas........

  • How long are you thinking of keeping the car for? Is it short or long term? Are you planning on extending your family, this could hugely impact on the size of car you get.

  • What is your budget? Of course, this is perhaps one of the first things to decide on so you know what is available to you. Try to stick to budget if you can.

  • Get recommendations, it's also handy to know what other people drive and what they think of their own car.

So these are a few top tips when purchasing a car. Have I missed anything?

* Collaborative post.

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Blogger's Best Linky!

Well hello!! Welcome back to the new and improved Best and Worst linky now named Blogger's Bests. We can't wait to read your posts and see what you've been sharing this week.

So Sarah from RunJumpScrap and I would like to introduce you to the Blogger's Best linky. A place for any post, whatever the post, the best post of your week or simply a post you are proud of and want to shout about it. This is the place to share it and we can't wait to read them. The linky will open at 05:30 on a Wednesday and remain open until Friday 23:55.

There aren't many rules because lets face it, rules are boring right? However, linkys only work if you share the love and support your fellow bloggers so what we do ask is.....

  • You comment on the host posts and at least a couple of others, of course if you want to comment on more  then please do!
We would also love if you could .....

  • Tweet us over on Twitter (I'm @helsy_1983) and Sarah is (@runjumpscrap) so we know you're joining in ( and please do use #bloggersbest) and we can give you a retweet

  • Join us over on Instagram with the hashtag #bloggersbest and tag us in, we both love a bit of Insta! You can find me here @helsy_1983) and Sarah is @runjumpscrap

  • Add the badge at the bottom of your post so we know which post you've added to the linky
But these are pretty much all the rules. Sarah and I will continue to have featured posts each week and will of course be retweeting your links when you link up. We're really looking forward to hosting a fresh and vibrant new linky and hope you'll enjoy linking up too! Spread the word, Blogger's Best is the place to be!

* Please note this is our last linky before Christmas wahoo! We will be back at somepoint in Jan. Have a fabulous festive break and we'll see you all in the new year *

Run Jump Scrap


Tuesday 12 December 2017

Win £250 Amazon Voucher with Vision Direct #ChristmasCrafted

Christmas is just a couple of weeks away, I can practically smell the turkey and mulled wine. It's during the festive season that I feel a little bit more crafty than normal and enjoy doing some arts and crafts with the kids. Elarna hugely enjoys drawing and doing lots of arty things so while Alfie was at school we decided to get our Christmas craft on and create some upcycled Christmas trees. I wasn't leaving him out I hasten to add I just fancied doing this with Elarna. Vision Direct are running a fabulous competition to be in the chance of winning £250 Amazon vouchers by simply become #ChristmasCrafted and creating some unique and personal upcycled Christmas trees. 

We were kindly sent a box of goodies to help us with our creations and if you are ordering lenses throughout December you will be sent some templates within your box so that you can also create a tree at home and enter it into the competition. 

Our box was stuffed full of items to help us create our trees, there were also a few little chocs hidden in the box.....needless to say these didn't last long with Elarna being around! We had all we needed to decorate our trees, tinsel, sequins, confetti, baubles, silvery thread and of course our templates (if they aren't included in the box they are available to download). 

First of all (after eating the chocolate) we cut our templates out and strategically placed them on the box they came in, I drew around them and carefully cut them out remembering to cut the slits in the middle so they could be slotted together and create the tree. As the boxes are made of thick cardboard there was no worry about them toppling over, they are surprisingly sturdy! 

After cutting them out we coloured them in, this is where Elarna could get involved and she really enjoyed making them green!! She used every. single. green crayon we had in our collection! So they turned out to be rather green but that's ok, green is the colour to be I hear!

Elarna was particularly fascinated by the silver packaging paper and the thread so we decided we'd incorporate that into our design, the sequins and confetti were also well received and really added to the festive feel of the trees.

Look at all of those lovely festive colours and craft materials! Lovely! We had such fun using them in our design. So after colouring our trees it was time to decorate, we had made 3 and did one glitzy tree, one minimalist and one sparkly one. 

We also created a little Lego diorama. We had a snowboarder, a cyclist and a man collecting (festive) snowballs ready for a snowball fight. When Alfie came home from school he absolutely loved that his Lego figures were featuring in our Christmas Tree scene. 

We also upcycled the green tissue paper than came with the box to create our background and used a bit of snow spray to add to the festive effect. 

We had lots of fun making our upcycled trees and hope we've given you some inspiration to do some designing too. So here is a quick roundup of what you can do to enter......

  • Download your templates if you haven't received them. 
  • Place them on your Vision Direct box or similar and cut around them to make your trees.
  • Decorate them, go crazy and make them super festive. 
  • Once you've finished with your creations share them over on FacebookInstagram or Twitter. Shout about them and use the #ChristmasCrafted and #VisionDirectUK for them to be entered into the competition to win.
  • Remember though, the final date for the competition is the 17th December so not long to get crafting!
And that's all there is to it!! Happy crafting, hope you are feeling festive and I look forward to having a browse through some of the creations by using the hashtags. 

* This is a collaborative post and I'm not hosting the competition but helping shout about it a bit!