Bee is on the blog today, talking toys. Please make her welcome!

A lot of the time I lie awake at night pondering life’s big questions.

“Can birds catch a cold?”

“What did I sound like when I was younger?”

“When do people stop liking toys?”

I was thinking about this one today. I can’t pinpoint a time when I stopped wanting or liking toys. I can’t even pick a particular age that I think it might be. There’s even a time when you’re just becoming a teenager that you see some toys and thank God you have a little sister so that you can play with them “because you have to” but secretly you just want to play with them, and I’m sure there are definitely still some toys I would want to play with if I saw them.

I decided to have a little look at the Smyth’s toys website to see if there was anything out there these days that I thought I could genuinely enjoy playing with. I do like gadgets and things, as my MacBook Air and brand new iPhone prove, and I’m not against the occasional board game, so I was sure there must be some kids toys out there that I might secretly want to buy for myself.

When I was a baby I had a toy kitchen that I really liked (I didn’t know about gender roles when I was 2.) I used to “feed” sweets to a toy owl and then secretly eat them myself when he didn’t want to eat them for some reason. This might have been the main reason why I liked it. Upon finding the toy kitchens on the website I found out they are INCREDIBLE compared to the mid nineties. Better than my actual kitchen in my actual house! Check out this bad boy. Magnificent.

toy kitchen Smyths View Post

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I am a DisneyLife Brand Ambassador and this post was created in partnership with DisneyLife who have provided me with a free 12 month DisneyLife membership.

What are your favourite books to read to your children? When Bee and Belle were little, I loved reading them books that I remembered from my own childhood. 

With books that I particularly loved, I’ve not only read them to my own children, but I’ve also passed them on to my sister for my nephew and niece, who are now seven and five. When we were staying with them a few weeks ago, for my sister’s wedding, I had the chance to relive my childhood when it fell to me to be in charge of story time for my niece Mia.

She snuggled down into bed, and I picked out some of my favourites. 

“Can we read two?” she asked, with a sparkle in her eyes.

“We can read three!” I told her, more excited than she was.  

I showed her where I had written in the back of the books when I was little like her. ‘It’s not very good writing,’ I admitted, ‘but I was only small.’

‘Writing is tricky though,’ she sympathised. ‘I was trying to write a card for Grandad and Clare yesterday and I accidentally wrote ‘multivitamin’ instead.’ We laughed at that for a long time. She cracks me up. View Post

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I always look forward to the summer holidays with a mix of emotions. I’m excited about not having to get up early every morning, (and by early I mean at about ten to eight, in time to make a quick sandwich for Belle and try to look involved), but also anxious about juggling work, and keeping everyone entertained.

As it turned out, this summer fairly whizzed by. Belle went off to stay at my sister’s for a week, (flying to Ireland on her own!), and then we all went over a couple of weeks later for her wedding.  (My sister’s not Belle’s.) Belle and I went to Newquay, we threw some axes, it was all going on. On the final weekend of the summer holidays, we had one final hoorah and went of to Valleyfest for the weekend. 

Valleyfest is a diddy little festival, with a foodie twist, held on the edge of Chew Valley Lake. This sets it apart from all of the other festivals I’ve been to, as you have a stunning view of the water from everywhere in the site. Now admittedly, the weather was pretty shocking, but even so, it was  beautiful.

Valleyfest

We were there for the whole weekend, but were very lucky as we were put up by Tinkerbell Tent Hire, who were providing the glamping for Valleyfest. (I.e. the tents for people like me who are too lazy to knock a couple of pegs into the ground.) We were really grateful for it, as the winds did get up on Saturday night, and if we’d had been in a tent that I’d put up, we’d probably have blown away. Tinkerbell Tent Hire also hire out tents for things like weddings, so they are definitely worth a look.  View Post

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I have a bit of a thing for unusual museums. 

Whenever we’re away anywhere, I always look for the oddest sounding places to visit, or if I can’t find any, I’ll just drive around until I see a sign and follow it. A week or so ago I drove past a sign saying ‘stationery factory’ and got very excited, because I thought I might get to see how pencils were made, but it turned out it was just a regular factory and members of the passing general public weren’t allowed to just wander in. I had to turn around in the driveway by the barriers and try to look casual, like I had just gone the wrong way.

Over the years, visiting unusual museums has become one of those family traditions that you don’t start intentionally, but that you’re glad has happened, because it makes you feel like more of a team. Like an in joke, except the joke is on my children every time I take them to a weird museum about bees that’s actually just a creepy old man with an old beehive in his attic.

It’s nice though. It’s quality family time. A war time spirit almost – us against the crazy bee man. 

I’ve been meaning for ages to get around to writing a post about my unusual museums fetish, and so when Smart Insurance got in touch to say they were launching a campaign about the importance of families spending time together, having good old fashioned family fun, well, it seemed like the perfect opportunity. The Smart Insurance campaign has been inspired by the National Trust‘s mission to get children more connected with nature, and it doesn’t get much more ‘nature’ than bees does it? View Post

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Last week Belle and I had a valuable lesson in ‘the importance of trying new things’, or, more specifically, the art of axe and knife throwing.

You may remember how I teased you a couple of weeks ago with a post about taking on a challenge with the National Trust, where I asked you to vote for what you’d like me to do. Axe throwing won the vote and I was secretly very pleased as it’s something I’ve never done before, and hopefully, unless I find myself alone in the woods with just an axe and a ferocious bear, not something I will ever do again.

axe throwing south west outdoor festival national trust channel adventure

We were taught the art of axe throwing by a company called Channel Adventure, who are based not far from us, on the edge of Exmoor National Park. They run all sorts of adventurous looking courses and activities, and are heavily involved in the National Trust’s new festival, the South West Outdoor Festival. Channel Adventure are going to be offering various activities over the festival weekend, including rock climbing, rafting, kayaking and, you guessed it, axe throwing. If our little adventure tickles your fancy, do have a look at the South West Outdoor Festival, and you could have a go for yourself.

We rocked up at the venue at 10am on a Friday morning. Belle had made cupcakes, which immediately went down well with the two woman who were our teachers for the morning. (Didn’t I bring her up nice?) We were joined a few minutes later by a group of three teenage boys who looked like they were too cool to be anywhere other than Snapchat, and who kept their hoods up permanently to make the point. Apparently they were from Birmingham, staying with the aunt of one of them for a couple of weeks.

“They don’t want to be here,” said the aunt as she dropped them off, “but I’ve booked them in and they’re doing it.” View Post

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