The top 25 traditional family activities and days out revealed, inspired by Winnie-the-Pooh

Who doesn't love spending a traditional day out with the family. Forget all the gadgets for a day, and spend some good old fashioned fun on a day out with the kids. Whether it's going for a picnic, skimming stones or picking blackberries, spending quality time as a family is really important.

Traditional family activities seem to be making a come-back. This weekend my husband Mark and I will be taking our two children, Amber, ten and Jacob, three, to the seaside for a bit of rock-pooling.

VisitEngland encourages families to experience life’s simple pleasures inspired by the tales of Winnie-the-Pooh and Christopher Robin.

Enjoying a fish supper on Blackpool Pier, negotiating Hampton Court Maze and taking a stroll beside Hadrian’s Wall have been named as some of England’s greatest ‘simple pleasures’ according to a new study released today.

The new study on behalf of Egmont Publishing and supported by VisitEngland asked 2,000 parents to vote for the traditional activities, attractions and days out. The results provide a fascinating overview of the activities, which hark back to a bygone age when the great outdoors was considered the ultimate family tonic.

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From learning to skim stones to fossil hunting, exploring castles and forests reaching from Northumberland to Treyarnon Bay, ‘Winnie-the-Pooh’s 25 Simple Pleasures’ were named as:

1. Enjoying a fish supper on Blackpool Pier, Lancashire

2. Indulging in afternoon tea, Devon

3. Picnicking on the shores of Windermere in the Lake District, Cumbria

4. Rock-pooling in Treyarnon Bay, Cornwall

5. Camping in the New Forest, Hampshire

6. Marvelling at Stonehenge, Wiltshire

7. Getting lost in the maze at Hampton Court Palace, Greater London

8. Taking a stroll beside Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland and Cumbria

9. Boating day out on the Broads, Norfolk and Suffolk

10. Watching the puffins on the Farne Islands, Northumberland

11. Stargazing in Exmoor National Park, Somerset and Devon

12. Taking in the vista from the peaks at the Peak District National Park, Derbyshire

13. Trying to make the Queen’s Guard laugh at Buckingham Palace

14. Watching the changing of the Guards at Windsor Castle, Berkshire

15. Fossil-hunting on Brook Beach, Isle of Wight

16. Exploring the famous White Cliffs of Dover

17. Playing Pooh Sticks at 100 Acre Wood, East Sussex

18. Rolling down the hills around Corfe Castle, Dorset

19. Visiting a honey farm in Devon

20. Skimming stones at Holy Island, Lindisfarne, Northumberland

21. Picking blackberries on Box Hill, Surrey

22. Riding a narrow boat through the canal ways, Birmingham

23. Taking in the grandeur of Chatsworth House from the park, Chatsworth, Derbyshire

24. Seeking out the deer at Richmond Park, London

25. Admiring Bamburgh Castle from the beach, Northumberland

The poll reveals that dining alfresco is a firm favourite, securing the first three slots in the top 10. No fewer than four National Parks appear in the full list of 25, highlighting our appreciation for England’s green space. Of these, two made it into the top 10.

Negotiating the maze at Hampton Court Palace was the only activity from the capital to make the top 10, although making the Queen’s Guard laugh came close at number 13. Winnie-the-Pooh’s Hundred Acre Woodin East Sussex, the original destination for playing Pooh Sticks in A.A. Milne’s classic novel, was voted into the 17th spot, closely followed by another favourite activity Pooh would enjoy - visiting a honey farm at number 19. Overall, the South West of England came out on top as the area that offers the best opportunity to enjoy life’s simple pleasures, closely followed by the South East and the Midlands.

Nearly half of respondents claim their fondest holiday memories are from time spent in England, with having a picnic, taking a walk and building sandcastles coming out as the most memorable activities. Interestingly the research shows that kids today get outside almost as much as their parents did, with nearly 50% of families enjoying outdoors activities. Parents also highlighted just how precious quality family time is, with over a third saying they enjoy at least one family outing a month.

The ‘Simple Pleasures’ campaign was developed by and inspired by Winnie-the-Pooh to encourage modern families to enjoy the great outdoors whilst celebrating our great English heritage. The activities reflect the core themes in A. A. Milne’s best-selling books, which centre around a series of simple adventures for Winnie-the-Pooh and his close friends in the Hundred Acre Wood - including playing the game ‘Pooh Sticks’.

The top 10 have inspired a new illustrated guide for families featuring brand new artwork by Mark Burgess, who coloured the original E.H Shepherd Black & White art and the latest book ‘Return to the Hundred Acre Wood’. The guide is available to download for free from the VisitEngland website.

James Berresford, Chief Executive, VisitEngland said: “It’s great that respondents’ fondest holiday memories are from time spent in England and we are thrilled that Pooh’s simple pleasures can be experienced across the country. We hope the guide will inspire families to discover, explore and enjoy the best of England this bank holiday.”

Sarah Bates, Publishing Director, Egmont commented: “Winnie-the-Pooh shares many a simple adventure with his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood so he is the perfect character to remind us how to enjoy the simple pleasures that England has to offer.”

To download the guide, visit www.VisitEngland.com/WinnieThePooh

England’s top 25 “Simple Pleasures” inspired by classic Winnie-the-Pooh tales are revealed today in a guide featuring brand new illustrations.

Review: Disney Junior Play App

With so many apps to choose from, it can be tricky to pick one that's right for your toddler.
Disney have just launched the new Disney Junior Play app and we love it!
By we, I mean my three year old son, Jacob, and I.

Jacob's face lights up every time I let him play on it. We're big fans of all things Disney, so we were really excited to see this new app.

It doesn't dissapoint. Great for little fingers, easy to navigate, quick to launch, and lots of games included.

The new iOS app Disney Junior Play is home to Doc McStuffins, Sofia the First, Jake and the Never Land Pirates, and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Disney Junior fans can now get even closer to their favourite characters on the go through a variety of activities including fun games, engaging video-clips and a digital sticker book.

Jacob loves playing on the Disney Junior Play App

Jacob loves playing on the Disney Junior Play App

Free to download, Disney Junior Play comes with the “Disney Junior Favourites” pack, featuring four multi-level games and a digital sticker book featuring Doc, Sofia, Jake and Mickey. Additional packs based on Disney Junior’s smash-hit shows Doc McStuffins, Sofia the First, Jake and the Never Land Pirates, and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse are available to purchase from within the app, each containing four games, a short form video and a digital sticker book.

It's easy to create a simple profile, and little ones can easily navigate through the home screen and access the games. One of Jacob's favourites is popping the balloons with Mickey and Goofy.

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The games encourage creativity, the kids learn how to solve problems, develop dexterity and the app helps with hand-eye co-ordination.

You know how much kids love stickers! Well, stickers are rewarded and collected during gameplay and can be saved in the sticker book; each pack having its own character themed sticker book and 25 stickers to collect.

Disney Junior Play will definitely keep little ones busy with fun, challenging games. Jacob didn't need muy help while playing on it, and I am pleased beacuse there are no adverts within the game, so he can't accidently click on anything. Jacob didn't want to stop playing it!

The app is free to download and you get a good variety of games with the free app. I would recommend you buy the bundle which is currently £4.99, better value which will unlock 4 more parts of the game. Or you can buy them individually at £1.99 each.

These are the games you can buy extra:

  • Mickey Mouse Clubhouse 'Farmyard Fun'
  • Doc McStuffins 'Here to Help'
  • Jake and the Never Land Pirates 'Island Adventures'
  • Sofia the First 'A Royal Party'

Key Features:

  • 20+ games available, including;
  • Jigsaw puzzles to encourage problem solving
  • Catching games to reward fast fingers
  • Dress-up games to inspire imaginative play
  • Placement games to encourage logical thinking
  • Hide-and-seek games to reward observation skills
  • Three levels in each game
  • 25 digital stickers to collect in each pack
  • Catchy videos to watch again and again!
  • Supports up to four profiles, so each of your children can save their progress
  • Play anywhere, any time as all content works offline, including videos
  • No adverts so your child can play safely
  • In-app purchases are only available in the pin-protected store, so only an adult can access
  • Supports iPhone 4+, iPod 4+, and iPad 2+

Check out my video review and see the app in real-time.

Each pack features a set of adventures and stimulating play topics that transport kids into the world of their favourite Disney Junior characters; from helping Doc choose the right clothes for the weather to helping Jake and his crew design a sand castle for a pirate king.

Disney Junior Play has been designed to keep little ones busy with fun, challenging games that feature everyday themes, but while a lot of fun for kids, the app has also been developed with parents in mind.

Purchases within Disney Junior Play are both safe and secure with payments facilitated only after parents have correctly passed through the child-protection screen. Once within the store parents can browse and purchase additional character themed packs to add to their Disney Junior Play collection.  Each pack retails at £1.99, or can be purchased as part of a money saving bundle, all 4 games for £4.99

What are you waiting for, go an have a play on the Disney Junior Play app.
Available to download from the app store.

www.disney.co.uk

Disclosure: I was provided with the full app to review free of charge.

Father's Day gift guide: Ideas for what to buy your dad on his special day

If like me, every year you’re completely stumped on what to get for Father's day. Not just for your Dad, but also for your husband or partner from the kids... then I have a few ideas for you.

Each year we leave it to the last minute and end up sneaking out to the supermarket to the generic aisle of useless, novelty items that are just going to be shoved in the drawer or in back of a cupboard to gather dust, why not get something that he’ll enjoy and even be practical.

Don't forget Father's day is on June 15.

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Cool Clothing and Superior Smellies

TK Maxx Mens Accessories: Henleys Trunk Boxers (£9.99), Storm Aviator Sunglasses (£12.99) and Original Penguin Cap (£12.99).

TK Maxx have a great selection of men’s accessories either available to buy online or just browse and visit one of their 277 stores. With a wide selection of big names at affordable prices you’ll be sure to find something to suit even the most stubborn, unfashionable man! Examples here are the modern looking ‘Henleys’ cotton boxers at half price, cool and classic ‘Storm Aviator Sunglasses’ for under half price and stylish yet casual ‘Original Penguin Cap’ available in 5 different colours.

www.tkmaxx.com

Bad Boy Clothing: Walk-in Hoodie (£49.99) and Legacy II Camo Shorts (£39.99)

For the sporty dads ‘Bad Boy Clothing’ offer a broad range of training clothing and urban casual wear for all year round and modern dads will love the vibrant colours and extreme branding. With free delivery on orders over £30 and same day dispatch, you’ve no excuse leaving it to the last minute and getting him yet another Family Guy T-shirt from a supermarket that he won’t wear! Featured are the Legacy II Camo training shorts which are great not just for the Gym but would suit a wide range of uses including cycling or even just the beach and the ‘Walk-in Hoodie’ is not your standard hoodie but high quality with a striking embroidered logo to the rear.

www.badboy-uk.com

Gold JAY Z edt (£35), XANTHE Mens Urban Quickfix (£35) and Davidoff Cool Water (£27.99)

Now apart from Christmas, the best time to get some posh smellies for your husband is Father’s Day and let’s face it you're the one who has to smell him so why not get something you both like? Exclusive to Superdrug ‘Gold by JAY Z’ is a fantastic new eau de toilette launched by the rap legend Jay Z, spicy and rich this is no doubt a masculine fragrance but the ladies will love it too! Available online, ‘BeautyLab’ in Harley Street London make some high-end yet affordable male grooming serums and the ‘Xanthe Urban Quickfix’ is ideal for everyday anti-aging moisturizing with anti-oxidants and that all important UV sun screen. Finally if you’re really stuck on what smellies to get him, why not go for ‘Davidoff Cool Water’ from ‘The Fragrance Shop’? You can’t go wrong with this extremely fresh smelling moreish scent. Currently at a great price you even get a free luxury washbag and mini wash/balms.

www.superdrug.com
www.beautylab.co.uk
www.thefragranceshop.co.uk

Police ‘Voyager’ Watch (£99)

If you’re looking for a watch with character then what about this super timepiece from ‘Police’. The ‘Voyager’ model oozes retro yet contemporary charm. The rectangle brown watch face with chunky typeface is perfectly evocative of the 1970’s, with water resistant (5 ATM) and genuine leather strap it’s just the quality item you’d expect from this Italian designer-wear company.

www.policelifestyle.com

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Premium Drinks and Spicy Condiments

Delaforce Vintage Port 2007 (£27.99), Barolo Briccobergera 2009 (£18.99) and Rioja Reserva 2007 (12.49)

If the old man is seriously into his wines then take a look at the devilishly good fun ‘Rude Wines’ where they scour the earth finding wines that are different and exclusive delivered directly to your door. As these fine wines are meant for sipping not slurping don’t expect a cheap Beaujolais nouveau or Blue Nun, there’s nothing but quality here! Starting with roast dinner on Father’s Day the medium bodied ‘Rioja Reserva, Villa del Camino’ from Spain - fruity, spicy and hints of vanilla, this ruby red goes perfectly with lamb. Moving on to the cheese board, the fitting and little more expensive Italian ‘Barolo Briccobergera Piemonte’ is a beautiful full bodied yet subtle Garnet red which features orange highlights. Finishing off the evening it’s got to be Port and the ‘Delaforce Late Bottled Vintage’ makes a perfect gift, coming in a smart presentation box with two port glasses. This deep red Port is full of flavour, rich with plumb and berries and goes perfect with those late evening nibbles such as Stilton or Roquefort and fruit and nut chocolate, mmm!

www.rudewines.co.uk

Yamazaki and Hakushu Distiller's Reserve Japanese Whisky (£42 each)

You’d be surprised if not very knowledgeable on the subject of Whiskies and how many countries produce this famous spirit, Australia, Germany and India to name a few. Owned by the famous Suntory brewers and distillers and available from Sainsbury’s, these two Japanese Whiskies, ‘Yamazaki’ and ‘Hakushu’ single malts are great examples from Japans oldest distillers. The flagship single malt ‘Yamazaki’ is gold in colour with red berry and oak aromas alongside raspberry, peach and slight coconut on the palate with vanilla and hint of cinnamon to finish – if that doesn’t get you salivating nothing will! ‘Hakushu’ on the other hand is rather different. Distilled in the mountains and forests attributes to the freshness of this much lighter gold in colour whisky. Peppermint, melon and cucumber to the nose amidst citrus and thyme on the palate with a refreshing smokey finish. I think you’ll agree these sound fascinating and would be a talking point at any gathering.

www.sainsburys.co.uk

Round the World Chilli Tour (£35) and Borderfields Infusions Oil Sets (£10.99)

I’m useless with anything spicy and hot, I even had a korma which was too hot for me once, but we all know men and their love affair with chilli! ‘Sous Chef’ do a great tongue-tingling ‘Round the World Chili Tour’ package (free UK delivery) that includes 12 chilli based ingredients including Hot Texas Sauce, Sambal Oeleck Paste and the quite deadly Nag Bhut Jolokia Chilli Powder! With such a great array from Asia, Europe and the Americas there’ll always be something in the cupboard waiting to be added to Dad’s favourite dish. Another culinary idea for Dads is the’ Infusions Oil’ Set from ‘Borderfield’. Made from cold pressed rapeseed oil, this 125ml x 4 set contains the light & fresh Basil, Hot & Fiery Chilli, Fresh and Zingy Lemon and Warm & Aromatic Garlic. Furthermore to rapeseed having a lovely slightly nutty taste it’s full of a mix of omega oils, so good for your body too. Ideal on salads, pasta and meats. My favourite use for them is to bake a fresh loaf of bread and just simply use them for dipping oils with olives and cheeses, yum!

www.souschef.co.uk

Borderfields Infusions Oil Sets available from Amazon from 6th June.

Adnams 5l Mini Cask Twin-Pack (£31.98) and Kirin Ichiban Japanese Beer (£1.69)

Now that the weather is warming up (fingers crossed) and you fancy a BBQ on Father’s Day, Adnams do a selection of their tasty beers (stock subject to availability) in handy mini cask twin-packs to guarantee he won’t run out of his favourite ale! Each twin-pack contains 10 litres of beer which is equivalent to 17 ½ pints, great value for a premium beer at £1.80 a pint. Featured are 2 pale ales ‘Mosaic’ 4.1% abv made with mosaic hops, a fresh and fruity blonde and ‘Ghost Ship’ 4.5% abv a blend of American citrus hops and inspired by Adnams own haunted 600 year old pub, both ideal for sunny afternoons in the garden. If you’re a lager drinker then may I recommend ‘Kirin Ichiban’ 5% abv Japanese Lager. Being made only from the 1st pressing (other lagers are pressed more than once) giving you a sweet and very flavoursome beer, making it one of the world’s most expensively brewed beers and to enjoy Kirin Ichiban at its best try it superchilled with Sushi and Tempura.

www.cellarandkitchen.adnams.co.uk
www.kirinichiban.co.uk

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Marvellous Gadgets

Ruark R1 Tabletop DAB Radio (£179) and Maxell Retro DJ Headphones (£25)

With loads of brilliant radio stations, DAB radios have been a must in households for some years now. Early models looked cheap and dated and sound quality pretty naff too, not anymore! The splendid looking ‘Ruark R1’ not only looks great with its retro walnut veneer styling, but the radio housing acts like an amplifying speaker which certainly packs a punch for a small desktop radio. No complex buttons all over the place either, just one uncomplicated dial on top for easy navigation. The large display is crisp and easy to understand and with a light sensor, dims in low-lit rooms, with this and an alarm makes it also perfect for the bedroom. On the rear there’s auxiliary inputs so you can enjoy the superb sound of the R1 through your iPhone, additionally a headphone socket so you can’t annoy everyone with Jazz FM!

And what better way to listen through when you’re plugged in is these retro DJ headphones from ‘Maxell’. Available from QVC these very comfortable headphones have an amazing rich & full sound whilst blocking out any background noise. With the cable on just one side, tangling becomes a thing of the past and with a 6mm jack adaptor you can easily listen to multiple audio equipment.

www.ruarkaudio.com
www.qvcuk.com

Forge Steel 47 Piece General Tool Kit (£59.99) and Draper Ultimate Spanner Set (£39.95)

Fed up of bemoaning Dads that can never find their philips screwdriver or that he’s mislaid his tape measure? The ‘Forge Steel’ 47 Piece General Tool Kit from Screwfix not only keeps all his tools all in one place in a handy carry bag, but comes with all the general purpose tools he’ll need to my jobs done! There’s a great selection of good quality tools including 6 screwdrivers, utility knife, measuring tape, pliers and hacksaw to name but a few.

But if the men in your life have plentiful types of tools but never seem to have the right sized spanner then what else do you need but the ‘Ultimate Spanner Set’ from ‘Draper’, Ingeniously colour coordinated so you can quickly Identify what size you need, this 13 piece hi-torque, hardened steel set will last him a lifetime.

www.screwfix.com
www.drapertools.com

Seagate 2TB External Hard Drive (£59) and Netgear AC750 WiFi Range Extender (£64.79)

Is your PC full up of junk that you wouldn’t mind keeping but killing the performance of your machine, or are you paranoid that when your computer goes pop you’ll lose all those mp3’s and precious family photos? Then a ‘Seagate External Hard Drive’ from ‘Currys’ is definitely the answer. Much more affordably priced than they were a few years ago and now available with absolutely massive storage. Compatible with XP, Vista Windows 7 & 8 operating systems it stores data information in seconds via USB 3.0 cable by simply dragging and dropping. Also available in 500GB, 1TB, 3TB and 4TB models.

Another amazing product that’s not just essential for home PCs, laptops and tablets but smartphones too is the ‘Netgear WiFi Range Extender’ from ‘Amazon’. If you suffer from loss of WiFi signal in your home because of thick walls or lack of coverage upstairs, you just simply plug in this clever little box to boost the WiFi coverage all around your home and even the garden. There’s also a Ethernet port for you to plug in games consoles, smart TVs and bluray players.

www.currys.co.uk
www.amazon.co.uk

Roku Streaming HDMI Stick (£49.99) and One For All Tablet Remote Control (£59)

Can’t find anything to watch on TV? The ‘Roku Streaming Stick’ streams 500+ TV channels via the internet all through this marvellous little stick that you plug into your TVs HDMI input. With free channels such as BBC iPlayer, You Tube, 4oD and Facebook it’s worth it alone, but there’s all the top pay channels to like Netflix, Sky Sports and Now TV. You can either control Roku through a simple remote or an app through your smartphone which via Roku apps you can send music, videos and photos to your TV.

I think at the last count we had about ten different remotes for various devices, it’s ridiculous, but the war on who controls the remote is legendary in all households across the country! Make him feel special this Father’s Day by treating him to the ‘One For All’ Tablet Remote Bridge by ‘Nevo’. It turns you iPad or android tablet into a smart remote via a WiFi Bridge and a free downloadable app. Works with 1,000s of TV brands, this device is simple to set up you can personalise your tablet to suit his needs and with one simple control to watch a programme it will switch on your TV, select the right HDMI ports and turn on your amplifier, now that’s quite special.

www.roku.com
www.oneforall.co.uk

We take so many pictures of our kids, but what about mum and dad?

As I dived behind a chair at my daughter's 10th birthday celebrations, I began to think about how many photographs of our children we had taken in just a few short years. 

We almost have a flicker book from when they were born to present day. 

At my son's recent pre-school photograph, I was amazed that at 3 years old, the photographer took 2 shots of him and it was done. Not much coaxing or squeezing a noisy animal whilst jumping up and down behind the photographer and saying 'come on smile' was needed!

Kids are so used to having their pictures taken nowadays they aren't fazed by it. Which is ironic because with digital cameras you can take as many as you like, you only had 24 or 36 (which you could always squeeze a couple more snaps out of) pics you could take when I was young on a roll of film! Apologies if any younger people are reading this and have no idea what I'm talking about (I'm starting to feel old now). Have a look on Google!

I remember having my picture taken as a child, mostly by my Grandparents. My Grandma had one of those long thin cameras that had a tall flash that you slide on top of it, that looked liked a mini tray of ice cubes! We'd have to wait what seemed an eternity for the flash to be ready, it took so long, no wonder we had some corkers! She always managed to chop the top of our heads off which was a running joke when we had waited 2 weeks for the pics to be developed and at least one had a sticker over it saying it could be improved!

I have to say, my Grandma who has just gone 81 (don't tell her I said that, she will go mad), sends me a text at least once a week, so she has always been into modern things! She isn't on facebook, and I'd love to get her a little netbook to use it, she calls it faceache, and gets a bit annoyed because people find out things and see pictures on there before her and she was always the one to know what's going on first!

It's sad really as we never print out our digital pictures, when we had been on a family holiday when I was younger, the anticipation in waiting for the rolls of film to be developed and returned, then going to my grandparents houses and having an evening of showing those photos was a lovely thing to do. We don't do that anymore.

I love taking pictures of the kids, on my phone, with the small digital camera or my big digital SLR (still never had time to learn to use it properly).

I got a bit grumpy with my husband while on our daughter's birthday cinema and meal outing because he'd put a picture of me with our birthday girl and her friends at the cinema on to Facebook without me seeing it first! 

Thank goodness for Instagram sometimes, because to be honest, that's the only time I'd be happy with a picture of me being made public, if it had gone through one of Instagrams lovely filters, oh and taken from a height, so I have no chin, erm... and only my left side, and head and shoulders only, ok! 

I then started to think of how every time a photo opportunity presented itself, I would always say 'I'll take it, go on, you lot get together'. 

The reason for this was I don't like my photo being taken! 

This can depend on how I feel about myself that particular day.  

In the last 20 years, my weight has fluctuated massively, I have clothes in 8 different sizes!

You will find plenty of pics of me when I was smaller in size! 

It only occured to me at the latest get together, that my children won't have many/if any pictures of me when I'm not here anymore.

I know it sounds a bit of a morbid thing to think about, but I love to look back at old photos of my family, to bring back the memories to the front of my mind and step back in time just for a few minutes. 

So I really need to pull myself together and start having my picture taken more, no matter what I feel I look like! Somethings better than nothing, right? 

So here goes, the first step... here's a picture of me with my children, Jacob had chicken pox when this was taken!

Amber, Jacob and camera shy mummy!

Amber, Jacob and camera shy mummy!

I'd love to hear your thoughts. You can leave a comment below. Thanks.

Mad Blog Awards 2014

The MAD Blog Awards are the Mum and Dad Awards, they are the UK's biggest awards for parent blogs.

I am putting myself up for nomination this year *gulp*.

Our Family Life website is something I have been working hard on since last year, so it's fairly new.

I'm a full-time working mum, and along with my husband Mark (who blogs on here too), who's a stay at home dad (has been for 10 years now), and our daughter Amber (who is also getting the blogging bug), and our cheeky monkey of a son Jacob, we talk about all aspects of our family life.

We are the Jennings family

We are the Jennings family

This whole blogging business started almost 5 years ago. I work for a national newspaper, and one day we were asked if anyone wanted to write a blog. I said 'Yes I will', then asked 'What's a blog?'

I write family features/blogs on mirror.co.uk but don't be mistaken, I'm not a writer, I'm a blogger. I write in my own voice as though I'm telling someone a story over a cup of tea! I'm the Art Editor of The Sunday People so I design pages, I don't write the stories. 

As I got used to writing, I enjoyed it more and more. I decided to start our own website.

With the help of my husband, our daughter, and our son, we try and cover most things we get up to. From family days out to product reviews.

This is the first year I have put myself forward for the MAD Blog Awards and it is a little scary as the parenting blogging world is growing every year, and there are some amazing blogs out there. Every one of them done out of love, frustration, happiness, sadness and just because that's the life that's important to them!

This is the life that's important to me - my family!

I would love to be nominated as a newbie in the Best New Blog category. 

If you would like to nominate me click the link below and nominate away. I would really appreciate it!

Thanks for reading!

Adele x

MAD Blog Awards


Cooking with grandchildren, we try out one of Sherrie Hewson's new recipes

When I was young, I loved watching both my grandmas baking yummy treats. I have such fond memories of steam filled kitchens with delicious smells floating around the house.

I have a few recipes from my grandmas, an amazing Yorkshire puddings recipe from my grandma Shaw, and another is for meat and potato pie from my grandma Brearley. Using their recipes, they are perfect every time.

I think, if you are lucky enough to have a grandma, nana, nanny or a nonna (as my children call my mum), then it's great to cook with them.

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You learn so much cooking with your grandma, and just spending that bit of quality time with them is lovely.

Nowadays we always seem to be in a rush, clock watching, making sure the kids are in school on time, after school clubs, lessons, parties, or out with friends, that's before you've done the washing, sorted the house, and done everything else that comes with the mayhem of having a family.

Sherrie Hewson, has a new book out called Nana's kitchen, and it has over 100 family recipes for you to choose from.

I love Sherrie in ITV's comedy Benidorm, she has starred in some of the nation's favourite programmes including: Loose Women, Coronation Street, Crossroads and Emmerdale.

We had the perfect opportunity to test out one of her recipes when my mum, Elaine (nonna) and my grandma, Margaret (grandma great) came to stay with us for a few days.

My daughter Amber, 10, chose the recipe she wanted to make, and not surprisingly she went for the Crispy Crunchy Chocolate Popcorn Drops.

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Crispy Crunchy Chocolate Popcorn Drops

Making these is messy fun and not for the faint hearted - it's guaranteed to give you a cleaning-up job, but the kids love making them, so it's worth the effort. You can leave out the nuts if anyone is allergic. The popcorn drops are just as good without.

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Makes 24

  • 350g milk chocolate (use any flavour you like, or try chocolate caramel chunks), chopped
  • 120g toffee popcorn (or use 60g toffee popcorn and 60g plain popcorn
  • 240g chopped cashew nuts
  • Edible decorations of your choice
  1. Line a 24-hole mini-muffin tin with paper muffin cases.
  2. Melt chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring every 30 seconds.
  3. Place the popcorn and chopped nuts in a bowl and pour over the melted chocolate, stirring well until all the popcorn is evenly coated in chocolate.
  4. Place spoonfuls of the mixture into the muffin cases and, before the chocolate has chance to set, quickly add your decorations - sprinkles, mini marshmallows, chewy sweeties, small chocolate eggs... let your imagination run riot! Set aside until the chocolate has set.
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We had great fun making these and Amber loved licking the spoon!

As you can imagine, the whole lot had gone later that day with the help of my husband, Mark and our son, Jacob.

Grandma Great (Margaret), Nonna (Elaine) and Amber with the yummy chocolate popcorn drops

Grandma Great (Margaret), Nonna (Elaine) and Amber with the yummy chocolate popcorn drops

They taste yummy and they are so easy to make, and such fun!

Nana’s Kitchen by Sherrie Hewson is published by Macmillan, priced £20

Saying goodbye...

As I sit here and look at your peaceful sleeping face. I remember all the good times we had.

It's difficult to let myself get deep in thought as it makes me so upset when I do.

Just looking round the room we are in at the moment makes me have a lump in my throat.

We had such good times together.

Your smile as we walked in to your warm, welcoming, loving home every Sunday.

My much loved Grandma: Sheila Shaw

My much loved Grandma: Sheila Shaw

You loved having us all around to your house, your 'brood' as you called us.

I just keep staring at you, watching your chest move up and down, not knowing when it will do that for the last time.

Life can be so amazing and beautiful, but it can also be selfish and sad.

I know that we all have to die someday, but it's not a thing we like to talk about.

As I sit here in this chair, looking at you sleeping. I don't know what to expect.

I'm a little afraid, but I don't want you to be alone.

It's only when we face these kind of challenges in life, that we just stop and think for a moment, at what our life is like.

Yes, I like anyone else moan about things, but when it comes down to it, we are born into this world with nothing and we leave with nothing.

You are in the very end stages of Alzheimer's, and this is one horrible disease.

Bit by bit, the person I knew and who knew me so well, started to disappear.

That little bug eating away at your brain, is selfishly taking away the grandma I know and love.

How dare it, what right does it have to do that?

How can something so small, have such a massive effect on not only your life, but the life of your loving family around you.

I lean over the bed to talk to you, stroke your hair, hold your hand, and you are asleep.

As I am a need to know person, I try to read about what happens when we die.

I think I'm trying to make sense of it and trying to understand the process.

It's my birthday today. 

I'm so pleased to be able to spend it with you.

You have always been in my life, and I love everything about you.

Having to do a big swallow because one minute I'm ok, then the next I cry.

I cry at the thought of you not being here, the thought of not seeing your smiling face, the thought of never going back in time and doing the things I loved to do with you and grandad at your house.

I can see your life fading away, you are different today than you were yesterday.

So many things whizz through my mind, things from the past, the happy times, things now, watching you sleeping and wondering how long we have left with you.

To the immediate future and what is going to happen when you've gone.

Then the distant future and what my life will be like for me and my mum.

Will I be there same as you?

Will I get the same illness?

I've always been scared of dying, obviously the fear of the unknown.

Looking at you now, you look comfortable, serene, at peace in a warm bed, with people to care for you and loved ones at your bedside.

It is now my turn to make precious memories for my children.

If they have as good a memories as I had, then I will have done a good job!

I am very lucky to have been able to spend these last days with you, talking to you about times gone by, and all the lovely memories from my childhood made at your house.

Goodbye my beautiful grandma Shaw. 

Time to be back with the love of your life. My grandad is waiting for you.

See you in the morning for a cup of tea and some breakfast.

Rest in peace Sheila Shaw 1932-2013

Angelcare are recalling 600,000 monitors due to two strangulation deaths

In Canada, Angelcare Monitors Inc. is voluntarily recalling about 600,000 baby monitors following the death of two infants due to strangulation caused by the cord attached to the monitor's sensor pad.

© Consumer Product Safety Commission

© Consumer Product Safety Commission

Angelcare and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission have received reports of two infant cord strangulation deaths. In November 2011, a 13-month-old female died in San Diego, California, and, in August 2004, an 8-month-old female died in Salem, Oregon. In both fatalities, the cord from the sensor pads was pulled into the crib by the infant. In addition, there have been two reports of infants who became entangled in cords of Angelcare baby monitor models, which did not result in fatalities. In these incidents, it could not be determined if the “sensor pad cord” or the “monitor cord” was involved in the incident.
 
The recall involves the Movement and Sound Monitor manufactured by Angelcare. This design of baby monitor includes a unique sensor pad placed inside the crib, under the mattress, to monitor movement of the baby. An electrical cord about 11 feet long is permanently connected from the sensor pad to the nursery monitor unit. The hazard is created by a cord within reach of a baby inside the crib. The cord can be pulled into the crib and can wrap around the child’s neck. The recall involves all versions of Angelcare sensor monitors including model numbers: AC1100, AC201, AC300, AC401 AC601 and 49255 that did not include rigid cord covers, offered in the remedy. The model number is located on the back of the nursery monitor unit. The monitors were manufactured between 1999 and 2013.

© Consumer Product Safety Commission

© Consumer Product Safety Commission

Angelcare is providing consumers with a repair kit that includes rigid protective cord covers through which the sensor pad cords can be threaded, a new, permanent electric cord warning label about the strangulation risk, and revised instructions.
 
The recalled baby monitors were sold at Babies R Us/Toys R Us, Burlington Coat Factory, Meijer, Sears, Walmart, Amazon.com, Target.com, Overstock.com, and nearly 70 small baby specialty stores, from October 1999 through September 2013 for about $100to $300. 
 
Consumers should immediately make sure cords are placed out of reach of the child and contact Angelcare toll-free at (855)355-2643 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or visit the firm's website at www.angelcarebaby.com to order the free repair kit.

The dreaded words.. 'I'm afraid your son has bitten another child today!'

Oh dear!  

Today when I picked up our (soon to be 3 year old) son Jacob from pre-school, I wasn't expecting this...

'I'm really sorry to say but Jacob has bitten another child today. '

My face hit the floor.

As she is telling me this I have my son in my arms after greeting him with a big kiss and a cuddle, and he is constantly kissing my cheek, in a very cute but, I know I've done something wrong mummy, kind of way! 

I can't apologise enough, I say. She adds to my horror when she says it left a bit of a mark on the other child.

I look to Jacob who by this time is running around the class with a big grin on his face. 

Jacob looking like butter wouldn't melt!

Jacob looking like butter wouldn't melt!

'But he doesn't do it at home I protest', and I say I'll have a talk to him and say sorry once more. 

This is the second time he has done this! 

I leave feeling like the entire staff think I'm a bad mum after what my son did. 

As we leave pre-school and head home, he wants to be more independent by not wanting to hold my hand and to walk on his own.

Yeh right, no chance little man, as I tighten my grip on his little slippery like a snake hand. He's wanting to open the car door and climb in himself, all well and good but I have the sneaky feeling if I let go, he's going to make a run for it. Not good when you're near a main road! I let him be as independent as is safe and he's happy with attempting to climb into his car seat by himself.

When I fasten him into his seat, I say 'Did you bite someone at school today?' He looks right at me with his big blue eyes and says 'Yes, sorry mummy'. 

I then look at him and explain it's not very nice to bite other people and it hurts. 

I know he loves school (even though he's only been going since September, and only goes for three morning a week), so I say to him, 'You can't go to school if you bite people'.

I can see him taking the information in, so after my firm telling off, I leave him to think about it and we drive home in silence.

When we arrive home, as soon as I open the door to get him out, he says 'Sorry mummy' again. 

He is so different to our daughter Amber, who is seven years older than him. We never went through this with her. Our children have such different personalities.  Which is great of course, but this is new for my husband and I to cope with our little monkeys behaviour.

I can hear lots of mums and dads now saying 'It's just a phase, he'll grow out of it'. 

Let's hope so, very soon eh!

90 years of the Walt Disney Company

This week the Walt Disney Company celebrates 90 Years.

I love all things Disney and I've been a very big fan for as long as I can remember.

90 years on so much has happened, from the first feature length movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and the first theme park, to the creation of Disney Channel, Disney Cruises, and joining in ABC, The Muppets and Star Wars! Let’s not forget all the classic Disney Movies in between – The Lion King, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Toy Story, Monsters Inc, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Peter Pan, Tangled, Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast, the music, the rides, the shows, the stores, the magic!

What a great reason to post some pictures of well-loved Disney characters.

Timeline of the history of Walt Disney Company

October 16, 1923

Walt signed a contract with M. J. Winkler to produce a series of Alice Comedies — this date is considered the start of the Disney company first known as The Disney Brothers Studio.

September 5, 1927

Release of the first Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon, Trolley Troubles.

Steamboat Willie

Steamboat Willie

November 18, 1928

Steamboat Willie is released at the Colony Theatre in New York -- this marks the release of the very first Mickey Mouse cartoon, and the first appearance by Minnie Mouse.

January 13, 1930

Mickey Mouse comic strip debuts.

July 30, 1932

Flowers and Trees, first full-color cartoon and first Academy Award winner, is released.

June 9, 1934

The Wise Little Hen, the first appearance of Donald Duck, is released.

February 23, 1935

The Band Concert, the first Mickey Mouse cartoon in color, is released.

Snow White

Snow White

December 21, 1937

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Disney's first feature-length animated film, premieres at the Carthay Circle Theatre.

December 26, 1939

The Disney Studio begins its move to Burbank, California, from the Hyperion Studio in Los Angeles.

April 2, 1940

Walt Disney Productions issues its first stock.

November 13, 1940

Disney releases one of its highly regarded classics, Fantasia.

October 1, 1949

Walt Disney Music Company is formed.

July 19, 1950

Treasure Island, Disney's first completely live-action feature, is released.

February 5, 1953

Peter Pan, based on characters created by Scottish playwright J.M. Barrie, is released.

October 27, 1954

Emmy Award-winning Disneyland television show airs on ABC, starring Walt Disney.

July 17, 1955

Disneyland, the first Disney park, opened in Anaheim, California, to an invited audience on this day. The first guests were Kristine Vess and her cousin Michael Schwartner, ages 5 and 7.

October 3, 1955

Mickey Mouse Club debuts on television.

June 23, 1963

Enchanted Tiki Room opens at Disneyland, using the first Audio-Animatronics®.

 

Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins

August 29, 1964

Mary Poppins, the practically perfect tale directed by Robert Stevenson, about a magical English nanny, is released.

December 15, 1966

Walt Disney, the visionary whose pioneering spirit and inimitable creativity made the impossible possible, turning dreams into reality and building the foundation of The Walt Disney Company of today, dies at age 65.

December 25, 1969

The arena show Disney on Parade, in which costumed Disney characters put on lavish dance numbers, debuts in Chicago.

October 1, 1971

Walt Disney World Resort opens with the Magic Kingdom and two hotels near Orlando, Florida.

December 20, 1971

Roy O. Disney, who, with younger brother Walt Disney, co-founded the company that is now known as The Walt Disney Company, passes away.

March 22, 1975

Walt Disney World Village, a large outdoor mall with specialty shops all built by Disney designers, which later became Disney Village Marketplace, opens.

December 3, 1980

Tokyo Disneyland groundbreaking and site dedication takes place in Urayasu, just outside of Tokyo.

October 1, 1982

EPCOT Center, a major undertaking for Disney, costing in the neighborhood of $1 billion, opens at Walt Disney World Resort.

April 15, 1983

Tokyo Disneyland, the first international Disney theme park, opens in Japan.

April 18, 1983

The Disney Channel begins broadcasting with 18 hours of programming a day.

May 25, 1983

Fantasyland, one of the original lands of Disneyland, receives a complete remodel and opens to the public.

September 23, 1984

Michael Eisner and Frank Wells become chairman/CEO and president of Walt Disney Productions.

March 24, 1987

The agreement to build Euro Disneyland, later renamed Disneyland Paris, was signed in France.

March 28, 1987

The first Disney Store opens, in Glendale, California.

May 5, 1987

First Disney Dollars sold at Disneyland.

May 1, 1989

Disney-MGM Studios, later renamed Disney's Hollywood Studios, and Pleasure Island open at Walt Disney World Resort.

May 6, 1991

The Walt Disney Company joins the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

September 26, 1991

Hyperion Books, a Disney publishing company, releases its first book, Amazing Grace.

April 12, 1992

Euro Disneyland, the first Disney theme park in Europe, which was later renamed Disneyland Paris, opens.

April 18, 1994

Beauty and the Beast, the first Disney Broadway show, opens in New York.

June 15, 1994

The Lion King opens to a limited audience in Los Angeles and New York and nationwide on June 24, 1994.

December 5, 1994

Disney Interactive, a division first intended to develop, market, and distribute cartridge games and CD-ROM software, is formed.

May 22, 1995

Disney agrees to purchase 25 percent of the California Angels baseball team from Gene Autry.

July 31, 1995

Disney agrees to purchase Capital Cities/ABC for $19 billion.

September 1, 1995

Disney Online, a division of Disney Interactive created to develop The Walt Disney Company's online presence, is formed.

October 1, 1995

The Disney Channel begins operation in the UK.

January 4, 1996

Shareholders approve the Disney merger with Capital Cities/ABC.

February 9, 1996

Final FCC approval and filing of merger documents completes the Capital Cities/ABC acquisition.

February 22, 1996

Disney Online launches Disney.com.

July 17, 1996

Disney announces plans for Disney California Adventure park in Anaheim.

November 18, 1996

Radio Disney, a live 24-hour music-intensive radio network, debuts.

March 28, 1997

Disney’s Wide World of Sports, a professional-caliber sports complex at Walt Disney Word Resort that was later renamed ESPN Wide World of Sports, opened to the public.

November 13, 1997

The Lion King stage production opens on Broadway.

March 23, 1998

ESPN Magazine debuts.

April 22, 1998

Disney’s Animal Kingdom opens at Walt Disney World Resort.

July 30, 1998

Disney Magic cruise ship departs on its inaugural cruise.

March 31, 1999

Disney completes the purchase of the Anaheim Angels.

August 15, 1999

Disney Wonder sets sail on its maiden voyage.

September 29, 1999

Euro Disney announces plans to build Walt Disney Studios theme park in France.

February 8, 2001

Disney California Adventure park opens at the Disneyland Resort, in Anaheim, California.

September 4, 2001

Tokyo DisneySea opens at Tokyo Disney Resort in Japan.

October 24, 2001

Disney acquires Fox Family Channel and renames it ABC Family.

November 1, 2001

Disney acquires Baby Einstein, a company that creates products that bring the arts and humanities to babies.

December 5, 2001

100th anniversary of Walt Disney’s birth.

March 16, 2002

Walt Disney Studios theme park opens in France next-door to Disneyland Paris.

May 22, 2003

Disney sells the Anaheim Angels.

May 15, 2004

Disney acquires the Muppets properties and Bear in the Big Blue House.

June 15, 2005

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts launches Adventures by Disney.

September 12, 2005

Hong Kong Disneyland opens.

October 1, 2005

Robert A. Iger becomes president and chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company.

October 12, 2005

Disney is first to license TV episodes, from ABC and Disney Channel series, for download on Apple’s iTunes Music Store.

February 9, 2006

Disney re-acquires Oswald the Lucky Rabbit from Universal.

March 14, 2006

High School Musical becomes the first full-length movie to be sold via digital download, on Apple’s iTunes Music Store, followed by theatrical features in September.

May 2, 2006

During its 50th anniversary celebration, Disneyland welcomes the honorary two-billionth guest to visit a Disney theme park.

May 5, 2006

Disney acquires Pixar Animation Studios.

September 12, 2006

Disney feature films are made available on iTunes.

August 1, 2007

Disney acquires Club Penguin, a virtual world for kids.

February 13, 2009

Disney XD, a new cable network, launches.

March 10, 2009

D23: The Official Disney Fan Club launches.

April 22, 2009

Disneynature label launches with the release of Earth.

December 31, 2009

Marvel Entertainment joins the Disney family.

January 26, 2011

The Disney Dream makes its maiden voyage.

April 7, 2011

The Walt Disney Company officially breaks ground on Shanghai Disney Resort.

August 29, 2011

Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, Hawai‘i, opens to guests.

March 23, 2012

Disney Junior, a 24-hour stand-alone television network, launches in the U.S.

March 31, 2012

The Disney Fantasy makes its maiden voyage.

December 21, 2012

The Walt Disney Company completes its acquisition of Lucasfilm Ltd. LLC – the global entertainment company founded by George Lucas and the home of the legendary Star Wars franchise.

For more than nine decades, the name Walt Disney has been preeminent in the field of family entertainment. From humble beginnings as a cartoon studio in the 1920s to today's global corporation, The Walt Disney Company continues to proudly provide quality entertainment for every member of the family, across America and around the world. To learn more about the history of The Walt Disney Company, click through the timeline below.

When Adele met Fabrizio Petrossi, one of the Disney illustrators

90 years of the Walt Disney Company

How lovely that Kate is breastfeeding baby George

I was so pleased to hear that new mum Kate Middleton is breastfeeding baby George. What a special bonding time for them, getting to know this new little person.

Hopefully this will be a great influence for mums-to-be on the subject that everyone has an opinion on. The debate on breast versus bottle has been one that has been running for years. At the end of the day, mum knows best. All babies are different, and so are all mums. Not everyone can breastfeed and we need to remember that.

I hope Kate breastfeeding gives inspiration to mums who hadn't even given it a second thought, to maybe give it a try.

It brings back memories of my own experience with my two children.

Anyone who has had children will tell you their experience. And my mum always told me, listen to that advice and filter out the bits that are relevant to you.

I am not part of the 'Breastapo', but I am very proud that I breastfed both my children. It wasn't an easy thing to do in the beginning, in fact, it was a real struggle.

Me feeding baby Jacob

Me feeding baby Jacob

For all new mums this is not an easy task. Both mum and baby have to learn this new skill and with the emotional rollercoaster you are on in the first few days it can be overwhelming.

Kate has a fantastic support network, and every new mum wants their own mum to be near, so I'm not surprised she is staying with her parents in Buckleberry.

Their decision to not give George a dummy is not a surprising one. A midwife told me when I had my first child, Amber, that when you are trying to establish breastfeeding, if you give your baby a dummy, the baby can become confused with the different shape and it can hinder a good start to feeding. So best to avoid one.

My first child, Amber, who I breastfed for 10 months, ended up having a dummy from about 6 weeks old, whereas my son, Jacob, who I breastfed for 16 months, wouldn't take to one, he preferred his thumb!

The health benefits for mum and baby when breastfeeding include: the infant having fewer chest and ear infections, and they are less likely to become obese. Let's not forget that it's free, something Kate doesn't have to worry about and it's always at the right temperature. Mums milk is rich in nutrients and antibodies to protect your baby.

And for Kate: lower risk of getting breast and ovarian cancer.

It's really lovely that William is on hand to help Kate out. And great to see him as a modern dad. I was very impressed that he smoothly clipped the car seat into it's base (good idea to use an Isofix base), and that he drove his new family home.

My husband, Mark, is a stay at home dad, and he gave up his job when we had our first child. And thank goodness he did. He would make me food and drinks to keep my energy up while I got used to feeding. I don't think I could have done it without his help.

In the first days of having a very hungry baby that needs feeding roughly every half an hour, that's pretty much all Kate will be doing.

For me, yes it was painful in the very beginning, but that soon went as we both got used to it, yes I had to have an endless supply of breastfeeding pads, as everytime my baby cried it was like turning on a hose pipe, and yes it was tiring, but it was well worth it.

What an exciting time for them.