Tag Archives: activities

A Frugal Bank Holiday Challenge

A Frugal Bank Holiday Challenge

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, the Bedlam Clan battled with The Frugal Bank Holiday Challenge.  Their allies were blinds-supermarket.co.uk      Valiantly they faced the task, which was to survive a Bank Holiday without succumbing to the forces of Being Absolutely Skint.

This is their story.

(You have to imagine this text on a scrolling screen, filled with stars)

The Bedlam Clan woke early and  got into their spaceship….erm car, and set a course for a Star Wars Fan Fun Day.  On arrival, they were confronted by an army of Storm Troopers and a queue of intergalactic proportions.

Darth Vader and his minions tried to arrest Sausage but he escaped!

Darth Vader and his minions tried to arrest Sausage but he escaped their clutches!

They tried to use Jedi skills to get in without paying: “‘This is not the £6 per adult and £3 per child’ you are looking for.”  Sadly they were immune to their powers, and the Galactic Credits were reluctantly handed over.

The Bedlam Clan dodged their adversaries narrowly escaping arrest.

The Bedlam Clan dodged their adversaries, narrowly avoiding arrest.

Princess Kay thought that some of the Storm Troopers needed a good bath to be honest.

Storm Troopers are too tough to use soap and water.

Storm Troopers think that soap and water are for wusses.

The Jawas kidnapped the younglings!

Dastardly Jawas tried to sneak away with the younglings.

The Dastardly Jawas nearly ran off with them.

Slightly shaken, but by no means beaten, the Bedlam Clan proceeded to the Star Wars Fun Day.  Having fought their way through the queue, they snook in through the entrance, carefully checking for guards.

Sausage swung his light sabre, left to right; jumped up and down like a space-kangaroo and laughed in the face of danger and a really weird looking tin can thing.

Sausage swung his light sabre, left to right; jumped up and down like a space-kangaroo and laughed in the face of danger and a really weird looking tin can thing.

Darth Vader used The Force, sadly they were powerless to resist. £20 changed hands for an autographed photograph of him.  Princess Kaye tried to object, but Count Dookoo held her back.

Princess Kay: 'We must not give Darth Vader £20 worth of galactic credits, he'll only spend it on asthma inhalers and cheap booze!'

Princess Kay: ‘We must not give Darth Vader £20 worth of galactic credits, he’ll only spend it on asthma inhalers and cheap booze!’

It was no use, Darth Vader took the hard earned cash and retired to the Cantina to fleece even more unsuspecting Jedis.

Tall and intimidating, Darth Vader strode through the crowds, signing autographs and wheezing.

Tall and intimidating, Darth Vader strode through the crowds, signing autographs and wheezing.

Princess Kay and her entourage darted through the crowds, ducking, diving and weaving.  Stalls sold space-sweets, tiny action figures, posters, autographs, models, lego, anything and everything….including Dr Who memorabilia which confused the young Jedi greatly.  Briefly they were distracted by refreshments.

‘Two quid for a hot dog?!’ Horace Sky-Walker was shocked, but the Younglings were starving and in need of nutrition.  Again, galactic credits were surrendered

The battle against Absolute Skintness was looking hopeless, would the Bedlam Clan survive?  They thought they had found an escape, a Millennium Falcon would get them out of there wouldn’t it?

Only £150 including, 12 months MOT.  Unfortunately it was only a very small model and they were unable to fit in it.

Only £150 including, 12 months MOT. Unfortunately it was only a very small model and they were unable to fit in it.

Eventually, they had to admit defeat.  Princess Amidale met them as they left the Star Wars Fun Day, she reassured them that at least they had lived to fight another day and then gave Princess Kay some great hints and tips on how to make really, really excessively frilly floaty white dresses, which was nice.

Apparently net curtains are very useful.

Apparently net curtains are very useful.

The Bedlam Clan returned home to walk the Wookie, erm….dog.  They had an epic Star Wars themed day and vowed to return in 2015.

*Many thanks to blinds-supermarket.co.uk for allowing us to take part in the Frugal Bank Holiday Challenge*  :O)

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Make Tracks to the National Railway Museum This Half Term!

Make Tracks to the National Railway Museum This Half Term!

NRM

The National Railway Museum is hosting nine days of Big Fun with Little Trains this February half term.

From 16- 24th February, the National Railway Museum is hosting a free nine day celebration of toys and model trains.  Visitors of all ages will be enthralled  by the range of little locos from children’s pedal trains, to rides on indoor and outdoor miniature railways* that the whole family can enjoy.

miniature trains

Children will be able to get hands-on in the museum play areas and enjoy rides of all shapes and sizes.  Meccano and Lego workshops and the G-Wizz garden railway (complete with grass, plants and its own water feature) will add to the fun.  Family friendly model layouts will be on display and visitors can take part in a Chuggington(C) challenge to stack your track as high as possible.  As well as the toy train fun, visitors can enjoy the regular school holiday activities including explosive science shows, turntable demonstrations and rides behind a real steam engine*.  The 100 year old signal school, used to train would-be signallers, will also be open for visitors to marvel at.

Chuggington

As well as taking part in the wide range of activities on offer across the museum’s enormous site, visitors can also explore the Warehouse to discover an intriguing array of model railway objects including a model railway that is so small it fits into a banjo case, and a collection of model railway vehicles which boast a Guinness World Record for being the largest collection made by one person.

Trains again

Zoe Roberts, Public Programme Developer said:  ‘With this February set to be freezing, parents who are desperate to get out of the house with the kids should make tracks to the National Railway Museum!  We have a range of fun activities to keep children and their parents entertained throughout half term and all under one roof!  Big Fun with Little Trains opens on 16th February.’

* Small charge may apply.

  • The Museum houses a Guinness world record holding collection – the largest collection of model railway vehicles built by one man.  James Peel Richards’ dedication to model building led him to construct 610  model railway vehicles during his lifetime.  His aim was to build the entire LNWR fleet of locomotives, carriages and wagons as they would have appeared on one day on the railway.
  • The National Railway Museum in York has the largest collection of railway objects in the world and attracts over 700,000 visitors per year.
  • The National Railway Museum’s collection includes over 300  locomotives and rolling stock, 628 coins and medals, 4899 pieces of railway uniform and costume, railway equipment, documents, records, artwork and railway photographs.
  • The National Railway (I feel like a parrot here….) houses a world class collection of Royal trains, which includes a collection of Royal carriages, from those used by Queen Victoria to Queen Elizabeth II.
  • The National Railway Museum’s (Squark!) vast art collection comprises of 11,270 posters, 2,358 prints and drawings, 1052 paintings, and 1,750,000 photographs, many of which have never been on public display.
  • The National Railway Museum (flaps wings a bit) forms part of the Science Museum Group along with the Science Museum in London, the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) in Manchester, the National Media Museum in Bradford and the National Railway Museum in Shildon.
  • Admission to the National Railway Museum is free.
  • For more information visit nrm.org.uk
  • Follow them on Twitter HERE.
  • Join them on Facebook HERE. 
  • This is a sponsored post.  Can you tell?

Sensational Sequins – Galt Toys

Sensational Sequins – Ponies!

 from Galt Toys

Galt Toys sent me a kit called Sensational Sequins which has been a huge hit with my daughter who even went so far as to say ‘This is the best craft thing you’ve ever been sent mum!’  So there’s a recommendation for you!  Darlek doesn’t mince her words and could just as easily have turned round and said ‘Mum this is crap!’ but she didn’t.  She really, really liked this!

This is what the ‘Sensational Sequins – Pony’ set looks like.

Pink Ponies and Sparkly Sequins!

…and this is what it looks like once the packet has been opened.

Nice uncomplicated equipment! Two pictures to complete, one wax crayon sequin applicator, and five different coloured packs of sequins.

The top picture is white because it still has the paper covering over it, the bottom one has had half of the paper removed so you can see the picture and the colours more clearly.

You see, this kit works on stickiness.  It could even have been called ‘Sensational Sticky Sequins!’ but I suppose that’s a slightly less sparkly kind of name.

The method is very straightforward and Darlek needed barely any instruction at all.  The pictures come with a paper layer that you peel off in ready cut sections revealing a picture underneath, covered in different coloured sticky circular spots.  Next you take your wax crayon, dab it on a sequin which automatically picks it up via static (or magic, I’m not sure which), and then you attach your sequin to the appropriately coloured sticky spot.  Pink sequin on pink circle, purple sequin on purple circle for example.

It’s like doing cross stitch without the cross or the stitching, or paint by numbers without the paint or the numbers.  That is the best way I can describe this kit.  The process is so simple, so easy, and so effective!  I’ll be honest, I’ve spent a while this evening trying to find grown up versions of sequin art because I want a go myself.

The paper is removed in sections so you can rest your hand on something that isn't going to stick to you. Very clever!

Sensational Sequins isn’t over fiddly and doesn’t contain equipment that looks flashy but doesn’t do anything much – it’s really downright practical.  I did wonder at first if the pen was unnecessary, but it does genuinely help you to aim the sequins more accurately.

Sausage desperately wanted to play with the shiny sequins. You might want to store them in little egg cups maybe as they stick to everything!

The only thing that was even slightly negative was that some of the sequins weren’t cut accurately, as in they were slightly misshapen.  On a picture like this where each sequin is placed separately in its own space, this did stand out a little.  A couple of the sequins had also lost their colour too, probably due to being swished around in the box a lot while being made, transported and packaged.  A really tiny point, but I just thought I’d make it because I’m awkward like that.

A Sensational Sequinned Pony! Darlek completed this in about 40 minutes which was brilliant.

If craft projects take too long to complete a lot of kids lose interest.  As far as I can tell Galt Toys have very neatly come up with activities that take an optimum amount of time for the age group they are catering for.  The only thing I wonder about now, is how long the sequins will stay on for.  I suppose if carefully stuck on the wall it will be a couple of months or so.

I’ve been very impressed with Galt Toys and their products so far, they really do seem to care about the quality and practicability of their crafts and toys.  If you’re looking for birthday presents or easter presents, or just something to occupy the kids on days when you need to hide in the kitchen and eat easter eggs without them hassling you – I do recommend their products, and that’s not just because they’ve sent me toys, it’s because they’re good at what they do.  Or at least I think they are.

Sensational Sequins – Ponies costs £5.99 and can be found HERE if you’d like to buy your own.

Galt Toys sent me this Sensational Sequins – Ponies kit to review, no other financial reward was given.  :O)

A Drizzly Day Out at Cliff Castle!

A Drizzly Day Out at Cliffe Castle!

This is going to be a quick blog full of photos because my poor ikkle fingers are too tired for typing and my brain is giving up on me.   ‘Flibble.’  There’s the proof.

Today the kids and I went for a day out to Cliffe Castle in Keighley.  I have to say it was an ‘interesting’ day out.  If I look at it from one angle, it was lovely.  Quality time with the kids, running around in the castle grounds with flowers everywhere, looking at cute bunnies and guineapigs in their enclosure, ice-creams and laughs.

A field full of wild flowers!

Humungous Bunnies and Squeaky Guinea-pigs!

Looking at the trip from another angle – we spent rather a lot of time in the loos dealing with awful, sometimes very smelly, accidents – why, oh why will my son not be toilet trained!  Sausage refused to put his coat on and when I tried to make him put it on, he hit me several times with the stick he was carrying (which was nice).  It rained intermittently and I had the headache from hell for a while.  I have resolved to A) Toilet train Sausage NOW, B) Ban all sticks, C) Carry paracetamol at all times and D) Adhere to points AB & C or risk admittance to the funny farm by the end of the summer hols.

I have no idea about the names of these plants, but they carpeted some of the flower beds and looked so pretty!

But at least we were out!  I don’t want to get to the end of the summer hols and feel like we’ve wasted the time.  Even if it was pretty stressful every now and then, we were out of the house and doing something interesting and different.  I think Darlek learnt a bit about bees (they have a bee-hive there you can see into), and about history.  Sausage learnt that if he hits the rabbit enclosure railings too much mummy yells at him.  I learnt that I need to take more pairs of pants for Sausage out with me or suffer the consequences.

The see through bee hive! I thought the reflections looked amazing with the bee backdrop.

A lion hide preserved at the museum. Looked like it would still bite given half a chance.

Darlek was an absolute angel in comparison.  If I didn’t have her to back me up sometimes I think I’d go mad.  Often I’ll end up in stupid yelling matches with Sausage – yes I know that’s not an ideal parenting method -and she’ll just calmly go up to him and persuade him to give up his daft, ‘I will not move’ or ‘I’m just going to stand here and wet myself’ campaign by cuddling him or making him laugh.  My daughter has a knack that I do not have I think.  I should learn from her example I think.  Six years old and she’s already got so much sussed about life. I have a lump in my throat now.

A velcro nature scene, the kids could stick the bees and other animals on the scene wherever they liked. Brilliantly tactile!

Anyway! They had an an ‘Ancient Wisdom’ (2nd July to the 5th September) activity thing set up in the main hall which was perfect for kids.  Lots of interactive displays describing about how the Egyptians developed the use of keys and locks, about how the screw principle can be used for drainage, how aquaducts are made and many more topics were covered too.  Sausage and Darlek loved it and threw themselves into the activities.   I suspect Sausage was a bit puzzled though, at one point he looked up at me and said ‘What is this place, I don’t know what it is?’.  I think he expected a castle with ramparts and stone staircases etc.  To be honest, I’ve never really understood this either, it’s called a ‘Castle’ but is most definitely a museum. (entrance is free by the way if anyone is thinking of going)  and if you’d like info on the place, please click HERE.  (this is not a sponsored post by the way)

An example of two of the stuffed birds they have in their display cabinets. Just imagine the skill that went into preserving them and presenting them in such a life-like manner!

This was only one part of a huge embroidered vista of life from the beginning to the current day. Really amazingly detailed!

Here’s a few pictures of the day’s activities.  It’s funny how much nicer and calmer it all looks in retrospective!  It was actually fun when I think about it.  I think I’m just too tired to think about it too much.  In fact I may fall asleep before I finish posting this.  Maybe I’ll just curl up in this chair and…..

So, a drowsy conclusion.  I don’t think I’m cut out for this parenting marlarkey sometimes, but I’m/we’re in it for the long haul.  I reckon the summer hols are a challenge for most mums so I’m not on my own I hope in feeling a bit over-wrought with it all.   I tried my best, there’s not much more I can do.  I hope my little trouble bubbles enjoyed the day out, despite the occassional bit of bickering.

A sunny Sunflower in the gardens!

I bought Darlek a ring at the gift shop, a beautiful little silver coloured ring shaped like a flower with what I think is called a Moodstone (probably a completely different official name) in the centre of it.  She said she will keep it forever and ever because she loves it so much.  We agreed that it would always remind her of her day out at Cliffe Castle and I said that I hoped that every time she looked at it, she’d remember that I bought it for her because I love her so much.  Is that a silly sentimental thing to say?  Probably, ah well.

‘Ice Lollies!’

Ice Lollies!

Use a tray! We ended up with orange juice all over the side....

Evening all!  Finally I’ve got around to posting about the ice-lollies I was on about earlier in the week! It was just a lovely, simple way to spend 20 minutes or so with my youngest, and we had fun so I thought I’d share the photos and the recipe (If you can call a Pineapple, and a splash of orange juice a recipe?).

The weather has been so muggy recently, and ice-lollies are really refreshing and if you make them with fresh fruit they’re actually healthy too.  I have to confess I’ve used leftover flat Coca-Cola for lollies in the past, but as Darlek says, they taste nice at first and then they just end up as icy water with nothing much else to them – plus Coca Cola isn’t known for building strong bones or teeth is it! (Go on, mutter under your breath about caffeine and sugar content…you know you want to.)

Anyway, to make amends for my bad lolly parenting I made these.  First of all I got a Pineapple (it was going cheap at our local green-grocer because it was very ripe, perfect for juiciness and chopping up).

Totally Tropical!

Next I chopped the husk (is that what it’s called?  Answers on a postcard please) off, and the spikey top.  I gave Sausage a very, very blunt knife and the very ripe pieces to chop up on a tray of his own, and went about dissecting the majority of the pineapple myself, although Sausage obviously thought he’d done the lion’s share of the chopping himself, and who was I to disillusion him?  Please note, sharp knives and small children do not mix.  Use common sense, lots of supervision and do the chopping yourself if you’re at all unsure if your little one is old enough to handle anything remotely stabby.  I did warn you!

Stuff fruit and juice into the lolly moulds, squish to to your heart's content to fit in as much as possible!

Next pour fresh orange juice in until the moulds are full to the brim.  Beware over-enthusiastic pouring.  We had an orange juice flood to contend with!

Whoosh goes the orange juice! The less full the carton, the easier it is to pour by the way.

Then simply add the tops, and place in freezer whilst aforementioned child strops because he want to ‘eat now!’ and doesn’t want to wait for them to freeze.

We left ours for a full day to freeze properly, although I’m sure you can eat them sooner than that.  The great thing is you can adapt this basic recipe as you wish as well, use different sorts of juices and  mix and match your fruit maybe?

You can buy lolly moulds for next to nothing in pound shops and supermarkets all over the place, just make sure you buy ones that are the right size for your freezer shelf!  It’s also a good idea to buy two sets of moulds like these, so that you can make the most of your ingredients.

Nom-nom-nom!

I just thought I’d blog this because I know I’m feeling a little nervous about the long summer hols and how I’m going to occupy my two.  I just thought it might be an idea for anyone stuck for an afternoon’s activity.  By the way, if anyone else would like to share simple, cost effective recipes or activities that involve a minimum of preparation or equipment, I’d be glad to hear them!  Not that I’m lazy or anything….