Mediocre Mum http://mediocremum.com UK Parent and Lifestyle Blog - Travel | Kids Tech | Slow Cooking Tue, 01 Dec 2015 08:07:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.4 Lapland here in the UK! http://mediocremum.com/2015/12/lapland-uk/ http://mediocremum.com/2015/12/lapland-uk/#respond Tue, 01 Dec 2015 07:34:41 +0000 http://mediocremum.com/?p=7479 I think we are now at the stage of my daughter no longer believing in Father Christmas or really close, she hasn’t said anything directly but I have a sneaking suspicion she may no longer believe.  She’s a rather bright kid, but also very honest so I think she may be a bit torn and […]

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I think we are now at the stage of my daughter no longer believing in Father Christmas or really close, she hasn’t said anything directly but I have a sneaking suspicion she may no longer believe.  She’s a rather bright kid, but also very honest so I think she may be a bit torn and has worked out that if she doesn’t believe that means one less present.

Earlier in the year, as I know time was against us I had a look around the net for trips to Lapland as I felt it would be our last time to experience the magic with her.  Unfortunately, it was simply too expensive for us so I shelved the idea.

So when, we were offered the opportunity to visit Lapland UK, apparently the next best thing but here in the UK, I jumped at the chance.  However, the first thing I did was have a look to make sure it wasn’t one of the Crap-lands, Blunder-lands or Rip-Off Lands that were in the news last year; with brawling Elves, Fag Smoking Santa and poorly treated Reindeer and Huskies.

The Real McCoy

I can assure you this is the real one.  All in all it was very well organised.  We travelled down to Whitmoor Forest, near Bracknell Forest from St Albans, Herts and it took less than an hour and only made one wrong turn, it could have been better sign posted from the M3.  There was ample parking and we arrived in plenty of time.

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After grabbing a much needed coffee, we signed in and got ready for our tour.  The Elves were great and kept in character throughout.  The overall decoration and ‘sets’ were beautiful and did transport you to a magical place.   The snowy tree lined paths really did make you feel like you were in a Winter Wonderland.

What to Expect

The whole experience takes approx 3.5 hours, to be honest I thought it was going to be less.  The tour starts in the Enchanted Forest where you meet a rather old Elf and Ekko and learn that Elves come from Pine Cones.

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You are then ushered into the Elves Toy Workshop where the children help out Father Christmas as he wasn’t anticipating so many good girls and boys and is short gifts this year.  Children set to stuffing bears and putting together wooden horses.  Then it’s off to Mother Christmas’ kitchen to make a Gingerbread houses and listen to a story.  You can probably guess which story it was….. ‘you can’t catch me, no one can’……

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At this point you get an opportunity to break away from the group and had about 90 minutes to ourselves before making our way to the big guy in a red suit, we grabbed some food in the restaurant and for this type of venue, it was decent and reasonably priced.  Did a spot of ice-skating, some of us were more wobbly than others, visited the Sweet Shop, stroked the huskies, visited the iron-mongers and posted a letter to Father Christmas.

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An Private Audience with Father Christmas

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The visit with Father Christmas at the end was very special, the fact he knew the children’s names, their interests and a recent event, may have persuaded these two 8 year olds to believe for one more year.  I may have taken a sneaky photo before being told off for doing so.

Things we liked:

  • Personalised invites from Santa prior to the event
  • Location and organisation
  • Beautiful scenery
  • Cheeky Elves
  • Insider knowledge from Santa
  • Good quality toy from Father Christmas albeit another soft toy.
  • Thank you cards from Father Christmas

Things that could be improved:

  •  I appreciate they have to get a huge number of people through each day and have to coordinate timings to keep the flow going, but did feel a bit like cattle at times and there was a fair amount of time spent waiting.
  • The skit by the older Elf and Ekko in the beginning could be improved as it seemed to go on for a bit and felt like it was purely to fill time.
  • As my mate said ‘Mother Christmas was a bit cr*p’.  This will secure her a place on the naughty list.
  • Allowing families to take their own photos with Santa, instead of being pressured to buy one of the commercially taken ones on the way out.
  • Like many other people who have commented on trip advisor, it’s expensive.  For the four of us to have gone it would have cost us approx £280 (£70 each) and in the run up to Christmas this is out of reach for most families.  Yes, it is cheap in comparison to the real Lapland, but does shut out a lot of families.
  • Introduction of a reduced family ticket.
  • For that price, a mince pie and glass of mulled wine for parents on arrival would be a nice touch.

However, overall we had a lovely day but probably wouldn’t pay that kind of money ourselves.

Thanks to Lapland UK for the once in a lifetime opportunity.

 

 

 

 

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Zuccotto Panettone and Ricotta Cake http://mediocremum.com/2015/11/zuccotto-panettone-and-ricotta-cake/ http://mediocremum.com/2015/11/zuccotto-panettone-and-ricotta-cake/#respond Mon, 30 Nov 2015 14:29:51 +0000 http://mediocremum.com/?p=7468 Festive Food Swap Baking is not my strong point and for anyone who knows me baking with kids stresses me out; flour everywhere, egg shells in the batter and sugar on the floor. So, when we were asked to take part in Tesco’s Festive Food Swap, which encourages people to try different tastes from around […]

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Festive Food Swap

Baking is not my strong point and for anyone who knows me baking with kids stresses me out; flour everywhere, egg shells in the batter and sugar on the floor.

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So, when we were asked to take part in Tesco’s Festive Food Swap, which encourages people to try different tastes from around the world, I was secretly pleased the Italian recipe I received, from Giulia Mulè,  was more of an assembly job rather than a full on baking experience, no need to even preheat the oven.

The Festive Food Swap  was also a great opportunity to introduce my daughter about different Christmas Traditions from around the World.  She was intrigued by ‘Befana’, a friendly witch who delivers sweets and toys on the 5th of January instead of Father Christmas.

We were asked to make a Zuccotto Panettone and Ricotto Cake, which is a traditional dessert from Florence, Italy.  It seems that, it’s a good way to use up all of the left over Panettone after the Festive Season.  I have to admit, it felt rather strange cutting up a perfectly good cake to make another one.

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We had a lot of fun putting it together and narrowly avoided using the wrong size bowl, no idea why I was thinking in inches, a 16 inch layered Panettone Cake would have been massive.

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I’ve had a look on Google and ours seems to look like it should so we were happy.  However, I have to be honest, I’ve never been a lover of dried fruit and don’t tend to eat a lot of chocolate or puddings in general,  so it wasn’t to my liking, but you could definitely taste all the different flavours and can see the a ‘peel’.

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I think my daughter was put off by the Marsala wine (Fortified Italian Wine) even though it took Google, a Tesco Employee and myself to find it, she obviously doesn’t take after her mother who would never turn her nose up at wine.

It’s starting to look a lot like Christmas!

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Thanks to Giulia and Tesco for the opportunity.

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Personalized Gifts for Kids from TinyMe http://mediocremum.com/2015/11/personalized-gifts-for-kids-from-tinyme/ http://mediocremum.com/2015/11/personalized-gifts-for-kids-from-tinyme/#comments Tue, 17 Nov 2015 13:00:49 +0000 http://mediocremum.com/?p=7451  Win a £40 Voucher to Spend at TinyMe I do love the personalized gifts for kids on TinyMe.co.uk.  They have everything from bags to stationery to clothing to name labels.  We got one of their duffle bags a couple of years ago and it’s still going strong, my daughter uses it for her PE kit, […]

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 Win a £40 Voucher to Spend at TinyMe

Personalized Blocks

I do love the personalized gifts for kids on TinyMe.co.uk.  They have everything from bags to stationery to clothing to name labels.  We got one of their duffle bags a couple of years ago and it’s still going strong, my daughter uses it for her PE kit, the amount of stuff they need in primary school is nuts; including indoor and outdoor kit plus two pairs of shoes. Goodness knows how we remember everything each week. We also often use it for weekends away, squashes nicely in the boot of the car

Personalised Gifts for Kids.

The lovely folks at Tinyme are offering my readers a chance to win a £40 voucher to spend on some of their goodies.

Sandwich Bags

Whilst I was writing this post, instead of doing my work, I had a really good look through their site and am loving the reusable sandwich bags, no more fighting with plastic bags or the roll of clingfilm in the morning.  I guess you just turn them inside out and give them a good wipe.

Personalised Journal

 

My daughter is a bit of a magpie when it comes to Stationery, which I think is true about a lot of girls here age.  Apparently, you can never have enough diaries/journals.  One of her favourite things to do when her friends come around is to do a bit of diary writing, goodness knows what they write in them, but I do here a lot of giggling going on.  Tempted to get her a personalised journal for Christmas.

Free Christmas Printables

I also noticed that they have an entire section of FREE printables including some for Christmas, the activities are rather swish unlike a lot of the naff printables you get on line.  I love FREE!  I’m definitely going to do a few of them with my daughter in the build up to Christmas.  However, I have a sneaking suspicion mine won’t look like theirs.

Enter to Win!

To enter the competition simply use the rafflecopter form below.  Competition Ends on the 1st of Dec, UK residents 18+ only.  The full Terms and Conditions can be found on the bottom of the form.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I should probably get back to work!  Good luck and thanks for joining in.

This competition is listed on Loquax, Prize Finder and Competition Hunter.

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Ski Lessons for Kids in the UK http://mediocremum.com/2015/11/ski-lessons-for-kids-in-the-uk/ http://mediocremum.com/2015/11/ski-lessons-for-kids-in-the-uk/#comments Mon, 09 Nov 2015 11:17:30 +0000 http://mediocremum.com/?p=7436 Things to do during the school holidays near St Albans During October Half-Term we had the opportunity to go to The Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead, we’ve been skiing there before and we had a sledging party for my daughter’s 6th Birthday a couple of years ago.  As a Canadian I was impressed with the […]

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Things to do during the school holidays near St Albans

During October Half-Term we had the opportunity to go to The Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead, we’ve been skiing there before and we had a sledging party for my daughter’s 6th Birthday a couple of years ago.  As a Canadian I was impressed with the quality of snow, pretty close to the real stuff.

As we live in St Albans, the Snow Centre is normally less than 20 minutes  away by car.  Unfortunately, on this occasion, the main road in was closed due to an ‘incident’.  Luckily,  we were able to find our way around the incident and weren’t too late.  We were actually on time but left us with less time to get kitted up – skis, boots, poles and helmets were included in the lesson.  You can also hire clothing if you don’t have any of your own.

Ski Lessons in Hemel

This made it a bit stressful as I hate being late.  However, the staff were excellent helping us get organised and calmed me down, it took 3 trips to the ‘clothing department’ to get the correct size snow trousers and two to the ‘equipment section’ to get the right size boots, which was not a fault of the Snow Centre and my daughter did wait till she had her boots on to tell us the trousers were too big.  Grrr!

Being half-term it was rather busy but it was all very well organised and flowed, after check-in you were guided to an area to meet your instructor and get ready.  It did look chaotic but it really wasn’t.

Fun for all ages

We had an adults lift pass and a private lesson for our daughter.  My 67-year old mother was visiting from Canada at the time, so we had to decide which one of us got the lift pass.  Coincidently she taught me to ski as a child, my first skis were 110cm and we did toy with the idea of sending her.  However, in the end, as she was only going to be with us for a week and we hadn’t seen her in 15 months, we didn’t think we should risk an injury, so we sent my hubby in the end.

Ski Practice in the UK

It’s like riding a bike…….

The ski hill is split into two sections, those who are proficient can whizz up and down on the left and the group and individual lessons happen on the right.  So hubby went off to the left, while our daughter went off to the right for her lesson and we went upstairs to watch from the viewing platform.  It’s been awhile since my husband has been skiing and he said it didn’t dawn on him till he got to the top of the drag lift that he may not remember how.  Secretly, I was hoping for him to bail so I could get some good photos, sadly he didn’t.

Skiing Lessons for Kids near London

My daughter’s instructor was lovely and patient.  She had our daughter going up the learner slope in minutes, she used great analogies like pizza slices to introduce her to turning and the snow plough.  She did spend a lot of time on her bum but had a brilliant time and as soon as she came off the slope, she asked if we could come again.

How to teach kids to ski

Après Ski

We finished of our visit with a bit of Après Ski in the Lodge Bar, where you are transported to Austria with a great selection of authentic Austrian dishes or a few of your favourites.  The prices were reasonable, great view of the slopes and fantastic atmosphere.

Apres Ski at Hemel Snow Centre

Food at the Lodge, Hemel Snow Centre

I think if anyone is considering a ski holiday or looking for something to do during school holidays, I would definitely recommend a trip to the Hemel Snow Centre.  You can book lift passes and lessons online or follow them on Facebook for deals and news.

Now your chance to win!

Hemel Snow Centre Family Lift Pass

The lovely folks at the Hemel Snow Centre are offering my readers a chance to win A family lift pass, 2 adults and 2 children, any time in the next 12 months.

To enter simply use the Rafflecopter form below.  The full Terms and Conditions are at the bottom of the form, but in short it’s open to UK residents 18 years and older.  The winners would have to be at recreational standard, or the value can be put towards a lesson.  Competition closes on the 1st Dec 2015.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This competition is listed on Loquax, Prize Finder and Competition Hunter.

 

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Win a £40 Bouquet of Flowers from Debenhams http://mediocremum.com/2015/10/win-a-40-bouquet-of-flowers-from-debenhams/ http://mediocremum.com/2015/10/win-a-40-bouquet-of-flowers-from-debenhams/#comments Mon, 12 Oct 2015 11:32:01 +0000 http://mediocremum.com/?p=7426 Gynaecological  Cancer Awareness Month Sept 2015 was Gynaecological  Cancer Awareness Month and there was some excellent campaigns running.  If you have an Instagram account you may have come across the hashtag #ladygardencampaign, which was a partnership between Top Shop and the Gynaecological Cancer Fund, a new charity with monies going to support research at the Royal […]

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Gynaecological  Cancer Awareness Month

Sept 2015 was Gynaecological  Cancer Awareness Month and there was some excellent campaigns running.  If you have an Instagram account you may have come across the hashtag #ladygardencampaign, which was a partnership between Top Shop and the Gynaecological Cancer Fund, a new charity with monies going to support research at the Royal Marsden.

The Campaign received a lot of celebrity backing with the likes of Ellie Goulding and Elisabeth Hurley donning jumpers with ‘Lady Garden’ boldly emblazoned on the front.  And the Duchess of York, Fergie lending her support at a Lady Garden Luncheon.

Cancer Awareness Sept 205

The main aim of the campaign hopes to encourage woman to talk more about their bits and become aware of what the symptoms of  Gynaecological Cancer are.  Unlike Breast Cancer and Skin cancer, where physical changes can be detected;  lumps, dimples, discharge, change in moles etc, many of us are not aware of what to watch out for when it comes to the Big 5 Gynaecological Cancers.  Click on the image for more information.

Gynaecological Cancer Awareness
Picture Courtesy of CDC

I thought I would take the opportunity via this Flower Competition to remind my lady friends how important it is to attend regular Cervical Screenings.  It’s not the most pleasant thing in the world, and I can think of a zillion other things I’d rather do,  but early detection is the key to successful treatment.  Most woman don’t get screened before it’s too late and are not diagnosed till stage 4.  With cancer there is no stage 5.  50 Woman a day in the UK are diagnosed with some form of Gynaecological Cancer.

‘too busy to attend her screening and now admits that not going for her smear test is one of her biggest regrets.’  Jenny Croston a 38 year old mother of two

Hopefully this prompts at least one of you to book your screening today.

 

It’s Give-away Time!

Now it’s your turn enter for a chance to Win £40 to spend on any bouquet from Debenhams Flowers.

Next Day Flower Delivery

Whether you want to send flowers to a loved one, treat yourself or simply cover up the fact you’ve forgotten a special occasion at the last minute, Debenhams Flowers is definitely the destination of choice.  I recently used their Flowers Delivery service and can highly recommend, I wasn’t sure what I wanted, left it up to them and they put together a gorgeous bouquet for me, and if you’re also short on time they do a Next Day Flowers delivery service as well.

Debenhams Flowers are kindly offering one lucky winner to win a £40 voucher to spend on a bouquet of your choice.

If you want to be in with a chance of winning, simply enter the competition via the Rafflecopter Form below.  Full terms and conditions can be found at the bottom of the form.  In short, open to UK residents 18 and over. Closes on the 1st Nov 2015.

Good luck.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Debenhams Flowers, www.debenhamsflowers.com 

This competition is listed on Loquax, Prize Finder and Competition Hunter.

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Short Family Breaks in North Norfolk http://mediocremum.com/2015/09/short-family-breaks-in-north-norfolk/ http://mediocremum.com/2015/09/short-family-breaks-in-north-norfolk/#respond Tue, 29 Sep 2015 16:03:22 +0000 http://mediocremum.com/?p=7404 ‘You either get Norfolk, with its wild roughness and uncultivated oddities, or you don’t. It’s not all soft and lovely. It doesn’t ask to be loved.’  Stephen Fry Where to stay? We were invited, along with our dog, to Forest Park Holidays in North Norfolk, near Cromer. It’s only 2.5 hours from London, if you […]

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‘You either get Norfolk, with its wild roughness and uncultivated oddities, or you don’t. It’s not all soft and lovely. It doesn’t ask to be loved.’  Stephen Fry

Where to stay?

We were invited, along with our dog, to Forest Park Holidays in North Norfolk, near Cromer. It’s only 2.5 hours from London, if you get a clear run. We had the option of camping or staying in one of their holiday homes.  We’re intrepid campers but as it was the end of September and temperatures were likely to drop in the evening and in the mornings we plumped for a caravan.  The holiday homes are very well kitted out; double glazing, flat screen TVs, sleeping for 6, an en-suite, plenty of outdoor seating and sea-views from some parts of the park.

The site itself is rather vast you can walk for about 15 mins without leaving the site.  However, unlike other caravan parks, where you have 100s of static caravans lined up in a field, the site has gentle rolling hills and is surrounded by forest which results in much smaller more naturally attractive clusters of holiday homes.  There’s also an onsite bar/restaurant, games room for the kids, outdoor play equipment  and an indoor heated pool.  The camping facilities also looked impressive.

Things to see and do

We were absolutely blessed with the weather, we had booked into Pensthorpe Natural Park  and Hootz House, which is an indoor play centre that brings the outdoors inside, on Saturday morning, but as the sun was out and we were expecting temperatures in the region of 18 degrees, it would have been criminal not to go to the beach.  The Beach, in Overstrand, was only a 15 minute walk from the Holiday Park.  As the tide was out we decided to walk to the pier in Cromer which was only about a 30 minutes by foot.

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Food and Drink

It was the best decision, after grabbing a quick ice-cream we meandered down the pier, luckily we’d thought ahead and had brought a crabbing net with us, but if you find yourself short, you can buy everything for a spot of Crabbing at the RNLI gift shop, including Mackerel,  at the end of the pier.  And to my great delight there was a bar on the pier and if you put your lager in a plastic glass you could go anywhere on the pier with it!  Beer, Sea and Sunshine! Result!

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Catch and release!

 

 

As we were in Cromer it would have been rude not to have crab sandwiches, before grabbing a quick taxi back to Northrepps, which was less than a fiver and they were more than happy to accommodate our dog.

On Saturday Night we treated ourselves to a meal at the Sister Hotel to the Caravan Site,  Northrepps Cottage Country Hotel, it was less than a 10 minute walk through the woods, but make sure you take a torch, as the return journey after a few Gin and Tonics and possibly some red wine could prove difficult.

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Edible Flowers! ‘Mummy they taste a bit off!’

 

On Sunday, we decided to make a small detour on the way home, to revisit Salthouse where we stayed at Christmas.  The staff at the Holiday Park were incredibly friendly and helpful, when we mentioned we’d be heading west along the coast, they suggested we stop at the newly opened Rocky Bottom Cafe, originally built in the 1800s as a brick kiln, which is situated between Cromer and Sheringham.

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If you find yourself in the area, it’s a must, fresh local seafood with a stunning view.  It is owned and operated by husband and wife, Richard and Alison.  Richard has been a local fisherman for 35 years using a traditional double-ended crab boat, he goes out every other day and upon his return he boils the crabs and lobsters and Alison dresses them all.  You don’t get much fresher than that.

That was my third trip to North Norfolk and I have definitely fallen in love with it and will be returning as soon as we can for another family holiday.

 

 

 

 

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Family Camping Checklist:  What should we take? http://mediocremum.com/2015/08/family-camping-checklist-what-should-we-take/ http://mediocremum.com/2015/08/family-camping-checklist-what-should-we-take/#respond Wed, 26 Aug 2015 14:08:39 +0000 http://mediocremum.com/?p=7392 Just sitting here thinking of a couple of friends who have gone camping for the first time with their kids, the weather couldn’t be worse for them this week.  We’ve text a few times, the gazebo has collapsed in the wind, a tarpaulin has taken flight and they’re currently hiding in the Children’s Play Barn.  […]

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Just sitting here thinking of a couple of friends who have gone camping for the first time with their kids, the weather couldn’t be worse for them this week.  We’ve text a few times, the gazebo has collapsed in the wind, a tarpaulin has taken flight and they’re currently hiding in the Children’s Play Barn.  Bless them, but their spirits don’t seem to be ‘dampened’.  Hopefully it brightens up for them this afternoon.

Camping in the Uk when it's raining

This year we were incredibly lucky, we went camping for a total of 14 days in a row, taking in 4 camp-sites (Hurley Riverside, Wo Wo, Stubcroft Farm and Eweleaze Farm) and only had two days of rain which is a miracle in the UK.  We normally go to Canada every summer and this is the first time in 7 years we didn’t, the flight prices just got too much, hence the extended camping trip.  Personally, I love camping, I can sit by a fire drinking beer and my daughter gets a chance to be a ‘kid’ running feral with all the other children on the site.

We love Camping!

 

We are fairly well kitted out for camping and have most things.  Anyone who is in to camping knows it’s all about the gear.  In some ways, mostly financial, it’s a good thing we are limited on space in our car.  I’ve been quite skilled at ‘Car Boot Tetris’ which is similar to ‘Fridge Tetris’ which I play at Christmas.

However, if you’re thinking on embarking on a Family Camping Trip there are a few essential items you should put on your check-list, that will make it more enjoyable.

 10 Things You Need to Take Camping

Corkscrew Bottle Opener – it’s now acceptable to buy wine with a screw top but if you get caught out, it’s not impossible to get one with a cork open without a corkscrew, if you have a tree and a tea towel, but it does make it a lot easier.  You can also get a beer bottle open with a cigarette lighter or if you’re my Auntie she can do it with her teeth, but again, it’s easier with a small bottle opener and costs less at the dentist.

Camping Essential Corkscrew

 

Can Opener – I really wish I could find my Swiss Army Knife then getting into a tin would be a doddle.  However, if you think a bit ahead and try to buy tins with a ring pull you won’t face this conundrum.  I also try to buy pre-sliced buns etc.

Bungee Cords – I swear the people that manufacture tents and sleeping bags have seriously warped senses of humour.  Stuff sacks!  You are kidding me.  Apparently, we have an over-sized tent bag, if over-sized bag means it just fits without the zipper bursting open then they would be correct.  We carry a couple of spare bungee cords which allows us to cinch the tent a bit tighter so we can get it back in the bag with minimal arguments.  Plus, they are great for make shift clothes lines etc.

Bungee Cords for Camping

 

Insulated Coffee Mugs – Beer o’clock is a moveable feast when camping but until then it’s coffee for me.  Boiling a kettle on a camp stove can take ages, especially if you watch it, the Insulated Coffee Cups, first reduce the chance of spilling and lets you enjoy the coffee before it’s turns into an Iced Cappuccino.  These ones have a narrower base so they fit in the cups holder in the car.  And when you are all coffeed out you can sneak a beer into it, no one will be the wiser, and it stays cooler longer.

Insulated Coffee Mugs

Rock Pegs – when you first buy a new tent, check out the pegs if they are the thin ones with the hook at the top, throw them straight in the bin, they are completely useless and after a couple of whacks with a mallet (see below) they bend and are rendered completely useless.  This is one of my biggest pet peeves.  Rock pegs can penetrate the hardest and rockiest terrains.  However, they can be a bit tricky to get out but you don’t have to worry about your tent or gazebo taking flight.

Tent Pegs for Hard Ground

Mallet  – we are now the proud owner of three mallets;  a wooden one, rubber one and a plastic one.  When I first opened the plastic one, I really thought it would shatter after trying to hammer in the first rock peg, but I was pleasantly surprised at how strong this Tent Peg Mallet was.  The best bit about it is the other end can be used to pull out the stubborn rock pegs with a bit of persuasion and on occasion levering.

Tent Peg Mallet

Bin Liners – take a whole roll if you can, they are great for dirty laundry, make shift rain ponchos, covering wet chairs, wrapping up wet boots and of course for rubbish/recycling.

Dry Shampoo – Face it!  Showers don’t tend to be brilliant at campsites and on occasion you may have to queue for one.  So, if you miss a day or three, a blast of dry shampoo can fool you into thinking you are slightly less filthy.

Walkie Talkies –  prior to this camping trip we bought a set of Walkie Talkies for our daughter, thinking we could keep one with us and track her down if need be.  However, I found another use for them…. scaring the h*ll out of other kids on the camp-site, you can scan for their frequency, then the fun begins.  No, I did not say things like ‘I’m watching you’.  Hours of fun!

Solar Powered Fairy Lights – there are no real reasons to cover your tent and gazebo in Twinkly Lights but they’re soooooo pretty and if you have a few too many beers, you can always find your way back from the loos in the dark.  Not bad for highlighting evil tripping Guy Wires (or is is Guide Wires?) in the dark.

Camping Fairy Lights

I’m sure there is a few things I have left off the list.  What are your must have camping essentials?

 

 

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What to take camping for your dog? http://mediocremum.com/2015/08/what-to-take-camping-for-your-dog/ http://mediocremum.com/2015/08/what-to-take-camping-for-your-dog/#comments Mon, 24 Aug 2015 15:20:36 +0000 http://mediocremum.com/?p=7382 We’ve just returned home from 2 weeks of camping in the UK, we tried out 4 different sites which I will write about soon.  In October last year we got a dog, so we find camping perfect for us as a family.  I can sit in a field and drink beer, my daughter can run […]

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We’ve just returned home from 2 weeks of camping in the UK, we tried out 4 different sites which I will write about soon.  In October last year we got a dog, so we find camping perfect for us as a family.  I can sit in a field and drink beer, my daughter can run feral with other kids and our dog gets to spend loads of time with the family and outdoors.

Camping with a dog

A lot of campsites will allow well-behaved dogs, we did find that some do charge a bit extra, but it’s a lot cheaper than putting them in kennels while you’re away.  However, the majority of sites will require you to have them on a lead at all times, which is understandable as they can get into all sorts of mischief.  This is our dog on the naughty step after nicking Prosecco from another site.

Camping with pets

We did find a couple of sites that had areas (paddocks) to run your dog and a few dog friendly beaches.  You might also want to check that certain breads are not banned from sites as we did see this as well.

We’ve taken our dog camping a few times now and these are a few things that we recommend that you take with you.

13 Things to Take Camping for your Dog

Folding Crate and Bedding:  We have a folding canvas crate that he sleeps in at home, it folds down flat so easily slips in on top of our camping gear in the car.  The crate is not only a safe and familiar place for them but can also keep them secured at night.  We also found that he used it during the day to get some rest but do be careful if you are blessed with good weather as tents, like cars can get incredibly hot.  Also take their bedding as temperatures can drop at night.

Ground Peg, Flexible Lead and a Karabiner:  As they will be on the lead a lot of the time I would recommend getting a ground peg and a flexible lead, this gives them a bit more freedom.  We find the easiest way to attach them is using a large Karibiner, which will also come in handy when you get home.  We use ours a lot in pubs and parks.

West Wittering Beach with Dogs

Dog Shampoo:  After two weeks our dog started to get a bit smelly, but to be fair so did we, in hindsight we wish we would have brought his dog shampoo with us.  He also went into the sea a few times, a local farmer claimed the sea water is good for parasites etc, but I can’t imagine it would feel nice.

Food and Water:  This one is fairly obvious but do take enough food for the time you will be away, especially if they tend to have a brand that is not readily available in all stores and store in a water proof tub to avoid soggy food and other animals getting into it.

Travel Water Bottle:  As mentioned before we do take food and water for him, depending where you are a lot of places will have water bowls for dogs but not always.  We tend to keep a travel water bottle in the boot of the car at all times.

Towel:  Definitely take a towel that is dedicated for the dog, unless you fancy sharing yours with your pooch.

Poo Bags:  Take a plethora of poo bags with you, you can never have enough.  Plus, they also come in handy for other things.

How to camp with dogs

Tennis Ball and Ball Thrower:  These don’t tend to take up a lot of space and are an excellent way of running your cooped up dog when you get a chance.

*Warning!*

The only downside of taking an adorable dog camping is that you will have every other kid at the camp-site at your pitch from morning till night, but it was a great way for our daughter to meet other kids.

Did I miss anything?  If so, please do leave me a comment.

 

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Summer Holiday Camps for Kids http://mediocremum.com/2015/08/summer-holiday-camps-for-kids/ http://mediocremum.com/2015/08/summer-holiday-camps-for-kids/#respond Wed, 19 Aug 2015 09:14:33 +0000 http://mediocremum.com/?p=7377 Outdoor Holiday Activities for Kids near St Albans I really didn’t think this one through.  On Sunday we arrived home after two weeks of camping; playing in the woods, tenting it and building fires.  So, when I checked my diary and realised I had booked my daughter in for a Bushcraft Survivor Course with Wild […]

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Outdoor Holiday Activities for Kids near St Albans

I really didn’t think this one through.  On Sunday we arrived home after two weeks of camping; playing in the woods, tenting it and building fires.  So, when I checked my diary and realised I had booked my daughter in for a Bushcraft Survivor Course with Wild Child Activities first thing on Monday morning, I wasn’t sure how she was going to take it, but she absolutely loved it.  It probably helps that she is obsessed with Bear Grylls.

Summer Holiday Camps near St Albans

Wild Child Activities is based at Phasels Wood Activity Centre in Kings Langley (near Hemel Hempstead).  They do an exciting selection of Holiday Activities for kids 7+ including Archery, Animation, Fencing and Residential Camps for kids 8 and over.  I’m all up for getting kids outside. Upon dropping her off, I was rather impressed with the facilities.  The Centre is set in 95 acres of rolling meadowlands, woodlands and fields in Hertfordshire.  It’s only 20 minutes from St Albans, access is via Kings Langley and the return journey takes you along the A41.

I’ll leave the 7 year old to tell you more about it.

So how was it?

‘It was really good.’

What did you do?

Forest School for Kids

Water Filtration

‘We roasted marshmallows, made dens and then played games.  We had to try and clean water by ourselves.  We got a trouser leg and one big pot of clean water, they asked us to put mud in it and all stuff icky like leaves, we had a tipi thing and we tied the leg of the trouser to it, we then tied a knot in the bottom of the trouser leg and we poured the dirty water in it and clean water dropped out of the bottom of the leg.’

Games

‘We played a game of Man Hunt which was different to normal.  Two teams go off and hide and then they have to try and spot each other without getting spotted first.  If you are spotted you lose.  It’s a good game.  We played 4 rounds.’

Den Building

‘We were given a piece of rope and a sheet, so then we had to try and make a den, we could use all the materials that were all around us in the woods but we were not allowed to pick things off the trees.’

How come there were so many adults?

‘Two teams always stick together, there are three adults.  Two of them go into the woods and one stays with each team and the third stays at the base camp getting the fire and everything else ready for when we came back.’

Would you do it again?

‘Yes, because I enjoyed it and I found it interesting.  My favourite bit was playing the games, because we got to go into all the parts of the wood except the boundary line.’

How many kids were there?

‘There were 10 children in the group.’

Did you meet some nice kids?

‘Yes, I was the youngest and the oldest person was 10 or 11.  I worked well with another little girl, we worked as a team when playing Man Hunt and Den Building.’

Residential Camps for Next Year

We will definitely be looking to book more sessions next year.  I’m particularly interested in the Residential Camps but she won’t be 8 years old for a few weeks.  The Residential Camps include two full days of outdoor adventures and Bushcraft Activities and an overnight stay in a Bell Tent Village.

Summer Camp for Kids

We had the opportunity to stay in a Bell Tent during our Camping Trip and fell in love with them.

 

 

 

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Have you ever tried to walk with a broken flip flop? http://mediocremum.com/2015/07/have-you-ever-tried-to-walk-with-a-broken-flip-flop/ http://mediocremum.com/2015/07/have-you-ever-tried-to-walk-with-a-broken-flip-flop/#respond Tue, 14 Jul 2015 09:43:52 +0000 http://mediocremum.com/?p=7365 I have done some challenging things in my time, running 3 half marathons, climbing Mt Kinabalu (the 2nd highest mountain in South East Asia) and of course giving birth.  But have you ever tried to walk with a broken flip flop? It was one of those days, we needed to take the dog for a […]

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I have done some challenging things in my time, running 3 half marathons, climbing Mt Kinabalu (the 2nd highest mountain in South East Asia) and of course giving birth.  But have you ever tried to walk with a broken flip flop?

It was one of those days, we needed to take the dog for a walk as we were going to be out for a few hours.  We tend to go to the local park and let him have a paddle in the river, so my daughter planned her footwear carefully, or so I thought.  She decided on a cheap pair of Jelly Shoes.  We got half way down the road and then had to come back, to change them as they were hurting her feet.  I’m not surprised.

We eventually got to the park, then sadly there was a slightly grumpy grandfather of three who obviously would rather I didn’t let my dog off the lead to splash in the river.  So, we admitted defeat and started for home.

 

This is when my flip flop broke…..

Flip-flop malfunction in the park help I’m stuck!

Recommended Flip Flops for Corns

 

This isn’t the first time this has happened to me.  Once it happened in a pub but we had some duct tape and taped it to my foot so I could get home.  However, being at the local park I did not have any on me.

The Best Flip Flops for Corn Sufferers (IMO)

‘Beach shoes are an excellent solution – flip-flops that have a thong for each toe are marvellous at restoring correct functioning in the foot  and toe.’ – via the Daily Mail

I won’t go into too much detail about my dodgy feet, but I do have a corn on the ball of my right foot, which makes walking barefoot excruciating.  It feels like walking on a golf ball.  I do get it treated regularly but it does tend to build up again.  Anyhow, I had to circumnavigate the gravel paths and cobblestones, nearly making me break down in tears.  In the end, I had to call hubby to come and rescue us in the car.

I was absolutely gutted that I broke my favourite pair of LuLu Fit Flops, which I bought last year and wear all the time, as they are one of the only ones I can wear comfortably.  They’ve a comfortable toe piece and a very thick spongy foot bed, which accommodates my dastardly corn.

Flip Flops for Corn

Luckily, I have a spare pair of Reef Flip Flops. Up until the weekend I hadn’t worn them a lot, but found them just as comfortable.  The toe post is soft, so none of that first day flip flop pain. The straps are lined with an ultra soft lining, plus they have a built in arch support to support my rather flat feet and the suede foot bed allows me to walk virtually pain free.  They are a bit more casual than my Fit Flops and couldn’t wear them to work but they are perfect for a day at the Lido.

 

 

 

 

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