Family Christmas Activities at the Science Museum, London

If you’re stuck for things to do over the Christmas Holidays, I really rate the Science Museum in London.  We went last Saturday and had a brilliant day and learned a lot.

After a bit of deliberating we decided to drive in, as it worked out cheaper than taking the train even with the price of parking.  We did have a bit of a surprise when we arrived as the underground car park we normally use, is no longer in use.  But thanks to a very kind Black Cab driver, we found street parking just around the corner to the museum on Prince Consort Rd, which was about £14 for four hours.

The museum itself is free but there is a suggested donation of £5.   We went to see the Legend of Apollo 4-D, to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Landing on the moon.  If you’re like me you’re probably wondering what 4D is?  We had a bit of a surprise on our quick trip to the moon, our chairs started to shake as we went through the atmosphere and we landed on the moon with a bit of a bump, bombed around in a space buggy collecting rocks,  learned what the moon smells like and then splashed back to earth.

If you do go do make sure you make a day of it as there is so much to see and do at the Museum.  We barely made a dent in it.  Our daughter is 5, so if you have children of a similar age, I really recommend the Basement where you will find the Garden an interactive play area and a theatre with different shows throughout the day; we saw the Bubble Show and it was great fun.

The Museum is open every day except 24 – 26 December, and stays open until 19.00 (last entry 18.15) during the school holidays.  For a full list of their Family Christmas Activities 2012 click here.  I quite fancy the Festive Physics show.  Could Reindeers really fly?  Why do crackers crack?

Disclosure:  Our tickets to the 4D Cinema were complimentary.


My Friday Five: Local Parks (Herts)

With Half-Term looming, remind me to get loads of wine in, I thought I’d share some of our favourite parks to visit.  For the most part they’re free; however there is a chance you’ll be fleeced when you get there.

The weather isn’t looking promising so you’ll need to wrap up!

As the Comedian, Billy Connolly once said

There’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing, so get yourself a sexy raincoat and live a little’.

In no particular order here are 5 of our favourite Local Parks:

Stockwood Discovery Centre in Luton, technically it’s not a park but it’s free to go in there is an amazing outdoor play area, grab a latte in the cafe and watch your kids play, the children’s menu is reasonable and they have seasonal exhibits, currently they have DinoMites, which my daughter really enjoyed but it costs extra.

Cassiobury Park in Watford, parking is a nightmare but they have a fantastic play area, something St Albans should aspire to, there is a Mini Steam Train, hot dog stand and make sure you make the effort to wander down to the canal and see the Locks.

Aldenham County ParkAldenham County Park – one of our all time favourites, it’s free to go in but you have to pay to get out of the car park, if I remember correctly it’s about a fiver and take change.  However, there is a great adventure playground, Winnie the Pooh’s 100 Akre Wood and a few Nature Walks.  Back in the day it was all free but sadly they’ve gone a bit commercial and now you can pay for the Rare Breeds Animal Farm, Pony Rides and Tree Climbing.

Ashridge Estate – Fancy getting the kids outside to blow off some steam?  Then this is for you.  We love it.  There is a cafe where you can get lunch, loads of trees to climb, kick a ball around the foot of the monument or they have organised activities during half-term (Halloween Madness and Skeleton and Skulls).

Knebworth Gardens and Dinsosaur Trail – sadly their Pumpkin Trail is sold out, but it’s a great day out, the Dinosaur Trail, with 72 life sized Dinosaurs, will keep them busy for hours and then you can drive around to the Fort and Playground, we love the slide that goes through the middle of the hill Note:  This one is not free!

As I’ve done most of these, I will be at a loose end myself, so all suggestions (cheap) welcome!



I’ve cancelled my free subscription to Netflix

I’ve been waiting for ages for Netflix to come to the UK.  My family uses it in Canada and its brilliant being able to stream videos with the touch of a button.  So, when I heard an ad on the radio for it, I raced home and signed up even though having to register using my Facebook details annoyed me.

I was really thinking this was when my AppleTv as going to come into its own.  For those of you who aren’t aware what it is it’s a small wireless device that allows me to stream content (music, videos, etc) from my PC to our TV, I love it, but getting content can be a bit of a struggle unless you’re willing to fork out £9.99 to buy films from iTunes.

The Netflix service is excellent in itself;  it was easy to set up and when you compare the price of renting a single film from iTunes (£3.49) a subscription for £6 a month for unlimited films seemed like a bargain.

B-List Movies

But sadly, the content is very poor; I didn’t recognize many of the movies/TV programme nor was I inclined to watch many of them.

So, in the end I didn’t feel it was worth the monthly charge and cancelled it before I started accruing charges.

Fingers crossed the content improves and if it does I will be one of the first to sign up again.

Is Lovefilm any better?

In the meantime, Lovefilm is trying to compete and has launched their own streaming service, so I thought I’d try it out.  It’s £4.99 a month and the content is much improved.  However, I’m not able to stream to my TV.

I didn’t realise before I signed up that I wouldn’t be able to do this via my AppleTv.  I’d cracked how to use Airplay to watch content via my iPad, but sadly the Lovefilm App prohibits you from doing this with Lovefilm films.  The sound comes through but no movie.  I would love to know why.

Come on guys sort it out!

I find the whole situation frustrating, I can see that the technology is available to offer a service that I want and am willing to pay for, but we have two companies that are offering services that are substandard.

I’d love your thoughts on this.






Free things to do with kids in or near St. Albans

The joys of Half-Term!  To stay sane we try to do at least one thing each day.  However, the cost really starts to add up so I’ve put together a wee list of things to do in or near St Albans that are virtually free. You can thank me later!  ;-)

Stockwood Discovery Centre – one of my favourite hidden gems.  It’s near the airport in Luton, only 15 minutes from St. Albans up the M1.  It has a permanent display of horse drawn carriages, plus changing displays, an outdoor playground, bee keeping display, beautiful gardens to run around and a café for a much needed latte.

See if you can find the Anderson Shelter.  It’s near the chickens. We’ve been at least a half a dozen times and discover something new each time.  It’s normally free but during half term they have special events that cost a couple of quid.  This time they have some Creepy Crawlies.

Cassiobury Park, in Watford, we often venture over there on the weekend.  It’s one of Madame’s favourite playgrounds.  It was rebuilt a few years ago and other parks should take note.  The playground is brilliant with very creative apparatus for kids to explore.  Plus, there’s a hot dog stand, ice cream truck, mini railway (£1) and nature reserve.  I love wandering down to the canal to watch the barges go through the locks.  I’ve also recently discovered that there is another ‘nice’ café and playground at the top of the park but I haven’t found it yet.  Do take your scooters!

Nottcutt’s Garden Centre on Hatfield Road.  This one is a bit cheeky, but perfect for a rainy day.  It has a great display of outdoor climbing frames, which technically you aren’t supposed to play on, loads of animals and fish, plus books and toys to browse.  There is also a café with reasonably priced kids meals, with a small fenced off play area.

Then next door there is PJ Camping, which has a giant display of tents that the little ones can run in and out of!  Great fun!

Aldenham Country Park and Rare Breeds Farm, another one of my favourites just past Costco on the A41, it’s well sign-posted.  Technically it isn’t free as it costs you £4 to get out of the carpark but worth it.  There’s an adventure playground, animals to visit, Winnie the Pooh’s 100 Aker Wood to explore and if you remember to bring some bread you can feed the ducks.  Plus, if you’re feeling energetic you can wander around the reservoir.  There’s also a café but if it’s nice out it’s a great place for a picnic.  Or you can do what we do and combine it with a trip to Costco; lunch for two is only £4.20!

The Wick, Marshalls Drive, St. Albans.  The majority of locals don’t even know this exists.  It’s a small wood which is just off one of the poshest streets in town, it has a very small playground in the back of it, but it’s a wonderful wood to explore.  We often go hunting for fairies and monsters.  It’s magical!  Plus, you can ogle the big houses!

Do you have any local hidden treasures you would like to share?

Customising Your Header

While I was trolling the internet looking for themes I came across SimplyWP and was quite taken with their style.  It’s not for everyone; I think  you’ll either love it or hate it.  They have a selection of free WP Themes that you can download or you can have them create a custom theme for you (£250 US).  I couldn’t afford or justify having a custom theme but they did offer to do a custom header for me ($30-$75 US).  I’m over the moon with the result and the service was excellent the whole way through.

I emailed them with the colours I liked, current fonts I was using and a vague idea of what I was hoping for.  Kathie, from SimplyWP, sent me off to istockphotos to choose some images that I would like to use.  She said it would take 2-3 days for the first draft.  By the end of the 2nd day I had the first draft and it only needed a few minor changes.  She also offered to upload it free of charge. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the host information.  However, she did send me a good set of instructions so I could upload it myself.  But, too be honest, I had a friend (@adrianburns) do it as it was a bit beyond me.

The only thing they ask (don’t demand) is that you give them credit in the footer.  I’m more than happy to do this once I work out how to do it! :-)

I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Andrew and Kathie at SimplyWP.

I’m in the process of trying to wangle you guys a discount and will let you know how I get on.  Just for the record I don’t receive any kick backs for recommending them.  I just like to spread the word when I experience good service.

Great News Kathie and Andrew from SimplyWP will give a 10% discount to people who come via Just tell them I sent you.

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