Win a Trip of a Lifetime by Geocaching #mwgeotrail

I’m all up for an opportunity to win a FREE trip courtesy of Mountain Warehouse.  I love travelling and my daughter is turning into quite the intrepid traveller.  I have no idea where we would go if we won.  Anyhow, the task was simple really and involved one of our favourite activities Geocaching.  We had the Shaun the Sheep Trackable, and all we had to do was find a cache, take a photo, instagram it and leave the trackable for the next person.  I checked our Geocaching app and there were 3 in close vicinity to our house.  So we got kitted up and headed out.

Kids Waterproof Jacket and Shoes from Mountain Warehouse

Kids Walking Gear Courtesy of Mountain Warehouse

We absolutely love geocaching and hopefully this doesn’t put you off.  Part of the fun is that you are not always successful and it can be challenging.

The first one was only about 8oo meters from our house, we read the notes and it mentioned we would need a long pole to grab the cache so we took an umbrella, we closed in on it quickly with a bit of bush whacking involved, my daughter shouted ‘I found it’ and then proceeded to come out of the bushes with this.

Dangers of Geocaching

As you can imagine, I nearly had a heart attack.  It’s paraphernalia for taking Heroin – needles, swabs and citric acid.  Thankfully it had not been used and the needles were not open.  I rang the non-emergency police number and they had no one to come and collect it and our local police station was shut on the weekend so I couldn’t drop it off.  They gave me very bad advice and suggested I stick it in the closest bin, I did question the safety of the Bin Man.  Anyhow, for future reference pharmacies tend to have places to dispose of needles safely.

If at first you don’t succeed……

Geocaching with Kids St Albans

Anyhow that didn’t put us off so we headed for the next one which was only a few hundred meters away.  We had to climb over the railing on the wooden walk way, we hunted high and low, even crawling under the bridge, we even resorted to reading the notes but no clues, I did then check previous logs and it looks like this one may have gone on a walk about as others were not able to find it either.  We weren’t doing so well today.

Try and try again!

We decided to have one last ditch attempt, there was another one within 500m and our dog needed a walk anyhow so we toddled off along the river.  When we popped out the other side, we knew it wasn’t going to be our lucky day, the site of the geo-cache had been completely dug up and was fenced off so we wouldn’t be able to get to it even if it was still there.

We still have Shaun the Sheep so will try again soon.



Best places for Women and Children’s Haircuts in St Albans, Herts

Top 5 Hair Salons in St Albans

I’ve lived in St Albans, Herts for 15 years now and have tried quite a few hairdressers.  For the most part, they have all been good and I have no horror stories to report but there are a few that stand out in my mind.

I typically have a half a head of highlights, a cut and a blow dry.  When times were a bit tough, after having a child, I rang quite a few in town to compare prices but they all came out around £125, which seems pretty standard, hence why I don’t get it done as often as I used to.

Here are my Top 5 Salons in St Albans, Herts

Alley Cats (0172 786 4100)

I love the team at Alley Cats.  It’s a lovely independent family run salon on London Road run by husband and wife, Apollo and Lorraine, both their boys worked at the salon till recently.  They’ve been cutting my daughters hair since she was little.  They have a cute little car seat that children can sit in to distract them.

Kids Haircuts in St Albans
Photos Courtesy of Helen, another fan of Alley Cats!

Sadly, my daughter no longer fits in it.  She loves going just so she can see what colour Apollo’s hair will be, we often have bets on it.  I’ve also had my hair done there on quite a few occasions and have always been more than happy.  Plus, Apollo specializes in men’s cuts as well.

My close friend Annie recently had her hair done there and she said they transformed her.  For the record she’s a QPR fan hence the blue.  Hair Colour is optional.

Hair by Alley Cats, St Albans


Wilde About Hair (01727 830527)

I recently went to Wilde About Hair in French Row and was thoroughly impressed.  It’s another family run independent Salon, owned and operated by Gary and Claire Wilde for the last 3 years.  I’m a huge supporter of local businesses.  I’d walked by it on many occasions but had never been in.  It has a lovely relaxed but professional feel to it, and the team seem very tight knit.

Wilde About Hair, St Albans
What a difference a decent cut makes!

I had my hair cut by Lizzy, a Senior Stylist with a plethora of experience.  She worked for years as a hairdresser but then moved into industry and training, but after having a family of her own reconnected with Gary and wanted to go back to the floor; by all accounts he sounds like a great guy to work for.

I just wish when my niece, who is a newly qualified hairdresser, was here from Canada she would have got a chance to work with him.  I will be definitely going back.  Plus, they have an online booking system.

Hair by Marie (01727 851991)

When money was tight I thought I would try out Hair by Marie on Catherine Street, which has a reputation for being an old ladies salon.  But this should have no reflection on Marie’s skill as a hairdresser, her techniques are totally up to date.  She did a fabulous job and I found the whole experience rather entertaining.  It’s not often you get to hang out with OAP’s drinking tea under a hair dryer with their slippers on.  But I do recommend it if you are looking to save a few pennies.


St Albans Hair and Make-up (07771 761666)

I can’t recommend Karen Snook from St Albans Hair and Make-up enough.  She charges almost half the price as the high-street salons (£66 for half head highlights, cut and blow-dry) and this is not reflective of the quality, she just doesn’t have the overheads to contend with.  Karen is mobile but she also has a lovely salon in her home in Marshallwick.  Plus, she has a wine fridge, mind you she won’t let me anywhere near it.

St Albans Hair and Make-Up
Can you spy the Wine Fridge?

Karen also works with a team of other beauty consultants and can coordinate nails, spray tans etc at the same time.  The last time I went I had my hair done, while I was waiting for the colour, the lovely Tanya Hutt did my nails (Shellac)  as a busy mum I appreciated killing two birds with one stone.

Karen was also heavily involved behind the scenes with St Albans Fashion Week.

Bit further afield

Espiritu Salon and Spa (01923 858052)

I’ve written about Espiritu Salon in the past, Mummy Friendly Salons near Radlett.  It’s only 15 minutes down the road in Radlett.  If you’ve never been to Battler’s Green I would recommend a visit to the salon and a nosy around the place, there’s a pub, vintage shops, butchers, etc.  Do check out their Mummy Mondays where you can get a free Quick Kids Cut.

Do you have any other local salons that you would recommend?  If so, please do leave in the comments section.


How to beat the heat!

Summer Activity Camps for Kids Near St Albans

Even though we love to moan about the weather in the UK we have to admit that we’ve had a pretty good summer so far.

When we had the mini heat wave a few weeks ago, it was challenging trying to think of things to keep my daughter cool during the first part of the school holidays.  You couldn’t pay me enough to go to the local Splash Park as it’s always heaving and I’d end up having an altercation with another parent!  We’re lucky as we have access to the local Dive Club Swimming pool.

But what about ice-skating or sledging?

Bet you didn’t think of that.

Two weeks ago we were invited to the SnoZone in Milton Keyes which is an indoor ski slope,  which always intrigues me being Canadian.  The Snozone is less than an hour from St Albans.  This is the first time that the SnoZone is offering  Summer Fun Activities, to keep kids active and entertained.   There is a great balance of on and off the slopes activities (e.g wacky races, dodgeball, sledging, ultimate Frisbee, dance classes, junk music, arts & crafts)  for kids aged 5+.

As you can see our daughter had a great time and so did her pal.

Summer Activity Camps Near St Albans

Children can do either a half day (£24.99) or full day (£34.99) which includes snacks and refreshments.  Parents can drop kids off, sit in the cafe and watch or possibly hit the slopes themselves.  All you’ll need is some warm clothing and water proof gloves.

My daughters pink padded jacket with reflective piping was courtesy of Aldi’s Back to School Range

Hatfield Farm Park Hatfield House

I was in a bit of a rush to write this up as they are open on Bank Holidays and tomorrow being one.  But for those of you who read this later they’re open Tues through Sunday and Bank Holidays from 10-5.30.

Fun for the whole family!

I’m always on the lookout for family days out, that the whole family can enjoy, not just the kids and this is one of those.  We have been to Hatfield House Farm Park before but had a truly great day out there today.  The weather was in our favour.


One of the reasons that I love it is that it is reasonably priced when you think we spent £20 for hubby and daughter to go to the cinema yesterday.  It’s £4.50 per adult and £2 per child and FREE parking.  As farms go it isn’t anything out of the ordinary, but do remember I’m Canadian and my sister is married to a rancher, with 400 cows and they think it’s hilarious that we pay to go to farms, but the adventure playground is amazing.

Hatfield House Adventure Playground, Herts

It’s set in a dip in the woods, with ample shade and a replica of Hatfield House.  As a St Albian, I’m very jealous of the quality of the playgrounds elsewhere.  I do hope our council takes note as our local playgrounds are lacking.

My top tips:

  • Start at the adventure playground, but send someone to the restaurant to grab coffee.  It’s diagonally across the car park, in the Stable Yard.  You can also get a child-lunch box (£5.50 for 5 items) and have an impromptu picnic, but to save a few pennies, you may want to bring your own lunch.  There is plenty of seating outside the playground.
  • We then did a walk around the farm, some unique breeds but wish we would have bought some animal feed at the entrance.

Hatfield Farm Park, Herts

  • If you decide to ride on the tractor, make sure, when you’re looking at the back of the tractor that you sit on the right or else  you end up looking at the car park and dual carriageway.

Hatfield House, Family Day out, St Albans, Herts

  • Take the time to wander up to the Stable Courtyard after, we weren’t interested in visiting the house or gardens, but plenty to see in the courtyard; Butchers, Toy Store, Sweet Shop, Burstons Garden Centre and a Pimm’s Stand!  Don’t mind if I do!

Miniature Railway, St Albans, Herts

  • Save the train ride till the end of the day when you’re heading for the car.  It’s included in the price of a ticket.

All in all it was great value and I highly recommend it, but do bear in mind the weather as there is not a lot of cover.


Activities for Kids Over Easter 2013, near St Albans, Herts

Kids Activities

Just having my pre school holiday panic!  We don’t have any built in playmates for our 5 year old except the cats and us and we can only take so much so I do try and arrange a few things for her over half-term.  As an only child we really like her to socialize with other kids and to be active.

On my travels around the net I found the following activities and thought you may find them useful.  We haven’t signed her up to all of them we do like to set aside a couple of days to chill.

Westminster Lodge is running Activity Camps over the holidays.  It’s a bargain at £20 a day!

Ashridge Easter Egg trail – We are huge fans of Ashridge Forest and have been on the Easter Egg Trail before.  We have plans to go on the Sunday possibly followed by lunch at The Red Lion in Lower Dagnall.

Butterfly World Looks like they have lots on.  I like the sound of Easter Art on Easter Sunday

Stockwood Discovery Centre (Luton) another one of our favourites, also looks like they have a lot on during the holidays.  It’s free to get in but then you just pay a couple of quid for craft activities.  If it’s a nice day bring a picnic and a blanket, alternatively there is a cafe.

Down in the Woods – I’m absolutely gutted that I’ve already booked our daughter into something on the 2nd of April as I love the sound of their play scheme.  Children spend either a full day or half a day  the in the woods playing woodland games, camp building, natural crafts and cooking on an open fire. (scroll down the page for the description)

Fine Art 4 Kids – Are running a series of 2 hour workshops for kids.  They learn about an artist then make their own work of art.  I’m still undecided as I’m not sure if it’s too old for our daughter.

I’d really like to find something that involves dance or drama.  If you of anything please do leave a comment below!