Tuesday, 16 December 2014

London`s Winter Wonderland

Just starting to get dark  - and a bonus shooting star to welcome us!

Hyde Park in London has the most amazing Winter Wonderland and entry is free.

All rides though have to be booked  in advance and these can work out expensive.

If you just want to wander around and sip a cup of mulled wine, or buy yourself some Christmas treats it is a fabulous place to visit.

The best time to go is just before it actually gets dark, then as you roam around all the lights come on, magical.

Scary rides! - Only for the daring!

There are plenty of scary rides for the brave, ice skating, a circus and a wonderful big wheel.  Santa can be seen riding by the wheel on his sleigh.

As it gets really dark the whole place seems to shimmer with light and it does feel very festive.

Wow that wheel is big!

It is extremely busy, we had a one year old with us and although she was being carried by her daddy, it was still difficult to push the buggy around.

When we were leaving the queue to come into the area was waiting two to three hours. That would be no fun in the freezing cold. So do go early. We only waited ten minutes to go in at 3.30 pm.

Hyde Park tube station had been closed for safety reasons due to the sheer number of people by 5 pm.

We walked to Green Park to get the tube back to Euston station.  This is a fairly long walk if you had young children or people who had walking difficulties. Marble Arch tube station would be a better choice.

A visit to London at Christmas time is never complete for me without a visit to Harrods. The Christmas window displays are magnificent as always.

How cute though is this photo of Isabella in Harrods toy department.


Harrods, Winter Wonderland, London, Toys.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Fabulous gifts from Toxicfox - Reviewed


Heart Matt Frame

This is another fabulous gift idea from the  toxicfox range. Here you choose ten words and they incorporate them into your chosen theme.  I chose Christmas, Happiness, puppies, Love, Joy, Smile, Chocolate, Memories, Friends and Family. 

I also chose the heart shape as I thought would be lovely for Christmas. There are different shapes to chose from. I am going to put mine on the wall near my Christmas tree.

Swarovski embellishments are scattered throughout the wording and these twinkle as the light catches them. It is a lovely gift and you can get them to celebrate a birth or birthday, or whatever you want. As you are the one choosing the words the gift is really special and something the lucky receiver will treasure. The large frame costs £39.99 and a personalized mug costs just £9.99.

The frame size is 14 inches square so it is a good size.

The frame is well made and has a sturdy bracket for hanging on the wall. 

The full range including frame colours can be viewed here:

There is even a cheeky10 per cent off for blog readers just use the code TFBlogon site. 

This is a video of Christmas gifts http://youtube.com/user/toxicfox
and its well worth a look. 

How about this fantastic gift set which is just £14.99 it is a really fun one which anyone would love.

Check out the sleeping mask, it great ! There is body scrub, body lotion and bath soak and they are all a decent size. They smell good too. 

What I like though is the fun aspect you really can`t go wrong with this one.

Really fun present but I think I am going to keep this one for me!

This is a sponsored post for which I received the above gifts. the review opinions however are my own.

ClaireaBella Personalized Jute Bag Review

Large Personalized hand painted ClaireaBella jute bag.

I was lucky enough to be asked to review a beautiful Claireabella jute bag for www.toxicfox.co.uk.

The eco-friendly jute bag is finished with beautiful bows, Swarovski embellishments and a silver charm with a generous sprinkling of glitter too! You can watch a video on the site of the gifted artists painting the bags. I found it fascinating  watching them apply the wonderful long eyelashes.

You choose the name on the bag, hair, eye and dress colour, even the skin tone, to make this fantastic large jute bag truly personal.

This is the back of the bag which has a lovely Clairebella signature.  It is deep enough to stuff  lots of extra Christmas pressies in if you want. I intend putting some nightwear and a bottle of wine in mine for Katrina. She will be delighted with the bag itself and amused that it looks like her. After Christmas it is a beautiful practical bag which will last a very long time. It is also quite an edgy unusual gift. The large bag costs £39.99 with different sizes to choose from. There is currently a £5 off code on the website.

Length of the bag is 16 inches /41mm and the height is 13inches/34mm so it is a very good sized bag. I also like the themed bags which can be for birthdays, weddings or the beach. You can even get Christmas themed bags.

The full ClaireBella  range can be found here: 


Bows, swarovski embellishments, glitter and a pretty heart silver charm all make this a stunning present. Maybe I should have ordered my name on it and kept it for myself.

There are also other great Christmas gift ideas on the site with videos to help you choose from the very large range. Price start from under £20.

There is even a cheeky10 per cent off for blog readers just use the code TFBlog on site

Here is the very useful video for finding fabulous individual gifts from toxicfox


This is a sponsored post for which I received the above Claireabella bag. the review opinions are however my own.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Phantom of the Opera Reviewed

Phantom of the Opera celebrated its 28th anniversary on October 10th and has recently been given an update. As I had seen the show years ago I wanted to see what, if anything had changed. Andrew Lloyd-Webber's multi award-winning musical is a captivating love story with astounding music that gets into your soul. At least that is how I remembered it. I looked forward to a refresher in romance, tragedy and love and was not disappointed. 

I went on to His Majesty`s Theatre Haymarket for the matinee performance at 2.30 pm. I had paid £21 for my ticket with lastminute.com taking advantage of the offer of no booking fee. The seat was in the Grand Circle and had a slightly restricted view. I was able to move to a better seat within the Grand Circle during the interval as a third of these seats were empty. I am sure this wouldn`t be the case during an evening performance. The cast are astounding!

The stage setting are impressive and dramatic and I loved the Masquerade's ball. The costumes are bright and jewel coloured and I like the cloaks that seem to float around half the stage. It is the chandelier that captures the drama of the opening scene as it shuffles and moves and rises high over the audience. I think this is a major improvement of the earlier performance as it brings the phantom immediately into the play. The chandelier has a further role during the play and the height of the stage is put to good use for ghostly frights. The stage sets are mind blowing how they can creates such effects on a stage is wonderful.

The candles parting like the biblical parting of the waves as the boat carrying Christine and the Phantom down the misty lake would take a lot of beating. The orchestra spilling out haunting music as fingers fly over violins is special and the mists circling the actors creates an entrancing setting. It is a beautiful musical that everyone should see. We all stood to cheer the actors when the `Music of the Night` stopped.


London Theatre Tip

Matinee performances on a week day are often not full so it is usually possible to move into a better seat.  

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Harry Potter Tour

Harry Potter World - Katrina is checking out the uniforms
The Three Tier Bus

Harry Potter Tour tickets cost £30 per person and the tour lasts a few hours. We spent three hours there which included wandering around ourselves. There is a free bus service from Watford train station to the studios and the buses leave every half hour.


This is a large precise model of the school which was used in most of the films

So much work has gone into making all the props it is quite amazing.

This looks like ice but is infact plastic, everything is so realistic and the street look like you could open the doors and enter a shop or house. There is nothing behind the doors though, all the interiors are in the studio.

looks so realistic

It is a great day out and you can even buy `butter beer` to drink and have your photo taken on a flying broomstick.

Wands, spell books and cloaks, scarfs and scary faces, and Harry line the walls and look great. It is very expensive in the shop though were a wand costs £25.

Do get some tickets if you haven`t been you will love it and so will the kids. Tickets would make a great Christmas pressie.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Birds Eye Fill Up Teenagers and Freezers!

"This post is an entry for #Afterschoolschefs Challenge, sponsored by Birds Eye. Learn more on the Birds Eye Facebook Page."

URL   http://bit.ly/afterschoolchefs

We got all the above for just £10 so we added more fish and more burgers. We had £20 of Birds Eye vouchers to spend.

Getting back into a routine once the children return to school can be a challenge, twins Charlie and Grace are 12 and Sam is 15.  Grace is a fussy eater but will always eat chicken so that is always on the shopping list. These Birds Eye Chicken Breasts, which have two per pack and lots different varieties are fantastic for getting Grace to eat a healthy meal. Even if the rest of the family are having something else it takes no time to prepare a chicken breast with some new potatoes or a fresh salad.
Grace helps put the shopping away

The boys like most their ages have hollow legs so the more on their plates the better!  Burgers and chips, fish and potatoe waffles, and chicken with baked potatoes are all easy to prepare.

Charlie tucks into fish and chips

After School tips.

We make muffins and flapjacks as after school snacks as this helps the family budget by having something ready after school. The own brand sponge mixes supermarkets allow us to make cakes for pennies.  There is also less mess than measuring out all the ingredients separately! 

After football practice Sam likes to bring his friends round and they are always famished. Beef and Chicken burgers are an easy and filling choice. Add a few quorn sausages in hotdog rolls for the veggies and everyone goes home happy.

We do make chocolate brownies from scratch though and they disappear very quickly.

Chocolate Brownies

Best of all with the children are all old enough to pop the the food in the oven and take over preparing dinner.

When nanna and grandad come for dinner we use Birds Eye prawn curry, make rice and get some flat breads. The kids cook it all ourselves and nanna and grandad are usually very impressed.

Sam messing about
Sam has claimed these

Charlie is cooking tea

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

My Fabulous Winning Hobby - Carden Park Hotel Chester

Carden Park Hotel Chester

An amazing garden

I won an overnight Spa break via a slogan competition with Red Letter Experience Days and chose this beautiful De Vere Hotel Carden Park in Chester. The hotel is fabulous and has a massive golf course, amazing food and enchanting treatment rooms. The pool is large and the hot tub inviting, the rooms have big comfortable beds and there is a selection of activities called `Muddy Good Fun` for all the family. Segways zoom over the fields carrying delighted children and archery arrows fly towards their targets. I had a lovely back massage and a facial, my daughter Katrina went for a manicure and chose a bag of spa goodies to take home. The staff were wonderful with Katrina, she couldn`t have the back massage and facial due to recent radiotherapy.

Full Hotel details


Even better I was able to stay for two nights after I won a hotel voucher with lastminute.com via twitter.

My daughter and I stayed in a twin room which was on the first floor it was spacious and quiet. We had breakfast in the large conservatory which overlooked the golf course and ate dinner in the bistro. The food was exceptionally good and the prices were very reasonable. 

Just chilling

Ideal for everyone not just golfers
The hotel seemed very popular for weddings and the gardens were being prepared for a wedding as we left on Saturday morning. As you arrive at the hotel there is a long sweeping drive through the grounds to reach the entrance and you can imagine the original manor house residents receiving their guests.  The hotel also offers suites and these are situated behind the hotel overlooking some impressive scenery. Chester is only 10 miles away and there are numerous places to visit in the surrounding areas.  We found a lovely country pub just a few miles away and had a lazy lunch there.

Part of the beautiful gardens

Me enjoying the grounds at Carden Park Hotel

It is a big birthday for me in December and I have to say I would love to celebrate my big 60 at Carden Park.  Hint hint my gang. :)

Mid week prices start at £89 per twin or double room with breakfast and use of all Spa facilities. That is really very good for such a great hotel.

Twin/Family rooms have two large double beds

Best place for competitions

Best place for comping information follow
@SuperLuckyDi on twitter