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North Norfolk Adventures from Kelling Heath

17 Aug

kelling

Kelling Heath is in an area of outstanding natural beauty, the campsite is made up of 270 acres of woodland and heathland. Their website tempted us with the chance to spot wildlife, cycle and explore the beautiful Norfolk Coast. As ‘green parents’ there were so many things about Kelling Heath that we were drawn to, not least their 10 green reasons to visit, it really seemed the perfect location for us.

On arrival at the site we were instantly impressed by the layout and the ‘safe’ feeling that the site has. The speed restriction throughout is 5 mph, the roads are wide enough to accommodate a car, as well as a family of cyclists. We felt very confident with our children cycling around the site and always used our bikes to go to the ‘village centre’ or the pool. For such a large site I think they have got this just right.

Beautiful views from Kelling Heath

Beautiful views from Kelling Heath

Our pitch was spacious and had electric hook up as standard. (Our first time camping with a real fridge.. yippee!) The shower block was always clean when we visited, even at peak periods and there were always cleaning staff around to check on things. They did a great job at a really busy time. The showers were hot and the cubicles were well thought out for families – plenty of space, hooks for your clothes and a little fold down seat/shelf. I can’t stand it when your clothes end up in a wet puddle on the floor due to lack of space!

To use the indoor pool you will need to purchase a pass for the Leisure Centre (unless you are staying in a lodge in which case you will get free membership for the duration of your stay). A pass for a family of four will cost you £32 per day which I think is pretty steep. You can also use the gym, sauna, steam room and jacuzzi but even so it is a lot of money.  If you are feeling brave, the outdoor heated pool is free for anyone staying at the site. We didn’t use it but I heard from other people that it was very cold!   As an alternative you could visit the Splash Leisure Centre in Sheringham.

The other facilities and activities on the site were great. There is children’s entertainment most evenings and whenever possible this is outside.  This pleased us because on a nice summer’s evening the last thing you want to do is to be sat indoors. The entertainment was of a good quality, they had a clown on a couple of evenings who brought along lots of activities for the children to try. There were all sorts of comical bicycles and children of all ages were having a great time attempting to ride them. Green Daddy also had a go but this was purely for research purposes of course….

There is a children’s assault course, adventure play area and playing field. Plenty to keep children of all ages entertained.  The site is perfect for cycling. Whether you want to stick to cycling through the woodland and heathland on site or venture further afield, there is something for everyone. We did a lot of cycling. One of our favourite routes was from Kelling Heath to Sheringham Park (via a 40 foot viewing tower!). For more information on cycling routes check out the Huff and Puff website. They are based at Kelling Heath and can also provide cycle hire.

cycling

Viewing tower at Sherringham Park

Viewing tower at Sheringham Park

The highlight of our holiday was definitely our day out on the North Norfolk Steam Railway. This railway runs from Holt to Sheringham and makes a request stop at Kelling Heath Campsite! How great is that?! We had a fantastic day spending the first part of the day in the lovely seaside town of Sheringham. I would definitely recommend the Whelk Coppers Tearooms which is down on the seafront. It’s a quaint little cafe offering home-made cakes, light lunches and smoothies. Really great atmosphere and friendly staff too. Also, don’t miss the Shell Art Gallery. You might think is sounds boring but it was quite an eye opener!

NSR collage

Other days out included the seaside town of Cromer. The lifeboat station and the Henry Blogg Museum are both located here and the children really enjoyed both of these.  The Henry Blogg Museum was really interactive and the dressing up was fun!

Dressing up at the Henry Blogg Museum, Cromer

Dressing up at the Henry Blogg Museum, Cromer

Felbrigg Hall is another lovely place for families. It is a National Trust property with a fantastic walled garden. The house had a really fun quiz for the children which really kept them interested and they enjoyed re-enacting the ghostly photographs that a past resident had produced!

Ghostly going-ons at Fellbrig Hall

Ghostly goings-on at Fellbrig Hall

There is a wonderful new nature centre at Cley Marshes. The staff there are very knowledgeable, you can get a wonderful lunch in the cafe and the gift shop sells excellent gifts for bird lovers and nature lovers.

saltmarshes collage

lily=hide

marsh

No visit to North Norfolk would be complete without visiting the seals at Blakeney Point. There are various boats which will take you out on the 1 hour trip. We chose Beans Boats but they all charge around the same price. This was a great experience and one the children will hopefully remember forever!

Blakeney Point Seals

Blakeney Point Seals

on boat

Kelling is a great site, the only negative point for us was that we were in a field with a group of around 25 people who were very noisy in the evenings and late into the night. This did slightly spoil our holiday, especially given that we had asked to be in a quiet part of the site.  I have raised this issue with Kelling and they have assured me that they are going to re-visit their policies around group bookings and noise levels.

Overall, we would definitely recommend Kelling Heath as a great location for exploring North Norfolk. Three out of four of us agreed that we preferred it to Center Parcs!

 

 

 

 

Lavender Cottage, a family friendly holiday in Appledore

19 May
Lavender Cottage is the middle housse

Lavender Cottage is the middle housse

As an assessor with Approved Family Friendly, I was recently asked to visit Lavender Cottage in Appledore.  We were quite excited to visit a part of Devon that we had not previously visited.

The cottage is situated in a quiet residential street, it takes less than 5 minutes to walk down to the village and the quay. We loved wandering through the small streets (thankfully, pretty lacking in cars), exploring all the little nooks and crannies and discovering wonderful little cafes, galleries and other treats.

Although it obviously caters for tourists, Appledore has a real community feel about it. Everyone is very friendly and welcoming and it’s a very unspoilt little place.

appledore collage

Lavender Cottage is the most wonderful family home from which to explore the area. The owners have renovated the property with children in mind. They have lowered all of the door handles in the property, the original ones were far too high for children to reach. They have provided a cot and high chair and have left a list of other items which are available from the owners should anyone need them. children’s plates, cups and cutlery are also provided which makes life much easier if you have toddlers. Books, toys and DVDs are all available for children to enjoy. Both Lily and Thomas loved the whole ‘seaside’ theme throughout the house. The highlight for them had to be the little porthole window between the sitting room and kitchen!

porthole

The beds are SO comfortable. The single beds all have double duvets which makes them lovely and cosy. The double bedroom has a king size bed which I think is always a nice little luxury. The mattresses are very comfortable. when Thomas was tucked up in bed on the first evening he said “Mummy this bed is glorious” which did make me giggle. All of the beds are made up for your arrival and there are plenty of soft white towels too.

bedroom collage

 

View from the two back bedrooms

View from the two back bedrooms

 

The garden has also been designed with children in mind. As well as a lawned area, there is an ‘imagination area’ where children can make up their own games using stepping-stones and painted logs that can all be moved around to set the stage for any adventure. Lily and Thomas spent many hours playing out here and we enjoyed soaking up the sun with a glass of wine on the benches that are provided.

There is also a barbecue area and a picnic table which is separate from the play area. This will give peace of mind to anxious parents (like me) who get totally stressed when there’s a lit barbecue within 10 feet of children! Charcoal, fire lighters and matches are all provided for guests to use.

garden Collage

The owners have left lots of useful information in the cottage, including recommendations for days out, restaurants and local attractions. We discovered the wonderful Coffee Cabin in Appledore which serves freshly cooked, locally sourced food for breakfast and lunch. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to stop for lunch but the smoothies and cake were scrumptious!

menu

Tempting treats from the specials board

There is a passenger ferry from Appledore over to Instow which makes for a nice day out. Pack a picnic or visit one of the eating spots in Instow, you could also pick up some food from Johns Deli which has been awarded The Best Food and Drink retailer in Devon.

view collage

Appledore and Instow

We travelled a little further afield for our last day and visited the beautiful, historical fishing village of Clovelly. I remember visiting here as a child and loving it, Thomas and Lily felt exactly the same.

Lovely Clovelly

Lovely Clovelly

Lavender Cottage is a stunning, spacious property from which to explore North Devon and I would highly recommend it if you have children of any age. We can’t wait to go back for a longer visit. Check out their website for more details.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A quick and easy boost to your five-a-day

18 Mar

 

 

phyto fitI was recently contacted by Phyto-Fit who produce nutritional products.  They take pure fruits and vegetables and freeze dry them into a convenient powder. This can be sprinkled onto your food, added to soups, sauces and shakes.

I’m not a huge fan of supplements so I admit to initially being reluctant to try these products. I was however, pleasantly surprised. We were sent samples of four of the powders – Super Greens, Baobab, Carrot and Strawberry. We have been experimenting with what to do with these. We have added ‘Super Greens’ to a cottage pie and ‘carrot’ to a cheese sauce. The Strawberry and Baobab are lovely added to a milkshake. You can really taste the ingredients because they are so concentrated, a teaspoonful is all that you need.

This is a great way to add extra fruit and vegetables to any meal or drink and could be especially helpful if you have a fussy eater. I think as parents we have all struggled with this at some point. I love the idea of being able to add a ‘nutrient’ boost to my child’s diet. Of course there is no substitute for fresh fruit and vegetables but Phyto-Fit is a great additional supplement.

The powders themselves are certified by the organic farmers & growers association to ensure quality.

Ponies, picnics and songs about pants!

28 Feb

My little man turned 6 last week. How did this happen? It only seems like yesterday that I wrote this post about him turning two! This year we gave him a Bow and Arrow as he has become a real fan of archery since Grandad has been teaching him.

Thomas-arrows

We decided to have his party at Pennywell Farm. After hosting many parties at home I kind of feel like I’ve got ‘birthday party burn out’ so decided to take the easy option! We planned a full day out and packed a picnic lunch, a birthday tea was provided as part of the party package.

When we arrived Thomas was given a lovely Birthday rosette which meant that everybody at Pennywell knew it was his birthday. All the staff that we met throughout the day made a huge fuss of him and he was made to feel so special.

The highlight of the day was a show by ‘Nutty Noah‘. As we knew he was going to be at Pennywell, this was another reason why we had the party here. We had seen his act before and it is just so funny! If you are looking for an entertainer for your child’s party I would highly recommend him. Don’t expect any educational slant on this act though…. it is purely designed around what children want and he had them all roaring with laughter! Expect lots of jokes about ‘pants’ and ‘wee’ and lots of silliness… just perfect for boys of Thomas’ age! Don’t worry, there are a few hidden jokes for mums and dads in there too! Here’s a video of Thomas joining Noah on the stage.

Nutty Noah

A few more photos from the day :

Birthdaycollage1

 

Birthday 2

 

A big thank you to Thomas’ special friends who joined him on the day, and to my mum who helped us to keep track of all six children throughout the day. Luckily we came home with the correct number which is always a bonus!

Five minute, gluten free chocolate cake!

4 Feb

Cake

 

I am no Nigella in the kitchen I can tell you. For one thing, I am normally cooking in my fleecy P.J’s and not a sexy negligee. I like simple recipes that I can rustle up whilst scanning Facebook and sorting out squabbling children. This recipe is super simple and can be ready in under 5 minutes!

Ingredients:

4 tbsps Doves Farm, Self Raising Gluten Free Flour

3 tbsps Caster Sugar

2 tbsps cocoa powder

1 egg

3 tbsps milk

2 tbsps chocolate chips (or any chocolate chopped up into tiny bits)

Method:

Mix all the ingredients together in a microwavable bowl. Cook in the microwave for 3 to 4 minutes until the cake mixture has stopped rising. Best served with warm custard!

Good Bubble – funky, natural products for children

3 Feb

products

It’s not often I get truly excited by children’s toiletries. This range has really done it for me though. We were sent a lovely selection before Christmas and were asked to give an honest review of our findings.

We were sent Bubble Bath with Dragon Fruit Extract and Conditioner and Shampoo with Cloudberry extract. What is Cloudberry I hear you ask? Well a quick google tells me that it is a low growing, wild fruit which can be found in northern parts of the world, particularly in the Arctic! They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and antioxidants. I don’t think I have come across many products with real fruit extract in them, I certainly haven’t seen any containing such exotic fruits.

My favorite thing about these products is the smell. I am in fact, sitting here smelling it as we speak! Both of my children loved using these and so far they have commented on the lovely smell every time we have used them. All of these products seem quite concentrated because you only need to use a little bit. The Bubble Bath is very effective at creating, ummm… bubbles. With just one squeeze you have a good load of bubbles, I haven’t really found this with most other natural products.

Bubbles

With 98% natural ingredients, these products are sulfate and paraben free. The shampoo is described as having a ‘tear-free’ formulation. I always take this statement with a pinch of salt BUT after a recent hair-washing incident, I waited for the screams when my daughter got some in her eyes. Much to my surprise she didn’t complain OR scream the house down.

So, The Good Bubble range gets the thumbs up from the Dixon family. I am particularly partial to the Bubble Bath. Now I just need an hour of uninterrupted bath time to enjoy it properly.

Good bubble can be purchased from Holland and Barrett and Ocado and are very reasonably priced.

Disclaimer: I was sent these products for review purposes.All opinions are my own.

‘Share Aware’ – New NSPCC campaign launches today #ShareAware

9 Jan

Today sees the launch of a new campaign from the NSPCC. Share Aware is all about encouraging families to talk about socialising safely online. Their new video is a very easy way to start talking to your children about online safety and aimed at 8 – 12 years olds, it is very appealing and easy to understand.

As part of this campaign, they have launched a new online tool which enables parents to get the low-down on the most popular social network sites. It has been produced in partnership with Mumsnet, the UK’s largest parenting website. They have consulted with over 500 parents and 1,850 young people in order to gain both a parent and child perspective.

Net Aware is just what we need for the modern, technological world we live in. We are all parenting children that are far more tech savvy than we ever were at their age.

What is Net Aware?

  • The website enables you to find basic information about the most popular social media websites and apps. This includes information on what people can use each site for (messaging, sharing photos, playing games etc) and the minimum age you must be to register.
  • It rates the suitability of these sites for young people. Not only does it give you the legal age as set by the owners of the website, but it also gives you a suggested age as voted for by parents and by children.
  • It specifies any particular risks, as highlighted by children and parents.

Whether or not your children use the internet at home, they will still have access to it elsewhere, be that at a friend’s house or at school. Personally I like to know what sites they are using, how they work and how I can keep them safe whilst online. Even websites like ‘Minecraft’ which are known for being ‘creative, imaginative and challenging’ have raised the concerns of children in this study, because you can interact with complete strangers.

What I love about this site.

Net Aware is very easy to use and simple to navigate. I think this is especially important for busy parents.

Each social media site that is listed also includes important links that will help you use the site more safely. For example, on the Facebook review page it gives you a link to all the information that you need to change your privacy settings. This saves a lot of time trawling through pages to find what you need. There are also useful links for reporting inappropriate content or ‘blocking’ contact from strangers.

Would I recommend this site to parents?

If you use a website like Net Aware you can be ahead of the game. You can prepare for any problems by knowing the risks before your children use them and you can use the helpful links to make these sites as safe as they possibly can be.

For more information on talking to your children about socialising safely online, have a look at this parents guide.

 

 

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