Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Photoshoot with Tammyrazzi Photography

Last week Little Miss A went along for a photoshoot with Tammyrazzi Photography. It was really convenient as she's very local to us in Waddesdon.

As can be expected at her age, Little Miss A was initially a little bit shy so it was a case of just waiting for her to get familiar with her surroundings. It didn't take too long.

With such an active toddler, the challenge was for Tammy to get the shots before Little Miss A moved and was off to explore something else!

There were a variety of props that we tried for various shots. At times, Little Miss A was more concerned with tidying up and putting them back where they came! She's well trained!!

She did look really cute in the top hat!


Tammy really captured Little Miss A as she is now. This is definitely my favourite picture from the day as it's very natural:


We really enjoyed our time with Tammy. Some photoshoots I've been too seem very formulaic where they have a fixed set of shots they take with very specific props etc. This shoot was different and I much preferred it. We tried things with Little Miss A but as you'll know, if a toddler doesn't want to do something they won't, so really we just left Little Miss A to her own devices and Tammy got the shots.

Tammy has some great package offers including a Christmas Package which includes a half hour shoot, 5 digital images and 5 prints. Get in touch with her through Tammyrazzi Photography website to book now!

Also if you're a mummy-to-be in the Aylesbury area then how do you fancy a free bump photoshoot? Tammy has kindly given me some vouchers worth £150 for a shoot & images. Shoot will take place in Waddesdon. Let me know if you're interested!





Sunday, 16 November 2014

Ashridge Christmas Trail

This afternoon we wanted to have a short family walk and get some fresh air. Having compiled a list of Family Christmas Events in the local area, I knew that the Christmas Trail at Ashridge Estate had started this weekend so it seemed like a great opportunity to go and try this out.

The Ashridge Estate is about a half hour drive from Aylesbury. It is managed by the National Trust, however you don't need to be a NT member and there's no charge to wander around the woodlands.

We've visited the woods in the past and actually climbed up to the top of the Bridgewater Monument. You could barely see it today, it was so misty!


We popped into the Visitor Centre and got our Christmas Trail pack which is £1. There was a quiz sheet along with a map to show the trail route around Meadleys Meadow. The aim is to find Blitzen the reindeer who has got lost in the woods!

I think Little Miss A could have walked around the whole trail without too much trouble. It's not too long. However, we purchased a new backpack carrier at the recent NCT Nearly New Sale and Mr MoaB wanted to try this out. Little Miss A loves the view up high anyway!

As you go along the trail there are boards with information about the winter wildlife at Ashridge and you answer a question or do a task from the Trail sheet. At one point you'd have found us singing 'We wish you a Merry Christmas' very loudly as we walked along! Little Miss A had no idea why we were singing but bopped her head along!


It's a really great Trail that is ideally suited to little ones as it's not too long. We enjoyed the walk even with the limited visibility!

After going back into the Visitor Centre to claim our prize for completing the Trail, we then enjoyed a hot drink at the Cafe. There was then just time for Little Miss A to have a good splash in some very big puddles and then it was a quick dash back to the car as it started to rain!

Would definitely recommend this Trail. All it costs is £1 for the Trail sheet which obviously goes towards the National Trust. There are no charges for car parking at the woods so if you take your own refreshments etc. then it's a very cheap few hours out!

A great first family festive activity of the year!


Saturday, 15 November 2014

Christmas Family Events in and around Aylesbury

Along with a list of local places to meet Father Christmas, there are also lots of other festive events going on in and around Aylesbury so I thought I'd compile a list of these as well so you can add them to your diary.

Saturday 15th November - Wednesday 31st December
Christmas Trail at Ashridge Estate
Starting at the Ashridge Visitor Centre, enjoy the special Christmas Trail around Meadleys Meadow. You can learn more about how the wildlife at Ashridge spends Christmas, answer the questions along the way and earn a Christmassy reward!
Place: Ashridge Estate
Times: 10am - 3pm
Cost: £1 per child
To find out more, take a look at my review of the Christmas Trail at Ashridge

Saturday 15th November - Sunday 4th January
Ice Skating
Experience the magic of ice skating on REAL ICE on an spectacular indoor ice rink. Skate hire is included in the cost of the ticket.
Place: Bicester Avenue Garden Centre
Times: Skating sessions last for 45 minutes and commence on the hour.
Cost: Skate prices vary depending on peak and off peak times. Check website

Wednesday 19th November - Sunday 4th January (excl. 24th, 25th & 26th December)
Letter Writing to Father Christmas
Write a letter to Father Christmas in the workshop-themed room and take some photos on the special Christmas sleigh!
Place: Waddesdon Manor
Times: 10am - 5pm
Cost: Letter Writing activity is Free. Normal admission charges apply.

Thursday 20 November
Christmas Lights Switch On
Free family entertainment from 5.30pm. The lights will be switched on at 6.50pm, followed by fireworks and music. There will also be a small funfair and the shops are open until 8pm for some Christmas shopping!
Place: Aylesbury Town Centre
Time: 5.30pm - 7.30pm
Cost: Free

Saturday 29th November
Winter Wonderland Christmas Fayre
Santa's Grotto, Face painting, Raffle, Games, Stalls, Refreshments and much more.
Place: Berryfields C of E Primary School
Time: 1pm - 4pm
Cost: Free entry with a special guest appearance

Sunday 30th November
Santa's Parade
Santa accompanied by the Snow Queen and her Ice Elves will be parading through the town, along the High Street and into Friars Square for the opening of the Santa's Grotto. There will be a small funfair and activities in the town including free donkey rides.
Place: Aylesbury Town Centre
Time: Parade starts at 10.30am, activities 11am-3pm
Cost: Free

Monday 1st December
NCT Cheeky Monkey's Messy Play & Craft Session
Lots of messy fun and festive crafts including shaving foam, play-doh, biscuit decorating and lots more. Meet Father Christmas. Professional photographer and handprint ceramics available (additional cost).
Place: Buckingham Park Community Centre
Time: 10am - 12pm
Cost: £2 per child. Under 1s are free. In aid of the NCT Charity

Monday 1st December - Wednesday 24th December (dates vary by centre)
Breakfast or Tea with Father Christmas
Enjoy a delicious, freshly-prepared breakfast or tea and then join the elves to welcome Father Christmas as he arrives from the North Pole. Children get to meet Father Christmas and choose their very own present. Afterwards, they’re given a Christmas tree cookie to decorate.
Place: Wyevale Garden Centres - Bicester, Tring and World's End (Wendover)
Times: Check website
Cost: £9.99 per child. Adult prices from £3.99.

Thursday 4th December
Christmas Storytime & Craft Event - Looking forward to Christmas
Place: Aylesbury Library
Time: 10am - 11am
Cost: Free

Saturday 6th December
Christmas Storytime & Craft Event - story written by Michael Morpurgo
Place: Aylesbury Library
Time: 10.30am - 12.30pm
Cost: Free

Thursday 11th December
Animal Calendar
The opportunity to make a colourful 3D animal calendar.  Most suitable for under 5s.
Place: Natural History Museum at Tring
Times: 11:00 - 11:30, 14:00 - 14:30
Cost: £1.50

Thursday 11th December
Carol Singing with Turnfurlong Infant School
Place: Aylesbury Library
Time: 10.30am
Cost: Free

Friday 12th December
Teddy Bear's Christmas Picnic with Father Christmas
Place: Aylesbury Library
Time: 10.30am - 12pm
Cost: Free

Saturday 13th December
Christmas Family Storytime, Craft & Treasure Hunt
Place: Aylesbury Library
Time: 11am - 12.30pm
Cost: Free

Sunday 14th December
Christmas Fair and Carolfest
A day filled with festive fun, music and entertainment followed by an evening of your favourite carols in the picturesque Market Square.
Place: Market Square, Aylesbury Town Centre
Time: Christmas Fair 11am - 4pm. Carolfest 6pm - 7pm
Cost: Free

Monday 15th December - Friday 19th December
Christmas Craft Activities for under 5s (drop-in)
Place: Bucks County Museum
Times: 10am - 12pm or 1pm - 3pm daily
Cost: Free

Thursday 18th December
Christmas Party at Zoomania
2 hours of festive fun! Price includes Entry, Juice, Xmas buffet food, Santa Visit, Themed crafts, Party Games and Disco.
Place: Zoomania, Aylesbury
Time: 5.30pm - 7.30pm
Cost: £9.50 per child. Price includes one accompanying adult. Booking is recommended to avoid disappointment.

Saturday 20th December - Sunday 4th January
Christmas Holiday Challenge
Set off on a journey around the museum to track down the lost polar bears on this exploration trail. Suitable for all ages.
Place: Natural History Museum at Tring
Times: 11:00 - 11:30, 14:00 - 14:30
Cost: Free

Monday 29th December & Tuesday 30th December
Polar Bear Craft
Children will be able to make their own polar bear with moveable legs in this craft event. Suitable for all ages.
Place: Natural History Museum at Tring
Times: Half hour sessions throughout the day
Cost: £1.50


These are just events I've come across on websites, Facebook etc. There's probably lots more and I'm happy to add any additional ones - just let me know the details!

The details are as accurate as possible. Please check with the actual organisers/venue for up-to-date information.

Hope you and your family have a great time over this Christmas period, whatever you're up to!





Local places to meet Father Christmas

I'm just starting to think about things to take Little Miss A along to get into the festive spirit and of course the must-do for any child at this time of year is to meet Father Christmas.

Here's a list of places I've found in and around Aylesbury where you can meet the man himself!

I've also compiled a separate list of the Christmas kids activities and family events going on.


IN AYLESBURY

Winter Wonderland Christmas Fayre at Berryfields C of E Primary School
Santa's Grotto, Face painting, Raffle, Games, Stalls, Refreshments and much more.
Date: Saturday 29th November
Time: 1pm - 4pm
Cost: Free entry with a special guest appearance

Santa's Grotto at Friars Square
Visit Santa in his Alpine Lodge-style Grotto at Friars Square. This year the Grotto is in aid of Scannappeal, supporting special care babies at Stoke Mandeville Hospital.
Date: Sunday 30th November - Wednesday 24th December (selected days)
Times: Check website
Cost: £3 donation to meet Father Christmas and receive a gift

NCT Cheeky Monkey's Messy Play & Craft Session at Buckingham Park Community Centre
Lots of messy fun and festive crafts, including shaving foam, play-doh, biscuit decorating and lots more. Meet Father Christmas. Professional photographer and handprint ceramics available (additional cost).
Date: Monday 1st December
Time: 10am - 12pm
Cost: £2 per child. Under 1s are free. In aid of the NCT Charity.

Christmas Party at Zoomania
2 hours of festive fun! Price includes Entry, Juice, Xmas buffet food, Santa Visit, Themed crafts, Party Games and Disco.
Date: Thursday 18th December
Time: 5.30pm - 7.30pm
Cost: £9.50 per child. Price includes one accompanying adult. Booking is recommended to avoid disappointment.
To find out more about this venue, take a look at my review of Zoomania from one of visits earlier this year.


OUTSIDE AYLESBURY

Santa's Grotto at Haddenham Garden Centre
Santa makes his Grand Arrival at 11am on Sat 23rd Nov. That first weekend only there is a Children's Farm, Face Painting, Balloon Modelling & Food Tasting, as well as the Santa's Grotto.
Dates: Saturday 23rd November - Sunday 22nd December (weekends only)
Time: 11am-4pm
Cost: Check website

Grotto & Winter Wonderland at World's End Garden Centre
On your way to the Christmas Grotto, you'™ll pass animated figures and at the end of the journey Father Christmas is waiting to greet you with a gift for every child.
Dates: Saturday 15th November - Wednesday 24th December. Certain weekend dates, Father Christmas is joined by his reindeer.
Times: Mon - Sat 9am - 5.30pm. Sun 10.30am - 4pm
Cost: £8 per child for the Winter Wonderland and Grotto (includes a gift). £2 for supervising adults. A journey through Winter Wonderland costs £2 per person.

Santa's Magic Steamings at Buckinghamshire Railway Centre
Meet Santa on the rails! There's a gift for every child plus a magic show, storytelling, crafts and seasonal refreshments.
Dates: Saturday 13th December - Sunday 21st December (weekends only) and Monday 22nd December
Trains depart: 10:25, 11:05, 11:45, 12:25, 13:05, 14:00, 14:40, 15:20
Cost: £12.50 per child (2 years and older). £3 for under 2s. £12.50 per adult, Booking is essential.

Santa Specials on the Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway
Enjoy a magical trip from Chinnor along the Icknield Line and meet Santa and his elves! All trains will be steam hauled and the fares include a present from Santa.
Dates: Saturday 6th December - Sunday 21st December (weekends only)
Trains depart: 10:15, 11:30, 13:00, 14:15, 15:30
Cost: £10 per child (1-15 years incl.). Under 1s are free (no present). £11 per adult. Booking is essential.
To find out more about travelling on this Railway, take a look at my review of the Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway from earlier this year.

Meet the Legend at thecentre:mk (Milton Keynes)
Meet the legend, Santa, inside his magical Christmas grotto at The Land of MK Believe. Children will enjoy a magical craft session, making their own Christmas wrapping paper and magical reindeer food to take away with them, and take a mystical adventure on the Santa Express train.
Dates: Friday 14th November - Wednesday 24th December
Times: Check website
Cost: £6.50 per child for the entire grotto experience including crafts and a gift. Accompanying adults are free. Train ride is £2 per person. Booking is highly recommended.

FREE Santa's Grotto at Eden Shopping (High Wycombe)
Drop by and say hello to Santa in his Christmas Grotto. Children receive a tasty treat from Santa and you have the opportunity to purchase a photo afterwards.
Dates: Friday 12th December - Wednesday 24th December
Times: Check website
Cost: Free

Visit Father Christmas at Ashridge Estate
Each 45 minute session includes a visit with Father Christmas, a Christmas craft making session and a present!
Dates: Saturday 13 December - Sunday 21 December (weekends only)
Times: Check website
Costs: Child £6. Adult £2.50. Booking essential

Christmas Kingdom at Mead Open Farm
Visit the Christmas Kingdom for lots of festive fun. See an enchanting festive 3D film and then walk through the Elves' Christmas Visit where you can meet real reindeer before visiting Santa in his Grotto and choosing a toy from the elves' workshop.
Dates: Saturday 29th November - Wednesday 24th December (daily)
Times: 10am - 6.30pm (last visit to Santa is 5.30pm)
Cost: £13.50 for children, £9.75 for adults, £9 for senior citizens, which include full entry to the Farm and admission into the Christmas Kingdom. Child Members and children under 24 months will be charged a discounted rate of £6 each to visit the Kingdom.
To find out more about what's on offer, take a look at my review of Mead Open Farm from our visit earlier this year.

Christmas Magic with Santa at Odds Farm Park
Meet Santa in his Grotto and get a special gift.
Dates: Saturday 22nd November - Sunday 23rd November and then daily from Saturday 29th November - Wednesday 24th December
Times: Check website
Cost: £4 extra
To find out more about what's on offer, take a look at my review of Odds Farm Park from our recent visit.

3D Cinema Grotto at Bicester Avenue Garden Centre
Enjoy a 15 minute, 3D file about 'Rocket the Reindeer' in the cinema room before meeting Father Christmas in his Grotto.
Dates: Saturday 8th November - Wednesday 24th December
Times: Check website
Cost: £7 per child (includes a gift)

Santa Spectacular at Willows Farm
Visit Santa in his grotto and receive a golden key to his toy shop to choose a gift. Join in with the nativity story, hop on the festive wood ride and make sure you write a letter to Santa in the Elves House and receive a free reply. Additional activities include Willows Magical Ice Rink (synthetic ice), festive funfair rides, indoor play and reindeer hunt with prize all included in the entrance prices.
Dates: Wednesday 26th November - Wednesday 14th December (daily)
Times: 10am - 5.30pm (4pm on 24th December)
Cost: Check website

Santa's Grotto at Frosts (Millets Farm Centre)
You'll be guided through the Grotto by Santa’s head elf and get busy mixing Rudolph’s favourite food, ready to leave out on Christmas Eve. The adventure continues into Santa’s cabin where an enchanting story will be read by the Big Man himself.
Dates: Saturday 15th November - Wednesday 24th December (weekends only until Thursday 11th December and then daily)
Times: Check website
Cost: £9.99 per child. £4.49 per adult.
To find out more about what's on offer, take a look at my review of Millets Farm Centre from our visit earlier this year.


I've taken the information from the venue websites but please do check directly for up-to-date information. I will try to add to this list if I come across any more. Please do comment if you have any recommendations.

This was Little Miss A's first encounter with him last year!


Hope your little ones have a great time meeting Father Christmas this year!


Thursday, 13 November 2014

Children in Need Rickshaw Challenge

Once Little Miss A is in bed, the TV goes on and it's usually just at the start of The One Show on BBC1. Therefore we have been watching the progress of the Rickshaw Challenge 2014 and the inspirational kids who are taking part.

I saw that they were coming through Buckinghamshire but didn't think it would be as close to home as actual Aylesbury. So I was really hoping that we'd be able to catch it passing through.

Luckily we timed it perfectly. We spent the afternoon on a playdate with a friend and then headed back into Aylesbury at around 4ish. A quick check on the Pudsey Route Tracker showed us that the Rickshaw was just approaching Aylesbury so we parked up and found a viewing spot. 

We didn't have to wait too long before we saw the lights of the support vehicles. We got a few waves from the policemen on their motorbikes. Then we saw the Rickshaw with Matthew riding it. He was doing really well. A fair pace (hence the very blurred photos!). We cheered and waved him on.

We also got a wave from Jess who was travelling in a minibus behind the Rickshaw. Then it was gone and off through Aylesbury town centre.


Mr MoaB got home and his first words were 'I've seen the Rickshaw too!'. He waved out of his car at Jess who was riding the Rickshaw when he passed it just outside Wendover on his way home from work.

We've just been watching tonight's The One Show to see the footage from today. Such a great achievement by these young people. Well done to everyone in the Rickshaw Challenge team.

If you'd like to donate:
To give £5 text TEAM to 70705
To give £10 text TEAM to 70710
Full details on How to Donate

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Chilly day at the farm - Odds Farm Park

Another day out with Grandma for Little Miss A but with the added bonus of Mr MoaB joining us! Today we headed off to Odds Farm Park in Wooburn Common (about half an hour drive from Aylesbury).

It was well signposted so easy to find with plenty of parking. When we arrived we were given a timetable of events for the day and realised that the Sheep Racing was about to start. Unfortunately it was taking place in almost the furthest point from the entrance, but we just got there in time to see the final race! Not sure Little Miss A really knew what was going on with the sheep running around but it was a bit of fun with everyone cheering on their sheep to win!

We then headed back towards the Animal Barns, stopping to look at some of the animals along the way including cows, pigs and goats. We timed it so that we got to the Barns for the next event - Bunny Time. After a quick stroke of a couple of the rabbits, Little Miss A wandered off so we took the chance to feed the goats and sheep whilst everyone else was still with the rabbits.


We were surprised with how big the farm was. There are lots of large fields with the animals as well as the Animal Barns. Then there are different play areas scattered throughout. So I can imagine even on a busy weekend day it doesn't feel too crowded.

As usual we had taken our lunch with us. There are lots of picnic benches and a large marquee where you can eat your own food. However, a school group had taken over the marquee so we had to eat our sandwiches out in the open - a bit chilly! We resorted to having hot drinks from the cafe to warm up!

Little Miss A made full use of all the outdoor play areas. She spent a long time in the large Sand & Water Play area filling up a large truck with sand! She also particularly liked the Fitness Trail, going round and round some of the sections multiple times! She did take one tumble on the grass area and we had to laugh at her little muddy face! Bless her! No harm done though, she just got back up and carried on.


We took another walk around the animal fields and then we all needed to warm up so we headed into the Indoor Playbarn. This is where all the other visitors to the Farm were. It was quite busy in here! Little Miss A headed straight into the under 5 area. Luckily she can now go up and round on her own, although she got her foot caught in the netting at one point so good old Mum had to make her way round to rescue her!

Both Mr MoaB and I were then required to take her down the big slide again and again and again! Lost count of the number of times in the end! I like the action shot that Mr MoaB got of Little Miss A and I going down - we were obviously going so fast that he missed us!


Little Miss A has a thing about tractors at the moment so this Farm was the perfect place for her. There were big tractors for her to sit on along with lots of ride-ons! They do offer Tractor & Trailer Rides but these must be on peak days only as they were running today which is a shame. Mr MoaB had needed to stop on the way to the Farm and I popped into a charity shop and managed to find her a toy tractor for 35p. She played with it all the way there. So it was a day of tractors for her!!


Entry into Odds Farm Park costs £9.95 per adult for weekdays in term time (£12.50 at peak times). Under 2s are free. Bags of food are 75p (we found one bag was plenty). We were there for about 3 hours today which was just right for Little Miss A as she was starting to get tired. We definitely felt like we'd got our money's worth but you could very easily spend a whole day here with so much on offer to keep the kids amused.

We were all really impressed with this Farm so would definitely recommend it.


Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Day out in London with Poppies and Paddington Bear

We have Mr MoaB's Mum down from up North and staying with us for a few days. Mr MoaB had to work today so I needed to come up with a plan for the day.

I thought that his Mum would really like to see the Poppies at the Tower of London so we headed off to London early this morning.

I was a bit concerned as there seem to have been lots of reports recently about how busy the installation has become. My Mum went last Friday (in half term) and it was heaving. However, we decided to chance it and I'm glad we did.

Little Miss A and I saw the Poppies for the first time in early September and they were amazing then. Since then there have been so many more planted and it's just phenomenal. Just a sea of red.

We will remember them.

My Mum offered to pay for one of the ceramic poppies for Amber to have and luckily I ordered it after our previous visit as they've now sold out. It's going to be very special to own a small piece of this installation and all that it signifies.

There were a lot of people all around the Tower of London and it was particularly busy on the lower level walkway. However, we managed to find a few spots where we got a good view.

Little Miss A fell asleep at some point during our walk around so once we got a few photos and taken a few moments to reflect, we decided to head over Tower Bridge and find a coffee shop. We definitely needed something to warm us up a bit! After a quick pit-stop, we then set off this time on the Paddington Trail.

50 Paddington Bear statues have been positioned around London to coincide with the release of the new Paddington Bear film. They appeared yesterday and will be in place until the end of December. All the bears have been designed by celebrities and artists.

We managed to find 5 Bears today. It should have been 6 but we couldn't find the one at London Bridge station.

The first one we did find was in Borough Market and is called 'Taste of Peru'. A very colourful Bear! Little Miss A was very intrigued and kept saying 'Bear!' 'Bear!'


We then headed along the River and stopped briefly to eat our packed lunch (ham sandwiches rather than Marmalade sandwiches!), before finding the 'Shakesbear' outside the Globe Theatre looking very dapper. Also along this stretch of the river was the 'Fragile' bear near the Tate Modern. I liked the simplicity of this one and the backdrop! We crossed back over the river on the Millennium Bridge and found the 'Bear in the Wood' statue in-front of St Paul's Cathedral.


Our final Bear of the day was 'Sherlock Bear' which has been designed by Benedict Cumberbatch. I assumed that all the Bears were outdoors and luckily I asked one of the staff members at the Museum of London, as this one was actually inside! We'd have been walking around for ages! Little Miss A was particularly taken with this one.


Similar to the Book Benches that we found around London in the summer, the Paddington Trail is definitely a great thing to do with the kids if you're in London for the day. The statues are quite spaced out so you can only really do a handful at a time, unless you're on a real mission. You'd need to hop on and off the tube a lot and this just isn't feasible with a toddler and buggy!

As an added bonus, we also came across some Bus sculptures whilst we were out and about. Doing some research tonight, these are part of a 'Year of the Bus Sculpture Trail'. The ones we saw are fun and quirky. I particularly liked the 'Punked' bus!


So another really brilliant day out in London. Exhausting but as usual we packed a lot in. Little Miss A was so good all day, she even seemed to really enjoy the train and tube rides as well. All part of the experience for her! It was lovely seeing her sat with her Grandma looking at a Paddington book (got at the Free book store last week) on the journey home!