Archive for November 2015

My Sunday Photo 29-11-2015

Sunday, 29 November 2015

This is my favourite picture of this week.

It was taken on Thursday on a family walk in Tring Park. We finally managed to find these wooden animal sculptures, that we haven't found on previous visits to the Park. I love Little Miss A's smile in this picture. She had so much fun exploring the sculptures.

After I managed to capture such a sweet smile, things got funnier as her Dad encouraged her to pull funny faces!


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Lights and Legends - Christmas at Waddesdon Manor 2015

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas and this is definitely true at Waddesdon Manor.

For the first time we ventured into the house last weekend. I'm so glad we did.

Most of the National Trust properties we have visited this year, including our 8 visits to Waddesdon, we have mostly explored the grounds and not gone in to the buildings. However, as the weather was not great we thought it might be a good opportunity to go inside the Manor and keep out of the wind!

It turned out it was definitely the right decision. Much of the grounds were closed off due to the winds including the playground.

But the really great thing was that the house has just re-opened and is decorated for Christmas. It's beautiful!

The theme throughout the rooms is Lights and Legends with different myths, stories and rituals from around the world reflected through the decorations and lighting.

There are so many big trees, each with a different theme.

My favourite themes were Peter Pan in the bathroom and The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe in one of the bedrooms.

The other bonus was that there was a Trail throughout the house with stickers to collect. This was great to keep Little Miss A's interest. Only certain rooms in the house are accessible but it was an ideal way to see some of the inside and was just the right amount of time for us to be in the house before Little Miss A was keen for us to go out.

We stopped for a quick hot drink before heading home. The great way to spend a couple hours out and about. So glad that we have Waddesdon on our doorstep and can pop there just for a few hours without having to make a day trip out of it.

Entry into the decorated rooms in the house is on a timed ticket basis for all visitors so it's worth booking in advance. We just booked that morning and got the second slot of the day but I imagine it will be better to book further in advance the closer to Christmas it gets.

I'm so pleased we went inside the Manor and it has definitely made me feel more Christmasy now!

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My Sunday Photo 22-11-2015

Sunday, 22 November 2015

This is my favourite picture of this week.

It was taken yesterday on a very cold visit to Bletchley Park with Mr MoaB's Mum. I love the big smiles all round from the three of them.


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Christmas Family Events in and around Aylesbury 2015

Monday, 16 November 2015

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 14th November - Sunday 3rd January
Ice Skating at Bicester Avenue Garden Centre
Experience the magic of ice skating on REAL ICE on a spectacular indoor ice rink. Skate hire is included in the cost of the ticket.
Place: Bicester Avenue Garden Centre, Bicester OX25 2NY
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

Thursday 19th November
Aylesbury Christmas Lights Switch On
Free family entertainment from 5.00pm. The lights will be switched on at 7pm, 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: 5.00pm - 7.30pm
Cost: Free

Saturday 21st November to Sunday 20th December (weekends only) and Monday 21st to Wednesday 23rd December inclusive
Decorate a Christmas Bauble at Waddesdon Manor
Children can make their very own Waddesdon souvenir coloured bauble.  Personalised and ready to hang on your Christmas tree.
Place: Waddesdon Manor, Waddesdon HP18 0JH
Times: 10am-5pm (Wed-Fri) and 10am-7pm (Sat & Sun) on later night openings
Cost: £3 per bauble. Normal admission charges apply.

Saturday 28th November
Buckingham Christmas Light Switch On
People gather outside the Old Gaol to see the Mayor switch on the lights and to sing carols round the tree. Carols are also sung by the local primary school children. There is also a Christmas Artisan Market during the afternoon and evening with festive goodies.
Place: Outside the Old Gaol, Buckingham
Time: 6pm
Cost: Free

Sunday 29th November
Santa's Parade
Come and join in the fun as Santa come to town! He 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 10.45am, activities 11am-3pm
Cost: Free (some funfair activities incur a charge)

Sunday 29th November, Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th December
Reindeer Trail at Black Park Country Park
Santa's reindeer have escaped! Help Santa find all his reindeer, who are hiding somewhere in Black Park, in time for Christmas. Pick up a trail guide from the Black Park Kiosk. There's a prize if you find them all!
Place: Black Park Country Park, Wexham SL3 6DS
Time: 10am to 3pm
Cost: £4 per trail guide

Tuesday 1st, 8th and 15th December
Christmas Activities at Bucks County Museum
Christmas Craft Activities for under 5s (drop-in).
Place: Bucks County Museum, Aylesbury HP20 2QP
Times: 11am - 12pm
Cost: £3 per child, includes materials and refreshments for the children

Saturday 5th December
Christmas in the Square, Fairford Leys
Enjoy singing carols in the festively lit square and music by the Aylesbury Concert Band. Kids can see Father Christmas arrive in his sleigh and meet the elves before visiting him in his grotto. Don't forget to bring a lantern.
Place: Hampden Square, Aylesbury HP19 7HT
Time: From 4.45pm
Cost: Some activities will incur a cost

Thursday 10th December
Christmas Starfish at Natural History Museum at Tring
Create your own Christmas clay starfish. Messy play for under-5s.
Place: Natural History Museum at Tring, Tring HP23 6AP
Times: 30-minute workshops at 11am and 2pm
Cost: £2

Friday 11th - Thursday 24th December
Elf School at Eden Shopping Centre
Santa is recruiting! Calling all budding rosy-cheeked apprentices, you're to become one of Santa’s newest recruits! Visit the Elf School at Kids Corner to learn the skills to graduate as an elf just in time for Christmas.
Place: Eden Shopping Centre, High Wycombe HP11 2DQ
Times: See website
Cost: Free

Sunday 13th December
Christmas Fair and Carolfest
A day filled with festive fun, music and entertainment including a giant inflatable snow globe 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

Wednesday 16th December and Thursday 17th December
Christmas Party Fun Sessions from Jacqu'in the Box
Christmas party fun. Fancy dress welcome! Includes a little gift from a very cuddly Father Christmas! Must book in advance.
Place: 16th December: Your Cafe in the Park, Aston Clinton HP22 5HL. 17th December: Our Lady Lourdes Church Hall, Aylesbury HP21 7UE
Time: 16th December: 2pm - 3pm (0 to 4's). 17th December: 9.20am - 10.20am (0 to 4's) and 10.20am - 11.20am (0 to first tentative little steps)
Cost: £8 per child/£4 siblings

Friday 18th - Thursday 31st December
Santa’s Supersized Seat at Eden Shopping Centre
Back by popular demand is this one-of-a-kind giant inflatable installation which will be in pride of place out the front of Starbucks. Grab a friend, take a seat and pose for a selfie like no other! The rosy-cheeked gent himself will be in residence (from 18th – 24th December) to wish little shoppers a very merry Christmas.
Place: Eden Shopping Centre, High Wycombe HP11 2DQ
Times: See website
Cost: Free

Saturday 19th December - Sunday 3rd January
Rudolph's Christmas Trail at Natural History Museum at Tring
Discover what animals Rudolph meets on his journey around the world delivering Christmas presents with Santa. Be sure to collect your chocolate prize at the end.
Place: Natural History Museum at Tring, Tring HP23 6AP
Times: Monday to Saturday 10am - 5pm and Sunday 2pm - 5pm. Closed 24th -26th December
Cost: Trail sheet £1, suitable for all ages

Saturday 19th and Wednesday 23rd December
Christmas Panto Style Fun Parties by Jacqu'in the Box
These are fun panto style sessions suitable for all the family. There's a gentle introduction to a show style atmosphere with audience participation. This year's shows will feature either Tinkerbell, Ariel, Elsa, Anna, Princess Belle, Pirate Jac Crocky the tap dancing crocodile and Ferdinand the Friendly Fox. Must book in advance.
Place: Your Cafe in the Park, Aston Clinton HP22 5HL
Times: 19th December: 10am - 11.30am. 23rd December: 2pm - 3.30pm
Cost: £5 per person (children and adults)

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!

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Local places to meet Father Christmas 2015

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.


Santa's Grotto at Friars Square
Visit Santa’s Grotto at Friars Square where each child gets to meet Father Christmas and receive a gift. This year the Grotto is in aid of the Pulmonary Hypertension Association.
Date: Wednesday to Sunday from 29th November - 13th December; every day from 14th December - 24th December
Times: Check website
Cost: £3 per child or £5 for two or more children


Santa's Grotto at Haddenham Garden Centre
Santa makes his Grand Arrival at 11am on Saturday 21st November. That first weekend only there is a Children's Farm, Face Painting, and Fairground Ride, as well as the Santa's Grotto.
Dates: Saturday 21st November - Sunday 20th December (weekends only)
Time: 11am - 4pm
Cost: Check website

Christmas Grotto with 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 14th November - Thursday 24th December
Times: Monday - Saturday 9.30am - 6pm; Sunday 10am - 4.30pm
Cost: £10 per child in November for the Winter Wonderland and Grotto (includes a gift). £12 per child in December. £3 for supervising adults. A journey through Winter Wonderland costs £3 per person.
To find out more about this year's Winter Wonderland, take a look at my Walking in a Winter Wonderland review.

Santa Specials at Buckinghamshire Railway Centre
Meet Santa on the rails! You will be shown to your reserved seats on the steam train where you will be joined by Santa himself. One of Santa's pixie helpers will pull your gifts from the huge toy sack and the magic begins! Magical Adventure includes: soft drinks and biscuits for children, seasonal refreshments for adults and 20-minute live balloon show.
Dates: Saturday 19th December and Sunday 20th December
Trains depart: 10.25am, 11.15am, 12.10pm, 1.05pm, 2.20pm, 3.15pm and 4.05pm
Cost: From £13.50 per child and adult. £4 for under 12 months. Booking is essential.

Santa Steam 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 5th December - Sunday 20th December (weekends only)
Trains depart: 10:15, 11:30, 13:00, 14:15, 15:30
Cost: From £8 per child (1-15 years incl.). Under 1s are free (no present). From £9 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 last year.

Meet the Legend at thecentre:mk (Milton Keynes)
Join Santa and his trusty elves for a fun craft experience, where children can make their own Christmas Eve pack, including magical reindeer food. Our memorable experience includes an individual family visit with Santa as well as your chance to have your photograph taken. Don't forget to also take a ride on the Santa Express train.
Dates: Friday 13th November - Thursday 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.
To find out more about the train ride, take a look at my review of the Santa Express train from last year.

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 Village where you can meet real reindeer before visiting Santa in his Grotto and choosing a toy from the elves' workshop.
Dates: Saturday 28th November - Thursday 24th December (daily)
Times: 10am - 6.30pm (last visit to Santa is 5.30pm)
Cost: Prices from £8.95 per child and £6.50 per adult, which include full entry to the Farm and admission into the Christmas Kingdom.
To find out more about what's on offer, take a look at my review of Mead Open Farm from our visit last year.

The Magic of Christmas at Odds Farm Park
Enter a cosy Grotto via a sparkling Woodland Walkway, where children will meet the Elves and of course Father Christmas himself, before exchanging a magical Golden Ticket for something very special in the Elves’ Teddy-Tastic Workshop.
Dates: Saturday 21st November - Sunday 22nd November and then daily from Saturday 28th November - Thursday 24th December
Times: Check website
Cost: Extra charge from £7.95 per child
To find out more about what's on offer, take a look at my review of Odds Farm Park from our visit last year.

Christmas Grotto with Elf Workshop Experience at Bicester Avenue Garden Centre
Become one of Father Christmas' little helpers in his Elf Workshop, where you can make your own festive crafts to treasure forever! Then say hello to the man himself, and take home a special present. Advised to book online in advance to avoid disappointment.
Dates: Saturday 7th November - Thursday 24th December
Times: Check website
Cost: £8 per child (includes a gift)

Breakfast or Tea with Father Christmas at Wyevale Garden Centres - Bicester, Tring and World's End (Wendover)
Enjoy a delicious, freshly-prepared breakfast or tea and then children get the chance to meet Father Christmas and choose their very own present. Afterwards, they’re given a Christmas tree cookie to decorate.
Dates: Saturday 14th November - Thursday 24th December (dates vary by centre)
Times: Check website
Cost: £9.99 per child. Adult prices from £3.99.

Santa Spectacular at Willows Farm
Visit Santa in his grotto and receive a golden key to his toy shop to choose a gift. Hop on the festive wood ride, say hello to Santa's reindeer 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 more all included in the entrance prices.
Dates: Wednesday 25th November - Thursday 24th December (daily)
Times: 10am - 5.30pm (4pm on 24th December)
Cost: Check website

Santa's Grotto at Frosts - Millets Farm Centre and Woburn Sands
This unique family experience lasts just over 45 minutes and is the ultimate way to visit Santa. Enter his magic wonderland, sing with his bashful elves, then make some reindeer food ready to sprinkle on Christmas Eve. The adventure continues into Santa's living room where you will listen to an enchanted story read by the big man himself.
Dates (Millets Farm Centre): Saturday 14th November - Thursday 24th December (weekends only until Thursday 10th December and then daily)
Dates (Woburn Sands): Saturday 14th November - Thursday 24th December (weekends only until Tuesday 1st 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 last year.

Santa's Grotto at Claydon Christmas Tree Farm
Visit Father Christmas in his delightful log cabin grotto. You can meet some of his reindeer and children will receive a present.
Dates: Saturday 5th, Sunday 6th and Sunday 13th December
Times: Between 12pm and 3pm
Cost: £4.50 per child

Santa's Grotto at Black Park Country Park
Visit Santa in his magical grotto at Black Park and tell him your Christmas wishes. Santa might have a gift for you, but only if you’ve been good!
Dates: Sunday 29th November, Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th December
Times: 10am-12pm & 1pm-3pm
Cost: £5 per child

Traditional Chilterns Christmas at the Chiltern Open Air Museum
Visit Father Christmas in his grotto and receive a gift. See the historic buildings festooned in traditional Christmas decorations and meet costumed re-enactors making preparations for a Regency Christmas. Take part in Christmas crafts, listen to traditional Christmas storytelling and hear folk singers singing traditional songs and music.
Dates: Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th December
Times: 11am - 4pm
Cost: £3.00 per child. Normal admission prices apply.

Christmas in the Square, Fairford Leys
Enjoy singing carols in the festively lit square and music by the Aylesbury Concert Band. Kids can see Father Christmas arrive in his sleigh and meet the elves before visiting him in his grotto. Don't forget to bring a lantern.
Date: Saturday 5th December
Time: From 4.45pm
Cost: Some activities will incur a cost

Christmas Grotto at Penns Flower Nursery
Take a wander through the magical Grotto with characters, lights and music.
Dates: Grotto open daily except Wednesdays. Father Christmas is in residence on 5th, 6th, 12th, 13th, 19th and 20th December
Time: Grotto: 10am - 4pm. Father Christmas: 2pm - 4pm
Cost: Entrance is free but a donation to the Rennie Grove Hospice at Home would be very much appreciated.
Read more about our visit to Penns Nursery Christmas Grotto when we took a wander 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 ever encounter with Father Christmas!

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

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My Sunday Photo 15-11-2015

Sunday, 15 November 2015

This is my favourite picture of this week.

It was taken by Mr MoaB on Wednesday (Remembrance Day) at the Cenotaph in Aylesbury when they went to the short service there and observed the 2 minute silence. It's really important to us that Little Miss A has an understanding of what this day is all about particularly as her Daddy was in the army when he was younger.


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Me & Mine - October 2015

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Joining up again with the Me and Mine Family Portrait Project. Here's October's photos of our little family!

They were both taken on the same day at Durdle Door which we visited whilst on a short break to Weymouth with great friends. We were really spoilt with the weather on this day, it was perfect for being on the beach and not what you expect in October at all!

October Highs:
  • Our short break to Weymouth - great location, great weather, great friends, great fun! Highlights including playing on the beach, visiting Durdle Door, the Sea Life Centre and the Tower (good job Little Miss A isn't scared of heights!). 
  • We managed visits to three National Trust properties this month - Polesden Lacey and Claydon for the first time and Waddesdon for the seventh time this year. 
  • A really great family walk at Aston Rowant Nature Reserve which has a brilliant Talking Trail with some really interesting sculptures. 
  • We took advantage of some free Halloween Fun in Aylesbury town centre. The highlight was watching Little Miss A learning some of the Thriller dance moves!
  • Little Miss A and I went hunting for dinosaurs in Black Park. We had a great walk around the Park plus got to see her Daddy at work.
  • We saw several people that we haven't seen for a while. We spent a lovely day with my gorgeous god-daughter, her brother and their parents at Polesden Lacey. Also, some very old family friends came to visit and we went out for lunch with them and my parents.
  • I started my new job and am really enjoying it. Everyone has been really welcoming and it's nice to be back working in a team in an office. 

October Lows:
  • Bit of a shock to the system having to set an alarm and make sure we're up and out the house at a fixed time for me to get to work. We're settling in to a routine now but the first few times were tough!

The Me + Mine Project - Dear Beautiful

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My Sunday Photo 08-11-2015

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Instead of my favourite picture from the past week, I've actually chosen a collage of pictures taken in November last year - as it's Remembrance Sunday. These were taken when we took Little Miss A to see the 'Tower of London Remembers' Poppy installation.

"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them."


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My Sunday Photo 01-11-2015

Sunday, 1 November 2015

This is my favourite picture of this week.

Had to go with a Halloween picture this week! Little Miss A just looks so cheeky in this photo!

This is the 3rd year in a row that she has worn this spider outfit - we've definitely had our money's worth out of it as it was only 50p at a car boot sale!


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Hunting Dinosaurs in Black Park

"Rrrarrrr! Dinosaur!"

This was said a lot on Friday when we went to Black Park Country Park to hunt for some dinosaurs!

We decided to pay Mr MoaB a visit at the Park as he works there. After saying a quick hello as he was hanging around up in the trees at the time when we saw him, we headed off to the Visitor Centre to pick up a Dinosaur Hunt Map which cost £3.

We set off on the hunt and soon found our first dinosaur picture. Each one had a fact about a dinosaur so I filled in the Quiz Sheet for Little Miss A. The bit she most enjoyed was using the stamp ('dinosaur teeth') to mark the sheet!

Along the walk there were lots of muddy puddles for Little Miss A to go through! She enjoyed exploring the sculpture which we'd not seen before. She also spent quite a long time with a stick which became a broom for sweeping the leaves, a spoon for stirring the puddles and a drumstick for beating the tree stumps!

The Dinosaur Trail was just running last week for half term so it's finished now. We were fortunate that the rain cleared up by the time we got to the Park in the morning. It was nice to get out in the fresh air with Little Miss A and having things to hunt for always keeps her motivated when out walking! She liked the prize at the end too - some sweets!

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