Archive for November 2018

Santa's Grotto at Bridgemere Garden Centre - Review

Friday, 30 November 2018

We were fortunate to be invited along to do a review of the Santa's Grotto at Bridgemere Garden Centre near Nantwich, which is part of the Wyevale Group.

We used to make an annual visit to the Winter Wonderland at World's End, Wendover and it became a bit of a family tradition. Then we moved away so we couldn't visit anymore. I jumped at the chance when we were invited to meet Father Christmas and review the experience.


The Grotto is situated amongst all the Christmas decorations and displays. You do need to book in advance for the Grotto and full details can be found on the Wyevale website. We arrived 10 minutes or so before our chosen time slot and collected a time card then took a little wander around the Christmas decoration displays before heading back at 2.30pm. There was a small queue of other people with the same time slot. I think the maximum number of children per group is 10 accompanied by a maximum of 2 adults per booking. I don't think you'd want anymore than that.

I was impressed that it was running pretty much to time so we didn't wait long before being welcomed in to Mrs Claus' kitchen. She was there with her Elf assistant.



If you don't want too much of a spoiler, then please skip this paragraph! Mrs Claus' spoke to the children and then there was the opportunity for each child to 'plant' a magic bean. The kids were each given a plant pot, then some paper tinsel as soil and a white bean to plant. They wrote their own names on plant markers to identify each child's pot. These were then put in to the 'Magical Sprouting Chamber'.

The room was beautifully decorated. My only feedback was that Mrs Claus' spoke quite quietly so you had to listen very hard in the room filled with people and small children. Also the characters could have been a little bit more animated to really engage and enthuse the children.

Another Elf appeared and took us to be introduced to Father Christmas. The room was quite large with lovely decorations. Father Christmas was in one corner next to a a beautiful tree. Along the back wall of the room were displayed all the present toys which the children could choose one from.



You don't actually get a personal experience with Father Christmas but the kids just take it in turns to have a chat with him. He was really lovely and spoke nicely to the kids asking them questions. I was conscious that other people were all watching and waiting for their opportunity but it didn't feel like you had to rush too much. There was plenty of opportunity to take your own photos and unlike a lot of other Grottos, there's no official photographer. We took some pictures just of the kids and then asked another family to take some family photos of us. I'm really pleased with how they've come out!

The kids then moved away to the toy shelves to pick from the wide range of toys available for all ages. It was quite hard to make a decision, particularly for Miss A. In the end, after a lot of deliberation, she chose a Reindeer soft toy and we helped Master R choose some toy cars with a play mat.

I was expecting this to be the end of the experience but then we all lead into another room where we met a third Elf in the Elves Garden. We had to repeat the magic spell and Miss A got to hold the magic wand so she was chuffed! The Potting Shed was then opened to reveal real mini magical Christmas trees which had 'grown' from the magic seeds. This was a really nice touch as each had the child's name marker on it.

The space around the potting shed was quite tight and felt a bit cramped for the children to see and then it suddenly did feel a little rushed to leave at this point. I would have liked to have a little more time to look at the lovely displays in this room. A lot of work has gone in to them and nice detail, but I think our time was up. As we left, the kids were presented with a paper bag filled with decorations for their trees. Some baubles, ribbons and thin tinsel. The kids set straight to work decorating their trees when we got home - here's the finished result!


We spent some more time looking at the decorations and gave the kids the chance to pick a new decoration each for our own tree at home. Plus bought a few other decorations. Each weekend the Garden Centre have additional Christmas activities on. That day it was face painting but the lady was just packing up by the time we passed her table. It's worth looking at the Bridgemere Facebook page for details of what's on. As well as the Christmas displays, there is also a Snow Globe. They also offer the chance to book Breakfast or Tea with Santa.



I hadn't really planned where we were going to go to see Father Christmas this year so was very grateful for this opportunity to see him at Bridgemere Garden Centre. I deliberately hadn't looked at too much information before our visit so I could give it a fair review with not too many expectations.

The Grotto costs £10 per child but you don't have to pay for accompanying adults, which is good. Initially I thought the toy value was a bit low compared to our experience a few years ago at World's End. However, I was impressed that the kids not only got a toy but a mini tree plus a good amount of decorations so I think you do get your money's worth. 

Find out more about the Christmas Grottos at Wyevale Gardens Centres and book online. Each Grotto is different. You can also read more about our experience of the Christmas Grotto and Winter Wonderland in 2016Winter Wonderland in 2015 and the Winter Wonderland in 2014.

Disclaimer:  We were kindly provided with free entry into the Christmas Grotto in return for this review but all opinions are my own.

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Living with Cancer - 2 Years of Treatment

Friday, 23 November 2018

2 years ago today I had my first chemo treatment so I thought it was time for another update on what's happening with me as I continue to undergo cancer treatment.

For those who aren't familiar with my personal story, I have incurable cancer. I was diagnosed at the end of 2016, just 6 months after our 2nd child was born. We relocated to Cheshire after my first round of treatment and I've been under the care of the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre ever since. I am currently on a drug called Kadcyla and I have had 20 rounds of it.


I originally went public with diagnosis in February 2017 and you can read more about this in my original Living with Cancer post. Since my last update after A Year of Treatment, I am in a pretty good place. I've had a year of no changes to my treatment so I know what I'm dealing with each time. My treatment is still every 3 weeks and thankfully I have very few side effects apart from fatigue for about the first week. I know that this is not always the case and others have a whole variety of side effects. I am definitely fortunate. Having looked back, there are very few 'cancer' pictures of me from the last year. I think that just goes to show that other than treatment days, it's having minimal impact on my day to day life.

Following a scan back in May, I found out that there had been slight progression which was so disappointing to hear. I find it so hard to get my head around that this disease is doing it's own thing inside my body and yet I don't have any symptoms. I know this is a very good thing and I dread the time when I start having symptoms. However, after discussion with my amazing Doctor, we decided that I would stay on my current drug and I was more than happy with this as I know this drug and how I feel on it. I just wanted to get to our Wedding at this point!

On 15th September we had our Big Day!! It was such an amazing day and we couldn't have asked for it to be any better. I thought I would an emotional wreck on the day as it's so hard knowing that I will definitely make Mr MoaB a widow at some point in the near future, but instead it was such a happy occasion. We were surrounded by our nearest and dearest. So many people traveled so far to share our day and make it so special. The kids had an absolutely fab day and were so good. We were so proud of them on the day. It's so nice to now share the family name with them. So many happy memories from the day.


The kids continue to keep me going and I am cherishing all the time I am given to see them growing up and their characters developing. Of course, I couldn't get through all this without the support and love of Mr MoaB and I'm so happy to now be his wife. A massive thank you to Mr MoaB for everything.

On 28th September I did a 10 kilometre walk around Liverpool in support of Maggie's. This charity helps and supports people like me with cancer, along with their friends and families. I am lucky that there is a Maggies' Centre at Clatterbridge. Treatment days for me are always really long, sometimes up to 6 hours, most of which is just spent waiting. I spend more time in Maggie's than on the actual treatment ward. It is my haven on these days and keeps me going with the endless supply of tea & biscuits on offer. I have met so many lovely people there, some that are now dear friends. It's somewhere I can talk openly and know that people will understand. I am so grateful that Maggie's is there and the door is always open and I'm so glad I was able to help raise funds for this amazing cause whilst I still feel well and able to participate in the experience. Thank you to all those who sponsored me and helped me to raise over £900.


I continue to surprise people when I tell them about my cancer for the first time. They are always shocked as you really wouldn't have any idea from the outside! That's a good thing. I obviously never look that ill even on my off days! In March I started going to yoga classes again. I've always enjoyed yoga and it's so nice to have a few hours each week where I focus on me.

I have 2 more rounds of treatment this year. My Doctor has postponed any more scans etc. until the New Year for which I am very grateful as it means we can enjoy all the festivities of Christmas without any scanxiety or tough decisions to make about treatment etc. I'm so looking forward to Christmas this year.

So that's where we're at 2 years down the line of having incurable cancer. The majority of the time I go around in my little bubble and it's quite easy to forget I have the horrible disease inside me as I'm so well and able to live life normally. There are times when it hits me like a brick and I have moments of dreading what lies ahead and having to face getting more poorly and leaving everyone behind, but for now I'll stay positive and do what I can to make the memories for Mr MoaB and the kids.


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Me & Mine - October 2018

Joining up with the Me and Mine Family Portrait Project with these photos of our family for October.







October Highs:
  • - xxx

October Lows:
  • - xxx


The Me + Mine Project - Dear Beautiful

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