Wringer and Mangle: a VERY cool bar in London Fields

Some VERY cool areas to hang out at Wringer and Mangle

Grain sacks and a pommel horse make for lounging seats at Wringer and Mangle. If you frequent London Fields in East London for its social scene, chances are you’re more Superdry than Boden, drink Fever Tree not Schweppes, and prefer Snapchat over Facebook. But make the effort to venture a bit further east than your mainstream safety zone London staples, and you’ll find two great levellers: Time Run – an against the clock maze of team challenges reminiscent of the Crystal Maze (find out more on Space In Your Case); and Wringer and Mangle. Wringer and Mangle (review) We had …

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Days Out: What to expect when you visit Tower Bridge London

Great places to visit in England: The view from Tower Bridge is spectacular - if you dare to take it in!

A heart-stopping view from Tower Bridge When you step on the walkway of Tower Bridge, you might wonder what’s in store. It’s a bridge, admittedly a pretty cool, rather iconic bridge, but still, it’s just a bridge, right? We had travelled into London for a rare family day out (rare because it’s unusual to find all four of us without plans on a weekend day), with the goal of exploring the Tower of London. We hadn’t bargained on the queues though, had set off a little late, and required stops for toilets and coffee along the way. We decided the cost …

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Travel: 36 Great places to visit in England

Great places to visit in England with the family

Tomorrow sees the start of English Tourism Week. Visit England are champions of English tourism, and this year is the fifth anniversary of the week long event. To celebrate everything that makes England such a special place for a break, a holiday, or just a day out, we’re highlighting some of the great places to visit in England with your family starting with some lovely experiences in London. Great places to visit in England with the family Tower Bridge   What could be more English than Tower Bridge? So iconic the Americans tried to buy it and take it home with …

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Food, Beers, Beds, and Shopping: The Old Stocks Inn – review

It's never too early for cocktails at the Old Stocks Inn (review)

The first thing we noticed at the Old Stocks Inn, in Stow-on-the-Wold (after the lovely warm welcome) was the bar. Quick, let’s go and explore, so we can get back here and have a drink! we decided, and we did. We visited the Cotswolds on a typical British winter weekend, and the dark afternoon made our frosty breath and the twinkly Christmas lights feel festive and exciting. All we needed was a cosy bar and a pint to top it off perfectly. As we wandered around the market square, popping in and out of charming little shops, marvelling at interesting gifts and old-fashioned …

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Travel: an Incredible Day aboard the Thames Clippers

Seeing London from a boat's-eye-view gives you a whole new perspective on the capital

  Yesterday we spent the day on the river Thames. I say we spent the day; in actual fact we spent just two 30 minute trips on the Thames, and filled the rest of our time on its banks, enjoying some of the things that – despite living a 20 minute train ride away from the Capital – we’ve never bothered to do before. It was such a fun day, that we will definitely be going back. We were invited as guests of MBNA Thames Clippers, to experience their fleet of boats that transport both tourists and commuters across London. …

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Travel: A Sleepover at the Zoo

Sleepover at the zoo

What do Frubes, Minions, and chimps have in common? Not much at first glance, but when you bring them together they’re a huge amount of fun. This week the people from Frubes took us on the experience of a lifetime – a sleepover at the zoo! To celebrate their partnership with the new Minions movie, Frubes have launched a limited edition banana flavour, and they were keen to let us sample the new packs during an overnight stay in the lodges at Whipsnade Zoo. Jane, from Northern Mum sips wine on deck. The Lookout Lodges are set across the road …

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Travel: Sandbanks – Possibly the best beach in Britain

Is this the best beach in Britain? Yesterday we were in Poole, awaiting a ferry to visit family in the Channel Islands. With the ferry scheduled to leave first thing in the morning, we decided to skip the early start and head down to Poole for the night, to enjoy the harbour and the wonderful beach there. We spent a happy couple of hours wandering round the gift shops and staring open-mouthed at the enormous boats in the Sunseeker boatyard, before heading over to Sandbanks to relax at the Sandbanks hotel. Sandbanks is a 1 kilometre stretch of sand which …

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Travel: A Well-Travelled Bear

A little bear left to what fate? Soar Mill Cove

What happened at Soar Mill Cove…   We found him, miles from anywhere, at the bottom of a narrow lane, in a sandy cove. The car was brushed by soft ferns on either side, as we made our way down the hill; we prayed we wouldn’t meet strangers coming up the other way, and we were lucky – a roadside standoff wasn’t needed. We ran, released from our journey, through fields and over stiles, tumbling happy towards the sea. Pink splashes of foxglove and heather punctuated our route as we breathed in the salty air and the wind whipped at our …

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Merry Christmas from London

London Gingerbread House

It’s lovely having a birthday at Christmas. I’ve always considered myself lucky that the whole world is set to party, twinkly lights and tinsel everywhere I look, all ready for me to throw myself into another year older. And so I work hard to get Christmas totally sorted in time for my day, so that I can relax and enjoy my family and friends. So today I headed off into London with the kids, to meet Actually Daddy for lunch. Steak and chips and red wine at Sophies in Covent Garden – such a treat and it wasn’t even the …

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Whittlebury Hall Hotel and Spa Review

Spa at Whittlebury Hall hotel and spa review

Christmas coffee, gingerbread muffins, and champagne! I am well and truly ready for Christmas. Last week I had finally stopped ignoring the fact that my cupboards were empty of potential giftware, with two expectant children and their eager faces goading me into entering the festive fray. I threw myself headlong into the frenzy of preparation, and bought all (well, most) of my presents for family and friends online. I thought I was doing well, until the to-do list began to resemble my old school homework diary in the run-up to GCSE’s. I was frazzled. But this week I returned from …

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Ox Pasture Hall hotel review

On a cold, blustery wet weekend in November, we travelled to Scarborough. The north-eastern coastline might not seem like the best place for a wet winter weekend, but we weren’t there to sun ourselves on the beach. We were there to review Ox Pasture Hall Hotel, and whilst it’s a place beautiful enough for a summer’s weekend, the winter weather totally does it justice! Still beautiful, despite the season, as we made our way through the garden to the small reception, we knew we were in for a cosy retreat, and we weren’t disappointed. The children very quickly laid claim …

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Budget hotel luxury with Premier Inn

Premier Inn budget hotels: a good night guaranteed

Premier Inn Harrogate is pink! Can we really afford a weekend away? Staying away from home is expensive, and when you factor in a couple of kids the price often makes the whole adventure financially too stressful to bother with. Especially if you need more than one night to make the trip worthwhile. We travel a lot as a family; it’s part of our way of making memories that last for all of us, and of making the most of our children, before they decide their parents are too dull to spend time with! And whilst we love a luxury …

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Blackpool Illuminasia light show

Blackpool Illuminasia - Terracotta Warriors in the Mysteries of China Zone

We visited Blackpool for a family weekend away whilst the Blackpool Illuminations were on. Every year, from the end of August, until early November, Blackpool’s seafront plays host to the most incredible light attraction you will see in the UK. I loved it as a teenager, and I loved it again when I took my family 3o years later, and it has really left me in the Christmas spirit. Blackpool Illuminasia But if the 3 mile stretch of Blackpool’s illuminations aren’t enough for you, you can extend the pleasure of colourful light installations with a visit to Illuminasia, the world’s …

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Starstruck at Madame Tussauds Blackpool

Madame Tussauds Blackpool One Direction

The stars at Madame Tussauds Blackpool. On our recent trip to Blackpool we paid a visit to Madame Tussauds. We’d heard that someone rather famous, and very very important was going to be there, so we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to meet them… 😉 We’ve visited Tussauds in London previously, and whilst it is undoubtedly a spectacular day trip, it is massively busy, which can be a bit stressful with young children. Madame Tussauds Blackpool was refreshing though; all the wow of the same stars, without such a big crowd. We did still have to queue up to see …

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Blackpool for families at the Cliffs Hotel

Family at Blackpool Pleasure Beach

 Blackpool is also for families! It was the biggest thrill of my life. I honestly thought I’d left my stomach at the top of the ride, and I sat, shellshocked, waiting to be let out of my harness. I couldn’t do it again. I was 14, scared senseless, and in love with rollercoasters. I rode them all, then consumed a hot-dog, an ice-cream, and a candy floss, and wondered why they made me feel sick. But I still had room for a stick of rock as I waited for my donkey-ride on the beach, and I begged for a clear …

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Ideas for a day out in London with kids: Freaky Rivet

Ideas for a day out in London with kids

I’ve seen a number of posts recently from parents worrying that their children are getting too much screen time during the long school holiday. Personally I’m comfortable with an hour or so of TV or gaming – kids need to switch off and mine are definitely happier for a bit of down time. But too much will turn them feral, and so once my official work hour is over, I’m all about getting them active, or using their imaginations, in a fun way. Getting kids active in the holidays. This year we’re working with an organisation called Freaky Rivet, to …

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A family day out at Kew Gardens

Climbing trees is obligatory at Kew Gardens

Our friends I once had a conversation about family with my mother-in-law. She is a lady who sets great importance in family. To her, family takes precedence over everything. I get it – my own mum (and goodness gracious my Dad!) would have been the same, if I’d let them get a word in edgeways. And yet, I argued with her; I think that as generations have moved forward, as children have flown the nest further afield than they once would, there is a new kind of reliance on friends. Where once, mine and my husband’s mothers would have almost …

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The day they stayed off school: Somerset Yurts review

Camping is cosy at Somerset Yurts

Last Monday I did something I’d never done before. Just as all the children were lining up for registration, I called the school: Erm, the kids won’t be in school today… No, no they’re not ill, it’s just that, erm, well, you see, we’ve been away for the weekend, and, well, we haven’t come home yet… Somerset Yurts – it’s camping kids, but not as we know it! We’d arrived late Friday evening at Somerset Yurts, after the usual rush-hour chaos, and it was raining. Now, we’re reasonably seasoned campers, but no-one likes unpacking camping gear in the rain. Which …

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A great family break (Sands Resort hotel Cornwall review).

  By GG… It’s a long way to Cornwall from where we live. It is, in fact, far enough to exhaust the battery capability of one iPad, one Samsung tablet, two DS consoles, an iPod, an old iPhone 4 that has seen better days but still has the Sims app on it, and half of my Mum’s smartphone. A break for eating Quavers (one of those giant grab bags you get from the service station, not just the ususal flimsy little pack that wouldn’t feed a flea) barely distracts for a moment, before the “are we nearly there yet?” chant begins again. And …

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Expressions #14: Extreme thrills on the Flowrider!

The happiest girl in the world on the Flowrider!

 Thrilled. Just look at that happy face. She’s a thrillseeker, my daughter. She does have a safety gene that kicks in occasionally, but if an instructor tells her what to do and says it will probably be fine, she is first in line to give it a go. I love that about her. Actually Daddy works on the Marketing team at Thorpe Park, and had been considering installing a Flowrider continuous surfing wave at the park, so he booked us all in to check it out. Immediately we arrived, I knew that myself and the Bug would be sitting it out with a …

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