12 August 2018

Behind the Scenes with Deep Sea World near Edinburgh

The other week I was invited along to a behind the scenes tour by the lovely people from Deep Sea World. A few other bloggers were there as well so it was a nice catch up in an amazing venue. I hadn't been to visit for years and was really excited to go back and see what it was like and if anything had changed. I remember going as a child with my family back in the day and even for my birthday one year with a few friends. The fact that I'd get to be there when it was after hours too was exciting as it meant no crowds. I honestly couldn't wait!

Upon arrival I was greeted by the host, the lovely Fraser, and handed a few information leaflets before being led onto the first exhibit. It was a stop off at the seahorse tank were we got to watch them being fed, which was magical by the way, whilst a member of the team told us in detail some interesting information and facts on seahorse life. I personally really enjoyed this as normally seahorses can be quite slow and docile animals but when they were being fed they swam around like crazy trying to catch the food. It was brilliant to see with my own eyes.

Everyone got to look around for a bit with members of the Deep Sea World team on hand to answer any questions we had. These guys seriously know their stuff and are full of knowledge so if you ever visit be sure to ask as many questions as your heart desires. It really is a fun learning experience.Whilst we were looking around it was lovely to learn more about the snapping turtle, cave fish, piranhas and even their new octopus.

Before long it was time to venture into the shark tunnel. This has to be one of my favourite places to visit ever! It's just so peaceful jumping onto the moving walkway and being slowly taken around as if you're under the water watching all of the fish and sharks swimming above your head. I've taken the kids a few times now since this visit and we spend a lot of time in this shark tunnel going round and round. Highly recommend you pay it a visit soon.

After this we got to see the resident seals being fed. Laura is my fav and my complete spirit animal. She's a bit of a lazy bones and will only move when there's food around haha. She speaks to my soul. As well as Laura there are her two brothers sharing the pool. They're more into swimming than she is so it was great to watch them propelling through the water with ease. You get to see the seals up really close so this would be an excellent even to take the kids to. Deep Sea World have a schedule of daily talks and feeds which they provide in an information leaflet when you arrive so be sure to grab one and take note. Don't miss out on the good stuff.

We then got to have a bite to eat and some refreshments before going behind the scenes into the quarantine room. This was really interesting as it showed where they keep the baby fish newly hatched and also any animals that need time to adjust to their new surroundings before being let loose into the big tanks. You also got to see above the shark tunnel which was awesome and trust me when I say the sharks look a lot bigger from above than when you see them in the tunnel!! Did you know you can also go diving with the sharks at Deep Sea World? They have specific packages that suit a variety of ages and experiences from as young as 8 years old. Needless to say my son is desperate to dive with the sharks! Maybe I'll get it as a birthday treat.

During the summer school holidays Deep Sea World also have a separate exhibition on each year and this year was Bare Bones. It's a chance to see your favourite animals like never before and as you might have guessed from the name it's all about skeletons. This exhibit was fascinating, I personally like seeing the skeleton of the snake and Thornback ray, totally amazing.

Like I said I've been back a few times since this visit with the kids and Logan and I recently visited the Prehistoric Event which is located in the shark classroom. It's a chance to dig for your very own fossil and oh my days Logan loved it. We spent ages chatting to Neil, who is a fountain of knowledge btw, and Logan found his very own 55 million year old shark tooth! To say he was excited was an understatement. He's currently obsessed with Megalodon and the tooth he found comes from Megalodon's ancestor. He really eas so chuffed. I personally loved all of Neil's stories and could have stayed for hours but other people had to have a turn so we went back to the shark tunnel.

I really can't recommend Deep Sea World enough as a fab family place to visit. There's always something new and exciting to see with animal talks and feeds as well as handling sessions and exciting events throughout the year. We'll definitely be back for our next visit soon.

Lovely Blogger ladies left to right; beingmrslynch, cailynsmummy, me!, amummoreordinary, jemma.goodlad, edinburghwithkids & forever_a_mum

I was invited along to Deep Sea World to enjoy a behind the scenes tour. I wasn't asked for anything in return but I wanted to write a post as I really love the place. All opinions are my own.

1 August 2018

Review: Mud and Bloom Gardening & Nature Craft Subscription Box

Keeping the kids busy and out of trouble can be a bit of a nightmare at times and it only gets worse during the school holidays. I've been looking for lots of different ways to engage their little brains and make the day go a bit quicker so boredom doesn't set in. It's when I was searching around that the lovely Mud and Bloom got in touch to see if Harlow would like to review their subscription boxes. They sounded perfect so I happily agreed. It would be another lovely way to have some one on one time.

So what is a Mud and Bloom subscription box? Well as the same might suggestion it's a little box delivered to your door every month full of gardening and nature crafts for your child to get stuck into. I've seen lots of different types of subscription boxes over the years but never a gardening crafts one so I was really intrigued. What I really love about it first of all is that it is letterbox friendly. This makes my heart sing as it's always going to arrive on time so no disappointed faces or having to rush to the post office to collect.

Mud and Bloom is a small business run by Anja and here she explains how it all happened: "I came up with the idea for Mud & Bloom subscription boxes after I subscribed to a couple of children’s monthly craft boxes. I loved the concept: it was great having everything packaged up and ready to create something with my boys, and they loved receiving them each month! I looked around to see if I could find a similar activity based on gardening or nature and was really surprised there was nothing out there. So I ditched my garden business idea and worked on developing a Mud & Bloom Box instead. It’s been a slow process as my children are very young and have been at home full time with me for a lot of the time, I’ve really enjoyed it though and I’m really pleased with the results! I hope the boxes help you and your children to learn, explore and enjoy nature together!"

Anyone who knows Harlow will know that she is obsessed with the outdoors, crafts and any sort of beasties and bugs she can get her hands on. When she spotted the Mud and Bloom box come through the door she was very curious and couldn't wait to see what was inside. Upon opening she of course had to investigate and immediately do at least 3 of the activities provided inside. We received the July box to review but each monthly box contains everything you need for two seasonal activities: one gardening and one nature craft - along with instructions, quizzes and games aimed at teaching children about the seasons, plants, insects, birds, soil and rainfall.

Our July box included; an introduction sheet with what you'd find inside and what you could make with nature news on the back. Radish seeds and instructions on how to grow, lettuce seeds and instructions on how to grow plus organic compost pellets in case you needed them. I totally did! Washi tape, glue and some buttons and beads to create a summer flower vase. Instructions were also included for this activity. A spotters activity sheet with a quiz on the back. My son loves a quiz so I did that with him. Last but not least a make your own nature paint brushes sheet with instructions.

As you can see there's so much included in the boxes and it's all written down for you so you can't go wrong. I'm not green fingered at all but out little radishes and lettuce are growing amazingly well. I just need to get the lettuces planted outside now! These boxes are for 3-8 year old's and will be delivered through your letter box at the beginning of each month. Activities have been created by qualified teachers and they support the national curriculum with influence from Forest School, Steiner and Montessori education.

Harlow loved her July box and is so proud of her growing vegetables and gorgeous summer flower vase. I've kept all the sheets for future reference as it's something you can do again and again. At just £7.95 for 1 months subscription I'd highly recommend you give it a try. I bet the kids will love it.

We were sent this product in return for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

29 July 2018

Musselburgh Racecourse Family Day with Lucas Ice Cream

As a child I remember my Grandad being right into his horse racing and greyhound racing but it's something I've never really thought about or been around to really think about. I know there's a few horse racing courses near me and have heard people talking about family days but I've just never been. This all changed on Tuesday this week when Musselburgh Racecourse invited the family and I along to their family race day and it honestly was a total treat.

The race course was quite easy to find with it being well sign posted and of course the handy sat nav just in case. Parking was free and plentiful and there was even a little shuttle bus taking you from the car park to the entrance grounds if you fancied it. Just to note that the entrance isn't far from the car park at all but it really is a great help for guests who really need it. With Logan having autism he really hates walking so we jumped on the bus to save a fuss, it was fab.

Upon entering the grounds our reserved picnic table was slightly to the right of the stands and it gave a perfect view of the horses coming towards the finishing post. We were also treated to an amazing luxury picnic box each and free ice cream!! Did you know that kids go free (with a paying adult) on their family days? Plus inside Musselburgh Racecourse they had some brilliant children's entertainment for free as well! This included face painting, tea cup rides, a little merry go round, a massive Mega Motion ride and a small dragon roller coaster. It really was a fantastic day.

We arrived for 12pm when the gates opened and the first race started just after 2pm (there were 7 races throughout the afternoon). This gave us plenty of time to enjoy our awesome picnic lunch and loads of time for the kids to relax and enjoy the rides. It meant everyone was pretty settled and ready for the first race to begin. I have no idea what I'm doing when it comes to betting on horses but we put on a little flurry for fun. Sad to say we never won but a lovely friend did which was really nice.

Even though we didn't win any races the Musselburgh Racecourse Family Day was absolutely amazing and I'd definitely recommend getting along to the next one if you can. Such a brilliant day out for everyone.

This is a collaborative post. All opinions are my own.

27 July 2018

Review: Hape Toys Sushi Selection

I'm a big fan of wooden children's toys, they just always seem more robust and clean if you know what I mean. I also love Sushi! A bit strange I hear you say however did you know that the lovely children's brand Hape have a super cute wooden Sushi selection set for kids! It's honestly totally amazing and Harlow was lucky enough to be sent one to review.

So who are Hape? "Hape Toys is one of the world’s largest producers of toys made from sustainable materials. Hape toys are both creatively designed and eco-friendly. Neither culture, nor language, nor gender inhibits the intuitive process of play. All of the products meet, and more often, exceed the strictest international standards for quality and safety. But behind the innovative designs and meticulous quality lies the even stronger ethos of Hape."

Harlow was super thrilled when she spotted her sushi set and couldn't wait to get stuck in. Each sushi set has 21 pieces altogether and is suitable for ages 3 years and over. Included in the box is; 1 x serving plate 4 x Chopsticks 2 x ChopSticks stand 2 x plates 1 x Sauce 2 x round sushi 2 x red caviar Sushi 2 x sushi rice 1 x sashimi 1 x shrimp sushi 3 x Square Sushi. It really is the cutest little wooden toy set I've ever seen.

My toddler can be quite demanding *cough* hash bash when it comes to her toys but these beauties from Hape have stood up to the test. She's played with these daily for weeks now and they're still like new. Well done Hape for making such a robust toy.

I love that this set can introduce children to a different kind of food and also hints at sharing with two pairs of chopstick for your little one to enjoy with a friend. It definitely sparks imagination and encourages role play for young minds. Harlow really loves this set and will happily play with it on her own with her dolls or sometimes she'll come and grab myself or her Daddy to play with. She's always in charge of course and likes to boss us around.

This set is made from FSC-certified wood and retails for £19.99 on Amazon. It would really make a great gift as it's so unusual or why not buy it now and save for Christmas! I've been buying a few bits and pieces and storing them away so always worth a thought. 

We were sent this product in return for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

24 July 2018

Family Friendly Places to Visit Near Salou

The heatwave in the UK at the moment is amazing but if like me and you live in Scotland you'll know that the good weather never lasts. So if you're planning a family break abroad soon you'll definitely want to read this post for some ideas. I've talked about Lanzarote and Tenerife before but another fab family friendly holiday destination is Salou. We've stayed just on the outskirts ourselves and know a lot of family who have visited and really enjoy it there. It's not too hot if you pick the right time of year and a lot of hotels cater for families with their entertainment and kids clubs.

So if you're planning on visiting Salou as a family you'll want to know what things you can do when you get there. Read on to see my top picks on why you should visit Salou with the family.

Barcelona City Day Trip
Only an hour and a half from Salou is Barcelona city. It's a busy bustling place full of culture, amazing buildings and street performers. It sort of reminds me of the Edinburgh Fringe but in the sunshine! Anyway, a day trip to Barcelona is well worth it and if you have time for only one sightseeing outing then it should definitely be La Sagrada Família. It's a store of medieval style cathedral and of course it's still under construction. Who knows when it will actually be finished!

Portaventura World
This is 100% a must visit attraction with the kids. It's a massive amazing theme park full of different worlds to visit and rides to experience. My son was big enough to get on all of the rides (he's 8) and oh my goodness they were amazing. The Furius Baco ride is like a bat out of hell so be prepared. My 3 year old loved the Sesame Street adventure area as a lot of the rides were more suited to her age and slower. There's lots to do and see in the park and not just the rides so highly recommend a visit.

Barcelona Zoo
The kids normally always love visiting some animals so if you've had enough of the pool then why not visit Barcelona Zoo. It's full of fabulous exotic creatures and a timetable of activities to keep everyone amused. You can watch the penguins being fed or go and see the dolphins plus so much more. Definitely worth popping in with the kiddos.

Ferrari Land Park
Exactly what is says in the tin a theme park dedicated to Ferrari. It's right next to Portaventura World and you can normally get joint tickets to visit both attractions so look out for those. They have a nice restaurants inside, shows, shops and of course massive roller coasters and a brand new kids area with 5 amazing attractions.

Salou Beaches
A lot of the beaches in Salou are lovely and you'll often find some of the hotels have their own private stretch of sand with sun loungers. We were lucky enough that our hotel did and it was bliss because it had it's very own bar as well. Perfect if you're all inclusive and need some refreshments. We also had some water sports equipment next to the bar so we hired a pedal boat one day. The kids really enjoyed doing that.

As you've read there really is lots to see and do in Salou so it's well worth a visit even if you're going without the kids or just as a couple. Find out more about Salou with Holiday Gems and I guarantee you'll want to visit for yourself. Go check their site right now!

This is a collaborative post. All opinions are my own.

20 July 2018

Review & Giveaway: Penwizard Personalised Blaze & The Monster MachinesBook

Being a total book loving family in our house we always love to add new bedtime stories to our collections. I'm also a big fan of personalised items so when Penwizard got in touch to see if Harlow would like to review their new Blaze and the Monster Machines book I couldn't resist.

I'm sure a lot of you will be familiar with Blaze from nickelodeon, I know Harlow definitely is. She loves watching him zoom around with his monster machine pals and saving the day when Crusher goes out of his way to ruin it. It's that reason why I couldn't wait to get my hands on this personalised story for her because not only does her name get added to the book but one of the characters in the book is personalised to look like her too! How amazing is that.

So the book is actually called Harlow and Blaze Catch Crusher! since it's personalised. It will of course be your child's name instead of 'Harlow' when you personalise it online yourself. It's a brilliant story book where your child has decided to visit their best friends, Blaze and AJ. However, it wouldn't be a normal day in Axle City without something going terribly wrong! When Crusher sneakily steals Gabby's toolbox, it is up to your child, Blaze and their friends to catch Crusher and to save the day!

Your child will be fully integrated in the storyline and illustrations. The illustrations are my favourite as there's so many ways to personalise which is great. As well as entering the child's name, (which will appear throughout the story and on the cover of the book), hometown and birthday, you can personalise the child's character to mirror their likeness. The character personalisation includes: skin tone, hair colour/style, eye colour, clothing colour and the option of glasses. It really is fantastic and can you imagine your little ones face when they see themselves in the story!

There is also a wonderful option of leaving a personal message (up to 100 characters) which is printed on the first page, making this book a memorable keepsake to share with your child for years to come. Quite a nice option if you're giving this as a present too.

Harlow received the large hardback copy of the book which retails for £19.99 but there's also the option of a softback for £14.99. You should have seen her wee face when she got her book she was so excited. I showed her all the illustrations of how she was actually in the book and also pointed out her name on each page. She was thrilled and couldn't wait for me to read it to her.

We both loved the story and Harlow sat contently for me to read it to her. I think the fact she's in the story makes it better for her so she'll concentrate on it more than other stories. It was the perfect bedtime story to end a busy day.

This book would honestly make the perfect gift for any Blaze and the Monster Machines fan and you can get 10% off your order with my code - BLAZE10. Just pop it in at the checkout and you're good to go. Happy shopping!

As well as this amazing discount I also have the chance for one lucky reader to win their very own copy of this fab personalised book for their little one. Simply enter via the rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

We were sent this product in return for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

17 July 2018

5 Top Summer Camping Essentials

This run of good weather just keeps on going and with the British weather being so fine at the moment it’s definitely time to get a camping holiday organised for the family. The hubby and our son have done quite a few camping trips now and have learnt a thing or two during their adventures. So to help you out on your next camping trip I’ve put together this little list of top 5 summer camping essentials to make your stay as enjoyable as possible.

Big Tent
Let’s start with one thing you’ll 100% need especially if you’ve got the kids with you. A nice big tent! It’s definitely worth spending a bit of time investigating which tents will suit your needs most and also it’s worth spending a bit of money here too. If you’re camping with the kids you’ll want a tent that’s reasonably fuss free, easy to set up and has space so you’re not all bumping into each other. I’d suggest looking at some of the inflatable air tents as they’re quick to go up and surprisingly sturdy.

Sleeping Bags
Definitely invest in good sleeping bags. Sometimes the summer ones seem cheap and tempting but it can get quite cold at night in a tent so purchasing a good sleeping bag is key. Make sure and get something for ground cover as well, such as a blow up bed or thick foam mat. These will help keep you off the ground and feeling warmer in your sleeping bag at night. If travelling with the kids you can even get a double sleeping bag to share so it’ll keep you both cosy and you’ll be able to keep an eye on them.

Camping Chairs
It might be alright for the kids to sit on a picnic blanket for hours but if you’re like me and get a bit sore and stiff after a while it’s a good idea to have some camping chairs on your trip. There’s loads of different kinds available but I find a good fold-able chair quite comfy and you can pick them up at a reasonable price from lots of different shops or online. The fold-able ones are normally light weight as well so easy to carry even for the kids!

Camping Food & Stove
Depending on where you camp there might not be a lot of options for eating out nearby and half the fun of camping is surviving in the wild and cooking your own food. With this in mind it’s good to purchase a stove and some camp food to take along with you. There’s a lot of stoves out there that are quite cheap to buy and come with some kind of pot to cook your food in. I like using the Wayfayrer food pouches for camping and they boil up in a pot nicely. Plus they taste like real food and the kids enjoy them. It’s worth noting that during the hot summer weather camp fires aren’t advised so a stove is a lot safer option. We don’t want any accidental wild fires!

First Aid Kit
No matter where you go or what you do someone always ends up hurting themselves and when you’re in the middle of nowhere it’s a good idea to keep a little first aid kit handy. I like to make up my own in a plastic lunch box and include things like plasters, small bandages, micropore tape, pair of scissors, calpol, midge repellent, insect bite & sting cream, sudocrem, painkillers, tick remover etc. It’s good to be prepared, at least I like to be anyway.

This is a collaborative post. All opinions are my own.


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