Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Bludgers & Broomsticks at Warner Bros Studio Tour London

Last year, we were lucky enough to be invited to the Summer Spells event at Warner Bros Studio Tour London and we had such a wonderful experience that the children were asking when we could go again before we had even left the car park. We were delighted to be invited back to join in the fun of this Summer's event - Bludgers and Broomsticks - which is running from Friday 18th July - Monday 1st September 2014 and is all about how magical sports and wizarding games came to life on screen. Authentic costumes from the Quidditch scenes are on display, as well as the rattling ball crate from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.
Discover how a combination of special and visual effects were used to make cast members fly and chess pieces move – as well as have your own chance to test green screen technology! Last year A & H had a go at flying their very own broomsticks (on screen of course, can't have them whizzing around the studio!) and this year all seven of us enjoyed a ride in the enchanted car! We purchased three souvenir photos for a total of £21 of our green screen experience to frame and keep at home as a reminder of our day.
The tour was equally as magical as it was the first time we visited, and I found myself noticing things I missed the first time around. We took extra time to look at everything, and the kids enjoyed spotting the new Bludgers and Broomsticks special features and props - pausing to listen intently to the Broomstick making masterclass, and to have a picture with some Beaters in Diagon Alley. The children are such massive fans of the books & movies that having the opportunity to see how it all came to life is something very special for them, and for their father & to enjoy seeing the wonder on their faces.

Sometimes "the wonder" looks like misery, however I assure you that the kids were having a much better time than their facial expressions would suggest. If you have teenagers, I know you understand - It's an aversion to the camera, not to the activity!
Seeing all of the props, costumes, and sets up close is an experience you will never forget. You cannot appreciate exactly how much work has gone into creating this magical world, eight movies worth of work, unless you have stood before it and really had a good look. It is utterly breathtaking.

Warner Bros Studio Tour London offer seasonal events throughout the year, the next event will be Dark Arts & is scheduled for October half term, Friday 17th October – Monday 3rd November 2014 where you can learn how the dark arts were brought to life on screen and even have the chance to duel with a death eater! Tickets are priced at £31 per adult (16+) and £23.50 per child (5-15). Children aged 4 and under are free, but do require a ticket to enter. Tickets must also be purchased in advance of your visit.

"The stories we love best do live in us forever,
so whether you come back by page or by big screen,
Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home."
- J.K. Rowling.

We received complimentary tickets for review purposes. All views shared are my own personal & honest opinions and written in my own words. All links are no-follow.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

#LoomToTheMoon with Rainbow Braid

review post.

Loom band rainbow charm

I don't think there is a parent in the country who hasn't heard of loom bands - the latest fad for kids up and down the country. Playground crazes are not a new thing, I remember everyone going mad for pogs and skip-its when I was a kid, & loom bands are just the latest in a long line of primary school trends.

Rainbow Braid sent me a massive 5400 loom band refill pack for my kids to try out, and until now I had been the mean mum who hadn't bought her children anything remotely loom band related. I still ended up with them all over my house, mind you, as the kids' school friends had gifted them lovingly made bracelets and such like, but we didn't actually have any of our own. When the opportunity to review them came up, I was very keen to take part.


So the children and I could #LoomToTheMoon.


The Loom to the Moon challenge is for a special boy named Skye, and for children just like him. Skye's parents have set up the charity Blue Skye Thinking, to support research and treatment of childhood brain tumours:

"Skye was diagnosed with a brain tumour on 27 August 2013 and those close to him, are constantly in awe of his strength of character and fortitude in fighting a horrible disease. Cancer is so often thought of as an adult disease. Our experience has taught us otherwise.

Blue Skye Thinking is a Charity which supports research so that all children diagnosed with brain tumours, will have a better chance of survival and a better quality of life post treatment. The Charity is run by volunteers and all money donated goes directly to the forefront of Research and Treatment."

Rainbow Braid 5400 Refill Kit (Loom & Hook not included)

The huge kit contains 18 different colours of solid, glitter and glow in the dark high quality rubber bands (we've not experienced any frustrating snapped bands!) along with 250 clips & was just the thing we needed to start our contribution to Skye's loom to the moon challenge. A, E & I have been taking it in turns to build up our loom band, & A has made great progress over the weekend. Our goal is to make it the length of our garden before we send it to Skye to help towards his goal. The Rainbow Braid refill kit is priced at £14.90 with free delivery, available to purchase online from Amazon, & with 5400 bands to get through I'm sure we'll meet our target.

We received a complimentary refill kit for review purposes. Hook and loom were not included. The views shared are my own personal & honest opinions and written in my own words. All links are no-follow.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Meal Plan Monday 250814

It is amazing what can accumulate in the freezer and cupboard even with careful meal planning every week, so in a bid to save some pennies after the back to school blitz on my bank account and the general Summer holiday rinsing it has also suffered (and also, to reduce waste), I am freezer diving this week and using up what we have. We do this just before Christmas to save money and free up storage space too!

Mon 25th August - Chicken kiev & chips

Tues 26th August - We're visiting Warner Bros Studios for the Harry Potter movie tour to see the exciting Bludgers & Broomsticks event today so I'm popping some pork in the slow cooker before we leave, and we'll be coming home to pulled pork with salad & jacket potatoes

Weds 27th August - Beef with new potatoes & mixed vegetables

Thurs 28th August - Brinner, with egg, bacon & hash browns

Fri 29th August - Baked bolognese and garlic bread

Sat 30th August - Home-made pasties

Sun 31st August - Roast chicken

I've joined in with Mrs M's #mealplanningmonday linky with this post

Friday, 22 August 2014

{Summer Bucket List} Celebrate L's 11th Birthday

On Tuesday our awesome, amazing, clever, exhausting, brilliant middle son - L - turned 11 years old.

Having just returned from France at the weekend, I was not as prepared as I would have liked and he ended up with a muddled together chocolate Minecraft birthday cake that could have done with a bit more fondant decoration, however when I showed it to him he said "Cool! A dirt block!" therefore meaning that if it is recognisable, then I'm winning.

He didn't want presents this year, instead he wanted to have birthday money that he could spend on whatever he wanted. So, as we did with H last year, we put his money in his birthday card and then took him along to Toys R Us (probably his favourite place in the world) and let him loose with a basket trolley. He took his time wandering up and down all of the aisles and looking at everything that caught his eye, and eventually decided on two PS3 games, Minecraft toys, Pokemon toys, trading cards, and a Skylander.

As you can see by his face, he was utterly delighted with his haul and loved being able to choose for himself. When he got home he also bought a download version of Minecraft for his PS3, and A helped him choose his first mobile phone ready for when he starts senior school next month. They chose a PAYG Nokia 105 in blue which is dust & splash proof, has 12.5 hours of talk time and a massive 35 day standby, and only cost £23.

It's just a basic phone, which is all L needs at this time. I don't want him to have internet access or a smartphone, he just needs it for calls and texts now he will be travelling to & from school on the bus so he is reachable, and has a way to contact me, his dad or his older siblings if he needs to. He is thrilled to have his own phone and feels very grown up, he has been nagging me for months for one but we refused as he didn't need to have one until now. It appears to be quite indestructible so hopefully it will last a good while!

His chosen celebratory meal was Domino's Pizza, and the boys made short work of two margheritas. We ended up having to have his birthday dinner the night before for various reasons, and as it happened that worked out for the best as unfortunately during the afternoon of the 19th, H was taken ill and rushed off to hospital with suspected appendicitis so he and the Mister were absent for much of the day.

L had lots of family visit him throughout the day, popping in to give him cards and gifts, and see him on his special day. L was upset that H & the Mister weren't there and worried for H as he had been in so much pain when they left. After being nil by mouth all day, poked & prodded and having bloods taken, they eventually returned home after midnight - sent away with a diagnosis of a "grumbling appendix" and told to return if the pain worsened... Not impressed, but H is on the mend and that's all that matters.

So despite things not going exactly as we would have liked, L thoroughly enjoyed his day and is looking forward to his surprise celebration at the weekend. On Sunday, we are taking him to Center Parcs for the day courtesy of my sister-in-law (as she works there), along with my brother and nephew, and having a family day out swimming and enjoying a meal at Huck's in the evening. He doesn't know anything about it yet, I can't wait to see his face when he tell him. I think the only thing to trump Toys R Us in his affections is Center Parcs! Here's hoping that his celebration day goes better than his actual birthday - fingers crossed!
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