Saturday, 30 August 2014

{Summer Bucket List} Tour Paris!

The surprise of the Summer for me was exactly how much I fell completely in love with Paris. Primarily, I really wanted to take the children and show them the sights, but during our whistlestop bus tour of the city I also found myself gazing at the stunning architecture just completely in awe.
It is breathtakingly beautiful, descriptions and pictures just do not do it justice. I wanted to stay and spend hours wandering the streets and soaking in the atmosphere and history, but a few hours was all we had so we made the most of it by hopping on a Big Bus Tour (which is all L would have tolerated anyway, as it was he got a bit anxious half way through the tour & he never would have managed all the walking) and enjoying a guided tour of the main city sights, which cost €147.60 for 4 adults & 3 children (4-12).
We hopped on the Metro (approx €28) and travelled from our hotel just on the outskirts of Paris into the centre for our city tour. I'm not a massive fan of the underground (understatement), but I have to say I found the Metro a lot less traumatic than the Tube for which I was very grateful.

Starting at the Eiffel Tower and Champ de Mars, we were driven around the city on our open-top bus in the sunshine. We marvelled over the Notre Dame cathedral, L'Hôtel des Invalides, the Arc de Triomphe, Grand Palais, La Madeleine, Place de la Concorde, the Louvre and the Jardin des Tuileries, Musee d'Orsay, and the Palais Garnier, we travelled down the Champs-Elysées and walked across bridges over the Seine.

It. Was. Amazing.
We were all very much looking forward to a lovely week in the villa, and we had a wonderful time during our week away, but Paris was absolutely the highlight of our trip for me and I am so happy that we were able to take the children there. Now that they are older we can do more 'grown up' things as well as the usual family days out to theme parks & zoos.
Taking them on a city tour to see and learn about architecture and history was not only fun but important from an educational aspect, too - something I think banning holidays in term time will negatively impact. Breaks in the school holidays are massively overpriced and will prevent people from being able to share these experiences with their kids. We were fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel this Summer, only made possible by a certain chap's exceptional organisational skills, and had it not been for him we'd have most likely been spending the Summer holidaying at home and would have missed out on such an amazing holiday and learning opportunity.

Our visit to Paris has given me the city tour bug, I want to take the children to visit as many cities as I can. We're planning a bus tour of London next, we have visited many times but I've never actually shown the children the sights so hopefully they will enjoy it almost as much as we enjoyed Paris - to be honest I don't think I'll ever love anywhere else as much as I love gay Paree!
These are just a small selection of our holiday snaps from Paris, if you'd like to see more check out the hashtag #Eurosheps on Instagram.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Back to School with Trunki PaddlePak

The Summer holidays are coming to a close, and by the end of next week all five of my kids will be in school. We are delighted to be Chief Testers for Trunki, who have sent H their Kaito Killer Whale PaddlePak, which is a water resistant backpack made from lightweight, durable material - just the thing for busy lads like him to use for school, swimming lessons, and rugby.

H is a keen swimmer, and visits the pool 2-3 times a week currently - often straight from school. The PaddlePak looks very compact from the outside, but has a huge 10 litre capacity & easily accommodates his swimsuit, towel, hat and goggles, with an external pocket for him to carry his water bottle.
The dry-zip pocket in Kaito's tail is ideal for H to store his locker money so it's hidden away but still easily reachable - no more digging around in the bottom of the bag trying to find it! - and the high visibility trim and reflective straps will be useful later on in the year when the nights start drawing in. Road safety is of course very important and as we often walk to and from the pool down town, making sure that he will be safe and seen is vital.

As a school backpack, the PaddlePak has ample capacity to hold all of H's essentials including his reading record and reading books, glasses case, all of his notes home and homework, still with plenty of space to fit his swimming kit in on his lesson days. The Kaito Killer Whale design is priced at £24.99, and the PaddlePak also comes in many other fun designs and vibrant colours including Frog, Shark, Dolphin, Octopus and Turtle.

For all the latest news, exciting giveaways, offers and updates follow Trunki on Twitter, on Facebook and TrunkiTravels on Instagram.

H received a complimentary PaddlePak for review purposes. The views shared are my own personal & honest opinions and written in my own words.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Simply Swimming in France

review post.

On our recent family vacation to Montemboeuf in the south of France, we were lucky enough to have our own private pool at our holiday villa. The youngest three children have weekly swimming lessons and so are very able swimmers. E of course is not at the same ability level as her brothers but she is now on stage 1 and loves being in the water, and I wanted her to enjoy having the freedom to swim every day, too.

Simply Swim kindly sent us some pool games and equipment to enjoy on our break, and as well as being great fun they were excellent tools to continue teaching the children while we were away and they were missing lessons. L & H both use dive sticks in their lessons, and this set of BECO Dive Sticks are very similar to the ones used by their teachers. Priced at £8, the sticks are thrown into the water and then the children are encouraged to dive down underwater to retrieve them. The Speedo Sea Squad Spinning Dive Toys (£15) are very similar but are a more fun design, the colourful shark sticks spin as they move through the water and eventually rest at the bottom, and both sets of dive sticks help to build water confidence.

We used the dive sticks in a variety of different ways; we practised diving skills, taking it in turns to retrieve them, seeing how many could be picked up in one burst, time trials, and racing to see who could collect the most.

E loved playing with the Zoggs Seal Flips Set (£7.50) and also uses something similar during her swimming lessons, so she was familiar with them and able to practice her skills. The idea behind these is to blow them and make them flip over as they swim, so using her red Aqua Sphere Noodle (£6) she happily chased the seals around the pool as she played with her siblings in the water, full of confidence. It was lovely to watch them swimming together, and I'm delighted she was able to join in and play safely.

Simply Swim offer a wide range of toys, accessories, and training aids as well as goggles and poolwear, perfect to take along on a family getaway so your children can continue learning through play - even when you're on holiday!

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

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!

Thursday, 21 August 2014

GCSE Results Day

After years of work, months of revision and preparation, and weeks of exams, A finally collected her GCSE exam results this morning. Her dad and I had told her over and over, as long as you have done your best then it doesn't matter what grades you get. Do your best, try your hardest, and that will be good enough because that is all you can do.

When she called me in tears after one of her French exams, worried that she hadn't done as well as she hoped, I reminded her that it was done now, and that if she had failed then she could always retake it if she needed to. She had been so steadfast, so dedicated to her revision and her work, this was the first time I saw her confidence in herself waver. I knew that she was probably just worrying for no reason, that she was just having a moment of doubt, which I think happens to everyone. I helped her put it into perspective, calmed her down, and she got on with the rest of her exams.

One morning she woke up in the early hours and her dad had to rush her to the hospital with a grumbling appendix. She was back in time for school, she got dressed and headed in for her morning exam despite no sleep and feeling very poorly.

This morning, we walked into the school hall together, to the back of the room and the table where her envelope was. She picked it up, opened it -

(* the tenth arrived in the post the next day, another pass!)

Her dad and I could not be more proud of her. Despite illness, despite a crisis in confidence, she has done it. She passed every single one of her exams with grade C and above, and now the sixth form beckons. 16 years ago, I carried a three week old baby into my own school hall to collect my GCSE results, and today I walked alongside that baby for her to collect her own. It has been such a long road, but we have worked hard, and we have made it. Her dad and I are just completely over the moon for her. I actually burst into tears as we left the hall, which in turn made her cry (to her utter disgust, I did get told off by her for this, too!).

To celebrate her success she has treated herself to a new laptop, with her own money that she has earned & saved from her Saturday job, to use for her A-level coursework, and eventually for university. She might sleep in too late, be sarcastic and grumpy, never tidy her room when we ask her to, and leave make up and clothes just about everywhere, but she is a brilliant kid and we know she will go far.

Congratulations A, we knew you could do it.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Meal Plan Monday 180814

Bonjour! We are home from France, I hope you enjoyed my wonderful guest posts and I'm looking forward to sharing our holiday stories with you.

Mon 18th August - Toad in the hole with mash & veg

Tues 19th August - It's L's 11th birthday, so whatever he chooses (I imagine it'll be KFC if I know L...) as well as some birthday cake for dessert!

Weds 20th August - Home-made beefburgers & chips with salad

Thurs 21st August - Ploughman's

Fri 22nd August - Chicken enchiladas

Sat 23rd August - Roast (as we're not having one tomorrow and the Mister can't do without his roast)

Sun 24th August - We're out celebrating L's birthday at Center Parcs with family today, so we'll be heading to Huck's for dinner

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

Friday, 15 August 2014

Tartiflette {#Recipe} - a guest post from Elodie Colin

I believe there is one important thing that you need to know about French people : we love our food! Being French myself, I talk from experience. There will never be a meal where you don't have bread and cheese on the table. Very often, you will also have some wine with your meal but no more than a glass a day (as good as it is, you still have to be reasonable...)

I was tempted to write about some of our best wines but I am not the best to talk and give advice on wine so I thought I would go for something that I know better. And that happens to be cheese! I went back home in Eastern France last month and I thought I would bring back a couple of cheeses with me since my partner loves it just as much as I do. Now, when I say a couple, I actually mean a dozen...

Among them was one that we call Reblochon and as my partner like to describe it, “it's the business!”. I believe you can buy Reblochon in a few shops in the UK now, like Waitrose or some French shops in London. Unfortunately, it's a bit expensive to buy it here, so I strongly advise you to get some if you go to France one day, it will be a LOT cheaper!

Anyway, there is a traditional dish that we make with Reblochon and it's called Tartiflette. It's normally something that we eat in the winter, but let's be honest, that never stopped me from having it in the summer... It's very easy to make and very tasty! Here is my recipe for it -


INGREDIENTS (for 4 people):
  • 1kg of potatoes
  • 200g of diced bacon
  • 200g of onions
  • 500g of reblochon (1 full cheese)
  • 3 or 4 Tablespoons of Creme Fraiche
  • Garlic
  • Salt and pepper


Peel the potatoes and dice them (or slice if you prefer). Rinse them with water to make sure they are clean and dry them in a kitchen towel.

Cook the onions in a frying pan with olive oil. When onions are cooked, add the potatoes in the pan until they are golden on the sides. Finally, add the diced bacon and remove the pan from the fire when bacon is cooked.

In a large dish, rub the garlic on the bottom and the sides of the dish.

Heat your oven to 200°C.

Place half of your potatoes, bacon and onions in the dish and cover with a layer of crème fraiche. Finally, place the rest of your potatoes on top.

Cut the Reblochon in half (length-wise) and place it on the potatoes, with the rind on top.

Cook in the oven for 40 to 45 minutes. The top has to be slightly golden.

Bon appêtit!

Elodie blogs at Funk My Life
- find her on twitter @funkmylifeblog

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

French Inspired Lavender Bag Craft - a guest post by Jennifer's Little World

When Julie asked me if I’d like to contribute a French inspired craft post for her blog while she was away, I immediately began thinking about our many much loved holidays in France when I was young. We went every year, and over time the memories have faded, but some things stick in my mind.

One is the fields of lavender that we passed on our drives through the country. Another was something that happened when we were in a small shop. I was buying some trinket or other and when the shop assistant handed me my purchase he also gave me a little lavender bag. It confused me, as I couldn’t understand why he would have given me something for free. My Mum told me it was so that I’d tell all my friends what a great shop it was, which I also didn’t understand as I knew my friends wouldn’t be visiting!

I loved the bag, the incident stuck with me, and I’m pretty sure that I’ve still got the lavender bag around somewhere. So for a French craft I decided that Harry and I would make some traditional French lavender bags. He’s quite good at sewing now and really enjoys it, so I moved him on from the felt and chunky needles that we’ve been using onto some proper cotton fabric, and he managed really well.

To make these lavender bags you need:
  • A small piece of fabric approx. 18cm by 15cm
  • Scraps of ribbon and lace
  • Lavender (I used some from last year’s garden, but you can buy it in craft shops)
  • Stuffing (I recycle stuffing from old pillows)
  • Needle and thread
The longer length of the fabric will be the bottom/top of the bag. Sew with the fabric inside out. Fold the fabric in half and the folded side will become one side of the bag. Then you need to sew along the other side and along the bottom. For my bag I used backstitch but a child will probably find it easier to use running stitch, and they could always sew round again filling in the gaps. Make sure that they make the stitches as small and close together as they can, and they might find it easier to use thread in a contrasting colour so that they can see their stitches.

It’s a good idea to start and finish off the sewing for the child with several stitches in the same place. Because the bag is inside out you don’t need to worry too much if the stitches are uneven or the fabric isn’t perfectly straight, as it won’t be obvious when the bag is finished.

When the sewing is finished, turn the bag the right way out and place some stuffing at the bottom of the bag. Then add a generous handful of lavender, before adding some more stuffing to plump it out. If your child has used quite large stitches, you might want to quickly sew up a small pouch for the lavender to place inside the bag, so that it doesn’t leak out the edges!

Then tie the bag at the top firmly with some ribbon or lace. I cut a small strip of lace to decorate each bag (which I glued in place). You could also decorate with buttons, beads, or scraps of contrasting fabric. It’s a really simple first sewing project for young children, with the added bonus that it’s useful and makes a lovely gift.

- find her on twitter at @jenniferjain

Monday, 11 August 2014

Our Top 10 Family Days Out

As a family, we love a good day out. Thrill rides, woodland walks, zoo visits, picnics, beach days - we've BTDT, and I've washed the t-shirts. I've reviewed lots of places that we have visited and so I thought I would compile an easy go-to list of our favourites here, to share with you here while we're off on our jollies in France. So, in no particular order -

One of my favourite places, with so much to do and enjoy there. Visit the harbour, the beautiful beach, the arcades, perhaps take a trip to the Sea Life Centre, or nearby Lulworth Cove & Durdle Door.

A fab day out and perfect for families with children with a broad age range. My teens, tweens and tot were spoiled for choice, we could easily have stayed here an entire weekend and not run out of things to do. Worth mentioning that there is a camp site attached if you did fancy making a weekend or even a week of it.

Absolutely my favourite zoo that I have visited. It is beautiful, well maintained and a lovely place to spend a day. It is owned by the charity, The Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust (WWCT) who work at home and abroad to conserve species and their habitats.

Utterly brilliant if you've got a house full of Potter fanatics like I have. Amazing to see all the props and sets and learn about the making of the movies, we're looking forward to going back at the end of the Summer to see the new #BludgersandBroomsticks feature, and enjoying the experience all over again.

I'm not sure who enjoyed this more, the Mister or the kids? Either way, it was so much fun and we can't wait to visit again in the future, next time I will actually be able to go on the rides now I'm off my heart medication which I am very much looking forward to! We are very keen to see the new Angry Birds Land.

This is another place that we could never tire of, lots of fun for everyone and there was just so much to do we didn't make it all the way round in one day. Definitely somewhere else we will be visiting again, and soon!

A lovely local zoo set in beautiful gardens, we have been here many times over the years and we always enjoy it. The grounds are perfect for enjoying a picnic in if you would prefer to bring your own food.

I had forgotten what a lovely place Weston is, while it doesn't quite have the charm of Weymouth, it is a lovely little seaside town with lots to keep everyone entertained and we'll be going there again soon.

Another of the WWCT zoos, the Living Coasts Coastal Zoo & Aquarium in Torquay is dedicated to protecting the marine environment and marine & coastal species around the world. Very educational, and the penguins are just brilliant.

Of all the places we have been to, I can't quite believe that I have never written an actual review for Monkey World in Dorset. "Monkey World assists governments around the world to stop the smuggling of primates from the wild. At the centre, refugees of this unlawful trade as well as those that have suffered mistreatment or neglect are rehabilitated into natural living groups". Their work is vital for these beautiful creatures, please visit their website as well as the sanctuary to see how you can help - currently they are running a rope toy appeal for woolly monkey Bueno Junior, can you help?

Friday, 8 August 2014

{Summer Bucket List} Go to the Cinema

One of the things on our Summer Bucket List was to go to the cinema, & the Summertime is the perfect time to go with so many new releases in time for the holidays.

L, H & E decided that they wanted to go and see How to train your Dragon 2, so we stocked up on some treats (Haribo of course) & headed to the cinema.

We had 2 cinema tickets that E won as "junior of the week" in our local paper's birthday club, so as we'd saved money on admission, I treated them all to a Tango slushie each and got a bottle of water for myself since it was absolutely scorchio - I was so grateful for the air con inside the cinema.

The kids were delighted to finally see a full trailer for The Box Trolls (which looks like a really cute family movie), and Paddington Bear which they are so excited about watching, it looks very funny and I think it's being released just in time for us to go and watch at the cinema at Christmas/New Year.

Now, we absolutely loved the first HTTYD movie - it is a firm family favourite, and we all still enjoy it now even four years after it was released. It's one of those movies that we can watch again and again, and never get bored of it. Sequels don't always do the first movie justice... So with that in mind, we had high hopes for HTTYD2 & honestly - we were not disappointed.

The second movie is set 5 years after the first, the dragons and vikings are living together harmoniously on the island of Berk. Hiccup & Toothless find an ice cave full of hundreds of wild dragons during their explorations of unmapped territories, and meet the mysterious Dragon Rider. They soon find themselves embroiled in a battle to keep the peace between men & dragons.

Featuring the voice talents of Jay Baruchel (Hiccup), America Ferrera (Astrid), Gerard Butler (*excuse me, I may have drooled a little bit*... as Stoick the Vast), Jonah Hill (Snotlout) & Kristen Wiig (Ruffnut), it's an action packed movie that is full of heart and humour... But take some tissues.

I have no doubt we'll be heading to the cinema again during the Summer holidays - we may even go to see HTTYD2 again!