Brewers Fayre Keighley: A Review

On Friday we were invited to attend a morning of Easter-related fun and crafts in their ‘fun factory’ and playing followed by a tasty lunch at our local Brewers Fayre Dalesway restaurant in Keighley. I asked my best friend Caroline to accompany us and so off we went to sample their delights! Caroline and I used to frequent the restaurant many moons ago, for girlie meals out and various hangover curing meals in our youth, so we were intrigued to find out what the new re-vamped menu was like, and also more importantly what the kid’s menu and facilities were like, to ensure both Gabriel and Willow had a good time!

We arrived about 11am and headed straight to the indoor play area. Gabriel and Willow immediately went off to play and Caroline and I managed to have a catch up. There are two areas in the play area; a toddler area for under threes and the larger area for those over a meter tall. Gabriel loved exploring and although the play area doesn’t look that big from outside, having been inside to rescue a ‘stuck Willow’ I was pleasantly supposed and how much fun it was, and actually quite confusing!! Unfortunately the ‘Director of Play’ wasn’t able to be there on the day of our visit, which meant the Easter activities were minimal, however the replacement staff were lovely and helpful. We’d really like to return again in the school holidays to check out the fun that they offer, because the facilities for crafts related fun looked good!

After an hour of so of playing we were shown to our table. The kids were hungry, bit luckily there wasn’t too long a wait!

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Having had a good scan of all the menus, Gabriel and Willow decided on the new ‘Beano Meal Deal’ this meant either two or three courses for around £5/6 which actually I think is really good value. The kids are huge fans of soup so for starters they chose that, and Caroline and I decided to share two adult starters on the ‘two for £2.50′ daytime deal- which essentially meant buy one get one free, a great saving!

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The kid’s starters arrived in their mini bowls and accompanying ciabatta! They plates were also lined with colourful Beano wrapping, which was a nice touch, less boring than just a porcelain plate! Caroline and I tucked into our spicy Jerk potato wedges and garlic mushrooms whilst the kids enjoyed their soup.

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After just a short wait, our main courses arrived. I’d chosen vegetarian sausages for both Gabriel and Willow. I like that the restaurant offers vegetarian sausages and doesn’t just provide the standard ‘tomato pasta’ for vegetarian children! Gabriel chose peas and Willow chose beans to accompany their chips! I also really like the way you can amend or change the range of sides for the kids meals. This is a good addition as so many places can be let’s say, awkward about it and we all know that toddler’s requests can be somewhat challenging at times!

Caroline chose a South West Chicken Burger and I went for the Cheese and Caramelised Onion Quiche. The adult meals again were on a daytime special
offer, two meals for £10 which we thought was reasonable! The meals were tasty and the portion sizes were fair. Rather hilariously, Gabriel suddenly decided to sit away from us at the next dinner table! He throughly enjoyed his meal though!

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Once we had finished our meals, the sun had come out! Brewers Fayre Keighley has a good sized outdoor
play area and so we took our refillable drinks outside and sat enjoying the glorious sunshine! The kids loved playing on the outdoor slide and climbing frame, the only suggestion I would make would be to perhaps add some apparatus for older toddlers, as Gabriel did seem torn between the small area and was not quite tall enough for the ‘age 6+’ area.

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Over all we had a lovely afternoon and the facilities although are not as ‘shiny’ as soft play or similar, ultimately it is a restaurant and with fabulous meal deals to be had during the day and toddler-friendly foods it’s the perfect place to head in the school holidays! You can find the restaurant at 502 Bradford Road, Sandbeds, Keighley, BD20 5NH. You can also telephone for further information and reservations on 01274 566 662.

*Disclaimer: I was given vouchers to spend at Brewers Fayre in exchange for a review. All words and opinions are my own*

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Beefeater Restaurant Review: Heaton Park, Manchester

Today we were invited to review the newly refurbished Heaton Park Beefeater Restaurant in Manchester so we drove the short distance over the Pennines to sample some of their half-term filled delights!

Before going, I had a nosey at the menu to make sure they catered well enough for vegetarians, they did and I was pleased to see a vegetarian option or two on the kids special ‘Mr Men’ menu. I knew the kids would love the Mr Men books and crayons and gift they would receive, so I thought the afternoon in Manchester would be fun and we could have a lovely walk around Heaton Park after the meal- perfect!

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The pub/restaurants is super easy to find, and just off the M60 is pretty handy for motorway traffic, journeys to Manchester from the North East. There is amply parking to the rear of the pub, and it’s so close to the entrance of the wonderful Heaton Park itself it’s a great place to meet, eat and then play this half- term! I imagine the Summer months will become busy, so be sure to book using their easy-peasy online booking system beforehand!

I loved the ‘grass’ hello sign as we entered the restaurant, I could tell straight away that the place had been refurbished as it appeared clean, modern and welcoming straight away! The decor is really nice and it’s open plan seating, stairs and kitchen space adds a really nice ambience to the building, it certainly looks different inside to probably how you may guess! But no wonder I liked it’s character, the building is actually a three hundred year old coach house, named after the largest walled park in Europe!

As soon as we were seated by the lovely staff, the kids set to work choosing their meals and the Waites brought them a Mr Men and Little Miss book each, filled with fun activities, stories and crayons. This is a great touch and it certainly kept them
entertained during the short wait for the meal!

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The kids chose nachos (or pizza crisps as they called them) for their starter. The meal deal for kids is really good value, for just £5-6 each you receive a two/three course meal and a drink. The best thing about the kids menu for me, was that you can change the ‘sides’ easily. This is great for fussy-eater-toddler types (Gabriel) however although Willow eats anything pretty much it’s great to see a well thought out menu and acknowledgement that eating out with toddlers isn’t always easy!

I chose loaded potato skins with cheese and spring onion. Once the starters arrived we all tucked in. The food was really good, and definitely of a higher level pub standard. The starters came quickly, which was welcomed and the kids loved their nachos and tucked in hungrily!

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Whilst we waited for the mains we chatted and played some of the games in the kid’s activity books. There was a short wait and so these came in handy! Gabriel especially (3) loved the book and had fun spotting all this favourite Mr Men characters! Soon our meals were ready, and the table was filled with tasty looking food!

Gabriel had Quorn sausages, chips and peas (with vegetarian gravy- huge high five for this Beefeater!) Willow had tomato pasta, corn on the cob and chips (carb overload, but this is what she chose!) and I had wild mushroom risotto.

We enjoyed our meals, they were filling and tasty. In fact the portion of risotto was huge and I could not finish it, which I was a little sad about! The kids really enjoyed their meals and Willow even hoovered up Gabriel’s leftovers!

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For desserts the kids chose cookies and ice cream. They both are every last spoon full and clearly enjoyed it! I may have had a small bite of a cookie too, it was good! (Smarties!)

I had a coffee too, which was really nice. It’s good to see Costa Coffee franchised within the pub, especially when you need a decent coffee fix!

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The staff were great throughout the afternoon and even presented both Gabriel and Willow with a balloon and Mr Men sports bottle, which they loved! Overall I’d give the restaurant an 8/10 for food and service and I’d definitely return. The building is lovely, and the kids meals are good value!
Our bill came to £30 in total, which for lunch isn’t cheap, but we did have starters (and the kids had desserts!) it was also good to see that Fruit Shoots were not massively over priced (£1.60 each) because that is something that often irritates me!

So if you’re looking for something fun to do and somewhere toddler and child friendly to eat this half-term if recommend the Beefeater Grill at Heaton Park and a run around Heaton Park itself, it was beautiful in the sunshine yesterday!

Enjoy :)

*Disclaimer: I was invited to review the Heaton Park Beefeater Grill Restaurant and given vouchers to spend in exchange for an honest review- all words and opinions are my own*

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Review: Octonauts LIVE! A Deep Sea Adventure.

A few weeks ago Gabriel and I were very lucky to be invited to attend Octonauts Live! A Deep Sea Adventure. For the first time, the popular and fantastic CBeebies television show Octonauts has been brought to life by way of a fabulous new theatre production. We were invited to embark on an exciting new mission with the quirky and courageous underwater adventure heroes, the Octonauts starring Captain Barnacles, Kwazii and Peso! There were promises of an amazing underwater world full of adventure, with surprises around every corner, in this all new action-packed, interactive musical stage show, so we were extremely excited!

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If you read this blog regularly, you will know that I love the theatre, and also love being entertained, by live theatre productions, music or dance. I feel relaxed and at home at the theatre and so I want to pass this wonderful feeling onto my children. We try to get to see two or three productions a year at the local theatres as a family, and I also go as much as I can afford to see more adult based, (often musicals) shows too.

Gabriel was very excited to see Octonauts Live! Due to varying amounts of illness in our house over the last few weeks, it turned out that Gabriel and I went alone to see the show. This I wasn’t too upset by, as it meant some really special Mummy-Gabriel time and actually, Willow isn’t the biggest Octonauts fan so I wasn’t too sad about her missing it.

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We arrived at St George’s Hall in Bradford about half an hour early. This was a good thing as it meant we had enough time to have some photographs with the Octonauts props and also buy Smarties (as requested) and also a Captain Barnacles flashing toy (also, as requested and I couldn’t say no!) we also purchased a programme to keep as a souvenir which actually doubles up as a sticker book/comic too which is good. These items as usual with this type of performance are a little ‘pushed in your face’ but as long as you know where to avoid them if you don’t want to buy, you’re safe! The Barnacles toy was £7, which wasn’t too bad, and Gabriel was extremely suited with it, which was the main thing.

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Before the show, some of the actors came round the audience dressed as Sea Captains, asking the children their names and also checking that ‘they were on the list’. They appeared to approach everyone and I thought this was a really good approach to raising the excitement! Gabriel was very pleased to hear he was on their list to go on a deep-sea adventure in any case!

The show soon began and Gabriel’s eyes were glued to the stage. The performance includes all the Octonauts characters, which have been replicated well. To our delight, there was lots of singing, dancing and audience participation which keeps toddlers interested and who doesn’t love to dance?! The participation mainly involved is helping to ‘drive’ the Octonauts submarine and help them along their deep-sea mission.

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There is an interval in the show, and this again is good as it breaks the duration up (which in total is about an hour) and allows little ones to head to the toilet and so not missing any of the show and avoiding any accidents!

The second half of the show was the best in our opinion. Mid deep-sea adventure includes lots of darkness and glow in the dark fish, shadows and more singing and dancing, all of which we loved! We especially enjoyed the different types of fish, and the excitement of the dramatic rescue of one of the team (I won’t spoil the plot!) after they sadly becomes lost and trapped, but luckily the rest of the Octonauts are ready to help save the day!

The star of the show for us was Peso. The costume and silly dancing from the lovable penguin made us beam. He is just so, so cute! Gabriel spent most of the evening after the show copying Peso’s dancing, so you will perhaps be as wise as Professor Inkling to come see Peso bust his moves!

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Would i recommend Octonauts Live! The Deep Sea Adventure? Absolutely. The show planners have done a fantastic job of ensuring the story incorporates all of the characters, remaining brightly coloured, fun and interactive with lots of singing and dancing. The duration of the show and storyline is also perfect for toddlers in my opinion. So if you know an Octonauts fan, what are you waiting for? Buy tickets for this fantastic deep-seafamily friendly adventure!

The Octonauts Live! A Deep Sea Adventure show is touring in theatres Nationwide until Summer 2015

Here is a list of the remainder of the tour:

2015 TOUR DATES

SAT 24 – SUN 25 JAN BECK THEATRE, HAYES
Sat 24 at 1 & 4 pm www.becktheatre.org.uk
Sun 25 at 10 am & 1 pm

WED 28 – THURS 29 JANUARY VICTORIA THEATRE, HALIFAX
Wed 28 & Thurs 29 at 1 & 4 pm www.victoriatheatre.co.uk

SAT 31 JAN – SUN 1 FEB HULL NEW THEATRE
Sat 31 & Sun 1 at 10 am, 1 & 4 pm www.hullcc.gov.uk/hullnewtheatre

WED 4 – THURS 5 FEBRUARY ASSEMBLY HALL, TUNBRIDGE WELLS
Wed 4 & Thurs 5 at 1 & 4 pm www.assemblyhalltheatre.co.uk

SAT 7 – SUN 8 FEBRUARY FLORAL PAVILION, NEW BRIGHTON
Sat 7 & Sun 8 at 10 am, 1 & 4 pm www.floralpavilion.co.uk

WED 11 – THURS 12 FEBRUARY CREWE LYCEUM
Wed 11 & Thurs 12 at 1 & 4 pm www.crewelyceum.co.uk

SAT 14 – SUN 15 FEBRUARY CONNAUGHT THEATRE, WORTHING
Sat 14 & Sun 15 at 1 & 4 pm www.worthingtheatres.co.uk

WED 18 – THURS 19 FEBRUARY WATFORD COLOSSEUM
Wed 18 & Thurs 19 at 1 & 4 pm www.watfordcolosseum.co.uk

SAT 21 – SUN 22 FEBRUARY CIVIC THEATRE, DARLINGTON
Sat 21 & Sun 22 at 10 am, 1 & 4 pm www.darlington.gov.uk/arts

WED 25 – THURS 26 FEBRUARY THE HEXAGON, READING
Wed 11 & Thurs 12 at 1 & 4 pm www.readingarts.com/thehexagon

SAT 28 FEB – SUN 1 MARCH RICHMOND THEATRE
Sat 28 & Sun 1 at 10 am, 1 & 4 pm www.atgtickets.com

WED 4 – THURS 5 MARCH GORDON CRAIG THEATRE, STEVENAGE
Wed 4 & Thurs 5 at 1 & 4 pm www.gordon-craig.co.uk

SAT 7 – SUN 8 MARCH MILTON KEYNES THEATRE
Sat 7 & Sun 8 at 10 am, 1 & 4 pm www.atgtickets.com

WED 11 – THURS 12 MARCH PLYMOUTH PAVILIONS
Wed 11 & Thurs 12 at 1 & 4 pm www.plymouthpavilions.com

SAT 14 – SUN 15 MARCH DE MONTFORT HALL, LEICESTER
Sat 14 & Sun 15 at 10 am, 1 & 4 pm www.demontforthall.co.uk

THURS 17 – WED 18 MARCH SEVERN THEATRE, SHREWSBURY
Tues 17 & Wed 18 at 1 & 4 pm www.theatresevern.co.uk

SAT 21 – SUN 22 MARCH MALVERN THEATRE
Sat 21 & Sun 22 at 10 am, 1 & 4 pm www.malvern-theatres.co.uk

WED 1 – THURS 2 APRIL EDEN COURT THEATRE, INVERNESS
Wed 1 & Thurs 2 at 1 & 4 pm www.eden-court.co.uk

SAT 4 – SUN 5 APRIL KING’S THEATRE, EDINBURGH
Sat 4 at 1 & 4 pm www.edtheatres.com
Sun 5 at 10 am & 1 pm

WED 8 – THURS 9 APRIL HIS MAJESTY’S THEATRE, ABERDEEN
Wed 8 & Thurs 9 at 1 & 4 pm www.aberdeenperformingarts.com

SAT 11 – SUN 12 APRIL GALA THEATRE, DURHAM
Sat 11 at 1 & 4 pm www.galadurham.co.uk
Sun 12 at 10 am & 1 pm

WED 15 – THURS 16 APRIL GRAND THEATRE, WOLVERHAMPTON
Wed 15 at 4.30 pm www.grandtheatre.co.uk
Thurs 16 at 1 & 4.30 pm

SAT 18 – SUN 19 APRIL MAYFLOWER, SOUTHAMPTON
Sat 18 & Sun 19 at 10.30 am & 1.30 pm www.mayflowertheatre.org.uk

TUES 22 – WED 23 APRIL HALL FOR CORNWALL, TRURO
Tues 22 & Wed 23 at 1 & 4 pm www.hallforcornwall.org.uk

SAT 25 – SUN 26 APRIL BRISTOL HIPPODROME
Sat 25 at 1 & 4 pm www.atgtickets.com
Sun 26 at 10 am & 1 pm

WED 29 – THURS 30 APRIL GRAND THEATRE, SWANSEA
Wed 29 & Thurs 30 at 1 & 4 pm www.swanseagrand.co.uk

SAT 2 – SUN 3 MAY NEW WIMBLEDON THEATRE
Sat 2 at 1 & 4 pm www.atgtickets.com
Sun 3 at 10 am & 1 pm

WED 13 – THURS 14 MAY THE ALBAN ARENA, ST ALBANS
Wed 13 & Thurs 14 at 1 & 4 pm www.alban-arena.co.uk

SAT 16 – SUN 17 MAY OPERA HOUSE, MANCHESTER
Sat 16 at 1 & 4 pm www.atgtickets.com
Sun 17 at 10 am & 1 pm

WED 20 – THURS 21 MAY KING’S THEATRE, GLASGOW
Wed 20 & Thurs 21 at 1 & 4.30 pm www.atgtickets.com

SAT 23 – SUN 24 MAY MARINA THEATRE, LOWESTOFT
Sat 23 at 4 pm www.marinatheatre.co.uk
Sun 24 at 10 am, 1 & 4 pm

WED 27 – THURS 28 MAY CLIFFS PAVILION, SOUTHEND
Wed 27 at 1 & 4 pm www.southend.org.uk
Thurs 28 at 10 am & 1 pm

SAT 30 – SUN 31 MAY WYVERN THEATRE, SWINDON
Sat at 1 & 4 pm www.wyverntheatre.org.uk
Sun 31 at 10 am & 1 pm

WED 3 – THURS 4 JUNE THEATRE ROYAL BRIGHTON
Wed 3 & Thurs 4 at 1 & 4.30 pm www.atgtickets.com

SAT 6 – SUN 7 JUNE HACKNEY EMPIRE
Sat 6 at 1 & 4 pm www.hackneyempire.co.uk
Sun 7 at 10 am & 1 pm

WED 10 – THURS 11 JUNE SHEFFIELD LYCEUM
Wed 10 & Thurs 11 at 1 & 4 pm www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk

SAT 13 – SUN 14 JUNE CORN EXCHANGE, KING’S LYNN
Sat 13 at 1 & 4 pm www.kingslynncornexchange.co.uk
Sun 14 at 10 am & 1 pm

WED 17 – THURS 18 JUNE HARROGATE THEATRE
Wed 17 & Thurs 18 at 1 & 4 pm www.harrogatetheatre.co.uk

SAT 20 – SUN 21 JUNE KING’S THEATRE. SOUTHSEA
Sat 20 at 1 & 4 pm www.kings-southsea.com
Sun 21 at 10 am & 1 pm

WED 24 – THURS 25 JUNE NEW VICTORIA THEATRE, WOKING
Wed 24 & Thurs 25 at 1 & 4.30 pm www.atgtickets.com

FRI 26 – SAT 27 JUNE DERNGATE THEATRE, NORTHAMPTON
Fri 26 at 4 pm www.royalandderngate.co.uk
Sat 27 at 10 am, 1 & 4 pm

WED 1 – THUS 2 JULY LICHFIELD GARRICK THEATRE
Wed 1 & Thurs 2 at 1 & 4 pm www.lichfieldgarrick.com

SAT 4 – SUN 5 JULY BLACKPOOL GRAND
Sat 4 at 1 & 4 pm www.blackpoolgrand.co.uk
Sun 5 at 10 am & 1 pm

*Disclaimer: We were given complimentary tickets to the show in order for an honest review, all opinions and words are my own*

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Nativity 3 Dude, Where’s My Donkey? & Christmas Jumper Day!

This weekend Gabriel and I were very lucky to be invited to a special premiere of Nativity 3: Dude, Where’s My Donkey? Sadly, because Willow is still recovering from Chicken Pox she stayed at home but this meant Gabriel and I could spend some quality time together, which is rare! So we headed off to the Trafford Centre on Sunday morning for some Christmas- themed fun!

We were asked by the PR company to wear our ‘Yule Togs’ Christmas jumpers, in order to raise awareness of the Save the Children campaign for Christmas Jumper Day 2014. Gabriel loved wearing his Santa got stuck in the chimney jumper, and this meant he also wore a smile all day!

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We arrived at 10am and were greeted by two magic balloon modelling elves! Gabriel chose a reindeer design and loved watching the elves make a balloon-reindeer just for him! There were also glitter tattoos on offer and a very special Nativity 3: Dude, Where’s My Donkey? photograph pop-up studio! So of course we donned our newly acquired Elf hats and posed for some photographs..

After grabbing a quick skinny flat white for Mummy, we went inside the cinema for the premiere showing of the film. Surrounded by popcorn, drinks and treats and a fab Nativity themed advent calendar each we watched the film. If you haven’t seen the previous two Nativity films (I haven’t!) it’s not an issue. The story is based around Mr Shepherd (Martin Clunes) and a variety of mishaps, (including amnesia!) that occur during the planning of his upcoming Christmas themed nuptials in New York. Of course a class of children and the wonderful Mr Poppy (Mark Wootton) support him in his quest to bring back his memory of Christmas and in turn the hand of his fiancé Sophie (Catherine Tate) by way of entering a flash-mob dancing competition. Cue lots of sporadic breaking into song, crazy and amusing dancing and also silly jokes and you’ve got this film in a (ches)nut-shell. (Sorry…)

Martin Clunes is great in the film, and although he does look uncomfortable at times singing, it just adds to the comedy feel. It’s actually pretty funny! For me, the star of the show is young actress Lauren Hobbs who plays his daughter, Lauren. She’s super cute and her beautiful little voice brings magic and that required bittersweet storyline to life in this Christmas film!

Despite the film’s title, there’s actually not that much donkey involved! However the title does allow for a great song in the film, that you’ll be singing for days after! (Dude, Where’s My Donkey?) We both enjoyed watching the dancing, glitz and glamour in the film and also spotting some of our favourite UK attractions such as the London Eye and Drayton Manor which made us smile.

In conclusion I’d definitely recommend spending a few pounds and going to see this film in the next few weeks if you are missing your inner Christmas sparkle! It’s certainly got me feeling all Christmassy and shortly after seeing the film I went and purchased some Christmas gifts. So if you need gift buying motivation perhaps this film is for you too!

It was lovely to hear children of all ages giggling away at the film, and although Gabriel is only three, he sat and watched he film beginning to end with no issues at all (The first time he has done this at the cinema!) and because I believe that actions speak louder than words I will conclude from that, that he really enjoyed it!

After the film Gabriel and I spent some quality time together shopping and having lunch. Gabriel has told me that would like a ‘red robot’ from Father Christmas this year and so we went searching for ideas, in order to give St Nicholas that helping hand he so, so needs! We didn’t find a robot, but we did have lots of fun in Hamleys, and bought Willow a small Bigjigs pink train to add to our collection as she had missed out on the cinema trip.

We had a really nice time together, and I’m so proud of how grown up and well mannered Gabriel has become. He is such lovely, enjoyable company. Wandering around he Trafford Centre with elf hats and Christmas jumpers on may have gained us some funny looks, but it was a lot of fun!

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(Please excuse the photo, once the official version can be downloaded it will be swapped!)

Nativity 3: Dude, Where’s My Donkey? is released on Friday 14th November and will show at cinemas nationwide.

You can find out more about the Save the Children’s Christmas Jumper Day here and this year, it will be held on Friday 12th December so why not join in the festive fun, and help those children who need it most, by donating and raising awareness. The money raised will help save lives- Just £2 could pay for potentially life-saving antibiotics to treat three babies with infections. AND the more raised, the more children the charity can reach.

Special thanks to Josie for providing us with complimentary tickets for the event. We had a fabulous time!

Just remember.. If you believe, you WILL receive…

Michelle & Gabriel x x

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A Beautiful Pewter Friendship Vase

A few weeks ago I was contacted by the lovely people at Museum selection and offered a choice from a beautiful selection of items which they house on their site. I will confess to never having heard of the company before, but as soon as I began looking through the products I fell in love with a few of their items! It was difficult to choose just one item, but in the end I settled for this beautiful Pewter Friendship Vase

The Museum Selection are a retail company that offer a fine collection of home accessories, gifts and cards, with purchases of these items helping the respective museums and galleries across the UK. Their mantra which wholeheartedly adopts the Arts and Crafts philosophy set out by William Morris is to ‘Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful’. Taking inspiration from country house interiors and gardens, museum collections and our great cathedrals, our aim is to bring together distinctive and unusual home accessories, jewellery, clothing and gifts celebrating over a thousand years of history, art and design. Knowing this and browsing through their wares it is painfully obvious that the products available are ones of quality, class and beautiful unique craftsmanship. Their gift selection which includes some perfect festive gift ideas and can be found in gift department.

The company was created in 2002 and they work closely with suppliers that are passionate about prices and quality, utilizing traditional skills wherever possible, and rather impressively, many of the products available have been made exclusively for Museum Selection.

The Pewter Friendship Vase is truly stunning. I was quite taken aback when I opened the packaging after just a couple of days of ordering. Packaged well, protecting the vase was bubble wrap and polystyrene pieces, this ensured that the vase wasn’t harmed, scratched or damaged transit, and this is something that had clearly been well thought out. When I pulled away the packaging, I was met with a stunning vase, which although was ever so slightly smaller than I imagined (Definitely my fault as I did not read the measurements!) was really, really lovely. The vase is going to be a gifted to a member of my family at Christmas time because I know that they will love the item as much as I do. I specifically chose the item for them as it matches their taste perfectly AND I always struggle to chose something suitable for them, as they have everything!

I also love that this vase is named a ‘friendship vase’ this means that if you were to purchase it as a gift for a friend it would encompass special meaning, and be cherished. It’s certainly an item that would last many, many years and would likely be handed down through generations, and I think that’s fabulous!

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Beautifully hand-crafted in English Pewter, the striking vase is a careful reproduction of a 1906 original by the German company WMF, the largest manufacturer of household metal ware at the time. A sinuous floral design synonymous with early Jugendstil, the German interpretation of Art Nouveau. The vase measures just under eight inches tall and five inches wide so is perfect that your mantlepiece of sideboard. This vase retails at £140 on the Museum Selection webiste, and although pricy, with the work gone into making the item and the British pewter used, I feel that it is a fair price.

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Inside the packaging was a card detailing care instructions, which I found useful (as shown below). I had no previous knowledge of pewter and how to look after it correctly and so I think again, this is another well thought out aspect by the company! So thanks to this information I now know that the vase won’t take too much looking after, and also that pewter no longer contains lead in the UK, which is very good to know!

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So would I recommend the Museum Selection? Yes I would. Everyone has a relative that is difficult to buy for, and so perhaps this site is the answer! I support UK manufacturing businesses and I think that buying unique gifts is a really nice touch, as it adds that personal touch. I know this vase will be loved and used both as a vase AND an ornamental piece as it’s too stunning to be kept in the cupboard! There is a campaign running on social media this Christmas, that is encouraging us to buy gifts from smaller businesses, and to support our local manufacturing. I for one am trying my best this festive season to buy from smaller businesses and so I will certainly be looking at what else the Museum Selection has to offer my family and friends.

The Museum Selection also offer their customers a fantastic array of homewares, jewellery, soft furnishings and kitchen and dining items, so why not pay their website a visit, and get that Christmas shopping done early!

Please note: This post was written by myself in collaboration with Museum Selection. All views and words are my own.

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A Very Special Willow Bracelet (With Added Baby Shower Inspiration!)

Willow is going to be two in a few months and it occurred a few weeks ago having received a jewellery box as a gift, she does not own any jewellery to put in it yet! Willow was born in December and whilst being an almost Christmas baby has its lovely advantages, it also means that we have to choose two sets of gifts for her (with the help of Santa, obviously) quite close together. As soon as I found my due date was likely to be close to Christmas we were adamant that Willow should receive two separate gifts, so that she is able to celebrate her Birthday in its own right. I’ve been browsing online stores for the past few months for a special piece of jewellery that we could buy for Willow to celebrate her second year. I love to shop with independents, rather than the larger chain stores (most likely due to my own business!) and I had seen My 1st Years on Twitter with their lovely array of beautiful gifts for babies, children and parents too.

To my delight, My 1st Years contacted me and asked if I would like to review an item from their store, as soon as they asked, I headed straight to their baby shower gifts section as i’d seen some lovely items previously! Below is a selection of some of my favourite gifts. All these items come gift wrapped and I can personally tell you that receiving a parcel from My 1st Years is a gift in itself! The gift boxes and wrapping are stunning.

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All the above items are from the company’s baby shower section of the website. It’s tradition as you know to buy a baby a gift to celebrate its arrival into the world, and now more than ever ladies are holding baby showers to celebrate the imminent arrival of their bundle of joy! But what do you buy as a gift? Is it for the Mummy? Baby? or both? Well My 1st Years have designed a section to help you with just that, and what’s great about the section is, that it covers all budgets!

My 1st Years very kindly agreed to send me a personalised silver bracelet for Willow, which was to be engraved with her name. In return they asked me to write a review of my experience and also the bracelet. Within a couple of days a box arrived in the post and I ripped it open to find a beautiful, blue gift box decorated with a gorgeous white satin ribbon.

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Inside the packaging wasn’t a disappointment either, wrapped into a lovely brightly coloured jewellery box placed on an adorable mini cushion was Willow’s bracelet. I loved it as soon as set eyes on it! So delicate and tiny, so shiny and perfect for my daughter’s tiny wrist! The bracelet is silver, with space for a huge twelve letter engraving, to add a personal touch and this is included in the price. The bracelet is made by D for Diamond and features a heart motif set with a real diamond. It’s such a pretty gift for a special occasion and will last until the recipient is at least three and a half years old. (Diameter is 4.5cm up to 5.5cm; Width is 0.5cm)

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What is extra special about this bracelet that I have chosen for Willow is that when I was about her age I received a similar bracelet as a Christening present. I treasured it, and still I have it now in my jewellery box. I will of course most likely hand this down to Willow one day but for now I like to look at it and remember being small and being excited that it was a special enough occasion to be able to wear it! I haven’t presented Willow with her bracelet as yet as it is not her Birthday until December, but when I do, it will be for special occasions only (she can be a little, lets say rough-handed at times) and I would like to keep this bracelet so she can cherish it her whole life, just like I have done with mine. A huge thank you to My 1st Years for the perfect personalisation too, I really adore the bracelet and I am so excited to give it to Willow!

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The My 1st Years silver and diamond bracelet is listed HERE and costs £50 with free delivery, engraving and gift wrapping service

I wrote previously about My 1st Years and you can read the post here also documented is a selection of my favourite items from their lovely site, so go have a gander! With Christmas coming up it’s so great to support smaller businesses and purchase unique gifts, and My 1st Years have both those bases covered!

For more information on My 1st Years, visit their website, follow them on Twitter or like their Facebook page

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*Disclosure: I was sent a complimentary silver and diamond bracelet for review, all words and opinions are my own*

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Celebrate Their 1st Years!

Perhaps I am now a certain age, because there has in the last few years certainly been a baby boom within my friends, family and associates that when I pause and look around for a moment, still shocks me. If I am absolutely honest, I often look at my own two toddlers and ask myself ‘How did this happen? I’m a Mummy?!’

But it has. And it’s truly wonderful, and most definitely something worth celebrating.

It’s traditional to welcome a new baby into the world with a gift. It’s first actual ‘Birthday’ present. It’s a celebration and those few weeks are something so special to treasure. The baby is so tiny, so precious and such a beautiful miracle. Whatever gift you choose to mark the occasion, clothing, flowers, champagne (yes please) or a lovely keep-sake, they are always welcome and it’s a joyous way to say ‘Congratulations’.

This post is a collaboration with My 1st Years who, help shoppers choose the perfect gift for the new baby in their lives. Covering all budgets, My 1st Years have all bases covered. Personalisation, beautiful silver and perhaps at the very heart of the company, lovely newborn essentials.

The 1st Years website boast their fabulous range of items, and it’s not just new baby or baby shower gifts. They have expanded into providing gifts to and from all your loved ones, centred around baby. Perhaps one of my favourite aspects of this company is the gift wrapping. I received my order and taken aback at how beautiful the luxury gift box and gorgeous wrapping my product was encased in! It felt like I’d received a gift, rather than just an item launched into a cardboard box from a warehouse.

So whether you are looking for a new baby gift, a christening or birthday present or perhaps a gift to Mummy or Daddy or a loved one from baby, look no further than My 1st Years. Below are a selection of products that I have chosen as my most favourite items from their lovely website.

I love this personalised Bunny Chopping Board which has been designed to inspire all budding little chefs! It is the perfect gift for every young cook so they can grate, chop, peel, serve and let’s not forget the best bit, sample! The chopping board can be personalised with a name or phrase of your choice- which I think is MEGA cute!

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This Helicopter money-box would make a perfect gift, practical for saving those pennies, but also would look fabulous in a nursery or child’s bedroom.

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Willow’s favourite song at the moment is ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ and so I know she would adore this lovely sign for her wall. I think it would add a touch of character and a pretty hint of pink to your little one’s bedroom or nursery.

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I have also fallen in love with this Happy Apple Fork and Spoon set. What a different and cute gift this cutlery set makes for a baby and toddler! The cutlery set includes a spoon, and a fork and each piece features an adorable little apple face on the end of the handle. They can also be engraved with the little one’s name or initials, adding that personal touch.

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I know two small people who would love this Wooden Noah’s Ark Playset. It’s lovely and colourful and I just love that it can be personalised with a name and also a year! What a fantastic keepsake of your little one’s childhood!

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Know any musical babies? Then this wooden personalised xylophone is the perfect gift! Introduce them to the beautiful sounds of this gorgeous pine wood instrument. I think that it would also make a gorgeous decorative accessory for baby’s bedroom until they are old enough to play it!

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Finally I have chosen this beautiful Wooden Personalised Rocking Horse.This centuries-old toy has been updated with a modern, colourful model which your little one will spend hours enjoying as they rock back and forth! What’s different about this one which I think is great is that it comes with an adjustable seat back and removable side rails, so your little one can continue to use it as they grow older, and it comes personalised too. A perfect Birthday or Christmas gift!

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I have ordered a very special gift for Willow’s Birthday which will form part of another blog post later, but be assured I am absolutely delighted with it, and it’s certainly something I know she will treasure into her adult life so watch this space!

In the meantime, happy shopping with My 1st Years

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*Disclosure: This post was written by myself and all choices from My 1st Years’ website were opted for by me. This post was written as part of a collaboration with the company only*

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Lumi Potti: Review Part One!

A couple of months ago we were asked to review a Lumi Potti. At the time we had decided to potty train both Gabriel and Willow together because, it seemed the most sensible solution. Willow is very hands on, quite smart and at just eighteen months old so has been copying Gabriel for months so ‘gets’ the whole toilet game. Gabriel on the other hand is very different, he does not like change. We started potty training him at age two, but we have gone slowly. He much prefers and responds well to this type of learning and we have found he responds to change in his own time. It there’s one thing I have learnt as a parent, it’s that a child will learn to hit their milestones when they are ready. There really is no point trying to force learning! If your child doesn’t seem ready for a potty. Stop, and try again in a few months. There’s no rush, after all it is not a race.

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We were sent a green Lumi Potti and as soon as I opened the packaging I knew that it was something we would use and like. I was if I am honest surprised at the price (£23.99) as I had felt it was too expensive for a potty, but it really is great quality and designed well. We have four other pottys in the house, all different designs! We have a seat incorporating a potty, a traditional white potty, a Disney ‘Cars’ potty and also a travel potty and I can honestly say, out of them all both Gabriel and Willow always ask for the ‘green one Mummy’ which is of course, the Lumi Potti, and the reason for that I can only assume is that it’s the most comfortable to sit on. Both of them have loved nothing more than to sit on the potty watching their favourite television programme!
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Getting down to business with the potty was pretty easy. We put it in the living room and the kids just took it in turns to sit on it. (Mainly shouting, ‘wee wee, wee wee!’) We wanted the change to be relaxed and something that the kids didn’t become stressed about. The potty is easy to empty and clean too, which is useful! I was also pleased to see that the potty is made from anti- microbial plastic and is also made in the UK.

It became apparent very quickly that Gabriel was perfectly ready for wearing pants. He took to it like a duck to water, and sitting on the Lumi Potti both morning and night soon became his routine. Often, wearing silly hats or his pants on his head for the occasion.

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Gabriel is daft, and has a wonderful sense of humour. Even sat on his potty he likes to make us laugh! Willow on the other hand likes to take the Lumi Potti into the playroom or behind the settee and sit on it, for a much more private experience. Whilst Gabriel was fully ready for the change, and went from potty to being dry all day and night in a matter of days, Willow is still learning. She is still wearing nappies, but also using the potty. We won’t rush her, because it’s her own journey as far as we are concerned. She understands the process, but for her it is the physical aspect of pulling her pants down and actually getting onto the potty confidently that she needs to master!

The Lumi Potti has a light at the back of the potty. It’s movement sensor operated and the idea is that your child can use the potty at night easily. The idea is that once the potty is no longer needed the light can also be used as a night light, which I think is sweet feature. Although, as yet, we have not needed to use this feature however please watch out for part two of the review where we will be focusing on the night light, and also reporting Willow’s progress on her potty training journey!

If you’d like to buy a Lumi Potti, there is a special offer on at the moment where you can purchase one from Amazon for just £19.99.

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Rachael, the inventor of Lumi Potti has written a ‘Dry Feet Guide’ to help you through all the stages of potty training, how to work out of they are ready before you start and a guide for day and night potty training. There are also parents’ notes to help you get the most from the guide. As well as the guide you will also receive your very own free printable potty training charts; one to get your little one ready for potty training, plus day and night-time too.

To receive your free printable guide and training charts all you need to do is sign up to our newsletter on the Lumi Potti website

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Play That Funky (Giraffe) Music

Ever since I saw a lady in Marks & Spencer’s shopping with her baby way back in 2010 I have loved the Funky Giraffe bibs collection. The baby was gorgeous, but he looked mega cool sporting what looked like to me as some sort of well, funky baby neckerchief style bib. I wasn’t even pregnant, but I wanted to be, so I asked the Mother,

‘Where on earth did you find that amazing bib??’

‘Oh it’s a Funky Giraffe bandana bib’ she replied.

I remembered. I may have a memory like a sieve when it comes to my chores but when it comes to shopping for ace things. I’m THERE.

In June 2011 Gabriel was born. I’d of course purchased twenty five Funky Giraffes in full preparation for his arrival.
Yes, twenty five. And, turns out we used them ALL.

Funky Giraffe bibs are great for all ages. From Birth right up to age well, Gabriel still uses them and he is three. For me, they look much cooler than a ‘baby bib’ and if you’re smart, they can often look like part of your child’s outfit!

What I love about Funky Giraffe is their choice. So many great designs, but they’re clever. They make it hard to choose! They’re all unisex too, which I like having because I have a girl and a boy, and they share things!

Willow came along in 2013 and I was adamant. I didn’t want her dressed head to toe in pink and frills. It’s not my style, and thankfully it certainly wasn’t hers either. When it came to perusing the Funky Giraffe collection again, I wasn’t disappointed. There were new designs! Hurray! I again slipped twenty into my basket and we were good to go. We also still had most of Gabriel’s to ‘hand down’ too!

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The kids have always seemed to enjoy wearing their Funky Giraffes, whereas with other bibs they pull them straight off, so I guess they’re comfy and not irritating to wear! The bibs certainly feel very soft, and even with constant washing (believe me, they’ve been washed, a lot!) they have remained in great condition. Price wise, I think they’re really reasonable. They’re long lasting and compared to their competitors, they’re much cheaper.

In times of teething, and constant dribble, I have been so grateful of Funky Giraffe. Willow is struggling at the moment and the bibs have met a dry t-shirt for her, and made her much more comfortable. A friend of mine’s child dribbled a lot, and I mean a lot. I recommended the bibs to her and although she likes them she did say she had to ‘double up’ the bibs. But, it was the best item she had tried and she was happy with this. The great thing about the bibs is, that if you wanted to double them up, you can! Willow is teething at the moment, so when we were asked to review some I jumped at the chance. You can never have TOO MANY Funky Giraffes after all

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I like that Funky Giraffe bibs are ethically sourced. It’s a great selling point for me as I am a supporter of Fair Trade. So fancy great quality, funky designs and good value? Then play that Funky Giraffe music in your house too.

Funky Giraffe bibs are available on their website here with a very special offer of five beautiful bibs for just £11.25!

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Disclosure: We were sent five Funky Giraffe bibs to review, however this is MY review and is written honestly. All links added were because I love them so.

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Skydiving: Chicago Town Style

Last July, I jumped from a plane in memory of a very special baby girl, Matilda Mae who died from SIDS at just nine months old. The skydive was a fundraiser for The Lullaby Trust who help raise awareness of SIDS, support parents and fund much needed research into why SIDS occurs.

Last year’s dive was a very spiritual experience for me and so when I was invited to go and skydive again, I jumped at the chance! Not only is it a great experience, but I wanted to enjoy the feelings it gave me all over again.

A photograph of the dive from last year

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If you read this blog regularly, you may remember a few months ago I wrote a post all about my next skydive. The next skydive was to be held in May, but was unfortunately cancelled due to the bad weather conditions us Northerners have to endure. Anyway, the jump finally happened. Last Friday I drove to the North West Skydiving Centre in Flookburgh ready to make my second skydive!20140705-152712.jpg

Chicago Town very kindly paid for the skydive and also provided me (and the team of bloggers) with some delicious pizza and snacks for lunch too! (What an amazing combination- pizza and skydiving!!) The cheese pizza was really good actually, I was quite impressed as I don’t usually buy frozen pizza. I even managed to sneak a few home for dinner that night! 20140705-152507.jpg

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We arrived at 11am and after registering, we went and completed our ‘training’ which lasted about twenty minutes and is basically all about safety, positions of free-fall and landing and they also answer any questions you may have about the experience. The North West Skydive Centre clearly know their stuff. I was massively impressed by the amount of jumps the instructors had done (thousands and thousands) and they seemed knowledgable, which immediately put everyone at ease. 20140705-152902.jpg

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Next was the first three jumpers! I was in the first plane, along with Carrianne and Catherine. As we climbed into our jumpsuits, attached the harnesses and met our ‘tandem diver’ it was soon time to go! After some photographs for Brazen PR we were climbing into the plane and taking off at speed! 20140705-152759.jpg
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The flight up to 14,000 feet take about fifteen minutes. Chris, my instructor chatted to me, and showed me local sights out of the window. We flew over Windermere and also we could see right out to Morecambe Bay. It was fantastic! Soon at about 8,000 feet it was time to ‘tighten’ the harness. And this MEANS tighten. You are attached to your instructor like another layer of their skin. Not that I’m complaining, it’s good to feel secured to the person who’s carrying the parachutes!

I was feeling positive, but nervous. I looked out of the window, feeling determined to enjoy the experience. I wanted to take in every last second. Then it was our turn to scramble to the door of the plane. It was open and the smell of the fuel hit me.

It brought it all back.

Isn’t it strange how a certain smell or hearing a particular song can shake up your emotions without any warning? The fuel smell is strong. It’s so so windy at 14,000 feet and you struggle to catch your breath once the door opens. Chris signalled me to wriggle to the edge and dangle my legs over the edge of the plane. I leant back and thought of Matilda Mae.

We dived out of the plane!

We dropped quickly and as soon as I lifted my arms into free fall position I realised, the jump was different. I could feel myself falling, it was extremely cloudy below and all I could hear was the wind. I struggled to breathe again and remembered to lift my head up.

Everything was so white. The clouds felt suffocating, yet peaceful. We kept dropping and dropping until eventually, I felt the sudden PULL of the parachute opening.

Again. A sign of relief inside, but immediately followed by a immense feeling of sadness. The free fall is over!

Chris didn’t speak for about thirty seconds. We just carried on dropping with the parachute through the cloud.

Then suddenly, green.

Greenery! I could see the floor, barely making out the views, but Chris pointed out the landing area, and explained what was in my view. He also let me take control of the parachute steering, and needless to say we did lots of spins! (I love the spinning).

After about five minutes it was time to land. It amazed me again at how fast you are travelling as you land when skydiving. I lifted my legs up as we flipped around and ‘flew’ into land. We landed sitting down and in a field of rapeseed. I’m very glad I had taken an anti histamine, I was covered! It was a fantastic skydive, however so different from the first! The views of the Lakes, Morcambe Bay and Windermere were really beautiful. It’s a gorgeous area to jump in that’s for sure!

As the event been organised by the PRs representing Chicago Town (The no1 frozen pizza company) we have also been included in a special video campaign for their website and Facebook page, just like the Chicago Town SWAT team! How cool is that?!

The result? I loved it, and well, I adore pizza, so this was the perfect event for me!

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What’s even more special is that last time when I jumped I shouted hello to Tilda, and this time I did it again. Jennie and her family are friends of mine, and it means to much to me to support them in their fundraising for the Lullaby Trust, in memory of Matilda Mae.

Team Matilda Mae are skydiving again in August (the 2nd!) and although I will be part of that again, I feel super honoured to be jumping for a third time for The Lullaby Trust too.

We’re still quite a bit off target, so I’d REALLY love if you could sponsor me, if you have any spare pennies? You can do so here It’s pretty scary sat on the edge of the plane…

Special thanks to Chicago Town, the girls at Brazen PR, the fabulous #Chicagotownskydive team and most of all Chris, my tandem instructor, for opening the parachute and ensuring I landed safely!

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A huge thank you for my fabulous goodie bag too! I’m now the proud owner of a Chicago Town pizza cutter, vouchers, oven gloves and a set of Dominoes! (Brilliant marketing there!)

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