A Summer's Day Out at Hever Castle | July 2020

30.7.20


We received Press Tickets in exchange for this review.

Once the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, Hever Castle is now a fantastic place to visit for a family day out. And living in Kent we are lucky to have it practically on our doorstep, so we were thrilled to be invited along this summer to enjoy just that! Of course with current circumstances there are a few changes in place at Hever at the moment, but we still managed to have a fantastic day out with so much to see and do.

The first big change at Hever Castle right now is having to pre-book your visit to help keep visitor numbers low. This is really simple to do on the website, and requires you to pick a day and then a time slot for you to arrive. As well as this there are well marked one-way systems in place in certain areas, lots of hand sanitiser available to use and enhanced cleaning routines too. Despite this most of the attractions are now open including the castle, gardens, play areas and water maze, shop, restaurants and boat hire.






The last time we visited Hever Castle was during the winter season so it was so lovely to experience Hever in the summer this time. Everywhere you look at Hever is picture perfect whatever time at year, but definitely on a whole other level when in bloom during the summer. We chose a mid-week 10.30am slot and were really surprised at how quiet everywhere was when we arrived. We managed to explore the Rose Garden and the Italian Garden and only see one other family the whole time - such a rare and special experience!

Of course having three children we headed straight for the playgrounds first. Current restrictions in place mean that you have to experience them a little differently now, but they really are a highlight of Hever Castle. The playground has been split into two to minimise numbers and make cleaning easier.

The smaller park (Acorn Dell) features a sandpit, climbing equipment and slide and is more suitable for younger children. The bigger area (Tudor Towers) has a fantastic 9 metre tall wooden play castle as well as other play equipment and even a small cafe serving hot drinks and snacks. You have to queue for which park you want to visit and then groups are given a 30 minute slot to play. Between these slots the park is completely emptied and equipment is cleaned. Of course it's not the same experience and the queues could be long, but I think this is a great system for current circumstances.





The restaurants and food stalls were open during our visit to purchase food, but no summers day out in complete without a picnic in our eyes so we brought our own food. We managed to get a picnic table very easily, but as Hever has so much green space to enjoy it really wouldn't be an issue if you can't. We did treat ourselves to ice creams at the end of the day though which were reasonably priced and super tasty! 

The highlight of our visit was definitely getting to enjoy the water maze. I have such fond memories of the maze myself as a child, so it was extra special to take my three and experience it with them. The water maze has the same system in place as the playgrounds so definitely something to think about if you visit on a really hot day, as I can imagine it could get very very busy! Also make sure to pack swimming costumes / spare clothes as you will get absolutely soaked (especially if you have a child take an extra little dip like we did...oops).






Despite a full day out there were still many areas of Hever we didn't get to enjoy, but that just gives us the perfect excuse to visit again (not that we needed any more convincing). The added changes and restrictions made us feel incredibly safe, and actually it felt like we were just experiencing a 'normal' family day out which was exactly what we needed! I would 100% recommend a visit to Hever Castle whether you're looking for a family day out, history or just simply a beautiful place to explore. Thanks for having us Hever!

Click here to watch our vlog from our visit.

Summer Holidays Bucket List 2020

24.7.20


Although the summer holidays are going to be a little different this year due to Covid-19, I still want to make sure they are as fun and memorable for the littles as possible - although I fear this year won't be one we forget in a hurry anyway! We've created a summer holidays bucket list the last few years (2018 and 2019 can be found here), so why should this year be any different?

Lockdown restrictions and social distancing measures may mean a few of our usual ideas and plans may have to change, but we are planning to give everything our best shot. Jack has luckily managed to get a few days off work over the summer, which of course makes days out and adventuring that little bit easier (and more fun as we can go further afield in the car). So without further ado, here's our summer holidays bucket list 2020...


I'm going to print out the above list so that littles can tick off each point once it's completed. As with previous years I've included lots of things I know we're already doing (but they don't yet), so hopefully we'll manage everything!

What are your summer holiday plans this year?

Strawberry Picking at Lower Ladysden Farm | July 2020

23.7.20

As a family we have created a number of annual traditions and activities, but one of my favourite has to be going strawberry picking in the summer. We usually visit our local PYO, but due to timings (and the current situation meaning everyone had already picked everything) we had to look further afield for our strawbs. I had seen a few people mention Lower Ladysden Farm in a local group, so we jumped in the car and drove over to Goudhurst to see if we were in luck!

As it happens luck was on our side as we managed to arrive on the last day of the current crop. We were advised that pickings could be slim, but we grabbed some punnets from the shop and wandered down to the tunnels to see what we could find. We had to search a bit harder, but as you'll see in the pictures we definitely managed to find enough fruit.






The strawberries at Lower Ladysden Farm are grown on tabletops so it was a little trickier for the littles to pick them without help. I actually found this helped to avoid punnets full of mushy / unripe strawbs though, as we had to help them pick the best ones! We mostly avoided extra nibbles too as they were too excited to find the ripe ones and fill their punnets to the top. 

Once the littles were sure we had enough we headed back up to the shop to pay, and of course see what other treats were available in the new farmshop. If you don't want to PYO Lower Ladysden farmshop carries a wide variety of ready picked seasonal produce, as well as their own range of jam and chutneys, ice creams and sorbets and juice. The farm also works with local bakers and cake makers to supply yummy treats, and of course we came for coffee and cake! We sat out in the picnic area with these (and our pickings of course), while the littles ran around and enjoyed the sun. It really was a perfect morning out!





It wasn't until we researched Lower Ladysden more when we came home that discovered they also run a Maize Maze in the summer, as well as pumpkin picking and Halloween fun in the autumn. How fab is that?

Children's Educational Toys from WordUnited | Review

13.7.20

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We have owned many toys, games and books over the years. Huge garish plastic ones, bright flashy ones, and ones that have been tossed to the side the second they have been taken out of the box. But over these years we've learnt which type of toys last the longest and bring the most joy for our little ones - our wooden kitchen for example was a gift for our eldest's 2nd birthday; she's 7 this year and it's still played with daily by her and our two younger children! As well as longevity being an important factor when looking for toys and gifts for our children, we also think that they should provide more than just fun. Of course that's incredibly important too, but an educational aspect is so key to our children's development. And WordUnited provide just that.


WordUnited is an independent publisher, bookseller and educational supplier of children’s books, toys and children's learning toys (birth to 11 years). They specialise in supplying those hard-to-find, good quality educational toys, books and learning resources - from their own branded books to famous brands such as Bigjigs Toys, Bloomsbury, Galt Toys, Hape, Leapfrog, Melissa and Doug, Orchard Toys and Usbourne. Each of their selected products support and complement the requirements of the EYFS and Primary National Curriculum. Another great addition to their website is their Free Resources Hub where they have a large range of free activity sheets, worksheets and printables which are perfect for anyone who is home learning at the moment (or in the future).

WordUnited sent us a selection of products suitable for each of our children to review. Lilah is 2.5 and absolutely loves imaginative play, especially with small world toys and baby dolls. She was sent the lovely TickiT Wooden Rainbow which has quickly become an accessory in her small world play. She builds the rainbow, then the arches become a slide for her figures, and then she's stacking it in different ways to make a tower. I love how the item has so many opportunities for fun and play - all while teaching her skills!



Parker is spaced obsessed so he was so thrilled to receive this Space Snap game from Usbourne. The images are beautifully bright and engaging, but the bigger size makes them easier for small hands to hold. At almost 5 he is doing really well with his games now, but this is fantastic for learning turn-taking, and helps keep him engaged as he tries to find the snap!



Indiana is just coming to the end of Year 1 and therefore is beginning to learn a very important skill - time telling. She received this beautiful Lift-the-Flap Telling the Time book (also by Usbourne), which is absolutely packed full of information but in a fun and engaging way. She's quickly picked up O'Clock and half past, and with the help of the interactive clock at the back I don't think it will be long before she's telling the time properly!





Finally, we received the Orchard Toys Pass the Word game for the older two to play and learn together. As with all Orchard Toys games, this is a great way to encourage learning alongside fun as you battle the timer to find the correct letters to build your word. It did quickly become a bit competitive (and not just with the children), but it was great fun and the littles were especially proud when they spelt the words correctly. We have a large Orchard Toys games collection already so this was a wonderful addition!




There really is a wonderful selection of toys, games, books and more on the WordUnited website, making it a perfect one-stop-shop for anything you need. The website was easy to navigate and use, and I absolutely love how our items arrived as the littles really felt like they were receiving special gifts (gift wrapping is a free option, as is adding a gift receipt). I would definitely recommend them and will be heading back for more toys and gifts in the future.


If you did want to order make sure to use the code wu4kids to receive 10% off! How fab is that?

This post was written in collaboration with WordUnited, however all opinions are honest and my own.

Our Month - June 2020

11.7.20


After three months of lockdown and everything feeling all doom and gloom, June came along and things suddenly felt that little bit more 'normal'. Most of this of course was helped along by the fact that schools reopened for reception, years 1 and 6, meaning that both Indiana and Parker started back (they are reception and year 1). Early years also opened up to everyone again, meaning Jack was also back to work after a long 11 weeks at home. Of course it felt very strange that first week. After us all being together every single day, and then suddenly back to being just me and Lilah again, I didn't really know what to do with our days!

Indiana and Parker settled in really well back at school. Indie is still with her original teacher and her group of close friends - sat at individual desks, but able to have plenty of fun and all learning together. Parker has new teachers (although the same TA), but thankfully has his little group of friends so wasn't too bothered. He is spending most of his days outside, and most importantly not being forced to distance which really put my mind at ease. They've come out every day full of smiles and tales to tell, and I know for us it was definitely the right decision to send them back to school.






More restrictions were eased in June as well, meaning we had much more freedom than we did before. National Trust properties opened back up again - along with a new system of booking tickets that is sometimes more difficult than getting concert tickets! We took full advantage, visiting Sissinghurst, Nyman's and our beloved Knole Park.

We celebrated Father's Day with a yummy cooked breakfast, an afternoon at Nyman's and of course a takeaway to end the day. It was so wonderful to spend so much time with Jack over the full lockdown period, and now he's back at work I think the littles really miss him - especially his little shadow Lilah. So we tried to make this day as special as we could!






Another special day happened at the end of the month.. we finally met our new nephew! We did slightly bend the rules for it to happen, but after waiting almost 8 weeks for a cuddle we all agreed it was time. The littles absolutely loved having a cuddle, although they were more excited to be reunited with their older cousins that they hadn't seen properly since March.

July of course brings even more restrictions easing which I know will change our daily lives once more. But honestly I cannot wait - I am really craving a meal out and a trip to the park after so many months without them!