Review: The Playtown Role Play Centre, Essendine

“Absolutely amazing! The new place to go with children!”

Wow, I just don’t know where to start!! Today was the opening of ‘The Playtown Role Play Centre‘ in Essendine and it was just fantastic. We arrived eager to go in at 0930 on the dot. We were ushered in quickly and straight into the play area. L and I decided to go into the Theatre area first as it was empty and she selected a ‘Moana’ costume to wear and then found a guitar to strum. She really was in her element.Next stop was the Cafe. L enjoyed chopping the cake, vegetables and pizza and using the kitchen area too. What was so lovely to see, was the children happily sharing and enjoying themselves together even though they were complete strangers. We moved onto the Shop area next door and L was drawn to the shopping trolleys and swiftly began filling it with her shopping. Another little girl was using the till, so she kindly rung up L’s shopping for her which was just lovely.

The Fire Station was our next stop and L immediately put on the fire fighter costume  complete with water hose back pack. She decided to man the phones in the fire station before moving onto the fire engine, complete with working siren (amazing!).

Now you’d think that after all of these rooms, we’d be done, but we were barely even half way!! L decided we would go to the Doctors after this and naturally I was ‘poorly’ and needed the doctor to help me. There were plenty of Doctors dress up outfits and a reception area with telephone. I think at this point I was still in awe at how fantastic everything is. It’s like a real town but in miniature form! (although I guess thats the point!)

Next on our high street tour was the Vets followed by the Construction SiteIce Cream Van and Picnic Spot. L enjoyed bathing the animals and checking their temperatures (in the ear!), but she really loved the construction site. We set out the cones to cordon off the area, used the hammer and built a brick wall which clearly needed a drill, such fun. My favourite piece, however, was definitely the ice cream van and picnic area in the middle of the centre, such a lovely centre piece. There was even a beautiful wooden barbecue with kebabs and picnic basket. We then discovered the Postbox complete with felt letters and parcels (lovingly handmade), L enjoyed driving round on the ladybug and then dropping them in the postbox.

The Playtown Centre truly is amazing, and I’m not sure I’ve done it justice with this write up. It must have been sensory overload for L as there is just so much to see and do and it is all so beautifully laid out. Charlene has clearly put her heart and soul into this build and it is clear to see around every corner. The attention to detail is second to none; from the quality of the furniture to the gorgeous wooden toys! I can confirm we now have the Melissa & Doug Ice Cream set on our Christmas list now!

The café on site sells a delicious range of homemade cakes, biscuits and child friendly snacks as well as an array of hot and cold drinks. I had a cup of tea and L a fairy cake, a total of £2.70 for both. We were in the 0930-1100 slot and my only criticism (if you can call it that) is that we couldn’t stay longer as we were having so much fun, it really is THAT good! Well done Charlene and the team for creating a much needed place to play in our area. If you have a spare morning or afternoon, do make sure you book a visit here, you wont be disappointed!

Price: £6 per child, 1 x adult FREE.  An absolute bargain.

Disclaimer: I have carried out the review independently, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Thank you

AWOOE x

New Jojo Maman Bébé, Stamford

Today I visited the opening of the new JoJo Maman Bébé store in Stamford. It’s located on the main High Street (64 High Street, Stamford, PE9 2AW). The store is beautifully laid out with a really good selection of baby clothes, toddler clothes and maternity wear. I was on the lookout for something for my daughters birthday in October and I managed to pick up this gorgeous little dress (see below).

Our favourite Jojo pieces have always been their waterproof all in ones and braces, so it’s really pleasing there is now a store nearby.

As I was one of the first 100 customers to purchase on their opening day, I also got a lovely goody bag. My goody bag contained an Ella’s Kitchen pouch (which my 4yr old son devoured), a CD, a voucher for COOK, some lovely stretch mark cream and other pregnancy toiletries (I donated those to my pregnant friend in store (as we’re not currently planning anymore) and the best bit was the cool magnet dress up game which my daughter will love.

Why not pop in when you’re next visiting?

Review: ShooSo by Lucia

I’m very lucky to be able to call Lucia from ShooSo a friend and when she decided to put on some sewing workshops, I was instantly interested. Sadly, I couldn’t commit to the initial 5 week course but Lucia decided to do some individual workshops as well, so I immediately booked onto the ‘Zip It‘ workshop.

Myself and a fellow Mum were booked onto the ‘Zip It’ course. She had been to the previous workshop so was a dab hand at threading the machine; me, not so much! I don’t think I’ve ever threaded a machine and if I have, I was 13/14 years old in Textiles class at high school.

The reason I was attracted to this particular workshop was because I wanted a trendy bag I could use for the kids spare clothes in my backpack or a new toiletry bag. I couldn’t wait to get to started, well actually I was absolutely clueless and petrified about making a mistake!!

Thankfully, Lucia was on hand! She was so patient with me and dealt with managing my incompetence and my partner who was excelling! She put my mind at ease and helped me thread the machine myself, something that I think after another couple of goes I think I’ll have the ‘nack’.

After selecting my material and a waterproof lining, we ironed and measured the fabric, and selected a zip, and then it was time to chop it. This was really daunting as it felt like the final step before there was no turning back!

After cutting the fabric to size, we made the zips workable by chopping them down to the correct size and ‘sealing’ them. Now onto the nitty gritty, well actually I concentrated so hard on not messing up my sewing that I can’t really remember all the stages but I know it involved ‘sealing’, boxing, and some other terms I’m ashamed to say I can’t remember! Anyway, TWO hours later I had managed to make a toilet bag come spare clothes bag BY MYSELF. Lucia gave me such confidence to go with it, and was so encouraging throughout and even craftily succeeding in getting me to do EVERYTHING on my own (she should become a teacher!).

Thinking I was done after finishing my toilet bag, I was ready to go home and put my slippers on, but I’d forgotten I still had another bag to make. This time a 3D one! Again, this involved similar techniques like boxing and a new one: interfacing (stiffening the fabric with a kind of liner). I was a bit bolder with my choice of colours for this one and picked contrasting colours. Blues and mustard in my fabric but a pink zip! This one was slightly easier to make as I didn’t pick such technical things (I wanted to run before I could walk with the first one). A further hour later and I had a 3D purse type thing. I’m not sure what I’m going to use this one for, maybe a first aid bag for my rucksack??

Overall, Lucia was so attentive, very knowledgable and made me feel at ease. I’m sure I will be booking onto another course soon and who knows, maybe in the future I may even not get my Mum to do all my sewing!

Thanks Shooso, I had a fab time and will be back.

Disclaimer: I have carried out the review independently, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Thank you

AWOOE x

Review: Wansford Country Lounge and Cafe Bar

“A cosy retreat for a quick bite and catch up”

The Wansford Country Lounge and Cafe Bar opened its door this weekend (4th November), we were lucky enough to get a table for Sunday lunch earlier in the week.  Initially, just the four of us, but we increased our booking to six (we took the Grandparents for back up!).

 

Our booking was 11.45am as we thought it would be best to have ordered by 12pm to make sure the children didn’t become to distracted.  On arrival, the staff were really accommodating, our table was laid out ready for us, complete with menus, they helped get us seated and came back to take our drinks order straight away. We ordered drinks for everyone and the children’s came in plastic cups (mine are 3 and 2, so this was ideal) and straws, and were immediately drunk! I requested a children’s menu, and to my surprise, it was really quite versatile (most children’s’ menu are usually the same things), and I thought everything was reasonably priced, ranging from £5-.00 – £6.95.  The menu included: sandwiches, pasta as well as the usual favourites of fish fingers, chicken nuggets, and chips etc.  All meals served with a scoop of ice cream for dessert.  Both of mine opted for ham sandwiches and chips.


Now for the adults, the starter menu looked very inviting indeed (prices ranging from £4.50 – p£7.95), but we opted just for a main course as it was still relatively early on.  My husband and mother-in-law both opted for the roast beef (£12.50); my father in law, the salmon with roasted cauliflower and quinoa (£10.95), and I chose the roast chicken (£10.95).  To my delight, they brought the children’s food out first so we were able to get them settled just before ours arrived.  The salmon looked divine, the roast beef delicious, and the chicken was really succulent and the accompanying seasonal vegetables were really scrummy! There were clear plates all round, unusually for our party, we declined the dessert menu (the children were beginning to lose interest in being out for lunch), but managed to reserve just enough enthusiasm for their desserts, 3 small scoops of vanilla with chocolate sauce.


Sadly, I didn’t get much chance to peruse the cakes, drinks and light bites menu, but that is most definitely an excuse for a return trip, which I’m most certain there will be! The staff were all really attentive and nothing was too much trouble. For those of you with smaller children, there are high chairs available, another big plus was the space at the tables.  I often take some activities for the children: cars, papers, pencils etc, and there was plenty of space for them to play at their seats.  During our visit, there was a steady stream of happy customers leaving, and I can’t wait to go back and sample a breakfast or a cuppa and cake or both!

Disclaimer: i have carried our the review independently, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Thank you

AWOOE x

Review: West Lodge Rural Centre – fantastic family day out!

** “One of Northamptonshire’s premier family days’ out” **

My first visit to West Lodge was just over a year ago, and I was so impressed with it, I  became an annual membership holder before my next trip.  I have since visited many times, and my children (aged 3 and 2) really enjoy going back time and time again.

A little background on the farm: The Dee Family have been at the farm for over 50 years, spanning a total of three generations.  Today, the farm is run by Farmers’ Tony, Ed, Mo and Ryan.  Set in 540 acres of beautiful Northamptonshire countryside, there is more than plenty to explore!

This Saturday (14th October), we arrived at the farm at 9.25am (keen beans as it opens at 9.30am!) for the opening of the NEW ADVENTURE PLAY BARN.  I have been eagerly following the progress on both Instagram and Facebook for the past few months, and boy, it did not disappoint.  My two were off straight away exploring everything, and I’m not ashamed to say I happily joined them as well!  The centre of the play barn is a beautiful tree sculpture and everything joins to this point, its the heart of the barn.  It is clear that, A LOT of time, thought and heart has gone into the building of the adventure play barn, as it absolutely beautiful; the murals all over the walls are like being outside, but inside, everything is made of wood, and beautifully crafted, and it seamlessly joins with the feel of the rest of the farm.  All the equipment has been designed with both children and adults in mind as it is all capable of sustaining a grown adult, this really does put your mind at rest knowing it is safe to guide your children through.  An extra bonus of the barn is the newly fitted cafe offering a variety of packed sandwiches, delicious cakes, and hot and cold drinks.

And if the adventure barn isn’t enough, there is PLENTY more to see and do at the farm.  I’ve visited quite a few farms with my children, and West Lodge has the best ‘petting area’ I’ve come across.  The guinea pigs and rabbits are wonderfully tame, and the staff are both knowledgeable and friendly.  Animal feed for the goats and other animals is available in the reception area for 30p a bag.  My son is a big fan of feeding the goats, my daughter is slowly coming round to the idea, but enjoys watching her big brother do it.  And if feeding goats and petting small animals isn’t enough, there is always an opportunity to feed cade goats and lambs in the Spring as well as shearing in the Summer.

Another treat is the outdoor play area, or the ‘castle’ as we like to refer to it.  There is a sand-pit, pedal tractors, a castle, climbing frame, and swings.  We can easily spend more than hour pottering around the various apparatus on the play area.  The play area is well equipped with a number of picnic tables (as well as many others elsewhere on the farm), perfect for a sunny day picnic.  Although, if al fresco dining isn’t your thing, there is a fantastic restaurant on site with hot and cold food, delicious cakes and plenty of drinks.  After your play, and lunch, you can have a ride on the ‘barrel ride’, this is a free tractor ride around the play area, it is always popular, so beware, you may have to wait your turn.

 

If all this isn’t enough to tempt you to visit West Lodge, do look at the their website as there is always a fantastic themed day in the pipeline! October is always Halloween themed with spooky tractor rides, witches houses and pumpkin carving.  November sees the big bonfire party. December is Santa’s grotto, Christmas card making and the Christmas experience.  Spring sees lambing, lamb feeding, the Easter bunny and egg hunts.  This list is just a snapshot of  the many things the farm has to offer throughout the year.

  

Still not worn out? There are plenty of tracks and trails around the farm taking in lots of animals on route, including pigs, sheep, cattle, horses (you can ride a pony for an extra charge), chickens, peacocks, ducks and more I have no doubt forgot to mention!

Overall, I would definitely recommend a visit to West lodge Rural Centre, they really have nailed a family day out come rain or shine. Make sure you book your tickets online to avoid disappointment!

http://www.westlodgeruralcentre.co.uk

Admission prices (on the day):

Adult – £7.45, Child – £7.45, under 2 – FREE.

Disclaimer: I have carried out this review independently, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Thank you

AWOOE x

Review: Bank Chambers, Knaresborough: A Hidden Gem 

* * * * * 5 stars – A Hidden Gem!


Nestled away on a busy high street, In Hot Property have come up trumps with these serviced apartments.  There are 4 in total, and we have been staying in Apartment 4 on the top floor.

First impressions are wonderful.  On entering Bank Chambers, you are greeted by the most beautiful period doorway, and a wonderfully clean, light and airy hallway with the most grand sweeping staircase I’ve ever seen.  It is truly beautiful, and being on the top floor, I had the pleasure of climbing it!


Apartment 4 has two bedrooms, a lovely double bedroom with walk in wardrobe and a second bedroom with bunk beds. The kitchen diner is light and airy and well equipped with a dishwasher, microwave, cooker and hob, toaster and superb collection of kitchen knives (I often find holiday properties have really rubbish, blunt knives, so this was a mega plus from me!). The lounge area has a sofa (which is also doubles as a sofa bed), two lovely tub chairs by the window overlooking the high street, and a wall mounted television.  All in all, I felt like I was in a swanky London pad (note to self, must visit Vauxhall Apartments in London!).


Knaresborough:

Knaresborough itself is a lovely market town. There are some delightful quirky independent shops.  We enjoyed ‘The Wine Shop’ (weekend away without the children!) and ‘Knaresborough Toys’ were just two that we purchased from. I found these painted windows really interesting and after a bit of research I discovered they’re from an arts festival that happens annually.


We stayed for 3 nights and enjoyed various walks down by the river, a visit to Mother Shipton’s Cave (there’s a really good pirate ship playground here too), Knaresborough Castle, a day trip to Fountain’s Abbey and Studley Royal Water Gardens (well worth a trip particularly if you are a young family and National Trust Members), and Ripley Castle. We were on a child free weekend so were quite laid back with our plans, but there is so much to do very close by.

Walks by the river, Mother Shipton’s Cave
As recommended by Mark, we sampled the dinner menu at Carriages Wine Bar just down the road and it did not disappoint, it was delicious. We also had a lovely Sunday lunch at the Boar’s Head in Ripley (just 15 minutes away). There are also plenty of independent cafes and tea rooms for lunches and cakes, we had a yummy scone and shortbread down by the river. There is a Tesco Express just over the road and a Sainsbury’s about 3-4 minutes walk away for all the essentials if you wanted to do full self catering.

Carriages Wine Bar, 89 High St, Knaresborough

It’s the little extras that MAKE a holiday property:

Not only is Bank Chambers perfectly situated, beautifully decorated and well equipped, there are some lovely extra touches that make this property a wonderful stay.

  1. Helpful cooking ingredients – often when you stay at a property, you always end up buying various cupboard staples, but Bank Chambers keeps a Kilner bottle of oil, salt and pepper right next to the hob, just like you would have in your own home.
  2. Towels – I love walking into a hotel and finding towels pressed and neatly arranged on the bed, and walking into Bank Chambers was no different.
  3. Toiletries – I hate it when properties don’t supply enough toilet roll.  Bank Chambers provided more than enough and have even gone the extra mile and included a shampoo and conditioner dispenser in the bathroom.  I had a happy husband as he’d forgotten his!
  4. Umbrella – in the foyer downstairs is on umbrella bucket with a handy golf umbrella which is great when you get caught out in the British summer weather, shame we didn’t take it out when we had to run back in the pouring rain!
  5. COFFEE!! – I’ve saved the best for last and my husbands favourite. He is a big coffee drinker and to find an Lavazza coffee machine was a real plus.  He enjoyed making himself a coffee like he would at home and again, there were plenty of capsules!.

Overall, we had a wonderful stay at Bank Chambers, and would ABSOLUTELY recommend it to anyone (and I am sure their other properties in London and Norfolk would be no different).  The attention to detail makes these apartments a real treat, and there has clearly been a lot of love and care gone into the renovations.

A fab stay, go on, why not treat yourself to a weekend away……

http://www.inhotproperty.co.uk

Bank Chambers, High St, Knaresborough.

Disclaimer: I have carried out this review independently, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

If you would like to work with me, please contact me to discuss terms.

Thanks

Review: Spokes Cafe, Harringworth

I stumbled across this new ‘Pop up Cafe’ in Harringworth last night whilst scrolling through Facebook. And wow, what a delight it is!

This weekend was the grand opening. Usual opening hours are Fri 10am-4pm and Sat-Sun 9am-5pm. Spokes Cafe was a real weekend treat. Set just off the main road through Harringworth, it will be popular with cyclists (hence the name I guess!).

I had a bacon bap, I asked if they would  mmind adding an egg which was no trouble at all. My husband had a sausage bap and the children shared another. I had a cup of tea and Stew had an Ethiopian drop coffee, all of which were simply delicious. An even bigger treat was that they were made of Kings Cliffe Bakery bread which is our local bakery.

The courtyard with picnic benches, a beautiful array of garden pots and umbrellas was lovely. After a yummy breakfast we walked down the road to see the viaduct and stumbled across some pigs and chickens. A fun walk for H and L! A perfect morning breakfast.

We decided (couldn’t resist!) to buy some cakes to takeaway for lunch which are all baked by Alice and boy, they did not disappoint. We bought two slices of Victoria sponge, a slice chocolate cake, a slice of carrot and a slice of coffee and amaretto cake. Delicious!

My picture doesn’t do them justice!

Simon and Alice were diligent and friendly hosts, nothing was too much. A real countryside haven. We will no doubt be back SOON! Thank you again.
Spokes Cafe, Wakerley Road, Harringworth.

Review of Eastbank, Ballater

Wow, what a cottage!

If you ever venture to the Highlands for a Scottish break, then look no further. Eastbank in Ballater is by far one of the most superior holiday cottages we have ever stayed in. A beautiful log burner, thoughtful family touches, lovely garden, gated driveway, car port and only a short walk to the town where there is a good array of shops, cafes and a supermarket.


The cottage happily sleeps 6 adults in 2 double rooms (one ensuite) and a twin room, however, each bedroom has their own bathroom.

Downstairs, there is a beautifully laid out conservatory, gorgeous dining room (although we made that a no go room for our littles), a lovely office area, a twin bedroom and the lounge. Both the lounge and conservatory have Sky tv packages and there is wifi throughout the house. But by far, the pièce de résistance is the kitchen…

….the kitchen was like my dream kitchen! Farmhouse style, butler sink and the most wonderful Aga. I have never cooked on an Aga before, but it was wonderful and the dog certainly enjoyed sleeping in front of it in the evenings. The breakfast bar was also a fab addition and our son enjoyed sitting there having his breakfast in the mornings. Fresh eggs delivered each week and a lovely loaf of bread and bottle of wine to enjoy for our arrival. And I’ve saved the best bit until last…THE PANTRY!

I was green with envy when I opened the doors to the pantry.  So cleverly set back into the wall and better stocked than my own cupboards at home. Amazing!

The cottage is stunningly beautiful and you’ll be hard pushed to find any faults (I’m yet to find one!) and so ideally placed for a wonderful Highland getaway. Things to do nearby are:

  • Craigendarroch Hotel (1 mile)
  • Ballater Golf Course (1 mile)
  • Balmoral Castle (7 miles, Apr-Jul)
  • Royal Lochnagar Distillery (8 miles)
  • Braemar Castle (16 miles, Apr-Oct)
  • Spittal of Glenshee for skiing (31 miles
  • Aviemore (51 miles)

And plenty more as you are right in the middle of the stunning Cairngorms.
Jerry and Joss have made their family home into a 5* holiday cottage and when we next travel to the Highlands, we will definitely look it up again!

Disclaimer: a big thank you to Jerry and Joss for allowing us to unleash 2 toddlers and a dog into their family home, we had a thoroughly fabulous time. All words and opinions are my own.