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9 Top Tips for Starting Back to School

9 Top Tips for Starting Back to School

Isabelle is going to start in Year 2 in September. We’ve met her teacher and know which classroom she is going to be in. Whether it’s your little ones first day at school or if they are returning, here are my 9 top tips for Starting Back to school.

9 Top Tips For Starting Back To School

Tips

1. Make a note of all the important term dates. I don’t know about your kids but Isabelle likes to do a count down in days to practically everything.

2. Early nights – we all let the daily routine slip during the school hols so about a week before gradually return to normal bedtimes/wake-up times so that it’s not too much of a shock.

3. Name Labels – Schools encourage all parents to labels their kids clothes and it’s much better in terms of getting things back should they leave them behind. We used My Nametag Name labels with little Hello Kitty’s on them which made it much easier for Isabelle to find.

4. School Bags – again there are popular bags that a lot of other children will have so either choose one that will immediately stand out or make it more unique by adding a key ring to the zip which may have there name on. When Isabelle started one mum had actually made little laminate labels with her daughters picture on for her bag and her packed lunch box.

5. Lunch boxes – again I would recommend either trying to find one a bit different or personalising it as they usually all go on a trolley which then has to be collected at lunch time.

6. School Talk – Isabelle was really shy and the things that worried us the most was her not asking to go to the toilet or telling somebody if she was hurt or upset. Whenever she was unsure about something she would usually stand and not speak or join in. We talked to her about which people she should ask for things i.e. If she needed to go to the toilet ask any grown-up in the room and making her familiar with her things so she knew what she was looking for.

7. School shoes – this one seems quite simple but then you go school shoe shopping and the gorgeous Mary-Jane style shoes have are shouting at you from the shelf. WALK AWAY!! – Harsh I know but how many four year olds do you know that can do a buckle by themselves? Same for boys – resist lace-ups. Keep things as simple as possible. Go for Velcro straps so they can put them on and off as quick as a flash.

8. Lunch – maybe I should have out this in with the lunch box tip but Isabelle came home on three consecutive occasions where she hadn’t eaten her sandwiches but they looked a bit mangled and she hadn’t eaten her fruit winder which she loved. When I asked her about it, it was because she couldn’t take the cellophane off her sandwiches or undo the wrapper of the fruit winder and was too shy to ask for help. To make things easier we bought a little sandwich box and some pots that she could easily undo herself.

9. Try not to show your nerves- I know this is a big ask but try and transfer as much confidence to your kids as possible. It’s okay to have a few tears as you do the walk back across the playground minus your son or daughter. I unfortunately was that mum whose child had to be peeled off me whilst I walked away to the sounds of her pleading me to stay. It was horrendous. Don’t let that put you off, at this point Isabelle was still the most clingy child I’ve ever known!

These are my top tips but most schools seems to make it as easy as possible for new starters by using pictures instead of words. Isabelle was a ladybird which she liked a lot so all of her school things has her name with a ladybird next to it.

Ooh I almost forgot. Try not to make any after school plans for the first couple of weeks as they get really tired and ratty adjusting to the new routine. I think that may be where the term ‘Witching Hour’ come into play.

Let me know if you have any great tips in the comments below.

Lisa x

#SchoolHols2017 – River Cottage Summer Festival

#SchoolHols2017 – River Cottage Summer Festival

Not sure what to get up to this weekend then head to the River Cottage Summer Festival. Running from Saturday 26th – Sunday 27th August 2017. There are loads of things for both kids and adults to take part in all set beautiful surroundings. Day tickets and weekend tickets

What’s more under 16’s get in FREE when accompanied by an adult.

River Cottage Summer Festival

What is there to do?

There is a wide range of activities to get stuck into including:

  • Performances by Swamp Circus and Rainbow Gecko Giant Bubbles
  • Play Art Junk Modelling for the artistic amongst you
  • A foraging tour with John Wright
  • Baby Massages
  • Kids Yoga
  • The Hands-On mud kitchen – Awesome!
  • Play in the sandpit
  • felting and flower workshops
  • Marine Monster Making
  • Pottery
  • Jewellery making
  • Clay modelling

River Cottage Summer Festival

Take some time out to appreciate the stunning countryside with a guided geology walk with local butterfly experts, and take part in star gazing after sunset.

Masterclasses are also available in sushi making, cooking over a wood fire and for the little ones there are pizza making and ice cream sundae making.

Of course lots of food will be available street food style from local artisan producers. Experience the Farmhouse Feast with a two-course sit down meal served in the iconic Farmhouse for just £20 with a fantastic menu using fresh, seasonal and local produce from the farm, garden and local suppliers.

There will also be a selection of bars located across the Festival serving a variety of sumptuous drinks from Chase Vodka cocktails and English sparkling wine from neighboring Castlewood Vineyard to locally sourced beers, ciders, wines and seasonal cocktails.

A team of chefs and experts will be on hand to share their culinary tips throughout the two-day weekend on the Garden Stage hosted by Steven Lamb. On the Saturday, visitors can enjoy a mix of chefs, speakers and activists including Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, forager John Wright, Bake-Off star Chetna Makan and herbalist Katie from Pukka Teas. On the Sunday, award-winning blogger Ed Smith will take to the stage alongside Satish Kumar, Michelin-starred Adam Byatt and Hugh.

River Cottage Summer Festival

Festival goers can enjoy music throughout the weekend with a variety of brilliant musicians on the line-up. There is live music from midday until 10pm on both days, with entertainment for the whole family. On the Saturday, Sound of the Sirens will headline alongside The Jack Daniels Band, Them Voices Poor, Sadie Horler, Hungry Bentley, Nicky Swann and DJ Diggz. On the Sunday, visitors can enjoy music from The Travelling Band, Mr Tea and the Minions, Melissa Bel, Mark McCabe, Tori Reed and the Troubadours and DJ Diggz.

How much does it cost?

There are various ticket prices available which you can look at the options on the River Cottage website.

How to get there?

Have a great weekend!

Living in the South West or visiting for the holidays then have a look at our oodles of suggestions for #southwestdaysout – Whether you’re looking for local attractions or fabulous beaches and walks.

Lisa x

Happy Days – Our Holiday and being reunited with our pooch

Happy Days Linky

Happy Days Linky – I’m really glad that I started linking up with the #HappyDaysLinky with Katy and Sian as it does help you to reflect on the god rather than dwelling on all the rubbish.

As I write this post we’d just heard of the terror attack in Barcelona where Chris and Ryan were the day before the attack. The other attack is just six miles from where we are now. We watched the news in the bar along with all the other guests with disgust at these senseless loss of lives.

It’s scary knowing how close this is, especially as we’re in a foreign country that we don’t know all that well.

Holiday – for the past week we’ve been on holiday in Salou, Spain with Chris’ parents and sister. It was much needed and we did the usual beach and pool combination. I’m not a sun worshipper at all and at times I think I was pinned as a bit of a kill joy but I cannot stand too much sun. I have sunburn and blisters to prove this theory! Actually at the time of writing this paragraph I was sat in our hotel room with the air con up high smothered in aloe Vera gel with two soaked tissues on my legs to help cool my burning hot legs. I also have cleavage blisters I’m not doing a down the top shot for you!


Time with the teen – Ryan has been with us on this holiday. It’s likely to be one of the last as he’s way too cool to hang out with us. However, he was here with us and talked at dinner which is a step up from the usual eating in his room or not at all. As Daddy’s birthday treat we paid for a trip to Barcelona to tour around Camp Nou, the zoo and also see the sights which they did as a ‘lads day out’.

Sibling rivalry – not sure this should be on my Happy List but it does make me chuckle (not at the time). Standing in the dinner queue we have the usual:

‘mum tell Ryan to stop looking at me’

‘Mum Ryan’s smiling at me!’

‘Mum Ryan’s looking at me in a mean/rude/horrible way’

At the time it drains me, but I think it’s like a right of passage for kids growing up as I remember doing the exact same thing with my brother and sister. It seems that an 11 year age gap still doesn’t abolish this age old family way.


Birthdays – we’ve had two birthdays this week with both Daddy’s and my mother in-laws so we’ve had two gorgeous really light cream filled sponge cakes. Being birthdays we took them out for a lovely meal and drinks at the all inclusive hotel restaurant – ‘order whatever you like’ we cried ……… ‘No expense spared!!’

Swimming – Isabelle has Ben like a little fish this week. She’s either been in the sea or in the pool. She has armbands but she’s learnt to swim with her head under the water and jump in off the side. She’s been going to the deep end of the pool so can’t stand and she’s also been doing a bit of lilo surfing at the beach.

Reunion with the pooch – Although we were all sad when the holiday came to an end, but I was looking forward to seeing Charlie again. He was really excited to see us and it was great to hear that he’d had a great week of long walks on Dartmoor with his new bestie Zac. He did have a wiggy on with me which lasted from Saturday until late Sunday afternoon which I think was my punishment for leaving him.

What have been the highlights of your week?

 

What Katy Said

Happy Days Linky – First Day Nerves & Sharknado

Happy Days Linky

Happy Days Linky – I’ve done it! My first day in my new job is done and dusted. I found it quite unnerving going from knowing my stuff to being the new girl not knowing who to pay the tea fund money to. It went fine. I was useless but it was fine!

Sharknado 5 – One of my guilty pleasures are cheesy films featuring monster sharks, huge crocs or such likes. Tonight is the premiere of Sharknado 5 so what better way to finish off my first day in the new job. If you haven’t watched them then you have to. My favourite film of all time has to be Lake Placid. Don’t judge me!

happy_days_linky

The funny things that Isabelle says – At six years old she comes out with some crackers in total innocence that have me snickering and face away laughing. On our dog walk, Charlie seems to like peeing in the river but he always cocks his leg towards long grass along the edges. Isabelle says “I think he does that because he likes the grass tickling his willy” whilst she eyerolls and sighs ‘boys’!

Holiday – We can finally say that we’re going on holiday ‘this week’. There are clothes all over the house in bags and ready but not quite packed for the final pack on Friday morning.

We made it to Spain. The flight was absolutely fine. I set off the beeper so had to go in the machine and then be frisked. Here’s to a week off.

See you then.

Lisa x

 

What Katy Said

#SchoolHols2017 – World of Country Life

#SchoolHols2017 – World of Country Life

The weather has a lot to answer for so far but if you’re looking for something to do today then why not head to the World of Country Life in Exmouth where they have both indoor and outdoor activities.

World of Country Life

What is there to do?

  • Deer Train Safari – Take the train and feed the deer and llama.
  • Bottle Feeding – Bottle feed the lambs and calves.
  • Goat walking
  • Birds of Prey displays
  • Animal racing – watch ferret, ducks or lambs racing
  • Small animal handling
  • Exhibition Hall – Visit the victorian street where you can see how people lived, worked and dressed in years gone by
  • Animal paddocks – Meet the many animals including walabies and donkeys
  • Appy Angus Fun Farm – Indoor soft play fun
  • Hall of Transport – The South West’s largest collections of massive steam engines, immaculate vintage cars & vehicles.
  • Crazy Golf
  • Orbiters – These are a bit like the water bumper cars but are on land
  • Adventure Zone – loads of stuff including trampolines, slides and swings
  • Raceway Electric Cars
  • Air Bouncer – A giant pillow of air-filled fun that the whole family can bounce on together.
  • Pirate Ship – all undercover – explore the ship and play in the sand
  • Vintage Garage Soft play
  • Mini Soft Play Zone – under 5’s

There are also plenty of indoor and outdoor picnic areas or food and refreshments available onsite.

World of Country Life

How much does it cost?

  • Under 3 years old – FREE
  • Child (3 – 17) – £10.70
  • Adult – £12.90
  • Over 60’s – £10.70

Family tickets and annual passes are also available.

World of Country Life

How to get there

Have a great day.

Lisa x

Living in the South West or visiting for the holidays then have a look at our oodles of suggestions for #southwestdaysout – Whether you’re looking for local attractions or fabulous beaches and walks.

#SchoolHols2017 – Teignmouth Beach

#SchoolHols2017 – Devon Beach Days – Teignmouth Beach

We lucky in the South West that there are oodles of amazing beaches to visit some of which could easily be mistaken for being abroad. As part of the #SchoolHols2017 I thought I would share some of the beaches that we visit. First up we have Teignmouth Beach.

Teignmouth Beach

What do you do at the beach?

The beach can be totally FREE if you want it to be or it could end up being an expensive day out.

FREE Activities

  • Pack a picnic and invite friends
  • Take a ball/frisbee/bat and ball etc and make a day of fun games – split into teams and keep score
  • Take a portable BBQ – go late afternoon and stay until the kids are knackered.
  • Play park – There’s a great playpark which you could easily spend a lot of time in
  • Bucket and Spade – It’s amazing how many buckets, spades, shapes and rakes that accumulate from having kids. Pack it all up and let them loose to make sandcastles. Decorate them with pebbles, sea shells and bit of seaweed
  • Crabbing – take a bucket and a net

Other Activities

  • The Pier – Theres loads of amusements and things to do on the pier. Be prepared to have lots of change
  • Fish and Chips – Having fish and chips at the beach can be a real treat.
  • Crazy Golf – This used to be Ryan’s thing. Wherever we went we played crazy golf!

How to get there:

Living in the South West or visiting for the holidays then have a look at our oodles of suggestions for #southwestdaysout – Whether you’re looking for local attractions or fabulous beaches and walks.

#SchoolHols2017 – Woodlands Family Theme Park

#SchooHols2017 – Woodlands Family Theme Park

We haven’t been for a while but Woodlands Family Theme Park is a really great place to take the kids. Although it’s a theme park there are loads of open spaces for the kids to run around.

What is there to do?

  • Vertigo – New for 2017 (I’m not sure I would be brave enough to go on this) – Minimum height 96cm (accompanied) over 106cm can ride on their own
  • Sea Dragon Swing Ship – Minimum height 110cm (accompanied) over 125cm can ride on their own
  • Rock n Roll Tugboat – Be prepared to rock, roll and spin! – Minimum height 90cm (accompanied) over 105cm can ride on their own
  • Bumper Boats – Get competitive with a go in the bumper boats – Minimum height 90cm (accompanied) – over 140cm can ride on their own
  • Seascape Mirror Maze – Be prepared for a unique experience. Imagine the deepest abyss in the ocean. You’re not sure what’s real, Secret Passageways stretch before you forever. This is the baffling Seascape Mirror Maze where Monstrous Sea Creatures mysteriously grow and fade. The Quest is to find the elusive Sea Spirit. Children must be supervised
  • Dolphin Toddler Play – For children under 110cm. Lots of fun stuff for the littles to do including a camper van slide
  • Jumping Pillow – Minimum height 90cm (accompanied) – Over 120cm can ride on their own
  • Tractor Ride – Climb up the life-sized tractors and drive around our very own farmyard. Enjoy looking at all your favourite noisy farm animals as you drive past them
  • Pedal Town – Let the kids get carried away racing against each other whilst you can sit and watch
  • Safari Adventure Golf – Who doesn’t love a game of mini golf. This 18 hole course has loads of fun features to entertain the whole family

Woodlands Family Theme Park

Animals

  • Meeks Retreat – Meet the Meerkat family
  • Big Animal Barn – Here you will find Charlotte the Shire Horse, lambs, calves, goats and ponies
  • Pigs Palace – Who doesn’t love a piggy or two
  • Reptile House – A fave as these are animals that you are unlikely to come across in every day life so are a bit more interesting. They have a Dwarf Caiman Crocodile, iguanas, bearded dragons, turtles, terrapins and a black throat monitor as well as a selection of snakes
  • Rabbit and Guinea Pig City
  • Nocturnal House – Do you know what a sugar glider is? You will also get the opportunity to meet raccoons, chinchillas, dwarf mongoose, Egyptian long eared hedgehogs, rats and gerbil
  • Goat Mountain –  I’m like a magnet for goats. Maybe it’s my smell but they always follow me or try and eat my clothes
  • Outdoor Paddocks – Meet the alpaca and emu, llamas and manx sheep
  • Parrots Paradise – Full of gorgeously bright coloured birds
  • Chicken Run – See how many different kinds of chickens you can spot
  • New Babies – If you’re lucky you may see a baby or two
  • Sea Monster Zone – Packed full of rides and soft play adventures
  • Cyclone Canyon Zone – If waters your thing then head for this zone
  • Ninja Zone – This area is for big and small kids to test their agility
  • Circus Drome Zone – Here you will find everything from bouncy castles to Master Blaster – something for everyone
  • Fantasi Forest Zone – As I said, although this is a theme park there are lots of open spaces where you can wander and discover
  • Arctic Zone – I definitely recommend this area with the long slides and assault course
  • Indoor Play Area – Great if the weather isn’t great
  • Toddler Village Zone – Loads of stuff
  • Devon Falconry – Displaying cool birds of prey and owls

Woodlands Family Theme Park

Events

Titan the Robot – 15th August 2017
He’s worked with stars including Rihanna and Will smith and will make 3 appearances during the day where he will perform some street theatre, comedy and music.

Fizzpop Science Workshop and Show – 11th & 18th August 2017
They will be making gooey slime and teach you about friction, from rubbing your hands together to *Dalek Plungers we learn how friction is helpful for us to ‘get a grip’. They will also demonstrate how they can remove friction by adding blasts of air, allowing us to float a willing volunteer around the floor with their very own hover board!

Meet the Woodland Superstarz – Throughout the School Holidays.

Emazad the Magician and Friends – Watch him entertain the kids with his balloon skills – Various dates throughout the School Holidays.

Woodlands Family Theme Park

Facilities

Undercover and outdoor picnic areas

Opening times

9.30am – 6.00pm

Ticket Prices

For up to date ticket prices see the Woodlands Website 

How to find it:

Lisa x

Don’t forget to have a look at all our other suggestions for places to take the kids in the South Westwhether you live here or are visiting.

#SchoolHols2017 – Holdon Forest

#SchoolHols2017 – Haldon Forest

Haldon Forest is one of our go-to places when we don’t have anything else planned. We can take the dog as well which is an extra bonus and Isabelle loves it.

What is there to do?

Go and explore the woods and use your imagination. Try this ones on your little ones – If there is a fallen tree with the roots all showing we tell Isabelle that it’s a trolls house and they’ve popped out for a bit. In other parts of the woods where the Go Ape bits are we tell Isabelle that they are tree people flying through the trees.

She’s nearly seven now so although she knows that the ‘tree people’ are actually people on zip wires, she’s still happy to go along with the troll houses so we’ll go with that.

Follow one of the many trails that they have. Our usual trails are the Butterfly Trail and the Discovery Trail which are the easy routes. There are plenty of things to do along the way such as huge pipes to make your own tune on, huts and look outs. The last time we went there horseriders passed us which was nice to see.

Pick out good sticks, leaves and stones. Play hide and seek and shout to hear your voices echo.

The Gruffalo Trail – Download the Gruffalo Spotter app and have fun spotting the creatures from the Gruffalo and then meet the Gruffalo and Stick man at the end of the trail.

Take the bikes and follow one of the bike friendly trails.

Go Ape – This is one for kids over 1 metre and there are various different adventures available.

Segway Trails – Suitable for kids over 10 years old. These look really cool but we’ve yet to have a go on them.

Once you’ve finished you can pop into the cafe for refreshments and maybe an icecream or cake.

How much does it cost?

Visiting the forrest is FREE but there is a charge for parking which you can find the info on the Forestry Commission Website.

Get a Gruffalo Activity Pack from the Rangers Office packed full of cool stuff to make your experience in the woods cooler – just £3.00.

How to get there?

Don’t forget to have a look at all our other suggestions for places to take the kids in the South West whether you live here or are visiting and follow the hashtag #SchoolHols2017

 

#SchoolHols2017 – Morwellham Quay

#SchoolHols2017 – Morwellham Quay

We’re long overdue a trip to Morwellham Quay. The last time we went we had to stop half way there as Ryan felt car sick and he used his Nintendo DS as a sick bucket. It’s fair to say that the DS died a gruesome death that day. However, all was not lost as we had a fantastic day.

What is there to do?

Ride the Copper Mine Train – Take a ride on the train and admire the view before entering the George and Charlotte copper mine.

Traditional Crafts – Watch local Craftsmen working in the forge or pottery and rope making in the village.

Chocolate Making – Discover where chocolate came from and how it is made. Take part and make your own chocolate treat.

Victorian School – Experience school life in Victorian times including the strict regime and punishments.

Morwellham Quay

The Brewery – Sample Beer and Cider from the brewery and learn how it’s produced.

Victorian bakery – Learn the traditional techniques, knead some dough and make your own bread roll.

Mining Copper – Smash a rock and see what riches you can find.

Panning for Gold – Kids love this traditional way of searching for precious metals.

The Garlandstone – Step on board one of the last cargo vessels built in England.

Play areas – Let off some steam in the kids play area.

Dress like a Victorian – There are loads of costumes for both adults and kids to try on which is a lot of fun.

Opening Times

10.00am – 5.00pm

Dogs are welcome and there is wheelchair access, but there are lots of cobbles.

Ticket Prices

  • Adults: £10.95
  • Children under 3 years old: FREE
  • Children 3 – 16 years: £8.95
  • Concessions: £9.95
  • Family Ticket (2 adults & 2 children): £34.95

If you book your tickets online there is a 10% discount.

How to find it:

Enjoy.

Lisa x

Don’t forget to have a look at all our other suggestions for places to take the kids in the South Westwhether you live here or are visiting.

Happy Days – chippy chips and Rain

Happy Days Linky

Happy Days – Monday started off with a grey sad looking sky so I suggested a trip to the museum or the library. Isabelle fancied the museum with a Trip to the park on the way. We got ready in such a leisurely manner that it was almost lunch time before we left the house. I was going to make a little picnic but there’s a great chip shop near the park so I thought we would be naughty and get some chips and eat them in the park. This part went so well. We got the chips and found a picnic table at the park. Isabelle ran off to the play equipment whilst I went to the bin where I was mugged by a seagull who was determined to get the chip wrappers. The seagull won!

happy_days

We had a play on the equipment for less than 10 minutes before the heavens opened and it poured down with rain. Parents and kids all ran off in different directions looking for shelter. We started off under the slide but big blobs of water started to drop through the gaps so we had to run to a big tree to camp under until it stopped. Isabelle thought it was hilarious! When it finally got to drizzling we decided to make a dash to the museum – which of course doesn’t open on a Monday. We ended up at home wet but happy!

Tuesday was a work day for me and Isabelle was at Nanny and Papa’s. I did the final bag check for Ryan. It’s the last time I’m going to see him before he sets off on a plane to Spain tomorrow. I’m going to miss him but on the plus side there will be snacks in the cupboard for the rest of us!

Thursday I was a bag of nerves as it was my last day in my current job. I’m going to miss my job! I’m going to miss my colleagues and I’m going to miss my desk. They made my last day lovely and I walked out with a smile on my face.

happy_days

Friday Isabelle and I spent the day together. We took Charlie out for a walk and played games. It was my leaving do in the evening so I ate, drank and laughed the night away.

happy_days

happy_days

Saturday Isabelle went to the cinema kids club to watch Sing and later on we went to a reptile birthday party where we met all kinds of animals including a baby skunk, a tenrec and a tagu. The tagu was enormous but it was so so beautiful. We even touched a snake!

Hope you have a great week.

Lisa x

The #HappyDaysLinky is hosted by  @WhatKatysaidUK and @QFSheSaid. 

What Katy Said