Our Christmas Holiday – South Lakeland Leisure Village

This year we decided to go away for Christmas. This is something we did back in 2011 when we went to Centerparcs, and we loved being away. Now I know its not for everybody, and people love being at home surrounded by their family. I knew my parents would not be around for Christmas day. When a mailer came through my door offering me Christmas breaks for 50% off, I was on the phone and booked within the hour !

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View of the lake from our decking

 

Now I just had to formulate a plan as dear daughter had asked for a bike off Father Christmas. Luckily she decided she wanted her bike delivering to home, and the rest of her presents delivered to our lodge. After packing the whole of Christmas up into a medium sized family car, we headed off up the M6 to Carnforth. We were staying at South Lakeland Leisure Village, where we had stayed twice before. I was really excited about seeing our lodge as I knew it was right on the lake. It certainly did not disappoint, and we all got the wow factor when we walked in. Food was unpacked, clothes were put in the wardrobe and the tree was put up. It was finally time to relax and enjoy Christmas.

Our lovely lodge on the lake

Our lovely lodge on the lake

We all agreed that the lodge was one of the best we have ever stayed in. It looked virtually brand new, and I loved the open plan living area. Our kitchen is separate from our living room at home, and it was nice to chat to hubby as he cooked the Christmas dinner. The site is all lodges, and predominately owners. There is a great swimming pool and gym which you can pay to use. We went in the pool twice and paid £10.00 each session. There is also a restaurant and a small bar area. We had a lovely meal on boxing day, and the food has never disappointed us when we have ate there. We even walked over to the bar on Christmas day, and enjoyed a mulled wine.

He found us !

He found us !

We were there for 4 nights and had a lovely chilled out Christmas with the kids. We ate, drank, played games, swam, walked round the lake and had far too many afternoon naps ! There was no pressure on us as a family to go and see people, and we loved our quality family time just the 4 of us. We still did our Christmas Eve traditions of new Pyjamas and daughter sprinkled the reindeer dust over the decking. Christmas this year had zero stress, and I am very tempted to go away again next year. With the 50% off we got an absolute bargain break in a stunning lodge right on the lake. I must have been a good girl this year !

A little bit of me time

A little bit of me time

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The £10.00 Christmas revealed – 2014

I blogged a few weeks ago saying how hubby and I set a strict £10.00 budget for each other for Christmas. We have been doing this for a number of years now. I love the challenge of getting ‘as good as I can get’ presents with just £10.00. So here are the presents all wrapped up

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And here are his presents !!!

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Hobbit Calendar – £1.00

Umbro Aftershave – £1.00

Simon Scarrow book – £1.00

How to poo at work book !!! – £1.99

Lancôme Mens smellies – £1.99

Lego Keyring – £0.44

Snickers – £1.00

Socks – £0.37

Welsh Magnet – £0.50

Wispa and Flump – £0.71

Aftershave Sachets – Free

And here are all my gifts. The boy did well !!!!

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Better get braving those January sales ready for next year.

 

Winter Wonderland Manchester – 2014

 

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Winter Wonderland is back for its second year at Event City in Manchester. We went last year and loved it, and I was delighted to be given the chance to review it again this year. Winter Wonderland is based indoors, right next to the Trafford Centre in Manchester. It’s open from 13th December to the 4th January, so plenty of time still to visit. Tickets can be booked online, and the price for a family ticket is £60.00.  This will give you 4 hours inside Winter Wonderland, and they typically run 2 sessions most days. All the sessions available can be viewed on their website. You can also turn up and purchase tickets on the day, but bear in mind they do have a limit as to how many people they let in.

We decided to book for the 11am till 3pm session on a Sunday. Once you are inside, all the rides, Sooty Show, Circus and the meet and greet with Santa are included in the admission price. This is fantastic as you are not reaching for your purse every 5 minutes with shouts of ‘can we go on that ride mum please’.

Winter Wonderland Manchester

Winter Wonderland Manchester

We got to Event City at 11.15am and there was a short queue at the box office to collect our tickets. There was a separate queue for people who had already booked online. We were given a map and directed to the cloakroom (£1.00 per item) and also where the lost children hut was. When we entered we were told the bigger rides were towards the back.  Winter Wonderland is HUGE and you are met with fairground rides and bright lights in every direction. We decided to head towards the back as instructed, and the children were soon on the rides and having fun. There is a good mixture of rides for all ages, and I remember reading that it is most suited for children up to age 12. I would say this is about right as my son is this age.

Winter Wonderland was busier than when we visited last year, but the children had to wait no more than a few minutes for rides which was good. The ride attendants were all friendly, and were strict about the height restrictions which was good to see. There are plenty of food stalls dotted around, and we stopped for lunch which was burgers and hot dogs. We did have to queue for about 10 minutes for food, but we did eat at 12pm which I am guessing is peak time. There were plenty of game stalls too which you could pay to have a go. We played on 2 games which were £1.00 a go. I also saw a stall offering Princess make overs and sweet stalls around the arena.

Winter Wonderland Manchester

Winter Wonderland Manchester

We didn’t see the Sooty Show but it looked popular. They have moved it from last year and is now more towards the edge rather than in the middle of the arena. Don’t worry though as there are signs directing you to the likes of Sooty, Circus and the toilets. There are also plenty of staff on hand if you need directing anywhere.

So after nearly 4 hours of the children being twirled and bounced up and down, it was time to leave. There are balloon sellers on the way out, and my 8 year old was looking for a gift shop at the exit ! I am guessing that is down to her visiting Alton Towers alot.

Winter Wonderland Manchester

Winter Wonderland Manchester

We had a great time at Winter Wonderland and found the staff helpful and the place clean and tidy. Oh and you HAVE to go on the Rodeo bulls. Or should I say watch as your husband hangs on for dear life on one. Must say this gave us the biggest laugh of the day watching him on that ride !!!

Thank you to Winter Wonderland for providing us with a family ticket for the purpose of this review

Winter Wonderland Manchester

Winter Wonderland Manchester

 

 

 

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – The Brindley

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Pantomime season is in full swing and on Saturday evening we went to our local theatre, The Brindley, to watch Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I am ashamed to say that as a family we have never been to watch a Pantomime at the theatre. Usually the kids go and watch it with school or cubs, but this year there were no trips planned. I know the pantomime is really popular with local people, and I was really excited to go and have some Christmas family time. We had actually met some of the stars of the pantomime back in September, when The Brindley celebrated their 10th birthday. Kim Woodburn was meant to be starring in it, but unfortunately had to pull out due to ill health. Get well soon Kim.

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We arrived in the lobby area which was filled with families and excited children. Our seats were located upstairs in the balcony area. Hubby and I have been to The Brindley many times, mainly to see comedians, and have always chosen to sit downstairs. However I liked being upstairs and we had a great view of the stage.

Waiting for the show to start

Waiting for the show to start

The show started just over 5.00pm with the fairy appearing on the stage. She started to tell the story, and gradually we were introduced to the characters. The story is obviously Snow White with a modern twist. The dwarfs consisted of a Louis Walsh one, Simon Cowell, Gary Barlow, a rapper one and the voice of xfactor. No sleepy, sneezy or dopey in this show !

The dame was absolutely fantastic. Very funny and kept us entertained throughout with jokes for all. There was of course plenty of audience participation, with ‘he’s behind you’ and ‘oh no he isn’t’. Great to see the whole crowd joining in the fun, and if you were at the front the chance to get soaked on a few occasions ! Highlight was when Muddles, one of the characters, threw lots of sweets into the crowd, and daddy managed to catch some for daughter.

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Picture courtesy of The Brindley

 

The whole show was very well put together, professional and very entertaining. I loved that there was a live band providing the music, and this is something I did not expect. There was lots of singing and dancing throughout the show, and even 2 songs from Frozen were sung. The costumes were all amazing, especially the dames hilarious and silly outfits. My daughter had been to another pantomime in Manchester the week before (also Snow White) and this is my 8 year olds review in her words.

The pantomime tonight was outstanding. It was comedy and musical and amazing. My favourite character was the man dressed up as a girl. She/he cracked  me up. It was good that the crowd got soaked and my daddy caught me a packet of sweets. YES !!! I liked the seating because I could see the stage. Tonight was better than the one I went to last week. By Katie aged 8

Picture courtesy of The Brindley

Picture courtesy of The Brindley

The show ended around 7.30pm, and there was a 20 minute interval in the middle. This gave you the chance to purchase an ice cream from the front of the theatre, or to grab a well deserved drink. The Brindley is an excellent theatre which has been in my home town for 10 years now. We all loved the pantomime and we will definitely be making it a Christmas tradition from now on. Thank you to all the wonderful staff, actors, singers and dancers from Polka Dot Pantomimes who have made this a truly fantastic show for local families. Especially the younger children who were dancing in the show. They did brilliantly. Thank you.

I was given a family ticket worth £40 for the purpose of this review. Thank you to Polka Dot Pantomimes and The Brindley

Picture courtesy of The Brindley

Picture courtesy of The Brindley

Our festive living room

The Williams household became all festive on Friday. Well when I say festive, there is no tinsel or sparkly decorations hanging from the ceiling. I am definitely in the ‘less is more’ camp when it comes to Christmas decorations. Anyway I thought I would share our festive living room. Plus I always forget where everything goes, so will be nice to look back on this post in a years time !

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This is the first Christmas since we did our living room back in March, and this year I had new units and our marble fireplace to decorate.  I love the garland over the mantelpiece which was bought from Tesco a few years ago for £10.00. I have hung my Forever Friends mini stockings from it. I have had these for around 20 years from when I first had my flat at 21 ! The Father Christmas on the right is actually an annoying  musical one, and after having it for 10 years I am surprised that it still works !

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I absolutely LOVE my owl decoration which my friend bought me last year. The santa stop sign was bought 2 years ago at a Christmas craft fair, and think we paid around £5.00 for it. The china house (next to our wedding picture) is a tea light holder, and was purchased from Centerparcs around 5 years ago. I love it as holds many memories of Christmas breaks there.

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The advent stockings were purchased this year from Home and Bargains for £4.99 ! They look great hung up over the front window. Another purchase this year is the Lego Santa scene which I ordered from Lego.com. And I had to feature the lovely snuggly reindeer, which we have had for years. Our fibre optic tree is still going strong after 14 years, and is very hypnotic after a few Christmas wines ! Don’t worry though, you still won’t catch me putting the decorations up in November ! Happy Christmas x

 

 

10 things you won’t find me doing this Christmas

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10 things you won’t find me doing this Christmas

1 – Putting the tree up in November. Quite simply Christmas is in December NOT November. Its now the 7th December and still no tree up in The Williams house. Our tree goes up the middle weekend in December and one year it went up the third weekend….. Gasp !!!

2 – Braving the shops ANYTIME in December. My Christmas shopping is done via a laptop, Pyjamas on with a large glass of gin/wine/baileys.

3 – Taking about 4 hours to write Christmas cards. Sorry but I don’t see the point in Christmas cards anymore, and have not sent one in about 8 years. We do however give to a local charity.

4 – Stressing out about Christmas dinner…. its just a roast dinner with added crackers !

5 – Going to Asda/Tesco/Morrisons/Sainsburys on Christmas Eve to fight with other shoppers for the last bag of parsnips. Online food shop has been done and I await its arrival on the 23rd December.

6 – Doing Christmas crafts with the kids. Nope sorry I am so not creative and I HATE glitter. Enough said. Plus they do lots of Christmassy craft things at school/cubs.

7 – Decorating my house with a million lights, blow up Snowmen and whatever tat Home and Bargains sell. Couldn’t be bothered with putting it all up and then taking it all down again. Plus I am too tight to pay for the extra electricity !

8 – Wrapping on Christmas Eve. 75% off my presents are all wrapped and sent to Santa, with the other 25% being wrapped on my day off this week. Christmas Eve is about tucking into The Celebrations NOT fighting with the sellotape.

9 – Inviting 25 distant relatives around on Christmas Day to make polite chat and spend at least 10 hours cooking a huge turkey. Its just the 4 of us which means no pressure and we can stay in our Christmas Jim Jams all day if we want to.

10 – Doing Elf on a Shelf. I really don’t understand the concept of moving a cuddly Elf around your home doing naughty things. But hey that’s just me, and don’t get me wrong I have been seriously impressed with the amount of effort parents put in.

So there we have it. There is probably 10 things that you WILL catch me doing at Christmas, such as spreading a packet of glitter and oats over the garden to guide Santa to us !

xx Merry Christmas xx

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The £10.00 Christmas – 2014

Last year some of you may remember I blogged about ‘Amazing what you can get for a tenner’. Hubby and I have a limit of £10.00 for each others Christmas presents. Yep no Radley bags or Pandora charms for me. We started our tradition around 4 years ago when we were saving to go to Florida, and we now do it every year. Its amazing how much thought you put into it with only a small budget. I am great at sourcing bargains, and this year he has a total of 9 presents to open on the big day, beating his 8 of last year. We do have some rules….. has to be EXACTLY £10.00. Not a penny over or under. I had 71p left but after much searching managed to find 2 items for 10p and 61p. The other rule is you can’t just go to Poundland and buy 10 items.

Presents are now all bought and wrapped as you can see below. Will do a follow up post after Christmas with all the shite exciting presents I got. Just need to work on the kids now and get them to agree to a ‘tenner Christmas’ !!!

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