An audience with Father Christmas – Bolsover Castle


         Christmas Arrives at Bolsover Castle

As winter takes hold and the colder weather sets in, for the first time ever, Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire are putting on Christmas events to keep the whole family entertained this festive season. We were kindly invited along to be involved in the activities and of course meet the big guy. Yes my son was given the chance to be part of an audience with Father Christmas.

This brand new experience for children takes place every Saturday and Sunday until (Sunday) 18th December. Little ones join in with the seasonal fun and crafts before meeting the main man himself as he recounts some magical tales of Christmas past, and hands out festive treats.

We arrived at the castle around 10am and our allotted time to meet Father Christmas was at 11.30am. With it being such a beautiful morning, we decided to go off and explore the grounds – to say my son was excited was understatement!

The castle and grounds are simply stunning! My son had a blast running up and down all the stairs and scuttling off into all the ‘secret rooms’ (as he called them), and his school mascot, ‘Zoomy’, had to come along for this exciting adventure too!


Counting the stairs on each level of the castle was the first game my son had in mind! We also found a room in the house, (I think it may have been the old kitchen), where we found that our voices travelled (echoed) amazingly; so of course we spent the next 15 minutes shouting ‘SANTA!’ and listening to the echo bounce of the walls and ceiling. Amazing what fun a 4 year old can find in an empty kitchen 🙂


And as you can see from my next pictures, the views are simply amazing. I have never visited Bolsover Castle before so it was such as surprise to see it in all its – and to think its only 20 minutes drive from where I live. I did find myself wondering why I had never visited this beautiful, historical site before?!

So it was 11.30am and we were asked to wait in a foyer whilst Father Christmas’ helper explained a little about what we had in store, and asked the children what they had on their Christmas list. There was only a small group of us which was great as it meant both adults and children could either sit of the floor close to Father Christmas or on the regal chairs in the grand room.

Father Christmas proceeded to recount some old tales to the children and involved them in the story with actions and questions (and parents had to do their bit too!)

After the stories had been told, Santa invited each child up to have a little chat with him (and a high five, which my son found hilarious) and he then gave them a little gift to come away with. The present was a cute Santa beanie that also had a little tie on, so you are able to hang this in your house or on your tree as a decoration. My son has been playing hide and seek with this every day since our visit.

As you can see from this next picture, Father Christmas also had a great sense of humour! It was brilliant that we were able to take our own pictures with the main man as some events will only allow their own photographer to take images – and then charge you for them – so we were definitely able to capture the day here!


It was lunchtime and we were all very hungry, so we headed to the café for a spot of lunch, which was very affordable and extremely tasty. In particular, my roast turkey and stuffing roll with all the trimmings (roast parsnip, pigs in blankets and cranberry) was yummy, but there was also a great selection for the children too, including a cute lunchbox selection or hot meal.

I would definitely recommend popping in the café, even if it’s just to warm up with a hot chocolate. You could also bring your own food to eat on the picnic benches near the park. My son had a great time on said park after lunchtime and we played on the swings and slide, and of course his friend, ‘Zoomy’ had to join in on the fun.

We had a great day, lots of fun for everyone to enjoy – so please do let me know if you decide to visit.

Bolsover Castle will also be hosting its first ever Carol Concert on Saturday 10th December at 6.30pm. Visitors can wrap up warm as they get into the festive spirit, listening to carols sung by the Fishpond Choir in the unique surroundings of the Riding House.

For ticket information please visit – An audience with Father Christmas 

For more information, visit:


*Please note I was sent tickets for ‘An Audience with Father Christmas’ for the purpose of this review, but all views are my own*


Christmas at Chatsworth, The Nutcracker – Ticket Giveaway


The Stage is Set for A Magical Christmas at

Chatsworth: The Nutcracker

5 November 2016 – 3 January 2017

 Christmas at Chatsworth: The Nutcracker will see the house transformed to present the festive tale complete with lavish costumes, beautiful decorations, wonderful stage sets and a few fantastic surprises in store sure to captivate all who visit.

Christmas at Chatsworth will transport everyone to a fairy tale world populated by Nutcracker soldiers; elegant ballerinas and dancing snowflakes. All the cast will be on view – from the Mouse King and the Sugar Plum Fairy to the Nutcracker and Clara – to depict the story in a series of stunning tableau scenes throughout the house.


In the tale, a box of performing toys charms the children and adults alike, but it is the Nutcracker doll that enchants Clara the most. As the curtain rises on Christmas Eve, visitors will be able to share in Clara’s adventures as she is swept away by her Nutcracker Prince to a wonderful place where the magic really begins.

Along the way, the beautifully dressed rooms will tell the story of The Nutcracker with all the classic scenes from Clara’s dream; from the waltz of the snowflakes to the dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.

The Land of Sweets in the Great Dining Room will be a huge highlight – the only light will be from the chandelier, like a moon above the city with its twinkling lights through the windows, and the glow from the huge Christmas trees in each corner will be magical.

You will be able to experience the story as though you are in the audience at the theatre and stepping backstage at the ballet. Guides will become stage managers and wardrobe mistresses.

For a special added thrill, visitors of all ages will be invited to enter into the magic of the story with many costumes to try on.

As well as the main event in the house, there is a whole host of festive themed activity. From truly magical nativity performances in the farmyard starring the farm animals, to gourmet evenings, floral workshops and wreath making demonstrations, there will be something for everyone to enjoy. Or get Christmas shopping off to an early start with a visit to the Christmas market with over 100 stalls of gifts for the whole family – there’s something for everyone to enjoy!

For ticket information please visit – Christmas at Chatsworth 

CLICK HERE for your chance to a win a family pass (2 adults, 3 children ) to attend Christmas at Chatsworth.

Closing date for the giveaway is 30th November 2016.

For more information, visit


Bidvine – Your New Best Friend!

As busy working parents, our greatest dilemma is how to juggle those ongoing chores which need to be undertaken just to make it through the day. Getting your kids clean, clothed, fed and out the door in one piece whilst working full or part time is daunting enough, so when it comes to jobs around the house, or hobbies, planning parties/events etc.. well that list is rarely reviewed because, lets face it, it’s too time consuming!

So when I came across the Bidvine app, I immediately thought, ‘where has this been all my life?’. Bidvine is the easiest way to find and hire local professionals to help accomplish your projects. Learn something new, redecorate your home, feel better, feel fitter, throw a great party – and more.

Let me tell you how this works

Download the Bidvine app to your mobile device or tablet, or alternatively you can access via a PC by following this website link –

The Bidvine app display appears, which will then allow you to search for a local professional service in your area.

I opted for a photography service, specifically ‘event photography’  because I wanted to get some prices for a children’s party/event. My son was four in August and the party was held at a farm park, which was hectic to say the least! The demands of the day meant that I wasn’t able to capture all those special moments at the party, so I wanted to gather some quotes – for photographers for future events – to ensure we never miss a moment again.

Once you have selected the service you need, the app requests your postcode to match your location with local businesses. I selected details such as, ‘number of people attending’ and ‘how I’d like the event shooting’ to start the matching service – see full selection available below.

The details are then broken down a little more into budget and duration of the event etc.

You are asked whether there is anything additional you would like to add to your request and you are then prompted for your email address. To submit the project, you need to create an account by entering your name and a password then the app asks if you’re ready to submit your request to local professionals.

Once you submit your details you just wait for the bids to come in. I entered both my telephone and email details which then meant I received quote alerts to both – but you can log into your account and view your ‘project’ and any bids you have received as shown below.

Once the bids have been received, it’s up to you which one you prefer and you can then discuss directly with the provider – it couldn’t be simpler!

Benefits/Key Features:

  • Free app to download
  • Set your own budget
  • 800+ service categories to choose from
  • Great matching service
  • No obligation
  • Quick turnaround from request to bid
  • Easy to use and great user experience
  • Great promotion for local businesses

I hope that you enjoy reading my post and if you would like to download the app for free here , give it a go, I would love to hear what you think!

 Disclaimer: I was contacted by Bidvine to review their service for purpose of this review, all views are my own.


Review – Glowing Musical Thomas

My son is a hug fan of Thomas the Tank engine, in particular the whole Thomas and Friends collection, so when we were given the opportunity to review a large glowing musical Thomas from Golden Bear Toys we were delighted.

When the box arrived, my son was trying his best to be patient but then his excitement took over, “come on, Mummy, I want to play with Thomas!!!”. He was SO excited about this toy. Out of all the things my son has been into, Thomas is most definitely his favourite and longest obsession.

My son and I started to squeeze Thomas and push his head and tummy to get the sounds and glowing features to appear then realised in our haste, and not reading the instructions clearly marked on Thomas (rookie error) that we needed to press the black funnel for all Thomas’s fun phrases and then to squeeze the blue dome on top of Thomas to hear the iconic theme tune.

Once we had realised, both Luca and I were giggling and pressing them for what seemed like hours. As the music plays, Thomas’s cheeks softly glow (which I think is a lovely little magical feature), especially as we tested this everywhere with the lights out too. My son absolutely loved seeing Thomas’s cheeks glow in the dark!

The Glowing Musical Thomas is also made with super soft fabric which is perfect for my son to have a good squeeze and cuddle.

The following day, it was time for us to head out to the park and guess who had to join us??! Yes, Luca’s new best friend, Thomas. My son couldn’t wait to show anyone that was walking past his new Musical Glowing Thomas, and so their adventure began….
And yes, my son insisted on pushing Thomas on the swings, much to my amusement.

The RRP for this Large Musical Glowing Thomas is £24.99 which I think is a great, affordable price. This toy is super cute and cuddly but wonderfully magical too! This needs to be added to everyone’s Christmas list.

Approx. size 23cm long and suitable from 10 months+

Batteries are included and can easily be replaced.

Disclosure: We were sent the above product from Golden Bear Toys for purpose of this review, all views are my own.

Review – Messy Goes to Okido

My son is a hug fan of the CBeebies animation, Messy Goes To Okido, so when we were given the opportunity to review a large talking Messy Monster from Golden Bear Toys we were delighted.

The CBeebies programme is aimed at children aged 2-5 years old, but the soft toy is suitable for children from birth to any age Messy Monster fan.

The talking blue Messy Monster has a lovely cuddly body that children of all ages will love squeezing. Messy’s face has cute embroidered features and my son instantly made friends and couldn’t wait to press Messy’s tummy to hear his favourite sounds and popular phrases from the show, such as, “Balabalaboomboom” and “Let’s Okido!”

My son’s love of Messy meant that he took him to school to show his friends. He also played with him on the garden and chuckled, “Messy goes to football”

Along comes Half Term and I decided to take my son to Chatsworth House where they were hosting a Half Term Halloween hoot. He insisted we take Messy along on our day out so our new blue friend went on an adventure with us.

Along with the activities we took part in, the scenery on the grounds were spectacular so we decided to let Messy chill out and take it all in.

Messy wanted to be part of the fun wherever we went. I am guessing this will become a theme now wherever I decide to take my son.

Much to my amazement, my son demoted his ‘snuggie’, which he has slept with since birth, to allow Messy to join in his in bed. How cute is this? Messy is most definitely part of the family!

The RRP for this Large Talking Messy Monster is £14.99 which I think is a great, affordable price. This toy needs to be added to everyone’s Christmas list.

Approx. size 24cm and suitable from birth.

Batteries are included, however the internal sound device is not accessible (for whenever the batteries do run out).

Disclosure: We were sent the above product from Golden Bear Toys for purpose of this review, all views are my own.

Mirai Face Brush and Cleanser – Skincare Review

Are you in desperate need of a new skincare regime? Well I know I was! As a 30-something woman, any product that claims to be ‘anti-ageing’ has got to be given a go. I’m obviously not expecting to look like a fresh-faced 20 year old, but an improvement in fine lines and wrinkles would be fantastic.

With thousands of skincare products on the market, it’s impossible to know which product works and which ones are just an under-delivering gimmick. So for the past month I have been trialling this gorgeous pink, silicone face cleansing brush from The True Company. I was also kindly sent the cleansing cream to be used in conjunction with the brush.

The silicone cleansing brush comes with its own USB charger and a 5 year manufacturer’s warranty, together with an authenticity card from The True Company.

Features & Benefits 

  • Advanced anti-ageing duo
  • Mirai Cleanser formulated for maximum results
  • Silicone bristles compatible for all skin types
  • Immediate results after just a couple of uses
  • One of the most innovative anti-aging tools in the market
  • Reduces appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Unclogs pores, removes oil and makeup
  • Makes skin feel more elastic and healthy
  • Uses the safest silicone which is compliant with all worldwide regulations
  • Rechargeable features. Just charge and go!
  • 5 Year Warranty


To charge the Mirai unit you attach the charging cord to the Mirai Face into the jack located at the front of the device (at the bottom). You then attach the plug into the USB port for charging (and the indicator light will flash). Charging is complete when the indicator light glows without flashing. This can take up to an hour.

There are 14 different modes on this unit, starting from the least intensive to the higher intensive setting.

I have created a short video on my YouTube channel so you can see how to use the Mirai Face Unit.

Once I had had a play around with the settings I decided to test the unit, together with the cleansing cream, on my hand first – as my skin can be a little sensitive at times. Personally, I would always recommend completing a skin test with all new skincare products just in case you do have a sensitivity.

I pumped a small amount of the cleanser onto the Mirai Face then increased the intensity setting to high. Using a gentle circular motion, I applied the device to the back of my hand with the smaller set of bristles. I completed this action for approximately 1 minute. Oh my, I was so impressed with how amazing my skin felt just after one treatment. I hadn’t covered the area of the back of my hand so I could honestly feel the difference between the treated and the none treated area – and it smelt divine! My skin felt so silky and soft, almost like I’d had a spa treatment.


After giving my skin a rest for an hour, I decided to use the Mirai unit on my face, specifically on my troubled areas; under my eyes, my nose and chin. I removed my makeup with soapy water, left my face a little damp and applied the cleanser to the silicone brush. The cleanser has an amazingly fresh smell, I’d best describe it as vanilla with a hint of fresh mint. I opted to go for the highest intensity setting; if you’re going to test a product then you might as well go for it!

I used the smaller set of bristles to concentrate on my problem areas (as recommended by the guidelines) and then the larger bristles to go over my full face, using a gentle circular motion, I moved the device around my face – the vibrations do make your face tickle and tingle slightly but it’s a pleasant sensation.

For the first week, I completed this routine for 1 minute, twice a day – once in the morning and once before I went to bed, just to see how I adjusted to my new routine. After each treatment I rinsed and dried my face, then cleaned the unit after each use using warm soapy water and allowed to dry.

For the final three weeks, I completed the same routine but this time completing the deep cleansing treatment for 3 minutes in the morning and 3 minutes in the evening to ensure I gained maximum results. My skin felt noticeably soft and supple after the first treatment, and it honestly felt like I had popped into my local beauty spa for a full facial treatment.

After a month of using this deep cleansing treatment system, I could definitely see a difference in my facial pores and the softness of my skin – which also felt tighter.

I was very impressed with this product and I would highly recommend it. Although it is most certainly at the high end (in terms of cost) I definitely think this product is a great investment piece especially with how much healthier my skin looks. If only they did a larger one so I can apply it to the rest of my body!

The RRP for both the Mirai Face Brush and Cleanser is 248 US Dollars / £199.40

Have you have tried any Mirai products? Do you use a cleanser for removing makeup and, if so, have you seen a vast improvement in your skin’s health? Feel free to drop me a message in the comments section as I’d love to hear from you.


Disclosure: I was sent all products from The True Company for purpose of this review. All views are my own.

Real Baking – Cake Pop Kit and Great Baking Set

We were kindly provided with a great box of goodies from Vivid which contained some fab items from their Real Baking range . My son and I were super excited and couldn’t wait to try out these products.



Contains the following:

Icing nozzle and ring

1 x small bowl, 1 x large bowl, 1 x bowl suction base

16 cupcake cases

3 x measuring scoops

4 x piping bags

1 x egg cracker

1 x silicone baking tray

We decided to use this Cupcake Recipe as the mixture contained yogurt and I was intrigued to see how the finished product would look (and taste).

We weighed out all the ingredients, including the flour and sugar. We used the funky bowls provided in the box, together with the lovely little measuring spoons, which my son enjoyed using. Obviously half of the ingredients were lost/thrown across the table and floor, so I did have to intervene at certain stages.

Then onto the best part. My son took great pleasure in cracking 3 eggs using this brilliant egg cracker. As he is only just 4 years old, he struggled to place the egg into the contraption – so I did help him – but he pressed the top down and, hey-presto, the egg deployed into the tray, minus the shell!

As you can see from the image below, there is a clear removable tray at the bottom that you can take off, thus allowing you to pour the egg into your bowl. We did crack 2/3 eggs into the tray before removing to pour, which did cause some leakage around the sides, so this may only be suitable to hold 1-2 large eggs.

Once the eggs and all the other ingredients had combined, the cupcake mixture was ready to be poured into the lovely little silicone moulds and cupcake casings (also provided with the kit). The image below shows my son using spoons from the Great Baking Set to attempt to get the mixture into the little cases. As you can see, it did get a little messy, but it’s all part of the fun.

We placed the silicone mould in the oven together with some other large cupcakes we prepared, as the recipe allowed us to make around 8 large cupcakes (and four for my son with his little kit).

Once the cupcakes had been in the oven for the allotted time, we removed and cooled before decorating. To decorate, we used a bain-marie to melt some good quality chocolate, poured this into the piping bags provided with nozzle attached and this was the result….How cute are these? My son loved them!

As with some of this particular range, it would have benefited from a recipe card, especially as the size of the cupcakes were for little hands, so I wasn’t too sure of the quantity of ingredients required – or the time needed in the oven  -so I just winged it, but we were very happy with the results.

The Great Baking Set RRP is £19.99 – which I think is a great, affordable price!

Whether you are purchasing this set for your own child as a treat so you can bake together, or as a great and affordable gift for a child’s birthday or Christmas present, it is a great value and fun product.




The box contains the following:

2 x silicone mould trays

1 x mini doughnut mould

2 x cone moulds

12 x lollipop sticks
For the cake pop and doughnut mix, we used the cupcake recipe as above. My son spooned out the mixture into the cake pop silicone mould (bottom half). The top of the cake pop mould has small holes in so when you seal the two together to bake it allows the cake to rise, but still create the desired shape and size for the cake pop/ball.

We then placed the cake mixture into the doughnut mould, (okay so it doesn’t look that pretty at first as my son had his sticky mitts all over it) and I levelled it off slightly as you want to see the shape of the doughnut moulds when cooked.

Out they came from the oven. Due the moulds being silicone, once they had cooled they were very easy to pop out. It was very satisfying removing these little cuties from the moulds and my son and I couldn’t wait to decorate them.

Once again I used a bain-marie to melt some quality dark chocolate. First you need to dip the sticks into a little of the melted chocolate before placing the cake pop onto the stick, which allows the chocolate to cool and stick to the cake. Once both the stick and cake are attached, the fun part starts.

We dipped some of the cake pops in dark chocolate, and we used icing for a couple of the other cake pops, but you could also try white chocolate or other such toppings. We then dipped these in a plate of sprinkles, but again, you could try a number of toppings such as coconut flakes, crushed cornflakes (my son’s favourite) or even edible silver balls or decorations for special occasions. We did the same method (minus the sticks) with the doughnuts and were very happy with the results.

The Cake Pop Kit RRP for this item is £9.99 which is an affordable price for both a treat or a gift.

This kit was a firm favourite in my house and I would definitely say we had lots of fun making these, but again, the box would definitely benefit from a recipe card. Nonetheless, we all really loved the outcome and it has definitely spurred me on to make these on a larger scale for parties and special occasions.

Disclaimer: I forgot to add 100g of ground almond to the cupcake recipe which meant both the cupcakes and cakepops tasted like greasy whipped egg (my fault!). However, on the plus side, Luca and I enjoyed licking the toppings off all the cakes. Note to self; read the recipe thoroughly next time…..hahah.

If you like the my post and the products reviewed in this range, you may also want to take a look at my earlier post which contains a review of the Real Baking Cookie Kit and Chocolate Pen.


Disclosure: We were sent the above products for the purpose of this review, all views are my own.







Real Baking – Cookie Kit and Chocolate Pen

We were kindly provided with a great box of goodies from Vivid which contained some fab items from their Real Baking range . My son and I were super excited and didn’t know what to try out first!


Contains the following:

14 x cookie cutters in some great designs

1 x rolling pin

1 x dough holder

1 x silicone baking sheet

1 x piping bag

We made a simple cookie dough mix but halved the ingredients as we weren’t going to make as many as the recipe stated, plus we added 1/2 a teaspoon of cinnamon for our own taste. In hindsight, we probably could have bought a pre-made cookie mix to save time, however I am always worried that the packet mix might be a little dry – although I’m sure my son wouldn’t mind.

It was all the about rolling the dough and, in his words, ‘squishing out the shapes’. It would have been great to have included a recipe in the box or, better still, a cookie dough mix – but nonetheless, this product is still fab!

We rolled out the dough using the guide and rolling pin to ensure it was perfectly level and ready for the cutters.

As you can see, these weren’t the neatest of cut-outs but my son enjoyed it all the same. We decided to try a couple of plain shapes and few with cut-outs using the smaller cuts inside the bigger ones, which allowed us to pop a small part of a boiled sweet in the middle which (fingers crossed) would create a stained glass window effect on the cookie.

The instructions also suggested making a 3D effect cookie by using the smaller and larger cut-outs and stacking them on top of each other. Maybe we will try that next time!

As the silicone baking tray is only small, it was great for my son. I simply placed the rest of the biscuits we cut from the dough onto a baking tray to allow room for the biscuits to spread whilst baking.

We baked the cookies for approx. 12-15 minutes, 170c or gas mark in the oven and voila! We were really pleased with how the cookies turned out and they tasted delicious. The smell from the oven reminded me of Christmas.


The Real Baking Cookie Kit RRP is £14.99 – which I think is a great, affordable price!

Whether you are purchasing this kit for your own child as a treat so you can bake together, or as a great and affordable gift for a child’s birthday or Christmas present, it is a great value and fun product.


The box contains the following:

1 x chocolate pen (batteries not included, 2 x AAAs)

3 x plastic moulds trays (totalling 50 different designs)

4 x nozzles, caps and clamps

12 x bags for chocolate

The box doesnt contain any chocolate for you to start with but obviously chocolate is a perishable item, so of course you wouldn’t expect any. We were kindly provided with some Divine chocolate to get us started and, as you can see, my son had his little mits on it before we had time to melt it!

You need to ensure the chocolate is chopped into a small pieces first, (and maybe chocolate drops or buttons would be easier) so that you can add into the small plastic bags and  melt in a bowl of hot tap water. Before doing so, you need to attach one of the nozzles with the clasps provided, ready to load into the pen.

In the meantime, place the batteries in the pen. If they are placed in correctly you can press the brown button on the side of the pen and you will hear the motor whirring – so you know it’s ready to load the chocolate sachet. Once the sachet is loaded, you are ready to go. As you can see from the pictures below, my son was having great fun playing with this pen, making a mess and practising writing his name on the biscuits.

The RRP for this item is £19.99 which again is an affordable price for both a treat or a gift. However, I would state that maybe my son was a little too young for this as the process of melting, clipping and clamping then loading the pen was a little tricky for him. Perhaps an older child could benefit from the design and writing aspects.

We are going to use the moulds on our next #RealBaking challenge so watch this space!


Disclosure: We were sent the above products for the purpose of this review, all views are my own.