Drusillas Zoo and the Rainforest Carousel

Our first visit to Drusillas zoo was in 2017. It was quickly decided that it is, hands down, our favourite family day out.

You can imagine, as a large family with children ranging from under two to twelve years old, finding somewhere that offers something for everyone is hard and this is exactly why we love Drusillas.

When an email popped into my Inbox inviting us to a press day to celebrate the opening of their new ride – The Rainforest Carousel, we were absolutely thrilled.

Drusillas Zoo is still as wonderful today as it was when we first visited two years ago. Apart from the animals and a new ride, not a huge amount has changed. So for my comprehensive review of Drusillas please read my 2017 post here.
Drusillas is a small zoo situated near Alfristen in East Sussex. It is about twenty minutes from Eastbourne and about and hour and a half from London. Luckily for us, it is a forty five minute journey through the beautiful Ashdown Forest.

When I said Drusillas is a small zoo, that is their description, but personally I think that is an understatement. They have over one hundred species and the enclosures and exhibits are extremley well designed and looked after.
Mikey and Charlie are huge fans of reptiles. Since Rango the Bearded Dragon and Victoria the Horsefield Tortoise joined our family last year.

Now they spend their days on YouTube, watching various reptile experts. They teach them conservation and how to care for everything from Alligators to The Monitor (I know, I had never heard of one either…google it, I am not a fan!)
So they were in their element as they walked through the snakes, iguanas and lizards, reading new facts about their favourite animals and teaching the rest of us what they already knew.
Arthur and George, the youngest of our family were fascinated by every animal at Drusillas.

All the enclosures and exhibits have been designed in such a way that small children can see freely without having to be lifted up to view the animals.
The monkeys were their favourite, watching them play and tumble with each other was not unlike a Saturday morning in our house!

After walking through the Lemur enclosure, stepping over them as they jumped right in our path, we headed to Lory Landing, the Rainbow Lorikeet enclosure.
We purchased our £1 pot of nector and fed these beautiful, exotic birds.
They were landing on our heads, arms and shoulders. They took a particular liking to Charlie who spent over half an hour bonding with them.


Just when you think you may have seen everything, you enter the kids park.
It is a playground that childrens dreams are made of.

It includes a water zone, zip wires, climbing frames, trampolines and most importantly, a cafe that serves coffee!

Once you leave the playground, you pass the picnic area which is surrounded by amusments, inflatable games and the park train.
…….you are still not finished though!
Hello Kitty Secret Garden and Go Wild are where your youngest children can have a taste of a theme park, with rides suitable for young children (Arthur, aged 22 months loved it).

The Rainforest Carousel is a beautiful addition to park. Situated at the exit, it is the perfect way to finish your day at the zoo.

Pick your animal, a cheetah? A dolphin Butterfly? Lizard? Tortoise? Climb on and enjoy a relaxing ride around The Rainforest.
After a wonderful five hours spent at Drusillas, we were ready to head home. When you look in your rear view mirror and see all six children fast asleep, not even ten minutes into our journey home, you know everyone has had a great day.

We were gifted entry tickets to Drusillas in return for a this post.
More days out in South East include:
Day out at Thorpe Park
Day out at Godstone Farm
Day Out at Leeds Castle
Day out at The Imperial War Museum

Five Reasons Why Everyone Loves a Leavers Hoodie

One of the most momentous moments of Year 6 for Mikey and Harrison was receiving their 2018 Leavers hoodies.
This wasn’t a tradition when I was at school but how I wish it was, I am sure they will last longer that my size 11-12 white shirt with pals names scribbled all over them.
What a lovely way to remember some of the most special years of your life. I even seen friends who are in their 20’s wearing their High School Leaver Hoodies with pride.
Robert Joyce, the managing director of personalised clothing company Yazzoo, has wrote a wonderful guest post for Modern Mum about this growing tradition and why it has become such a large part of our children’s school life.

5 Reasons Everyone Loves a Leavers Hoodie
A symbol of school spirit and a wearable memento of one of the most formative times in our lives, the humble leavers hoodie is a fashion hero. Bringing together comfort and nostalgia into one cosy, comfy and snuggly wearable item, it’s a rite of passage for students all over the country.
As students across the UK brace themselves for the coming exams and prepare to leave their schools, we take a look at the enduring appeal of the leavers hoodie. Here are our top five reasons why your child will love their leavers hoodie.
1. For the Tradition
Did you know that hoodies have been a fashion staple for over 100 years? Its origins are unclear, but one popular story is that way back in 1919, an American company called Champion Products was looking to boost its standard sweatshirts, so it added a hood to shield wearers from the cold. The rest, as they say, is history. Schools across the US rushed to buy hoodies for their sports teams and societies. In the 1980s, the rise of fabric screen printing technology led to customised school clothing growing in popularity, and the leavers hoodie was born.
But arguably, the long history of the leavers hoodie is part of something much more innate in all of us — the need to scrawl our names on things as a means of memorialising them and making our mark on the world. From the cave drawings of ancient man to etching our names in trees, desks and bathroom doors, it’s a trademark of humankind.
Graduating from the unintelligible scrawlings on signed primary school t-shirts, the leavers hoodie is a more elegant and effortless extension of this same impulse to immortalise our place in time.
2. For the Sentimentality
Do you ever think back to the simplicity of your school days when you’re having a bad day, or reminisce about your school day escapades during long commutes to the office? Our memories are far more than just meaningless thoughts — they make us who we are and help us get us through difficult times in our lives. No time is more important and formative than our school days.
A leavers hoodie makes memories tangible; they’re a wearable item that keeps those memories alive. Your child has no doubt formed thousands of priceless memories during their school years — school trips, new friends, playground larks and, of course, interesting facts, books and skills. School life is full of trials and tribulations and successes and discoveries that all play an integral role in our personal development. It’s those memories that stay with us for the rest of our lives.
3. For the Sense of Belonging
Leaving school can be overwhelming and many students experience a deep sense of anxiety as the big day approaches. Although there are many reasons why students feel unsettled by leaving school, one of the most common reasons is the prospect of no longer belonging to their own, comfortable community. When once they were surrounded by their friends and like-minded people within a secure bubble, now they’re facing the daunting prospect of adulthood and the many things life throws at them.
Emblazoned with their school logo and proudly displaying their school colours, a leavers hoodie is an informal uniform that binds all school leavers together. Whether your child will miss the camaraderie of the classroom, running around at break time or simply the routine of the school day, a hoodie is a perfect way to instil their group identity and help them navigate those first few months in a new and unfamiliar environment.
4. For the Comfort
No list about the leavers hoodie will be complete without a mention of its sheer comfort and wearability. Perfect for slouching on the sofa, wrapping up after the gym or nipping down to the shops, a leavers hoodie is a go-to wearable comfort blanket.
Not only that, but each time your little one (or perhaps not-so-little one!) returns for a weekend break at the family home or is feeling overwhelmed at university or in their job, their leavers hoodie will be a comforting trip back in time to a more carefree time of their life.
5. For the School
What better way to pay homage to the place that made you than by promoting it in the clothes you wear? Happy students are the best advert for a good school, so if your child loved their school experience, why not give its publicity a boost in an effortless and fashionable way?
Leavers Hoodies are a rite of passage for all students. Why not get one for your child from a personalised clothing company? It’s the perfect nostalgia trip.
Author bio: Robert Joyce is the managing director of Personalised clothing company Yazzoo, which delivers high-quality screen printing and embroidery services at economy prices.
*this post was sponsored by Yazzoo*
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High School Transition
Choosing the right Secondary School

High School Transition

Year 6 children were recieving their high school decisions last week and everyone of them and their nervous parents were in my thoughts.
This time last year we were in that position. Waiting desperately to find out if we had been given a place at our first choice.
When we received the email informing us both twins had been offered a place at Oxted School, the school we were hoping for, I thought that was the end of our stress.

A bottle of champagne and a nice dinner out marked the end of a stressful couple of years of reseach, opinions, school tours and Ofsted reports.
About three weeks after we found out the boys had got into Oxted, a Facebook post appeared on my thead.
Latest Ofsted Report shows school is failing its pupils’.
Our first choice school had recieved a ‘Requires Improvement ‘ grading from Ofsted.
I looked through the report and managed to rationalise most of it.
In fact, the report didn’t concern me half as much as some of the comments being made by parents and people from the community about the school on the facebook post.
Comments were being made about ‘teachers turning a blind eye to bullying, knife threats, picturing a school that worries more about uniform that its student welfare.
Pupils being assaulted and nothing being done’ it just sounded like every mums worst nightmare.
It was too late to apply for another school so I turned for a brief moment to the thought of private education….for all of 10 minutes.
I worked out it would cost about £850,000 to send all our children and that is before University costs!
Everytime I popped into town and met someone with a child at the school I spent 15 minutes quizzing them.
I spoke to ex pupils and current pupils and everyone gave me the same feedback.
It is a large school (over 3000 pupils) and there will always be bad stories, unfortunately the good stories never tend to make it to social media, but overall the feedback was positive.
I emailed the head teacher with my concerns and ten minutes later I recieved a reply inviting me to pop in and see her.
She explained exactly where she felt the school was lacking and how she planned to tackle the issues Ofsted had raised. She assured me that the door was always open if we ever had any more concerns.
Right. I was reassured. I could start looking forward to my twin sons new life adventure.

September arrived but, unexpectedly, that first week was probably the hardest of my whole ‘mum life’.
We were so excited, the boys had all their uniform, pe kit and lesson equipment ready and off they went.
I had spent the previous two days watching all my other mum friends from primary school post what a great first day their kids had and I couldn’t wait to do the same.
I spent all day with an excited knot in my stomach, waiting to pick them up and find out how their first day at high school had been.
I couldn’t wait to hear about all the friends they had made and wonderful teachers that they had met.
It was nothing like what I had expected.
They hated it.
They told me they had made no friends and they wanted to move to the school that all their old pals had gone to (they were the only ones from their primary school to go to Oxted).
They were so upset, both of them, they were crying and begging us not to send them back.
I was devestated, and even though Mike is much more laid back when it comes to schooling than me, he couldn’t hid his dissapointment too.
I completly and irrationally thought back to the Facebook comments earlier in the year and decided, despite spending two years researching secondary schools, I had screwed up.
My boys were not happy, and that was the one thing I wanted for them.
I posted my feelings on Instagram. Negative posts is not something I usually share but a friend had told me, as a parent blogger, it is important to share the sad times of parenthood aswell as the funny.
It really helped me and acted more as reach out for some support. I was shocked at how many other parents said their children were experiencing the exact same feelings.
Even though I felt like crap, I didn’t let the boys know, I adopted my usual positive manner.
‘It is your first day, you didnt have any friends on your first day at primary school, look at you now.’
‘It seems hard and strange now but give it a couple of weeks and you will feel differently’
‘I felt exactly the same on my first day at High School’
They were not convinced so I made a deal with them.
I told them if they threw everything into this half term, if they joined extra curricular activities (enrichment) as the school calls it, and If they tried their best with school and homework and by the October half term they still felt the same I would look into different options.
I had no intention of moving them unless it was really effecting them but it was important for them and our relationship that they understood I was listening to them.
After that I became a ‘pushy mum’.
I found the list of the enrichment activities and went through all the various clubs with them.
They offered everything from science, art, drama, dance, table tennis and all sorts of sports. We agreed on a few each and I insisted they try, even if it was just once.
Harrison went to Football and Rugby after school, Mikey went to drama, trampolining and hockey.
Mikey put himself forward for the Christmas play and had a great time at the school roller disco.
Harrison joined cross country and was invited to a inter-school meet within his first three weeks at school.

I honestly believe that the enrichment activities they have put thselves forward for has helped their transition in secondary school.
Needless to say, by October they had completely changed their mind about leaving Oxted.
I am hoping this might help other parents struggling with children moving into secondary school.
Extra curricular activities not only helps new pupils create friendships with people with similar interests but representing your school also embeds a sense of pride in your child and their school.
Within two weeks the boys were happy at school, within two months they were really enjoying going into school.
Now, half way through their second term, they love school. They have made incredible friends, represented the school in various sports and drama. They enjoy their lessons and learning and respect their school and teachers.
Their parents evening was fantastic and I am so complementary and over the moon with the school.

The parent – teacher communication is spot on, the oppertunities are in abundance and the standards and expectations are high.
The school is also wonderful at sharing and celebrating students achievements, whether they in school or out of school.

So here is what I have taken from my first experience as a mum moving from Primary to Secondary school.
– Don’t stress to much about other peoples opinions. What suits others may not suit your children, just go with your gut instict.
– Encourage them to embrace all the oppertunities that the school offer. If they resist, push them. It is nerve racking for them, but it is well worth it and a good life lesson for them to push outside their comfort zone.
– Keep an eye out for newsletters and emails. My boys are not always great at relaying information from school and gone are the days a letter is popped in their book bag.
– When you hear about kids fighting at a school, don’t panic straight away. The boys have witnessed a few fights in their seven months and I worried at first. Untill they explain that the ‘fights’ are basically a couple of pupils pushing eachother and getting their handbags out.
– If you have any questions or concerns go straight to the school. Headship teams understand parents concerns and should be on hand to put your mind at rest.
– Become part of the school community. I dont mean you have to join the PTA (everyone who knows me knows that is not me). However, offering to help at school events means you are helping support and becoming part of the schools community.
– Speak to your children. The boys and I have a very open relationship. I ask about their day at school, friendships, teachers, schoolwork, social media and general life. When they speak to me I try to never judge. I dont want them to ever worry about telling me something.
– Keep in touch with friends from primary school. It is important for them to still have the familiarity and safety their old friendships bring.
– Have realistic expectations of teachers and the school. Educational bodies are under a huge amount of pressure and need your support.
Oxted School has been, so far, the best decision we have ever made for our boys and I hope it continues.
I absolutly thrive on watching them grow, the friendships they are making and the experiences they are having.
I am not suggesting it is a perfect school, but after a year of analysing I have come to the conclusion that no school is.

Please share or tag any friends you have that are going through this transition.
I would love to hear what tips you have for making the transtion smoother for year seven pupils and parents.
Prehaps my other post on choosing a high school might help

Choosing the right Secondary School


I asked aome of my wonderful blogging community for their top tips on starting Secondary School and here is what they had to say.
Sarah at www.kippersandcurtains.com
If they are walking to school – do a few practise walks over the summer hols so that they get used to the time it takes and the route. Find out if the school has a club on during the hols so they can familiarise themselves with the building and won’t feel so daunted.
Debbie at www.myboysclub.co.uk
Practice the journey to school and getting ready including full uniform, packing a bag and leaving the house at a certain time – especially as if it is different. Our morning routine totally changed. Also keep giving them more responsibility for their own routine.
https://www.myboysclub.co.uk/2018/08/preparing-your-child-for-secondary-school.html
Claire at www.mymoneycottage.com
My son started high school last September. Take every opportunity you can to visit the high school with them before they start so that they know their way round as much as possible before they start.
Cherry at www.thenewbytribe.com
There are a number of things that will really help! Firstly, make sure you accept any open days/evenings/holiday dates etc that the secondary school offers your child – they’ll often put on several things for up coming Year 7’s and if you can get your child to them all then it’s a great way for them to get to know the school and other children. Also, spend some time going through the new school’s website – look at the photos, check out the newsletter and the comings and goings a the school – it’ll help your child get to know what the school is up to, and will also give them a chance to know names and faces of teachers before they start. If they are starting somewhere they will have to walk to or bus to, do that trip a good few times before they start so that’s one less thing to worry about on the first morning. Also, most Primary schools will do lots and lots of transition – they’ll learn how to read timetables, how to read maps etc which always helps!

Life with an eleven year old 'gamer'

I really didn’t expect to have to deal with my children being influenced from an outside source as young as eleven years old.
We haven’t even started high school. Yet, here I am, trying to tackle my son, who, up until five moths ago was a polite, calm, laid back kid who’s biggest problem was finding matching sock in the morning and throwing the odd strop bcause I hadn’t stockedthe cupboards up with enough chocolate biscuits.
Then, like an unwelcome guest who moved in and took over our lounge (and wifi)…. Fortnitearrived!
Before then he would take or leave the computer. He would play ten minutes here, half an hour there and then lose interest.
H originally ‘sold’ Fortnite to me as a free game that he can play with his school friends, I agreed that he could download it.
Since then, parenting my Fortnite obsessed son has turned me into an skilled negotiator, lowered my mental age to 11 to try to understand/sympathise with him and brought out my inner ‘Mrs Trunchball’.
I get it. I remember being obsessed with Mario Kart and Sonic the hedgehog when I was his age. My brother and I would play for hours and hours if we were allowed (which we weren’t).
The big difference is that I wasn’t accessible to anyone online and once the game was purchased, no further expenses were incurred.
Fortnite is ingenious, they have created a game with an online community which creates a constant link to friends (and strangers) as well as offering a so called ‘free’ game but that you have to constantly buy bolt ons for.
I have moaned about the game, I have had screaming matches with my son, I have tried to reason with him, it has been an exhausting few months and I know I am not alone.
H would get back from school and put his headphones straight on.
He sulked when I ask him to switch it off.
He threw tantrums if the internet was slow because it made the game ‘lag’.
His general attitude was shameful and I was not ready for this ‘Kevin’ stage, (certainly not until he is at least 13!
Apart from the change in his attitude, I was concerned about the dangers. My husband has friends that play this game! Without realising it H has been playing in online groups that adults have been in.
It was Piers Morgan of all people who I felt gave me the kick up the arse I needed.
There was a section on Good Morning Britain about Fortnite and it’s effects on children.
We heard about children who were wetting themselves rather than stopping the game (you can not pause Fortnite). They also announced that Fortnite is the first game that has resulted with a child being referred for counseling on the NHS.
So Piers, rather than just object to the game, put the blame firmly at the parents feet.
My first reaction was anger. This game has been expressly designed to hook and addict my child and I was trying my hardest to keep my preen in line.
The family counsellor who was a guest on the show said ‘Parents are trying to hard to be liked by their children, they are too scared to upset them’
That sounded so familiar and then I realised, I had become the mum I never thought I would be…..the mum that puts being her child’s friend in front of discipline, safety and respect.
I made H watch the segment. He saw for himself what the majority of parents were thinking.
All the children are telling their parents,
‘Jonnys mum lets him play when he wants’
‘Billys mum lets him play longer than you let me’
When actually, that’s all rubbish! We are trying to enforce rules and the kids are (embarrassingly) manipulating us.
I asked him what he thought was a reasonable amount of screen time each day. We agreed on 45 minutes on a week day (after chores and homework is done) and 1.5 hours at the weekends.
So far this has been working brilliantly.
We have also sat down together and watched the story of Breck Brednar, a school boy that lived near to us.
He was groomed for over a year by a lad in his gaming community. Despite his parents concerns and warnings, he was tragically murdered at 14 years old by the 17 year old boy.
Watching the documentary was a big turning point.
Listening to Brecks mum recall how she tried so hard to reason, explain, sanction Breck because she knew the dangers there could be online, was heart breaking. To then watch Breck ignore his parents concerns, just like H had been doing to us, and to seewhat tragedy has resulted was a wake up call for me, my husband, H and his brothers.
So much so that my husband ran the London Marathon this year for The Breck Foundation.
http://www.breckfoundation.org
H has a new attitude to the computer now, and I still know it is an on going battle, but for now it is one we are winning!

I would love to know about your experience with your child and gaming.
I asked a few fellow bloggers how they deal with this and limit screen time with their children:
My son has an hour per day. And if he starts shouting at the screen, it gets turned off straight away.
My son had his first Xbox for his 9th birthday in December. Honestly? We just let him monitor his own screen time and after hammering it for a few months, he’s got bored of it. He will have the odd hour here and there but as a whole it’s fizzled out.
I allow our daughter some screen time on the iPad as some down time before dinner or on long car journeys. She knows she’s limited to 30minutes and is only allowed on certain apps. We make sure she’s not shut away in her room so we are aware of what she’s doing/watching.If she’s not behaved well then she doesn’t have it at all. It’s definitely a privilege.
We use an app that blocks the children’s devices after 2 hours of use. Its brilliant as I can set bed times, school hours, outdoor time etc and can also select which apps are blocked at different times. The kids can also earn more screentime by doing extrajobs and since the app manages it all, mum cant be blamed for it running out of time!
We allow an hour after school, it must go off before dinner time and they seem happy with that, it’s letting them know that you are in charge and your rules stand, my son doesn’t play fortnite but does play mine craft with his sister occasionally and I alwaysmake sure to time them and they seem pretty happy coming off when asked.
I allow our daughter some screen time on the iPad as some down time before dinner or on long car journeys. She knows she’s limited to 30minutes and is only allowed on certain apps. We make sure she’s not shut away in her room so we are aware of what she’s doing/watching.If she’s not behaved well then she doesn’t have it at all. It’s definitely a privilege.
I’ve been talking a lot about this today after posting a news article about another 9 yr old having issues.
Despite attempts to demonise one videogame or another, this is really an issue of parents being involved and setting limits. Make an effort to understand the games your children are playing and you’ll be better informed about their suitability.
Many games are rated for content but only parents will know if a child is emotionally mature enough to remain calm whilst playing a competitive game. Parents should set clear time limits and stick to them so that children learn what those boundaries are.
If a child is getting angry or upset while playing, it’s time to turn the game off and come back with a calmer state of mind. If the child can’t stay calm, they are not yet mature enough to be playing it at all.
Use it as a reward. We have daily tasks that she can work towards and if she does well she has an extra ten minutes. Giving them a time limit helps and if she starts to cry or grumpy when I take it away she doesn’t get it the next.
Our two have screen time but I limit them to 60mins maximum a day then they must turn it off and go do a activity away from the screens/ consoles
We don’t have any set times as such for games as such but we do have break rules. After playing a game for half an hour she will come off for a snack or a drink and then go back on if she wants and more often than not she chooses to do something else. We havenever had set restrictions and it works for us. She spends more time drawing and reading than playing games. I think gaming gets really bad stick when in most cases it’s down to parents not understanding the games their children are playing. If parents lookedinto the games their children are playing and supervised them then half of the news stories wouldn’t make the papers because they wouldn’t exist.
We don’t have set screen time they are allowed on when they like but having seven children they don’t get long anyway!! They all know they are not allowed to play any game over their age limit but most of them prefer going to the beach or playing in the paddlingpool at the moment.
Until about 6 weeks ago, we had screen times at set times during the day – 12-1:30 for my eldest (when youngest naps) and then 4pm-5pm while I cook dinner. The TV/screens simply don’t go on outside those times, so my kids are used to it. The last few weeks,however, I’ve also scrapped the late afternoon session because the weathers been so lush they’ve been playing outside anyway! We have a lot of music on during the day.
I don’t give my son limits although he has to come down for all meals and I do every now and then insist he does something else. He has special needs and struggles to go out much so his social life is playing online with his friends and chatting school andstuff at the same time.

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Supporting other parents

**WARNING – I have wrote this post with a ten month old on my lap and my two year old bouncing on my legs playing horsey so please excuse any typos, bad grammar or spelling mistakes!******
I have only just started enjoying our lunch dates with the kids again.
As soon as George turned fifteen months my usual calm, civilized diners started to resemble a scene out of Jurassic Park.
The one where the T-Rex is flipping cars and tearing down fences while the humans watch on, horried, from behind a tree!

I would get flustered and embaressed while George flung himself out of the high chair (those wooden ones are beyond pointless!).
He would chew food up and then let it spill out of his mouth onto the table while telling me
‘Don’t like it’.
Instead of the pasta Arribiata infront of him, he would have his eyes on my moules mariniere (and happily eat every one!).

The floor around his seat would have a mixture of food, snapped crayons and napkins scattered everywhere. It was so messy that I would leave the servers a 40% tip out of embarrassment and guilt.
If I tried to discipline him at the table, he would scream louder and then would come the disapproving glances from around the restaurant.

Considering I took my first four children out all the time, and we would be complimented on how well behaved they were…this was new territory for me.
Add a new baby Arthur, who had a healthy set of lungs on him into the mix and eating out became nothing but an anxiety inducing stress-fest!

Since November, thankfully things have changed. For a start, George has developed a love for YouTube (yep…and I WILL give him his tablet if It means I can drink my coffee while it is hot!)
Also, now he can talk and communicate more his behaviour has taken a huge turn. I would even say eating out with him is enjoyable!
The most important thing I learnt about my number five is that ‘No one puts baby in the corner. ‘
He is happier sitting in an adults seat with the older kids rather than a high chair next to mum!

Last week we took the younger boys out to our local Italian for some lunch.
It is one of our favourites because it is no only child friendly but seriously delicious too.
It was a Friday lunchtime and the restaurant was full of mums with toddlers and older ladies and gents enjoying a retirement lunch.

We were sat between a couple in their 70’s (I am guessing) and a lady with a baby having lunch with her parents.
The baby next to us must have been about seven month and was crying…and crying…and crying.
Her mum was trying desperatly to sooth her but the baby wasnt having it and the mum looked tired and stressed.
Mike was trying to have a conversation with me but I couldn’t concentrate on what he was saying.
I was so distracted.
It wasn’t the baby that was bothering me…it was her mum.
She was flustered and panicking and I could feel every inch of her uncomfort.
I glanced around and realised the older couple had asked to be moved and the mothers with toddlers were rolling their eyes and tutting!
I felt like crying for her!
I walked over and knelt down to the mum with her baby.
‘Most the people in the room are parents and we have all been where you are. Don’t worry about anyone else, you are doing a great job.’
I offered to take the baby while she finished her lunch as ours hadnt arrived yet.
She burst into tears and gave me a big hug.
The mum felt instantly more relaxed and in turn, her little baby calmed down.
George and Arthur were a joy that day and unlike the mum next to me, we were getting nods of approval. Usually I would feel proud that out kids good behaviour is being aknowledged, but when the praise is coming from the same judgemental dicks that are rolling their eyes at a crying baby I just felt annoyed.
Rewind just a few weeks and it was me that was sitting their being talked about and feeling shamed.
George didnt let us down though. As the bill was placed on the table he kicked his shoes off and ran through the restaurant. He ran around tables, giggling and screaming as I chased him like a overweight hurdler after a bottle of prosecco.
As I passed the mums who had been rolling their eyes i laughed
‘It was all going so well! That will teach me for being smug!’ hoping they might find the hint and advice in my comment.
George ran behind the bar, hi-fiving the waiters and I finally rugby tackled him at kitchen door!
A couple of days after this I read in a paper that a lady with a crying baby was asked to leave a cafe because it was upsetting the customers.
I wonder how many of those people offered some help or advice to the mum, who may well have been struggling herself, before they complained to the owner?
Or whether the owner of the cafe thought to ask if there was anything he/she could do to help before they showed her to the pavement.
I do have sympathy for everyone who wants to have a quiet meal without ‘naughty’ children or screaming babies around them. My point is simply, before you roll your eyes, ask to be moved or tut at the parents, take a second to think.
Could this parent be struggling? Could that child throwing a tantrum have a disability that you can not see? Could this parent benifit from a gentle hand of reassurance? Or more to the point…..were your children always perfect?
Anyway, im off out for lunch with all the kids….wish me luck 😜

My Last Week of November

Its been a while since I wrote a totally self centred blog post with no point to it at all.  A post that is completly unhelpful, except to let me use it as a diary…so that when I look back one day will be able to remember that week in November 2017.

Lets start with George.  This kid is growing into the most charismatic, gorgeous  pain in the arse I have ever come across.

I dont call him a pain in the arse lightly.  I am a mum of six, i feel like i have a patience level to rival a reception class teacher. But George is a whole new type of toddler. 

He will scream to get what he wants, yet remember to thank you with total sincerity if you give in to him.

He will push and push and push me until I shout at him, and then will put his arm around me and ask if I am ok.

So, as a little xmas presie to myself…and George, I have booked him into nursery a couple of mornings a week.

I’m not going to lie, my intention was two FULL days.  But the nursery teacher suggested it might be a little much to start with so we agreed on the morings… until January!

If I doubted whether I was doing the right thing, the wink, high five and about-turn we both participated in when I left him on his first morning, made me certain he needed it as much as me.

He has loved it! I have loved it! and it has given me a chance to spend more time with Arthur and appriciate my time with George more.

The nursery teachers loved him. He had played nicely with the other children, joined in with the activities and was so polite. They even told me he is a credit to me….a credit! It felt amazing when she said that.

Then he went home and ripped my £100 roll of Sanderson wallpaper off the wall!

Charlie has started a new school two weeks ago.  I have been conscious of how i will cope with school run logistics when the twins start high school for a while.  I started some tentitive research last month and was surprised when our school of choice happened to have a space availible for Charlie to start straight away and Libby in January.

The new school is everything charlies old school is not.
It is a small village school with a one class intake and strong christian values.  So far, Charlie has settled in like a dream and it is as though he has always been there. 

The twins turned eleven!!! I honestly can not believe how quickly time passes by.  

Having children is like a constant reminder of this.  No huge celebrations this year.  I did offer them a big party as it will be their last year at primary school but they werent interested.  

I actually think they are worried I might show them up on the dance floor….which I would.  The problem is, I actually think I am the coolest mum ever and the kids are proud to show me off.  

The reality is that they think I am a total embarrassment and actually mc-ing to DJ Luck and MC Neat is not quite the crowd pleaser it used to be!? Note: @indenialmum!

Instead Harri had some friends over for a sleepover (I still tried to play cool mum….I even let the watch ‘Swearing Peppa Pig’). Mikey is off to Kidzania in a couple of week to continue his quest to become the next Richard Branson.

My Christmas decorations are up, they have been for two weeks…standard.  I am the biggest fool for Christmas that ever there was!  My ultimate aim is to recreate National Lampoons decore extravagance with Home Alones class….you see the look I am going for?!

My News: 

I turned to the dark side.  It is amazing what looks you can create when you trust your hairdresser!  When she suggested a dark balleage i wasn’t convinced…but i let her work her magic……..

I am so pleased with my new look.  If you are local to London, check out Laura at Lalo….she is even a stylist to the Stars!

https://www.lalohairandmakeup.com 

My Modern Mum Event went Live this week….there will be a blog about this over the weekend. 
In short, I have organised a night out for local-ish ladies to come and meet local businesses ran by hard working women and hear what they have to offer. It is a chance to network, socialise and have a great night There will be chances to meet lots of beauty industry pros who will be ready to pamper us aswell.

Today I am suppose to be out beating on a shoot with the kids and hounds. After my nightmare night with Arthur and a whole two hours of sleep….I bailed!

Instead, I put an xmas movie on for the kids, put George and Arthur down for a nap and I have a Blissful Bath waiting for me.

I also made a kick-ass pate this week.
I have a freezer full of offal from our pigs, lambs and cow.  We like liver and bacon, but not even a family my size can consume that much! This is the recipe I used.  I used pig liver instead (by accident) but it was lush with a crusty bread, chutney and a Baileys.

http://allrecipes.co.uk/recipe/27125/beef-liver-pate.aspx

How has your week been…..are you ready for a Merry December?
Love Kate
Xxxx
As always, if you have enjoyed my self regarding post, please share

Tulley Farm – Pumpkin and Spookfest

​If you live in the South East and have not heard of Tulleys Farm and their Shocktoberfest you must be living under a rock.
I last went three years ago and have heard through the grapevine it has only got better. 

I could not wait to take the kids this half term.

As usual, nothing in our house goes to plan and after getting the household ready, I ran into a small problem on departure….a flat tyre.

But, living on a farm has its perks and we usually have a back up vehicle of some description.

On this occasion it was our trusty Landrover Defender that came to our rescue.

So, an hour later than planned, we were on our way.

Tulleys Farm is a seasonal family event venue in Sussex, between London and Brighton, close to Crawley and East Grinstead.  So much is put into each event that it never fails to excite throughout each season.
Drawing inspiration from the huge halloween industry in America, the Pick Your Own Farm began developing Tulleys Halloween events in around 2002.  It has since grown from visitors of 3,500 to the mega 60,000 it is welcoming now, over the Halloween period .

As a result of its phenomenal success, they have attracted some of the best Scare Experts in the business.

By day they run a fantastic family spooky experience and by night it becomes a terrifying fright fest that, quite franky, my bladder can no longer handle!

Last time I visited at night I spent most of the evening with my face burried in Mikes back!

For a fiesty lad #georgethemenace (my two year old) is scared of everything…  Spiders, clowns, masks, people dressed up and anything small that  moves.  

As much as I enjoy the cuddles his terror brings, I knew this year it was best to leave him behind.

Also, as much as Tulleys has catered well for buggies, as us parents know, mud and prams make hard work.

Luckily my mum and dad were around and agreed to watch the two smaller boys for me.

Tulleys Farm is made up of a few different rides/experiences.

My kids favourite everytime we visit is the Horrid Hayride.

This is a tractor ride through a creepy woods where the aim of the game is to make the kids scream (and laugh).  

I’m going to be careful not to give to much away because the element of suprise and unknown is half the fun.

I will say, unlike the evening experience, the actors are much tamer during the day so that it doesnt traumatise the children……too much 😜

During the day we visited all the main attractions.

We visitied Dirty Gerty and The Witches in The Woods.

We tried to find all the ghosts in the Cornmaze.  Which, FYI, is a perfect opportunity to loose the kids for half an hour.

The Twisted Fun House, which even tripped me out slightly when I realised six little faces were relying on me to escape. 

The more I tried to find the exit, the more we were faced with psychedelic clowns!

The Creepy Cottage was the ride that my older children found the scariest. Negotiating your way around a derelict cottage scattered with terrifying props

Inbetween all the rides are food stalls serving donuts, jacket potatoes, burgers, chicken, hogroasts and coffee….plenty of coffee everywhere!

The Pumkin Patch is really something to behold and you can buy them aswell as other great Halloween merchandise at the Farm Store.

As you walk around Tulleys there is plenty more entertainment scattered around.

Spooky theatre, street theatre, puppet shows and a pertrifying play area, there is so much to do we nearly ran out of time!
There really is nothing like this around.  It is such a brilliant concept and the planning that goes into it and the volume of visitors speaks for itself.


There are a few days left…….take a visit.  
Tulleys Farm is a seasonal attraction and I am definatly visiting at Christmas. 

Tulleys Farm have also introduced an attraction called Escape Rooms. I’ve been checking it out online and it seems a team of you are locked in a room and the only way to escape is by solving a series of puzzles.  I can’t wait to give that a go

I would love to hear your opinions if you have visited.

For more information on prices and opening times, take a look at

www.tulleysfarm.com


Tulleys Farm gave me entrance tickets in return for this review. However, all my opinions are entirely honest and without influence.

Baby Led Weaning

Baby led weaning…..lets talk about this for a moment.
This is a new concept for me. All my children were fed straight from a bowl, to their mouths, on a spoon (or sometimes direct from a pouch) by me.
When Charlie was younger he choked on everything.  Sometimes he brought it up himself, sometimes he needed a firm pat on the backand, and on one occasion our good friends, (who happen to be a doctor and nurse) had to hang him upside down to help bring up the offending food.

That period of parenting left me mentally scared. 
After that, Mike and I chopped up his food into the tiniest pieces until he was about seven!!! 
I had to logically tell myself that if he copes ok at school then I should leave him to get on with it himself at home, but even then I struggled.
I carried this paranoia with me during Libby and Georges early years.
Even now my heart stops when i see a toddler eating a banana, sausage or a whole grape.
And now it is time to wean Arthur and I dont know what to do.
Arthur is quite independent and likes to grab the food/spoon himself which can make feeding him a little frustrsting.

Lets be honest, with an independent baby, a toddler and four older children, BLW is probably the more convenient and obvious option.
I can’t tell you I agree or am doing it to avoid having fussy children or children prone to allergies.  
All of my five who were weaned ‘traditionally’ are far from fussy.  They eat anything from roast diner (even the brussels) to jamaican hot curries to oysters, cockles, olives and even liver!
Food is a big part of our family. We socialise around food, We enjoy eating out, cooking and trying lots of different cuisines and I think that has had a bigger impact on their food choices than how they were weaned (but i am open to suggestion).
We have a rule in our house…..you can not say you do not like something or do not want something unless you try it first.

Back to BLW, From what I understand, you put a selection of food in front of them and let them feed themselves.  
I love the concept and it fits in with our family values of encouraging independence and choices.
The Problem is my anxiety levels go through the roof at just the thought of it.
So recently I compromised and I did let Arthur feed himself…..baby rice and pureed food.
I popped Arthur in his highchair and let him loose with the rice and a spoon.  
Well, i put the spoon in his hand but that was swiftly given to the dog who was waiting patiently by his highchair, then he dived in hands first.

The food was in his hair, over the highchair and even inbetween the plastic strap clickers (you know what I mean if you have ever had to clear the aftermath up!)
After a mammoth cleaning session and a bath in the kitchen sink I decided to re think my strategy.
I am going to try a mummy led dinner again tonight and see how that goes.  
But I would really like to try more BLW.
Does anyone have any tips on what foods are good for babies to eat on their own wihout risking heart failure (mine that is).
I feel like after having six babies you are expected to have all the answers, but things change so much and each baby is so different. 
HELP! 
I’ll update you with our progress over the next week.
Wish me luck!

Do kids see race?

Barack Obama tweeted recently
 
‘No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion……’
 
I am starting to wonder if, as well as pure ignorance, has political correctness contributed to Racism.
Obama is right, so at what age do you start noticing and worrying about racism?
My ten and eight year old sons were sitting in the back of the car with a friend of theirs who is mixed race.
Amongst the shouting and laughing coming from the back seat, I heard one of my sons say
‘you’re so black…..you….’
He couldn’t finish because I hit my brakes, pulled over and totally lost my head.  I started going into a rant about how I hadn’t brought him up to say things like that.
Before I could finish his friend stopped me.
‘Kate, we were just roasting each other! I just said to Harri, you’re so white, you must be invisible when its snows’
I laughed! and I was so relieved.
But It made me sit back and think,
Am I creating issues about colour that the kids don’t even see.
My kids aren’t racist, not even slightly, so why did I go so mad when I heard him say that?
Because, to make reference someone’s skin colour in a negative way is racist.  But,  Is it only racist if that person takes offence?
As their mum,  it’s my job to make sure they are brought knowing what is right and wrong.
I remember when Charlie was at nursery, he had the most wonderful teacher, Mrs Patel.  One day she pulled me to one side to say that another teacher had asked Charlie what he wanted to do.  He asked if the ‘chocolate’ lady could read him another story.
I WAS MORTIFIED.  I couldn’t apologise enough.
Mrs Patel hadn’t told me out of disappointment.  She thought it was the most wonderful thing she had ever heard! This little three year old was just describing her as best he could and she was nothing but flattered that he enjoyed her reading to him.
The Political Correctness that has been bashed into me over the years had almost convinced me that my little boy was showing racist traits at three years old!
Right now, my kids see past skin colour, and I’m not going to change that
Back to Obamas Tweet……..how cute is George and his fiend Si-si…..

 
What are your thoughts? X 
 
 
 

Our Day at Drusillas

We have been fortunate to visit a few special attractions around the South of England this Summer.
When I have asked the kids which one stands out, Drusilla’s Park won hands down.

It has been so long since I have been to Drusillas It is nothing more than a vague memory to me.  So when I was asked to give a review of the Park I jumped at the chance.
Anyone that I have spoken to about Drusillas has raved about it, so I was really excited to take the kids.
A friend of mine, Simin, lives in Eastbourne and has an Annual Membership for Drusillas.  She has been visiting the Park for over fifteen years.  So, apart from a great opportunity to meet up with her and her little girl, I thought it would be handy to go with someone who knows the zoo and can give me a guided tour!

Drusillas Park Is located just off the A27 at Ariston.
From where we live in Warlingham (just outside of Croydon) it took approximately an hour.

The kids usually hate long journeys, but I avoided the motorways and the route took us on a lovely drive through Ashdown Forest.
I had always thought Drusillas was a small zoo.  My kids adore animals and learning about different species so I knew I would be earning brownie points on this day out.  What we actually realised on arrival is that Drusillas is so much more than ‘just a small zoo’.
The variety of play areas and rides are probably the best I have ever seen!  But, I’ll tell you all about that later.

Lets start at the beginning of our day.
Car parking was simple and you don’t get charged to park in it.  This shouldn’t be a surprise, but a few of the attractions we have been to over the last six weeks have charged us for parking.
Like most of my days out, it started with a coffee.  Coffee is my ‘mama fuel’ to help me mentally cope with the day ahead.  Not only to make sure I don’t loose one of my six children, but to make sure I can keep an enthusiastic, ‘Balamory style’ attitude throughout the day.
Imagine my delight when I was greeted with a Starbucks sign!

After my caffeine fix, it was straight onto the animals.
The children had been given some activity booklets to complete on the way around the park.
I thought they were great because they were kept simple.  The kids had to spot animals listed in the booklet and stamp it accordingly.  This meant it was easy for my younger children to complete, whilst keeping the older ones entertained too.
They could also take part in the Zoolympics Challenge.  There were various points around the park where you could test your sporting skills against different animals.
Our first stop was Iguanas and Snakes.  The smell was reminiscent of the twins bedroom, so I was keen to move on fairly swiftly, but the kids took in every fact and bit of information available to them.

The Farmyard was lovely to mooch around, George loved it and It was so informative.  The older children have been to many farms and have books on most of our animals, yet we all learnt new facts at this section of the park.

-Did you know that dairy cows produce 21 litres of milk per day?
-Did you know that Donkeys are sometimes kept as pets to keep lawns short? (yea, I suggest swerving that informative can of worms!)
-I also learned that despite how I might feel sometimes, I am not built like a carthorse and, at a push, I just about have the strength of a Serval (a giant cat)….I know!? who knew!?

You don’t it about me, but I love monkeys!!! I could watch monkeys all day!! So Imagine my delight when our next stop was the capuchins (Marcel from Friends?) Marmosets, Colobus, Squirrel monkeys and Macaques.   There were even more species of Monkeys dotted around the park.


In all the years I have visited farms and zoos, I have never encountered Bats until I visited Drusillas.
The children and I were fascinated.  We could walk through an enclosed area where the bats were hanging (literally) all around us.  I grew up next to woodland and we would see the shadows of bats regularly during the summertime, but it was a completely different experience to see them up close.

New arrivals at Drusillas this year are the Giant Anteaters, and how amazing are they! (and, FYI, nothing like ALF!)
The park has over one hundred different animal species and I am not going to go through every one, but amongst some of our favourites were Beavers, Porcupines, Sloths, Camels and Penguins.  

I loved seeing the Flamingos, (and not just so that I could use that cute sticker on Insta Stories!)

They are so beautiful and pink…. I am working on mike to let me have a flock on the farm….what do you reckon my chances are!?
Another highlight of our day was our walk through Lemurland.  This is an enclosure where you can walk amongst the Lemurs and watch them jump across your path or if you are really lucky, they might even land on you!

The Go-Wild play area was exactly as it is described…Awesome Play.  It was every child’s dream and with a separate area for younger children, it had something for all ages.

The kids spent over an hour in this part of the park.  If they had their way they would have spent all day there! 

The photos don’t do Go-Wild justice.  I couldn’t possibly get a shot with everything included!


But, there was still so much to see so we had to drag them away from Go-Wild and head for the Get-Wet water park.
Simin had text me the night before to tell me to make sure I brought the kids swimming cosies and towels.  Now I don’t want to appear a whinge, but when you are getting ready to take six children out for the day something has to give.  On this occasion I forgot the swimsuits!
Luckily, it was such a hot day It didn’t stop Libby and George from having a great time jumping in and out of the fountains and water sprays.

Go Safari! is Drusillas new attraction which only opened this year. It is an area of the park made up of three rides.  They provide perfect thrills for younger children (my two and ten year olds enjoyed them).


The Hippopotobus, The Flying Cheetahs and The Safari Train which takes you on an adventure around the whole park.

Drusillas has a great Park Maze. We all had great fun getting lost and trying to find our way out.  I kept George safely on my shoulders the entire time we were in there.  Those of you who follow my blog and Instagram will understand why! #Georgethemenace

Hello Kitty Secret Garden is a lovely area with three more childrens rides.  The exciting 25ft hooper, a ride where you are bounced up and down.  The tea cups which, need no explanation and the Kitty car ride where you go on a magical journey through Hello Kittys Garden.

Stop at Hello Kittys House.  The girls met The Puss herself, Hello Kitty, and you can indulge with a pamper at her ‘Parlour’.  Children (or adults if you so wish!) can have their face painted, temporary tattoos and hair braids (at cost).

On this occasion I was organised and took a packed lunch with us. Therefore, I can not comment on Drusillas eateries but they all appeared clean and inviting (and the coffee was great😉)
The facilities were good and you were never too far from a toilet (which is always handy with six children!)
Harrison can not go anywhere without playing a shoot-me-up game so he was not dissapointed.

And, if we hadnt run out of time they would have liked a go on the climbing wall.
Drusillas have Keeper Talks and Animal feeding at regular times during the day and they have loads of events on throughout the year.  I would definitely recommend heading over to their website
www.drusillas.co.uk

We had such a great day!  The weather was glorious, but I can imagine we would have enjoyed it regardless.

On our way home from Drusillas, Mikey asked if he could go back and ‘be a keeper for the day’ for his birthday……I am certainly going to look into it.

If I have convinced you to take a trip to Alfriston to visit Drusillas, let me know what you think.
And, as always, Please share with your friends and followers 😘
I recieved free entry to Drusillas in return for this post. All of my opinions are completly honest and unbiased.