101-BlogImage-1What’s better, the warm British summer breeze running through your hair on the beach, or the thrill of adrenaline coursing through your veins after a big roller coaster ride? Yeah, it’s a toss-up for us too. Fortunately, whether you’re a beach or thrill fan, summer is here and it’s time to plan some fun. 

Now there’s some sunshine, I feel more confident planning some Summer adventures. I’ve been reading this handy ebook which was created using tips for 101 British bloggers and making a list of new places to visit, I even feature in it!saltwell statueMy tip for the ebook was to visit Saltwell Park in Gateshead. It’s been mentioned many times on my blog and still remains one of our favourite places to visit. 

A huge Victorian Park which is packed to the brim with free activities for the whole family. Free parking, great play equipment, and animal corner and a well-priced cafe. It’s a great day out all year round and we keep going back.

If you’re ever in the North East, it’s definitely worth a visit. It’s such a pretty place and such good fun. It has everything you need for a family day out. running EliHave you visited any of the destinations in the ebook?


Little Tikes Anchors Away Pirate Ship

We’re huge fans of Little Tike products. The little man has a good selection of the bright, fun and robust toys from the brand,  We were recently able to upgrade out garden toy selection with the Little Tikes Anchors Away Pirate Ship after we were kindly asked to review it. 

Little Tikes Anchors Away Pirate Ship set up outdoors

The Little Tikes Anchors Away Pirate Ship is a brightly coloured pirate themed water table with a good range of features and accessories. It costs £79.99 directly from the Little Tikes website but is stocked in various other high street stores for roughly the same price.

Little Tikes Anchors Away Pirate Ship set up outdoors

Arriving flat packed, the table does require assembly, but it’s quite simple to put together. You may need to use a little force to attach the legs to the base with a screwdriver though as the plastic is a little stiff. Once the legs are attached the table becomes a sturdy and hard wearing outdoor play item. At 80cms tall the height is good and would suit most toddlers. At 17 months it comes up past the little mans tummy so will means he still has plenty of play time left before there is a need for him to sit to use the table.

Little Tikes Anchors Away Pirate Ship set up outdoors
The table is made to look like a pirate shitp with the legs of the table being made to look like the wooden panels of an old ship .

The water table has a good range of features including –

  • a squeezy toy shark
  • two pirate figures
  • a plank
  • a canon that shoots water
  • slide
  • bucket
  • pull up anchor
  • two different water scoops
  • safety ring and life boat with holes for the characters to sit in
  • Spinning wheel
  • a mast in the middle of the table which pumps water or water can be poured through it.
Little Tikes Anchors Away Pirate Ship set up outdoorsLittle Tikes Anchors Away Pirate Ship set up outdoors
The table is very easy to fill and drain. It has a removable plug which allows the water to drain away, so there’s no need to lift and tip to empty it out.
child playing with Little Tikes Anchors Away Pirate Ship
The table is full of features for little hands. The little pirate figures can be made to walk the plank, go down the slide or ride in the boat or life ring. There are various knobs and buttons to press, and the base itself is deep enough to create large splashes. The little man loves spinning the yellow wheel and filling the bucket, over and over. 
child playing with Little Tikes Anchors Away Pirate Ship
child playing with Little Tikes Anchors Away Pirate Ship
The little man absolutely loves the Little Tikes Anchors Away Pirate Ship. He’s already spent hours and hours, splashing away this summer. It’s kept him occupied and amused and caused fits of giggles. A freidn recently visited and her daughter was so impressed with the water table my friend ended up buying it for her daughter on the way home.

From my point of view I’m pleased with the quality, the longevity potential  and how entertaining it is for the little man. I would like to see a canopy of cover of some sort included though as it does have a tenancy to attract kamikaze flies and spiders. I also wish Little Tikes would introduce fade resistant materials as I always feel its a shame when their products fade from being left in the sun. 

You can check out the other tors in the Little Tikes ranges here: www.littletikes.co.uk and keep up to date with Little Tikes on their social media channels too @LittleTikesUK on Twitter and on Facebook

*We were sent the product from review purposes. Opinions are honest and my own*

Tractor Fest, Newby Hall 2015

Set in the beautiful grounds of Newby Hall in Ripon, North Yorkshire, Tractor Fest is a huge gathering of tractor enthusiasts, a wide array of engines and various stalls selling tractor related goodies.

When we heard about Tractor Fest at Newby Hall I knew we had to visit. The little man is completely obsessed with tackata’s (tractors to you and me). In fact, anything he sees that has wheels is a tractor in his mind.

Tickets cost £10 for hubby and I and the little man was free as he was under 4.Tractor-Fest-Newby-HallTractor-Fest-Newby-HallTractor-Fest-Newby-HallAs well as various tractors there were also engine exhibitions. They were extremely noisy and not really my thing but the little man and Hubby were very impressed. Tractor-Fest-Newby-HallThe little man, despite this ridiculously miserable face loved Tractor Fest, he ran round gawping and shouting at all the tractors and completely wore himself out. Tractor-Fest-Newby-HallTractor-Fest-Newby-HallThere was literally every kind of tractor you could imagine, big ones, small ones, enormous ones, silver ones, black ones, literally every kind you can think of. I hadn’t realised tractors came in so many different shapes and sizes. Tractor-Fest-Newby-Hall The £10 also included entry into the grounds of Newby Hall but not the hall itself. As it was warm and sunny we were happy enough with just the gardens and weren’t fussed that we couldn’t go inside.Newby-HallThe gardens are really beautiful and despite the fact it was a busy day we were able to wander round without constantly bumping into people. We were able to roam round the lush green gardens, looking at the pretty flowers and listening to the birds sing, it was a lovely peaceful day.Newby-HallNewby-Hall

There’s a nice little play area for children with sand and a nearby water feature which you can run through and play in. Next to that is the miniature railway, it costs £2 for everyone aged over 2 and is a surprisingly long journey. We loved the winding journey through the grounds and little man loved laughing at the tooting horn. 
Miniature railway and trains at Newby Hall
Stone tortoise at Newby Hall
The flowers were absolutely stunning during out visit. I could have wandered round looking at them all day. 
We really enjoyed our day at Tractor Fest and Newby Hall. The weather was great, there was plenty to do and the grounds were beautiful. We’ve already made plans to return later this month. 
I would recommend taking your own food though, the food in the restaurant at Newby Hall although nice was pretty expensive and it would easily end up being an expensive day out if you have a large family.



Fun things to do in the garden during the Summer

Christmas and New Year tends to be classed as the party season but there’s nothing to say Summer can’t be be filled with shindigs in the sun. The warmer weather is a great excuse to get friends and family together to enjoy the sunshine and have fun.

Have a themed BBQ
Get the invites out and get everyone to bring a bottle. A themed BBQ is a different take on the traditional burgers and sausage combo. You could ask your guests to bring a dish of their own, based on a particular country or culture. For example, if you ask your guests to each bring a homemade dish that’s based on Spain and then decorate your garden with sand and straw donkeys. All that you need is a jug of fruity Sangria and some unique decor and let the guests bring the rest.

Play games
Reminiscence about your childhood. Bring out the swingball and Twister mat, even after the kids have gone to bed there’s nothing stopping the adults reliving their youth.  Too much time is spent in front of console screens or TV’s nowaways, so make the most of the warm weather and get active. 

Have a gardening party
If your garden is anything like ours then you really do need all the help you can get. Ask you friends and family to come over and bring a spade or trowel. You supply the food and music and ask them to help with a spot of weeding or pruning. It’s not supposed to be hard labour or a chore but so the saying goes, ‘many hands make light work’.

Watch major sporting events
The summer is always full of great live sporting events like The Ashes, The World Cup and Wimbledon. If the weather is nice why not bring the TV outside and line up the deckchairs to leisurely spectate. You could provide refreshments that reflect the event :- strawberrys and cream and Pimms or meals and drinks based on the wimming World Cup team. During the intervals of the sporting events you could hold sports quizzes for your guests. In this one from Compost Direct you’re asked to identify sporting venues, but you could also use intro music or questions about sporting legends.

Hire a bouncy castle
Who says bouncy castles are just for kids? Hire a bouncy castle for the day for guaranteed fun. Young or old, no one can resist throwing their shoes to the side and bouncing until they feel sick.


How to plant a hanging basket

We’ve recently had out garden revamped and completely overhauled so I’ve started collecting pretty decorative items to display. I’ve wanted some hanging baskets for quite a while but didn’t really know how to make them.

I thought I’d share an extremely simple guide to making one.

What you’ll need

A basket
Moss or wood fibre liner – you can buy it in rolls or pre shaped like the one I bought
Multi-purpose or bedding plant compost
Depending on where you plan to hang it, you may also need a wall bracket

You can buy a variety of different types of basket, including –

Rattan baskets – they have a plastic liner and are great for water retention
Wire mesh baskets – they have open sides so allow planting at both the top and sides of the basket
Plastic baskets – great insulation baskets, perfect for helping protect your plants during strong winds

My basket is from Suttons and costs £10.99. It’s made from a frost proof stone resin and has a built in drainage reservoir.

Once you’ve decided on your basket, you need to line it. You can buy rolls of hanging basket liner in most gardening or DIY stores or like me, you can buy the pre cut liners Mine cost 99p from Poundstretcher and is called a Coco liner. I still needed to trim down the edges for it to fit into my basket, but once cut it easily sat inside. 

Fill your basket with compost. Make sure its not packed too tightly so you can easily plant your flowers. I used some from B&M stores which cost £2.99 for a huge bag

Once your basket is prepped, you’re ready to start planting. You can pick up hanging basket plants from your local garden centre for a couple of pounds or order online from a company like Suttons

My plants are from Suttons and are the Riverside  collection which contain lobelia, verbena and bidens. There were 6 plug plants in total, but sadly 2 had gone mouldy so I was left with only three when they arrived. Use your thumb to create some holes and simply push your plants in.

Once they were planted and had been lightky watered hubby attached the basket to the side of our garage and we waited for the plants to bloom and bring some colour to the garden.

A couple of weeks later and  we’re greeted with this sight every time we go out of the back door. I’m pretty impressed with my pretty hanging basket. It’s perfect for brightened up the dull side of the garage.

*Basket and bulbs were sent from Suttons for inclusion in blog post*