What’s happening: September 2014

A round up of the best activities around across Reading and Berkshire through September 2014. 

Heritage Open Days, Become a Reading Detective: Kerry Renshaw and Electra Colios:

Britain and Reading is jam packed with some incredible architecture and historical buildings. To celebrate this hundreds of doors normally closed to the public will be thrown open across four days, giving you the chance to discover your local surroundings. 

With dozens of Heritage Open Day events listed on Mumsnet Reading, there are heaps for you to discover but we love the look of this event for all the family:

Become a Reading Detective: Kerry Renshaw and Electra Colios

readingdetectvesAs part of Heritage Open Days 2014 chat to local author Kerry Renshaw and photographer Electra Colios about their new book ‘Reading Detectives’, an interactive guide to Reading’s history, followed by a book signing. 

The challenge is then to go out into Reading and answer some of the questions which are grouped into four walking trails. Anyone who manages to answer the questions and return to Waterstones Broad Street before it closes will receive a certificate! 

Click here for full details.

Justin Live:

All round children’s superstar Justin Fletcher has a new stage show, Justin Live. It comes to the Hexagon for one weekend this September and is a must see for any Justin fan. The show is jam packed with songs, dancing and some of Justin’s most loved characters.

 Justin Fletcher for Festival

Click here for full details.

Jurassic Park Mini Golf

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It’s the final month that this prehistoric fun packed feature will be down at The Oracle, so if you’ve yet to experience putting past the pterodactyls then be sure to head over and book in a game. 

Click here for full details. 

The Berkshire Show

berkshireshowIt doesn’t get bigger round here than the Berkshire Show for country fetes. This year looks set to be another jam packed event with over 20 arenas and 2,000 animals. You can pre book tickets to get a saving on entrance fee or buy tickets on the gate.

Click here for full details.

Breaking the Baby Breakfast Boredom

Weetabix… Weetabix… Weetabix… and so it went on. We were in rut with youngest’s breakfast. Whilst her dinner and lunches are nearly always the same as what we are having, breakfast was never quite the same. I couldn’t present the baby with the very specific toddler menu choice (bran flakes with raisins and banana) so during the chaos of getting breakfast ready for a demanding toddler and an often vocal baby desperate to start her breakfast, I would often turn most mornings to the failsafe option of weetabix with a finger of toast on the side for our 10month old.

When we were selected to try out some of Heinz’s new baby breakfasts, I was absolutely delighted at the chance to be introduced to a few options that could help us get youngest out of her breakfast monotony but ease my already time pressured mornings.

The lovely goodie bundle arrived bright and early one Saturday morning and we all crowded round to see what yummy options lay inside. On offer was two boxes of Heinz Baby Muesli, one apricot and peach flavour and one strawberry, raspberry and blueberry. We also had a big pack of Breakfast Biscotti Biscuits and a twin pack of the ready pots of Very Berry Porridge.

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Our first taste was the apricot muesli. It couldn’t be easier to make, just mix muesli with your baby’s regular milk and give it a few minutes to soften and you’re set to go. This was perfect as I made this first whilst assembling the other family members breakfast and so by serving up time, the muesli was plump and soft and perfect for her gummy palette.

At first the change in breakfast created a raised eyebrow and a certain amount of suspicion but it took no time at all before Youngest was eager for each spoonful and had heartily tucked in to nearly three quarters of the bowl. The minute she had finished, Eldest was racing to get hold of her leftovers to give the muesli a whirl himself.Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 8.30.10 PM

The second flavour was as big a hit as the first and we now alternate most mornings with apricot or the berry and we mix it up with the choice of serving it warm or cold to stop the mundane of breakfast on repeat striking again.

Other than breaking the boring cycle it was great to know that each serving of muesli had at least two teaspoons of fruit in each and 12 key vitamins and minerals, a relief that in our busiest rush of the day, I could still serve something hearty and nutritious up.

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The biscotti biscuits were an absolute blessing. The stress of preparing the dishes with a frantically hungry baby were whisked away by half a biscotti finger. Popping her in the highchair but having a little something for her to tuck in to whilst she watched on as I whizzed about the kitchen meant her hunger was sated and the stress diffused.

IMG_1382We saved the Very Berry Porridge pots for a day when we needed the ultimate convenience and these did not disappoint. Bags were flying everywhere, Eldest was gearing up for a day out with the grandparents and Youngest and I were due at her BabySensory in half an hour.

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We warmed the pot up for a few seconds in the microwave and presto, a yummy pot that included one of her five a day was ready to go (although they can be eaten cold as well for an even quicker serving!) The pot was devoured as quickly as it had arrived. I will most certainly be heading out to get these for when the manic rush of pre-school drop offs begin again in September.

 

 

 

We were kindly given a selection of products to try by Heinz but all opinions and views are that of my own. To find out more details please visit: http://www.heinzbaby.co.uk 

Rocking out at Lollibop 2014

With Reading festival busy blaring through the streets of town, the festival feeling is catching. Of course with tinies, places like Reading Festival are long gone off the agenda but if you’re desperate to get the wellies back on, then be sure to add Lollibop to your yearly festival line up.

We were extremely lucky to be invited to Lollibop 2014 as bloggers, to come and experience the magic on offer for young and old at their new venue Hatfield House and we jumped at the chance to go along.

Lollibop 2014

Lollibop ‘the big bash for little people’ is completely geared for families and young ones. A few days before the event we received by inbox a ‘parent superhero pack’, ready to download and print. It was full of show timings, meet and greets info and a full run down of all the food venues on offer around the site. This was a blessing, it gave us a good chance to understand what was on offer and be confident on what we did and didn’t need to bring along with us and plan exactly what we wanted from the day.

Lollibop 2014

The new venue is fantastic for access. Easy to reach by train, bus and car it allowed the flexibility that families really desire. We ended up driving, with a journey of just over one hour from Reading (1hr 10 to be precise). Parking surrounded the venue so no big treks, perfect for tiny legs.

 

Whilst short on rock and roll, the festival was by no means short on rock stars to meet and great. Cbeebies favourites; Mr Bloom, Mister Maker, Christ and Pui, Andy Day and Alex Winters were all on hand throughout the day for kids to meet, cuddle and pose for a piccy with. TV stars like Scooby Doo, Dennis the Menace, Fireman Sam, Fat Controller, Steffi Love, Poppy Cat, Postman Pat and Horrible Histories all featured in the impressive line up too.

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The line up of shows across the two main stages was also staggering including mega star Justin Fletcher but our favourite show of the day by far, was Chris and Pui’s mini roadshow. This enchanting duo had my kids dazzled with their lively songs and fun props, whilst my husband and I were dazzled by the staggering amount and speed of the costume changes this brilliant pair achieved.  We even got a chance to wave hello to the toys from show me show me, something Eldest has been giddy about ever since!

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Outside the shows, the fields were alive with activities, mini shows and entertainment. The queues were long for many things but we had anticipated this and tried to plan our day around the shows fitting popular extras like a photo opportunity on Thomas the Tank engine for later in the day when things had much quietened down.

Lollibop 2014

 

To keep hands busy and minds active there were tents offering activities across the site, Eldest’s favourite was certainly the Little Tikes area and giant Cozy Coupe. Youngest fell in love with the Baby Annabelle play area, lovingly tucking a dolly in and out of a crib.

 IMG_1742We were fortunate enough that our passes allowed us access in to the VIP/Press arena. VIP passes were available to purchase and I think these were worth their weight in gold for many and something I would seriously consider in future. The quieter corner offered shorter wait times on many of the popular aspects of the day; meet and greets, food vans, toilets and seating. A brilliant disco sat in the centre and scattered around this were comfy bean bags, garden games and mini sandpits. My husband didn’t mind the bar offerings either.

Lollibop 2014There was so much on through the day, that despite being there from 10am to 6pm we still wished we had more time to see and try it all and would’ve been straight back the next day if we could have! Not once did we have a melt down from the kids, nor a tantrum, they were too busy being entranced by the wonderful surroundings and entertainment.

Whilst the days of Reading Festival seem to be far behind me, it really doesn’t matter quite so much with the joy we all had as a family down at Lollibop 2014!

Tickets were kindly given to us, however all thoughts, opinions and words are my own. Photos are a mixture of personal and those provided by Simon Jacobs © under licence to simonjacobs.com

Online Safety

Some interesting thoughts on internet safety here from Mumsnet Renfrewshire, definitely a minefield many parents face.

Mumsnet Renfrewshire

How many of us have children who are approaching the age where they will begin to use social media? How many of us have children who are actively using social media and the internet? Now, how many of us know how to protect our children when they are online?

As adults we are familiar with the World Wide Web and the use of social media. Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook or maybe Google+ is your thing. My daughter is 5 years old and although she is too young to be using it she is definitely aware of Facebook due to my use. Social media is a minefield. I worry about her safety in the real world but when the time comes, I will also be worrying about her online safety.

We teach them of stranger danger but how do we approach this in the digital age?

o2 are running FREE workshops

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Day Trips not too far from Reading

If calls of “I’m bored” are already ringing through in your house and you’re desperate to head out, why not take a look at these fun packed days out that aren’t too far a journey.

Cotswold Wildlife Park

Miles from central Reading: 54.8 miles

Journey time according to Google Maps, based on central Reading: 1hr 9mins.

We headed off to this wonderful venue only last week. A huge open space that offers a great selection of zoo animals and fun to explore, it had my kids grinning all day long. At this wildlife park you can see giraffes, lions and penguins, plus much more. The new treetop park is pretty special too, a great addition to an already fantastic spot. Dogs are welcome, although in some areas leads are required. Parking is free and there is more picnic spots than you can dare to count, meaning you can make this a really affordable day out.

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Go Ape – Bracknell

Miles from central Reading: 14.4 miles

Journey time according to Google Maps, based on central Reading: 26 min

If adventure and adrenaline is what keeps your family entertained, then take a look at this tree top playground. Testing your skills (and nerves) to the limit, this is great fun. Not just climbing, Go Ape now offers segway experiences too. Go Ape is also located within a council run forest/nature reserve. Pack a picnic and grab the bikes for when you’re finished in Go Ape for a full day out for all.

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Bekonscot Model Village & Railway

Miles from central Reading: 28.5 miles

Journey time according to Google Maps, based on central Reading: 43 min

Described on the website as ‘a wonderful little world tucked away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life’ this superb model village and minature railway is sure to be a pleasant day out. Train fans can watch the minature trains weave their way throughout the park and can even take a ride on a the Bekonscot Light Railway themselves! Take a picnic or enjoy a treat in their newly refurbished tea rooms.

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Cotswold Water Park

Miles from central Reading: 53.1 miles

Journey time according to Google Maps, based on central Reading: 58 min

Fancy a trip to the beach that doesn’t include hours and hours trapped inside the car? Take a look at this inland beach over at Cotswold Water Park. Open from Feb to Dec, it’s the largest inland bathing beach in the UK. There are lifeguards on duty during school holidays and weekends. If sunbathing isn’t your thing, there is boat hire, BBQ facilities and lakeside walks on offer at this summer favourite.

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Roald Dahl Museum

Miles from central Reading: 25.8 miles

Journey time according to Google Maps, based on central Reading: 50 min

Are your little ones fans of The Enormous Crocodile, The Twits or Matilda? Then be sure to head over to this fantastic museum dedicated to all things Roald Dahl. Featuring not just 3 interactive galleries but drop in craft sessions, workshops and storytelling, it is a great day out for young and old.

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