Thursday, 15 November 2018

Trampoline party at Fun Abounds

I'm ashamed to say this was our first visit to Fun Abounds in Uckfield!  I have always fancied taking the kids but their special toddler sessions always landed on the wrong day/time for us and so we just never went.  Luckily we were invited along there for a birthday party recently and had an awesome time celebrating the twins' friend and having lots of bouncy fun!

Tulley's Farm Spook Fest 2018 - review

A Halloween festival, hell yes!  I was so excited to visit Tulley's Farm for their annual Spook Fest (the family friendly daytime version, not to be confused with the terrifying looking Shocktober Fest which is on in the evenings for older kids and adults).   I'd never been before but had heard it was good and was excited to spend a Halloweeny day with the twins since Nik and I were away for Halloween itself.  You know how much I love Halloween and when my friend Steph asked us to join her family there for the day I was even more excited, Priya adores her eldest daughter Bella and they are all so cute together, holding hands and generally being cute!

We started off having a quick wander to see what was where, none of us had been so we weren't sure at first which attraction was which.  Some of them are the sort of "main" attractions which you're given a "passport" for which are marked off when you enter so it seems you only get to go on those once each, presumably for when it's really busy to make sure everyone can have a turn.  Some of them were still closed when we arrived so we made our way down to the Maize Maze to hunt some spooks.  Despite them still being a bit young to get the full point, they all loved running around with their "maps" scribbling on it every time they found a spook in the maze.

Next up we found the trampolines, K initially didn't want to go on as he'd seen the shooting area just next to it but that cost extra and I didn't have any cash, nor did I trust him not to hate it when he got closer and heard the bangs!  When he saw the girls having fun though, he soon jumped on and they all had a blast screaming every time one of the guns went off!

We did the 3D cinema next as the queue for the tractor ride was super long once it opened!  It was really quiet in the cinema so I managed to take some hilarious photos of the kids in their glasses.  You can see the difference between beginning and end too - poor Nathan was the only Dad there and had the job of protector as the kids all piled onto him once the 3D creatures started flying at them.  The squeals and jumping were hilarious to watch!

There were some really great actors wandering round in amazing costumes.  The kids were a bit unsure at first but the girls soon warmed to the Pumpkin Queen and vampires, chatting away.

The Twisted Fun House was fun, glowing paintings everywhere which were great in 3D but I couldn't get the glasses to stay on as they were flimsy cardboard ones, I wish they'd been the same as the plastic cinema ones as they stayed on much better and would have been easier walking around holding hands with various children, I gave up on the glasses in the end, as did the kids.

Some of the walls were actually really creepy but the kids weren't phased at all, they just didn't like the darker rooms.

We spotted a shorter queue for the Haunted Hay Ride and took our chance.  It was brilliant!  I wondered why they hadn't shut the gate at the back of the trailer but it soon became apparent that it's open for the live actors to jump on and tell us their tales!  The costumes, sets and props were all great and really added to the ride through the woods.

They all enjoyed the show on the stage too which got them all involved, getting up onto the stage to sing along and make scary faces.  Priya really got into this, K mostly just loved jumping on and off the stage!

My biggest mistake was not bringing any cash.  For some reason I had it in my head that it was a farm attraction so would likely have a cafe for lunch which would take cards.  They did have an awesome Halloween shop which takes cards but the food was all concession stands like a real festival and they only took cash.  I was grateful to be there with friends who bought us lunch as I would have had to leave at lunchtime to feed the twins!  I paid them back when we got to the pumpkin patch though as they take cards so I paid for their pumpkins making us even.

The food we got was fried chicken and chips, I wish we'd managed to explore a bit more as we found some better options around the corner later but the kids were getting moody so we got the first thing we found that they'd eat.  We did also treat ourselves to some fresh donuts later on as well so it was not the healthiest of days but we did a lot of walking!  ;)

Lisbon - A grown up getaway!

I'm just writing a quick summary for now as I have so much to say about this trip but I'm struggling to keep up with everything as usual at this time of year!  Basically, Lisbon was awesome!  I would highly recommend a short trip away to any parents, especially if you've hardly seen each other all year!  Nik and I are so grateful to his parents for coming to look after the twins so we could have some quality time alone exploring Lisbon.

We had cocktails, found so many beautiful tiles, ate fancy food and drank fancy cocktails, ate simple food and beer, wine and/or Ginja!  We walked and walked, rode on lots of trams and busses, took so many photos and tasted so many things.  We had a pamper session on a rainy day in our hotel, chilled out in the bar, had lots of lay-ins and ate as many Pasteis as we could!!  We managed to fit a fair bit into our 5 days away :)

The city is so colourful, between street art and so many different tiles and with beautiful paving and so much character.  I would definitely recommend it for a city break in Europe but be prepared for steps!  :D

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Cafe Coho Brighton - brunch review

I went along to Cafe Coho for brunch with Diana and Laura before our day at Photography Farm conference in Brighton and absolutely loved it!  They have two in Brighton, one up by the train station and one in Ship Street down in the Lanes.  We went to the one in Ship Street and sat outside as it was a bit too warm inside.

The whole menu sounds amazing, I honestly struggled to choose what to have!  I need to go back so I can sample more of their food.  In the end I chose the brioche french toast with blueberries, banana and bacon - a great combo, especially with mascarpone cream (this was just a drizzle which was a little disappointing, I would have liked a good dollop).  It was amazing - so soft, fresh and tasty.  Diana had one of the other things I was eyeing up, the tarragon mushrooms on sourdough - she let me have a taste and it was awesome too so I might get that next time!

Laura had one of the avocado on toast options which also looked amazing.  I had a Bloody Mary as I really fancied one but it was WAY too spicy for me so as much as I hate to, I went back in and asked for another, less spicy one.  They were fine about it and made a fresh one which still had a good kick but was drinkable, I couldn't cope with more than a sip of the first one.

They have a great ethos, using "specialist dairy, meat and vegetable suppliers to put together some amazing dishes."

"We constantly look for great producers who share our passion for quality. Along with a delicious and varied all day breakfast/brunch menu you will find a counter packed with homemade cakes, artisan sandwiches, freshly made juices and any time treats. Many of our dishes are vegan and gluten free."

I also couldn't resist their salted caramel chocolate brownies so I went back later in the day to buy some to take home, they were a hit with Nik too!

Baking with Hemina - Cheese & mustard scones recipe

As I mentioned in my Fuego Lounge review, my friend Hemina kept us occupied one weekend when I was feeling very down.  On the Saturday she came over to bake with me and the kids, Priya especially had a blast and the scones were so easy to make and tasted amazing!  We had them hot for lunch with some truffle salami from Aldi (highly recommended by the way).

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Fuego Lounge brunch review

A few weeks ago I was having a really tough time and my lovely friend Hemina seemed to instinctively know what I needed and came round to bake with me and the kids on Saturday and invited us all out for brunch on Sunday.  It was lovely and really took my mind off everything!

Nik's breakfast complete with homemade sausage patty.

Bridge Cottage Emerging Artists Exhibition

I was delighted to be invited to take part in my first joint exhibition this month at Bridge Cottage.  Myself and five other artists, mostly photographers, each had a space to make our own with our work and I loved filling mine with a collection of some of my favourite landscape images as well as my family work to demonstrate what I do as Bexphoto.

Saturday, 27 October 2018

PYO Pumpkins at Tulley's Farm, Sussex - review

I've been thrilled that more and more Halloween trends have been making their way across the pond in the last few years!  I love that Americans go all out at Halloween, I've always loved it (and been super jealous of the Halloween section in Pottery Barn) and with the new (as far as I'm aware, or maybe its just a recent Insta-trend) pumpkin patches popping up everywhere, there is even more seasonal fun to be had over here.

This is the first time we've actually made it to one and it was after a full day of Halloweening!  We went along to review Tulley's Farm Spook Fest (the family friendly daytime version of their super scary Halloween Festival) and had to stop at their pumpkin patch on our way home to grab some gourds.

Luckily as it was the end of a sunny day, we were lucky with the light too and I, of course, took a fair few photos of our fun and frolics as the twins and their friend had a whale of a time!

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Halloween Makeup with My Beloved Makeup - review

If you are after a really good make-up artist to do an awesome job of making up your kids (or indeed yourself) for Halloween, I can highly recommend Emese Csoma who runs My Beloved Makeup in Uckfield.  She'll come to your home with her supplies and work her magic to create some amazing designs.  I worked with her recently on a collaboration as I love her designs and she wanted some new photos of her work so she came to paint the twins with Mexican sugar skulls to go with the Day of the Dead outfits I bought last year which were too big!

Due to them still being somewhat un-cooperative at times (ha) and us wanting to aim for early morning light (we were hoping for another foggy morning but at least we got sunshine), she kept it simple with plain white designs which we knew would stand out really well against their Indian toned skin and would be quicker to apply before they got fed up and/or the sun got too high.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Party planning for the twin's 4th birthday - Rainbow Tea Party with balloons!

We had planned to take the twins away for their birthday this year, we were thinking Disneyland Paris and thought we'd go early to see it all done up for Halloween!  We were just going to have a small party on their birthday when we came back.  We've never been before but I can't wait to take the twins.  My only visit to Disney was as a 14 year old in Florida which was amazing so I can't wait to take K&P!  We booked that week off but after the stress and then relief of Nik's exams which are now finally over, Nik suggested we ask his parents to babysit for a few days and we just go away on our own this time (not to Disney, we'll wait for the kids to come to that one).  We're just going for 4 nights as I have my first exhibition at the end of that week to prepare for which is exciting too!

So, the twins's 4th birthday party plans...

We've decided this year we wanted needed to organise a much smaller do than last year.  I was exhausted after all the Halloween efforts for their 3rd birthday and this year has been intense already with various hurdles and knackering month after month so we're having a small tea party at home.  I decided the best way to invite guests would be to ask the twins who they want to come.  It's their perfect guest list as they obviously just listed all the friends they see often and consider their best friends so we are inviting 6 friends who will hopefully be able to make it, perfect to fit round the table without too much chaos as we already have 8 chairs.

Even though it will be small, I'm still excited to plan it and will of course be having a rainbow theme!  Rainbow fits so well for twins who are like chalk and cheese with very different favourite things, they do both love bright colours and it's gender neutral which makes me happy anyway.  They do both love balloons too so for this year's entertainment we have hired a balloon twister who does a whole show with balloon magic tricks and models and makes it all fun so I'm pretty sure they will LOVE that!

I've already got paper plates and matching napkins, etc. from Sainsbury's with a gorgeous rainbow balloon design which is perfect!  I also have the bunting and wrapping paper (I even framed a gift bag I love it so much)!

I can't remember if I already bought the above invitations but these ones below were on sale in Paperchase so I got a pack of six, I love the pop-up design.

As for food ideas, again, plenty of inspiration on Pinterest and I'm aiming for simple but tasty and pretty!  I love the healthier ideas of veggie pizzas and coloured popcorn but of course some sweet treats too like rainbow cupcakes and jelly but I'll use a mould and do one big one rather than use more disposable plastic.

I will definitely be doing rainbow fruits again too like I did for their Naming Ceremony in 2015 although probably not a full on rainbow cake again - I prefer to aim for taste and that cake wasn't the best to eat despite looking awesome!

Capture from Anna's lovely video of the Naming Day.

And for a bit more fun, I've bought a rainbow pinata and I like the idea of a homemade DIY to give as party favours like this dyed pasta jewellery making idea or a rainbow wand maybe.  I also bought these pretty crackers from Paperchase which come with stickers inside which I know the kids will love, why should crackers just be for Christmas?  ;)

I can't wait, I think they're going to love it!

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