Clever Plant Finder Tool

August 3, 2014

This is such a helpful tool.

https://www.rhs.org.uk/plants

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Aster

The top ten plants for green roofs offer great alternative to the grass roofs we’re more used to.

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We went to Legoland with my 4.5 year old son and my 6.5 daughter this July and here are my tips on how to enjoy it to the max!

Legoland aint cheap. The walk-in price is £46.80 for adults (over 16) and £41.40 for children over 3 plus £4 for standard parking, i.e £180.40 for two adults and two children including parking. We used Tesco vouchers to get one free day in Legoland and Kellogs vouchers to get free entry for adults on a second day, so we paid approx £90 for two days at Legoland including parking.

You can get Qbots that allow you to virtually queue for rides. I’m not exactly sure how they work but essentially you choose your ride, it tells you can next get on, you go off an do other things until that time and then go to the Qbot entrance at the ride and get on. They cost £35 per person per day!

We stayed in a Travelodge in Windsor on one night and a Travelodge in Slough the second night. It was good to visit both places but Windsor is by far the more picturesque of the two. If you stay in Windsor the Carlucci cafe just around the corner from the Travelodge, do a coffee and pastry for £2 before 11:00am.

You can’t use vouchers if you book online so if you don’t have any i suggest you book in advance and save up to 30%. You can also save by buying a two day ticket instead of two one-day tickets.

I think Legoland is best suited to 5 – 8 year olds, but it all depends on the child. Most rides require children to be over .9m to go on with an adult and 1.3m to go on it without an adult. So if one of your children is under .9m they won’t be able to go on most rides. If they’re under 1.3 you’ll have to go on the rides with them, which might be a issue for a parent with two kids.

The park doesn’t open till 10:30 but you can pay after 10am and wait at the top of the hill for them to lift the barrier. We noticed that it got really busy after 11 and quietened down after 3pm, probably because the school tours headed home.

We went in July before the English schoolkids were off on holidays but even then it was busy. Most rides had a wait time of about 20 minutes but some were 45 minutes. The second day we visited we took the hill car down to the bottom of the park and went on the rides there first so there were no queues for the first few rides because most of the crowd worked from the top down instead.

There are a few attractions that don’t have a wait time which i’d recommend you do to mix it up.  Otherwise the day might feel like just one big wait.

The rides that we liked the best were as follows;

  • Land of the Viking’s River Splash (wet ride) – make sure your kids are able to hold-on for this. It can be very bumpy!
  • Pirate Shores’ Pirate Falls: Treasure Quest (wet ride) – often has a long waiting time
  • Adventure Land’s Squid Surfer (wet ride, but not too much)
  • Atlantis Submarine Voyage (underwater submarine trip through real marine aquarium) – This was our kids favourite ride of all, and ours!
  • The Dragon (rollercoaster)
  • Jolly Rocker (Swinging boat) – our kids thought this was too scary so we didn’t go on it.
  • Spinning Spider – our kids were too scared to go on this too but it looked good
  • Boating School (electric motor boats on a canal)
  • Traffic School (kid’s electric cars) – good fun but very short ride

Attractions that you don’t need to queue for include

  • Loki’s Labyrinth (a maze)
  • Mini Land (Lego’s original minature models)
  • Duplo Water Park – wonderful attractive weather permitting. The water is cold so you need it to be quite warm. There are changing rooms but not many toilets in the area so visit loo near Dupl Brickville instead.
  • Duplo Brickville- playground suitable for smaller kids
  • Castaway Camp – playground suitable for larger kids

Timetabled Attractions that are worth a visit.

  • Imagination Centre
  • Duplo Theatre Puppet Show – great incentive to get kids out of water park
  • Pirate’s Shores Pirates of Skeleton Bay Stunt Show – our kids absolutely adored this. It’s a popular attraction so get there early to get a good spot. Some areas get splashed quite a bit and are marked as such so pick carefully.

Food in the park is quite expensive but kids eat for free after 3pm. The best value in food appeared to be in the Pizza & Pasta place in Pirate Shores where adults pay £11.95 for all you can eat and kids pay £7.95 before 3pm. You can also get ‘proper’ coffee for £3.50 in the same area in the Harbourside Coffee co. Alternatively there is a picnic spot down in Adventure Land.

Lego is surprising expensive in Legoland, more expensive than in toystores! The least expensive Lego item were bags of little helicopter kits and similar costing £2.99  in a shop at the top of the park (The Beginning).

Strangely enoughly there are no ‘Emmets’ or ‘Wildstyle’ characters wandering around the park, which our kids were a bit dissappointed about. There was only one guy dressed as a Lego brick!

Eco Labels explained

July 6, 2014

Eco labels

Some fruits and vegetables release ethylene as they ripen. This is a gas that can cause other produce to become spotted, soft, or mealy. To prevent this, keep ethylene-sensitive fruits and vegetables separate from varieties that emit the gas.

Ethylene-producing

  • Apricots
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Cantaloupes
  • Honeydew melons
  • Kiwis
  • Mangoes
  • Nectarines
  • Papayas
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Plums
  • Tomatoes

Ethylene-sensitive

  • Apples
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplants
  • Green beans
  • Lettuce and other greens
  • Potatoes
  • Summer squash
  • Watermelons

Orignally printed on Real Simple

Wine Glass lampshade

For a simple inexpensive way to dress a table click here.

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Cutest Cookies Ever

June 11, 2014

Hugging bear cookies

All together now,  aaaaah!

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I find that the most successful parenting skills are counter intuitive. Like all toddlers my son can be very obstinate and insist on doing what he wants to do when he wants to do it. I try to give him some freedom on when he does things and how but sometimes we just don’t have time for him to dress-up as a superhero before we do the school run.

I’ve found that the more i give out to him the more obstinate he gets and the longer it last. For instance if we go toe-to-toe on something in the morning he can be oppositional all day, refusing to do the smallest thing in protest. So i resorted back to distraction or game playing (e.g. making tidying-up into a race) to deal with confrontations, which help to diffuse the argument and allow us to get where we need to be on time.

I used to use the techniques all the time when he was smaller but dropped when i thought he was getting old enough to reason with. I think kids can take a set back developmentally when they’re sick or stressed so it’s worth taking a step back with them until they’re ready to be ‘big’ kids again. Although it takes a gear change, I find switching down a gear with my son when he’s like this is much more successful than getting into arguments with him, which just seem to make him an angry and sad little boy and will do nothing for his self-esteem.

In a similar vein, in the book ‘Working with Emotional Intelligence’ the author references how offices in the navy were instructed to treat poorly-performing sailors as if they were high-achievers, letting them know that they knew they could do what was being asked for them to a high-stand. The result? The so called ‘poorly-achieving’ sailors excelled and reported a much higher satisfaction rating then when the management technique had been lambasted for their poor work. Maybe this is what’s going on for toddlers. Maybe by putting a positive spin on instructions we’re building their self esteem and helping them be proud of their achievements.

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Parenting – Habits

April 27, 2014

I spent my early years as a parent worried about introducing my daughter to bad habits. If she was sick and wanted to sleep with us, would she want that every night?

Most parenting books will say DON’T DO IT and they may well be right for most children. I just want to let you know that letting my daughter into our bed, or letting her have an extra bottle at bed time if she was teething or letting her sleep later the odd morning never did turn into habits. This is probably down to her personality, which is exactly my point. Take parenting advice if you think it suits you and your child and if ignore the advice if it doesn’t.

Sometimes we need to let go of the fear of what might happen and give what’s needed in the moment. This may just be enough to nuture the child so that they feel secure enough to go back to their old routines once the moment of need passes.

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Wine & Food Matching

March 30, 2014

food and wine matching

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