Friday, 30 December 2016

Christmas fun

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas. We did.  The girls were very excited on Christmas morning to see the new, named stockings that Santa had left them, along with one of the reindeer they had 'made' at Lapland UK.

Favourite presents this year?  Snap-circuits for N and Time Shock for S.  Two great fun things.  Also, Screwball Scramble turned out to be a big hit, even for the adults (competitive Time Shock was also played).  Nice to have a variety of games for a change.

The little ones both did well with money too and a couple of days after Christmas we headed to the shops for a walk around and for them to buy some fun things. They both chose a range of Shopkins packs - another very popular toy for them.  I also bought myself something new - a PS4 and Final Fantasy XV (I had no idea why it takes so long to download when you have the disc!).  I also bought a little rose Pandora charm in memory of my late mother-in-law.  They called it the 'British Rose' but I corrected them and said it was an 'English Rose'.  British Rose? Really?  Anyone ever heard of a British Rose?  I thought not!

We're having a lazy New Year's Eve as hubby is working and I'm not going out. Just going to chill with the girls and relax. I'll probably be in bed by 10! Happy New Year!

Friday, 23 December 2016

Lapland UK

This morning the girls and I headed to Lapland UK.  We wanted to do something extra nice for them as it was their grandma's funeral on Wednesday so it was good to really lift their spirits ready for Christmas.

Our time was 9am (first ones of the day) and we got there are just turned 8am. They suggest you arrive 30 minutes  before your time anyway and as you can never tell what the traffic is like, we didn't mind being early. The doors opened around 8:50 and we went to check in and get ourselves some Elf Jingles (currency of Lapland - 1 EJ = £1).  Had a pastry and then got ready to head in around 9am.

First area was meeting some of the elves and finding out why they are much taller than you expect.  All to do with the size of pinecone they come from. The girls loved this and then at the end of the story, we headed into Lapland and to the Toy Factory.  Little people have their own door to go through and head to a table, whilst we sat around the edges. We then found out that there had been more good children than ever this year which is why Santa had invited the children to come and help as the elves were so busy with presents.  First they made a reindeer...

...then they made a wooden teddy.

Once this was over, we headed out down another snowy path to Mother Christmas' house where the children heard some secrets about Santa (including the fact that he loves gingerbread, so not to give him any) and then they decorated some gingerbread men.  After doing that, time for a story.

We then moved into the Elf Village where we went straight off to ice skate (hint: take a spare pair of socks each as when you take your boots off to get your skates, your feet get soaked on the mats, and vice versa).  Lots of penguins for the children to use and skating elves to help out.

Girls had lots of fun here and we skated for around 20 minutes (my ankles were starting to hurt).

We then went for a look around the elf village.  The girls posted a letter to Santa in the Post Office and collected another stamp (the Elf Passports they are given when they check in are stamped in each area).  We headed to the restaurant and had two portions of chips between us (3 EJ per portion) but I didn't get drinks as I felt 2EJ for a can of Coke (or similar) was pushing it.  Once we'd eaten our chips,we walked to the sweet shop (4EJ for a cup of sweets but we didn't want that many and no half cups), and a final look around the Elf Emporium.

Then we went off to our meeting point by the bauble shop to go and see Santa. Off down the snowy path past the reindeer and then into the waiting room to see the big man himself.

An elf came and called the girls' names and off we went to Santa's house.  The man himself was smashing.  The girls believe he's the real Santa - he knew lots about them!  He had a nice chat to them and I took photos and a video (the elf did some photos too).  Then he asked them to close their eyes and they each got a lovely Husky soft toy as a present.

We said goodbye to Santa and went off to get the photo of the girls with him (included.  You could buy additional ones if you wanted).  I then exchanged my Elf Jingles that were left back into pounds and off we went.

The girls had the best morning.  We were there around 3.5 hours and at no point did it feel packed or that you were pushed along. It's all very magical for young children and they enjoyed every bit of it.  Time whizzed by - even the 'free time' part.

Now just to wait for Santa to visit on Christmas Eve.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Mizens Railway Santa Special

It was an extra special day today as it's N's 6th birthday and on top of all the presents and cake, we were off with our friend J to see Santa at Mizen's Miniature Railway.  We always enjoy a ride on these trains and go quite often in the summer months when they run at weekends, but the Santa Special is just extra special journey to meet the big man himself.

Girls were very excited as we arrived. We had a nice walk down as we don't live too far away and we need to work off the breakfast birthday cake!

We could go straight on as we arrived almost at our allotted time.  We got the steam train which the girls were delighted by (not that they mind any of the trains).  The staff, as usual, were really friendly and helpful and took some smashing photos of us.  We even got the station master to photo-bomb a pic!  Doesn't he look dapper.  


Away we went to have a lovely ride and see all the toys at the stations and around the track enjoying Christmas.  Arrived to meet a very jovial Santa who handed out some nice presents (thank you Mizens, you always get some great gifts for the children) before we headed off for our cuppa and mince pie back at the station.

A nice walk back home followed (this time to work off the mince pie!).  See you next year Mizens!

Friday, 16 December 2016

ICIS 2016, Dublin

I was fortunate to have a paper accepted to present at ICIS 2016 in Dublin this month.  Pretty exciting for me as it's my first academic conference where I was presenting - and it's a biggie!  I flew off to Dublin (leaving hubby in charge of the house and girls) last Sunday.   BA flight was spot on time and we'd barely got up before we were coming down again. Short flight.  Not even a headphone socket on the plane though so glad it was so short.

CCD Dublin
Grabbed a coach to the city centre and my hotel, The Clayton at Cardiff Lane, which was very festive in its decoration.  Staff very nice and friendly too.  I was volunteering at the conference (never again!) so started 'work' on the Monday.  My paper was that day too so I was a bit nervous as the time got nearer. I had chance to pop back to the hotel to put on a nice dress first.  My bit of relaxation in doing this was countered by the rooms being moved around at the last moment with those delegates using the App knowing where to do, and those using the printed booklet, not.  We got there in the end but my 22 minutes of presenting/questions was brought down to 10 so it was the fastest I've ever been through the presentation!  Met two of the fabulous academics I've quoted so many times in my thesis, which was fab as I got to have a chat to them and they seemed to like my work (hooray!).

Got to explore a bit of Dublin as well - getting a Dublin geocache too, of course - and picking up the girls some sweet little 'sheep' t-shirts.

The final day we had a nice lunch and then our social in the evening at the Guinness Storehouse. This amazing place was hired just for us and it was absolutely brilliant.  We had Irish bands, a U2 tribute band, other music piped around, a chance to pull our own pints of Guinness, food, views from the 7th floor around the city and time to shop. Heaven!  All in all, a very good time in Dublin.  Now to get my papers ready for the next set of conferences that are happening.  I could get used to this academic life.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Garden centre shoes?

I popped over to Longacres this morning to pick up a few more little bits for the girls. They both love these new trendy 'Top Model' books. The books feature girlie pictures that you can add to in various ways.  For example, each picture is an outline of a girl and you can colour in her clothes and accessories or use the stickers provided to make your own fashion picture.  I'm not sure why they are so popular but there you go (I used to have the paper ones you folded the clothes around - remember those anyone?).  I  bought S a Manga one (I want her to try Manga drawing) and N a Fantasy Princess one.


As I was walking to the toy section, I went past the area where they sell all the wellies. Guess what they had there?  Red party shoes! Yes, party shoes (although party wellies would be an interesting concept - any farmers fancy that?).  The things you can buy in a garden centre now *grin*

Oh yes...before you ask....I did buy lemon drizzle cake too. Just for the girls of course *cough*