National Trust 50 things to do before you are 11 ¾

April 13, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Growing up I spent most of my time enjoying the outdoors and this is the case for most people who are my age. We’d climb trees, play conkers and go exploring all in time to be home before it got dark. It was a great way to grow up because I always knew that there was something outside to keep me and my friends entertained.

Now it’s a rarity to see children exploring the great outdoors and I don’t know if this is because parents feel that their children might be at greater risk of getting hurt or lost or because youngsters would prefer to watch the television, search the web or play on computer games.

50 things to do before you are 11 34 national trust

National Trust hopes to encourage children to enjoy the outdoors

The trust is that experiencing the outdoors when I was a child helped sculpt who I am today. I have a great fondness for animals and I believe that this is because I grew up searching for different bugs and catching butterflies. So I’m delighted to hear that National Trust has today released a list of ’50 things you should do before you are 11 ¾’.

The list includes activities which us grandparents enjoyed hugely as children; climbing trees, making mud pies, building dens, sledging and burying friends in the sand something which I used to do on every family holiday.

In an attempt to show how exciting exploring the outdoors can be the National Trust have enlisted five ‘Super Rangers’ who are all experts in their fields- a treasure hunter, bug catcher and champion stone skimmer- to teach children who visit National Trust sites how to make the best of their surrounds.

Brilliantly the National Trust has acknowledged that children won’t forget all about the technology which they enjoy so much. So they’ve created a website which children can sign up to (with parental approval) and register each of the tasks which they complete. With each completed task children receive online badges, bonus games and surprises from the National Trust which is a great incentive to get kids playing outside.

As grandparents I think that the ‘50 things to do before you are 11 ¾’ campaign is the perfect chance to champion the great outdoors because we can share all of our wonderful childhood experiences and maybe even help our grandchildren complete some of the 50 tasks too.

The campaign doesn’t officially kick off until 21st April which might be worth bearing in mind but view the list online now. Who knows it might bring back some great childhood memories.

Family days out over Easter

April 5, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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As the long Easter weekend is nearly upon us I thought it would be nice to share my favourite Easter family days out. When you’re planning a family outing remember to look online for discounts and offers and go early to make the most of your day!

National Trust- I’m a huge advocate of National Trust and often turn to their properties and gardens for family days out. This Easter National Trust have teamed up with Cadbury who will be hosting various different Easter Egg Trails in National Trust sites- find you’re closest here. Along with Easter Egg Hunts in the most beautiful surrounds, children will also be able to take part in Easter themed quizzes and challenges, run the egg and spoon race and get their faces painted!

National Trust Easter

Explore a National Trust site this Easter

Check out the National Trust website for specific information about events near you and special membership offers with the National Trust. I recently received a 3 month free voucher which would be worth looking into if you’re not already a member.

Cadbury World- For most children Easter is all about chocolate so a trip to Cadbury World is the perfect treat for Easter. Located in Birmingham, Cadbury World is easily accessible and offers visitors an in depth tour of Cadbury’s and how they make their legendary chocolate. During the Easter period they will be hosting an Easter Eggstravaganza with a world class Easter Egg Hunt and some of the biggest and best Easter eggs you’ll ever see. Definitely worth visiting!

Easter at Cadbury World

Go chocolate mad at Cadbury World

Local Museums Local Museums are brilliant places to visit during seasonal periods because they will both entertain and educate children. The majority of museums have a timetable of schedules activities; my local museum, The Potteries Museum, is hosting Easter craft sessions but you do need to book in advance so consider this before going along.

If you visit a museum over Easter check out which other exhibitions they are holding on the same day. Chances are it will be something which you will really enjoy and it’s a great way of making the most of your day out.

Easter craft making

Visit your local museum for Easter crafts

Local Attractions- Spring has sprung, even if we had a blip yesterday, so get out and about and enjoy your local attractions. Here in Staffordshire the Trentham Estate is a great option with an outdoor shopping village, garden centre and beautiful lakes which are a real treat especially over a Bank Holiday weekend.  And I’d imagine that the Easter bunny will be wondering around the gardens to keep children entertained too!

If all else fails check out my alterative Easter craft indoor activities from earlier this week. Enjoy!

How to make an Easter Bonnet with Grandchildren

April 4, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Easter wouldn’t be complete without an Easter bonnet and although there are many readymade ones available in the shops and online there is nothing better than spending an afternoon making your own with grandchildren, especially when the weather is as miserable as today.

I like to get extra crafty when I make an Easter bonnet because I remember having to parade around in my Easter bonnet as a child so I incorporate lots of different crafting techniques. But you can make your bonnet as simple or as complex as you like.

Classic Straw Hat Easter Bonnet

Classic Easter Bonnet

The Basics- I prefer to use a basic straw hat as a starting point for an Easter bonnet- purchase one from Hobby Craft– but having searched the web I’ve found that other people make their hats from scratch. I found one lady who used a paper plate to create her bonnet which was surprisingly successful. So be resourceful and consider using things from around your home.

Customising- You’ll need lots of Easter themed accessories for your bonnet- chicks, bunnies, eggs, flowers. For anyone who is super crafty and has lots of time you could make your own accessories. My ideas include crocheted chicks, hand painted bunnies and flowers made out of colourful felt. But if you’re pushed for time simply purchase an Easter craft kit from a good craft shop or online from Amazon which will include readymade Easter poppets.

Remember that you’ll need to securely attach all of your accessories so invest in decent glue. My top tip for straw hats would be to stitch things on where possible as it gives an overall tidier finish.

Finishing Touches- As a finishing touch I always add a little ribbon around my Easter bonnet as it’s a traditional and easy way to make your Easter bonnet look complete. Plus you can hide any mistakes under a tidy strip of ribbon.  And for extra point in a bonnet parade add a handful of fresh flowers- lavender and daffodils look lovely and are easy to find.

I hope you have a wonderful time making your Easter bonnets and please feel free to post a photograph of them here as I’d love to see what they all look like…

Easter Activities- Easter Egg Hunt

April 3, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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The school term has ended for Easter I imagine that most parents and grandparents will be trying to think of activities that will keep their children happy and entertained during the Easter break.

For me Easter is a great time to get creative because there are so many things to make- Easter bonnets, handmade Easter baskets and decorated eggs. But my favourite Easter activity has always been a classic Easter Egg Hunt. I have fond memories of hunting for eggs as a child and it’s something which I’ve done with my own children and grandchildren during Easter time.

Easter Egg Hunt

Hold your own Easter Egg Hunt

What’s brilliant about an Easter Egg Hunts is that it can be as simple or difficult as you like, the entire family can get involved and it’s an activity which will be a guaranteed hit with children of all ages.

This year’s Easter hunt has been made extra easy to prepare as Cadbury’s have created an Easter Egg Trail Pack which is downloadable from Cadbury’s Easter Trail website. The pack includes bunny footprints which are prefect for leading younger children to hidden eggs, a selection of Easter themed clues which are good to use if you’ve got older children to entertain plus quizzes and jokes.

I’ve organised many Easter Egg Hunt in the past and would most certainly recommend using Cadbury’s Pack because it so convenient and really well put together. All you need to do is download and print out the pack then get onto the important task of hiding lots of chocolaty eggs around your house or garden.

Easter Egg Hunt for grandchildren

Invite friends and family around to the Easter Egg Hunt

Top Tip: I always use a selection of small, medium and finally a large prize egg in Easter Egg Hunts but note that most supermarkets currently have special offers on Easter treats so shop around.

Alternatively you could make your own Easter Hunt creatives – get children to colour in pictures of Easter Eggs, Bunnies and Chicks and think up some clues which could help lead them to the hidden eggs. This would be a nice way to pass an afternoon before the Easter festivities!

And don’t be put off by the prospect of miserable weather. Remember that Easter Egg Hunts can be held inside your house or in the garden so the wintery conditions shouldn’t spoil the fun!

Christmas Crafts with Grandchildren

December 28, 2011 at 11:00 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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After watching SuperScrimpers: Waste not want not, I realised that Christmas doesn’t have to be expensive. So in the time between Christmas and New Year why not enjoy time with grandchildren by digging out the craft box.

My inexpensive ideas offer the perfect chance to spend quality time with each other whilst also creating items which you will treasure forever. Clear the dining room table and get crafty!

Post-Christmas Crafts with Grandchildren

  • Homemade Thank You cards

Get the children to make a Thank You card which they can send to Santa Claus. There are plenty of design ideas on the internet but I’d suggest keeping hold of any nice wrapping papers from Christmas day. This will come in really handy and give the card a Christmassy feel, plus it’s a great way to reuse and recycle.

christmas craft cards

Once they’ve made a card why not scan it into the computer and e-mail it to relatives and friends who gave the children a Christmas gift. These adorable tokens are very much appreciated and great mementos which you can keep for years.

  • Make New Year decorations

Christmas Day maybe over but that doesn’t mean that you have nothing to look forward too. Why not give grandchildren a rest from new toys and festive films by getting them to make New Year’s decorations.

Simply use Christmas cards or gift wrap to make a variety of different decorations which will transform the house into a New Year party. Make colourful paper chains with cards or fashion a ‘Happy New Year’ banner out of used Christmas cards and ribbon.

These simple suggestions are really easy to make and look wonderful- plus they are a great way for everyone to get involved. This tutorial includes a few ideas which I’m particularly fond of.

  • Scrapbook of the Year- Organiser for 2012

I think scrapbooks are a great way to encourage children to document memorable events, and something which they can look back on. My approach is to be as creative as possible. Go digital or use more traditional method with paper scissors and glue. It really doesn’t matter. Simply use your skills to help your grandchildren document their highlights of the year.

Similarly it’s a wonderful idea to talk about upcoming event especially with children. If they’ve got a big year ahead at school make a fun list/calendar of things which they are hoping to achieve (exam results, sporting achievements, hobbies etc).

scrapbook

Much like making a scrapbook be creative and have fun with their hopes and expectation. Use their favourite colours to highlight specific achievements or activities. Once the list is finished put it on the fridge so that they see it every day. This is a great way to interact with each other and an affordable actively, which you will both benefit from enormously.

Merry Christmas from the Bath-Knight team

December 23, 2011 at 10:00 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Merry Christmas

I’d like to wish all of my blog readers and Bath-Knight customers a very merry Christmas and send my best wishes for the festive period.

I think that this is a wonderful chance to also thank you for reading and contributing to my blog over the last 12 months. I’ve had a brilliant response, which makes the blog so worthwhile and a great alternative outlet for Bath-Knight as a company.

The Bath-Knight office is closed during the festive period (the team and I will be back in the office from 3rd January 2012). However, I have prepared some Christmas posts which you might find handy- keep an eye out for these next week.

Everything from recycling Christmas waste including cards and wrapping paper to wonderful leftover recipes which I am sure you will all love. Additionally I’ve shared a couple of Christmas time activities which I like to do with my grandchildren.

And finally I’d like to say good luck to anyone who is planning on making their Christmas dinner with the help of Gordon Ramsay and his Christmas cookalong live on Channel 4 on Christmas Day.

All the best from me and once again Merry Christmas!

Halloween recipes for grandchildren

October 27, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Baking is a wonderful way to get around boredom on rainy half term days, much like today.

With Halloween right around the corner I’ve discovered some wonderful recipes which are easy to make- even with grandchildren- and will make perfect Halloween treats.

creepy crawlies

 

These crunchy creepy crawlies featured in Sainsbury’s ‘everyday easy’ magazine are chocolate goodness which children and adults will enjoy greatly. To make simply prepare as though you were making chocolate rice crispy cakes, use sweets and chocolate fingers to create eyes and legs. Yummy!

homemade toffee apples

Homemade Toffee Apples are the ultimate autumnal treat. I’ve chosen a recipe from the BBC Goodfood website which easily explains how to create the perfect toffee apples. Using only four ingredients they are simple to make, however when making with grandchildren I’d suggest letting them watch as heating the sugar and water can be extremely dangerous. I always put wooden skewers into the apples making them much easier to eat and enjoy!

easy halloween cookies

Cookies are great to make with children as they are quick and easy. Using shaped cutters cookies are simple to theme – perfect for Halloween. These Halloween Cookies on www.goodtoknow.co.uk offer a basic recipe which is delicious. To make extra special finish with coloured icing and edible decorations… spider web cookies!!

Halloween with Merlin Entertainment

October 26, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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A special treat to an amusement park can be a great way to finish half-term and with lots of brilliant offers and promotional vouchers available online a family treat can be great fun at a reasonable price.

Many of Britain’s best amusement parks are brought to us by Merlin Entertainment, who put on great entertainment and events across the country. With something for everyone this Halloween here are my favourite…

Alton Towers A local attraction here in Staffordshire Alton Towers is one of Britain’s favourite theme parks and never seems to fail at a Halloween spectacular. The ‘Scarefest’ has become iconic with Alton Towers’ fans who visit from all over the country to see the park in all its Scarefest glory.

Scarefest logoOffering family friendly fun which everyone is sure to enjoy expect the park to be decorated for the occasion with costumed characters roaming around to scare you when you least expect it.

Daredevils can tour the Terror of the Towers to discover what lies beneath whilst those who love rollercoasters can ride them into the dark evening. For family entertainment I’ve been told that live shows are great addition to a Scarefest day at Alton Towers.

All and all a great way to celebrate Halloween- most visitors dress up so vampire teeth may be required.

Top Tip: I receive lots of promotional e-mails and often Alton Towers discount are featured. Search the web to find a deal which will make your day extra special.

 

warwick-castleWarwick Castle – An attraction with huge historical value a trip is Warwick Castle is quite spectacular especially for youngsters who get to take in all of the ancient myths and historical storytelling.

I’ve had some wonderful times exploring Britain’s Ultimate Castle and find that visiting with children is a fantastic way for them to become interested in history and heritage as they are such memorable days out.

At Halloween those old age myths and castle characters come to life as families can enjoy a tour around the castle and, for those brave enough tour The Castle Dungeons where the dark and most frightening historic events took place. Visit the Owl Show or take a ghost tour. Whatever your choice there is plenty of scary treats for Halloween visitors.

Top Tip: Give yourself plenty of time to explore the grounds as there really is lots to see.

 

The Dungeons- Expect to be scared as the Dungeons’ pride themselves on offering terrifying experiences to their brave guests. Undoubtedly Halloween will offer more screams than normal. 

The London Dungeons have become even more gruesome in perfect time for Hallows Eve as  ‘Stringy Jack’ will be roaming the dungeons dark corridors ready to petrify you at any moment- you’ve been warned.

london_dungeon_sMy visit to The London Dungeon a couple of years ago was brilliant- so much so that I’d highly recommend it to friends and family. Featuring live actors who make the dungeons as authentic as possible the London Dungeons fantastically bring gruesome pastimes to life. Re-enacting the terror of the plague, Jack the Ripper and the great folklore of Bloody Mary, the Dungeons enter deep into horrible history.

Accompanied by rides, special effects and fantastic acting the Dungeons really are a great day out and extremely fitting for a Halloween treat.

Top Tip: The Dungeons are situated throughout UK and Europe including London, Edinburgh, York, Blackpool, Hamburg and Amsterdam. So there is plenty of places to capture the Dungeon experience.

Current Deal for Merlin Entertainment: 25% off Annual Pass to Merlin entertainment

Halloween Happenings here in Stoke-on-Trent

October 25, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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I’ve been looking into half term events in my surround area of Stoke-on-Trent and I’m delighted by the huge variety of things to do- all local, all offering something beneficial and all sound largely enjoyable for both myself and grandchildren.

Emma Bridgewater Factory-

emma_bridgewater_logo

Famous for her polka dot designs and kitch finishes Emma Bridgewater creates her pottery master pieces right here in the city. Attracting visitors from all over the Emma Bridgewater factory is open to explore and this half term has a special Halloween theme.

pumpkin archBoasting lots of creative activities children are encouraged to get into the spirit of Halloween with fancy dress as those in costumes are welcomed to enjoy time in one of the Emma Bridgewater decorating studios free of charge.

Additionally, the Emma Bridgewater team have created a rather spectacular pumpkin arch –the perfect place to pose for a family photo- and are willing all guests to guess the weight of the pumpkins.

With face painting and mask making facilities this really is a creative day out for the children. If you’re interested in learning more about how the factory works then I’d recommend the factory tour– a wonderful half term afternoon here in Stoke-on-Trent.

trentham estateTrentham GardensA huge local attraction Trentham Gardens offers lots to its visitors. A walk around the beautiful lake in the crisp autumn is a particularly nice way to spend time with loved ones.

Right in time for Halloween Trentham Gardens’ are hosting a ‘Wild Weekend’ complete with scary street performers, pumpkins carving and Halloween treats at the Monkey Forest, which children will undoubtedly adore.

The Potteries MuseumFor most the local museum is a brilliant place to retreat to during school holidays and The Potteries Museum is no different. Located here in Stoke-on-Trent the museum is a local hub for arts and culture and is currently in the midst of British Ceramics Biennial 2011 exhibition.

For half term, and not forgetting Halloween the museum is hosting ‘Who’s Afraid of…’ which will see children’s favourite baddies from Captain Hook to Cruella De Ville roaming around the museum. Children can also get their faces painted and take part in Halloween craft workshops during half term.  

potteries-museum-a1024

In additionally this Saturday The Potteries Museum is taking part in The Big Draw, a campaign which gets people drawing, thinking and creating wonderful ideas which will be displayed on a Halloween inspired giant spider web at the museum.

I think all of these local events are brilliant ways to keep children entertained during half term. For me a visit to the local museum is a great way to keep heritage facilities in your local area alive. Admission is generally free so why not go alone and see what’s on.

15 minutes of exercise a day can boost life expectancy by three years.

August 16, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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A new study released today suggests that by simply exercising for 15 minutes every day life expectancy can be boosted by three years and the risk of death cut by 14%.

Whereas previous statistics offer unobtainable advances, stating that getting fit and staying healthy takes hours of gruelling work in the gym. I find these statistics really encouraging as 15 minutes of activity each day is achievable for everybody.

Even better 15 minutes of ‘exercise’ can be any sort of tasking activity which works up a sweat. So I’ve come up some efficient ways to get fit and do all of your daily tasks too.

Household activities

  • Climb the stairs– I’m guilty of piling things up and then taking everything upstairs in one go. Instead take things up when you need too. You’ll go up the stairs more times than usual but gain lots more exercise than normal too.
  • Wash the car– It’s a job which I always put off and usually end up going to a drive through service. However, scrubbing and buffing the car until it looks brand new is a great way to work up a sweat and saves pennies.
  • Gardening- If the garden is looking a little dishevelled why not go outside and pull out some weeds, mow the lawn or just have a general tidy up. Gardening really does get the heart rate going and is a great way to get some fresh air. But remember that gardening generally means lots of leaning over so take it easy and rest if you need too.
  • Walk the dog- This is one of my favourite ways to exercise as I love taking my dogs out for walks. In fact my dogs are so energetic that they usually end up walking me! I like to take alternative routes depending on what I’m doing on specific days, which is a good way to get some variety.
  • Play with grandchildren- If you’ve got grandchildren you’ll know that they can keep you active for hours never mind 15 minutes. But to make sure you do exercise plays fun games with them. I like musical chairs as it’s a classic game which gets everyone excited and with some much running around it’s a brilliant way to stay active!

 

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