Princess Visits from Limelight Entertainment UK

I’ve received so many lovely messages via Instagram over the past year or so, but other than Disneyland, no topic has been as popular as the ones we get when a princess visits Ita.

We first discovered Limelight Entertainment UK on Instagram back in 2016 although our first booking with them wasn’t until May 2018, on Ita’s second birthday. Ever since, this company had played a vital role in Ita’s early years so far.

In July 2017 when Ita was only 14 months old I had quite a serious car crash resulting in my little car being written off and sent to the scrap heap. Fortunately Ita seemed ok but I was taken to hospital. The following month I noticed that Ita’s right eye seemed to turn in quite often and that she had become incredibly clumsy. I stupidly googled whether head impacts could cause issues with eyes and of course google (being the most informative place on Earth – joke by the way!) told me that indeed head impacts could cause loss of sight.

(Ita on her 2nd Birthday).

I made an appointment with my GP who after seeing how anxious I was, referred Ita to a specialist eye hospital so that tests could be carried out. I don’t want to make this post too much about the specifics of Ita’s eye issues, but after being told that everything was ok, to then being told that she had no vision whatsoever, we now see an eye specialist at Moorfields in East London every 2-3 months. Ita wears glasses full time but needs additional treatment (currently “patching” but possibly surgery).

Getting Ita to wear her glasses was an almighty struggle at the beginning. Nothing worked. Nothing. Until we realised how much she loved her Disney Princesses.

Amy, who is the Founder of Limelight Entertainment UK, has been nothing short of supportive in helping the princesses encourage Ita to wear her glasses and her patch. I honestly believe that if it wasn’t for this company, we would still be struggling with getting Ita to wear her glasses let alone her patch.

Amy has a fleet of beautiful princesses (and superhero’s just in case anyone was wondering!) but one in particular has become such a loving friend to Ita, Alissa. (Seen above).

(Ita and Ariel on Ita’s 3rd Birthday).

I strongly believe that all children deserve a happy and healthy childhood, filled with magical memories along the way. Maybe it’s because of my role in Child Protection. Or maybe it’s because of my own granny Ita and the extremes she went to just so we had such enchanted summers. Either way, I know for sure that Limelight Entertainment UK will continue to play that role in Ita’s childhood.

I couldn’t hold them in higher regard even if I tried!

You can check out their website here

https://www.limelightentertainmentuk.com

I am also running a competition to win a princess or superhero visit on my Instagram page!

Hurry! https://www.instagram.com/p/Bz8f9rYF2gY/

Sand Accessories from Hape Toys

Last week Media PR contacted us on behalf of Hape toys asking to send Ita some items for her sandpit. We were sent 3 in total; a truck, a claw and a spade (that has a sprinkler at the end).

Ita absolutely adores being outside so we like to make sure she has plenty to play with. Her favourite is the swing and the sandpit, which we had bought to encourage messy play and sensory!

The great thing about the accessories from Hape Toys is that they are weather resistant and durable. We often forget to put everything away after playing so it’s good to know these will last in the rain for example. As they are plastic they are also very easy to clean too!

Ita mentioned that she loved the truck and I thought the claw shovel was interesting because Ita started to pretend to be a sand monster!! So it included imaginary play too!

I would really recommend all 3 of the items we received.

Haven Holiday Park, Hopton

Now where do we start? Firstly, boo to us for being so snobby about a holiday to a caravan park! We had all the wrong ideas of what to expect and we now happily admit that!

We booked this little break well over a year ago and paid a small monthly payment of around £35. Our break was meant to be from Monday to Friday but due to work (and sickness!) we didn’t make it to Hopton until Wednesday.

We booked the Prestige New Model compromising of a spacious 12 foot interior. This particular caravan had an outdoor seating area which appealed to us as it meant that Ita could play somewhat outside with supervision.

On our first day we headed straight to the main building where we found that there were many activities ready to take part in. Ita decided that she wanted to paint (another) ceramic unicorn (I swear to God we have a room full of these!!).

This was an extra cost of £18 but there are cheaper options available. I believe prices start from around £7 but do go up to about £50!

The swimming facilities at Hopton are brilliant! We spent 2 hours on both days in the pool and Ita must have gone on that water slide at least 50 times!

Swimming is included in your booking so this was handy. Remember to pack your own floats and arm bands because they are quite pricey.

The evening entertainment at Hopton was something that Ita really enjoyed. Song Bugs UK put on a really fun and interactive show. I was quite annoyed however that it appeared the same children were being picked over and over again as winners or to take part in the show. Ita really tried her hardest to show enthusiasm and ability but was really over looked by them!

The Haven team also put on a show which Ita loved – she was so desperate to meet them after too!!

One thing we found great was that you could order food like Papa Johns directly to your table from your phone! This was such a plus because it meant Ita could take part in the entertainment whilst we closely supervised her!

On the Friday morning it was time for breakfast “with characters”. Now, this would be fine however the term implies we would be meeting ALL of them and not just one.

Ita waited so patiently whilst Greedy the Gorilla went from table to table meeting families – I was so proud of her to be honest!

Then out turn came and I could see the excitement in Ita’s eyes.. She jumped up and gave him a huge hug and thanked him for the show. However, 2 families stood by our table lingering just so they could meet Greedy without waiting! The parents allowed their children to try and grab the mascots attention which frankly I found disgusting. Ita wanted a photo with Greedy so we stood up and they still did not move! I had to ask the chaperone to ask them to move away! (Honestly what is wrong with some people?!)

In fact you can see I’ve had to cut out the child in this photo!! I completely understand why a child finds it hard to wait patiently however I have no understanding whatsoever as to why their parents did not pull them back and tell them to wait. I do think the chaperone should have noticed herself and told them off frankly!

After breakfast we headed to the arcades which is actually quite small – I’m not complaining! This means we spent less money on the rides and Ita mainly stuck to the 2p machines!

She got lucky and won her favourite Toy Story character, Jessie!

We have previously been to the Caister on Sea park but it isn’t a patch on Hopton!

Top tips;

If you can, book well in advance and secure the best caravan. It’s so worth it and the monthly direct debits are minimal.

Kew Little Pigs, Amersham

What a lovely day we have had at Kew Little Pigs in Amersham!

The farm is home to the only micro pig breeders in the UK, so focus is on exhibiting the micro pigs and educating people on their intelligence, understanding their needs and owners responsibilities. Mia was completely sold! She really wants one (sorry sis!).

I have to admit, I couldn’t quite believe how smart they were! We even witnessed one plan their escape… and succeed!!

You have to book this in advance via the website https://kewlittlepigs.com and book a time slot. This is because before every experience, there is a brief health and safety presentation.

There is about 8 pig pens but only one contains the babies and this was the only pen that Ita was allowed in to. This was quite disappointing but also completely understandable considering just how strong pigs are. The only little issue we had here was that only a very limited amount of people were allowed in this specific pen at a time and of course this was the one that everyone wanted to go into! It’s a shame adults do not put the needs of small children first and I even had to ask one couple to step out so Ita and Mia could enter. (They has been in the baby pen monopolising the baby pigs for 20 minutes by this time!). The staff were very young and I think they felt like they couldn’t be more authoritative. (They were incredibly nice however!).

All in all, although I wouldn’t recommend a big travel to visit here, if you live within an hours drive this is definitely somewhere to visit!

We were very kindly gifted our trip here today however there are some deals currently on Wowcher!

Flip Out – Brent Cross

A few weeks ago now, we were invited along to Flip Out for their Mini Flippers session.

This is specifically for under 5s who have full run of the trampolines and foam pits!

We invited my sister and niece along and both Ita and Annalise were exhausted after their visit. They both loved how big the space was and that there were so many trampolines so they could chase each other! The best thing about this place is that children simply can not be active! It’s constant GO!

The 3 minute safety movie at the beginning of the session is just long enough to explain the Do’s and Dont’s without boring the children. They really seemed to take it in too!

We will definitely be back here so that daddy can come with us next time!

Bounce and play for 2 hours for only £7.95. Additional child £4.95. PLUS 1 x adult flips for free.

(You must also buy the Flip Out grip socks at £2.50 a pair).

Mary Poppins Afternoon Tea – The Shard

We had been looking forward to this since we made the reservation months ago, but frustratingly it didn’t quite meet our expectations.

Mary Poppins is about childhood magic and imagination, right? I feel like this was what was missing with the experience. It felt very.. bland?

The food wasn’t themed at all and having looked back at photos from the launch, you can see they’ve just not bothered to continue with it. I think this was the most disappointing part considering the price has remained the same (rather expensive). For example when the tea was launched there was a chocolate hat just like Mary’s. Now it’s a “blob”, absolutely positively not the shape of any hat, which is still referred to as Mary’s hat.

The menu which was printed on a mirror was unreadable as it had been scratched considerably. This is something that realistically you would expect to be repaired.

The best part of our visit was that the scones were delivered via Mary Poppins special bag but that was over in a matter of seconds. (They were also under-baked!).

The candy floss machine / prop was tucked away in a corner too which seemed a shame. This is the type of prop that really could have set the scene and been quite memorable for good reasons.

Most of the staff were friendly however and they even bought Ita a plain ham sandwich which she really appreciated. We did have an issue with the waitress leaning over Ita when pouring the steaming tea but this is a practice issue that is likely to be the restaurants fault. It’s basic training.

Overall I probably wouldn’t recommend it.

Our favourite themed teas remain Beauty & the Beast at the Kensington (which has now ended) and the Peter Rabbit Tea at Le Meridian in Piccadilly.

Cupcake set from WordUnited

Ita was very kindly sent this cupcake stacking set from Word United.

It is a 16 piece set which includes frosting, cake and liner to complete 5 cupcakes and also a cake stand display.

What I loved the most about this set was the fact that it was made from 100% recycled goods.

This means it is good for earth and good for your child! There are no external coatings or paints so it is safe and durable. It even came packaged in recycled boxing!

It is described for children aged 2 and upwards. If Ita had this at a younger age then we would have used it for learning colours and counting. At the moment she loves it for role playing, as you can see!

https://wordunited.com/

Lacing Pony from Word United

The lovely people at Word United sent us this wooden lacing pony by Hape Toys.

Lacing games are traditional Montessori toys which I love.

They help improve fine motor skills, hand and eye coordination, cognitive thinking, problem solving, patience, dexterity and concentration. More so, they also help with visual perception which was why I wanted to use this toy whilst Ita was wearing her patch. 15 minutes doing this would be equal to about an hour wearing the patch doing other activities.

Ita was concentrating so hard that she completely forgot about her eye patch and focused on lacing the beads for ages.

I really find it hard to find any faults in this particular toy.

Really recommended.

Bakerdays Cake

Dominic was sent this wonderful Father’s Day cake from the lovely team at bakerdays.

Myself and Ita decided on a chocolate sponge and Ita chose her favourite photo from my phone. Of course it was going to be one of her favourite place in the world, Disneyland Paris!

If I’m honest I was a bit sceptical as to how it would look when it arrived. I mean it’s being handled through Royal Mail so I thought it would be a mess! But as you can see it is picture perfect. The cake itself was unbelievably soft, moist and tasted really fresh.

I have had balloons and flowers delivered to friends before for things like Birthdays and without a doubt bakerdays has trumped them.

Firstly, the cake is completely personalised by you and it fits through the letter box.

Secondly, it’s a much cheaper alternative. This one is a photo cake priced at £14.99 (5” letterbox gift cake). Thirdly, balloons and flowers seem a bit wasteful by comparison?

However if you want to check them out yourselves, google “bakerdays cakes”. Their website pops up first.

Category link; https://www.bakerdays.com/birthday-cakes/photo-cakes

Delivery link; https://www.bakerdays.com/cake-delivery-uk

Ventura Wildlife Park, Ware, Hertfordshire

On Fathers Day we were kindly gifted tickets to visit Ventura Wildlife Park in Hertfordshire.

As Dominic absolutely loves zoos and wildlife parks, visiting one on Fathers Day has become something of a little tradition!

The park itself is situated by the Van Hague Garden Centre (which is absolutely amazing come Christmas time).

We arrived just a little before 11am and met the very lovely Emma at the Welcome Centre. She explained the different areas of the park such as Madagascar, Heart of Africa and the Australian Outback and provided us with a map. Emma was so friendly and even offered to mind Ita’s balloon. She really is the perfect person to have front of house as she made us feel so welcome.

To enter into the park you have to walk through the Welcome Centre and the small gift shop. Once we were inside I had overheard someone complaining that there were no cafes but actually there are snacks and hot drinks in the Tiki Traders Gift Shop. 

One of the main animals we were eager to see was the Fossa, Madagascar’s largest carnivore.

Ita really enjoyed Explorers Lodge. This is where the animal encounters took place. Glen was absolutely fantastic at providing information to us and importantly, explaining it in a child friendly way. Ita keeps telling me that the spikey hedgehog ( that’s the tenric) is related to an elephant! His approach was fun but informative. He took his time with each of the children to ensure that they were able to see the animals up close and touch the insects… if they were brave enough! At one point Ita went into a little babble to Glen that she had an African land snail and rather than speak over her, he patiently listened. I thought this was not only so kind but it really showed an understanding of how to keep a child engaged. Everyone has a voice. Children are there to get as much out of the experiences as the adults.

Also in the Explorers Lodge were related games and colouring pencils etc. This was so handy because it was a relatively rainy day and it was clear that they had considered ways to keep children entertained.

 

What we particularly enjoyed about Ventura was just how hands on you can be. It is far more interactive than any other Wildlife Park or Zoo that we have visited, and the staff are far more personal. There are free daily encounters, talks and interactive feeds that visitors are encouraged to be a part of. I believe this is specifically because it is a smaller park than others. Dominic felt that because the park was smaller, you felt more time looking at the animals and learning about them. In zoos you often feel pushed along.

So whilst it is a small place, you cant fault how much you get out of it.

Ventura currently care for 45 types of animals, including exotic invertebrates, reptiles, zebra, emu, wallaby, red kangaroo, and lorikeets. Not all of these animals are used for encounters and many are used for captive breeding programmes to ensure survival of their species.

Money from the park has helped with conservation projects. (The Ventura Wildlife Conservation Fund is an independent charitable fund but it is supported by Ventura Wildlife).

 

Toilets are situated within the Van Hage garden centre and this is worth knowing so you can plan in advance!

We had a brilliant visit and the animals look well cared for. The park itself is clean and nicely put together. Ashley, Emma and Glen were all so friendly, warm and knowledgeable. We would really recommend a visit!

My only grumble…we were gutted that we didn’t get to meet Sidley the skunk! What a meet and greet that would have been!! Definitely next time!