Family Festival Series part 3 – Henley Festival Family Sunday plus your chance to win tickets…

In the third of our family festival series we look at this year’s Family Sunday at Henley Festival. ‘Not just for grownups’, Family Sunday promises fun for all ages. We also have a family set of five tickets in our competition on the Holiday Tots website.

There are children’s entertainers, musicians, comedians, magicians and street entertainers. Mad scientists will be electrocuting members of the audience and there will be superheroes too!

So if dipping your toe into a festival for a day, rather than camping overnight, appeals to you then Henley Family Sunday just might tick the box, oh and dressing up for day is obligatory!


Confirmed acts for all the family include:

Superhero battle where three of planet Earth’s greatest go head to head for the title of ‘Most Supreme Superhero… Ever!’

The Henley Music School

Jay Foreman and his disgusting songs

Science Mania

Solomo’s Beatbox Adventure for Kids

lighthouseThe Lighthouse Workshop where the lighthouse keeper will be sharing stories of the sea and showing animations of his adventures

Awe inspiring acrobatic feats from Upswing and more

Henley Festival Family Sunday takes place on Sunday 10th July 2016 from 11.30am to 3pm

Visit their website for more details:

Sadly we are camping at Blackberry Wood otherwise we definitely would be visiting this one!

Competition – Your chance to win a family ticket for up to five people

The organisers have kindly offered a family ticket for five for the Family Sunday as a competition prize. Visit the Holiday Tots competition page where you will find all the details. Good Luck! The competition will close on Friday 26th May.

Family day trip to Southend

When I was a child I loved the seaside, its sea breeze, fish and chips, penny arcades and ice cream. It didn’t take a lot to keep me happy, I didn’t need it to be glamorous or warm and sunny- I just loved the atmosphere. I spent the youngest part of my childhood in Hackney in London and, because my mum worked, spent the summer holidays with my Aunty near Southend (in Rayleigh). I have really happy memories of this time: we spent time on the farm harvesting and looking after the pigs, and some days  we visited Southend.

On a trip down memory lane, I decided to pop to Southend for the afternoon with my daughter (25) and son (6). The weather wasn’t great but it didn’t matter, we had so much fun and,before we knew it, it was time to leave…

adventure island

 Adventure Island

We hit the adventure golf here but there really is something for everyone: roller coaster, swings, crooked house, Flying Jumbos, Helter Skelter, Jungle Express, Kiddi-Koasta (roller coaster for the littlies!) and more. Trip Advisor reviews are great too!

After building up an appetite we headed for fish and chips, of course! We went to Clarks Fish and Chip Shop opposite Adventure Island. If I had read the Trip Advisor reviews beforehand I would have avoided it like the plague but actually the lady who served us was lovely, the dining area itself clean and comfortable and the fish and chips went down well for all three of us so we would go back.

chip shop

Then we headed for the arcades, sooooo much fun!

2p slot machine is a must and stick with it you might get lucky and win a prize, we won three!

Freddie beat Tas at the racing car game oops!

I beat Freddie at Mario Kart – double oops!

There is a fab water fountain feature that I think would be fun on a sunny day, was a little too cold today…


But never too cold for an ice cream!

Southend provided a fun family day out, and the fact we live in landlocked Hertfordshire, it makes a good place to visit to see the sea for a drive in under an hour. We will be back.

‘What’s on’ in West Sussex – ideal for a family short break this autumn

West Sussex is located just south of London within a couple of hours drive or train and is ideal for a short family break or if you are near London why not visit for a day out?  It has something to offer every family member with beautiful scenery, amazing food and drink, festivals, beaches, and stunning quaint villages and castles to explore.

There are three child-friendly holiday properties in West Sussex on Holiday Tots close enough to enjoy all the activities below and with availability from 14th September. Prices start at £475 for a short stay Mon – Fri or £525 for a weekend, a week is from £845. The family-friendly activities below are either on the doorstep or less than half an hour drive. Owners Les and Louise also run a Bakehouse with freshly produced cakes, bread and home cooked meals workshops too!


So if you fancy taking the family on a little holiday or just a family day out, there are a few ideas on what to do this autumn in West Sussex.

Walk and explore the South Downs National Park.

Now this is vast and I have lots of headings below that are technically within the South Downs National Park but I felt it necessary to add this as a simple excursion too. The South Downs National Park covers 1,600km2 of landscapes, visitor attractions, beautiful villages, country pubs and much more. It is worth taking a look at their website and seeing what is on when you want to visit or just get a map and compass and explore away…

Family-friendly events in West Sussex September/October 2015:

The Ploughing Match

19th September – join the fun and watch the annual ploughing match as horse and tractor-drawn ploughs battle it out, plus a livestock show, farrier display, sheep shearing, tractor/trailer rides food and drink. Fun starts at 9.30

Daylands Farm walk & cream tea plus hedgerow workshop

27th September – Led by Mother Nature join in the walk and cook what you pick. “Pick It Cook it” run special events for all ages at Daylands Farm in West Sussex from 10am – 4pm. They involve a short walk to forage for ingredients and include refreshments and a homemade lunch. You also get to take home what you cook. For more details visit

Lewes October Feast

September 18th – October 10th

Now in its sixth year the Lewes October feast runs for three weeks in the Autumn and is run by a small charity. With food markets, pop up stalls, apple pressing, beer tasting and more, it might be a lovely introduction to some culinary delights for the kids and adults alike. To see what’s on where, visit their website for more details.


Arundel Castle – Life in a Medieval Cattle

20th September

Arundel Castle is a fab place to take the family for a fun day out, the castle and gardens are great to explore. There are lots of family-friendly events throughout the year too. Life in a Medieval Castle is set in The Keep and Barbican at Arundel Castle. Characters will be portrayed by members of the Raven Tor Living History Group: with stories and tales and craft displays, there will be lots of opportunity to learn about the Castle’s history. Arundel Castle is open until 1st November 2015 with the last admission at 16.00hrs. For more details visit their website

Chiddingly Festival

24th September – 4th October 2015

This lovely parish of just 1000 residents stages this amazing festival of the arts every year. This year is no exception with Jo Brand and many other fab artists from jazz bands to bell ringers. Music comedy, drama and workshops all in one place for all ages. Specifically for children there is The Amazing Adventures of Librarian Lil, Circus Skills with Jimmy the Juggler and a Cartoon workshop with Matt Baxter. Intrigued and want to know more? Just visit their website:

Bentley Woodfair

18th ,19th and 20th September

In its 20th year the Bentley Woodfair is a celebration of woodlands, forestry, trees, woodcrafts and more. With exhibits and displays of amazing skills and activities,  it is a fun and different day out for the whole family. There are demonstrations of machinery, tree climbing, children’s activities, local food, beer tent and a great family atmosphere.

Parham Harvest Fair

26th and 27th September

The house and gardens will be open for this family-friendly fair of the celebration of the abundance of produce that autumn brings. With homemade food, deer walks and cookery demonstrations plus an outdoor arena with a variety of events such as displays from the gun dogs and heavy horses. To bring it all together there will be live jazz playing in the grounds.

Apple Day Brighton

27th September

Brighton is located just outside West Sussex in East Sussex. It is a fun place to visit any time of year with lots of attractions and activities for all the family. Apple Day Brighton is one of many events, it is a free event and is located in Stanmer Park, Brighton from 11am to 5pm. There will be lots of children’s activities with traditional fun fair rides and storytelling in the Orchard. Music and Dance is also on offer as well as apple themed workshops and produce.

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Beaches galore…

Finally don’t forget there are lots of wonderful child-friendly beaches too!

West Wittering beach

So what are you waiting for?!

Knebworth House Gardens, what a lovely day out for all the family and here are 10 reasons why…

We visited Knebworth House Gardens for our last day of the school holidays and would highly recommend it. In fact I think we might invest in a season ticket next year. Children under 3 go for free too. Here are our Top 10 reasons why…

  1. Super slides

The three slides at Knebworth are fab for kids of all ages. There is a drop slide for the more adventurous, a tunnel slide for mid range sliders and a large bumpy slide for everyone- basically, whether you are a toddler or grandparent there is a slide for you.

  1. Play area for all ages with Zip wires, climbing frames and more…

The play area has enough to keep even the busiest of children entertained for hours, from zip wires to climbing frames, hills to climb, swings to negotiate and there is even a water play area.

  1. Bouncy Castle

Next to the play area is a bouncy castle for children under 1.2 metres tall. It is free to go on and is monitored well to keep numbers to a minimum

  1. Fort

The fort is so much fun for the children to explore, climb ladders, and crawl through the muddy tunnels, glide down slides, clamber across nets and more.

  1. Maze

The hedge maze is small but lots of fun, we found quite a few dead ends before we made it to the middle!

  1. Fabulous gardens to explore

The gardens at Knebworth House are absolutely wonderful, whether you are a child wanting to run, explore and roll down hills, or a keen plant lover. There really is something very calming and serene about this place.

  1. Trees to climb

Dotted around the gardens from the play area right up to the gardens nearer the main house there are plenty of fab trees to climb.


  1. Dinosaurs to find

An adventure wouldn’t be complete without the search for dinosaurs! There are 70 life sized dinosaurs to find all grazing around the Dino Trail (each one with an information board so you can learn about these prehistoric creatures too)

  1. Brass rubbing

For those who want to get a little creative there is a craft table in one of the gardens set under the trees with some fab pre-historic brass pictures to rub!

  1. Ice cream to eat

Finally there is a café by the main house serving food and drinks or a kiosk by the play area and fort where you can pick up a snack, drink or/and ice cream.

We had a lovely time at Knebworth House and the children did too. The Park and Gardens are only open weekends now until the end of September so you either have to be quick or wait until next year.

They also have lots of events throughout the year with the open air cinema: in September there is a sing-a-long Frozen showing; in October the Pumpkin Trail, Treats and disco; in November it’s the Knebworth House Christmas Fair ; and Sunday lunch with Father Christmas in December.

Visit the Knebworth House website for more details of opening times and events throughout the year.

Lollibop review 2014 – Entertainment for the next generation of Festival goers!


Lollibop, Hatfield House 2014

We arrived back late last night from our holiday: our return flight was very delayed and Freddie didn’t get to bed until nearly midnight. As I sieved through the two and a half weeks’ worth of post I was delighted when I opened our guest passes for Lollibop…….but would Freddie last the day… You can bet he did! He loved every minute of it, I had to drag him away when it finished!

What is Lollibop?

Dubbed by its creators as ‘Glastonbury for kids’ Lollibop is a festival for children under 10 and their families, and it’s jam packed with kids activities and shows.

This year the Lollibop festival headed to Hatfield House in Hertfordshire (it is usually held in London), one of our favourite places to visit especially ‘Bloody Hollow’ but that’s another story! There are Lollibop Zones: Lollibop Live, hosted by Cbeebies Alex Winters, Lollipalladium, Lollibooks, Active Zone, The Meadows, Join in with Southbank, The Discovery Zone and Meet and Greet.

Alex Winters of Cbeebies doing the Hokey Cokey!

Alex Winters of Cbeebies doing the Hokey Cokey!

Looking at the programme for 2014 the children’s entertainment seemed endless, and it was! With lots of shows featuring Cbeebies favourites, Mister Maker, Justin, Mr Bloom, Lazy Town, Andy Day and more plus favourites from CBBC including Horrible Histories.

When we arrived there was something happening on the main stage (we quickly found out that there was nearly always something going on here!), ‘It’s the real Mister Maker, mummy!’ squealed one child and then the fun began.

lollibop mr maker

We actually could have spent two days here as we missed a few things that we would have loved to see or taken part in, the day was fun packed until the end. Here are some of our highlights…

Andy Day was his usual energetic self, visiting his past by re-creating his bedroom and showing the audience some of the things he loved when he was a kid. There are lots of chances for audience participation and the kids loved it. My funniest part was when a couple of dads were invited on to the stage and had to stomp and roar as dinosaurs, Andy makes these moves look cool, sorry dads yours just looked extremely funny!

Andy Day's Show

Andy Day’s Show

There are lots of opportunities to meet a variety of characters and have pictures taken with them from Dennis the Menace to Fireman Sam, Chris and Pui to Poppy Cat! Freddie was very excited to meet a Horrible Histories character as we had just returned from a holiday with friends whose son is absolutely addicted to Horrible Histories and he couldn’t wait to get a picture taken with him to send back.

Freddie with cast member of Horrible Histories - For you Alex, Ruby and James!

Freddie with cast member of Horrible Histories – For you Alex, Ruby and James!

The festival layout is great with loads of space for picnics, if it doesn’t rain!

Lollibop 2014 Map

There are lots of opportunities to dance and sing, get creative or just listen to some great stories. Everything is free (apart from food and drink) including face painting – even for us adults and T-shirt making.

lollibop fp f klollibop fp s l


For the older kids there is the football area managed by the Tottenham Hotspur FC Global Coaching team (another of Freddie’s favourites)

lollibop thfc

And the Skylander Arena where you will get a sneak preview into the new, not yet released, Skylander game.

lollibop skylander

One of my favourites was the Southbank Centres children’s program with lots of activities to keep any child (and adult) entertained from Big Sing Workshops and Hip Hop Dance with Zoo Nation to a
Pirate School and more!

It’s so hard to cover everything in a short blog, so why not visit yourself? There really is something for everyone…

Lollibop runs from 15th – 17th August 2014 at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire from 10-6 – it’s a fabulous family day out.


Thank you for a fab day Lollibop! xxx

Zippos Circus – great value entertainment for the kids…

zipposWhen we were invited to Zippos Circus I ummed and ahhed about going. I have not enjoyed a traditional circus act since I was a child – and then that was it, right there, the reason I decided to go… not for me but for Freddie, after all he is a child!

I have been to lots of fantastic ‘grown up’ circus style acts over the past few years and so the traditional circus seemed to take a back seat, could it compete with the likes of Cirque du Soleil, or in fact is it meant to? To be honest another reason that kept me away was a slight uneasy feeling I have about animal acts, so before I went I read their in-depth animal welfare page (the fact that they have one meant that I am not alone). Satisfied that no animals are mistreated and that they are all well looked after off we set (with husband ever-so slightly moaning about having to go to the Circus). When we arrived the parking was good, which meant hubby was a little pleased 🙂

With light sword and candyfloss in hands we were ushered to our seats. I actually started to get rather excited, a sense of nostalgia came across me and I began giggling with the kids at the man in front entertaining the crowds while we waited (more about him shortly).

Introduced by the World’s Greatest Ring Master, Norman Barrette MBE the show began.

norman barrett MBE

Norman Barrette MBE and his budgie act

We were entertained by an assortment of acts: from the famous Rastelli Clowns, who were not as scary as I remember clowns being and were rather funny;


Rastelli Clowns

Strongman ‘Hercules’ who amazed the children when he had a car drive over him; Odka who is so flexible she squeezed herself into a large bottle; jugglers; trapeze artists and more.

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Emile Delbosq

The kid’s favourite, and one of mine too, was Emile Delbosq, the entertainment filler, he was extremely entertaining with miming acts and lots of audience participation.

horses zippo

For me the most awe inspiring was actually the horses. I have grown up with horses and never seen six horses perform the way these beautiful Arabian stallions performed for their trainer Summer. They moved with grace in varying directions around the arena and it was literally breath-taking, they looked very happy and extremely well looked after too.

After much watching, laughing, clapping and singing we left Zippos Circus in very happy spirits – even hubby!

If you feel the traditional Zippos Circus might just be a little dated think again, it’s good value all round family fun for adults and children alike, there really is something for everyone.

Zippos Circus has been touring the UK for 25 years. Tickets are from just £6.99 and it is touring the UK until November 2014. Visit their website for dates and to book tickets

We were invited by Zippo to watch the show and this review is our thoughts of the show.