Winter wonderland.

‘Tis the season to be jolly, tra-la-la-la – la, la- la – la – la. …. You know the rest!

So here  we are! Its the week before Christmas and the festivities are stepping up a gear round about now! I wont lie, I’ve mentally checked out. I tried to fit as much work as possible into last week, so this week is pretty much just tidying up those loose ends ready to spend the rest of the month eating and being merry. However, sticking with my promise of re-connecting with the blog this month – I’ve still got plenty of posts to come before 2017 is over! Starting with todays, which is all about our visit to Prestons winter wonderland.

 

 

I love how magical this time of year is for them, but I’m also super aware of how long – realistically – I have left of these magical Christmases, before it becomes all moody teenagers and no one believing in Father Christmas. So I’m desperate to squeeze every last little Christmas drip from every year.

So on Saturday, we made our way down to town to visit Prestons very own winter wonderland.

We started off by being separated into smaller groups – which was a very good decision on the organisers part. This meant the children all got enough time in each tent. We started in the Elf workshop, where the girls decorated some baubles. Then it was over to make reindeer food in another tent. From there we visited Mrs Christmas to decorate biscuits and then over to meet Father Christmas, practicing some circus tricks whilst we waited.

All in all it really was a festive way to spend Saturday morning. The staff worked tirelessly to keep the children entertained, the only things that really did irritate me a little was the stampede of Parents (yes actual grown adults) pushing past younger children to get theirs into the next tent first – but that really wasn’t a fault of the organisers, just humanity in general. Ha. It was also a little bare. Not much in the form of atmosphere, maybe a little Christmas music, some more decorations, a snow machine. Something to just jazz it up a bit. We did after all pay £15 a ticket!  The girls however, were made up and that is the most important thing.

I think if they were to do this event the same

again next year I wouldn’t go, but with a couple of minor changes, it really could be something fabulous, I’d just remember to wrap up a bit warmer next time. Two degrees with only a thin Mac on, really wasn’t my brightest of ideas!

 

 

Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

Level – A bloggers night out.

I remember The Guild hall when I was growing up, it was always a little shabby – but the gateway to the bus station (Preston bus station that is, if you’re not clued up on my home town.) With its Grahams for cheap Charlie deodrant, Hydes shop – the perfect spot to spend your pocket money! Gabbots farm shop, which was THE place to get a little cheeky Chinese chicken snack before catching the bus home and not forgetting the weigh shop – which was basically a shop full of bins, the bins were full of everything from sweets to washing powder, Bombay mix to dry dog food – a real eclectic mix. You’d scoop what you wanted into plastic bags, weigh them and buy them. I think that was probably my favourite – you’d get to use the machine and print of your sticker – it helped me live the dream of working in a sweet shop!

Anyway, life moved on – quickly and then one day after living out of Preston for quite a few years, we returned and ended up taking a little trip through town. The guild hall was derelict to say the least. I know there’s been a big problem with shops closing in town/city centres, but this was just so far beyond this. The once fully occupied mini-shopping centre was just empty, nearly every shop front dark, about three people just scurrying through, trying to get through to the bus station. It really was grim.

Flash forward to now, and earlier on in the week attended a pretty amazing launch of a complete new leisure complex in there. Level, holding a bowling alley, interactive darts, crazy golf course, karaoke booths, Later tag, Children’s and adults assault course.

The whole of The guild hall has been transformed by local business man Simon Rigby. From Review the bustling metropolitan cocktail bar, Villa Italia restaurant, there’s coffee shops, a Tapas restaurant, a newly opened ice cream parlour and now of course this new venture.

 

 

 

Though the entire unit isn’t fully finished yet, it still is pretty marvellous. The Bowling alley is really something special! Our only other local place to bowl Isn’t up to much, but this place is shiny and new. With its neon lights and leather seats, its high tech player sheet is pretty cool too – with a selfie function if just writing your name is a little to mainstream for you.

 

 

One of the more luxurious aspects to this as a bowling alley, is its private bowling party option. Entering through your own entrance, you have two lanes just for you, as well as large chesterfields to lounge one, fridges ready to be stocked for your party, a small stage, plus the option to connect your phone up to the sound system – if you fancy getting your own playlist on. It really is a treat.

 

Its not all about the bowling, another cool feature to this place – and actually so far my favourite activity here – is the interactive dartboards. Set in a more relaxed environment, just off the main room. You’ll find a cosy little section. The walls lined with warm wooden panels, holding a row of dart boards at one side, the rest of the room filled with a pool table and shuffleboard – which is also a lot of fun! And though the ‘interactive’ aspect is a little tricky to set up – the staff here can help you figure it out – once you get going, it is actually really simple. Even for a complete novice like myself (who actually ended up winning the game with a bullseye!!) its so much fun to play, the room itself is a much more relaxed area, somewhere you’d come after work for a quick drink and a de-stress with your mates.

 

 

And last but not least. The main hall. And I call it a hall, because it is just HUGE!  I didn’t actually get a number on how many people this place can seat, but I’ll just say its a lot. There’s seating everywhere, including a raised little diner style setup overlooking the bowling alleys. The food served here is from Mundo’s Street Kitchen – which if I’m not mistaken is a side business from the Mundo’s tapas bar – also in The guild hall. We were treated to a lovely selection of bites, I was a massive fan of their garlic & chilli prawns. YUM!

 

 

The decor of the place is hard to fit into any one box. It’s a little industrial, but soft. Its playful with some incredible wall murals painted by the very talented local Artist Shaun Sharpe, but its still got a grown- up vibe. Most importantly is that when you combine all of these elements together, you end up in a place where you can relax, enjoy yourself, wether its a family day out or a date night. After work drinks or a children’s party. This place caters to it all.

 

 

 

 

We really did have such a good night trying this place out, the only bad thing I can say, is that I want to see the rest of it! I’m most excited for these karaoke booths! But the adult assault courses that will be filling the top level is definitely going to be something special! I’ve had word that everything on every level is expected to be up and running by the 15th – or there abouts – of December. And its open today, if you fancy having a pop in to see what all the fuss is about first hand.

It truly is such a brilliant addition to the city.

 

 

Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

 

If you want more information on the place you can find it over on their website or facebook page.

 

 

A bloggers night out.

The blogging scene isn’t massive in Preston, but every now and again I get an invite to something cool in my hometown.

Last night I attended the opening of the new combined Thomas Sabo/ Peter Jackson The Jeweller shop in St George’s Shopping Centrewhich was so much fun! It was a very swanky affair, A very talented singer and her saxophonist gave a jazzy performance, plates of very delicious canapés where handed out, the prosecco was flowing and was treated to a showcase of their gorgeous products, as well has being given the most adorable bracelet to be engraved there and then on their cool engraving machine. It was all very grown up and I had a blast. Thanks for the invite!

 

Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

A rural retreat.

Last week we headed over to the most serene little corner of the countryside. We wound up driving down that bumpy country road last Wednesday after a completely last minute decision. I was supposed to book us a lovely sunny holiday abroad before the holidays even started, but one day turned into two, and before I know we’re four weeks in and I still haven’t found anywhere that doesn’t cost two grand for a week in a 2 star at best. So I went to plan B. Camping.

I have to admit, I wasn’t overly sold on sleeping out in the elements. I mean, it would have been fine was it just me and Sam, I’m low maintenance, cup of tea, a good book. I’m right as rain. The girls however, rather ashamedly are big on their electronics – though our ‘iPad’ break of last year is still standing!- Mischa’s gasp of “But mum, how will we watch TV?!” Sold me on it. I spent my youth wandering the local woodlands, playing on rope swings, nursing nettled legs. My girls are slightly more sheltered. I let them run free, we regularly go out and about. But the actual freedom of spending the whole day from morning till dinner time “playing out” isn’t something my two have really managed to live through yet.

So, we went back to basics. Well, I say basics. I ended up booking a luxury teepee at the rather gorgeous looking Kings acre glamping. We got a really good last minute deal on Pitch up, £129 for 2 nights. And after creating a mini meal plan of very delicious and non-boring food we cook cook over the fire. we spent no more on £180 for the entire trip!

So, after receiving a very lovely email from Jess (the co-owner) giving me all the details for our stay, I got us packed up and off we went on our journey. The trip took less than 1 hour 10mins from Preston (if any locals are interested.) and the actual campsite was really easy to get too, they’ve even put up little signs to guide you to them.

Once at the site, we parked up and was led to our gorgeous little home for the few days we had the “Little owl” tent, which consisted of a large double bed, two fold out single futons, bedside tables, a chest for storage, a fire pit and enough comfy outdoor chairs for us all. It. Was. Perfect.

We jumped right on in, unpacked, and sat on those chairs out in the sunshine, looking over at the welsh valley views and hearing nothing but the sounds of birds and gentle winds blowing through the acorn tree above. I would go into loads of detail about what we did there, but truthfully, we did nothing for two days. We lazed and ate, we sat by the lake and read. I lay with a cold beer and watched the girls run around freely with the two adorable and completely friendly resident dogs. it was everything I could have hoped for. My only regret is that we didn’t book an extra night!

So, that was it. our little family trip away. If you’re wanting to do something similar before the summers out, here are a few of my best tips.

  • Make a meal plan. For our trip I pre cut and mixed Chicken fajita’s and Garlic n’ herb steak, potatoes and veg. I kept them in a those takeaway style foil trays, in a cool bag with a constantly frozen ice pack. We ate the chicken on the first night (for obvious reasons) and the steak was so beautifully marinated for our second night. I also made cheese and peppered ham pizza pockets wrapped in foil for lunch, you just literally throw them on the fire, turn after a few minutes, unwrap and enjoy.

 

  • Take a washing up bowl, liquid, sponge and a tea towel. Simple, but it just makes clean up after meal times quick and easy.

 

  • Take carrier bags for your rubbish. Again, simple but make sit easy to keep everywhere tidy. (don’t forget to find out if your camp recycles before you start just throwing everything into general waste.)

 

  • Find out if your camp can supply firewood. If they do, use it. Our lovely hosts dropped off a massive wheel barrow of wood for only £5. otherwise we would have been left with the random coal bag we brought. Which will cook the food, but won’t give you a glorious camp fire to spend you’re evenings staring into.

 

  • Don’t forget to pack entertainment for the kids. We where lucky a few of our campmates let the girls play with frisbee’s and footballs, but really I should have been a bit more organised than telling them they can pack one rucksack with toys – Mischa brought a star cushion ?! Next time we’ll be bringing some more outdoor games.

 

  • And finally. This is a biggie, but if you can… turn off your phone. Completely for the whole trip. It was the best thing I did, I was completely present for the entire thing, I had no idea what was happening in the world, and even though I had my camera I wasn’t spending the whole time creating Insta worthy shots. It was just us, our little garden and the sweet silence of the countryside. Perfection.

 

You can see all the shots I took below. I did narrow it down from about 900 photos!

 

 

 

I’m already so excited to book our next trip to kings acre. Bring on the Easter holidays!

Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

 

Making time for a date night.

Once upon a time, there was. Sam and I, no children (though we did get Minky the cat pretty early into our relationship) there was working hours and free time. It was a pretty simple time, we drank more then, a hell of a lot more, we’d be out with the cool kids every night of the weekend and seen as we lived in Cyprus, we’d spend our hangovers on the beach, trying to quench our hungover dehydration with orange lucozade and Calypso lollies. Ahhh they where the days.

Obviously, our lives have changed a lot since then, we’ve kids for one. Sam runs his own business now as well, so its work for him 8am-7pm every day. I have goals and ambitions now, so if I’m not making sure the house runs efficiantly, I’m blogging, or doing college work. When, finally we do find ourselves finished for the day, both to tired to actually do anything, we opt for tea in bed and whatever box set we’re currently engrossed in.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, one of my favourite times of day is when I slide in between those sheets after a hot shower. And when I asked Sam what he wanted to do for his birthday a couple of weekends ago, well…. it was to ‘do what we always do’

But sometimes, sometimes you’ve gotta’ make a little bit of effort. So when I got an email inviting me to Solita Prestons big unveiling of their private function room. Well, I double checked with Sam that we didn’t have too much on that day and signed us right up.

I was completely ready to cancel a couple of hours prior to attending, I was tired, I had to get dinner ready, cleaning to do, get Mischa to Rainbows. But then I realised… there is always 101 reasons not to go out. So, I applied some make up, dragged something out of my wardrobe and sorted a babysitter (thanks mother-in-law!)

I hadn’t been to Solita before, no real reason, its just on the off chance we decide to go to dinner on a child free night, we usually head to Franco’s, I order the same thing every time, as does Sam. I have two glasses of wine, and when we leave I say the exact same thing to him. ” I’m always so content when we leave here.”

Having said that, it was a lovely change to go somewhere different. I absolutely adore the Winckley square area of Preston, the grand Georgian buildings, the fact that its a suburban middle point between the sprawling peaceful landscapes of Avenham park and the bustling city centre. In fact, Sam and I have been lusting after a house just around the corner from Winckley square for the past few months. So, if anyone would like to give me £250,000 to buy it, that would be lovely! ha.

Anyway, back to our date night. I wasn’t sure what the plan for this event was, but I kind of hoped we’d just be left to it, like a dining experience rather than group activities. Thankfully, I was right and after being met by the front of house staff and guided through the truly chic interiors, we were ushered into the not as big as I expected private dining room.

It was by no means small, not at all. The type of place to host an intimate birthday party – in fact, if I were at all a ‘birthday party’ person, I would definitely choose this place. We were told the drinks on offer for the event, to sit were we fancied and that food would be served a bit later.

Simple.

The whole experience was very relaxed, from the seating arrangements, to the gentle music in the background. And oh, the food! Served in bitesize portions, we got to try a little bit of everything, the mini beef burgers were DELICIOUS – seriously, I’m still raving about them now!- to the chicken drumsticks with BBQ sauce. I even loved the vegan burgers – though it was a happy accident, I actually bit into one expecting fried chicken. Ha. The kitchen staff worked tirelessly, to keep a constant stream of food being brought out to everyone and the bar staff kept the drinks flowing nicely – maybe a little too nicely!

By 8pm, I had a full stomach, a wine induced gidyyness and I knew it was time to leave, I did after all have the school run and a whole load of pre-birthday preparation to be getting on with on Friday.

So, off we popped home, to do the bedtime run. Back to reality.

Our entire evening was lovely, we got to sit, eat, drink and just chat without any interruptions. something we definitely need to do more off. If anything, I remembered just how important it is for us to have regular nights off from life, we really did have a fabulous time enjoying each others company at Solita. Somewhere we’ll definitely be visiting again.

 

 

Robyn,

The little woman pretends.