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The Lollibop 2013 Queen Elizabeth Park

29 Aug

We are a Lollibop loving family who have made it our mission to attend the festival for little people ever year. With its new location (Queen Elizabeth Park) in Stratford, we couldn’t wait for this years event.

So… What did we think?

This year attending the event was myself and my sister, her 3 year old toddler Amy and my daughter Alice and toddler Harley. We opted to visit this years event on the Saturday (day two of this three day festival). With the new location being in Stratford this was meant to make it a whole lot simpler to get to! That was true except London Transport had decided that Saturday would be the perfect day for some engineering works on the DLR completely throwing our travel arrangements into chaos. This meant that instead of the one DLR train into Stratford we found ourselves having to take two trains, making our journey a little longer than first planned.

Once we arrived in Stratford we found there were plenty of staff designated along the main route to the festival to guide festival goers in the right direction. We arrived in the afternoon and given there had been a little rain that day the festival wasn’t as packed as I’d first expected which was fine by us as we got to do some of the things we had previously missed out on last year such as face painting and various other activities.

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We saw Katie from cbeebies ‘I Can Cook’ and also Sid and Andy entertaining little festival goers in a big top style tent. The characters dotted around the festival were awesome, there was always someone to surprise us and make the kids laugh. This lovely bird was one of our favourites from the day…

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The kids also had meet and greets with the Mr Men (much to the toddlers delight)! We had great fun getting creative. The kids used stamps to decorate Bandannas and we all enjoyed making sheep out of clay.

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I think the biggest highlight of the day was watching the little ones get their groove on as they danced half the afternoon away. My three year old niece also bagged herself a prize in one of the dance offs and Harley was still dancing on the way home.

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On site this year there was plenty of toilets avoiding long queues and little accidents. A buggy parking lot was provided which was undercover just incase of unexpected rain (which we experienced a little off throughout the afternoon) what’s more the buggy park was attended meaning we didn’t have to worry about our buggy going walk about.

The staff on the day were most helpful and we enjoyed a good proportion of our time down by the Heart FM tent were the kids had their face painted, danced to the music and played with the giant outdoor games provided, while we were able to relax and take a breather on one of the many deck chairs dotted about outside the tent.

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We brought our own picnic along this year and found that there were plenty of picnic benches dotted around the festival site. Out stuff wasn’t to badly priced such as the balloons (£3 for small and £5 for large) we opted to buy ours before we left as we saw many balloons flying off into the sky throughout the afternoon. Lucky for the toddlers ours made it home in one piece. Our only complaint was the prices in which the ice cream vans were charging… £2 for an ice lolly and £3 for an ice cream! When there are 5 of you that really isn’t an option!

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As we had expected the festival was a total hit with the children. Will we return for more Lollibop fun next year? Without a doubt we will… We can’t wait!

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To find out more about the Lollibop festival and all its upcoming events check out there website, Facebook and Twitter Pages.

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A Fun Family Day With Thomas The Tank Engine

12 Sep

As a blogger I’m lucky to find some really exciting invitations in my inbox of a morning and recently I received one of these from HiT entertainment.

This was an invite for myself and the children to visit Drayton Manor Park home to Thomas Land. We would be reviewing the parks many attractions as well as watching a special screening of the brand new film Thomas and friends – Blue Mountain Mystery at the parks 4D cinema.

Alice-Sara was out for the day so myself and a friend took the 2 boys along. Little man had a big interest in Thomas the Tank engine from the time he could walk. His Thomas obsession was one of the many factors that helped CAMHS diagnosis him with Aspergers Syndrome, So, Yes, it was pretty intense. His now into transport as a whole but still won’t say no to a bit of Thomas if Tiny Tot is watching it! Little man collected everything Thomas the Tank Engine when he was younger. He has loads of the train sets (that are packed away and kept out of his siblings reach). It’s a shame as Little Harley who is 3 in December is now a huge Thomas fan and would love to sit playing with these!

Drayton Manor is a fair distance from where we live in South East London, in fact it took over three hours to reach the park by car. Nonetheless I felt that it was worth attending as the boys would absolutely love it! They were dead excited when we left bright and early on a Tuesday morning. Harley especially who was kitted out in his Thomas gear.

Two service stations, some sing songs and one minor meltdown later, we finally pulled into Drayton Manor Park some 3 and a half hours after first setting off.

The car park is massive and given this was the 4th of September, many children had just gone back to school resulting in us grabbing a great parking space quite close to the parks main entrance.

I decided not to take Harley’s buggy as I was guessing he’d be to excited to sit in it! I was right, Harley loved it at Drayton Manor and spent very little time sitting with the exception of the cinema and the rides.

As many know Little man 11 has Aspergers Syndrome and Special needs. He was entitled to a ride access band and this was collected from the guest services. I’ve written an additional review that looks at the parks facilities for those with a disability or special needs (particularly an autism spectrum condition) and this will feature on the blog following this one.

Next stop was Thomas Land. Now we only had a quick peek as we needed to head on over to the cinema and as we had little man with us, as to avoid any anxiety we decided to go over a bit earlier than needed so to avoid any queues. Lucky the screening was closed to the public so it was ourselves and a small number of other families who had been invited to review the film. This was perfect as it meant little man remained rather calm avoiding any meltdowns.

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We were given some popcorn and bottled water and headed inside. HiT had organised for a few of its fabulous PR team to demonstrate some of its newest toy releases in connection with the movie. My Harley’s eyes lit up like beaming flashlights as soon as he entered the room. There was some great games and play sets on show. Harley went right for the Mega Blocks – Blue Mountain Quarry (which I’m going to have to buy him for his birthday as he keeps request to play with it)!

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Little man coped well with all the people and sat in the corner playing with his brother Harley with a great remote control Thomas.

The film was being shown in 4D and we were pretty excited (even me at 30 years old was itching to get in there)! We were called for the screening by no other than the ‘Fat controller’ himself and inside we were shown to our fantastic seats.

The film was brilliant, it ran for an hour which was long enough for a toddler. The storyline was good and easy to follow, even for the youngest of audiences.

In Thomas’ latest adventure, the Fat Controller sends Thomas to work at the blue mountain Quarry where Thomas spots an engine he’s never seen before trying to hide. Determined to get to the bottom of the mystery Thomas tracks down befriends Luke who tells Thomas he’s hiding because he did something so bad he could be sent away from the island of Sodor forever! Thomas does not believe this and set off on a journey to discover the story of this poor runaway engine. On the way he learns of engines bought to sodor from faraway lands and an accident in Brendam Docks where and engine fell into the sea. But only when he’s learnt every piece of the story can Thomas convince his new friend that there’s no reason to hide.

The 4D effects were perfect for the smaller children. Every so often the chairs would move! There was also bubbles when the lights come on and fake snow that gathered on the stage as the lights went down.

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After enjoying the movie we then went off to enjoy the rest of the parks many attractions, in particular Thomas land. This was the perfect place for a Thomas fan, it truly is one-of-a-kind, a real Thomas paradise!

Thomas Land boasts 12 wonderful themed rides, a spectacular indoor play area and a shop filled with fantastic Thomas & Friends merchandise.

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We went on almost every ride at Thomas land, we even did the Troublesome Trucks Coaster – a 220 metre roller coaster that runs up and over Thomas Land… Ok it’s nothing major for me, I’ve been on some massive beasts but for the 2 year old… I was surprised. It does go really fast and has some pretty sharp turns! I really thought he wouldn’t meet the height restriction, but he did and given he was jumping up and down with excitement, we went for it and yes, he loved it!

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Little man also had a fabulous time he really wanted to ride the Ben10 roller-coaster, only he got a little anxious and changed his mind. In order to cheer him up I got him a large hotdog and we chilled by the parks stunning lake and fed the ducks before finally checking out some of the shops such as the Thomas gift shop and the fabulous cartoon network store.

Not that we needed anything! HiT had provide both of the boys with a Thomas goody bag following the film and Oh my… what a lovely goody bag it was!

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The kids had an awesome time at Drayton Manor Park – Thomas Land. They also enjoyed the 4D movie Thomas and Friends – Blue Mountain Mystery which is now out on DVD for all to enjoy.

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During our long drive home, there was silence… Yep, within 10 minutes of getting in the car both boys were fast asleep.

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Thanks HiT the boys had an amazing day at Drayton Manor Park.

Checkout our Video of the day.

Sainsbury’s Presents Plans for A Massive 2-Day Jubilee Party in London’s Hyde Park

12 Mar

I’ve heard a lot of chatter over the queens diamond Jubilee, through so far its been nothing too exciting!

Well, that was in-till I received a certain email
and now it would seem, that I have finally found something to get excited about at long last!

Check it out, a massive Jubilee party hosted by Sainsbury on…

Saturday 2 June, Sunday 3 June 2012 – Hyde Park London

Sainsbury’s is delighted to announce that the ‘Jubilee Family Festival Presented by Sainsbury’s’, will be hosted by the incomparable Myleene Klass and the UK’s favourite impressionist Jon Culshaw throughout the two-day fun-filled family Jubilee celebration. War Horse, the thrilling and spectacular West End production, has been confirmed to join the festival’s programme. The event will also play host to the very first performance, specially designed for a festival, from BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing presented by BBC Worldwide and hosted by Craig Revel Horwood. Already confirmed to return to this special Strictly Come Dancing dance floor is 2011 finalist Chelsee Healey. The event will take place in Hyde Park, on Saturday 2 June and Sunday 3 June 2012 from 10.30am – 7pm daily, with a capacity for 50,000 ticket holders on each day.

Jon Culshaw said: “I am honoured to be a part of the Jubilee Family Festival and to share the celebratory hosting duties with the stunning Myleene Klass. This unique event has more faces than I do and will be a brilliant way of keeping the family entertained in London for the Jubilee festivities.”

Choreographed especially for The Jubilee Family Festival the event will feature appearances by the puppets and actors from the National Theatre’s award-winning production of War Horse, currently playing at the New London Theatre. This unique and special arrangement will feature Joey and Topthorn, the breath-taking life-sized horse puppets who become the equine heart of the story, alongside the stunning musical arrangements and songs from the critically acclaimed production.

The Festival, with an action-packed and imaginative fun-filled programme, is being hosted by The Royal Parks and organised by world-famous promoter Harvey Goldsmith CBE on behalf of Sainsbury’s.

The finale of each day will be ‘The Magic Of Disney In Concert’ starring Princesses and Pirates, an unforgettable, 70-minute Disney concert produced specially to mark the Jubilee celebrations, featuring beloved Disney songs and characters.

The Jubilee Family Festival will be a once in a lifetime experience for the whole family to enjoy.  Taking place in Hyde Park over two full days, visitors to the festival will be able to view the BBC live feed, on giant screens, of all of the Diamond Jubilee events on 2 June and 3 June, as well as being treated to some of the nation’s best live music and entertainment, including favourite kids television characters, celebrity performers and dancers, equestrian events and death-defying motorcycle displays, Commonwealth-inspired acts from around the globe and, of course, great food and drink from Sainsbury’s. Sainsbury’s has also teamed up with some of Britain’s best-loved brands who will be an integral part of the family fun and entertainment.

Inspired by the great British tradition of village fetes and street parties, The Festival will be themed around 60 years of great British heritage and will include influences from across the Commonwealth.

NOW TELL ME THIS DOESN’T SOUND GREAT!

I don’t know about you guys but the prospect of getting to dancing with the children to a Disney concert sounds super (though it sounds as if a very large crowd will be attending, so, Little man may rather stay with his dad, we will have to wait and see)!

Here’s a break down of the entertainment zones for this 2 day’s partying in Hyde Park!

Entertainment Zones:

o       Main Stage ‘The Magic Of Disney In Concert’ starring Princesses and Pirates, The BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing hosted by Craig Revel Horwood and starring Chelsea Healey, War Horse plus performances from YouthMusic Voices, Ramin, Laura Wright and much more to be confirmed.
o       The Kids Zone featuring a series of live and interactive stage and shows from some of the UK’s most well-loved children’s characters including Thomas & Friends, Fireman Sam, Bob The Builder, Angelina Ballerina and brand new kids favourite Mike the Knight.
o       Disney Zone featuring themed activities, the life-size Lightning McQueen, Mater and Finn McMissile from the Disney/Pixar blockbuster Cars 2, and much more.
o       Parade Ground featuring a variety of British pomp and ceremony including The British Imperial Military Band, The White Helmets Display team (Royal Signals), RAF Police Dog Display team, The Royal Gloucestershire Hussars Skill-At-Arms Display Team, The Drum Horse of The Queen’s Royal Hussars and The Black Knights Parachute Display Team Royal Artillery.
o       CommonwealthStage Throughout the weekend the best cultural entertainment from around the Commonwealth will entertain: Jaipur Maharaja Brass band, The Mahotella Queens, London African Gospel Choir, Harambe Female Drummers and New Zealand Maori Kapa Haka Performers.

Roaming the Festival will be English Gentleman on stilts, Singing Tea Ladies, Pearly Kings and Queens, Marching Bands and Face Painters.

Great British food will be plentiful, serving up pies, roasts, pastries, fish and chips, cream teas, jellied eels and the traditional British breakfast.

Over 35 of Britain’s favourite brands will be providing additional fun and entertainment with competitions, games and displays.  Many great British brands will have stalls at the Festival, both selling and exhibiting their products and produce.

More artists and entertainment will be announced in the coming weeks www.sainsburys.co.uk/jubilee

Ticket Information & Availability:

Tickets are available now from Ticketmaster or Seetickets:

 Online: www.ticketmaster.co.uk
From the UK: 0844 847 1661  From outside the UK: +44 161 385 3211
Online: www.seetickets.com
From the UK: 0844 858 6760 From outside the UK: +44 1142 249 784

No booking fee applies.

Ticket Prices:

Tickets: £20
Under16’s: £12.50
Family Ticket (2 Adults and 2 Children): £52
Children under 3: Free

Ticket Ballot:

From 28 March, millions of Sainsbury’s customers will be able to enter a daily ballot for free family tickets.  Customers who spend £60 in store will receive a coupon at the till with a code to enter into the Sainsbury’s website.  Within 24 hours families will be notified if they have won a family ticket.

So, you lovely lot, let me know what you all think! For those with alternative plans, I’d love to know what your up to?

Christmas Shopping onboard a P&O ferry

7 Dec

18

Days till Christmas

Have you ever considered doing your Christmas Shopping on board a ferry? Well, I hadn’t, that was in-till I received an invitation to do just that!

 It’s not often you get an invite to come shopping on the P&O ferry is it? So myself and fellow mummy blogging friend ‘Romanianmum’ headed to Dover very early Sunday morning to catch a ferry to Calais. 

 The morning started off a very eventful one, as I raced to Victoria station to meet Romanianmum and catch the National express coach to Dover. I did make it, but only by the skin of my teeth and was most grateful for the sit down once on board. 

 After a 2 hour drive up the motorway we arrived in Dover and headed straight for the check in. We arrived rather early and found the service provided by the check-in team to be exceptional! They even offered to put us on the earlier ferry as we had arrived so early. We very politely declined, preferring to catch up over a coffee and a naughty ciggy instead. 

 When it was time to finally board, being foot-passengers we were taken by shuttle bus to the ferry via the normal passport and secretary procedures. The Ferry was huge and I have to admit to having a few butterflies given I’d never stepped foot on one before. 

 Once on board I was impressed at the sheer size of the ship, it was massive and could easily carry 1000 men or more. There was a gaming zone, loads of places to eat and drink from restaurants to smaller Costa Coffees. The ship was also really festive and you couldn’t miss there lovely Christmas tree. 

 I also noted that the ship had its own Bureau de change offering 24/7 foreign exchange onboard, meaning you don’t have to worry about currency exchange prior to boarding.

  P&O had so kindly upgraded us to club lounge which I guess made this a whole different travelling experience all together. Impressive really doesn’t seem to do it justice. The lounge is located at the front of the ship on the upper decks and you are surrounded by glass windows giving you a beautiful view out to sea. We were offered a host of treats from Champaign to some beautiful lunch time delights.  

  We also discovered that we could actually smoke on the upper deck (outside) which will delight all you smokers, I’m sure. However I actually only went for a smoke just twice as I was there for one thing and one thing only TO SHOP! 

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 I’d be lying if I didn’t mention that I was a tad sea sick and sadly so was romanianmum, so I’d strongly recommend if you are the type of person to suffer motion sickness then I’d  take something first as to not let it ruin your experience of shopping at sea. 

 Nonetheless, despite the fact we were a tad green, we had a pretty awesome time, we were child free (always a bonus) and ready for some serious shopping.

 The onboard shop was huge and stocked everything from all your finest perfumes to toys for the Children. There was large range of designer handbags and purses, some pretty awesome makeup and lots of lovely chocolate and alcoholic treats to be had. Of course you could also buy cigarette’s at a good reduced price. I loved that the P&O are now stocking products from the high-street chain Accessorize and so did Romanianmum who couldn’t resist the beautiful hat and mittens for her beautiful daughter.  

 There was up to 30 % of beers, wines and spirits and you could save as much as 40% on UK prices for fragrances, skin-care and cosmetics. The toys were also a bit cheaper than most UK retailers and when we travelled they had an awesome 3 for 2 deal running meaning it was even cheaper. I got some fantastic bargains and spent just £99 0n…

Nerf N-Strike

Cuddly George Pig

MR potato head

2x littlest pet shop Blythe’s

Style me up set

Disney Fairies

SEKONDA Watch

 We had decided to do a round trip meaning we would not depart the ship once at Calais which seemed logical considering we were foot passengers. This is the perfect idea for those who just want to come onboard and take advantage of the shopping facilities. P&O currently run some spectacular deals allowing you take this option which are really worth looking into. 

 We headed back down to the shop during the time the ship was docked at Calais and even-though we had plenty of time to shop while the ship was docked we somehow found ourselves still shopping on the way back to Dover and the shop was noticeably more busy. With this I would highly recommend that those doing such journey shop on the outbound journey as this was far less busy, with smaller queues. (We just couldn’t pull ourselves away from the fabulous club lounge).

 We really did have a great child free day aboard the P&O, despite being a little sea sick, the shopping and club lounge really made up for it!

 I have to admit that myself and romanianmum were a tad childish… Just check out the images below. 

 But to hell with it! We were there to enjoy ourselves and that’s exactly what we did. 

 If you fancy getting some last-minute shopping onboard the P&O then why not check out some of their awesome deals

 Oh… and before I forget P&O are running an almighty Christmas Competition over on their Facebook page, giving you the chance to win loads of awesome prizes. All you have to do is fill a virtual stocking with goodies from their online shop and then one winner will be picked at random to win the lot! Yes, its P&O’s way of wishing you all a very merry Christmas! Just Click HERE to enter 

Winner of the LEGO Discovery Family ticket is

13 Nov
The logo for Lego, and the Lego group.

Image via Wikipedia

Hi everyone, we now have the winner of our LEGO Discovery Centre Competition.
Again I wasn’t able to use my usual “Random Picker” so had to use Random.org to generate the list and then a free number picker was used to draw the winner.

So, without further delay the winner of who takes a family ticket (2 adults and 2 children) for the LEGO Discovery Centre in Manchester, is…

NUMBER 15 (INSIDE THE WENDY HOUSE)

Congratulations

Please send your address to the email in the blogs sidebar or alternatively  please DM me on twitter @clairelouise82 and I will organise for your prize to be sent directly from the PR.

Below is a copy of the list and draw.

There were 31 items in your list. Here they are in random order:

  1. Inside the Wendy house
  2. Lou Strachan
  3. Kate Screamy
  4. Inside the Wendy house
  5. Jess
  6. Charlotte (@mummyfever)
  7. Amanda Neal
  8. Margaret Farmer
  9. Lou Strachan
  10. Claire T
  11. Claire T
  12. Lou Strachan
  13. Rebecca Coyne
  14. Charlotte (@mummyfever)
  15. Inside the Wendy house
  16. Jess
  17. Kate Screamy
  18. Lou Strachan
  19. Mymummyspennies
  20. Claire T
  21. Kate Screamy
  22. Claire T
  23. Margaret Farmer
  24. Ali Taylor
  25. Mymummyspennies
  26. Jess
  27. Claire T
  28. Rebecca Coyne
  29. Jess
  30. Kate Screamy
  31. Mymummyspennies

Timestamp: 2011-11-13 22:50:52 UTC

15 

Random numbers generated Nov 13 2011 at 22:54:17 by http://www.psychicscience.org  

We’re planning a break away

9 Nov
A poster announcing Storm and The Hurricanes a...

Image via Wikipedia

I recently got invited to the Tots100 Christmas party for bloggers on the 10 th December which will be held at Butlins Bognor Regis during the Christmas Fantasy weekend and I can’t wait to see some of my fellow blogging friends again.

As we have been offered discounted hotel accommodation I’ve decided to make a weekend of it and the children will be accompanying me to Butlins, much to their delight.

It will be an extra special weekend as my youngest Harley will be 2 years old on the 11 th of December so he will be spending his Birthday at Butlins amongst some of his favourite people, Bob the builder being one of them (his one time true hero… His Bob bonkers).

 

 We will be doing lots of planning prior to the weekend because of course the Little man himself will be joining us. His quite excited about staying in a hotel, bless him but we will still need to ensure his fully prepared for the event of leaving home for the weekend.

I feel confident that all three children will have a great time. We have taken Little man and his sister to Butlins before, of course this was before Harley came along. He loved all the structured activities and he adored all the exciting shows over at the centre stage. Nonetheless I will still do everything to ensure all goes smoothly and this includes the choice of travel to the holiday site.

I find this is where issues arise. Little man is a massive fan of transport and his adamant that we take a coach, where I’d rather we jumped on the train, a coach will take double the time and it could spark some boredom within him and the last thing we need is a couple of rowing siblings, and that’s what tends to happen when Little man and his sister become bored.

Another thing I will need to consider carefully is the sleeping arrangements. Little man may not do well sleeping in a strange room, we have only just got him sleeping in his own room, which is a whole other post. Plus the prospect of him sharing with his sister may be a little too much to expect.

We are quite lucky some children with Asperger’s cannot cope one bit when it comes to day trips or weekends away, Little man can get a little anxious at what to expect but tends to adjust well, especially when in the company of family

 There is one thing I can promise the Little man wont be doing while at Butlins… Visiting Santa! Hell no, Little man has the tendency to ask the man with the white beard

how much he gets paid for humouring small children!

He doesn’t believe in Santa one Little bit!

 December looks set to be an awesome month for the children, what with Harley’s 2nd Birthday, a trip to Butlins and Christmas there will be lots of excitement in my house that’s for such.

Win family tickets to LEGOLAND Discovery Centre

25 Oct


Have I got a treat for you guys.

A Halloween special 

The guys at LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Manchester have asked me to run an exciting competition here on the blog.

 I have a family ticket (consisting of up to 2 adults and 2 children) to the awesome LEGOLAND Discovery Centre, to give away to one of our very lucky readers.

 It’s all happening this half-term at the Discovery centre. Little ones can have fun at the Duplo village and Little girls can go wild at the Princess palace. For those wanting a real hands on experience why not take part in the build and test activities. 

 There is so much to discover from the LEGO STUDIOS, MINILANE and LEGO UNIVERSE, to the awesome LEGO CONSTRUCTION site.

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any better, the LEGOLAND Discovery centre are hosting a number of exciting events and activities this half-term especially for Halloween. 

Why not head down there for some spook-tacler fun.The kids can join the monster mash (A LEGO monster building challenge taking place daily)

 They can have great fun building their own LEGO Frankenstein in the Model Builder’s Workshop, searching for the skeletons and ghouls in MINILAND or brave the gloomy Factory Tour if they dare!  

Here’s some need to know info..

If you currently buy an unlimited pass LEGOLAND Discovery Centre will give you a FREE £10 LEGO set Plus a FREE Ticket to LEGOLAND Windsor

All for just £27.00

 HOW’S THAT FOR AN OFFER!

This prize is so smoking hot that I want it for myself!

Yes, I haven’t told the LEGO mad Little man about the LEGO Discovery Centre because we are in London and he will be dragging me up to Manchester in a flash!

 So… DO you wanna win this spectacular price?

 Then here’s how!

 Compulsory action

 Subscribe to this blog via email, then leave me a comment telling me why you want to win.

 EXTRA ENTRIES 

 Tweet: “I want to win with LEGO Discovery tickets with @clairelouise82 & @LDCManchester” (ADDING THE URL TO THIS POST)

Comment to let me know you did it.

 Share this post on Facebook by clicking the fb share button in this post

 Comment to let me know you did it!

 For your last chance

 Digg or Stumble this post by using the share buttons in the post.

 Leave an additional comment to let me know you did it!

 ALL COMMENTS SHOULD CONTAIN A CONTACT EMAIL OR TWEET ADDRESS TO BE VAILD. 

Competition will close on the 10 November 2011 Midnight. Winner will be drawn at random and notified by email or twitter. The Winner will have 48 hours to confirm, after this time another winner will be drawn.

COMPETITION IS OPEN TO UK ONLY.  

Disclaimer: I haven’t been paid for this post, nor have I received any type of product in exchange. I am running the competition as we are big LEGO fans (especially Little man aka A boy with aspergers). We appreciate the support we get from our readers and would like to give something back. This is an amazing prize so please feel free to enter, Good Luck!

Bopping at the Lollibop

11 Aug

Friday the 5th August was certainly a day to remember for both myself and that of my youngest, 20 month old, ‘Harley’ aka little, ‘H’ 

I had been very fortunate to obtain a, “Press pass ” entitling a family of four free  VIP access into the Lollibop (the three-day festival designed especially for tiny-weeny partygoers) It was noted that the festival was best suited to children aged ten and under, Little man is ten, eleven in October, looking at the programme, I didn’t think it would appeal to him… I was right! It didn’t! Little man decided to spend the day with dad, over indulging in his, “Special interest… Buses” My eight year old daughter had already made plans to go on a trip to the seaside with her friend (I know, better social life than me)! So, It was just me and my very cheeky toddler, ‘H’. Knowing I had access for up to 4 people, I decided to invite my younger sister, ‘Rachel’ and her daughter, “Amy” a 18 month old crazed, “Waybuloo fan” 

Finally the day had arrived, I don’t know who was more excited, Me or the children? Yet the morning wasn’t one of my best! Everything that could possibly go wrong… did! Harley thought it was a great time to show of his talent, “Having a tantrum” and as for me, I was putting washing powder in the microwave and milk in the washing machine. I hadn’t hardly slept a wink the night before and this had nothing to do with Little man! I had struggled with the hellish heat and found it impossible to get comfortable. This resulted in me walking around like a zombie the best part of the morning. Finally having left the house I met up with my little sister and niece and we headed to the train station. Once there I discovered I had forgotten Harley’s rains resulting in a crazy dash around Oxford Street in a bid to purchase my third pair of rains this year (forgetful being my second middle name, Late my first). We finally reached Regents park, the location for the Lollibop. Harley had cried the whole way there. I was at my wit’s end, praying the day would be worth the stress of that horrid morning.

It wasn’t particularly hard to locate the venue once of the tube at Regents Park. It was pretty well sign-posted and only a two-minute walk just across the road. However, we should have entered via the press tent, which I just couldn’t locate. We were thankfully allowed through the main gate where we were directed to the press area to obtain wristbands and passes. My first impressions were good ones! Just through the main gate to the right you would find, “Lollibop’s transport for kids” (Smart trike with parent handle) were available to borrow for the deterioration of your day, I’m unsure if there was charge for the service, but I don’t think so. The area looked amazing, with lots going on. The queues didn’t look that long and the smiles displayed on the face of almost every child said it all! 

On the way to the press tent, we bumped into some really funky characters, Our first of the day. Harley looked at this two funky little oldies with nothing but confusion, Me I thought they were pretty cool. Harley was here to see someone with a little more popularity, “Bob the Builder” would be his highlight of the day, what with him being his biggest fan. Having made it to the press tent, I met the very lovely Jen and her team. After a warm friendly welcome, a cold drink and a nappy change, we were off. 

Leaving the pushchairs safely in the VIP tent, we put this pair of over excited toddlers on their rains (yes, new rains £12 Oxford St) and off we went. 

Bob the Builder was due to meet and greet in the 3 Ft and under area of the festival, in around 20 minutes time. So, with this in mind we decided to stay close by, opting to set the kids free in the soft play area. What is it with kids and balls? Seriously Little H is ball pit crazy. He loved diving in and out of the balls  and Amy seemed to enjoy it too… Well, that was in-till a bigger boy dived in, knocking H flying over the side of the pit. Thankful it’s a great padded area and my little boy was brave, he wiped his little tears, got up and throw himself back in. The soft play area was nice enough… However a little constructive criticism, “Big kids should not have been allowed in the soft play area or that of the 3 Ft area all together” (with the exception of meet and greets , yes bigger kids like Bob too). It was clearly designed for the smallest of little people and having ten-year old + boys jumping all over the place ruined a great play session for what looked like many. Lastly it wasn’t fenced in, meaning your child would escape every ten minutes and you would need to set chase. Apart from these two things, It was lots of fun.

Harley seemed happy in the soft play area and I wondered just how I would persuade him to leave. Then he saw something! “Bob Builder, Bob Builder” Harley shouted frantically. Yes, there was Bob making his way to his meet & greet. I grabbed Harley making a mad dash for the gate, “I didn’t fancy a long wait as Harley just wouldn’t have understood” Luckily we only had one or two people in front. 

This to me was the highlight of the day! It made the whole stress of that morning extremely worth it, I even had a tear in my eye as I watched my little boy walk up to Bob, put his little hands out and say, “Bob Builder, hello” In a shocked little voice. I whispered to the big guy,”I warn you, this is Harley and his your number 1 fan and from now on, your biggest stalker” It was at that moment I thought to myself, “Jesus, How am I going to get him out of here” We tried to get Harley to turn to face the camera so I could catcher the beautiful moment. Amy obliged without problem, yet H was unable to take his eye’s of the big guy, he was totally star struck. Take a look for yourself!

As suspected H didn’t fancy leaving his mate Bob the Builder! I turn around to see just how long the queue had now become…  there was only one thing left for me to do, The good old, “Grab & run” As he so angrily kicked his little legs while delivering a string of  head-butts to my chest, he shouted, “No, no, More..More… Bob builder, Fix it” I turned to see Bob bobbing up and down obviously indulging in a little giggle… “Harley really was acting the crazed little fan” 

I carried Harley straight into the WOW tent located bang next door. It was filled to the very rim with fantastic WOW toys. They had Wow play tables with at-least three toys on each. The tent was busy and from every corner you could hear the sound of mothers ordering their children to share. Myself and H are a massive fan of WOW toys and Harley has been lucky enough to review a few this month. These are toys that will be added to the Birthday and Christmas list in our house for sure. 

This visit to the WOW tent had also given me the chance to meet Lucy who had put together Little Hs reviews… It was nice to personally thank her for so kindly doing so.  Just as I contemplated moving one I realised that the tent had some empty seating, so it was nice to take a break and chill for five minutes while H and Amy explored all the wonderful toys that surrounded them. The WOW team had the right idea when it came to keeping the kids happy. With the parents all set to move on only to be faced with refusing toddlers, (this or they wanted to take the toys with them) the WOW team came to the rescue  with they’re cleverly prepared surprise! Each child was given a cute little WOW toy as a gift on their exist. This Just proves that these guys really do know children when it comes to toys as most smiled and bopped away happily. 

It was such a hot day on Friday. We sat on the grass where I topped up the children’s sun cream while my sister grabbed them an ice lolly to help them cool down. These were steep at £2 each, but it came as no surprise, it wasn’t any more than other festivals and child friendly events we have attended so no shocks there!

Next we took a trip to the Alfresco Bandstand, which was a nice area, smaller than the main stage but not as busy! The Waybuloo’s were busy teaching the children their moves. Harley waved and clapped and it was Amy’s turn to be star struck. Sitting on her mummy’s shoulders her face displayed one almighty smile. It was these little moments that made Lollibop a festival that stood out from the rest. Sadly Amy didn’t get to give the Waybuloos a hug as they were entertaining up on the stage which was fenced off for health and safety reasons. 

There was plenty to do and see, everywhere you turned something magical was taking place. It was hard to follow the scheduled acts and appearances that we wanted to see due to the sheer wonderful distractions we faced, Clowns, music, beautiful stalls and amazing activities. 

The Children meet Peppa and George Pig (from a parents view these guys weren’t pretty) There was no photo opportunities as again they are in an enclosed area. However, despite this, the children were able to touch them and say hello face to face. I had to laugh when George pig put his face near Harley’s leaving him shouting, “Woo, woo pig, away, away” as he pushed his snout in a bid to get him out the way. Yes, these guys are pigs remember 🙂  they didn’t look as cute as they do on the TV but H soon got used to them, again needing to be carried away (My chest was bruised by now)! 

We then visited my favourite area, “The Enchanted Forest” It truly lived up to its name, with stalls selling everything from fairy wings to fairy dust, there was toadstool seating areas and a range of magical activities, it was a lovely area within the festival. This was the place to find great storytellers and awesome bubble blowers. It was beautiful watching the children happily run around chasing bubbles. 

We then Checked out some of the yummy food on display! The Children had not long eaten when we arrived at the park at just gone 1 pm, a few hours after it had opened at 11 am. This resulted in the children showing Little if not any interest in food. However, as for Me, I was staving, but at that point in time I didn’t fancy the queue, I was just to hot (Food queues were not outrageously long but long enough to put me off )!  With this we left it till a little later in the day when at some stages they could be found empty.

There was much more exciting staff needed doing! We danced to the, “Zingzillas” and the fabulous sounds of “Rastamouse and da easy crew” who were performing on the main stage. The Cbeebies Presenter Sid was hosting the show and did a brilliant job too. The area did get a little busy as expected, However, it was nice to see Alex, (another Cbeebies presenter) stood next to me with his family. Of course he could have got himself right up the front… What with it being his turn to host the same show at this very same festival the next day it wouldn’t have been hard. Yet to see him with his child on his shoulders happily dancing to the sounds of the easy crew in the same way I was, did put a smile on my face.

I also noticed something very interesting about the main stage, (In a good way) It had a large viewing platform! Ok, What did I care, Little man wasn’t at the festival right! Just to see that they were catering for those with disabilities was a wonderful sight! Some of those who accessed the platform wouldn’t have stood a chance of seeing anything down below as there were those in wheelchairs and other children like Little Man who wouldn’t have coped well with the crowding that was taking place on the ground. Honestly If my Little man was younger and interested in the Lollibop I would have been able to take him that day with little problems. The organiser had noticeably tried to make the event a good one that was fun and accessible for all.

Having had a good boogie with my smiling toddler, sister and niece, we grabbed some food (fish and chips… Very yummy but a tad expensive, though it was expected). This was followed by beautiful fresh strawberries and cream, one word, ‘WOW’ very lush. As we ate we watched some funky makeovers taking place! These were done on random people out the crowds & pulled up on stage. The makeover itself was pretty funky business, involving coloured hairspray, “Lots of it” funky makeup, sick on gems and other funkiness … Seriously this was entertaining stuff , I loved it! 

Soon after we took a walk back to the VIP tent where we decided on taking the children back out to the main festival area in their pushchairs, both looked a tad hots and eye rubbing was a sign little H was getting tired. All the same I was surprised when they both happily complied with no fuss made at all (Not normally Harley’s style).

The Press/VIPs tent was much cooler with seating areas in and out. I was quite surprised to see a number of Celebes within the area( I dunno why I was, after all those with children are their to give their kids a fantastic day just as I was! I guess, I just didn’t think about)! Well,  all were very down to earth, enjoying the sunshine with their children just like anyone else meaning no one felt out of place (re-phase… I didn’t feel out of place), Celebes included, ‘Jeff Blazer’ and his children & ‘Angela griffins’ to name a few. Lucky, I don’t get star stuck, that is… unless your an overly good looking Hollywood film star (I say no names) Well after a short rest,  a lovely cold drink and quick game of spot the celeb’ we set back off exploring.  

We checked out some of the many stalls where I was shocked but presently surprised to meet Andrea (The very lovely business mum… founder of the “Mommy I’m here child locator”) I’m currently running a giveaway on this very blog, where I’m giving away one of her lovely teddy bear child locators (ends 25th August) I was also very lucky to conduct a review on the wonderful child locator, which funnily Harley had tied to his shoe lace at this very festival, (The fault of losing him in at the lollibop, any festival in-fact… makes me feel a little light headed.) Meeting Andrea allowed me to put a face to the name and personally thank her for the review opportunities and her wonderful device I now can’t live without! Andrea is a very inspiring business woman  and extremely nice lady, was so glad we met!

We hadn’t been out the vip area that long when I suddenly noticed the two little were knocked out sleeping in their pushchairs. With this, me and my sister indulged ourselves in a little harmless childish behaviour I even considered getting my face painted (I didn’t… much to my sisters delight) 

We also visited the lovely stall of the online shop,”festivals Kidz” where I got to meet the lovely founder, ‘Romany’ who was making beautiful head dressings with dried flowers for the little fairies of Lollibop. The stall was amazing selling items like, ear defenders in a cool range of neon colours (great for those on the autism spectrum and well as festival goers). There were also beautiful, yet funky kites on display and some really awesome “Tees” all half price. The stall was filled with lots of festival treasure from pretty fairy customs and girlie raincoats, to head dresses and baby items. I loved the many circus bits and pieces which again are great for those on the autism spectrum & those with Sensory processing disorder (SPD) These products would be ideal in helping the development of motor skills or could be used for their sensory benefits. A,” must visit” both on and off line.

Sadly we didn’t get to visit the actual circus, nor did we do any off the baby mini mission activities or indulge in “Baby loves disco” which has the likelihood of becoming a firm  favourite off mine! Yes, serious, I love to dance and it seems Harley does too! Baby loves disco could quite well be a match made in heaven!  Really looking forward to hearing more about the company at the…  “Business mum’s unite” in October this year. Our reason’s for not being able to participate in the above planed activities is down to a couple of now snoring toddlers ! With this we Instead walked off in the hunt for a couple of helium balloons (Bob the builder for little H and Waybuloo for Amy) these were  very reasonable priced. reasonably priced at £5 for a small and £6 for large (serious I’ve seen these things sold at a tenner ago, so was nicely surprised)

As the time quickly passed, regardless of our enjoyment, We left a little earlier at 5.45 pm as opposed to 7 pm, If the children were a tad older we would have stayed till the very end! This doesn’t mean we were bored or there wasn’t enough activities for the toddlers as their seriously was!This wasn’t to do with the children’s entertainment needs, I’m not stating their wasn’t enough on offer for them, quite the  opposite in fact… The children were totally knocked out with all the excitement of the days events, and didn’t even get to try everything, there was  just so much to do! that they were still happily sleeping when we headed off home. 

A quick Little summing-up on the festival designed for little people

I was lucky to have free Vip tickets so for the festival. Hence reasons why I haven’t really commented on such issues. However I did hear parents moaning about cost stating their disgust at the price for a little one to get in! In the defensive of Lollibop, It was advised that tickets should be brought on line avoiding the gate fee & a situation where you’re paying a lot more… Tickets on the day equal pricey tickets and we all knew it! It know it’s easy for me to state, but I truly felt that given their was such a great line up and so much to do, You got your moneys worth… After all its no more than other places this time of year, such as, “Lego land” and in my view Lollibop is just as good, especially for my little Bob fan!  When I arrived at one queues were very small at the gate and also not huge in the park itself. I did hear that the queues were very long on the Saturday & Sunday, I can only comment by stating, “Yay I got the right day” (This really wasn’t the case Friday) How about Maybe a book and return service  for meet and greets, workshops and face painting for next year? s that something that could be organised?

The location was perfect (I’m a London girl and love Regents park & it famous, ‘London Zoo’) maybe a Lollibop tour  could be worked upon for all those missing out on such a great event. This would put the smiles on lots of little faces,  which is so worth the effort!. The event was big but everything was nicely compact and easy to locate. I wasn’t to keen on the Haystack seating! I ran over thinking we were gonna find a mini farmyard for little H & Amy to explore. 

The festival was awesome, very child centred, as stated on the tin! Yet it provided an amazing day for all the family, and had lots happening. It still managed to keep that rather hippy feel about it that I love..  (If that’s the right word for it). This atmosphere was helped by the sights of Little girls in tutus, and fairy wings with pretty flowers in their hair running around throwing handfuls of fairy dust while playing with glittery hola=hoops! This made me wish that my daughter was there with me, “I know she would have loved it” 

So the big question: Would we come back next year and do it all again? Gosh, Yes! Lollibop is magical, a festival that will continue to develop it’s magic into total awesomeness  with every passing year. It’s a festival that’s not to be missed!

Chessington the aspie way

31 Aug

The school summer holidays are almost over! to end things on a high we took the children to Chessington world of adventures curtesy of Merlins (Who we are most greatful to)
The day brought a mixed package of emotions but on the whole it was a great day. Little man did receive a ride access pass to avoid queueing, equally meaning this should aid the avoidance of meltdowns. However through this helped in a huge way, we did not avoid meltdowns completely in fact we did encounter a few.

First Meltdown: Before leaving.
Second Meltdown: Within 30 minutes of arriving at the park.
Third Meltdown: During the Journey home.

Although the above meltdowns are never easy and will be tough on all concerned they were bearable and easier to tackle compeared to some encountered in the past. These are what I refer to as Grade 2 meltdowns. it’s the grade ones that I really can’t bear!

Well from our own experiences, I would like to share some top tips. Looking back at the time leading up to our trip, the journey, and overall day, I think these tips could be extremely beneficial to any family like ours planning a day at Chessington world of adventures.

THE LEAD UP TO YOUR DAY OUT.

a) Adjust schedules and timetables as needed.

b) Prepare your child for the trip well in advance. We began this process weeks before. This enables the child time to adjust to the idea and prepare themselves mentally. (sadly they may also go on and on and on)

c) Avoid postponement where possible.
we had to postpone hence reason for meltdown number 1:( This is a disappointment for any child! For those on the spectrum it’s a disaster. You as the parent will pay the price.

d) Be sure to have the right documents for a ride access pass. New regulations state Photo ID is needed and proof of disability that relates to a condition that makes it hard for the child to cope with the concept of having to wait/queue.
We used a osyter 5-10 card and little mans writen diagnosis. More information can be found on the website.

e) Look online for any offers that can be used in the park. Some sites offer vouchers that enable you to receive 20% or more off food and gifts brought in certain food halls and gift shops within the park.
Note! Food can be expensive and you may want to bring your own.

f) prepare child for queues. Yes you can obtain a ride access pass but you will still need to queue for use of toilets, food outlets, gift shops e.g. My little man often pushed his way to the front while holding his arm in the air displaying his bright yellow wristband. He was shouting: “Clear the way, I have a wristband and don’t have to queue” Yes not ideal and a tad embarrassing.

g) Download a map of the park. if u have an iPhone or blackberry download as a PDF file. Maps can be picked up on the day but by doing it this way your child can familiarise themself with the park and it’s contents (Worked for us)

h) Check travel updates. Driving? check traffic update before leaving. If like us you use public transport be sure to check departure times of trains and buses. Long waits at busy stations are never easy.

JOURNEY TO THE PARK

a) Don’t even think about exploring the stations M&S or WH. Smiths. This didn’t go down well with little man.

b) If your child is like mine a transport enthusiast then be prepared. Once on the train little man beeped all the way there, pressed the button opening the train doors at each and every station, repeated all the names of the stations we stopped at, and took notes on the route for use later (AT HOME, AT 3AM)

ONCE AT CHESSINGTON

a) We had curtesy tickets meaning no long queue at the ticket sales at the gate. I suggest you order your tickets online. Pre-purchased tickets can be sent to you in advance meaning you two can avoid the massive ticket sales queue. If this isn’t possible be sure to arrive early.

b) Once inside head for Market square where you will find the admissions & information office. This is where you obtain your childs ride access pass (wristband) You are required to show your documentation before the child is fitted with the wristband. I found the staff most helpful and very understanding. (Ride access enable your child and between 2 to 4 carers to enter a ride via the rides exit area. This means the child avoids queueing. This is only for adults and children who don’t fully understand the concept of queueing or just can’t cope having to do so.)

c) While at the admission centre do get your child/children measured. Some of the big rides require you to be aleast 1.4 meters tall. We didn’t think to do this when we arrived. Little man spotted a ride that required him to be 1.4 meters. He just reached the top of the measuring stick but only because his fluffy hair encounted for aleast 3 inches. Me and the member of staff who was measuring him could not help but laugh when I pointed out just how lucky it was his father had not given him a hair cut. After much debate on Little mans part that consisted with a few worries “Does this ride ever break or get stuck?” followed by “what’s the odds out of a 100 of the ride becoming stuck while I’m on it?” We were allowed down to the exit to await instructions to board. Just as we went to jump on another member of staff asked to remeasure the little dude! With that we were pointed in the direction of the Admissions centre for a prober measure up. We were then told to come back with a blue wristband to show he met the requirements of the ride. He had the largest meltdown of the day. He was shouting “I have a F***ing yellow wristband!!! I don’t want a blue one”
He then sat with his head in his hands on the dirty floor. I stood asking if everyone was enjoying the show and his father who came with with us was running for the gate.

d) This ride should come with a Warning! It should state the BUBBLE RIDE may cause sensory overload!
I assumed little man would love this ride. After all I did as a child. I didn’t consider the sensory impact it may have on a child with ASD.
Note: This ride would be ideal for sensory seekers. The things a person on the spectrum may find unbearable.
. WATER: Its a slow moving ride that is water based.
. SMELL: The changing smells of bubble gum, soap, to fruity pop amoung others were very over powering.
. NOISE: The loud music that changed suddenly each time the ride entered a different area was messing with my head, so it must of done a great deal more to little mans!
LIGHTS: The ride features strobe lighting. A warning sign is displayed to show the risk for those with conditions such as epilepsy or pregnancy.
This ride frighten the life out of my little man. We purchased the ride photo that showed little man covering his head with his arms with the fear of god in his face. Another child with ASD enjoyed this ride and was now having their second turn. I had got speaking with his mother in the queue for photos who was telling me how much her son loved it. So this shows it can go either way. Sadly for us it was the wrong way. (at least Little sis had fun)

e) Bring spare clothing or waterproof wear. As fun as those water rides can be! there is nothing worse then wet wringing children! (Note the park provides halogen heated booths, but my children would not go near them)

f) Make time to visit the Zoo and Sealife centre. We did not visit the sealife centre as little man was having problems with the small queue. The Gorilla house is fantastic and worth a visit.

g) Do not wait for all the rides to finished before heading to the gift shop (open for extra 30min after park’s closing time) We did this and were faced with huge queues and a very crowded gift shop:( Stick to spending amount and do not cave with the added pressure from childs threat of tantrums.
I ended up spending way to much:(
Note: The best gift shop that offers best value for money (pocket money gifts) was the main Chessington Gift shop located in Market Square.

h) Leave before park closng time! Why? unless you want to be faced with huge queues for the bus (station a ten minute walk, little man cried like crazy as we promised the bus) Or a packed out very noisy train, that is very overcrowded? Then take my advice! We sat on the train and were surrounded by teenagers screaming and laughing. No wonder this was the reason for little mans final meltdown.

Yes we run into a few problems but we managed to still have fun. Little man loves rollercoasters and there were some smaller one like the runaway train. A train that’s a rollercoaster! Of course he loved it!

So there you have it! Chessington the Aspie way. I hope you enjoy your day, and with the help of my tips you get the best out your trip to chessington.

A BULL IN A CHINA SHOP!

15 Aug

It’s Mid August and we are over half way through the summer holidays. I’m pleased to report, I still have my sanity, and things are going pretty well.

The fear of family trips has eased, which is good, given that we still have a few to come. Some nice days out we have had, and though they have never been problem free, they have been achievable. It’s somewhat easier when knowing what triggers a meltdown or another form of behaviour, then coming up with ways to manage and overcome them. Certain things have been avoided, and others tackled. I discovered that I myself was avoiding social situations in fear of not being able to control them. How was this fair on any of the children! Little mans sister and baby brother may live to resent him or me for them missing out. Little man also needs to be given the opportunity to make social mistakes and like most children, learn from them. It’s all well and good teaching him a string of social stories, but he needs to put them into practice. I’m not saying I don’t take them out or avoid outings of any kind, It’s certain times and places I’ve avoid, WITHOUT EVER KNOWING I WAS ACTUALLY DOING SO. I once took Little man to the park for lunch, this was in his school lunch hour, another period of time he was on home dinners. We sat on the grass to eat, but he had little interest in food, preferring to run around. He then went into the play area. This would prove to be a bad idea! Something went on involving Little man, another child, and a toy train. (We all know what Little man is like with anything transport) Little man had a complete meltdown, throwing the train, then the child across the play area. Little man was in his first year of full time school, We had moved to the area from Blackheath, and his school life was less then prefect. He had attachment issues and hated going. Mornings consisted of me trying to remove him from his bed, refusal to eat, not wanting to get dressed, and me having to chase him pin him and psychically dress him myself. Feeling I had seceded in my task, I would be ready to leave the door, only to discover he was butt naked again.  Well, we had no diagnosis back then, school got education welfare on my back for his lateness and lack of attendance, and now my son was having a full on meltdown in public. Though the park was busy, I had never felt so alone, and this feeling was completely pushed to the limit when the staff  went on to ban him from coming back. (This is a 0-5 supervised play area, within the park) The looks from the other parents! Needless to say, none of these local mothers have chosen to since speak with me. Lucky for me “I don’t give a dam.”

So was it since this day I’ve avoid play parks in fear of Little man being excluded? What I considered to be forgotten was very much still there. No mother wants their reception aged child labelled as a spoilt brat! So yes I would think it properly was.

A part from a recent school trip to the park, It’s been ages since we went. We go to the local parks, but they are much smaller, with fewer children. Now I found myself taking all three children to a large park, at a really busy time. The park is massive, extremely popular and host to many public events. Today their was face painters and bouncy castles. We saw birds of prey, and sat eating ice cream. Little man spotted a large play area, that was bursting with kids of all ages. The play area was very modern, far from your standard slide and swings, more recreational with rope swings, and space aged roundabouts, he ran straight for it, with his sister not far behind. Yep, you could easily see it was the summer holidays! The playground was filled with parents attempting to gain five minutes break, and hoping their child or children, would run out all their energy, resulting in them having early nights, leaving the parents free to chill. How comes, everywhere you go, you see these mothers! The types that easily form friendships with one another, resulting in large groups of mothers indulging in mothers meetings, based around parenting, soaps and bitching. I consider many of these “groupings” of mothers, to resemble those of teenage girl groups, that compete with one another over who has the best boyfriend, makeup, and hairstyle. Like these teenagers, these mothers feel no shame when sticking their nose in the air and shaking their heads, like the bloody Churchill dog! You see mothers like this stood around the school at home time! They are known to some as the “School gate mothers” No I’m not being a stereotype, I’m not saying all parents who stand at the school gate, chat, smoke and gossip! But many do, and that’s just how it is.

I sat my eight month old son into one of the swings. With me stood in front, Little man gently pushed his giggling baby brother. My daughter was well gone, she had taken herself off to the large sand Pitt and within a few minutes was playing along side another group off children. “Why don’t you go and play?” I asked little, why giving him a gentle push to encourage him. With this Little man was off, darting around the playground like a child running on super strength batteries. He was everywhere, kinda like a bull in a china shop. He didn’t hesitant, and attempted a number of times to involve himself in group play. Little man was jumping into conversations that did not involve him, then becoming upset by the children’s responses. Ok, of course I know Little man struggles socially, he has a social communication disorder, this isn’t new to me! I have watched Little man struggle with turning taking inappropriate language, controlling behaviour e.g. It’s just that I see this behaviour displayed when interacting with those we know, or friendships his already building. We do have problems with other children when out as Little man tends to tell it like it is. The only other time I saw little man really struggle to a great degree was a few years back. It was at a time in his school life were he wasn’t displaying challenging behaviour at school (More so at home) But he also didn’t seem to socialise with anyone (aloofness) I think he was just starting to want to interact and join in. When leaving a meeting in school I saw little man running around the playground from one group of children to another. I cried when I saw that these groups walked away choosing not to engage, others just run away. I assume because he was able to hold down a few friendships now, despite his more challenging behaviour, It would be the same, when faced with this type of social situation we were now in. I watched parents running grabbing their toddlers, moving them away from Little man. I understood, as I guess to a degree I would have done the same. He wasn’t horrible to these children he just had no regard for them when running into them as though they were not there. He often ran up the slide why children attempted to slide down, and had no concept of waiting. What was heartbreaking for me, was watching him attempt to communicate, this would always be with the older children. He jumped on the roundabout and shouted very inappropriately “Move it, that’s my seat” The child who was sat where Little man wanted to sit was in my opinion 14-15 years old (I later discovered he was in fact 11, just very tall.) Of course the boy was far from impressed and told Little man so. With this little man started shouting and telling everyone to shut up. I was shocked as I heard him saying you can’t do anything because my cousin who is 13 will come sort you out. The girls on the roundabout started laughing and telling him to go get his cousin. (Think they just wanted him to go away) I went and saved him, making sure all the children knew he wasn’t alone.

So here is the crazy bit! After all the above, Little man spots a tyre robe swing, and dashes over to it with no regard for his safety as the swing was full of children going in all directions. He then runs around trying his hardest to stop it. Finally it did stop, and with that little man jumped on squeezing his way between two other children. He then looks up and says to the boy swinging the swing “Push me then” He must have come across stupid as this child who was stood swinging the children, was the child who Little man had argued with ten minutes previous . What shocked me more was the fact this child chose not to continue arguing and did in fact carry on swinging the children, Little man included. With this I sat relieved  for five minutes and gave my baby and daughter a little attention.

A lot can occur in just two minutes! As I turned to check on Little man, I caught one of the girls from earlier push Little man hard in his chest. I ran over, baby under my arm to find Little man now screaming abuse and going absolutely berserk. “Your lucky you are a girl” followed by “My dad said I shouldn’t hit girls, but I really wanna hit you” was a sample of his language minus the swearing. Turns out the group of girls had got of the roundabout and fancied a go on the swing. They told the older boy that he should give it up as his had it ages. Little man got involved and the girls taunted him about his previous threat concerning his cousin. Little man then went on to make, what he considers to be a fair and valid point to one of the girls, “I don’t think it’s a good idea, you having ago on this swing, as your far to big and somewhat overweight” Umm not good I know! I was thankful for the older boy and his help to calm little man down. He had suggested going on the roundabout instead, and with that little man run off to select the best seat. With little man out of sight, I took my chances and explained that little man had problems with social communication, I said he was autistic. The girls did seem to look at his behaviour in a different way after that, I found them to be very grown up about the given situation, however this didn’t seem to be the case with everyone! As I turned to walk away, the eyes of every mother burned into me. I could hear the sneers and tuts. But my child was no longer a little reception age boy with no diagnosis, I was no longer a lonely mother. You see since discovering little mans Aspergers, I’ve discovered a whole new world. With the support of others and the love I hold for my son, I now hold my head high. I didn’t feel the need to explain his autism to every parent shaking their head, and those that wanted to judge me without knowing me, Well it was their problem! Non of these people mattered and still don’t. Yes, little man has normal naughty behaviour, typical of a nine year old, But he also has a communication problem. Can ignorance be cured? NO. Can autism be cure? NO. My point is as a parent to a child on the spectrum, I will always face such ignorance. I will be sneered at, laughed at, Pitied and gossiped about. Some days I have great tolerance towards these people, Other days I may not.

Next time you see a child in the park or anywhere else for that matter! Think before you judge, Who knows why the child is behaving in such a way? However I do know that the parent is likely to be facing enough stress in life, without such added pressure from strangers.

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