Dairy-free choc banana bites

Hello my lovelies,

Sometimes it’s difficult to get kids to eat their fruit and veggies.  Right now, Missy is loving veggies but doesn’t seem too interested in fruit.  I know, right!  Crazy!  For most kids, it’s the other way around.  Trust Missy to be different.

I had a couple of bananas that were starting to get black spots on the skin and knew Missy would pass them over because of this.  I figured  the only way I could get her to eat them was to smother them in something desirable. And this is what I came up with.

I must add that this is (besides the microwaving part) a very child friendly bit of food prep and the kids will love getting involved.

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These couldn’t be easier to make.   First, peel and chop up two bananas into chunks and skewer them.

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Next, melt some dairy free chocolate in the microwave.  We used Moo Free chocolate.  Melt only 30 seconds at a time and stir well between microwave time.  Chocolate burns very quickly so watch it carefully.

 

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Next, dip the banana into the melted chocolate using a spoon to help to coat the underside of the banana chunks.  Be careful  as the banana tends to want to slip off the skewer.

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Next sprinkle the chocolate covered banana with sprinkles of your choice (being careful to ensure that the sprinkles are dairy free) and set onto a plate to cool.

**After trying to eat these, we found that putting them on a plate to set was not the best idea!  They stick terribly!  Rather, place them on a tray covered in waxed paper to cool. Then they will come off easily. Not that Missy didn’t have tremendous fun prising the bananas of the plate 🙂 **

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Set in the fridge for a few hours before digging in!

Bright blessings,

Mrs R

x

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DIY all natural lip scrub recipe

Hello my lovelies,

It’s half term here in the UK and it’s raining. Of course it’s raining. It’s half term and I have a seven year old to entertain.  Of course, it’s bloody raining!

Anyhoo!

I found some cute little clear butterfly pots at The Works a couple of weeks ago and thought they would be perfect to make some lip balm with.  But it’s that time of year when my lips are always dry and rough from the change in the season.  I’ve seen lip scrubs in some high end stores and figured, it couldn’t be that difficult to make one.  So Missy and I gave it a go.

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The ingredients, are probably those that you already have in your pantry.  You will need:

1t coconut oil

1t honey – we used some lavender flower honey we got in Germany last year

2 1/2 of white sugar or brown if you prefer

1/4 t vanilla bean extract (optional)

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Measure all ingredients into a bowl and combine well.  Try not to eat it!  It smells and tastes fabulous!

Spoon carefully into the little pots and there you have it!

Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

Bright blessings,

Mrs R

x

A day in Wonderland at Chiddingstone Castle

Hello my lovelies,

Today we visited Chiddingstone Castle for their Alice in Wonderland themed day and had the most wonderful time!

We got all dressed up and walked in the castle grounds

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in the mist

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We met the Mad Hatter

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We did crafts with the White Rabbit

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We had a dance lesson a la MC Hammer, Michael Jackson and Gangnam Style in the great hall

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We even caught the Mad Hatter doing the Fadderwacken

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Sang with Alice

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and played croquet with The Queen of Hearts

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we even scooped the Best Dressed prize!

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We had a wonderful day and loved every minute of it

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We can’t wait to visit again.

Bright blessings,

Mrs R

x

Review: Lapland UK

Hello my lovelies,

For some years I’ve been hearing about this magical place in Whitmoor Forest, Berkshire where elves and Father Christmas invite children to help them prepare for Christmas.  I’d heard it was the most wondrous place where Christmas dreams come true so I was thrilled to get an early invitation to buy tickets.  Frequented by the likes of Sir Elton John, Idres Elba and other stars, there was no way I was letting this golden opportunity to see the inner workings of Father Christmas’ magical world slip through our fingers.

Missy (aged 7) received her personalized invitation in the post and it was left for her at our Harry Potter themed North Pole Breakfast in a pile of snow.  I knew she’d never be able to contain herself if we gave her the invitation days before so it was given to her on the morning that we went.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity (really only an hour’s drive) we arrived at Lapland UK and parked in the Owl parking lot.  All the lots are named after animals with clearly marked and fairy light lit paths to help you remember where you parked.

We were greeted with this gorgeous little cottage which belonged to Eeko the elf.  Already you get a sense of the kind of fantastic detail spread throughout Lapland.  Every detail from the sledges, carved stags and gently lit lanterns added to the magic.  Everywhere you looked there was some tiny bit of interest that made you feel as though you were really in Father Christmas’ home town.

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Of course, Missy had to have a photo outside a real elf’s house.  Little did she know we’d see lots of elf folk homes during our visit.

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The elves at reception greeted us with a traditional elf greeting and checked us in.

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Here I bought elf jingles the currency of Lapland which came in a red velour bag emblazoned with the word Lapland.

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Missy was also given an Elf passport and a complimentary pin of Wish the elf.  I loved that the massive books at reception hid a clever touch screen computer.  Once again, the details made something as dull as check in seem magical.

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After we checked in, we waited at a picnic table and took in the magic around us. On the opposite side to the reception desk was a cafe selling a selection of cafe type foods and coffees including gluten free and vegan offerings.  Prices were what you’d expect from an upmarket cafe.

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Our tour was due for 2 pm and two elves gave us a short introduction talk about what we could expect before leading us through the doorway into the the magic wood.  If I ever have a massive house one day, remind me that I want a wall of cases like this!SONY DSC

In the magic wood, we were led to seating around a magical tree.  The excitement was almost too much for some of the children who couldn’t quite wait to see what would happen next.

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We were greeted by Sage

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and Eeko

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the woodland elves who told us all about Lapland and how Father Christmas, a simple wood cutter became the legend he is today – due to a little elf magic of course.  We were introduced to our herders who split us into two teams.  We were put into team husky and given a cute husky sticker to help us remember.

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The first stop on our journey was to the toy making workshop where the children got to help the elves finish stuffing some toys for Father Christmas.  Due to an increase in demand, the elves were behind and the children we special helpers who helped the elves get back on track. SONY DSC

Once again, the details were superb. SONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSC

Missy with Ursa Major and Ursa Minor. SONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSC

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We decided that the trees were covered with magical never-melt snow and were surprised that it was actually cold to the touch!

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Next we were ushered to Mother Christmas’ bakery.  There was so much to see.  Each nook and cranny had some tiny detail or point of interest.  Including a self-stirring pot on the stove!

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Mother Christmas chatted to the children about Lapland and Father Christmas. They were also introduced to the baking elves.

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The children were shown to the tables where they got to decorate gingerbread Christmas trees.  I informed the office after I’d booked about Missy’s intolerances and they were every so helpful with providing a dairy free gingerbread Christmas tree and appropriate sweeties.

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Missy was the first to finish decorating her gingerbread and got selected to ring the story time bell. She felt very special!

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Mother Christmas read the children a story and then gave them a message for Father Christmas.  The children had earned their golden elf bells for their help in the toy workshop. We were told these could be collected from the Elf Emporium in the Elven Village.

I can’t tell you how magical the village was.  Missy was enthralled!

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The first elf we met was Pixie Mixie who owns the sweet shop.  Missy was taken with her and particularly liked her costume.

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I adore a nutcracker and this one outside the Elf Emporium was taller than me!

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Each shop had two entrances, one for Big Folk and one for Small Folk which Missy was determined to use at every opportunity.

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She was so excited to have earned her golden elf bell and couldn’t stop jingling it…

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much to my annoyance!  Of course, we had to buy an elf hat to attach our elf bell to.  I was quite impressed with the Elf Emporium in terms of content. There was a huge selection of good quality toys and games.  Even a homewares section that had some gorgeous scandi style decorations.

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I can’t describe the level of detail in the elf village. It was pure magic.

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There was so much to do. We petted Amber and Star the Huskies…

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We ice skated around a gorgeous snow covered Christmas tree to carols being sung merrily in the background.

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I was so impressed with the ice skates and how everything was geared towards families. There were the usual ice skates for adults and children could choose from the same type as the adults or clip on double bladed ones that made skating easier.  Stability penguins were provided to help the children feel more confident.  I should also mention that there were 3 ice wardens dressed in red patrolling the ice to help those who needed it.

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After we’d skated we visited Post office to write a letter to Father Christmas and post it in the magical post boxes.

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On our way round the shops in the Elven Village we met Compass and Bauble and had a little chat.

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While there was an elf restaurant, they also had a take away stall in the middle of the village where you could get traditional German bratwurst sausage on a roll that would set you back about £6.  The tea room sold a wide selection of cakes and hot drinks.

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My favourite shop was Bauble’s Christmas decoration shop where you could buy an official Lapland UK painted with each of the elves for £15 or buy a personalised bauble for £10.

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At Pixie Mixie’s we filled a cup with dairy free sweeties which were kindly pointed out to us by Pixie Mixie herself and paid £4.50. Missy excited by the sweeties while I goggled at the gorgeous displays.

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Once we’d enjoyed everything the Elven Village had to offer, we made our way through toward’s Ambolt’s forge where, just outside Father Christmas’ reindeer waited to greet us.

Then, we got to see Father Christmas’ actual sleigh!

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There was also an opportunity to buy Santa key’s, reindeer food and reindeer (horse) shoes.  I completely regret not buying one!SONY DSC

From here we checked in to see Father Christmas.  While Missy and Mr R waited and scoped out Compass’ office I went to the check in desk and double checked the details Father Christmas had for Missy.

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After only a three minute wait, an elf led us along a frosty path to Father Christmas’ cabin where we waited to be seen. Missy was so excited she could barley sit still.

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Upon entering, Father Christmas greeted us by name and Missy could hardy speak she was so in awe of the magical man.

Father Christmas praised her on doing well in her Literacy work recently and commented on her upcoming karate grading. She couldn’t believe he remembered so much about her life.  He pronounced that she was on the good list and presented her with a plush husky.

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After our chat with Father Christmas, we headed back towards the Forest and collected our complimentary photo (above) and had the opportunity to buy a scrapbook of our experiences in Lapland for £20.  It would include, all of the pictures taken with Father Christmas. We browsed the gift shop which had different items to the Elf Emporium. I particularly loved the ‘build-a-bear’ type costumes and accessories for the plush husky.

Lapland UK is honestly the Disney of Christmas.  Every item and activity besides the food and souvenirs is included in the price which, in my opinion is worth every penny.  There was nothing that I could find fault with or would consider changing.  It was a well thought out, perfectly fabulous experience that has made the run up to Christmas very special for us.

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For more details about Lapland UK, visit their website or Facebook page.  They are also on Instagram.

We heartily recommend Lapland UK and hope to visit again next year.

Bright blessings,

Mrs R

x

 

Harry Potter Movie Night

Hello my lovelies,

Since we are not into going trick of treating since Missy was diagnosed dairy, soya and apple free we have chosen to celebrate at home this year.

I have been collecting Harry Potter its and pieces since the beginning of the year for our Harry Potter Christmas and lots of it is coming in handy for our movie night.

 

The Gryffindor and Hufflepuff blankets, and themed cushions were all bought at Primark.

The cauldron is an actual pot that you cook on the fire with. It’s called a Potjie pot in South Africa and I’ve served sweet and salty popcorn in it.  Being dairy free means Missy can’t have caramel popcorn but it’s good that she doesn’t really like it anyway.

I made the chocolate frogs using a mould I bought on Amazon and the ginger cats were from the Co-op.

The sherbert lemons can be found from morrisons and the time turner and Gryffindor scarf were from ebay.

I love this Polyjuice mason jar mug from Primark and drink my wine out of it!   I made the potion bottle lights using some led lights, potion labels from etsy and mini potion bottles from the Works.

The pumpkin drinking glasses are from Primark and were only £2.50 each. Bargain!  The owls were from the Range and the potion bottles were from Poundland.

Flossy the Pygmy Puff was a gift from a craft swap and is Missy’s beloved pet.

As you can see below we are having Bertie Botts every flavour beans, chocolate frogs, cat shaped cookies, liquorice wands, UFO’s of Flying Whizzbeez, lemon sherberts and sweet and salty popcorn.

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Happy Halloween!

Mrs R

x

Garsons Pick Your Own Farm – Esher

Hello my lovelies,

Today we decided to make the most of the last of the Pick Your Own (PYO) seasons and headed into the lovely little suburb of Esher.

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Not only is Garsons a fabulous PYO farm where during the peak season you can pick lovely fruit and vegetables, it is also an award winning farm shop and garden centre. Their premises also boast a fabulous restaurant and gift and homeware store.

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Since we’d already been to Pumpkin Moon for pumpkins earlier in the week, we decided to see what other vegetables we could pick for the week.  Sadly, we’d left it a little late for much of the PYO farm produce but were delighted to find that courgettes, carrots, cabbage, french beans and squash were still available.

We had thankfully had the forethought to wear our wellies and got stuck in! Missy had great fun digging up carrots and finding the biggest french beans  in the first field.

We drove around to the next field and found some decent corn on the cob despite the corn season being over.  We also managed to find tender broccoli florets. Cabbages are in season and I  picked three to use in our cooking in the coming weeks.  The find of the day, however was our much loved gem squashes! These are a staple in South Africa and we have missed them terribly!  The ones we bought at Pumpkin Moon for £1 each have already been devoured.  These gem squashes were only £1.29 a kilo which worked out to be better value and we took as many as we could find.

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The last field we gathered from was full of marrows and courgettes.  Marrows are not my favourite as I find them quite watery but I do love courgettes.  We filled our bag with these tender little beauties and I can’t wait to steam them and serve them with a little butter and a sprinkle of pink Himalayan salt.

Once we’d picked as much as we wanted, we headed to the kiosk to weigh our spoils and were very surprised to only pay £14!  What a bargain!  Not only did we bring home a gorgeous bounty of the season’s best to feed our family, we had a fantastic morning out while Missy learned more about where our food comes from.  A win-win situation!

On the cards this week will be carrot cake muffins for Missy’s school packed lunch and carrot soup for me. We’ll also have a roast chicken dinner with roasted pumpkin, steamed courgettes, corn and roasted pumpkin.  I save time during the week but steaming a large batch of veggies when I do my Sunday roast. This means I have lots of sides readily available during the week.

Tomorrow when I do my grocery shop I’ll be buying some clear stand up zip lock bags to freeze my soup in.  I’ve plans for carrot soup and some roasted pumpkin, chili and coconut soup to fill the freezer.  Also on the cards will be my favourite french onion soup. Not an autumn goes by without me making a batch of this gorgeousness!

Don’t you just love Autumn?

Bright blessings,

Mrs R

x

Chiddingstone Castle school of witchcraft and wizardry

Hello my lovelies,

*This post has not been sponsored by Chiddingstone Castle.  I bought tickets to this even and all opinions and comments are my own.*

We had the most awesome day!  A month ago, I managed to book tickets to Chiddingstone Castle’s school of witchcraft and wizardry day in Kent and we could hardly wait! It was so well organised and so much fun that I was blown away.

I ordered Missy a robe (which looked nothing like the pictures on ebay which led to me opening a case – but that’s another story), made her a tie, dug out her wand (see my wand making post here) and for a wand box tutorial check out my post here.  I also decorated her a witches hat. We were all set!

I must admit, Chiddingstone wasn’t the easiest castle to find as the castle itself has a little concealed entrance and I landed up driving past it and having to double back. But I found it in the end.  The parking was ample even though they said the parking lot was quite small and there was a port-a-loo in the parking lot which I found quite random but it came in handy since we arrived early.  There was also a little honesty box to pay for parking with the proceeds going to charity.

 

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The castle itself is beautiful and we were surprised to find it had a red postbox just outside!

Since we arrived early, we had some time to take pictures while everyone arrived.  We were the only ones not in Gryffindor robes!

About 10 minutes before the doors opened we could hear a Harry Potter soundtrack playing which just heightened the anticipation.  The kids couldn’t wait!

Upon entering, some very organised admin witches crossed our names from their lists and checked out etickets. We were given a map and from there, we followed the directions round into the Great Hall.

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The entire place was decorated so well and it really added to the ambiance and theme.

In the Great Hall we were met by the High Wizard Merlin Hopkirken who sorted the kids into their houses.  Our entire group was sorted into Wormtail (which was kind of a crappy  name since Wormtail was the name of that traitorous Peter Pettigrew!) the yellow house.  We were then given our class schedule.

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Our first class was Flying Lessons in the Marquee.  Captain Karkus Prospero was brilliantly entertaining and got the kids ‘flying’ their brooms round a marked out course and doing races.

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Each child borrowed a broomstick for the lesson and it was fantastic to hear them shrieking with laughter. SONY DSC

In between each lesson was a 15 minute break and the children were invited to the craft rooms to make wands or colour pictures.

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Our next class was Spells and Incantations with Ms Septima Warbeck.

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The Spells teacher instructed the children on basic spells and wand movements as well as defense against the dark arts spells.

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Swish and flick!

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There weren’t enough kids to give each child a partner so Missy practiced with Ms Warbeck.

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After each class the kids got a stamp on their certificates.  Once they had a stamp from each of the classes they could graduate.

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We had a fun tour of the Headmaster Merlin Hopkirk’s office while we waited for our next class to start.

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Our third class was choir practice with Madame Mourge. Not sore how the ‘ou’ is pronounced ‘or’ but it was pronounced Morgue.

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Each professor was so well dressed and made up. They kept in character beautifully and the kids really believed they were at a school for Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Choir practice was very noisy but the kids loved every moment of it.

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While the kids were in choir practice I got an opportunity to speak to the event organizers who were such lovely ladies.  This is the first time Chiddingstone has done this kind of event and if all goes well they hope to repeat it next year.  Also, if all goes well, Christmas may be something just as special. Perhaps not this year but it’s exciting all the same.

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We made wands in our break before the long awaited potions class.  Dr Elphias Thicknesse was waiting for us in the potions classroom which was a treasure trove of potion ingredients bottles and other curiosities. The massive cauldron was of particular interest to the children.

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The children helped Dr Thicknesse to prepare a love potion to help her woo Captain Prospero and got to help chucking various ghastly looking ingredients into the cauldron.  I must admit, Dr Thicknesse was my favourite by far as she was completely zany and had the kids enthralled.

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The magic ingredient (hot ice) was added by Dr Thicknesse and the cauldron exploded in smoke much to the children’s delight.

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The only negative feedback I have is that upon booking people had the option of attending with their kids or dropping them off and fetching them later.  I found this to be a bad idea.   These kids got quite rowdy and rude at one stage which was uncomfortable for everyone.  One such 11 year old boy kept following me around and shoving his broomstick in my face shouting aaaaavraaaa kaaaadaaaavraaaaa!  He didn’t take kindly to me pointing out that it was in fact Avada Kedavra.  He also didn’t like the fact that I told him in a very firm voice that I didn’t appreciate the broomstick being shoved in my face.  And that if he did it again, I would make sure his parents were made aware that he was being rude to an adult.  But other than that one small blot on the day, I couldn’t have asked for a better event.

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Prize giving was held back in the Great Hall where the Headmaster announced the prize for the best dressed child who was dressed like Seamus Finnigan after his spell backfired. Well deserved I thought.

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Then he announced the day’s star pupil who turned out to be my very own little Missy!

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She won a t-shirt named after the event and a voucher for a free family visit during the 2018 season!  A fab prize!

After our classes were done, we went to the cafe where I had a cream tea and coffee.  I had packed a dairy, soya and apple free lunch for Missy as it’s been my experience that most places struggle to provide food that is allergen free.

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The staff were very happy for Missy to enjoy her lunch which me while I ate my cream tea.  It was delicious however, there was no way I could finish two large scones!  I’m a bit of a coffee snob and the coffee at the cafe was heavenly!  I only drank one cup because I was concerned I would be desperate to pee on the drive home but I could easily have drank the entire cafetiere.

All in all, we had a fantastic day and it was well worth the money.  I would definitely attend the event next year and look forward to attending other events planned by Chiddingstone and especially to exploring the grounds.

Bright blessings,

Mrs R

x