All posts by mumsnetherts

A Super Summer Family Evening at Whipsnade’s Sunset Safari

Cheetahs, peacocks and zebras, oh my! Yes, it was that kind of evening at Whipsnade’s annual Sunset Safari…and those were just the high-flying aerial, acrobatic team feats. IMG_5120

Although there was a mild breeze, the weather was thoroughly cooperating for what is one of ZSL’s nicest family summer evening’s out. The far-reaching skies were ranging from reds, to yellows, to lavender and as the sun was setting over the Chiltern Hills you could feel the zoo come alive in ways that aren’t regularly experienced on your average day out.

It was a fantastic opportunity to go beyond the Whipsnade gates after closing time and see the zoo looking nothing like it normally does. As soon as you get past the entrance, you’re immediately drawn to the subtle music of chilled beats and the multi-coloured beanbag beds perfectly placed around the acrobatic apparatus…clearly where part of the evening’s bendy performers would amaze and delight.

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Intermingled between the aerial performances, there were hula-hooping leopards and stilt-walking peacocks strutting their stuff, mariachis bringing the sounds of Mexico as well as the entrancing steel drumming man. The variation of music throughout the evening kept the parents energetically relaxed and the kids happily dancing past their usual bedtime routine.

To add to the atmosphere there was plenty of food and drink to keep you satiated and interested: Pizza, Mexican, Thai, and of course the standard of hot dogs and burgers were all on offer. This and the added bar options make for a lovely evening out.

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Once fed and relaxed it was time to tour the zoo animals, after-hours. You can tour at your own pace, lookout for the zoo’s nocturnal animals, listen to talks, learn about conservation, and even pretend you’re a zoo vet for a moment.

All in all, it was a super summer sunset safari evening and one to look forward to on the calendar each year.

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School Feature: Lockers Park – A Boy’s Education

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Lockers Park is a thriving day and boarding school where boys receive a first class education that is balanced and happy. With an excellent academic reputation, the school prepares boys for top British public and independent senior schools, frequently with scholarships. Set in 23 acres of woodland on the outskirts of Hemel Hempstead, it is a day and boarding school for boys aged 7-13 with a co-educational Pre-Preparatory for ages 4-7.

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At Lockers Park we seek to instil traditional values of respect, honesty and tolerance, while teaching and preparing every child to become confident, high achieving citizens of the future.  Headmaster Christopher Wilson, who is in his fourth year at the school, says: “As a small and family oriented school, we pride ourselves on an inclusive culture which ensures your child will be encouraged and supported both academically and socially.”

Academia, The Arts, Sport and Co-curricular success are celebrated in equal measure at Lockers Park and the school’s motivational and nurturing environment allows pupils to discover hidden talents and initiate lifelong passions.

Motivating Boys

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“Lockers Park brings out the best in boys” Good Schools Guide

Drawing upon our 140-year heritage, we employ a kinesthetic approach to ensure pupils are highly engaged and achieve the best academic results. An emphasis on the individual child, combined with small class sizes (a maximum of 16 children per class), outdoor play and structured sport every day enables each boy to fulfil his potential. Christopher Wilson articulates the school’s philosophy: “Lockers Park makes a virtue of letting boys be boys. We believe that engaging in outdoor activities is intrinsic to good schooling, leading to increased concentration and success during academic lessons.”

Inspiring Pre-Prep

From the outset, our approach is to foster a love of learning and not simply learning for exam success. This is a mind-set that stretches from the Pre-Prep through to the main Prep School at Lockers Park. We have the flexibility to teach core subjects in  lockers-park-pre-prepdifferentiated, small groups, allowing us to work closely with each and every child. A creative curriculum blends the more structured environment of the classroom alongside making use of our beautiful 23-acre grounds. It offers the perfect setting to allow children to discover new interests, develop a range of talents and cultivate long-standing friendships.

Close-Knit Community

Our Pre-Prep is nestled right beside the Prep School, with its own routines and in its own unique, purpose-built space, but having access to the many excellent Prep School facilities. These include acres of football and rugby pitches, sports halls, a heated outdoor swimming pool and a .22 shooting range. And not forgetting the Art Room, Design & Technology block, Drama Studio and the historic Chapel and Centenary Hall, home to countless celebrated choir concerts, musicals and plays. Involvement with the Prep School gives our younger children the chance to make friends across all year groups and find older role models, all helping to sensitively prepare them for Prep School and the broader world that lies ahead.

lockers-park-pre-prep-pupilWraparound Care at No Extra Cost

Parents lead busy working and family lives and we strive to accommodate this. Flexibility is in our DNA as boarders are on campus around the clock. As an example, wraparound care for Lockers Park Pre-Prep runs from 7.45am until 6.00pm, with all costs included in the term fees. Within this, children may have breakfast from 7.45am to 8.15am and/or supper at 5.30pm.

Open Morning on Saturday 18th March 2017, 10:30am–12:30pm

Join us for a morning of activities and crafts at the Pre-Prep, where littles ones can explore the theme of ‘People Who Help Us’… visit the vet’s surgery, dress upLayout 1 like a policeman or make your own emergency vehicle. Mums and dads will have the opportunity to meetHeadmaster Christopher Wilson and dedicated Pre-Prep staff.

The main Preparatory School will be welcoming prospective parents and pupils, too.

Contact: secretary@lockerspark.herts.sch.uk or call 01442 251712 to register. www.lockerspark.herts.sch.uk

Sensational Spa Day at Luton Hoo Hotel

Just before Christmas I had the opportunity for some much needed personal time and pampering. In the midst of all the holiday hype, I managed to find a morning where I could indulge myself into the relaxing retreat at the Luton Hoo Hotel Spa. img_0929It’s quite a magical place that helped me escape for just a little while and recharge my batteries.

From the moment you pass the majestic hotel gates and drive through the
countryside/golf course entrance you enter into an almost fairyland-esqe world that  begins melting and leaving the stresses of everyday life behind. Seriously; The Luton Hoo grounds are beautiful.

After parking my car and wandering through the woodland trails to the elegant spa entrance I was cheerfully greeted by the reception team, given a tour of the facilities and offered a cosy, terrycloth dressing gown to begin my experience.img_0940

 I  was booked in for the customized Luton Hoo Signature Treatment, but as I arrived early, had some time to decompress and take advantage of the offered facilities.

There’s a very calming atmosphere from the locker room to the spectacular (one of the best I’ve ever seen) oak framed pool area complete with infinity pool, vitality pool, and heat therapy suite.

img_0942After a little swim and sauna, I had a some time to spare before my treatment; Naturally, I ventured upstairs to the Relaxation Room to sample some herbal teas and dried fruit snacks while entranced by the sound of soothing music and the almost-sedative inducing fish tank bubbling. I almost didn’t need the treatment, though, as I was pretty much relaxed and ready for a nap.

I’m glad I held-out for the treatment, though (as if I’d miss it). The Luton Hoo Signature treatment, with the lovely Senior Therapist,  Becky, in charge, is 80 minutes of blissful calm. An ESPA-customized treatment specifically for Luton Hoo, the ritual takes you from a cleansing footbath to Balinese massage and can be incorporated with the most warming of hot stones. The ESPA oils are personalised to your liking and smell fantastic. Needless to say the overall experience left me ultra-relaxed and ready to take on the world. I’m even considering the Luton Hoo Spa membership just so I can unwind on demand.

Click here for more information on the Luton Hoo Hotel, Golf & Spa & here for Luton Hoo Spa Membership

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The Hertford Theatre Does it Again in the Panto Department   

I always thoroughly enjoy the Hertford Theatre productions and this year’s pantomime, Little Red Riding Hood, is no different. With the intertwining fairytales of the Three Little Pigs and Little Red, the storyline keeps engaging interest for all ages.

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It starts with simple Simon, the pig farmer, and his friendship with Little Red. They’re each on their own journeys with Simon searching for his lost little pigs and Red on a journey to deliver some meds to her ill grannie. The trip to grannie’s humble abode has Little Red wandering from set to colourful set meeting many full-of-life characters and most of them are the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

As with any pantomime, there’s the interjection of fun and poppy music. With a play on many pop culture ditties, the journey of tunes carries you from the recurring theme song of Friends, to Coldplay favourites, and some Mary Poppins standards. Familiar songs kept the audience toe tapping, interactively singing, and cast supportive throughout.

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Which brings us to the cast…The following words come to mind: magnificent chemistry, quality acting and choreography, and superb vocals. One of the best panto lineups the Hertford Theatre’s produced.

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For the two hour and twenty minute runtime, the combination of story, music, and interactivity kept my almost six-year old and me thoroughly entertained. It’s a wonderful Christmas treat for 2016 and we’re looking forward to next year’s production.

Little Red Riding Hood is running at the Hertford Theatre until 1 January so get your tickets fast:

http://www.hertfordtheatre.com/events/detail/1404/little-red-riding-hood

Review: “Mrs. Armitage and the Big Wave” A Great Family Day at the Theatre

Mrs. Armitage and her faithful dog, Breakspear, are off to the seaside for a day of surfing; but what happens while they’re waiting for the big wave makes Quentin Blake’s story a sincere display of true companionship, trust, problem solving, and eternal optimism.

I recently had the privilege of experiencing the Ga Ga Theatre Company’s adaptation of this lovely story at the Abbey Theatre in St. Albans. We took the whole family to this hour-long production and it was a wonderful, interactive way of giving young children a taste for the theatre, as well as having a lovely morning together.

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The entire play uses two clearly talented actors each portraying a handful of upbeat, amusing characters. Different voices and accents are used to give real variance and depth to the characters and certainly keep the audience, especially the children, interested.

The main characters endure many situations as they’re ‘waiting for the big wave;’ and with each comes the choice of either giving up or staying positive and finding a solution. These scenarios also made for some good discussion with the kids after the show.  mrs_armitage_0393

The combination of quality acting, funny lines, simple, yet clever, props, and animated, projected sketches make for a well-integrated way of interpreting Blake’s story. Well done to the Ga Ga Theatre Company for this fun production. Looking forward to your next project soon.

For more information on the Ga Ga Theatre Company and their coming productions, see the website, here: http://www.gagatheatre.co.uk

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Top 10 Tips for the Primary to Secondary School Transition

The move to secondary school is a challenging and emotional time for both parents and children. Fear not – this useful guide from the National Teen Trust should help make the transition as painless as possible!

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  • Be prepared (like a boy (or girl) scout!) – It’s so important. Get all the uniform, books, shoes, trainers, socks and stationery out of the way as early as you can. You don’t want any last minute stress the week your children start secondary school!
  • Start to have conversations about the differences between primary and secondary school. You’ll have done the tour so you can reassure your child that they’ve seen the layout and that lots of people will be there to help them settle in.
  • Talk about how many children will be there in comparison to their primary education years. Often, your child will be going from a network of 30, 60 or 90 peers to around 200. This can be a positive… think how many new friends this means.
  • If your child has struggled to fit in at primary school, it’s likely that there will be a similar peer who is also facing these odds! For example, is your child a tomboy who has struggled to strike a friendship with the girls at primary school? Transitioning to secondary school may be the key, as there are likely to be girls with similar hobbies and interests.
  • In the first week, establish a routine as quickly as you can – where your child is going to hang their blazer, put their locker key, bus pass, do their homework, etc.
  • Be prepared – again – for the change! Suddenly your son or daughter transitions from a child into a more independent being. They may want to walk to/from school, get the bus or pop into town after school with new friends. Think carefully about what parental controls you will implement for this new stage.
  • New friends, new environments to hang out and have sleepovers at. How is this going to make you feel? Think about how you will approach this, whether you will meet the new friend’s parents first or is it sufficient to have a phone/text conversation?
  • Do your research. Establish if your child is better getting the school bus or the local bus or parent taxi. You can always change this as the terms pass by. First thing in the morning, your son or daughter may prefer the local, public bus to a bus full of excited school children!

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  • Make friends with other parents who are going to your tween’s new school. You may find that you lose a support network when your child’s friend’s move to different schools and this can be challenging.
  • As you can see, it’s not just about the effect this transition has on your tween, but also the effect that this may bear on you and the rest of your family. Be prepared for unsettling times as you all start to adjust to this new chapter in your family life. And remember, stay positive!

images     You may find your child’s move to secondary school a challenge in the first instance. However, the key is to be prepared and to stay positive. The National Teen Trust has been set up to create a support network for parents during these tween and teenage years.

If you’re struggling with parenting life, join the National Teen Trust Facebook group. The organisation also runs flexible programmes in St Albans that allow parents to come together and explore teen challenges, allowing you to develop practical parental approaches and skills.

Guest post written by Wendy Powell.

 

Little Chickie’s Top Five Baby Gift Ideas

              Are you looking for the perfect gift for a newborn or baby shower? It’s so tough to find that perfect baby gift, especially when you know that the new parents have been doing lots of new baby shopping!  

For some inspiration, here are our top 5 ideas for that perfect baby gift. They’re all from boutique brands, meaning they’ll be something unique, great quality and super gorgeous! At Little Chickie we believe that the perfect gift is something that not only looks great, is an essential item for any parent but also brings the baby joy!

Baby Hand & Footprint Keepsake

Nobody can resist squidgy baby feet, so why not send this fabulous, great value hand and footprint kit. It is easy to use and comes in a lovely tin and gift box, a gorgeous keepsake to remember just how cute and tiny their baby’s hands and feet were!  

Take a closer look here: https://www.littlechickie.co.uk/product/baby-hand-and-foot-print-kit-3046/

 

Play time!

Visual stimulation is so important for a baby and what better way to do this than with these super cute rattles. The high contrasting colours of Mr Tiger Stick Rattle and Sir Panda Ring Rattle are eye-catching and great for baby! They are by Nature Zoo of Denmark who have a whole range of beautifully hand crocheted items from rattles to mobiles. They are all made from supersoft bamboo fibres, free from nasty chemicals and very high quality.

Find Mr Tiger and more of his friends here: https://www.littlechickie.co.uk/product/mr-tiger-rattle-stick-3074/

 

Cute & Cosy Bathrobe

Bath time is such a precious time with a little one. Once the fun of bathtime is over it’s time to wrap up and have lots of snuggles and cuddles. A robe and slipper set is the perfect thing to do just that… We love this cosy hooded bathrobe with a cute bear design with matching bear slippers from British brand Nature’s Purest. It’s made from soft organic cotton so is kind to baby’s skin and comes in a lovely gift box making it the perfect unisex baby gift. Click here to take a look: https://www.littlechickie.co.uk/product/hug-me-bear-baby-bathrobe-and-slippers-gift-box-3134/

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Super Soft Baby Grow

You can never have enough baby grows and we love the brilliant range from Bob & Blossom.  They’re a great British brand with cool style, cute designs and slogans.This Sunshine Yellow Baby Grow has a gorgeous yellow bunting print running through it and comes in a matching gift pouch making it an adorable unisex gift for a new baby. https://www.littlechickie.co.uk/product/sunshine-yellow-baby-grow-with-matching-gift-pouch-3157/ 

 

The Must Have Baby Muslin

No mum can survive the first year without a good supply of muslin cloths. They don’t have to be boring either, many come in lots of fun and cute designs to make an ideal gift. Our favourite is Nature’s Purest Tiny Bunny and Muslin Gift Set. The gift box contains a super cute little bunny toy as well as a natural cotton muslin square, which is very gentle on the baby’s delicate skin. Alternatively, how about this fun, Cherry Swirl Muslin which looks good enough to eat! A great unique gift and affordable too. https://www.littlechickie.co.uk/product/gift-set-tiny-bunny-and-muslin-3045/

 

I hope we have provided you with some inspiration for the perfect baby gift. If you like the look of these items, have a look at www.littlechickie.co.uk for more gorgeous boutique gifts and clothes. Also, you can get 10% off of your first order by signing up to the newsletter on the website!