How to entertain a teen who is obsessed with trains

My son’s love for trains has been something he’s enjoyed and that we have nurtured since he was a toddler. He loved Chuggington, he loved Thomas the Tank Engine, he loved going to the local garden centre and having a ride on their little steam trains, he loved visiting heritage railways. He loved it all.

These days, he’s 13, with access to the internet and all the YouTube videos and train timetables he can get his hands on. He’s autistic and very big on detail, so trains, trams, timetables and network maps are the things in life he enjoys the most.

Heaton Chapel train station

Aside from his weekly visits to our local train station to watch the weekend action there, he likes us to take him on train journeys and to visit big stations where he can see a more exciting variety of trains. Weekends can often involve a local train journey, and he likes to plan longer, more complex journeys in the hope that we will take him somewhere exciting.

This week, I was all set to take him to a blogging event an hour or so away in Penkridge near Stafford. It got cancelled just after I’d booked us train tickets, which was unfortunate, but I figured we could still do the train bit and make the most of a day on the rails!

How to entertain a teen who is obsessed with trains

I jokingly, well, maybe half jokingly posted these instructions for a grand day out on Facebook, but the more I read them, the more I realised that this is pretty much the secret to a teenage train enthusiast’s joy. So I’m sharing it here for you too.

How to entertain a teen who is obsessed with trains

How to entertain a teen who is obsessed with trains

It’s been on my mind to buy a Friends & Family Railcard card a while now. Even short journeys with him were starting to add up, but for £30 a year, as long as we travel together, we get 1/3 off our train fares. Using the railcard to book our return tickets to Stafford saved us around £15, so it’s already starting to pay for itself!

Now that I have the railcard, I feel longer, previously too expensive journeys are more within our reach. A whole new railway world has opened up to us, and honestly, it’s a grand day out, just travelling somewhere and back again, though I may be more inclined to book a hotel and make more of a trip out of things now.

We had a really fun day out to Penkridge. I did have high hopes of exploring the town, finding somewhere nice for lunch, and stretching the day out a bit more. Alas, when we got there, it was raining pretty heavily and lots of things seemed to be closed, so we bought some sweets and headed back to Stafford station.

How to entertain a teen who is obsessed with trains

Stafford station is actually a pretty good spot for train spotting. The covered bridge over the station has a seating area where you can sit and watch the comings and goings. It’s also got a nice coffee shop as well as a Starbucks, and I once saw Su Pollard there, so there’s lots to commend it.

My son managed to tick off two kinds of trains he’d never been on before, and he had a really brilliant day watching, absorbing, enjoying, and enthusing. Trains might not excite me in quite the same way as they do him, but there’s something really lovely about supporting a teenager’s hobby and watching their love for it grow.

There’s also a lot to be said about being welcomed into his teen world and being able to spend quality time with him. Especially at a time when he’s starting to strike out on his own and he needs me less and less each passing week.

How to entertain a teen who is obsessed with trains

If you can tempt your train obsessed teen to go on a train journey with you, then I’d recommend it, not least because it’s a small way you can connect with them, and that’s a very lovely thing indeed. Safe journey!

A walk around Lindow Common, Wilmslow

We quite often visit Wilmslow in Cheshire and go out for a meal or look around the shops, but one of my most favourite things to do when I’m in Wilmslow is to take a walk around Lindow Common.

Lindow Common is on the outer fringes of Wilmslow, off Racecourse Road, and it’s a site of special scientific interest. It’s also home to Black Lake, which is probably the main attraction for me. Come rain or shine, if we are in the area, we will take a turn around the lake, sometimes if it’s cold, wet and miserable, it’s a very speedy walk. Sometimes, like over the weekend when the sun was shining, it was very much worth a lingering visit.

Lindow Common

This pocket-sized nature reserve is popular with dog walkers and nature lovers alike. Hundreds of years ago it was the village common, where locals would graze their animals, but the trees have rather taken over these days. The common is classed as lowland heath, so there’s a management programme in place where they’re selectively removing some of the birch trees to allow the native heathers to grow.

If you’re driving, there’s a small free car park opposite Hickory’s where you can park if you need to. It’s about a ten minute walk from the town centre, so it feels pretty accessible to me.

Lindow Common

There are information displays throughout Lindow Common, highlighting some of the rare or interesting plants, amphibians, birds and insects you might encounter on your visit. There are any number of things to spy on your walk around this man-made lake, but keep your eyes peeled for water voles, dragonflies, damselflies and a number of aquatic species. Beyond the water, the habitats provide cover for early migrating bird species including the chiffchaff, willow warbler and blackcap.

We don’t always walk through the heath areas, but over the weekend we took a short path through the wooded pathways. We walked through the heather filled heath and back to the familiar territory of Black Lake. The footpaths around the lake are generally well maintained and easy to walk on, and probably fine for wheelchairs and buggies, though parts can get a bit churned up after a prolonged period of wet weather.

Duck

In all the years we’ve been visiting Lindow Common, I’m pretty sure the weather this weekend was about the most perfect it’s been. There was not a cloud in the sky and the water shimmered and sparkled in the light. We spotted a number of birds including a rather handsome heron, some baby coots, moorhens, regular ducks and we heard that someone spotted a grebe on the other side of the lake. There was clearly a lot going on.

For those who like to linger, there are plenty of benches around the common where you can stop and enjoy the surroundings and possibly fuss a passing dog. It’s quite a small nature reserve, so there are no refreshment stalls or cafes within the reserve. If you want a drink or snack, you’ll need to bring your own, or pop across to a local café or restaurant. There are bins available, but you’re encouraged to take your litter back home with you if you can.

Lindow Common

Black Lake has a sturdy wire fence around it, presumably to protect the wildlife from excitable dogs wanting a swim, so it would be a disappointing visit if I took my water loving spaniel. The lack of swimming opportunities for dogs does mean that the lake is very peaceful and a real haven for birds and wildlife.

Growing up in South Manchester in the 1980s, we heard all about the discovery of The Lindow Man, in 1984. Pete Marsh, as he was known as was discovered in a peat marsh close to Lindow Common. It is thought he could date back to the Iron Age or though to Roman Britain. Pete Marsh is now being cared for by the British Museum, though I did see him once many years ago when he was exhibited at The Manchester Museum. He may yet return north in the future, and if he does it’s worth visiting this fascinating chap, wherever he ends up.

Lindow Common

Visiting info:

Lindow Common SSSI, Racecourse Road, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5NQ

A walk around Lindow Common, Wilmslow

Review: Simba Hybrid Mattress Topper

We were sent a Simba Hybrid Mattress Topper for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

I’ve lately been looking at my bedroom and feeling like it needed a spring clean and a refresh. Though my bed was comfy, it wasn’t necessarily as cosy as could be and I just wanted to change up some of my furnishings, get new bedding and just make it feel like a space for myself.

A little over ten years ago I had a few back surgeries, so my bed not only needs to be comfy and cosy, but it also needs to be supportive, and not too hard or too soft. I’m like Goldilocks when it comes to what I can sleep on, anything not quite perfect for me can increase my pain levels, worsen the numbness in my legs, or it can affect my mobility. I’d heard good things about the Simba Hybrid Mattress Topper, so I was excited to give it a try.

Simba Hybrid Mattress Topper

I bought my current mattress a couple of years ago, and it was holding up well against my nightly tossings and turnings, as well as occasionally being used as a trampoline by the smallest member of the household, but a mattress topper can not only make your mattress more comfortable, but it can also extend its life. Buying a mattress can be a significant financial investment, so prolonging its life with a mattress topper seems like a worthwhile investment.

Mattress makers Simba have a range of products apart from mattresses to help you sleep easier at night, including temperature regulating pillows and duvets, and this next generation memory foam topper, which is breathable and doesn’t make you overheat in the same way that traditional memory foam mattresses and toppers can do.

Simba

The Simba Hybrid Mattress Topper uses Simbatex® memory foam to keep you cooler and more cushioned, as well as up to 2,500 Aerocoil® springs. It also includes a removable, washable cover. Nevertheless, I did cover it in a mattress protector, because you can never be too careful.

Simba

Putting the Simba Hybrid Mattress Topper to the test

The mattress topper arrives in a large box, and I’m not going to lie, it’s heavy. Reassuringly heavy. The box has some cut out handles on the side, which makes it easier to carry up the stairs. If like me you’ve got a bad back, please don’t attempt this, please do recruit someone else to do the carrying. My 13 year old brought it upstairs for me and we unpacked it together.

Simba Hybrid Mattress Topper

The mattress comes rolled up and vacuum sealed in a plastic bag. Once you cut open the bag it starts to puff up to the shape you want. It’s best to pull it into position on your bed while it inflates, for want of a better word.

Each corner of the topper has an elastic strap which you hook under your mattress to secure it in position. Once it’s in place, then it’s ready to use. As you can see, we got to testing it straight away.

Simba

The topper probably adds around two inches of height to my bed, so that’s worth noting and it does take a little getting used to that change in height. It is incredibly comfortable, it’s soft but still firm enough for me. It doesn’t make my hips ache, which a lot of not quite right beds do for me, so that’s an excellent sign. I have felt like I was having a better quality of sleep, and my Fitbit app is telling me that I’m waking up less in the night since we made up the bed a week ago.

Simba Hybrid Mattress Topper

It comes with a 200 night trial and a 10 year guarantee, but within three nights I had very much made my mind up that this was a keeper and my son was also asking for one for his bed.

My double Simba Hybrid Mattress Topper currently costs £289 with free delivery on the Simba website. I’m already seeing the benefits in terms of sleep quality and comfort, and I think now I’ve tried it, I don’t think my bed, my back and I will ever be without it.

Simba Hybrid Mattress Topper

At least 44 fabulous things to do in Stockport

Growing up in South Manchester, I spent a lot of time in Stockport. I suppose it was easier for my family to drive and park there to go shopping and such like. I’ve always felt at home there. It’s a small town, with a compact shopping centre and the more I visit and explore in my adulthood, the more I love it.

In more recent years, I’ve been excited by the food and drink scene, spending time up near the famous Victorian market, enjoying the hospitality of many of the bars and restaurants in the area. I could cheerfully list a whole heap of places where I’ve wined and dined well in recent years, but with half term approaching, I thought I’d put together a list of fine things to do in Stockport. As ever, if I’ve missed something important, please do comment below and I’ll add it in.

Things to do in Stockport

If you’re new to Stockport and fancy a bit of family fun on a dry day, one thing we did a couple of years ago was download a Treasure Trail map, which is a really excellent way of getting to know somewhere. We did it with a couple of other families, and despite visiting Stockport regularly for over 40 years, I discovered so much I’ve never seen before. So that’s well worth looking at.

Additionally, Stockport has its own heritage trail, which if you’re a fan of historical buildings and such like, it’s also worth looking at. Keep an eye out for the plaques on the buildings around Stockport, and I believe you can pick up a trail map at the Stockport Visitors Centre.

Things to do in Stockport

Here is my big list of things to do in Stockport. Some indoor fun and outdoor things to explore, some in the town centre and some a little further out. There’s lots to see, do and explore in Stockport!

Things to do in Stockport

Things to do in Stockport

Museums & Galleries

Bramall Hall and Gardens
Chadkirk Chapel Museum
Old Rectory House
Old Town Dungeon & Court House
Robinsons Brewery Visitors Centre
Staircase House Museum
Stockport Air Raid Shelters
Stockport Art Gallery
The Stockport Museum
Stockport Town Hall
Strawberry Studios
The Avro Heritage Museum
The Hat Museum – currently closed, but reopening in March 2024!
The Underbanks & Underbank Hall
Visit Crowther Street, which LS Lowry once painted

Days Out: Visiting Stockport Air Raid Shelters

The Great Outdoors

Abney Hall Country Park
Alexandra Park
Brabyns Park
Cale Green Park
Dragon Miniature Railway
Etherow Country Park
Marple Locks
Reddish Vale Country Park
Reddish Vale Farm
Stockport Viaduct – the UK’s largest brick build structure
The Garden House (farm)
The Roman Lakes, Marple
Vernon Park
Woodbank Memorial Park

Winter in Abney Hall. PLUS Save Abney Cafe!

Indoor fun

Awesome Walls Climbing Centre
Brooklyn Pottery
Jump Heaven trampoline centre
Kids Go Karting
Merseyway Shopping Centre
Ropes Race Climbing Centre
Savoy Cinema, Heaton Moor
Stockport Garrick Theatre
Stockport Victorian Market Hall
The Light Cinema
The Produce Hall
The Stockport Plaza – theatre and period style cafe
Tramp2Lean trampoline centre
X-GENVR – virtual reality experience

Things to do in Stockport

Other fun things…

Stockport Foodie Friday – once a month head up to the Victorian Market to enjoy an evening of good food, good music and good fun!

Review: Little Daisy Self Care – 100 Days of Menopause Affirmations

We were sent the 100 days of menopause affirmations jar for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

I’m a really big fan of the power of positive thinking in helping you on your way towards a happier outcome in life. Back in 2012, I had a bad accident and ended up needing two emergency surgeries on my back. At risk of permanent damage and paralysis, I spent nearly a year in excruciating pain and unable to function. The experience left me in permanent pain, with nerve damage and numbness throughout my lower body.

With a whole raft of physical problems to deal with, my mental health really suffered and I found myself in a very dark place. I was sent to rehab to help get me walking again, and slowly I began to recover myself physically and mentally. I would never be the person I once was, but I made a decision to not let my pain define me. I decided to focus not on the things I’d lost, such as being a more physically active mum, I lost my career and it damaged a number of important relationships. I chose instead to look at the good things which had come out of it all. Like being able to spend more time with my son, being able to be there every single day after school and during the holidays, plus it gave me my blog which took me to all kinds of places and it introduced me to so many new and amazing friends.

Little Daisy Self Care - 100 Days of Menopause Affirmations

Positive thinking really helped get me out of that hole, so when I find myself in a tight spot, or a dark place, I try and think of the lessons that situation is teaching me, or the people it is showing me who are there for me. I’m by no means Little Miss Sunshine, but being able to see the stars from the gutter is a gift I really appreciate.

Which, long story short, brings me to the 100 Days Of Menopause Affirmations jar from Little Daisy Self Care. I’m 47 now and like most of my mid-40s friendship group, I’m experiencing some menopause symptoms. I’m not quite knee-deep in night sweats and HRT, but there are changes happening which need managing.

As I said previously, I try and tackle all the bumps in my road with a positive, let’s try and see the bright side attitude, so that’s what I’m trying to do with my very impending menopause. I am reassured, just like Fleabag, that the menopause is usually pretty bloody awful, but once you get to the other side, life begins again and all kinds of good stuff is waiting for us. And that’s very good to know, but easy to forget when you’re in the thick of it.

Little Daisy Self Care has an Etsy shop which stocks, amongst other things, little jars full of affirmations for various times in our lives. There are journal prompts and mindfulness prompts, and many more. I’ve done daily affirmations for various things before, and whilst not every affirmation will be useful, I generally find it’s a good exercise to engage in, especially if you’re trying to be more reflective and positive in your approach to things.

Little Daisy Self Care - 100 Days of Menopause Affirmations

The Little Daisy Self Care jars have been created by Alison, an experienced councillor. She’s helped many ladies work through their menopause and through that work she was inspired to create the 100 days of menopause affirmations.

There are 100 affirmations printed on little colourful pieces of card in each jar. Each card has a different affirmation related to menopause symptoms and positive thinking. The jar also comes with a QR code, so you can access a breathing technique demonstrated by Alison to help you with your self care.

Some examples of the menopause affirmations include:

  • I will take the time and space I need to adapt
  • I love myself exactly as I am
  • Some days can be difficult and that’s okay
  • I listen to my body and give it what it needs
  • I am just hot stuff!

I have been enjoying dipping in and out of this jar. I’ve popped it on my desk at work, so when my mood drops, I can pick a card of positivity out of the jar and reflect on it for a few minutes. If a card doesn’t hit the spot for me at that moment, I’ll pick another one and put it back, because in a few weeks or months time, it might just be what I need at that point.

Whilst we will all approach the menopause differently; a good vitamin regime, HRT or other medical or alternative therapies will form the main thrust of your approach to dealing with the menopause. I do believe in the power of positive thinking, and if these little daily affirmations can help you over a bump in the road, or help you see a glimmer of sunshine through the clouds, then that can only be a good thing.

I really love the branding too, and that’s it’s presented neatly in a jar. Each little colourful card is a scrap of potential joy. It’s just nicely put together and I like that you can scan a QR code for some extra self care if you need it.

Little Daisy Self Care - 100 Days of Menopause Affirmations

Each jar costs £12 and would be a useful gift for someone experiencing the menopause, or a small treat for yourself, especially if you’re looking to approach menopause positivity.

Little Daisy Self Care jars are available from Etsy.

Setting Intentions for 2024

I’ve talked a little about my work before, I work for a charity who supports adults with learning disabilities, but the culture within the charity encourages a lot of self reflection and personal growth. At times that can be challenging, but within that challenge, good things can grow.

I was having one of my regular supervisions with my new boss a couple of weeks ago, and he asked me what my work intentions were for 2024 and I was stumped. It’s been a while since I had a job which asked that of me, and it occurred to me that I hadn’t set any professional goals for myself possibly ever, and in my personal life, apart from some vague New Year Resolutions, I had no goals either. So, with 2023 coming to a close, I’ve decided to set some intentions for 2024.

Setting intentions

What does it mean to set intentions?

Intentions are lived each day, and are about your relationship with yourself and others. They are not hard targets to aim for, KPIs or external achievements, they’re about bringing you more of the good things in life, the things which spark joy, or help make you a better person.

These things may sound daft if you’re used to a corporate world or hard targets, goals and KPIs, but they are, to my mind at least, vitally important for creating personal happiness, job satisfaction, a good balance between work and life, and striving to be a better parent and a better human.

My Five Work Intentions –

  1. Say yes to opportunities to develop myself
  2. Look at working towards a coaching or mentoring qualification
  3. Streamline my work processes and bring our systems up to scratch
  4. Learn to say no and to delegate where I can
  5. Make reflection a daily practice

My Five Personal Intentions –

  1. Move house and create a warm and loving home for my family
  2. Focus on quality time with my son
  3. Go on holidays with the people I love
  4. Continue my gentle health kick and get fitter and healthier
  5. Spend more time with friends and less of my own time working

There are other things I want to achieve and do. But if I can surround myself with the people who love and care for me, and make time to see them instead of working so much, then my heart will be fuller and my work/life balance will feel more comfortable.

So today I set these intentions and I commit to working towards achieving them. These are not resolutions, but achievable things which could change how my life feels. I know with the support of colleagues, friends and loved ones, I can take the steps towards making my work and my life balanced and fulfilling. They will also hopefully help to make me a more rounded person, a better mum, partner and friend.

What are your intentions for 2024?

Recipe: Black Forest Shortbread Biscuits

Shortbread is one of my favourite things to make. I love plain shortbread, but I also love slightly fancier shortbread, like my Cranachan shortbread. This month, after seeing some in a shop, I decided to try my hand at making a batch of Black Forest shortbread. Chocolate and cherries are a classic combination at any time of the year and I had a feeling they’d turn out pretty well.

Shortbread is a fairly simple thing to make, best made by hand rather than in a food mixer, and it’s softer and crumblier the less you handle it, so it’s great if you are short on time.

Black Forest Shortbread Biscuits

Black Forest Shortbread Biscuits

Ingredients:
225g butter
130g caster sugar
300g plain flour
25g cocoa powder
Half a teaspoon of vanilla extract
100g chopped glacé or cocktail cherries
100g milk chocolate chips or chunks

To decorate:
100g milk chocolate
Sprinkles, I used decorative shimmer sugar crystals

Black Forest Shortbread Biscuits

How to make Black Forest Shortbread Biscuits:
Pre-heat your oven to 180°. You’ll need to have a couple of baking trays covered with greaseproof paper ready.

In a mixing bowl, thoroughly beat the butter and sugar together. Once fluffy, add the vanilla extract and your chopped cherries and chocolate chunks. Then, little by little add the plain flour and the cocoa powder. Mix with a wooden spoon as best you can. Try not to overwork it too much or the dough will go gluey.

I find the following method tidier and it stops you manhandling the dough too much. Once the shortbread dough is almost mixed, tip it out onto a large sheet of greaseproof paper; bring the dough together with your hands and then fold the paper in half with the mixture sandwiched in between.

With a rolling-pin, roll it out so it’s about 5mm thick and cut into rounds. I used a glass for this and carefully lifted each shortbread biscuit onto the baking tray. You should get around 18 shortbread biscuits out of the dough.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 12-15 minutes. Keep an eye on the shortbread, with the cocoa powder it’s harder to see when they’re done. If you can, lift one gently and check it’s cooked underneath. Once they’re baked, remove from the oven and leave to cool on a rack.

Black Forest Shortbread Biscuits

Whilst the shortbread biscuits are cooling, melt the chocolate. I usually ping it in the microwave in short bursts, stirring every 30 seconds until it’s the right consistency, it takes less than two minutes, but go carefully! Once melted, dip each shortbread into the chocolate and half coat it, put your biscuit back on the greaseproof paper and sprinkle with your chosen sprinkles. I had some shimmer sugar crystals, so I used them. Try to resist eating your shortbread until the chocolate has set. Pop them in the fridge to set if you’re in a hurry.

These are a really delicious treat. They’re lovely even before they’re dipped in chocolate, but that really does take it to the next level.

Black Forest Shortbread Biscuits

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FREE Printable: Chinese New Year – Year of the Dragon

In 2024, Chinese New Year falls on Saturday 10th February. Chinese New Year is a glorious, colourful celebration of the New Year, just when I feel the year is at its darkest and gloomiest. This year is the Chinese Year of the Dragon, which is excellent news for me, as I was born in the Year of the Dragon.

In Manchester the Chinese New Year celebrations are legendary. There is usually a big parade, Chinese crafts exhibition, a big celebration in Albert Square and a fantastic street food market.

2024 is the Chinese Year of the Dragon. The Dragon is the fifth of the 12-year cycle of animals which make up the Chinese zodiac in the Chinese calendar. People born in the years 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000 and 2012 will celebrate their Chinese Zodiac year in 2024. People born in the Year of the Dragon are said to be lively, intelligent, enthusiastic, and excitable. They are often leaders who strive for perfection and they’re not easily discouraged.

Year of the Dragon Printable

Download this free Year of the Dragon printable colouring sheet here.

To celebrate Chinese New Year and the Year of the Dragon, I’ve created two different colouring sheets for children, or indeed adults. It’s a simple sheet which you can print out on A4 paper. All you need are some felt tips or colouring pencils and it should keep the kids entertained for a little while. If you want to extend the fun, you could also try making an egg-box dragon, a Chinese drum, or some traditional red envelopes for Chinese New Year.

Year of the dragon printable 2

Download this free Year of the Dragon printable colouring sheet here.

They’re pretty cute aren’t they? They’re both A4 sized, so just print off however many you need. Give the kids a million coloured pencils or felt tips and let them go wild with them. Adults who enjoy colouring in might also like to get in on the action too.

I’d love to know what you’ll be doing to celebrate Chinese New Year. Let me know in the comment box below. Gong hei fat choy!

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Chinese New Year Year of the Dragon

Ultimate List: 66 Christmas Movies on Netflix in 2023

We all love a Christmas movie. It’s a chance to snuggle down under a blanket with a hot chocolate and take a break from all the busyness of the festive period. If you fancy an afternoon on the sofa watching a movie, I’ve put together a list of the Christmas movies on Netflix this year…

63 Christmas Movies on Netflix in 2023

The 66 Christmas Movies on Netflix in 2023

  • A Brush with Christmas
  • A California Christmas
  • A Castle for Christmas
  • A Christmas Miracle for Daisy
  • A Christmas Prince
  • A Cinderella Story: Christmas Wish
  • A Family Reunion Christmas
  • A Kindhearted Christmas
  • A Wedding for Christmas
  • Alien Xmas
  • Angel Falls Christmas
  • Angela’s Christmas
  • Angela’s Christmas 2
  • Bad Santa 2
  • Best. Christmas. Ever!
  • Boss Baby: Christmas Bonus
  • Christmas at the Drive-In
  • Christmas as Usual
  • Christmas at the Coopers
  • Christmas Chronicles 1
  • Christmas Chronicles 2
  • Christmas Inheritance
  • Christmas on Mistletoe Farm
  • Christmas Wedding Planner
  • Christmas with a View
  • Christmas with You
  • David and the Elves
  • Deck the Halls
  • Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square
  • Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch
  • Elf Pets: Santa’s Reindeer Rescue
  • Falling for Christmas
  • Family Switch
  • Father Christmas is Back
  • Happy Holidays from Madagascar
  • Holidate
  • Holiday Rush
  • Home for Christmas
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas
  • I believe in Santa
  • I hate Christmas
  • I’m glad it’s Christmas
  • Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
  • Klaus
  • Let it Snow
  • Love at First Sight
  • Love Hard
  • Office Christmas Party
  • Operation Christmas Drop
  • Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday
  • Robin Robin
  • Scrooge: A Christmas Carol
  • Shaun the Sheep: The Flight Before Christmas
  • Single all the way
  • Smart Christmas
  • The Claus Family
  • The Claus Family 2
  • The Claus Family 3
  • The Holiday Calendar
  • The Knight Before Christmas
  • The Noel Diary
  • The Princess Switch
  • The Princess Switch: Switched Again
  • Trolls Holiday
  • Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas
  • Wonderland

Sadly no Elf, but we live in hope! I watched Robin Robin last Christmas with my son and we loved it! We’ve also really loved the Christmas Chronicles, which hit at just the right time when my son wasn’t quite sure if he still believed or not, and that got us through just one more Christmas!

What’s your favourite Christmas movie? Which of these 66 films can you recommend?

There’s a slight caveat to this list, which is they’re adding new films all the time, so there might be some films not listed here – if so, please let me know in the comments!

Ultimate List: 66 Christmas Movies on Netflix in 2023

Now you are 13. To my son on his 13th birthday

To my boy,

Last week we went to a Bonfire party and I went to take a selfie of us and realised you’d grown so much, your face wasn’t next to mine in the photo anymore. I’ve been doing a lot of that over the last year. I see you every day, but sometimes I look at you and you’ve suddenly got taller, or your shoes are too small, or your tops are now crop tops!

I look at photos of you as a baby and think that they must be from just a few years ago, but that time has gone in the blink of an eye. They said it would, when every new baby arrives people say, enjoy it, before you know it they’ll be grown and leaving home, and you’re making a good job of growing, though I hope you won’t leave home for a while yet!

To my son on his 13th birthday

In the last year we have been on some adventures. We’ve spent a lot of time on trams and trains, because you really enjoy getting out and about. We have argued countless times about homework and helping out a bit more around the house, or at the very least, not dumping your things wherever you fancy when you walk through the door.

I’ve watched you grow from a boy, to a handsome young man. You’re tall and muscular like your Dad and you’re learning to enjoy the things your new body will let you do, like pick your Dad up and jiggle him about, which is no small thing! I’ve made you sound a bit like The Hulk, but you’re not. You’re gentle and kind and really care about people and animals. You look after your friends at school and stop them being bullied by the less kind members of your year group. It takes a lot to stand up to people and say no, and I couldn’t be prouder of you for doing that.

To my son on his 13th birthday

You’re a teenager now, caught in that eternal struggle between wanting to avoid soap and hot water at all costs, and wanting your hair nice, your spots gone and for the smell of Lynx to follow you everywhere. You’re developing your own sense of style and have definite opinions about fashion. We are learning to enjoy going shopping together, something I never really imagined for myself, but it’s lovely to see you choosing your own clothes and putting together outfits, though you’ve always been very stylish when left to your own devices.

This letter could all just be about how much you’ve grown, which is indisputable. What I wanted to tell you, because although I say it often, I’m not sure you really hear it, is how proud I am of you. You have your struggles with your dyspraxia, but you’re learning ways to conquer that. It may take you a bit longer to master skills, or to get the confidence up to try new things, but you really are tremendous.

You’re a strong swimmer, a brilliant and naturally talented archer, you love going to the gym and lifting weights and smashing it on the cross trainer. You love all forms of transport and if I’m planning a journey, you’re the first person I talk to, because you’ll always find me the best route. You are kind and funny and clever. Most of your teachers are thrilled to have someone as enthusiastic as you in their class. You love geography, science and history, you’re less keen on French, but you’re still somehow really good at it.

To my son on his 13th birthday

Keep doing what you’re doing, because what you’re doing works. I love you so much and you make me proud to be your mum every day. What a privilege it is to be your parent.

Happy birthday my boy. You’re the very best!

Love always,

Mum xx