How To Make a Puffy Paint I Love You To The Moon and Back Card

Over Easter I’ve been playing about with puffy paint. You can buy puffy paint, but you can easily make your own by mixing PVA glue and shaving foam, and that’s what I did. I played about making a few things with it, but by far my favourite was this I Love You To The Moon and Back Card.

The puffy paint is really fun to play around with and as long as you give it ample time to dry, it’s a really versatile thing to craft with. This, I Love You To The Moon and Back Card I made with the puffy paint, is probably one of my favourite things that I’ve made in a while. It’s a lovely card to give to a loved one.

How To Make a Puffy Paint I Love You To The Moon and Back Card

How to make an I Love You To The Moon and Back Card

You will need:

PVA Glue
Shaving Foam
Black card, two pieces
White card
Glittery paper
White paper
Letter stamps and ink (or neat writing)

How To Make a Puffy Paint Love You To The Moon and Back Card

First of all you’ll need to mix up a batch of puffy paint. In a large bowl mix 1 part glue and 3 parts shaving foam together. If you want to colour your puffy paint you can add a few drops of coloured paint, but for the moon we need a nice white puffy paint.

How To Make a Puffy Paint I Love You To The Moon and Back Card

Draw a circle using a pencil on your one piece of black card and dollop some of the puffy paint on it, spread the paint about so it covers the circle. Try and make it a bit more textural; the surface of the moon isn’t smooth, so your puffy paint replica shouldn’t be either. Leave the puffy paint to dry, preferably overnight.

Once it is dry, cut out the circle of the moon and put to one side.

Take a piece of white paper and draw a circle a little bit wider than your moon shape. Using the letter stamps and ink, stamp your message around the circle. I stamped “I LOVE YOU TO THE MOON AND BACK XXX”

Take your glittery card and cut it to the same size as your circle and stick it on there. I then carefully tore the paper around the ink stamped letters. Fold your A4 piece of black card in half and glue the torn paper square onto the front of the card. Then take your moon circle and glue it to the middle of the glittery circle.

Carefully press it down, making sure not to squash the puffy paint. Leave it alone so that the glue can dry. Once it is dry, you can either write your message inside with a nice silver pen, or glue some white paper inside to write on.

It’s such a lovely card to give to someone. It’s really unusual and despite the number of steps, it’s actually really simple.

If you enjoyed this, you might also like to try making these cards…

How To Make a Puffy Paint I Love You To The Moon and Back Card

Children’s Books: Six of the Best Pokémon Books

It would be an understatement to say my son likes Pokémon. It’s not a thing I even pretend to understand, but he spends most of his free time watching Pokémon on TV and reading books all about it. I’m firmly of the opinion that all reading is good reading and I’m just happy that he’s happy to spend a few happy hours reading all about his latest obsession. I’ve picked out six of the best Pokémon books in his collection.

Children's Books: Six of the Best Pokémon Books

Six of the Best Pokémon Books

The Pokémon Encyclopedia is the official guide to all things Pokémon. You can become a real Pokémon expert with this guide to the animated series. It is jam-packed with Pokémon stories, lessons, facts and figures. The Pokémon Encyclopedia is the definitive reference for key characters, battles and places. It’s an absolute must-have for all Pokémon fans.

The Official Pokémon Ultimate Creative Colouring Book – This brilliant colouring book contains 30 Pokémon landscapes and patterns for you to colour in. The ultimate gift for any Pokémon fan. 

How to Draw Pokémon: 50 Pokémon to Learn to Draw is the best book for Pokémon fans to learn how to draw Pokémon characters. It contains 50 Pokémon, including all your favourite characters.

The Ultimate Pokémon Trainer’s Guide by Ned Hartley is a 64 page softback book packed with everything you need to know about Pokémon including reviews, facts, stats and tips. This is a really comprehensive book about Pokémon. It’s absolutely the kind of book kids like my son adore. Every page is packed with facts and stats and it’s perfect for dipping in and out of. You can read our full review of this book here.

The Official Pokémon 1001 Sticker Book is jam-packed with over 1001 stickers featuring Pokémon old and new from across the seven regions. Explore the city in Kanto, the mountaintops in Johto, the beach in Alola – and lots more! Re-create epic battles and use your stickers to complete the scenes in the ultimate Pokémon sticker book.

The Official Pokémon 365 Days of Pokémon: An Activity for Every Day of the Year. This bumper activity book has 365 Pokémon-packed activities – one for every day of the year. Search for elusive Dark-type Pokémon, colour First Partner Pokémon, draw Fire-type Pokémon and much more.

So those are our six favourite Pokémon books which are available at the moment. Have we missed any really good ones? If so, please comment below.

If you enjoyed this, you might also like to check out our Pokémon reading log, just the thing to motivate Pokémon fans with their reading.

Children's Books: Six of the Best Pokémon Books

Review: Casdon Morphy Richards Kitchen Set

AD/Gifted. Over Easter my lovely friend Rachel from The Marvellous Mrs P and her daughter Dottie have been playing with the Casdon Morphy Richards Kitchen Set. It’s a complete set of kitchen appliances with contemporary styling consisting of a fillable coffee maker; kettle with level gauge indicator, toaster with ‘pop-up’ toast and an extensive range of colourful crockery, cutlery and even play food. Here’s what Rachel and Dottie thought of it…

Of all the things that children learn through pretend play, surely the art of making a cuppa is the most important? I’ll never forget the first real cup of tea Beth made. She was so proud as she carried this milky, lukewarm offering towards me. Two hands – careful Mummy it’s hot.

Review: Casdon Morphy Richards Kitchen Set

Beth’s brew making skills have improved massively since then, but now we have a new apprentice. Dorothy is a little (feeder) hostess in the making.

She’s had a great time playing with this realistic looking Morphy Richards set from Casdon. The set comprises a kettle, toaster and coffee maker in her favourite colour, complete with plates, cups and even breakfast food. The pieces are nicely made and sturdy, which they have to be to withstand our little tearaway!

We pushed down the lever on the toaster, watched patiently as our bread ‘cooked’ and Dottie was thrilled when the toast popped up. She wanted to do it again and again, trying to catch the toast in the air.

Review: Casdon Morphy Richards Kitchen Set

In fact the only thing that distracted her from the toaster was the kettle, because – hold on tight – I had filled it with water!

I can’t tell you how excited Dottie was when she realised there was real water in her kettle but what came next was even better. We poured it into the top of the coffee maker and watched it slowly ‘percolate’ into the coffee pot below. This meant that Mummy could have her nice cup of tea with ‘alund milk’ (almond milk) and Daddy his coffee with ‘moo milk’ (cow’s milk) and we could both tuck in to a well deserved fry up.

All in, this is a great set for children aged from as young as two year upwards. Because children enjoy pretend play for a long time, especially when water is involved. The pieces are nicely made and very realistic; you could use them to create a play kitchen or a cafe. All three of the main toys have working elements so that groups of friends can play together without squabbling over one toy!

Dorothy really enjoying making drinks, laying a table and practicing saying please, thank you and you’re welcome. All important skills to learn!

Review: Casdon Morphy Richards Kitchen Set

The Casdon Morphy Richards Kitchen Set has an RRP of £17 but is currently available on Amazon for £12.99. 

Disclaimer: Rachel received the Casdon Morphy Richards Kitchen Set for review purposes. I have not been compensated for this post.

Toy Review: Wonder Park Toy Collection #WonderParkToys

AD/Gifted. If you’ve got kids, you can’t fail to have heard about the release of the latest film from Nickelodeon Movies – Wonder Park. Released in the UK on 8th April, Wonder Park has been THE movie to see over Easter. Following the success of the film, the Wonder Park Toy Collection has been launched and today we take a look at some of the toys in the range.

Wonder Park is the story of a magnificent amusement park run by animals where the imagination of a wildly creative girl named June comes alive. In the Wonder Park Toy Collection there are a number of toys available to suit a range of budgets.

Toy Review: Wonder Park Toy Collection #WonderParkToys

At the top of the range is the Wonder Park Ferris Wheel Playset. This costs £19.99 from John Lewis and is suitable for ages 3+. You can light up the Ferris Wheel at a push of a button and spin it to take the Greta and Wonder Chimp figures which are included on a wonderful ride. The set includes one Ferris Wheel, one exclusive Greta, and one exclusive Wonder Chimp. It’s solidly built and a toy which would not be easily broken. The ferris wheel is easy to put together and the flashing lights are really lovely. It’s not a noisy toy and I appreciate that.

Toy Review: Wonder Park Toy Collection #WonderParkToys

Next up we have the Wonder Park Flying Fish Ferris Wheel Playset; which is £14.99 from John Lewis and suitable for ages 3+. The Flying Fish Carousel is a ride straight from the movie that turns and includes 3 detachable flying fish, an exclusive June figure and her Peanut doll. The set includes some instructions for putting it together, which are easy to follow. The flying fish just slot into the ferris wheel which just clips together. It’s a pretty little toy and one you can have lots of fun with.

At the more pocket money priced end of the range; the Wonder Park Gus and Cooper Figure Set comes with snack accessories, including a big box of popcorn and a drink, so you can have even more Wonder Park fun. Use your imagination and think of sweet scenes, or recreate your favourite moments from the film. The set costs £7 and is suitable for ages 3+.

Toy Review: Wonder Park Toy Collection #WonderParkToys

The last set we played with was the Wonder Chimp Surprise 3 pack. The pack includes a bright Wonder Park vehicle which you can roll around; plus three Wonder Chimps to fit inside it. One of your new Wonder Chimp figures is a mystery – you won’t know who you have until you pop open the packaging. There are 30 different Wonder Chimps to collect in Series 1. This pack costs £5 and is suitable for ages 3+.

Toy Review: Wonder Park Toy Collection #WonderParkToys

If your little ones are fans of the film, the Wonder Park Toy Collection is affordable and interesting; with collectibles too. Recreating all the fun of the film is easy with these versatile toys.

The Wonder Park Toy Collection by Funrise Toys also features some cuddly toys, you can see the full range of toys from the movie on the John Lewis website.

Disclosure: I was sent these toys for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

How to make a Pokemon Pokeball Birthday Cake

For his birthday every year I bake my son a birthday cake. Each year he presents me with a set of grand plans for the cake, and each year I tone down his idea a little to something I can manage with my limited skills. Over the years I’ve learned how to bake pretty darn good cakes, but decorating them is where I fall down. I don’t like to disappoint, so when he asked for a Pokemon birthday cake, then rattled off an extensive list of characters I decided it would be best to make a simple Pokeball design with a colourful rainbow sponge inside.

It’s actually very simple and you don’t need loads of cake decorating skills to do it. If you can roll out icing and cut shapes out with a knife, you’ve got all the skills you need.

Pokemon Pokeball Birthday Cake

The finish of my cake was not perfect, but I had already spent a lot of time faffing about with the rainbow layers, and no one cared really. He was thrilled with his birthday cake, which is all that matters really.

How to make a Pokemon Pokeball Birthday Cake

You will need:

5 layers of sponge cake, rainbow coloured if you like
Vanilla buttercream, I used 2 tubs of Betty Crocker
1 packet of marzipan
2 packets of white ready to roll royal icing
Red ready to roll royal icing
Black ready to roll royal icing
Icing sugar
Water
A cake board

How to make a Pokemon Pokeball Birthday Cake

To begin with I baked the rainbow layers. I made up a double batch of my victoria sponge recipe and using a set of scales divided it into equal portions. I then mixed through a few drops of the colouring from this set of 8 food paste colours. When you do this remember that the colour darkens in the oven, so mix it a shade or two lighter than you’d like. Once baked, leave them until they’re completely cool before assembling the cake.

To stack the cake, using a palette knife put a dab of the buttercream in the centre of the cake board. If you’re using rainbow cake, decide which order your rainbow layers will go and place the bottom layer on top of the blob of buttercream. This will help to anchor your cake in place and stop it sliding about.

Pokemon Pokeball Birthday Cake

Spread a layer of buttercream on top of your first layer and top it with your next cake, cover that with buttercream and continue until all the layers are stacked.

Now it’s time to apply the crumb coat, which just means cover the whole of the cake in a thin layer of buttercream. This is so the cake crumbs stay where they should be and it will also help stick the marzipan to the cake. Once you’ve done this, put the cake to one side, somewhere cool.

Pokemon Pokeball Birthday Cake

Now it’s time to roll the marzipan out. I used icing sugar to stop it sticking to my work surface and rolling pin. Roll it out as thin as you please. My marzipan was pretty thin, but not so thin it could easily tear; perhaps about the thickness of a pound coin. You’ll need to roll out quite a big piece of marzipan to cover the cake in one go, and it might be worth measuring how much area you need to cover with a piece of string.

Lift the marzipan with the rolling pin and drape it over the cake. Use your hands to smooth it down and all over the cake. You may need to trim some of the folds back so the finish is smoother. It doesn’t matter how this layer looks because it will be covered with the royal icing, but it does need to be pretty smooth and even all over. Take your time doing this.

Pokemon Pokeball Birthday Cake

Now for the hardest bit. Take your white royal icing and put some to one side for later. Then roll out the rest of the icing, again using icing sugar to stop it sticking to the work top. When you’ve rolled out a piece as big as you need, brush the marzipan all over with water and carefully lift the icing onto the cake. Take as long as you need to gently smooth the icing over the cake. I find the warmth of my hands helps to smooth it out. This layer needs to be super smooth, so take your time to get it right.

After that you probably need to sit down with a cup of tea for a bit, so do that before you do the next bit.

Pokemon Pokeball Birthday Cake

Now it the time to turn your plain white cake into a Pokeball. Just like before, roll out the red royal icing. Take one of your cake tins and use it to trace a semi circle the size of the cake. I then used a shot glass (don’t judge me) to cut out a small semi circle on the straight edge of the icing. Brush half of the top of your cake with a little bit of water, not too much as your colours may start to run and gently press on the red semi circle of icing.

Roll out the black icing and cut out a black circle the size of a shot glass. Using a knife cut out a circle so you have a black ring. Then cut out a long strip of the black icing the diameter of the cake. Have a look at the picture below and using a dab of water fix the icing where it should be.

Pokemon Pokeball Birthday Cake

Finally cut out a circle of white royal icing to sit in the black ring. Stick it in place with a dab of water and your Pokeball birthday cake is done.

It’s a really straightforward design and frankly if I can do it, I’m sure you can too!

Pokemon Pokeball Birthday CakePokemon Pokeball Birthday Cake

If you enjoyed this you might also like to try and make these birthday cakes –

How to make a Pokemon Pokeball Birthday Cake

Win a Milly & Flynn Paper Craft Pop Up 3D Monkey kit

AD/Gifted. Throughout the year I collect books, games, puzzles and all kinds of things to keep my boy occupied and entertained during the school holidays. He had two weeks off over Easter, so it was time to deploy some of the fun things I’d squirreled away. One of the things was a Paper Craft Pop Up 3D Monkey from Milly & Flynn.

Win a Milly & Flynn Paper Craft Pop Up 3D Monkey kit

Craft kits are great little portable packets of fun. This Paper Craft Pop Up 3D Monkey contains everything you need, except a pair of scissors. The pop up monkey is exactly that, a cardboard monkey you make, squash down, drop on the floor and he pops up again. It’s tremendous fun, especially if you’re 8!

The craft kit included a page of instructions, and most helpfully the link to a YouTube video of someone putting the kit together. We read the instructions and popped out all the parts, read the instructions again and then began building the monkey.

Win a Milly & Flynn Paper Craft Pop Up 3D Monkey kit

There were a few moments where we needed to watch the video to see what needed to be done, but it was a straightforward and clever build. It took around 45 minutes to put together, then it was time to test it out. We found the monkey wouldn’t pop up on a carpet and was better if he dropped it onto the slate kitchen floor while he was stood on a chair.

It brought him enormous fun. I was really very proud that we had managed to make up the monkey by ourselves (without asking my slightly more technically proficient husband). We did find that although the pop up monkey is pretty sturdy, if an 8 year old repeatedly hurls it at the floor some of the sections start to come apart, but this is easily fixed with a bit of sellotape.

Win a Milly & Flynn Paper Craft Pop Up 3D Monkey kit

We really liked the Paper Craft Pop Up 3D Monkey. I liked that everything we needed was in the pack, which made it really portable and great for taking away on our little holiday. The kit costs £10, which on the surface might seem a little pricey, but the quality of the craft is superb and the monkey will last for ages. It’s a brilliant design and we would absolutely try other Milly & Flynn craft kits in the range.

You can find the Paper Craft Pop Up 3D Monkey here on Amazon and you can find out more about Milly & Flynn on their website.

Win a Milly & Flynn Paper Craft Pop Up 3D Monkey kit

To be in with a chance to win a Milly & Flynn Paper Craft Pop Up 3D Monkey kit, simply complete the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

Check out our other giveaways over on our competitions page.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & Conditions:
1. The competition is open to residents of the UK only aged (18) and over.
2. The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered.
3. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter widget above, complete any mandatory entries and any optional entries you would like.
4. The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries.
5. The winner will be sent a Milly & Flynn Paper Craft Pop Up 3D Monkey kit.
6. The closing date for entries is 11.59pm GMT on 22nd May 2019.
7. The winner will be informed by email within 7 days of the closing date.
8. The winner will be asked to provide a full UK postal address with postcode for delivery purposes.
9. The winners name will be available on request
10. Address details will be shared only with Carlton Books who will send the prize to the winner.
11. Entry to this giveaway confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions.
12. HodgePodgeDays decision is final in all matters relating to this giveaway.

Disclosure: I was sent this craft kit for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Win a copy of the activity book – Dare you to Doodle!

AD/Gifted. I love a good activity book. I always have at least one in my bag for my son to pull out and entertain him himself with whenever we need to fend off the boredom. Over Easter we were out and about a lot, having lunch with friends, travelling and generally having periods of time to fill. The activity book I’d shoved in my bag for duration was a new one, Dare you to Doodle it’s a special kind of activity book, and one which really sparks the imagination.

Dare you to Doodle is a super creative doodle activity book. You can make your own comic strip story; find buried treasure, design some cool robots, create a flip book, design your favourite pizza or complete a moon mission. Dare you to Doodle encourages you to think outside of the box and be creative.

Created by Caroline Rowlands, this activity book is aimed at children aged 8+; but it’s definitely the kind of book I could enjoy for a quiet half hour with a cup of coffee.

Win a copy of the activity book - Dare you to Doodle!

Inside the pages are black, white and green, with plenty of space for creativity. It was brilliant for my boy over Easter. We went out for lunch a few times and he just doodled away, sometimes we would doodle away together. It was lovely to do something creative with him. He really enjoyed just doodling instead of working on activity sheets or something overtly educational which is as it should be when you’re on holiday.

Dare you to Doodle has 144 pages of doodles to do and is just the thing for sparking creativity or to doodle do if you need to wind down after a hard day. Dare you to Doodle is published on 2nd May 2019 by Carlton Kids. It costs £8.99 and is available from a wide range of retailers.

Win a copy of the activity book – Dare you to Doodle!

To be in with a chance to win a copy of the activity book – Dare you to Doodle!, simply complete the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

Check out our other giveaways over on our competitions page.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & Conditions:
1. The competition is open to residents of the UK only aged (18) and over.
2. The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered.
3. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter widget above, complete any mandatory entries and any optional entries you would like.
4. The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries.
5. The winner will be sent a copy of Dare you to Doodle!
6. The closing date for entries is 11.59pm GMT on 19th May 2019.
7. The winner will be informed by email within 7 days of the closing date.
8. The winner will be asked to provide a full UK postal address with postcode for delivery purposes.
9. The winners name will be available on request
10. Address details will be shared only with Carlton Books who will send the prize to the winner.
11. Entry to this giveaway confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions.
12. HodgePodgeDays decision is final in all matters relating to this giveaway.

Disclosure: We were sent a copy of Dare you to Doodle for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Review: New Schleich Dinosaur Figurines for 2019

AD/Gifted. Over the weekend we were looking back at pictures of my son as a toddler and there were a few pictures of him playing with some of the dinosaur figures we’d got him. He’s still playing with them now and every few months we add another dinosaur or two to his collection. Over Easter we’ve added the new 2019 Schleich Dinosaur Figurines to his dino box and he’s thrilled!

The new collection of Schleich Dinosaur Figurines includes the Spinosaurus (£19.99), Giganotosaurus (£19.99), Dimetrodon (£9.99), Dimorphodon (£7.99) and Animantarx (£7.99).

What I really like about the new dinosaurs in the range is that they’re not just the usual, popular dinosaurs. I really like that they’re slightly more unusual, and that’s really great for dinosaur enthusiasts to explore and play with.

Review: New Schleich Dinosaur Figurines for 2019

The Spinosaurus was one of the most dangerous dinosaurs. It is considered the biggest carnivore because it was even bigger than the T-rex and the Giganotosaurus! It can be easily distinguished from the other two dinosaurs by the spiny sail on its back and its crocodile-like snout. It’s a bigger figurine, really detailed and has a movable lower jaw for extra ferociousness!

Review: New Schleich Dinosaur Figurines for 2019

The Giganotosaurus is quite similar to the T-rex. Both were hunters with short arms, walked on two legs and had a large skull. However, the Giganotosaurus lived much earlier and was from North America, whereas the Tyrannosaurus rex lived in South America. This large sized figure had a movable lower jaw and is a fearsome as his T-rex cousin!

Review: New Schleich Dinosaur Figurines for 2019

The Dimetrodon is often referred to as a dinosaur. However, it is a primeval reptile, a so-called Pelycosaurus. It has a sail on its back was made of skin and bones, helping it to warm itself quicker in the sun. If it wanted to cool down, it positioned the sail parallel to the sun’s rays. This colourful reptile also has a movable lower jaw and makes a colourful addition to any dino collection.

Review: New Schleich Dinosaur Figurines for 2019

The Animantarx was an approximately 3-metre-long dinosaur with bone plate armour. Only one skeleton of the dinosaur has ever been found, so scientists don’t really know much about it. It lived during the Upper Cretaceous period, at the time of Argentinosaurus and Giganotosaurus, and fed on plants. It has a squat body and looks like it would be a dangerous enemy to have!

My favourite dino from the collection is the Dimorphodon. It was a small flying dinosaur with a large skull and a long beak. It hunted fish, insects, lizards and other vertebrates, which it held with its claws and then ripped apart with its fangs. With its short wings it could probably only fly short distances, for example from tree to tree. They styling of the figure is really sweet and I can really picture it swooping down to hunt.

Review: New Schleich Dinosaur Figurines for 2019

The new Schleich Dinosaur Figurines are aimed at children and collectors aged 5+, though the figures are suitable for ages 3+. The new collection also includes a newly re-styled Plesiosaurus, a Dracorex and a Diabloceratops.

As with anything made by Schleich, everything has been beautifully hand-painted and the modelling and attention to detail is excellent. They are really great collectors pieces and the quality is fantastic. The Schleich Dinosaurs my son has been playing with since he was three are still in perfect condition and still played with on a very regular basis. I’ve decided to keep them once he (if he) grows out of them to pass on to any grandchildren I might have.

If you’re building a dino collection of your own, or if you’re starting a collection, these Schleich dinosaur figures are a great place to start. The full range of dinosaurs is extensive, so whatever dino is your favourite, it’s bound to be available.

You can buy Schleich dinosaurs from a wide range of retailers including Smyths Toys and directly from Schleich.

Disclosure: We were sent some of the Schleich Dinosaurs range for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

A family stay at The Park Royal Hotel, Cheshire

AD/Complimentary stay. The Park Royal Hotel in Cheshire is a 4 star hotel and spa. It’s set in 2.5 acres of grounds at the edge of Stretton village, a short drive away from a whole host of family attractions. Over the Easter holidays we took the chance to have a night away as a family, to chill out and have a bit of fun together.

We had just returned from a self catering break; but as the person responsible for most of the catering, packing and organising, by the time we got back I needed a little break to get over the first one. The answer was a night at The Park Royal Hotel. Hotel stays are almost always a massive treat; having someone else cook dinner, do the washing up, make the beds and lay on a really good breakfast in the morning is just blissful.

A family stay at The Park Royal Hotel, Cheshire

We arrived mid-afternoon and as we checked, in the boy was given a treasure trail sheet to do while we were there. There are clues hidden throughout the hotel, find them all and you get a prize. It’s a small but brilliant thing and my son loved exploring.

We spotted two of the clues on our way to our family room –  a lovely comfortable room with everything we needed and really comfortable beds. The room had free WiFi, tea and coffee making facilities, cable TV and 24-hour room service.

A family stay at The Park Royal Hotel, Cheshire

We had a quick coffee in the room, but didn’t stay long as the pool has family swim times and we were all very keen to dive in. The Park Royal Hotel has a modern health club and spa with a high-tech gym. There is a 22-metre indoor swimming pool, with a sauna, steam room and hot tub. They also have a number of spa and beauty treatments available to book. 

My son was desperate to get in the pool and show off his swimming skills. There are family swim times every day, which is great if you’re staying with kids; or if you’re not and you want to avoid children you know when not to go for a swim.

A family stay at The Park Royal Hotel, Cheshire

The pool is great. It’s big and there’s plenty of room for everyone. My husband and I both wanted to spend some quality time using the sauna and steam room, so we took it in turns to swim with the boy. We both loved the herbal steam room which was incredibly relaxing. We all had a brilliant couple of hours by the pool, so brilliant that we decided to go back in again the next day before we checked out.

After our swim we went back to our room to get ready for dinner. The Park Royal Hotel has a formal restaurant and a casual bar and grill; we had plans to go for dinner and then meet friends who live nearby for drinks afterwards.

A family stay at The Park Royal Hotel, Cheshire

We had a delicious meal, I was really pleased that the restaurant had a children’s menu which had a good range of meals to choose from. The boy picked his favourite – fish and chips, which was a really good sized portion which he said was dee-licious. You could tell by his almost empty plate that it was good!

We  both had starters; I had curried vegetable soup which really hit the spot and my husband chose the ham hock terrine, both were beautifully presented and delicious. For our main courses, I chose the veggie butternut squash tart with a side of triple cooked chips; he had the braised beef which fell apart as soon as you touched it.

After a seriously good meal, we retired to the bar to meet our friends. The bar was pretty busy as there was football on, but as soon as the game finished the bar emptied pretty quickly. In an act of impeccable timing we managed to finish the kids treasure trail; so we went to reception and he was given his prize – a really good activity pack and some chocolate. This kept him happy and occupied while we chatted with friends, but he’d had a long and busy day, so I took him back to our room to go to sleep.

A family stay at The Park Royal Hotel, Cheshire

When we got back to our room there was a plate of milk and cookies waiting for him. What a treat! It was so lovely to have a little something for him to nibble on once he’d got his PJs on. We got tucked up in bed and we all had a really long and restful sleep.

Morning came all too soon, but we were ready for breakfast. Despite my husbands determination to just have a light breakfast of fruit and yoghurt, the boy’s breakfast of sausages, eggs and bacon tempted him over to the dark side. I love a good hotel breakfast, there’s something for everyone, whatever they’re in the mood for. From the full English, to continental style pasties, fruit and yoghurt or cheese and salami. Breakfast was a real highlight for me.

A family stay at The Park Royal Hotel, Cheshire

Sadly our time at The Park Royal Hotel was coming to an end. We did have just enough time to pack our bags and grab a quick hour in the pool before we had to check out.

We’d had a fantastic stay. We all left feeling really chilled out. I felt so pampered because I’d had 24 hours of someone else doing the work. We’d all benefited from a good nights sleep and it was a really family friendly place to stay. The staff were all friendly and helpful and they were really engaging and chatty with the boy.

The Park Royal Hotel is a great base to explore Cheshire. It is just 11 miles from Tatton Park and about 15 miles from Chester Zoo. It’s near the Blue Planet Aquarium, Cheshire Oaks, Applejacks Farm and many, many more family attractions. It’s a great choice for families; close enough to all the fun things to do, but not in a noisy city centre where it’s hard to park.

We loved the little touches; like the milk and cookies at bedtime and the treasure trail. His most favourite things were his big breakfast and swimming in the pool. They might also have been my favourite things too. We were sad to leave, but really happy we’d taken some time out as a family to just hang out and have fun together. I wonder where we will end up next?

The Park Royal Hotel is a 4 star hotel and spa in Stretton near Warrington. It’s a great choice for families and you can find out more about the hotel by visiting their website.

Disclosure: We were given dinner, bed and breakfast in exchange for this blog post. All images and opinions are our own.

Recipe: Blueberry and Lemon Drizzle Bundt

Last year I treated myself to a bundt tin and I’ve been baking the prettiest cakes in the world in it ever since. My current favourite bake is a Blueberry and Lemon Drizzle Bundt and it’s one I take along as an offering whenever a cake is required. It’s really easy, looks as pretty as a picture and it tastes fantastic. This cake also gives people the impression I’m a much better baker than I really am, it’s just a foolproof recipe and a fancy tin.

Lemon drizzle is an absolute classic and one which has been a staple of mine for a few years now. Everyone loves a lemon drizzle, but this version with blueberries really takes it up a notch.

Recipe: Blueberry and Lemon Drizzle Bundt

Blueberry and Lemon Drizzle Bundt

Ingredients

250g caster sugar
250g softened butter
4 eggs
250g self-raising flour
1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Zest of 2 lemons, finely grated
Juice of 1 lemon
250g fresh blueberries

For the icing –

150g icing sugar
Zest of 1 lemon, plus juice of half of the lemon

How to make your Blueberry and Lemon Drizzle Bundt:

Pre-heat the oven to 190° and liberally grease your bundt tin with melted butter.

Beat your butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla, eggs, flour, baking powder and lemon zest and juice and give them a really good mix. Add the fresh blueberries and stir in gently.

Pour the mixture into your bundt tin. Smooth the top of the batter and bake in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes. Once baked through, remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for at least 15 minutes.

Once cool, turn out onto a suitable plate or cake stand and make up the drizzle icing. Do not even attempt to drizzle the icing on until the cake is fully cooled.

Recipe: Blueberry and Lemon Drizzle Bundt

Sift the icing sugar into a bowl and mix with the lemon juice and zest. I like a thicker drizzle, so add the lemon juice a teaspoon at a time until you get the consistency you want.

Prick your cake all over with a skewer and carefully spoon your icing over, try to get some of it down the little holes in your cake. Leave it in a cool place for the icing to set a little, then serve with a pot of tea.

It’s as light as a feather and an absolutely fabulous spring bake. If you don’t have a bunt tin, you can always bake it in a regular cake tin, just adjust the cooking time as you see fit.

If you enjoyed this, you might also like to try this lemon and ginger drizzle cake.

Recipe: Blueberry and Lemon Drizzle Bundt