Save on Summer Days Out With Cbeebies Kids Go Free!


I love a good bargain, me. Plus, Grumpyishmum is a blog that loves getting out and about! So when Cbeebies Magazine emailed to let me know about their brilliant Kids Go Free scheme this summer, I was happy to share it with you, my lovely readers.

This is what Cbeebies Magazine have to tell you …

CBeebies magazine has teamed up with Merlin Entertainments to launch a Summer long campaign giving parents the chance to save up to £355 on top kids’ attractions in the UK.

Every issue of CBeebies Magazine from the 16th July until the 7th October will come with two vouchers for kids to go free to a different attraction every issue with some of the most popular kids’ attractions in the country including Legoland, Chessington World of Adventures and Sealife.

According to Stephanie Cooper, Editor Pre-school: “Keeping kids entertained during the long summer months can often be a challenge and we want to do our bit to help. We are delighted to team up with Merlin Entertainment on this fabulous offer. For a magazine priced under £3 for each issue parents can bring two kids for free to some of the countries’ best venues.

The campaign kicks off this week with SeaLife in issue 409 (o/s 16th July), priced £2.99. Also in this week’s issue: There are two great makes to do with Mister Maker and the Octonauts, dinosaurs to colour with Andy and a Sarah and Duck sticker picture all about the seasons!
Plus 2 fantastic Timmy time ‘Sunny Days’ reward charts, a seaside story with Mr.Bloom’s Nursery and an ice cream sundae toy.

The full list of attractions and dates included in this fantastic offer are:

Issue 409 (16th July) – Sealife Centres and Seal sanctuaries – Save £39 (£19.50 per ticket)
Issue 410 (30th July) - Chessington World of Adventures – Save £68 (£34 per ticket)
Issue 411 (13th Aug) – Alton Towers Resort inc. CBeebies Land – Save £86.40 (£43.20 per ticket)
Issue 412 (27th Aug) – Warwick Castle – Save £39.60 (£19.80 per ticket)
Issue 413 (10th Sept) – Legoland and Legoland Discovery Centre – Save £82.80 (£41.40 per ticket)
Issue 414 (24th Sept) – Sealife Centres and Seal sanctuaries – Save £39 (£19.50 per ticket)

We have been to a few of these attractions in the past, and never been disappointed. See our reviews of the Sea Trek at Sealife Centre Manchester and Legoland Discovery Centre to give you an idea of what’s in store.

If you decide to visit any of these attractions, I’d love for you to come back here and let me know how your day went!

Happy summer!

Louis and Daddy’s #BigWildSleepout

Recently my husband took our eldest son Louis wild camping as part of the RSPB #BigWildSleepout. Louis was raising money for the charity and managed to raise £50.00 in total which he was really pleased with!

Originally the plan was to sleep in a relative’s back garden but with so many woods and other suitable places for this type of occasion they decided to go ‘proper’ wild camping to a place not far from us called Deepley Vale. My husband has walked this area many, many times and knows it well. He camped here himself when he was younger and was confident that the area was safe. Of course, that didn’t stop me worrying all night but that’s what wives/mums do!

They arrived at around 5pm and set up camp.


The boys travelled light, because there was only one trip to be made from the car to the area they were going to camp. It’s lucky Louis is so strong!

Once they were all pitched up, Louis and Ted tucked into the meal I had sent with them. I had insulated it to within an inch of it’s life so they could have a hot meal before bed.


The boys went to look for firewood and found rather more than they bargained for – Louis came home with part of a cow’s jawbone. Nice.


The order of the evening though was to see what wildlife they could find. My husband has been interested in the natural world since he was a child and this passion has rubbed off onto our children.

The boys found something wonderful! A nest of baby Pied Wagtails! Naturally, they took great care not to disturb the nest whilst snapping this lovely shot.


Louis’ favourite creatures are bats. He loves them. We pay each month to a bat charity to ‘sponsor’ a bat and often go on bat walks in the early evening with Louis’ bat detector, which we bought for his 5th birthday. I’m not sure I know any other for year olds that have a bat detector on their birthday wish list – and nothing else!

So it goes without saying that the boys did a little bat detecting while they were out.


They think they heard a couple of different species, namely Pipistrelle (they weren’t sure which type) and Daubenton’s.

After the excitement of the evening the boys settled down for a good nights sleep.

The following morning they were up, packed and home before Rowan and I were out of bed! We were so pleased to have them back from their really wild adventure, and they couldn’t wait to tell us their tales!

To find out more about the RSPB charity you can visit their website.

Is Home Education Right For You?

Today I’ve got guest blogger Mel Bridge here from Bridge Family: Abridged to answer some FAQ’s on Home Education. This is a subject I find very interesting, and although I don’t have the time or the patience to home educate my two boys, I’m truly in awe of those that do.

So I’ll hand you over to Mel. If you have any questions please post below and I will endeavour to have them answered for you!

Home Education: Is it even an option?
I home educate my kids. I have done for four years. I wrote a blog post the other week about why we made the decision to do so, but I’d like to talk about HOW to Home Educate in the UK, answer some common questions I’ve had and try to quickly show how Home Education is actually a very valid (and do-able) option.

Isn’t it against the law?
No it is not against the law to educate your own child. The law says you must provide an education by sending them to school or ‘otherwise’. Home Education comes under ‘otherwise’.

Do you have to let anyone know you are Home Educating?
Well that’s a yes and no answer! If your child is in school and you are taking him out, yes you need to let the Local Authority know. You do not need to ask permission from the school, you don’t need to discuss it with the Head teacher (unless you want to) all you need to do is add your child’s details to this letter, print it off and deliver it to school. Personally I would send it Recorded and Signed For so that you have proof they have received it. You can send one to the Local Authority whilst you are at it (you don’t need to…it’s a belt and braces approach). Then you are good to go! If you feel that there might be repercussions or a bad atmosphere from you removing your child to home educate you could time your letter to go in on the last day before a holiday so that your child doesn’t have to go back in.
If your child has never been to school you can just carry on as you are and you don’t need to register as a Home Educator. You can if you like…but most people in this country don’t bother and it isn’t a legal requirement.
If your child is registered as having Special Educational Needs and attends a special school the rules are different and you will need to get advice from because I don’t have direct experience of this.

Do you have to follow the National Curriculum?

What about Socialisation?
There are many home educators across the country. Many more than you will realise and it is really easy to find them online through Facebook, yahoo groups, websites etc. (If you need help drop me a line and I will help direct you) and you can meet up with parents with children of a similar age or with similar interests to yours very easily. They set up sports clubs, chess clubs, science clubs etc and if your child has a certain interest and no-one seems to have set something up you can set it up and invite everyone along! They even organise proms! Not only that there are still the usual after-school clubs available to your child such as Brownies, Cubs, Scouts, Gymnastics classes etc. And let’s not forget all the people they will meet in the community when they are shopping with you, visiting the park, the library, the museum, castles etc. And the great thing is the people they meet will not all be exactly the same age and of the same background as themselves as is usual in the school system: they will meet people who are different to themselves. They will get a more rounded socialisation. When was the last time you sat on a carpet with 28 other people your own age?

You must be Wonder Woman, you are so brave! (or Stupid)
I get this more often than all the other questions put together! Maybe because I’ve got four kids…everyone seems to think I am insane. They say things like “I wouldn’t have the patience” and “Do you ever get any time to yourself?” Really, Home Education isn’t for everyone, some parents like to have time away from their kids and I admit I don’t get much time away from mine. It’s difficult if I am ill. When I was ill and they went to school I just had to drag myself out of bed, get them to school then get home and get back in bed. Now I have to be ill with four kids with me…so it isn’t as convenient but luckily I am not ill that often and honestly when I am fit and well it’s MUCH easier to have them at home than send them to school! I don’t have packed lunches to make, school uniforms to wash and iron, school runs to do…every day is like the holidays (without battling through millions of school kids!) and we have loads of fun! Not only that, they are learning a valuable life lesson. If I am ill they look after me, they use quiet voices and help out at home. If they were in school they wouldn’t learn that.

My kids are really hard work I can’t wait for the holidays to be over! How do you cope with them full time?
When we first started home educating it was really hard! My kids were used to playing with their own friends, separate from each other and whenever they got a game out they fought and bickered over it. Also they were used to having a member of staff telling them what to do from when they arrived at school at 9am until I collected them at 3.15…so mine were saying they were bored and asking “What are we doing next?” every ten minutes! We’d barely cleaned the brushes from painting and they wanted to know what was next! After about three weeks I was exhausted just like I was in the school holidays. I realised I couldn’t keep it up and we went back to basics. I let them play. They played independently. They learned to get along and we slowed our pace down. People call this ‘unschooling’ and some educational theorists believe children need a month of ‘unschooling’ for each year of full time education. Now that my children can get along and they are not trying to have school at home, we have a great time!

Do you teach them from 9-3?
There are as many approaches to Home Education as there are Home Educators. You really can do it as you like. We carried on ‘unschooling’ for about two years, my children were 5,4 and 1 when I pulled the eldest two out of school and in lots of countries children don’t even start school until they are 7 so I saw no problem with continuing to just offer opportunities for learning without a structure. This is also called Autonomous education (if you want a term to google) and can be a lot of fun but it does require that you trust the process! Many autonomously educated young people have ended up going to Oxford and Cambridge so don’t be thinking that this is an approach that doesn’t lead anywhere in terms of academia…you will just find that the child naturally follows their own path.
Many people use a curriculum in a box (you pay for a box of books and a curriculum and work through it in sequence) others get a tutor in for some subjects, some do skills swaps with other home educators (maybe I’m no good at Maths but you are good at it so you take my kids for Maths whilst I teach yours to sew). Others follow Education styles such as Montessori, Classical, Steiner or Charlotte Mason… all these approaches can be either followed to the letter or as I did you can take a hatchet to them then sellotape them back together to make an approach to fit you and yours!

I really hope I’ve managed to answer some questions here, if you would like to know more feel free to contact me. You can Google all the terms I’ve used in the article and Education Otherwise is a brilliant website with fantastic advice where you can find help, information and groups of Home Educators.

Thank you Mel for a lovely post!

You can find out more over on Mel’s blog, If you do visit, don’t forget to leave her a lovely comment :)

Meal Planning Monday: 14/07/14

This week I’ve been organised enough to meal plan – something I’ve been pretty poor at doing of late.

Of course, that means that I’m behind with other things so without further ado, this is what we’ll be eating this week.

(Our ‘food week’ starts on a Friday, because that’s when I go shopping!)

I’ve added the costing this week too. We shop on a budget every week so I wonder if adding cost will help others who need to budget.

Shopping is done mainly at Aldi, with unavailable items bought from Asda. There are 2 adults and 2 kids to feed.


Philly Stuffed Chicken Breast & Wedges

(Chicken breast £3.99, bacon £1.56, soft cheese 55p, potatoes £1.69)

Strawberries & Cream

(Strawberries £1.39, cream 79p)

Saturday total £9.97


Cajun Chicken & Rice

(Chicken strips £1.99, fajita mix 58p, garlic cloves (store cupboard), peppers £1 for 3, onion £1 for 3, egg noodles 59p, rice 40p)

Strawberry Swiss Roll & Custard

(Swiss Roll 89p, packet custard mix 49p)

Friday total £6.94


Caribbean Lamb & Savoury Rice

(Lamb £3.19, Caribbean spices from store cupboard, curry powder from store cupboard, broccoli £1.15, onion as previously costed, pepper as previously costed, plain yogurt £1.00, savoury rice 50p)

Strawberries, Jelly and Yogurt

(Strawberries £1.39, jelly 23p, yogurt as previously costed)

Total Sunday £7.46


Crunchy Topped Haddock & Spinach

(Smoked haddock £2.79, spinach 89p, tomatoes 75p, parsley from store, breadcrumbs from store, cornflour from store, nutmeg from store, fromage frais £1, skimmed milk 49p)

Bananas and Yogurt

(Bananas 68p, yogurt as previously costed)

Total Monday £6.60


Beef & Bean Hotpot

(stewing beef £2.85, onion as previously costed, carrots 65p, beans 32p, flour, stock, Worcestershire sauce all from stock, potatoes as costed)

Rice Pudding

(rice pudding 15p)

Total Tuesday £3.97


Salmon & Broccoli Bake

(Salmon £2.39, broccoli as costed, spring onions 49p, cottage cheese 64p, eggs £2 for 12, parsley & garlic from store, tomatoes as costed, cheese £1.49)

Banoffee Pancakes

(all ingredients already costed or from store)

Total Wednesday £7.01


Peperoni Pizza & Potato Wedges

(Pizza £2, wedges from potatoes as costed)

Peaches and Cream

(Peaches 35p, cream as costed)

Total Thursday £2.35

I make that a total of £44.30 for the week!

We obviously eat more than one meal a day, and on top of the meals listed here I usually buy bread, ham, milk, cereal, noodles, biscuits, kids yogurts, some ‘spares’ (for quick teas if there’s a change of plan), like tins of meatballs (I think they’re horrid but the kids love them!) and household items too. On average, our shopping comes to between £55 and £60 per week.



Explore County Cork: Five Top Attractions

During the summer, we are planning to fit in a lot f fun stuff for the boys. On our list (well, my list) is a trip to Ireland. I love it there, and one of my favourite places is Cork.

A city of cultural and entertaining treats, on the doorstep of awe-inspiring landscapes begging to be explored, Cork offers its visitors the best of worlds. Book into one of the Travelodge hotels and plan an itinerary that will make the most of the days that you have in this gorgeous Irish county. Here are five of the top attractions that await your visit.

The City

The city of Cork should be considered an attraction, all on its own. Home to a myriad of museums, bars, restaurants and historic sights, it’s full of wondrous attractions that will appeal to all. Admire the Gothic architecture of St. Finbarre’s Cathedral, browse the renowned English Market or peruse the various museums and galleries within the city for a cultural injection.

Blarney Castle

As one of the attractions that this area of Ireland is probably most known for, Blarney Castle is a must for most tourists. It can get extremely busy, particularly during peak times, so plan your visit for first thing in the morning to make the most out of it before the hordes of visitors swoop. The castle is home to the famous Blarney Stone, which is supposed to give you the gift of the gab if you give it a peck.


This quaint little Irish village is noted as the Gourmet Capital of Ireland, with some simply incredible food on offer, so it’s an ideal place to visit if you fancy yourself as a bit of a foodie. Plan your visit to coincide with the Kinsale Gourmet Festival as an added treat.

Mizen Head

The dramatic cliffs at Mizen Head are the main reason why it’s a major tourist attraction. It’s also the most south-westerly part of Ireland, and the views are stunning. If you’re lucky enough to enjoy good weather during your visit, a trip to Mizen Head is a must.

Fota Wildlife Park

Home to over 30 species of mammals and 80 species of bird, Fota Wildlife Park on Fota Island provides a great day out for all of the family.

Cork is also home to a number of festivals throughout the summer – check the website to see what’s on, and when, and plan a ‘corker’ or a trip this year!

Are YOU #HookedOnMusic?

I’m a big supporter of the Museum of Science and Industry. I have been visiting since I was a child and now I take my own children to learn there. In my opinion, MOSI is one of Manchester’s best attractions. It’s for these reasons I’m always happy to help with the promotion of events that take place at MOSI, as well as topics they’re working on.

Now MOSI have created another way to give us fun – for free.

#HookedOnMusic is an online game which has been by MOSI to study the science behind what music makes us tick – and to determine how we get ‘hooked’ on certain music.

This is a huge (and very clever) research project, but all we none scientists need to know is that it’s really quite fun!

This is what MOSI have to say about it:

The Museum is keen for as many people as possible to play the game. It’s simple and

entertaining. Players listen to music clips and try to recognise them as fast as they can. It’s

a completely musical game, and so players don’t need to know music trivia like titles and

artists – if you’ve heard it before, you can play. Other elements of the game involve doing

a comparison between two clips of a tune and judging which one is the catchier. The game

can be played as many times as the player wants. The more participants the better the

results will be – and the more scientists will be able to learn about musical memory.

Dr Burgoyne comments: “Catchy music is about so much more than summer hits. It’s really

about what kinds of music we remember – and what kinds we don’t! With #HookedOnMusic,

we’re trying to measure how much faster a ‘hook’ can come back to you compared to the

rest of a song and what there is in the music that can explain the difference.”

Dr Marieke Navin, Director of Manchester Science Festival at the Museum of Science &

Industry said, “We are delighted that the Museum is launching an experiment of this kind

and is part of a major research project that is both about public engagement and scientific

discovery. It is fantastic that something as universally enjoyable and appealing as a game on

music can also be at the cutting edge of science.”

Before I recommended this to you, my lovely reader, I felt it only fair to try it myself. It really is enjoyable.

There are four games to choose from and for this post I decided to try the Time Trial.

hookedonmusic 1

You get a quick brief on the rules

hookedonmusic 2

Then you hear a song! If you know it, press yes, if you don’t press no. If you press yes then start singing!

After a few seconds the song comes back on and you then need to decide whether or not the music started again at the correct time.

hookedonmusic 4

It’s really easy and a great way to pass the time while helping some very clever people with their research.

#HookedOnMusic can be played by logging online to

Please follow them on twitter too at @McrScifest or @voiceofmosi and use hashtag #HookedOnMusic

Twinkl With Me!

I am a huge fan of  Twinkl resources. I’ve been reviewing their platinum membership since February and I don’t want my trial to end! I have no doubt in my mind that I will pay for further subscriptions once this one finishes.

Reasons I love twinkl …


The twinkl website is colourful and appealing


1. It’s SO user friendly.

Twinkl’s website is a joy to use. I can log in and find resources on a specific topic using the search facility or if I’m looking for inspiration maybe have a peek around the ‘What’s New’ section. If I want to support the boys in a certain area of learning you can see they’re easy to find! An added bonus is that the Twinkl website is really pretty! A real pleasure to use.

2. The resources are relevant and interesting.

There are plenty of worksheets around on t’interweb that will help you teach your child a bit of mathematics, but the worksheets you download from twinkl are colourful and fun with modern and relevant topics. Maths doesn’t have to be boring! On top of that, you also have access to a dedicated SEN section of the website which focuses on resources geared toward SEN children, though I have used several with my preschooler.

3. You get more than just worksheets.

Sure, worksheets are super helpful, but if you need a lesson plan, ideas for educational games or even support from other teachers – it’s all here for you. Are you looking for a teaching  job? Twinkl’s got it covered in their handy tools section. There’s so much more, too. Recommended book list, their own blog, a super forum and even resources suitable for classroom displays.

4. It’s great value for money.

At £39.95 for the most ‘expensive’ subscription, twinkl offers absolutely wonderful value for money. That works out to just over £3.30 a month – I would pay more than that for a week if it meant having an endless stream of inspirational ideas at my disposal. Also, you don’t actually have to pay a penny to use twinkl – there are hundreds of resources available for free!

5. The customer service is second to none.

When setting up my account, there were a couple of hiccups. Like, I’d already set one up and forgotten. Then I didn’t know my password. I was a bit of a pain, actually. However, I emailed twinkl for help and they were really lovely.  Friendly, helpful and efficient – what more could you ask of a customer service employee?

Don’t just take my word for it. Let me show you how appealing the resources are from twinkl.


Teapot letters, based on the nursery rhyme ‘I’m a little teapot’


Interesting worksheets – with colour!

twinkl have a dedicated section for SEN resources.

twinkl have a dedicated section for SEN resources.


So now you’ve seen how wonderful twinkl is, you’re going to want to try it, right?

I’m pleased to tell you that I have one Platinum subscription to giveaway on the blog. All you have to do is complete the competition entry form below.

Win a Platinum Subscription to Twinkl!

Good luck!

It’s National Insect Week!

Being huge fans of all things nature in this house, we loved celebrating National Insect Week this week which runs from 22nd to 29th June 2014.

National Insect Week runs every two years and is organised by the Royal Entomological Society. There are events being held throughout the country and you can find your nearest event by clicking here.

Here are a few insect facts:

  • The heaviest insect is the great silver water beetle at about 25-30g
  • There are over a million species of insect in the UK
  • The smallest insect is the Aquatic Fairy-Fly at a teeny tiny 0.25mm!

To mark the occasion, we went on a bug hunt. It had been raining so we weren’t sure how much we would find – but look who we encountered!

Bug Hunt 1

Bug Hunt 2 Bug Hunt 3 Bug Hunt 4

We were a tad disappointed because we soon got rained off, so vowing to try again later in the week we moved indoors and put a different kind of bug to the test!

We made racetracks and had ourselves some Hexbug olympics!

The boys wanted to make a long track first and race the Nanos, so we just folded the card, stuck them together, stuck in a couple of tunnels et voila!

Who are you rooting for?!

This is what we ended up with …

Not content with the one race, we moved onto a slightly different type of track and added in a couple of drinking straw obstacles.

They were no match for these hefty hexbugs and the race lasted a measly few seconds. The boys didn’t care though!

From a different angle, you can see the obstacles.

We had great fun for National Insect Week. Over the weekend we’re planning to find more bugs and complete our insect project.

Thank you for reading :)

Win Lollibop Festival Tickets!

Official Lollibop Mummy Blogger!

We’ve never been ambassadors for anything before so I’m really quite excited to announce that we are official ambassadors for Lollibop 2014!

I posted previously about this year’s lineup which looks fan-flippin-tastic, and I also reviewed last year’s event here. I’m absolutely confident that this year is going to be bigger, better and even more fun!

For more information about the biggest kids festival in the UK, try these posts:

Lollibop is Back!

More Acts Announced for Lollibop

Lollibop Welcomes Sparks

Join In! With Southbank and Lollibop

Once you’ve read those and decided you REALLY want to come to Lollibop this year, then you can enter my COMPETITION!

Courtesy of Lollibop I am able to give away a family ticket for the day of your choosing, worth over £80!

To enter, just complete the giveaway widget below.

Good luck!

Win A Family Ticket To Lollibop 2014!