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  1. For as long as I can remember we have visited John Brown's Garden Centre to visit Father Christmas. We've had breakfast with him or sat I his Grotto for a chat, either way, it's a lovely experience and one I highly recommend. This year we were invited to sample Wyevale Garden Centre new Grotto experience, however not all locations offer this service so do check out the website.Father Christmas 2017 Wyevale

    I decided to have a bit of a girls day out so we grabbed Nanny Moo and ventured over to Andover, Garden Centre. As we entered trees where being selected and there was a distinct feel of Christmas in the air. The Grotto experience is absolutely beautiful and the girls fully immersed in the magic.magic bean

    We entered into a forest on the hunt for cheeky fairies, clutching a magic bean. Excitement levels were on high and the girls throughly enjoyed looking for and counting fairies.finding fairies

    Next they planted their magic bean in soil and carefully labelled the pot with their names. wyevale christmas grotto

    It was then time to meet the big man himself. Father Christmas was lovely. He chatted with the girls for such a long time and told them a few stories about even how sometimes Father Christmas gets into trouble, but we must always try our best. The girls had placed their magic beans in a magic cupboard after a chat with Father Christmas they were instructed to press the button which switched on some flashing lights in the shape of a star, cue lots of squealing. Once the lights went out the elf helped Megan and Olive to open the door and what was inside! But a tiny Christmas Tree. The girls went utterly crazy and were super excited.

     tree decorating

    After a few photos with Father Christmas, we headed down to the decorating station and decorated our trees.

    Once Megan and Olive were happy we ventured into the next part of the forest and found fairies and moonicorns (that's unicorns to you and me!) and chatted with more elves, who were super cheeky.Megan Elf

    Then we climbed the steps up into the tree house to select a present. I really love this about Wyevale that they don't wrap the presents. Meaning the child can select something they know they will like. It does mean this process can last a while and I think Olive selected at least four different presents before finally deciding on the first one she selected.

    The experience lasted over an hour and there is so much to see and do in between the stations that I can see in peak times that your child wouldn't get bored waiting. Would you believe that the cost is £10 per child! You can also take as many photos as you like and nobody is trying to up sell anything to you. It has to be one of the best Grotto experiences we have been too. Both girls couldn't wait to tell Daddy Moo and were filled with stories and laughter.

    We were provided tickets in order to review all opinions are my own. 

  2. It's been about 16 months since we started completing the Moors Valley Ranger challenges, which is a collection of 40 challenges. Some are based upon Moors Valley itself; name 3 steam trains, high five a ranger which are super easy to do and get you started. Others about nature such as pond dipping, feed the birds etc and then a selection of 9 nature creative based tasks. You need photographic evidence and you can do the challenges anywhere not just at Moors Valley. We literally have 10 challenges left to complete 6 of them creative. 

    high 5 a ranger moors valley

    We have such a super wild garden, full of huge buddleia and over growing willow, when the last leaf drops Daddy Moo has a massacre session and cuts the whole lot back in preparation for the next year. Which gave me an idea! Based upon when we made willow fish at The Red House Museum and the creative wand activity as one of the challenges.willow fish

    This is super easy and is a really calming activity to do whilst watching a movie together. If you dont have a tree that needs pruning venture off for a woodland/forest walk. The sticks don't need to be very long mine were around 15cm. It doesn't matter if they are the same length either.

    What you need :

    • Sticks

    • Scissors

    • String

    • Wool

    • Tulle

    I basically emptied the arts and crafts cupboard for scraps and used the tulle from a too small homemade Elsa dress.

    How to make a wood star :

    1. Each star needs 6 sticks of a similar length

    2. Tie two sticks together with string or wool (you can use hot glue too but I found wool just as effective)wooden stars

    3. Tie a third stick so you have created a triangle. wooden triangle star

    4. Make a second triangle.

    5. Tie these two triangles together. wooden star finished

    6. Using wool, tulle, string etc … weave in and out of all the sticks. weaving wooden stars

    7. Do this until you are happy with the end project.

    Megan can get upset when things are “perfect” so craft activities that evolve and develop work well with her. I also love things like this where everyone's looks so unique and individual. You can wrap as much or as little around as you like. You can add long lengths hanging down to create a fairy wand or you can even add a string loop to make a rustic star decoration perfect for Christmas. Now I've mentioned the C word you could add a little tinsel too.

    wooden star wand

    I'm looking forward to taking these creations along to get our ranger stamp.