A Night at the Movies with Gracewell

movies2My family are incredibly important to me and I love the fact that my children are growing up with Grandparents who live close by. Staying in contact and even socialising together is difficult for so many families who are divided by distance and yet the benefits are well documented. Gracewell care homes know just how important these cross generation connections are, so when they asked if we’d like to spend a night at the movies together at home, we jumped at the opportunity.

Gracewell Healthcare are a care home provider who recognise that every individual resident and their wider family have specific care needs to allow them to live life as fully as they would wish. Movie nights are a regular event at their care homes and Gracewell encourage their resident’s families to come along too.

We chose to watch the new Cinderella Movie which we all thoroughly enjoyed. Although how Cinderella managed to dance in that huge expanse of a dress is beyond me (it looked heavy!!) It’s a lovely family movie which seems to suit all generations. It’s quite close to the classic animated movie but being brought to life really grabs your attention.movies

Naturally we needed quite a few snacks to keep everyone happy. Gracewell kindly sent us some extra yummy caramel popcorn, retro sweets and even a cute little popcorn container.

Everyone had a really good time and I think we’ll try to fit in another movie night soon. It would be great if it could become a regular event where we take turns to pick the movie and which snacks everyone fancies.

With Christmas on the horizon everyone seems to be getting really busy but fitting in a family event which allows everyone to relax and enjoy each other’s company is certainly worth it.

Drayton Manor’s Magical Christmas Review


Drayton Manor reopened yesterday resplendent in Christmas finery. We’d been counting down the days (in a super excited style) and can now finally bring you our Drayton Manor’s Magical Christmas review.DChris

We arrived just after lunch and made our way through to Thomas Land. Everywhere you turn there’s snow (the non-melting, permanently fluffy variety) glittery lights and Christmas music.DChris4

The kids were particularly excited to try out the indoor ice-rink (called Slide & Glide) and had oodles of fun whizzing (& falling) round the rink. It isn’t a real ‘ice’ rink but one of the plastic gliding kind (I’m not sure if there is a technical name for that kind of rink) but that did nothing to damper their enthusiasm. The ice-rink is one of the few attractions that has an extra charge (£2 per person for 15mins) but it’s certainly a lot of fun.DChris3

Thomas the Tank has had a festive makeover and his track has been strewn with snow. Take a trip on his carriages and you might even catch a glimpse of Santa’s reindeer at the farm park!

The 4d cinema is playing a special 15 minute version of the Polar Express complete with snow that splashes you in the face!

Then every half an hour the large Christmas tree at the centre of the park plays a wondrous light show which looks fantastic once the daylight fades (see the vid below).DChris6

Of course the main event has to be a trip to see Santa in his Castle of Dreams! We had a bit of a wait but thankfully the queue has overhead heaters and there are TV screens playing Christmas songs to keep you amused.

Once at the head of the queue we were greeted by a jolly elf who gave each of the kids a fabulous medal from Santa. Then we went into the castle to meet the big man himself.DChris9

After some very important present talk, Santa took a pic and gave each child a giftbag (I’ll leave the contents a secret!)

After saying our goodbyes (until Christmas Eve) we left to view the pics. Incidentally all photo orders come with a free digital download which I thought was a really nice touch.DChris8

Before the exit there’s an area with seats, various props and crafts, there’s even some Princesses sitting on thrones!DChris2

But our day wasn’t over yet, we made our way to the lake and waited with anticipation for the festive fireworks. I love the fact that they end every day with this festive display, it really ends your time there with style.DChris10

Given that we had high expectations before our visit (which is sometimes a recipe for disaster) we loved our day at Drayton’s Magical Christmas. There’s a fabulous atmosphere in the park and despite the larger rides being closed there’s so much on offer (we missed the snow shows and various performances due to lack of time). See my previous post to get an idea of what else there is to see, I’ve also made a little video which gives you a sneak peek of features like the Christmas tree light show.

The event is on until 31st December For full details and to book tickets visit Drayton’s website.





Artistic Advent Calendar to be auctioned on eBay for Oxfam

box4This Christmas I’ve joined forces with Parcel Hero and Oxfam to create a truly unique Advent Calendar to be auctioned on eBay.

International Courier company Parcel Hero contacted myself and 24 other well-known craftsmen and women to ask if we would donate our time and skills to create an amazing advent calendar which would be auctioned to raise money for Oxfam. It sounded like such a fun and worthy project that I jumped at the opportunity to get involved.

In October Parcel Hero sent out 25 plain wooden boxes to artists across the globe with one simple brief… ‘turn them into something spectacular!’

So what happened to my box…

boxThe Outside

The outside was painted using some of my favourite colours and motifs (look at my logo to see what I mean). I think twisted leaves set on a cream background is such a restful image and I wanted to share that with the lucky recipient. The painting was then waxed.

The Inside

In complete colour contrast (I like to keep people guessing) I painted the inside with deep colours to look like a simple silhouetted street. Dark skies and lights in windows all conjure up images of the season and I loved how deep and soporific an image they create.box2

I also wanted to add a 3d element to the scene so created a Fir Tree made from pipe cleaners.

The Poem

In the lid I wrote a poem to explain the gift inside:

‘I’m a special Christmas bunny

Made with love and care

My fur is fine Alpaca

I’m so soft and fair

My dress is fine Merino wool

It looks so smart on me

But now I need a brand new name

And place upon the tree’

box5The Gift

The poem may have given you a clue. The gift was a small (and I mean teeny) rabbit I knitted who can be hung upon the Christmas tree. She was made from the finest Alpaca wool (it’s so soft!) then clothed in a hand-knitted Merino wool dress complete with bloomers and a scarf. I hope she will be loved by her new family and grace the tree for many years.box3

Of course this box was just my contribution and with 24 more boxes from the likes of Matt Jones of Lunartik, Jenny Barnett Rohrs of Craft Test Dummies, Hilary Pullen of UK Craft Blog and Pablo Lentile there’s definitely something to delight everyone!

Oxfam’s partnerships manager Peter Hall commented: “Oxfam gives a massive thankyou to every artist who has taken part. These advent boxes will help change lives. We are so impressed with the amount of effort and creativity that has gone into these creations. Let’s hope they raise loads of funds to help Oxfam end poverty sooner! Happy bidding!”

Parcel Hero’s head of PR David Jinks, added: “This is probably the most unique and inspired advent calendar ever created; but sadly only one person can own it.”

If by now you’re wondering just how you can get your hands on this wondrous creation, then head on over to eBay here and bid bid bid. The auction closes on 26th November and all money raised will go directly to Oxfam.