Extraordinary Moments (With Cow and Gate)

*This is an advertorial post in collaboration with Cow & Gate Growing Up Milk.*

Imaginary play. A fundamental part of toddlerhood.

Imagination can help them learn about the world around them, it’s how they learn to communicate with others and it allows them to express themselves without restraint.

I’ll be honest with you all, I do sometimes struggle to find the enthusiasm to play trains or bus drivers with my toddler. It’s not because I’m lazy or uninterested, but life is so hectic and there is always that ‘wait a minute, I just need to do something’ moment isn’t there?

“Wait a minute, I need to put the washing on!” or, “Wait a minute, I just need to send this email”.

Before you know it, all those ‘wait a minutes’ have accumulated into a whole day passing you by and then, as bedtime arrives, the guilt sets in.

“Why didn’t I sit and play with him a bit more today?”

You look at your little one in their bed, all snuggled up and peaceful, dreaming about their day and you vow to create something fun for them to do tomorrow.

toddler ready for bed

I always ensure I spend time at the end of the day reading a bedtime story to my kids. Sometimes my eldest will read to everyone, other times I will do it, but it’s nice to have that little bit of time to ‘just be’ together and enjoy a moment.

Once that is over, I often sit with our toddler until he is asleep. I use this time to tell our littlest one about our day and he will often nod in agreement at what I’m saying until he is fast asleep.

Precious, calm moments that are one of the highlights of the day.

Day’s with a toddler, when they aren’t at preschool, can often be quite long, especially if they’re having a ‘bad day’. My toddler has lots of those, thanks terrible two’s!

I have begun making more of an effort to do crafts and activities at home but I can often get a bit stuck in a rut.  Drawing, sticker books, painting, going to the park, going for a walk, making a train track, the usual.

But what if you think outside the box?

What if these ordinary moments could become extraordinary?

A walk down a path to the park could actually be a walk on the moon!

Or a box that a parcel comes in could actually be a castle!

Or that a toy guitar actually works and you’re a rock star on the big stage!

The possibilities are endless!

This is where the new Cow and Gate Growing Up Milk, Extraordinary moments campaign comes in.

You’re able to take an ‘ordinary moment’ captured during your day and make it ‘extraordinary’ using their simple storybook maker.

Just select which story you’d like, upload a landscape photo, add in your child’s name and your own, give them your email address and they do the rest.

They also suggest super simple, but fun, activity ideas to do with your toddler  based around the story you choose.

The technical whizzes then turn your photo into an online storybook with a difference to inspire your child to look back on their day at bedtime through different eyes. That wasn’t just a stick they found, it was a magic wand, perhaps?

An inspiring way, to end your day.

Myself and Ben made a storybook which turned him into a rock star! (His Daddy is a bit of a wannabe rock god and this seems to be rubbing off on Ben already. He loves to rock out!)

We went on the Extraordinary Moments webpage and selected some of the activities and crafts to do together during the day and then I made sure I took some photos of him.

We used a dandelion clock as a microphone, we made a drum/shaker from an old tin, a balloon, some rice and an elastic band and he used a toy guitar to ‘rock out’ to some of his favourite songs. We had a lot of fun doing it too.

balloon instrument craft

Once our photo was uploaded, we submitted it and waited for our story to be emailed. This takes no more than 24 hours.

Here is how Ben’s rock star story panned out…

Cute eh?!

What Extraordinary Moments will you have together? Why not have a go yourself? 

Click here to make your own Extraordinary Moments with Cow and Gate!

Under pressure – #cmhw17

School is currently causing my child stress and anxiety.

There. I said it.

It pains me to lay it out so bare, and so dramatically, but the pain of writing it down is nothing in comparison to seeing your child crying and in pieces over the stress of school.

How old is my son? 15? Nearing GCSE age?

No. He is 8. At 8 years old, he is already feeling the pressures and strains of school life and it is having an impact on him at home, as well as at school. It’s clear to see how much he is worrying on a daily basis. Nerves about going to school, crying and hitting himself on the head when he gets something wrong, calling himself stupid, frustration issues and just generally panicking about things that an 8 year old shouldn’t even have to be worrying about in my eyes.

I don’t think it is too overdramatic to conclude that school his having an impact on my child’s mental health, and that can’t be right, can it?

This week is Children’s Mental Health week. I have read a few articles about school stress and it’s impact on children and, sadly, they really resonated with me.

Every day at the moment I see the emotional pain etched on Luke’s face as he comes out of school. I’ll say it again, he is only 8. Why on earth is this happening?!

Government targets and guidelines have taken over our teachers lives as well as our children’s to the point that it is breaking both parties. Teachers cannot cope with the relentless targets, meeting of statistics and requirements and box ticking, and the children can’t cope with the pressure of having to meet these idealised the targets either. I know people myself, highly educated, talented people, who are teachers. They currently cannot see a way forwards, nor a future for themselves, in teaching anymore. Does that in itself not ring alarm bells with the powers that be? How can the children be happy when the teachers are unhappy?

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a dig at my sons school or teacher, I truly appreciate the work they do and the stresses they are under. I have seen the hours they put in, the backlash they get from parents of pupils when an objection has been made regarding something they have said or done. It’s a thankless job, and one that is getting tougher. But, all of that put aside, something is going very wrong somewhere when my normally happy 8 year old is coming home and crying about how bad school was.

“We got shouted at a lot today”.

“I got my times tables wrong today”.

“People weren’t listening in class today and it made our teacher cross with everyone”.

“I didn’t get all my spellings right today”.

“I got told off for not asking for help with something but I have also been told not to ask for help straight away so I can challenge myself. I’m confused mummy. What should I have done?”

These are just a few of the things my son has said to me this week as he comes out of school.

Little, often seemingly insignificant, things that happen to a child during the day but they can all mount up and fast become an all consuming blanket of doom where a child is concerned.

Luke thrives on praise. He isn’t very confident, he is full of self doubt and is very sensitive. This means anything that is said to him, even flippantly, is stored in that little brain box of his for a very long time. He does not forget words. This means it is particularly difficult for him to get past what has been said and see anything else other than that. For example;

“Come on Luke! You can do this 8 times table no trouble. Let’s do it slowly together first,” I say.

“I can’t do it mummy. I’m stupid and I always get them wrong and I got them wrong again at school today” comes the reply.

It’s a constant cycle of self doubt.

Previous teachers have picked up on his personality very quickly and tailored his learning accordingly. Despite having a class of 30 children, the teachers have managed to do this and Luke has ended each school year meeting his end of year targets. This year however, I fear this won’t be the case. All of a sudden, Luke is going backwards. His times tables are apparently getting worse, his spelling is getting worse and he is not on target for where he needs to be. We have had to explain this to him because I was told by his teacher, in no uncertain terms, that Luke must know up to his 12 times table by the end of the year. And that’s that.

That is the marker of a person in year 4 of primary school.

You must know all your times tables up until 12 times otherwise you have failed.

It doesn’t matter that they are caring, thoughtful, sensitive, creative, eager to please and participating. If those targets aren’t met, those boxes aren’t ticked, they have essentially failed to meet the standard for that year. And, in my eyes, that is so wrong.

I appreciate children do need targets, but why do we have to pigeon hole them all into the same box? They all learn at different speeds and in different ways so why has it become acceptable for the success of a child to be pinned on these sometimes unobtainable milestones? We don’t force children to walk do we? We let them get there in their own time, and yet, we are forcing them to conform to a government target because that is what we are told to do. Regardless of the child’s wellbeing in the meantime in order to meet that target.

Because of Luke knowing he needs to meet this target by the end of the year, and because he was already struggling to get certain times tables to stick in his head despite our best efforts at home, he has become really stressed about it. He can’t even do a times tables practice session with me now without panicking and crumbling under his self inflicted pressure. I can praise, stay calm, reassure, do all those things, but because he fully understands the pressure he is under from school and his teacher to obtain the results they desire, he is becoming a nervous wreck.

I know he knows the times tables, and he can do them when he isn’t under a 10 second time constraint like in class, but as soon as that time pressure is put back there, he’s lost. Lost in an abyss of frustration and panic.

I have pretty much been told I need to do more at home with him. I need to make things better. In-between getting home from school, going to after school clubs, looking after his other two brothers and doing homework with the middle one, making dinner, getting them bathed, getting them into bed at a decent time, all single handedly because my husband doesn’t get in from work until late, I need to try harder. The pressure on me as a mum is also immense.

I won’t lie, I crumbled last week.

After a meeting with Luke’s teacher where I came out feeling like I had failed him as a mum and it was all my fault that he wasn’t where he needed to be academically, I cried. I cried because I was overwhelmed. I cried because I could see Luke looked disappointed in himself. I cried because I was at a loss as to what else I can do to help him when we already do extra work at home. Clearly what I am doing still isn’t enough, and that hit me like an out of control freight train.

What. I. Am. Doing. Isn’t. Enough.

The self doubt and panic baton was passed onto me and it culminated in me getting angry at Luke about it all when, in actual fact, it’s not his fault at all. Once I had reflected on it, I was angry with myself that I had snapped at him. He is trying his best, he really is, so I can understand how crushing it is to him to hear that despite his best efforts, he still isn’t doing enough. He was feeling that same self doubt and panic as I was at that very moment, and then we ended up crying together. An 8 year old and his mum, sobbing over times tables. Yep, that is what life has become.

Maths didn’t click with me as a child either. English, no problem. Maths, an eternal struggle so I can totally appreciate the feeling of wanting to chew your own ear off when you just ‘don’t get it’. We help as much as we can but sometimes these things just take time to click, but due to meeting these targets, time is not something we have.

Since that blip last week, we have started attacking his study at home in a different way. We have downloaded apps, a friend gave us a times table music CD, he has a target board on the fridge which he ticks off each day and we are challenging him to be more self motivated. It seems to be working at the moment but it has only been a week, and I am worried that if this doesn’t work then we will be back to square one again.

We will take it a day at a time.

Those carefree childhood days I remember as a kid don’t seem to be quite the same anymore, even if I remove my rose tinted glasses. I don’t recall the pressure in the same way. I don’t recall the fear of failure either. It really saddens me to think that Luke’s ‘carefree years’ are already beyond him. He quite often says, “I wish I was back in Reception. It was fun then”. How sad is that?! That he already feels like he has already had his best years when there are still (hopefully) so many more to come?

From the outside looking in, I can see that something is fundamentally wrong with our education system.

Something really needs to change.

 A child’s mental health and wellbeing is more important than targets and box ticking.

Isnt it?

All we seem to do is go on in a never ending cycle, even from a young age. Routine, work, stress, fear of failure, pressure.

Where did we loose sight of living and enjoying childhood, letting our kids be kids?

I think it’s time to claim it back.

Songs always help me through times in my life. This one sums up ‘life’ and how I am feeling perfectly.

Just listen. Eyes closed. Ears and heart open.

Shopping with kids (and a husband) – How to live life on the edge

 Kids and shopping. A match made in…hell.

I know that kids and shopping don’t go together, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes, needs must.

I do my food shopping online (lazy I know, but I’m not fussy about having to go to the shop to squeeze plums to see if they’re ripe or not) and the way I look at it, I am helping keep someone in employment. It’s a selfless thing to do if you ask me.

I rarely drag my husband to the shops either, maybe four times per year if he is really unlucky, much for the same reason as why I don’t take the kids. He isn’t a fan of shopping…unless it’s for a new bike of course.

This weekend however, we decided to go as a family to a cool shop near us which sells new and antique furniture/homeware. I have been once before (without kids or husband) but thought the husband should come and have a look because he is currently on the lookout for a new armchair. Yes, an armchair just for himself. See, I told you he only comes shopping when it is for personal gain.

I told the kids it wasn’t a boring shop but they still weren’t enthralled at the prospect. Ignoring their grumpy faces, off we went in the car.

The kids were fine on the way there, playing Pokemon Go, eating random sweets they had found on the floor in the back of the car, playing iSpy, the usual but as soon as we pulled up in the shop car park…


Eldest one goes into tantrum mode. He is 8, almost 9, so his tantrums aren’t toddler like but more teenage strop like. He stared soullessly out of the window of the car, his eyes filled with forced tears and he slunk down in his seat whilst informing me that he wasn’t going to be getting out of the car.

Chuffing brilliant. What a wonderful start to our family shopping trip.

The middle one is also reluctant but is easily distracted, like a moth to a flame. As soon as he saw a bird bath frozen solid with ice, he soon forgot about joining his older brother in strops-ville and skipped over towards the shop.

The toddler is just oblivious to life and did as he was told for once whilst following me dangling a bag of snacks in my hand. All about the incentive.

My husband manages to coax the eldest one out of the car after a couple of minutes and he begrudgingly shuffles his way (at a snails pace) over to the shop, where he then immediately forgets about his Kevin the teenager moaning and joins his middle brother for a spot of bird bath ice smashing.

Boys. Simple creatures really.

The Packhouse Farnham Surrey

Whilst in the shop, the boys decided they loved shopping after all and enjoyed flitting about the different rooms. The shop was in a huge converted barn and is a rabbit warren of different rooms. This made it fun for the kids, but a sodding nightmare for me. At one point, I was looking at some cutlery. I glanced up, they were gone. The kids and the husband.

Seriously?! I was literally glancing down for ll of 15 seconds and they’re gone?! Shows their attention span doesn’t it!

I can hear them but I can’t see them (as is often the case in our house) and I cannot find them for toffee in the labyrinth of rooms. I put down the cutlery I was looking at and stomp on to try and find them all again. I finally see them all lounging about on a sofa they’ve spied.

Shopping with kids (and husband) Tip 1:

If you cannot see them, they have probably gone to sit down. Or eat.

Poor loves. All worn out after six minutes shopping.

We have a look at some other bits and bobs and I walk around daydreaming of owning a house that is big enough to fit stuff like this in, and I imagine what it’s like having kids that don’t redecorate the dining room walls with food every mealtime so they can have these nice things. Do they exist?!

The toddler then spies a ride on horse toy. He’s off like shit of a shovel and before I can blink he’s sat upon the thing like the Sun-dance Kid. It takes me a total of 12 minutes to get him off it.

The oackhouse Farnham toy horse

Shopping with kids (and husband) Tip 2:

Do not let your kids (or husband for that matter) play with any toys they see whilst out shopping. You will not get them away from them and you’ll end up wanting to set fire to the shop just so you have a legitimate excuse to drag them out screaming.

After I bribe, sorry, give an incentive, to the toddler to remove his backside from the toy horse, we set off through the labyrinth of rooms to find Mr Knutts and the eldest two kids again. Tip 1 proves accurate and I find them all sat on another sofa…and Mr Knutts in a rather grand Wing-back chair with a smile on his face as he rubs the arms. People love a bit of chair rubbing when they are shopping for furniture don’t they.

Ah, he’s found one then.

I have to admit, it is very nice and it’s not too expensive by his usual standards. He sits down, gets up, sits down, gets up, rubs the arms, sits down, rubs the arms again and pretends to do the most important of things in it that he plans to use it for, sleeping. Yep, that shall be the chairs soul purpose in life it would seem. A nap chair. maybe he’s more in the market for a riser-recliner if that’s what he has planned for it?

He finally decides he needs to think about it a bit more (aka, bully himself into spending some money) and so we leave the shop and head back to the car.

The kids gallop back thankful that their shopping ordeal is finally over.

Little do they know, it isn’t.

“Shall we pop to that other furniture shop just down the road on the way back? They had some nice bits in there last time”, I say.

I can feel eyes boring a hole in the back of my head. It’s the eldest again.

He instantly changes from happy chappy to stroppy shitbag in less than half a second.

Shopping with kids (and husband) Tip 3:

Don’t suggest ‘just one more shop’ after a shopping trip if you want happy children. It will result in them deciding that they are now perfectly entitled to be little arseholes until bedtime because you need to be taught a lesson.

The husband says ok and we head for the other furniture shop.

Again, we have to drag the eldest one from the car and he says he would rather eat sprouts than shop, and that my friends, means it is really bad.

He sulks around the shop. Lollops on every chair and sofa he can find whilst the middle one and the toddler charge about the place like it’s a new area on the Crystal Maze.

Sitting in a chair out furniture shopping

“Watch that vase!”

“Don’t lick the windows!”

“Put the pretend TV down!”

I become sick of my own voice. Why is there so much breakable shit in a soft furnishings shop?! To escape without breaking something is sodding miracle and deserving of at least 2 G&T’s.

Meanwhile, the husband is having a nice browse about the place and is stroking the arms of some other chairs.

After 5 minutes, all the kids are joining in with the eldest one’s strop.

I walk around the corner to find them all in a heap on top of a giant floor cushion…

Kids lying on the floor shopping

I ask them all nicely to get the hell up and we carry on having a look.

Then we get to another point and they all fall on the floor again. This starts off because the middle one has a rug fetish. I am sorry that sounds wrong, and it  absolutely does, but I mean he actually really likes rugs. We have wooden floors in our house on the whole and it means soft surfaces such as plush carpets and rugs are a rarity in the Knutter household. therefore he really makes the most of it at our friends houses or at the shops by rolling about on them and having a snuggle. In a rug. Rug snuggling, I’m not making this any better am I…

Shopping with kids, boys lying on the floor

“Get up!” I say through gritted teeth as a shop assistant throws me a glance.

Now the mischief has set in. They have had their strops and now they decide getting up to no good and being cheeky is the way forward.

It starts with the rug snuggling, yes, yes, I know, inappropriate, and then it moves on to the toddler playing with the electric chairs. No, not the death penalty type, fear not, the type I think Mr Knutts needs seen as he plans on using his new chair solely for napping purposes.

The playing with chairs and buttons lasts for about 15 minutes. It was really fun. As much fun as piles.

 Then the older one finds an inappropriate lamp with a penis for a light switch to play with. Yep, you read that right (in fact, I took a photo of one when I saw it last year because I found it very amusing). Anyhow, he thought turning that on and off for 7 minutes or so was hilarious despite my pleas for him to stop…

I glare at my husband and we decide this shop doesn’t have what we are after and so we round up the rug snuggler, the electric chair player and the penis lamp tinkerer and head back to the car and then home.

The kids immediately perk up once back in the car and demand snacks because we have missed their usual 12pm on the dot lunchtime and they fear they are going to waste away because of it.

Shopping with kids (and husband) Tip 4:

Furniture shops are not good places to take children. There is too much breakable shit and there are too many buttons/switches for their little brains to cope with/leave alone.

Once home, I vow never to go shopping with them all again. Ever. I also really want a G&T but it’s only 2:30pm…though it is a Sunday.

*Pours Gin*

Shopping with kids (and husband) Tip 5:

Don’t go. Do it all online or leave them all at home.

#brightfuture – Unilever Challenge

Firstly, thank goodness Marmite-gate is over!

What a week last week was. Just as I have a post about Unilever to write, the Marmite hits the fan and we almost have to start rationing the stuff. Thankfully, all is well and the dispute got resolved. I can’t live without marmite crumpets of a Sunday morning!

(Note to self: I had no idea until last week that Unilever owned Marmite. You learn something new every day…)

I was set a challenge the other week, by Britmums and Unilever, to think about the small changes we can make in our own lives in order to make the world a better place for our children. A very thought provoking and profound topic of discussion, and usually one of those subjects I am only likely to start talking about after I have had a couple of G&T’s, but here I am, sober as a judge whilst drinking a cup of tea and discussing this important issue with you all.

So, how can we create a #brightFuture for our children?

What better way to think of an answer than to ask…yep, you guessed it, my children!


Question 1: What little changes we could make as a family in order to change the future for the better?

Luke, age 8: We could stop making so much rubbish and recycle more. Lots of rubbish we make in our house isn’t recyclable and we can’t use it again. I think that is silly and we don’t need to be making so much rubbish.

Zak, age 7: We could make sure we turn the lights off when we aren’t in that room. You leave the light on in your bedroom all the time Mummy and you aren’t in there, you’re always in the kitchen (Ah, nothing like a gender stereotype eh?!)

Ben, age 2: Where juice? (Insightful isn’t he?!)

Question 2: What do we do already that is helping the world in a small way?

Luke, age 8: I turn the tap off when I am brushing my teeth. I don’t need the water on until I am ready to wash the toothpaste away.

Zak, age 7: I make sure I take my rubbish home or put it in a bin. Throwing rubbish on the floor is bad and can hurt animals and make the world a mess.

Ben, age 2: Wee-wee coming! (Not sure how that’s helping the world but, you know…)

Question 3: Why is it important we look after the world?

Luke, age 8: Because we won’t get another world. This is the only one we will ever have and if we ruin it, we will have nowhere to live.

Zak, age 7: Because we will kill all the plants and animals if we aren’t careful, and then we will have no food or nice things in the world to look at.

Ben, age 2: Where Daddy? (Good question, probably looking after a corner of the world known as the pub, poppet)


So, there we have it, from the mouths of babes. Their view on what we can and should be doing and why.

It’s really interesting asking your kids what they think about ‘grown up’ subjects like this. They often surprise you and come out with fantastic ideas and insightful comments…and they are also pretty good at making me feel stupid or have me questioning my actions.

When questioned, 83% of British parents felt the birth of their first child made them want to change some aspect of their lives for the better. Nine out of 10 parents, and 8 out of 10 children, agree that if everyone does small things to improve the environment, “together we can make the world a better place”. This is where the Unilever #brightFuture initiative comes in.

Unilever’s #brightFuture initiative focuses on small changes that can make big differences, and how we can build a world where everyone lives well and lives sustainably. Since the launch of the Sustainable Living Plan, Unilever has helped 482 million people to improve their health and hygiene, including through hand washing, improving self-esteem and oral hygiene. This is exemplified in the work undertaken by Domestos that has committed to helping 25 million people gain improved access to a toilet by 2020. Access to clean sanitation can protect people from preventable diseases, reduce mortality rates, help reduce school dropout rates and improve quality of life.

Persil has backed a global initiative called, ‘Learning for Tomorrow’. Partnering with UNICEF, they aim to help give children in some of the world’s toughest areas the opportunity of a quality education. Something that here in the UK it is all too easy to take for granted.

Lastly, the Dove Self-Esteem Project has worked closely with leading psychologists, academics and experts to create materials and resources that help young people develop a positive relationship with their appearance. The project has now reached over 19 million young lives. Self esteem is such an important factor in the success of someones life. If you have confidence, that is half the battle won and in this day and age, with social media and suchlike playing such a HUGE part in our lives, it is all too easy to compare yourself to others and do yourself a disservice. Be the best you can be, hold your head up high, and believe in yourself.

unilever products for the #brightFuture campaign

 Ensuring our kids are educated in looking after themselves and the world around them is one of my main aims as a parent. I want them to have respect for themselves, others, the world around them and to understand that actions have consequences.

We as individuals can easily make small changes to how we act and behave to better our world for ourselves and for future generations. It might not seem like you’re doing much, but when you combine these small good deeds and changes together with everyone elses, the impact can be seen and will make a difference. From little acorns as they say…

What changes could you make?

Image result for the world

Disclosure: This post is an entry for BritMums #brightFuture Challenge, sponsored by Unilever

A Knutters Day Out: Wookey Hole (with #MamiaDaysOut)

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”
―Roald Dahl

Dark Caves at Wookey Hole, Somerset

The end of Septmeber sees the culmination of a busy time for my family.

My brother, Mum, Dad and middle lad all have their birthdays within 3 weeks of each other and it’s often a bit of a crazy time of year! Fun, happy, memorable (the bank balance has taken a hit the size of Australia) and bonkers…

My Dad and my middle one have birthdays one day after the other so we used this as an opportunity to have a family day out at Wookey Hole, Somerset. We live in Surrey, so this was a bit of a drive for us, but we had planned it in advance (by that I mean I had looked on Google Maps at just how far it was, questioned my sanity, and then told everyone my grand plan whilst keeping my fingers crossed they wouldn’t think I had completely lost the plot…) Luckily, they all seemed up for it, none of us had been before, so we stocked the cars up with sweets, water, a picnic (including some ‘on the go’ snacks from Aldi’s Mamia Range for the toddler), clothes for all weathers, iPads and other brain-numbing electrical devices and set off in search of the Wookey’s hole…sorry, Wookey Hole. We weren’t looking for Chewbacca’s butt hole…

The drive down there really wasn’t too bad. It took just over 2 hours and the kids were amazingly well behaved in the car (thank you god of Apple!). They spent their time looking at interesting things during the journey which helped – Stonehenge, playing I-Spy, Pokémon Go and studying a squashed fly on the windscreen.

We had pre-booked our tickets online because you can save about £3/person by doing it this way. This might not sound like much but, when there is a large group of you, the savings made are enough to buy some Ice Creams at the end of the day…or Wine!

You can book tickets by visiting the Wookey Hole Website, here.

We arrived at about 10am, this is when it opens, and parked in the main car park which was easy to find and right near the ticket entrance. There are clean toilets and baby changing facilities in the car park which is fab when you’ve had a long journey and are all needing a Jimmy Riddle (cockney rhyming slang for piddle…you can thank my Nan for that one). The toilets are signed ‘Witches’ for the ladies and ‘Wizards’ for the Gents. The kids thought this was hilarious, as did I – Wizards, wands, boys, wands out…you get the gist 😉

We showed our online booking email to the ticket desk and they gave us our tickets. It was then a short, 5 minute stroll, from the ticket office to the cave entrance where you wait and queue for your tour.

The walk up to the caves is really pretty and gives you a glorious view of the gorge in which the caves are set.

In brief, Wookey Hole Caves are a series of limestone caverns and caves in the village of Wookey Hole on the southern edge of the Mendip Hills  near Wells in Somerset, UK. The River Axe flows through the caves and you get to see it at various points on your tour. Wookey Hole is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for both biological and geological reasons. The temperature in the caves is a constant 13’c all year round so it feels cool in there in the summer and warmer in there in the cold of winter. Regardless of when you visit, it is advisable to take a jacket with you.

The caves have been used by humans for around 45,000 years, which is demonstrated by the discovery of tools from the Palaeolithic period, along with fossilised animal remains. A corn-grinding mill operated on the waters of the River Axe as early as the Domesday survey of 1086. The waters of the river are used in a handmade paper mill, which now houses the main part of the alternative attractions there such as a soft play, an exhibition on the history of Wookey Hole caves, a circus and a Victorian Penny Arcade. The paper mill is the oldest in existence in Britain and it began operations circa 1610. You can still see how the paper was made after the cave tour by going into the old Paper Mill itself which is included in your ticket price, and you can also buy some handmade Wookey Hole paper in the gift shop at the end.

The low, constant temperature of the caves means that they can be used for maturing Cheddar Cheese, the famous Wookey Hole Cheddar…oh, and wine! Basically, I would be quite happy living in these caves. A good temperature all year round, fresh water, peace and quiet, glorious cheese and wine. When do I move in?


The caves are also the site of where the first cave dives in Britain happened. Since the 1930s, divers have explored the extensive network of chambers developing breathing apparatus and novel techniques in the process. The full extent of the cave system is still unknown with approximately 4,000 metres (13,000 ft), including 25 chambers, having been explored. Part of the cave system opened as a show cave in 1927 following exploratory work by Herbert Balch. As a tourist attraction it has been owned by Madame Tussauds and, most recently, the circus owner Gerry Cottle. The cave is shrouded in legend due to the Witch of Wookey Hole – a roughly human shaped stalagmite which you see in the first cave (along with another that looks like her pet dog near it) – legend says a witch was turned to stone by a monk from Glastonbury and she remains trapped in the caves until this day. Who can blame her? She knows where the good cheese and wine are at… 😉

The tours run every half an hour, so 10am, 10:30am, 11am etc. I am unsure of when the last tour is but details can be found on their website.

We arrived about 10 minutes before the second tour was due to start so waited for that one. It really wasn’t very busy and there were lots of little ones there whose parents were also braving the caves with a toddler. We were all in it together at least!

A young lady came along selling glow sticks for the kids to use in the caves so we bought them one each in the vain hope that if they found the caves too dark and scary, their little glowing stick might cheer them up…clutching at straws maybe but I thought it was £2 (each) well spent to be honest.


The friendly tour guide arrived promptly and led us into the caves after a small health and safety talk. It’s best not to think about caves and tunnels collapsing too much as you enter the caves, you’d probably turn around and run the other way if you imagined how many tonnes of rock were above your head.

A model witch greets you as you enter the caves and then it’s down some steps into the dark of the caves.

The caves are not suitable for pushchairs, wheelchairs, those who aren’t sure footed (no gin before you go in) and a backpack baby carrier is also pretty useless because you have to crouch under some very low overhangs at points. Ben, our toddler, is 2.5 and he managed fine holding our hands.

Also, wear good shoes because it does get VERY slippery in there. No stilettos or flip flops…

 The caves are beautiful. They’re other worldly, mysterious and awe inspiring.

Yes, they’re lit up with coloured lights which some people don’t like because they think it’s tacky, but because the caves are used for events and weddings, they need these lights to create an ambiance. I quite liked it if truth be told and the kids thought the coloured lights were, quote, “epic”.

The tour lasts roughly 40 minutes and takes you in about 5 caves. There is so much information to take in and interesting things to that you could easily stay in there longer. Truth be told, the tour did feel a little rushed and we could have done with a little longer to linger and look in each cave before moving on, but with lots of people waiting for the next tour, it’s understandable as to why you can’t stay in there too long. see and it’s truly amazing to think Stone age man lived in these very caves you’re walking in, you’re literally following in their footsteps. It really captivated the adults and the kids and my eldest declared Wookey Hole better than Legoland. High praise indeed!

The toddler was amazingly fine in the caves. He stayed with his best buddy, Grandad, for most of it and loved putting on a hard hat like Bob the Builder so we could go in the newest cave to open. It’s only been open for a year (at the time of writing – September 2016) and so you have to wear a hard hat at the moment in case any rock falls happen (keep calm Gemma, keep calm. It’s only a few hundred thousand tonnes of limestone above you, no need to panic…)


After the main feature of the caves is finished, you exit out into the bottom of the gorge and can walk around the beautiful grounds. The river flows with crystal clear waters, there is a Yew Tree which is thought to be over 1000 years old and there are some enormous dinosaur models to discover…oh, and a giant King Kong. Obviously. The toddler thought it was great and was shouting ‘Dinosaur!’ as much as George Pig would be on a day out at the Natural History Museum.

There is a 4D cinema there, which you have to be aged 3 and over to go in. It’s dark and loud and the seats move/shoot air out so if you have kids that are of a nervous disposition, I’d give it a miss but we went in with our 8 and 7 year olds (Nanny and Grandad hunted for more Dino’s with the toddler whilst we were in there) and they loved it. There was a bit of an odd moment where something poked you from under your chair which caused me and my husband to burst out laughing like naughty children. My son said there might be a ‘Slow Poke’ from Pokemon Go under our seats…which didn’t do anything to stop our hysteria! Pahahahaha!!!!

We then headed into the old Paper Mill for a look about.

There is an exhibit on how paper was made, another on the diving equipment over the years which has been used to explore the caves (one of the old divers loved his bottle of Aldi Mamia Apple and Blackcurrant Juice incidentally) a soft play, a mirror maze, a circus, a Victorian Penny arcade and a shop. There is certainly plenty to do in there!

We didn’t watch a circus show but we spent an hour in the old Victorian Penny Arcade and the kids were totally amazed by using the old coins and machines.

Our favourite parts of the arcade were Victorian Table football, a psychic future reader (think the movie Big…), a sweetie grab machine and a puppet that looked possessed who tells you something interesting about what might happen to you called Charles…

 After buying some Wookey Hole cheddar, a couple of souvenir cups and a wind up torch for the toddler (yep, that’s what he chose out of the whole shop!) in the gift shop, we made our way out of Wookey Hole and went back to the car park to get our picnic.

There is a Mini Pirate Golf course there but this costs extra and we didn’t play because our tummies were rumbling too much!

We sat on some picnic tables near the Wookey Hole hotel which is there (we didn’t go in but it does look like a lovely place to stay for a night or two if you were driving a long way to visit. They also have some wooden lodges you can rent which looked fab) and tucked into our picnic. The kids had decorated Grandad a birthday cake which I took with us and we all sang happy birthday and stuffed our faces with it. Ben tucked into some of his Aldi Mamia snacks (he especially enjoyed the Rice cakes and fruit pouches) and then we went and hunted for conkers to burn off some of that cake. During our conker hunt, we found an ENORMOUS one, bigger than any I have ever seen before, and it filled my eldest son’s hand. Inside were 2 very big conkers which have now been added to our collection of 200 or so which are currently sat in our fruit bowl because apparently the smell of a conker scares spiders away and my eldest HATES spiders…life with kids eh?!

I think it’s safe to say my dad and Zak had a lovely day – I hope it’s one they treasure forever. I certainly will.


Thank you to Aldi (and Britmums) for the items from  Aldi’s Mamia Range which we used for our day out. Our toddler scoffed the lot so it’s a thumbs up from him and, because it’s all organic and really reasonably priced, it’s a thumbs up from Mummy too!


We would thoroughly recommend Wookey Hole as a day out for families, you really could spend the whole day, and maybe even a weekend, here. Educational and a traditional (slightly eccentric) British day out. Perfect.

We drove home via Cheddar Gorge just to have a look but we didn’t stop because we needed to get home. This is somewhere I would certainly like to go back to because from what we saw of it, it was STUNNING. Our little island we call home really is quite a special place you know…

 Disclosure: This post is an enrty for #BritMums #MamiaDaysOut Linky Challenge, sponsored by Aldi Mamia. I was sent a hamper of Aldi Mamia products in return for this review.