First time away from home: How we coped when our daughter went to Brownie camp

As parents, we are constantly faced with new challenges, and we try our best with each one.

Last weekend our daughter Amber, 9, went to Brownie camp for four days, yes FOUR days! Without us, no mobiles allowed (not that she has one anyway), but we couldn't just pick up the phone and speak to her.

Even though she only travelled 10 minutes down the road, it was the first time she had stayed away from home for longer than one night.

Months before we decided if she could go, I spoke to my mum and picked her brains about my feelings, which initially were, I didn't want her to go.

I had so many questions from who would be there, where would they sleep, how would she wash her hair, what would she eat, yes I know, I know, I can feel the eye-rolling of people who think I'm too over protective.

Amber on her way to Brownie camp

Amber on her way to Brownie camp

My mum talked about her experience when I went away for the first time. I was a majorette and we had a yearly competition, which was held at a seaside location for a whole week, some one and a half hours away from my parents house.

Of course my mum worried if I would be ok, but she knew I would be safe as I stayed with my friends' parents in a seaside hotel.

All I can remember at that time was having fun and being nervous about the competition. Anyone who knows me, knows I took my competing very seriously as this was the major event of the year, and I wanted to win. I didn't have time to worry about not being with my mum and dad. My mum used to drive over for the day which broke the week up.

Adele (left) and Kim in the majorettes

Adele (left) and Kim in the majorettes

I also remember my case with all my clothes in. My mum is a lover of making lists (which is where I get it from). On the inside of my case, in the lid, I had a big piece of paper with a list, days of the week, what clothes to wear, including socks! My mum made sure I had everything, which of course made it easier.

Amber has been to a sleep over just for one night, a couple of times, and she has stayed at her Nanny's house on the odd occasion, when my husband and I went on honeymoon, my mum stayed at our house, but these occasions are rare.

Maybe it's because I worry too much, or maybe it's just because I feel that I chose to have my children, my husband and I are responsible for them and I don't want to drop them onto someone else.

I do understand that parents have got their own life too but mine is for my children, husband, family and work. Maybe it's because I am a full-time working mum and don't see my children all day everyday that I find it harder to let them stay overnight anywhere else.

I think our daughter, Amber, was over 3 years old when she first slept at her Nanny's house. Our son Jacob, who's 2, has never slept anywhere other than in our house and my parents, both places with us.

It's very daunting doing anything for the first time as a parent and it's a learning curve for not only your child but for you too. Everything from feeding, teething, crawling, walking, talking, you name it, it's a constant worry that things are going to be ok. My mum tells me that never stops no matter how old your children get. She worries about me and my brother the same as she did when we were younger, but she lets us lead our own life and is always there when we need her and my dad.

When you are young you think your parents have the answer to everything and they know it all. It's only when you become an adult yourself (even though I don't feel like one), you get by and learn as you go.

I worked on 2 of the days when she was on holiday, but I clock watched all the time and my mind would wander and think about what she would be doing. My husband, Mark, missed his pizza and film buddy on Saturday night (I work late every Saturday, so they enjoy watching a film together). I text him to see if he was ok in the evening and he said he was bored without her. The 2 days I was at home without her there felt very strange. At night when she wasn't in her bed I wondered if she was sleeping well where she was.

Amber had a great time at her Brownie holiday, and she seems to have grow up in the four days she was away. She did say she missed us.

She did make me laugh when we picked her up. She said, she enjoyed it but didn't want to go again because she had to do jobs! Hilarious! They were earning badges and had to do some cooking and cleaning. At 9 years old that's a big deal!

Phew! Another parent hurdle jumped, now bring on the next parenting challenge, oh yes, that's probably potty training our son, wish us luck!

Sleep tips: how to get your little one to sleep for longer

By Adele Jennings

A recent study by Pampers reveals 90% of parents lose up to four hours sleep every night in their baby's first year.

As a parent, no matter how old your child is, you never forget the lack of sleep that comes with having a new baby and trying to function while looking and feeling like a zombie!

I have 2 children and to be honest they are both great sleepers but my husband Mark and I, have put the effort in with their bedtime routines.

Our daughter Amber is nine and son Jacob is 2. With both children, me and my husband used to bicker about who had more sleep, we would say things like: 'You've had half an hour longer sleep than I have'.

Jacob getting a good nights' sleep

Jacob getting a good nights' sleep

Sleep deprivation is one of the worse things to deal with when your child is small (ok, so yes there are others but this is a biggie). We all need sleep, some more than others, but if we don't get enough it affects how you and your family function.

We have quite a strict routine at bedtime and both my husband, who is a house dad, who puts them to bed on 3 of the nights, and as I work full-time, I get to do 4 bedtimes. We both do the routine exactly the same. I really think this is part of the reason why both of them are good sleepers (as I touch the nearest piece of wood).

Our routine is: bath (not every night), get dried and dressed for bed with just a low-light lamp on on our bed in my bedroom, drinking milk while we read a story, snug while singing twinkle twinkle little star, teeth cleaned and bed, then when I leave the room, I always say 'See you in the morning for a cup of tea and some breakfast'. I used to say exactly the same thing when I was little (it came from my Grandad Shaw) and both my children say it. It makes my heart melt every time they say it. My 2 year old son asks me to close his door!

We never treat bed as a punishment. If either of my children misbehave (which is quite often), we never use 'If you don't stop being naughty, you will go to bed'. I want them to enjoy their bed and sleep as much as I do!

Recent research by disposable nappy favourite Pampers reveals 90% of parents lose up to four hours sleep every night in their baby’s first year.

Nine out of ten British parents claim they lose up to 28 hours of sleep every week (totalling 60 days per year) due to their little ones waking up in the night – according to new research launched by Pampers to celebrate new Pampers Baby Dry nappy, now with an extra sleep layer to help babies sleep uninterruptedly for up to 12 hours.

The survey of 2,000 parents in the UK also reveals that one in five cite a wet nappy as the most common reason their baby wakes in the night, followed by hunger (25%) and teething (24%). It’s no wonder the majority of parents (32%) consider their baby sleeping through the night as one of the biggest first year milestones, along with uttering their first word (26%) and their first laugh (22%).

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For over 50 years, Pampers has been supporting parents with innovative products and information. Through listening to parents, Pampers knows well that parents recognise the quality of their babies’ sleep by their mood and energy level’s when they wake up first thing. New Pampers Baby Dry, with an improved Extra Sleep-Layer absorbs wetness faster than ever before and reactivates quickly to absorb multiple urinations faster over hours of wear.

For a baby, uninterrupted sleep and a good night’s rest means remaining dry and free from nappy leaks, so by keeping the wetness away from the skin, they can wake up ready to seize the day after a dry night of Pampers Golden sleep. 

Wendy Dean, Pampers Village Parenting Panel Sleep Expert, comments:

“All babies wake through the night as part of their natural sleep pattern. Those that sleep well are able to get themselves back to sleep as long as they don’t have a need that mum needs to attend to i.e. are hungry, too hot, too cold, uncomfortable or have a wet nappy. The new Pampers Baby Dry nappy absorbs wetness away from babies’ skin faster than before, so that even if she/he wakes during the process of having a wee, there is no continued discomfort of wet skin. After a few minutes, baby can return back to the Land of Golden Sleep before waking up to a Dream Morning.”

Tips for a good night's sleep by Wendy Dean

1. Spend some quiet quality time with your baby before putting him down to bed. Singing a lullaby or reading a story with bright illustrations will be enjoyable for both. Baby will be ready to sleep through the night and wake prepared for the day ahead.

2. During your baby’s last feed before putting him down to sleep, try splitting his feed in half and changing his nappy in the interval. While the motion of changing his nappy will pep him up a bit so he’s not fully asleep before you put him down, the second half of the feed will soothe him again if the movement of changing his nappy has unsettled him a bit. Plus this will ensure that he has a fresh nappy to sleep in for 12 hours of Golden Sleep, resulting in a great morning of smiles and discoveries.

3. If your baby wakes very early in the morning i.e. before 6:00 am and is not crying, try not to dash straight to him. He may well have a little chat with himself and then surprise you and go back to sleep, but if not leave him for 10 minutes and follow with gentle rocking to return him to the land of golden sleep .

4. As you enter your baby’s room in the morning, gently talk to him. He won’t be able to talk back but it is the fact that you are looking at him and talking to him that he will love and will also give him a pleasant introduction to the day.

5. A morning cuddle is very important and is the perfect way to start the day for both baby and you and should make it a dream morning for both!

To hear more tips from Wendy Dean, check this video out below.

Visit www.pampers.co.uk for advice and tips on parenting. 

CBeebies Justin & Friends live tour: great show for the kids

10 Apr 2013 16:14

If your little one enjoys watching Mr Tumble, Justin's House or Gigglebiz on CBeebies, they'll love the 'Justin & Friends' live tour.           

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My husband Mark and I took our two year old son Jacob to see the show at Wembley Arena and we had a great time.

Justin Fletcher MBE brings to life many of his very funny characters, including Mr Tumble, Nana Knickerbocker, Arthur Sleep (a favourite of mine, maybe because I'm from Yorkshire), Keith fit, Lord Tumble, Grandad Tumble and even Cliff Tumble makes an appearance.

Waiting to see the show: Mark, Jacob and Amber 

Waiting to see the show: Mark, Jacob and Amber 

Joining Justin are his friends Robert the Robot and Little Monster from Justin's House along with Nina, from Nina and the Neurons, Andy Day, and Katy Ashworth from I Can Cook, all favourite programmes on CBeebies.

The show was a mixture of clever big screen entertainment with live dancing and singing. The Hands Up song is great, see the video below.

I loved watching Jacob's face as all the favourites came on stage. He couldn't keep still, he was singing and dancing, I tried to get some photographs of him but most of them are a blur!

All a blur: Jacob having fun singing and dancing

All a blur: Jacob having fun singing and dancing

OK, I'm just going to say it...I have a crush on Justin Fletcher, and yes my husband Mark is very well aware of it! I was a bit giddy to see him live. It seems I'm not the only mum with a crush! Mark kept looking at me when I was laughing out loud at the show! What? He makes me laugh! 

Jacob and Adele having fun at the CBeebies Justin & Friends live tour
Jacob and Adele having fun at the CBeebies Justin & Friends live tour

Tickets are available now and are priced from £13.00 for children, with family tickets from £52.00 (for four people and subject to booking fee). For tickets and the most up to date tour information please visit: www.bbcliveshows.com.

Birmingham LG Arena, Thursday 11 April 1.30pm & 4.30pm

Nottingham Capital FM Arena, Friday 12 April 1.30pm & 4.30pm

Cardiff Motorpoint Arena, Saturday 13 April 1.30pm & 4.30pm, Sunday 14 April 11am & 2pm

www.bbcliveshows.com

 

Deadly Adventure at Longleat: Experience the new Deadly Safari with your family

If you have children aged 6 to 12 then you'll be well aware of CBBC and the great programme that is Deadly 60 presented by Steve Backshall.

My daughter Amber and I are very big fans of Deadly 60. The programme sees Steve Backshall and his camera crew travel the world trying to find the 60 'most deadly' animals in the world.

Amber and Steve on our exclusive Safari Tour

Amber and Steve on our exclusive Safari Tour

We have watched Steve get into some hairy situations. One of them was while kayaking on a river in South Africa, he was trapped by two hippos, luckily his crew manage to save him.

He has travelled to some amazing places. Australia, Malaysia, India, Brazil and Madagascar are among many of the places Steve has searched for the Deadly 60 animals.

Amber and I were lucky enough to meet Steve Backshall at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park in Wiltshire.

The 9000 acre Longleat Estate is home to over 100 different species of animal which live within the Safari Park and other animals areas. Although famous for it's lions, Longleat is home to tigers, wolves, rhino, giraffe, camel and the hugely popular monkey drive-through to name a few.

BBC Worldwide and Longleat have joined forces to create a spectacular new series of Deadly-themed features at the world-famous attraction.

From Easter 2013 visitors to the park will be invited to go on a Deadly Safari discovering some of Longleat's deadliest creatures. Presenter Steve Backshall has voiced a brand new guide to the safari which incorporates fascinating facts and experiences from his on-screen adventures. Visitors will be given a special Safari Activity Book full of information and tasks to test their spotter skills as they explore the park, learning about vital predator prey relationships that exist in the wild and encountering some of Longleat's most famous deadly residents including lions, tigers and wolves.

We caught up with Steve on our own personal tour, where we got a sneak peek of what's to come on the Deadly Safari.

As we waited nervously at the gates to the Safari park, Steve tells my daughter Amber and me, it's the exciting calm before the storm. It's like pulling up at the gates of Jurassic Park.

As we drive into the enclosure, we became very aware that there was only a metal truck between us and 4 tigers!

It was fascinating hearing Steve talk enthusiastically about the animals, he has such a passion for them.

Steve tells us about the tigers from their size, what they eat, and we listen with interest.

I don't know which Amber is more stunned at, that we are so close to the tigers, or that Steve Backshall is in the front seat telling us about them!

As we drive through to the Lions, we learn about how they first came to Longleat in 1967.

We were lucky enough to see 8 cubs running around playing with each other and pestering their mums! There's no rest, even for a lion mum!

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As we continued our adventure, Steve told us all about the pride of 21 lions.

We then drove into the cheetah enclosure, these are Ambers favourite animal and she was so pleased to see them, and so close up.

We then moved on and joined the wolves. It was interesting to hear Steve tell us that some of the most important best known naturalists of his youth, people like Terry Nutkins and Johnny Morris, gained their knowledge from zoos and safari parks.

He thinks zoos and safari parks have a really important role to play for young people because not everyone has the privileges that he's had being able to go to Africa.

Nothing beats seeing an animal up close, seeing it move, you don't get that from a book or TV programme. It's the kind of thing that's going to stay in a young persons mind.

Steve grew up on a small farm and his parents took in animals, it's always been his passion. He was a writer and came up with the idea for a TV programme, he got himself a camera and went to Columbia for five weeks on his own, and the rest is history.

We were very lucky to get this personal tour from Steve, and it's great listening to his enthusiasm.

If you would like to see Steve in person, why not visit Longleat on Sunday 31st March and Monday 1st April 2013.

He will be presenting live animal shows throughout both days* along with Longleat's Hunters of the Sky team! Then try out your tracking skills on the Deadly Safari and become a Deadly Explorer just like Steve.

To reserve your place call our dedicated ticket hotline on 01985 845544. Lines are open 8am-6pm, 7 days a week.

Also coming in 2013 is a Deadly Challenge zone which will see aspiring Deadly Adventurers pitch their skills against those of some of the world's most lethal creatures! Can you climb like a macaque monkey, match the strength of a polar bear and dodge a vipers strike?

Most important of all, how many animals on the Deadly List can you find in a race against the clock? Check points along the way will feature quizzes and challenges from Steve Backshall who will want to see what each Adventurer has learned about the Deadly creatures they're 

With so many amazing animals at Longleat the new 'Deadly Adventure' experiences will give our visitors the chance to experience first hand all the exciting elements of the TV programme right in the wilds of Wiltshire!

Deadly Adventure at Longleat will open from 31st March 2013. To find out more please visit: www.longleat.co.uk/deadly

Amber, Steve and Imber

Amber, Steve and Imber

Deadly 60 at Longleat Safari Park


By Amber Jennings, age 9

At Longleat, when we first arrived me and my mum went to a stadium type place called the 'Hunters of the Sky'. We met some beautiful owls and big birds of prey. Then there were lots of people taking photos of Steve Backshall from CBBC's Deadly 60, so I took loads of photos too! I was even lucky enough to speak to Steve and he showed me a Bald Eagle call Imber!

Afterwards, me and my mum went to explore Longleat. First stop, we went into the small rainbow lorikeet cage. One just came by and flew onto my shoulder! They drink nectar direct your hand.

Second stop, was the jungle kingdom where we saw lots of animals including a Red Panda, some Otters and Meerkats, one of which tried to escape!

Then we went into the butterfly house and the butterflies were flying everywhere one landed on my mums red bag! I saw one which was much bigger than the rest called a Blue Morpho which was quite impressive!

After that I had a play at the adventure castle where you have to be at a certain height to enter. There was either a monkey, tiger or a rhino, to gauge what size you were. I was a tiger.

Next was the batcave! There were bats flying everywhere, the thing that me and my mum didn't like about the batcave was that they weren't in a cage and they flew past our heads!

Me and my mum went to Longleat house and people believed that there was a ghost that lived there called the grey lady. The house belongs to lord Bath.

The best part of the day was going on a Deadly 60 safari tour with Steve Backshall how cool is that! We saw some cheetahs, lions, cubs and tigers.

The last thing before I went home was the jungle cruise there were loads of sea lions we had a chance to feed them! We saw gorillas, pelicans on their cove and 2 hippos.

I had such a fantastic day.

Visit: www.longleat.co.uk
Longleat, Warminster, Wiltshire, BA12 7NW
Tel: 01985 844400
Twitter: @longleat.co.uk 
Deadly Safari at Longleat  *subject to availability

 

Annabel Karmel: an interview with best-selling author on baby and children’s food and nutrition

I attended the Baby Show at the Excel in London this week and had the pleasure of speaking with children's food expert Annabel Karmel.

I have two children, Amber, 9, and Jacob, 2. I bought Annabel's book The Complete First Year Planner just before Amber was born back in 2003, and I still have it! I also have some of Annabel's other books including: Superfoods for Babies and Children, After-school meal planner, Family Favourite recipes, Children's First Cookbook and You Can Cook. They still have bits of ingredients stuck to the pages, and post-it notes marking Amber's favourite recipes, which also became Jacob's favourites years later when he was weaning.

As a fan of Annabel's, it was great to meet her, and hear how passionate she is about children's nutrition.

Annabel with Adele at the Baby Show at The Excel in London

Annabel with Adele at the Baby Show at The Excel in London

She was raised in North London, and as a talented harpist, she performed alongside Liberace in Las Vegas, and filmed a video with Boy George!

She told me the heartbreaking story of when her first child Natasha died suddenly at 13 weeks old due to a viral infection in 1987, and how she gave birth to her second child, a son, Nicholas, in 1988 on the stairs in her house!   

Wanting to give her new son the best start in life and spend every moment being a mother, she ended her career as a musician to spend more time with him.

Annabel started a local playgroup, and as Nicholas started to toddle he was a terribly fussy eater. She wanted him to be as healthy as possible and started experimenting with food. She came up with unusual concoctions like mashed avocado with banana and apple with sweet potato. Which don't seem unusual now, thanks to Annabel!

She took the recipes for other mums at her playgroup and they said their children loved them too. She decided to write a cookery book aimed at first-time mums cooking for children, and The Complete Baby And Toddler Meal Planner book was born. It took some time to get it published as most of them didn't think a recipe book for babies and toddlers would sell! It was first published in 1991 with no publicity, instead it sold by word of mouth. Today, it is still the number one bestselling book on feeding children.

Annabel tells me that babies are born with a clean palette and don't know sweet from sour and by giving them a wide variety of healthy tasty food when weaning, they'll be less fussy as they grow up. According to a recent survey, British toddlers are the fussiest in Europe!

People used to think that babies and children preferred bland food, until Annabel started making tasty recipes.

She thinks the reason there are so many fussy eaters in the UK is that parents give in to them. "We are so terrified of our children being hungry. We give them what they want to eat, and if we're not careful, all they will end up eating is chicken nuggets, pizza, burger and chips. A hungry child is less fussy, it's no problem if they miss a meal if they won't eat what's on their plate."

Both my husband, Mark, and I, followed Annabel's advice and recipes from her books with Amber and she is a great eater, to be honest there isn't much she won't eat! And our son Jacob is following the same path.

My well used book

My well used book

She says that children can have healthy junk food. By making homemade chicken nuggets from scratch with her recipe, they can still have 'junk food' but you know exactly what is in them and they are much better for the kids. She has lots of fun recipes they'll love.

Annabel has three children, Nicholas 24, Lara, 23 and Scarlett, 21. It was great to hear how when they were growing up they used to make the family meal on Friday evenings. They came up with the menu, cooked and served it. She says "Getting children involved in cooking as soon as possible is really important, even when they are little, giving them some dough and a cookie cutter is all it takes to get them involved."

Amber now enjoys picking recipes from Annabel's You Can Cook book, and I think it's important for her to be involved in cooking food.

Since her first book was published, Annabel has never stopped writing and has become very successful, and a person who mums and dads, including me and my husband, turn to for guidance.

She has published an amazing 26 books ranging from her new Eating for Two book which guides mums-to-be throughout each stage of their pregnancy, offering tips and advice on what to eat and avoid, to her Complete Family Meal Planner, and everything inbetween. She has a new book coming out in June.

Some of the many books available from Annabel Karmel

Some of the many books available from Annabel Karmel

Annabel teamed up with Disney to create a yummy range of wholesome snacks and has now got her own range of food including Organic Baby Purees, Organic Sauces, Organic Pasta and chilled ready meals which are available to buy in the Supermarket. Plus to make it easier when you are weaning your little one, the Annabel Karmel by NUK range will make it easier to blend, mash, store and freeze your freshly made baby food.

Annabel assures me all her food has been tested, and contains no horsemeat!

She has also had a TV programme called Annabel's Kitchen which featured on CITV and has Annabel's app which has 130 recipes, 24 videos and 2 episodes of Annabel's Kitchen. She was awarded an MBE in June 2006 in the Queen's Birthday Honours List for her outstanding work in the field of child nutrition.

Check out Annabel's website www.annabelkarmel.com for loads of tips and recipes.

This recipe is a favourite of ours.

Hidden vegetable sauce

Ingredients

1 tbsp light olive oil
1 onion, chopped
75g carrot, chopped
1/2 stick celery, chopped
50g courgette, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tbsp tomato puree
400ml passata
100 ml vegetable stock
250g Annabel Karmel Alphabet Pasta

Method

Heat the oil in a pan. Add the onion, carrot and celery and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the courgette and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Add the crushed garlic and cook for one minute.
Stir in the tomato puree, passata and vegetable stock.
Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.
Puree with an electric hand blender.
Cook the Alphabet Pasta in boiling water according to the instructions on the packet, then drain and stir into the sauce.

Information: From 9 months, Suitable for freezing, Makes 4 portions.

 

Down on the farm: Have a family fun day out with the kids at Kent Life

Need to blow the cobwebs off? Grab your wellies and take the kids for a family fun day out at Kent Life.

Let the kids explore 28 acres of fun from hands-on activities for kids to age-old farming traditions that bring back memories from way back when.

With animals to cuddle, tractors to ride, play areas to go wild in, fascinating historic buildings to explore and cafés to relax in, there's something for everyone. Kent Life is situated in Sandling, Maidstone in Kent.

Along with my daughter Amber, 9, my son Jacob, 2, my mum and dad, Elaine and Shaun, we set off to the farmyard first.

Amber feeding the sheep

Amber feeding the sheep

We had bought some food for the animals from reception and Amber couldn't wait to feed them, until we got to the sheep who were fussing around her because they knew she had food. She wasn't sure if she dared to feed them, but her Nonna (my mum Elaine), showed her how to hold her hand flat, so she decided to try it. With her confidence growing she decided she would feed the goats too.

Cuddle corner is in the farmyard, where the children can sit and hold some of the smaller animals. Both Amber and Jacob stroked the cute guinea pig, then the girl who was caring for the animals brought out a chicken. Jacob cried, he didn't like it! Amber thought it was great.

Kent Life houses and breeds traditional farm animals. Their free-range livestock includes sheep, cattle, pigs, horses, donkeys, goats, poultry, rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets, ducks, geese, and most recently, Alpacas; All housed in historic outhouse barns. Experience a real working farm and farmyard.

With so much to see and do, we let Amber decide where she would like to go next, with the map in her hand, she decided to go and have a look at Sandling Farmhouse.

A historical survey dates Sandling Farmhouse to the 16th century. Today, vintage chic is displayed in the 1950s homestead. An exhibition in the attic details the history of the house and its various owners and a snapshot of life in the 1950s.

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It was fascinating reading about the resident farmer of 53 years, George Brundle until his retirement in 1978.

I loved looking round this farmhouse. The exhibition is done really well, I felt like the people who lived there had just popped out to the garden and I had gone back in time and was part of their lives.

It was great to have three generations of my family visit Kent Life, we talked about different aspects of how we used to live.

We couldn't walk past the big outdoor play area without having a climb. Amber and Jacob enjoyed swinging together.

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We walked up the slight hill towards the top and half way up there is Dotty's Tea Room. A lovely little café where you can have a well earned cup of tea and a slice of cake.

At the top you will find the Grade II listed Lenham Cottages. They originally started out as Old & Water Street Cottages and they lay virtually in the path of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link until they were re-located to the Kent Life site. It took fourteen months to demolish and re-build these lovely cottages which were opened to the public in 2001.

The Cottage displays the typical home of a wartime house wife. Furniture and fittings were in short supply and rationed, so the average wartime house was decorated in a 1930's style. This WWII home shows sticky tape on the windows to reduce shatter, a basic kitchen equipped with a sink, cooker, mangle and bath tub showing the water-ration line, greenhouse and front rooms, and bedrooms displaying artefacts from an era past. Outside you will also find an Anderson Shelter.

Great for telling your children how lucky they are now with all the gadgets they have to play with!

Next to the cottages is a Chapel. The Chapel was originally built in 1897 in Cuxton, Kent and began its life as a mission hall, later becoming a congregational chapel. Like many other buildings at Kent Life the chapel was re-homed to the place it stands at now. During demolition, builders found several hidden objects under the doorway, including a child's boot! Spooky!

Speaking of spooky, Kent Life is said to be one of the most haunted museum's in the County, dating back to 1555.

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Our next stop was Petts Farmhouse. Originally located just four miles away, just south of Burham Village. It was last occupied in 1981 and after two years of careful repair and reconstruction to the now derelict building, Petts Farmhouse was restored to its Victorian splendour at Kent Life in September 1997.

As we read the sign outside it told the story of how a clay pipe, a bone handled knife, a shoe and a wooden doll were found in the walls and floors of the farmhouse during dismantling. The doll appeared suddenly on the floor. Limbless, with shorn hair and a scarf circling her neck, her mutilated body is believed to have been hidden in the plaster near the front door. The shoe is over 150 years old and was found hidden under the floorboards. A superstition dating back to Victorian times says that hiding a shoe protects the house from evil spirits. To maintain protection, the shoe has been replaced, along with a modern time capsule.

Trying not to act scared we entered the house. I did look over my shoulder on one occasion but it was my dad trying (and succeeding) to make me jump. Amber found it hilarious!

The house layout is known as a double fronted lobby entrance and consists of many rooms including an authentic Dairy Maids Scullery, front room and bedrooms filled with memories from bygone years and a display of tradition Victorian attire.

There are many other parts to Kent Life that you can explore from the Wildlife Discovery Trail and Gardens to the Oast House and Village Hall.

We had a lovely family day out at Kent Life and can't wait to go back again.

Expect to spend a good 4-5 hours there.

Current off peak prices (valid until 8th March 2013): Adults: £5, Concession: £4, Children (3-15 years): £3, Under 3's: FREE. Membership passes are available.

See www.kentlife.org.uk for more details.